Why We Chose an Ikea Kitchen

So, let me tell you a little something about my neighbor.  She’s an architect.  A Hah-Vahd educated architect. And her house is AH. MA. ZING. Anyway, beyond being a great architect,  Lauren has been a great sounding board through this whole process. Though she probably rues the day when that bathroom flooded. Poor woman. Too much wine has been poured over this damn kitchen. I am sure at this point, she wishes for something a little stronger.

Anyway, because I’m a full on stalker, I invited myself over to Lauren’s house early and often while we waited out painters and other contractors when we first moved. When I first saw her great room and kitchen, I was floored. Totally something out of a magazine. I went through it all: Oh, I love your carrara marble. Oh, I love these handscraped wood floors!  I love the laquered cabinets! So modern and clean!  I felt like she and I would get along just fine. Especially when I noticed her fully stocked wine fridges. Yes, multiple. As I ogled and molested every surface available, imagine my surprise when she informed me her cabinets were Ikea. SOUL SISTER. I just about died on the spot.

So in the back of my mind, I always had an inkling we would go with Ikea cabinets during this renovation. However, due to our low ceilings and crazy layout issues, and since insurance covered replacing our custom cabinetry, we headed in that direction.

Until I realized that in this case, custom is not better. It’s just expensive as _____.

I wanted drawers, not cabinets. Open shelving. Frameless fronts. Pull outs. Soft-close drawers. Shelf dividers. A warranty. I wanted a custom look with my own ideas incorporated. Silly me.

What I got was a replacement for a 25 year old kitchen. Which means no drawers, but cabinets. And more cabinets. And incorrect placement of cabinets. The most basic framed door and drawer fronts available. 6 week lead times. And additional costs over and above our estimate. Crazy pants.

I do not recommend renovating a kitchen with two small kids. Moreover, I do not recommend extending that timeline to get “custom” cabinetry that doesn’t meet your needs or wants.

So back to Ikea we go.

Equipped with my measurements gleaned from my kitchen designer’s faulty plan, I simply plugged them into Ikea’s planning tool and started moving around cabinets and shelves until I got the plan I wanted. And even when I had that, I still played around. I had about 12 saved floor plans. Any configuration I could think of, I tried. So much fun. So much timesuck. Ikea kitchen planner surpassed Pinterest and Houzz as the biggest timewaster of my life.

ikea kitchen reno picmonkey

I was beyond thrilled that when I tallied up my loot, which included new appliances, I had saved us the equivalent of compact car. Beyond that, Ikea is running their kitchen sale until August 25th, so 20% off for meeeee! Cha ching.

True to my nature, I did a ton of research before and during the decision making process, right up until I hauled myself to Ikea and placed the order (which, even with my advanced planning, took 2 hours! Don’t underestimate the allure of an Ikea kitchen.)  In addition to the advice I received from Lauren and the staff at Ikea, who, and I can’t say this enough, were extremely knowledgeable and helpful and never once rolled their eyes at me (that I could see),  I found great advice from people who own Ikea kitchens in forums like GardenWeb and Ikeafans. Seriously, those people know their kitchens. Definitely consult those if you are looking for information.

Along the way, one of the things I learned was Ikea uses Blum drawer slides that offer the soft close feature, which are superior hardware compared to other RTA (ready to assemble) cabinets and usually an upgrade on most custom designed kitchens.  All those extras I wanted? Not a problem. Certainly Ikea is not charging me $300 for a shelf. Yes. A shelf.

I also found out that there are companies out there who make custom doors for Ikea cabinet frames, so if you aren’t all that keen on Ikea’s options, you can order from sources like Cabinetnow or Semihandmade Doors for fronts of your choice.  You can easily customize your cabinetry, or “hack” it, and there are lots of tutorials for basically any modification you might want to do (though this voids the warranty on the specific piece.) Ikea offers a 25 year warranty, too, though, as Lauren pointed out, “Who even likes their kitchen after 10 years?” (God, she just gets me.) Which brings me to my next point: Kase also likes the fact that the costs are low enough that when I decide I hate the fronts I chose in five years because they are “dated”, I can pick up new fronts for a fraction of the cost and instant facelift!

Though you can easily DIY the whole shabang like Lauren and her husband, Kase and I know our limits. We lack time and attention to detail.  And tools. Like a level. I hear that’s helpful. We are not architects or handy/ uber man/ engineers.  Also? You can hire people to do it, and we like to keep the economy robust (uh-huh.)  I did some quick Google research and also consulted Ikeafans.com and found a couple of companies who specialize in Ikea kitchen installations in our area.  We are happy with our decision as we need some custom elements that we just don’t have the skills for. All said and done, the quote for installation lined up to what our cabinets and appliances came out too, so it’s definitely an area you can save money in, if you have the time to DIY.

Anyway, if it’s good enough for Sarah Richardson, it’s definitely good enough for me. 🙂 I got a ton of design ideas from watching old episodes of “Sarah’s House” and “Sarah 101”- ideas like flanking your  cooktop with undercounter wall ovens, to achieve that open, airy look. Sarah often uses Ikea cabinetry and decor, mixing it with high end finishes to make it custom. And yes, I am on a first name basis with her. In my head, we are besties who travel to Ikea every weekend with an unlimited budget and no children.

Ikea for the win.


The Second Annual “Sisters are Doing it For Themselves” Challenge [Kraft Paper Box Advent Calendar]

Okay, so truth be told, I haven’t had as much time on my hands lately to peruse Pinterest and pin stuff I won’t ever do make eat cook wear buy. Sadsies. But! I’m not in as bad shape as I was last year at this time. Still. I want to tackle something holiday inspired on my Pinterest Board. Since Thanksgiving is already upon us, I’m just pretending it’s passed. That’s just too much pressure for this chick. I still have entire rooms with boxes in them that haven’t been touched. I just pretend they aren’t there. The power of denial is really something, let me tell you.

So for this year’s “Sisters are Doing It For Themselves” challenge, I’m focusing on Christmas. I didn’t really get to last year since we moved the week before the holiday. Sure, that didn’t stop me from buying a bunch of kitschy crap from Homegoods and plastering it all over the place, and buying a tree the day we moved in, but still: I never did an Advent Calendar. (I will wait for you all to stop screaming in terror.) I am all too aware that this makes me a Bad Mommy Blogger. I am pretty sure I read somewhere that there is a list and this item is on it. There isn’t? Oh well. I won’t be delinquent this year. Oh no. And since I pinned approximately 526 different options, I took my pick, ordered my supplies on Amazon and here I am, tackling this bAd-vent boy:


Oooh, pretty. I like how simple it is. And that if the mood strikes me again, I can re-use it year after year. I’m not making any promises, but you know I love me some brown paper packages during the Holidays.  Kraft Paper All The Things!!!

I changed it up a bit from the original inspiration. Instead of using a cork board and tacks, I decided to add magnets to the back of the boxes so I could use our fridge. To that end, I bought 24 kraft covered jewelry boxes (at 30 cents a piece), 250 self adhesive mini magnets (not the number I needed, but the amount they offered) and some Avery mailing labels. I broke out the Apple OpenOffice and wrote out a bunch of numbers, 1-24 (*not 25, like I originally thought, but yeah, I guess that makes sense.) I magnetized (using 4 mini magnets) and then labeled the boxes.  And I placed them on the fridge, like so:

I never said it was rocket science. I just wanted to get something done. Total project time: 20 minutes. That is about my limit at 8pm at night with Love It Or List It vying for my attention..

Since Colin is still pretty young and doesn’t understand the concept of anything but bribes and treats, I decided to go with small ornaments, some activity cards, like reading a Christmas Book, or helping to make eat Christmas cookies, and little “treats” like matchbox cars. Mostly small ornaments though, since he enjoys “helping” me so much, and we plan to put a fake tree in his playroom. His very own tree to decorate. He’s lucky it’s not a real tree: it’s never too early to learn how to sweep up pine needles. Really, he’s the perfect size for reaching under the tree. I’m pretty sure that was one of the reasons my parents had children. To water and clean up after the Christmas tree.  And do the dishes. And change the channel. But I’m dating myself.

So do you plan on making an Advent Calendar? Or are you old school? Pop open a cardboard window and eat a chocolate kinda old school. Mmmmm, chocolate…..

Project Naptime: [Chalkboard Train Table Top]

Guys, we’re still kicking here. And how. Our weekends have been consumed with unpacking boxes, getting rooms set up and safe for Colin, and cleaning up dust, dust and more dust. Our painter, who we will refer to as Eldin (from Murphy Brown), only finished last Thursday. I’ll just say I am glad I chose neutral colors, because we are never having the whole house painted again. EVER.

But anyway, sometimes when you just can’t scrub any more toilets or unpack any more boxes, you like to take on a simple project while your husband builds a toddler bed and said toddler is napping. Tackling a quick project is referred to around here as “Project Naptime”. I usually get about an hour and a half to two hours to myself per day. Well, every other day. Colin doesn’t like to nap on school days; too excited I guess. So these kinds of tasks stroke your ego and make you feel useful in those times you can’t remember your own phone number. You know what doesn’t? Your toddler napping for THREE AND A HALF HOURS when your husband is home. And then him joking around that if he had three hours a day to himself, he’d be really happy. Yeah, so would I. SO WOULD I.

Anyway, back to Project Naptime. Colin has a train table. He likes it. I hate it. It’s big and bulky and well, quite colorful. And with about 800 train pieces on it, it can be what I like to call, a hot mess. One side of the table top is a little scene of roads and landscape, etc. The other side? Is electric blue. I guess it’s the ocean? I don’t know. It’s very ugly. We don’t use that side. It’s pretty useless.

So I was thinking about how to neutralize the blue side of the train table top a little tiny bit while also making it something Colin wants to play with. we would still have use of the landscape side, but make the blue side a little more fun. I didn’t want to alter it permanently. I’m not that crazy. I don’t go around spray painting my kid’s toys so they match my decor. When you have a kid, you need to embrace the primary color wheel. It’s happening. Deal with it.

And then I discovered Chalkboard Contact Paper. And for $15 (two packages), I updated and improved the train table. It only took me about 30 minutes, which meant I had approximately 800 hours until Colin woke up. According to Kase, anyway. 😉

It’s a pretty straightforward project. I’ll let the Pics school you:


Chalkboard Contact Paper

Go slowly. Then use your husband’s work ID to work out the bubbles. I found going in a diagonal direction to work best.

Before and During (Kinda). This is obviously not the blue side. But that would have blinded you. You’re welcome.

And “season”. I don’t know if you need to season contact paper, but I did it just in case. Which is all to say, rub a bunch of chalk all over that bad boy.

Done. Let’s Play. You know, when you decide to wake up. In four hours.

So, tell me. Have you taken on any “Project Naptimes” lately? We are making excellent progress on the house, but it’s nice to tackle something quick and painless every now and then.

Double Happiness and Menu Cards

This weekend, we are heading back to the Dirty Jerz to celebrate my mom’s birthday. Her birthday is in July, but she celebrated a milestone birthday this year, so she gets a “do”. My siblings and I went back and forth with her as to whether she wanted a big party at my brother’s rooftop deck in midtown Manhattan or something more low key, and my mom, a woman clearly after my own heart, or maybe she created my heart?, anyway, she said she wanted to celebrate with only family at our local Chinese restaurant. And I died of happiness. Double happiness. Get it?!?

Since we are celebrating at a Chinese restaurant, and the food will be family style, I told my parents I would make up a menu card. That way, there wouldn’t be twenty Hannans all yelling over each other, “What’s this?” We can be a loud group. You may not know me personally, but I am loud. It’s genetic. I was born this way. Anyway, hopefully with this little card, we won’t get kicked out. Maybe.

So when Shannon was here last week, we left the boys with the boys and headed to a craft bloggers mecca- The Paper Source. Shannon bought some stuff, and I bought some stuff for the menus, because Shannon has great style and I can’t even pick out menu stuff without her input. If you had a professional party planner staying with you, you’d work it too.  Bottom line: we left poor. And then we went to Anthropologie where I decided to become poorer. You know how it is.

So on Saturday, Kase and I head to New Jersey, which means tonight, I make menu cards. As it happens, the next week happens to also include my dad’s birthday, my sister’s birthday, and a nephew’s birthday party. So there will be lots of celebrating. Lots of birthdays.  SO glad I’m off booze for the next 5 months. Super terrific. But I am super excited to spend time with family and see the little boys go nuts again. Hopefully, not in the restaurant. Can’t make any promises, though. Colin really loves his cousins, despite how the headlocks and general animosity may look. Appearances can be deceiving and all that.

First though, Kase and I have a pretty important appointment tomorrow here in Boston. Then after that is done, we can make our way down to New Jersey. With big smiles on our faces. Perhaps a crick in our necks. A little less money in our bank account, but double happiness splayed across our faces.

More on that later…..

Howdy, Neighbor!

Our new neighbors moved in while we were away in Nantucket. I remember when we moved in, our sweet 87 year old neighbor stopped by with gingerbread cookies as a way of introduction. It was such a sweet gesture, so I knew I wanted to do something similar for our new neighbors.

As any mom knows, a trip to the craft store, grocery store and a quick side trip to a Target or Wal Mart isn’t always possible, so I had to use what I had on hand. Luckily, I have a lot of crap just hanging around the house. Not as much as some other bloggers, but I’ve got some basics. Would I have preferred a burlap and twine accouterment? Sure. But I also appreciated not having to plop the kid into his car seat and take a 25 minute jaunt to pick up supplies.

I used a mason jar (I ordered a case of these just hoping I would find some craftastic use for them….and here we are), some Martha Stewart paper tape leftover and baker’s twine leftover from wrapping Christmas presents, and I repurposed a striped candy bag from Colin’s first birthday party.

I put together the mason jar with the candy bag and covered the top with the paper tape to provide a little contrast, layered some baker’s twine around the cap and added a little note:

And finally, I popped some Tollhouse Cookie break and bake into the oven and then loaded the jar with “homemade” cookies, Kate-style. 😉 In my humble opinion, Tollhouse is the best. And sure, I could bake it from scratch, but the ready made dough is quite tasty delicious, so why fix what’s not broken. Also, when I want cookies, I want them. YESTERDAY. I know you feel me on that.

I brought them over last night and got a chance to meet our sweet new neighbors. They really are lovely and I am happy to have introduced myself and Colin.

Have you ever welcomed new neighbors? Or is this becoming a thing of the past?  That would be a shame really. Everyone loves cookies, right?

The Low-Low Project

Have any of you been watching the show, “The High Low Project”  on HGTV?  I am obsessed.  I love how Sabrina Soto manages to create $40,000 rooms for a fraction of the cost. And of course, she uses tons of stuff from Target, West Elm and Ikea, so I can get down with that!

Around here, I like to call my house, The Low Low Project. I am a firm believer in the idea that if you have a child, there’s no real point in “investment pieces.” Also, I’m just not allowed to have nice stuff. It’s along the same lines as why I don’t gamble. I’m a sore loser. Similarly, if I were to own something expensive and it were ruined, I would kill myself. First, I would kill the person who ruined it. But then, I would kill myself.  And let’s face it: that is not the healthiest of attitudes. So, Ikea it is.

But. BUT. Have you seen this Ikea hack?  Have you?!?


 That is a $70 black metal bookcase from Ikea. $70! They spray painted it gold. Geniuses. As you know, I love me some Ikea paired with antique brass spray paint. Hello, lover.

We certainly don’t need anymore bookcases around this joint, but there is something I have always wanted. Something that will make me a real grownup.

A bar.

Yup. I want decanters and highballs and all that crap. I want to basically live in an episode of Mad Men, so this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

We’ll start with the Ikea Vittsjo laptop table. It’s a mere $39, people. I mean, how can you *not* hack it for that price? Which we will do by taking our tried and true Krylon spray paint in Gold Leaf and spraying that sucker down to resemble a gold leafed console table. And then top it all off with some accessories and we’ve got a bar. Place it under our Ikea Grundtal mirror which we also spray painted and we’ve got an insta-bar. Sweet!

Now, I just need to turn Kase into an alcoholic so he understands how badly we *need* this.

Brass Monkey, er, Mirror

So I’ve been on the hunt to incorporate more metals and textures throughout the house. I love how layered it can make a room look, and how the lived in look it can create for a home.

I love the look of antiqued gold, and after purchasing some starburst mirrors for the living room, I decided that I needed to weave in the color throughout the house if I could. But let me tell you something. It’s very hard to find clean lines paired with a gold leaf at a good price. Especially when it comes to mirrors.

I’ve always loved the Ikea Grundtal mirror– it’s a round stainless steel mirror you can find in the bathroom section. Yup. The bathroom section. It’s bare bones, minimalist chic. And more importantly, it’s cheap. $39 to be exact.

The important thing is it has the clean lines and shape I was looking for. The only issue was it was steel. Nothing a little spray paint can’t fix.

This is the before:

I started by taping off the mirror, underneath the lip of the frame (this is important, because there is plenty of space between the lip of the frame and mirror).

Then I took newspaper and continued to tape off the mirror to protect it from the spray paint.

After lightly sanding the stainless steel with a fine grit paper (you can also use a steel wool pad, like a brillo pad), we primed the frame using Zinsser primer.

And then of course, it was time to spray paint- I used two small cans of Krylon Short Cuts in Gold.

Et Voila!

I decided to dress up the table a bit, since we are beginning to see the dining room as more than just a pass through now. Strange.

And I’ve got another idea up my sleeve for this space.  More tomorrow!

How Big is Colin? [Ruler Growth Chart Tutorial]

Last year around this time, Kase and I were about to put an offer in on a house. One of my main reasons for wanting to buy? I wanted to start tracking Colin’s growth in a home. I wanted to take out my handy pencil, stand him up straight against a door jamb, and memorialize his 31 inches.

Not a great reason to buy a house, sure. But it’s hard to explain. I wanted to feel rooted somewhere. And nothing says home quite like a wall with graffitied markings on it.

But then we moved. And then we moved again. And here we are, renting a less than perfect house. And still no wall on which to track my little dude’s growth. Sadsies.

And then came Pinterest. And then came this link.

For a mere $75, I could forgo buying a house and simply buy a large ruler to track my child’s growth. And then, when we inevitably move again, I can just pop it into the UHaul and take it with us. What brilliant genius thought of this?

The thing is, I don’t have $75 just lying around to buy oversized rulers, cute as they may be.

But then I got these cute vinyl number stickers in my Always Crafty Swag Bag, and my little brain idea light went off. I could make my own damn ruler. And a month later, that is just what I did.

You remember I went to Ikea last week. While I was there, I was actually able to amble around the superstore, taking my time for once *ahem, kaseandcolin, ahem* and after eating some delicious chocolate cake, I stumbled into the shelving section. And there I found this bad boy.

Sure, I could have gone to the hardware store and bought a piece of unfinished wood and stained it myself. BUT NO. I believe the word you are looking for is lazy. $19.99. Yes, please.

And then it sat on our dining room table for a few days. And then I went to the actual hardware store and bought a yardstick and some acrylic paint. I also bought a tiny little plastic paintbrush that I didn’t end up using, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I decided that I wanted to hang the ruler about a foot off the ground, so I began to measure my markings starting at 2 feet, and to make the intermittent markings, I measured about 1.5 inch gaps.

Then I took my freecals (free decals) and placed them like so, checking that I liked their placement before deciding on the length of each marking.

Eventually I decided to make the 1/4″ markings about 2 inches long, and the 1/2′ markings 3 inches long. The foot markings would be 6 inches long.

Then I went over each marking with my paint. Like I said, I decided against the paintbrush since it was a cheapie, and instead used a q-tip. Don’t judge.

I was happy with how that turned out, so I went on to apply the decals.

Peel off the backing, and then rub the decal onto the wood, like so. If you get your eyebrows waxed, it’s kind of like before they rip off the wax strip:

Slowly, very very very slowly, peel off the transfer paper:

And voila!  Homemade (read: Janky) Ruler Growth Chart.

Overall, this project cost $25 and a bit of patience and frustration for someone who is bad at math. But I did figure I saved about $50 (before shipping), so hey, I can’t be that bad at math. ($75-$25= $50. Right? Hold on, let me get my calculator.)

A DIY kinda weekend…..

I went to Ikea. I went to Michael’s. Add two and two and you get four people.

It’s gonna be a DIY kinda weekend.

I’m gonna (hopefully) cross something off of my Pinterest board, I’m gonna use some spray paint, I may cut up a leash, I’m gonna hang some stuff, and hopefully I’m gonna get started on fixing up the despot’s room.

I might even get to go back to Ikea. Keep your fingers crossed.

Happy Friday!

You can call me the Craft Ninja

As you may know, this past weekend, I hopped on a plane and headed to Pennsylvania to meet up with my (blog slash now real life) buddies for a crazy craftin’ bonanza, Always Crafty. My pals Shannon and Bethany are the friends you want to have throw you a “casual 31st birthday party” because they will go overboard and make it look like something you would see in Martha Stewart Weddings. And who doesn’t want a party that looks like it could be a wedding? They are insanely crafty with a fabulous eye and have an amazing way of styling simple items so that you think you walked into a magazine shoot. Two words: Lemon Swag. Huh?

Can you believe that? Shannon completely transformed her house into a photo shoot. With stripey straws! And swag bags! And BioDomes cloches!

I was surrounded by craft ninjas wielding chicken wire and hot glue guns and  pneumatic staplers. What else could I possibly do?  I crafted. It was all, “Craft hard or go home” so I rose to the challenge and became a craft fiend.  Which is not to be confused with crack fiend. Totally different. To my surprise, most of my crafts didn’t turn out at all janky.  If I was a person who knew how to sew, I am sure I would use my little sewing kit I made. Instead, I’ll probably just display it in the laundry room to give the illusion of domestic superiority. I’ll definitely be using my new monogrammed napkins. I may or may not already have a trip planned to the craft store to buy another J stamp and some fabric paint so I can monogram anything cotton or linen in my house. I’ll just be walking around stamping slipcovers and the like. Don’t mind me. There’s no controlling the craft ninja. Especially when it comes to monograms.

If you like what you see here, you can head over to Shannon’s blog where she is sharing tutorials this week of all the crafty goodness, not just the stuff I remembered to photograph. I can’t be blamed. I was busy craftin’.  And drinking Arnold Palmers. The adult kind. Out of stripey straws. And it was amazing.

Remember when we had a cat?

It's been real. Real Awful.

So remember when we had a cat? Well, we don’t anymore. Sorry about not telling you earlier, but I’ve been busy. Celebrating not having a cat anymore. Here’s the deal. Cats?  They stink. Literally. Whoever said they are clean never owned a dog. Cuz dogs? They do their business outside. They don’t do it indoors, in a bunch of litter, which they then track around your whole house so you can’t walk around without slippers on because you don’t vacuum enough. And why are they nocturnal? Seriously? They sleep all damn day and then as soon as you hit your REM cycle, they are all up in your grill, mewing, mewing, non-stop mewing, FOR FOOD. Cuz he only ate like a 1/2 pound of food already. Stupid dumb cats.

When I was very little, we owned a cat. It’s a well known fact my mother hated said cat. One of her peeves was that the cat was always tripping her on the stairs. When she tells this story, oh we laugh and laugh and laugh. That mom! So silly.

And then? I tripped over my cat while carrying my son downstairs. Twice. MotherFingBastardcat.

Bye Bye, Kitty Cat! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Kase’s lovely cousin took in the delinquent. And so far, so good. At least in my opinion.

I have what I think is the equivalent of PTSD [Cat Edition]. Because the other day I saw an ad for something cat related. And I began screaming at the TV, “Don’t make me go back there! I don’t want to go back! I can’t go back there!” That’s probably not normal behavior, screaming at the TV. I mean it is if you are watching a marathon, of say, Mob Wives or Teen Mom 2, but a cat product informercial? Save the talking to the TV for the important stuff, Kate.

Here’s another example. Remember when I shared this ingenious way of hiding your cat’s poop spot? Well, I was perusing the Target online home sale, and saw that the trunk I used was on sale. And I got all sweaty and started shaking a little. But then I realized. The trunk’s intended purpose isn’t necessarily for hiding cat shit. You don’t have to jigsaw a big hole in the side for your cat to climb in and out of.  It can be used to store things. Things that don’t smell. Like blankets or pillows. Things that don’t clump and need to be removed every day while you scream at your toddler, “NO! STAY AWAY! NO TOUCHING!”. So there you have it. Did I mention it’s on sale? If you are so inclined, you should buy it. For yourself,  your pillows, or for your cat. Haha, sucker.

Brown Paper Packages….

tied up with string…..and wahsi tape!

With 5 days till Christmas, it’s time to get to wrapping. And rapping, if you’re so inclined. I just happened to be doing that anyway.

Paper Source Kraft Paper, Paper Source Tags, Martha Stewart Baker’s Twine and Wahsi Tape

What little fun bit you can’t see is the wahsi tape in a candy cane stripe pattern holding the whole shebang together in the back. And the tags are pretty fun too. I loved the idea of matching the tag to the personality.  Wonder who’s getting the Naughty tag (coughKimcough? 😉

Have a very merry holiday!

Party Time! Excellent!

So here it is.  The first birthday party post. It’s taken me until today to work up the energy to write it up.  We had such a great weekend with family and friends, I’m sad it’s over. Two very special men in my life share a birthday (my brother Tim and of course, the despot), so there was lots of celebrating to be done!  I’m also in disbelief that the despot is actually ONE!  It’s almost as if Christmas is over- a lot of build up, and then- it’s over.  Saddies.

I decided on the theme “It’s Been a Banner Year”.  I took it from the amazing invitations we ordered through Katie Richards.  She was so great to work with and customized one of her shower invites for Colin’s birthday- even switching up the background color and wording, and working in the colors from the cupcake toppers I used.  I loved it:

*You can go ahead and show up there if you want to be stalker-y (who doesn’t?), but we don’t actually live there. Also, we won’t live anywhere even near there come Saturday. See, I’m sneaky like that.

I used the banner and dot images for the rest of the party- between signage leading guests to the roof, labels for the lunch boxes and my personal favorite detail, Colin’s note to his guests:

The note reads, “I’m too young to blow out my candles and make a wish, so would you please make a wish for me as I turn One?  You can even use my personal stationery!”  Next to the vintage typewriter (remember when we scored it here?), I placed a stack of notecards with Colin’s name on them. Naturally, I ordered my one year old stationery through Etsy seller Emily Rose Custom Design .  Aren’t the cards great? I love the ledger style. And the best part? You print them yourselves- so you have custom stationery for life, people. LIFE.  I’ve already placed the cards into his baby book. We did something similar at our wedding, and I love looking back to see what people wrote. I think it will be nice for Colin to have something similar.

Since we had Colin baptized right before the beginning of the party, I decided to keep things simple (ha!) and hire Luci Chalian to help me set up the roof while were at the church.  Luci did a great job putting together my vision but more than that, she did a great job keeping me sane. Plus she’s fun to hang out with wile making 25 chicken salad sandwiches. If you live in the Boston area and need party help, or any help at all with anything, Luci is your gal.

The main table was made up of bottled drinks, lemon water, a couple of the boxed lunches for the adults and as a special favor for the kidlets, I made up some lunches and placed them in these cute suitcase boxes- they look like miniature briefcases- with Colin sporting his bow-tie and carrying these around, he looked like he was off to work. Get that money, honey!  I put some bubbles into the cases for each kid and they got to take the whole kit and kaboodle home.

I also put out a little Ikea play rug for the kids and threw out a bunch of toy cars, planes, etc for the kids to play with.  It was a hit:

I made the labels for the Gable boxes-using shipping labels of all things!  Totally suggest this- they are a great size and print out easily from your own printer. And yes, I cheaped out and bought cupcakes. I would rather spend time with my family than bake cupcakes. Sue me. Love how the cupcake toppers really match the labels perfectly.

I think a good time was had by all. But a certain despot decided to be true to his name by the time the cake rolled around:

Full on meltdown. Ah well. What’re you gonna do? We put him to bed and kept the party going:

Thanks to all the friends and family who joined us for such a special day. You made it even better by being there.

Going to the Source

I stopped into one of my favorite stores the other day- Paper Source- in order to pick up some elements for somebody’s first birthday party invitations. I’ll get to those later, but in the meantime, I spotted these:

Sorry for the poor quality of this iphone photo. Apparently, the despot is not a fan of paper stores. He’ll learn it’s futile to resist.

Anyway, you all know how much I love a vintage inspired calendar, not only to use as a calendar, but also as wall art.  Remember this project?  Before the bird calendar, I used a $20 vintage travel ad calendar I got on sale for $10 and created about 10 different pieces of wall art using the cities which we had visited together, which I framed in gallery frames picked up from Michael’s and Ikea.  Then when we moved to our condo, we chose one that we liked best to display in our kitchen area.  You can *kind of* see it in the background here. Pretty ironic considering not even two years later, we were off to Boston:

These are on sale on the website for about $20 each.  Super affordable art if you are in the market. I personally love the botanicals (great for a dressing room or bathroom) and the vintage scooters (perfect for a bachelor pad- but not in a liquor ad kinda way). So get on over to the Paper Source and make some cheap art!