October 31, 2011

easy Halloween decor

I suppose this post might have been more timely on October 1 than it is on October 31 but I could think of no better way to celebrate the day than with a little Halloween festivity!

My mom sends us lovely laser-cut or layered paper greeting card creations for Halloween (among other holidays). I stash them away in the Halloween bin and pull them out every year. Display groups of cards on shelves, end tables, or your mantle for easy and instant Halloween flavor.

When your kiddos begin to acquire a collection of Halloween-themed toys and books, consider stashing those away too and pulling them out only once a year. Despite having only experienced 3 Halloweens, my daughter has quite a heap of these seasonal, and often noisy, toys. This year I piled them up in a simple wooden tray and left it out on an end table. All visiting children have found them and enjoyed them easily. And tossing them right back in the tray makes for quick clean up. I've also stacked our Halloween-themed picture books on the coffee table.

Do you have cute bags for collecting candy? Loop them over a doorknob for a quick and easy decoration.

And lastly, I will share a slightly craftier idea. As a graphic designer, I get catalogs of stock images in the mail. I saved a Halloween-themed catalog that featured illustrations. Using the creatures I found in there, some thrifted black frames, and some extra photo frames I already had, I put together some Halloween portraits that are easy to add around the house or mingle amidst the usual family pics.

Stash away these ideas along with any Halloween-themed objects you or your little ones might acquire, and enjoy some quick decorating come next October!

October 28, 2011

creative color combinations

At a neighborhood park there are some picnic tables that were painted by children once upon a time. The paint has since begun to fade and to peel so the abstract art left behind can be admired for the creative color combinations alone. Take one of these images and be inspired to make a quilt or decorate a room or get crafty in some other way.

October 26, 2011


Dear IKEA,

Can you please offer this super comfy overstuffed chair perfect for cozying up in for long sessions of reading, journaling, or just watching the backyard wildlife –

– in this fabulous, cheerful, awesome pink?

My sunroom thanks you.

An IKEA fan,

PS Dear blog readers do you think it is possible for modern square loveseat and comfy overstuffed chair to coexist in the same room? Or is that just strange?

October 24, 2011

a fall walk

Fresh air for my girls and me. Peace and quiet back home for Dad. Playground time for the 3-year-old. Photography time for myself. A good use of a sunny Sunday.

October 21, 2011

I spy inspiration

 One of the best things about the nights coming earlier is the ability to spy on your neighbor's home decorating choices while out for an evening stroll. I love sneak peeks at wall colors and covers, paintings and prints, furniture, and other bits of personality spied through windows unobstructed by curtains.

This is the very same reason why I loved feasting my eyes upon Details: A Stylist's Secrets to Creating Inspired Interiors by Lili Diallo. I had thought that the book was going to be on interior design but it's actually about styling your home, which is apparently an entirely separate thing. The author is a stylist and has worked for magazines like Real Simple . So her specialty is arranging objects and furniture and accessories just so. The book takes you into the homes of people she knows, who all seem to be interesting, and sometimes very odd, artist types living in New York City. So it's a different kind of home decoration spying than I usually see on my neighborhood jaunts! I actually appreciated seeing the apartments of these city dwellers though – there is something to be said for making the most of small spaces. Plus, most of the homes are a happy mish-mash of furniture and odds and ends and new things and old things collected over time. While the spaces are well done and beautiful (or strange) none of them seemed totally out of reach. A lot of people in this book bought shelves at IKEA!

Despite the vast array of homes and styles, many of which have little to do with my own style, there is a lot of visual inspiration packed into this book. I especially love her chit-chatty commentary. When she is name dropping furniture designers I don't know what the heck she is talking about but she still comes across as very friendly and accessible. So I read the entire book cover to cover anyway. I love the way she goes into a home and opens the cupboards and closets and makes beautiful arrangements and displays with things that people already own. Or, if the home doesn't really need her touch, she admits that and showcases what the owners have already done. Overall, it is a beautiful book to explore.

October 19, 2011

autumn leaf suncatchers

A special shout out to Turtle Magazine for this craft idea!

One day last week my 3-year-old daughter ran out the door to greet me while I was still getting out of the car with this magazine in hand, very excited to show me a craft we could do together. The instructions are illustrated so non-readers can understand it so she was busy shouting out all the things we need to use ending with "and of course those scissors."

"And of course" is one of her favorite phrases these days.

The instructions call for pressing fall leaves and crayon shavings between waxed paper, placing the creation in a frame, and hanging it on a window. They used craft foam for the frame. I took a couple of pieces of cardboard (again, validation for squirreling this stuff away!) and cut out the inside leaving a rectangular frame. Then I used the inside and cut out of that. I repeated this twice more so we ended up with a total of four frames of descending sizes.

I decided to skip the crayon shavings and opted for a more natural look with just the leaves. I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful they do look with the sun shining through them.

While my older daughter (age 3) did enjoy collecting the leaves and arranging them, this was a craft that included a lot of steps only for adults. I got the frames cut out while she was napping but didn't quite get the wax paper pieces cut out. It would have been better to get that done ahead of time.

 Dad stepped in offering "craft back up" when baby daughter started crying.

So much prettier than I expected!

October 17, 2011

beauty in decay

This summer I posted some photos of my lush red hibiscus at the height of summer. Just recently my daughter presented me with a fallen bloom she found along the garden path. I loved it! The outer petals had fallen away to reveal the inner structure of the plant (apologies to all the biology teachers who taught me terms like "stamen" and "pistol" and such). And the color, oh how lovely and rich! The dark purple seems so appropriate for these autumn days where the night lasts longer and longer.

October 14, 2011

"color and pattern expert"

In the October 2011 issue of Better Homes and Gardens they featured Khristian A. Howell in article about using and wearing color. They called her a "color and pattern expert." How's that for a job title?

Of course, I had to go check out her website. I've found a kindred creative spirit! She designs patterns that get used on fabric, journals, stationery, and other products. She sells her own photography and paintings and prints. She does graphic design. She writes books.

And she felt no need to narrow it down to one single focus. Her brand is herself and she shares, and sells, what it is she creates. Very intriguing to me.

Plus, I am totally in love with this Moroccan Mirage fabric. For the sunroom maybe?

October 12, 2011

magic wands

What can curving, knobby sticks collected on a recent park adventure become? Magic wands of course!

 We painted the sticks, let them dry, and tied on ribbons and streamers of any length requested. At last my pack rat ways with bits of ribbon have been validated!


October 10, 2011

one last ArtPrize favorite

Sometimes in ArtPrize things are big just to be big. Other times, things are big and it's actually pretty cool.

Thank you, Chris Weed – for art that is big in a way that works and for art my daughter is allowed to touch and explore.

October 7, 2011

fabulous book on creativity

I am reading Creative Is a Verb: If You're Alive, You're Creative by Patti Digh. It was mentioned on one of my favorite blogs, The Artful Parent, and I requested that my local library buy it and here we are now.

It doesn't teach a specific skill as much as it digs into what is holding you back and how you (yes, you, everyone) can be your most free and creative self.

My favorite passage so far:
My "ordinary" is unique to me. But because it is just how I see the world, I discount it, minimize it, believing there must be another, faster, better, more clever, quick, and funny way to see the world. We compare ourselves with others and in that single action, we are lost to our own creative spark, the one that exists outside the world of measurements against others.
 There are also periodic "creative challenges." Like homework! The nerdy student in me loves it. My three-year-old was in the mood to "do some arting" so we got out the recommended index cards and some collage supplies. It was fun for both of us!

If you need a creative reboot or a nudge to discover that you are indeed creative, I would recommend checking this book out.

October 5, 2011

Thoughts on the sunroom makeover

I am still building my inspiration board for the sunroom. I have found several inspiring rooms in decorating magazines.

 Of course, all my inspirations are large and the sunroom most certainly is not. So where I admire a room with 5 interesting side tables and collections of interesting lamps, I might only have one of each!

I need to decide between one small couch or a pair of overstuffed comfy chairs. I need to decide between neutral furniture (tan) or funky furniture (pink couch anyone?!). I am imagining the tan might be easier to find and reuse long into the future.

I really itching to start the room, perhaps by find the perfect rug or a fabulous funky floral fabric to make some curtains from... I think this is a project that will come together slowly as I find the right pieces. I haven't been searching diligently quite yet.

October 3, 2011

I'm dreaming of a pink birdbath...

...just like the ones I've never seen...

The late-summer colors in my garden seem to belong to a pinky-purple color family I quite enjoy. It got me thinking that it would be great to have a glazed ceramic birdbath in that color. Of course, I don't know if such a thing even exists. I have only seen blue, green, and red.

 The morning glories seem to fade from their blue-purple shade to a pink-purple shade. And the rain seems to have made them kind of mottled.

The phlox is still blooming and still smelling lovely. How wonderful to have a long-lasting flower well into September.

 This is a baby foxglove. I am not sure why it has rebloomed in late September.

This is a toad lily, one of my new plants. I was quite surprised to see it blooming. I sincerely hope it doesn't think that spring has arrived!