Friday, June 29, 2012

Who Doesn't Love a Before and After?

I know I do!  Well I tackled  a quick one this weekend.  As I've mentioned I have been updating my living room...slowly.  It's been a difficult re-do because I can't buy new furniture and didn't want to paint.  After our "lost summer" last year (i.e. renovating the house and preparing for her), we sooooo don't want to take a couple of weekends to repaint the living room (especially since I am determined to start, er, I mean finish Genevieve's big girl room, which will require paint--no getting around that one). Anyway, it's tough to start over when you have two big things like furniture and color tying you down.  Nevertheless I'm determined to make it work.  And since my walls and furniture are neutral I figured it's do-able.  Well after I purchased this rug I went back and forth on what accent colors to use with it.  Because I can never make up my mind I figured I'd go with yellow and teal (I'm in a very yellow mood right now and it's showing up all over my house!) with bits of other bright colors mixed in (orange/pink/coral/etc).  I took my cue from the rug and am going with a bit of an 'ethnic' vibe for the space.  I figure if I go that route I can use bright, saturated colors, as well as thrifted and antique finds and it will all go together. Of course I hope to be able to keep it contemporary and not too theme-y which I think my most recent HomeGoods purchase has helped with (more on that in a future post).  Anywhoo, here is what I've come up with for the entertainment stand "vignette."
BEFORE: 


dark and sad blue and brown with little thought put into it (it's all I could do to keep it from being a mail collecting station!).

AFTER:

 Doesn't it look so much fresher?!  All of that brown on top of brown was really weighing the space down!  I made the runner out of this tablecloth (along with 2 throw pillows). The pink rose is from the backyard.  No matter how hard I try I can't kill that rose bush.  

 The tray was on clearance at HomeGoods.  I got the "books" from there also.  I usually think those fake books are super cheesy but I love the pattern on these and the hidden storage.  I also got rid of the speakers.  Our living room is flanked on either side by a 10 month old and a 2 1/2 year old; who am I kidding?  We will not be using our surround sound any time soon!


Are we the only people on the planet that still use a million remotes?  I love that I can hide a couple of them in this box!

Here it is with a different bud from the backyard.  I would like to think I would have thought of using the creamer container for a bud vase on my own but I have to say this post might have had something to do with it! [For the record I had already purchased the tablecloth before reading the aforementioned post.  However, I must say the fact that Young House Love picked out the runner and lampshades made me feel even better about my purchase.  What can I say? I'm impressionable.  And a YHL groupie.

I still need a tea light for that little bark tea light holder in the back....but overall I love it (especially with the white flowers).  It does scream different ethnic regions to me (the books and the runner remind me of Morocco, the tray of Africa in general, and the cow of India (they're sacred there right?).  I'm not sure if that's breaking some design rule but I love the look of it so I can't say I care too much.  Although apparently I care enough to mention it.

So there it is.  As Nate Berkus says, I felt like I created a "moment" in that space which I love!  And it's amazing that now that I like how it looks I'm super motivated to keep it junk free.  It's crazy how that works.

This change up only cost me: Tray: $12 + Cow: $5 + tea light holder: free + trinket boxes: $13 + runner: $6* = $36.  Considering I hadn't done anything in that space in the last...I don't know...5 years, $36 was very easy to justify!

*I took the cost of the tablecloth and divided it by 3 for the 3 items I made from it. Not that you care.  Or are even still reading. ;)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Front Door Fail.

So I finally painted my front door yellow!  I figured painting the door was an inexpensive weekend project that would hopefully make a big impact.  I've wanted to update the door for some time and finally just ran to Sherwin Williams, got the paint, and got on it.  However in my rush, I kinda sorta just eye balled a color and ran with it (i.e. no sample).  I found a yellow I liked and went one shade lighter since I tend to do super saturated colors, love them for a year, and then hate them every. day. after. that.  But in this case I shoulda gone with my gut.  The color ended up being this light buttery tone that I just didn't love.  The bad news is I had to paint over it. The good news is, I creatively salvaged the project and turned a fail into a success!  Stay tuned for before and after pictures.  I will tell you that I do love it now! :)

What color is your front door?

Friday, June 22, 2012

He Loved It!

Well I gave Joe the shutterfly book I made and he loved it!  I was so excited to give it to him.  I was also partly nervous that I did that thing people do when they give gifts suitable for themselves vs. the recipient...but then I thought, 'who wouldn't want to see pictures of his handsome self sharing special moments with his beautiful kids?!'  You'd have to be dead inside.  [But I did buy him some Nike running clothes just in case..he was dead inside ;)].

Anyway, I mentioned here the reasons why I think photo books make fantastic gifts so I won't detail it again.  But I will say making this book was really a gift for me too...for a couple of reasons.  Warning: It's about to get real.  The first reason?  I'd be lying if I said I don't get a tiny bit sad sometimes about our lack of freedom to do what we want when we want.  Or about the fun days of 'just the two of us.'  I'm sure I'm the only one who feels this way ;) but 2 1/2 years into parenthood & two bambinos--while awesome--does change things.  I bring this up because on Joe's 30th birthday I made him a photo book.  It was chock full of self portraits of us traveling all over the place and doing fun stuff.  Well besides the fact that we now have kids, I'm also a SAHM so our "travel and entertainment" budget isn't exactly staggering.  I say all that to say, that there are times when I miss the way things were and feel like we never do anything fun.  (side note: it's silly to say 'never,' because it's rarely ever true! Of course we do fun things--just not as often and a different kind of fun).  Looking at this book reminded me of what we ARE doing.  We are growing kids.  And it takes a lot of time, money, and energy.  But it's also freakin amazing.  Like probably the best thing I've done with my life so far.  And I know at this point it may seem obligatory to say, but I would seriously not trade it for the world (or to see the world).  So seeing 35 pages of my love with our loves makes my heart so happy and shuts that nagging "we never do anything" refrain right up!

The second reason is equally as judgment inducing.  Sometimes, just sometimes I convince myself that I'm the one pouring the blood, sweat, and tears out over these kids...not that Joe isn't an active parent. Frankly, he's amazing.  But one of the things that makes marriage hard is our inherent selfishness.  The marriage conference we attend talks about the fact that you can never really know if you or your spouse is doing his/her fair share.  Who determines that 50/50 line?  Neither of us is objective enough to know for sure.  So of course there are times when I'm convinced that I'm doing "more."  Well going through the tons of photos of Joe with our girls to pick out the hundred or so that I used was a sweet and gentle reminder of just how much time he spends with his girls.  And I loved seeing that.  


Okay, well I think that's enough terrible mom and terrible wife confessions to strangers for one day.  :)  Take a look at the book and let me know what you think!  Have you created a photo gift for someone recently? I'd love to hear about it!



Visit Shutterfly.com to create your own personalized photobook.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Happy Anniversary to US.

Today is Joe's and my 8 year anniversary!  I am so blessed to be married to an amazing man and my soul mate!!  Joe and I are so serious about working at our marriage to make sure it lasts.  If left to our own devices, I have no doubt that we would implode and become another statistic.  Thankfully we have amazing role models, determination that won't quit, and most importantly a savior who loves us and wants to see our marriage last and have an impact on His kingdom.  Being married is hard work but as corny as it may be, the phrase --"I didn't say it would be easy; I said it would be worth it" comes to mind. And truth be told, oftentimes it is easy.  Joe is easy to love.  And as I always say, he's my rock. So steady and strong (not to mention a hundred other attributes...but then I'd just be bragging ;).  Anyway, I'm a lucky girl.  Hopefully he doesn't read this because he embarrasses easily! 
Joe and Tiff through the years....

graduation photoshoot. May 2009.

graduation again...

a friend's wedding, NYC, my birthday (in Texas), New  Years Eve, and our 4th anniversary.

Christmas tree shopping, our 1st Christmas, date night with friends, 1st vacation together (San Diego), hiking in the fall, NYC again (preggers with Genevieve), before a Celtics game in Boston, and Pulse St. Patty's Day bowling.

trip to Italy in 2008.

cruise with friends, graduation, San Diego again, visiting TX, a date in DC back in 2003!, a friend's wedding, before Robin Thicke concert, at the beach, and before a Counting Crows concert.

What do you do to celebrate your anniversary?!  Any marriage advice to share?!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Home Sweet Home[goods].

HomeGoods.  I love you.  I want to marry you.  And live in a house of design and style and texture and patterns and happiness.  Oh, Hi.  I didn't realize you could hear me.  Clearly I'm HomeGoods Happy.  After reading this post over at A Place for Us, I could no longer deny my HomeGoods crave.  When Nadia skipped her nap yesterday, Genevieve woke from hers, and it was nice out, I decided it was the perfect opportunity for an impromptu trip to HomeGoods.  I got the kids in the car quickly and headed to one of the two HomeGoods near me.  Here are a few gems I found.

[I started this post weeks ago so this is my disclaimer that these items may not be around any more!).

I didn't jot down prices, nor did I take enough photos of the tons of other cool and inexpensive things I found there!  I felt like I was taking a lot of photos but when I got home I realized it only felt like a lot because I felt awkward taking pictures in the store! lol.

Anyway, come back soon so I can show you the item I actually purchased as well as the super fun 'found objects' I purchased just yesterday (from HomeGoods) for the living room re-do I briefly mentioned here and here.  I am so happy with them and can't wait to share!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How To Create a Dessert Buffet.


I didn't get a photo with the refrigerated desserts but you get the idea!
I'm no Amy Atlas but I've done a few dessert buffets in my day and I've learned a thing or two that   I wanted to share.  I'm all about you learning from my mistakes!  I recently created one for Thrive- Shiloh's women's conference, which is what prompted this post.  It was the first time I created one for something other than my own kids' parties.  I was a bit nervous but it came out great!  So here's what I've learned:

- Choose a theme or color scheme and stick to it!  Don't be tempted to do every cool thing you've seen on Pinterest or the big blog world. I've done pink/vintage princess, pumpkin themed, pink & brown (i.e. chocolate) [picture at the end], and bright and summery [pictured]. Also check out Megan's beautiful (and delicious) pink and yellow buffet from Grace's sunshine party!

- Keep it simple.  This advice varies depending on your budget, taste, and style.  You may have the budget to hire the best confectioners and bakers in your town and if so, go for it! However even if you do have the budget you still want to streamline the table so that it's not overwhelming.  I made the mistake of doing a bit too much for Genevieve's first birthday (the photo in the blog post doesn't even show all the desserts-they wouldn't fit on one table!) and realized for her 2nd birthday that a little goes a long way.  You don't want all your cute and tasty creations not to get the 'play,' they deserve because there's too much going on.

-Create a menu comprised of store bought, semi-homemade, and homemade items.  Obviously you can do all of any of those mentioned but in my experience the mix mentioned above helps with three things: 1. the dessert bar is "special" because you included some homemade treats that people can't just go buy at the store.  2. You don't drive yourself insane making every little thing from scratch. 3. It saves money. (The one exception is if you are doing a dessert bar comprised of candy only.  If you are Willy Wonka you can go crazy making candy but there are so many cool bulk candy sources that sell beautiful, tasty, and color coordinated candy)! Which brings me to my next point:

- Know your audience.  In my experience adults don't eat a ton of hard candy, so although it's easy AND gorgeous AND super easy to color coordinate to your party, you may end up with tons of leftovers.  Kids eat candy but kids also have parents who are sure to try to limit their sugar intake.  The exception is chocolate--both kids and adults love chocolate.  BUT it's also pricey.  (I guess this isn't advice so much as something to keep in mind...

- Use various heights to create a balanced display.  Cake plates, platters, cupcake stands, footed plates/bowls, etc.  Get creative here...(and see this post for a DIY cake/cupcake stand). I've also made these which were so easy and pretty!

-Use a pretty backdrop if at all possible.  I've used: banners, balloons, drapes, and poms, but have also seen streamers, chalkboards, fabric pennants, paper pinwheels, etc...Also paper products go a long way! Tent cards/labels not only make everything pretty but saves you from answering 'what is this?' questions over and over again!

- Map out which desserts will go in which dishes ahead of time.  Double check any details ahead of time.  For the thrive conference I realized at the very last minute that the foam I bought for my cake pops wasn't thick enough and they wouldn't stand up in it!  I was trying not to panic as a few of my friends (and attendees of the conference) helped me come up with something cute that would work for the table set up.  Phew!! Love you Jill, Danielle, and Melissa!! ;)

"Curious Cami's 3rd Birthday" image from here.


 "Modern Rainbow" printables.  Image from here.

"Little Pink Birdie" Baby Shower Image from here.

and though not nearly as beautiful, my first ever candy buffet back in 2008:

Your turn: What helpful hints do you have for creating tempting dessert buffets?!


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