Jan 31, 2012

Valentine's Gifts for Guys and Gals

Can you believe that we're exactly 2 weeks out from Valentine's Day?!?  It seemed to creep up fast this year.  In celebration of this "holiday of love" I'll be posting some Valentine's Day (or at least red and pink...and some heart) crafts, recipes, fashion, and decor ideas.  Today we'll start with some gift ideas under $50 for the guys and gals in your life - the family, friends, and love/stud muffins...

We'll start with the ladies:

The two-sided heart tote ($49) from Fluff Co. is fun all year round.  It also comes in a tan color with a large brown heart, for the more fashionably subdued ladies in your life.

Super cute Ania tumblers (4 for $30) from Gretel Home are perfect for some orange juice with breakfast in bed.

I {heart} these burlap love pillows ($30 each) from Cost Plus World Market.  The perfect touch to your couch, chair, or bed.

Adorable turquoise heart drop earrings ($48) from Anthropologie.  They also come in a purple amethyst stone.

A "heartful" serving bowl and spoon ($40) from Burke Decor can serve as a colorful reminder of your love at every meal.

Blood orange scented body butter ($25) and scented candle ($32) from the Australian Mor Cosmetics line are beautifully packaged and sublimely luxurious when put to use.

Heart cards aren't just for Valentine's Day...these pretty-in-pink cards (8 for $10.50) from Paper Source are useful year-round.

The ever-practical heart spatula ($10) from Paper Source can lend a helping hand in making some heart-shaped pancakes...or circle ones with some raspberry syrup. :)

Last gift idea for the ladies, then we move on to the guys.  I found this adorable handmade pillow ($25) on Etsy by 645 Workshop.  Graphic and simple...and so fun!

Jan 30, 2012

Pantry Clean-Out

We decided to have a pantry clean-out party this weekend.  Ok, it was only a party of two and it lasted the mere duration of our daughter's naptime, but it was quite the event and boy-oh-boy do we love the results.  I had been inspired by some other blogs and online photos to tidy up a bit, and decided we needed to get on the ball with organization as well.  Here are my pantry inspiration photos:

pic from houzz.com

pic from bhg.com

pic from expired website (home design network)

Now that you've basked in the beauty of very well-organized and beautiful pantries, here is the dirty truth (in pictures) of our former pantry. The before...crazy messy and cluttered with items that were out of date or were never going to be used:

Oh, did I mention that I also had some meds (i.e. Nyquil and Dayquil) next to cans of fruit and cleaning products on the top shelf next to the chip bags...probably not a good idea.  I get "Mom of the Year" award for those health and safety faux pas.  Here is visual proof for police evidence:

Now, on to the better news...it cleaned up quite nicely after some tossing, sorting, date checking, and (my favorite one) utilizing new containers from the Container Store.  We purchased several large containers for dry goods we always have on hand in bulk.  Look at how lovely these "contained" items are now:

Flour, brown sugar, and granulated sugar...


And, chips...

Jan 27, 2012

Antiques and Collectibles Show Finds

Last weekend, on a whim, we decided to stop by the Clark County Antique and Collectibles Show in Vancouver WA.  It's one of the largest antique shows in the country, with over 400 booths of vintage treasures.  They do it right, too, because it didn't smell stuffy and old like I had predicted.  Well done there!

We are anything but professional antiquers...if that is even a word.  We know very little about the value of antique/vintage items but we are very certain of what we think is beautiful...and that's all that really matters, right?   After being wonderfully overwhelmed by so many amazing things, from paintings to light fixtures, dishes to jewelry, and furniture to textiles, we each settled on our one must have items.  For me, I literally swooped in and swiped this blanket out of the hands of two other couples who were slowly "contemplating" the purchase.  They were standing several feet away from it, considering the move to further investigate and I was down-right certain it was mine...

Some of you with a keen antique eye may do a double-take because it looks so much like a (very expensive) Hudson's Bay Point Blanket - wool blankets which have been made in England since the 18th century and were a luxury item for fur traders who needed blankets that were warm even when wet.  No, this is not a Hudson's Bay blanket which are sold for upwards of $250-$350 today (see below).

My find is a wool blanket made by Jack Frost Wool Blankets (now called Utah Woolen Mills) circa 1930s.  It was modeled after the Hudson's Bay blanket and is near identical in weight, quality, and appearance, but you'll see that it has 5 small squares/boxes on it (see top pic), distinguishing it from a Hudson's Bay blanket's 4 small blue lines (see above pic).  The part I love - the bold stripes - are identical in width and color for both brands.  You know you want to know how much I paid...only $25.  I looked it up on Ebay when I got home and you can get a worn Jack Frost blanket for $45-$60 but I still feel like I found a diamond in the rough because mine is in excellent condition with no stains or holes.  Best part, is it looks just like a highly sought-after Hudson's Bay wool blanket in design, but I won't worry about actually using it (as all blankets should be...).  Right now it's setting on my couch because I love those stripes!

Enough about my find...here is my husband's cool find.  A 1938 RCA 96T radio that has been completely refurbished with original components to play myriad AM stations (hot requirement there), but it also has a port for us to plug in our iPhones so we can use it as a speaker to play our music!

We love the way it melds today with yesterday, modern with vintage, new-fangled with classic.  It sounds amazing...it has that old-time deep and calming sound.  We downloaded some early Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong and that's all we've been playing on it because it just seems wrong to jam to Jay-Z and Lincoln Park on it.  I've already said that I now know why people didn't have blood-pressure problems back in the day...it's because they listened to beautiful and calming music.  What a find!  We originally thought it would go in our bedroom, but once we got it home we knew we had to put it in the living room where we could enjoy its looks and its sound.  So, we made room for it on our bookshelf...

To finish off the post, let's get our history on with some events and facts from 1938:
- German troops invade Austria
- Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) established
- Howard Hughes sets new around the world record - 3 days, 19 hours
- Honeymoon Bridge across Niagara Falls collapsed
- Oil discovered in Saudi Arabia
- Gasoline costs 10 cents per gallon
- Average cost of new home is $3,900
- Average cost of new car is $763
(from thepeoplehistory.com)

A blanket and radio from the 1930s.  Who knew that's the decade we'd fall for at the Clark County Antiques and Collectibles Show!  -Kristen

Jan 25, 2012

Simple Silhouettes

I've seen a lot of silhouette art in home design photos lately.  I just love the classically sweet way that silhouettes really personalize a home.  Whether it's silhouettes of the kids, the family pets, or the entire family, they lend a nostalgic touch of whimsy to any space.  I decided to attempt homemade silhouette art to see if I could do it on the cheap instead of paying for a piece through one of many online resources.  Here is my drama-free and quite simple adventure....I love it when I can report that.

Materials (per silhouette):
- Frame (I chose one with a matte from Marshall's)
- Selected photo, a profile shot enlarged to fit the frame size you've chosen (mine was 5x7) **tips on this below**
- 1 sheet heavy black paper (I chose a linen-textured paper from the scrapbooking section of the craft store)
- 1 sheet colored paper (optional)
- Pencil
- Sharp scissors
- Tape

Jan 23, 2012

Woodsman Tavern Decor

This last weekend we stopped in NE Portland to pick up a desk that we spotted on Craig's List (project time!), and we stopped by the coolest little restaurant called The Woodsman Tavern.  I loved the inside of the place so much that I started snapping photos with my phone the instant we stepped in the door...much to management's chagrin, I'm sure.  The decor was this smorgasbord of vintage farmhouse and industrial chic all combined into an updated and purely Portland tavern.  Love it!  (Don't forget to click on the pictures for larger views...)

Walk with me, if you will, past the large-paned windows...

Over the threshold with small white marble hex tiles and through the black lacquer doors...

Step inside and "bam!" you see the most beautiful yet haphazard fresh flower arrangement with a hip vintage pendant hovering above...

As we sit at our table, my eyes run along the refinished but perfectly imperfect wooden floors toward the other side of the restaurant and I get a peak at the gorgeous olive-colored gallery wall filled with nothing but local oil paintings of Oregon landscapes...

Next, I glance up and see shiny white board and batten ceilings and industrial light fixtures with old-timey Edison bulbs radiating, and then over to the bar and bar-height table with custom metal and wood stools...

I wish I had taken a closer picture of the old yellow schoolhouse clock hanging over the kitchen in the back, so I could share it with you...loved it!

After my delicious meal of homemade buttered biscuit with poached eggs, kale, and country ham sliced as thin as prosciutto (no picture, sorry...), we turned to head out and I snapped one last pic of the entryway.

Ok, now I'm ready to go design a house around this place!  High praises for both gorgeous decor and home-style fare at The Woodsman Tavern in Portland OR.  -Kristen

Jan 20, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

My beautiful mother-in-law inspired this delicious recipe, and then my chef of a husband added a fun twist to it. Though it sounds sophisticated (doesn't anything that has asparagus?), it's really quite easy to make and a true crowd-pleaser.  The following recipe makes 6 rolls (or 6 servings).

Jan 18, 2012

No-Hardware Window Treatments and Valance

After living with nothing but outdated white metal mini-blinds covering the windows of our rental for the past 5 months, I decided to do something about it.  Because the house is a rental, I couldn't take the mini-blinds down (I admit, they are functional) and I couldn't drill holes into the walls to install drapery rods.  I had a bit of a design dilemma.  Solution?  Inexpensive tension rods, some existing drapery panels here and a yard of fabric there, and a little creativity.

For the master bedroom, I found a large tension rod, that is probably really a shower curtain rod, at Ross for $5.  I added some chocolate brown cotton drapery panels used in all of our former 3 abodes (yes, we move a ton) and "voila!" the blinds aren't such an eyesore anymore.

Now, for the dining room, I didn't have drapery panels on hand for that space so I started from scratch.  I had bought some great graphic fabric on sale at JoAnn's and set it aside for a future project...and the project finally arrived...

My limiting factors: I needed a simple clean-lined valance that I could take with me when we move (again) this Summer and hope to use in the next place.  I wanted something I could make with a single yard of fabric.  After looking around a bit, I found a little inspiration online at HGTV.com.

pic from hgtv

You see the window valance on the left?  That's the one I wanted to model mine after.  I liked the way it was gathered at the bottom, not restricting the view one bit.  It appeared updated and unfussy, yet a bit dressed-up for a dining room.  Perfect!  So, this is what I came up with...minus the nice view, of course.  Keep reading for easy window valance instructions...

Jan 16, 2012

Hmmmm....What to do with a cute candle box?

Continuing with my circus kick {see my last post}, I found this super cute and graphic box at a local store (true confessions: it was Marshall's again...).  The even better news is that the box contained an equally fantastic scented candle, all for only $5.  I must admit that the excitement over the candle was secondary to my love for the circus-like font displayed on the box.  Thankfully, the fun font spelled out some great phrases like, "Miracles Can Happen" and "Welcome Joy", words we truly believe in at our house.  I knew I just had to do something with that box!

Jan 15, 2012

Circus-Inspired Decor

After recently reading and watching Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, I'm adoring any "circus" infusion in decor...in careful moderation of course.  And, "no" it's not just for nurseries!  Big Top style is fun, fresh, and cheery - adding a touch of mysterious splendor to any space.

My inspiration:

pic from wikipedia

To start us off on our circus adventure, here is a really cool idea...a circus tent ceiling.  Notice that nothing else in the room suggests "circus" because the ceiling is such a bold statement.  Too many circus details would make it look like a over-themed room.

pic from mylovelythings

Not super literal, the little colorful flags and small tent above the bed remind me of the childlike wonder of the circus.  After all, everyday should be a celebration!

pic from bing

I love this one, the only circus suggestion in the room comes from the beautiful artwork above the sideboard -  a simple black and white ink sketch of an elephant balancing on balls.  The piece isn't something I'd go into a store looking for, but I'd see it and say "Wow, I'd love to decorate around that!"

Top hats and bowler hats as pendant lights - how creatively cool!  This doesn't scream circus, but it does awaken my inner child....and, so does that yellow unicycle.

pic from apartmenttherapy

Yes, I've shared this cool item before, but I had to do a double-take for this post.  This giant letter from Urban Outfitters is always on my list of "things I love".  I can imagine it as the perfect focal point in a nursery or even in a living room on the mantel.  It comes in any letter and also several other characters like the "&" and "@" symbols.

I found the perfect circus/carnival art by a sublimely gifted photographer on Etsy - Zila Longenecker.  She has so many prints that I love but these three are my favorites...

all pics from etsy

Bold stripes seem to always be in style, and they always remind me a bit of circus tents.  Here are two fun bathrooms with super fun striping on the walls.

pic from apartmenttherapy

pic from elementsofstyle

There is a really fun "Big Top Baby Inspiration Board" from the Honey & Fitz blog.  Check out these fab items in greater detail {here}.  Dina is super gifted at decorating and DIY projects so you'll have take a gander at her blog.  Several of these pieces (minus the crib and toys, of course) could be used anywhere in the home.

A fun kid room idea, a bunk room that looks just like the circus performers' sleeping cars of old.  There is something so cozy and cool about having your own enclosed bunk for a bed.

Finally, for a small touch of circus whimsy, string some garden lights from a pergola or porch.  They are the perfect subtle dose of Big Top sparkle.

Are you ready to go to the circus after all that?  I sure am.  Perhaps circus-inspired decor isn't your thing, but I still recommend reading Water for Elephants.  It will give you an intriguing history and spellbinding imagery of the glory and wonder of the Big Top spectacular!  -Kristen

Jan 13, 2012

Chicken & Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

We made this yummy Chicken & Black Bean Enchilada Casserole recipe the other night and loved it!  Anytime I see "black bean" or "casserole" in the a recipe title I know it's worth trying for our family, so the fact that it has both meant it was a must try.  I found the recipe {here} on the Sweet Treats and More blog.

It was an easy one to whip up, so I hope you'll try it too!  Continue reading for the recipe...

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