Friday, November 16, 2012

Back at It . . .

Well, heeeeeeeellllllllllooooooooo there! Miss me? I missed you all!! The past six weeks have just been a pain-in-my-neck, and I totally mean that literally!

Apparently I pinched a nerve in my neck, between the C2 and C3 vertebrae. My neck muscles did not like it and started spasming like no one's business. I honest-to-God thought I was having contractions in my neck (thank goodness no baby came out because, even though I love them, I do not want another one of those!). When they started, I really thought I would go to the Doctor, get some meds, maybe a shot, and after a weekend of rest, I would be good to go. I won't give you all the gory details but after 12 physical therapy sessions, 11 prescriptions (some really good ones too!), six doctors appointments, three weeks laying on my left side on the couch, two ER visits, two deep tissue massages, one pregnancy test (no worries there) and countless (and I mean countless) ice packs later, I am back to about 90%! Neck is still a bit stiff but very manageable so no complaints here! So that's where I have been and I freaking missed my favorite month of the entire year.

We did manage to pull off a few holiday traditions but since I was looking at them sideways, I will just get you all a little caught up and then we will take it from there.

So here's to Halloween 2012 -

This is seriously how my house looked for most of October. Every time I would walk by this table, I would pick one thing off it and then stick it somewhere. My family also helped (a little) and would let me lay on the couch and tell them where to put the Halloween decoration (I do think I told my husband where to "put it" more than once this past month!). 

I think we managed to pull off some cute decorations. I love the eyeball salt and pepper shakers 
(from Cracker Barrel last year, I think) under glass.

Here's my ode to Edgar Allen Poe - spooky.

I did love how my mantel turned out. The electric candelabras have the flicker light bulbs.
I got those at Target in September. You have to buy holiday stuff when you see it or
it might not be there when you go back (right, mom?)!

These are the shelves in the guest bath. My oldest put the toilet paper in the hand and I just love it. The mercury glass jars were bought this year at Home Goods. I love their bright colors and the birds (being that Ravn is my maiden name, and yes, that is spelled correctly).

Entryway of our house. I like the witch vignette. One of these years, I am going to get a witch cape and shoes. The two set of spell books was a gift from my mom and dad for my birthday. Only I can be really happy to receive Halloween gifts in June!

At the end of the October, we always host my family for a Halloween get together and party. This year was not as fancy (we usually do a sit down dinner for the adults and everyone dresses up). Here are a few photos from that night -

I needed an easy and cheap costume so Rich and I were Forrest Gump and a box of chocolates. This costume did not cost us 1 penny! We were going to buy the Bubba Gump hat but decided to just print off the logo and I stapled it! My oldest is a football player and my youngest is Harry Styles from the boy band One Direction. We had ordered her a costume but it ended up going on back order and never arrived. She was such a good sport and she just grabbed stuff we had (note: the wig is from my husband's Richard Simmons costume from last year!).

See Richard Simmons right in the center? Halloween 2011

This is the whole gang. The camera was on a timer and it took us about 15 minutes to get it to work. If you are wondering about the man with Saran Wrap (yes, really wrapped and no air holes!), that is my uncle dressed like Bruce Jenner (hysterical!) and my aunt is Kris Jenner. My one sister is a Raven (yes, homage to our maiden name), her daughter is the prisoner in orange. My youngest sister and her husband were gender-reversed Publisher Clearinghouse winners. Their kids were a beautiful, tiny princess, a bat and a ninja. My parents were Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. I think EVERYONE outdid themselves. The costumes were great and we all had a blast even though my oldest niece and her dad couldn't make it, hopefully next year.

My first outing (other than medically related) in almost a month!
We went to out to dinner and then hit our local pumpkin patch.

We encouraged the girls to go BIG on their pumpkins because they were 50% off! They went home and carved them that night but I don't think we ever got a picture of the finished product!

That is a super quick recap of October. November has been a blur and I am trying desperately to get caught up on everything. The girls have all next week off and I couldn't be more excited for some down time. Then we are planning a four day trip to NYC for some holiday fun and a big concert but that is for another post!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

DIY Fall Leaf Candle Holders . .

Ok, so last year (or maybe it was two years ago), I came across a craft I thought my Girl Scouts would love and it would be easy - these beautiful fall leaf candle holders.  I did this before I really blogged so I don't have step-by-step photos (see, I am not good with the tutorials) but it's super easy.

First, take a lump of clay. I used Amaco Mexican Pottery Self-Hardening Clay. At the time, I couldn't find the clay I wanted in my local stores but my mom found it in her neck-of-the-woods at Hobby Lobby. Thanks Mom. So the girls rolled the clay out to about a half-inch thick. Before the meeting, I printed out outlines of maple leaves on regular paper. The girls cut the leaves out. Then they laid the cut out leaf on top of the flattened clay. They used a plastic knife to cut around the outside edges of the paper leaf and removed any excess clay. Then, before removing the leaf, the girls traced the veins of the paper leaf with a dull pencil so the impression would leave marks on the clay.

See the lines?
It makes it a little more realistic.
When that was all done, we put a candle on it to make sure the main part would be flat and hold a candle nicely. Next, the girls folded up the sides anyway they wanted it. Some girls did not want to use it as a candle holder, they wanted to hang it or just use as decoration, which was perfectly fine. For those who wanted to hang theirs, we put a hole through the top with the pencil (don't forget to sign your name and date it).

Then you let it dry, and dry, and dry. I can't really remember how long it takes to dry because our GS troop meets every week, but I want to say 24-48 hours.

Then comes more fun - painting! The key is to smear the colors together before they dry and make it look natural.

We made sure to paint all the edges but my daughter didn't want to paint the backside of the leaf so that's ok.

Don't they look great?

Another great Girl Scout project! Thanks girls!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Needing Some Fall . . .

Ok, so fall starts this Saturday and while it doesn't fell like fall yet here in Florida, there is a nice cool A/C breeze in my house and the scent and look of fall all around.

To continue the fall tour, I just wanted to share a few more shots with you -

Here's our mantle. The pumpkins are from falls past and I glittered the heck out of them last year (or maybe it was two years ago). Since there is a big, beautiful wreath hanging above (which I have added some embellishments to over the past couple of years) I didn't want to use real candles so I thought I would see how these new flameless candles work. I found this set at Michaels (on sale and with an additional coupon) and I think they add the right color. I don't think the glow is as nice as with real candles but I don't have to worry about them burning down the house!

Here is just a fall leaf garland attached to my beautiful Parisian pediment. I love the way this garland looks and it I ever see more of them in a store, I will buy lots of them to hang everywhere!

This is the sideboard in our dining room. I hung a leaf wreath over the mirror, added some small pumpkins and leaves to the hurricane and put out a few fall photos from our trips.

This is not the best shot of a photo in a frame, but I wanted to share this photo with you. It is one of my ALL-TIME FAVES! I took this in Virginia while we were hiking a trail in the Shenodoah National Park. The girls were holding hands with my husband and I let them get a little ahead of me. They were on a quest to find more chipmunks and I just love that my oldest is wearing her Forest Ranger hat! I also really like all the colors and the way the trees line up. Unfortunately, the original photo is currently on some disk somewhere (or at least I hope it is) so I had to take a picture of the picture!

The floral arrangement in this photo is from Wal-Mart years ago. They had two left and were on a big clearance! Technically, I think they are some kind of orchid but I just love having them out for fall. I think they give off great color.

So that's it for the major rooms. I do have some fall decor in the guest bath, in the craft room and miscellaneous pumpkins stuck here and there, but this is the bulk of it.

I do still want to share some fall vacation photos and a great fall craft my Girl Scouts made a couple of years ago, but that is for another post!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Filling Blank Walls . . .

Ok, so as you can guess by now, I am one of those people who doesn't like a blank, white or beige wall. I like to fill the space with color,  pictures, artwork, you get the idea. In the past, I have even hung a grouping of empty painted frames (I loved them, my brother-in-law, not so much!).

So here are a couple of projects I am beginning to work on and haven't quite completed:

Project One -

Yes, I took these photos at Valentine's Day (sorry so dark). I know, so sad that it has taken me this long to actually make some progress! This is the entrance to our home. I plan to replace the doors (again . . .  someday) with beautiful wood and wrought iron but not on the top 10 things to be done at my house! So for the time being, my goal in the next couple of weeks is to paint the back of the doors black. That seems to be a new trend and definitely adds some drama to the space.

I used to love this tapestry, and to some degree, I still do but I have just gotten sick of it. It has been hanging in this spot for the past 8 years. Time to move on. The problem with our entrance is that it is very small but has very high ceilings.

Rich fell in love with some large, antique-reproduction maps of European cities. He found them on sale in the Frontgate catalog so we are going to hang them on the stairwell leading up to the main floor.

Here's the hall tree I have by the front door. Again, used to love it but getting tired of it and ready to update the space. It's an old door that someone turned into an umbrella stand and added a mirror with some hooks. I love the original green (peeling) paint and the door knob and hinges, but time for a new home. Not sure I will keep it in my house or just get rid of it. I have ben looking for a chunky, Mediterranean-looking chest of drawers to go here. I like to keep the car keys by the front door but don't want to see them. I have found 2 chests I really like but are about 3-6 inches too wide. This space only allows for a 34" wide (at THE most) piece to fit here so very difficult.

The view from the front doors looking up the first set of stairs.
A box of frames I plan on using to fill space on the walls and shelves!
Don't think I need to buy any new ones!!
Project Two -

These are drawings of the girls we commissioned on our first trip to Paris. I love them but this is not the right space for them, too much wall, not enough frame. I plan to use the larger frames I have downstairs to frame architectural photos we have taken of places we have visited. I want to stagger them up the wall and keep adding as we travel (hopefully) more.

So that's the list. I also made MAJOR progress in Olivia's room. Just one more minor sewing project and filling some frames and I will show you the grand reveal but that is for another post!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Closet Organization . . .

Ok, so a couple of months ago, I just got fed up with my master bedroom closet. Now I am lucky, in our bedroom there are actually 2 closets so I don't have to share with my hubby - bonus!

This is it kind of clean. As you know, I am a girl who likes a place for everything and everything in it's place . . .  at least in my head! I was annoyed with the way everything looked and was all messy. It didn't work for me. So I threw everything out of the closet and started over. I wanted to really organize my handbags and shoes. Using those shelves shown above did not really work. Items kept falling off the sides.

So I found these little gems at The Container Store and thought they would be perfect to hold my handbags. I had used something similar for my shoes a couple of months earlier.

Assembly was easy and only took minutes (which was a bonus).

I moved some pieces around in my closet and decided I liked the handbag organizer on this end. Kindly remember, if you want a blog that will show you how to use cereal boxes and duct tape to make a cute handbag holder, this is not the blog for you!!

Doesn't it look so much better? It also really protects the bags. It's actually 3 units but they come with pieces to stack them on each other. I then used a kit I already had and mounted the top one to the wall so they don't tip over. Clever, right?

I also wanted something to hold my costume jewelry. I always forget what I have and never use it so I decided to buy these little cubbies in Home Goods. I don't really like the fabric and hope to cover it some day . . .  some day way down the road!

I keep gold tone earrings in one, silver in the other, and gold and silver bracelets in a couple more. It does make things much quicker.

So here is the view on one end, miscellaneous items are kept in the brown cubbies. I actually have 2 cubbies open right now where I might put a special pair of shoes or something pretty, still TBD.

Again, for the time being, I just stuck some simple hooks on the wall and used them to hold my longer costume jewelry necklaces. Keeps them from getting tangles and allows me to easily see what I have.

This will work for me for the time being. On our Master To Do List (currently 3 pages long), I plan to redo the closets with dark wood cabinetry and build-in more items but that is down the road, a very, very long road and for a post in the far, far future!