Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Merry SITSmas!

Join me in wishing a Merry SITSmas around the blogosphere - here is this year's card, I always make them myself - my boys wish everyone Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Alphabet Ornaments

As I promised in the previous post, here is my take on the Alphabet Ornaments from Ballard Designs.

I made mine with clear ornaments, off-white spray paint, black glittery letter stickers, and spray sealant. I wanted a rustic, matte finish on my ornaments, and I chose to do my family's initials in both upper and lowercase. I spent $5 on the letter stickers and a set of 5 clear ornaments, and I already had the spray paint and sealant in my craft box.

You can go a thousand different ways with this craft - instead of letters, you could do stickers of your child's favorite animal or cartoon character; I plan on doing an ornament with all elephants on it for my oldest, I think he'll like it. I also plan on making a set for my parents' house, with antique gold spray paint instead of the off-white.

I'd love to see what you do, so please share here if you make some ornaments!

Everywhere a little sign of the season

I am a firm believer (I'm also a Firm Believer, but that's for another blog) in spreading the festivity of the seasons to every room in the house. Who cares if no one will enter your bedroom? I still like pretty candles dressed up to match the season, and even my bathrooms get a bit of sprucing up.

My main bathroom has an absolutely hideous, banjo-shaped counter, that extends from the sink area to all the way over the toilet. I hate the thing because it's far from my aesthetic, but it does have its merits, and right now a major bathroom reno is not in the budget.

I felt a little bit of fall should be displayed, and the bright orange combined with my cheerful yellow walls makes the little bathroom glow with its own light.

And in 4 more days it's getting a new layer of Christmas goodness!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thou SHALL covet . . .

gorgeous things for your home, and I have to admit that I, too, have become addicted to the goodness that is Ballard Designs. But, their prices? Um, not so much.

Check these out:

Lovely, for sure but $69 is not something I have in my current "holiday decor" budget.

A quick visit to my local JoAnn's is sure to get me some ornamental gratification, which I will reveal next week ;D

Similarly, check out these gorgeous pillows from Pottery Barn Teen - aren't they awesome?

But at $29 to $39 for just the cover (not the pillow form inside) they are definitely out of my budgetary reach.

A more wallet-friendly, holiday-themed interpretation is coming your way next week - stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Festive Garland

Make this easy-to-craft garland with only a few items.

If you scrapbook or make greeting cards, chances are you will already have everything on hand.

Here is what you need. A couple of different sized punches, holiday-themed scrapbooking cardstock, illusion cord (or you could do it with ribbon), and glue, that's it!

Note: I use illusion nylon cord, not the stretchy kind.

Now, take your punches and cut out a bunch of different circles from scrapbook paper. I did a lot of holiday words and phrases, and then just the patterns from the paper. You could do other shapes, whatever you like, just make sure you end up with an even number of each size/shape.

Why an even number?

Because you are going to glue them in pairs.

Choose two circles of the same size, like these.

Leave about a foot off illusion wire free before you start.

Then take one of the circles (I do the pattern on the back so it doesn't really matter if it's straight) and, placing the cord through the center, apply a thin layer of glue.

Then cover with the other circle.

I do the word on this side so I can make sure the letters are aligned with the illusion cord.

Then you move on to the next one. At this point, I placed some weight on the pair I had finished so I could move on to the next one.

This is what the garland looks like after I've done a few pairs.

I alternated the big and small circles, but the next one I do (in red and green) I will do them more random.

Once your garland is the length you want, you leave about a foot of illusion cord free and cut it off.

To hang, you just tape it up wherever you want. I put mine up on a doorway, but you could also hang them in a child's room, or make two really long garlands and criss-cross them over the dining room table. In fact, I think that's what I am going to do with my red and green scrapbooking cardstock!

Enjoy this craft, share it, and if you like it, please comment - comments are love!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Very Kimba Christmas!

If you're even remotely familiar with the home and garden part of the blogosphere, you have surely heart of A Soft Place to Land. Kimba's voice is so welcoming and soothing, I make sure I check in on her blog at least once a week.

Now Kimba is releasing an e-book with five great holiday projects, go check it out!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shamelessly stolen from Just a Girl

One of my favorite home blogs is Just a Girl - I love Chris's crafts and sense of style, so when she shared a gorgeous "cone tree" craft for the holidays, I knew I had to steal it.

Chris's trees are beautiful and elegant:

When we went to pick out the yarn, however, my oldest quickly grabbed the Christmas green yarn they had at JoAnn's, you know, the green with the sparkly gold thread throughout - and then I found some little sparkly pompoms that would go great with the finished tree. We're all about the sparkle over here ;D

The how-to is super easy, you just start covering the foam tree with glue and wrap it in your yarn of choice. Then add whatever adornments you want, in our case we did little pompom ornaments and a little cluster for the topper, and here you have it, our beautiful cone tree!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thanksgiving garland, kid style!

It's a cold and windy November day chez nous, so we decided to brighten things up with a sparkly garland.

You'll need letter and fall-themed stickers - I found these leaf stickers on clearance, they have beads and sparkle on them, I loved them! And cardstock in fall colors, I chose dark yellow, brown, and green. Also, double-sided tape or glue dots, scissors, and a stapler.

Begin by placing your letter stickers - to spell Thanksgiving - on your lightest color cardstock. You will then cut squares with the letters on them, and mat them with a darker color cardstock.

Then take your green cardstock and cut out some thin arches, you will be placing your leaf stickers and your squares with the letters on these arches. I did 5 arches for my garland.

Place the leaf stickers and the letter squares on your green cardstock arches. I didn't like the green space between the letters so I added star stickers in the same fall colors.

Yes, we have a lot of stickers in this house. I didn't buy a thing to make this ;D

You should end up with your five arches looking like this. Leave a little bit of green cardstock showing at the ends of the arches with the leaf stickers on them.

Because then you will join them, placing the ends of the arches with letters on top of the arches with leaves.

I chose to staple mine . . .

And then placed a star sticker on top to cover up the staple.

The story of my life: use some sparkle to cover up the defects. It's a good philosophy that has worked well for me ;D

Then, hang up your Thanksgiving garland!

I stuck mine above the entrance to the playroom with double sided tape.

Not bad for an hour's work with my kids. My little one was more interested in doing his own thing, he took one of the green arches and spelled out MAWEEM, he was very proud of himself because he knew the letters :D

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Candlestick, take 1

Because I am sure I will be posting about more candlesticks I've dolled up, but let's start with this one. My lovely, colorful friend here began its new life as a ratty and scratched brass candlestick. I got it at Goodwill for $1.99 because I knew I could make it happy again.

Some glossy red spray paint was all it took to transform it into a rich, beautiful candlestick. I topped Red with a pretty autumn candle ring - because both colors are so saturated, neither orange nor red overpower the other. For the candle, I chose a pretty, sparkly white pillar, although an ivory pillar would work just as well.

And there you have it, a gorgeous fall accent!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lettuce, tomato and avocado salad

We have been enjoying our first batch of salads that are all from local produce - the lettuce and avocados from our backyard and the tomatoes that I got from a friend for some avocados. When you have good quality ingredients, such as homegrown veggies, you want to do the least possible to them when it comes to seasoning. I took some of my good extra virgin olive oil and some kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and that was it. The salad was very tasty and refreshing - if you have the chance to get local produce, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shopping local

No, I don't grow strawberries in my backyard (I wish!!!) but I do get gorgeous, sweet beauties like these from a local seller. He swings by every two or three weeks with flats full of perfect strawberries. The first couple of times he rang the doorbell I declined, but then I figured, he obviously is a regular in this area so I figured there was accountability. If the strawberries were crap I'd tell him off the next one. But they weren't. Not only they were NOT crap, they were all perfect. I am used to the ones from the store where you get a few good ones and then the bottom ones are all squished. Not these. I have bought every time since that first time and have yet to be disappointed.

My boys love them by the bowlful, I eat them plain or in smoothies, with a banana and/or yogurt, sweetened with honey, for a lovely and filling breakfast. I wanted to make strawberry shortcake, but the strawberries never lasted long enough for me to bake.

Support your local growers. Obviously be smart about it, I don't buy from the random truck that has "great leftover cuts of meat" that I've never seen before and will probably never see again, but if it's someone you see on a regular basis, or if there is a fruit stand nearby, check them out. I trust my strawberry guy and get a great deal on beautiful fruits, what could be better?

Friday, October 23, 2009

And on the other side of the pond . . .

After the sensation British First-Lady-to-be Samantha Cameron caused with her off-the-rack M&S dress (pictured left), the shop has been smart enough to come out with another print variation in the same style. Yes, I know that she didn't quite go to the store and plunk down the 65 pounds it cost, but still, the choice is brilliant. While Ms. Cameron does, undoubtedly, have a great figure, the dress is not only on-trend but also very flattering.

Not in boring black and white but rather in a rich slate gray with haphazardly placed white polka dots, with great shaping at the waist and hips, and with the deliciously retro detail at the neckline, this is a wonderful dress whether you are built on the curvy or straight side.

I am not too crazy about the new print, it is a little too "optical illusion" for me and black and white has been played already - M&S should just cave and do the original dress print in a camel/ivory combination, or in a rich brandy color with beige polka dots. Even a dark chocolate would save this from the incredibly boring black and white combo.

In any case, at a price of only 55 pounds, it is not a bad offering all in all, and it is easily dressed up with a chunky bracelet and black heels. Check out the Marks & Spencer website for more affordable and stylish dresses.

However, the one that truly caught my eye is this one at left - only 49.50 pounds and you even get the necklace included! I absolutely despise overall Missoni-type patterns, I think that not only are they very aging and matronly, but you have to have the right insouciance to wear one. In this M&S dress, however, you have only the skirt done in the zigzag pattern and the result is that you have the top be a clean canvas for that statement necklace.

If you want to see a badly worn Missoni coat, just check out the hopeless Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, with shiny head, bad posture, and a coat that makes her look like a psychedelic bag of potatoes. No, no, my dear, only solid fabrics for you!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Salad days

I love seeing my salad greens grow.

To me they are as beautiful as flowers, and just as delicate. Every day I go out and see them get a little bigger, a little fuller, and I look forward to putting them in as many dishes as I can.

And yes, my avocados are here, buttery, delicious, perfect - I see a turkey and avocado (and greens) sandwich in my near future!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fabulous art - for cheap!

I love to have beautiful things up on my walls. Not only photos of my boys (of course), but also pictures of faraway places, timeless works of art, etc.

How can you get gorgeous images like these without breaking the bank?

Calendars, baby!

Check these out!

The oft-maligned calendar of foreign castles - there's about 30 variations of these out on the market, but gazing at these architectural beauties can perk up your cubicle real quick, so why not your home?

The castle calendar may be a cliche, but a framed shot of a faraway chateau can be a very elegant accent.

Now this is more my speed - I can get photos of beautifully done flower arrangements up around my rather stark office area AND also get inspiration for when I actually arrange flowers.

A good thing, as The Martha would say.

Images like these will make your dinner guests' mouths start watering even before they smell your delicious concoctions.

The best part is that, since you don't actually need the calendar part of it, you can buy last year's (or this year's, since we're almost at year's end) and find very cheap calendars that will reward you with gorgeous images to brighten up your home.

I got a DaVinci calendar and transformed it into this display for the upcoming holidays - I love the quiet soberness of it and look forward to putting it up on my mantel along with some candles and other goodies.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Provencal bathroom on its way

My desire to bring a little bit of Provence to my generic, boy-dominated bathroom, took a big leap Monday night with the painting of the walls from plain white, to rich Ralph Lauren Chamois:

I LOVE IT!!! It is rich, warm and cozy, and versatile. If paired with white towels and accessories, it's bright and summery; if adorned with decorative pumpkins, it's totally fall - right now we have medium blue towels in there and it looks good, neither color overpowers the other. I have my eye on something like this for the cabinet door:

and many other little improvements that I can make since at this point, we're not ripping everything out. It will still be the boys' bathroom, but with a little more style. Right now I am pulling some lavender from my backyard to make the bathroom smell wonderful!

Pocket full of sunshine!

I love, love, LOVE, the new color on my bathroom walls!

After about 2 months of deliberation and considering about every shade on the color spectrum, I decided warmth and coziness would best be represented by a sunny, warm yellow. I found the perfect shade: Ralph Lauren Chamois. However, the Ralph Lauren price wasn't so perfect, so the Behr people at Home Depot mixed up a similar shade and off we were.

The result was everything I'd expected. Warm, glowy, inviting. Want a peek?

I have more changes in mind to the bathroom.

For now, I shall leave you with this shot of my hibiscus photo against the lovely wall.

Friday, September 25, 2009

This and that . . .

Since a major renovation is not on the cards - or in the budget - we have decided to redo a few things in our house that may be small enough compared to a total overhaul, but nevertheless will impact our daily lives for the better. Or so we hope!

First, we got a divine mirror for our dining room, which is rather dark, and the difference is striking. Pictures soon, but for now I shall leave you with this rather drab photo of our house bathroom (as opposed to the master bathroom)

There you have it, a plain and ordinary bathroom. The nasty white walls are the Original Color - underneath it there is only primer. My plans include a warm and bright shade to make everyone who walks in feel cozy, not to mention a shade that's more flattering to my poor barely-awakened face than stark white. I've found it, we had it custom mixed at Home Depot and I LOVE IT!!!

After that, we're leaving the cabinets and fixtures as they are, but I think the walls will make a big difference, and I will buy some lovely new towels. We've had the same old towels for the last 8 years and it's time for a small splurge!

Look at what was waiting for me . . .

when we got back from Disneyland!

Yes, we visited the Magic Kingdom for one week, it was us four and the grandparents, so it was a great old party. We had a wonderful time and came back to a blooming garden!

That gigantor zucchini and the beautiful yellow squash will become a gratin for dinner tonight. All you do it slice them in 1/4 inch-thick slices, salt and pepper them, then spray Pam on a casserole dish and arrange in layers - rounds of squash, grated cheese (I'll use 4-cheese Mexican blend), and bread crumbs. I will probably have enough for 3 sets of layers, ending with the cheese layer, then bake for 20-25 minutes at 350. YUM YUM YUM!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Check this out!


Kasey from Lolabboutique is having a huge giveaway - go check it out!!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Changing the look of our boring, blah, bathroom

Our guest bathroom is quite small. And kinda dingy, to be honest. My darling husband found out 2 weeks ago that the paint on the walls was the Original Paint. A dirty, shiny white that flatters no one who has to look at themselves on the cabinet mirror at 7am. Since frugality is my middle name - actually, it's Sara, but you get my drift - and knowing that our boys have a couple of years left of splashing all over the wood floor during their baths, we figured a full remodel was not in the cards. Or in the budget.

However, a gallon of paint could definitely be used to transform this:

into something a bit cozier and brighter, where you don't feel like you've walked into a pediatric bathroom at the local hospital. The shower curtain might be there for a while, though, so my Versailles-type dream bathroom isn't gonna happen any time soon, but still, I think some changes might be doable!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Worth a hill of beans

Hi, I'm CityGirl and I have a confession to make.

I owe my bean plants an apology.

I have to admit that I have been thinking of them as unproductive, lazy, even wondered if they were defective.

I know, how terrible, right?

Because they have sure shown me this week.

And they have earned themselves a spot in next year's garden.

They have been providing our family the tenderest, sweetest, yummiest green beans we have ever eaten.

And believe me, we eat a lot of green beans.

Usually the canned kind, unless we go to Buca di Beppo's and eat them there.

Come to think of it, they probably have the canned kind, too.

My oldest started eating them raw because they were just sooooo appealing!

Honestly, this is the kid that snubs his nose at just about everything I offer him so this is a big time score.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Love, love, LOVE this!

Not for my front door, silly - for the door to my veggie garden!!!


I would love to have a little Welcome sign on there!

Monday, August 31, 2009


Our pear tree delights us every fall - okay, ALMOST fall - by giving pound after pound of the tenderest, sweetest pears.

My mom was spending time with us last week and she picked a bunch of pears, then cooked them in water, with some sugar and cinnamon.

The result was so incredibly delicious, I think next time I might serve some over some vanilla ice cream. A2 ate three bowls, and we gave some to my playgroup friends.

Thank, Mommy!!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Other people's gardens

If there's something I love as much as I my little garden, it's other people's gardens. I love to see what other people grow, be it to eat or to adorn, and I found these pretty succulents at our cousin's house. It was her birthday and while the boys were changing into their swimming clothes, I was snooping around for pretty plants to photograph :D

The boys had a blast, although one needed an intervention before he'd stick his toe into the pool. Once in there, though, it was only the lure of birthday cake that got him out.

Then on the way back, or 2.5 hour drive turned into a 5.5 hour drive because we ran into this fire and had to drive around the Bay Area to be able to get home. It was a loooong evening, but my pic got published in the paper, so I call it even.