Monday, December 14, 2015

DIY Eucalyptus Garland

Merry Christmas! I was busy over the weekend putting the finishing touches on our decorations. Even though it feels like I put up less and less each year, I still somehow end up bombing our entire house with boxes, wrapping, general Christmas messes of all kinds, and leaves. So many leaves. 

The good news is, we have almost completely dug ourselves out from under it (though my office may need to be declared a national disaster area), and I have a super sweet and easy little DIY to share.

DIY Eucalyptus Garland

Time: 45 Minutes
Cost: $12
Skill Level: Intermediate 
Patience Level: Beach Read


Lightweight Fresh Greenery
Hot Glue Gun & Glue Sticks
Wall Hooks


The greenery I used for this garland is called Silver Dollar Eucalyptus. The only place I've ever seen it (without a yucky sprayed on blue-ish color coating) is at Trader Joe's. They also usually have Seeded Eucalyptus this time of year, which would be a lovely substitute or in combination. For my garland, I used TWO $2.99 bunches.

- Begin by deciding where you are going to hang it and cut a length of twine to fit your space. I knew I wanted to drape this garland over the bed in a bit of a "tent" pattern, so I made sure to allow enough twine for the swags.

- Next, cut the bottom of the stems off each spring of eucalyptus, so that each piece has leaves all the way to the end of it.

- You're going to glue the stems end-to-end along the twine. Start at one end of the twine and work your way to the other, keeping the stems going in the same direction. To hide the end of the twine, glue it to a leaf. As you work your way along, wind the twine through and around the leaves for an organic, casual feel. Dot the glue every 4 or so inches along each branch and try to place it in the more substantial parts of the branch, like where the leaves shoot off. 

- Overlap the branches just slightly so that leaves cover the ends of the stems.

- Once it starts getting long, you can lay it out along the floor to keep from getting tangled.

- You can change the direction of the last branch or two so that the open end of the twine can again be covered with a leaf, and you don't have a bare stem ending the garland.

- For hanging, I used 3M Command Hooks to create a pattern on the wall. I half-heartedly used a tape measure and mostly eyeballed it since the branches aren't perfectly straight anyway.

- Loosely fold the garland in half so you find the middle and hang it from that point on your center hook. Then you can hang one side at a time. Adjust as necessary.

Aaaaand scene. It's really simple and quick, and smells wonderful! It is also long-lasting. The color will lose its minty blue hints and fade to a more sage green over time. My sprigs from last year stayed in a vase looking lovely (without water) for months.

My daughter has already called dibs on this garland for her room after Christmas. She has also demanded I switch rooms with her, because she likes mine better. I'm not going to lie to you, that's probably the best compliment I can get on a project. :)

Enjoy the season!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Shopping for Christmas Cards with Minted

Some of you will remember my Christmas card shopping post from last year, and how difficult it was to narrow down a choice amidst all the insanely good paper companies out there these days.

This year, Minted reached out and asked if they could sponsor my Christmas cards. I'm telling you, I didn't even have to open their site before I said YES to that about 2 seconds later (they were one of my contenders last year and I regularly stalk them). I have used them countless times for art, and even though this was my first time shopping their paper, I already knew I loved their card designs.

What I didn't know was that it would STILL be nearly impossible to narrow down the choice. I thought that, being limited to shopping at one site, I would have an easy time picking a card. Nope. I wanted soooooo many of them. Here are a few I loved in particular...

But you know, it changes everything when you put your own photo in, doesn't it? I always fall in love with a card only to realize the writing will be across my kids' faces, or that I don't have a shot that's the right orientation, or that I don't own a red sweater'd bulldog or a chubby baby girl sporting Freshly Picked mocs.

So here is the coolest thing. Minted lets you put in your own photo before you start scrolling through all the card options. This is a game changer. You can immediately see what designs work with what you have to work with. After I did that little maneuver, it was waaay easier to see what cards were possibilities.

All the cute foil script doesn't look so cute when it's scrawled across a forehead, huh?! ;) The great news is I didn't have to build each individual card before I realized this. Like I said, #gamechanger.

In the end, I went with a bit of a departure for me...I normally don't do pink for the holidays but this artful print with hot pink and gold foil "joy" sprawled across it just grabbed my heart. Want to see??

Oh wait, before I show you...I couldn't believe this either, but they will address your envelopes for you! FREE. You can choose from a bunch of different style options, but all their cards have matching envelope designs. And I don't know if this a special promotion or what, but as of today the option is still available for no extra charge. Hi, no brainer. I have never been this ahead of the Christmas card game in my life. You can type in names and addresses individually (like I did) or upload a spreadsheet (like a smart person would have). I can't tell you how good it felt to open the box of Christmas cards and know that I didn't have hours of addressing still to go. Even if it had cost a little extra, that feeling is worth it!

OK, now I will show you our cards. 

Aren't they cute?! My only oversight was choosing a picture where CJ's hair blended into the shadows of the tree to create a tower of lightning shooting out of his head. Doh! But hey, he has always wanted to be a superhero so we'll just go with it. Perfect Christmas cards, Minted can do. Perfect pictures of your kids...that most likely no one can do. 

So, you guys, seriously, I would recommend Minted in a heartbeat for cards. I have bought from tons of different card companies, and this one had a very user-friendly website, lots of customization options, easy ordering, delightful packaging and great customer service. (Sidenote: if you can get your butt in gear today they are having a great Black Friday sale!)

Here's wishing you a happy start to the Christmas season!

This post was sponsored by Minted, for which I am very grateful. As always, all opinions and reviews are 100% my own, and I only share companies with you that I would share with my best friends at our weekly playdate. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

One Room Challenge // Exterior Reveal!

Oh you guys. The last week has been the biggest roller coaster in the life of this blog, and probably in my years as a home-owner. I am chuckling to think that we decided to tackle the exterior because it was the "easiest" of the projects on our to-do list. Ahhhhh, how hindsight mocks us.

Welcome to the 6th and final week of the One Room Challenge, hosted by Linda of Calling It Home! In case you need to binge-read to catch up because you have no idea why you're here or what's going on:

Week 1 |  Week 2  |  Week 3  |  Week 4  |  Week 5

I feel like I need to start off with an Academy Awards style thank-you speech, because there are so many key players leading up to this sentence:




Insert ALL the emoji! Seven days ago that dream was dead in the water. I mean, no way, no how. I pouted about it for an entire two days. (I also texted my friend Grace that I needed to watch the news and slap myself for said pouting, ASAP).

Then this happened. My awesome girl Emily from Table and Hearth left one little unassuming blog comment on last week's post: "Can you put a space heater in the garage for a few days and paint the new door in there (if it comes in time)?" DUH!!! All this time I had been proceeding according to the install-it-then-paint-it typical front door protocol, but she was SO right! I should just do that!

One problem left. (OK, well, a lot of problems left, but one step at a time). I am not allowed to paint doors. My husband, rightly so, has banned us both from putting brush to door ever again in this house or any other we should ever own. And at this late hour, how was I going to book someone? I had no painter. I returned to lamenting about this to my friend Holly, the poor soul who happened to be at my house last Friday dealing with the mental break down of mid-ORC Laura. She immediately said, "Too bad you can't call Jeremy." Oh, you mean your cousin who has a painting business? Wait, why can't I call Jeremy? Oh, I am going. to. call. Jeremy.

Fast forward 6 hours and Jeremy, his wife Danielle, and I are KIDNAPPING MY DOOR from Home Depot. (Well, I prefer to think of it as a hostage rescue operation, but whatever). Jeremy and Danielle brought their truck and it took 8 guys and a FORKLIFT to load it in. Unfortunately, where we were taking it, a.k.a. my garage, there were only 4 people who- no offense- were a tad less beefy than the Home Depot guys, and there was certainly no forklift. We definitely almost killed Danielle with a door that night.

Ryan, Jeremy, Danielle, and I somehow wrestled a crated 250 pound door out of a truck without breaking the glass or damaging a human, then took the doors out of the frame, loaded them back into his truck with every couch cushion I own, and sent them back to his heated garage to be painted.

MAN ALIVE. More problems ensued the next morning as all the paints I had picked out were "special order" (darn it Ben Moore, do you not understand this is a CRISIS!) and I ended up saying "just get whatever high gloss they recommend!" which was possibly not the smartest move, or was maybe the best move ever. Check back next Spring for a verdict on that.

In any case, Jeremy sprayed the heck out of these bad boys, and they are GORGEOUS. I mean, glossy and lovely and gorgeous. Be still my heart! His text updates were sending me over the moon.

In the meantime, Home Depot still hadn't arranged to actually install it. It was Saturday. And between the cure time needed of 4-5 days, and the blog deadline of Thursday, the ONLY possible day I could have them do it was Wednesday morning. Finally, after tireless work by my Millwork dept. BFF Archie (Archie! We did it! You are my favorite!!) to get this thing coordinated, I got a call from the installer Kevin, who said there was no possible way he could do it Wednesday. I proceeded to give him my entire sob story, and the rising tide of girl emotions (I was nice, I swear!) moved him to say YES and he rearranged his schedule to be here Wednesday morning. Was this really happening?!

Well, it did. It really happened. As I write this, Kevin (Kevin! I could hug you!) showed up exactly 13 hours ago, and installed a beautiful, glossy, black, and still intact after one kidnapping, one near-death experience, two truck rides, one van ride, and one couch-desecration, FRONT DOOR!

And with all that, I am thrilled to present to you the reveal of our One Room Challenge Exterior Makeover!

Should we start with the doors? Remember what used to greet our guests?!

And now, as of today, our doors look like this!


And after!

Obviously, I am super excited about the doors. But the whole house got a facelift. The goals of this project were:

Front Door
Garage Door

I am pleased to report we checked them ALL off! And as an added bonus, we also crossed off a couple things on our secondary wish list:

Planter Boxes
Mailbox Makeover

Here is a look back at the house 6 weeks ago:

And here it is now...

Can we just take a moment to say RIP all the pretty plants and trees that were once so alive in this yard? Last week I got a few pictures of the garage side of the house before the last of the lovely yellow leaves fell off our magnolia tree...

Those are the planter boxes that Ryan built. I love how they are an architectural feature next to the new garage!

New lights...

Here's the mailbox's pitiful previous life...

Here's what $50, a sander and a can of paint can do for your curb appeal!

I love the new shutters and how the black pops against the house...

We did matching planter boxes for the porch in a smaller size, and I couldn't help but buy a few lanterns to cozy up the porch...

Speaking of "couldn't help but buy"...I happened upon a rug at Home Goods for the front entry and thought it was just so appropriate to have a new rug with our new doors! 

I wish I could have gotten a good picture of the door interior, but I'm terrible at shooting dark paint in bright light (probably because I still only use an iPhone for all my photos!) - Suffice it to say, they are DREAMY in our entry. The color is Mysterious by Benjamin Moore, and the crystal of the Rejuvenation knobs sparkles like crazy against the dark finish! I could not in good conscience keep our old brown rug in this entry. You understand.

The LED edison bulbs we found for our barn lights cast a lovely glow, and the new windows in the doors make the porch welcoming as night falls...

And that's the tour! Our exterior makeover is (for now) complete. In the Spring we'll do a few things that the weather prevented this time around, like plant shrubs and seal the driveway. But I'm so pleased! I can't wait to figure out how to get some red wreaths on the doors for Christmas...

Here is the list of shout outs and sources:

Front Doors- Home Depot (Thank you Archie!)
Front Door Paint- Benjamin Moore Advance High Gloss, Black INT/EXT RM*
Front Door Hardware- Rejuvenation
Doorbell- Rejuvenation (wish I had a good picture- it's so cute!)
Planter Boxes- DIY Tutorial, with Behr Weatherproofing Stain color matched to Ralph Lauren Black Basalt
Garage Door- Mark Litavsky/ CHI (See this post for info)
Mailboxes- Post cap, Mailboxes, Numbers

*Note on the paint: I noticed well after it was on the doors that this stuff has a 60-day cure time and is actually an interior paint. Why the paint store recommended it for a front door, I'll never know. I'm willing to risk it because it's bananas gorgeous (and because, let's face it, I have no choice), but wait until next Spring before you run to the store so I can tell you how it really holds up! 

As for the budget, we came in at $5,100! I am so grateful to my wonderful in-laws for the gift that allowed this project to happen. Thank you thank you thank you! 

And YOU. If you're reading this, you deserve a huge hug load of thanks for putting up with me, cheering me on, and sticking with me until the end. I sooo appreciate you. Can we stay friends now that its over? Talk to me on Instagram, ok? I love that.

Update: It just snowed! Can I show you a few pics of how pretty the house looks covered in snow??

OK, thanks for indulging that. The first snow is always so magical! Back to our regularly scheduled post...

I absolutely have to thank Linda for creating this challenge and so generously opening her blog to the scores of us who were crazy enough to take her up on it. That's definitely two rooms down in my house that wouldn't have been done without you Linda. (Go see what people have been up to- they're all amazing!)

And finally, in the long list of shout-outs, the loudest has to be for my husband, Ryan, the brains and muscle behind this project, the best man I know, and the greatest mortal joy of my heart.

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