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Nesting

Last fall, after we moved to our new apartment and I was all in a decorating frenzy, I purchased some pillow covers from Etsy that I thought would add some color to our livingroom. One was a hand painted bird on one side and chevron stripes on the other. The other was a floral made of blues and greens and reds from Nena Von Custom Drapes and Designer Pillows. I didn’t realize at the time, but the 18″ I meant to order was really a 20″, so when it came it didn’t fit the pillow at all. It was way too loose. I kept meaning to get my sewing machine out and fix it, but to be honest, I wasn’t really sure where my sewing machine was and I’m always afraid I’m going to do something that I can’t fix when I sew.

Finally, we had friends coming to town to visit and I just had to get it done. I found my sewing machine and got to work on the pillow case. All I did was turn it inside out, pin two straight lines about an inch and a half in on perpendicular sides and sew along where I pinned. I’d say the hardest part was putting thread on the bobbin before I started. I made sure to go really slowly when sewing so as to keep my lines straight. (I made a scarf a couple years ago and the lines were wiggly all over the place. I’m really impatient and just wanted it to be done and awesome, but I’m pretty sure I just went way too fast.)

Pillow Case

Now that I’ve had a successful sewing encounter, I’m open to taking on some smaller things like making burp cloths and bibs for friends before moving into something like making a quilt, which I would actually really love to do! Moral of the story: Don’t be intimidated by sewing, just take your time!

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I am so excited – we have finally hung pictures in our livingroom – it only took 8 months. When we moved in, I [read: we] was unsure of what I [read: we] wanted to hang above the couch, but I knew I [read: we] wanted something. I finally settled on a photo collage of mismatched frames and a variety of pictures.

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First, I taped together a couple pieces of butcher paper, drew out approximately what I thought I wanted, then measured what I had drawn to determine the sizes of the frames I needed. I also tried to imagine what would go in each frame and label that so the hubs could try to envision what I was imagining. Next, I hung that paper on the wall and we set out to Michael’s to find frames. See, frames!

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In order to make sure they were all hung evenly and straight, I put them on the butcher paper, traced them, and cut them out. Before taping them to the wall (no, this did not harm the paint), I marked where the hanger was. When I had the papers all hung on the wall and straight, I drove a nail right through the nail mark on the paper to be sure the picture would be hung exactly where I wanted it to be hung. Takes out all the guess work.

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Finally, I hung the frames…which, admittedly, two of remained empty until we had friends coming to town and the hubs took it upon himself to fill them. He apparently couldn’t stomach the idea of guests being subject to framed stock photos. :) He had an idea of what I wanted in one of the frames and took a little liberty with the other.

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All in all, I’m really happy with the way my little project turned out and I love the way I hung the frames. It took a little extra work, but was worth not having to make 4 holes in the wall per frame to get them to line up like they should!

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I like painting. I like painted, colorful walls. Everywhere I have lived for the last 7 years has had white walls and I haven’t stayed long enough to warrant painting. When we moved into our new apartment a couple of months ago, there was this perfect, curved wall leading into our apartment that I thought lent itself PERFECTLY to being painted. Stripes specifically. I thought it would be perfect to draw you into the apartment and I thought it would give a nice visual. The hubs said he trusted me and agreed that we could paint the wall, so we did.

Here’s where we started:

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My friend, Christi, came over and helped since she had recently painted her own striped wall in her apartment. We measured down the wall and marked where the tape lines should be to make sure everything was even. The taping took us forever. We were using a level and it turns out my level wasn’t level, so we had each took the tape on one end of the wall, pulled it across to the markings on either end and then went back and measured in the middle to be sure we kept the lines straight. We measured in centimeters and millimeters and were a couple of millimeters off in a few places, but in the grand scheme of things you really can’t tell. Also, we had been trying to get the wall taped correctly for hours (literally), so we were in that place where we just went with it. On top of that, there are a couple of funky places in the wall where you can tell the dry wall was seamed/pieced together and that was throwing off the evenness of everything too. All in all, the taping (by far) took the longest.

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Then we painted. We used Valspar Eggshell paint from Lowe’s in a grey color. We started to notice that as it was drying, it didn’t look dry. You can tell in the pictures below. Then we realized it was because of the eggshell finish. For whatever reason, with grey paint and an eggshell finish, you can see every single stroke the roller made. We tried going over it a couple of times to even it out, but it never quite worked and it drove the hubs crazy. He wanted to paint over it with flat paint, but since taping was such a nightmare the first time around, I told him I’d have no part in doing it again.

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So, he did it himself, but I did end up helping with the majority of the re-taping. It wasn’t quite as much of a nightmare this time around since we already had the proper lines to follow and because I cared a little less. So, here is it re-taped and being re-painted.

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Here’s the finished product (with our unfinished entry way in the background). Doesn’t it look good?!? We love it!

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The biggest thing I learned from this experience that I think people really need to know is, if you’re going to paint something grey, use a flat paint!

This weekend we had our housewarming. I don’t feel like the apartment is complete yet, but it is getting there. I am waiting for a few finishing touches and will get some pictures posted soon!

I spent most of Friday night and Saturday preparing for the party. Here is what my food spread looked like minus the cake. I still needed to frost it, but wanted to be sure I got a picture before everyone arrived.

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My decorations made me really happy. I ordered washi tape and striped straws from Cute Tape and used the washi tape to accent both of my vases. The gladiolus came from the Daley Center farmer’s market and I think the colors were pretty perfect. I buy these almost every week; they make such a statement and remind me of my childhood, so they’re two-fors.

I made the “Home Sweet Home” and “Welcome” signs while at my parents’ last weekend with thick paper from Hobby Lobby, some cheap ribbon, a glue gun and a Sharpie.  It was a quick easy project and I’m happy with the way it turned out.  I did, however, burn myself pretty good with the hot glue gun, which is the worst.  Once you get it on you, there’s no way around a burn.  Be careful with those things!

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Next was the food.  I spent some of Friday and most of Saturday preparing this food.  I tried to keep it simple, but I’m not very good at that.  I figured since the party started at 8, we didn’t need anything other than munchies, so we had a veggie tray, crackers, cheese & meat spread, chips & salsa (at my husband’s request), and spinach dip in a bread bowl.  For sweets we had chocolate chip cookies (I shared the recipe here) with Peanut Butter M&Ms instead of chocolate chips, pumpkin spice cookies, brownies, and a chocolate cake with salted caramel frosting that I made from scratch.  I hadn’t made a cake from scratch in years and I was really, really happy with the way it turned out.  I used this recipe from Kimberly Taylor Images that I found on Pinterest – I definitely want to make this again and again.

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All in all, it was a pretty fun party. We were able to spend the evening with a good group people and it allowed me to have a nice weekend creative outlet. Hopefully our guests enjoyed themselves and will want to come again for the next party!

A quick update on our apartment!  A housewarming party has been scheduled and it is starting to feel like home.  By the time I get home today our entire apartment will have a coat of fresh white paint on it.   Our chairs (pictured here) are finally being delivered on Tuesday.  I have ordered all the pillows I have on the couch here from Etsy.  The pillows in the chairs have been purchased from West Elm.  The rest of this room is all in place.


Next weekend I will be painting one of our walls to look like this and hanging art on our walls.

Photo Source: The Inspired Room

We’ve also gotten all of our new bedding.  I cannot wait to get everything into place.  It’s starting to come together.  Once I feel like everything is all put together, I’ll post some pictures.  Maybe I should have taken before shots.  Too late now!

So, what do you think of the pillows?  I feel like they’re really going to help add some color that was much needed in the room.

I don’t know about you, but when I stay with someone and they do something to make my stay feel personal, it just makes me feel so warm and fuzzy! For example, when we go to my mom’s house, she leaves a little candy dish by the bed and will sometimes put together a “welcome” package and leave it in our room. I once saw an article about putting a vintage suitcase in your guest room and filling it with everything your guests could need. And most recently, I saw an article in InStyle that detailed what to put in your guest bedroom to make friends and family feel welcome. This is incredibly timely for me since we just moved into our new apartment and for the first time, I have a guest bedroom. I’ve spent lots of time thinking about what would make me feel most welcome in someone’s home and what I should fill our guest bedroom and bathroom with for guests when they come to town.

Here’s the list I’ve put together! Let me know if you think there’s anything I’ve missed!

1. Make an extra copy of your house key.  Even if they never need it, it will make your guest feel free to come and go as they need to. (Image source: Getty Images)

2. Fresh, clean, plush bedding.  Try to make it feel as relaxing and luxurious as possible so it feels like they’re getting away from their every day life, even if it is just your brother coming to stay for the weekend. (Hudson Park Ogee Bedding via Bloomingdale’s)

3. A tray on the nightstand or dresser where your guests can deposit their jewelery, change, and/or glasses at the end of the day. (Ceramic Bird Ring Holder via World Market)

4. A Carafe of water on the nightstand will be a nice touch so your guest doesn’t have to get up in the dark, unfamiliarity of your home to find water in the middle of the night. (Image source: Apartment Therapy, Similar)

5. A vase with flowers in it.  A mug with their initial would be even more personalized. (Image Source: Sugar and Charm Blog, Mug from Anthropologie)

6. Travel Guides and a Map. Leave these on the nightstand for your guests to have for reference if they need them.  If they don’t use them, at least your attention to their convenience will make them feel that much more welcome. I started doing this when we lived in New York and it was definitely something my guests used and appreciated. (Image Source: Your English Lessons Blog)

7. A welcome note that includes your Wi-Fi user name and password will help your guests feel at home and you won’t have to go searching for it when they are trying to check their email. (Bird on Branch Flat Cards by PaperInkPress on Etsy)

8. Make necessary toiletry items easily accessible, much like a hotel, on a tray in your bathroom so guests can use them if needed.  Include things like shampoo, conditioner, soap, face wash, lotion, a brush or comb, a razor, a toothbrush, tooth paste, a nail file, a hair clip or elastic, tissues & bathroom towels. (Image Source: About.com)

9. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I’m at home I don’t usually take everything I’m going to wear for the day into the bathroom with me when I shower.  If you don’t, your guests probably don’t either.  Provide a nice, comfy robe that will allow your guests to get ready first and then get dressed later, again, they’ll feel like they’re in a luxurious hotel. (Image Source: Simply Irresistible Designs)

A few other things that will make your home welcoming that I didn’t think warranted pictures:

10. Leave chocolates or mints where your guest is staying for a sweet touch.

11. Be sure you have open drawer space and hangars in the closets to help your guests feel like they can settle in.

12. Have an alarm clock present.  Even though lots of people use their cell phones as an alarm clock now, it’s still nice to have the option or be able to see the time when you wake up in the middle of the night.

13. Keep a blow drier and/or a hair straightener in a place that is available to your guests.  It is so nice knowing you don’t need to travel with these things and frees up space in your suitcase.

14. If you really want to go above and beyond, be sure to have good coffee and tea on hand as well as some snacks your house guests can grab and take with them if they’re on the run (bananas, grapes, nuts, granola bars, etc).  In NY, I would buy an “I <3 NY” coffee mug or one that was very symbolic of the city to keep in the kitchen and then take home as a gift to my guests.  Then they always knew which mug was theirs and they had a little trinket to remind them of the trip.

I hope you find this list useful!  I can’t wait for our first house guest to come this weekend and feel at home away from home!

The hubs and I are now in our new apartment and in the process of getting settled.  I think we’re down to 5 boxes and he considers them all mine.  But, what’s mine is yours, right?

To go with our new livingroom, we were in desperate need of new lamps.  We decided to put the lamps we had in our livingroom in NY in our bedroom here and the lamps we had in our bedroom in NY are now in our guest bedroom (which we didn’t have in NY).  Until we got new lamps, our old livingroom lamps were in the livingroom so we had some light since that’s where we spend the majority of our time and our bedroom was just dark after sundown.

On a furniture scouting trip I took at the beginning of July, I spotted these beautiful lamps at World Market and loved them.

They go perfectly with the look I want in the livingroom.  Friday night, the hubs and I ran some errands after work, which included walking miles and miles and miles to get these lovelies.  They are now in our livingroom (with white shades), the old lamps are in our bedroom and we’re no longer in the dark at night, which means reading in bed (yay!)!

They look pretty gold here, but in person they look silver.  Full pictures of the livingroom will come as soon as we get the chairs we ordered from West Elm – which I learned yesterday will probably be October rather than the September time frame they quoted us.  Can’t wait!