December 31, 2010

farewell and a look back on 2010

It's hard to believe it's the end of 2010. Where did the time go? I guess I've been busy this year, writing this blog, building my design business, and finishing projects—and dreaming of new ones—in my own home. I want to say a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you for reading, following, and taking some moments to tell me what you're thinking. Your friendship and feedback keep me going! I am a lucky girl.

So where did the year go?! Here's a month-by-month look at what I was up to.

In January, I was inspired by the simple, easy artwork of framing fabric.

In February I put together some items to help you get the look of one of my favorite spaces.

March was about inspiration too, and found me writing about one of my favorite design elements: baskets.

In April I revealed my bathroom makeover.

I headed outside and took you on a tour of my garden in May.

In June I summed up my design style in just one picture.

In July I put together a fun design board for a reader's daughter headed off to college.

I revamped my front porch in August.

I took you on a tour of my home office in September.

In October I was back from Italy with lots of pictures to share.

In November I finally revealed my big kitchen makeover on a tiny budget.

And finally, this month I was busy with diy projects for myself and my family, like my bedroom curtains, a fabric message board, and Christmas stockings from a vintage quilt.

Wow, looking back it's easy to see it's been a busy year! I am so looking forward to many more inspirations, projects, and challenges next year—and most importantly to sharing all of that with you, dear readers and fellow blog friends, who keep me motivated, encouraged, and inspired to do more and achieve more every day. Thank you, and happy new year!

December 29, 2010

easy custom curtain panels

Is saying "custom" just way too snobby? These are just DIY curtain panels, with a canvas dropcloth lining. After finally ordering the fabric I'd had my eye on forever, it just sat, again forever, in my office, until I made friends with my sewing machine. Now that these simple panels are sewn and hung, my room is of course prettier but also more private at night (those bamboo shades don't block everything) and dark and cozy in the morning (perfect for sleeping in).

To make these curtains as light-blocking as possible, I wanted to add a lining but didn't want to spend too much. I got the idea from Little Green Notebook to save money by using a canvas drop cloth for the lining. Brilliant.

My curtains were a little longer than standard—fnished length was about 95". The 9 x 12 size drop cloth, cut in half, was perfect for two panels. Here's a closeup of the lining.

Another post that was invaluable was Cottage and Vine's tutorial on the blind hem stitch. And though I don't think I actually accomplished the blind part of the hemming, it was nevertheless very helpful to this beginner for figuring out how to add the lining and cover all the raw edges.

To make these panels even simpler, I did not do any fancy header. I didn't make pleats or install grommets. I simply sewed a wider hem at the top and then just used clip rings to hang the panels.

So there you have it. Custom DIY curtains in a few hours—once you have all your materials and actually sit down to work, that is. I love the layers of colors in the room now. The walls are Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue, which in this north-facing room looks like a Tiffany box blue. I like the deep teal of the curtains against that, and then the sky blues and grass greens in the chair (another project to finish!) and the bit of kelly green lattice on the pillow. Nothing matches, and to me, that's just perfect.

December 28, 2010

a much improved picture

Santa had a big surprise for me this year! My living room has a (and makes for a) much improved picture right now.

Turns out Dad was perusing out my blog, checking out the pictures of my house decorated for Christmas when he came across this:

And he thought oh how pretty it all looked except for that ugly old tv ruining the picture. His technological aesthetic sense was quite offended. He ran right out and bought me a new tv.

Do I have the best father ever? The answer is yes. Merry Christmas to all! Hope you got all you wanted and some great surprises too.

P.S. This is just the spruce up I needed to get going on giving this whole room a facelift!

December 24, 2010

joy and peace

Just fell in love with this image when I saw it and had to share, especially today. To me it symbolizes the best of this season—simple beauty, peace, and happiness. Merry Christmas to all!

image via martha stewart

December 23, 2010

homemade christmas: message board

I wanted to share with you another gift I made for Christmas. Have you ever made a fabric-covered message board? I actually hadn't, but with all the tutorials out there, I found it very easy to follow along. And I'll add my step-by-step to the list too. It's so easy, and if you haven't tried it, you should! It's a simple and satisfying project you can finish in a couple of hours (last-minute gift idea?!).

1. Start with a piece of homasote. I bought it at Home Depot and had them cut it to size for me. It comes in pretty large sheets, so I had them cut the leftovers too, and now I have a few message boards-to-be waiting in the wings.

2. Begin stapling batting around the board, taking care to pull taut (but not tight) and folding corners well, so there's a minimum of bulk there. I chose a pretty thin batting, but you could choose a thicker one, depending on how much of a padded look you want to the front of your finished board. 

3. Begin stapling your fabric in the same way you stapled your batting. I was pretty excited to find this fabric, in colors that'll work in my sister's home office, for half off at Joann's, which brought it to about $5/yard. At that rate, you could make message boards for everyone in your family and your neighbors!

Anyway, make sure to line up your pattern along the edge and to center it (if you can!). I did not center my fabric on the front (shame!), but because it's a small pattern didn't make too much of a difference. With a big pattern though, you definitely want it to be centered, so turn it over, take your time (I am not good at this!), and take a good look (get out the measuring tape if you need to) before you punch that first staple in. When you're done stapling, trim any excess fabric from the back.

5. Turn over your board and lay out some ribbon in a pattern you like. (You'll notice in the next picture that I changed my layout, so take your time here too!) Make sure your ribbon pattern is centered on the front of your board. Again, take out the measuring tape and be sure. You don't want to tack all your upholstery nails in and then have to pull them out again when you hold up your finished product and notice your ribbons all seem a little closer to the left edge of your board. You're learning from my mistakes, people!

So, when your ribbon pattern is centered, push upholstery nails in the spots where the ribbons meet and at the ends. You can also use a rubber mallet to hammer them in. The nails will hold the notes, photos, cards, and messages you'll slide between the ribbons.

6. Admire your finished board. Nice job! Now, what else can I cover and staple? Seriously, this project is addictive. As for this gift, I really hope my sister and her family like it. I'm so happy to give them something personal and creative. Oh, and I sincerely hope she has not been reading this and that it'll be a surprise come Christmas!

December 22, 2010

christmas spirit

There's never enough inspiration this time of year! I love seeing all the totally unique, creative ways people decorate their homes. If, like me, you haven't got your fix yet, there's plenty of wonder and awe to be found at the Nester's and Cottage and Vine's tours of homes. And here are some random favorite pics found around the interwebs that are inspiring me now.

 via freshome

ikea via solid frog

Are you in the spirit yet?

December 21, 2010

homemade christmas: sentimental stockings

Isn't it so rewarding to make something for a someone special for Christmas? This is not just me being cheap. It's that so many people have everything they need and it just feels wasteful to spend money on them, on more and more stuff that they won't remember, let alone use, a few months from now. No, I find it so nice to give the gift of my talent or my time—to make or bake or craft or write or sew something you put your heart and soul into, that will hopefully be much more appreciated than that thing I spent all of 10 minutes ordering online. Now, I am hardly against material things that make your life happier, easier, or more stylish! It's just that at a certain point, you don't need any more things and instead want something else.

And with that, I say: if anyone in my family is reading my blog this week, please stop! Secrets will be revealed!

Bear with me: there is a story here. Now, back to gift-making. Because my parents are forever imploring, "Don't get us anything, save your money!" it's tough to think of ideas for gifts for them. Because if you can't buy, or you know they don't really want you to buy, what can you do? Well, with my newfound sewing skills, I came up with an idea. We've had this antique (well, old) red quilt in our family for as long as I can remember, and it's seen picnics, days at the beach, overnight "camping" in the backyard. My sister and I both have special memories of it, and I'm hoping my parents do too. As it's aged, it's become yellowed and stained and ripped, and in general in sad shape. As a way to save it, and the memories it holds, I decided to make Christmas stockings for my parents from it.

There were very few good parts (I mean, hardly any of it was usable) of this quilt left, so I had to use a different fabric on the back. I actually like the effect.

Aren't the fabrics perfect for Christmas? I'm so excited for Mom and Dad to open this gift on Christmas—and really hope they find it as special as I did when making it.

December 20, 2010

natural holiday with viva terra

If I had to do my holiday decorating all over again, I'd love to pick up some of these decorations from Viva Terra now. They totally have my number, so simple and natural, with a dash of sparkle. In fact, maybe I should shop for next year, no?

I'm also linking up today to Cottage and Vine's Christmas Tour of Homes. There's so much great inspiration there—you must check it out!

December 17, 2010

giveaway winners!

Thanks to everyone for participating in my blogiversary giveaway.

via decor8

And the winners are:

Carole wins the $35 CSN stores giveaway. Carole, I don't have your email address so please contact me so I can send your promo code!

And the Pier 1 $25 gift card goes to Erica of Decorica. Congrats, Erica. I will email you shortly!

Thanks again and congratulations, ladies. Happy Friday, everyone! Enjoy your last weekend before Christmas! It's going to be a busy one.

friday food: ricotta souffles with prosciutto

The other night I had a few of the girls over and got it in my head to try to replicate a dish I had (and remember so fondly and with much salivating!) in Italy this fall. The recipe went over well (I mean, how can you go wrong with prosciutto?) and the ladies asked me to post it.

One note: this might not technically be a souffle, but it's not a fritatta and it's not an omelette, so this was the best description. Second note: I freestyled this recipe, so feel free to tweak yours to your liking as well. You could add some fresh herbs to the egg and cheese mixture, or you could add spinach, which would be delicious too. Oh, and the leftovers, if any, are good for breakfast as well. Eggs and bacon, right? Bon appetit!

via flickr {your results will look something like this!}

prosciutto-wrapped ricotta souffles

3 eggs
1 egg white
1/2 c parmesan, grated
16 oz ricotta
1/2 c half and half
four slices prosciutto

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and egg white til just mixed and then slowly whisk in half and half, ricotta, and parmesan. Season generously with salt and pepper. Wrap proscuitto around the inside of four ramekins. Ladle egg and cheese mixture into center of ramekins. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes then turn out right side up onto plates.

zucchini puree

2 medium zucchinis
1 clove garlic
olive oil
1/4 c parmesan, grated

While the souffles are baking, make this delicious puree to serve with them. Slice zucchinis and saute in olive oil with garlic til softened. Puree in food processor til smooth, adding in olive oil slowly. Add parmesan. Puree again til as smooth as possible. Rewarm and serve on the side with the souffles.

December 16, 2010

my house at christmastime

Just 9 days til Christmas and the decorations are finally up! I've been busy, outdoors and in and I'm ready to take you on a tour. First, from the street, festive greens fill the window boxes...

I borrowed the burlap ribbon idea from Terrain {see inspiration here} and used it on the front door with a simple balsam wreath dressed up with a little boxwood.

I actually "made" my own burlap ribbon, instead of buying it, by cutting up the burlap I use to wrap my delicate plants outdoors.

The foyer's a little dark, so I hope you can see my little branch "tree" I sprayed silver and hung with some sparkly snowflakes. 

I kept this bay window area simple with some sprays of boxwood hung with pretty sage silk ribbon.

The chair also got my favorite embroidered wool Anthropologie pillow, which adds a little festive touch, not to mention contrast and brightness, to this space.

The other side of the room needed a little sparkle. It's kind of like my stand-in mantel.

 Notice I turned all my books in the credenza around a la this bookcase?
Finally, my mini skinny faux tree. I love a real tree—the trek to cut it down, the look and feel, the scent it brings to the house—but a few years ago when my tree stand broke and the stores were out of new ones, I gave up and got this. And I have to say, I like the way it looks. It's certainly easier to care for (and clean up after). I just had to invest in a balsam candle so I can have that real tree smell in my house!

A closeup for you—decorations are simple light green, gold, silver, and bronze balls, snowflakes, and tiny birds, which I adore! The tree topper is more of the green ribbon I used on the boxwood sprays.

Another spray hangs from my bedroom mirror. I've started an amaryllis bulb and wish it would grow faster!

Finally, I just had to hang some white lights from my canopy bed {inspiration here}. So dreamy!

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