The post about 2010.

My little blog has not yet celebrated its 1st birthday, nor even its half birthday, but I thought I'd participate in Southern Hospitality's 2010 round-up just for fun anyway. So without further ado: The Top 5 Things Erin Learned about Decorating in 2010. I was going to take on a Top 10, but David Letterman must have more list-making stamina than I.

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5. Reupholstering is not a one-day gig. A mildly "duh" epiphany, I know, but we have always been overly ambitious/impractical, whichever way you want to look at it. The makeover of this hideously gold velour chair was mostly accomplished in one day, but slid to a grinding halt when a mildly serious battle with the sewing machine impeded our progress. Not to mention that it was past midnight when we finally looked up from our tack strips and fabric.

4. Flat paint is a bad idea on furniture, unless you never plan to clean and/or dust said furniture. I never wrote about this desk that Rick repainted as a display for our wedding photos and mementos (I think it occurred BB--Before Blog) but the nasty gray streaks ground into the formerly white finish (which I couldn't, sadly, adequately capture on camera) will haunt me forever. Or at least until we repaint it. Whichever comes first.

3. It's perfectly acceptable to hang garbage on the wall.  Not that you should take your packed Hefty bags, however, and mount them above your fireplace. I do, in all seriousness, love this perfectly weathered ladder that I Rick dragged off the curb. I'm pretty sure it is going to join us at our soon-to-be new house (!) as long as I can smuggle it into the moving truck without Rick noticing.

And those bottles were dragged off the curb, as well, before being coated with some fun aqua and pear spray paint.

2. My Cricut can be used for more than just cards and scrapbooking. I made this die-cut frame...

...these silhouettes...

...and the accents for this basket collage that I hung on the wall...

 ...all with my Cricut. Who knew?

And the number one thing I learned about decorating in 2010:

1. I couldn't do any of it without my wonderfully patient partner in crime. I think he's even learned a few things himself, like what I mean when I say "good lines" and "trust me." He may have also learned that you shouldn't attempt to reconstruct a couch unless you know what you're doing.

Fortunately, this particular couch was a freebie hand-me-down that A) we didn't want and B) had already been loved a lot, so we didn't feel too bad about putting its sad dismantled skeleton out for garbage day after completing taking it apart and realizing we were about as clueless as the student who asked me, with utmost seriousness, how to spell TV. No, that is not a joke. Yes, I teach ninth grade, aka 14 year-olds who have seen TV spelled for approximately, well, 14 years. Yes, I did have to refrain from laughing and/or fleeing from the room in despair.

Anyway, back to a less disturbing topic: Rick sporting his super stylish safety goggles and gloating about how he had just used his brawn and sweat to remove the rusty springs from the couch. When I consider how triumphant he looks in this picture, I figure that all was not lost.

See what I mean? Couldn't function without him. They didn't teach me how to remove springs from couches in Girl Scouts.
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So, that wraps up a sampling of our experience in 2010. Happy New Year, and here's to another year of learning and laughing!


The post on Christmas Eve.

We've had a busy Christmas Eve day, full of centerpiece arranging...

...chocolate cover pretzel making (I swear we didn't intend for them to come out looking like they would glow if we held a black light over them)...

...final gift creating (more on the latter after I give it to my parents)...

...and emails about SALE PENDING! Yes, that means our offer on a house has been accepted, signed, and sent to all those wonderful people that help us through the tedious part of this process. Says our realtor: "Rick, how will you ever top this Christmas gift for Erin ever again?!" We are now 60+ days away (God willing!) from being the official owners of an amazing old house that is near our families, has enough room for several sets of twins (hi Mom), and needs some decorating TLC...which is exactly what we wanted!

This chocolate to drizzle over our chocolate-covered pretzels, however, is not exactly what we wanted:

Not sure what happened, but for some reason the food coloring made the chocolate really thick and non-drizzlable. So, I had the brilliant idea of adding milk, thinking it would thin the chocolate out. Right?


Garbage can, meet our latest DIY disaster.

This is why I blog about crafting and not cooking.

We're praising the Lord for our marriage, our families, all of our many blessings, food on our table that looks nothing like that mess above, and the most perfect gift that He sent us so long ago. We're doing our best to keep Christ at the center of this Christmas season, as we do in every season!

Merry Christmas!


The post with the wine bottle wrap.

We went to a friend's Christmas party this past Saturday, and our wine gift was looking a little naked, so I made this festive wrap for it (inspired by a similar project I saw in my holiday Paper Crafts magazine).

I started by cutting some lightweight cardstock to cover the height of the label and snugly wrap the circumference of the bottle, and then I used my Cricut to cut out circles from regular scrapbook paper in sizes between 1" and 2".

The next step was to arrange the circles on the lower edge of the cardstock before adding some coordinating buttons.

Then, while I coaxed the accordion fold accent into staying glued together and not coming wildly undone, it nearly coaxed me into breaking into the wine right then and there. Seriously, I have never tried to accordion-fold paper into a circle before, and let's just say that I was almost as frustrated as the day we had to learn about proofs in math class. (If Fluffy is a poodle, then Fluffy is a dog. If Fluffy is not a dog, then Fluffy is not a poodle. If Fluffy relieves himself on the carpet and chews up my favorite pair of high heels, then Fluffy will wish he was never a dog nor a poodle.)

Well, that last one might not have been in my textbook. Although it would have made 9th grade math class significantly more interesting. As it was, we had to amuse ourselves by placing bets on when the dead plant in the window would spontaneously combust.

Anyway, I was feeling considerably agitated with Fluffy the accordion-fold medallion, but I did figure it out eventually. And it got easier after I did it more than once.

I would try to explain the process in writing, but it would probably make even less sense than that Fluffy nonsense above. Maybe I'll make a video of it--with Rick playing the accordion in the background! Get it? Clever, right?

Consider yourself warned if you ever click on a video we produce. ;)

The final touch was tying on the wired ribbon and adhering the bane of my existence the accordion-fold medallion with double-sided foam. I also added some self-adhesive gems to the bottom rim for extra holiday sparkle.


We don't deal with full bottles very often (I tend to prefer the empty ones from strangers' recycling bins), but I thought this was a fun way to dress up a hostess gift for our friends.

And in case you were wondering, Rick can actually play the accordion. He taught himself, which was a process much speedier than the process by which I taught myself how to accordion-fold paper (and not full of nearly as many dramatic sighs).  If you're feeling skeptical, just ask our downstairs neighbor to vouch for his musical abilities. Or Gingerbread. She takes up residence under the bed when he breaks out that particular instrument. :)


The post with the felt poinsettias.

I saw this picture in my Paper Crafts magazine last week and was drawn to the felt poinsettia embellishment on one of the cards. (I could not get it to scan well...hence the weird coloring.)

I knew it would be pretty easy to make my own, so, on our fateful Black Friday trip to Joann Fabrics, I showed up at our cart holding sheets of olive and oatmeal felt. Rick looked at me like I was mildly insane (he does that now and then) before reminding me that I wanted to make poinsettias. As in flowers that are typically red, pink, or ivory. As in flowers that are only brown if they are dead. He really shouldn't have been so confused, because, after all, we do like to keep our plants good and crispy around this place, sort of like this poor plant that my cats like to munch on.

Anyway, I managed to smuggle the alarmingly non-traditional poinsettia colors into our cart without too much trouble. When we got home, I started cutting out petals (freehand, so as to be perfectly imperfect like a real oatmeal poinsettia--ha) with the deliciously sharp new fabric scissors that I had also purchased on our trip. They are definitely not your mama's safety scissors.

I spent a few minutes playing around with the  petals until I got them layered in the imperfect way I wanted. Then, all I had to do was hot glue them together, add the leaves and the pearl center (they're just individual beads glued on), and ta-da! My oatmeal and olive felt poinsettia was complete.

I think one of these flowers would look gorgeous on an all-white stocking, which I am planning on making as soon as Rick stops guarding our generic store-purchased ones with the machete we borrowed from a house on our house hunting tour. (Just kidding....he's only wielding a butter knife. No need for alarm.)

On a serious note, though, he did say that my poinsettias were unexpectedly charming.

Those might not have been his exact words.

But, he's learning to trust my instincts. :)

I'm linking this up to Centsational Girl's party today...check it out for tons more DIY Christmas craft ideas!


The post about the practically free Christmas decorations.

Last weekend, we put up our tree. Surprisingly, there has been nary an ornament knocked off by our kitties (although several have been swinging back and forth at alarming rates), but we're fairly certain that if we had a real tree, Gingerbread would have climbed it at least, well, two or eighty times by now. So, we're counting our blessings that so far, we have not yet had to experience the holiday joy of removing sap from kitty fur.

This weekend, in our continuing quest to decorate our apartment for Christmas, I took a few minutes and put together the following practically free groupings. And when I say practically free in the title of this post, I mean that, since both were created exclusively with simple things that we already had around the apartment (and none of the things cost very much in the first place). The first one features the candle jar I "made" a couple weeks ago, some decorative balls, and free books from a yard sale covered in festive scrapbook paper.

The other one on our coffee table features an old frame spray painted white, red and green scrapbook paper, some decorative balls, and glass bottles yanked from my unsuspecting neighbors' recycling bins.

My recycling hunt is, sadly, on hiatus until I can wear fewer than six layers when venturing outside. No time for digging through recycling bins when I have to spend my spare minutes digging my car, driveway, and occasionally my husband from underneath a mountain of snow. :)

Anyone else done anything simple and cheap as they decorate for the holidays this year? Do share. :)


The post about fabric, Black Friday, and mooing.

After a great deal of begging, groveling, and promising not to spend more than four hours there, I finally convinced Rick that we should go to Joann Fabrics on Black Friday. And though we both lived to tell about it, I am still questioning my sanity. I decided that there were five glaring clues that should have told us to turn around and run madly in the opposite direction (had I been in my right mind and not a "Look at all the stuff that is 60% off and I have an additional 30% off coupon in my back pocket" trance):

Clue #1: Entering the store and being greeted not by some pleasant seasonal tunes, but, rather, the sounds of a small child perfecting his ability to make ear-splitting cow noises.

Clue #2: Pulling ticket number 126 at the fabric cutting counter at precisely the same time that shopper number 89 was being serviced.

Clue #3: Glancing nervously around the cutting area and finding ourselves in the presence of 30+ other shoppers wielding carts stuffed with approximately every fabric item in the store.

Clue #4: Watching number 103 getting her pile of fabric cut for 35 minutes straight. Her cart was like a Mary Poppins handbag, I tell you.

Clue #5: Still hearing the continuous cow noises after being in the store for 45 minutes.

We ended up putting the to-be-cut fabric back (what can I say; the deep discounts were just no match for the mooing) but did leave with $29 worth of merchandise that, had it been full price, would have cost us $85. So all was not lost.

And I, once again, got to be grateful for my ever-so-patient husband, who actually left laughing and making cow noises of his own.Thank goodness for a sense of humor, right? :)


The post with the house hunt + a chicken.

I already shared some of our house-hunting adventures in this post, but have just one more moment of amusement to share:

Yes, that is a chicken. Parading through the backyard of a village home (we weren't out on a farm or anything!). And yes, this is Rick strutting his stuff behind our new friend.

I couldn't get a better picture because the fowl thing (ha, ha) kept moving.

We checked the MLS again, but nowhere did it say anything like Exterior Features: garage door opener, patio, vinyl siding, chicken. 

Guess we just got lucky. :)


The post with the thank you card.

In honor of Thanksgiving: the thank you card I made last week?

Lame connection, I know. Sorry. To be honest, I never, until this year, even considered decorating for any holiday except Christmas, which is why you find nary a fall reference on my blog, with the exception of this post in which I spray painted a ceramic pumpkin. Go me. :) This mindset might have something to do with the fact that the only Thanksgiving decor I can vividly remember from growing up is a felt turkey head (complete with googly eyes) attached to a pineapple that my dad brought home as a joke. If he breaks that baby out this year, I'll be sure to snap a picture. Have I mentioned that I love my family for their sense of humor? :)

Now that I've been introduced to the wonderful world of decorating blogs, though, and I have seen with my own two non-googly eyes the tasteful and gorgeous non-pineapple ways other people bring the holidays into their homes, I am really excited for next year, at which point we will (God willing!) have our own house for me to decorate seasonally. In my anticipation, I already bought some stuff for 90% off at post-Halloween sales (fake gourd for ten cents? I'll take it!) just so I am prepared for next year. Rick only rolled his eyes a little bit.

Speaking of Rick, he's the whole reason I made a thank you card last week, and no, it was not to thank him for letting me use his credit card to buy our future fall decor. He actually needed a thank you card for his preceptor, officially marking the halfway point of his last year of pharmacy rotations. Yes, that excessive hollering you just heard was us cheering...6 1/2 years later, he's almost there! :)

I've been making my own cards for several years now, a decision I made after A) working in a gift shop and learning of the racket Hallmark calls card prices and B) I realized that I liked putting my own personal touch on the cards I was giving to people. My Cricut (and the program Sure Cuts A Lot) has made that especially easy, as I am now able to cut out any word, in any font, that I want. Really unique, infrequent words, you know, like "thanks." :)

The colors are a little off in these pictures; the scheme is actually a lime-y green with crisp white and black, but the setting sun made taking a natural-looking picture nearly impossible.

So, even though this is the best attempt I can make on my blog to show a Thanksgiving-y project, that doesn't mean I am not 100% grateful for so many things this year. And any time I need reminding, I just take a look at this gratitude project that Rick and I did a while back.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! :)


The post with the sad little plant.

I bought a plant this past summer. A pygmy date palm, to be exact. It used to look something like this:

The tag said it enjoyed moderate light (check) and damp soil (check check). What the tag didn't say, however, is how much it does not enjoy cats chewing on its frilly leaves. Maybe because that's common sense? I don't know.

At any rate, I thank God that I can sleep at night knowing the plant isn't toxic to kitties (which I made sure of after finding this incredibly helpful list from the ASPCA), because our cats eat that thing like it's chicken. But non-toxic or not, the purpose of having the plant (beauty, air purity, a place behind which to hide newspapers) is lost when the cats treat it as their personal grazing station. We like to spoil our furry friends, but, come on. A personal grazing station? The thing has been bent and chewed like a nervous fingernail biter competing in the national spelling bee. Take a look at our sad little Phoenix Roebelenii (can I have the language of origin on that one, please?):

Sad face.

On another sad face side note, it occurred to me today that getting good pictures is going to be difficult for a while since I now leave and come home from work in the near dark. Yay winter. :)

Anyway, this thing looks like it belongs in the Addams Family house or something. Only it's not flesh-eating.

So here is my plea: HELP! I have 0/2 green thumbs and my resume of plant care consists of watering and, well....well, just watering. Can I keep my cats away? Is it really all their fault, or is it partly my approach to plant TLC? Shall I phone Morticia and tell her I'm sending an early Christmas present? If you're an expert or at least know how to do more than water, please share your tips. We (and our plant...but probably not the cats) would be ever so grateful. :)

And speaking of cats, here's one of the guilty members of that party now, perched so sweetly near her favorite late-night snack.

She only LOOKS innocent. When we're not looking (and, actually, sometimes even when we are), she becomes a ravenous plant-eating fiend. Like Little Shop of Horrors. Only she's doing the plant-eating, not the other way around...

Okay, I'm done now.


The post in which I go on a spray painting spree.

This past weekend, I went on a mini spray painting spree. The kind where I get so impulsive about pushing and aiming the little nozzle that I almost spray paint my cats.


I decided the glossy look wouldn't suit them.

It all started when I wanted to experiment with using frosted glass spray paint to achieve the "etched sans hazardous chemicals" look. I try to save the hazardous chemicals for the member of my family that sports a white coat from 9-5 and whisks me off to dreamland with bedtime stories about loop diuretics and hypertension. (That is a true story: whenever I can't sleep, Rick volunteers to start talking medicine. Works like a charm.) My process (which, I'll assure you, is not earth-shattering ingenuity...I'm sure countless others have used frosted spray paint to achieve the same look) consisted of four very simple steps:

1) Find glass to spray paint. In this case, I used two recycled Yankee Candle jars.

2) Tape design to jar. I used regular Scotch tape on the tall one and didn't have any problems with the spray paint bleeding through.

I would love to try this same thing with shaped stickers or custom adhesives cut with my Cricut. But I'll save that for another day.

3) Spray paint jars with frost spray paint. I used Rustoleum Frosted Glass.

4) Peel off tape. Ta da! Ambiance shot:

That lantern in the above grouping started off like this, purchased for $.75 from the recent Ronald McDonald House Charity Sale (talk about a yard saler's paradise: this event overflowed an entire vacant Dick's Sporting Goods from front to back with donated--and cheap!--treasures):

Clearly, it was the next victim on my serial spray painting spree, because it is now white.

And on the other side of the mantle is my subtle $1.99 Goodwill hint that it is fall, which I also spray painted white.

Spray paint=wonder paint. You'll never look at gleaming faux copper pumpkins the same way once you can picture them with a new coat of paint. And you know you talk too much about the "potential" and "possibility" in things when your husband, out of the blue, says "Hey, that vase has good lines."

I was so proud. :)

Any favorite spray paint fixes? Feel free to share or link to your work!


The post about brownies, machetes, and house hunting.

The following activity is no stranger to me: wandering through our apartment, wishing we had a house, humming a tune in a minor key so as to fully and accurately capture my grief over not having my own mortgage payment.

Well, guess what? I believe my tune has just changed, because Rick and I are officially looking for a house. Which is why I have been less than attentive to the ol' rented house projects and blog lately.

Our house hunt has been pretty casual so far, with our parents invited to tag along (my mom calls it "intruding"). It's amazing, though, the differences from one house to the next as far as how well people prepare their house for someone to look at it. In case you were wondering, this is where the brownies and the machete come in. Yes, I said machete. As in weapon. As in extremely dangerous piece of equipment. Read on for the gory details about that house and the other houses that we have given extremely clever names to.

1. The house where we couldn't go into the rooms because there was too much stuff in them. Seriously, we think they need to be nominated for the TV show Hoarders. At first, we thought, "Well, they are in the process of moving." And then we opened closets and drawers and found more stuff. NO idea where the rest of the stuff used to live. Here are some pictures for good measure:

2. The house with the cigarette pack and a dirty old highchair greeting us on the front porch. The doorbell was also hanging off, to which Rick said, "Don't they have a screwdriver?" My mom and my sister and I were pretty sure that even we, if we worked reeeeaaally hard at it, could figure out how to screw the doorbell back to the side of the door. We like to call ourselves Lucy, Ethel, and Ethel Jr. 

3. The house with the machete in the attic. What kind of neighborhood is this, anyway?!  I am not making this up. Here's proof.

4. The house with the 100% floral tiled bathroom. Enough said.

5. The extremely clean and organized house with the brownies and a sign that said "Please help yourself!"<smiley face>. Of course Rick obeyed. I failed to snap a picture of him enjoying his brownie, but this is what he looks like when enjoying baked goods:

I also failed to snap a picture of him sneaking Sour Patch Kids from a bowl of candy in the living room (but that would have been incriminating evidence, right?). I suppose the sign did say "Help yourself...."

We've looked at others (7 total so far), but these were the most interesting ones. Not included in the above list, though, is the one we currently like the best...but we'll save details about the house we end up with for when we actually....end up with it.

I'd love to hear your memories of house or apartment hunting, so feel free to share any stories! :)