3.11.2011

DIY French Memo Board

Rivaling the basket liner for fun projects I did in preparation for Kim's shower, I made this great French memo board. Of course, these have become easy to find in all sorts of stores, but I wanted to do one in the same fabric as the baby's nursery bedding.

I started with a simple picture frame that my mom had in her basement which she bought for 50 cents in a yard sale (the tag was still on it).  Hubby took on the job of spray painting the frame pink which is a story unto itself but the short form is that it had gold leaf on it at some point under some old paint and stain so it had to be stripped with a heat gun before it could be primed... a second time. Good thing hubby is such a good sport!

For my part, I started preparing the memo board part by cutting a piece of foam board to fit the frame, leaving a small gap around the sides to accommodate the fabric wrapped around the board.  

  
 I then laid some basic batting on the table and cut it to fit the board leaving a few inches around the sides.
 
 I then glued it down tightly with small strips of hot glue. I then did the same with the fabric and glued it all down. For the corners, trim out a small square from the corner and the fabric will lay flatter.
I added the strips of ribbon across the board and pulled them tightly. I didn't think the glue was going to necessarily hold the ribbon so I added some staples through the back.

Finally, Hubby attached it to the foam board into the frame with staples (sorry, forgot the pics on this part). He added a picture hanger at the top.

I think it came out so well -


I hope they'll be able to use it for keepsakes, cards, pictures, and other mementos of their little girl's life.

3.10.2011

DIY Fabric Basket Liner

Earlier this week, I shared a bunch of details about my friend Kim's baby shower. Today and tomorrow I'll do two tutorials on the projects I did to add to the shower decor. Today is the basket liner and tomorrow is the matching French memo board.  I may also share the wreath details this weekend or early next week.

At 10 p.m. on Friday night before the shower started in approximately 14 hours, I decided that I was not happy with the draped lining in the basket I had prepared for guests to put books in for the baby (which we asked people to bring in the invitation). So, I got familiar with this old lady again.

Although this is not my first sewing project, it has been about 5 years since I pulled out the old sewing machine. The last thing I sewed was a slipcover for the nursery chair in my daughter's room. She's about to turn 5!

But, I knew I was not going to be happy with the other options and the only thing that was going to get it done for me was a tailored basket liner. I used the same fabric that Kim chose for her nursery bedding - "Over the Moon" by Covington.  I was able to order two yards from Online Fabric Store, and it sure came in handy several times!
OnlineFabricStore.com

Here's a very quick tutorial with not too many pictures because I was pressed for time. The whole project took just over an hour but the results were great! It actually inspired me to use my sewing machine more so I have a few projects in mind.

I started by laying the fabric out on the table, and cut the 5 pieces - 4 sides and the bottom. I left about 2-3" around each side. I did not use a straight edge but just eye-balled it.

I started by sewing the sides to the bottom. I was careful to make sure the fabric was pointing in the same direction - upright all around the inside of the basket. Although I didn't snap any pics, everything was done with the liner inside out.
 After sewing both sides, I sewed the front and back to the bottom panel. Then the more difficult part of sewing up the sides to the front and back. I stuck the whole thing in the basket and roughly pinned as close as possible to the inside corner of the basket - just 2 pins on each of the four corners. Then I pulled it out, straightened the pins and added a few more on each corner. I sewed one side to the front and back first, then put it back in the basket and adjusted the pins on the other side. I then sewed one more side, and then measured in the basket one last time and made some final adjustments to ensure a tailored fit.

I then turned the liner right side out and stuck it in the basket. I first trimmed the extra on the outside - leaving about 5 inches around the entire thing.
Finally, I folded the extra underneath, making sure it was relatively even all around the basket. I put a few pins in to hold it while I pulled it off the basket and whipped it around the sewing machine.

Then 1 hour later, I had this!
I love this look and I hope they find lots of uses for this over the years!

As a reminder, here is how it looked in the book corner at the shower -
Any sewing projects on your agenda?

3.09.2011

Can Lamps Procreate?

A short break from the baby shower talk, to discuss a hot topic in our house - Can lamps mate and create more lamps? Hubby is convinced that the lamps in our house are procreating. Every day it seems like another appears - or at least that's what he thinks. I have bought some new lamps lately but mostly I am just moving things around. At most of your suggestions, I moved one of the lamps from my bedroom dresser to the console table in the living room. Here's a picture from the baby shower where you can see the new set-up Just FYI, the chairs are from the dining room but I don't hate them here which got me thinking.
A few of the lamps are new from a recent Home Goods adventure. I was not planning on buying lamps but I had been looking for a great lamp for Jim's new dresser so I cruised through the lamp section.  First I found this great guy. 
It's reminiscent of a lamp that I thought about buying almost a year ago (more about that here), but this one is even better and I love the pleated shade on this one.  Bonus is that it's wood so that when the kids knock it off the table, it will survive. 

You may also have noticed that the glass table that was previously in the living room, is now in the family room. Here it was in the living room, but I felt there were too many round tables next to each other.
I decided to stick with the rectangular nesting tables in the living room, but I was so happy to have a great place for the little round table.
Do you have any procreating accessories in your house?

3.08.2011

French Themed Baby Shower: Decor

I wanted to share some of the decor and theme details from the baby shower I co-hosted last weekend at my house. At the outset, I want to mention that I really like to use decor items that are reusable by either the honoree or by me, and I like to use things that I already have on hand as much as possible.

For this shower, Kim, the mom-to-be LOVES all things French which made for a surprisingly easy theme for a baby girl shower. One of her favorite childrens' books is Madeline. For me, a theme starts with the invitation. This toile invitation from Tiny Prints was absolutely perfect.

Tiny Prints
We asked each guest to bring an unwrapped children's book on a separate piece of paper enclosed with each invitation. When the guests got to the shower, we directed them to leave their gifts on the gift table and then take their books to the counter where we had book plates (Madeline themed!) that I designed and printed on large labels, and pens waiting for everyone.





Here's a sample of the book label I created -

Of course, I borrowed some book-themed stuffed dolls and animals from my childrens' large stash to decorate the area. The basket is from HomeGoods but I made the basket liner (more on that later this week) with the same fabric - "Over the Moon" (white) by Covington - as Kim chose for her custom nursery bedding.
BabyBedding.com
Before people got in the door, they knew they were at the right house when they saw the wreath on the door.

Complete with pink silk roses and cream and pink toile ribbon.  I'll give a quick how-to on this super easy wreath later this week. I definitely got my crafty on for this shower!

Once everyone was inside, they went into the kitchen where we had drinks set up on the island. For some reason, I don't have a picture of the island with the glasses all set up. Everyone had a wine glass with a name label tied on with a small pink ribbon. I printed the labels on white card stock, punched a hole in each, and tied it on with the skinny satin ribbon you often find in the dollar bin at the craft and fabric stores.

Sorry that this is the best picture I have but you get the idea. We carried the French theme along with the help of little Eiffel Tower next to everyone's name.

I love this for showers and small parties because everyone only uses one glass and it also doubles as a name tag!

I decorated both mantels with pink and French themed stuff that I collected. Here's the living room which includes Kim's Eiffel Tower. Kim usually notices EVERYTHING that is out of place in her house but somehow in the shuffle of moving furniture to prepare for the baby, she didn't know that I "borrowed" this with the help of her hubby (and loyal HOUSEography reader - Hi Buck!).

Then the family room mantel which includes the "clothesline" for the finished onesies that the guests created. Simple things like tying ribbon around the existing candles I already had.
I also made a diaper cake which was part of her gift. These are super easy to make with limitless opportunities for variations and creativity.

A quick diaper cake tutorial (skip to the next paragraph if you are never planning to make one of these!). I started by cutting a circle out of cardboard (using a round platter as a template) and wrapping it in some leftover baby wrapping paper. Next, with a lot of help from my mom who was visiting, we rolled and tied each diaper tight with piece of white curling gift ribbon.  You can use a cake pan to hold the diapers together in a circular cake shape.  You can also make a more modern square shaped cake. I just balanced them on the table and then tied the ribbon around it. Then I made the rest of the layers. I stacked them on top of each other, and then stuck a small dowel down between the layers so they wouldn't easily slide off.  To give you an idea, this cake was about 2 feet high and it took about 110 diapers to make. I topped the whole thing with a cute pink bunny lovey, and added two pink flowers just for a little something extra.

I also decorated both the dining room and kitchen chandeliers. I kept the theme the same but changed them up a bit. As you can see, I hung baby socks from both chandeliers, but I used different socks and different bows in both rooms.

  
In the kitchen, I used the socks again (Mary Jane socks this time) and a cute, fun bow on each of the arms that did not have a sock and one at the bottom. The onesie decorating area was set up on the kitchen table.
 
 
 

On the dining room table, I used a strip of the same fabric as a faux runner down the middle of the table. I didn't sew it but just folded it over and ironed a crease. It added a little something extra to the table and looked great with the rose pink tablecloth.

Finally, I made this French memo board using a 50 cent yard sale frame (thanks Mom), which I'll show you how to make later in the week. I gave the board to Kim and Buck for the baby's room. I figure they can keep some keepsakes and pictures on it and it's relatively small so they should be able to find a spot for it inside the closet door at least!



For the shower, I hung it in the dining room and put pictures of Kim as a baby, and a few of her with her mom as a baby.

So, along with several arrangements of fresh flowers from a local florist provided by Kim's mom and cousin, that was the basic decor in the house. I think it turned out beautifully if I do say so myself and I think Kim really enjoyed everything. It's so wonderful to give a shower to friends who really notice and appreciate the small details.

Any great baby or bridal shower themes to share?

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3.07.2011

French Themed Baby Shower: Game Plan

I co-hosted a baby shower this weekend for one of my best friends, Kim. We had about 25 people at my house on Saturday. I think a real test of a good entertaining house is whether it can stand up to a bridal or baby shower. These events are intimate, so the space needs to be cozy, but they can also be large so there needs to be quite a bit of seating, unlike cocktail parties where I limit seating to only the largest pieces of furniture. I have hosted at least 5 showers at my house over the years so I feel like I have a good general plan but I customize and tweak the details for the specific honoree.

Here is my general plan, and then I'll tell you how I tweaked it to suit Kim perfectly, in my opinion.

Timing - I really enjoy a brunch shower starting at around 11 a.m. and finishes 2 1/2 to 3 hours later.  No one wants to spend 4-5 hours at a baby shower if you can help it. Remember that people are often late so things really won't get started for 30 minutes after your start time.  For the first 30 minutes, have drinks available for people to serve themselves while the hostesses greet arriving guests and get food ready to put on the table. I often have the honoree stand relatively close to the door since she knows the attendees better than anyone else. I like to be relatively close to her and direct people to where to put their coats and grab a drink.

I start directing people to eat about 30 minutes into the shower. I always do a buffet so people can go in waves. Those who arrived late can enjoy a drink for a few minutes before getting their food.

Everyone then eats, drinks, and mingles for 30-45 minutes. If there's a craft project (more on that later), I ask people to work on that while others finish their food. Once people are close to finished eating, we play a game or two. Followed quickly by dessert and coffee while the honoree opens her gifts. Hopefully everything is close to wrapping up by 1:45 if you started at 11, so most people are on their way by 2.


Food - Since I usually do brunch food, I'll focus on those options. I like to have one main breakfast casserole. I try not to do something too sweet (e.g., French toast casserole), so I generally do an egg, bread, cheese, and chicken sausage combo which is sinful but completely delicious (the basis for my recipe is here). There are usually plenty of other sweets so people need a bit more substance by late morning. I supplement the casserole with veggie quiche or frittatas (especially if we have more than 15 people), fancy green salad, fruit salad, and pastries (muffins, danish, scones, coffee cake, etc.). For an especially large group, you can add a spiral sliced ham and rolls, which we did for this past weekend's shower. If people volunteer to help, say YES and ask them to bring a specific food contribution. Ask the bakers to do muffins, scones, or coffeecake. Cooks will be happy to bring quiche or frittatas, and those less handy can handle salads, or anyone can order and pick something up ready made! I generally do the breakfast casserole in case someone can't come at the last minute, I always know we have our main dish.
As you can see above, I use real silverware and glass plates. The plates cost less than $1 each at Bed Bath & Beyond or can be found at any dollar store. I like the BBB version because I know I can always get more matching plates - or at least I hope I can! I actually had to pick up 8 more plates after we broke a couple last time around. I also use inexpensive wine glasses for drinks because it feels more special than the plastic cups. I generally run two loads through the dishwasher immediately following the shower and we're done! Overall a great investment because if you only use them a couple of times per year, you s

Of course we also have cake and/or cupcakes. Kim loves chocolate cake so her mom got her a chocolate cake but felt that we should have white cupcakes for those who don't like chocolate cake. This was an AMAZING cake so even non-chocolate lovers were drooling over each bite.
 How pretty is this?
Games -  I think games should be either very personal or quick and easy. My favorite game is one where there are about 10 questions which are answered by each of the mothers of the soon-to-be parents. For example - At what age did Kim take her first steps?  What was Kim's first word? If the mothers (grandmothers) are present, they can explain the responses. Often some hilarious stories come out and it's a great way to learn more about the parents. I also like the game where everyone has to measure the name of the celebrity with their recently born baby. Those with US Weekly subscriptions have a distinct advantage. One or two games maximum is plenty. Starbucks or Dunkin gift cards are all you need for prizes, although scratch-off lottery tickets are also fun.


Activity - Sometimes, we do an activity in addition to, or instead of, games. For baby showers, I often set up a onesie decorating table in the kitchen where people can decorate pre-washed onesies with stamps and fabric paint. The stamps make it easy for even the least crafty person to participate. The results are often adorable and very personal. Kim LOVES this activity so we had to do it, although it's not an ideal activity when you have more than 15-20 people because of the space it requires. An alternative is to set this up on a porch or deck if the weather cooperates. At a smaller shower, everyone will generally do one, but at a larger shower, maybe half or more might do it. 


Favors - I have two thoughts on shower favors which you may or may not agree with. First, unless you can eat it, there is no reason to send anything home with guests. Second, if you forgo favors entirely, make a donation to a charity that means something to the honoree and let people know using a small framed sign near the main door of the house. Most people really appreciate this gesture, and I don't know anyone who really goes to baby showers for the favors. I would rather know the money that would have been spent on favors went to a worthy cause than have a ceramic baby bassinet filled with potpourri.  Again, the favor (or lack thereof) can be personalized for the bride or mom-to-be. For this shower we did individually wrapped sugar cookies shaped like onesies and decorated in pink and green icing. So adorable.
Gifts - Although it's generally really fun to see what everyone got for the mom-to-be, this can sometimes really prolong a shower indefinitely. One way to help this is to serve coffee and cake while the gifts are being opened. Recruit a few helpers to help cut the cake and deliver it to the guests while they watch the gifts being opened. You can move the opening along by having one person hand the gifts to the mom-to-be (making sure they have their cards and all of the pieces together), while another person collects the discarded paper and takes the open gifts and puts them back in the bag or box they came from and piles them neatly to the side.  Finally, a third person should write down the name of the gift giver and the gift as the gifts are opened. The list will come in really handy for thank you notes.


Decor - Decor is my favorite topic, of course, and I'll give you some pointers on that tomorrow!


Hosted any showers recently?  Any good tips to pass along to others?  Any shower horror stories?