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Painted Cork Placemats {or Dare to DIY – Entertain! Edition}

Linky parties are seriously my fav.  It’s a nice kick in the butt to actually do some of the crafts that I’ve been dreaming about – not to mention a good excuse to clean the house enough so that I can take photos.  I’m linking up to Maybe Matilda today – go check it out to see what Rachel and everyone else has posted!  And remember, half the fun of a linky party is meeting new blogs! And if you’re here from the linky party, Welcome!

This past weekend I got out our bins of holiday decor and spent the long weekend cleaning and getting jolly with it, and also had some time to do a little Small Business Saturday shopping.  I’m making it a personal goal this season to either make gifts, buy handmade, or buy from small businesses.  I figure I spend enough money at all the big box stores year round, and it’s a fun challenge for myself.
Of course while I was out getting gifts for others, I got a few for myself at the local art supplies store. I’m so good to myself. The first was a wood burner and I was this close to purchasing the whittling tools that were in the same aisle.  I have no idea how to use either, but for some reason when I’m in an art supplies store, I suddenly picture myself having a life where I would have time to sit and whittle.  
Anyway, wood burner, check. I also picked up a roll of cork.  I had recently seen these placemats at C&B and these placemats at Ikea.  Both were honestly pretty reasonably priced, but for some reason, I always look at items like this and think – I can do that!  So do that I did.
I started by cutting my cork into 13 1/2″ x 18″ mats.  Unfortunately, I was only able to eek out three from one roll, so I’ll have to buy more this week.  I’ll eventually make trivets and/or coasters from the scraps (which will make great gifts!).   I placed some books on them over night to try to flatten the cork out. You’ll see they weren’t quite flat when I started painting, but I’m impatient. 
The next day I took my ruler and just started attaching lines into what I consider to be very modern trees.  I cut these shapes out and took care to keep the trees intact.
Then I got to spray painting.  I went with my go-to white and gold sprays – but I really think these would’ve popped with some traditional red and green.  The next mats will definitely get some of that. 
I tried a few different methods with my  handmade stencil, but this would work great with any store bought stencil. 
First I sprayed over the stencil very lightly with white, then I laid my cut trees on top, but just ever so slightly to the side.  I was going for a shadow outline around the edge of each tree.  I sprayed my gold lightly over it next.
Not bad, but definitely had some seepage. The actually force of the spray moved the paper more than I anticipated. I would definitely suggest using some re-positioning adhesive spray if you try this. 
Next up: a heavier coverage of the white first, and then I shifted the stencil itself ever so slightly, and gave it a heavier coverage with the gold.  I like this one a lot, but the gold is almost too close to the color of the cork.  This could be great if I were using some geometric shape and I wanted a tone on tone look.
Last up – a reverse of the last method: a heavier coverage of the gold first, and then I shifted the stencil itself ever so slightly, and gave it a heavier coverage with the white. This ended up being my favorite of the three…
Now the fun part – setting the faux table!  I decided to go with a green, red, white and gold theme in my dining room this year.  Sometimes it’s nice to go super traditional in your holiday decor. Yes, white trees are super traditional if you speak to the right people.  
Love how the tree branches just peek out from behind the chargers.
Oh, you want a gratuitous shot of the tree lit up in the dark? Of course you do!
Doing anything special to entertain your guests this holiday season? We don’t have any plans to host any guests so far this year, but I’m sure someone will pop over at some point.  Even if no one comes over, I still totally enjoy seeing the all house dressed up!  
And the cats like helping too, of course.
If you’re here from Maybe Matilda, thanks for stopping by!  If not, go to her blog and check out some of the other projects linked up today!
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Falloween Centerpiece! {Pumpkin Parade Linky Party}

I’m going to interrupt my wedding catch up posts to join in the Pumpkin Parade!  Who doesn’t love this time of year – if I could count how many times I saw someone post “First pumpkin iced chai latte of the season!” on their fb newsfeeds I would be, well, counting very high.  But for reals, Fall is the best season, especially in the Northeast.  Stockings and scarves for the win!

So Saturday it was my turn to host Book Club and we read The Cuckoo’s Calling. I really loved it – we don’t often read whodunit’s in BC, but when we do I always think I need to read more of this genre. We always do potluck and people really brought their A games in Fall comfort food. I have no pictures of the food, but trust me, it was good (you can check our some of the past dishes we’ve made on our shared Pinterest board).  Since I was scrambling to have the house clean enough for guests I didn’t try a new recipe, but made my tried and true Semi-Homemade Chili. That dish is bangin’ I tell ya, and did not disappoint. 

The day before I went out on my lunch break ready to spend monayyy on fall decor.  Sometimes I’m just in the mood to spend money on stuff, but alas, nothing was grabbing my attention at any of the seven stores I went to. I finally picked up this black feathery owl who I thought had the right combo vibe of fall and halloween (Falloween, if you will) so I can leave him up through November from Century 21.  I had to actually purchase these mini pumpkins and this little carving pumpkin because I haven’t been upstate to raid my mother’s garden yet this year.  Plopped down next to some fake leaves from our Fall Date Night gift from my sister-in-law last year and some leftover amber votives from the wedding (still for sale if anyone wants them! (shameless plug, sorry)) and this centerpiece was done, yo.  The wire pumpkin was a gift a few years back, and the chargers are from Walmart, and plates and napkins were from Anthropologie. Sometimes I think more is more when it comes to holiday decorations, but in this case, I think my less is more tablescape works.

My neighborhood packs in the parades and festivals the first weekend of October. Saturday was the Ragamuffin Parade, and holy shnikes, was our ‘hood a zoo.  It was super cute seeing all the kids dressed up, but I seriously think that is the most packed I’ve ever seen 3rd Avenue.  It took us about 45 minutes to walk one block to grab coffee and come back.  It was cute though and sooo warm out, so it was worth it a few minutes of insanity.  Sunday was the 3rd Avenue Festival, which is like any other street festival in that vendors come in and line the streets.  I didn’t get to venture out for that because I was indoors canning and jamming with my aunt and cousin.  Oh yeah. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was “all-Fall” this past weekend.

This was my first real foray into canning and jamming and it was a blast (not to be confused with KanJam the game, because, yes, a friend asked me that and she shall remain nameless).  Having the right tools and a few sets of hands and counterspace really makes this process go smoothly, so it went as smooth at it could go in my teeny kitchen.  You may recognize this pic from my fb page – we tried two recipes and they were both a success. Carrot Cake Jam was super sweet and I think will be delicious on some vanilla ice cream or on some warm croissants.  The Fresh Herb Jelly had a nice savory flavor – a little more subtle than I would like, but it was a great way to finally use some of basil I’ve been growing and will be delicious with some stinky cheese and crackers.  I am a convert and can’t wait to try new recipes and methods!

Just for fun, since I didn’t get a chance to link up my TV console to any of the other Fall Decor linky parties earlier this month, behold:

I know my pumpkin centerpiece wasn’t the most elaborate, but sometimes, you gotta work with what you got!  I got so much done this past weekend, I’m not even a little bit disappointed in myself. For some real inspiration go check out the WAY more creative and innovative pumpkin projects linked up to these blogs:
Remember, half the fun is meet new blogs and to leave a comment!!!  I’m a regular reader of Newlywoodwards and Decor and the Dog, but I’ve found a ton of new blogs to add to my daily reading list!

Happy Fall, Y’all!

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Some Valentine’s Day Vignettes

I don’t normally decorate for Valentine’s Day – it was never a big holiday for me (yes I’m one of those bitter people that always called it a Hallmark Holiday (said in my best snob voice) when I was young and single, and even though I am now one half of a couple, I’m still not a fan).

But I was feeling good about some headway I’m making in giving our living room a mini face-lift (more on that soon), and figured, why the heck not.  I did some hunting around the house and came up with a few red candles and votives (btw – votive pluralized isn’t a word? I’m getting the red squiggly as I type this and I’m now slightly annoyed at Webster and Oxford).

Right. Red stuff.  So I grabbed a few things and moved a few things around on our little TV console that we picked up a few months ago from Ikea.  For comparison, this is what it usually looks like (lots of greens and golds)

And now this is what it looks like:

I had some grand ideas to make some quirky red heart paper glasses for my owl but it just wasn’t working out. So then I just cut a few up and tossed them into this footed dessert dish that houses our old corks and some driftwood I saved from my bachelorette up at Lake George this past summer.  I sprinkled a few more in the faux dirt on of my faux moss topiary on another end table and Voila! My Valentine’s Day Vignettes were complete.

I kinda dig how simple it is.

That plate was a bridal gift from my maid of honor and everything else was either gifted or thrifted. The photo is from our trip to Napa Valley in 2009 – Tom’s red shirt pops with everything else on the console.

We have some other red in the room – this Brooklyn print I gave to Tom for his birthday last year, as well as the dart board that we never use anymore.

We aren’t big on souvenirs, but we did find pick up a few things while in South Africa for our honeymoon.  I love our wooden giraffe and the carved ostrich egg is the coolest.   The photos of our parents’ weddings were displayed at our wedding and I love having them out now.  The moss and succulent wreath was another gift from one of my bridesmaids that I’m trying really hard not to kill entirely (didn’t I grow up gardening with my mom??)

Did you do any decorating for Valentine’s Day?  Is it a big holiday for you or are you like me and think of it as the official kickoff to start counting down to St Patrick’s Day?  (That’s 31 Days folks!!)