At my painted wood sign shop, "SignsByAndrea", I'm selling a few styles of my scrap wood tree this year -- but they're only available until November 18th and there is a limited quantity of them that I can make.
They may go fast!
So...if you would like one, be sure to order it right away! It's a decoration you'll pull out year after year after year.
I'll have them finished and shipped to you to arrive by Thanksgiving.
Each tree is 3ft tall by about 18in and is personalized with your family name on the bottom "trunk".
The boards are attached to the vertical back board with industrial-strength velcro, making them easy to disassemble and store flat.
And they look SUPER cute on your front porch during the holidays. :)
While the kids and I were out of town for three weeks, you might think Ben would take the opportunity to get lots of sleep, watch movies, and relax in the quiet of an empty house.
Not this year.
The day before we left for Chicago, we were picking out new carpet for the bedrooms and hallway upstairs and the basement playroom (all of which has needed to be replaced since we moved in 6 years ago - but no one in their right mind would replace carpet with toddlers in the house).
In an effort to get new carpet before our painting marathon from last fall became dated and needed to be redone, we decided an empty house for three weeks was the perfect time (for Ben) to tackle the project. Unfortunately, it meant he had to do all the work himself.
He spent two and a half weeks moving all the furniture out, tearing out carpet, repairing the floors (no more squeaks!) having the carpet installed, and then moving everything BACK where it belonged.
What I didn't know, is that in addition to ALL that, he also painted all four of the bedrooms, including ceilings, our closet and repainted the hallway (which we had inadvertently painted with flat paint the first time).
So now, with the exception of our bathrooms, our whole house is freshly painted in shades of gray. No more tan.
WOW! Best. Surprise. Ever. Because I was NOT looking forward to having to move all the furniture again, try to protect the carpets, and doing another painting marathon any time soon.
So here's a look at the almost brand-new-feeling of our house...
We took the opportunity to rearrange a little bit, and eventually we'll add things back to the walls and maybe choose some new artwork, etc.
What I love the most is how quiet it is! I can get up in the morning and walk all around upstairs, without waking anyone up!
As Ben puts it, you could bowl down our hallway, it's been reinforced so well!
Now the basement playroom/den feels more like a part of the house again. While the concrete painted floor was a very good choice for us for the past several years, now that we know it doesn't get wet down there anymore, and we're done riding bicycles and riding toys all over, it sure is nice and cozy with comfy carpet.
Don't your feet just feel happy looking at it? Well, okay, so maybe you don't care, but mine sure like it!
Rainbow Unicorns & Gymnastics. They go together, right?
In our world, I guess they do. My *almost 7* year old daughter Ayla asked months ago to have a Rainbow Unicorn birthday party.
Actually, she hijacked a Oriental Trading catalog and circled and wrote down all the rainbow unicorn items she wanted for her birthday party so I could get the *right* thing. Why fight it? Rainbows are fun and easy to decorate with, Oriental Trading is inexpensive, and I'm all for easy birthday parties. :) I convinced her that a gymnastics party would be a lot of fun for her and her friends, and we just threw in the Rainbow Unicorns for some eye candy!
Here's how the Rainbow Unicorn Gymnastics party took shape:
We found some super cute 5" x 7" Rainbow Unicorn birthday invitations at Zazzle, so that was a no-brainer. :) They were easy to customize, shipped quickly, looked great, and I didn't have to design or print them!
Since we were having her party at a Gymnastics gym, we didn't need to do much in the way of decorating, so I kept it very simple. I picked up 7 balloons at the Dollar Tree in rainbow colors (the purple one didn't make it to the party) and used rocks and tulle to anchor the ribbons to the long tables, and put a couple of long red plastic table cloths from Dollar Tree underneath.
We ordered the Rainbow Unicorn dessert napkins from Oriental Trading and used solid purple dessert plates from Dollar Tree, but only because these plates were out of stock when I needed to order them. Actually, the napkins worked out better since the plates ended up covered in cake & icing. :) Okay, some of the napkins did too!
I ordered a unicorn cake topper from Birthday Express because I couldn't find any unicorn cake designs at my local grocery stores -- and I don't bake cakes. So I went the semi-homemade route and we ordered this pretty pony to sit on top of a plain white cake:
But I gave her a little acrylic paint makeover so she'd fit into the party a little better:
Since it was an afternoon party, we only served cake, bottled water and Smarties. Easy. So easy.
Our cake was a 1/4 marble sheet cake from the Target bakery with white and yellow icing and rainbow sprinkles. They wrote "Happy Birthday Ayla" for me, and I added the cardboard "grassy meadow" and unicorn. I was afraid the unicorn's feet would sink into the cake. Word of warning -- cardboard sticks to icing. We just scraped it off and cut into the cake after she blew out the candles and we were ready to cut -- didn't matter how the icing looked then!
The unicorn was a big hit. The girls passed it around the table so everyone could rub the unicorn's horn for good luck. Plus, it's sturdy and durable enough, that now Ayla can use it as a toy with her Barbies and dollhouse dolls.
Oriental Trading made the goody bags really easy. We ordered rainbow unicorn necklaces for each of the girls (which arrived as a tangled mess of chains, but once I got them untangled, were a really AWESOME party favor for a bunch of little girls - and better quality than I expected).
Unicorn Rainbow Necklaces - Oriental Trading
We also included a sheet of stickers, that matched the theme perfectly:
Unicorn Party Sticker Sheets (set of 12) - Oriental Trading
And multi-colored glow sticks that Ayla spotted at the Dollar Tree -- but they're available from Oriental Trading as well.
Plus, we added a few packages of Smarties for their sweet tooth. :) Sort of rainbow-themed, right?
We put the whole lot of goodies into a clear party bag and sealed it with some rainbow striped cardstock and staples:
The best part of this party was that I didn't have to plan any activities. The girls played on the gym floor and the coaches guided them through the different stations (trampoline, floor, bars, pit, etc.) They had 45 minutes of activity....then a little bit of cake, opening presents, and we sent 'em home!
Oh, and of course at our house, we like to dress for the occasion - we'll take any excuse to wear something special. :) Ayla requested rainbow nailpolish...
I blog a lot about things the kids do and like and record so many details about our family, but sometimes I forget to include some of the little quirky things that *I* like and do that are a small, but significant part of my day. So, since I don't do much scrapbooking anymore, here's a "blog post" version of an "all about me" layout...
In no particular order...here are some (mostly little) things that make me happy these days and have become my "everyday" luxuries:
I have always been a bowl (or two) of cereal in the morning kind of girl, but lately, I've been feeling much fuller when I eat a bowl of oatmeal with a little bit of unsweetened applesauce, raisins, cinnamon, and a few crushed pecans.
I think it makes me feel "healthy"....
...but don't be fooled. I can also put down a full box of White Cheddar Cheese Its in a day. I'm not *that* healthy. I used to LOVE the "Get Your Own Box" campaign that Cheese Its did a while back. It was VERY fitting for me. Very.
I bought this set of workout DVDs because I love Zuzka's workouts. They're short (usually only 10-20 minutes), SUPER hard, and you don't need any extra equipment. This is her first DVD series, but she also offers a free real-time workout of the week on Thursdays, and it's been perfect for my at-home workouts.
Sorry for the insane amount of Zuzka cleavage... :/
My old bathroom bag finally gave up after daily use for several years. One of the zippers broke, so I had to go searching for a new one that would be just as useful, since I use it every day. It hangs on the back of my bathroom door, and I roll it up and take it with me to the gym too. I couldn't find the exact bag I used to have -- apparently, it's not made anymore -- so...
This Mary Kay Roll Up Travel Bag is the ONLY bag I could find that was big enough for all my stuff, hangs on a hook, has 4 clear pockets, and *bonus* rolls up neatly into a cute little cube with a handle!
Thank you very much Mary Kay!
I.O. Metro Bree Sectional (in Bela Pewter):
We LOOOOOOVE our new couch. It's cozy, comfy, and looks so pretty, and best of all, we ALL fit on it. It took us a while to find it, then about 8 weeks for it to arrive. But that didn't stop me from going into I.O. Metro often to visit it while we waited for ours to arrive. The kids even brought library books to try it out.
I'm sure that's not weird...right?
We (and the store employees too I'm sure...) are happy to be able to sit on our own now, in our own living room.
My old Lily Bloom bag was so worn out I finally had to let it go a few months ago. (I'm sensing a theme here..evidently I like bags with pockets and I use them till they fall apart - I think I get that from my mom). Anyhow, I've been on the lookout for a new one ever since. TJ Maxx had a bunch in stock one week when I went in, so I picked up this fun bag.
Since I wear so many solid colors, I love a bright print purse!
For Christmas, my sister-in-law Rachel made all the Steed girls these cute little heated rice bags. Just heat 'em up in the microwave for a few minutes, and they feel wonderful on your sore shoulders, hips, hands, back, legs, etc. (I'm telling you, those ZCUT workouts make you *very* sore!)
A Twisty Tail Hair Do:
Lately, my hair has gotten very long (which i like), but it's also been giving me the heebie jeebies about mid-day. I think it's something about the mess of curls hanging over my shoulders. Why does my hair always fall forward like giant cocker spaniel ears instead of laying nicely down my back?
Anyhow, my favorite solution for no-nonsense hair days is this twisty-tail hair do. It's fast, it's easy, and it doesn't look like a messy bun or ponytail. It actually makes it appear as if I care a little bit about how it looks. I'll have to post some better photos of it soon, with a tutorial.
So there you go...just a few, mostly frivolous, and unneccessary things that make my days a little brighter. I'm no Oprah, so unfortunately, you can't expect a door prize of each of my favorite things just for reading this, but maybe you'll find someting new that makes you happy too. :)
Perhaps the catlyst for this whole painting endeavor was the living room. I painted it the WRONG color gray first, so it was a totally mismatched mess compared to the rest of the house.
Then, after watching the 2012 Summer Olympics without even enough places to sit for our small little family of four, we decided it was time to add some seats to the room. We settled on a big gray sectional that would be delivered in 8 weeks. So, we had to get going on the painting in order to make space for our new seating arrangement.
Here's where we started:
BEFORE (view from entryway):
...and where we sit now...
AFTER (view from entryway):
After we painted all the walls and ceiling the same SW Worldly Gray 7043 from my office and the entryway, we started filling it back up with furniture (and our brand new couch - which is the Bree Corner Sectional from I.O.Metro, in Bela Pewter)
We hauled off the green rug, moved the green curtains, couch and loveseat to the den, and started working with a new color scheme of mostly gray, teal and gold.
I bought the coordinating (but not matching) pillows from World Market, Kohls, and Target.
Here's a view from the other corner of the room, looking toward the front door. The big round coffee table is borrowed from Paxton's room for now (he had his fire station on it). I think it's a little too big for the room though, so we'll probably replace it with a rectangular coffee table eventually. But, since we haven't been out to shop for that yet, this one is sufficing for now (even if it does look like a kids' play table). It's a good height though, and *bonus* - it doesn't matter if it gets rings on it from drinks!
Now, our Dot Calm painting (see it back there in the corner?) seems to fit in a little better with the gold and turquoise shades in the painting and the gray and gold accents around the room.
For the floor, I lucked out one day at Target and found this 5' x 7' rug on clearance with the perfect colors - for only $45! I couldn't pass that up.
BEFORE (view from my office):
AFTER (view from my office):
We moved the Expedit bookshelves all to the back wall to make one long set of shelves. Even though I loved the L-shaped corner bookshelf look, it was too many "L-Shapes" for the room when you added in the sectional. I'm still hoping to replace that silver lamp behind the couch with something more interesting one of these days.
I had all sorts of curtain shopping drama that I'll spare you, but I finally was able to find (and buy, and successfully hang) these long-length Imperial Blue/Taupe Striped Grommet curtains from World Market. They seem to be perfectly subtle, while not being a solid color. It was worth the drama.
Here's a view from that back corner, looking into my office.
We still need to find a new piece of furniture to put our television on, and then we'll find some artwork or a big mirror to hang on that big blank wall. But, even with the boring view, this is DEFINITELY the best (and coziest) seat of the house!
I highly recommend a sectional...it's awesome. Even in a small living room. We've enjoyed many Saturday and Sunday afternoons watching shows and football all together on the big couch. It's a major upgrade from fighting over the three available seats we used to have...
The "den" or the "playroom" or "downstairs" is kind of a giant holding room for leftover furniture, decorations and lots and lots of toys. Not quite a living-room, not quite a basement, maybe we should call it a rec room?
Whatever it is, it's needed some help along the way - and we're not there yet. But, in our painting marathon of October 2012, we did manage to step it up a small notch. Here's what we did:
Exhibit A: BEFORE (looking down)
Believe it or not, this is after MANY improvements and variations. Note the lovely cat food containers (on the mantle) that make *great* storage containers. Just keeping it real. We don't apologize for recycling.
And yes, we have a television in our fireplace. We live in Alabama. We don't need heat.
Exhibit B: AFTER (looking down)
When we did our big painting marathon, we continued the SW Anonymous 7046 color from the kitchen down the big wall where the mantle is, and used the lighter SW Worldly Gray 7043 color (used also in the entryway and my office) on the other three walls and ceiling.
Exhibit C: BEFORE (looking up)
We moved our loveseat and chair from the living room down to the playroom and removed or relocated a few of the bigger toys. The easel was disassembled and turned into a flat chalkboard and dry erase board. The pink chair was moved back to Ayla's bedroom. The tool bench moved up to Paxton's bedroom, the basketball hoop to the garage, and that great big "craft" desk (that was ALWAYS a disaster of papers and markers) was donated to Goodwill.
Exhibit D: AFTER (looking up)
We moved the treadmill and deep freezer over to the less-visible space next to the stairs, which has seemed to work really well (both for convenience and asthetics).
Notice anything else missing? We removed the railing and the carpet on the stairs, which significantly opened up the room. Safe? Probably not to code, but it's working for us, so for now, that's how it stays. Painting the top metal railing the same wall-color as the kitchen helped it disappear, as did painting the door that goes to the garage.
I moved a few of my 12" x 12" frames to the space over the mantle, and with the help of some white spray paint, they pop really well on the dark gray wall. While I was spray painting, I brightened up the wood "Family" sign and several smaller frames to bring some color to the otherwise dark and gray wall of stone:
We didn't ban Ayla from doing crafts entirely, but we significanly down-sized her desk space in the hopes that it would downsize the mess. All her papers and coloring books and art supplies are stored in this cabinet, and she works at the little table next to it. This setup has worked *pretty* well so far. But still, the floor is often covered in papers and markers. You just can't hold an artist back. :)
The room still needs some artwork on the walls, a coffee table, and hopefully wall-to-wall carpet before too long (when we'll probably say goodbye to the area rug). But for now, it's been a step in the right direction -- more living space, less "junk" space.
While Ben was out of town for a few days and the kids were both sick and watching movies, I started itching to do a small project. I settled on this scrap wood framed print of our personalized "Places We've Lived" subway art. (It's easy to make your own! Just use the Subway style and add your "locations" with my Custom Family Rules Builder).
It was pretty easy to do, and only took about 10 minutes - truly.
I had already ordered the 8" x 10" poster print through my Zazzle store a while back (though you can also get an instant personalized downloadable version for only $9, and print it at home on cardstock or photo paper). It features all the important places in our lives together -- which started almost 18 years ago!
I had recenly collected a bunch of 4" scrap wood that had some really cool color and grain, so I rough-cut a few boards down to size - three 18" boards for the back, and two 12" boards for the front. They aren't perfect, but that's kind of the point. :)
I used some brass screws that we had at our workbench in the garage to attach the front two vertical boards to the three back horizontal boards, and then used more brass screws and washers to wedge a page protector (trimmed down to 8" x 10") onto the front of the board. An 8" x 10" piece of plastic would work well too, but I didn't have any on-hand, and the page protector covers both the front and the back of the print, which seemed like a good idea.
Since the wood was pretty soft, I didn't have to pre-drill, but if it had been harder wood, I'd recommend pre-drilling.
That's it. Then I just propped it up in the corner of our bookshelf and admired it. (Then I probably had to go clean up some vomit...the kids were sick, remember?)
I've been looking to find something substantial in size to put at the top corner of my living room bookshelves that wasn't a vase or a photograph (I have plenty of those!). So, this "Places We've Lived" print and some natural wood seemed like a good choice, since I've started using a golden yellow as one of the accent colors in our livingroom, that I've been slowly working on redecorating.
Now if I could just find a coffee table that we both like...
We repainted several rooms in our house WAY back in October, but things got kinda crazy in November and December around here, so the "redecorating" had to take a back seat. We're still lacking several things, but since it doesn't look like things will be "FINISHED" for a while...so I thought I'd post a few photo updates of the other rooms we painted.
Here it was BEFORE:
What you can't see in this picture is how dirty those walls are, and how many giant holes there are up there on the wall (next to the B & A).
We painted the walls and ceiling the same color as my office (Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray 7043), repaired all the walls, and cleaned all the baseboards. Amazing what a little elbow grease can fix!
When we started putting everything back, I decided to take down the plate holders with frames in them and retire 'em. They've been around a long long time. :) Instead, we put back our monogram, family tree canvas, and brought in the secretary desk that I'd had refinished not too long ago.
Here's a view from the stairway, looking toward the front door.
The framed print by the door is the original building permit for our house. We found it in the garage after we moved here, and thought it was pretty neat looking. The entryway just seems like the right place for it to stay!
I'm still shopping for the right rug for this space, but haven't come across the right thing quite yet...
The two buckets next to the desk aren't exactly a "decorating" choice, but they have been VERY functional - so they're staying! These are the kids' junk buckets. Anytime we find something of theirs laying in the living room, kitchen, stairway, or my office, it goes in the bucket. At the end of the day, they carry their buckets upstairs and put everything away before bedtime.
We've been doing this a few weeks now and it's worked PERFECTLY. The kids are glad they don't have to put their stuff away immediately. We're happy there's not junk all over the "adult" areas of the house (especially the kitchen island), and they've been happy to put it all away when it's time to do it.
Speaking of functional spaces...the entryway is also our school bag and homework central area. We kept the little board with coat hooks just like it was before. Four hooks - two for coats and two for backpacks - for two little kids. :)
When the kids get home from school everyday, they unload their lunch bags and backpacks and hang them and their coats up here.
Then, I sort all the papers that come home at this desk, and Ayla does her homework at it - we just open the desk up and scoot the chair over for her). This has helped keep papers and books and "stuff" from cluttering up the kitchen island or my desk and then Ayla has a dedicated space to do her homework.
The top dresser drawer of the desk holds folders for each kid, with all the schoolwork we are saving throughout the year. We also keep the little photo albums that hold all our postcards from Noni, as well as any coupons or flyers that we need to hold onto in the top drawers of the desk.
So that's it. Entry way is mostly done. :) And it's turned into a functional space, instead of just being a walkway. Yay.
I am offering my biggest and best SignsByAndrea sale of the entire year. Seriously. This sale is SO BIG, it only happens once a year! And it's almost over!
All of my standard personalized signs are BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE!* through Cyber Monday (11/26/12). There is no limit on how many you can purchase, so go ahead and pick out personalized hand-crafted signs for all the people on your shopping list! Just add each personalized sign to your cart, and the discounts will be automatically applied -- no coupon code needed!
*For each painted wood sign you purchase, you will receive one equal or lesser-valued sign for free. Custom wood signs are not included in this sale and will be quoted and priced separately. Gift Certificates, (de)Signs posters and canvases and digital downloads are also excluded from this sale.