More art on our walls!

Okay, to be fair, only one of the pieces I’m going to feature in this post is on the wall. This is partly because we’ve only got one room finished, so anything we put up on the walls will get taken down again for a time in the future. This is also partly because I tend to waffle like crazy when it comes to driving nails in the wall. Tim is a champ. We get something he wants to hang up, he is decisive and that sucker is hung before the end of the day. I dither and ponder and the frame gets kind of dusty. Yeah, I am an awesome decorator. (But as soon as we have more finished wall spaces, I’m going to make myself get better about this sort of thing. Pinkie-swear!)

Actually, knowing this about myself is why I ended up setting this frame on the mantel. As part of my anniversary present, Tim promised me that I could purchase a photograph from a show that a friend of ours was having at a nearby restaurant. Phil has a lovely eye for detail and focus. (For a dreamy, meditative experience a few times a week, follow his blog. He posts a picture, some fragmented thoughts on it, and a link to a song. Delightful.) I had a pretty good idea of which piece I wanted before we went, and confirmed it as I looked at the photographs in the show. I’ve worked with Phil as the photographer for a promotional calendar at my work, featuring 12 gorgeous shots of Columbus and the surrounding areas. I am proud to have this cheerful photograph in my home and pleased that Tim was so thoughtful to include it as part of my present. I knew that if I waited to figure out where to hang it, I wouldn’t get to enjoy it as much, and since the included frame had an easel stand, I set it up on the mantel for the time being.

Cross-stitched TV saying inside, as well as an interesting perspective on the importance of food.


Photo decoration for a surprise party

As I mentioned a few times, Tim and I hosted a surprise 65th birthday party for my dad at our house. What I may not have mentioned is that my parents were staying in our house that weekend. We had less than two hours to get set up and ready after the end of Mass on Sunday morning before the first relatives arrived with some folding tables to lend us. (Dad actually threw a bit of a wrench in the works by coming back to the house after church, which led to some frantic scurrying to conceal a few things that Tim had already put in motion.) It took a little forethought to prep as many things as possible, but still hide them (or store them in some friends’ refrigerator, thanks again guys for bringing over the growlers and all the fruit for the salad!). Tim and I were busy-busy from the moment dad walked back out the door, but we accomplished it all and I was pretty pleased.

I knew it’d be a sprint on the day of the party and that most decorations would be a lot of hassle, but I also wanted to do something special to celebrate my dad. Obviously, I couldn’t hang it up ahead of time, but I figured I should be able to spare 15 minutes to assemble a collection of photos for him on the wall. I asked my mom and sisters to contribute digital photos and physical prints, and used a coupon to get all of the photos printed at CVS for a discount. (It helped that the party was on Father’s Day! Poppas love some pictures! Or at least the promotions department is banking on people loving giving pictures to their poppas!) Mom even smuggled in the car a few envelopes of pictures of my dad from earlier in their marriage, plus his childhood album that his mom assembled. I picked up a pack of Sticky Tack from the grocery store a few days before the party, the poster-hanging weapon of choice from my youth, so none of the photos would be damaged and I could easily reposition pictures as necessary.


Click to view the full-sized image!

I had seen this idea in the first issue of my subscription to Martha Stewart Living (thanks again, Mom, it’s the gift that keeps on giving!) a year and a half ago, and had filed it away in my brain to use. As nice as the sample image looks with all black and white photos, I liked having a mixture of b/w and color photos in our display. I tried hard to include pictures of my dad with all of the party attendees, as well as a lot of representative events throughout our lives (weddings, graduations, dad with each of the daughters at our 8th grade dinner dance), cherished family traditions (the cabins!), and trips. Organizing the photos took a bit of prep time, but to assemble the display took about 15 minutes (I think I might have adjusted a few things a little later in the party, you can see there are a few gaps here and there). It was a speedy decoration, but the people coming to celebrate my dad enjoyed looking at the display and since we held the present-opening in the dining room, it added a nice festive touch.


Click to view the full-sized image!

My mom especially enjoyed showing her granddaughter all of the photos!

Thanks to my mom and sisters who helped this happen. We learned that finding pictures of my dad is occasionally tough, because he tends to be the one wielding the camera, but we’re going to make a concerted effort to get him in more pictures in the future!

(Thanks also to Beth, who took these pictures of the display. My camera never made it out during the party!)

Origami celebration party decorations

A few weeks ago, we had a celebration for one of our nephews at Tim’s parents’ lake house. Caleb had completed treatment at St Jude’s and was back to living the healthy, active life of a kid his age after a long struggle with Leukemia. We were so excited to celebrate him and his strength with all of our family and friends.

My mother-in-law asked me to think about some decorations for the party. She specifically asked for a few banners to use by the front door and in the back yard. I racked my brain for a week or so, but everything I kept coming up with seemed to not quite fit him. A lot of cute banner ideas on the internet (and Pinterest) are a little bit girly. While I would love chipboard letters covered in German glass glitter, I knew Caleb wouldn’t be quite as excited.

Caleb is the kind of kid who really loves to make things with his hands, and had gotten into origami. He and his dad folded paper cranes to hang in their garage, a strand of which we’d used to decorate for Sandy’s retirement party. Once I got to thinking about origami decorations, I wondered if I could make the letters out of folded paper. I found an origami alphabet with folding instructions for each letter (I used the second alphabet on that page, because the letters seemed clearer). I cut some wrapping paper (the closest thing I had at home to simulate thin origami paper) to some different sizes to see which would be best for the banners. After trying it with a sheet of 12″ x 12″ scrapbook paper, though, Tim and I agreed that bigger was probably the way to go for legibility.

A lot of folded paper and surprisingly no papercuts inside!

A bunting bridal shower – decorations

As I mentioned last time, I went a little overboard on invites and decorations for my dear friend Erin’s surprise bridal shower. One of the reasons that I was pleased the maid of honor was leaning towards the bunting invites was because I wanted to try my hand at sewing some fabric buntings to use as decorations. Again, when all of the planning was happening, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make the trek from Ohio to New Jersey for the shower, so I figured I would put all of my efforts towards prep work and decorations that I could mail if I couldn’t make it to help throw the party.

I went to Joanns Fabrics to find some purple and yellow fabrics in varying patterns to cut the bunting pieces from. I spent probably an hour wandering back and forth through the aisles, grabbing anything that fell into the general color scheme before weeding things out as being “too orange” or “not quite pink enough.” I ended up with a wide variety of patterns, which made me happy, including some fantastic pale yellow seersucker from the remnants section of the store and a purple argyle-esque pattern that seemed especially cheerful. I intentionally over-bought on yardage, knowing I’d want some room to make mistakes without having to go back and find the matching fabrics all over again. I came home with a great big bag of lovely fabric, plus a few spools of ribbon thrown in just for safety.

Just how much purple fabric IS there at Joanns? Oh, a whole lot, look inside.

Refreshing patio furniture

When we volunteered to host my dad’s surprise 65th birthday party, suddenly a lot of little things seemed like necessary improvements in the weeks leading up to the party. Tim spearheaded a bunch of these tasks: clean out the garage (and man, it looks AWESOME), tackle the insane weed problem happening on the brick patio, deal with the mosquito population that seems to have set up camp under our deck. None of it was super-pressing, but we knew our list would make our guests more comfortable and make us feel better about showing off our house to a lot of people who hadn’t visited it yet.

One item on the list that Tim identified was cleaning up some patio furniture we’d been using for ages. (I don’t remember the full history of the set, but I think at one point, Tim’s mom owned it and it was painted a pale pink. The glass-topped tables have been dining furniture in a few of Tim’s apartments, as well as our first apartment together, and in the dining room of this house, before we bought a proper dining set.) Every now and then, we’d comment on the flaking paint and think “oh, we could sand that down and repaint it someday.” Turns out, Dad’s party was the perfect impetus for “someday.” So with prompting from Tim, I rolled up my figurative sleeves and tackled the set, which consisted of two table frames and five chairs, decorated with scrolls and ivy leaves.

From flaky to fresh, pictures inside!