Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Decorating Around the House

I know I’ve mentioned it a million times once or twice before, but I really love decorating for the seasons and holidays.  When you have a teeny-tiny budget like I do, swapping out seasonal accessories really gives your home a breath of fresh air every few months or so without breaking the bank (since I just store my seasonal totes in the attic and pull them out when the time is right).  The look of my home is always changing, and for very little money! :)

{Back in the fall I did a 2-part series about tips for inexpensive decorating that you can read if you are interested in learning more!}

Anyway, I just like to add a few summer touches here and there to hold me over until my favorite season to decorate (um, THE FALL!) begins. :)

This year I decided to make my dresser/buffet in the living room the focal point.  It looks a lot like my summer “mantel” from 2 years ago, to be honest! :) (Like I said, I reuse items, plus I only keep what I like from year to year.)  

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The driftwood is from Maine and the shells are from the beach, but everything else I either found while thrifting or made myself. 

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On the kitchen island, I put more thrifted jars together with white shells I collected. 

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The starfish are definitely from Christmas Tree Shop, though – I’ve never been lucky enough to find an intact one at the beach! :)  I added the wine cork filler from Target for a neutral base. 

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I added another piece of mini-driftwood to the collection of blue bottles my mom gave me for another pop of summer. 

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The chalkboard in my kitchen got a summery banner via two pieces of polka-dot scrapbook paper.  Nice and cheerful for the summer months.

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Oh, and I almost forgot:  clearly these were taken at night, but here’s what I put up on the hutch for the week of the Fourth: 

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I framed a cute little Pinterest print, put some summery fabric scraps around a candle (that I never lit, of course!), and then I added a little 50-cent lantern from a tag sale. 

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I made also made this simple star banner, inspired by Pinterest!

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And honestly, that’s it! Only 37 days until I’ll let myself decorate for the fall…not that I’m counting, or anything. lol

Do you decorate for the seasons or do you save all your decorating for Christmas or another big holiday? 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Last Night’s Ikea Trip

Last night I went down to the New Haven Ikea with my friend Mary.  I told Chris earlier in the day that I wasn’t sure what I was more excited about:

- getting the chance to spend quality time with a friend, without any of our kids,

- getting some stuff that has been on my wish list for a while,

- or getting the $1 vanilla frozen yogurt from the café downstairs.  haha!


Thankfully, all three of the items on my list were checked off. :) You would have thought I kept slipping Mary some laughing gas the way she kept giggling like school girl the whole night.  Not having to be in charge of dinner or bedtime routines will do that to you. :)

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Yup, you might say we felt pretty…

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Anyway, I knew we were going to be there for a long time, so that combined with being pregnant plus my already poor circulation in my legs led me to commit this fashion sin: 

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My mom NEVER wears sneakers out in public unless she is taking a walk on the road – so I grew up never doing it, either.  But my need for comfort won out and I’m SO glad I had these puppies on!  It was a long night. :)


First stop: frozen yogurt.  Mmmmmmmm…..

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After that we were I was ready to move on.  I saw sooooo many adorable things – especially if we are having a girl next – whoooo, watch out!  They have some adorable hot-pink polka-dot curtains that are just precious:


Or this adorable pale pink lamp:

JONSBO ORÖD Table lamp base IKEA Dimmer function allows the light intensity to be adjusted.

Oh my word, I was loving all the pink! :)

When I go to Ikea, I treat it like I’m at Goodwill – I put anything in my cart that I remotely like (because so help me if I have to back through the store and pick up something I decide I want later), then decide for sure at the end.  I had a teeny-tiny budget this time to work with, so I had to leave all the fluff out and just get the stuff that I had truly come for. 

Next time I go I am definitely picking up this rug for Luke’s room – it perfectly coincides with his colors and it was only $19.99:

TORVA RAND Rug, flatwoven IKEA Its flat woven pattern is equally visible on both sides making it reversible. Easy to keep clean: machine washable.

So, what did I end up with? 


White, white and more white! haha

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That’s right – I walked through the the entire up and downstairs of Ikea for three and half hours and only walked out with four items.  It took some SERIOUS self-control! 


I picked up more white ledges ($14.99 each) that I have in the dining room to complete the wall in Luke’s room.  I am obsessed with these things. 

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I also picked up the same dining room curtains for the kitchen back door.  These curtains are only $24.99 for the pair and they are fabulous.  Super thick and I love the grommet construction at the top. 

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The little white bin is for recycling by the back door – it is a nice upgrade from the gross cardboard box we have been using inside. 


All in all it was a super fun night with a good friend. :)

Oh and I almost forgot that I got their mac n’ cheese for dinner.  I LOVE macaroni and cheese, and theirs does not disappoint.  YUM. 

Do you have a favorite Ikea food or product? I’d love to know! :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Cat in the Hat Birthday Party!

Luke’s favorite thing in the whole universe (besides drinking milk, haha) is watching The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about That (on PBS).  He is obsessed – or should I say, obseussed.  :)

So I knew it was only logical that my boy was going to have a Cat in the Hat-themed 3rd birthday party!  We’ve decided to give him a big party every other year until he hits 5 (and then he can have a yearly friends party), so after 2 years without throwing a kid party, I was super excited to get to throw one! I think kids’ parties are super fun to plan – if I could get paid to do it, I totally would. :)

This post is going to contain a lot of photos – if you want to see one in more detail, simply click to enlarge! Source list is at the bottom. 

The Cat in the Hat is super fun to do because the color scheme is pretty simple – bright blue, bright red, bright yellow, and white.  Those colors are already easy to find, but throw in the fact that 4th of July was right around the corner (we had the party on June 30th), and it made it a cinch to find things in the color scheme.  Plus, I love the combo of blue and red already, so I had a LOT of items laying around the house in this color combo – which saved me a ton of money. 


One thing I was SUPER grateful for was all of the Cat in the Hat cutouts you see scattered around. They were posters mounted on plywood that I borrowed from a friend who is a 1st grade teacher. They really made the party pop! You can buy the packet of posters at an educational store (we have one at our local mall) and totally do this yourself, too.

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I had the big frame already, and used blue paint I already had in my stash to make it party-worthy.  Pictures from Luke’s last year (the first one was taken on his birthday last year, right up to a few weeks before the party) were hung up with twine and mini clothespins from Michael’s.  I bought scrapbook paper on sale 5 for $1 to back it with and make it pop. 

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And don’t discount the Dollar Tree when you need party supplies!  The tablecloths, utensils, and plates all came from there and no one was the wiser.  :)


The food was pretty simple: grinders from a local grocery store, veggies and dip, pasta salad, and chips. 

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I couldn’t resist adding silly Suess-inspired names to the food table labels. :)


I pulled out the chalkboard from my kitchen and made an easy little scrapbook-paper banner for the top of it. The quote is: “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one on earth who is youer than you.”

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I tried to make my handwriting look as whimsical as possible. :)

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I wanted the whole yard to feel like it was decorated somehow – I found white and red streamers on clearance at Michael’s and we just taped them to the tree with duct tape.  It held up great!

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The red chair and table were already from Luke’s room!

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Cat in the hat greeted our guests as they walked in. :)

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I had found this “Thing 2” shirt at a big consignment sale I went to in the winter and was SO thankful it still fit my birthday boy!

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He had been talking about birthday cake for DAYS and was allll business when it came down to eating it.  lol

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These cupcakes were definitely inspired by Pinterest – I can’t take credit for them!  Simple cupcakes topped with white frosting and blue cotton candy to look like the crazy blue Thing 1/Thing 2 hair.  **Tip:  cotton candy hardens really fast!  Make and frost the cupcakes and then add cotton candy right at the end before serving.**

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I took glass jars from my stash, wrapped striped ribbon around them, and filled them with red and blue candies for a little candy buffet.  I bought Twizzlers, Swedish fish, Almond Joys, Kit Kats, and Crunch bars. 

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I was so happy with how the treat bags turned out!  They’re simple brown bags (thick) from Michaels.  The Cat in the Hat stickers were on clearance at Michael’s – and I also found the mini clothespins there.   

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All in all, we had a GREAT time celebrating our little boy and were so thankful for all the friends and family that came to help us celebrate!



Source list:

Utensils, tablecloths, napkins, plates: Dollar Tree

Streamers, scrapbook paper, red stickers (for food labels and treat bags), mini clothespins, blue and white straws, Cat in the Hat stickers, treat bags, cupcake liners, red/white striped ribbon: Michael’s

Free cupcake labels (Thing 1 and Thing 2): Obseussed website

Everything else I had on hand at my house. :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Our House, One Year Later: The Dining Room

Okay, so SEVEN weeks later I’m finally back with this series!  Holy cow! :)

I showed you the bathroom for the first spot on the tour, and today I’d like to show you our dining room.  This room was originally an office/homeschooling room when the previous owners lived here.  It was a very ugly shade of pink (and that’s saying something, because pink is my favorite color!).  We immediately had a vision for this room as a dining room, since it would alleviate the need for an eat-in kitchen (which I’m really not a fan of). 

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So my AMAZING husband knocked down the wall, built a header (the part that supports the ceiling), and re-wired the lights (because naturally the wall we knocked down held the light switch! Of course). Not only that, but the original light switch didn’t operate a ceiling light (just a side plug).  So not only did he move the switch but he also installed an overhead light and made the switch connect to that! He is AWESOME! :)


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Here’s how it looks today!  (And if bad lighting in photos stresses you out, I apologize in advance.  I don’t have a fancy camera like most bloggers do, plus now that it’s summer this room is pretty shaded from the backyard.)

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The color of this room is “Gray Owl” by Benjamin Moore – color-matched to Olympic paint at Lowe’s.  We absolutely love it.  It’s a gray with a tint of green depending on the lighting. 

There’s no nooks and crannies in this room – it’s pretty straightforward.  You’ve seen my Ikea ledges before (for the fall and for Christmas).  This is what they look like most of the time.  Most of the frames are just odds and ends – from yard sales or Christmas Tree Shop.  The yellow one is from Marshall’s and the “Love” frame is from HomeGoods around Valentine’s Day but I leave it up all the time.  

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I seriously had to buy this “Love” print when I saw it at TJMaxx (my husband and I are both musicians).  It was only $14.99!  The little elephant is from my sister’s BFF, straight from Cambodia.  Elephants are my favorite and I am trying to collect enough to have one in every room.  :) The chair was a $5 Goodwill find from my mom – I like the texture it adds to the room and also the brown against gray. 

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I loooooooooove my white Ikea curtains!  $30 for the pair and they are nice and thick. 

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The “curtain rod” is actually electrical conduit from Home Depot – and if my memory serves me right, it was all of TWO DOLLARS!  Yup, seriously.  My husband borrowed metal cutters from work and we were good to go.  I love, love, love it.  Saw the tip on another blog a long time ago so I can’t take credit for the idea!

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This little vinyl is a cheapie find from Christmas Tree Shop.  I thought it was sweet. :)

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Our light is another tip from Pinterest (originally pinned by Melissa from 320 Sycamore, I believe).  Only $25 at Home Depot!  My kind of price.  :) I got rid of some stuff on a local resale site on Facebook to pay for it. 

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Our dining room table isn’t my first preference (or second, or third…) but we bought it a year after we were married for $100 at an estate sale.  It has two additional leaves and I do love the bench part of it.  The summery vinyl tablecloth from TJMaxx last year helps me like it a little more.  :)

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I think that pretty much wraps it up! :)

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Linked to:  Homemaker’s Challenge: Accomplished