Saturday, July 31, 2010

Weekend Plans and Giveaway Results

Happy, happy Saturday! I'm headed off to buy stenciling supplies for my neglected little prison hallway. I found a free downloadable template for a Morroccan/Moorish tile stencil, and all I need to buy is acetate. I figure if it looks horrible, I'll just paint over it and try again. Any home improvement plans of your own this weekend?

And the winner of the $50 gift certificate is commenter #9, Sara, aka "byrdhunting" on Twitter. Sara, please check your email for details about your prize! Please let us know how your save-the-date cards turn out--I'm sure they will be gorgeous. Thanks, everyone, for playing, and thanks to Paperspring for the great prize. Happy weekend, all!

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Monday, July 26, 2010

A Peacock-Inspired Wedding (on a hummingbird-sized budget)

My sister Mary Ruth is the youngest of us three girls (I am the, ahem, wisest), so like it or not, she will always be the baby. When she announced her engagement last summer, we were all thrilled for her. When she announced that she wanted to get married in eight weeks, we were surprised, but not much. She's always been a little impulsive. When she decided she still wanted a bit of a to-do for her wedding even though she was on a very tight budget, we sighed (but secretly began planning and charting and making a little folder of wedding goodness for her). I got to help her find the dress, order and arrange the flowers, make the programs and invitations and cupcake flags, and do all the centerpieces.

Somehow this girl got lucky enough to find not one, but TWO perfect locations that had openings. She chose Two Rivers Mansion, a beautiful antebellum home nestled between the Cumberland and Stones rivers, with a rich history. Two Rivers is owned by Nashville's parks system, and it's much more affordable than private mansions, if you are lucky enough to find an empty date (and Mary Ruth was!). She found herself drawn to peacock feathers, so we used those along with the mansion's history as inspiration for the wedding's subtle theme.
MR Wedding Board Updated

I designed the invitations in Publisher and the program in Word, using a homemade stencil and cardstock for the program's cover. Oh, if only I had known about Download and Print back then! They have a peacock feather invitation, just ready to print! That would have saved me hours of my life.

Programs before I tied silver ribbons through the holes.  
Me and my little guy.

The ceremony was a family affair. Laura and I were bridesmaids, and my husband's band provided the music. My mother and father walked Mary Ruth down the aisle; then, my father climbed the steps to officiate the wedding. My mother made the beautiful monogram arrangements on the front columns with some cardboard letters from JoAnn, some floral foam, and flowers and magnolia leaves from her own garden.

This was probably the best Graham behaved during the ceremony, the chance you take when your ring bearer is two.

After the ceremony, my father threw open the mansion's doors and invited everyone inside for the reception. The peacock motif coincidentally worked incredibly well with the mansion's decor. The "gift room," one of four parlors in the front of the mansion, actually had peacock-blue walls, and the foyer had a wallpaper mural that happened to feature a peacock.

We saved money by using vases, chargers, and candlesticks that we already had among family members, and we reused the bridesmaids' and mothers' bouquets in arrangements during the reception.

The mansion's two left parlors are rose-colored,which let us depart a little from the teal and metallics and introduce some pinks. We used some vintage pottery from the bride's and groom's families that coordinated with the rosy colors, and hydrangeas from our grandmother's garden.

Mary Ruth wanted a cupcake tower (from Nashville's incredible Cupcake Collection), and she made her own "giant cupcake," which we topped with a little wooden bride and groom.  I bought them unfinished from etsy seller goosegrease and painted them myself to save a little money.

It was a beautiful, fun day for everyone there. Mary Ruth looked beautiful, and we wanted the old mansion to reflect her own infectious charm and loveliness. 

Congratulations, Mary Ruth and Dave!

Photographs courtesy of the very talented Katherine Sloan, KRSloan Photography. Pin It

Friday, July 23, 2010

I don't know what it says about me that I get excited to see Better Homes and Gardens in my mailbox. I used to view BHG as a more pedestrian, suburban shelter magazine. Also, not long ago, I couldn't have cared less about the whole "and Gardens" part of their content. (I'm still not much of a gardener. Okay, I'm not a gardener at all, but now I can appreciate a pretty garden, even if I'm too lazy to plant one of my own.) Either they've stepped up their game or I have moved into their demographic, but it has become one of the magazines I most look forward to receiving every month.The sunny, cheerful August issue was right up my alley.

The cover had me at the turquoise, yellow and apple green color scheme. Ninety percent of my house is made up of these colors, so when I opened my mailbox yesterday, I felt like this issue was made just for me. I am only slightly less obsessed with all manner of blue-green blends than House of Turquoise.

The feature on tiny bathrooms hit close to home, too! (Tiny anything relates to my house, but our teensy, lone bathroom especially needs help. Well, really, it needs another bathroom to keep it company, but that's not happening anytime soon.) Also, "Fifty Ways to Eat a Peach"? I will take that challenge. Bathroom storage, hydrangeas, peaches and turquoise = a good hour of reading enjoyment for me.

Sure, I still like to dream and drool over the spreads in House Beautiful and Elle Decor, but I think good ol' BHG offers some fantastic inspiration for affordable, attainable design. View the digital edition of the August issue here.

Don't forget to enter my $50 giveaway! Remember, there are three ways to enter, and make sure you leave a comment for each method of entry!
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Showering the Mom-to-be

Jennifer and Kevin have been two of my sister's best friends since high school. In fact, Laura takes credit for setting the two of them up in the first place! They are so excited to welcome their new arrival this fall, and they want the baby's sex to be a surprise.

I was so excited to help Laura come up with a gender-neutral baby shower theme. Jennifer and Kevin have already gotten started on a pale green nursery, so we used that as a jumping-off point. I love all the literal translations of a baby "shower" I've seen lately, so I suggested that as a theme and came up with a little inspiration board.

Another free printable invitation alert! I found the downloadable template on via the adorable  Craftiness is Not Optional, where the adorable umbrella/raindrop decorations and custom welcome sign also were.

I liked the idea of my trusty ol' tissue paper poms serving as "clouds" in this case, and I expanded that cloud idea to meringes, white cotton candy, and airy macarons. The pistachio macarons bring us back to the light green theme, which is echoed in the raindrop garland, the green candy buffet, and the bells of Ireland. I added some daisies to bring in a little sunshine. The umbrella and wellie-shaped cookies just made me squeal, so I couldn't not include them.

If Laura and her co-hosts want to keep the non-dessert foods in line with the light green motif, accented by some sunny yellow, they're in luck. These two colors actually make for a spread that's not only visually pretty but appetizing as well (as opposed to, say, blue and silver?).  Cucumber water, lemonade, prosciutto-wrapped roasted asparagus, a variety of deviled eggs, cucumber sandwiches, lemon and lime squares (oops, there I go venturing in to desserts again. It can't be helped) would all look and taste divine.

I have some other options for this gender-neutral shower to share later. I can't wait to see which one Laura choses, and I can't wait to meet Jennfier and Kevin's little one!

Don't forget to enter my $50 giveaway! Remember, there are three ways to enter, and make sure you leave a comment for each method of entry!
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How Can it Be? My Baby is Three? (plus my very first GIVEAWAY)

The Ruby Anniversary party for the in-laws is not the only big event coming up in our family. My son Graham will be turning three at the end of September, and I can't wait to throw a fun party for him. Last year his birthday got rained out. TWICE. We called everyone frantically to postpone the party that first time, moving it to the next weekend. When the rain-out day was also filled with thunderstorms, we canceled everyone but family members and just squeezed them into our teensy house. We are hoping for good weather this year so Graham can actually have friends his age around.

I recently received some sample invitations from Paperspring, and I was so impressed with the designs and quality! The cardstock was nice and heavy, and the images were not only adorably designed but vivid and crisp to boot. I particularly loved this birthday invitation, probably because I love red with light blue.

I decided to use the colors and the vintagey feel of the invitation as inspiration, and not so much the airplanes. (I don't want to tie myself down to a strict theme unless its something Graham's obsessed with.) One thing that is so great about this color scheme is that I already have so many things in my house that work with it! In fact, my entire kitchen is pretty much red and turquoise, so I will be "shopping" there first.

I collected some images in that red-blue-vintage vein that inspired me for a little mood board. Lots of bunting and balloons and cheerful color!

And in honor of Graham's birthday, a present for YOU! Paperspring has graciously offered to give one reader a $50 gift certificate, good through August 31, 2010, so you can indulge in their gorgeous stationery. They offer so many lovely options, from birth announcements (I was stunned at how great the baby photos looked on the cardstock in my samples--I may have already picked out announcements for hypothetical baby number two? Shh, I didn't say that) to party invitations to personalized greeting cards.

They offer free shipping, and their customer service is seriously top-notch. In addition to their products' high quality and rich feel, they are also green! I was impressed to read that Paperspring uses all post-comsumer recycled products and employs chemistry-free, waterless digital printing to deliver the greenest product possible.

You can earn up to three entries:

1. Visit the Paperspring site, then come back here and post a comment telling me what you'd buy with your gift certificate.

2. You can earn an extra entry by mentioning this giveaway on your own blog or on Twitter (leave a separate comment linking to your Twitter page or your blog's mention of this giveaway).

3. You can earn another entry by following me on Twitter. Leave me a comment telling me you've done so, and don't forget to tell me your Twitter handle.

Contest closes at midnight eastern time on Friday, July 30. A winner will be chosen using This giveaway is sponsored by

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Oh, Ruby Ruby! An anniversary mood board AND something free!

I am lucky to have some great in-laws. Joel and Katrina were married forty years ago on August 29th, and all of us kids and kids-in-law wanted to honor that this year. Seth's sister Kara offered up her adorable house, and in return I offered to decorate, do the invitations, and make a lot of the food. (Ha, little does Kara know that this is not a bargain at all because I am a freak for party decorations and would have begged to do them no matter what!).

I learned that forty years is the "ruby" anniversary, which set me down the path to a red color scheme, complemented with summery pinks, peaches and yellows. I was trying to make some sad excuse for an invitation in Publisher, since we only had to send out a few to extended family and I wanted to save a few dollars. Somewhere in my clip art searches, I stumbled across Download and Print, and holy cow! Anna Skye is not only a talented designer, but a generous one as well: she offers many of her adorable, modern invitation and stationery designs FOR FREE. You literally download the design template, input your own information, and print in good ol' Microsoft Word. How easy is that?

I wavered between the love birds design and the modern chrysanthemums, but when I realized I could have the chrysanthemums printed in the colors of my choice, the decision was easy. I emailed Anna, who graciously sent me a printable color chart so I could pick my ideal shades of red, pink and orange. A mere few hours later, I had my template, which I just printed out on some spare card stock and cut down to size. Incredible!

The invitations went out today, and I have been collecting a few images here and there to amass a little mood board.

And here's how you know how much I enjoy planning a party: their party is on my actual birthday, and I don't even care. Pictures to come! Pin It

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Luau Party!

Stephanie is my oldest and dearest friend. We met on the first day of fourth grade and have been best friends ever since. She and Eddie got married in Cocoa Beach, Florida, last month. Before they tied the knot, my friends Brandon and Sara and I wanted to give them an engagement party/wedding shower for all our local friends who couldn't make the trek down to Florida. To bring some of that fun beach vibe to Nashville, we chose a luau theme and had the party at Brandon and Frank's fantastic bungalow.

I know the tissue paper poms/flowers have been done to death, but I really think they can't be beat for adding cheap, colorful drama to any party. In this case, they kind of served as giant tropical flowers. We hung them across the porch with a strand of tiki lanterns and over the food and favor tables.

The menu was (loosely) tropical. We had pulled pork, sweet potato salad, black bean salad, key lime cheesecake, tropical slaw, fruit served in a hollowed out melon, and my personal favorite, bacon-wrapped pineapple (that would be the almost-empty platter in the foreground. Must make more of that soon). And margaritas. Lots and lots of margaritas.

I also made some beachy cupcakes but failed to get a good picture of them.

For favors, each guest got a margarita glass (with his or her name on a ribbon around the stem). Inside each glass was a lei to wear for the evening. We also had some Hawaiian shirt beer cozies for the non-cocktail-drinkers among us.

This doorway picture provided entertainment for everyone (especially after margaritas were consumed). Best ten dollars we ever spent!

We had a great time, and this is a fun, easy party theme to work with. We loved doing something special and memorable for Stephanie and Eddie. Congratulations to the happy couple!
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hallway to Hell

Well, hell is a bit dramatic (but only a bit). I apologize; I'm just a sucker for a titular pun on a goofy old AC/DC song. But my hallway is the saddest "room" in the house. It's dark and dreary, even though I've painted it the palest, cheeriest light yellow I could find. The bare bulb in the ceiling is just the prison-flavored icing on the sadness cake. I'm hoping to remedy the lighting situation soon (I mean, we've only lived here SEVEN years, cut me some slack), but I really think it's time to address the floor.

Real parquet flooring is cool, but this. This is not real anything. It's two sheets of veneer that bears the traces of old carpet glue and scratches and paint splotches, and the faint remains of a blotchy wax finish. I thought we'd be able to just pry it up and find hardwoods underneath, like we did in the rest of the house. We'd refinished the living room and dining room floors for continuity at the same time we installed our kitchen floors, and this was the plan for the hallway, too.

Alas, what lies beneath is not matching oak hardwood, but the angled pine boards that serve as our subfloor throughout the house. Too gappy and flexible to leave on their own. So, eventually we'll run matching oak flooring through the hallway, probably when it's time to refinish the bedrooms (I can't even imagine how fun that will be). Until then, I want to try something a little more creative and a lot less expensive.

I used to dismiss stencils as country-craftsy, Becky Home-Ecky. But I've seen so many adorably stenciled floors lately that have totally changed my mind. Look at this green gorgeousness, from Apartment Therapy LA:

And this happy yellow from Design Sponge:

How sunshiney and un-prisonlike is that?

I knew I wanted something graphic, and in a similar yellow and white scheme (but a darker yellow than the walls).

At first I looked at Greek key designs, chain patterns, and knot motifs.

That didn't seem quite fun enough, and I wanted more curves, so I moved onto damasks and floral medallion-type stuff.

But that felt just slightly too foofy, and I only liked the very large scale medallions, which would overwhelm my teensy hallway.

Then I stumbled upon Moroccan-inspired stencils. Jackpot! Curvy yet graphic, classic but not stuffy or fussy. I considered this Moroccan lattice one, but again, the large scale was a problem. I was definitely on to something with the Moroccan theme, though.

I finally decided on this Moorish-tile pattern, which reminds me a lot of the ubiquitous Pottery Barn (no longer available from Pottery Barn, but often found on eBay):

So come this Friday (gotta wait 'til momma gets paid), I'll order this stencil and get down to business. I'm sticking with my yellow and white idea, which will look a whole lot like the PB rug, but topped with lots of shiny, happy polyurethane. Stay tuned! It will soon be the swankiest prison hallway in town.
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