Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Picnic Inspiration

Whenever I complete a DIY project, I always think it is my favorite...this project definitely became my love for quite some time because it is pretty much beautiful.

It took a while for me to realize that I had paid no attention to my sunroom and didn't even have a kitchen table!  I was so focused on getting my living room squared away that one day it dawned on me that I needed a place to sit and eat.  The hunt began for something.  What it was that I was looking for, I had no idea!  This cluelessness didn't last for long though because I quickly became inspired by picnic tables!  I actually saw a picture in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine - May 2011 and it was exactly what I didn't even know I wanted...does that make sense?  The girl on this magazine page to the right is a smart cookie, what a fabulous table idea!  

My picnic table project began by measuring my sunroom.  It is long and skinny with a big pillar type structure in the middle of the entryway so I was working in a difficult space.  Once I figured out the dimensions, I got my wood working helper to create this masterpiece.  He didn't quite understand at first that I wanted a really beat up looking table that is super rustic and looked seriously old so I had to go with him and pick out my own wood from The Home Depot.  I looked for imperfections throughout the wood...the more knots, kinks, and scratches, the better!  The table came together and was delivered to my place still looking so raw and clean.  For the rough and rugged look I wanted, I knew I was going to have to beat my table up. Courtney is always ready to DIY, so I called her and her man Ben to help haul it over to their place because my Jetta can't carry a large picnic table on it and my space is definitely not one for a project this to their garage we went one Saturday afternoon.

So Court and I DIY all the time and so her fiance, Ben already said he wanted no part in our weekend projects.  You should've seen how fast his mind changed when I took a chain, hammer, screws and anything else I could find to do work on this table (distress it).  Ladies, get your main squeeze to help on this one...they'll like it, swear!  We went to town on the table until
we felt it was pretty marked up.  Then it was time to stain it and it is definitely a 2 person project.  ***Make sure to cover the floor before starting because it is such a liquid base and will drip everywhere if you aren't careful!  I bought Minwax Red Mahogany for my stain because it was perfectly rich!  I'm not sure if this was the smartest process but we stained the pieces of wood individually and wouldn't move on until it was wiped clean (we used old rags - make sure to have plenty on hand)....speaking of hands, make sure to wear gloves!  For the most part, the stain is consistent
throughout the table but some areas are lighter/darker which looks super neat.  The wood acted as a sponge to the stain so it felt like forever before it was dry but a couple hours later and it was time to coat it in gloss! I used Semigloss Fast-Drying Polyurethane to cover the table.  You want to put the top coat on to give the table the finished look and so that your table is protected from stains, food, rain (if outside) never know!  Between each stain I would let it dry and then sand the table with a light grit sand paper.  The coat become a little chalky looking but that is fine!  Wipe it clean and then gloss over. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Become bored and anxious. Let it dry and you're done!

VoilĂ !  

Better Homes and Gardens - June 2011

Courtney and Ben helped me take it back to my apartment and then my next project was to start looking for chairs.  Ever notice how ugly some chairs can be when you really start paying attention to them?  The search for my chairs seemed never ending until my mom showed me this magazine clipping which would soon finalize everything. Director chairs...duh!  It's so simple and I am so lucky because my mom just so happened to have 4 laying around in her garage that she wasn't using (this is seriously lucky, I know).  They were really ugly and so I thought about painting them and getting new slips for them but they are the old school chairs and I couldn't find slips at the store to fit them but I did find slipcovers at Pier 1...and they were on sale (lucky again).  I jumped around to 2 different stores to collect a set of 4 and it was well worth it.  The slipcovers were so on sale it was a steal at $10/cover compared to the original $40/cover.  I got 4 slipcovers for the price of 1 at original price which is really unheard of.  
Anyhoo, I now had a complete kitchen table with 4 matching chairs! That blue chair is now painted gold and I have an old church pew at the opposite end of my table.  LOVE this table and this room!

Total Cost:
Table Labor & Supplies - $210
Minwax Red Mahogany Stain - $7.56
Minwax 1qt. Semigloss Fast-Drying Polyurethane - $10.46
Gloves - Personal supply
Drop Cloth - Personal supply
Wiping Cloths (for stain) - Old shirts - Personal supply
Paint Brushes - Personal Supply (make sure to use one for oil based stains / top coats to limit air bubbles)
Utensils for Distressing/Beating the Table - Personal supply
Chairs - Fo Free!
Slipcovers - $40 (4 @ $10/cover)

Total: $268....Not too shabby

Christmas is the Best Time of the Year!

Holiday Home Parties....Here We Come!
We're one day away from December so we thought we would fill you in on some 'Christmas Crafting' we will be getting ourselves into this winter.  We'll be teaming up and linking to the following blog parties to show off how we are DIYing some Christmas decor.  So don't forget to check back in on the following dates to see what we have to offer.  And feel free to share some of your holiday decorating skills as well!  Can't wait!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"B" Stands for Barber

So I had this absurd hang a large sized B above my wet bar.  I wanted something sleek and sexy yet industrial to add flavor to my very blank wall and my very tall ceiling.  I have had this idea for a while but couldn't ever seem to get myself to get it done until this past weekend!  Literally my friends would come over and I think they all started believing that the photography papers I taped on the wall for size was my permanent art fixture.  I went to the local Home Depot and bought the cheapest piece of wood I could find that I could have the nice man in the back cut down to the size of 36 x 44in.  I had this piece of wood lying around
my apartment for weeks before I took it home and had my mom help me with hand drawing a font that I would love looking at for a while.  I then drove it to the gentleman who is located near me and has helped with some of my other wood creations and had him cut out this beautiful letter "B".  He took a couple weeks to get it back to me and although the wait was painful it gave me time to pick out the perfect paint color. My living room has lots of deep tones with pops of color so I needed to stick with a dark and rich color since it was to go above my tiffany blue wet bar; I chose Mystical 
Shade by Behr.  While I was at Home Depot I went to the hardware aisle for inspiration on industrial ways of hanging this B.  I saw a gold link chain and fell in love.  I told the man the project I was doing and he looked at me very skeptical and said, "what are you on some HGTV design on a budget show?"  Silly old man.  It was also funny because as this older man is giving me a hard time, the young guy that helped cut all 18 boards for my DIY headboard saw me standing there in the hardware section and came over to see how I was doing.  When people start recognizing you at The Home Depot, you know you have a DIY problem.  It also made me feel like a real designer though because he was asking about my headboard and wanted to see pictures since he couldn't envision my idea from the start.  Anyways, he liked it and now understands what a DIY headboard with 18 squares can look like.  The older gentleman was still cutting the gold chain and looked up and said, "well are you going to bring me a photo when you get done with this project?"  Oh networking at Home's fabulous!  With my chain (picture

this but gold), paint, and ceiling fastener in hand...I was ready to FINALLY finish this bad boy B.  The project took me less than an afternoon...the longest was waiting for the paint to dry.  While I was letting it dry, I was able to put in my ceiling fastener hooks and measure the gold chain.  I bought 2 chains and both were about 4 feet long which was way more than needed but at only $.98 per foot, I was willing to pay for more than to not have enough.  The paint finally dried and I was able to put some little hooks (for example click here) on the back of my B to hang on the chain.  The screw on the hook was actually too long so I took some extra cork board I had laying around and used it in between the board and screw so it wouldn't pierce through the front.  I had this BOLD letter B hanging in no time and it was the perfect statement piece for when people came over to my apartment that evening.

Inexpensive project: 
Paint - $10.88 (should've gotten the sample size but I got a quart, oops)
Ceiling Fasteners - $3.92 (2 pack)
8 Feet Gold Chain - $7.84
Wood - around $5
Labor - $30 for the cut
Cork Board - Free (had it laying around)
"Little Hooks" - Free (had them laying around)
Satisfaction - 100% Happy with my Bold new B

Monday, November 28, 2011

Giddy Up Time!

Every year we try to have a Carolina Hurricanes Storm Squad party to kick off the start of the season.  We hold tryouts in September so this is usually our time to get to know the new squad members. We decided on a hoedown theme for our 2011-2012 kickoff party as we wanted everyone to be comfortable and relax.  We wanted to incorporate all the great elements of a hoedown and make everyone feel like they were partying with cowboy style.  Since we have such beautiful fall days in Raleigh we wanted the party to be held outside as much as possible.  We held it in Courtney's garage/lawn so that everyone could get to know each other playing yard games.  We set up corn hole, beersbee (an awesome game where you knock bottles off of a pvc pipe with a frisbee), and washers. 
To help keep the flow of movement going we placed the food in the garage with seating and the drink station on the back porch with more seating. That way people didn't congregate in one small spot and everyone had a place to sit while eating. We cut out cardboard arrows and painted them with chalkboard paint to show where the different stations were: Don't you love how we used cowboy terms like "Grub & Mugs" and "Mugshots." Cute little details like that made it more special and everyone commented on them.
We also made lettered signs out of scrapbook paper to distinguish our different stations at the party. Our drink station was labeled "Watering Hole." We had fresh squeezed orange drinks and "boot kickin' margaritas" that our wonderful, bestest friends Catherine and Allison made (they're the gorgeous ones in the above picture with us). We set up on an outside bar Courtney had made (we'll post a tutorial soon) and added a straw basket with peanuts in their shells for snacking. Since it was a hoedown theme, we knew we wanted to center everything around mason jars. First of all they are cheapo and second, they just look so darn cute.
We made a drink station out of a chalkboard frame Kim had made (I think we are obsessed with this stuff) and wrote this adorable quote that we had seen on pinterest.  We used a bunch of mason jars we had hanging around for everyone to use as their drinking glasses for the night.  Just had to use a circle puncher and cut out some chalkboard (yep, there it is again) tags to attach with twine.
Boot Kickin' Margaritas
- 1 (12 fluid ounce can) frozen limeade concentrate
- 12 fluid ounces tequila
- 12 fluid ounces water
- 12 fluid ounces beer
- Ice
- Lime, Cut into wedges

Directions: Pour limeade, tequila, water, and beer into a large pitcher. Stir until well-blended, and limeade has melted. Add plenty of ice, and garnish with lime wedges. Adjust with additional water, if needed.

We provided dinner for everyone and kept it simple - something cowboys would eat.  Well, not exactly but we like to think it went with our theme perfectly.  We provided boston butt tacos, mac & cheese, cowboy salad, and chicken wings.  Catherine made little signs for each dish out of popsicle sticks, burlap, and labels and made up awesome cowboy themed dish names. We bought all the serving dishes/utensils at the Dollar Store and they even had sterno containers so we used those to keep some of the dishes warm. We wanted to be able to throw everything away at the end of the night and not have 30 dirty dishes so we had everyone eat out of pie tins purchased at the Dollar Tree as well. They sort of look like the metal saucers they used in the Wild West don't they? We made utensil pouches out of paint chips we stole grabbed at Home Depot. Love the freebies!
Appetizers & Snacks 
- Assorted Cheeses, Crackers, Fruits
- "Giddy Up" Guacamole Dip and Chips
Main Course
- "May Hay" Mac & Cheese
- "Sakes Alive" Slaw
- "Cowboy" Salad
- "Buckaroo Brisket" Tacos
- Chicken Wings
Dessert - "Dough Belly"
- "Six Shooter" 'Smores
Drink of Choice
- "Boot Kickin" Margaritas
- "Fresh From the Farm" OJ & Vodka

We also set up a photo booth area out in the garage to catch some memorable moments.  We just bought some hay stacks from a local pumpkin patch and hung a sheet of burlap on one of the walls with our infamous scrapbook paper lettered "Mugshots" sign.  There are many other items that we placed around this photo opp such as a DIY tree stump table, chair, rope, horseshoes...we pretty much went crazy and made it as country western hoedown as possible! We got some toy mustaches at the Dollar Tree and glued them to dowels for props and placed everything into a tin pale off to the side so people could pick and choose what they wanted for their picture.
It was a little tough to fit the entire Eye Care Associates Storm Squad in the shot but everyone had so much fun posing with the props and creating memories!
We had to squeeze in the Carolina Hurricanes somewhere into the mix of our hoedown so we opened up a "Canes Store" right in Courtney's dining room. We really wanted the girls to have fun with this theme so we went all out and bought: bandannas, Sheriff badges, Cowgirl Hats for dressing up...we also had our amazing party favors in the store.
Since we had been using mason jars for everything else, the cowgirl cookie favors were also in mason jars! We made these Cowgirl Cookies favors and put them in quart mason jars with some purple paisley fabric squares on top. They were such a hit and the cookies taste amazing! These are
such a great, budget-friendly favor and there are even printables for the labels with the directions on the website. We highly recommend these!
All in all it was a great party and we had such a great time planning this party together.  To do a party for 30 some people on a budget is a tough thing but we were able to pull it off and loved all the details we put into it.  Thanks to all those who came and had fun!

Other decorative items we used were our recycled pom poms from the bridal shower Kim held, mason jars with burlap covers with "recycled" flowers, and horse shoes we had on hand from a friend's horse shoe pit game.

Kim's Thankful Times!

I am just now getting around to this... You can see who is the proactive blogger between Court and I!  I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday and was able to spend it with people they care about with full bellies.  Yey for Thanksgiving!  I do believe it is one of the laziest holidays for me.  Our celebrations are always fairly small because a lot of my close relatives live either in Florida or in Alabama.  Because my sister is teaching in Spain right now, I had to hold down the Barber fort with my mom, dad, grandma (she lives across the street), and my aunt (she made an appearance this year)!  All I can say is that my mom is amazing and cooked an entire feast all by herself...the smells were delicious in our house the entire day and by 4PM I was so ready to eat.  I think Oliver had the toughest time because his nose was working on overdrive and he always seems to act like he's starving.  Anyhoo, after all the preparations, our dinner seemed to go by pretty fast!  Turkey, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce, salad, mashed potatoes....I was in a food coma and you practically had to roll me away from the table.  My mom and grandma had made dessert as well so we went on a family walk with Ollie in order to make room to later divulge on another course.  Once home we had this delicious pumpkin bake and
My little rag doll. 
ice cream with my great grandma's specialty chocolate sauce. YUM.  And another coma set in.  I think it did for Ollie too because we went upstairs to watch the movie Unknown and he passed out on me like this...I've never seen a dog sleep like this before, but he loves sleeping on his back with his legs completely sprawled out.  He also snores...a looker for sure.  It was so awesome to be with my family on such a special day eating such great food that we were so fortunate to have.  Onto the next holiday though with decorations, presents, family and more eating.  Can't wait!  

Backsplash Picture Hanger

I have been attempting several DIY projects for my new apartment...well I don't know if you could call it new since I moved in back in May but my projects are finally starting to come together and it has just been a SERIOUS work in progress!  One of the first decorative and DIY projects that I attempted after getting all my furniture and clothes settled was my sink backsplash/picture hanger/old ugly shutter thing.  My parents went down to our bed and breakfast in Bat Cave, North Carolina and had to clear it out after two men that were renting it had started hoarding junk / collectibles ...junktibles?  One thing they found was an old shutter that had 8 frames...4 frames had mirrors and 4 frames had old, smeared plant packages and both were caulked to the whazoo.  I wish I had a picture that showed how bad this thing looked, just ugly.  So one day Ollie and I started to work on taking apart this old piece...
Has to check out everything!
Getting lazy and making it difficult!
You can see that he is obviously a very good helper.  Always wanting to be involved with whatever I am doing.  Can you see the ugly paint color? The mirrors? And the fading/water stained framed planter pictures?  Yes, all of this had to go!  I first had to take a blade to the caulking to try and loosen it up to remove the frame and mirrors.  I hope it's not bad luck to break mirrors because several may have been cracked in this process.  Once all spots were clear, I sanded and painted this masterpiece a magenta pink color called Exotic Bloom by BEHR for a nice pop in my kitchen (the color looks way duller online than in person and paper).  While the paint dried, I went to the office supply store and bought bulldog clips

and printed several pictures from my local Walgreens.  Once home, I realized the bull dog clips were not really the ones I needed.  The ones I bought had magnets on them and so rather than running back out to the store, I just pried the magnet away from the clip so I could use what I really needed.  The paint had dried and so I was able to nail the clips onto my freshly painted frame.  I tried to nail the clips in the center or I would do 2 in one frame but I normally don't have the patience to measure so it was more a trial and error and it turned out GREAT!  I love my final product and here it is for your very own viewing pleasure. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Court's Thankful Times!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Hope you guys have a happy, safe, and loving Thanksgiving today.  Be sure to let all those you love and care for know how thankful you are for them.  

Kim and I are spending our Thanksgivings with our loved ones so we thought we would drop in and share some special moments from our celebrations.  Bodie is spending this holiday with his favorite cousins Cooper and Grady White.
We are going all out with enough food to feed an army. We're frying a turkey with an infrared fryer so no oil - and SAFE!! We're also mixing in some ham, collards, mac & cheese, green bean casserole, cranberry apple casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, deviled eggs, fried confetti corn, dinner rolls, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and chocolate pecan chess pie. Jealous? Yeah, I'm ready for the feasting to begin.
I also decided to make a fun, budget friendly centerpiece for us to enjoy. I decided to go with a centerpiece with purples and greens that could be edible so we could use the items for dinners next week. I layered collard greens (from our dinner!) artichokes, broccoli, and purple cauliflower all on a platter. It looks so great - and it is a perfect vegetable centerpiece. Much better than flowers and we can certainly enjoy the food next week.
 I also added a little something extra by using the framed chalkboards I used for my brother's rehearsal dinner.  I just wrote the dish names on them to show how much work was put into this dinner.
Well, I hope everyone enjoys this special day as much as Kim and I did.  Have a wonderful day!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Love Is Carried On the Breeze

My big bro got married back in May in Chapel Hill, NC to his lovely wife Lindsey.
I not only was a bridesmaid on their special day but I got the chance to help my parents throw the rehearsal dinner.  Drew and Lindsey decided they wanted to have it at a restaurant called Sitti in downtown Raleigh.  My dad arranged for everyone coming from the rehearsal to ride in rickshaws from the bus to the restaurant – SURPRISE!
Sitti was the perfect place to have the rehearsal dinner as they have a large patio in the back of the restaurant and it could accommodate the 80 guests they invited!  The only problem is that the patio is brick.  All brick.
So I had to add some cute, decorative items that were sentimental and helped the patio seem not so…..well, brickish.  I really wanted a “love birds” theme but I didn’t want it to be over the top and cheesy.  For the entranceway, I made a chicken wire frame from an old Goodwill purchase and attached the saying “In Springtime, Love is Carried on the Breeze” with clothespins. 
My parents decided to go with assigned seating since we had so many guests so I decided to make the place cards into a gift they could take home with them.  My mom found these little wooden birdhouses at Joann’s for $1 each and we spraypainted them a really pretty royal blue.  Kim helped out by writing Drew and Lindsey’s monogram and date of the wedding on the bottom of the birdhouses.  They even had ropes attached so they make a great Christmas ornament and a sentimental way to remember their wedding every year.  We tied tags with each guest’s name and table number to the houses so that they could go mark their place at the table.
For the colors we decided to go with royal blue, yellow, and red.  My inspiration was the groom’s cake I made which was a Superman themed cake.  My brother has always loved the superhero comic books and movies so we had no choice in the theme.  For some reason the fondant looks all cracked in the picture but it really was a cute cake.  I made a “J” for James instead of the “S” in the logo for a more personal feel. 
We had the dessert table set up at the front of the courtyard so that everyone could grab a cupcake or a piece of cake as they were leaving.  Yes, I made like 60 cupcakes for this.  Crazy thought.  I loved the linens we chose for the dessert table.  They added a lot of texture and resembled flower petals and leaves – tying in our springtime theme again.  We put a picture of my brother as a little kid wearing his Superman costume and another one as an adult, wearing a Superman costume again for Halloween.  Definitely explained the Superman cake.  We also had mason jars filled with candy that matched the colors we chose.  We had to choose candies that wouldn’t melt since NC springs are quite toasty.  We filled the jars with Bit-O-Honey, Lemonheads, and Smarties.  Each jar had a ribbon and a label and we even offered clear bags from the Dollar Tree as to-go treat bags.  I even made two signs with styrofoam and fabric and added "Sweet Love" to designate the dessert table.
For the tables we kept it nice and simple.  We found another textured yellow table cloth with a subtle stripe in it for all of the dinner tables.  I used chalkboard paint and Dollar Tree frames to make the table numbers and filled vases with lemons and flowers.  The vases also had ribbons tied around them with their monogram printed out on labels I made.
To top it off, we strung lights across the patio to give it a chic, urban look.  My brother made an amazing slideshow for Lindsey which was displayed perfectly on one of the big brick walls.  Everyone started toasting (eek, I should not have had a microphone in my hand) and it was fun to hear the roasts and the sweet things everyone had to say.                  
All in all it really turned out to be a fun night.  I was certainly glad the stress of planning the dinner was over but it certainly is fun to reflect on how great it all turned out.  And a special thanks to Amber Byrd for taking the amazing pictures!  They are absolutely perfect.  I somehow didn't take a single picture that night - guess I was all tuckered out!