Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dressed For Success

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! If you are like me, you are in a food coma after days of cookies, cakes, candy and more cookies. We had a wonderful first Christmas as a married couple, getting the chance to celebrate with both sides of the family. And we finally got our first snow here in Chicago, appropriately on December 25. Now it can go ahead and not snow again until next winter and I'll be happy.

Now that my nieces are getting a little older, the holiday is that much more chaotic and fun - our family's present opening tradition which normally takes several hours and includes at least one dessert break, sped along this year with the 3 year old Ella "helping" everyone open their gifts. Seeing her enjoy her gifts was a delight - I'd like to share one of the ideas I put together for her that I hope she'll get use of this coming year and perhaps beyond!
She is getting to that age where fairies and princesses are pretty much the best things on the planet. Yes, the phase of pretend time and dress up has begun! I started looking online at some dress up trunk options, and - while cute - the "trunk" was usually a cardboard box and some of the choices seemed to get so-so reviews for quality.

We used a vintage suitcase in our wedding as the card box. When its original owner did not want it back I considered what we would do with it. With the idea of building a dress up trunk growing in my mind over the last couple months, the solution was right in front of me. I always remembered my sister opening an old doll-sized suitcase filled with mini clothes and a note asking her to take care of her new doll that was placed under the Christmas tree. There is something sweet about a little girl with a vintage suitcase, and - will you look at that - I happened to have one collecting dust!
I started by going to a thrift store up the street and perusing the aisles for anything that caught my eye. I left with a gold coin purse, a small pink handbag, a sparkly ruffle skirt, a white fringy top and the most adorable furry white shoulder wrap that attaches under the neck with velcro.

Stopping at Target on the way home added a few more items: 2 pairs of footless tights, in white and hot pink, a sequin-covered purple scarf, a trio of glittered belts in case some of my sizing was off and a Tinkerbell costume from the toy aisle.

As I started putting the outfits together, three personas started to stand out: Rock Star, Fairy Princess and Movie Star. One of my friends had to name "Movie Star" for me - the only thing i could think in my head was "Sophisticated Lady" which somehow did not seem quite right.

I bought a pack of colorful headbands and added some flair with a hot glue gun, feathers and fabric flowers from the craft store. I also threw in a long strand of pearls - perfect for a Movie Star - and then had to stop myself before I went too crazy with accessories (sunglasses, hats, bracelets, oh my!). 
A late in the game trip to Marshall's found another fairy costume in my cart and the Perfect  "little black dress" for the Movie Star outfit. I had a little bit of room in the suitcase yet...adding a tiara from Michaels seemed only fitting. I stacked the three outfits side by side and hung the decorated headbands with a little help from mini clothespins. Bob helped me make three note cards specifying the outfits.
When she got around to opening this gift, we helped Ella unlatch the suitcase and her face went from confusion to sheer happiness as she pulled out the top fairy costume. 
It was on in a matter of seconds, along with the string of pearls, hot pink tights and the blue flowery headband.
Next up was the movie star dress. I bought 4T or bigger of everything so that they aren't grown out of right away. Everything is just a little bit stretchy, perfect for playing dress up with friends.
Try as I might to put it on her, she wasn't into the shoulder wrap just then, so my photo op for the moment was lost. I stole a chance the next morning at dressing up 1 year old Amelia instead. Humiliating Aunt in progress.
By that time, Ella had switched to the Tinkerbell and Tiara costume. We established the rock star skirt was a little too big, so I'm glad to have picked up the belts!
I have to admit, I almost ordered little doctor and chef costumes and a couple other Melissa & Doug outfits from Amazon, but wanted to create a more personalized trunk by finding clothes on my own. Candidly, the store bought fairy costumes were my fail safe in case none of the other clothes fit her or tickled her fancy!

What else might one add to a dress up trunk? Maybe Ella will get an "expansion pack" for her birthday next year.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Chairs Have the Floor

Some exciting times at the house. Our dining room table and 2 armchairs arrived within a day of each other! We ordered both waaaay back in September and have been patiently waiting as our Appsgiving Party and hosted Thanksgiving passed us by.

First up, the table. Oh, the table. We first spied "Big Irony" during a modern design store inspiration day (written about here) at a store called Orange Skin. Although the idea of us being able to afford anything in these stores, or at least justify the purchase of an investment piece at this time in our lives, was a stretch we were pleasantly surprised to learn of the reasonable price tag attached to the phosphatized sheet metal table that caught our eye.

We hemmed and hawed over the last 12 months. Yes, 12 months of talking about "our table" and brainstorming chair choices and how big a table would be too big. We finally made the decision after our wedding to treat ourselves and put in the order for the 74". This table can fit 6 comfortably with another 2 on the ends. If we really squeeze I could probably get 10 for a dinner party. It is in a temporary spot for now, as our tree holds court in our living/dining area. We plan on moving it out more towards the middle and perhaps one day adding a buffet against the wall.
And those dining room chairs mentioned above? Well, that's a work in progress. We have visions of hot pink leather chairs to lend a pop of color to the sleek black metal of the table. Easier wished than found, as it were. We are still on the hunt.

A quick close up of our holiday centerpiece...
On to the armchairs. The Tux Chair from Crate & Barrel has been on my Pinterest board since last fall. We originally were drawn to this striped fabric for the color scheme that matched our library (purples, light blues and grays). .
Time passed and the next time we found ourselves in the furniture floor of C&B, we shifted gears just a bit. The Tux Chair was still the way to go - defined arms, not overly large, simple legs - but the houndstooth pattern in gray was our new love. We ordered the pair and sat by the phone waiting for the order to come in. The chairs keep my homemade shag rug in place (learn all about making the rug).
The new bar is fully stocked and recently a few pieces of art were added above it including a Roy Lichtenstein print (Alka-Seltzer), a framed enlargement of one of Bob's shots in Egypt and a pencil drawing of a London street inherited from relatives.
Eventually, I would love for a small occasional table to be added to the mix, but I worry about filling up the space too much.
The chairs face a currently festive fireplace and with a throw added to the mix is now one of the most inviting places in the house!
 So a warm welcome to our newest additions, we have had you in mind for over a year and I must say it feels pretty good to see you in place.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pinterest Project: Three Trees

This pin was just the pinspiration I needed to do something with a threesome of chunky black candlesticks that got shoved in the closet awhile back while adding to the holiday decor.
Instead of buying a cone shape from Michaels, I picked up a few sheets of poster board and created my own.
I considered buying fabric to cover the cones, but then remembered my "eventually going to happen" plan of making pillows out of sweater fabric.

A few bucks at the thrift store later and I was back home with a fuzzy green sweater and two white knits. Armed with some happy scissors and a hot glue gun, the fabric was shaped around the cones and glued in place.
I didn't permanently attach the cones to the candlesticks so that they can easily be switched out. I am thinking I should have made the cones a little larger, to cover more of the candlesticks, as opposed to looking like triangles on top of posts.
When I was at the thrift store I also found a set of "Be My Valentine" kids' pajamas that I might try out for the next holiday. As you know from my Every Holiday Blocks, I love a multifunctional holiday display!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pinterest Project: Mirror, Mirror

The Little Pinterest Projects continue for the holidays!

When I saw this instruction, I finally found a use for the pack of mini mirrors I bought at Michaels awhile back. If I remember correctly, I had some mixed media mod podge dreams but couldn't quite find a fit for the little mirrors.
Lining a string of four or five with hot glued-on fishing line, and adding a hook to the top, I had four extra ornaments to hang strategically on the tree to maximize the twinkle lights.
Hard to capture a good photo of this, but it really does make a difference and doubles the shine!
Here's a full shot of our tree. We are on the hunt for a new topper this year. My tall Target-bought ornamental top never seems to fit correctly, always swaying dangerously to one side. Any ideas are welcome - I don't see us being Angel people, so maybe a classy star will find us this season.

Another tip that has been shared in a previous holiday post is to hang the lights vertically. This makes their placement a bit more random, and also allows you to save on strands that would otherwise be hidden against the back of the wall.
For the last few years, our Christmas tree has not come from a tree farm up north, but rather a lot in downtown Chicago. We sauntered into the same lot we bought our pumpkins from this past fall and came out a mere 10 minutes later with a pretty sweet 10-footer. Not exactly the same as trolling the farm and breaking out the chainsaw, but definitely a time saver.
Who else is enjoying the smell of fresh pine in their house?