kelly's baby shower.

This weekend I hosted a baby shower for my friend, Kelly. She and her husband have an adorable daughter, Addison, and their little boy is due to join their family next month. She told me they're decorating the nursery with a animal theme, so I ran with that. Here are all the details.


The colors for the invitation (and the party decorations) were inspired by the Little Snowflake birthday party at The TomKat Studio (tons of party inspiration there!). The giraffe clip art is from Microsoft's collection - I just changed the color. After printing them, I punched holes in the top and added ribbon, then used my corner punch to round out the edges.


The banners (see below for #2) were super easy to make - I printed out the letters directly on cardstock (four letters per page), cut the paper, then punched holes to string them together. The animal cut-outs are wood pieces from Michaels - they were 29 cents a piece, and I just painted them in coordinating colors and drilled holes to add to the banners.

Guest Book and Favors

This is a super-simple idea I've used in the past - just paint a plain wooden frame, then provide a permanent marker (or paint pen) for guests to sign it. Kelly provided the sonogram picture.

The favors were cookie lollipops, made using ready-bake cookie dough. I just pushed a popsicle stick into each piece of dough, then baked them according to package directions. I set them in these super cute buckets from Target's dollar area.
(By the way, refinishing that dresser is #6 on my goals list).


Because I was scheduled to be out of town the two days prior to the shower, I wanted to keep food as simple as possible. I asked a few friends to bring something, then focused on easy or store-bought items. I made the cupcakes the night before I left and stored them in the refrigerator until the party. The m&ms are custom color ones from Michaels.

Originally, we set up the cupcakes and candy on the sideboard, but Heather suggested moving it to the center of the table so it would be visible when everyone first walked in the door.

curb appeal (my dilemma).

I mentioned last week that I was starting to dream about fixing up the outside of my house, particularly the curb appeal. I do have several ideas in mind - but right now I'm starting with collecting inspiration photos and pulling down ivy.

So, when I remembered that Amanda's Decorating Dilemmas party was coming up, I figured it was a perfect opportunity to post photos and ask for feedback. Plus, these parties are just fun - I haven't linked up myself before, but I love checking out everyone else's posts (and adding my two cents!).

So, this is the front of my house:

A close up of my front door:

And this is what it looked like when I bought it:

The flag left with the previous homeowners, and a few years ago, my friend-and-landscaper Robbie pulled out the old trees and added some new landscaping. Last summer, most of the gutters were taken down and the broken siding (not visible here) was fixed.

Now I'm ready to come up with a more involved plan. What would you do if this was your house, and you had free reign to change it up?

Since I'm just gathering ideas at this point (even though I do have some of my own), I'm open to any and all suggestions - but there are probably a few things I should mention (especially for anyone reading this who doesn't know me in real life):
  •  I really don't enjoy landscaping and gardening - AT ALL. Even when I'm not dealing with seasonal allergies (and I am - because it would have taken me weeks to pull down all that ivy on my own), I don't enjoy those things. I even pay someone else to mow my grass - and though I'm usually pretty thrifty, I'm perfectly happy to continue paying him to do the work.
  • I'm not afraid of DIY and trying to do things myself - but I am only one person, and I have a full-time job. And a lot of other commitments. I'm already prepared for this to be a multi-step, multi-month effort.
  • I'm cheap - and I'm saving for a trip to Africa this summer.
So - let me hear it! And if you have any inspiration photos, share those, too.

(And if you like giving advice - head on over to the party to find more dilemmas)!

old window turned message board.

Edited to add: I'm linking this up to The CSI Project for Frames, Art, and Wall Decor week:


I'm back home after what felt like a whirlwind weekend in Maryland for my sister Katie's wedding. And now that I've delivered the project I made for her birthday, I can finally post about it.

I was thinking about making some sort of memo board out of an old window, when I saw this message board project at The Feminist Housewife, and knew it was the perfect inspiration. This is the final result:

The corner panels are corkboard, the center panel is a chalkboard, and the remaining ones are magnetic. I used one of the 259 or so old windows in my garage, and removed the glass (the same way I did for my jewelry organizer). I also bought a few supplies I didn't have on hand:

an piece of plywood flooring (the cheapest I could find), cut down to size at Home Depot
magnetic primer
green spray paint (to go on top the magnetic primer)
chalkboard paint

(I actually did have some spray chalkboard paint on hand, but the quart-size, brush-on kind of chalkboard paint is a better value, and then I didn't need to worry about overspray).

I won't rehash the exact steps I took for this project, but there are a couple things I learned along the way.

First - it is absolutely essential that you stir magnetic primer. I'm generally lazy about paint and just kind of shake up for a few minutes before I open it. Normally that works well enough, but with magnetic primer, it doesn't. In this case, I painted two coats, added the spray paint, then realized way too late that the magnets weren't working. At all. So I started over, stirring it this time. Rather than the consistency of paint, it was very thick and goopy. The resulting finish wasn't nearly as smooth as I would have liked.

It would have been much easier to use thin cork tiles, but I was trying to use what I had. The corkboard was thick, and while it wasn't hard to cut, it was hard to cut cleanly. On the other hand, if you're using cork tiles, you would need to at least double them up.

Because I was using thick pieces, I decided to attach them to the frame itself rather than the backing board. I cut each piece to fit snugly into the panel, and added some hot glue to reinforce it a bit (knowing that once the backing board was attached, everything would stay together). This made it a lot easier to line everything up - the chalkboard panel was the only tricky part.

I also made up some simple and inexpensive magnets, using Mary Engelbreit scrapbooking chipboard from Michaels and magnet strips. I wrapped these up and gave them to Katie, with a note that said part two of her gift was too big to wrap.

Its hard to read them in the photo, but my favorite is the one at the bottom:

Every day is a once-in-a-lifetime day.

i hate ivy, part 2.

There's a very good reason that I pay someone to mow my yard - because after just 20 minutes of dealing with this...

...I'm sneezing almost constantly and my eyes won't stop watering.

But, I knew I had to deal with this ivy, and if that meant I was spending just a few minutes at a time, so be it. I figured it would take me about three weeks.

Until I walked outside yesterday afternoon to get started, and saw this:

Can you see it? Here's another view, from the other side, which is when I actually noticed it:

The gutter, that was just hanging on the wall, had fallen, knocking off the strap that kept the vent attached at the top. It also exposed this nice crack in the brick. Of course, I didn't even know what this thing was, but figured it probably wasn't good to have it like that, so I did was I usually do when I have a question about my house. I called Victor.

He was on his way out anyway, so he showed up a few minutes later and said we needed to get that reattached. He went back home to get his ladder and electric screwdriver, then came back 20 minutes with all of that, plus a chainsaw, machete, and lopper (which looks like this).

Which was a huge improvement over the tool I had been working with:

(image from the Home Depot) 

In a few minutes, he had cleared out every bush and tree except the azaleas, and then he climbed up on his ladder to pull the rest of the gutters off the house.

Within a couple of hours, the side of my house that used to look like this:

Now looks like this:

And this:

Looks like this:

And thanks to Victor and his power tools, it all happened much faster than I expected.

i hate ivy.

After living here for nearly four years, I finally have a mental picture of what I want the exterior of my house to look like:

(image from

I'm kidding.

I do have an idea, though, and it involves a lot of different projects - including some that may or may not be possible, and some that I will likely need to pay someone else to do. I am sure that I can't come up with any ideas where I actually like the pink brick. So, that needs to be painted.

And before that can happen, I need to deal with this:

Can you even tell from this picture what that is? Its the side of my house, covered in ivy and flanked in front by overgrown bushes and random little trees.

Here's another view of the same wall of the house, a bit closer to the front:

See that window there? That's the bathroom window. At this rate, it doesn't matter that its frosted, because no one is seeing anything through all that mess.

There's another window under there, too, to the guest room. And all that ivy can't be good for those gutters.

Clearly all of this stuff needs to come down. I really, really dislike landscaping work, especially now in the middle of allergy season. So I tried to be realistic about it. This is a necessary first step to anything that I want to do with the front of the house. Its something I can work on a little bit at a time - even fifteen minutes after I come home from work will make a big difference. It won't cost me anything.


Because in my first fifteen minute session, today in the limited time between coming home and heading out to Life group, I might have gotten a little overzealous.

That's the gutter that is now hanging off the house. And some of the siding along with it. So much for something that wouldn't cost me anything.

I called Victor, who is going to come look at it, but there's not much point in fixing it until I get the rest of the ivy down. Hopefully, I'll be back next week with radically different after photos.


I just registered my sister Kelli and myself for a short term missions trip to Gabon, Africa at the end of August. This, by the way, will help with goal #10.

We've been planning and talking about this for months now, but now that we're actually registered, and I've paid the non-refundable registration deposit, it feels more real, and I can't wait!

I remember this song from when I was a kid, and its been running through my head ever since. This is, of course, not reflective of the way I feel, because I am very excited about our trip.

Its still funny.