Back to School

I'm sure by now, many of you have heard of the terrible airplane crash that befell Nie of the Nie Nie dialogues. I have been following her blog for a while, it is beautiful, and I love her ideas. I was deeply saddened when I learned of the accident. Even though I don't know her personally, I feel a connection. We share the same faith, the same number of children that are similar in ages, and the same love of life. It has been wonderful to see how the blogging community has rallied around her and her family during this difficult time. So when Gabrielle from one of my favorite blogs, Design Mom, designated today as Nie Nie day, I thought I'd join in.

Since I now have two kiddos in school, I was looking for a fun new tradition to send them off in style. I planned this back to school dinner for my kiddos after seeing Nie's post about a similar dinner she had for her girls. I waited to post about it until today so that I could make it a part of Nie Nie day. (Give credit where credit is due, I always say.)

So on to the festivities...

I love pennant banners, so I made this cute one out of scrapbook paper and raffia. It's hard to tell what it says in these photos...even though I took pictures of it from all different angles...but it says "happy first day". I cut the triangles out of 12 x 12 paper (I was able to get 3 out of each piece). Then I printed out the letters and cut them out in circles (boy, it really made me wish that I had one of those giant circle craft punches or a scrapbook circle cutter.) Finally, I punched holes in each flag and tied them with raffia. It turned out really cute!

I don't know about you all, but the beginning of the school year always feels more like a new beginning to me than the real beginning of the year in January. So, borrowing another idea from Nie, the Hubby and I decided to introduce a new family theme. Our theme for this year is "kindness begins with me". And as long as I was stealing, ahem, I mean borrowing ideas, I decided to make a similar table top banner to the one she made. I used a piece of ribbon that coordinated with the pennants, and some sticky letters to spell out the theme.

Finally, I'm all about paper crafts, so when I saw this cute little idea in this month's Family Fun magazine, I was all over it! I used the leftover paper to make these tiny three dimensional stars. They added a really fun look to the table - and they were easy-peasy!

Our menu was not overly fancy, but consisted of some of my kids favorites...parmesan chicken, lemon pudding salad, and a green salad (not their favorite, but necessary to get in those vegies!)

After dinner I presented the kids with new backpacks full of school supplies AND their nifty new clipboards! It was so much fun! And by the end of dinner, the kids were EXCITED to go back to school! This will definitely become a new tradition at our house.

For those of you that saw yesterday's post...did you "spy" the baby food jar votives and the chalkboard? Yes, I really do use them ;-)

And look at this! As I was cleaning up after dinner I put the little stars in this jar...don't they look cute? I think I'm going to leave them like this.

Thanks Nie for all of your wonderful ideas! I wish you and your husband a speedy and successful recovery. I know many of the blogs participating in today's Nie Nie day are offering silent auctions with the proceeds going to the Nielson family recovery fund so I urge you to check them out! Gabrielle at Design Mom also has links you can use to find other ways to help the Nielson family. Thanks for visiting!

Update: It came to my attention that the link to the clipboards I made for the kids wasn't working earlier...I have fixed the problem. ;-)


Keeping Keys

I can't take credit for this cute little idea. My ultra-crafty sister-in-law made this. She had one in her house, and I complimented it often enough, that she made me one for my birthday (or maybe it was Christmas) a few years ago. It's on the wall right between the back door and the mudbench. We always know right where our keys are - as long as we remember to hang them up when we walk in the door! ;-)
The project was actually pretty simple. She took a piece of wood, cut it to size and routered the edges (I'm not sure if that is the right spelling because woodworking is the Hubby's department). You could also buy a premade plaque at a craft store. Then she drilled a hole in the center and bolted the old door knob on. After she painted and distressed it a little bit, she screwed in four cup hooks, added a couple of old skeleton keys and voila! It's great just as it is, but because I love words, I've been toying with the idea of adding some vinyl lettering at the top that says "welcome" . Cute, huh?


Toile + Barn Stars = True Love

I am officially out of Back-to-school posts. So I had to share this little project that I did last week. I have been wanting to decoupage something on a barn star for a long time. I have looked endlessly at scrapbook paper, but I just couldn't find the right thing. Then I remembered this beautiful toile wrapping paper my lil' sis wrapped my birthday presents in this year. When I saw it, I was instantly in love. I unwrapped my gifts very carefully and tucked the paper away waiting for the perfect project. And here it is...

I cut each section of the star's rays separately (next time I try this project, I'll only cut out one large diamond for each ray rather than two triangles) then Mod Podged them on. I sealed it with a coat of Mod Podge as well. It turned out beautifully and now hangs proudly across from my mudbench.

Happy crafting~


Back to school part 3

I love children's books! And it is important to me to foster a love of reading in my children. What better way than to make reading easily accessible...and hopefully fun? I have children's books stashed all over my house...mostly in baskets, so that with any luck, my kids will just grab one and curl up to read.


Back-to-school week - Part 2

So today's post is on bulletin boards. Yea!!! I can hear the resounding cheer across the blogosphere! (Hey that rhymed...I really didn't mean to make a poem.) I love having places to put photos, papers etc. and so do my kiddos.

In the boys room, I thought it would be fun to make one of those modular bulletin board walls with each board upholstered in a different fabric, but there isn't enough wall space. Since I really wanted to tie in the brown velvet and denim that I have used throughout the room, I decided to make this "patchwork" board. I was going to do it the "right" way and sew the pieces together, but then I remembered FABRITAC! I glued them! Then I pulled out my handy staple gun and stapled the fabric to the wood frame of the bulletin board. But it was missing something (that, and the glued seams didn't look quite right to me) so I added upholstery tacks and ribbon. That was the finishing touch it needed. Not bad for about 15 minutes of time!!

I made this board quite a while ago when One and the Princess shared a room. I just hot glued the green check fabric over an existing bulletin board. But when we moved to our previous house, the Princess got her own room and I used the green check as an accent so I had to pretty-up the board! I love the look of ribbon boards so I just pulled out some pink grosgrain and tacked it on. I've toyed with the idea of gluing flowers onto the tacks...maybe someday.

Happy Crafting~


Back to school week...

This is the last full week of summer at our house. And this year I have two kiddos going to school. One will be entering third grade and the Princess is heading off to kindergarten. In honor of back to school week, I thought I would post some (loosely-based) school related posts. You're going to have to humor me here, because this is primarily a blog where I share my decorating ideas, etc. so I stretched my definition of school related just a little bit. I'm hoping you enjoy...

First up...Cute clipboards

I don't know about you other moms out there, but keeping homework papers and school notes corralled, but handy, can get to be a little bit challenging. Last year, One's weekly homework assignment pages ended up posted on the refrigerator door. Handy, but ugly. So this year with two kiddos in school, I decided I needed a better plan. I hit upon the idea of clipboards. But plain old brown clipboards would not do...not in this house...nosiree! So I cutified them. (Okay, I KNOW cutified is not a word, but it is clever, huh?) I took the kiddos to the craft store and let them each pick out some scrapbook paper they liked (without telling them what it was for) I then picked out a coordinating paper to make them a little more exciting. What do you think? I'm going to give them to the kiddos the night before school starts at our family back to school dinner. Then they'll go on the wall by the back door to keep everything handy!
Happy crafting~



I have been a big fan of The Nester since I discovered her blog a while ago. I love the idea of "mistreating" because I am all about getting a lot of bang for a minimal investment (of both money and time!) She's hosting a party and so I thought I'd join in the fun and share a couple of "mistreatments" from my house.

This is the door to my boys' closet aka the clubhouse/reading area. This might not qualify as a true "mistreatment" because I did actually use the sewing machine on it (yikes!). I sewed the brown velvet to the denim...but in true "mistreatment" fashion, I glued the ribbon on with fabritac to hide the seam, and then I used upholstery tacks to fasten it right to the door moulding! (My apologies for the quality of the photo...I tried to take a new photo of this treatment this morning and it was just as bad...just can't get the lighting right for this area of that room!

This, on the other hand, is a true "mistreatment". I used left over fabric from a cushion I made for my mudbench. The window is right across the hall in the laundryroom/ half bath so it matches! I just folded, layered and tacked it to the wall! It probably could have used a little more fabric for a little more "poof" but I loved the way it cozied up my laundry room all in about 15 minutes!

Thanks Nester for letting me join the party!


The Dining Room

Okay, so we don't really have a "Dining Room". Our house is pretty open concept, so it's really more of an eat-in kitchen. We didn't really do anything to the room aside from paint it Cathedral Gray. And it could still probably use a little something. But I thought y'all might want a little peek. So here she goes...

I guess I lied. When I looked at this picture I realized that we also replaced the chandelier. When we moved in, there was a "lovely" mauve-colored-stained-glass-and-brass fixture. It had to go. Our table is actually a Pottery Barn piece that we got at a scratch and dent store for 1/2 price!

We need to buy new chairs! We only have three chairs that are still usable (is that a word?) so we use a bench that the Hubby built on the other side of the table. It actually works great as we can squeeze three (or more) kiddos on that one side. But it would still be nice to have proper chairs!

Here's a closeup of the awesome pot. I filled it with silk Japanese Lanterns that I found at Pier 1. My theory is if you're going to use fake flowers...it's better to spend a little more and have them look realistic. These look quite real and they give an autumn-y feel to the place! Oh, and that box in the window seat...I've got my olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottles stored in there... since I'm not much of a cook, I guess it doesn't matter if they go bad sitting in a sunny window (they're actually more of an accessory than anything, I've had them for almost two years, and they haven't even been opened yet ;-) )

I made these throw pillows...love the toile!

Another chalkboard...another chance to post a favorite quote!

Don't you just love this old cupboard! The Hubby and I rescued it from his parents' house. They were tearing down an old shed where it had been for years! We brought it home, cleaned it up, painted it and VOILA! Extra storage! (And it's beadboard too... I love beadboard!)

Finally, had to show you this cute magazine rack...I put a nail right into the old cupboard and hung it up there...it holds all my current catalogs!

Hope you enjoyed this little tour! Have a lovely weekend!


Wish box

The kiddos and I made this sweet wish box for Grandpa's birthday. We bought the little chipboard box at Michael's craft, embellished it with his photo (all dolled up for his birthday) and some happy birthday ribbon. I saw a similar photo idea on a blog recently but the photo was used as cupcake toppers (very cute! wish I could remember what blog I saw it on.)

Then we wrote our wishes for him on scrapbook paper which we rolled tightly and put inside. Grandpa is a professional artist, so the Princess said "I wish that you can get a brand new really, really big box of paints!" Sweet, huh? Grandpa thought so. Happy crafting~


The Kitchen...AFTER

Okay, so as I mentioned in my last post...the kitchen is still a work in progress, but it is a whole lot better than it was originally. (I have to apologize for how yellow some of these photos are...we've had a patch of rain here and it was hard to get good natural light, so the yellow ones were taken with indoor lighting (aak!) but I know you all have good imaginations so you get the idea.) We decided to go for a sort of French Country feel, so we chose a warm cream color for the cabinetry. I was originally planning on glazing the cabinets to bring out the details of the paneling, but once we got them painted, I was really happy with how they looked and opted not to glaze them.

It's difficult to tell in these pictures, but the color on the wall is Ralph Lauren's Cathedral Gray which as I mentioned in a previous entry is really more of a gray/green. It is very soothing, and sets off both the cream cabinetry and the black beadboard beautifully.

If you look closely at the baseboards in any of these photos, you can see that I haven't painted them yet. Yep, that's what I mean by a work in progress. They will eventually be the color of the cabinets. eventually. (And yeah, I know I need to get rid of the stereo in the corner...oh, and the white microwave...sigh.)

And here is a tricky trick for you all. Our appliances did not all match. We bought the oven and the refrigerator while we lived at our previous rental house so we brought them with us when we moved here. They "blend" with each other. The refrigerator is obviously black but it has a little bit of stainless accent on it, so it went well with the oven. But the dishwasher that was here when we moved in was white. I had decided that I would purchase some of that faux stainless sheeting. I had even found a place online where I was going to buy it (it's not very expensive by the way). But I was telling my sister-in-law what I was thinking of doing, and she told me to unscrew the casings of the existing front and remove it, and that oftentimes the appliance underneath is already metal. She was right! I took off the front and the dishwasher was actually a stainless color metal...but it looked horrible (it's an old dishwasher...probably won't last too much longer.) So I couldn't do that. There is an upside to this story, however. The other side of the white front was black. Yep...black! I flipped it over, put it back on, and now my dishwasher matches the refrigerator and stove. FREE!!! Pretty sneaky huh?

I love the fact that I cleaned off the refrigerator. It look so much cleaner in my kitchen without all of the photos and stuff on the fridge. But since I am a photo junkie, I had to put them somewhere. I have a cute magnetic white board (framed in black) that I put on the doorway to the basement across from the oven. All the stuff is still there, but it looks purposeful and not cluttered.

Here you can see the beadboard on the bar. It looks fabulous and makes the kitchen look so custom. We also put beadboard on the refrigerator surround...and the mudbench is just down the hall. It has beadboard too, so it all coordinates.

Here are those cute shelves the Hubby made to replace that dumb old floating cabinet. Eventually, we would like to replace the countertops with something dark (solid surface preferably), and if I had my way, I'd replace the split corner sink...what were they thinking when they put THAT in?!? But, we are on a pretty tight budget, so neither of those things are an option yet.

This sweet chalkboard (yep, another chalkboard!) was a Christmas gift from my brother-in-law and family. It has my current favorite quote written on it.

Gotta love this little rooster...what respectable French Country kitchen wouldn't have one of these?
So, even though it's not quite done...it's getting there and it's worlds better than it was so I'm a pretty happy girl!


The Kitchen...BEFORE

These photos were taken BEFORE we started work on our kitchen. And I want to stress that even though we have done a lot...and I do mean a lot of work to the kitchen, it is still a work in progress. But I'll get to that.

The Hubby did all the work himself (with a little help from a friend here and there) so it took a while. We lived on this lovely orange Tyvek for a number of weeks before the tile finally got done. The refrigerator was in the Library...it made cooking a lot of fun ;-)

This picture shows my pretty "floating" cabinet, and the nice white hood over the stove. Oh, and just for Kim at Today's Creative Blog I've got some counter clutter going on here (even a partially eaten apple - how disgusting! It took a lot for me to post a picture of my house looking like this). Oh yeah, and on the window, the lovely vertical blinds that were all over this house when we moved in.

In this picture, The Hubby has finished the tile...that made a world of difference by itself, we put the refrigerator back AND The Hubby finished putting beadboard up on the bar (and I painted it black...yes, I did do some of the work...) We also replaced the old brass hardware on the cabinets with black hardware. But we didn't like the oak. It still looked dated. So out came the paintbrushes...
And if you want to see what happened you'll have to join me back here on Monday.

But here's a teaser... (notice how it doesn't really show you anything...wahahaha (imagine an evil laugh sound) that's so you'll really come back.)


Decorating for the kiddos...part 2

As promised, here are some highlights of my boys' room.

I love this view of the boys' room. I painted that big horizontal white stripe all around the entire room, and I adore the way it turned out! It gives the room such punch and creates the illusion of width in a fairly long, narrow room! The pretty old dresser was one that The Hubby helped his Grandmother refinish, so we inherited it from her when she passed away. I just love using family heirlooms in my house.
The beds turned out great too. I went back and forth trying to figure out what to do, and then I ran across an upholstered headboard with a monogram in a magazine,and thought "AHA!" I actually made these myself with plywood, batting, $3.99 linen from Joann's and white felt for the monogram. I used my trusty staple gun to upholster the plywood then added the monogram using this great stuff called fabritac. Works like a glue gun without the heat...hooray! No more burned fingers!

Here's a closeup of Mr. One's bed. I added the denim pillow for a little contrast. The airplane pillows are made from the crib bumper that used to be in Mr. Three's crib. Now that he can use it to propel himself out of the crib, I thought it best to get rid of it. But it was so cute I had to do something else with it...TA DA! Pillows. Oh, and although it isn't obvious in the photos, I was going for a sort of menswear look, so both the brown throw pillows and the cream blankets have herringbone weaves reminiscent of men's suiting fabrics.

A closeup of the barn star on top of the dresser. I love me a barn star.
I covered the lampshade to match the denim pillows and window treatments, but then I decided it needed a little color so I added another little star. Just the trick.

I adore these vintage-style balloon hooks. Don't they look nostalgic? And I love to use typography...both letters and numbers as decoration.

The boys' closet door always bumped into the bedroom door, and it drove me crazy. The boys have a large walk-in closet that they love to hide in. I decided to turn it into a little reading area (you can see the desk inside.) So to give them easy access, I added this cute curtain. I used upholstery tacks to fasten it right to the door moulding. I sewed the brown velvet to the bottom, but then used fabritac to attach the ribbon and hide the ugly seam. It turned out great!
I also wanted to share this cute basket I found at Christmas Tree Shop. It's the perfect color for the room and a great place to stash all their books. You can also see part of the crib skirt in this picture. I used some of the same denim and velvet to make a skirt so it would match the curtain on the door and blend with the older boys' beds.
My love of typography also shows itself with this great little towel corner behind the boys' door. I picked up some house numbers at the local big box home improvement store and used them to number each hook so the boys always know which towel is theirs! You can read about this project here.

This chair was a curbside find. I saved it with this great slipcover made from a painter's dropcloth! You can read about it here. It makes a fabulous chair to snuggle in while we read stories! The little table is another heirloom from the Hubby's grandmother. Originally destined for our Master Bedroom, it looks even cuter here in the boys' room. You can read about how I saved it here.

Finally, I just thought I'd show you this cute framed piece I found at Target. It gives that feeling of vintage nostalgia again. Isn't it fun?

I hope you enjoyed this little tour!