A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family
A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family

2012 Dad’s Day Ideas

Father’s Day is not too far away! I was thinking about what creative little idea Liv and I can put together for the dad and granddads in our lives, I’d like to focus on something simple, sweet and handmade (kind of like our Mother’s Day gifts).

In the not simple and homemade variety, Dads can be a little difficult to shop for and it can be hard to come up with something thoughtful and unique. Here are a few ideas for the guys that I have been eying:

A very cool leather bike frame bag, Rapala fishing fillet knife, sheath and pliers for the fishermen in your life (or these neat Rustico leather log books for classy fishing, golf, etc recording), every water man needs at least one Dry Pak cellphone case, this Etsy lumber dad card is adorable, we all benefit from dad’s great cooking skills + a custom dry rub spice kit and this Stephen Campbell ‘5 Bottles’ embroidery art print is perfect for the man cave or bar.

Bose IE2 headphones would be a much loved gift, Kevin insisted I include his top wish list Rocketballz golf club (not gonna happen) and I would really love to see this desktop globe in our one day joint office. The idea behind this scratch off world map is so awesome! and these Etsy artist golf tees and custom marker set are great for the golf lover. Roku HD Streaming is a really neat Dad’s day splurge, as would these vintage map cufflinks be. Let Dad stash all of his odds and ends (golf balls, coins, random screws and bolts found around the house – is that just us?) in his sweet stache jar. Finally, there’s something about this Frieiri leather journal that works so well with travel junkies and future architects alike (hint, totally something for Kevin).

More gift guides for the guys can be found here.

Dining Room Update: Rug Tour

I would love to invite you all over for a rug party. But logistically that could be tough, so let’s have a virtual one! I have been slowly *testing* out rugs over the past couple of weeks to see if one sticks and I’ve been photographing the journey so that I can play a game of comparisons.

Our dining room tends to be a fairly high traffic space – you need to pass through it to get to any other room in the house. It’s also a space that welcomes you from near the moment you walk through our door, so it’s equally important that it be warm and inviting. A couple of needs for this space that we had to keep in mind: must be pet-friendly (no dhurrie or woven rugs – bummer that they collect and hold onto pet hair because they’re so well priced), kid-friendly (wool is usually better than jute for cleaning purposes and darker colors or patterns reign) and finally budget-friendly (we are traditionally Craigslist people even when it comes to this sort of thing *I love me a good rug cleaning though* because area rugs can be so expensive, but I’ve found a few options in the few hundred dollar range that I’m really loving). Ready? Let’s start.

PS the dining room makeover all started here if you’d like to read these posts in order!

A classic jute…

Fits the bill size-wise and price-wise (I believe with the family discount at Ikea this guy rang in at $70) and has a nice, neutral feel. Would easily work with any of the curtain options. I’m a huge fan of natural fiber rugs and while I usually opt for a softer version (with a wool or chenille mixed in), this Ikea jute rug might work well in an area where kids won’t necessarily be playing on the floor.

The only con is that jute is tough to clean, even by the professionals (I buy Groupons for area rug cleanings twice a year these days – it’s just one of those items I budget in with pets and a baby, but totally worth the trade off :)). In fact I’ve found that natural fibers are doubly tough to have cleaned and often require special care and a trip to a shop if it gets a liquid stain (ask the poor hallway carpet after Halloween 2009 when Bodie chewed a mini pumpkin right into the slobbery fibers).

Plus they shed. At least cheaper jute rugs tend to. If this guy stays he’ll be getting a rug pad (the above was only this bad once when switching out carpets. A quick mop and I haven’t seen the likes of the loose fibers since).

Next up is an indoor/outdoor ikat option. Outdoor rugs can be just the best! Depending on the rug, cleaning can require as little as a hose, a scrub brush and dish soap in the backyard. This is a great rug by Ballard Design for a great price – but I do worry that I would be incredibly limited by curtain choice with this guy.

What about bringing that jute back in to add a little warmth?

Hmmm… I love the general size of the Ikea rug (bigger than 5×8 but not quite 6×9, you know how those crazy Ikea metrics work) and the border is a nice addition. This is a nice solution for the space?

What are your thoughts on cowhide? I’ve been a fan of the look for some time and I especially love when hides are used in living rooms and dining rooms. Here’s a little inspiration:

Sources: Emily Henderson x2, Domino, Tandy Leather – Girl in the World

White would not work so well in this space for so many reasons, but a darker cowhide would be easy to maintain (I’m thinking warm water and soap, or perhaps cutting a more permanent spill right out of the hair). So when a really wonderful deal popped up on Fab I pounced and ordered the rug to try it out.

The fact that it’s an animal hide doesn’t bother me so much. I like the idea of producing as little waste as possible and because we eat steak and meat on various (not too often but every once in a while) occasions means that using the by-products is a good thing. But now I’m starting to sound like I skinned the darned thing myself. :)

I really dig this look. Ignore that tripod there to the right…

With that jute still rolled up on the left you can see where I’m going with the next idea:

But maybe with the hide at a bit more of an angle.

Nothing is set in stone, *sigh* (I can be a horrible decision maker!) I can always use this rug in a different room or even resell on eBay for the crazy price that I was able to nab it for.

Here are some other rug ideas that I’m thinking about:

Sources: Little Green Notebook, Emily Henderson, Pottery Barn

What are your thoughts on dining room rugs? Practicality over design? Or can you accomplish both?

Read the full dining room story by back tracking from here: curtain call part 2, curtain call part 1, newly styled bookshelves, a buffet-over, upgrading the lighting, the before.

Balloon Bunch Cupcakes & a Baby Shower

Happy Monday! I thought I’d share a fun cupcake idea that I put together for a friend’s baby shower recently. Who doesn’t love lollipops and cupcakes? And when the two candy and cake worlds collide?

Inspired by a little blurb I saw in a Parenting Magazine article on creative cupcake toppers, I made balloon bunch cupcakes out of little dum dum lollipops using my favorite buttercream icing and rainbow nonpareils.



Balloon Bunch Cupcakes

Materials: Cooled cupcakes, icing (store bought or homemade – see recipe below), rainbow nonpareils (round sprinkles) – any color would be fun!, dum dum lollipops, ribbon

I usually love a great homemade cupcake but on this particular day I saved myself a bit of time by using a boxed mix (a delicious lemon raspberry or homemade red velvet would have been very fun for this particular design!). To make things a little interesting, I split my cupcake batter into two different portions, half with a few drops of red food coloring and half as the original vanilla mix.

Plop of vanilla, plop of pink, plop of vanilla plus a toothpick to swirl it up! I recommend filling cupcake liners to just over half way so that you have a nice flat icing surface to work with.

While these guys are in the oven, it’s on to the frosting. I didn’t skimp here, this is my favorite homemade buttercream and it’s buttery delicious! Sweet enough to bring out a great flavor but a version that won’t immediately melt in the sun on you, which is important for buttercream icing + outdoor parties. Though I’m not sure I’d be daring enough to use it on a cake in direct sunlight…

Vanilla Bean Buttercream
2 cups unsalted butter (room temperature, cut into small pieces), 3 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, pinch of salt, 1 vanilla bean, scraped, 1 t pure vanilla extract, 1/4 cup milk
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar; beat to combine, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract, and beat to combine. Slowly add milk and continue beating on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. Favorite recipe from right here.

Pastry bags are wonderful, but I tend to use a gallon zip lock bag 99% of the time because of easy clean up (just toss that bag out when you’re through!). I simply cut a 1/3 of an inch off the end of the bag and fill it up with buttercream using a spatula.

These cupcakes involve two layers of icing, the bottom layer is a disk of buttercream and the top layer will be smooshed into sprinkles so that it is completely covered. To achieve that effect, pipe a single layer onto each cupcake by gently squeezing the ziplock bag to create an even spiral of icing, working from the outside in. You might try practicing on a paper plate if you’re limited on cupcakes.

Moving one circular ring from the outside in, I added a second smaller icing disk for that second layer.

Then upside down it goes into the sprinkle bath. You really want to smooth that top layer flat so don’t be afraid to apply a bit of pressure. Of course you could also skip the idea of two layers and just smoosh it all the way around the icing for a fun look!

Here’s the second layer covered in sprinkles while that bottom disk is still visible.

The last step is to add three unwrapped dum dums lollipops in a bunch, tying a ribbon around one before hand.

So colorful!

These would be really fun for a kids birthday party, or you could color coordinate your sprinkles and lollipops so that it matches a themed baby or bridal shower.


The baby shower was so much fun. Our good friend Trish did a beautiful job creating a lovely brunch for the mom-to-be! Favorite details of mine were the varying shades of tinted glass vases and an adorable game that required everyone to bring a baby picture. Can you tell which is me? Just like Liv’s photo, and yes, a little oversized.

Another favorite were these adorable wooden cars that we each painted. I believe Trish found them online at the Oriental Trading party store, and then made the little shadowbox to house them!

It’s hard to see in this next photo collage on the upper right, but that is a little handmade dinosaur sweatshirt by this blogger. Michelle has  promised to post a tutorial on how to add the dinosaur spikes to a cute little zip up! (she also made these adorable onesies)

Great job, Trish! We all had so much fun.

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