Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fun finds: Fab.com

I paid tribute to flash sale site Fab.com a few month ago, and today they put me in stitches again, so I had to  share.

Photographer Ryan Reynolds uses his twisted sense of humor to create some hilarious scenes using toys.  This first one is called "Now Where'd I Park?"  If you were a fan of the Justice League in the '80s, you'll remember that Wonder Woman's preferred mode of transportation was her invisible jet.  Hee hee.


This print made me chortle.  It's called "First Rule of Ken Fight Club."



I appreciate zaniness.  I also appreciate beauty and good design.  These two products featured today are right up my alley.  This plus design tile by modwalls in gray, blue and white would look awesome in my master bath, alongside the white subway tile.  And 21% off retail is a nice price!


And for all of you who are still crushing on chevron, these orange chevron pillows by Safavieh are dreamy, especially at 52% off retail.


Fab.com is the most modern and fresh of all the flash sale sites.  If you're interested in joining to be alerted of the daily deals, click here for an invite.  Happy shopping!

If you're already a member, what have you purchased from there?  I got these pillows that are currently adorning my sofa.  I've been tempted to buy many other times but have to hold myself back!

Hollie

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas wrap-up

I was too busy working, shopping, wrapping, cooking, baking and trying to get some sleep to share anything Christmas-related before the holiday passed, so I thought I better do a wrap-up before I get back to the grind!

I snapped a few quick pics of some of our holiday decor.  Better late than never.  This year I decided to do a turquoise, white and red tree.







Mercury glass is so pretty, especially for holiday decorating.

    


I decided to string our holiday cards up along the stairway banister.


This year I wrapped everything in kraft paper and had fun using ribbons of all different shapes and colors.


Our four kitties didn't enjoy our 29 guests the day after Christmas, but we did!

Gypsy wrapped in yarn from a gift

Santa visited and handed out gifts to all the kids

I'll spare you the photos, but The Mr. and I learned that we enjoy burning calories playing Just Dance on the Wii.  The Mr. thought he was hot stuff, but I killed it every time and earned two high scores!  The Teen refused to participate, of course.

These horrible yard decorations went up three weeks before Thanksgiving at two houses next door to each other.  I had to pass them every day on my way to work, which was unfortunate.  I admire the spirit, but littering one's yard with small junk is not a good choice.



If you're going to go all-out in decorating your yard, this is the way to do it.  How very Griswold!


Guess who won the ugly sweater contest at his office holiday party?  It's a vest, rather than a sweater, but it did the trick!  It's even reversible.


The holidays are a crazy, stressful  time, but I guess all the craziness and all the stress is worth it in the end.  Let's just be glad it only lasts for about a month out of the year.

 Here's hoping you and yours had an enjoyable holiday season.  Best wishes for the new year!

Hollie


























House tour: Upstairs game room

Almost three months ago I admitted to being afflicted with analysis paralysis, which had been affecting my decision about where to hang art in my upstairs game room.  I mentioned in the post that the art was finally hung and that you should "stick around to see where it all ended up."  Well, folks, the time has finally come.  And it's not as if I've changed anything up there since that day.  I just plain forgot that I never posted the room tour.  Oops.  And apparently I took the photos at night, because I was working during the day.  Just imagine daylight outside the windows.

Wide room shot, as you're coming up the stairs
The windows at the far end of the room look out to the front of the house.  They are probably my favorite architectural part about the whole house.  If I were a good blogger, I would have a lovely photo looking out that window in the spring or summer when the trees are full of leaves, but unfortunately that photo doesn't exist at this time.  (Note to self:  take that photo in the spring when the leaves come back on the trees.)

Left side of the room, with a view of the basketball game in the nook.  Artwork by Parvez Taj.
 
Noodles the cat, in her "roadkill pose."  Artwork from TJ Maxx, I believe.

View of the left side of the room, looking toward the back of the house.
Drip artwork on the right is by me.

Hall leading to the back of the house, where The Teen's bedroom is.
Artwork (which I love) is from HomeGoods.

We built the room to house our billiards table, which is currently hiding under the ping pong tabletop.  If we had small kids, this would be a perfect playroom space.  If we had several kids, this would be a perfect hang-out room for a sofa and TV.  As it is, we have one teenager and three bedrooms upstairs (our room is on the first floor), so we are able to use the space for a billiards/ping pong table instead!

I hope you enjoyed this brief game room tour.  I'm not one to take a million photos of the same space, as you can tell.  Have you noticed that about a lot of blogs?  Some people find the need to show you every possible angle of the same area or piece of furniture, which I find to be a bit much.

Hollie

The Great Conservatory Clean-Up, Part 1

The Teen got a wild hair a few months ago and decided that he wanted to put our old loveseat in his room.  He's an only child, so he's pretty possessive of his space, and didn't like having friends sit on his bed when they came over.

I informed him that he would be unable to fit his queen bed, dresser, nightstand, and the loveseat in his bedroom.  I suggested he switch back from the queen bed to a twin bed, be he insists that the twin bed is "too small" for him.  He thinks he's too tall for it.  Whatever.  He's only about 5'7".

Rather than giving anything up, he simply switched to a bigger room.  We have three bedrooms upstairs and only one child, so he pretty much has his pick of rooms.  He ended up taking over what used to be our office/den, because it's a longer room, which left plenty of space for his queen bed and the loveseat.  

The Mr. dubbed the old bedroom "The Conservatory" because he had visions of The Teen practicing his trombone in there.  We didn't need an office any longer, so all the stuff from the former office got moved into The Conservatory, and we were going to go back and sort through everything another time.  In addition to all the old office contents, the room also ended up housing all the stuff The Teen didn't feel like moving to his new room.  "The Conservatory" should have been dubbed "The Hot Mess."

And it only got worse.  Because it was already unorganized and nobody really went in there, it ended up being the dumping ground for anything that we didn't feel like dealing with or putting away.  Here's what it ended up looking like.




Some of the things that got dumped in The Conservatory were our bins of electronic parts.  You see, The Mr. is a technology guy, so he keeps stashes of CAT-5 cables, telephone wires, keyboards, mice, and all kinds of parts and pieces that only he knows what to do with.  Those things are usually in bins in our hall closet upstairs, but The Mr. had pulled them out for a re-wiring project, or two, or several, and they never got put back away in the closet, or even back in the bins.

Being the slightly OCD person that I am, I decided to spread all the technology bits and pieces out on the floor, sort it into piles, then use twist-ties to keep each separate cable organized.  Then I had The Mr. decide what was needed and what we could get rid of, and then the rest got organized into bins.

Here's a sampling of my piles.  This is only a fraction of all the cords and cables we had!

Can you spot the kitty in the photo?  Any of you cat owners out there
know that they have to be right in the middle of things.

I organized about half the stuff in the room several months ago, but since I tend to get bored of projects before I complete them, the rooms sat half-finished for months.

Meanwhile, The Teen had ditched the loveseat for a giant beanbag that my brother passed down to him.  I mean, it's GIANT.  It takes up more room than the loveseat did!  So we ended up with a loveseat on its side in the middle of the upstairs game room because The Teen had dragged it out of his room and left it there.

Fast forward to the Xmas holidays.  Remember how I told you we were hosting 29 members of The Mr.'s family for Xmas?  Something needed to be done with The Conservatory.  Tune in next time to find out what!

And please tell me I'm not the only one whose husband keeps a stash of this kind of stuff.  There have to be others of you who live with geeks.  And I know I'm not the only person with a junk room.  You know who you are.  Tell.  All.

Hollie

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Crushing on IKEA Stockholm Rand Rug

There's nothing wrong with my living room rug.  It's neutral, and just the right size.  It hides cat puke stains well.  (If you are a kitty parent, you know what I mean.  Dog parents, don't be grossed out.  Your pets do weird things too.)  But ... as The Mr. likes to remind me, I am never happy with one thing for too long.  (Except him, of course.  We're going on 15 years!)


When there's a fun, graphic rug for such a great price, why not think about making a change?

IKEA Stockholm Rand rug - $349 for 8'2" x 11'6"

It's frustrating that the rug is only available in-store, since the nearest IKEA is a couple hours away in Cincinnati.  But I just so happen to be planning a trip to Cincy in a couple weeks, so the rug is back on my radar.

Here are some views of the rug (or a similar, but more expensive version) in-room:

via Design Attractor

Nate Berkus Design via The Glam Lamb

via Dwell

via Decor Pad

Robert & Cortney Novogratz via CasaSugar

via Houzz

As you can see, the rug blends in with so many different spaces.  And $349 for a rug that would fill my whole room is a steal!  Perhaps I better call the Cincinnati IKEA store to ensure they carry it before I get my hopes up.  Oh, and perhaps I better mention it to The Mr.  Or maybe not.  He's not into changing things up just for changing things up like I am.  Luckily he humors me most of the time!

What do you think?  Should I go for it?

Hollie

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's a lounging kind of day

Today is my first day with no plans since the middle of October.  And it feels great!  Here's what I've been doing ALL day:

Pardon the blurry pic -- didn't feel like getting up to set up a tripod.  It's a lazy day!

Comfy corner of the sofa + TV + laptop = happy me.  Two days ago we hosted three others for a family holiday gathering.  Yesterday we hosted 29 others for a family holiday gathering.  Today we're recuperating.

I'm trying to catch up on my blog reading this week while I'm off work, seeing as though I'm two months behind!  If you follow me on Pinterest, you might even notice that I'm back to pinning.  Oh, blogs and Pinterest, how I've missed you!

I also received a new toy from the UPS driver today:


I think I'll hold off trying it out until tomorrow.  I wouldn't want to break up my day of lounging to actually accomplish something!

What are you up to this week?

Hollie

Friday, December 23, 2011

Trying to upholster a tufted headboard

Well, hello again!  Did you think I had abandoned all of you and my poor little blog?  As if going back to work full-time wasn't enough, I've also been contending with the demands of the holiday season.  Thankfully, I'm off for the next 10 days!  Of course, there will be some merry-making going on, but most of next week I should have some time to catch up on blogging and blog reading.

One DIY project I've been procrastinating about since August is an upholstered tufted headboard for my mom.  We're exchanging gifts on Xmas Eve, and I am trying desperately to get it done in time to give it to her.  I've been pulling together the supplies little by little for months now, and finally as of this afternoon I had everything I needed to get it finished.  Or so I thought.  My cheap-o staple gun is giving both me and The Mr. all kinds of attitude, so we gave up on it part-way through tonight.

I'd really like to have the highly recommended Porter-Cable US58 pneumatic upholstery stapler.  Unfortunately it's not sold in stores in my area, and even if I ordered it online tonight, the earliest it would arrive is Saturday afternoon, and we're hosting my mom as well as my brother and his wife at 5pm on Saturday, which leaves no time to get the headboard done.  Poo.  I think I'll pop over to Home Depot tomorrow to buy the $20 Power Shot manual staple gun that Jenny recommends, just to get me through this project.

Here's as far as we got tonight:


Once it's all done and I've had time to recover from Christmas hosting (Saturday for the small group plus Monday for a group of around 35), I'll be sure to post a tutorial with lots of photos of the finished product.  Of course, that means I have to finish it first.  Wish me luck.

Hollie

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Recipe: Taco Cheesecake

Usually I'm busy procrastinating, but these days I'm busy working, shopping, decorating for Christmas, cooking/baking and celebrating with family.  It seems like the only thing I've been able to DIY lately is food, so I thought I'd share one of my favorite recipes.


The Mr. found this recipe on Food.com a couple years ago, and since then it's been our go-to appetizer.  Friends and family ooh and aah, first over its looks, and then over the taste.  Seriously, you must try it.

Cheesecake Ingredients
  • 3 teaspoons cornmeal
  • 3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (4 oz) shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 4 oz can chopped green chilies, drained

Topping Ingredients
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes (optional)
  • Sliced jalapenos (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives (optional)

Sprinkle bottom of greased 9-inch springform pan with cornmeal; set aside.  In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add the taco seasoning, sour cream and salsa.  Stir in the eggs, pepper jack cheese and chilies.  Pour over cornmeal.

Place pan on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until center is almost set.  Cool on wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool for 1 hour.  (Note:  Top of cheesecake may crack.)  Refrigerate overnight.


Remove sides of pan.  Spread sour cream over top and sides of cheesecake.  Based on your preference or what you have on hand, arrange some combination of tomatoes, jalapenos, green onions and black olives on top.

Serve with tortilla chips (preferably scoops).


Cut with a pie server, and serve it up!

 

I'm salivating just thinking about the taste of this in my mouth!  Mmmm.  I highly recommend it for your upcoming holiday gatherings!

Hollie

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pros and cons of using an online gift registry for birthdays and holidays

Who says gift registries are only for weddings or baby showers?  And who says they have to be tied to just one store?  Not me!

Gone are the days of trying to remember which gift idea we gave to which person.  Gone are the days of wondering if the gift giver will know exactly what was wanted.


Several years ago our family started using online gift registries for birthdays and Christmas.  Things are much simpler now, both for us and for our family.

I'm sure there are many online registries out there, but the one we use is called My Gift List.  It's very simple to create a registry for yourself and add items to it.  When you add an item, you can list the price, how badly you desire that item (high, normal, low), give details like color or size, and even list up to three URLs to direct the gift givers to the exact item online.  Even if Christmas or your birthday are months away, you can add gift ideas to the list as you think of them, rather than trying to remember down the road when the gifting occasion is near.

You also create a list of gift givers, then send out a message that gives each of them their own link to your list.  When they buy an item, they mark it off.  After that, all gift givers can only see the items that are left, which prevents gift duplication.

Like with everything, there are pros and cons, but the former far outweighs the latter.

Pros:

  • All gift ideas are open to anyone
  • You don't have to keep track of which ideas you gave out
  • Gift givers can see prices before choosing an item to purchase
  • By marking your desire level, you're more likely to get the items you most want
  • Gift givers can mark an item as purchased and remove it from the list, preventing duplicates
  • You can be specific about exact items you want, and even provide a link to it at an online store
  • Items can be added at any time when you think of them
  • Unlike most registries for baby showers or weddings, you're not tied to a certain store, but can list items from anywhere
  • No need to keep fielding questions from various people about what you want.  Just send them the link to the list.
Cons:

  • You're dependent on the gift giver to remember to mark an item off after it's purchased.  If it's not marked off, duplicate gifts can indeed occur.  It has happened to us!
  • If you want to delete or edit an item from the list after you've already invited gift givers to see the list, there's no guarantee one of them hasn't already purchased the item as-is, because you can't see on your end what items have been purchased.


An online gift registry is so liberating because it takes the awkwardness and the work out of gift giving for both parties.  I know, I know, the gift giving specialists out there say that if you're giving someone a gift, you should know him or her well enough to choose a personal gift that would be meaningful.  But let's face it -- not everyone is that talented.  And not everyone is that close to one another.  And some people (like me) are so picky that even though the gift giver has an idea of something we want, they may not know how to pick the right version of it that we will actually like.  (You know it's happened to you that you try to describe exactly what you want, but you end up receiving a less-than-desirable version of that item, right?)

We convinced my mother-in-law to create one for herself a couple years ago.  I wish all our relatives that we buy for would do it, because it's less awkward and much faster than having to ask people for gift ideas.  It would be especially awesome for my brother-in-law's family.  There are five kids and one on the way, and they have sooo many toys, that even if we try to be creative and pick out something fun, they most likely already have it!

I'm curious how many of you out there have used an online gift registry for yourself, or have been the gift giver and someone has provided a registry link to you.  If so, what has been your experience.  If not, what do you think of the idea?

Hollie

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nursery ideas for a baby boy

My "baby" turns 15 next week, but today I'm rounding up some ideas for nurseries for my friend Natalie, who is pregnant with her first little one.  Congrats, Nat!  She will be the sweetest mom ever, I'm quite sure.

Natalie asked for help with paint colors after being overwhelmed with "typical boy nurseries."  Her house is a super-cute bungalow with big windows and thick moldings.  Right now she has an espresso-toned crib, and is looking for inspiration for the rest of the room.

I think it's important to keep in mind that nurseries don't have to be pastel, and everything doesn't need to be purchased from a baby store.  Instead, I agree with Sarah Richardson that nurseries can be sophisticated rooms that will work for years to come, when the crib is swapped out for a real bed.

Here are some lovely nurseries to be inspired by:

Stripe it up!

A fun way to do stripes without striping the whole room

This room is gender-neutral but could skew boy or girl based on styling

A boy would be happy here through his teen years
This room is fairly neutral, but has a lot of life

Even just one wall of stripes gives this room some oomph

Here, the stripes are on the ceiling and the walls alternate between crisp white and deep navy

Sophisticated neutrals are nice, with pops of color

I'm in love with these curtains.  I've been looking at wallpaper in the same pattern.

The walls are dark, but the colors bring life into this cozy room.

Who says the art has to be baby oriented?  And how about that chaise?

This is the most sophisticated nursery I've ever seen.  I think I want it for my own room!

This nursery could easily be converted into an adult room

Gray walls are fun with pops of color and pattern

Or just go bold on the walls!

The white curtains and rug help tone down this very green room.
The chair is a fun pop of an alternate color, too.
A mix of alphabet letters is cute against the turquoise wall

Graphic patterns are lively

Nurseries are a good excuse for fun graphics fabrics.

The dark walls, the sophisticated wall stencil, the painted vintage dresser ... oh my.

Nurseries don't have to have soft colors.  Why not go bold with color and patterns?

 How about some whimsy?

The chair is so tailored, yet the barn door and lamp are so country.
How fun is a chalkboard wall?

The wall graphic and light fixture give this nursery a futuristic feel

White birch trees pop off the dark gray wall

My #1 recommendation for a nursery

Do NOT buy a changing table!  Instead, use a dresser or chest for that purpose, with a changing pad on top.  They provide great hidden storage, and you aren't left with a piece of furniture you can't use once the child is potty-trained.  Here are some examples:

Everything in a nursery doesn't have to be new. This vintage dresser is perfect.

Turn an ugly dresser into a fun piece with bold yellow

IKEA's ubiquitous Hemnes Dresser doubles as the changing table

Even a vintage sideboard can serve the purpose!

I'm sure there are a bazillion sources out on the interwebs for nursery design, but these I came across in a short amount of time:  Project Nursery, Stella and Henry, Oh De Doh, Decor Pad, and, of course, Pinterest.

I hope I have given Natalie a bit of inspiration here.  I haven't thought about nursery design in a decade and a half, so it was as fun challenge!  Which room would you choose?

Hollie

Click on the photos for links back to my sources.
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