A Little Change in the Guest Room

Today I wanted to share a little change I did in the guest room.  The shams we had on the back pillows in this room were on their last legs and desperately needed to be replaced. I wasn’t loving the bedding after we upgraded the headboard and wanted something more modern.

Luckily a friend was making an IKEA run on a trip down south and agreed to pick up a couple items for me, including a duvet set.  Although I didn’t want the duvet itself, the shams were exactly what I’d been looking for to coordinate with the throw pillow we got on our trip to Scotland.

The subtle grey ticking stripes pick up the blues in the new throw pillow and bring just enough pattern to the bedding without being overwhelming.  I also like the combination of the stripes on the throw pillow and the shams.

While I was changing out the shams I decided to swap the throw blanket for a fur one I already had.  It makes the space cozy while we’re still in the grasp of winter.  I also moved the vintage crock from the corner by the closet to the other side to balance out the space a bit more, which allowed me to center the bed on the wall.  I added one of the cute little faux trees I picked up after Christmas to fill the corner and add a bit of greenery.

I still need to refinish the dresser, faux shiplap the wall and find art for above the bed.   I tested out the tobacco baskets I planned to relocate here and wasn’t loving them so I’m now thinking about getting one of the big vintage window shapes from Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia line.  But that’s not in the budget right now.  After our recent overnight earthquake I know it has to be something light weight in case it did get shaken off in future quakes so our guests stay safe!  I’d love to hear ideas you might have.

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A Quick & Easy Spray Paint Makeover for Desk Accessories

Since I’m transitioning into a new role at work, someone had to take over my old position.  Luckily we had someone within the department who was interested and ready for a change, plus she already knows how we operate and the history of many projects.  She’s had to share a desk at every job she’s ever had so having her own desk in this new position is a big deal for her.  I decided to really make it special with a few fun accessories she can use to set up her own space.  I picked up a cute mouse pad and some note pads at Target for a few dollars and then found this inspirational free printable online to continue the pink theme.  I asked a friend to pick up a simple IKEA frame on her trip down south for the holidays and printed the artwork to fit.

While these couple of pieces were nice, I wished I could buy her a whole new set of accessories to really make her desk snazzy, but that just wasn’t in my monthly budget after the holidays.  Then inspiration struck – I remembered I had a can of gold spray paint at home and because I made my own DIY paper clip jar for my new desk I didn’t need the metal mesh clip cup I’d used at my old desk.  So I decided to give spray painting it a try since it worked so well on my desk caddy organizer at home.

It worked pretty well and coordinated with the mouse pad’s gold dots.  That’s when I knew I was on to something.  I took the business card holder and tape dispenser home over the weekend to give them the same makeover.

The card holder was pretty simple, but the tape dispenser needed a good cleaning along the little groove and a bit of taping off so the tooth part where you tear the tape didn’t get painted.  Now both look like the fancy desk accessories you buy new at the stores, rather than the boring bankers black they used to be.

Finally I painted an IKEA metal bucket I had on hand for a pen cup to complete the set.  I had run out of spray paint at that point and had to buy another can, which wasn’t an exact match to the first but it all still works together.

When I presented her with the spread she was very surprised and loved the whole set.  She officially starts the new position next month and is excited to get her space set up with her new bling.  It was a simple way to give her an extra little bit of motivation for the challenges she will encounter as she learns her new duties and it didn’t ‘break the bank’! 😉

New Job, New Desk and New DIY Decor

In my post last week I mentioned that 2018 started with a big change for me at work.  I’ve been promoted to a new position within the same department and as part of that transition I got to move to a bigger desk.  I had decorated a bit at my old desk, but the space was awkward and limited so I didn’t do much beyond organizing my office supplies.  The new desk has much more room and is a bit more private so I had a lot more to work with.

Here’s how the space looked just before I moved over.  It was a total blank slate.  And here’s how it looks now!

It’s still a cubicle, but it’s cozy.  And since I spend a big chunk of time here every week I’m glad that it makes me comfortable and reflects my style.  Things started with a plan to organize my office supplies.  I’d picked up some pieces from the Joanna Gaines spring line at Target, but they ended up not working out for what I wanted.  So I went the old DIY route.  I had this little metal caddy for a while.  I picked it up from the Target dollar zone probably 2 summers ago for use out on the deck, but it never left the cabinet since it came home so it needed a new purpose.  It was just the right size and layout to store my note pads, pens and markers.  But I wasn’t crazy about the color in this space when I tested it out with my other supplies.

So I did what any good DIYer does, I broke out the spray paint for another desk caddy revamp.  My first thought was white, and I had a can of chalk paint in the garage.  I taped off the handle to protect it and got to spraying.  It took several coats to cover the teal color and once it did, I wasn’t loving it.

So I dug in the paint cabinet again and found black.  It’s my new go-to farmhouse style color and I figured it would work well with the frames I already had at my previous desk.  There were a few spots that crackled or bubbled since the first coats were a chalk paint but in good farmhouse style it adds to the character.  Here it is finished and all loaded up.

I did keep the fun shaped paper clips from Hearth and Hand because having goat shaped paperclips is just awesome.  I had originally planned to have them in the small dish you saw above, but it was too small and they spilled out easily.  So I decided to DIY another solution.  I pulled an old small canning jar out of the cabinet – oddly the same cabinet the caddy had been stored in – and since I’d used up all the black on the caddy I painted the ring top with ORB so it coordinates.  Now it’s the perfect way to store all my cutie paper clips.

There was a little cubby area in the back corner of the desk which lent it self to being the perfect spot for all my supplies.  Here’s how I originally set it up.

I decided to move the paper clip jar over by my business cards so it was more visually balanced and turn my little Scotch doggie tape dispenser toward the caddy.  This just felt better so I kept it this way.

I had this fun cast iron card holder from my craft show booths and since it doesn’t get use most of the year I decided to bring it in to the office so I can see it every day.  I think it was originally meant to hold bars of soap but it’s the perfect size for business cards.

I snagged a letter board on EBay for $20 with shipping and put that off to the side near the phone as you saw above.  I plan to share inspirational messages each week to help motivate our team.  I flanked the board with an IKEA plant I already had and the seasonal winter bird decor I’d gotten for each of the desks in the office back at Christmas.

I placed the lamp from my old desk in the other corner behind the monitors.  I already had the verse print from our trip to Hawaii when we visited a friend’s shop there, but I found a nice frame for it and placed the books I’m reading for professional development next to it.

If you’re wondering what’s on the other side of that big white area behind the monitors, it’s this pretty mural of a local mountain range.  It’s a nice piece of art to enjoy every time I walk toward my desk.

Above the back corner was a little shelf, where I display my awards and a faux succulent from my previous desk.  I hung my version of van Gogh’s Starry Night (my fave painting) that I did at a paint night event a while back on the back wall for a bit of color.  I also traded out the heavy wood inbox tray for the black wire one I’d brought in for my old desk, since it coordinated better with my other black accents and reduced the visual clutter a bit.

So here’s my home away from home during the week.  It’s cozy and welcoming, but still professional.  My coworkers have enjoyed seeing the space come together and now look forward to the weekly inspiration on my little message board!

I also DIYed some items for the gal filling my old position, which I’ll share soon! 🙂

First Project of 2018

Hey everyone, the beginning of the year has been quite busy!  I had dental surgery on the 2nd that required a few days of recuperation and I was promoted at work to a new position that requires learning several new systems, but I still have to handle some things from my old position until it’s filled.  I took a little bit of time over the weekend to do a few small projects in between cleaning house and editing client photos.  Today I’m sharing the first of those with you – my new desk organizer caddy!

Here’s how this little cutie started out.  I spotted it at the thrift store well over a year ago and knew the simple design would work for some type of organizing in our house – especially when the price tag was only a couple of dollars!

I gave the whole piece a light sanding so the paint would adhere, and then used spray paint we had on hand.  Once it was dry I distressed the edges and sides to give it a bit of texture.  A quick coat of paint and it’s got tons of farmhouse style.  Even Mrs. Joanna Gaines would probably like this one. 🙂

Here is is in place and all loaded up.  I put note pads in the back slot and divided up my pens and markers into to of the front sections, while the third hold the other miscellaneous items I like to keep on hand.

Every time I look at it now, I think “That was so simple.  Why didn’t I do this sooner?”  Truth be told I had to live with it for a while to make sure it would work in this spot plus decide what color I wanted it to be and then life just got busy with other priorities.  Luckily I had other spray painting to do so it was the perfect time to get this one done.

The best part of it all is that this little upgrade didn’t cost me a cent!  Since I already had the caddy, spray paint and sand paper all on hand the only cost was my time.  That’s a great way to start off DIY in 2018.  Here’s to hoping all my projects this year go this easy and have as great of a result!

Merry Christmas on the Porch!

As promised in my last post, I’m sharing the festive decorations on our porch today!  I’m really enjoying styling the little vintage cart we picked up at the junk show in Washington for each season.

It’s just the right size for this little awkward corner on our porch and is the perfect start to each season’s look.  Luckily it’s also well protected in this spot so I don’t have to worry about it too much.

For Christmas, I continued our winter theme with frosty trees, white lanterns, a Christmas sign I picked up at the Alaska Chick’s Market, Rusty the reindeer and a larger tree that I DIY’ed to fit in the crock we picked up on the same trip we got the cart.

I added the antique sled I’ve had for a while to the corner of the set-up.  I may still add a bow or wreath to the sled, but if not it looks nice just as it is.  It had that thick paint job when I found it, so I may strip it down to see what lies beneath one day.

If you’re wondering how I made the tree in the crock, here’s a little behind-the-scenes.  It’s a tomato cage wrapped in garlands and a strand of lights.  I didn’t do a step-by-step for this project since I’ve seen them all over the web and it was so simple that I did it while watching a movie with the Hubs! (Hence the crappy cell phone pics! But at least I got it done before Christmas!)  Just tie the three stake feet at the bottom together to form the point of the top of the tree and start wrapping the garland from there toward the bottom – or what used to be the top when it was used as a tomato cage.

I can say having twine or wire handy to tie off the end and beginning of each garland so they stay in place, and to buy more garland than you think  you’ll need.  This one took four 12′ garlands and I still didn’t make it all the way to the bottom of the cage.

I think it turned out quite pretty and the extra part of the cage at the bottom was perfect to anchor it into the crock so that it’s very stable.  I may be making more of these next year to add trees in the bedrooms!  Have you made a tree from a tomato cage?  If so, I’d love to see it for inspiration for next year’s decorating! 🙂

Our Simple Christmas Decor

I’m still tinkering with my Christmas decorations, but since the big day is just around the corner, I thought I’d share what I’ve done so far.  I’ve migrated to a more “winter” look than full-on Christmas so things can stay up well into January without feeling out-dated.  That’s handy since winter in Alaska can last well into the months that most classify as “spring”.   I also find that my style is much more simple than it used to be, perhaps that’s an influence of our recent trip to Iceland where they have a very minimal Scandinavian look, or maybe it’s just a lack of time to create so much detail.

Things start out on the front porch, but I’ll share that in another post later this week.  Today we’ll start in the entry way where Red and Flint are the first of my reindeer herd to welcome guests.

Around the corner Gus hangs out above Brinley’s kennel where my cute storage bench used to be.  It was a victim of her teething stage and so now the kennel lives in it’s place.  Ahh the sacrifices we make for children….

Just past the entry the media cabinet in the family room became a bottle brush Christmas tree farm just like last year.  I’ve added the lighted houses in the pedestal cloches, a few more trees and this cute little red truck, which used to be an ornament.

The mantel has a frosted garland and trees.  All of the trees except the two twig ones light up and create a pretty glow in the evenings – or pretty much most of the day since this is winter in Alaska!

I found the light up bottle brush trees at Joann Fabrics this year and am very pleased with them, especially since I got them for a great price with a sale and a coupon!  I’ll be watching to see if they have any in their after Christmas sales.  The two mercury glass trees came from a local vintage shop called Revive.  I’d been hunting for some all over town and had pretty much given up when I found them tucked away in a display at a great price.  If she’d had more I would have snatched them up too.  They also had hollow centers and access through the trunk section so I crammed a strand of fairy lights into both to give them a soft glow as well.  I may just add a strand of the same lights to the two twig trees so everything lights up!

Next to the mantel Sebastian has a view out the window next to his own tree.  Max moved out to the living room this year from the office where he’s been the past few years.  Now he is one window over from Sebastian.

On the couch I’ve got a couple new festive pillows.  I picked up the Ho Ho Ho and tree one from Target’s after Christmas sale last year, but had to ship them to my Mother-In-Law’s house because they wouldn’t ship to Alaska.  Good thing I was able to visit and pick them up earlier this year. 🙂  The red plaid pillows are from JoAnn Fabrics’ fall line.  Pay no attention to the coating of dog hair – that’s what I try to do…

The side table next to the couch got a touch of color with this little wreath and lantern.  I found the lantern at a garage sale earlier this year for just $2 and the wreath was another JoAnn’s sale find for around $5.  I love how they look together.  This is the only time of year I decorate with red, but I love the pop of color during the long winter months.

The tree is behind the couch, next to the nativity on the curio cabinet.  When we first moved in 4 years ago I had a hard time figuring out where to put the tree, but this spot has worked out perfectly and become the tradition in our house.  We have a new tree this year, after our tree of many years stopped lighting up in several sections last year.  It’s an after Christmas clearance deal, so it’s nothing special but it will work for a few years until I can save up and somehow justify the cost of my dream tree along with the vintage style candles for it.

The tree has a bit of Scottish flair after our trip this year.  We picked up a couple of ornaments while there to continue the tradition of growing our collection.  Unfortunately one of those new ones met an untimely fate when Luna and Brinley ganged up to attack the tree soon after it went up (repeat that phrase about things you do for your kids…).  You’ll notice there’s less ornaments on the lower sections of the tree for that exact reason! But our Harris Tweed highland cow and Scottie dog are still safe… for now anyways.

I had this sign for the nativity made last year after the holidays and really like it above the creche.  It’s the perfect compliment to the simple style of my beloved Willow Tree nativity set.

Over in the dining room, Moe found a new home this season on the scroll wall hanging where we put up the holiday cards we receive.  I really enjoy seeing him more often this year and think this will be his ‘usual’ spot going forward.

Next to Moe, this new addition came to us from WA where my wonderful Mother-In-Law went on a mission to find him at an antique shop I follow online.  Several ‘elves’ have made an appearance around our home this year and I think they are great care-takers for our herd.   I haven’t named him just yet, so if you have suggestions I’m all ears.  He reminds me of the Nordic elves we saw depicted in Iceland and even the Scottish Highlands so maybe I’ll do a theme using either of those cultures.

My dear, Milo ended up in the other windowsill, where he’s safe from the dogs.  I’d be pretty heartbroken if something ever happened to him.  His expression seems to say he knows how dangerous being closer to the floor could be in this house!

On the back wall of the dining room I hung my North Pole sign from last year under the windmill and decorated the top of the buffet with faux winter greens, antlers and gold tone votives.  I’d like to make some twig luminary trees to add to this set-up and since the look is “winter” rather than Christmas I’ve got time to do that even after the holiday.

The two votives in the front are new this year.  They were a fun little find at the Alaska Chicks Vintage Market a few weeks ago.  At just $2 each I thought they were a great price too!

The new mug rack also has a few more additions to it for the holidays after the Alaska Chicks show.

This “Merry” Rea Dunn mug was one of my favorite finds that day thanks to one of my favorite vendors, Rustique Designs.  She’s who I got the other Rea Dunn mugs from and who made the reindeer sign and nativity sign!

This sweet little fella was also part of my Mother-in-Law’s adventure to the antique shop.  Isn’t he just the cutest thing ever?  While he’s not quite “Christmasy” I just couldn’t not put him out right away after she made the effort to find him for me.  Plus the little sprig he’s holding kinda looks like holly and the red rim ties him in to the season – at least in my mind. 😉

There are also little touches of Christmas in the other rooms, including this little church in the laundry room.  It started out as an ornament, but I like it much better as a decor piece here after a few little modifications.

Below the shelf is another little elf with a reindeer buddy just his size to keep him company.  These two also started life as ornaments – I think I’m sensing a trend here.

The office window where Max used to sit is now home to the lovely Daphne who joined the herd last year.  She’s got her own little tree and some pretty votives to light up the dark.

Also in the office is this sweet little fox I found at the grocery store!  He was the last in the display and just begged to come home with me.  He’s looking quite dapper on the daybed, among all the pretty pillows.  He also needs a name so keep those suggestions coming!

In the hall bathroom another couple of ornaments turned decor add a little touch of the season to the existing decor.

In our bedroom are two pretty little reindeer my sister found for me last year.  They too started as ornaments, but now they hold their own on our nightstands so we have some holiday cheer at the end and beginning of each day.

In the guest room, there are some little Santas on the nightstands.  If you follow me on Instagram, these are the find I made at that lovely store I made it out of only spending $10!

The chair in the guest room also got a little update for the season with this simple pillow I found at Hobby Lobby during our recent trip down south.  I’m so glad they already had Christmas stuff out while I was there!

So that’s the tour of our Christmas decor.  I hope you liked it!  Stay tuned to see what I’ve done out on the porch, or get a sneak peek over on Instagram! 🙂

The Head That Wears the Crown

Right after our big trip I attended a workshop on how to make flower crowns with a well-known local artist & florist, Alaska KnitNat.  I’ve seen her work in many photographer’s images and it always looks stunning, so I was interested to learn a bit about how to create something similar for my styled shoots and special projects.  It was a “make & take” workshop I arranged to do a quick photo shoot for a friend a few hours after the workshop so we could use the crown and get some images of it, which is where the image above came from.  It’s a little different posing with a crown since it’s not something most people wear every day, but we had lots of fun with it.  Here’s the basics on how it went together.

The instructor had several flower options available to choose from and these little pink flowers, which I believe are was flowers immediately spoke to me.  I decided to use those and dusty miller that her landscaper friend had given her for experimenting along with some thistles (a nod to our recent trip to Scotland) and lavender.

The starting point is this coated florist wire.  It’s available at both JoAnn Fabrics & Micheals.  Using your own head as a measuring tool, wrap the wire around where you want it to sit and cut leaving 1-2″ extra on each end to create the tie in the back.

We opted to do a ribbon tie at this workshop because it was a bit prettier and allowed for different sizing if it was to be worn by different models.  The alternate is to leave excess room to weave or twist the two ends together.  To create attachment points for our ribbon ties we created a small loop on either end of the wire.

These loops were secured with floral tape wrapped around the wire.  From there, the pieces of ribbon were double-knotted through the ‘eye’ created by the tape on each side.   Now it’s time to start using the florals.

I got so engrossed in the creative process I apparently didn’t take any pictures of this stage, so I’ll try to describe it the best I can.  Using small sections of your selected florals (2-3 small stems or pieces arranged together), you begin to form the arrangement.  Tape the stems of each section down to the wire, working in one direction so each batch covers the stems of the previous batch.  Alternate the direction each batch points off the wire (right or left) in a cross-hatch style so that you keep things full and all the connections on the wire covered.  You also want to make sure your florals are all on the top side of the wire, so that the back side remains flat to sit against the head.

The process does take a bit of planning before you dive in since once each section goes down it’s nearly impossible to add to it because you layer each section with the sticky floral tape.  I forgot to include a thistle early on in the design of mine and had to work it back in trying to secure it without disturbing the other sections around it.  I made it work, but it wasn’t the best option.  I highly recommend just playing with a design or arrangement before you commit to the tape, or make a few practice crowns until you get it just the way you want.

I chose to make an asymmetric design rather than a full crown that goes all the way around the head, so I started my sections about a third of the way down my wire from the ribbon eye loop and stopped about a third of the distance to the other side’s ribbon tie.  If you were doing a full crown you would start closer to the eye loop and continue all the way down the wire.

Here’s me modeling the finished piece after the class.  The Dusty Miller really gave it a unique look and made it easy to transition from fall to winter.  One of the other participants in the class was a local cake maker I’ve met several times.  She also chose to do an asymmetric design with eucalyptus, lavender, thistle and statice.  It had a wonderful woodland fairy vibe and because of the flowers she chose the instructor was fairly certain she’d be able to let it air dry and keep it for years.

I enjoyed wearing my handiwork the rest of the day until my friend’s shoot, where we took turns wearing it.  I even wore it to do some shopping and got several compliments on it – although some didn’t even notice it since it was the same day as a big costume marathon in town!  Here’s one of my favorite shots with the crown from my friend’s session.  It certainly creates a whimsical look.  You can see the ribbon tie sticking out a bit in the back due to the angle.  I left it here so you could get a sense of where it tied, but I’ll probably photoshop it out in the final edit.

Because I also chose florals that kept well I was able to store it in the refrigerator and use it on a senior photo shoot the following week!  It had just started to snow and we were surrounded by evergreen trees rather than colorful leaves so it has a completely different look in this shoot.  I let the senior keep it after her shoot so she could enjoy it and feel like a princess for a few more days.

It was fun learning a new skill and I plan to put that knowledge to work for future sessions to spice up my portfolio.  Have you ever worn a flower crown or have a favorite ‘look’ that used one?  I’d love to see a picture of it for inspiration!  Alaska KnitNat also has a more in-depth, step-by-step tutorial with a video on how to create these crowns on her site, so be sure to check it out along with her other DIY tutorials for fun projects like a Modern Hoop wreath and even how to make grocery store flowers look like a professional floral arrangement!