Friday, September 28, 2012

Swing into Fall

Hope everyone had a great first week of the Fall season!  I know my boys did!

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Warm Fall Mantel

In the spirit of keeping with the "new and improved" frugal Lo, the hubs requested that I not go overboard with buying all new fall decorations and cascading them all over the house during the renovation.  Who me?!?  CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!!  I wasn't planning on doing anything too extravagant anyway... jeeze.

I am quite impressed with what I was able to find by "shopping" in my own house.  Almost everything on this mantel was somewhere in the house collecting dust with the exception of some fresh fall scented candles and a craft pumpkin from Target.

These faux fall leaves were a purchase from Pottery Barn a few years back.  I used double-sided tape to adhere them to a candle holder and wrapped some twine around to hold everything in place.

I love how this amber colored decanter fits perfectly with the warm tones I was going for.  It belonged to my Grammy Grace.  It comes with 6 mini glasses used for port wine (shown here with the candy corns and candle).

And my little craft project of the day.  I just had to have a chevron pumpkin this year.  They are everywhere!  Courtney at, A Thoughtful Place, posted an easy to follow tutorial on how to make one the other day.

I've had these milk bottles for over 10 years!  If I remember correctly, I gifted them to myself as a house warming present when I moved into an apartment in the North End of Boston.  Yeah, that sounds like something I would do.

The ribbon was saved from last Halloween and the candy corns are obviously new, but in my opinion, food shouldn't count as a new purchase.

So what's the tally?  $6 for candles and $10 for a craft pumpkin...and I'll even throw in the candy corns for 2 bucks.  That's a whopping $18.  Challenge accepted?  Challenge WON!  What do you think?!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Repurposed Kitchen Stools

I don't like to admit this, but I'm the WORST shopper.  Don't be fooled, I LOVE to spend shop but I'm horrible at finding a good deal.  I consistently get suckered into reading those glossy catalogs when they arrive in the mail and head on out to the store to get the latest "must have" full priced item.  

Well, I'm changing my ways!  Or at least I'm making every effort to change my ways.  Case and point - we need new kitchen stools to fit underneath the breakfast bar.  The stools we currently have are too tall for the space.  My little legs can barely fit underneath without cutting off my blood circulation, never mind a grown man's legs!  In the "old days" (i.e. yesterday), it would have been a trip down to my local Pottery Barn for a full priced purchase.  Well, the "new and improved Lo" had the hubs get the power tools out of the garage to do some re-purposing.  Any project that requires the use of power tools is a worth while project in his eyes.  I need to start taking advantage of that!

Here's the before.  See? Too tall (please ignore the mess on the counter - how embarrassing!)

We measured & marked a couple inches up from the bottom of the legs and cut the wood using a jig saw (I didn't even know we had one of those in the garage!)

Then sanded the bottoms to even out the legs.  No one likes a wobbly stool.  I also put little felt furniture tabs on the bottom of each leg to prevent any scratches on the floor.

Then a quick trip Joann Fabric & Craft Stores for some cotton batting and 2 inch foam.  Everything used to complete this project we already had on hand (other than the batting and foam).

The rest was a breeze.  After measuring (twice), I cut the batting, foam and fabric down to size.  First, we secured the batting and foam to the stool seat using a staple gun.  Then did the same process with the fabric.

...and "Lo and Behold" we have ourselves some super cute and comfy kitchen stools.  No more smooshed legs!!  But the best part... I only spent 10 bucks!

{M} C.R.A.F.T * Creating my way to Success Destination: Craft diy home sweet home: MMM Get Out of my Head Please * i should be mopping the floor Krafty Kat Lines Across * Ask Anna * The Girl Creative The Gunny Sack The Southern Institute * Thrifty Decor Chick Making the World Cuter Mad In Crafts {Tu} Crafty Confessions * Elizabeth & Co. Him & Her  Home Stories A to Z  *  Homework Sugar Bee Crafts {W} Creations by Kara * Fabric Bows and More Ginger Snap Crafts * Lil' Luna * Organize and Decorate EverythingPrimpPincushion Creations   seven thirty three * Sew Much Ado Someday Crafts Southern Lovely * Sugar and DotsThe Stuff Of Success * 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dreaming of a Gleaming Master Bathroom

Did I mention the renovation project will take 12 weeks? Oy!!! ...and its only week 4!  Dust particles, stray wood chips, the porta-potty in the yard and a dozen construction workers in and out of the house aside, I can NOT wait for the new bathroom.  I literally day dream about it.  Here are some pictures that have inspired my design and layout of the future master bath...

via hgtv Candice Olsen Design
via Restoration Hardware
via houzz
via Pottery Barn

Enough daydreaming, this was my reality a few short weeks back...the master bathroom (if you can call it a bathroom).  It was SO cramped, just enough room for a shower built like a cave and the porcelain throne.

Here's a better look at the cave shower.  I'm not sure what the original *designer/architect* (cough, cough) was trying to accomplish by surrounding the shower with a wall of tile.  Also, please take note of the shower head placement.  I'm 5'2" so the height of a shower head isn't really a pressing issue for me.  But my husband, fortunately, is NOT 5'2" so the water basically hits him square in the chest.  Poor guy.  The plumbing will be moved to the opposite wall to resolve this flaw in this design issue. Yay!

And you remember this bizarre-ness that's actually in the master bedroom, right?  This sits right outside the "bathroom". 

Construction is well underway and I can taste the dry wall, new skylights, double sink vanity, shower bench and frameless shower doors in my future!

In other news,  I'm debating between these two sink faucets for the his and her's master vanity.  Any preferences?

Option #1

 Option #2


Monday, September 24, 2012

Office Closet Makeover

I've organized & re-organized our office closet countless times but it always seems to become a catch-all for paper clutter, rolls upon rolls of wrapping paper & ribbons, craft supplies, computer wires, cell phone wires - everything is in this closet.  After scouring my fav blogs & Pinterest for innovative storage ideas I think I've finally come up with a solution that will work (fingers crossed).  

And here she is in all her glory!!!!!

I'm almost embarrassed to unveil the "BEFORE" pic but it has to be done to understand the massive effort behind this job.  Ick!

For this project I followed the Keep C.A.L.M and Organize On method that I read about on one of my "go to" blogs, A Thoughtful Place.  She explains a good way to tackle a project like this is to Clear out, Assign a spot, Label, and Maintain.  And that's just what it did.   I cleared everything out!

Where did it go?  On the guest bed and floor for about a week!  I shredded old bills and paperwork, burned all our music onto the computer so that I could toss old CDs in the trash along with all the unnecessary clutter that hadn't been used in over a year.  I then assessed the storage containers that were worth keeping and determined what additional things were needed.

Down the road, the plan for this guest room/office is to update it with a green and turquoise color scheme (check out my inspiration board on Pinterest here).   I wanted to paint the closet walls to make it a happy place   so I went with a bright and vibrant turquoise.  This may not be practical for some but I think the finished product looks so stinkin' cute.

Once the walls were dry I started re-stocking the shelves, labeling everything.

An over the the door multi-pocket organizer works great to store crafts supplies.  It's so nice to see where everything is & quickly grab it when needed.

The hubs installed a metal strip on the wall for magnetic spice containers to store paper clips, thumb tacks & other small office supplies.

This great ribbon organizing idea was spotted on Pinterest.  I used paper towel rolls to wrap loose ribbon that was lying around the house.  The white multi-pocket hanger behind the ribbons will be used for gift tags.

And a magazine holder to store labels and card stock.

Now everything has a happy place to live and is so easy to find.  Let's hope I can maintain it! What do you think?

Source List:

Office Closet Paint: Benjamin Moore Natura Semi-Glass Waterfall 

Green Magazine Files and Boxes with Lids: Ikea Kassett storage

White see & store magnetic containers: Container Store

Turquoise Document & letter storage boxes: Container Store

Turquoise Letter Tray & Paper Drawers: Container Store

Fabric Wall Paper Storage: Container Store

Over the door craft supply pockets: Bed, Bath & Beyond

Guest Baskets: Homegoods

Guest Basket Labels: Better Homes and Gardens

I'm sharing this post at these fab blogs...
{M} The Dedicated House  * C.R.A.F.T * Creating my way to Success Destination: Craft diy home sweet home: MMM Get Out of my Head Please * i should be mopping the floor * The Girl Creative The Gunny Sack The Southern Institute * Thrifty Decor Chick Mad In Crafts {Th} A Glimpse InsideA Little Knick KnackA Thoughtful PlaceCrafty Scrappy HappyDelightful Order * DIY by DesignHouse of Hepworths Hubby Made Memomnivore's dilemma Somewhat SimpleThe 36th AVENUEThe Idea Room * The Shabby Creek Cottage

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Taste of Fall

Tomorrow marks the official start of Fall - my favorite season.  What better way to kick it off than with some Butternut Squash Soup.  There are hundreds of different recipes out there for this type of soup, and believe me, I have tried them all.  But THIS recipe takes the squash cake!  The secret ingredient is fresh ginger - it adds the perfect amount of spice, heat and depth to the flavor.  Oh perfection, I can't wait to eat it tonight (and for the next week... this recipe makes A LOT of soup).

What you'll need...

1 Large Butternut Squash (Whole Foods only had little guys so I got two today)
2 Leeks, white part only
2 Medium Carrots
2 Stalks of Celery
2 Tablespoons of fresh minced Ginger
2 cloves of minced garlic (optional)
1/2 stick of unsalted butter (I know this seems like a lot but like I said, this recipe makes a lot of soup)
4 cups of Chicken Broth
Couple pinches of Cinnamon
Salt & pepper to taste

How to...

1.  Cut squash in half length wise and drizzle the flesh with EVOO, cinnamon, salt & pepper.  Place squash skin side up on a roasting sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes (or until you can easily poke through the skin with a fork)

2.  Meanwhile, clean and dice leeks, carrots and celery.  Using your best soup pot, sauté leeks, carrots, celery, ginger and garlic in olive oil and butter over low heat  for about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the broth.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.    

3.  When squash is done and slightly cooled, scrape all the goodness out (no skin) and add it to the soup pot.  Simmer for another 10 minutes.  

4.  Using a hand held emulsion blender (a food processor or regular blender works just as well) puree all the ingredients until smooth.

5.  Top off with a little creme fresh and sprigs of thyme

Click here to print recipe

What are some of your favorite recipes you'll be making this Fall Season?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Chevron Bridal Shower

OK I think it's pretty clear that I'm having a love affair with chevron.  I recently planned and hosted a bridal shower for one of my dearest friends.  The theme?? Well CHEVRON of course!  The party took place in the heart of Boston's Back Bay neighborhood on Newbury Street at a charming little place called Cafeteria.  The food and service were top notch!

I find it helpful when planning a party to start the process with a source of inspiration.  I'm always perusing my favorite party blogs like HWTM or Ruffled and making myself inspiration boards on the ever so popular Pinterest.  For this Chevron Bridal Shower a cake posted on Elizabeth Anne Designs was the inspiration and jumping off point for all the party decor.
via Elizabeth Anne Designs

I found an invitation design I liked at Half Pint Prints on Etsy and Amber, the designer, was more than willing to update the invitation with my color scheme.  I printed them out on heavy card stock and cut them down to size using one of those table cutter thingys at my local FedEx Kinkos.  I also wanted to up the ante of the envelope?  Why?  Because I'm a lunatic. I found a downloadable at Sweet Papers on Etsy with all these cute red and gray patterns.  (I foresee using these for personalized place setting cards during the holidays!)  Using some scissors and double-sided tape, I trimmed the chevron paper to fit inside the envelop.  Super cute right?! 

In my opinion, its important to have a consistent look and feel among all the party decorations.  So I had Amber layout the Brunch Menu using the same design from the invitation (I had the Crab Salad Sando - and it was delish!).  To the left of the menu is the Bridal Shower Favor.  A friend of mine makes the most decadent Fleur de Sel caramels - I packaged about 10 caramels in each glassine bag and secured them close with a strip of chevron paper, gray & white bakers twine and a cute little "So Sweet You Could Come" sticker that I found at PaperJacks on Etsy.  Also found on Etsy were the white & gray tissue pom poms at SnapLilly.  Thank god for Etsy! 

The restaurant tables usually seat four, but since we had a relatively small group of 15 ladies I wanted us to all sit together.  So with the help of my BFF we did some rearranging (in our dresses and heels I'll have you know!). To make the table look as seamless as possible I cut a loooooong piece of chevron fabric to make the table runner.  And since this was a summer bridal shower, I wanted the center pieces to look clean and airy.  My first choice of flower was either gardenias or peonies but they were not in season at the time (hissssss!).   I think these beautiful red garden roses in mason jars worked just fine though.

While the ladies dined we played a little He Said, She Said game and quizzed the Bride on questions I had secretly asked the Groom weeks prior the the shower.  How cute are those little red golf pencils!

When guests arrived they were greeted with a glass of Prosecco (the Bride's favorite) that was adorned with a little chevron "Cheers!" tag.

And last but certainly not least, the cake!  I used the same baker that I used for my wedding, Cakes for Occasions.  They did a great job leveraging my inspiration cake pic to create this don't you think?

All the ladies let me know how much fun they had so I guess you could say this Chevron Bridal Shower was a success!

I always get so anxious right before hosting a party.  What if something goes wrong like the food is gross or people aren't having fun or someone sneezes on the cake or (gasp!) we run out of booze - oh the HORROR!  Do you feel the same way??

P.S. Thanks, Ama (aka BFF), for helping me set up the room!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

There's No Turning Back Now...

With all the house's (aka Cupcake's) charm, she is somewhat quirky like most homes built over a 100 years ago.  This house has been occupied by dozens of different owners.  I can walk up the street and meet a neighbor who used to live here and another neighbor's mother used to live here, and her brother's cat...and so on.  I'm sure you can imagine all the major fail unique updates that have been made by the different DIY'ers contractors over the years.  

At some point in the 90's (while I was listening to Nirvana & wearing a scrunchy in my hair) the second floor attic was converted into two finished bedrooms with two full baths.  Also known as our master bedroom and nursery.  We updated the nursery 2 years ago when the boys were born (a topic for another day) and we are currently in the middle of renovating the master bedroom and bathroom.  Here was our bedroom about 3 weeks ago prior to demolition.

We have a California King Bed so it takes up a lot of room, luckily there's enough room on each side for decent size bedside tables.  The roof line is off centered due to some jimmy rigged HVAC ducts in the ceiling by said 1990's owner, the window is itsy-bitsy and those curtains are the 'doors' for our his and hers closets.  So many changes to be made, but SO much potential at the same time.

This is my closet - I call this an organized mess.

 and the hub's closet...

 This is dormer #1 to the right of the room.  Basically wasted space right now.

And the Pièce de résistance... a sink in dormer #2.  I mean seriously, who puts a sink in the middle of a room?  The hubs wakes me up at 5:30 AM most mornings while brushing his pearly whites and shaving before leaving for work.  He always feels so bad...

Well there's no turning back now! Take that you stupid sink!!

You see that?! My first time using a sledge hammer.  I probably should have been wearing some sort of safety goggles for the epic fury I unleashed!  

Good-bye wierdo unwanted sink, good-bye closet with no doors, good-bye too tiny window.  I will NOT miss you...

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