Friday, November 27, 2015

MIM232: A Fun Place Card Project!

Happy Black Friday, friends! Are you still feeling thankful? I know I am!

Today I wanted to show you a fun place card project that I made for our Thanksgiving table.

The Make It Monday challenge at PTI featured Dawn showing us all how to accomplish layered stamping using kraft card stock and white ink pads. And as you know from my previous post, I am now smitten with the Fresh Snow ink pad from Papertrey Ink.

I decided to make place cards using the lovely new stamp set, Phrases and Praises. I can tell already that this set is going to be in heavy rotation in my collection!

Here's how I made the base of my place card. I cut a strip of kraft card stock to 3 1/2 inches by seven inches, and folded over at 3 1/2. Then, I put the base, folded over, into my cutter and moved it to the center at 3 1/2 inches, where I carefully placed the cut from bottom up until just about one third of the way from the bottom, cutting through both layers.  This gave me a perfect midway point to eyeball. Then, using scissors, I just cut from one corner to that midway point through both layers, and then from the other corner to that midway point. And then you end up with a triangular section missing, thus forming the stand of the place card.

For the stamping on the place cards, I used the set Leaf Prints, first stamping each image in Fresh Snow, and then stamping over that spot again with a different color ink, only slightly off so that you can see the white shadow underneath. I think I used some berries from Twig Wreath stamp set to finish this off.

{Today's Brew: Leaf Prints stamp set (PTI), Phrases and Praises stamp set (PTI), Twig Wreath stamp set (PTI), PTI inks/dies/ card stock}

Before the meal began, I collected the place cards so that they wouldn't get messy from gravy drippings ( I have a house full of boys, remember?). And during the meal, I asked them "So who can remember what your place card said?"

"I know!" my son, John replied. "God's eyes are like sparrows!"

Bwa ha ha! Okay, close enough.

After the meal, I turned the place cards into this sweet banner to hang from the hutch in the dining room! I simply draped them over a length of twill ribbon, clipped them on, and voila! Something we can appreciate over the holidays. And who knows? Those place cards may make an appearance again for our Christmas meal together.

Sorry for the dark's a gray and gloomy day today, and the rains have washed all of the pretty snow away.

I hope your weekend is full of blessings, cafe friends!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

PTI Blog Hop November: Winter Wonderland

It's blog hop day at Papertrey Ink! Here is our amazing inspiration photo:

Don't you love this wintry combination?

I paired my new Winter Woods cover plate with an older PTI stamp set for a fresh and wintry Christmas card.

{Today's Brew: Peace Be Still stamp set and dies (PTI), Winter Woods cover plate (PTI), PTI inks and card stock, SU glitter paper and seam binding, snowflake rhinestone}

This was my first time using the PTI ink pad Fresh Snow, and oh my! I'm in love! It works so much better than other white inks! I love the results!

Our winter wonderland is starting to melt today, but here are a few photos from just a few days ago!

So beautiful!

Blessings on your day, cafe friends!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

In The Holiday Spirit

One day you are planting bulbs and mowing the lawn, and just a few days later you are walking in a winter wonderland. You've got to love the Midwest for its varied seasons!

Our first winter storm of the season brought us a foot of snow, transforming the world overnight into something magical.

We're definitely in the holiday spirit now! Good thing I have my Simple Stories Holiday planner to keep track of all the festivities.

November and December are always busy months for my family. My oldest son, Luke, works in the grocery business (Hello, holiday feasting!), and my husband works in corporate retail (Hello, Black Friday!). Add to that a few birthdays, band concerts, and church activities, and you have one full calendar spread. December will be extra exciting for our family...STAR WARS! My son, Luke, made sure that he purchased tickets for the entire family for opening night! Excited we are! (Sorry, that was a really bad Yoda.)

I used a few photo layout pages in my binder to hold the many postcards for upcoming events.

I also found these pages to be just the right size for holding washi tapes. This way, I can customize my pages without missing a beat.

I think I'll work on some Christmas cards today.

Blessings, cafe friends!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Simple Stories Holiday Planner

I got my first PML in the red cup this week! Peppermint Mocha Latte season has officially begun!

It seemed like the perfect time to pull out my Simple Stories Holiday Planner and get this party started.

In years past, I've been in the "let's keep Christmas very simple and austere" mood. Not this time! This year, I want to pack it full! There's a new house to decorate, and new shops and restaurants to try, with new towns and new holiday traditions.

I plan on lots of holiday baking and crafting, too. I'm even working on a family scrapbook filled with photos and memories of Christmas past. Card making, stitching, the works.

It's a good thing I ordered this planner way back in September, before I even knew I'd get bitten by the festive bug.

I was so happy to see that it even has a section for Advent!

Lots of pages to help me keep track of all those crafting projects and Pinterest ideas, as well as a section for Christmas cards.

Holiday baking, meal planning, calendars, and my personal shopping tracker. :)

Stop back tomorrow and I will show you my calendar pages...packed to the full!

Blessings on your Friday, cafe friends!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Red: The Secret To My Holiday Decorating

I'm going to let you in on the secret of my holiday decorating, and here it is:


What? Red isn't a secret? Well then, let me tell you my "red" strategy.

All through the year, when I am making purchases for household goods, I will try to pick up the red item whenever possible. Need new dish towels? Why not red? Need a new pattern of everyday Corelle dishes? Buy the pattern with the red stripe. Debating on which tole tray to buy at the antique mall? Pick the red one. Red looks great all year long, and it's a lovely pop of color if your house is filled with neutrals otherwise.

But here's the red secret: your everyday items become "Christmas" items, too.

Take, for example, this vintage Juice King juicer that was a gift from my mom. I love it! It stays in my kitchen all year long. But over the holidays, you can add a little ribbon and a sprig of greenery, and suddenly your vintage treasure becomes a holiday decor piece!

The best part? Your red items do not stay in storage for eleven months, waiting to get put on display for the holidays. Instead, you are using those lovely red items all year long. How practical is that? And here's another secret: red looks great for so many other times of the year, too. Valentine's Day, Independence Day, summer picnic season, spring tulip season.

I'm getting ready to paint my kitchen in a nice neutral called Accessible Beige. We've used it in other parts of the house, and I like it. But in my kitchen, I'll be pairing it with red accents for an extra wow! I think it will look great for the holiday season, too.

I found these spools of red plaid ribbon at the Target dollar spot. I know I will use these in my easy holiday decorating this year.

Today's card uses my red secret.

{Today's Brew: Folk Art Flurries (wplus9), dies (wplus9), vellum, ink and cardstock (PTI), glitter card stock (SU)}

I made this one for the Get Sketchy challenge at WPlus9. I used a vellum overlay panel to soften the red snowflakes a bit.

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

MIM 231: Motif Building

The weather forecast is predicting snow this weekend! SNOW! And not just a little for the greater Chicago area...some reports are guessing we could get 6 to 12 inches. Good thing I got those bulbs planted earlier in the week!

There was something about that little snowflake icon appearing on my phone's weather app that got my holiday planning kicked into high gear. 

I really want to pack the holiday full this year, and I don't know why. Perhaps it's because I am not working retail this Christmas. Or maybe it's because we're in a new house. For whatever reason, I have big plans for this Christmas. Advent celebrations. Cookie baking. Town festivities. Visiting my son in Indiana. Visiting my family in Michigan.

I am making Christmas cards this year, lots and lots of them. Here's a card I made for this week's Make It Monday challenge at Papertrey Ink!

{Today's Brew: Cup of Cheer stamp set and dies (PTI), PTI card stock and ink, PTI banner die, Stickles}

Do you remember the order that got sent to my old address in Pittsburgh? Good news! It got re-routed! And thankfully, it arrived last week. Woo hoo! I finally got to play with this new stamp set and the lovely new color, Vintage Jadeite. There are so many cute elements with this stamp set. And let's face it, I can never have enough coffee cups and tea my cupboards, and in my papercrafting.

Cold is coming! Warmest wishes, cafe friends!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Planting Hope

I'm taking advantage of the last beautiful days of autumn by planting spring bulbs. I like to think of it as planting a little hope. A bulb goes into the dark earth to die, and by the power of the spring rains and sunshine, it comes back to life again. Martin Luther said that "God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars." Hope. The hope of the resurrection.

The bulbs were half price this weekend at Home Depot. I'll just buy one or two, or two hundred. I can't be trusted in garden centers. Instead of "bigger eyes than stomach", I seem to have "bigger eyes than physical endurance to get the thing planted". Ugh. It was an Advil night last night, and it will probably be an Advil night again tonight. But when it comes to gardens, I'm a firm believer that more is more. I will push myself to get the job done today, making myself a little stiff and sore in the process.

Hello, glutes! It appears you are not just for sitting after all!


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Seven Mistakes to Avoid When Staging Your Home

My husband and I visited over thirty homes in the western suburbs of Chicago this spring in our search for the perfect house. Our realtor said she had not seen such a competitive housing market in many years. If the house was in great condition and priced right, it sold with multiple offers. If the house was in poor condition or overpriced, it sat on the market for quite a while. In the end, we settled for a not-so-perfect house at the lower end of our budget, knowing we could improve upon it and hopefully sell it at a profit when the time comes.

We've learned a lot about staging homes, both on the buying and the selling end of real estate. Here are a few things we've learned to avoid:

1.) Do not over-decorate your home in one style

This is where the Property Brothers really do get it wrong most of the time. While it makes good television to show a home in one thematic style, it makes for a terribly narrowed field of potential buyers. Maybe you love Rustic Modern decor, or perhaps you lean to Farmhouse Chic or Industrial Urban. But the chances of you finding that one person who also appreciates that style are pretty slim.

We walked into quite a few houses that were staged in one particular style. And don't get me wrong, it looked great in that house. I just could not picture my own furnishings in the house because of it. I recall one house that was totally decorated in Rustic Modern. My realtor thought that house would sell quickly because it was so "staged". But guess what? Last time I checked, that house was still on the market.

What are buyers looking for? They want it light and bright. They want to picture their family living in those spaces.

Keep it clean, keep it updated, and keep it pleasing to the eye. A few new throw pillows, a matching blanket, a new comforter. Little additions can go a long way. Make it warm and welcoming. Add in the cozy. Give it character.

2.) Do not become nose blind!

Have you seen the funny Febreeze commercials telling you that you've become nose blind? It's true, we may be accustomed to the smell of our five cats and three dogs, but we guarantee that a guest in your home will smell it right away. Get that house cleaned and aired out, professionally if necessary. Use room deodorizers and candles. Try to keep the fragrance smelling clean and not too overpowering or perfumey. I remember one house that we walked into, and immediately walked right back out of because of the overpowering smell of nursing home.

3.) Do not leave them guessing

Every room in your home should have a clear purpose. If a room is empty, stage it with furnishings to show what it can be used for.

In one of our homes, we had an empty bedroom adjacent to our master. With sons away to college, this room didn't have a purpose. We got the crib out of storage, added a hutch with a few baby items, and voila...instant nursery. And guess what? The new owners had a baby, and they recognized this small room as the perfect spot for their nursery, too.

Total cost= $0

4.) Do not overlook storage

Buyers have stuff to store, just like you. They want a house that looks as if it has ample room for their belongings, too. Do not forget to thin out your cupboards and closets and organize them with nice baskets and accessories. Keep your storage rooms neat and clean.

We passed up one house because there were no coat closets. Hello? This is the Midwest, not California! It gets cold here, and people need a lot of coats.

We passed up another house that had recently been renovated for flip because the flipper did not leave a single place in the basement for storage. He also forgot to add coat closets and linen closets. I really wanted to contact him and tell him that he needed to hire some women to help him design houses, but I refrained.

5.) Do not de-personalize to the extreme

If you have a huge wall mural of family photos and Glamour Shots (remember those? LOL), you probably want to take those down and swap it out with some nice artwork. But don't remove every piece of art, every book, or every knick knack. Thin them down, yes. But don't over clean. If it looks too impersonal, it will leave your house feeling cold and a little like a hotel, and who wants to live in a hotel?

6.) Do not highlight what your house does not have. Instead, show off what it does have!

 Our last house in Pittsburgh did not have a basement. Truly, it did not need one. We had a huge family room with real wood paneling, a fireplace, closets and bookcases for storage, and doors to close off the room from the rest of the house.

But a few realtors told us we'd have a hard time re-selling the home when the time came because we did not have a basement, only a basement garage.

They were wrong.

The basement garage was huge. It even had a separate room with HVAC and electric. We had used the room to store our garden tools and off season items. But when the time came to sell, I staged that room as a basement "Man Cave".

I purchased the colored totes, the blue indoor/outdoor rug, and the orange stool from Target. We used our wire shelves to store sports equipment, and set up the table as a work space, complete with mini fridge.

For less than $100, we transformed a storage room into a bright and colorful basement man cave!

7. Know when to stop staging and start living

This last one can be the hardest. If you are like me, and you've been dealing with home relocation for a few years, you can find yourself in a full-time staging mode. You've been living in showroom ready houses for so long that you forget what it's like to just relax your standards and rest. At some point, you have to unwind and do a little living in your house. Bring out the comfy quilts, hang the photos, pile up the books and magazines on the coffee table. You are home now, and it's probably safe to say that the editors of Better Homes and Gardens are not going to ring your doorbell tomorrow and ask to come in for a photo shoot.

Let the food pile up on the kitchen island. It's okay. That's not mess.

Understand that every house has a To Do List. They will get done...eventually. Thankfully, you do not live in a museum. Make the rooms work for your family. Eat popcorn on the couch. Put your feet up on the coffee table. Turn on the Hallmark holiday movie and relax. There will be plenty of time for painting rooms this winter.

There you have mistakes to avoid when staging your home. Tell me, have you encountered any of these? Any new ones to add to the list?