Monday, April 30, 2012

Chalk Paint Planter & Flower Tower Topiary!

At my local grocers this morning I saw them unpacking their shipment of fresh cut flowers -- so I snagged a few (sad) Alstroemeria Bunches to give my home a little Monday Happy ☼!
UPDATE ::: Flowers opening up nicely -- even Happier Tuesday :)
I decided to add them to a terracotta planter that got a makeover this past weekend . . .
Corner of Mantel with Fresh Flowers = Monday Happy ☼

Here is the Santorini Planter (it's official name) playing happily in our Den at Christmas . . .
I add small Santa hats randomly to prints, pictures and characters in our house (I use Simply Tacky to tack them on). 
Our Maribel Tabletop Clock counts down the time to Santa's arrival. Here the Santorini Planter with Innsbrook ornaments, berries & juniper sprigs.)
I love the profile of this planter -- just not so jazzed about the burnt red color for spring or summer.  Luckily the planter was an incredible steal of $12.96 earlier this month -- so I thought I would snag one and paint it.
I started by giving it 2 quick coats of chalk paint (Annie Sloan's Old White -- giving it rather an eggshell appearance), letting it dry . . .
. . . then adding a coat of clear wax . . . waiting a wee bit . . . then I distressed slightly, letting some of the red show through.
I then added a touch of dark wax . . . waited a bit and then buffed it with a soft cloth.  So Easy!  I really, really like the smooth finish and touch of shine, yet it still was a bit roughed up . . . Rustic Elegance if you will . . . perfect (for me anyway :).
The alstroemeria flowers -- which were flat as a pancake this morning -- are starting to fluff up thanks to trimming their stems and giving them a good long drink while the wet floral foam soaked in the sink.
I inserted a foil plant wrapper  (left over from Christmas poinsettias -- I guess I am a bit frugal :)inside the newly painted planter . . .
. . . trimmed the floral foam to fit snuggly inside, and then start adding the flowers to their new home.
I already had a place in mind for the floral arrangement to go, so I knew I needed to go big.  This one corner of the mantel in our den is within my line of sight anytime I am in our kitchen -- and it needed a little happy ☼. 
I decided to make a tall fresh flower topiary with the alstroemerias (which are now less sad thanks to fresh air and water).  I striped the leaves off the bottom 3/4 of the stems to make the topiary.
After I inserted 1 bunch of the trimmed flowers into the wet foam, I tied them together with a bit of green raffia, and added wet moss to the top (to hold moisture in -- and to hid the foam).
I snipped a few groupings of flowers and poked each into the wet foam -- until I had a nice covering.
It gives the corner of the mantel a bit of happy and it will easily last a week if I water it regularly.
I always seem to need something tall for this spot -- the ceiling is high and it is such a narrow space it is awkward to accessorize.
I am uber pleased with this mini-makeover.  I really like the change a little dab of paint, wax and sandpaper were able to achieve.  I can't wait to tackle some of the bigger chalkpaint projects I have lined up . . .
indoor shot . . . looks a bit dark . . .
. . . outdoor shot . . . more true to the color of the finish color of the planter.
. . . but for now, I am tickled with my Monday Happy!
I even had a few stems of flowers left to include in an Italian Ruffle Container on the books in the den . . . :)  Hmmm . . . I should change this spot up more often, don't you think?

Thanks for stopping by!  I apologize in advance for the poor quality of these photos.  Someone keeps eyeing me whenever I walk outside . . .
. . . and my lighting isn't the best indoors on overcast days.    Psst . . . our mourning dove couple are the proud parents of two babies (that are growing fast!).
See what I mean!
I am linking up with :::

AND . . . I can't believe I ALMost Forgot!  We Have a Winner of the French Wire Carousel Caddy Giveaway!  Congratulations to Theresa J!  Woo Hoo!  So tickled for her :)  Thank you to all of you who entered and shared how you would use the caddy!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Buenos Noches (Couples' Sunset Dinner)

I pulled together a quick couples dinner out on the patio for tonight.  We're grilling fajitas, and hope to enjoy a nice evening outdoors (before our Texas weather gets too warm).  
Nothing fancy -- but given our Tex-Mex menu, I decided to play up a cool fiesta theme of greens and blues.  The tablecloth is bold and beautiful, but rather small for our dining tables, it works just fine outdoors. 
The centerpiece is the succulent soda crate I made recently -- I added a few recycled bottles that were turned into candles that I found from At West End (unscented) and set the soda crate on top of a platter stand (just to give it a bit more lift). 
I used some beautiful hand-painted stoneware I picked up recently for a steal ($5.96 for 2 plates) within the Willow House online outlet store
These are Gail Pittman designs, Provence is the colorway and they are gorgeous!  I share these kind of deals on my facebook page - this deal was only good for 1 day but other outlet deals are weekly (Monday through Sunday) and are also announced on my facebook page. 
The flatware is rolled up snug in a cloth napkin tucked within an Ingleside Luminary.

I included a few tidbits filled with slices of limes -- for our cocktails and for the wonderful citrus aroma they offer.  While we will be grilling and nibbling with margaritas in our hand, we enjoy having wine with our dinner. 
I set aside a bottle of wine within our Argyle Outdoor Hurricane, that was designed with an arm that clamps securely onto your table, porch rail or dock.  It comes with a removable glass insert, and is very pretty with a candle -- but holds a bottle of wine nicely.  I have one clamped to my craft table as well filled with paint brushes.
Tonight we are hoping for gorgeous weather, limited pests and the company of good friends & food!

If you are planning a Cinco de Mayo or Fiesta Party,
keep reading for more ideas.  

From BHG
Make it easy for friends to remember which glass is theirs with monogrammed limes. Use your handy lime zester to engrave each guest’s initial into their drink’s lime.  And if you are looking for margarita recipes try these proven winners from Southern Living.  Though my (former bartender) husband reminds me it is not a true margarita -- I have never gone wrong with
my Beerita Recipe when serving a crowd . . . Simply Mix the following in a large beverage server and serve over ice :::
2 Large Cans Frozen Limeade Concentrate
1-2 cups tequila
2 - 12oz cans Sprite or 7up (sure you can use diet)
2 - 12oz bottles Beer (I prefer light beer - Coors Light works well)
Have fun with your serving pieces -- let them dress for the occasion too :) Pick up a few budget friendly fiesta supplies at a party warehouse store and dress up your serveware!
From Emily O Blog

A fiesta calls for, no, demands dressing up & goofy moustaches. I love the Dinner Party Club pictures Emily shares on her blog.  If we were having a bunch of people over I would definitely be using her as a resource for great ideas!
Here's a FuN Fiesta Celebration Tablescape that will hopefully inspire you to try something new as the weather warms up.  These photos were taken at the Willow House (then, Southern Living at HOME) product showcase in the summer of 2009 (held at my back door in Grapevine, Texas - yippee!)
Lots of color and texture included in this setting.  Check out the colorful play on patterns with the striped chair cushions and floral tablecloth. 
The fabric umbrella is covered with tri-colored tissue garland (available from a party store) -- just pinned on.  Of course this idea was showcased indoors, so if you have a fear of a rain, consider adding oodles of the Drake Firefly Lanterns (some with tea light candles and some with flowers) as shown here . . .
So pretty when lit up at dusk.

Each guest is further greeted at the table with a little favor tied to their chair -- a hand-painted tambourine for instance.
The tablescape itself was set with Gail Pittman's Garland Dinnerware in Siena with Verde Serving Dish used as individual chargers.
Another sweet little noise maker (maraca) tops the bright napkin and is simply tied with a bow . . . and who doesn't like an umbrella in their drink?    You can't go wrong with a picture of flowers -- especially Gerbera Daisies to brighten up a table! 

If you are interested, you can still find several of the Gail Pittman Garland Dinnerware pieces within my on-line outlet store here
cookie piñatas!
More work than I would probably put into it, but WoW!  Get a load of the cookie piñatas found here!  Plus lots of great links to more Cinco de Mayo ideas and tasty recipes.
Lastly, there are so many free printable decor & great recipes for Cinco de Mayo parties --
it is easy to pull one together quickly.   I hope I have inspired you -- if you pull together a fiesta, please share your pictures -- or better yet, INVITE ME & MR V :)
Psst . . . don't forget to Enter My Current Giveaway -- cut off is Sunday, April 29th at Midnight -- This GiveAway is now Closed -- stay tuned for more giveaways coming your way soon!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

We never need a reason . . . to celebrate (+ a GiveAway!)

Close your eyes and quickly bring up a couple of your warmest childhood memories.  I bet ya dollars to two Krispy Kreme doughnuts that what you remembered involved small details.  It might have been the way the tooth fairy always seemed to wear Mom's perfume or personal pizza night, where your brother concocted any combination of toppings that his belly could tolerate.

Happy childhoods are made up of moments -- and many of them don't have to cost a dime. 

Take last night for instance.  My son just finished up several days of school required STAAR testing (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) and I thought I would set a special table to celebrate - and give us a chance relax and DooDLe During DiNNeR . . . every need one of those triple D nights that Macaroni Grill provides?   We are big doodlers :)
I simply wrapped the our round breakfast tabletop with the back (white side) of cheapy wrapping paper.  Took a remant of bright paper and folded it on itself many times into a pie shape and cut a curved petal shape out of it -- unfolded it and set it on the center of the table . . . . keep reading for more detail on that . . .
Our kitchen table is typically set for just the 3 of us (We have chairs for 6 & a large round topper that are added for entertaining).  VERY Informal -- if you can't tell.  I was cooking spaghetti, garlic bread and salad -- which just needed a fork and a plate (we're casual!).
Sorry for the poor pic :( . . . the Petal Straws were completely unnessary, but fun just the same.  From Martha . . . 
Link to Martha's Idea
. . . to put these in perspective, I used a few leftover cupcake liners and mini foil baking cups, a bendy straw and scissors.  So ignore all the special tools her site suggests for making these -- completely unnecessary. 
I used this same folding technique for the blue wrapping paper petal in the center of the table. EASY! You can see the fold lines in the pic below . . .
I wrote & doodled directly on the blue wrapping paper with my Bistro Chalk Marker (love it) that I have used many times before.  I have bought them from Amazon & craft stores (bring a coupon).
It may seem a little girlie to have flower petals, but it was VERY Quick to pull together and it certainly didn't matter to my son.  It made him feel special.   

The 'centerpiece' is a caddy filled with Markers, Crayons and Strawberries -- oh and some orange fiber that a bouquet of flowers Mr. V brought me one time were wrapped in.
It is a wonderful clutter collector and perfect for your family's homework spot (most commonly the kitchen table :). 
We've also used it for entertaining though too . . . 
Use it on a buffet and serve away!  The 5 removable glasses are food safe, and candle-safe too - gorgeous with fresh flowers as well.  The metal rings and center rod can be removed, so you can use the tray alone as a riser -- or flip it upside down as shown above.

What would you use it for?  Would you like to WiN a Willow House French Wire Carousel Caddy for your family?  Of course you would!

Here's How to Win One . . .
created a Google Doc form for entries. This prevents any of our email addresses from being harvested by blog-crawling harvester bots (ooooh!), 
Simply leave a comment with your email address for one entry. (Make sure you leave your e-mail address, so I can contact you if you win!)
The giveaway will run through Sunday, April 29, 2012, at midnight EST. It is only open to readers over the age of 18 and living in the lower 48 US states.  One Winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Monday, April 30.  

Go ahead . . . give yourself a mother's day gift :)

Psst -- I am using's integer generator to choose a random winner.
THANK YOU in Advance & Good luck, everyone!

I am linking up with Between Naps on the Porch's Tablescape Thursday and Hookin Up with House of Hepworths :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easy Centerpieces You Can Make

My sweet neighbor called me the other day asking if I could 'whip up' some centerpieces for her two dining tables.  She is hosting a couples' bible study (her first time to host) and wanted her tables to be welcoming, without being overpowering, during the dinner portion of the evening. 
She sent me a couple of photos to give me an indication of the space -- she apologized in advance for the quick shots, but it was enough to give me ideas :).
I LOVE to create centerpieces, especially floral arrangements -- so I was thrilled that she thought of me.  We didn't determine a budget, but I knew something economical would be easy to create -- and she trusted that I wouldn't go overboard :)
I sent her this pic from Southern Living's magazine (back from the archives) as an idea for the dining room table.
and asked if she had some glass vases she would like me to use -- of course she did, so I ran over an snagged them.  She loved the idea of tulips too.
I soaked a cheapy grapevine wreath ($2.18 after 40% coupon) from Hobby Lobby overnight in water to soften it up -- before I clipped some vine and made a simple stem holder.  The round globe I borrowed was from a floral shop (flowers delivered from her husband) but I have seen this globe vase at Hobby Lobby inexpensively  (glass is really thin, so I handled with CARE).  The curvy glass she purchased from me sometime back.  It's called a Madeline Hurricane (small) and it is a fun piece to decorate with.  While, the square glass container, I pulled out from my stash for the long kitchen table.  It is a classic piece with heavy glass that can hold the most intricate of arrangments.  Much larger in person than it appears within my web store.   

I know the flower delivery schedule for all my favorite floral stops (most of which are grocery stores), so I headed out and picked up some pink tulips (20) for the dining room and alstroemeria for the kitchen.  Neither flower has a lot of fragrance so they are safe to use for dining table arrangments. 
I love how the tulip arrangments came out.  And since EVERYONE looks better by candlelight, I thought the Moraccan Pierced Luminaries would be gorgeous twinkling on the table as well (using unscented candles of course :).
Pretty pinks go together -- her tablecloth, and blooming azaleas in her backyard.  Sorry the flash really brightened up those tulips!

For the kitchen dining table . . .

I found these beautiful, deep read alstroemeria that I knew would be perfect. Don't you love how long alstroemeria lasts? The florist only had one bunch -- so I went to my overgrown backyard to see what else I could find in order to fill the container. 
I clipped some St. John's creeper (light pink trumpet flowers) and rosemary -- which is always a welcome addition to a dining arrangement.  I gave them all a good washing to avoid aphids and pollen ruining a nice dinner conversation.  Knowing my neighbor's home is colonial I knew I wouldn't go wrong by adding a few Gala Apples to the arrangment as well.   It looks beautiful on her kitchen table!
We are apple freaks so we always have some on hand.  These particular apples were not very good, so they were already replaced with fresher, sweeter apples -- so I had no problem stabbing them with a wooden skewer and adding them to the arrangement.   
We both liked the 'sprinkling' of the votive holders down the table -- it will be gorgeous once the table is set and the candles are lit.   Sorry -- this photo is a bit dark :(

She liked this apple arrangement so much, I promise to bring some faux botanicals over so we could recreated it permanently.   After we finished setting the table - we discussed serving, which is a whole other post :) I had such fun creating these for her -- I hope they inspire you to pick up a $8 bunch of grocery store flowers and give them a new home.  Your cabinet full of vases will Thank You -- they get lonely in the dark!

Linking up with PinCushion Creation's Homemade by You, Gingersnap Craft's WoW me Wednesdays, Southern Lovely Show & Share, Fine Craft Guild's Party, DiY by Design Swing into Spring Party and the Shady Porch's Rock and Share!