Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Carving - Stencil Style

When I was younger, we have to carve pumpkins using only our imaginations. If we were smart, we used a pencil to draw the face we wanted to carve on the pumpkin. Those days are over.

For less than $5 I picked up a Sesame Street carving kit at Target. I am sure you could find free stencils on the internet, but I like to have the special tools. Here are the steps we followed:
1) Pick your stencil and tape it to the pumpkin. I always cut the paper to help round it to the pumpkin.
2) Transfer the outline of the stencil onto the pumpkin. I like to use a "poker" tool to do this. I actually think this is the hardest part because it is so tedious.
3) Remove paper and start carving.
4) Touch up any areas you may have made errors.

I think each pumpkin took 45 minutes to an hour total. Not bad at all in my opinion. And I think these look so cool all lit up. I used two tea lights in each one. I used a different camera than before to take the last picture and I think it turned out great.

And you may wonder why my husband is in every picture and not me. Well, it is because he is a good sport and does not mind posing for my pictures at all. I actually think he likes it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

White Pumpkin Project #2

This was my first time ever carving a white pumpkin. I expected it to have an orange filling (like I had been told it would), but it actually had a yellowish center. And, oddly enough, it smelled like cucumbers. Very interesting. I gutted the pumpkin out and then turned the project over to my husband. I am not good with power tools and I had heard that it drilling holes in pumpkins wasn't the easiest thing to do. My husband did a great job and just drilled a bunch of holes free hand. I probably would have tried to make sure they were equal distance apart and measured everything, which would have taken hours. The pumpkin turned out very cool, although, I did a horrible job of capturing it with my camera. But trust me, it looked way cool. I will for sure be doing this again next year!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Refinishing a wood bed.

Instead of spending a ton of money on a new bed for our guest room, I am hoping to refinish a bed I already own. I have had this bed for awhile and have long outgrown the light wood shade of it it. After reading various blogs (mainly Holly's), I decided I should try to give it a whirl myself. The first picture is of the spare bedroom. As you can see, it's a little, well, plain. It's just an empty bedroom right now. The picture of the bed itself is very old and was taken ages ago. The bed is currently "in storage", so I don't have anything more recent. But it is in great shape and looks brand new. I am planning on sanding the wood, then painting it a nice cream color. If all goes well, I would like to have this done by Thanksgiving (I like to make realistic deadlines). I can't wait to see the finished product!

Tell me, what have you refinished? What do you want to refinish?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Photo Wall

I wanted to do a photo wall in my house and searched all over the internet for pictures of a style I liked. I didn't find anything that was totally what I wanted, so I adapted a few ideas and just went with it. I bought a monogram wall decal from Etsy (who doesn't love Etsy) and grabbed the pictures frames I had around the house and staggered them on the wall. I will add more picture frames eventually and I can always change out the pictures to get a new look.

As a side note, I hate when people say that they used only things they had laying around the house to design / create something. But in this case, I really did have all those frames. I had a mini photo wall in my old house and I am very matchy matchy, so I always bought the same type of frames whenever I needed a new one.

Overall, this cost me only the price of the decal ($24), but you could easily do something similar for under $100 total. IKEA has some great frames and if they don't have the color you are looking for, don't be afraid to spray paint them to get what you are looking for. It's cheap and super easy. To me, those are key. Do you have a photo wall? If so, I would love to see a picture.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lamps for Less

For years now, I have always loved stacked glass ball lamps (I am not sure how else to describe them). I never bought one and stuck with my (cheap) IKEA lamps instead. The ones I found were always so expensive and I just could not justify spending $200+ on a lamp. Plus, I needed two. While strolling through Target one day, I stumbled upon the exact same style lamp I have always loved, but it was made out of plastic instead of glass. Making the lamp way more budget friendly and toddler friendly as well! The Target version was around $29.99, plus the cost of the shade (like $15).

While the Target version is a bargin compared to most lamps of this style, it is an absolute steal when compared to the Ralph Lauren version, shown in the first picture below and available here. It's on "sale" for $1,360. Ouch. The second picture is my Target lamp. The only real difference I see if the shade, which is an easy fix if you must have the same look as the RL one.

And, if you like the look of designer clothes, but don't want to pay the designer price tags, check out J's blog. She is fabulous!!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Uppercase Living

When I first got invited to an Uppercase Living party, I'll admit, I wasn't very excited. I could not understand the concept of wall decals. After talking to a few friends, it finally clicked and I was intrigued. I ended up ordering two pieces. A custom one for above my bed which I was able to select the font, size, etc. I also ordered a stocked piece for my kitchen. The minute I got them up, I love them. My husband actually put them up for me (I tend to not do so well with that kind of stuff) and it took him maybe five minutes to get them applied on the wall. I will admit that I have not taken any off the wall yet, so I am not sure what will happen after I do. I imagine it's nothing a little paint can't fix.

Have you ever ordered from Uppercase Living or a similar site? What did you get? Or what do you want to get?

Monday, October 12, 2009

White Pumpkin Project #1

For my first white pumpkin project I decided to paint one of the pumpkins. This way, I can get two uses out of the pumpkin. I can paint it and display it for a bit and then wash it and the carve it. I think it's a pretty awesome way to get a little more bang for your buck.

Because I am not the worlds best artist, I picked an easy design (a bat) and drew the outline on the pumpkin with a pencil. If you look close, you can sort of see it in the picture. I outlined the design in black paint and then filled in the rest with a thin coat of paint. I wasn't too sure what to do next because my paint was super thin. I guess that is what you get for using washable children's finger paint? My husband, however, actually did have an idea and pretty much pushed me out of the way and took over. He put a ton of paint on the brush and sort of globbed it on, for the lack of a better term. It worked great and he totally saved the day! Does the bat look perfect? Nope, but I love it and it was a super easy project.

As always, I like to provide a cost breakdown:
Pumpkin: $6
Paint: $3 or so? I already had this, so it's hard to say. If I were to do this again though, I would get a different type of paint.
Brush: $1 or so? I already had this too.
Bat Stencil: Free from the internet.
Total Cost: $10 (at most)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Pottery Barn Outlet

Like I said before, Pottery Barn is one of my favorite places to "borrow" design ideas from. Because I am lucky enough to live near (well, within driving distance) a Pottery Barn Outlet Store, I can actually buy some furniture pieces without breaking the budget. A few years back, I got a mailer which advertised a beautiful buffet for a steal (if I recall correctly, it was around $300-$400). It was an special deal and was good for one weekend only. So I dragged my husband there and loaded it in the back of our SUV. I should mention that we lived in a tiny condo at the time and had no space for this huge thing. But I knew I loved it and I knew it would work perfect someday in a new house. So I stored it in the basement (in the box) for over two years!

I was finally able to break out this beauty when we moved last winter. And I loved it just as much as the day I bought it when I finally got it out of the box. If I hadn't gotten this piece, I always would have been looking back and wishing I had. I hope you keep that in mind next time you are at the store and see a piece that you just have to have that won't be around for long, but know it won't work for you right now. If you love it enough, you can make it work!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Outside Fall Decorations

When I saw this picture on Pottery Barn's website, I instantly fell in love and I knew that I wanted to do something similar. However, I thought that $24 for a strand of garland was a bit crazy. I also loved the lighted pumpkins they used, but again, the price was not budget friendly.

So I set out to Michaels in search of something a bit for affordable. I actually found garland I liked better than the PB stuff and it was only $6 a strand (on sale from $9.99 - it's now $5 a strand). I bought 5 strands and had 1.5 left over (which was perfect for my wreath). I attached them using these fabulous clips and used a hanger I already had for the wreath. I stumbled upon some rattan pumpkins in Target near the vase filler aisle and knew they would look great! I finished the porch design off with two potted mums from the local greenhouse. The cornstalks and the pumpkins topped off the look and brought it all together. I love this look even more than I loved my inspiration.

A cost breakdown:
-Garland (4 strands @ $6/each): $24
-Wreath: $10
-Rattan / Grapevine Pumpkins: Ranged from $9.99 to $19.99. I would guess my total was just under $100
-Mums (2 @ $8/each): $16
-Cornstalks: $3.50/each
-Pumpkins: $42 (we will be carving these too!)
Total Cost: $199.
This seems like a lot when I list it all out, but it's a fraction of the cost the PB original would have been. In addition, I will have the wreath, garland and rattan pumpkins for next year

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

White is the New Orange

I am obsessed with pumpkins this year and cannot seem to get enough of them. I saw these beautiful white pumpkins at the local pumpkin patch last week and I knew they had to be mine. I was worried they would cost a lot more than orange pumpkins, but I was totally wrong. Two were $8 each and the other one was $6. Not bad at all!

I have a few projects planned for them, but I am most excited about drilling holes in one. Sort of like these Martha Stewart ones here. White pumpkins are orange on the inside and give off an amazing glow. I cannot wait to get started on these!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Making a Leaf Wreath

I had some ideas in my mind for a fall wreath for my front door, so I went to Michaels in search of something fabulous. Sadly, I could not find anything I liked. I mean, they had some hand crafted wreaths, but they were well, not really very hip. Plus, they cost $40 and I thought that was crazy. I already had fall garland picked out, so I wanted something that would at least match somewhat well. But things were not looking good!

In what I now realize was in effort to get me to hurry up and leave Michaels, my husband said to me "Why don't you just make your own"? So that is exactly what I did. I grabbed two more strands of the same garland I had already used for my door, plus a "grapevine" wreath. The project was way easier than I had ever anticipated. The leaves on the garland were easy to remove (no scissors required) and I simply used a hot glue gun to attach them to the grapevine wreath. Of course, I covered my work area with a plastic trash bag and newspaper to avoid ruining anything. The whole project took maybe a half an hour. I will admit I burned my fingers a few times, but that is because I have a super cheap hot glue gun. I made a wreath for my mom too (see last two pictures) and didn't burn my fingers once on her fancy one.

Here is a breakdown of costs and materials used (everything was purchased from Michaels):
-Garland: $10 (buy 2 strands of garland - you only need one and a half, so you will have extra. It's always on sale)
-Grapevine Wreath: $3.99 (could be $2 if you used a 50% off coupon from the Sunday ad).
-Hot Glue Gun: ? (I already had one, but I know you can get them for around $5).
Total Cost: $13.99 (or $12 with coupons) plus you will have some left over leaves that you could use for another project.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Seasonal Apothecary Jar Displays

NOTE: WE'VE MOVED! Visit: Ramblings of a Suburban Mom for lots of apothecary jar ideas! I have always loved the look of apothecary jars, but I never really knew what to do with them. I like the idea of using them to hold cotton balls, q-tips, etc. in the bathroom, but it just wouldn't work for me personally. What I found works best for me, is to change out the "fillings" of the jars seasonally. This is a great way to easily change up the entire room with won't break the bank.

I got my jars at Costco during the holiday season. I think they were around $29.99 for the set of three. I do like the ones Pottery Barn offers here as well, but they are way more expensive and I can't see what the difference really is. I am hoping that Costco has these jars again this year. I would love another set for my son's room. I am thinking matchbox cars and legos would be a couple of great looks in there.

I get most of my "fillers" from Target, Kohls, Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabrics, etc. We just got a Hobby Lobby near us and I know they have some great items too. I have found that Target has a lot of items similar to Pottery Barn things, for a fraction of the price.

What do you / would you put in your apothecary jars? Any ideas for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. that you want to share? I am already thinking about mine but haven't made any final decisions yet. I would love to hear from you!