Archive for DIY Projects

A Lakeside Storybook Wedding: 20 Lessons Learned

I thought I’d interrupt my regularly scheduled wedding recaps (haha, riiight) to post about various lessons learned from my own wedding. Keep in mind: the wedding was the shiz-nit. An amazing, fun, without-a-care-in-the-world day and all-round hootenanny of hilarity with most everybody pitching in to get ‘er done! The following is just some information I personally could have used before the big day. Just nitpicky things. Not huge regrets. So hold on to your wedding hats, hive, cuz I’m about to get all up in the nitpick-pickety.

(Tip: scroll allll the way down to read the super short version of this post.)

All photos unless otherwise noted are by the lovely and amazing Tanja Lippert.

Here’s what I learned:

1. It’s sometimes easier to say you’re sorry than ask for permission. I know, I know, shouldn’t I be a tad bit more ethical, being a journalist and all?

I’m not talking anything illegal, but when it came to my at-home wedding, it was definitely easiest to just go for it, rather than ask, when it came to things like our parking-in-the-meadow-across-the-street-situation:

Personal Photo

See far left for nose of car poking out. Here’s maybe a better pic, showing the cars blurry in the background in the meadow:

*Side note: also, if you make lanterns streaming with ribbons in shades of peach, pink and taupe, be aware that in photos they’ll remind you of flying octopuses. Or a flying spaghetti monster. Anyone else get that?

My parents were all “oh, just ASK the land-owner for permission to park there!” But, what would have happened had he said no? Where would we all have parked? Plus, I doubt he was in any sort of liability trouble-zone, because technically we were on the side of the road next to his meadow.

2. You can totally get away with ignoring county music/sound ordinances, as long as you know and love your neighbors.

I’m passionately against ending weddings before 11 p.m. It’s just not right. In my ideal world, all us Americans would do it up Spain-style: dancing till 6 a.m. followed by breakfast with the whole wedding party.

Our band played past 11 p.m. despite county sound ordinances that mandated we be quiet at 10. If you’re in a rural enough area, and know your neighbors, I say go for it. I even investigated what could have happened had anyone complained, and the police chief and sheriff deputy I asked told me they would only come out and give a warning. Not too big a deal.

3. It takes three times as long as you’d estimate to do your own flowers. I love that I did it, it’s just, I didn’t take into account all the time it takes unpacking the bunches, filling up buckets, prepping, cleaning and clipping. For my 100-person wedding with about 30 centerpieces, it took half of the day Thursday and Friday before the wedding with two helpers.

And I didn’t have time to do all the ‘maids flowers.

Maid of honor bouquet:

Maids’ “bouquets” (i.e., didn’t have time to make them, so they carried lovely single stems of matilija poppies!):

4. Making 10 of these lavender-filled mason jar arrangements took way freakin’ longer than I thought it would:

5. If you’re an insomniac like me, a good thing to try is to stay up ALL night the Thursday night before your Saturday wedding. That way when Friday night rolls around, you will be sure to sleep very well and awake fresh and ready to go. I didn’t intentionally not sleep Thursday night. See #4 for the reason I was up all night. Yes, those containers of lavender took me all night to arrange by myself into the perfect little bunches that they were.

But you know what? It was fun. I was out there by the lakeside in the fresh summertime night air, surrounded by bushels of sweet-smelling lavender and my gorgeous blue mason jars. The waves were lapping against the shore, and I finally had some peaceful hours to myself after a week of harried, hurried wedding preparations. I sat there clipping the lavender and sticking them in the jars until each one was just how I wanted. When dawn began to break, I crept into bed and got a few hours’ sleep before the day-before-the wedding preparations began.

6. Do not attempt to harvest tons of lavender bare-handed when there are a bunch of bees. You will get stung on the palm of your hand and then by wedding day it will be all itchy.

7. If somebody tells you that baby wipes will take care of the dirt marks on your Melissa Sweet double-faced satin gown don’t listen to them. They don’t do anything, actually.

8. Also, if somebody tells you that putting antiperspirent on your thighs and behind your knees will help prevent sweat on an 86 degree day underneath several layers of tulle and satin — it doesn’t.

9. If you have a DOC who is not doing all that you’d hoped/discussed, don’t forget to mention to her to fix it. At the time, I was more concentrated on having fun, but I WISH I had asked her to do things like clean up the random sticks/trash/empty boxes scattered over by the bar area, and trim the plastic flowing out of the rowboat ice holder:

I saw that and minutes before I walked down the aisle, I ran behind and opened up my screens behind the bar to try and hide the mess, haha:

Aluminum rowboat, filled with ice containing beer…

… was supposed to look cute, but ended up with the clear plastic spilling out over the edges uncut looking hideous (See far right of photo):

Personal Photo

So hideous my pro photographer tactfully avoided taking any photos of it. Sigh. I wish I hadn’t listened to the DOC who said to line it in plastic, and wish I had just left it with the ice and beer alone in the clean rowboat instead. She said it was a health safety hazard that way. Pppppppfffft. Is what I say to that. Whatever. I’d cleaned it. It would have been just fine with the ice and closed cans of beer alone. It’s not like I was putting hors d’oeuvres on ice in there.

10. If the idea of being in front of a crowd makes you very nervous, you may be surprised on your wedding day. I wasn’t nervous in the slightest. I was afraid I would sweat in my armpits. I didn’t. You’ll amaze yourself.

11. If you make a huge, detailed timeline for your helpers outlining what they can help out with, and email it to them, and verify that they received that email, take the extra step to make sure you talk with them about it all in person, too. Because chances are, they might not read it and thus not be there at 3 p.m. as planned to help out. They might show up at 5:30 instead. Still others will pleasantly surprise you and totally go the extra mile, like my rocking MIL, and sisters-in-laws who put out the flowers despite a coordinator barking at them not to, and who helped make these lovely boutonnieres:

Be ready to roll with it all.

12. Make sure your DOC is totally OK with “rolling with it.” Otherwise, due to #11, your DOC might be the one who unexpectedly ends up having to put all the plates, napkins and glassware out on the tables (unfortunately while acting “put out”). Also, make sure that DOC understands you when you tell her numerous times prior to the wedding that she can put the flowers out on the tables starting at 4 p.m., because otherwise she might yell at your MIL and SIL’s — at 5:30 p.m. when all the guests are already there — that they can’t be put out until 6 p.m. because they might wilt?!? Um, no they won’t. And furthermore, so freakin’ what if they do! It’s better to have flowers out on the tables when you want them out there rather than no flowers at all. Thank you, MIL and SIL’s, for putting them out despite her yelling at you!!!

13. If your totally awesome band you booked seems to be the slightest bit confused/apprehensive about also being the ones to make all the announcements/MC’ing your event, don’t expect them to somehow miraculously be on the ball with said announcements on the day of the wedding. They’ll probably welcome your guests to the incorrect location (Napa instead of Lake County) then nearly drop an f-bomb into the microphone when the guests shout out the correct location… among other announcement goofs. ;p

14. When you talk to your parents about giving a toast and they agree, try asking them what they plan on saying, otherwise your mom might get up to the microphone and — in order to prevent your dad from making a completely inappropriate joke as he is known to do — grab the mic from him and thank everyone for coming in fewer than five words and go sit back down again.

Well-meaning, loving, yet exceedingly brief toast-giving parents.

15. Put all wedding items/decorations in marked boxes with lids on them. Putting things in marked boxes without lids is dangerous. All the lidded-boxes with stuff in them resulted in items being safe. All the un-lidded boxes with stuff in them resulted in items walking off and getting lost. Even 10 large white linen hemstitched table runners from Pottery Barn *sniff* placed in an un-lidded box mysteriously disappeared into thin air never to be seen again. Don’t underestimate the ability of large items to dematerialize. Better yet, keep all boxes of items in a locked room until it’s time to set them out on the tables.

16. Be prepared that you might spend a million hours making 200 lace-covered glass pillar candle holders, but only about 60 of them get put out on the tables. If that happens, maybe don’t just “roll with it.” Maybe consider taking them out yourself or getting someone to take them out and put them on the tables at nightfall, otherwise you’ll still be a little bit bitter about the whole dealy-bob eight months after your wedding ;p

17. Condensation and paper goods do not mix well:

Before:

After:

18. Remember to provide ample lighting for your caterer in their little catering tent set up. Oops. Sorry, Julie!!!

19. Inform caterer/day-of coordinator to plug the 100-cup coffee maker into separate outlet than the same one running the lights, otherwise all the lights might go out for a few minutes.

20. Thank your husband when he’s the one who remembers to grab one of the long lighters to make sure all the piller candles throughout the property and tables get lit, even though you paid the day-of-coordinator, and the caterers’ staff extra to do it (tsk tsk, forgetful wedding staffers!).

And there you have it!

SHORT VERSION OF THE ABOVE: Make damn well sure you communicate, communicate, and over-communicate with all your helpers/coordinators about what you want done and how you want stuff set out. Even if you communicate, and get it in writing and hire an expensive and good-Yelp-reviewed day-of coordinator, not all your !@#$ will get set out or performed to your specifications. Let it go. Or hold on to it, bottled deep inside, and then write a long-ass blog post about it eight months later.

EVEN SHORTER VERSION OF THE ABOVE: Not all of your wedding !@#$ will get set out. Let it go. Or do something to fix it.

Next up, back to the regularly scheduled recaps. If you’d care to catch up, please check out:

A Lakeside Storybook Wedding
A Lakeside Storybook Wedding: Leading Up

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Elegant, Gold and Red Wedding

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I’m so excited I get to design an inspiration board and buying guide with an elegant, sophisticated feel to it for my friend and his beautiful bride-to-be! The wedding will be held on the San Gabriel Hilton rooftop underneath a GORGEOUS white gazebo with city skyline views.

The color palette is primarily traditional Chinese wedding colors of gold and red. The bride also loves cherry blossoms, so I’ve carried the delicate pink of cherry blossoms throughout the design.

Here is an inspiration board and buying guide I created for the happy couple!

Here’s how to pull off this look while still sticking to your budget:

Manzanita Trees

1. Make the Manzanita tree centerpieces yourself. California — and indeed many Western states — have abundant Manzanita. Drive out into the country a bit and you’ll see some! Trim the trees of any leaves, wipe down the branches, and finish with some matte or metallic gold spray paint.

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While you have the spray paint handy, another inspiring centerpiece idea would be to spray paint regular wine bottles and use them throughout the venue as vases:

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Reception Decor

2. Vintage keys hanging from Manzanita branches are another look the bride loves. Find keys to decorate escort cards from Etsy or eBay.

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You could also create an amazing wedding favor by tying a vintage key to just about any keepsake or leaving it by itself for guests to use as an ornament.

Try working the vintage key theme into other aspects of your wedding:

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Wedding Favor Ideas

3. Since the couple are in need of some other wedding favor inspiration, I came up with these very usable options guests would enjoy:

Soaps in a cherry blossom scent, from the always-elegant L’Occitane

Another cherry blossom soap favor idea:

A bottle of wine with a personalized label:

Remember, this doesn’t have to be an uber-expensive gift. It could be a special favor to give to family members only. Also, many guests will neglect to take favors, so you may not even need a bottle for each guest. Another idea to cut costs is to leave a bottle of wine for each couple attending your wedding (and of course each single, above-21-years-old guest!) Get thee to BevMo quick! They’re having their 5 cent sale. 🙂

A cherry blossom candle:

Or how about something tasty as a favor? Edible favors are always a big hit! You won’t have to worry about left-behind favors with these ideas.

Try cupcakes or cookies decorated with the same cherry blossom motif:

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Petal shaped cookies. Yum! And SO totally unique.

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For an even more low-cost favor, try slipping a home-baked cookie into a simple favor box or cellophane wrapper and decorating it with a personalized label

or personalized tags!

Ceremony Site Decor

4. The ceremony gazebo would look amazing either draped in florals, or with hundreds of origami cranes:

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Pick up some lovely red and gold origami paper and do the folding yourself. Hey, if even I could figure it out after a few shots, I bet anybody could!

Another lovely look would be ribbons and origami cranes, together:

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I envision the gazebo’s white columns flanked in rich, red organza fabric, with a border arrangement of flowers along the top, and streams of ribbons and origami cranes making up a backdrop behind the bride and groom. I sort of picture it like this, but imagine the appropriate colors instead of green, and cranes and ribbons instead of crystals:

Source: Designs by Hemingway, LLC

Underneath the gazebo, the table holding unity candles or other ceremony items could be decorated like this:

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And finally, for that total “wow” factor that only costs a couple hundred bucks, order rose petals from your florist and have a creative, artistic friend scatter them down the aisle in a beautiful design:

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And there you have it! An elegant, red and gold wedding for the lovely bride and groom! Good luck planning, my friends, I know it’s going to be simply gorgeous!

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Black & White Den With Pops of Color

Nellie, the winner of my very first giveaway last week, came to me seeking a makeover of her and her husband Nick’s den, which needs some pops of color. She’s a girl of my own heart in terms of loving style and design, which she writes about over on her blog Wired, Witty and Well-Dressed. Here’s what she says:

We’re kind of into the sophisticated modern look with a hint of classic antique-iness. For example, we really like dark brown leather couches with the brass rivets.

We tended to do black stuff in our den since our computers and electronics dominate the room and they’re black. We both like shades of blue. Nick loves orange (he’s a University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign fan).

I’m a huge fan of DIY artwork. We actually have a pile of framed photos that we haven’t gotten up on the walls yet. I also have a newspaper from the morning after the last election when Barack Obama won that I’m dying to get framed and put over my desk in the office. We also don’t have any wedding photos up yet.  We really need to figure out a way to get them up.

Here are a couple photos of the den as-is. It currently has two matching desks and desk chairs and lamp, which will stay, and two matching black bookcases, which will go.

Looking in:

The right wall:

Here is a layout of the den, which has five walls and is 9×12′:

Now here’s what I have planned for the makeover, using Nellie’s $250 gift card at Bed, Bath & Beyond she has from her wedding, and about $200-ish extra for additional items:

1. This leaning bookshelf will replace the two black ones and create a much more open, airy feeling in the room, while still storing the couples’ needed work-books. The height of the shelf will go well with the height of the room. The more attractive books can be left out to display on the shelves, while clutter and little-used texts can be stored in the woven baskets (#8). The printer can either be placed on the bottom shelf here, or kept on its current small black table but moved to the wall directly to the left of the double doors.

2. This gorgeous chair is on sale and includes the couples’ favorite colors: orange and blue, along with beige and brown. Positioned against the wall directly opposite the double doors (to the left of the closet), it will help brighten up the room from the vantage point of the living room, looking through the doors into the den.

3. We’ll push the two desks together onto the 9′ wall to the left of the double doors to create one long workspace. High up above it will go two floating shelves, to create one long shelf where more books can be stored along with propped up pieces of large artwork, and even that framed newspaper from when Obama won the presidency, like Nellie wants to do. The artwork on top of this floating shelf will add color as well as make great use of the room’s high walls.

In between the highly-placed floating wall shelf and the tops of the desks, we’ll place a long sheet of cork board covered with fabric (see #4 for fabric color and pattern), much like in this inspiration photo Nellie provided me, courtesy of http://www.fancyhouseroad.com (which looks like it got it from Martha Stewart):

Rolls of cork board can be purchased at places like Michaels or online. Here it is on Amazon pretty durn cheap! And since Nellie mentioned she and her husband adore that brass-rivet-studded leather look, I thought it’d be fun to frame the new cork board with brass-colored upholstery nails. You can buy those here. To apply the fabric to the board, I’d use a spray fabric adhesive, smoothing out as you go along. The upholstery nails around the edges will help secure it, too.

There is space on that wall in between the two desks (which I should mention are the same model), for a small storage cabinet the same height as the desks (like in the inspiration photo above) as a place to store and hide the computers and cords. In the meantime, cords can be easily corralled up to the underneath of the desks and secured with Velcro tape.

4. This artwork would look fabulous arranged leaning on top of the floating shelf above the desks. Try a trio of different-yet-similar framed $4.99 coral prints, a large 19×19″ framed tropical dock print to bring in more blue hues, and a huge, gorgeous $39 floral framed print that does a great job of containing all of the colors of our palette!

5. This collection of frames can hold artwork, such as DIY pieces like pressed fern leaves, silhouette cut-outs that are all the rage right now and a couple of wedding photos. Placed art-gallery-like above the chair midway on the wall will create a striking feature.

6. I couldn’t pass up this great leather charging station to hold ipods, cell phones AND hide those unsightly cords. This station could be placed on the desks or leaning bookshelf. What a steal — it’s under $10 on sale!

7. Here’s the fabric I talked about above, that will cover the cork board above the desks. The oversized dandelion pattern echoes the chair’s pattern. Bonus — it won’t be too distracting as the new-cork-board-wall above the desks since it’s a muted natural linen color. In fact, it will help define the space and make the combined-desks-arrangement appear more unified. $12.95/yard.

8. Finally, snag this set of durable woven baskets to bring in texture and tame unsightly stuff, placed on the new leaning bookshelf on the wall to the right of the desks. Lastly, I’d suggest clearing away unneeded papers, clutter and even picture frames (that are currently on the black bookcases that will be tossed). Try putting those smaller frames up on the wall instead, grouped in the nicely-arranged art gallery (above the new Target chair).

Happy decorating Nellie!!! When you’re finished, shoot me the after pictures! I’m so digging these colors myself I’m thinking about purchasing the same artwork for my living room. If I do, I’ll be sure to post pictures here on the blog.

Readers, how do you bring color into apartments where you’re not allowed to paint (or only allowed to paint just one wall per room, as in Nellie’s case)? Do you go ahead and paint just one wall? Do you break the rules and paint all of them anyway, knowing you’ll have to go over them with the original white paint before you leave? If you painted, are you afraid of getting caught or even getting a fine? (Can you tell yours truly might have broken aforementioned rules in her own apartment recently? 😉

Somebody please comment, I’m getting lonely on this here blog o’ mine and wondering if anybody’s out there reading other than Alexa and my Mom?

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Tuesdays With Mor’Money

Yup, I just pulled out a reference to the best-selling novel (and movie) Tuesdays with Morrie. I think Morrie would have been the type of guy who thinks one should not overspend on things, and thus Morrie would approve of this post, which is all about saving money. Creating a wedding, an event and a lifestyle that looks high-end, but in reality is cheaper than my mom-at-the-mall.

See, I grew up in a family that clipped coupons, swapped goods with friends, accepted hand-me-downs and constantly scouted for cheap deals so we could afford a yearly or so extravagant vacation. We’re talking Europe extravagant. So it makes sense I followed the same methods of saving so I could have my Europe-caliber wedding. A $50,000-lookalike-affair for $15,000. (See it here at Style Me Pretty.)

Yes, I caved into my champagne vices while sticking to natty ice prices. (Ooo, I rhymed!) And I’m here to offer my services to help you do the same.

So, let me get to the point: I’m starting a new feature up in he’ah! Each week, I’m going to create a mood board and buying guide for a uniquely beautiful wedding styled by yours truly! Annnnd, my dear readers, you’ll have a chance to have that buying guide and custom wedding design created by me for free, based on your dream wedding, and featured right here.

Furthermore, since I know many of you may have more specific needs, I can customize your buying guide/mood board to not just an overall wedding design, but if you so choose I will create a buying guide for your wedding-or-event floral needs (for those DIYers like me out there) that sticks to both your budget, without sacrificing your floral-dreams. OR, if you’re not currently planning an event, I will create a mood board and buying guide to revamp and redecorate a room in your house or apartment! I’ll source inexpensive-yet-stylish items to tie your room together, all while sticking to a budget. Just specify in your comment below: “Wedding Me!” “Flower Me!” or “Decorate Me!” so I know which you’d like!

All you have to do to enter this giveaway is one of the following: subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter, tweet about this giveaway, become a “fan” of Clementine & Clover’s facebook page, or post on your own blog with a link to this giveaway. Come back here and in your comment, tell me what-all you’ve done. You’ll get an entry for each action you take! That’s up to five entries per person!

I’ll announce the winner and be in touch with them this Friday!

Good luck and thanks for entering!!

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A DIY Holiday Doormat Project: The Results!

I had a high school teacher and a college professor describe me as having “moments of pure brilliance.” A nice way of saying those moments were bookended by long periods of pure blunder.

I would like to think that the moment I furiously cut out a santa-and-reindeer stencil, applied it to my mat, and without hesitating to read the directions, shook the can of paint and sprayed away–as a moment of pure brilliance. And the moment shortly thereafter where I inhaled enough fumes to coat my lungs in American Accents smooth finish midnight blue, sadly, one of blunder.

Oh the sacrifices* one must make in order to create great art:

As soon as the spray dust settled in my lungs and caused me to begin to feel high dizzy, I swooped up my beloved cat Tigerlily and booked it outdoors. Then, thinking I was surely dying–I called my Dad, who has a way about him of downplaying any serious situation I may find myself in until I think I’m no longer in any peril. Have a flat tire in skid row right across from a drug deal? No problem! By the time I’ve listened to my Dad talk (and he loves to talk) about everything he has possibly heard on the news or on NPR about skid row, I start to feel as safe and confident in myself as if out for an afternoon stroll in Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

Dr. Dad suggested a brisk walk to open up the capillaries in my lungs and unclog the paint that has surely hardened there. I like that about my Dad. Good exercise that makes you sweat is his cure-all remedy. Like the Dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Windex spray.

Do I recommend the project? Yes. It’s cute and if done in a well-ventilated area with a dust mask, non-hazardous.

I do, however, recommend doing it Martha’s way with paper cut outs. I ended up having a hard time cutting out my design from tape a la Young House Love’s way because all the pieces were flopping around trying to stick to each other. The paper die cut snowflakes (made on a Cricut) simply placed on the mat worked just as well as the designs made out of tape stuck to the mat.

Process of creating my doormat:

1. Draw your design on tape or paper placed on your mat (in order to get the right size/positioning). Doesn’t have to be perfect, just get the right size for your mat and a good outline going on.

2. Cut out the design using scissors. There might be circles of negative space that need cutting out, I used a utility knife to poke a hole in those sections and then small scissors to cut out the rest.

3. Place the design back on the mat in the desired position.

4. Put the mat on a protected area like plastic, cardboard, newspapers. Put on a dust mask. Turn on fans and open windows, or take the whole thing outdoors.

5. Apply two coats of spray paint. (You can wait in between coats or just do two at once like I did.)

6. Wait a few minutes for paint to dry then pull off the stencil eagerly–disregarding Martha’s instructions to wait two hours for paint to dry.

Here are some close-up shots:

For next time, I think any tiny, straight lines would be better achieved by just lying some string down on the mat, rather than cutting out tiny lines from paper or tape (hard!)

Like I said, your rough sketch doesn’t have to be perfect. As you are cutting out, you can make adjustments and follow the lines you like best:

Tinier than one-inch, those little paper snowflakes didn’t come out so well:

Close-up of the reindeer:

For part I of this DIY mat-making adventure, click here.

(*Sarcasm. My mat is unfortunately not great art. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to hire a fine artist to do my door mat designs or my swiss buttercream cake designs like Martha does.)

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The Temperature’s Right for this DIY Project!

Yes, folks. I checked and it is currently 69 degrees with humidity at 50 percent, which means perfect conditions in Irvine, California for a certain do-it-yourself project I’ve been dying to try ever since I saw this on Martha:

The project calls for paper stencils that you then pin onto a doormat before spray painting.

Last week, I saw this holiday version over on Young House Love:

I have my own little reindeer-inspired design I’d love to see on a mat in front of my door, from this woodcut I made last Christmas for the cards we sent out to close family and friends:

I apologize for the poor-quality photo (I just snapped it real quick on photo booth on my mac), but you get the idea.

It was inspired by this design from Pottery Barn (my oh-so-similar woodcut version was for personal use and not for any sort of profit, I swear, so it’s less of a rip-off that way):

Since I’m a big fan of jewel tones for Christmas: deep purples, forest green, ruby reds and navy blues, I chose this midnight blue color spray paint to get the job done:

I figure it will also help Santa and his reindeer appear as though they’re flying through a night sky. More so than had I chosen a cherry red backdrop, another very Santa-y color I considered.

I’m going to throw in some snowflake die cuts onto the design as well. I made them on my Cricut last year for some quick and easy Christmas tree ornaments.

Well, enough dilly-dallying I’m off to start a-drawing and a-stenciling and spray paintin’ away! Stay tuned to see the results!

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Make 3 Centerpieces from a Trader Joe’s Bouquet

Right now at Trader Joe’s in the flower section you’ll find peonies in rich pink hues and whites, as well as gorgeous $10 bouquets filled with festive boughs, pine cones, berries and chrysanthemums. By the way, I don’t need to spell check that last one thanks to Anne of Green Gables… (Leave a comment below if you know what I’m talking about!)

I grabbed one such bouquet intent on stretching it as far as it could go — as arrangements for a 15-person winter baby shower last weekend, and after they’d served their purpose there, as centerpieces to last through my husband’s and my holiday entertaining.

While the baby shower pics are coming soon, I promise, in the meantime I wanted to share how the centerpieces are holding up a week later, and go over how I whipped them up.

Excuse my poor photography skills. And excuse my rudimentary backdrop of gold curtains perforated with holes (courtesy of my cat, Tigerlily).

Without further adieu, here are my three centerpieces:

The pine-cone-on-a-stick came in the bouquet!

I used cheap rectangular and square vases from a florists’ store I picked up in downtown L.A. back when planning my own wedding. They come in handy these days for other parties and for centerpieces like these where the flowers need to take center stage.

Just a tip on arranging without using florists’ foam: hold each stem up to the vase in the position and angle you want to place it to cut it to the appropriate length. Use stems woven through and against each other for support as you build each arrangement starting with the largest blooms and ending with the tiny grasses and lightweight flowers, such as the snapdragons.

I would like to note that since this photo session, my cat has eaten all of the grasses. Seriously, they are now stubs.

And the third arrangement. Love the hypericum berries.

Except for maybe the white roses (can’t really see them in these shots–sorry), I’m counting on these flowers lasting me through Christmas. If you want to try what I did, just snip the bottoms of the stems when you first arrange them, and change the water every couple of days. Add a drop of 7-up or flower food to the water. And use room-temp water instead of cold. They like it more. Don’t ask me why. Just do it. (Says the UCCE Master Gardener who should totally remember why they like it, but doesn’t at all.)

Next up for the new year are some of those glorious Trader Joe’s peonies!

Stay tuned for baby shower coverage as well as some Christmas-y posts on holiday table-top decorating, and a festive DIY project I’m soo-oo-ho-ho-ho excited to try out this weekend!

Have you gone to town with one of those extremely gorgeous bouquets from Trader Joe’s, stretching it into several centerpieces for your home or table?

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