Friday, May 30, 2014

Wedding Season

We have two weddings coming up this summer. Both are daughters of friends we have known for years. When we give them a wedding gift it will most likely be a check but that seems impersonal and a bit boring to just hand over an envelope. Here are some cute ideas for personal gifts to tuck the check into.

I just bought the ring dish for one of our upcoming weddings. All of these are in the $20 range so they make the perfect addition to a larger gift. Do you have any weddings coming up this summer?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Staining a Concrete Patio

I'm planning to have a trellis built this summer. It will sit on our patio and give us much needed shade and serve as our sukkah in the fall. (How easy is that? Just add walls and sechach!) 

But before the work on the trellis can begin I had to do something with the ugly concrete that made up the patio. My first choice was to cover it with either brick pavers or teak decking tiles but both of those came in over $1,000 (ouch) and I wanted to do this inexpensively. 
Here's what it looked like when the previous owner lived here...
The surface was SO blotchy but it was in good shape so stain was my solution.

I bought this concrete stain from Sherwin Williams...
I had them tint it a very dark gray. It was also much thicker that I liked so I added a lot of water to get it to a nice consistency that was easy to spread. For less than $40 my patio really looks like new.

It was simply a matter of rolling it on with a thick roller pad.
It dries really fast and now it looks so much smoother and newer, too.
A large table for entertaining was a must and this one was on Craig's List...
A local guy built seven of these eight foot tables for his wedding last October!  It needs a coat of gray stain to protect the wood—the contrast of rustic and sleek will look great with the Urban chair from Ikea...
That was $40 well spent!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Stenciling the Front Hall

It's long overdue but finally DONE. The foyer and hallway are finally painted and the wow factor is this stenciled wall that I painstakingly painted for weeks and weeks.
I've stenciled many projects before, like this desk a few years ago, but this project took so much longer. I'm not sure if it was the wall or the size of the stencil but I'm just glad it's finished.

At first I thought about hanging a large painting over the bench, but because it's used so often (for putting on shoes and boots) I was afraid the art would get knocked into a lot. And besides, the stencil IS the artwork in this room.
Here is the wall freshly painted but looking pretty bland.  The bench is from Hotel Liquidators in New Haven, Connecticut and I painted the dark wood frame a light gray.  The original brown vinyl seat was covered in a pretty waverly fabric. The artichoke is actually a garden accessory but I like it indoors.
The winner for the walls was Benjamin Moore's Collingwood.
I ordered this Venus wall stencil from Stencil Boss. It was $39.00—much less than wallpaper would have cost.
The key to stenciling is to spray the back with spray adhesive. This makes it tacky and sticks to the surface with less bleeding.
I used a foam roller to roll the paint on, and in spite of the spray adhesive there were areas where the paint bled underneath the stencil and needed a lot of touch up.
It needed a touch of metallic and I was thrilled to find these wall stickers...no need to paint perfect circles!
Simply peel and stick—my favorite part of the job!
I brought the hanging star light with us from our last house. It's from Direct from Mexico and one of my favorite fixtures.
Honestly,  if I had to do it again I would have hung wallpaper. It was a beast of a job and there are imperfections that hopefully my guests won't notice but I know are there. But I'm happy with the overall effect and so glad it's done!
Linked to:
The Shabby Nest 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Ten Easy Ideas for Shavuot Entertaining

The holiday of Shavuot is a little over one week away (it begins the evening of June 3) so if you're entertaining, now's the time to start planning how to make it beautiful and festive. I compiled 10 ideas that are easy and inexpensive to get you started. You're welcome.
Paper flowers and ice cream cones...the perfect combination for Shavuot!
Play with your food: veggies cut into flower shapes and a flower lollipop tops a cupcake.
Balloons are cheap and fun when made into flowers or fruit.
Cream cheese on bread gets fancy with botanicals and the kids will love these cheese and veggie torahs!
On the first night of Shavuot Jews throughout the world observe the centuries-old custom of conducting an all-night vigil dedicated to Torah learning. Keep them awake with Turkish coffee and light the path with these homemade lanterns made from tuna fish cans, glass hurricanes from the dollar store and wood dowels.
Why serve ice cream in regular bowls when these polka dot paper cups are so much more fun?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Gefilte Fish with Edible Flowers

Although it is customary to eat dairy foods on the first day of Shavuot, we actually eat two meals—first a dairy meal, and then, after a short break, we eat the traditional holiday meat meal. For many of us, that includes fish as a first course and Gefilte fish is usually the fish of choice in traditional Jewish  homes.

Here is a simple and pretty way to serve the fish—garnish with edible flowers!  Decorating our homes with flowers is an important part of Shavuot so why not the Gefilte fish?
I used lavender but there are other edible flowers that can be used. Here are a few of the most common...
Clockwise from top left; chive, nasturtium, pansy and thyme. Buy them at an organic market to be sure they are not treated with pesticides.

So much prettier than plain old Gefilte fish!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Paper Flowers for Shavuot

Paper flowers are everywhere. Bloggers and crafters are making them out of crepe paper, tissue paper, watercolor paper and everything in between. 

What I like about these paper flowers is they're made with something you may already have in your kitchen: coffee filters! With Shavuot just around the corner, paper flowers are the perfect thing to start right now and you'll have enough for a centerpiece or pretty napkin rings for your holiday table.

I recently made these at a craft workshop in St. Louis and even those who were not artistic or crafty left with beautiful flowers. Here's how:
1. Mix some water based paint in a tub of water. I used about 2 tablespoons of paint in a few inches of water. Stir well, then immerse the entire filter in the tub of paint for at least 20 minutes. Squeeze out and dry on towels.

 2. After the filters are dry they look like this. Don't worry about the wrinkles.


3. Fold a filter four times. If you're working with large size filters you'll need 3 to 4 to create a flower. With small filters you'll need 2 to 3 for one flower.


4. Snip the point off the bottom and round the top. Or, you may decide to cut sharp spiky points on the top which look good, too.


5. Cut open each filter on a fold so that they open as shown above.


6. On a large stripe of masking tape, stick the bottoms of each filter on the sticky side of the tape. Keep each one close together.


7. For the next step you can use a stick as shown here, or a wood skewer. Starting at the end, carefully roll the tape around the stick. Keep pulling the tape down the stick a bit so the flower becomes full and not a tight cone.

You're done! 


From this.....................................................................................to this! 

Friday, May 16, 2014

This & That

It's Friday already?! Here's what I've been up to...

I'm loving our new Safavieh rug in the den but now the old pillows don't look quite right, so I ordered these from 5CHomeDecor on Etsy.  Such a great shop with beautiful pillows and reasonably priced.

I helped clients update a small sitting room on a budget. Below is the before...
You can't go wrong with classic's like Ikea's Karlstad sofa and Billy bookcase. The rug is from Overstock.com. So much better!

I picked up three boxes of these teak floor tiles to cover up our ugly concrete patio. I'm not sure it's going to work but at $29.99 a box I'll take my chances!

I've been stenciling a wall in the front hall now for two weeks—way too long for one project. (Had I known it would take so long I would have used wallpaper.) But the good new is it's almost done so I'll be sharing the reveal soon.

Have a good weekend/Shabbat and if you're celebrating, a fun Lag B'Omer on Sunday!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Newport, Rhode Island

One of the things I love about living in Connecticut is that we're only a short drive to so many beautiful places in the Northeast.  Sunday was one of those perfect days—temps in the 70's and blue skies...the perfect day for a trip to enjoy the outdoors. Newport was our destination.

Newport, Rhode Island is called "City by the Sea" because it has an area of 11.5 square miles, 8 of which are land and 3.5 water!  It seems like everywhere you turn you are surrounded by water.


Thames Street is the nerve center of Newport's thriving downtown/waterfront area. It is lined on each side with countless restaurants, shops and historic homes.

One of my favorite stops of the day was touring America's oldest synagogue—the famous Touro SynagogueIt was built in 1658 by families from Spain and Portugal.
I was immediately taken with it's understated beauty. The green/gray paint colors and brass accents chosen in the 1600's look perfect today.  See that center photo on the right? It's the presidential seating area and George Washington sat there!

I'm a sucker for classic New England architecture and these colorful doors were so inspirational.
They look historic but modern at the same time. Note to self: paint our front door this summer!

We ended the day with a stroll on Newport's famous Cliff Walk. Need I say more? Breathtaking!
Since this was a day trip we ran out of time to tour the Newport mansions...it'll have to wait until our next visit!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Decorative Arrows

The holiday of Lag B'Omer is this Sunday, May 18. It's a festive day filled with outdoor activities like parades, picnic and bonfires.

One symbol of the holiday is a bow and arrow which is traced to the legend that rainbows did not appear during the lifetime of Shimon Bar Yochai because of his saintliness. A rainbow ("Keshet" in Hebrew) is a sign that the world would not be destroyed. Since Bar Yochai was so good, there was no need for the affirmation of the rainbow. The word for "bow" in Hebrew is the same as the word for "rainbow," therefore children play with bows and arrows to remember Bar Yochai. 


I was inspired to make my own decorative arrows in honor of Lag B'Omer after finding these beautiful black and white spotted feathers at the craft store
These are simply wood skewers from the hardware store wrapped with washi tape and topped with the spotted feathers. Gold paper tips make them look a bit more glamorous.


Arrows are so stylish in home decor right now! Check these out...
Arrows as a centerpiece. Why not? One King's Lane


Perfect on a place setting. Green Wedding Shoes

Love the combination of gold with black and white stripes from Fletcher and Fox

Love the  hippy vibe from The Gypsy Collectives and these look  so sweet in a child's room from Homestoriesatoz
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