October 31, 2010

Haunted Halloween Home Decor

Happy Halloween!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween today.  We had fun dressing up and spending time with family this weekend.  At home, I spooked things up with some fun decor.  Last year, I decorated my entryway console table for Halloween, but this year I decided to focus the spookiness on my dining room.

Our dining room table received the cobweb treatment, including fake spider webs on the chandelier.  I added some red candles, but kept my usual dining room table setting the same and just added cobwebs for a spooky haunted dining room look.



Throughout the rest of the house, I left small Halloween touches like a black gel cat on a living room candleholder.


A frightful skeleton, added amidst my regular console table decor.


And of course, a traditional looking lighted jack-o-lantern added to the fun.


How was your Halloween?

October 27, 2010

Spooktacular Halloween Pumpkin Carving & Decorating Ideas

I'm taking a break from our paver walkway updates for a little Halloween fun.  You've already the Schnauzer shaped doggy pumpkin I made for Halloween, but check out some of the other "great pumpkin ideas I've come across:

Pumpkins and squash combined efforts to make these cute mushroom shaped pumpkins:

I love this DIY knock-off version of the Pottery Barn Kids Build-A-Pumpkin kit.  I like Lindsay's version even better than the original!

Pumpkin fun doesn't have to end on Halloween, these cute mini pumpkins candle holders can be used throughout the fall and would look great on a Thanksgiving table: 

Pumpkins don't have to be orange either, these black and white bedazzled pumpkins look both fun and spooky:

Gourds can have some Halloween fun too, I love these white ghoulish gourds:

If you like more traditional pumpkins, Better Homes & Gardens and Martha Stewart offer some great free printable pumpkin carving templates. Have any other great pumpkin ideas?  Please leave a comment to share!

October 26, 2010

New Paver Walkway: Day 2

This weekend we kicked off our latest home improvement project- updating our front yard landscaping and adding a paver walkway.  Yesterday, I shared day one of walkway progress when we picked out the pavers, ripped out part of the existing shrubbery, and dug out the area where the pavers will go.  Today, I'm back with the play-by-play of day two of Operation Front Yard Makeover!

On Sunday, we started day two of the project by ripping out the remaining bushes in the front yard, leaving only a tall evergreen (which we plan to keep because of the privacy it adds).  

Boy did we underestimate the work it takes to rip out bushes!  The roots were much larger and more established than we had expected and it took all morning to remove the bushes, even using some serious tools.  We used a  combination of chain saw, hand saw, axe, and shovels, and it was still tough work!  They created quite the mess too, hacked up shrubs were strewn all across our lawn.  Our neighbors must have loved the view!

Once the bushes were finally torn out, we moved on to the next step of the project and began preparing the walkway area for pavers.

From our experience in putting in our backyard patio, we already knew that the first step after digging out the area was to put down a thick layer of rocks.  We actually still had some rocks left over from our patio project, but we needed to buy about 17 additional bags.  We used a much thicker layer of rocks than what is shown below (we added some sand to the thickest rock layer to estimate how many more bags we'd need for the remaining area).  After the rocks were in place, we used a hand tamper to pound down the rocks and create compact rock level.

Once enough rocks were in place, we were ready to add the second prep layer: 10-15 bags of sand (I lost track).  The sand creates a tight bond between the paving stones, keeping them in place.  Sand is also used to create a level surface for the pavers.  We did a little leveling after the sand was put down, but most of our leveling was done as we put each paver stone into place.

As each paver stone was put down, we used a level to ensure each one was level with the stone next to it and the adjacent concrete driveway.  To create a little visual interest, while still remaining easy to install, we chose an alternating pattern of one larger paver and one small paver.  

We got about one and a half rows of pavers down on Sunday before it became too dark to work.  We were happy to finish all the prep work on Sunday, but the rest of the pavers need to be installed this week (Halloween is our deadline).  Stay tuned for the next walkway makeover update!

October 25, 2010

New Paver Walkway: Day 1

My neighborhood is a bit of a snooze when it comes to curb appeal.  There are only a few different house models in the development, so all of the homes look pretty much alike.  To make matters worse, we have a home owners association that makes sure the houses look uniform and everyone follows set standards like have green doors and shutters and beige garages.  So in order to spruce up our curb appeal, our only method of personalization is by updating our landscaping.  

Although our existing landscaping isn't terrible, it's not exciting either.  We have basic green bushes that were put in by the builder and can be found on many other homes in the neighborhood.  But what really bothers us is the narrow walkway from the driveway to the front door.  The walkway is very narrow and if our car is parked in the driveway it makes putting out the trash our carrying groceries into the house a bit of a hassle.

dec09 156

After this year's hot summer two of our green bushes died and need to be removed.  Rob took out the dead bushes last week and we decided that this weekend was the perfect opportunity to improve our landscaping and put in a wider walkway (in fact this was one of our goals from the start of the year)!  The plan is to remove the rest of the boring bushes, put down a paver stones to widen the walkway, and plant prettier shrubs and flowers.

We decided to use paver stones that look similar to the pavers used on the dividing path between our garage and our neighbor's:

Our weekend began with a trip to Home Depot on Saturday to pick out our pavers.  We chose these Pavestone concrete pavers in two sizes (smaller and bigger).  Along with the pavers, we picked up about 15 bags of sand and 17 bags of rocks.

The rest of the day was spent ripping out another bush and digging out a hole where our pathway will go.

That's as far as we got on Saturday before it got too dark to work.  Up next is ripping out some more bushes and preparing the walkway for the pavers.  Stay tuned for an update on day two of work!

October 21, 2010

Doggy Birthday Party

I realize that many of you will think I'm totally crazy after you read this post, but hopefully those of you with four-legged best friends will totally understand.  Last year, we adopted this adorable little puppy.  He has brightened our home and I look forward to his four paws, wagging tail, and doggy kisses greeting me every time I walk through the front door.  So when his first birthday rolled around this weekend, we wanted to make it a special day for him.  Don't worry, we didn't hire a clown and rent a moon bounce, but we did celebrate the day. We bought him a few new toys, got him some tasty doggy treats, and I might have baked some cookies and made some doggy decorations.  That's not too crazy, right?

Here's the birthday boy, freshly groomed and dressed for the occasion with a Happy Birthday bandanna and one of his new toys.

Now, here's where I may start sounding a bit wacky.  I wanted to bake some tasty treats (for us humans), so I made sugar cookies (with this awesome lemon glaze) using a dog bone shaped cookie cutter.


And of course no doggy birthday party would be complete without some decorations, so I made a simple dog garland by tracing a schnauzer shape onto sheets of blue and brown construction paper.  Once each shape was cut out, I punched a hole into each doggy and strung a white gift ribbon through them for a quick schnauzer garland to dress up my fireplace.

schnauzer paper garland

dog paper garland

But my favorite doggy decoration (which I had to make for Halloween anyway of course) are these schnauzer carved pumpkins.  Better Homes & Gardens has awesome free dog breed pumpkin stencils and I couldn't wait to give the schnauzer stencil a try!

P1130264schnauzer pumpkin

So there you have it, my dog's first birthday celebration.  That wasn't too crazy, right?  So tell me, do you celebrate your pet's birthday too or am I nutty after all?

October 18, 2010

Kitchen Cabinet Cork Board

With the big organizational kick I've been on lately, I've made strides in organizing some of our household paperwork, but I'm not finished yet.  The hanging letter bin I picked up at a yard sale, has given us a place to stash the mail we want to keep in easy reach, but we still needed a place to temporarily store little items like an important receipt, shopping lists, or post it note reminders for each other.  Luckily one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love, had the perfect solution- a cork board hidden inside of their kitchen cabinet:

To recreate this clever kitchen storage idea, I picked up this four-pack of cork board tiles for a few dollars at AC Moore.


I was initially going to hang three cork tiles vertically, a la my Young House Love inspiration, but I realized that eight tiles would be the perfect height and width to fit snugly inside of my kitchen cabinet, so I bought a second pack of cork board and got to work.

The cork board came with double sided adhesives, so I simply pressed them onto the cork board and then to the inside of my cabinet.

In just five minutes, I had the perfect kitchen cork board!


Okay, so the notes in my cork board might be staged (pssttt...we don't really know a Mary), but we were so excited to use it we had to tack something up!  Feel free to call us "tacky," because we love this easy kitchen organization solution!


This project is shared on Get Your Craft On, All Thingz Related, Sugar Bee, House of Hepworths; stop by and check out the other great projects featured.

October 15, 2010

DIY Wedding Monogram

If you've been check out my wedding week posts, you probably noticed a common theme in a lot of our wedding decor- a custom monogram.  I designed a custom monogram with our names in it and used it throughout the ceremony and reception to make the decor of both parts of the day feel cohesive and personal.

Here's a close look at our monogram.  I designed it to incorporate our names, wedding date, and red and silver wedding colors.  Before our marriage ceremony began, we played a slideshow of childhood photos and photos from we were dating.  Once the slideshow was over, the screen displayed our monogram.

At the church, the monogram was also featured on our wedding programs.  Yep, you guessed it, I designed the programs too.

My DIY wedding and monogram obsession  continued when I hand painted the monogram onto our aisle runner.  The custom aisle runner was one of my favorite parts of the church decor.

My DIY antics also continued at the reception venue, where the monogram was featured on our menus.  As you can probably guess, I created the menus myself also and made them to match our ceremony programs.


What can I say, I love DIY projects and my wedding was no exception!  Did you use a monogram for your wedding?  What DIY projects did you do?

I hope you've enjoyed the recent wedding week posts.  Next, week we'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming!

October 14, 2010

Our DIY Wedding Decor

This week I shared the scoop on parts one and two of my honeymoon, but now I'm back to share some more details of my actual wedding day.  I have always loved weddings and all of the classic wedding traditions like the first dance, cutting the cake, and bouquet toss.  So when it was my turn to get hitched, I knew I wanted a very traditional, classic wedding that embodies all of the nuptial traditions I'm so fond of.

Rob and I chose to be married in a church and have our reception in a traditional ballroom.  I wanted my wedding to look very "weddingy" but not generic, so a lot of personal touches were put into the day.  So lets take a look at some of the decorating details from my big day!

The ballroom we celebrated our wedding in had a very classic look with pretty wallpaper, sparkley chandeliers, and gold chiavari chairs.  The black and white table linens were standard for our venue, but we were able to choose red cloth napkins to match our wedding colors.  Luckily for us, the centerpieces came with the venue also and added well to the decor.



Even though I loved the look of our venue's ballroom, I added a lot of little touches that made the reception feel more like "us."  Instead of traditional table numbers, we used mini photo frames to display the table number and a corresponding photo of each of us at that age.  So table one had a smiling photo of each of us at age one.


The table was also set with a DIY menu I made detailing the entrĂ©e choices for our guests.  The menu was customized with a monogram I created for us and used our red and silver wedding colors (more on this later).


Each place setting also contained another personal touch, a customized candy bar that was given to each guest as a wedding favor.  I created the labels myself and used one of our engagement photos to personalize.


Throughout the reception hall, we added other decor touches too.  Instead of a traditional card box, my Dad helped to make a photo card box out of four picture frames put together which displayed more of our engagement photos.


We also sprinkled little touches like these wedding cake shaped candles throughout the room (just $1 from the Dollar Store, gotta love it!)


Our venue also came with an ice sculpture which added a cool (pun intended) touch to the room and was lit with our red wedding color.

I was thrilled with our reception because we were able to create a traditional wedding that felt unique to us.  For more info on our wedding, check out some of the DIY wedding ceremony and more DIY wedding reception projects we did.

For the married couples out there, what was your wedding like?  Please share!