Thursday, February 28, 2013

pretty fabrics for not too much dough

I have zero affiliation with, but I must say I appreciate their enormous selection and fantastic prices.  Not only that, they let you return orders of cut fabric, which is terrific, considering you're not always sure when you see an image online if you're necessarily going to like the fabric's scale or color in person.  I was on their site today and stumbled across tons of designs that I think would be great to use on some throw pillows, or to cover some lampshades or seat cushions.  Here's a small selection; many of these fabrics come in colorways other than the ones I'm showing here:

P Kaufmann Scenic Toile Twill Rouge; $17.98/yard (thinking of making some pillows out of this one)

They also carry tons of ikat prints!

Waverly Sun N Shade Quilted Rise and Shine Pool; $12.98/yard (I actually have some outdoor cushions made from this fabric; they have lavender piping and are very cute)

UPDATE: I was up late into the night looking at some of the great fabric choices from Hawthorne Threads, too.  They're giving a run for their money.  I'll post some pics soon of some of my favorites from that site.  In the meantime, take a look at these pictures I took this morning of the seat cushions I mentioned above, done up in that Waverly Sun N Shade blue fabric, along with that cute lavender piping.  I used to have these chairs/cushions outside but have moved them indoors for the winter, and they might stay here, since they're not outdoor chairs and were getting ruined by the elements.

Methinks I have some fabric shopping to do!!!!

Monday, February 25, 2013

a little facelift

I decided to give the blog a little facelift this morning, since it was looking tired and I wanted something more bright and colorful to cheer me up in this looooong Chicago winter.  I swear, I have Seasonal Affective Disorder - spring needs to come, stat.  

Here's a screen shot of the old layout:

And here (obviously) is the new look!  Hope the bright colors make you feel cheery!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

dinner party dining table + new dining room seats

As my previous post indicated, I hosted a dinner party last night and am reeeeeally happy with how my table turned out.  I actually get lots of compliments on my dining room table in general, I think because it's really long and can seat a lot of people.  It's actually just an IKEA table I got about three or four years ago from their fancy "high end" Stockholm collection, and I have to say, I absolutely love it.  With the leaf in, it's about 95" long, I love the medium brown wood color, and the legs have a slight taper to them, so there's a bit of a mid century profile happening.   Plus, the quality is actually really terrific and the surface is super durable; no matter how much stuff I drop on it, it's never gotten a scratch or a mar or anything (I'm actually a huge advocate of IKEA, even though a lot of people poo-poo their quality.  I think mixing in IKEA pieces with other vintage stuff is a great way to decorate, and to keep your budget down.   But I digress).   Anyway, because of the table length, it's often difficult to find tablecloths that are long enough to work, but I actually came up with a good solution that I will share with you, dear reader(s) (Priya!  Kelly!).  The table ended up looking EXACTLY how I wanted it to, and I was so pleased.  I also probably dropped too much cash on getting it to look just right, but I figured the stuff I bought is an investment and I'll use it again and again.  

So I was at World Market (incidentally, they've really been stepping up their game lately!) and saw these plates and this tablecloth, and immediately wanted to pair them together:

The colors in that tablecloth are gorgeous and the plates and so awesome, I don't know what to say.  I actually ended up going back to World Market and bought the bread plates, too, so now I have a full set of dinner and bread plates in that design.  I'm over the moon about that.

I was worried that the tablecloth would be too short, though (it was only 90" long and at that point, I wasn't sure exactly how long my table was, though I knew it was somewhere around 90" or so), so I bought two of the tablecloths and figured I would overlap them.  I went home and tried to use my good friend Google to see if someone had a creative solution for how to deal with a too-short tablecloth, or at the very least, how to overlap two cloths attractively so that the seam wouldn't be so obvious.  But when I googled "tablecloth is too short," I came up with results like "don't buy a tablecloth that's too short," or, "having a tablecloth that's too long is better than having one that's too short."  Um, no shit!  So I did some experimenting, and overlapped the cloths but staggered them - if that makes any sense - so that you could clearly see where they overlapped off-center on the table top.  And it looked like shite.  So once again, I donned my little thinking cap and tried to get creative.  And I came up with a solution that worked like a charm!  I folded each tablecloth in half width-wise, and then ironed each so that the fold was really flat.  Then I lay each tablecloth on the table so that the fold was exactly at the mid point of the table.  Meaning that the middle of the table looked like this:

So yes, you can kind of see the gap between the two cloths there, but I figured, once I put a runner down the center, and plates on either side of the runner, there would be no seam visible at all.

And there wasn't!  Here's what the middle of the table looked like, once I had the runner and the plates down.  No seam in sight!   I think it helped that the pattern of the tablecloth itself was so busy.

But now let's get to the important stuff.  I.e. centerpiecing.

I love me a nice dramatic centerpiece, but I've never been super good at putting them together.  Usually I just put a few candles in the middle of the table, and call it a day.  But I saw those two ceramic parakeets at Target (their new home collections are super cute) and felt like I could really do something fun with them.  And then on my way through the candle aisle, I saw these two blue hurricane candle holders, which reminded me of that gorgeous turquoise French opaline glass I can never afford, and thought that the blue would contrast well with the bright red tablecloth, while also picking up the little blue accents in the pattern.  So I scooped them up and brought them home.   I also knew that I wanted a table runner, but wasn't sure what to use.  I'm starting to amass a bit of a fabric collection here at home from my various sewing projects, and remembered that I had *just* ordered some cool black and white ikat in order to recover my dining room chairs.  I was going to have a little left over, and it was the perfect size to use as a runner.  In the end, the centerpiece was, at least to me, a great success:

Snapdragons!  So pretty!

I already had the brass vase and the tortoise shell tealight holders.  The other clear glass candleholders with the gold stripe are actually Turkish tea glasses I got in Berlin.  I had never thought to use them as votive holders, but they worked perfectly.   They have come in really handy in the past, though - I've used them to hold toothpicks, flowers, you name it.  Strangely, I've never used them to drink tea, though.

And finally, here are a few photos of the table, all set and ready for guests!  The gold tumblers were a purchase from eBay a few years ago, and the wine glasses are old, but from World Market.  I already had those napkins and the vintage brass napkin rings.  The plates look incredible with the pattern on the tablecloth, I think.  

And yes, I did re-cover my dining room chairs.  I had covered the seats in a navy blue toile that I kept trying to convince myself I liked, but which I never really did.  So I ordered a few yards of this nice black and white ikat dot from fabric. com, and am so glad I did.  I think the graphic pattern looks so great with the pink rug - before, the toile + the rug looked a little too sweet, but now there's a better balance.  And since I'm still kind of in cozy mode, I picked up some extra sheepskins from IKEA and draped them over the backs of the chairs.  So now they're comfy AND cozy.  

Some last few shots of the chairs before I sign off:

Last but not least, I made a very tasty banana pudding for dessert, based on the recipe from Magnolia Bakery.  I've made this a handful of times, and it's a no-brainer, tasty as hell, and turns out perfectly every time.  People think it's difficult to make, but it's so totally simple, and doesn't even require baking.  Highly recommended.  Plus, anything in a trifle dish gets you instant brownie points for presentation:

Thanks for looking!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

dinner party sneak peek

I'm having a dinner party tonight.  Here are two sneak peeks of how the table setting is coming along.  I think it's going to look awesome:

Yes, I did re-cover the dining room chairs.  The blue toile was just NOT working.

More soon!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

diy kids' hippo picture

My good friend Meg has a son who turned one a few days ago, so a bunch of us went over to her place today for his birthday party.  I had already bought him a gift, but then late last night got the idea in my head to make him something special, partly using some materials I already had.  You see, a few years ago I bought a vintage WPA poster (reproduction, of course) from the Brookfield Zoo (a terrific zoo right outside of the Chicago city limits), and for a while had it up in my dining room in my old condo.  There really isn't a place for it in my new house, though, and it's been sitting in my basement ever since I moved.  Here's a picture of it, taken at some event I must have hosted at my old place:

I could have just given the kid the poster as you see it here, but the frame was crummy and also a little banged up, and I didn't feel like it was worth giving as a gift. 

So I decided to get creative.  I've always thought framing in a shadow box is kind of cute for a little kid, especially when the objects showcased inside are given that 3-D effect by being mounted on foam squares.  I went to Joann Fabrics and found a frame, and then wasn't exactly sure where I wanted to go from there.  But I started with cutting out the two hippos from the poster:

And then decided to cut out a piece of cardboard and cover it with the same fabric I used on the living room pillows I recently made.  And then the whole idea just started taking shape.  I pasted only half of the big hippo directly onto the fabric (he would have been too big to fit into the frame otherwise) and adhered the smaller hippo with the foam squares so that he was 3-D.  But then the two hippos looked a little lonely, so I cut out some fake "grass" from the green background of the poster, and also pasted it 3-D style around their feet.  I had also bought some little 3-D letters to spell out the kid's name, but when I put them directly onto the background, they kind of just disappeared.  So I decided to paste them onto a speech bubble that I cut out, and it looked so cute, since the big hippo has his mouth open wide.  Then the right hand corner was looking empty so I cut a "sun" out of two old file folders I had in my home office (yes, I was getting extra creative and scrounging for materials by that point).  

Here's how it all looked, before I put it in the frame:

And here's the finished product!  I didn't get a terrific picture of it, and the glare is a little yucky, but you can get a general idea of how cute it turned out:

I thought it was just the cutest thing, and once I was at the party, one of my other friends took a picture of me and Griffin together with his new picture!!!!  

Friday, February 15, 2013

zebra madness

Make fun of my zebra if you will ( - ahem - Kelly B. - ahem - ), but I submit to you two photos, both from the homes of women who have sublime taste (Jamie Meares of isuwanee and Christine Dovey of Bijou and Boheme) and oh!  What's that I see?!?!  That's right!  TWO BIG ASS ZEBRAS.  Possibly even bigger than mine, in the case of Meares' (absolutely stunning) living room.  See it there, so sweet and cute, curled up under the coffee table?  I love it.  So there.  I am vindicated.

The amount of talent I have could fit in Meares' pinky finger.   From

Same goes for Dovey.  The house tour on her blog makes me feel like I'm in a cotton candy dream world.  From