Halloween Dinner Party

I have been so excited about the coming of my favorite holiday…I wanted to plan a little dinner party to have some of our friends over.  With my growing belly and declining energy levels, I just didn’t feel up for a full-blown Halloween costume party at a Baltimore bar, like we have done in years past!

I have been dreaming of a Halloweeny centerpiece since the end of the summer.  I got the idea to do creepy black topiaries to flank the ends of the table display, and began making them a couple weeks ago (projects these days just don’t seem to be completed in a day for me…when I get home from teaching at the end of the day it’s all I can do to make dinner most nights!  And if my husband reads this he will probably laugh, as dinner prep on most nights involves me sitting on the couch while he makes it, and cleans up afterwards).  You do eventually gain your energy back after this whole pregnancy thing, right?

Here are the different components of the Halloween tablescape 🙂

The topiaries:

How I made them:

I used 2- 5 inch styrofoam balls, one for each top of the topiary.

And one 3-inch ball, which I cut in half and fit down inside each terracotta pot, to serve as the base.

I bought these  floral bunches of zinnia-like flowers at Michaels–they were 50% off, so they were only about a buck each.  It took about 7-8 bunches.  I also bought two bunches of these larger, reddish flowers to use at the bottom of the topiary ball.

I plucked the flowers off the stems–they came off very easily.

The flowers stuck into the styrofoam on their own, but I used hot glue to reinforce them:

I left the top of the topiary “bald” so I could attach the skulls last.  I cut a 1/2 dowel in half and pressed it into the bottom of the ball.  Then I pressed the dowel into the base of the pot.  I put some hot glue around the edge of the halved ball in the pot to secure it.

Then I glued pieces of Dollar Store faux moss around the base.

After that, I started spray painting them from top to bottom!  I used our standby…a 99-cent bottle of black spray paint from Lowe’s.

The topiaries took a lot of paint, with all the petals, and the fabric of the flowers absorbed quite a bit!

Once that dried I used Krylon glitter spray in Starry Night to spray all over the topiaries:

Then I hot glued the skulls on top (made of styrofoam and purchased at Michaels).

For the final touch, I wound silver pipecleaners around my finger to create “vines” and attached them right underneath the ball of flowers.

The placemats:

I purchased black rectangular felt at Hobby Lobby for 79 cents a sheet. It was the perfect size for a placemat and had a stiffer finish to it.

I used glitter glue to create silvery spider webs in each corner of the mat.

The napkins:

I bought a two 3-packs of these cute Halloween dishtowels from Homegoods, for $4.99 each.

I cut each towel in half, and pinned down the cut edge to sew a seam:

Voila! Easy, cute, inexpensive napkins.

Our silver napkin rings were a wonderful wedding gift from my bridesmaid Kristen : )

Here are some shots of the table once it was all put together!

Hanging from the chandelier are black and silver skeletons–a great Dollar Tree find!

In the very center of the table I put orange glitter pumpkins from the One Spot at Target, and spiders from the Dollar Tree.

The place cards are honeycomb tissue paper pumpkins (sold in 6-packs from the Dollar Tree). I wrote the names in silver Sharpie on black paper, which I affixed to a toothpick and stuck down between the folds.

Our Nantucket Basket china worked nicely with all the black and orange.  And I love our crystal skull candle holders…a housewarming gift from Kate (she understands my obsession with Halloween!)

A couple of party guests (I am wearing my witchy apron)

Sitting down to dinner!

Some menu highlights were “bone” breadsticks, pasta with vodka sauce and meatballs, and Texas Delight which I fashioned into a spiderweb design:

I also made spiked apple cider, which I learned a pregnant lady should never make…unable to taste-test, I made it WAY too  strong and had to add a lot more cider!

As a parting gift for each guest, I made mini “s’more kits” using graham crackers, fun size Hershey bars, and ghost Peeps.  (Treat bags are from the One Spot, and the polka dot ribbon I purchased at Michaels on sale for about $1.50)

I had a wonderful time at my first big dinner party, and I hope all my guests did too!  Happy Halloween!


Baby Shower

Last weekend my sister threw me a lovely baby shower at my parents’ house in Richmond.  I so wish my younger sister Hannah had been there (we miss you in Spain!), but it was a wonderful, special day surrounded by friends and family.

I wanted to share some highlights with you that will showcase the creativity of my sister Kate…she is so talented!

adorable name tags she created on the computer…

my name tag 🙂  We loved the vintage stork and little baby just hanging out in the blanket!

The adorable handmade favors…close-up below:

The lovely table…my mom and sister did a beautiful job!

The same florist who did the flowers for our wedding created the centerpiece for the day…isn’t it so pretty?

The invitation atop my own silver baby cup 🙂

Purple hydrangeas from my Mom’s garden…

Drink tags Kate made…

Aren’t these napkins so sweet?

Kate made such cute (and delicious) cupcakes with buttercream icing…the cupcake toppers are from the Dollar Store!

Everything was so lovely, and BB received so many thoughtful and generous gifts!  It was wonderful to have my friends travel down to share in the special day with me. 🙂  I really wish I had taken more pictures with everyone of course, but here are just a few…

Thank you to everyone who made the day so happy, memorable and wonderful!

Graphic Prints & A Nursery Update

I hope everyone has been enjoying the beautiful fall weather we’ve had over the weekend!

Yesterday I started and completed a really fun project.  We have been looking for inexpensive artwork to hang above the bed in our guest room, and really liked the graphic chandelier “sketches” done by artist Ethan Harper.

Pretty confident I could make my own versions (I am no artist, but figured I could handle the lines and silhouettes of chandeliers), we procured my materials needed at Michaels (using a 20% off your entire purchase coupon) during a 1 and a 1/2 hour-trip there yesterday, which Jason was thrilled about!  Then I got to work!

We found these frames for $10.40 a piece and picked up 3.

A close-up if you wanted the dimensions:

Jason spray painted them silver with spray paint we already had on hand:

I was debating between graphite and chalk….we went with good old Crayola chalk figuring at $1.00 a box, if it didn’t work out we could always return for the pricier white graphite.

We used chalk because we decided we wanted white-on-black sketches.  We thought that would be best with the aqua, black, and white colors we have been using in our guest room so far.

We bought slightly textured black paper, advertised as working well with graphite, at $1.83 a sheet.  I laid the underside of one of the frame mats down on top of the paper to use as a guide and keep me within my dimensions.

With each of the three sketches I did, I tried to “lay out” the design by doing the basic outlines first, then adding in details.

I was slightly daunted by the multitude of lines and the detail at first (plus, you can’t quite “erase” chalk once it’s on paper!), but I just tried to relax and have fun with it…and it really was so much fun.  I was surprised at how quickly each chandelier came together, and each one looked so interesting and unique from the others.

Once I finished, I tested a spot by spraying a sealer to try to “hold” the chalk in place…and I’m glad I tested it because it practically faded the chalk into oblivion!  The more I thought about it, since the sketches were going to be preserved behind glass in a frame, it wasn’t so necessary for them to be sprayed with some sort of fixative.

When the frames fully dried, I trimmed the paper down to size and set each one in its matting and frame!

Here is a close-up of each one (can you tell I am a little too proud of how each one turned out?)

I just love the high contrast of white on black.  And all for the price of one print, non-framed! Once we re-paint the guest bedroom, we’ll hang these over the bed.  Can’t wait!

I feel ever-so-slightly guilty for doing a side project over anything nursery-related, which is of course our top priority…but we have been making strides in that department, and unfortunately my hands are a bit tied since everything is paint-related!  So Jason has to do most of that.

Here is the latest with the nursery:

The walls:

The room is finally painted!  Jason did a fantastic job of transforming this:

to this:

I still can’t get over why they a) chose that clay/rust/ugh color, or b) why they painted the inside of the closet, shelves, and even VENTS in the same color!  I imagine them taking the gallon of paint and just throwing it towards the wall, painting everything in its wake.

Anyway, our little room has undergone quite a transformation.  We used our favorite paint brand (Olympic One Paint + Primer) in Creamy Cucumber, a color chosen with the help of my mom’s dear friend and very talented, inspiring decorator, Mrs. Julie Wills.

We thought the white trim would be fine, but as soon as it was set against the new paint color, we realized how dingy it looked!  So I picked up a quart of Delicate White, and Jason did an awesome job painting all the trim, around the window, and the doors.

I think it’s a great gender-neutral color!

Jason was able to replace 2 of the red vents for white ones.  For the funky-sized, un-repurchasable (word?) 3rd vent we realized white spray paint would do the trick, to rid us once and for all of that color!

He painted the inside of the closet and the shelves a neutral creamy, buttery color, which was left-over by the previous owners (it’s the same color of our living room, staircase, and second floor hallway).  This way, we will never have to paint the closet again, no matter what the room color is!  What a novel idea! 🙂

The fabrics:

(From left to right: window treatments, crib skirt, bumper pad & piping, and possible glider fabric choices)

I am in love with the curtain fabric, which is “Small Talk” by Waverly in Mint Julep.  My mom came up for a visit a few weeks ago and helped me sew made the curtains while I watched in amazement.  She is so gifted!

Here is the fabric laid out. I love the sweet little birds:

The curtains just need to be finalized, and I have to decide whether or not we want to construct a pelmet or cornice for the top of the window treatment, OR just buy a cute curtain rod to add the detail we need.

The crib skirt fabric we’re going to order is also Waverly, called “Square Root” in Aquamarine.  I just received the glider fabric swatches in the mail yesterday (see photo above).  I want to go with a neutral fabric that will work with not only the nursery, but a future kid’s room or other room in the house, since the upholstered gliders look like real chairs and not just a rocker! I think I’ll go with one of the two fabrics on the top of the pile…I’ll decide on that soon.

The crib:

We decided to use the crib I had when I was a baby.  I love the detail, which has been a double-edged sword…all the spindles and grooves have proven difficult to sand down and prime!  This is what we have done so far:

…sanded with our electric Mouse (I think my hand was still vibrating an hour afterwards)

…and now Jason is priming it as I type:

We are aiming to paint the crib a green that will bring out the leaves in the curtain fabric. Painting the crib is going to be a challenge, as we’re not sure how evenly it’s going to go on with all the grooves and rounded areas on the crib.  I’ll keep you posted!

Have a great Sunday :- )

Festive Fall Wreath & Other Things…

With the cooler fall weather here, I have been anxious to reflect my love for the season on our front door.  Yesterday I went out and gathered materials to make a festive fall wreath.  Here is the finished product:

I have been wanting to get a picture of the wreath in the daylight, but since it has been so rainy/wet/dark/gross for what feels like forever, this was the best I could do.

The wreath turned out to be inexpensive, not very time-consuming, and painless.  Music to my ears!

Here is the breakdown of materials I used:

Leaves and mini pumpkins & gourds assortment were all purchased at the Dollar Tree.  I didn’t need every single leaf and gourd, but for an 18 ” wreath, I used most of what I bought.

Wide orange ribbon, purchased at Michaels on sale for $2.50 a roll (plus I used my 15% teacher’s discount)…I have bought this in the thinner variety before and just love it–the grosgrain style, its sturdiness, and of course the cute factor of the white contrast stitching. I ended up picking up 3 rolls of it to have on hand for adorning Halloween treats, but only needed approx. 1 roll for the wreath.

18 ” raffia wreath form from Michaels– only $2.99 with a 40% off coupon!

…And you’ll need a hot glue gun to put it all together 🙂

The how-to:

I trimmed any loose raffia bits, then tied a bow on the top and bottom of the wreath (ignore the jagged cutting job…this was before I located my nice sharp pair of scissors!)

I glued a row of red leaves on the underside of the wreath, around the circumference of the inner ring…here’s a view from the front:

…Then a row of yellow leaves around the outer ring.

Then I did the same to the front side of the wreath, but did yellow for the front inner ring and red for the front outer ring:

For the exposed raffia part, I alternated red and yellow leaves:

It’s hard to wield a camera and glue gun at the same time!

Now using my plastic pumpkins & gourds, I laid out a pattern to my liking and then glued them down around the front of the wreath:

I trimmed the ends of my bows up finally, and used the remaining ribbon to fashion a loop with a tail to hang to our door knocker. Tip: I didn’t actually tie the ribbon to the knocker; rather, I fed it through the handle of the knocker and attached it together with a twist tie.  This will make for easy removal and not having to re-tie a “hanger” each year.

The result is a very bright and cheery fall wreath, done for less than $13.00.  Now if only this RAIN would stop so we could truly bask in autumn weather, the way it’s meant to be!

While I was at the Dollar Tree, I happened upon these little gems:

I scooped up the best 4, but I would’ve bought more! How cute with a votive candle inside?

In other recent news…

Have you heard of the ELF cosmetics line at Target?  It stands for Eyes, Lips, and Face and runs from $1 – $3.  I have bought their highlighter and a purple eyeliner before, then I saw this eyeshadow palette:

I love the purple hues and hint of shimmer…thought it would be pretty for the holidays.  It also comes in a “natural” colorway. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

And lastly…I recently learned a chic way to tie a scarf, and thought I’d share with all you scarf lovers out there (which includes me, I feel like I live in them when cold weather hits!):

Fold your scarf in half, wrap around your neck, and just pull one end through the loop.

Twist the loop once…

…and pull the other end through.

Give it a little fluffing, and voila!

I hope everyone has a great week!