Thursday, January 26, 2012

Decorating Our Home Sweet Home

Awhile back I wrote this post about the yellow and gray color scheme that I wanted to incorporate into our new home here in Iowa.  Our last home in NC was a rental and there were many things about it that I didn't care for - ugly light fixtures and cracked linoleum floors in the kitchen and bathrooms to name a few.  We are renting again but in a much cuter house that suits my taste much better, so this time I don't feel like it's a waste of time or money to do some decorating and make it ours (even though it really isn't).

I started with the dining/kitchen area.  This house does not have a formal dining room but more of a great room that combines the kitchen, dining and living rooms.  Before we left NC we sold the table and chairs from our formal dining room and used the money to buy something more practical and suitable for our needs.  I made a trip to Ikea with all 3 kids (something I do not recommend doing) to purchase the new table and chairs just a few days before the big move.  In case you are wondering, the closest Ikea here is almost 4 hours away and the products that I purchased are not available to ship, so yes I had to put myself through that ordeal.
Bjursta dining table from Ikea.  Expands to seat 8-10 people.

Nils armchair with dark gray cover.
Since the dining area is part of the kitchen there really isn't much that needs to be done in the way of decorating because the cabinets and appliances occupy most of the space.  I am working on a few DIY projects for a small wall in that area but aside from that I'm done there!

In the living room portion of the great room I still have a lot of work to do, but I'm trying to be patient and find all of the right elements to make the room work.  I'm not good at the patience thing - when I want something done I want it done now and in it's entirety.  One major obstacle - trying to find gray slipcovers for our currently beige and stained microsuede sofa and loveseat.  Seeing as how these are quite large pieces of furniture that one cannot easily ignore it's sort of a big thing to be lacking.  And without the gray slipcovers I see no point in purchasing the new yellow and gray throw pillows that I have my eye on either.  There are a few small things that I still need want for the living room but the slipcovers are by far the most important and necessary.

Here are a few of the things that I have purchased so far:
Citrine chevron rug from Dwell Studio.

Woven felt basket from Target.  Makes a great magazine and book holder.

Lack coffee table from Ikea.

Home Sweet Home print from Curry on the Couch (an Etsy shop).

I'll be taking photos of the actual house soon.  I'm trying to "complete" the look before I put any pictures out there - part of my obsessiveness and need to have things be perfect I guess.  

And if anyone knows where I can find some affordable, non-fitted, gray slipcovers PLEASE let me know.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rylee's Vintage Barbie Birthday Party

Another party post!  So fun to write.  I'm going to preface this one by saying that for Rylee's party this year (the BIG 6) we had a family only party.  This was for a few reasons -
1.  Since we just moved here a few months ago we really don't know many people.  Actually, I don't know many people.  Rylee jumped right in at her new school and made friends quickly, but with the holiday season being in full swing when we moved and then dealing with winter weather, I haven't had much time to get out and meet people.  I thought that it may be a bit awkward to invite virtual strangers to celebrate our daughter's b-day and I was mortified by the thought that we would invite the children from her class and no one would come.  Can you say therapy?  I suppose on one hand it could have been a great opportunity to meet some of the other parents and get to know the kids, but on the other hand it could have been a disaster.  I could just see the parents opening the invitations and thinking, "who the hell is Rylee?" and "why are we invited to her party?"   Not a chance I wanted to take! 
2.  A family party just seemed like a good idea now that we finally live close enough for so many family members to be able to make the short drive to our house.  That is a luxury that we have never had before  and it is so nice to be able to share these special moments with our families.
3.  Not having a bunch of little munchkins to entertain made the party planning process a little less stressful for me and also saved us some money.  The only kids in attendance (aside from our 3) were 2 boy cousins who could care less about Barbie and a 1 year old who I'm certain has limited ability when it comes to playing games or participating in other party activities.  My kids were perfectly happy running around and playing with each other and the cousins that came.  No games or entertainment needed.  I will say that it was helpful to have a few things taken off of my plate, but at the same time I do love party planning and all aspects of it, so I was a little bummed that I didn't have a houseful of little girls to have Barbie fun with.  Believe me, the ideas were there!

I felt the need to mention the above so that no one reads this post and wonders - "what kind of party has no favors (except for the dessert table), no games, no activities and no entertainment???"  I'm slightly paranoid that someone will doubt my party planning skills so I felt it necessary to explain myself - ridiculous I know.  

Okay, so on to the party itself.  The theme was vintage Barbie inspired.  Lots of pink and black.  Very chic.  As usual it was a theme that I saw online and I used ideas from several different blogs and party planning sites.  My biggest inspiration and a huge aspect of the party was a printable party package that I purchased from Gwynn Wasson Designs on Etsy.  If you aren't familiar with printable party packages or have never used one, you should!  They are such an easy and inexpensive way to customize your party and they add so much to the decor and ambiance.  Generally with these packages you pay the designer/company a fee to purchase a digital file from them and then you print the files yourself.  You can print the files at home or have them printed at an office or copy store like Staples, Office Depot, Kinko's, etc.  The package that I purchased from Gwynn included an incredible amount of pages for a very reasonable price.  Included in my package were - the invitation, birthday banner, cupcake toppers and wrappers, favor tags, thank you notes, water bottle labels, treat cones, food label/table cards and napkin wraps.  The best part is that you can print as many of these items as you need.

Here is what Rylee's invitation looked like:

This set the tone for the whole party and all of the other items in the printable package coordinated with the invitation.  Using the birthday banner and other items in the package also help to cut down on the other decorations that I had to buy.  Of course, I made tissue balls and hung a cluster of them in our arched entryway.  The tissue balls made their first appearance at Rylee's b-day party last year and since then I think that I have made them for every party that we have had.  They are just too easy and inexpensive not too!

Tissue ball cluster in entryway.

Birthday banner from Gwynn Wasson Designs.

With no games, activities or other entertainment to worry about I was able to focus on the decorations and food.  Aside from the tissue balls and elements from the printable package the only other decorating that I needed to do was the dining table and I kept it fairly simple.  I purchased black paper lanterns and pink beaded necklaces (the inexpensive kind you can find in the party favors aisle) and used those items to create a chandelier of sorts above the table.  In the center of the table was a homemade sign that read "Get your sparkle on, show this world where you belong" that was accented with giant "diamond" rings and clear, plastic high heel shoes scattered about the table.  I tied tulle ribbons around each chair as well to keep the feminine touches going.

Dining table

I  thought this little sign was cute and appropriate for a Barbie party!

One of my favorite things to do at our birthday parties is to have a dessert/treat table.  Not only is it pretty to look at but the treats also make great take-home items for the guests and in this case, the treats were the party favors.  Dessert tables are all the rage thanks to Amy Atlas and so much fun!  Mine are usually quite dinky and not as fancy or elaborate as hers but I'm only one person with limited time and funds:)

Our "Dollicious Dessert" table featured - Couture Cotton Candy, Heavenly High Heel Cupcakes (homemade and I was quite proud!), Pretty, Pretty Petit Fours (I also made them but not from scratch), Marvelous Morsels (aka M&M's) and Pearly Marshmallow Pops (my 1st attempt at these and not such a great success but cute).
The "Dollicous Dessert" table.

Pretty, Pretty Petit Fours - delicious!

Heavenly High Heel Cupcakes made by yours truly!
A little disclaimer about the cupcakes - I saw a photo of them here but couldn't find specific instructions on how to make them so I guessed.  I used a large Wilton tip to pipe the pink frosting on in a large round blob and then cut white fondant circles using a round cookie cutter to use as the platforms for the shoes.  I ordered the pink plastic Barbie shoes from Amazon and poked them into the fondant so they wouldn't fall off of their platforms.  The finishing touches were cupcake wrappers and toppers from the printable party package that I purchased.

For dinner we served Chic Chicken Nuggets (200 of them from Chick-fil-a to be exact), Vintage Veggies and Fruit Gems along with some snacks like Chex Mix and chips.  The buffet was titled "Fashionista Fare" and was set up on the bar of our kitchen island.

"Fashionista Fare"

And of course, no party is complete without cake!  This was one of the only parties that I have ever hosted without a cake from Edible Art.  Now that we have moved I have to find new resources when party planning.  Thankfully Yummy's bakery is right up the street from our neighborhood!  Edible Art is hard impossible to beat in my opinion but Yummy's was pretty well, yummy.  I still prefer Edible Art any day of the week but I'm happy that I found something almost comparable.

Cake from Yummy's bakery.

And last but not least, here's a photo of the Birthday Girl!

Rylee is 6!