Monday, December 20, 2010

Carin's Casa of Creative Crafting: Gingerbread House Party!

Carin is the crafty kind of person you love to have around for inspiration, but also secretly hate to try and live up to :) She is AMAZING! She's always crocheting (or knitting? I don't even know the difference), offering around GORGEOUS/NUMMY frosted sugar cookies, and building the most fantastical costumes. It's enough to make a moderate hobby crafter feel mopey and inadequate, but then she goes and wins you back over again by hosting a GINGERBREAD HOUSE DECORATING PARTY! Yeah, she's pretty cool. She made snacks:

And she actually BAKED A GINGERBREAD HOUSE for everyone who came! (Are you kidding me? I'd totally have bought kits :) But these smelled sooooo much better!) So I arrived and got this:

Which I then set about assembling:

And decorating:

I took a few cookie breaks - pretty sure I ate all the Xmas trees. The hedgehogs were too darned cute to destroy:

More decorating:

The snow is much prettier with sprinkles, don't you think? I wouldn't mind shovelling half as much if it were really this cute all winter:

IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! I haven't done a gingerbread house since Daisy Girl Scouts, and I've always meant to, so I can't thank Carin enough for having this event (not to mention doing all the baking, mixing, and CLEANING! I'm pretty sure there was candy EVERYWHERE by the end, so sorry!). Everyone had a good time, and I think our whole "village" was pretty fun:

Having creative friends rocks:

Thanks Carin & everyone, what a great way to get in the holiday spirit!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Frightful Weather = Delightful Nesting Time

You may have heard about the "Snowmageddon/Snowpocalypse/Tsnownami" that hit Minnesota this weekend, dumping 17+" of snow on my house, then blowing it into stiff meringue like peaks well over 3' high. I'm not all that bothered that the Metrodome collapsed, but the video is pretty cool, and major gold star to my poor hubby who had to dig us out all alone this year, as my "fragile condition" doesn't allow for much shovelling.

Instead, I found other ways to support our family unit, like working on the nursery and online shopping.

I didn't upload my "real" pictures yet, but I managed to get a whole gob of work done when everything else was cancelled (thank goodness) and that included pretty much finishing up the decor in Cupcake's room. Here are some not great camera phone photos:

The black frames with gold accents are holding these mermaid alphabet cards, they frame the top of the room on 2 sides. The gold frames underneath hold two Paulina Stuckey Cassidy prints of mermaids that I've been saving for YEARS and never hung, and I decided to order this print for the third.

I also nabbed up this reading mermaid I've been eyeing on Etsy for months, I'm hoping I can put it in the gold frame I picked up for the voodoo room at Halloween (it had a creepy puzzle in it then). Hubby is stuck in a book most of the day, we're both English majors so reading is quite important to us and we hope it is to the Cupcake as well. Reading mermaids set a good example :)

Blackbeard there (orange beard?) is guarding a pile of newborn diapers. The curtain rods are hung, and the valances that are part of the bedding set we picked out for the twin bed, and I did decide to pair them with purple blackout curtains (not shown) but Target only had 2 panels in stock, so I need to find another set before that project is finished. I also broke down and bought a mattress pad and sheet for the crib, despite trying to wait and use my registry coupons I just HAD to get that part checked off my list, it was driving me insane :)

My final art purchase, also on Etsy, was a set of prints from this seller - she also made the thank you notes I sent out for shower gifts:

They're going in simple gold dollar store frames, with a big gold pirate ship medallion from Goodwill, and that should fill the wall above the twin bed. I hope to have everything hung and finished in the next two weeks. Fingers crossed! Maybe I should move on to Christmas shopping now...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cupcakes & Christmas Trees

Last year I had a total of 5 Christmas trees decorated for the holiday season. One was huge, three were very small, and the medium one is the only one I decided to deal with this year. I love decorating for the holidays, and feeling the glow of Christmas lights in our living room has seemed magical ever since I was a kid, but I just know with Cupcake's impending arrival (4 weeks?!?!) that I can't count on any time/energy to pack everything up later on, so I'm scaling back now. I'm also not hosting a cookie exchange this year, which I'm kind of sad about but not sad enough to deal with all the baking and dishes, so I'm glad I was realistic about that months ago and begged off. That said, I had to put up at least ONE tree:

I need to pull out the tree skirt to finish it off, but I finally found all of the "sweets" ornaments I bought after last season! I love them. And there are a few more picked up along the way, but not too many. I've had a hard time resisting buying more, especially since everything is going on sale now, but I'm trying to keep my priorities in line :) Maybe after Christmas clearance though, if I can still waddle...

I did let myself splurge on ONE special ornament for this year though:

(Cupcake's real name masked)

I cannot believe that Christmas is just 2 weeks away...I'm WAY behind on my shopping, though I'm definitely looking forward to a few days off work. Cupcake has been STRONGLY cautioned to stay put until her due date, mostly due to my hangups about holiday birthdays (I only want the best for her!), and though I'm slow and waddly and still suffering with heartburn, I'm excited to finish creating her room and catch up on some other projects before she crashes into our lives. Won't be long now...

Monday, December 06, 2010

Nursery, Ahoy!

I got a couple of HUGE items checked off my list this weekend, including assembling my Boppy pillow (with protective cover and decorative slipcover), Diaper Genie (hopefully to keep Norm out of the mess, let alone the smell out of the room), and hanging up all of the Cupcake's clothes for her first 6 months (the rest are in drawers, since they won't fit in the closet). I started packing my hospital suitcase, and I also got up the courage to try my vinyl wall decal! Remember, I recently bought this on Etsy:

I was kind of terrified to start it, since I haven't ever done one before and I know I did NOT want to have to repaint if I really fudged up the walls, but I LOVED this image and decided to be brave. I cut around the design loosely and figured out where I wanted it before peeling the backing paper off and smoothing it on the wall:

Then I started the long process of rubbing the transfer, careful to really focus on all the edges and around the cutouts. At first I used a clothespin, because it was sitting there, but eventually moved to the side of the scissor handle for more ergonomic support. The only downside of this was that I somehow cut my nose by flipping the scissors around carelessly with the handle pointed at the wall...meaning the blades were pointed at my face. Whoops. Once I thought I had it all rubbed on enough to transfer, I started slooooooooooowly peeling off the clear transfer film:

Every few inches or so I'd find a scale or tendril of hair that hadn't transferred, so I eased the film back down and rubbed some more. A few places took 2-3 tries, but as long as you go really slow when peeling the film off, you can see it happening and avoid ripping the decal. I probably spent 30 mins on this part, I REALLY wanted it to work!

And it did! I absolutely LOVE how it turned out, the contrast with the bright blue walls is excellent, and though there are a few bumps and bubbles, you really can't tell unless you are looking for them. I decided not to add the water swirls or bubbles - I didn't want to ruin the clean look I had managed to capture :) While the directions had "strongly recommended using 2 sets of hands," I didn't find that necessary - and it came out looking GREAT. I was so inspired, that I decided to put the new pirate bedding on the twin bed next to the crib:

So cute! We picked this out before we knew if Cupcake would be a he or a she, and I love it. It seemed silly to spend a bunch of $$ on crib bedding, when you shouldn't use bumpers or blankets in the crib anyways, so this was where I chose to get cute bedding instead - where it would actually SHOW:

I have matching window valances which I hope to get up this week after I pick up some curtains, crib sheets, changing pad and all the other stuff on my "final necessities" list. That is going to be one fun Target trek :)

Tomorrow marks pregnancy week 35, just 5 weeks until my due date and the pages are absolutely tumbling off of the calendar now. Less than 3 weeks until Christmas?!?! I can hardly believe it. I'm frantically training my temporary replacement at work, and we're down to under 3 weeks before our holiday closure to get her all "learned up." I'm still suffering at the hands of late night heartburn & hip pain, and though my hands don't LOOK swollen to me, I think I may have to ditch the wedding ring for a while now. And I'm totally craving Peanut Butter Kisses:

I got a few at an event this past weekend, and by the time I had convinced myself I was okay shoving the rest of the plate into my purse, they were gone. But not forgotten. I may have to do some baking this week, despite my exhaustion and lack of will to clean up afterwards :) Better yet, can you just BUY these anywhere??? Since I'm down to eating about 3 things and drinking 3/4 of a gallon of milk a day, I've decided I'm fine putting away about a dozen of these a day :)

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 03, 2010

34 1/2 weeks

We're going to have a baby.

If the hourly acid reflux wake up calls, nickel sized bladder, and pronounced waddle in my gait weren't enough to give it away, I got the official news at my doctor appointment this week that "if your labor were to start now, we wouldn't do much to stop it."


Though I am feeling less and less EMOTIONALLY prepared for this every day (I'm having dreams about living in the dorms again, easy & carefree...or my childhood bedroom...think that's related?), at least we are reasonably close to being prepared in a physical sense. The kid has a wardrobe that dwarfs mine and her fathers (at least for the first 6 months). She has a bright cheerful room that is actually mostly clean. And she even has a place to sleep - did I show you this GIANT gift at the baby shower? :

It was sort of the "grand finale" of the gift opening...

What could it be?

It's a mattress! And a crib! Thank you Mom & Dad (soon to be first time Grandma & Grandpa :)

They even delivered it to our house and helped the hubby and I put it together last weekend:

Norm "helped" too:

And without too much trouble, we got it done:

Shortly after, we arranged all the furniture, cleared off the dresser/changing table, and hung all of the tiny little clothes on baby hangers. It actually looks pretty good - at least it's clean :) Next steps (hopefully this weekend) are to put up this mermaid decal on the wall (ordered from Etsy - not sure exactly why they staged the photo with a bride & groom kissing behind it?!?!):

Then I need to get moving on curtains (I had a dream about curtain rods last night too...guess I'm feeling anxious about getting this done!), replace a switch plate cover, and mount our mermaid alphabet cards & a few other prints I've picked up along the years, and possibly add a few little shelves/hooks over the changing table. Oh, and probably pack my hospital bag, since somehow 8 1/2 months have passed me by already...

Cheers to a safe and productive weekend, Cupcake staying in the oven until after the holidays, and planning an epic Target shopping trip to pick up the rest of our essentials. TGIF!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Romp in the Swamp Louisiana Halloween Party - Other NOLA Folk (Guest Costumes)

I've mentioned before how awesome my guests are each year with their costume creativity, and this year was no exception. I especially love it when people coordinate their costumes to the party theme (suggested, but not required - as long as they have SOME sort of costume I'm happy) and each of these folks all found a great way to play on the Louisiana idea:

Ignatius J. Reilly:

As an English major I probably lose major points for this, but I'll admit I didn't get it at first. Luckily Grant is a good sport and gave us the background - he's a character from this book, set in 1960's NOLA:

Bekah & Ben as a voodoo priestess & voodoo doll (he looks just like the little ones I made for the invites!):

Brian & Leslie - she's also created a voodoo doll costume, but totally different! How creepy is her stitched mouth? And Brian is a character from H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu story, also set in NOLA:

Brett Favre (AKA Rob) clearly has nothing to do with NOLA, but he showed up with one of Louisiana's most famous (infamous?) celebrities, Britney Spears:

I didn't see Brooke smoking, drinking, driving with her baby on her lap, or chomping gum during the party (she is a fellow mom-to-be like me though!), but she did get Britney's tank top & hair right on:

Amy was my sole True Blood character, can you believe it?!?! She made a spectacular Merlotte's waitress though :) And doesn't Sean just tear at your heart strings as a poor sea turtle caught up in the BP oil spill?

This handsome group blows me away every year as well, they totally rocked the theme. Molly & Travis are straight out of the swamp, she even had her own little (homemade!) voodoo doll in a basket, and Rachel & Pierre make gorgeous classic vampires:

Molly even upcycled their wigs into amazing dreads (but not as gross) - I kept wanting to touch them, it was like art!

And finally, we can't overlook SECOND TIME "Most Creative" costume winner Krista as "Simi Parthenopaeus", goth shopaholic demon (seriously - with wings & horns) daughter of Archeron in the trashy Dark Hunter paranormal romance series by Sherrilyn Kenyon:

Don't read the books? Totally missing out :) Besides, it's my party, so I'm the only one you have to impress to win costume prizes, and I was sure impressed with Krista's HANDMADE coffin backpack, and toddling around in those boots alone deserves a reward! She even drank out of a BBQ sauce container all night (The Simi likes to eat the bad guys...dipped in BBQ sauce).

Thanks again to all of my amazing guests, I LOVE seeing what you come up with each year!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Romp in the Swamp Louisiana Halloween Party - Mardi Gras Scene Setter

I was REALLY pleased with my "Scene Setter" purchase, it worked perfectly for our space and completely brought it to life. It also made a GREAT background for photos. I started by taking down all our framed art (though I left the tiny nails & hangars - not worth messing with them) and moving the couch so I had a big blank canvas:

The scene setter comes in 2 main rolls, each 4' high. The top roll is here, the bottom roll is here. When I say "rolls", I'm being a little generous - it would be better if they were actually on rolls like the gossamer, but they're really sort of folded. This means they have some creases, which is annoying, but for the price, it's still a great deal.

For ease of keeping things straight, I decided to line the top up with the coved ridge of our wall/ceiling, so I knew I wouldn't use the full 8' height, but that was fine. I used blue painters' tape to form a line of tape curls all across the top of the room .

I tried to alternate directions with the tape, though I have no scientific reason for this, I just feel like it holds better.

Then I carefully hung the top section of the print across the whole length of the room, smoothing it along the tape curls so it didn't pucker or pull. It's helpful to have 2 people do do this, but I did it solo & 7 months pregnant, so it's not a huge deal since everything is light and I wasn't up that high.

Next it was time to add the 2nd roll. The bottom panel has the archways on it, so you don't want to let the top hang over too far and cover all that up or it will look awkward. To get the right vertical alignment, I temporarily folded the top panel upwards and secured it to itself with a little painters' tape so it didn't get in the way. I ran another row of tape curls in a straight line about 1-2" above where the top panel would end, and then hung the bottom panel, careful to line up the arches/posts horizontally as well.

I let down the top panel to hang over the bottom slightly, and used double-stick tape to secure the bottom edge of the top panel to the top of the bottom panel where they overlapped. I had a little excess length at the bottom of the lower panel that I just cut off, and ran more blue tape curls along the bottom edge of the wall to secure it fully. I cut around our vents and electrical outlets too.

I even turned a little bit of the corner with the scene setters, and then cut around the archway as needed.

Once the main pieces were up, it was time to embellish! I bought a the add on sets of revelers, lamp posts & decor, and parade floats. I didn't realize it when I ordered, but these are also on big sheets of vinyl:

So it does take a fair amount of time to cut them all out. You don't have to be exact, because the background is clear, but you want to remove most of the extra weight. I used clear double sided tape to adhere the embellishments to the backdrops:

They were SO CUTE! You really get a lot for $3.99, I had enough for every veranda on the long wall to have some revelers, and a few more over the fireplace. There were several designs that were alternated. I love these frat boys:

I repeated the same process with the lamp posts, Mardi Gras floats, and stilt walkers, being conscious of layering & perspective when necessary (i.e., should the floats be going in front of or behind the lamp posts?). The clear double sided tape was perfect because it didn't really show, and it held tight. I didn't use all the embellishments - other than the lampposts, I didn't use anything in that set, but it was still worth it for the lamps. I used some of the stilt walkers and clowns on the walls elsewhere in the house too. The final effect:

Voila! Let the wild rumpus begin!

It took me a LONG time to put this up, I pretty much spent 9 solid hours between this and all of the hanging decor in the living room, but it was totally worth it. Everything came down really easily too - the vinyl peeled right off of the painters' tape and I was able to roll everything up to use again if I want. I would definitely recommend these scene setters, and will probably keep using them in the future when they fit my themes. The total cost for decorating this whole wall + the additional patch over the fire place (and some more left over - each scene setter is 30' long):

Top roll: $10.99
Bottom roll: 10.99
3 embellishment packs @ $3.99 each (and I probably used about 60-75% of the embellishments only)

That's less than $26 + a couple rolls of tape! AWESOME value for such a big impact on a room.