Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fall has Fell: Inside Decorations

The days are getting shorter, the weather cooler, and people in Chicago crabbier.  It was a sad moment when we noticed Summer had ended and Fall had arrived.  Thankfully (no pun intended), putting up the fall decorations helped mask the "I'm leaving work and it's getting dark outside" depression that we've been feeling lately. All we needed around here to cure our "Fall blues" was a little decorating change and a homemade apple tart (or two).  And since I brought it up, here are our favorite apple tarts you need to try immediately- Simplest Apple Tart and Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel. You're welcome.



Anyway, back to fall decorations.  You might be wondering why we decided to ignore the next major holiday and skip right to decorating for the Fall season. Neither of us are big Halloween fans. Don't get me wrong, we love handing out candy on Halloween and rarely turn down an opportunity to go to the bars dressed ridiculously, but ghosts, skeletons, and spider webs just haven't found a place in our hearts (or our house).  Not to mention, our fall decorations get to stay up from October to Christmas decoration time, it's a win win.

This was our first fall season with a mantle, so I spent many hours searching Pinterest for some new ideas.  I [along with every other person looking for fall decorating ideas] pinned this image:

Image found here

Beautiful. I love the white pumpkins.  The empty frames. The burlap pennants.  With this inspiration in mind, it was time to start shopping.

My first stop was Goodwill.  I picked up a bunch of empty frames ranging in price from $0.99-$4.99. I removed the glass and backs of all the frames (except for 1 that had a mirror which I decided to use for the "give" pennant).

After I had the frames, I searched the internet to figure out how to print on burlap. Thankfully, this "How to Print on Burlap - Redneck Style" tutorial worked perfectly*. I used the "redneck style" because it was the only internet tutorial I could find that called for supplies I already had.  I do have a few suggestions - add some double stick tape in between the burlap and cardstock.  This keeps the burlap from moving around so much while printing.  Also change your printing properties to a high quality print on heavier paper (I think I specified cardstock). 
*Reed would like me to mention that we are not quite sure if printing on burlap is good for your printer.  I don't think he was very happy that I decided to experiment with ours, but everything seems to be working just fine right now (knock on wood). 




I then cut the letters into little triangle pennants and glued them on to a piece of ribbon.  The ribbon is stapled into the back of the mirror.

Up next were the white pumpkins.  I couldn't figure out what to do for the letters so I ended up buying some cute brown sticker letters at Hobby Lobby [tip - download the Hobby Lobby app on your smartphone for an instant 40% coupon at checkout]. Talk about a quick, easy craft project.  I thought the stickers might need some hot glue reinforcement given the curviness of the pumpkins, but its been a few weeks and all of the letters are still sticking!  On second thought, if you don't want to risk breaking your printer, these stickers would be cute on the burlap pennant banner also...



And because the mantle was lacking those oh so beautiful fall colors, I added a $5.99 (plus 40% off) leaf garland from Hobby Lobby to finish it off. Ta Da!







Last year I made these "Fall" blocks out of scrap pieces of 2x4's- tutorial found here.  I actually printed the letters on cardstock and carefully cut them out (since we didn't have a vinyl maker to create the letters).


I also made my most favorite burlap bubble wreath last year - tutorial found here.  This wreath makes me so happy.


On to the dining room table. Since we rarely eat at this table, I took it upon myself to cover most of it with fall decorations.  The burlap table runner was another craft I made last year. I don't recall which tutorial I used, but I simply measured the table length and cut the burlap to size. No sewing required (thank goodness).  If you want some little fringy (is that a word?) ends, just pull a few strings of burlap out.


The rest of our fall decorations on the dining room table involve no crafting skills. Unless you count filling a glass hurricane with acorns and pumpkins. The tiny candles and berry garland were from Homegoods a few years ago.

So there you have it. The above decorations, plus a Harvest Yankee Candle, football games (and not as many Cardinals playoff games as Reed would have liked), plus some sort of crockpot dinner/apple baked dessert equal fall at the Panther house. Depressing moods due to the changing seasons are not welcome here.

P.S. We all know fall decorations wouldn't be complete without a little something to brighten up the front porch, so stay tuned in the next few days for a run down of the outside decs!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Office Update: Tips & Tricks for Baseboards and Trim

Although it has taken a little longer than expected; I can finally say that we have officially replaced all of the window/door trim and baseboards in our house!  It hasn't necessarily been the most enjoyable job in the world but after 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, and office, we feel like we're pretty much professionals (although I still can't say the word "caulk" with a straight face).  I won't bore you with all the details about painting, cutting, measuring, nailing, spackling, and caulking; but would like to share a few tips and tricks that we've learned along the way.

1.  We really like the clean look of white trim but we also chose to go that route because it is much more forgiving than naturally finished wood.  The precision of my cuts has improved with each room that we've completed; but they still aren't perfect.  To cover up those little imperfections, all you need is a little bit of wood filler, sand paper, caulk, and paint.




2.  Always paint the walls before you hang the baseboards.  That way you don't have to do any edging along the baseboards.  



3.  A lot of boards come in 8 foot lengths.  For longer walls, join the wood at 45 degree angles rather than 90 degree angles.  This will give you a less noticeable joint.  Also, try to locate these joints in less visible locations, i.e. behind furniture or curtains.


4.  Always caulk the tops of your baseboards.  It might not always be visible to the eye but each wall in your house will have some waviness to it (especially if it's 60+ years old).  As a result, you will be left with some narrow gaps between your baseboards and the wall.  To take care of this, just run a small bead of caulk along the top of your baseboards and smooth it out with your finger.  This can be a messy job but trust me; it's worth it.



5.  Mark the location of your wall studs on the floor before you start nailing anything (we've learned the hard way on this one too).

6.  The little details make all the difference.  For the pieces of trim under the window sill, I prefer to have finished edges (rather than just cutting them square).  I also like to trim around the floor vents.  These things take a little extra time and most people probably won't even notice them; but I like to think that if Mike Holmes came to our house, he would notice these things and say that we did it right (hopefully). 





7.  Lastly, unrelated to trim or baseboards, but equally (if not more) important... Don't paint your outlets the same color as your wall...


The office isn't done yet but we are moving along.  Here's where we stand on our checklist: 





  • Clear out room
  • Remove baseboards, window trim, and door trim,
  • Replace power outlets
  • Fill nail holes
  • Patch ceiling
  • Paint ceiling
  • Paint walls 
  • Hang new Baseboards
  • Hang new window / door trim
  • Fill hail holes (in the trim)
  • Paint trim
  • Caulk trim
  • Replace light fixture
  • Finish Desk (finally!)
  • Re-finish new (to us) desk chair - In Process!
  • Build shelving unit (more on that later)
  • Build closet storage (more on that too)
  • Convince Deanne to let me put a TV in this room