Monday, November 23, 2009

It's starting... Christmas Decorating!

In anticipation of Christmas decorating this year I decided I needed a mantle over the fireplace.

So I went to Lowes and picked up a shelf , drilled it in (a little crooked) and forgot to take a picture... but just a couple of days later I began decorating the new mantle and I have pictures of that!

I started with a pre-made wired garland with just a few plain pinecones in it.

Then I looped on this great ribbon from the Christmas Tree Shop ($1.99/10 yd.), and layered on shimmery fruit decorations, gold sprayed pine cones from last year's centerpiece, and bunches of cinnamon sticks wired together with gold wire.

Up on top I have a vase with gold sprayed birch branches and bittersweet (also a last year project purloined from another spot in the living room!), two cute little mercury glass (fake) votive holders from Target ($3.99 apiece), home-made pomander ball (instructions for that are at the bottom of this post), and a cute little capiz shell and gold angel from Christmas Tree Shop ($1!).

On the other end is a mosaic candle ($4.99) and a sparkly apple (last year), both from Christmas Tree Shop.

And in the middle? A pretty bowl with leftover Halloween candy hiding under more gold pine cones!

No tall taper candles on that mantle because I have cats and a paranoid husband...

You might also spy my wrapping paper stored in my galoshes in the corner there. The copper bucket needed a little height behind it, and those papers are so pretty!

The other Christmas prep work we did this week was to rearrange the furniture (AGAIN!) to make space for the Christmas tree.

It has a whole wall to itself! I'm not allowed to get one until after Thanksgiving, so the oregano plant is holding its place! But it'll be here next week!
Here we go- woo hoo!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hair Donation

About a month ago I realized it was time to do something with my hair. But what to do? A trim? A color change? I studied myself in the mirror for awhile and contemplated, flipping my hair this way and that, pulling it back, holding it up, you know, girl stuff... And you know what I discovered?
I have a LOT more grey hair than I thought I did!
So I decided that I should do one final hair donation to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths before I crossed over the 5% maximum grey mark.
So I took my nice long hair:

and an inspiration picture:

down to my salon and had them chop away. Unfortunately my stylist got a little distracted while chopping and forgot which side was the long side, so I ended up with a cute little bob instead of a funky asymmetric do!

Which was probably a good thing, really, because I'm more traditional than funky! And now I look like a Hitchcock character:

(Lil from Marnie), which I think is rarely a bad thing!

If you are interested in donating your hair, check out the requirements for the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program before you go chopping, because it's a very good program with very strict requirements!

As always, thanks to Susan over at Between Naps on the Porch for hosting us all at Metamorphosis Monday!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Halloween Costume

So... I'm a bit slow... but you know, it takes awhile to remember to plug the camera into the computer.... yeah... I'm going with that one...
I was all set with a costume for Halloween this year! When my mom moved across country this summer she did a serious closet purge. Among the things in the "go" pile was a dress she had made way back when she and my step-dad used to do civil war re-enactments. (Yeah, you know, those weekends where the ladies lace themselves up in corsets and hoop skirts and the men camp in tiny tents in a field and then pretend to shoot each other? We did that.) So I, of course, grabbed that outfit up!

Mom made all her outfits herself- she was a seamstress for many years. She made the underskirt, the topcoat, the hat, the "pocket"...

She made the cape, and the undershirt whose lace you can see peeking out around the neckline...

Check out that bustle!
I got a ton of compliments. Unfortunately I had on 4 layers of clothes and this was the first 70 degree Halloween here in Massachusetts that I remember in my entire life! It took all my resolve not to end up walking around the party we went to in my undergarments! Of course, being in civil-war appropriate undergarments meant that I still would have had more on than some of the other gals out that night...
But you know, the principle and all...
This next photo is for my mother. I emailed her some test shots a few days before Halloween to make sure I had everything on right, and she said it all looked good, but she couldn't see any cleavage and that was a necessary part of the outfit.

Look Ma- boobs! It took a push-up bra, inserts, AND a corset, but I found some!! HA!

This was a very fun costume- I think it'll stay in the rotation!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Guest Bed/Dressing Room Makeover!


The before shots are from the home inspection. As you can see the room was done up in army colors with walls alternating in tan and green.

The varnish on the woodwork (from the 50's) was flaking off, and whoever had the rage issue had made holes all over this room, too.
Actually, this room scared me a little bit since most of the holes seemed to be head height punch marks, and the door to the room was missing. We found it in a trash pile in the garage- it had been punched through right above the door knob, like someone had tried to lock themself in, and someone else had broken through. Scary stuff.
So the first thing I decided to do was give the room an exorcism- a color exorcism! I thought, "What is the exact opposite of army drab?" So I went out to Home Depot and picked a color from the Disney line called Invitation to a Princess!
This room was the second bedroom on the same floor as the master, so it was going to basically be my dressing room. As such, I was free to do whatever I wanted!

I figured no evil spirits would want to hang around inspiring anger and violence in a pretty princess room! So it sat like this for about a year, until it felt ready for a change. (Actually, it was after I painted the master that very light grey and realized these rooms really wanted that- before that I couldn't figure out to do with such a long, skinny and SHORT space!)

It seems I never took pictures of it, and only remembered to get some for the next transformation after I'd already move everything around and begun priming!

It was a big job- all the trim needed to be sanded, primed and painted a couple of times, the walls needed priming and painting, the ceiling needed painting, and I had to figure out what to do about the closet door with the giant hole in it! The two undamaged panels I painted white, like I did in the rest of the house, but what do I do with this?:

Ok, you caught me, I forgot to take a real before picture again! So maybe you can tell what I did... but this is the damage those punch marks did to the BACK of the door, so you can imagine what a mess the front was!

The walls are Faded Hydrangea from the Better Homes and Gardens collection at Walmart, but was mixed at Lowes in Valspar paint (they did a VERY good job with the color match!)

The trim and closet doors are untinted white from ACE.

As is my sewing table, which used to be an ugly fake-oak laminate. (yes, lots of primer there!)

Since this is in theory a guest room I put a single bed in daybed style- it's good for watching TV when the main one is in use!

And as you can see, my solution to the closet door was to upholster it!

I used a polyester shantung- I admit to really wanting to use the silk shantung since that was GORGEOUS! But that seemed a little impractical, and expensive... and in person the poly is actually a pretty good imitation (until you touch it...)
I used the leftovers to make a skirt for the sewing table:

Which I see now needs to be steamed! Funny how those creases show up so much better in a picture... oh well!

And finally, it being a dressing room and all, I figured a little shrine to my hottest shoes would be appropriate!

So there it is, my new and improved, MUCH prettier girlie dressing room!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dylan's Baby Shower

Well, I guess since Dylan is here now it's high time I got around to posting about the shower we had for him back in September!
My younger sister was the mastermind behind the plan, and all our aunties were the geniuses that found two identical tents for under $20 a piece and got them to my house on time. I was in charge of figuring out how to turn my backyard into the "Arabian Nights" that my sister had imagined, and actually putting it all together! (No, that makes is sound like I did ALL the work, which I totally didn't because my sister Sarah totally came through to help with decorating inside the tents!)

The weather forecast the day of the baby shower called for passing showers in the afternoon, ending in the evening. While that's not ideal for a tent party, I figured we could work it out. We DID have "waterproof" tents after all!

I forgot to take a picture of them actually setup, but here is one of them after I tried to set it up by myself earlier in the week. (I took a lunch break, the wind picked up and, well... that's it upside down.) But you see, should be fine for passing showers, right? Well...
Round about 3:00 those passing showers turned into torrential downpour! So one of the anties ran out and bought every tarp in Target, which we draped over both tents.

Looks nice, huh? Well, we dressed it up a bit. Leading down to the tent we had candles and lanterns lighting the way.

Sarah and I risked life and limb climbing on ladders in the downpour to string up twinkle lights from tree to tree.

That shot is from the house, so it looks miniature... but it looked really nice from in the tents. Which is where the really good stuff was!

Now, I have to tell you that I don't have any very good pictures of inside because I was so busy (and wet) that I didn't grab my own camera. Everyone else had theirs, and I figured I'd clean up and take some shots in the daylight on Sunday. But then... oh, then... well, let me show you the pictures I was able to convince people to send (a remarkably difficult thing to do with a new family member on its way!) before I finish that story.

The front half of the tent was the buffet area.

The back half of the tent was the lounging/dining area.

We put down tarps and then layered those with rugs and piles of pillows of all shapes and sizes. I don't really have good shots of the back half, but you get the idea!

We hung tapestries over all the walls, and draped the ceiling with sarees.

The tents were lit with the candelabra over the dining table, twinkle lights and paper lanterns in the lounging area, and tea lights on the coffee table (which the flowers in the foreground are sitting on.)

You can see there how wet everything had gotten in the 20 minutes it took us to get those tarps up! Fortunately an abundant supply of shawls and pillows kept everyone comfy and dry.

Dinner was a selection of Mom-to-be's favorite comfort foods:

Lasagna, garlic bread, simple green salad, mom's mac' n' cheese, and beef stew!

Everyone seemed to have fun despite the difficulties. Here's the mom-to-be-buried in presents:

Opening took awhile since everything had to be modeled!

All in all the evening was a pretty good success. The rain let up just before dinner was to be served in the tent, and stayed away until after everyone had trouped back up to the house for slumber party time.

And then, OH! and then... well, a couple people were so impressed with the tents that they decided to inflate some mattresses and sleep out there. Which was really cool! Until... about midnight the rain started really coming down again. And it must have pooled up quite a bit, because around 2 AM one corner of the front tent collapsed, spilling water over the sleeping people, rugs, pillows and everything! So you see now why the only pictures I have of the party are the sad ones:

That blue tent isn't supposed to be so lopsided...

And thank goodness we had three days of good strong sunshine to dry out all those rugs!

We are now all affectionately referring to this event as the Baby Monsoon!