Monday, January 26, 2015

Day Trip in Prattville, Alabama

Prattville, Alabama is a cute little town about 15 minutes outside of Montgomery, Alabama's historic state capital. It's an old, beautiful Southern town founded in the 1830s with a main street of shops that look upon an old, abandoned cotton gin mill.

I was helping friends move in Montgomery area this weekend and on the way home back to Birmingham we were able to stop through this beautiful old town. Here are my shots from that day!



Beautiful, huh!?!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Own Curtain Installation

Yesterday I wrote a post about How to Choose the Right Curtains for Your Space and outlined things to consider when choosing curtains. The post was born out of my curtain search for my new studio apartment.
I have these three beautiful windows in the main room of my studio. They let in some great light and I want to have the option to have the curtains for privacy when needed, but I want to still be able to open them up and let in the full power of the sun and day!
The challenge was considering what the best option for such a long span of windows would be.  
Curtain rods can be so expensive and an almost 10 foot long curtain rod would be very expensive!
My friend, Brenda, had done this in her house and I loved the look of it.
This definitely goes along with my worldly cottage feel! It's a wooden dowel rod with wood brackets. She spray painted them black and they look so great and pretty expensive considering how easy and inexpensive they are to purchase!!
So I set out to do my own version that would work with these Ikea curtains that I had chosen for my space.
I love this pattern and thought it would work great with my style. It's a light enough background color, with a really cool pattern that is bold, but not so bold that it takes over the space. I am not afraid of some pattern, though, and thought this had an amazing worldly feel to it!
The nice thing about Ikea curtains also is that they come in a great length that's really easy to work with! My windows span 113" and I wanted my curtain rod to sit in between the top of the window and the ceiling, which is about 91" off the floor.  These Ikea curtains are 57" wide (each panel - so 114" total) and are 118" long. They are the perfect width and I can hem them just a bit to get them to be 91" tall. Standard US made curtains are around 84", which was too short.
So once I had the curtains figured out, I wanted to figure out my options for curtain rods. There are great options at Lowes, Home Depot, Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Wayfair, Overstock, etc. They can get pretty expensive and especially a 10' option! I think some of them can look really nice (usually the more expensive ones), but oftentimes the more affordable ones are cheaper looking.
I wanted to try my own version of the wooden curtain rods and I think that's a great option for my curtains. I think the design and style totally match what I am going for with my curtains.
I found a 10' wooden curtain rod from Lowes, 2 wooden side brackets and one wooden center bracket from Hobby Lobby, and two finials from Lowes.
The rod and finials came in bare wood, while the brackets were pre-stained, although they didn't quite match the color stain I was going for, so I sanded them down to prep them for staining.
Here's the Rustoleum stain in Kona, which is the perfect dark colored stain for what I wanted.
So I stained the curtain rod, finials, and brackets to all match in the Kona color.
Then came install time - you have to be really precise when installing. You have to make sure that the brackets are perfectly level so that the rod sits level. You also have to make sure that you screw the brackets into a stud or at least use the plastic drywall screws so the rod doesn't get ripped out of your wall when opening the curtains one day!!
 Here's the installed curtain rod!!
 It looks so amazing and is desperately awaiting the curtains!!!

Got the curtains in! Hemmed to the right height and looking beautiful!!!!



I LOVE the way it turned out!!! I'm so happy with it!
Let me know your thoughts!


Monday, January 12, 2015

How to Choose the Right Curtains for Your Space

Ok, ladies and gents. This is going to be a relatively extensive post about curtains!! But I promise it'll be worth it!!! This post will be followed by a post on my own curtain install!


They really can make or break a room. They pull together your design. They are a focal point of a room. Curtains cover such an expanse of a wall that their color, pattern, and style are more significant than most pieces of furniture! What I have learned is that curtains (&/or other window treatments) really can make a home.  You can live with minimal furniture but having nice curtains (also shower curtain, kitchen curtain, etc) makes a home more home.

There are a million options out there for curtains, curtain rods, and other window treatments (vertical blinds, horizontal blinds, curtain panels, etc). While I do love me a beautiful set of wooden, horizontal blinds in the right space, I'm really more of a curtain girl.

A great conversation with Debbie - my amazing friend and design guru - has really spurred this post. I recently moved into a new studio apartment and have some beautiful windows in the main space. I do NOT want to hide these windows but want the option to cover them with sheer curtains at times, and then other times with heavier curtains (when watching t.v. or needing extra shut-eye or temperature control). Also, because it is a smaller space, I do not want these curtains to take over, but merely complement the beautiful space they will be in.

Here is some great and useful information I gathered while working with Debbie while trying to figure out the best option for picking out curtains for my new space!

So, a few things to think about when choosing curtains for your home:

DESIGN: Spend sometime in your new place just sitting and being. Look at the sunshine… think about colors you want to use. You want a place that is calming to greet you when you walk in! Think of what one item will be the anchor… color, design item… for each room!  It can be a painting, a chair, a fabric…. it is your start and you build around it.

  Another important factor is how large the room is and how busy your curtain design can be. What can the room handle? A smaller room can be taken over with a busier curtain pattern. While a lighter colored curtain can make the room instantly expand in size! A bigger room can handle a busier pattern and the curtains can almost turn into a piece of art of their own.

  Consider fabric type at this point as well. I like a bit more informal fabrics such as cottons and linens, but there are also silk, lace, satins, and brocades. Also consider weight of these fabrics - whether you want sheer curtains or heavier curtains. Oftentimes I like the option of both - a sheer and a heavier curtain.

WIDTH: Measure the width of your windows you are trying to cover. Once you have your side to side measurement you want to consider giving yourself enough room to place brackets on either side of bank of windows.

 Next consider how many supports you will need to span your window length.  If it is a very long expanse of dowel or pipe it will likely need at least one or possibly 2 supports (to the right of each window) in the center of the rod. (A standard sliding glass door is about 75 inches and you will typically want to have a support in the center of those as the center of the rod will bow.)

LENGTH: Curtain length is dependent on where or how high you want to hang the rod (from ceiling, half way between ceiling and top of window frame, or at window frame.  Standard options for ready made curtains in the US are 84 or 96 inches. And, it is best to have about an inch between floor and curtain so that they open and close easily. (If you have too much fabric then it will drag on the ground, be more difficult to open and close, or your family pet will think it is his new bed!)  I think curtains to the floor will look most elegant instead of a couple inches off the floor.

 Measure your window height and consider the look you want. I prefer curtain rods that hang between the ceiling and the top of the window frame. I think they tend to make a room look taller and look a bit classier.

FUNCTION: If these will be ‘working curtains’, ones that you will be opening and closing several times a day, the rod needs to be sturdy and it needs to have that slide-ability. A wood dowel alone would be hard to use for this as it sticks. You can get those wood rings and either sew them to the curtain or use rings with clips, seen here from Home Depot. Metal or pipe rods have better slide-ability for fabric, rings, or curtains with grommets that have a more modern look.
 This is once again where you will need to consider fabric type as well. When you are thinking about the function of the curtain it is important to think about what fabric to use. I want three functions for my windows: 1) completely open (no curtains), 2) sheer curtain to let some light in but still have some privacy, and 3) and a heavier curtain fabric to have the ability to shut out some light to cut down on glare of the t.v. and for sleeping.

Utilizing both curtains leads into the curtain rod question.

RODS: Double vs. single curtain rods? Of course if you are only using one curtain per window you only need a single curtain rod. If you are going to have a sheer on the inside of your window and a thicker curtain on the outside you will need to consider what type of double rod you will want. The nicest way of doing this is to purchase an official double curtain rod (as opposed to trying to have a tension rod for the sheer and an actual curtain rod for the heavier curtain. Hey! Been there and done that in my college/first out of college days where you're just trying to make it work!). But that option is often not very strong or functional. 

INSTALLATION: If you have ever unsuccessfully installed curtains you have experienced the curtain rod ripping out of the wall as you adjust the curtains.... This is an incident you would like to avoid for both your wall's sake and for your sanity! So think about if you are able to securing install the curtain rod into the wall. OR, is there a handyman around there who can help with inserting a strong curtain rod secured very tightly? Remember find your stud (wall stud or handyman stud..... ;) )!!!

Remember, and most importantly, there are no hard and fast rules here. It all depends on the style or look that you want and how you will use them. You hang curtains in a way that works for you, i.e. do you want very full curtains, curtains that are hung from ceilings to cover entire walls, ones that drape on to the floor, or ones that provide a very tight frame around the bank of windows.)
But, you have to be pretty accurate with hanging anything like curtains or shelves… unlike pictures or wall do-dads! So, re-measure your walls and your windows. Be very accurate so that you get the look that you are after.  
There are lots of calculations that go into curtains.  But I know that you can make the choices that will give you the look you want and the function that you need.

Great places to buy your curtains: Ikea, OverstockWayfair, HomegoodsTJ Maxx, Pier 1 Imports
Great places to buy your curtain rods: Same places for the curtains, as well as Home Depot, Lowes, plus there is the option to make your own.

 (Stay tuned for my next post on making your own curtain rods!)

Let me know your thoughts on this post! What have you tried in the past? What style or designs do you like most? Where do you buy your curtains?

Show me pictures of your success, and heck, your fails, too!! :)


Friday, January 9, 2015

Quiche Crazy!

I asked my mom for a quiche pan for Christmas. First of all, I love quiches. Any chance to fill something with cheese and some veggies I'm all about it! They are super easy to make and to re-heat, and they are also relatively inexpensive, which means I can make one and eat on it for a couple days for a pretty good price.

My mom ended up finding these mini quiche pans, which is actually a much better option than one single pan. The nice thing is they are portioned out for a single meal so I can eat one for dinner or take one in for lunch. The other nice thing is that I can make the base for the quiche (the egg custard) but have different fillings for each mini quiche. So that's what I did!

I made the general quiche base - the egg custard - with 4 eggs, 1.5 cups of half-and-half cream and whipped those together. I mixed in some salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, and thyme. (You can add whatever other seasonings you want, as well. Get creative!)

I made 4 mini quiches - each with different variations of fillings - pictured below!

The top left one has: Canadian bacon, cheddar cheese, and onions.
The top right one has: spinach, swiss cheese, onions, and mushrooms.
The bottom left one has tomatoes, swiss cheese, and onions.
The bottom right one has onions, mushrooms, and swiss cheese.
Here's the recipe:
-Pre-made pie crust
-4 eggs
-1.5 cups half-and-half cream
-spices to your taste, such as basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, etc.
-Quiche fillers to your taste - swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, Canadian bacon, ham, onion, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, tomatoes, etc.
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Fit the pie crust in the quiche pan and cut the excess off the top.
3) Line pie crust with tin foil and bake for 8 minutes. (This helps bake the crust just a little bit so that it doesn't get too soggy in the baking process.)
4) In the meantime prep the quiche custard base: whip the eggs, half-and-half, and spices together.
5) Chop whatever fillers you decide to use and set aside - if you are using onions, ham, bacon, mushrooms, or asparagus sauté it in a pan with butter to pull out the flavors a bit.
6) Once you pull the crusts back out of the oven, layer the bottom with your fillers then cover with the custard mix.
7) Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the top is browned and you can pull a knife out cleanly.
8) Let cool for about 10 minutes before enjoying.
9) You can refrigerate these for up to 3 days - reheat in microwave for about 1.5 minutes or in oven until warmed.
10) You can freeze these for much longer and reheat them anytime! Cover them tightly and put in freezer. Let it thaw before reheating.
ENJOY! Let me know how they turned out or if you have any questions!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Gold and Black Chevron Bathroom Trashcan and Opposite Chevron Tutorial

Okay, okay... I have to admit that I am one of a few crazy people that instead of going to Walmart and buying a $3 plastic trashcan (which is a way easier option) I found a wooden one at Hobby Lobby and decided to do an intricate design on it to match my new studio apartment bathroom. Now, I will say that I didn't seek out this crazy moment. I was going to take the easy way out but while I was walking around Hobby Lobby and saw the trashcan and had a moment of inspiration!

My bathroom has a cool 50's black and white tile theme and I bought a beautiful gold and white paisley shower curtain to go in it. I decided black, white and gold were the colors I was going with then.


So I decided to paint the trash can black and do a chevron pattern. I was trolling Instagram one morning and saw someone post something from a cool cafĂ© and the table was chevron, but was an opposite chevron design, which really tripped my trigger because while I like chevron I think it is getting a little overdone.

I did a chevron chair a while back and posted about it on my blog (here), and even in that post I noted that chevron is NOT easy. I, once again, was not fooled into thinking it would be easy, but I must have forgotten in my excitement that I was getting myself into quite another project... and all for a bathroom trash can! But once I set my mind to something it is not easy to talk myself out of it.

After much trial and error (and wasting a decent bit of washi tape), I finally figured out how I was going to do this. So, here we are, ladies and gentlemen, my tutorial on how to do an "opposite chevron" pattern.

The first step is to measure your space to prep for making even squares for a grid-like pattern. Working in centimeters majorly helped me with accuracy of dividing up the space.

Once it's all measured, using a straight edge, you will connect the top and bottom and side to side dots to create a grid. Then, using your straight edge again, create diagonal lines through each of the grid squares.
You can see that there is a chevron pattern created this way. You can use this method to do a regular chevron pattern, as well.

I used this method to create the "opposite chevron" look - I colored in every other diagonal block instead of creating a chevron line across. (I partly colored it in so I wouldn't make a mistake and paint in the wrong block!)
You can freehand paint in the diagonal blocks or create a sort of stencil template (out of cardboard, tape, etc.) to easily go along and paint in the blocks.
Here is one side finished!

Here is the trashcan in my bathroom with its awesome black and white tiles. I think this black and gold, opposite chevron pattern totally ties in the 50s art deco look of the black and white tiles, as well as the white and gold shower curtain I went with.
Let me know how you like it and if you have any questions on how to create a chevron pattern or an opposite chevron pattern!! Good luck crafting!!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Christmas Dried Grass Arrangement

I packed up the car and headed north to Ohio for Christmas where my mom lives. My brother and his girlfriend came in from Chicago and we had a fun old-fashioned Christmas in Ohio - no snow this year though.

My brother and his girlfriend got my mom the book Bringing the Outdoors In by Shane Powers and this beautiful purple vase from Gethsemane Garden Center in Chicago because she's a flower girl like me.

I was inspired by both the book and vase, and while I was outside talking with my brother I saw these beautiful dried lily pods and grasses that I instantly thought of for the new purple vase.

Their cream color would look great against the purple vase.


These lacy, dried, lily seed pods were absolutely beautiful! I took a million pictures at a million different angles to try to capture just how amazing they were!

I am a big proponent of "Bringing the Outdoors In" so I highly recommend checking out Bringing the Outdoors In by Shane Powers for some inspiration on ways to bring the natural world inside your home!!