Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas 2012 Wrap Up

Christmas has come and gone - {insert sad face}. It was our first Christmas in our home and I had so much fun decorating for the holidays. I actually de-Christmastized our house today, but wanted to share a quick wrap up for all of you!

Santa brought us a white Christmas! It started snowing on Christmas Eve after wondering all winter if it would ever truly feel like Christmas with the warmer weather we were getting in Maryland. It was extra special seeing our house with snow - there's nothing like your first year in your first home.

Trader Joe's has the best flowers at such reasonable prices! I picked up some gorgeous orange roses and eucalyptus for me and my mom. Who doesn't love getting surprise flowers? It was her first Christmas in her new house too - so I knew she would love to wake up on Christmas with these in her kitchen :-)

Santa said everyone was extra good in our house! I wanted to go with a gold and silver wrapping theme - but we had so many extra random rolls of wrapping paper in the basement, I thought it would be fun to see them all under the tree.

I picked up some new Christmas stockings this year and made that mirrored sun burst. Next year I am definitely whipping up a few more and hanging them from the mantel or bay window in the kitchen. It was definitely time consuming - but nothing a real housewives show and bottle of wine can't handle ;-)

Chance looking like the most adorable pup on Christmas morning.

Chris loves personalized ornaments. We always pick up an ornament when we are on vacation - so I knew he would appreciate having a wedding ornament. I found this gem at Target and loved that the year was etched on it! Perfect for a happy wedding photo to live :-)

I love looking out our kitchen window at the snowy woods. It's so pretty!


Lots of cookies were made in my new KitchenAid. My grandma was right, I definitely have been getting a lot of use with this! 

I loved searching Pinterest for unique ways to decorate for the holiday. I hung pine cones in our windows from twine and tied gold ribbons in the top.

One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was my Young House Love autographed book from hubby. I really wanted to go to their book signing - but didn't want to go solo, so Chris surprised me with an autographed book of my own! Looks like it's going to be a DIY year for 2013 :-)

I made reindeer cork ornaments this year and they turned out so cute!

I hope everyone had a great holiday. I feel really blessed for all this year has brought and I'm looking forward to having a more "normal" routine this coming year now that buying a house and the wedding is over. I'm ready to get back to incorporating more "healthy" posts in this blog - including working out regularly and easing my way back into the pescatarian lifestyle. Have a great New Years Eve!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Downstairs 1/2 Bath Inspiration Board

Now that the dining room and living room are in a good place (i.e. they have actual furniture/set look planned) I can move onto brainstorming for the next room. Ideally that would be the kitchen, but since I have future plans that we need to price out and we don't want to cut corners I'll stick to working with our downstairs half bath instead.

Our current downstairs half bath includes fabulous pink walls, a matching pink toilet and a floral border. Totally our style... NOT!

I'll never understand why people go for the "in" color and not stick to the basic white when it comes to tiles, showers and toilets. Never. Have no fear, I have a plan that utilizes the existing vanity while completely transforming the space. I'm hoping to get a jump start on this over the Christmas break since Chris and I are both home for the week.


I have been loving on navy lately, and I think half baths are the perfect space to throw a dark, moody color on the wall. By stripping and sanding our current vanity + possibly adding legs to the base we can create a completely new look while saving some costs. I love those door pulls and they definitely fit the style I am looking for.

I think by using these tiles I saw at Home Depot + adding horizontal wall planks or white molding to the wall I can get away with a dark paint color and dark floors without making the room feel entirely like a cave. 

I'm thinking a chrome round mirror, or even a DIY wood mirror would look awesome and adding some white photo ledges would be make switching out photos easy. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Tips for Painting Stripes

I spent a lot of time swooning over striped hallways on Pinterest before deciding to recreate the look in our own house (check out my Entry Inspiration board, here.) While drooling over the photos, I read several blogs to collect tips for what worked for them to make my process as easy as possible.

Thanks to my preparedness, none of the paint leaked through and I had ZERO (yes, ZERO) touch ups needed. How? Here is what I learned and what worked for me:

1. Look at SEVERAL photos of striped walls. This will help you decide horizontal vs. vertical, fat vs. skinny and bold vs. neutral. I knew I wanted to use the two colors connecting our hallway to our family room - a light and dark neutral. I also knew I didn't want extremely fat stripes and feared doing skinny stripes in case I would have a ton of touch ups.

2. Hold a tape measure up against your wall. Play around with different widths. Make pencil marks and keep them on the wall for a few days so you are certain they are the width you want.

3. Use frog tape - it's the green painters tape, rather than blue. I read a few blogs that swore by this tape and said the blue tape caused leakage.

4. Have someone help you tape the stripes and use a level! It may seem daunting to use a level, but trust me - you don't want to be staring at crooked stripes every day.

5. Use a credit card to seal the tape to the wall. This helped A LOT! I found that in several places, the tape wasn't entirely secured to the wall.

6. Before painting your darker stripes, first paint your base color over the tape. This will prevent any leaking because it seals the tape.

I love the way our hallway turned out. It almost plays tricks on your eyes making you think the hallways is deeper, which I love. Another project checked off of our list - and I am happy to report it was a SUCCESS! Now onto the downstairs half bath :-)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ugly Sweaters and Christmas Decorations

Our house is fully decorated and we hosted our first annual Lucas Ugly Sweater Christmas party with our friends this weekend.

Our first real Christmas tree! We went to Piney tree farms this year with our friends bright and early to find the perfect tree.

I strung strands of pearls on the mantel, picked up those poinsettias at Home Depot on Black Friday for 99 cents each and the stockings are from Pottery Barn. The ribbon I used to adorn our gifts is the same ribbon used on our pew markers at our wedding ceremony - so it's a little reminder.

I took trimmings from the tree and stuck them in vases on our media console and throughout the house, I placed the votive candles we used at our wedding. I love the gold rim and sparkle! Tiny red bows were spread on door knobs and candles for extra cheer.

My cousin Carly is amazing and came over to help me clean, cook and decorate for the party. She also did an awesome job wrapping the back of our front door and decorating it with coffee filter snowflakes to make a backdrop for our "photo booth".

I collected and made props for people to use, set them in a basket in our entry way and left our iPad with a photo booth app for people to have fun taking photos.

I also decorated garland from Michael's for our staircase. I hang all of our Christmas cards from it!

Our wine bar finally arrived just in time. Our friend Elena picked us up those adorable red and green paper straws and the "Merry" cocktail napkins. I'm obsessed with cocktail napkins.

I made table signs for the food and drinks using Christmas cards we received in the past as a background and printed labels which I glued in place. It was actually really fun reading through all of our old Christmas cards - I keep every card Chris and I have ever gotten from friends and family. Organizing them is on my to-do list!

Finishing our basement is definitely on our future to-do list, but having it unfinished worked out great! Chris set up ping pong, beer pong/flip cup and darts for everyone to hang out downstairs and I didn't have to worry about anything spilling - which is an automatic win in my book!

We had such a great time with our friends this year - I can't wait to carry on our new tradition with old and new friends next year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Sweet Nursery by Brittany Hale Photography

I have to say, my girl friends are some of the most creative people I know. I love sharing ideas and collaborating on projects with them. My friend Brittany is a talented photographer (check out her new website!) who welcomed her second gorgeous baby girl, Harper, earlier this year.

I love the bohemian/shabby chic feel she created with Harper's nursery. She included so many DIY details in this room.

Luckily, she shared all of her sweet nursery details with me - including the sources!

crib (similar)
ruffle pillow in crib: marshall's
dream banner: handmade with pink, glittery cardstock from michael's

picture frames: joann fabrics
photos: her own work! check out her site!
lamp: marshall's 
dresser: babies r us (storkcraft)
changing pad cover: etsy
wire basket: marshall's

shelf: joann fabrics (hand-painted)
bird bank: homegoods
somewhere over the rainbow print: hospital gift from me with a sweet note on the back
teal frame: marshall's
Ravens tutu: handmade

dresser: (removed bottom 2 drawers)
knobs: joann fabrics
wire basket: marshall's
lamp: marshall's 
baby things baskets: michael's

dream catcher print: printed from internet
Maryland print: printed from Etsy
'H':joann fabrics, hand-painted

teal frame: Pier 1
piggy bank: Pigeon Hills Pottery in Finksburg, MD
"i carry your heart print": found online, printed
shelf: joann fabrics (hand-painted)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide - Stocking Stuffers for Him

I really enjoy the hunt for the perfect stocking stuffer - almost more so than the larger presents for under the tree... those are more predictable in our house since we usually hint to what we want.

Fill your man's stocking up with some of these ideas - but only if he was on the nice list ;-)

3. Lunch Gift Cards
4. Gum
6. Wallet
8. Movie Tickets
9. Replacement Razor Blades

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Living Room Inspiration Board

You know when you have been trying to figure something out for months and all of a sudden the fog parts and you can finally see a clear vision? That magically just happened for me (well, mostly). I have been so unsure of our living room since we moved in - from repainting, to switching out lamps and pillows and still being stumped on how I wanted the room to look.

I've slowly been replacing the bright colored pillows with more subtle grays and creams. Adding in natural elements like our natural bamboo blinds and falling in love with our rustic media stand we recently purchased. Trying to find a coffee table and side table that weren't part of a set, but still worked well with each other for a more "collected" look. I think I am starting to get a grasp on this room! Phew. I was about to rip my hair out!

I'm thinking black frames - either set on the side tables or arranged above the couch would pop against the walls. And the great thing about keeping everything neutral is that it opens up the possibility of one day adding a navy accent wall (which we are already doing in our office, but I love the navy/greige combo.)

Help me with our side table and coffee table choices! I'm flip flopping between the combo of 1a and 2a or 1b and 2b.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide -The Hostess

'Tis the season to give, so this month I am kicking off a few gift guides to help spark your imagination for what to buy your loved ones. Christmas is only 20 days away!

I have been dreaming of bar carts lately - if you can't tell from my Pinterest. Bar cart accessories are the perfect gift for the hostess in your life. By sticking to gold, silver and cream and accenting with pops of color - these items will fit in with any decor.

6. Laurel Dawn Print

 Salt and pepper shakers are a necessity when having a lot of guests over and owls are the current trend. My mother in law would especially love these! 

We used raj candleholders from Crate and Barrel as small vases at our wedding since they are slightly oversized and I loved how they looked. And just a tip, if you are visiting your local World Market, they sell miniature champagne bottles. The perfect thing to stock up in your bar or to place in a stocking ;-)

Throw in a couple funny or chic cocktail napkins (my weakness) with a few (or all) of these items and make a gift basket. West Elm and Pottery Barn offer monogramming - a cute bar towel with "cocktails" monogrammed would be the perfect extra touch!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Tree Inspiration

The year Chris and I moved into our first apartment together, I went to the store around the holidays, picked up a fake, pre-lit Christmas tree and gold, silver and bronze ornaments. I didn't notice until I got home that the cashier had forgotten to ring up our tree (which was upright in the cart, in plain sight). It was then, that I knew Santa was real.

Let's be honest, we were in college... and to us, that was a Christmas miracle!

That tree has been with us for 3 years, and although it's a little sad that we are retiring it's holiday magic, we are excited to have our first, real Christmas tree in our first, real home :-)

Chris and I have a tradition of collecting an ornament when we travel to a new place. So this year we are excited to add ones from New York, Maine and our honeymoon in Cabo. It's a little reminder of the memories and blessings we've had over the years.

A real Christmas tree means we're going to need to purchase more ornaments, a tree skirt and actual Christmas lights to string. I've been searching Pinterest for inspiration before heading to the tree farm this weekend with friends.


I'm hoping to make an advent calendar this year with ornaments to place on the tree as we count down the days!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Our Wedding Video Trailer

I can't say nicer things about Christian with Villatoro productions. Our wedding highlights trailer turned out more amazing than I could have imagined. Christian really went above and beyond by contacting my sister to help surprise us and our family on Thanksgiving by setting up a secret showing of our video.

My sister stayed in Ohio for Thanksgiving, but coordinated with our cousin Ryan to help set everything up. After dinner, my family gathered in the living room with dessert to watch photos from the wedding that my uncle Eric took. Then popped up our wedding video! We weren't expecting to see anything until the first week of December.

Watching our wedding highlights with my family for the first time was beyond special. All of us were able to relive our wedding day in that moment. For a vendor to go out of his way and put so much effort in creating this special moment for not only Chris and I, but also our family - I couldn't recommend them more.

We have received so many compliments on our video, it only makes us more anxious and excited to see the final video!

Chris & Cara Wedding Highlights Film from Christian Villatoro on Vimeo.

I know many people don't believe that spending money on a videographer is worth it - but in my personal opinion, they couldn't be more wrong. The day goes by so quickly, and the video captures all of the moments and emotions of the day that a photo can't. I've easily watched the video at least twice a day and still can't get enough of it. One day we will be able to show our children our story through this video, and to me, that is priceless.

If you are looking for a videographer, check out Christian and Villatoro Productions on Facebook or their website.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Garland and Bows

Hoping everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving spent with their loved ones! This Thanksgiving was my favorite, by far. The dust has settled from the wedding and we were able to spend the majority of the day at my mom's house - rather than jump between our 4 families. And to top it off, our videographer went above and beyond by setting up a surprise with my sister (who coordinated with my cousin) to play our wedding video on Thanksgiving so we had the opportunity to watch it first with our family (I'll share the video on Monday).

I couldn't say nicer things about Christian with Villatoro Productions. And I couldn't recommend spending the money on a wedding video more, after seeing our preview. Check them out on Facebook or on their website!

Every year, the day after Christmas I break out the Christmas decorations. I refuse to listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, but the day after - all bets are off and it's blasting in my car.

I mentioned we have been slowly updating the exterior of our house. We painted our front door and side window panel, replaced the front door hardware, spray painted our house numbers and this weekend we removed all of the shutters to paint them black.

I personally think it makes the house look younger - giving ourselves a pat on the back!

My mom and I went to 3 different stores yesterday looking at Christmas decorations since this is our first home and we needed to stock up. We found these bows on sale at Michaels for a dollar each! They made it through the winds last night, so I think they are here to stay!

After putting on the shutters yesterday, I cleaned our porch banisters with soap to freshen them up. They look so much brighter now, especially with the contrast of the shutters!

My mom helped me pick out berries at Michaels to add to the plain garland we found there. We also spotted some cute snowy pine cones. The garland was on sale for $1.99, the berries were a dollar (which we separated and twisted onto the garland and the pinecones were in bundles of 3 for 50 cents.

I love the way it turned out!

I couldn't help but pick up this living wreath at Home Depot. The juniper berries and pine cones were too cute! I do have plans of adding some extras to help jazz it up.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend so far and just for giggles, here is a before shot of our house.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Knock Knock

I always dreamed of living in a grey house with black shutters and a warm red door. There's something so inviting about the color scheme to me. And don't get me started on the holidays. Red doors were made for hanging Christmas wreaths.

This past weekend we decided to start on the exterior updates of the house - starting with the front door. We had picked up paint samples after the wedding and made our selection - Behr's Dozen Roses, which seems fitting since Chris is going to bring me home a dozen roses once a month, right? A girl can dream.

I removed the house numbers and spray painted them with leftover Chalkboard paint to help them stand out and match the new hardware we bought for the house. It's funny how small updates make me so happy!

It's still a work in progress, but here's where we are.

Front door before:

And front door in progress:

We still have to put the kick plate back on the bottom, which I spray painted with chalkboard paint. I'm thinking, "wipe your feet, please" written in chalk would be a cute welcome message for our guests. They sell a matching oil rubbed bronze kick plate at Home Depot if we get sick of the chalkboard idea.

Let's see where this weekend takes us on making more updates!