Wednesday, February 27, 2013

House Tour: Living Room Progress & Gallery Wall

If you recall from this post, my living room was experiencing a case of the browns.

And I have been going on and on about wanting to paint my entire house gray which I did finally get around to starting over Presidents Day weekend.

It took me a while to grow accustomed to the very cool shade of gray after having spent the past 15 years with a warm shade of yellow covering the majority of the walls in both our current and previous homes.

Here are some before and after photos:

I spent some time trying to figure out what I wanted to so in that center molding panel space where the large gold framed mirror was prior to painting.

If you'll notice from the 'BEFORE' photos, it wasn't reflecting anything very lovely.

In fact,  the only good part about it reflecting the electronics directly across from it was that I could watch TV from the adjoining rooms by looking into the mirror reflection.

Convenient, yes.
Attractive, no.

So, I decided on a gallery wall.
I started by gathering up all the frames in the entire house since you know I'm a use-what-you-have kind of gal.

My initial idea was to have a really eclectic, almost bohemian, gallery wall with non-matching frames and maybe do some cool black and white photos and sketches as the artwork for each of them.

I started laying things out.

First on my dining room table,

and then on a rug that is, conveniently, almost the exact size of that center wall space. 

I was just so not feeling the whole mismatched frame thing.
I wasn't liking the disproportions in size and didn't want to part with some of the art I already had framed and that whole mismatched thing wasn't happening.

So I tried just the simple white Ikea Ribba frames in various sizes that I had on hand.

Once I laid it out I liked this simpler, modern look and felt like it wouldn't look as cluttered in my room that is already a bit of a hodge-podge of furniture and items I have amassed over the years.

Instead of going out and buying a bunch of art to fill the frames I just used the internet and my printer for some temporary 'fillers' until I find real artwork that I like better (and can afford, of course.)

Since I didn't want the frames to be lined up, they were very easy to hang.

I did have several large spaces in between the frames so I used a few of the H's I had from my entryway monogram wall and either hung them or just leaned them in the spaces.
(That entryway is getting a facelift soon, anyway!)

Here's my finished gallery wall and my living room progress! 

Since I had so many framed prints that were in non-white frames I decided to group them in a couple of other areas in the living room.
Those 2 black frames above contain pieces done by my kids and they are, of course, some of my favorites.

For this corner of the living room I did go with a mismatched grouping and I think it works because it's a smaller space.
And I really love this new chair which is not actually new but vintage.

I thought about painting it and recovering it but the whole vintage beige fabric and warm wood is really starting to grow on me and I' m liking the contrast with all of my newer furniture.

One last look at the BEFORE... 
(remember these lamps that I painted???)

 and AFTER.

As with all of my rooms, I tend to decorate in stages so this is not the finished room.
But I am certainly happy with the progress!

À la vie et à l'amour

Monday, February 25, 2013

Stylish and Chic Dorm Rooms

My oldest daughter will be heading to college in about a year and a half.
On a daily basis our mailbox is filled with postcards and brochures advertising hundreds of schools across the country.
It's a bit overwhelming.

But, as she narrows down her choices I have already started thinking about her college dorm room!

When I first arrived at my college dorm and my mom was helping me move in, it looked a lot like this:

I assure you this was indeed a dorm room and not a prison cell.

My roommate and I put up a few posters, added a large blue rug and then  made daisies out of colorful construction paper and stuck those all over the walls, too.

It was still ugly.

So, while my daughter organizes her college brochures into a giant notebook and we categorize the schools she likes and attempt to narrow it down to her top choices over the next several months,
I will be compiling my own 'notebook' of college dorm rooms that are stylish and chic.

Here are a few of my favorites so far:

Pinterest user upload
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How would decorate a drab dorm room so that it's stylish and chic?

À la vie et à l'amour

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What I've Been Up To

My husband and I own and operate a vacation home rental business on a lake here in Texas.

We have the luxury of getting to work from home but this is not one of those,
"I own my own business and hire everyone to do the work so I'm practically retired and only have to focus on the big decisions" kind of businesses.

We work 24/7, 365 days of the year.

Which means when the spirng and summer reservations start rolling in (around mid February) I get super busy and things like blogging (and getting to go pee regularly) get put on the back burner.
Mainly because writing posts takes some serious time and brain power.
And sometimes I have neither.

But here's what I've been up to this past week:

I made this personalized leather bracelet for my son for Valentine's Day.
And then the dog chewed on it for him to show her love, too.

While running errands I stopped by a favorite thrift store and found these beauties...

Yes, it's a black pattered chintz sofa that is so awesome in all its 80s splendor!

And this rust colored vintage velvet sofa that I would have loved to have for my living room!

Speaking of my living room...
I did spend 2 days painting over the long weekend.
I managed to get the living room painted and my kitchen.
More on that later but here's a sneak peek.

I also ate crappy carb-filled food all week long.
Like grilled cheese sandwiches.
Which pair well with a lovely cabernet.

I also went shopping for 'fancy shoes' for my daughter's first formal dance coming up this weekend.
I saw these that I loved very much for myself but that will not be happening any time soon because they are $100 and sandals simply should not cost $100 even if they are sparkle encrusted.

And I also saw and really like this guy from Stein Mart:

It was not $100.  
It was $20.

So, that's what I've been up to.

How about you?
What have you been up to lately?

À la vie et à l'amour

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Made With Love: Preppy Hearts Sweater

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I have been working on some handmade gifts for my 3 kids for Valentine's Day.

Today I wanted to share what I made for my older daughter.
Her style is a bit preppier than my younger daughter so I wanted something that was a little bit along those lines.
I decided that some heart elbow patches would be a great way to update a classic preppy sweater!

(My apologies in advance for the poor lighting and photo quality!)

I found this J Crew wool and angora blend sweater at the thrift store for only $2.00!
(You want to make sure the weave of your sweater is a smaller type weave.  You could also use a sweatshirt instead if you prefer!)

The thrifted sweater option was perfect just in case I totally jacked this project up and had to throw it away. 

For the patches I found this cute plaid fabric at my local Hanocock Fabric Store.

It was on sale plus I only needed a very small amount.
It cost me about $2.00 (if you're keeping track that means I am at less than $5 for this project!)

I also used this white cotton fabric that I had at home for the back of the hearts to give them more weight.

I cut out a heart template to the size I wanted using some regular printer paper.
Then I pinned the heart template to the plaid and white fabrics layered one on top of the other.

I cut them out then pinned the two heart fabrics to the backside 'elbows' of the sweater.

Since the sleeves are fairly snug and the sweater fabric stretches a lot I decided it would be best to sew the patches on by hand.
You want to be careful that you don't sew the front and back of the sleeve together!

Because I used a very simple hand stitch and the fabric naturally unravels a little on the edges, my patches have frayed looking edges and the stitching is very visible.

I actually wanted this sort of 'homespun' look. could probably use some FrayCheck beforehand or maybe glue some rickrack or sequin trim to the edges with fabric glue.

And here is my finished Preppy Hearts Sweater!

The total cost was about $5.00!
It did take me a couple of hours to complete the project because the hearts were hand-sewn 
(with love in every stitch of course!)

You can also check out the Sweetheart Sweatshirt my younger daughter is getting.
It was a 1 hour project that cost about $7.00!

À la vie et à l'amour

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Made With Love: Sweetheart Sweatshirt

No, I'm not dead.
It's just been mega crazy busy around these here parts.

But I have finally gotten around to working on some projects I have been planning for a while.

The first is a Valentine's Day gift for one of my girls.

I've been even more enamored with the idea of handmade gifts lately and wanted to make each of my my kids something special.

For this project, I started with a plain dark gray Hanes sweatshirt 
(mine cost $2.00.)
I didn't photograph it but you know what a plain gray sweatshirt looks like.

I purchased 1/3 yard of this red wool and sequin fabric at Hancock Fabric Store.

It was expensive but was on sale and I only needed a little.  
I think I spent around $3.00 for 1/3 of a yard and I still have plenty leftover.

Then I cut out an asymmetrical heart template from an old shopping bag.
I wanted it big enough to stand out but not take up the entire front of the sweatshirt.

Then I layered the red fabric on top of some plain white cotton I already had on hand (to give the heart more weight), pinned the template to it, and cut out both pieces.

I laid the layered heart pieces on top of the sweatshirt (the white is the under layer, of course) and pinned them to hold them in place.

I did choose to use a sewing machine rather than hand sewing the heart because I wanted a thick sewn border around the heart. 
The stitch setting I used is the third from the left. 

Not the easiest stitch/sewing job I have done but I am a major beginner!

Anyway, I stitched around the entire heart,stopping periodically to make sure it was still laying flat and not puckering.

And here it is, ready for Valentine's Day!

The entire project took me about an hour and cost me around $7.00 total!

Check back tomorrow to see my Preppy Hearts Sweater project!

À la vie et à l'amour

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What's Cookin: Sweet & Salty Nut Bark (PALEO)

I love the combination of a sweet and salty snack!

Especially when hormones are running rampant and the two halves of my brain are at war trying to decide if they want to gorge themselves on a bag of potato chips or a box of Twinkies.

So I came up with a super simple snack that appeases both sweet and salty cravings.
That way you don't have to waste time opening two boxes/bags and can just get right to the gorging part!

Efficiency and deliciousness.

Sweet & Salty Nut Bark
-Salted mixed nuts (about 1-1 1/2 cups) - I used the Kirkland brand from Costco
-Dark Chocolate (72% or higher cocoa content) - I used about 15 squares of the trader Joe's Pound plus bar

-Place a small piece of parchment paper on top of a plate
-Spread nuts onto the parchment paper in a single layer, keeping them close together

-Melt chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave unltil melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds

-Pour chocolate over nuts and use a spoon to spread evenly

-Put the plate in the freezer for about 5 minutes to set (or until the chocolate is no longer shiny)
-Remove hardened bark from parchment, break into pieces and gobble it up!

-Store leftovers in an airtight container

For more delicious chocolate-y Paleo treats, check out my recipe for Paleo Almond Butter Cups

À la vie et à l'amour