Friday, March 17, 2017

5 Simple Table design tips for the person who would rather meal plan

When I found out I was hosting Easter this year, my first thoughts went to how I was going to design the table, not the menu. I know- so backwards for most people. While I love all aspects of hosting, the tablescape is definitely my favorite part. And though the most important part of hosting is enjoying your company, I do think a pretty table adds to the experience. I have found that people generally have one of two attitudes towards a beautiful table- the first is one of "oohs and ahh" and excitement to be a part of a special dinner, and the second is a roll of the eyes with a "who are you trying to impress" or a "too much work" sort of attitude. After some time feeling the need to apologize to the latter group for my love of beautiful design (including a pretty dinner table), I have come to embrace it. This is who I am, without trying to impress people, I just really love pretty dinners and it's my way of showing my guests how much I care for them. I also realize that designing a pretty table can be really intimidating for most people, so I thought I would break it down to the basics and dispel the rumor that a pretty table has to be an expensive one:

1. White tablecloth. I think everyone should have at least one white tablecloth. I have a linen one (old from ikea) that I love and use again and again. Here's one for $12.

2. Greens and/or flowers. Trader Joes is your best friend if you have one near you, they have beautiful/cheap options. If you are on a tight budget, I would opt for greens over flowers......they make such a big impact, and you can use them in the place settings (like the picture above), as a centerpiece, or even draped around a chandelier/lighting. Most florists (even grocery florists) have them on hand even if they aren't displayed- just ask!

3. Something shiny. I prefer gold or brass candlesticks, but this could be vases, napkin rings, or chargers. Thrift stores or flea markets are a great place to find unique items for less, but etsy is also a great option. These are pretty. This past Christmas, I even spray painted a glass bottle gold- just get creative!

4. Versatile glasses. I personally think that stemless wineglasses are perfect. You can use them for wine or not, and they are simple enough for everyday use.

5. Cloth napkins. Ok, these can get pricey-but they don't have to! This is a cheap option, and I have these and use them often. If you are using a white tablecloth, different colored napkins are a good idea. I used my Ikea dishtowels for Thanksgiving this past year and they looked pretty. H&M Home has a great selection of table linens at an affordable price. Another idea for napkins, is to mix and match and accumulate a collection over time (see my collection below). Napkins can be styled a number of different ways- rolled up on the plate with a pretty ribbon or ring, folded under the plate, folded next to the plate, or made into a pretty shape on top of the plate. If it's stressing you out- choose something simple.

* I have white dishes and I do think their simplicity makes it easy to play around with many different tablescapes, but they aren't a necessity.

Friday, March 10, 2017

DIY Picture Hanging

I realize we aren't breaking any new ground with this wall hanging/frame, but for the $3 I spent, it's made a huge impact in our bedroom. You may remember that I made a similar frame for my in-laws when I designed their bedroom last winter. 
This is a great option if you don't want to spend the money on an expensive custom frame, or if you are in my situation and trying to hide something on your wall (old sconce wires left by a previous tenant) that is protruding out and a regular frame won't do (whether it's leaning against the wall or hanging on the wall). All you need?

- two small fish eye hooks
- staple gun
- two wooden pieces for framing (I got mine at Home depot and asked them to cut it for me there)
- twine for hanging

* We put the fish eye hooks in one wooden piece first (each equa-distant from the ends), and then stapled the picture to the back of the wooden pieces. The final step is to tie the twine between the fish eye hooks and then to hang the picture. The whole process took us about 15 minutes

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Currently Loving: White linen beds

It sounds crazy as I write this, but since we upgraded to a queen bed 5ish years ago (yes believe it or not we slept on a double for our first 6 years of marriage!), we have never had a headboard or bed frame. We've just used the cheap metal frame that came with the bed. It's not that I haven't wanted one, but something else always took priority.  It hasn't been until recently that I've really given it some thought. While I love so many bed frame styles, my heart has settled on a white linen bed with a slip cover headboard. I want something simple and modern, but not mid century (our bedroom already has a couple midcentury pieces). I also want to go with something casual and classic....something I won't grow tired of for years to come....and theres something about white linen that just does it for me. A slipcover that I could throw in the wash would be ideal. I'm still on the hunt for the exact bed frame (or maybe there's a DIY in my future?), but here are the images that have inspired me:

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Easiest Homemade Whole Grain Bread

It all started with me not loving the bread options at our local store- I wanted an option that didn't have a huge list of ingredients that I didn't recognize.  That coupled with the fact that the closest Trader Joes is a good distance from where I live, I ventured into making my own bread. I also love the idea of the girls growing up with their mom making bread- R really enjoys helping me mix the ingredients every week, and I hope it's a sweet memory for them as the get older. Since I wanted this to be a weekly thing, I was looking for a simple recipe- one that didn't feel overwhelming, even on bad weeks. What I stumbled upon is a recipe that literally requires me to only mix the ingredients with a spoon. Ideal. It tastes pretty incredible too! I double this recipe every week for the girls' sandwiches and Connor's toast in the morning. Now that I've been doing it for a few months, I'm thinking about trying a couple variations.

1 1/2 cups of water
3/4 Tbsp  fast acting/instant yeast ( 1 packet or 2 1/4 tsp.)
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 Tbsp. salt
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I use Bob's red mill)
1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

*Combine warm water (bath water temp), yeast, honey, salt, and flours in a mixing bowl & stir. Once combined, form into a ball and lift dough up and coat bowl with olive oil. Cover and let rise for 2hrs at room temp. (I put it in the oven) . Let rise another 2hrs in fridge (covered).  Knead dough roughly 20 turns and form into a loaf. Make three slats in bread and cover loosely with plastic wrap & let rise another 45 min. Preheat oven to 425 and bake for 28 min. Let it cool before you slice it!

*The original recipe can be found here.

Friday, February 17, 2017

What we're reading

Reading with my girls is one of my favorite times during the day. Everything comes to a standstill as they snuggle on my lap, often cheek-to-cheek, and we enter into a story together. To grow their collection, every birthday and christmas we give them at least one book. A couple years ago I started writing inscriptions on them, and I think it will be special in the years to come. For those of you struggling- I will say that I've been there! It wasn't until she was three, that R has been able to sit still long enough to get through one non-board book (let alone five) without squirming. I remember having to have snacks on hand and making it interactive (like adding in jumps and whatnot- I kid you not) to keep her interest. C was a different child, it seemed from the get go she had an interest in books, books are her happy place. She can usually be found with a book in hand as well as a pile beside her. Whatever personality your child has, I have found that through perseverance we have come to this happy place of really enjoying reading together. I thought I would share some of our favorite children' books with you.....these are books that the girls ask me to read again and again (the illustrations are pretty too). I'd love to here your favorites!


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Client: Newlyweds

I stumbled across this moodboard I made earlier this fall for a newlywed couple who hired me to design their bedroom. It was a really fun project melding together two very different design styles. She was very bohemian and feminine in her taste, being drawn to lace and curved lines, pinks and purples. He preferred very modern pieces with minimal decor. Tricky yes? To blend these two (seemingly) opposite styles, we kept the furniture streamlined and added a feminine rug and pillows with texture (blue for him to tone down the pink and purple in the rug). The result is a cozy room that  satisfied both parties.
Pillows- 1,2,3 (most of these are no longer available-sorry)
Swing Lamp
Marble Tray
Table Mirror
Side Table

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

DIY Modern Cement Lamp

As mentioned in last week's post, this year I'm hoping to do a monthly DIY series dedicated to the idea that good design doesn't have to come with a hefty price tag. First up? This cool modern lamp I made for $20 ($5 for the bulb, $12 for the light kit, and $20 for a 50lb bag of concrete mix that I plan on using for other projects.... if you count only the amount of cement I used for this project, the total would come to around $20). Inspiration struck when I saw a similar lamp while perusing a design site one day and thought "I could make that.".....not to mention, I've been wanting to work with concrete for a while now.
Here are my supplies, I bought a 660 Lumens 60W bulb (basically the largest round bulb I could find at Home Depot), this light kit, a bag of concrete mix (I used Rapid Set Cement All), and a cardboard mold for the concrete. If I had to do it over again, I would choose a PLASTIC mold. We were able to cut off the cardboard with a knife, but plastic would have been much easier.
 Next, I cut a hole in the lid of my container and fed the light kit cord through the hole. I used the lid on the bottom of the container, and taped around the hole the cord came through so that no concrete would come through when I poured it. 
 Next I placed tape over the top of the light kit to protect it from concrete.
 I put the whole thing into a larger container for any concrete that got out. Now, the directions to the concrete package said something vague like "add water" and that adding more water meant "less firm concrete". The first batch of concrete I mixed was "soupy"  (seen below), and that worked fine, when I needed more concrete for my mold, I made it thicker and that worked fine as don't stress about the consistency too much. Now the concrete will set fast, so you will need to work quickly, but you do have a minute or so to maneuver things and get them just the way you want. I held the light fixture while Connor poured the concrete in the cracks, and then with my finger I made sure it was level.
I let it dry, and in a couple of hours- I had a lamp! If you are intimidated by working with concrete (like I was), don't be. While dusty, it's super easy and very satisfying. I'm already scheming about what to make next with that huge bag sitting in my garage. 
I love it paired with my modern night stand, but I also love the idea of it being paired with an antique piece.