Monday, December 31, 2012

I See Crown Molding in Our Future

Merry Christmas to ME!  My sweet, thoughtful husband knows me so well, and he surprised me big time this year with such an exciting gift-- a new compound miter saw!  We have a tiny version that has served us well over the years, but it really struggles with anything larger than a few inches, which means half of the things I need to cut.  So this new monster will be able to tackle baseboard, framing boards and, most importantly, crown molding.

We have been dreaming of installing crown molding throughout the first floor of the house since we first moved in, and now it actually might be possible to do it!  Even though this project will have to wait until February, most likely, we got a jump start by picking up some materials at Home Depot already.  

This is going to be FUN.



Friday, December 28, 2012

Party Settings

Are you throwing a dinner party for New Year's Eve?
Here are a few settings that will get you going. 



Thursday, December 27, 2012

Party Central

During this extended season of holiday parties we keep thinking about how fun it would be to have a wet bar somewhere in the house for when we host our own guests.  The benefit of a designated drink station is that people can help themselves while not all congregating in the kitchen-- a bonus when you're trying to prep the food.  

I'm not sure we will be able to fit a built in wet bar anywhere in this house, but setting up a drink station is still a possibility.  For tiny spaces, this ultra slim console from Ballard Designs could fit almost anywhere without crowding the rest of the room-- it's only 11 inches deep!

Another option is the bar cart, which you can find in a range of sizes to fit your space.  They usually come with wheels, so you can move the drink station around as you need to, and the double tiers offer more storage.

  Here is a great looking metal faux bamboo bar cart from Ballard Designs.

Ikea's version keeps things fun with a burst of color.

I love this mirrored top bar cart, which comes with built in storage for wine bottles and stemware.

If you don't have the luxury of a built in wet bar, and you haven't picked out the perfect bar cart, you can always use any table you already have to set up a drink station for your guests, which is exactly what we did for our Christmas party.  We pulled out a regular table and topped it with drink options, bowls of lemon and lime wedges, glassware and this handsome bar tray (a gift from my design savvy sister).  

Here's another perky monogrammed version that you can pick in fun colors.

This gold tray is my absolute favorite thing and current obsession.  Maybe someday! 

Be sure to provide ice for your guests, too, maybe in a silver ice bucket like this one.

Happy Partying!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Christmas

Today is Christmas Eve!  Now, when your the wife of a clergyman this means a day full of activity. I love this time of year and am thrilled to be running our Christmas pageant, but that means I am extra busy. So, what to do to insure my own family has a fabulous time?  Set the table properly, be grateful my mother is here to cook, and enjoy as many cappacinos as it takes!

If you find yourself in New York this Christmas, join us for caroling in Gramercy Park; the gates are open to the public and the Gramercy Hotel provides free hot cocoa and cookies. This has become our family tradition, and I can hardly believe this will be our 7th year.

After the caroling join us for a fabulous service at 10:30. The music, and entire pageantry of the service will be moving. 

Because we are such a busy family, (and really who isn't?) I really try to keep Christmas day simple. We enjoy opening our Santa gifts before church and have a very easy brunch including quiche from Whole Foods, our favorite bacon from the farmer's market, and don't forget the mimosas. 

When it comes to Christmas we can easily become overwhelmed with expectations, so I try and remember to keep Christmas day to simple elegance, which means fancy china with simple foods. 
I hope you and yours enjoy this season of rest and togetherness. 

Merry Christmas!!!

Mel & Liza

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Sale Finds

At the moment, J Crew has tons of items from all seasons on sale, and I must admit I have been doing a little pre-Christmas "window shopping" for myself:)  They have so many fun summer things it's the perfect excuse for picking up a few beach items for your mid-winter tropical getaway (real or imaginary) or in preparation for next summer. 

Here are a few examples of the fun that awaits you:  I love this cute Confetti Rosette swing top in red currant, paired with the Glamour Girl Bikini.

Cover up with this fresh Liberty Perfect Shirt in acqua floral.

The Enameled Elephant Bracelet is perfectly over the top.

I love this colorblocked oxford Boy Shirt for a subtle surprise twist on a classic look.  

A cute Sailor Tee to get you in the mood for summer.

The softest T shirt in tons of cute colors, for $9.99!

And for on your way to the airport: 

Cashmere lined leather gloves.  Yes, please.

Cozy up in the adorable Peacoat Popover in brilliant flame.  Also comes in Kaki, so you might just need two.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Upscale DIY Christmas

As I have been shopping this season, I am always on the hunt for gifts that lift the spirits, items you don't "really need, but WANT." I have been loving all the JCrew, Madewell, and Anthro sweaters out there. I was really trying to convince myself to buy a couple out of budget items for my sister and mother, but my good sense took over and I ended up with two very cheery sweaters from the GAP.  I loved the color blocking, but found myself a little bored wishing for a little sparkle. What to do,  create your own design with a touch of ME. 

I simply removed the old plain buttons and sewed this vintage gold ones one. Then I added shimmery goldfish/pink elbow patches for a little lift.  I love the results and the total price tag was less than 30 dollars a sweater. You can't beat that.

Merry Christmas!!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Installing a Hearth, DIY Tiling

A few weeks ago we had a little Christmas party, and I always say that inviting people over is the best motivation for finishing (or even starting) projects around the house you've been meaning to get to.  This time was no different! Just before Thanksgiving we had installed the gas logs and the mantel for our new living room fireplace (read the full post here), but the whole thing looked pretty unfinished still without a hearth on the floor in front of it.

So what better plan than the night before hosting a big party to decide to install a tile hearth ourselves?  Makes total sense.  I went to my favorite place, The Tile Shop, which has such a wide selection, and picked out 16" square slate tiles.  In a perfect world I could have had a single slab of stone cut and professionally installed, but I'm happy with our plan B.  Finding large enough tile and narrowing the spacing between them helps to create almost a seamless look anyway, and it's a million times cheaper, so it's a win-win.  My first step was to measure very carefully and to tape off where the tile would be laid.

Then, using a circle saw with the blade depth adjusted to that of the wood flooring, we carefully cut along the taped lines and removed the rectangular section of the floor with a crowbar.

After mixing a small batch of thin set tile adhesive, we spread it on the back of each tile with a notched trowel and pressed down to secure into place.  The ridges in the mortar create a suction power which holds the tile in place (that's how you can tile a shower ceiling, for instance).  

I still need to finish up the trim around the fireplace, but the whole thing looks much better with a real hearth.  Maybe I'll get to it before the next party:)



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