Empty Jars

Darrin and I have made very few plans for the wedding.  We haven’t even picked a date.  We know that we want the big day to take place some time next fall.  We also know that the reception will be held at my sister’s house (thank you sister!).  And, aside from the general sentiment (we want it festive and full of love – a big love-fest, if you will) that’s about it on the decisions.

Except for one other thing.  About a month back I saw the picture below on Pinterest and I fell in love.  How soft!  How romantic!  How simple!

Beautiful DIY table setting found at Chelle Paperie.

I quickly decided that this was a route I wanted to take for my own wedding.  So, I started saving every jar from salsa or Trader Joe’s tikka masala sauce or Thai green curry sauce (Darrin’s favorite).  I also put my family on notice to start saving jars from pickles, and jams, and peanut butter – as long as it’s glass, I want it.

Soon, I found I had a sweet little collection of empty jars.  And I recently decided to put them to use, instead of boxing them up in storage for the next year and a half.

First, I bought a small and inexpensive bouquet of hydrangeas.  I then separated the flowers, trimmed them down, and popped them  into their own glass jar.  I think they look kind of sweet.  I love the comparison of the robust bloom of the flower with the simple, stout jar.

The simple arrangement helped breathe some life into our rock fireplace.

For the rest of the jars, I decided to try out their candle-holding skills.  I placed a tea light in each jar, et voila.  I did find, however, that some of the jars have a little inverted hump at the bottom.  This caused the tea light to sort of slip around the bottom of the jar.  If I were to use a larger candle, I think I would need to try putting some sand or rocks in the bottom of the glass to help stabilize the candle.

My new up-cycled mini-candle garden.

Here's a view of both projects on the mantel.

So what do you think?  What other creative ways can I make use of our new collection of jars?  What items have you “up-cycled” that you’re proud about and want to share?

Top picture found at Chelle Paperie’s blog.

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Letters! We Get Letters!

I don’t know if it’s the whole “living with a graphics guy” thing or if I’m reverting back to my Sesame Street days.  But, lately I am in love with letters.  I’m specifically referring to individual letters of the alphabet, as opposed to a letter that one writes and sends through the mail (though I love those, too).  I love seeing the different type/font – whatever you want to call it (I’m sure there’s a technical term that Darrin will school me on later).  And I’m seeing letters all over the place.  As I mentioned in this recent post, I even added letters to our engagement open house invitations.  Here’s a very short tour around the web of some of my favorite letters.

Industrial Stencil Letters from Urban Outfitters. Only $8.

Urban Outfitters has a number of really cool looking letters right now.  Including this one, and this one.  And all for pretty reasonable prices.

This gem found at Little Bits of Lovely.

I love the simplicity of this large letter and the way it offsets the artwork.  The color also really pops off the wall.

Ideas from Better Homes and Gardens.

This is a great example of incorporating different fonts and types into one space in a simple, yet elegant way.  I like how they’re leaning over on one another, too – like they’re just resting or taking a little nap.  It’s a perfect pose for the letters “N” or “Z”.

This creative headboard found at ModHomeEc.

I love the boldness of this installment.  It would be fun to pick letters and numbers that had special meaning – the initials of family members or anniversary dates – and incorporate them into the design.

Using letters in a child's room from Design Sponge.

For all the moms and dads out there, here’s an example of a fun way to use letters in the kid’s room.  You can start teaching the alphabet while bringing some bright colors and cool shapes into the space.  I love that the “O” is a mirror.

Finally, here’s a teaser of the first letters we’re bringing into our home.  We ordered them from Urban Outfitters.  But, alas Darrin’s “H” is on backorder.  Whaddya think?

So, what about you?  Are any of you letter obsessed?  What other trends are you going crazy for at the moment?

Note: pictures found at Little Bits of Lovely, Better Homes and Gardens, ModHomeEc, Design Sponge, and Urban Outfitters.

Countdown to Party Town

Okay, so maybe the title of this post is a little lame.  Okay, maybe more than a little.  I can’t help it.  I love hosting parties and it’s been a long time since I’ve had the chance to play hostess.  I used to hate the role of hostess, but something changed somewhere in my early twenties.  I was living with a great roommate (shout out to Jen B.) and our place became a regular gathering spot for our friends.  It wasn’t too long after being thrust into the role of hostesses for small impromptu gatherings that we started having official parties with themes.  One of the parties that still gets talked about in hushed, reverent tones was Jen’s Real World Birthday Bash (remember, we were in our early twenties).  We had fake cameras posted around the room, a faux aquarium (remember how the Real World house’s always had those kick ass aquariums?), and the piece de resistance – a functioning confessional room.  Watching the video from the confessional the next morning was eye opening.

The Real World Brooklyn's aquarium.

But, I digress.  You may recall me mentioning in a previous post that Darrin and I were planning an engagement party.  In addition to celebrating the engagement, we thought we would use the party as motivation to get work done on the house.  I explained to a friend recently that Darrin and I are both creative types and we simply can’t get things done without looming deadlines.  Her response – “I must be a creative type, too.”  Okay, so maybe it’s less creative type and more human type.

While we do have a number of things to get done on the house prior to the party, I certainly don’t want to take away from the excitement of getting to host my family and a few friends for a celebration.  So, to take you on the ride with us in this process, I’ve got to take you back to step 1 – the invitations.

Custom invitations to our party.

You’ll have to excuse the photography – it doesn’t quite do the work justice.  Darrin designed our invitations.  But, it was a true joint effort.  I wrote the copy, he designed the artwork.  The green in the invitation was selected to match the color we painted our kitchen cabinets.  I bought black card-stock and used it as a backing to the main portion of the invitation.  We bought some basic envelopes, but I felt like they were missing something.  While I was standing in line at Michael’s to buy the card-stock, I noticed letter stamps in the dollar bins by the checkout stand.  I found a ‘j’ for my last name and an ‘h’ for Darrin’s last name.  It was perfect!  I then stamped a monogram on to each of the envelopes.

I really love how the envelopes turned out and I’m pleased that we now have stamps for our last name.  I think we’ll be finding more ways to incorporate our monogram into the party decor.

What about you?  What have been some fun party ideas you’ve incorporated into your events?

A Touch of Glass

Over the weekend, Darrin and I received our first wedding gift.  At least, that’s what I’m calling it.  We spent a lovely Sunday afternoon visiting with my parents.  While visiting, my mother remembered a box of “things” my grandma Mary (my mom’s mom) had saved from her marriage to my mom’s dad for my sisters and me.  So I went into the garage with my mom, climbed on to my dad’s weightlifting bench, reached up to the top shelf and pulled down a very dusty box where I uncovered eight glass “Serva Snack” sets.

One of the "Serva Snack" designs.

These were so dainty and adorable.  They were a perfect little treasure, packed away in their original boxes, safe for my sisters and me to use.  One of the designs has a small, curved indentation on the side which I can only suspect was for setting down one’s cigarette when one wanted to take a bite of the provided snack.  I think I’ll have to find a new use for that indentation – chocolate straws maybe?  I’m already imagining afternoon teas, mother’s day brunches, or a bridal luncheon with these charming glass trays.  And don’t think I won’t be able to serve a cocktail in that darling little cup.

While up on the ladder weightlifting bench in the garage we discovered another box.  It simply read on the side, “grandma and grandpa g bar.”  Grandma and Grandpa G are my dad’s maternal grandparents.  Grandma Ginther is the woman I was named after and while I never had the opportunity to meet her, from what I hear, she was an amazing woman.  To reach this box, we had to call in the help of Darrin and my dad as it was pushed too far out of reach.  This box was really heavy and once it was brought to the floor, we discovered it was full of individually wrapped items.  They turned out to be a ton of various bar glasses.

A number of the bar glasses from Grandma and Grandpa Ginther (pre-washing).

Darrin and I were instantly excited when we saw these glasses.  Two of the many things we have in common are: we like things that are old and things made of glass.  My mom very kindly offered the box to Darrin and me noting that Grandma Ginther would have liked the idea of her namesake having her things.  It was such a sweet moment and such a thoughtful gift.

More of the glasses. They really clean up nice!

When we got home that afternoon, I got straight to cleaning the glasses.  While standing over the sink, I let my mind twist around the history of our new collection.  Where did it all come from?  Grandma and Grandpa Ginther ran and owned a few restaurants over the course of their lives.  Had a few of the loner glasses snuck their way home from Alex & Effie’s restaurant?  What happened to cause some of the sets to be incomplete?  If it was anything like my house growing up, the children may have broken a glass or two.  Did a little Joanne (my grandmother) or Bud or Sunny (my great Uncles) have slippery fingers?  Did Grandma Ginther bring the glasses out for parties?  Did she really use the brandy glasses for brandy or did she break convention and use them for wine, the way I would?

And how will Darrin and I incorporate these new gifts into our lives?  Some of the glasses I can imagine using as vases or for serving a yummy frozen dessert.  I do feel as though I’m more likely to have a luncheon simply because I have to give those Serva Snacks a try.

What about you?  What gifts have you inherited?  What have they meant to you and how have you incorporated them in to your life?

In Treatment

Now that we’ve finished painting our big living room it’s on to the next step – window coverings.  This room has three rather large windows, two of which face a street heavily trafficked by cars and pedestrians.  Previously, the windows were covered with vertical blinds (ick!) and have since been replaced with taped-up newspaper.  That’s right, passers-by now probably think we’re drug dealers.  Suh-weet.

Obviously, I want this to change, asap.  So, I’ve been spending any spare moment over the past few days obsessively searching for a solution to the window problem.  There are so many questions to ask.  Do we want curtains?  If so, what color, texture, length, pattern, etc.?  Do we want shades?  A combination of shades and curtains?

Window dressing inspiration from Young House Love.

And then there’s the price.  We’ve got a lot of windows to cover in our house, and I simply can’t justify spending $15.00 on one panel, that will only cover 1/2 of one window.  By the way, whose bright idea was it to start selling panels in singles?   Just when I think I’ve found a decent price, I look closer at the packaging and realize that it’s only for half a curtain.  Shouldn’t panels naturally come in pairs – like shoes, or gloves, or earrings?

Beautiful Aegean Blue curtain from Cost Plus. Sold by the panel.

Finally, in my search I keep coming across the term “window treatment.”  What does that even mean?  I conducted a quick google search to unearth the inventor of that term – with no luck.  Perhaps some designer out there can school me on the history.  In the mean time, I went to the root of the phrase and looked up “treatment” in the dictionary and found the following results:

From the Cambridge Dictionaries Online

treatment (noun)

  1. the way you deal with or behave towards someone or something
  2. the way something is considered and examined

We are also familiar with the term treatment as it relates to the health industry.  When we are sick, we seek treatment.  We treat things that are diseased, broken, or wrong.  Is that what we’re doing with our windows?  Are we “treating” their brokeness?  It certainly seems that way when I re-visit the start of this post.  I approach my windows listing all of the things that are wrong with them and the challenges they present.  No wonder this experience is proving to be so exhaustingly frustrating.

It reminds me of one of the messages I try to share with students enrolled in my Community Service course.  I try to encourage them to approach their service and the people they serve with a different perspective (taking a page from Asset Based Community Development).  I challenge my students to shift their focus from the needs, deficiencies, and brokeness of the people they serve, and instead look for and help them access their gifts, talents, assets, and capacities.  It’s a much more rewarding experience for everyone involved.

Should I be doing this with my windows?  Instead of trying to “treat” them, should I be focused on what they have to offer my home?  Will this new perspective help make my search for window decor more enjoyable?

Or will all of this simply make me in need of some treatment?

“Thumbs Up, Everybody!”

Today’s inspiration comes from an unlikely source –  a very young child.  I’m guessing he’s not more than four years old.  I found this video by way of last Friday’s Someecards weekly round-up.

I love this kid.  What enthusiasm!  What a message!  When I’m overwhelmed by the amount of work we have to do on our house, or I come home after a full 8-hour work day and I don’t want to pick-up a paint brush, I need this kid around.

Thumbs-up, everybody!

Jump In the Line

This weekend, the Harry Belafonte song was my mantra, I was singing “Work, work, work Senora, work it all the time.”  You know the one, probably most familiar to my generation from the final scene in Beetlejuice (I heart Tim Burton).  “It sounds like Lydia got an A on the Math test.”  Anyone?

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I took the song out of context, but the beat was right and the words served as solid instruction as my muscles started to ache on day four of my painting escapades.  Later this month, Darrin and I are having an open house to celebrate our engagement (more on that event later), but first we’ve got much to do on the house – starting with a ton of painting projects.  Luckily, we had the help of some star painters in the form of my sister Jenn, and brother-in-law, Kevan.

My big sister Jenn lookin' cute with a roller.

Kevan rocking the ceiling work.

We decided to tackle the largest room first.  The challenge with this room is that there are two different ceiling levels, a big rock fireplace with rough edges, and a few “cut-outs” that require a lot of detail work.  It was also difficult to estimate how much paint we would need.  (Read, we ran out of paint mid project.)

But, we finished the project!  On time, even.  I’ll post more complete after-photos once we move some things back into place.

You’ll note that earlier I said that Msr. Belafonte’s song was helpful after 4 straight days of painting.  That’s because I started with a small project of painting some cross beams in our kitchen.  Here’s an in-progress glimpse of that project.

We went with a Behr's Mountain Ridge in high gloss for our cross beams.

For now, it’s time to concentrate on putting the big room back together and then we’re moving on to painting the remaining rooms on the ground floor prior to the party.  Good thing I’ve got some good dance music to keep me going.  “Jump in the line…..”

What about you?  What songs/music/artists keep you going when you’ve run out of steam?  We also relied on a mix from Pandora, the Walkmen, and some old Ricky Gervais podcasts for a few laughs.

My New Favorite Thing

Have you heard about Pinterest?  Maybe I’m late on this train.  But, I’m glad to say that I’m on board.  I love this site!  I could spend hours and hours (and I do) combing through it.  Everyday, I’m simply amazed by the ingenuity, creativity, beauty, and often hilarity out in the world when scrolling through the many different pins folks have posted to their boards.  Have I piqued your (dare I say it…yes, I think I will) pinterest?

Pinterest is a great website that serves as a type of personal online catalogue for all of the things you want to try to remember.  That dress you love, the rug you think would look nice in the living room, a delicious looking sandwich, a movie you’d like to see – the possibilities are only limited by your own imagination – can all be “pinned” to a board you’ve created on your personal Pinterest page.  Your pins are then arranged quite beautifully, in a perfectly curated installment of whatever tickles your fancy.

Some of my pins on Pinterest.

You can also check out what everyone else is pinning.  I must confess that I often feel guilty that I’m only “repinning” as oppose to contributing fresh content to the collective encyclopedia of creative ideas.  What’s great about each pin, however, is that it is tied to its original post in the interwebs so, in addition to seeing all this beautiful stuff on Pinterest, I’m also discovering all these great “new-to-me” websites and blogs.  After I gather enough of those in my repertoire of daily readings, perhaps I’ll have more original pins to contribute.

Of course I learned about Pinterest from my favorite young couple over at Young House Love.  If you haven’t made it over to their blog, yet, stop reading now and go straight away.  You are missing out!  They inspire me daily.

What about you?  What websites, blogs, are you newly stumbling upon?  Which ones inspire you?