Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I scream, you scream

Over the weekend we threw Lil' Bug an ice cream themed party because there's no better way to turn two. It really was just an excuse for me to go over board with the details and cause myself more stress than a birthday party should. I even had the weird party dream. You know the dream. We ran out of beer, a guest cried because the couch was uncomfortable, and my hubby wore his full military dress blues. Yeah, that dream. Luckily the actual party went a little more to plan.

Here's a few of the details from the party. In my haste, I forgot to take a picture of the entire set up, but you probably get the gist. Lots of pink and sugar!

Of course, it all starts with the invitation, designed and made by your truly. The inspiration for the rest of the details come from this piece. Also pictured are the envelope and thank you note. 

A sweet little "Hello" bunting flag banner and chalkboard greet our guests.

The awning was the statement piece of the table. Simply made from PVC pipe and a variety of connectors. The fabric is white duck cloth with pink stripes painted on using frog tape (worlds better than the blue tape!) and a paint sample from Home Depot.


Sugar, sugar and more sugar. What's an ice cream party with out all the accouterments? Because just serving ice cream wouldn't be enough, there were 12 different toppings, rice krispy treats, marshmallow pops, meringue cones, brownies, floats, and of course, cake. The cake was a three layered neapolitan, which turned out pretty good for my first attempt at a birthday cake. Paper straws, hand stamped wooden spoons, and teeny tiny clothes pins complete the look.

As a party favor, I couldn't resist sending guests home with a pint container of more sugar. A small selection of ice cream toppings for later use, plus a few ice cream stickers and temporary tattoos.

And finally, the birthday girl herself. I ordered an adorable custom shirt from this Etsy vendor. It came as a cute ruffle-trimmed shirt, but I added a simple two layer square knit skirt to the bottom to make it more of a party dress. As you can see, it got its fair share of real ice cream stains! The last picture was taken only moments before the "Great Sugar Crash of 2014" imploded.

I had a blast putting it all together, but next year I'm taking it easy. Like order a few pizzas, easy. (Who am I kidding?)


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Two Sweet

I know all parents say this, but where did the time go? With just a click of the camera my little baby is an energetic, loud, spunky two year old. So what does this totally insane photographer mom do? That's right, pump my kid full of ice cream and candy and try to do a birthday photo shoot.

She's a cute, but unpredictable. She eats the props. That's how models get bad reputations..... ;)

Happy Birthday Lil' Bug. You are loved.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mirror Mirror On The Wall

The pleasure and the problem with living in Souther California is the weather. It's so dang hot all the time (especially for this Seattle gal), that the need for a fire place is non existent.  So what's a girl to do come Christmas time? There's no mantel to decorate!

No problem, I say, I'll just make my own. This turned out to be a fairly easy and cost effective project because I followed Ana White's plan. I had the 1x2 wood and the stain on hand, but I did spend $7.50 for the 1x4's. Less then $8 for a functional and study shelf ain't too shabby, especially because Pottery Barn charges $85 for the same 4 foot length!

It's decorated with crap treasures I found around the house including a 14 yr old framed picture I took in the Bahamas! The clock and the ladder are from Pottery Barn at least a decade ago. The fan is from Home Goods last summer. So this will be my "summer" mantel for now, but I can't wait until we get to Christmas to really dress it up.

The real work came when I decided I needed to put a mirror behind the shelf. This took me a little more time than anticipated because of those tedious "x" frames. In fact the hubby made a comment that went something like this, "If you put as much effort into cleaning as you do with crafting, the house would be spotless". Anyone want a free husband? I'm giving him away.

Any-hoo, back to the project. I started with the cheapo door mirror from Target. It cost me a whopping $4.99. I chose the white because I knew the molding I was going to use was white and I might was well start with the same base color before I painted. It looks like this...

Isn't it sexy? Haha, no. I'm not going to write a step by step tutorial because someone already did that for me, here. I will add a few pointers though.
1. Cut your trim to fit and paint before you glue them to the mirror.
2. Don't worry too much about making them fit perfectly. Wood filler works wonders! You will have to touch up paint the joints with the filler, but that's easy to do after it dries. 
3. Bulk up the existing frame with an inner rectangle of trim. It makes it look more substantial and expensive. The tutorial has a plywood board behind the mirror, but I thought it was too heavy. 
4. Use what trim you like, but I picked the PVC white screen molding. It was the right thickness and very light weight.
5. Calculate how much trim you need before you shop. I underestimated and had to send hubby to HD to buy another piece. It was his punishment for the cleaning comment!

Total cost:
Mirror $4.99
Trim (3 pieces of 8' length) $6.60
Spray Paint (I used Oil Rubbed Bronze by Rustoleum) $6.50
Liquid Nails, on hand, $0
Small round mirrors for centers $0.75 for 10
TOTAL: $18.80

My family room got a new look for less than $27! I guess I could go do some cleaning now....nah! There's more crafting to do!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Boys + Blue + Beach

I can't believe these boys turned one already. They are the perfect fit for a "Thing One, Thing Two" themed smash cake shoot. Things got a little messy, but isn't that the point?

Once we had a chance to clean up and recover from the smash cake shoot, we headed out to Malibu for a family session. This family really should be the models in the frames you buy. Good looking' folk! 

Thanks for letting me watch these little guys grow.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Just a girl and her power tools

I have a dream. A dream to park my car in the garage, out of the scorching southern California sun. Unfortunately for me, the heat starts in May down here, so this project had to be accomplished pronto! 

As you can see in the following "before" pictures (please excuse the quickie iPhone photos), I had a major challenge on my hands. The movers literally dumped the boxes in the back of the garage, with no organization or regard for floor space. How dare they? We can barely fit the motorcycle in here, never mind the "2 cars" we were promised.   

It took me the better part of a month just to go through the boxes and organize them in the large black tubs I bought from Big Lots, who, by the way, has the best prices on storage bins, in case you were wondering. The only reason for the black tubs over the clear variety was purely financial. I knew I would need at least 16 of these things, and at $5 a piece, I could get them under $100. The clear boxes were at least $8 each. No worries though, I had blue tape and a Sharpie to label the contents.

I also sorted a trash pile and a garage sale pile. Anything left over from the garage sale was taken directly to Goodwill, no looking back. It felt good to purge decades of stuff we will never use.  

I won't write a tutorial here because I used one that already exists and pretty much stuck to that plan with only a few adjustments in measurements. See link here to the original tutorial. I should add I did 95% of this project on my own. My hubby helped me put the long shelves into the frames after they were built, but this project can be done by yourself with a little creativity and muscle. Go girl power! The total cost for the wood and the nails/screws was $150 for both shelving units. Much more affordable than prefab metal units and custom made to fit. 

And now the "after".  If you decide to tackle something like this yourself, consider the specific needs you have. For example, I had lots of framed art I wanted to keep. It was being stored up against a wall, but this top shelf was made to accommodate large and small pieces. Measure your largest pieces to make sure your shelves will fit them. Not all your shelves need to be the same size, but try to plan what will go where.  

The large shelf unit is 13 feet long and 2 feet deep. Its amazing that we still managed to fill this thing! All the boxes on the bottom are books. Heavy, heavy books. We have very little flood threat, so I'm not too worried about them getting wet. We do however have earthquakes, and this thing is SOLID! I added a hook for the ladder on the end to keep that off the floor. Side note, hubby "decorated" the garage with Buddy, the antelope. This was not my choice, but he seems attached to it because it was his grand fathers. So I let it slide, for now.

I just need to take the broken down cardboard to the recycle center, and I'll be able to park in the garage! I still have a couple projects in mind to really complete the organization, but that won't affect my parking abilities for now. Can you say Pegboard? Eeeee!


Monday, April 28, 2014

Smile, it's picture time

The weather has been heating up around here, so that can only mean one thing. It's photo shoot season! To get the camera warmed up I packed up Lil'Bug and went scouting for new locations. We came upon this little outpost in the hills called Mentryville. It has an old school house, barn, rusty farm equipment, and even an out house. As much as she wanted to check out the potty, it seemed a little too hazardous for this mommy to permit.  There was still much to explore. 

Here are a few shots from this afternoon.

I'm booking weekend sessions starting May 17.  Need family portraits or engagement photos? Email me at for my affordable rates. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Growing up

I have a secret in the bedroom..... In the 6 years and 7 months that we've owned our king sized bed, we still use the metal frame that came with the mattress.  Every once in a while we would peek at nice bedroom sets, but couldn't agree on a style. So the years wore on, and we still have the cheap metal frame and mismatched bedding. To make it even worse, we don't even share a comforter anymore! There have been dogs and babies in between us, so it was easier to have two separate full sized comforters so whoever/whatever slept between us didn't suffocate and we could move freely. So here's the ugly truth of a before picture.

I know, I know, its like we are still in college! Box spring in full view, no headboard, mismatched bedding....Ugh. Operation bedroom makeover has commenced. Its still a work in progress, but I can't wait to show you how the bed area has already improved.

Here's what's been done so far. 

I painted the room with a navy accent wall behind the bed. The rest is Benjamin Moore "Rever Pewter" leftover from downstairs. Hubby was skeptical about the navy (as he is with most of my design decisions!) but he's come around. There is a 4" white strip along the top that I think will soon be filled with some kind of crown molding.

I made faux roman shades to hide the standard white blinds. It was as easy as ironing on some ribbon to upholstery weight fabric and setting the folds with iron-on fusible webbing. They are hung on $4 Target cafe rods.

The bed skirt was made from the fabric I dyed to cover the head board. Its just painters drop cloth with a little Rit dye. But it turns out that painters drop cloth has hidden flaws in it that only show up once dye is applied. I had a huge dark streak down the middle that would look horrible on a headboard because there's no way to hide it. So I cut it into three equal strips, sewed them together to make one long strip, and fusible webbed some ribbon detail on the bottom. I pinned the whole thing directly to the box spring with straight pins. The streak was sneakily hidden in a box pleat at the front of the bed. You can't even tell its there, see....

The pillows I made a while ago because I had a vision of this room in my head and they were easy to whip up quickly. The white bed spread is Cynthia Rowley that I found at HomeGoods. Originally I had a beautiful West Elm pin tucked gray duvet cover, but after seeing the room come together, I decided it was 50 shades of gray, in a literal way. I like the crisp white against the blue wall and dark head board much better. Speaking of the head board...

This was a labor of love for me!
I love the Tall Tufted head board from West Elm, but at $749 for  King, forget it! Do people really buy these things? Here's the inspiration pic.

So my plan was to do this for under $100. I bought 80"x44" worth of cheap fiber board, $9. Of course that won't fit in my car, so the nice folks at Home Depot cut it in half for me. I had to put them back together with mending brackets, $10. At Walmart I found 2 foam mattress toppers for a full size bed for $9 each. They also had a queen quilt batting piece for $8. Walmart does have good prices for my weird projects! The fabric I ended up using instead of the drop cloth was a curtain from Ikea that I had left over from the old apartment. It has a nice linen look to it. I hung a set in the bedroom already, so this matches perfectly and didn't really cost me anything because I already had it, $0. The buttons are my attempt to make a very masculine room a little more feminine. Bling buttons from Jo Ann's, $10. You've seen all the tutorials on Pinterest, so I'll spare you the details on how to put it together.  My only real challenge was hanging the thing! I ended up using two flush mount picture hangers on the back, $20. The trick is to get these totally level on the wall, so measure twice and use a bubble level!

Did you keep count?  Yup, $75 for a whole King size head board! Take that West Elm, I win! (I still love you though).

There's still lots to do before the room is complete. I need to refinish the night stands (a $50 internet find), get new lamps, hang art work, install crown molding, and so many more little details.

But for now, I feel like a grown up, in my grown up bed.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Laundry is loads of fun

Well, we finally got moved into the new house, only 3 months later than anticipated. The last 6 weeks have been filled with unpacking, organizing, and looking for the "have you seen the...." items probably still buried in the garage. I had no idea we (and by "we", I mean the hubby!) are such pack rats! On last count there were 20 boxes of books with his name on it! But I digress.

I decided that the plan of attack was to first get the house livable and functional. Then the fun stuff, the decorating. But the house is twice the floor space we had before, so its a little overwhelming. Don't get me wrong, we don't have a mansion, but 2000 square feet is big for a lifetime apartment dweller! I made a list, which only seems to get longer as I go along, but never mind that. First off was the laundry room. I chose this only because it was the smallest room in the house and I thought I could knock it out quickly. I'm so naive. It took about a week, but I might actually venture to say I enjoy doing the laundry now because I get to visit this little room.

Before: I painted the room before I realized I hadn't taken a real "before" picture. I was on a time crunch because Sears was coming the next day with the washer and dryer, so I had to move fast! The paint is actually leftover from Little Bug's nursery in the apartment. I thought it would make this little room more cheery because there are no windows in there. Apologies for the sad iPhone pic. It was late, I was tired.

After: It took about a week to complete after the paint and appliances were put in, but I love the results.  I made, as in "made from scratch", the counter top. Home Depot has a nice product called Pure Bond. This one happens to be Red Oak, but they are all nice. Home Depot was even nice enough to cut it down to size for me. I chuckled when he asked me if I had measurements. Of course, dude! Who asks to get get something cut without measurements? I guess it happens all the time.  I'm not that girl. Anyway, he cut it, I sanded and stained it (using 2 different colors of stain), and lovingly brushed 3 layers of polyurethane on it.  The last part was not my favorite. They aren't kidding when they say to get a good brush for this job. I spent way too much time picking out my cheap brush bristles from the sticky poly. Not fun.  But in the end it was a pretty darn close match to the existing cabinets. 

This room is only 5.5'x6', so I had to bust out the wide angle lens to get most of the room in the picture.  The counter top is hung from the walls (but still removable), so there is some clearance above the appliances to keep air circulating and reduce vibration noise since it's right next to the baby's room. I hung the ironing board from hooks because I liked it better than the generic contraption that also hangs the iron. I can hide the ugly iron in the cabinets! There are three other hooks on the white stripe to hang drying clothes, or whatever. The over sized safety pins are from Ballard Design. They add a cool vintage touch to the walls. 

I'm still looking for a nice black and white rug to complete the look, but nothing has spoken to me yet. 

I gathered a few decorative items to jazz up the counter top, and to hide the ugly water spigots.  The laundry sign is a free printable, but I can't remember where from for the life me! I've had the easel for years and have no idea where that came from either. The candle holder is used for collecting coins my hubby leaves in his pockets. It was on post-holiday clearance for $2.98 at Target. The berry picking pot was a purchase last summer at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. That place is SO much fun! The (fake) plant is from Ikea and was stolen from the kitchen. I "hid" the detergent and other such items in the basket because I didn't want the Costco-sized container we actually use to be on display. I just refill the little ones when they get low. The big guns are hidden in the cabinets. Since these pictures where taken I've added a very large apothecary jar filled with Oxyclean. That stuff is magic, especially if you have pets and kids. 

So that's one room crossed off the list. On to the next project!