Showing posts with label Ask Me. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ask Me. Show all posts


Ask Me: Fall Table Decor

Natalie, a friend of mine in Virginia, recently wrote to me for help:

I am hosting a thank you dinner for a group of volunteers from my church. It is set for early November and we would like to use a fall theme that is simple. There isn't much budget left, so since the party is at my house and I am in charge of decorations for the table and buffet serving area, I would like to buy things that I could reuse in the fall decorating of my home; I would also love to implement candles as there will be no children present. There will be multiple round tables for guests to eat at, in addition to a few buffet serving areas. Table linens are white fabric tablecloths. I have some fabric fall toile napkins and table runner I made for my own purposes a few Thanksgivings ago that could be re-purposed as part of the decor - please help!

For me, fall decorating is all about natural materials and muted colors. Skip the turkeys and childrens' table crafts, and go for sophisticated and simple. Placesettings like these pack a lot of punch and don't require a lot of work. I know Natalie lives in a wooded area, so materials like acorns and pine cones should be readily available. Inexpensive linen and burlap-type fabrics are all over the place these days. I got a great burlap runner at Pottery Barn this month. I love the way it set off my book club food table the other night. Pretty (sanitized) feathers are available at craft stores. Grab some grosgrain ribbon and a fine-tipped pen and you're set. Images from Martha Stewart.

A simple, non-bulky buffet table decoration. Leaves lots of room for the food!

Here are a couple of great ideas involving candles, a cluster of pillars mixed with pumpkins on a wooden tray.
Images from BHG

Totally in love with this beautiful tablescape and pumpkin placecard DIY from Kathleen at Twig & Thistle via Delightful. I think this is the direction I would go.

Love this simple place setting via Once Wed. This would be pretty with a background like the toile tablecloths or runners that Natalie mentioned, as well.
Photography by Jen Curtis
Styling by Joy Thigpen
Pretty ideas using colorful branches from the forest. Photo via Full House

And everything from Emersonmade is incredible, of course. Now, you may not have dozens of amazing fabric flowers hanging around. But perhaps some real or faux blooms could look just as tasteful.

A great way to end the party, a pretty and do-it-yourself favor table! From You Are My Fave.


Ask Me: Election Night Dress

A reader, Mandee, recently sent me an email with a request for help. This is how it went:

So, I'm knee deep in campaigning here in Utah, but have been asked to help find an "Election Night Party" dress for our candidate's wife. She's young, 5 kids, tall, and brunette. You have great taste, and always find cute stuff in not so regular places. Any suggestions? I need to find something for myself, too.

Fun! I love shopping with other peoples' money! I don't know about not-so-regular places this time. When you're shopping for a special occasion/cocktail dress, department stores seem to have the best selection. Here are some fun options from Boden, Nordstrom, Macy's, Dillards and Shabby Apple, any of which I'd buy and wear to a party! They're all conservative yet flattering in cut, and appropriate in color, especially for the tall, brunette candidate's wife. How nice to be tall! Links are below each dress.

Pretty in black, but also in Hot Pink!

Red is a great election night color! +

Classy first-lady type dress. +

Let me know what you choose for her and you, Mandee! And thanks for reading!
Any other sources you think Mandee should check?


Celebrating Mom with Dana & Disney

I'm so excited to be participating in
Dana and Disney's Celebrating Mom posts! I love this idea, and am glad that there are bloggers who take the time to make our lives easier by filling our minds with ideas and projects. Thanks, ladies! I thought it would be fun to showcase some gift ideas for our moms (I'm assuming most of you are between 20 and 40 and might have young children!), the ones who are new-ish grandmothers, who are still hip enough to shop at Anthropologie, but who get a little tear in their eye when they receive something sentimental and thoughtful.

Most of our mothers would say, "Oh no, don't get me anything!" and if they're like my mom, she really doesn't want or need any
things from me at all. So I like to give memories, either by sharing old ones or creating new ones. These are all things I would get for my own mom. She is intelligent, well-traveled, spiritual and loving. She revels in history and reads constantly. She's just who I want to be.

I love giving old books as gifts. If you know what your mom's favorite book or author is, seek out early or first edition copies of these gems. My mom has an early edition of Vanity Fair, and I've given my husband a first edition of Hardy's Jude the Obscure. These gifts have history, convey your thoughtfulness, and are unexpected. The best kind! The lovely book above is from Etsy shop, Sadie Olive. You can find lots of old books at antique shops, Abe Books or on Ebay as well. Do a Google search and see what you can find!

How about an old postcard or print of the town in which she was born, or where she had happy childhood memories? My mom was raised in so many different places, but I know that Litchfield, Connecticut holds a special set of memories for her. I found this neat little postcard on ebay. Frame it up in a little 5x7 frame and she'll love it. Check this ebay search for your particular state and city.

Many of you may live near your moms. Count yourself lucky if you do! My mom lives at least 3 states away and no doubt her favorite thing to do it visit her grandchildren. She comes to my house as often as she can, and I love every minute that she is here. If I could give my mom anything, it would be an airline ticket to my house. There doesn't need to be any particular reason for her visit, but by giving her a voucher, frequent flier miles, or airline gift certificates, you are showing her that what you value most is her time.

Other meaningful Mother's Day gifts:
  • pictures drawn or letters written by your children, put into a scrapbook or otherwise memorialized and sent directly to grandma
  • a seriously meaningful letter (not just a note) from you, describing all of the ways your mom has influenced your life, all the things you're glad she taught you and all the little things she did that showed her love. Moms love being thanked.
If your mom isn't the sentimental type, or if she just really loves pretty things, how about some of these?

a pretty scarf to spruce up her Springtime wardrobe

a hand-stamped necklace or other piece from an artist such as Lisa Leonard

or a lovely wreath for her door

Happy Mother's Day to all of you! You deserve every moment of happiness you can find. My best moments are with my family, as I'm sure yours are as well. Many wishes from me to you for a fabulous, peaceful, love-filled Mother's Day!


Ask Me: Coastal Style

Claire, a reader who just moved to Rhode Island, had a little request of me. She says:

[In our new home,} we are thinking we want to incorporate a bit of a seashell theme, but with a modern and subtle twist. Have you seen anything recently that was beachy, yet understated- like lamps, prints, etc.?
I've had a post composing itself in my head for at least a month now, sorry it's taken so long, Claire! I love a beachy-type room, nothing is more relaxing! Since Providence is near the ocean, or at least the bay, the look would be believable and not too kitschy, as long as you do it with a certain amount of restraint. Trying to pull off a beach-inpsired room in, oh, say, Dallas, would be more of a stretch.

One of the most important elements of an ocean-inspired room is the color. I think you should go one of two ways: a sea-glass inspired blue or green (very subtle, with a hint of gray in it for sophistication). Something like these:

, or a more forgiving (if you change your style) family of neutrals, as in this photo below.

photo by Burcu Avsar

Basically, you need to choose between a cool palette of blues and greens or a warmer palette of sandy shades (brown, white, etc.). I think both are lovely. Browse room galleries on websites such as BHG, House Beautiful, and Coastal Living (where I found the images below). A lot of these sites will have specific color finding programs that can be very helpful, too.

Once you've chosen a color scheme, I suggest you place light-colored furniture in your rooms. The lighter the better, in my mind. Slipcovered white sofas would be ideal. I'd add in some seagrass or jute rugs (if you have hard floors). These can be found at many pricepoints, here's a mid-range version from Crate & Barrel.

Next, use lots of different textures. Since your main color palette might be quite monochromatic, texture is important. Lots of glass, whether clear or mercury, would be perfect. Mirrors are also an essential element of any room, in my opinion.

Other accessories in linens, shell and bone are also really lovely and lend a very rich look. You can find these all over the place, from Target to Pier One to World Market. These items are from Wisteria and Ballard Designs. Click on the + for the link.

I hope this has been helpful, Claire! Let us know what you choose to do with your new home, and best of luck in your new city!


Ask Me: Vintage Handkerchiefs

I had a question submitted lately from my dear friend, Natalie. She said, 

"I have a couple of beautiful embroidered handkerchiefs, some are family heirlooms while others are just pretty ones I've picked up here and there. Do you have any ideas for display or turning them into something pretty and useful?"
I happen to know that Natalie is an excellent seamstress, so lots of these suggestions have to do with a sewing machine or a needle & thread. Two ideas I don't have pictures of:
1. simply mount the more fragile handkerchiefs in a shadowbox. If the handkerchief has cutwork or other details you want to highlight, be sure the background of the shadowbox is a contrasting color to the handkerchief.
2. create a "bunting" sort of flag banner by tack stitching the corners of several handkerchiefs to a length of ribbon or cord.

Below are some pretty ideas I found on Etsy:

This seamstress hand-stitched several hankies together to create the bodice for this sweet dress. From Only U, on Etsy.

This isn't a hankie per se, but it's a good idea for something small and square. Simply applique it to the front of a pillow. From The Vintage Thread, on Etsy.

Vintage hankie applied to the bottom half of a onesie, a pretty portrait dress for a newborn perhaps? From Childproof Modern, on Etsy.

Candace at Sparkle Power made this absolutely precious layered skirt from an old pillowcase. Easily adaptable to a hankie, which would be more of an apron than an overskirt.

This pretty piece of lacework was applied to a small clutch. This could work for a doily or handkerchief, too. From White Owl on Etsy.

I hope I got your creative juices flowing, Natalie! Can't wait to see what you come up with!