Thursday, December 22, 2011

Subject: Christmas Stockings

Melissa -

As with our other Christmas decorations, for our stockings I once again drew inspiration from the Secrets from a Stylist holiday special, especially this picture:

I love how these stockings still look like stockings when they're hung over a mantel, but they're not the faux fur-lined numbers I had growing up. However, I did want something that had more traditional Christmas colors in it (like, red) and I did not have a ton of time to spend on creating stockings from scratch (or the patience really).

At Target I found stockings in the $1 section that I thought would be good to work with - and hello, you cannot beat the price! So even if I only use them a few times, I don't have that much invested in them. I went ahead and bought four so I would have all that I would need (and matching!) for Christmas next year. Next I went to Joann Fabrics and checked out their flannel selection. Not great, but I did re-find some flannel that I have been loving from afar for awhile but had no projects designated for it...until now. I kind of liked the idea of each stocking having different flannel trim on it, but given the limited selection I decided to make them all the same. Finally, I printed off some letters from Word to use as stencils. Here are my supplies:

I created little foot and heel patches by tracing the end of the stocking on to paper and cutting it out to make a pattern. Next I started on the letters. After I cut them out from computer paper, I then traced them onto a file folder and cut them out again, because I felt like the thicker paper would work better for tracing onto the actual fabric. It was a little more time-intensive, but I think the results were worth it. To adhere, I used fabric glue (because why sew???) and I love the results!
Right? Here is a close-up:

I think they look really interesting but not mass-produced, which is totally what I was going for. I also kind of like that the flannel isn't a traditional red-and-green theme, but still has red in it to make it work with the red stocking. I also liked how Emily didn't use traditional stocking hangers over the mantel but instead strung them up using gold chain from the hardware store. I did not have any gold chain so I used some twine. Maybe next year I will come up with something even more creative...we'll see! But for now, I am just glad I can mark stockings off my list.

And yes, I bought enough fabric to personalize next year's addition!

Season's greetings!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Subject: A Very Homemade Holiday

Melissa -

Oh my gosh - I have so enjoyed watching your master bath's transformation! I cannot wait to see the finished project. What are you doing for fixtures (light, faucets, mirrors, etc.)? I'm sure your choices will be flawless, but the suspense is killing me!

Over in the Casa de Lass, I have been busy at work getting ready for Christmas and breathing new life into my childhood relics. Would you believe this is the first year we have ever put up a Christmas tree? This will be our sixth Christmas as a married couple - and no tree! Mostly it's because we have always been gone on Christmas day, so it seemed silly to put one up when we wouldn't even be here on the actual day to enjoy it. But this year everyone is coming to us, so we decided to get into the Christmas spirit. Of course, having never decorated a tree (or our house, really), we were essentially starting from scratch.

For some reason, Christmas decorations stress me out. First, I feel like I have a hard enough time with decorating my house for the other 11 months of the year, so focusing on decorating for just one holiday has always seemed daunting. I would rather spend my money and energy on decorations I can use year-round, you know? Plus I don't know what to do with all the decorations once Christmas is over. My house is not brimming with extra storage, so I hated the idea of having to find a place to store decorations. And lastly, so many of the decorations out there are just ugly and super-commercial, which is not at all appealing. So instead I decided to make all our decorations.

First up: ornaments. I wanted everything to have a homemade vibe and give off a feeling of what better than yarn??? I was inspired by Secrets from a Stylist's holiday special and found 4-packs of Styrofoam balls for $1 at the Dollar General and then found some cheap yarn at Joann Fabrics. Here are my materials before:

And the finished product, after:

There are 40 total. I actually got really fast at it towards the end, but I was so happy when I was done!

Next, I needed to figure out what to do about a tree topper. I didn't want to do a typical star or angel, so I decided to brand the tree as our own, like any true Southerner. I found a chipboard M at Hobby Lobby on sale for, like, 75 cents and then went and looked at the holiday floral section. Here is what I was working with:

And the after:

I really like the look of it! I hot glued each of the berries and then topped it with the crystals to add some flair. I mean, it's not perfect, but I think it's fun and different. I glued yarn across the two points of the M to hang it on the top branch and it is resting on some lower branches for added support.

Here is a shot of the whole tree:

I used some burlap as my tree skirt and added a little bit of sparkle to the tree with some silver bells (and now that song is in my head...).

The whole thing achieves what I was going for and nothing is breakable (great for curious little fingers)! Tomorrow I'll show you our stockings!

Bye bye,


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Subject: I've Lost My Marbles

Hellllllooooo Kara!

Today it's about to get international.  It's time to discuss marble.  When the Mr. and I started planning this project, When I started begging the Mr. that we should redo the bathroom, When I told the Mr. we were redoing the bathroom, we were trying to look at what would be the most cost effective option for the vanity.  We had discussed (for about 2.2 seconds) keeping the existing cabinets and just replacing the top.  After that idea was squashed, we considered doing a "pre-made" piece a la Restoration Hardware:

Hutton Double Vanity Sink

The problem with this is the space we have is 100" long and pre-made pieces are generally 72" wide.  So basically we were going to lose both storage space and countertop space.  After finding Cabinets To Go we were sold and realized something more custom would be the way to go.

Upon making that decision my sidekick and I (that would be my mom) were on the hunt for a fab countertop.  Using this image as my inspiration...we were off.

When it comes to bathrooms, needing only 100" long of material, plus the backsplash which gives you about 25 ft. total, you don't need a full slab.  What's a girl to do???  Boneyard.  Yes, granite and marble companies have boneyards, which are remnants that are usually sold at a good price.  Here's the catch...whatever they have is what they have.  I made A LOT of phone calls and I have to say not a lot of places had boneyards.  But there was one that did!  We looked, got an idea of the selection and then was told we really should only choose from the boneyard about one week out of when we need the piece.  The pressure, the pressure.  What if when the time came there wasn't something that I LOOOOVEEEEDDD?!?!?  And then the magic words were spoken.  "If you don't see something you like outside, we can just sell you what you need from inside.  You don't have to buy the entire slab."  (Insert sound of angels singing)  The decision was made...or so I thought.

Fast forward to two weeks ago.  Tile installer recommends a granite and marble place he likes to use.  I call, talk to someone, let them know what I'm looking for and hear, "We've got a remnant that just might work for you and the price is GREAT!"  Sidekick and I rush right over and find this...

It's okay, but it didn't make my heart go pitter patter.  I wanted veins.  I wanted drama.  So, after that disappointing drive by, sidekick and I decided to swing by the original place.  The place where I heard angels sing. 

We look around the boneyard...saw a few things...reminded the girl again of what I was looking for...saw the lightbulb go off for her...and then we were brought to Italy.  May I present our marble slab....

She was just what I hoped for!!  Not quite the same as the inspiration, but she has the veins, the drama and she is pure perfection.  Best news is, after all was said and done, we found a remnant of her in the showroom.  Let's just wrap this up with another cha-ching!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Subject: Tile...Check

Ta-da!  That's right...we have tile and grout!!  What do you think?  The tile guys kept raving about how great they thought it looked, and the hubs and I could not be more thrilled!!

Here's the schedule for the rest of the week:
Today - The shower glass enclosure company comes to measure
Tomorrow - The cabinets get installed
Friday - The marble templater comes to to template for the counter top

Tomorrow's discussion...marble.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Subject: Cabinets To Go

Good morning Kara!

Today's "email" is one I advise you to save should you ever be in the market for new cabinets.  When we first started the process of deciding to redo our bathroom, we were on the fence with regard to replacing our vanity.

The Current Vanity
It is white, and we were planning on still keeping the white.  But it is low...very low!  And with a 6 foot something husband, washing his face and brushing his teeth requires a lot of bending.  So, we started researching.  And we hit a lot of dead ends.  One place even quoted me $5,000 for cabinets!  INSANE!  I mean they were beautiful, but INSANE.

Thankfully, my mom, and avid HGTV watcher, remembered hearing about Cabinets To Go.  While the selection isn't huge, this place had EXACTLY what I was looking for!  We ended up with the Findley & Myers Malibu White as seen here (Please excuse that this is a kitchen, but you get the gist):

And here are the sketches of exactly what we ordered: 

This is a sink base, so we have two of these.

This is for the middle section where the vanity seat area used to be.
I figured it was silly to keep the sitting down vanity area since I never sit to put on makeup or do my hair.  Plus the selection of cute vanity seats is far and few between.  And the Shaker style cabinets, was exactly what I wanted.  A few places I found that sold them said they were veneer in the middle, but there are all wood.  So for under $1000 I'm getting three cabinets, delivery and someone to install them.  Not too shabby!!

And not to sound like an infomercial for Cabinets To Go, because I promise I'm paying the full price for them, but I found out they can offer such great prices because they only offer a small selection of products.  Also, it's owned by the  same guy who owns Lumber Liquidators.  Not that I've ever purchased anything from there, but I've hear the name.

So, I'll let you know how it all turns out, but as of now I'm thrilled.

Cha-Ching!  (That was because I saved so much money! HA HA)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Subject: Gray is my mom's least favorite color

Hi Kara - Hope you had a good weekend!!  Ours was "fun."  I mean, we painted.  So, I'm not quite sure if that constitutes as fun, but I always enjoy quality time with the hubs.

I'm pretty sure I shared some of these before pictures with you in the past but here they are as a refresher...

 I know, I know.  They make you wonder how we lived with a half carpet/half tile and all gold bathroom for a year.  Real pretty.  Especially knowing in my mind how AMAZING the after is going to be.  Well, this weekend, with paintbrushes in hand (I'm the cutter and the Mr. is the sounds like we are into some self-destructive behavior) we painted. 

The entire bathroom is a vision in my head and since I selected the tile, I knew I wanted a gray bathroom.  Funny thing is, my mom HATES the color gray.  She just thinks it's sad.  However, she helped me select my perfect bathroom shade, and I'm thankful she can see my vision and doesn't try and change my mind.  So, we went with Sherwin-Williams Rhinestone. 

If you are going to pick a gray, might as well pick one with a fab name.  Here are a few pictures of our weekend masterpiece.

Until tomorrow...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Subject: D-Day

Kara - Today is finally here!!  D-DAY!!  aka DEMO DAY!!

More details to come.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Subject: Blast from the Past

Melissa -

Hi - I hope you had a great Thanksgiving/shopping weekend! My Ikea trip was almost a 100% success - they didn't have the spice racks in stock. That was actually one of the saddest things to me, because I had been so looking forward to using them in Suz's future reading nook, but maybe I will come about them another way. Plus, I'm not assembling the nook tomorrow, so there's still time.

In addition to bringing back my Ikea goods, I also snagged a few of my childhood favorites from my parents' attic. Suz is to the age where she's in to pretend play and is getting to the age where she is more independent, so everything I brought back is geared along those lines. Let me warn you: these pieces have been sitting in my parents' attic for the last 25-ish years (OMG, that is so depressing to realize), and who knows HOW old they were before then...all that to say, they're not in the best shape. But it's their potential I am most interested in. So, without further ado, some of my childhood relics...

Here is a baby cradle I see in Suz's future 'big girl' room for all her stuffed animals and baby dolls:

However, in its current state it looks like something from some scary doll hospital, so I will be painting it a bright, clean white (maybe a laquer-y finish?) and I thought about making a new mattress for it with the fabric from Suz's current crib skirt, since she won't be needing it for too much longer and it seems like a sweet way to recycle it.

Next up, this play highchair:

When I imagined this in my head, I couldn't decide whether I would paint it or not, but then seeing it in person confirmed it for me: I WILL be painting it. Some of the wood has gotten nicked over the years and the whole thing just seems dirty and depressing. If it had been in better shape I might have considered keeping it as-is, just because something about the kittens seems Sally Draper-ish* in a way, but now I am looking forward to giving it a new life with a fresh coat of paint. Plus, Baby Bobby may want to play with it, and the kittens and pink tray makes it even funnier for a boy to play with (and will make Mr. Lass cringe even more).

We have ordered this play kitchen for Suz for Christmas:

I am envisioning setting up the highchair next to the kitchen, so maybe my paint scheme will coordinate with the kitchen. I think I might do the whole thing white and then paint the tray a fun red, and then maybe do red polka dots where the kittens are now.

Lastly, I lived in this table & chairs growing up:

It actually has four chairs, but it was 50 degrees and windy today, so I only pulled one chair out of the garage to show you. This thing is in terrible shape, obviously, but I think it has a lot of potential as well. I think if given the choice I might not have chosen this exact set, but I think it will be cute once it has been painted. But I am getting stuck on what color to paint it. It will be going in the kitchen, near-ish my dining area, so I want it to coordinate with that to some degree, but not match out-right because I want it to still be kid-friendly. To remind you, here is my dining area presently:

I considered painting everything white, but then painting the table top a dark color, just to hide whatever dirt/crayon/jelly will end up on this thing. Maybe like a deep turquoise-y/green? But, just to give you a closer view of this set, check out the legs on the table and the chair:

They have a wave to them which I think is kind of interesting. Should I try to highlight that in some way? I am hesitant to do any kind of crazy color, just because I don't want it to look too Willy Wonka with the black and white tile floors. Thoughts?

I feel like I am an elf in Santa's workshop with all the painting I have been doing around here, trying to get projects finished up before the end of the year. It's an arbitrary deadline, but I want to see how much I can get done in the next month so I can focus on getting my house ready for the craziness to come in March!

Hope you have a great weekend!

*I know that Dorothy Draper is a real style, but I feel like Sally/Don/Betty Draper have also attained the status of having a style named for them too, right? I guess I use it as a way to reference back to the 1960s/Mad Men era in general.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Subject: Nursery Fabric

Melissa -

Hope your family had a great Thanksgiving yesterday! As you are reading this, I am probably en route to Ikea for a day of awesome finds. I am so excited! After poring over the Ikea website for many hours, I think I have made a list of all the things I need/want, and I cannot wait to check it twice!

I've already shared with you some of my nursery inspiration ideas and some of the accessories I would like to incorporate (loved your suggestions, by the way, especially that adorable book!), so now it's time to talk about fabric. This aspect of the room has been a question mark from the beginning, but in the last few days I feel like I have gotten a clearer picture of what I want and I'm starting to get excited. First, though, I feel like this picture is a good illustration of what I ultimately want to achieve in this nursery:

I'm not talking necessarily about the colors, but instead the mood. It reads kid, but it's not theme-y or overly cute-sy. I also love the lightness and brightness in this space - and that's really what I want. I want the room to feel airy and light, but also to be sophisticated and have a vintage vibe to it. At this point I think I have settled on the wall cover "Light Blue" (creative!) by Benjamin Moore. It's a true blue, but not over-powering. Like Suz's nursery, I want the wall color to be secondary, but still add to the overall mood. I like for colors to read what they are, but still be pale enough to be considered a neutral too.

I think the main piece of furniture in any nursery is the crib (duh), so I feel extra pressure to get that bedding right. I'm not worried about fabric for the bumper because I'm using this white breathable bumper thing that is already in the crib. So - one less thing to think about! So that leaves the crib skirt (and sheets, but that seems secondary). I want some kind of plaid that looks like a man's dress shirt, but is still kid-friendly and colorful and will let me incorporate lots of other colors in the room. It was love at first site with this:

It's very similar to a Serena & Lily fabric called "Rex" that you may remember I sent you back before I knew I was having a girl the first time, but has now been discontinued. Bummer. This swatch I found off a random website that does not even sell fabric, so I'm really going to have to use my Internet skills to track this down. But I really like all the colors and think it achieves what I want it to.

Also in this room there will be a twin bed, so I need to think about bedding for it too. One thing I'm trying to keep in mind is that one day little Bobby might be sleeping in this bed with this very bedding, so I want it to be kid-friendly, but also if a grandparent needs a place to sleep one night they don't feel weird about sleeping over because the sheets are covered in a circus print and bears juggling, you know? I am drawing my inspiration from this room that was posted on Little Green Notebook:

This is exactly what I want! I love how the bedding is light/bright/airy, but also is boy-ish but not too juvenile. I am liking the idea of doing some kind of quilt (maybe in gray?) on the bed and then doing a more colorful duvet folded at the foot of the bed. The one in this picture is a Dwell find from Target that is no longer available (from what I can tell), but then in my Ikea stalking I found this:

Not bad, right? I will need to see it in person to get a read on the colors and if it would really work, but I kind of like what it's doing. It's definitely kid-ish, but it doesn't seem childish (an important distinction, no?) and I like that the background is white, which helps with my lightness and brightness goal. I also like that there is some turquoise/light blue in it, which references back to the madras above. And one thing to keep in mind is that it's going to be folded at the foot of the bed, so that will help tone it down some. I wouldn't want this as the main bedding - that might be too much for this room. So fingers crossed it is a) not hideously ugly in person or b) out of stock. One more thing on the bed: it's going to be right near the upholstered rocker, which is covered in a khaki-colored twill, so I need to stay away from that color in a quilt, don't you think?

Right now the window in the room is covered with some pretty sad-looking mini blinds. I found this DIY on covering a cheap roller shade with fabric of your choosing, so I think I might go with that. Here is the fabric I am considering:

I really want red to be an accent in the room, used sparingly but still with purpose so it really has some punch. I found a brass lamp at a thrift store (a true thrift store, not overpriced Goodwill) that I have painted a glossy red, so that will bring in another pop of red. Maybe I will do some sheets that have some red in them too...maybe polka dots or something? I also like the idea of incorporating a little bit of black and white buffalo check somewhere, since that really says "man" to me :) I think re-covering my little footstool for in front of the rocker will be the perfect spot for it.

So, yeah. That is the fabric. I think I covered everything, right? As always, can't wait to hear your feedback/comments/thoughts.

Happy shopping day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Re: Subject: Nursery Accessories

Hi Kara,

Where to begin?!?  I think the nursery accessories are the best part of a nursery.  I have a feeling we are going to come back to this topic quite a bit.

In my mind I picture Don Draper's office/Bobby Draper's bedroom.  Leather club chairs, plaid, houndstooth and a little bit of this:

As far as vintage posters go, I think All Posters has a great selection.  I also came across this site called Vintage Printable, where you can print poster size images for free!  They have some really cool stuff, including map prints like this which I know you are a fan of.

Then there are cool typography prints like this:

And if only you were having a Cowgirl instead of a Cowboy, how fun is this??  Clearly I have a vintage Wild West obsession.  Totally subconscious up until this point though!
I am going to keep my eyes open for other fun accessories.  The only thing I've found thus far is the cover of this book.  I was thinking fun vintage book covers could also be cool framed?  Or maybe one or two go on the shelves?

And look, it's your entire family!!  Except you need a dog.  But Ina is there!!

Okay, last thing before I wrap this up, but it's for Suz and not Baby M.  I recommend you add this to the Ikea list...

I own it.  I painted it.  It's amazing.  There is also a mirror version.  I think in a fun color this could be very cute in Suz's new room either as a mirror, chalkboard, bow holder (per your Pinterest).  The ideas I have are endless.

Until tomorrow!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Re: Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel

Melissa -

So I thoroughly enjoyed your last post about holiday cards. I have recently received catalogs from Shutterfly and Snapfish with various holiday card options inside. I found myself getting annoyed when they would use the same "family" photo on several card examples, but the names would be different. Or they wouldn't have enough names (like what you pointed out - four names but only one person in the the other kid too heinous for family/friends to see???). Also, why do all the names sound so smug? Example: Holiday Wishes - Tate, Hampton, Bucklebury & Georgianna. Okay, I'm kind of exaggerating. But seriously. It makes me not even want to buy their cards if I am going to be lumped in with all that smug-ness!

I also look forward to seeing your Hanukkah Bush! In that spirit, I submit this picture from the December issue of Better Homes & Gardens:

Um, this is exactly what you need to do. The pine cones are spray-painted sparkly blue. The person also made blue velvet acorns. I would label that "overboard" but you could just do lots of blue and silver nature-y decorations (just buy them and slap a coat of paint on them).

Seriously, please do it. It's too gorgeous not to pass up! And the article said the designer person used dead limbs from their yard. For this and other creative holiday tips, pick up this month's issue of Better Homes & Gardens...

Also, in the spirit of Hanukkah, I wanted to send you this pop-up book I ran across:

If you are not familiar with Robert Sabuda, you need to get familiar. He is like the pop-up book master. When I was in college (maybe even high school?) my mom would give me one of his books each year for Christmas and now I have this amazing collection of really beautiful pop-up books. Of course, they are currently packed away in a box up until the point where I feel my Sally (and soon Bobby) will not tear them to shreds...but what an exciting day that will be! I don't know about Michael J. Rosen, but I'm sure he is lovely and charming as well.

Anyway, that is all for me. What is with all the italics this post? I just ate a brownie not too long ago and I'm blaming it on that. I just felt like there was so much to emphasize in my response!

Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Subject: Nursery Accessories

Melissa -

So happy to hear from you! I like how you are a perfectionist and I am a procrastinator...I knew if I told myself I was going to wait until the beginning of the month, I would never write anything again! Also, if your bathroom looks anything like the inspiration pictures you posted, I will be so jealous! (and totally happy for you too, of course) Actually, it could really work out because one day when I move out of this house I will need a new master bathroom myself, and then I can just copy yours :) Everybody wins!

Okay, now to my current mental obsession: this nursery. Like I said, I have all the furniture already so we'll mostly need to concentrate on accessories and fabric. Today I am going to show you some of the accessories I have found around the interwebs that I love and would like to incorporate in some way. So, without further ado...

These globes from Jordan's apartment seem perfect to incorporate into the Mad Men/'60s Jet Set vibe. I don't necessary need nine, but maybe one small vintage-looking one? I think I have seen then before at World Market.

Above the dresser I want to do either one shelf or two for displaying purposes. I've already promised Mr. Lass we can have cigar boxes in this room, so that seems like a good place to display a few. Plus some other knickknacks...Zippo lighters, perhaps? (Just kidding and I laughed at your comment about the bubble cigarettes. I have, however, thought of trying to find a chunky brass ash tray - clean, of course - to hold pacifiers. I had a pretty bone dish in Suz's room that served the same purpose it was a nice way to display them plus they were always handy.)

These shadow boxes might be a nice alternative to plain shelves, or I could maybe even do both, depending on what I want to display. Of course, the more shelves and small items means more tedious dusting...something to keep in mind.

I am terrible at deciding on artwork, but I fell in love with the idea of vintage travel prints, especially to go with the aforementioned '60s Jet Set vibe. These are a great price and I may only get two. Or three. I'll need to add those frames to my Ikea shopping list.

This faux deer head seems perfect for that old man/den vibe. I don't know if I would choose fabric so busy, but I love the idea of some kind of kid-friendly taxidermy in the room.

O-kay. Got an idea of what I'm working towards? More to come!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Subject: Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel

I received my weekly email from Paper-Source and this week there was something about holiday cards.  I figured I would see what they had in the Hanukkah department, which is usually nothing good, but I actually came across these:
If I were to send out holiday cards, which I usually don't and probably won't, I think I would look no farther than these.  Pretty funny, huh?!?

But after finding this one, I wanted to see what else is out there in the world of Hanukkah holiday greetings.  While being Jewish has a lot going for it....we can add fun words in to our vocabulary like "oy" and "kvetching" and actually know what they mean, all of our holidays revolve around wine, Jerry Seinfeld (funniest guy out there) is on our team and we're all rich! (I mean that's what people say)....when it comes to the "holiday season" we usually get the shaft.  When you go out to buy your wrapping paper and bows in red and green this year, why don't you see how many Hanukkah choices there are out there.  Probably two different wrapping paper styles and both not so hot.  (Hmmmm...maybe I should go into the wrapping paper business??)

Okay, back to the real story.  So, I decided to look online for Hanukkah holiday cards, but I was immediately distracted (Surprise, distracted) by these two beauties...

While beautiful cards, the first features a picture of who I assume to be Sam.  My question is, where is Jake??  Not adorable enough to be featured with his sister on this year's Hanukkah greeting card. 

Then there is card number two filled with it's own faux pas.  It's "signed" by four people, only one being a woman, yet there are six girls in the photograph.  Very odd!! 

So, to the company who has these holiday cards online, your marketing staff sucks!  Alright, before I turn into a full fledged Scrooge, I'm signing off!  Don't worry though, I'll be back next week and I cannot wait to tell you all about the Hanuakkah Bush/Christmas tree we plan to erect in our house!!  That's right this Jewish household refuses to be left this holiday season!!