patio reveal

patio details

We’ve been on vacation which was great but now it’s back to reality and more posts!! There’s so much to do after coming home from vacation – unpack, laundry, grocery shopping, laundry, water the plants, clean up the yard, laundry… so it was nice to come home to our newly finished patio area where we can relax {to me a good vacation means you’re tired when you get home!}. This patio area was originally our swing set area so the space was already there – we just needed to give it a new purpose. Check out the original post here. It turned out to be a fun project that we threw together pretty fast since it was the beginning of summer and we wanted to use it as much as possible. It’s very functional, pretty and, even though it’s outside, I think it’s very cozy.

patio before

Here’s the before.

patio after

And here’s where it is now.

Just a few notes on what I did:

final large 8

1) firepit do-it-yourself {or ourselves since it was a family effort}. Really fun and easy project – check out the tutorial post here.

table before&after

2) refinish an old table from my very generous friend. Again, very easy project. I just tightened all the screws, sanded the table and put a coat of oil based white wash on it. I might try and add a beverage container but for now, this is working great!

bench

3) refinish an old bench. My husband found this at an old thrift store and I just sanded it and painted black. It was a pastel purple (and the wood was very rough). Sorry, forgot to take the before pics…

table detal

4) make a no-sew table runner. I discovered this material at our local fabric store, which is used to make dish towels so it has seams on both of the long edges. I just used iron-on tack tape on each of the short edges. And voila – no-sew table runner. And since the material is used for dish towels, it should hold up well outdoors.

adir before&after

5) sanded and spray painted two Adirondack chairs to be a cheery bright red/orange.

side table

6) home-made side table – I made it by using 2 pots stacked opposite on top of each other, and found the perfect flat rock for the top.

finished 2

7) Tin can lanterns. Check out the DIY post here.

And my new purchases include:

purchases

// Marshmallow roasting sticks from One Kings Lane {only sold now in a complete firepit set for $49} // navy chairs from Target {$25 for 2 – no longer online} // white garden stool to use as a table top or chair {$29.99 on clearance at Marshalls!!} // navy print pillows from Target {$30 set of 2} // Additional citronella candle sticks from Homegoods {$5} // old twin bed frames from a local antique store, used as a border treatment and backdrop for plants {$50 for both} // multi-colored planter from Homegoods {for a steal – $39.99} //

Including the DIY project materials like cement, paint, sandpaper and hardware – the total cost for this patio was about $250. One of the things I learned doing this project is that what you intend on doing at the start of a project isn’t always what you want – or are able to do – as the project progresses. Originally I wanted to construct a trellis with a box for potted plants but then I saw these bed frames and the large colorful pot and I knew I had to do something different. I also had several other planters that were not being used and I hate wasting good items. They all worked together with their similar color scheme. I was also going to add a beverage holder to the picnic table but then realized that we didn’t really need one and since I loved the way the table was refinished, I just wanted to keep it simple. Lighting was another element I was planning on adding but once we get the fire pit going and the nice lighting that comes from the back of our house, we really didn’t need any more lighting. I like the feel of the citronella candles too – and those we need! Plus, that would have meant hiring an electrician to re-route the electrical outlets – which means more time and more money. As we use this space more and more, I’m sure I’ll see some things we need to change or add but for now, it’s a great space that we’ll enjoy over and over!

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layering area rugs

dining room 3

One of the hottest new trends I’ve noticed lately in home decorating is layering area rugs. This creates a unique look by combining various materials, colors, patterns, and textures. I’ve been wanting to try it but I was a little hesitant. Then the perfect opportunity came when my sister bought 2 rug choices for her home office make-over {promise the reveal is coming soon!} and was left with one to return - so I just had to take it off her hands! I decided to try it in my dining room even though I had a perfectly good rug in there already. The pattern and colors in the new rug were perfect and it added just the right amount of interest to this room. 

I like the layered area rug look for a few reasons. First, this treatment can add interest to an otherwise boring part of a room. Layering rugs can also solve the problem of finding a reasonably priced large rug – instead you can buy a cheap, plain 8×10 and layer it with a small, patterned, quality-made rug. Or have you ever wanted to use a rug in a room that was an abnormal shape but couldn’t find a rug to fit the space?

Here are a few more examples of layering area rugs that I found online. Click on the link to go to their sources. Sometimes it’s these small changes that we wouldn’t have thought of that can really make a difference in our homes.
crafty in the concrete jungle crafty in the concrete jungle

hgtv

hgtv

home dit

homedit

Sarah Barksdale Design

SBD-2

both images from Sarah Barksdale Design

If you want to read more on tips for layering area rugs check out this article at overstock.com.

dining room 1

Let me know your thoughts on layering area rugs. And try it – you might like it!

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a few random things

A few things on my mind….

occassion-1

I just found out that I have been accepted as a new Darby Smart designer! If you’re not familiar with Darby Smart, check them out here. Darby Smart has a community of designers who create new projects and they turn their projects into DIY kits that anyone can buy. With a Darby Smart kit, you can make and share your own style. They’re perfect for parties, hostess gifts, home decor projects or just about any special occasion. Some of the Darby Smart DIY kits include projects like terrariums, jewelry, pocketbooks, and decorated glassware. They’re sent to you in a super cute box with all the chic materials and very simple instructions on how to create these projects. I’m so excited – but I’m not sure what project to submit… paper rosettes, tin can lanterns, decorative glass jars, maybe a mini-cupcake tower…. oh I don’t know!

photo

Do you guys have a friend who is just so thoughtful – who sends you text messages, emails and calls you just when you need it? Someone who buys you that something special just because she thought you would like it or needed it. I do, and she is one of the nicest women I know. So, in addition to just always being super thoughtful, she is also one of the funnest {is that a word?} and silliest people I know. You always have a good time with her. So, after I wrote my post about our patio re-design and mentioned that I was still looking for a table, she texted me that day and said she had a table for me and that it needed some work but it would be perfect for our patio. And then within a few hours she and her 15 year old son brought it over. Amazing. That was one of the sweetiest things someone has done for me. I know it sounds pretty simple but it was so thoughtful and something I’ll never forget. Did I mention that she is super creative too and could have created something really awesome with this table for herself? I hope you have someone in your life who is just an honest, giving, true friend. And I hope you give back that friendship to him/her. I will always try to be that friend to her and others – I can’t say I will always succeed but those are my true intentions.

Firecrackers1

Happy 4th of July – I found these cute “firecrackers” made from Life Savers candy at An Altered State Blog. Just remove the existing cover and re-wrap them with papers that can be printed or bought at any AC Moore or Michaels craft store. Wrap the ribbon around them prior to wrapping the paper.

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Also check out these fun July 4th recipes from Iowa Girl Eats – her stuff is always so yummy! The mini s’mores pies look amazing!

iced-coffee

And to get you through this crazy weekend – Dunkin Donuts iced coffee. My go-to drink. And get the Dunkin Donuts Perks card. You get free beverages all the time. This perk truly is a perk.

Happy 4th of July – enjoy and be safe!

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pink flamingo spinner invitation

finished

We just had my daughter’s 9th birthday party it was so much fun! I have some photos to share but I didn’t get too many since I had to organize games and play lifeguard to eighteen 9 year olds! It was cute – and so were they! She wanted boys and girls and wanted a party with games and swimming. Her real birthday is in May so we had to wait and have the party when the true summertime was here. The kids played games like water ballon toss {huge hit!}, egg & spoon race, ring toss and horseshoes, and lots and lots of swimming! I tried pushing the sack races but they were just not into it. Hmmph. And of course, I hired my neice to make the cupcakes. So cute and yummy!

drawings

{watercolor drawings}

invite pieces

The color scheme included all the rainbow colors with a big pink flamingo as a fun icon/decoration. I designed the invitations as a spinner card with a cut out revealing all the fun activities that would be at the party. I drew small illustrations to show the activities and painted them in a quick watercolor technique. After printing both the top circle layer and the bottom illustration layer, I cut them out and poked a brass grommet through the center so they could spin. They were pretty simple to construct, the only tricky part was getting the illustrations to line up correctly to see them in the cutout. Add in a big pink flamingo and that was it! I made simple labels {also with a flamingo} and used brown kraft envelopes. 

montage of averys party

The party was a success and even better - it’s checked off my list! Did I say that out loud? Happy Monday!

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firepit diy

firepit final 1

This was our first real do-it-yourself project for the patio area. We wanted a fire pit that was rustic and camp-like. Something that the kids could help build and use. So nothing fancy. We researched lots of do-it-yourself projects but they were just so… well, precise and pretty. Precise and pretty is good but we were going for a more lived-in look. I wanted to post this earlier but I thought it would be good to have the fire pit get some use and make sure it held up well. So far, so good! In fact, we love it. This was a super easy project that cost about $10. Here’s what we did:

Materials:

materials 2

Steps:

clear ground 3

1) clear and level the area where you want the fire pit to go. We have ours on a gravel ground so we just shoveled the gravel away and smoothed out the ground underneath. Out fire pit is about 4 feet in diameter.

rock layer detail 7

2) We are lucky to have lots of ledge and rocks on our area. I guess you could also say we’re unlucky too since ledge and rocks also bring lots of other problems {radon, digging issues, etc.} but for this project we are lucky. We grabbed a wheel barrel and collected all the rocks we could find. For the most part, they are about 8-10″ with some smaller ones to fill in the holes.

fire pit first layer 4

3) mix the concrete according to package instructions {basically just add water}. We mixed ours in an old wheel barrel but you can use any sort of bucket. Then, pick out the larger rocks to use as your base and line them around in a circle.

fire pit cement 5

4) Start picking the rocks that will go on the next tier. This is like doing a puzzle or the game jenga. But it was fun - and challenging because I was never really good at puzzles.

layering 6

5) Once you find the rocks you like and that fit well, use the trowel to scoop out the concrete and use it as “glue” to hold the rocks together. Again, we were going for the rustic look so you can see some of the cement but this worked fine with our mismatched found rocks.

6) Repeat steps 4-5 until you reach the desired height. We went with 3 tiers of rocks and seemed to angle them in a bit. We used smaller rocks to fill in any open holes.

final large 8

7) Let the cement harden. We added a layer of sand on the bottom of the fire pit – it gives it a more finished look. When the cement is completely dry, add logs and light!

This fire pit style is not for everyone. We liked the rustic, campfire feel of it and the fact that it was easy to make was a huge bonus. Plus limited measuring and mistakes are ok with this style! I think this fire pit will be getting a lot of use this summer – and fall. And it’s been the perfect addition to our new patio area. Stay tuned for more on that fun space!

Do you have any fun summer must-haves that your family and friends enjoy?

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fun summer lighting | tin can lantern diy

finished

I feel like summer’s finally here and I’m looking forward to hanging outside, longer days, fewer kids’ activities and no school!! I’ve been working on redoing our patio – or I should say our old-swing-set-area-that-we-are-trying-to-make-into-a-patio. It’s getting there and I hope to show you final pictures in the next week or so. I’m still searching for a table and contemplating creating my own but it’s a daunting project. I’ve been doing a lot of research on table do-it-yourself projects but I think you could just say that I’m procrastinating! Maybe I’ll have it figured out by the fall!

other candle

candles

I have found some great outdoor pieces for this space and we even made our own fire pit {post coming later this week!}. But that table… ugh. I also thought we would need outdoor lighting but since I’ve started this project, we really don’t need any extra lighting out there. We have spot lights on our house that add light to this area and the adjacent pool area has it’s own lighting so I think adding another isn’t necessary. I do think some subtle lighting like candles and lanterns would look nice and maybe keep away the pesky mosquitos. I found some  candles and even some citronella sticks that will look great. But I’ve been seeing tin can lanterns all over pinterest and other diy websites and I thought they would add an extra handmade touch. This is a fun, easy craft that will help “light up” your summer nights too. Hee hee….

materials

Tin can lanterns – what you’ll need:

tin cans {left over from pasta sauce, canned vegetables, etc.}
hammer
nails
spray paint
sand
candles {can do regular or citronella}
wire if you want to hang them

Steps:

1. Collect random tin cans and remove the labels and clean throughly. You can use goo-gone to remove any left over glue. Or once the can is frozen {see step 2}, I  just chipped away at the frozen glue and it came off fine.

frozen

2. Fill cans with water and freeze. This will help your can to keep it’s shape.

can no holes

3. Once the water is frozen, take the can out of the freezer and place it on a solid surface. To help prevent it from rolling around, I took a dish towel and shaped it in a circle and placed the can in the middle of the towel. Not fool proof but it helps.

hammering

4. Use your hammer and tap a nail into the can to create your design {FYI – it’s pretty easy to hammer through the tin}. You have several options for a design: you can use a sharpie and place dots on the can to “draw out” your design, you can print out a picture and tape it to the can or you can just wing it – which is what I did. I decided to do a leaf pattern but I also like the idea of just a random pattern of dots. You can even use different size nails to create some variation in your design.

spray paint

5. Once your design is done, spray paint the can your desired color. I love the natural tin finish but it will rust. So I did a few in a color and used a clear enamel rust-resistant spray paint on the ones I wanted to leave the silvery tin color. I used a piece of scrap paper and placed it inside the can when spray painting it. This helped prevent the paint from getting inside the can.

with candle

6. Make sure the cans are dry and apply a few coats of paint if needed. Once dry, add sand and a candle. You can also add 2 more nail holes on equal sides of the can and string a wire through it and hang them.

finished 2

7. Light and enjoy!

Be on the lookout for more on our summer patio redesign and all the diy projects and fun pieces we’ve  found!

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handmade cupcake tower with amazing cupcakes

cupcake tower final

My neighbor was planning her daughter’s graduation party and she was asking me my thoughts on a cupcake tower she had seen. She loved the idea for her party but the tower itself was over $100 and then the cupcakes would have been over $250. Plus is wasn’t exactly what she was looking for. She went ahead and bought the circle cake bases and figured she could make this creation herself. I like her thinking! But if you can imagine all the planning that goes into a graduation party, sometimes those extra “projects” can get overwhelming. As I was talking with her, my head was spinning with ideas and I knew this was a project I could do. So after I offered to make the cupcake tower for her, I went even further and offered my {very talented} niece’s services to make the cupcakes for her. I knew this would be such a fun project - and working with my niece would be an added bonus. 

Shannon's samples

First, I want to brag about my niece. She’s made several cakes and cupcakes for events for us and other family and friends. She is uber-talented and completely self-taught. She once did 4 different cupcake creations for my daughter’s carnival-themed birthday party and they were amazing. One looked like a small tub of popcorn, one looked like a grape soda float, complete with grape soda flavored cake, a straw and bottlecap candy. Another was topped with two different favors of cotton candy balls on a stick.  And the last was a snowcone flavored and designed cupcake. They were perfect. And they tasted amazing! I’m very proud of her as you can tell. So when I offered her sevices, I knew she’d hit it out of the park. Oh, and did I mention, she’s only 15 years old? My neighbor wanted 2 different flavored cupcakes {chocolate & vanilla} with 3 different fillings {caramel, lemon, and chocolate}. If you’ve never tasted cupcakes with a filling inside, they’re delicious, unique and oh-so-chic. And in addition, she wanted a large cupcake about 7″ to go on top of the tower. All decorated with fondant flowers. Shannon did an amazing job and made my cupcake tower shine! I’m putting my order in now for my daughter’s birthday party!

I’ve outlined the steps for the cupcake tower below. I would consider this an easy-to-moderate difficulty level. But more than anything it just takes time and patience.

materials

Materials:

Cake bases at the sizes you want - I found them at Michael’s {I used 2 cake bases of each size for a total of 8 bases}
Xacto knife
6 white plastic bowls, 6″ round
hot glue gun and glue sticks
Super 77 Adhesive Spray
Decorative scrapbook paper, 6 sheets for this size
Decorative ribbon, 5 yards {I used a 1/4″ grosgrain}
Additional decorative ribbon, about 1 yard

How to make a 4 tier cupcake tower:

bases

1. Cut the cake base circles to 4 different sizes. I made mine 16″, 14″, 12″ and 10″. If you’re not comfortable cutting the bases, you can buy them at these standard sizes. It will cost a little more but might be worth it.

back to back

2. I decided to glue 2 cake bases together for added support. Use the Super 77 Adhesive spray. I glued the gray sides together so the white sides showed. This gives it a nicer, more finished look.

paper

3. Use the Super 77 Adhesive spray to adhere the scrapbook paper to ONE side of each cake base and trim to the edge.

ribbon trim

4. Use the hot glue gun to adhere the ribbon to the edge of the bases. I did this in small sections to keep the ribbon straight. {I originally used a delicate, lace-like ribbon but it didn’t hide the corrugated edges enough so I went with the polka dot grosgrain}
**do steps 2-4 for each of the 4 bases.

final support

5. Once all the bases are done, use the hot glue gun to attach one plastic bowl UPSIDE DOWN to the top of the bottom base. To make sure the bowl was centered, I marked a 6″ circle in the center of each base. Then hot glue another bowl RIGHT SIDE UP on top of the first bowl. This is the support between each of the bases. **Do this step for each base attaching them as you go.

add'l ribbon

6. I noticed that where the 2 bowls met between each of the bases, it looked a little sloppy with some glue spilling out. So I took another decorative ribbon and adhered it to the seam with hot glue. This covered up the messiness and added a nice detail to the crude support system!

finshed tower

7. Now you have created a custom cupcake tower!

finished details

Here it is with the amazing cupcakes and some fresh peonies for decoration. The tower held up well and the cupcakes were devoured! If you’re looking for something unique for your next party, cupcake towers are a great solution. And when you make them yourself, you can really personalize the details to match your celebration. Try and create one yourself or I’ll be happy to make one for you! And I know a very talented baker who can make some amazing cakes and cupcakes! Enjoy!

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father’s day gift ideas

I know Father’s Day is this Sunday but I haven’t done our shopping yet. Are you like me and wait until the last minute? If so, here are some ideas for that special dad on your list:

f.day gift ideas

1. Vineyard Vines tie. This is a splurge for us but I love these ties. They have so many different patterns – from Red Sox to whales to ice cream cones to college logos. They are so fun and such a conversation piece. And the yellow lab one? I can’t resist. $85.

2. Hockey stick BBQ set. Can you say upcycle?! These are so cool and any hockey dad would love them. $59.95.

3. Money clip. I thought these were long gone but both my husband and son use them. My husband likes it as an alternative to a bulky wallet. This one is nice because it hold a credit card too and can be monogrammed. Says it usually ships the next day too! 39.99.

4. Wireless speaker from Brookstone. I haven’t tried this one out but it looks great, sounds like it’s easy to use and it’s portable. $149.99.

5. Beer mugs. No explanation necessary. Williams Sonoma, $19.95 set of 4.

6. Poker set. There are so many out there with some being more fancy and elaborate than others. This one is from Target {who knew?} $84.99.

7. Travel charger case. A perfect solution for the travelling dad to keep all his gadgets charged and organized. $39.99.

8. Hook and slice reducing golf balls from Hammacher Schlemmer. $34.85 for 12 balls. Not that my husband needs these. Ahem.

Click on the blue links to go to the product website and find out more. And hurry – Father’s Day is Sunday! Enjoy!

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logo design work

As a graphic designer, I love designing logos. It could be one of my favorite projects to do. Logo design is all around us. To the general public, logos are a symbol of a company or a product; to the client they’re the basis on which their branding is built from; and to us designers they represent the challenge of incorporating our clients’ ideas and vision into one single graphic. I think there’s so much a logo can say visually that coming up with that form of communication is really fun and challenging for me. Recently our friends reached out to me to help create a logo for their new business venture. We decided on the look, the colors, the imagery and the style that would work best for them. And I love it when clients {like mine!} give super good direction and insight! This is what I designed and it seems to work well for them. 

Print

BlueSky logo

And here are some other logos I’ve created:

logo samples

While I love designing logos from scratch, I also love to build out the brand and bring the whole package to life after the logo is finalized! Creating materials like brochures, websites, business cards, and signage that all work together are important to this process. If you are looking for a logo or have a logo and want to build your brand and are not sure how to do that, contact me and we can brainstorm and collaborate on some new ideas and materials for you! 

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summer {accessory} lovin’

My daughter and I just watched the movie Grease so we’ve been singing the music for days now. Such a cute movie and one to watch again and again. So my summer lovin’ is not Danny Zucco, it’s these fun accessories – the ones that I want {ooh, ooh, ooh}. If you don’t get these for yourself – they all make great gifts for anyone on your list. Click on the blue links to bring you to the original websites.

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1. Tom’s slip on shoes, for women {$54} and for girls {$38} {my daughter is dying for a pair!}

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2. A great beach bag. This one is from Target and is only $24.99.

fouta-about_foutacircle

fouta-about_onbeach

3. A Fouta {pronounced fou-ta}. I first saw these at TJ Maxx and then in Better Homes & Gardens. They’re beautiful and can be used as a blanket, a towel, a throw, a sarong, or even a tablecloth. Check them out here for only $46.

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4. Statement jewelry. I love this one for the color and style. From Target for only $16.99.

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5. Colored woven belt from the Gap, $24.95. This would look so cute with a pair of pink shorts.

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6. A cute, fun hat. I love the fedora style and this one looks a bit more relaxed. Perfect for the beach or apres beach. Found this Nine West one at Macy’s for $24.99.

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7. A casual summer jacket – one that can be worn on a boat, a walk on the beach or a cool su-u-mmer night {ok, done with with the Grease puns}. Nothing fancy but still stylish. Check this one out from Athleta, $108.

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8. Clutch bag. This one’s from J.Crew and it just screams summer! $49.50

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9. Timex Weekender slip watches $45These watches are an ideal accessory for a sophisticated, casual, summer look.

Check out these links and let me know your comments. Do you have any fun summer accessories that you’ve been lovin’?

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