Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Using Horizontal Stripes

Andy and Lauren asked me for help with their kitchen/great room. The walls were a blah tan and they wanted to introduce some color and excitement to this not very exciting space. I loved working on this project because they already owned some beautiful pieces of furniture and the room has some nice features going for it, like a large picture window and great hardwood floors.

I’ve used horizontal stripes in other projects before and they never fail to deliver some pizzazz to an otherwise boring room. We used professional painters here, but this is a fairly easy project that many homeowners can tackle themselves. The key is to measure carefully and make sure your taped lines are perfectly straight. 

Here are some before pictures… it was a rainy day so photographing was tricky.
The lightest color was painted first as the base coat.
Next, the painter carefully measured and taped for the stripes.
The window wall was painted Benjamin Moore's Tea Room which is a gentle red. This color works wonderfully for those who prefer softer, earthier tones of red. This is considered a traditional Victorian red but works well in modern settings. The stripes were done in Benjamin Moore's Oat Straw and Subtle.
The after photo’s show how a simple paint technique can dramatically change the look of the room.
 The patterned pillows are from Target.

Remember that outlet and plug covers need to get the same paint treatment as the walls. You don’t what to emphasize them, but rather have them blend into the walls as much as possible. 
Horizontal stripes can be done with a combination of flat and glossy paint in the same color for a more subtle look, or high contrast like black and white for a real statement.

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and  The Power of Paint

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Five Year Wedding Anniversary

My daughter and son-in-law are celebrating their five-year wedding anniversary.
You would think that after only five years of marriage their kitchen would be all set, but with two little kids and lots of guests, they were down to two dairy plates! (Because they have a kosher kitchen they have two sets of dishes—one for meat and one for dairy).

For their anniversary gift, I decided to buy them a new set—something unique since they are young and artistic. (Well, at least she is)! Their meat dishes are clean white, so I wanted to find something easily distinguishable, so as not to confuse the two sets.
I found these pretty bird/botanical plates at Pier One Imports and thought they were the perfect fit—nature inspired, elegant and sturdy. 

To set off the botanical plates, I also found these solid green dinner plates. 
Everything was inexpensive, which is fine since they’ll probably need another set for the ten year anniversary! I hope they like them as much as I do.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Family Trees

I've been thinking about creating a family tree. Not only can these be beautiful works of art for the home, but a family tree can help little ones make sense of their heritage and understand how they relate to each relative. Here are some modern family tree ideas I found for inspiration...
This whimsical tree by the graphic designer, Lisa Rupp would make a wonderful gift for a new baby.
Here's a different idea from Martha Stewart--create a unique family tree using a random assortment of family keepsakes in a delicate glass dome.
Love the simple shape and clean colors of this tree from
Gorgeous typography and I love how the name of the state is added in the green leaf,
by Jill Means Design, Inc.
Remake the traditional family tree with a fresh and friendly graphic update. How cute would this tree be in a child's room?  Martha even gives you the templates.
I've seen this tree at my local Hallmark's quite heavy and very's about 20 inches wide, so I would just need a large enough spot to keep it.

With its warm gray tone and beautiful details, this drawing by New York artist Melinda Beck has a sophisticated charm and a pleasing symmetry that's perfect for an elegant family tree. 
Martha  gives you the template to create your own.
This might be the easiest to create...just write the names on leaves cut out from colored paper.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Simchat Torah Flags

The eight day holiday of Sukkot is followed immediately with Simchat Torah.  This holiday is marked in jubilant celebrations complete with clapping, singing, dancing and young children waving their parade flags.
                                                SHAFFER/SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY
If you have little ones celebrating, these flags are easy to make with felt from the craft store. The great thing about working with felt is that there is no sewing—just fabric glue to hold the cut pieces in place.

I glued the flags onto painted wood dowels and for a finishing touch, I filled clear plastic ball ornaments with candy for a sweet treat.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

We love Ikea

Here is what the grand children's toy shelf looked like a few weeks ago.
Toys were crammed into baskets—there weren’t enough of them to keep things organized. Puzzle and game pieces were always missing. It was hard to find the toy they wanted to play  with since sometimes it was buried under Lego's or dress up clothes. Clean up was difficult—how do you clean up when there wasn’t a specific place to put things?

It was time for a trip to Ikea. 

Ikea has several options for children’s storage, and we decided to go with the Trofast storage system. It’s really easy to assemble, and you can design the frames in many configurations to work for your needs. The plastic storage boxes come in three different sizes so depending on the size and shape of the toys; you can choose the best one for you.
Because they can’t read yet, I took some photos of the toys and taped them onto the front of the drawers, so they know what’s inside.
 I don’t know if the kids are happier but their mommy is!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sukkot at Home

Remember when I showed you how I made this plastic cup chandelier for my sukkah? Well, the sukkah is up and ready for guests, so here it is hanging in all its glory! I love how the fixture is huge and makes a statement—no need for other decorations.
The schach, or roof, of this sukkah is made up of bamboo mats specially made for a sukkah. Although I love to use pine tree branches, these are much more convenient and easy to store. 
This is the same sukkah frame we used for our Garden-inspired sukkah but we switched out the lattice walls for fabric walls instead. The fabric is actually twin sized sheets from the discount store and is much easier to store and carry.

I won't be posting until the holiday is over on Sunday, so stop by for more great ideas!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall Harvest Sukkah Decor

I decided to take advantage of the beautiful fall harvest here in New England and incorporate a pumpkin topiary in my sukkah d├ęcor this year. I think it’s a charming way to welcome guests to our sukkah!

The first thing I did was write the words onto the pumpkins. (I suppose this step would have been easier if I used those rub-on transfer papers that you print out from your computer and rub onto the object, but I wasn’t sure how that would hold up in the rain).
After rubbing pencil onto the back of the paper, I used a ball point pen to trace over the letters onto my pumpkin. Next, I used a black Sharpie paint pen to draw the letters.

I also sliced the tops off both the bottom and middle pumpkin to form a flat surface. I used Goop glue to hold them in place and let them dry for 24 hours. A bit of Spanish Moss covered the glue and added softness to the topiary. 
Ready for guests…now if the rain would only hold off until after dinner…

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sukkah Decorations

The holiday of Sukkot begins this Wednesday night. If you are decorating a sukkah at your house or synagogue,  here is an idea from my book, (Jewish Holiday Style) for decorating your sukkah--a garland of dried fruit. 

These oranges were sliced and baked in a 275 degree oven for about two hours or until dry, then sprayed with a clear varnish. String with a thread and needle, alternating with wooden beads in colors or natural wood tones. Apples or lemons would work, too.

I linked up to Craft Schooling Sunday...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Garden Inspired Sukkah

As some of you may know, I wrote a book on the Jewish Holidays (Jewish Holiday Style). Since then, I am often asked which holiday is my favorite. Without hesitation I answer “Sukkot”. After all, it gives me the opportunity to design a new outdoor dining room every year! It also doesn’t hurt that autumn is my favorite season. 

This photo is from my book—I took the idea of a garden gazebo and tried to create a sukkah with a garden-like feel. I used lattice for the walls, an arched entry, and lots of potted fall flowers throughout the sukkah.

                                            SHAFFER/SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY
The candelabra chandelier was used for the purpose of the photo only, but for safety purposes and longer lasting light you can use an electric chandelier instead. The schach, or roof of this sukkah was made up of pine tree branches that we found in the woods behind our house and I added dried hydrangeas throughout the branches. Outdoor cafe seating adds even more to the garden feel. 

Check in next week for more Sukkah ideas...

I linked up to the Autumn Link Party!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Break Fast

According to last Friday’s New York Times, break-fast parties are the new Jewish social event. Some are even catered affairs with guest lists topping 100 people.

Who knew?

Personally, I like to break the fast with a small group of friends. This year, Yom Kippur falls on Shabbos—Friday night through Saturday night.  I am making this no-fail, crust-less quiche that I’ve been making for years—not only is it easy, but you can make it a day in advance and pop it into the oven as soon as you get home from Neilah services. 
It’s made with Cheddar cheese, unlike traditional quiche which is made with Swiss and I like that it doesn’t have a crust for those of us who are gluten-free. Make it in a quiche or pie pan, or in individual five-ounce ramekins as shown here.

No-Crust Vegetable Quiche
16 oz. small curd cottage cheese
4 eggs
3/4 cup chopped vegetables (frozen in the bag is okay)
3 T. flour (I used gluten-free flour)
3 tsp. melted butter
1 T. chopped onion
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
Whip eggs, one at a time, into cottage cheese. Add all other ingredients and beat well. Pour into a greased pie plate or quiche pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Plastic Cup Chandelier

No, it's not a jelly fish and it's not an avant guarde light fixture from Soho. It's my new light chandelier for our sukkah.
It's made from several packs of 9 oz. soft plastic cups, stapled together. I shot this photo on my porch since our sukkah isn't going up until next week. Here is how I made it.

The first thing you need is a pliers stapler. I bought mine on Amazon because I couldn't find one locally.  These are a must because they reach into the cup and staple them together.

Form your cups into a circle using clothespins to keep them in place.

Using the pliers stapler, staple each cup to the one next to it. Next, start another row on top of the first one using the clothespins to hold them in place and stapling them together.

After a while it should look something like this:

For the light, I used a low energy bulb that doesn't get too hot and I used wire to twist around the cord keep the cord from slipping. Here is a shot I took at night.

I'll be posting lots more ideas for sukkot so check back this week!

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