Sunday, July 28, 2013

Summer Break

As the end of July nears and the final weeks of summer vacation are just around the corner, I've decided to take a break from blogging. The truth is that with 3 kids home all day, everyday keeping up with blog posts has become too stressful. 
What "the boys" do when left unattended.
I want to spend these last weeks of summer making memories…there will be plenty of time once school starts for decorating projects. I've got several family posts to share over the coming weeks in efforts to document all our goings & doings; but for now I'm holding off on the decorating posts. 
Thank you, my tiny pool of followers, for understanding. 


Thursday, July 25, 2013

PicMonkey Tools & Family Photos

The family room makeover is coming along. I sat down last night to pour though thousands of photos and whittle down a few to display in the new space. I'm sure it comes as no shock that I turned to picmonkey to take my average photos to the next level.

Here is a quick preview of the various overlays and editing tools I used.
Polaroid Film Filter

Eye Brightener.. Airbrush for stray hairs (ok and the fine lines around my eyes), Black & White overlay

Time Machine Filter

 Color Boost Filter with Black & White on top

Color Boost effect on Bowtie

Eye Brightener, Faded Black & White Overlay 

Eye Brightener

 Eye Brightener & Intrepid Overlay

Now I just need to narrow these down to my favorites. I usually order prints at Costco, but I think I'm going to use Mpix this time around. Any other suggestions for professional grade photo printing?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

JJB's 35th Jamboree

Hubby's party was a smashing success. So much so that I hardly took any pictures and didn't even grab one of me with my sweetie. We were simply having too much fun celebrating with our family and dearest friends.

When it came to planning the party, I kept the "theme" to a minimal. I selected a navy & white color scheme and used personal touches like Hubby's monogram & the number 35.

Personalized cocktail napkins & guest towels in navy & white for the evening.

All the party printables I designed in picmonkey. I am in love with that site and all the wonderful resources they offer for FREE! I bit the bullet and upgraded to the primer membership for $36.00 and now have all of their fonts & graphics (along with stellar photo editing) at my disposal.

We had a self serve bar stocked with all the fixings needed for guests to start the night off right. Party goers sipped on margaritas, mojitos, vodka & gin tonics, and my favorite feature of the night the French-75. If you've never had one, you simply must indulge at your next soiree. They are delish!

Bartenders for the evening…Theo N & Thea L.

When it came to the 20+ kids, they enjoyed their own bar featuring pictures of Hubby as a child.

For hors d'oeuvres we served all of Hubby's favorites: YiaYia Terry's famous tiropita (cheese pies wrapped in filo), shrimp cocktail, an overflowing antipasti tray, cheese plate, homemade guacamole (thanks Theo N & Thea L), and crab stuffed mushrooms. I have a serious problem with judging food…I always fear that we will run out and pretty much prep 2x what is needed. As a result, we could have moved directly to cake after appetizers.

For dinner we offered our guests the chance to concoct their own gourmet burger. Guested chose from 9 different sauces, three types of buns, 4 different cheeses, and topping including sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, bacon, jalapenos, banana peppers, roasted red peppers, lettuce & tomatoes.

YiaYia made a pine nut & goat cheese pasta salad and a broccoli salad which we served alongside the burgers. The burger bar was a home run! My mouth is still watering for another brie, garlic aioli, sauteed mushroom & caramelized onion burger on a pretzel roll!

Thankfully we had a beautiful day so the kids burned off  their energy while the adults dined al fresco & enjoyed selections from the cigar bar.

Eventually we made way to the dessert buffet & sang "Happy Birthday" to Hubby. Our favorite bakery was closed for vacation so Hubby's resigned to blowing the candles out on a Costco cake…still quite yummy. The littlest guests were tickled pink to enjoy a full stocked ice-cream sundae & float station.

My sweet besties H & B helped me clean up the kitchen before we parked ourselves in the living room. Eventually each of our Hubbies, along with Hubby's cousin & his doll of a girlfriend, joined us and we
spent the rest of the night talking & laughing.

While the adults chatted the night away, the kiddies enjoyed having a "late over" in the basement. We finally called it quits at 1:20 am.

I would say it was a wonderful way to usher in Hubby's 35th year!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Toile de ikea

Last week the kiddies & I ventured to Ikea. While we perusing the aisles, I stumbled upon these lovelies for the family room couch.

And the best part of all, they were a ridiculous steal at only $5.00 a piece. I couldn't even sew my own for that price. Layered on the couch they give just the right touch of blue. I also found plain white covers at $3.00 a piece to use for my fretwork application.

At this price point, I could replace the covers every month if need be and still come out ahead! And with three little ones in the house, I sometimes feel like that is a realistic scenario.

Anyone else had luck with an unlikely Ikea find? For such a modern store, I would never expect to find toile pillow there.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Happy 35th Hubby!!!

Happy Birthday Hubby! Today we all were a little slow going, seeing as last night's festivities lasted until the week hours of the morning. We spent an easy going day opening gifts.

Hanging out at Dave & Busters.

 And finally hosting another mini-soiree & "Happy Birthday" rendition.

 The kiddies are all in bed, house is almost all back in order & now it is time to grab a glass of wine & enjoy a night on the couch hanging out with the B-day boy. Happy 35th Hubby!!!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Whitewash Tutorial

Whitewashing, or in my case greige-washing, is actually quite simple. In fact, I'm quite certain I could have employed Belle & Peanut to do the job if it wasn't for the fact that the family room carpet is white & I wish to keep it that way.  What I'm trying to get at is that the project is a no-brainer…shockingly time consuming, but simple minded. So let's get to the details.

First thing I did was run over the brick with a dry dust cloth to remove any loose mortar/ cobwebs/  superfluous stuff that might have taken up residency on the brick.

Next I mixed up the "paint". Traditional white wash is equal parts white paint and water. I knew that I wanted a more subtle gray tone for the brick so my mixture was 1/4 BM Pashmina, 1/4 BM Dove White & 1/2 part water.

I mixed it all in an empty gallon paint container and then carried the container with me as I tackled the project.

Here is how I went about applying the mixture. I worked in sections starting with the sides of the fireplace first (to hone my skills in a less noticeable spot). I painted a large section of grout lines first and then when back & filled in the face of each brick.

When my brush ran out of paint, I would grab a dry paper towel and dab the freshly painted bricks allowing as much brick to show through as desired.

That is it folks. Repeat about a million and one times & you're finished.

A couple of tips:

  • Baby wipes do a great job of removing dry paint build up from bricks if you find you accidentally applied too much paint in an area.
  • Magic Erasers will remove all the dried paint from a brick if you need to start fresh.
  • If you find your whitewash medium is beginning to resemble paint, add more water. 
  • If whitewashing a fireplace, once you are done the inside of your hearth will appear filthy…be prepared to clean that as well. 

So there you have it, my DIY step-by-step guide for ridding your home of ugly brick. (Click here to see more fireplace before & after shots and here to tour the updated family room in its entirety.). If you use the tutorial please leave me a message or drop me a line. Nothing makes my day more than to know I've inspired others to make their space reflective of themselves. Plus, I'm nosy and love to see the inside of other people's homes..thank God for blogs or else I'd be watching endless episodes of House Hunters!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Party Prep & Tips

I am up to my eye balls in party planning for this Saturday's big affair ; Hubby's 35th. Thanks to the caterer backing out at the last minute I am now handling the entire event on my own. Luckily I have plenty of help and a very resourceful sister-in-law who came up with the perfect entree solution.

For now, I'm busy prepping the party decor, setting up various bars & buffets, & shopping for an endless amount of food.

Given the size of our family it isn't unusual to have 60-80 people over for a birthday bash.  Throughout the years I've been able to refine my prepping. Here are a few of my top tips:

  • Set up your space early. This way you can tweak to find the perfect mix of form & function.
  • Label all your serveware. When you do this it helps prevent forgotten items both on your buffet & from the grocery store. 
  • Order is important. You don't want to clean your whole house and then start all your baking. I tend to use a week long plan to prep larger parties, tackling a different job each day.
    • Day 1: Layout buffets & bars
    • Day 2: Shop for paper goods & non perishables
    • Day 3: Bake/Cook
    • Day 4: Clean
    • Day 5: Shop for perishables 
    • Day 6: Prepare free food items & floral

So today is day 2 and I'm off to scout the town for my never ending list of supplies. Given my full schedule this week, I'll only be posting the fireplace tutorial as promised. Hopefully I'll be back next week with reports of a successful party.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


This little guy's latest obsession is horses. He affectionately refers to them as "Neigh-Neighs". Luckily we have a 23 stall stable & riding fields a few miles from the house. The barn and surrounding 780 acres were the summer home of the 1939 Kentucky Derby winner.

The littles spent the better part of an hour meandering around the barn get up close and personal with the horses. We then walked a few trails and played under the shade of some of the grandest trees I've ever seen.

When we loaded up to leave Bear actually broke into tears (which I promptly attempted to photograph) for his beloved Neigh-Neighs.

 The next day our scheduled plans fell through so we ventured back with Hubby in tow. The skies were crystal blue and the temperature ideal. It was the perfect summer day and the horses were out to pasture. Bear was in heaven taking in every graze and gander.

While we were there Belle and Peanut tried their hand at photography. Bear shot this family pic with my iPhone.

And Belle snapped these photos of me with two of my favorite guys.

Aww summer how I love you.