Friday, October 29, 2010


On our way home from school yesterday my girls were in the back seat chatting excitedly about today's Halloween festivities at school - a breakfast for my preschooler and a parade for my 2nd grader. Then came the request - "can we stop at the store and get some Halloween shirts to wear tomorrow morning?" I have to admit that I cringed a little from the front of the car, knowing that I was on my own tonight for dinner, baths and homework, which meant we wouldn't have time to stop. I also figured that with three days to go the pickings would be slim. "I'll whip something together tonight," I told them, and then spent the next two hours racking my brain about what to do. I was sifting through my little box of fabrics and notions for inspiration when I came across these iron on letters:

Which I realized could spell out:

Then I found these orange t-shirts that my mom had given them from a trip guessed it...Maine:

And then it all came together. I turned the shirts inside out and cut off the tags (I'm pretty sure I'll remember the washing instructions for two cotton t-shirts):

Then I lined up the letters face down and pressed them with a super hot iron:

 Then I let them cool a bit and peeled the backing off:

I don't expect a contract with Target for a new line of Halloween shirts, but I'm pretty pleased with my work considering the lead time. I like the slightly faded look of the lettering, but most of all I like the smiles on the kids faces when they saw the finished product:

PS - While I was in the middle of making the shirts, our super sweet neighbor Vinnie stopped by to deliver this glittery pumpkin full of Halloween cookies!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pillow Talk

I’ve been obsessed with throw pillows lately, and since DIY-ing this sweater-turned-pillow cover earlier this month, I’ve been looking around for other great fabrics (either from a store or straight outta my closet) that would be good pillow material. First I threw together these additional softies for the living room sofa and chairs, both from old sweaters:

Then I turned my attention to my bed. It’s been looking so sad and dreary to me lately – and the weather hasn’t helped – so I wanted to add some pops of color to liven things up. Here’s the before:

And here’s the after:

So much better! We’re still strategizing on drapes for behind the bed, and maybe a headboard, but I’m thrilled with the way the pillows are starting to tie the room together. I used this painting (a gift from my hubby years ago) as a jumping off point and thought the purple and yellow tones would work well with the oatmeal color and more masculine texture of our coverlet:

I found the purple bolster by accident at Target while I was shopping for Halloween costume supplie, but the yellow accent proved much more challenging. The color needed to be just right – no mustard or Easter Egg yellow here – and I was hoping for something graphic to make the combo a little more modern. I loved these  lattice pillowcases from Nate Berkus’ HSN collection (and the sale price had me at hello) but they were out of stock. Then on an outing to Jo-anne Fabric earlier this week, I found these amazing Fabric Quarters:

They are pre-cut pieces of fabric, all $1.99 each, in a huge variety of colors and patterns. Not sure what they are intended for (maybe quilting?) but the size and price point was perfect for this project, and I fell in love with this bright lemon yellow botanical fabric. Up close you can clearly see the pattern, but from a distance it looks like a modern dot.

Oh, and despite my earlier claims about keeping pillows on the bed to a minimum, we may be approaching pillow-intervention territory now as the count reaches seven. Is there a support group out there for this disease?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mantle Refresh

Did I mention that I’ve been revamping our living room a bit and trying to change up the accessories? In our former living room, this painting was really the jumping off point for most of the room's décor:


In our new house, that painting now lives in the dining room, so it was time for our living room to establish it’s own new personality. The first order of business was the mantle, since that area is such a focal point for the room. Here what it looked like a few weeks ago:

I knew what I wanted to move - the magenta photgraph, the white candles, the oldtime family photo - but I wasn't sure what I wanted to replace them with. I thought about a mirror, but that seemed potentially expensive for one large enough, so then I thought about a holiday-related decoration, like the black feathered wreath I’ve had my eye on, but that seemed like too much work, since I would want to change it out with each new holiday/season.

It wasn’t until I was unpacking some pictures a few days ago - botanical sketches scored on sale from West Elm a couple of years ago - that I thought about them as mantle-material. I had originally earmarked them for another wall in the living room and planned to hang them in a grid pattern, but then I realized how nice they could look hung four across and how perfectly they would fit above the mantle. After a few juggling acts where we tried to hold and envision them up there, we decided to take the plunge.

From there, the rest was pretty easy. As usual, I wanted to work with what we already had, which included my Grandma’s candlesticks (white candles were replaced with black), a couple of small books in the right colors, a deliciously aromatic Voluspa candle, and the black vase I snagged at Target a few weeks back (for $2.99!) filled with some deep red flowers from Trader Joe's for $3.99 (they actually came as a two-fer with another small bunch of white roses.) Then I added in a little seasonal fare with a glass vase filled with my black glittered skulls (which I'll probably trade out for pinecones after Halloween and then ornaments after that.)

So, here’s the final product:

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Muffin Top

Monday started off cold and rainy - again! - and nothing makes me want to head into the kitchen for comfort cooking than a dreary day. The kids and I got home around 5:30, and as soon as their backpacks hit the floor we were preheating the oven.

Of course their vote was for a sweet treat, so we compromised with pumpkin muffins. I found a simple recipe from Gourmet Magazine on the food blog Muffin Top (great name!), and let the kids do most of the cracking, pouring and mixing:

The only modification I made to the recipe was to add walnuts to the top of 1/2 the batch and skip the cinnamon sugar topping.

25 minutes later the house was filled with an amazing aroma, and we wasted no time digging in. I predict these will be gone by Wednesday.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Costume Crafting

Remember last week when I told you that my oldest daughter decided she wanted a homemade costume instead of this Target devil? Of course I couldn't resist her sweet request, so we spent a few hours this weekend crafting up our new creation, which is.....

...wait for it.....

...a Lego!

I can't take credit for this idea - I spotted it online somewhere a couple of weeks ago - but it met all of our requirements: something fun and unique, something easily made at home, and something fairly inexpensive. So when the kid said she wanted something homemade, this came to mind.

I've seen legos come in all the colors in the rainbow (our favorites are the white ones we picked up at Legoland San Diego this summer), but since I wanted to make the costume easily recognizable, I decided to stick with a primary color. I found this great bright blue long underwear set at Target, and a nearly matching Valspar spray paint at Lowe's. We also picked up a rectangular box and six small round $.99 craft boxes from Michael's for the iconic lego circles. Add in a hot glue gun and exacto knife to cut holes in the box, and we had everything we needed to get it together.

After some strategizing, we decided to cut a separate piece of cardboard for the front of the box (we had some leftover boxes in the garage from our move) so you wouldn't see the box closure seam, and then hot glued the craft boxes to the cardboard:

Then we taped both sides of the box closed, cut one end out completely (where her legs would be) and cut a head hole in the other end. We cut arm holes on each side - large ovals so she can move her arms around as much as possible, and glued some foam to the inside - where her shoulders will rest - for comfort.

Finally, we hot glued the front piece on to the box and got to painting! I used my trusty spraybooth (a.k.a. BBQ box) and went to town. A couple of coats later and it was looking amazing!

Here's the finished product, ready to go for next weekend!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I've Got Wood

Sorry, I couldn't help myself :)

Now that I've got that out of my system, check out this gorgeous piece of driftwood I snagged this week:

I've been re-accessorizing our living room and thought this might make a beautiful addition. I love the texture and it's organic shape, but I also envisioned it as a beautiful centerpiece/table decor that could be easily embellished based on the holiday, party or event. I hit the web for some inspiration and found these great examples:

I also love the impact of a simple red paint job on this one:

I think I'll try my hand at one of these next month when I host a baby shower for one of my oldest friends in the world. Nothing says "happy baby" like a decorative stick!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I have someone new in my life. We met at the hardware store, and although I was a little nervous at first, we’ve become fast friends. He’s a rough and tough guy most of the time, but can also be a softie, if you ask him to. 

Meet Sandy:

Yes, I purchased my first electric sander! Actually, I think this might be the first power tool I’ve ever bought! Technically I guess I'm a part owner of my husband's drill and Dremel, and we’re stocked with sand paper, sanding blocks, and even a great sanding mitt (which came in super handy when I was prepping my little rockers) but I have a new, slightly bigger project in the works, and although I’m sure I need the arm workout, this seemed like a much better plan.

I’ve already put Sandy to work and he didn’t disappoint. In fact, he’s got me thinking about expanding my power tool collection and venturing into – dare I say it? – jigsaw territory. I don’t have anything to saw right now, but if I had one at my disposal, I’m sure I could think of something J

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wee Little Ghosties Featured on Craftzine!

I was so excited to see that one of my favorite crafting sites, Craftzine, included my Wee Little Ghosties in their craft blog today! Thanks, Craftzine! Check it out here.


When I was looking for inspiration for wall art in the kids room - before I hung the framed maps - I came across this image from Cookie Magazine (loved,loved, loved that magazine too, by the way…sniff, sniff) and thought I might try something similar.

We have a Polaroid camera in a moving box somewhere, and what better way to add a personal touch to the space than with photos that the kids could take themselves and easily rotate out? Well, fast forward a few days later when the Polaroid was nowhere to be found and I discovered the price of Polaroid film since they discontinued it – yikes! I thought I would have to say goodbye to the fun Polaroid look and feel, until I was browsing Urban Outfitters on my lunch break last week (yes, I usually spend about 50 minutes shopping and browsing and 10 minutes actually eating on my lunch breaks…how long does it take to inhale a burrito anyway?!) and came across these cool Polaroid photo inserts:

These plastic instant photo-style frames make any photo look like a Polaroid, and even come with a tack back so you easily hang them on a wall or bulletin board. At only $18 for nine of them, you could have a totally customized and personal looking wall for under $100.  And for even less you can get this set of five polaroid-looking magnetic snapshot frames - great for a fridge or chalkboard painted surface, like our den closet doors!

I’m pretty happy with our framed maps for now, but maybe I’ll try this in another area of the house – over the mantle in the living room, scattered inside our new hutch in the dining room, or maybe even along the hallway wall down to the den. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wee Little Ghosties

Our neighborhood is definitely getting in the Halloween spirit, and although I started to spook out our house a bit a couple of weeks ago, I could tell that I needed to amp things up, since our only outdoor decoration thus far were my bats-on-a-branch, and those could only be seen if you walked all the way up to our door. But as I’ve mentioned before, my kids are not fans of ghouls and gore, so in an effort to keep things tame I decided to sew up some little ghosties to hang in our front windows. Nothing with stuffing could be that scary, right?

I scrounged through my fabric basket and found three slightly different, but all neutral toned fabrics (these weren’t going to be your run of the mill white ghosts with black eyes, these ghosts were going to have some style and individuality.) I freehanded a random, ghost-ish shape and used it as a template to cut out two of each fabric:

Then I sewed the fronts to backs, leaving a little opening at the bottom to flip them right side out.

Next I selected some complementary felts for their eyes. Now, a smart person would have sewn the eyes on one side before sewing the sides together, but I didn’t really think this project through before I jumped in, as I tend not to do when I get excited, so I had to sew the eyes through the tiny opening at the bottom of each ghost…what a pain.

But once the eyes were on and the little guys were filled with stuffing and stitched shut, they looked pretty cute, dontcha think?

PS - I've entered these over at The CSI Project's Halloween Extravaganza Contest. I hope everyone likes there them!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Michael's and Michael

This weekend our Sunday morning was spent on Halloween costume preparations. Until Saturday I thought we were set - I had one devil and one bumblebee and the respective costumes ready to go. But then my devil threw a wrench in the plan, as devils often do, when she suddenly decided that she wanted something homemade instead of the Target option we had picked up last week. I have to admit, I was flattered and touched that she preferred my handiwork to the store bought versions, but I was also a little worried about finding and making something she would really like. My bumblebee also needed some antennae, which I promised I would whip together, so after a delicious chocolate pancake breakfast (thanks, Leon!) we set out for Michael's to see what I could Maguyver together for both girls.

As we walked the aisles I had another ensemble on my mind as well, this one for a Michael Jackson-themed birthday party my little one was attending in the afternoon. She's a huge MJ fan, and wanted to show up dressed the part. We considered this set from Target, but the glove and hat were way to big for her four year-old body. Then I remembered a pair of white gloves she had been given as a gift with a tea set, and decided I could fairly easily craft up something special. I grabbed a package of silver sequins, the items for the newly decided upon Halloween costume (more on that later), and we made our way home to fire up the glue gun.

A pair of jazz shoes, white ankle socks, a black hat - and the new glove - and she was ready to party!

Oh, and we got the Halloween stuff all locked up...again. We're hard at work whipping it up - will share soon!