GIVE the Hostess THE Mostest

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all my fellow Canadians!

What are you doing this weekend?
a) enjoying your loved ones
b) giving thanks
c) salivating over a nice feast at a fancy table full of thanks
d) snoozing somewhere in a tryptophan induced coma or
e) all of the above.

Chef Kev and I are really lucky in that we have not one, but two dinners this long weekend. Yay! We are off to my parents one day, and his the other.

I wanted to bring a nice Thanksgiving flower arrangement to each dinner to show our 'thanks'. And so I made some tonight. Here they are...

I've always wanted to try making one of those neat pumpkin arrangements I've been seeing around, so here was my chance! I've outlined the steps below if you'd like to make something similar.

First I simply picked up an assortment of grocery store blooms. I just chose what was economical and what I thought looked nice together. I was going for a 'harvest' type colour palette to play off the feel and colour of the pumpkins.

Once home, I grabbed two styrofoam cups from my stash to use as the 'vessels' to hold water. I was afraid that putting the flowers directly into the pumpkins (and filling them with water) would cause them to rot faster than the speed at which Chef Kev gets up for seconds of turkey. Fast.

As you can see, they are taller than the pumpkins. But don't worry, I have a plan for that.

I traced the perimeter of the cup to mark the opening on my pumpkin.

Then I cut them open, hollowed and cleaned out my little gourds.

Placing the styrofoam cups inside, I rested my pen on the 'lip' of the pumpkin and rotated the cup to mark where I would be cutting it down to fit.

Then I simply cut the cup down to size with regular scissors. 

Once trimmed, I placed them into the pumpkins. Don't worry that they are not a 'perfect' fit to your opening, the extra space allows you to wiggle your fingers in to turn or remove the cup (for adjusting, filling with water etc.) So it's actually a good thing (to quote Martha).

After filling both cups with water and flower preserve, I began assembling each arrangement.

First I started with the sunflowers as they were the largest bloom I had.

The bundle sold at the store came with three sunflowers so I already knew I'd be building two different arrangements (versus building little twin ones). 

Next I started layering in the carnations. It's probably obvious but you'll be cutting your stalks down really short for this type of 'low and lush' arrangement.

Don't worry about making it perfect, or even gaps like this...

Simply fill it in with some of your lighter textured blooms. I always like getting an array of textures when I pick flowers for arranging. Dense blooms are great for 'bulk' but finer, more textural or 'looser' blooms make great options for filling in gaps and adding some variety to your arrangements.

I like that that bloom has a much smaller 'flower' on it than the larger carnations and sunflowers.

Since one bouquet had two large sunflowers and the other only one, you'll see that the arrangement below right was starting to lack some star power.

But BAM! Using my trick above I threw in an unexpected textural element to turn it up a notch (am I channelling Emeril here)?

See that little greeney yellow guy I added and how with just ONE bloom it can totally change the dynamic of the arrangement? Oh, and I placed it in that location and a bit higher than the rest to add some balance to the large sunflower.

Next I layered in the tiny roses I had bought and I was done. To save you from scrolling back up, here are the finished arrangements again...

These were fun AND economical. Each arrangement came in at around $15.

And a few more views of the finished pumpkins...

Oh, and don't worry if your favourite 'side' or 'view' of the arrangement falls at a spot of the pumpkin where there is a blemish or scratch, simply wiggle your fingers in and turn the styrofoam cup so that the flowers' 'good side' matches that of the pumpkin's.

Gourds can be so vain.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

linking to:
Liz Marie Blog
Craftberry Bush
Serenity Now
i heart naptime


I lead a pretty exciting life

Want to see what I got up to on Saturday night? Warning - it's pretty X-Rated. As in X = wrong. Bad. Solution required.

I organized.

It was a party.

I was the only one invited.

Contain your excitement.

In an attempt to stop the dining room table being a dumping ground (you know, so we can actually eat dinner there) I had to find a new spot for the biggest culprit - my laptop. I usually take it with me to work so when I bring it home, it generally gets parked on the dining room table and used throughout the evening/weekend many times.

It needed a home. A new one.

And this mess needed to be cleaned up.

I like things being tucked away, Chef Kev likes them out in the open and accessible so the cooking oils and utensils had to stay. The cookbooks also needed to stay on the counter (by request). The doggie treat canister gets used daily (lucky Belle) so that made sense to stay as well. The canisters got moved to the ledge above the stove and the phone also stayed where it was due to the phone jack being right there. The espresso machine is too big to tuck away anywhere else. But it all could be tidied up some.

But look to the top far right at my dirty not so little (or hidden) secret.

Totally my fault. Look closer at Casa Clutter over there.

But don't dare open it unless you brace yourself for the avalanche.

Holy CARP (yes, I mean the fish). Do you like my collection of vases (original purpose) plastic plates, cutlery, bubbles, outdoor toys, things that I thought were too small for a baby (now a toddler) and miscellaneous 'decor' finds? No? Me neither.

This needed to become a home office station STAT.

After some serious Saturday evening organizing I filed everything into their rightful home - bubbles and outdoor toys to the outdoor storage bins, paper plates, plastic cups and cutlery to my storage elsewhere which housed their 'friends' and the once-too-small-kids-toys-now-okay-for-toddler got put into the potty training prize jackpot.

The large vases and decor items got relocated to our closet that has new shelving (via Chef Kev) for safe (non-avalanche inspired) keeping.

And since I was on a roll, I thought I better tackle this 'issue' as well.

double CARP (two fishies).

Too make a long Saturday evening short, this got a major file and in the end this drawer holds a few misc. household items - removable hooks, tape, candles etc. but most importantly, I finally created a usable system for the danged CABLE STORAGE PROBLEM!

Oh label maker, you make me so happy.

At the end of my organizing rampage spree, I had a nice new TIDY home for my laptop to be parked each night. I still take it up to my office when I do design work and plug it into my larger monitor but for all the other little things I use it for, this is great. Plus the perfect spot to charge it each evening.

In the boxes you see through the frosted glass are small home decor items (napkin rings, tea light candles, small candle holders etc) as well as all of my 'office' type stuff that I need on hand - lap top case, note paper, back up drive etc.

The mat below is where we feed Belle.

And the nice thing is if I do need to sit for a quick moment, I just turn the chair around and make my self comfy.

I had everything on hand so this was a nice and easy free makeover. yippee!

Things that are uncluttered seriously make me very, very happy.

And, because I was having such a rocking night, I went on to make Chace's Halloween Haunted House after all of this.

I told you I lead a pretty exciting life. So different than my Saturday evenings of 5 or 10 years ago... But I wouldn't change it for anything :)

What about you? Any quicky clean ups that went a long way in your mind? Do you have a computer 'station' that is easily accessible? Any vase/decor related avalanches at you place? Do tell!


Haunted Halloween Advent Calendar

I wanted to do something fun and Halloween related for Chace as now that he's three, he's really starting to get in to the holidays. He keeps asking if it's Halloween yet, and then when I reply 'no', he asks if it's Christmas.

So when I saw this amazing FREE countdown haunted house over on 'Kiki and Company', I just HAD to make it for him. What better way of focusing his adorable excitement than with an advent calendar!?

Here is the completed one on our kitchen table - ready and waiting for excited toddler.

Now, you may have noticed that I had to water down the amazing typography that Kiki did. The designer in me hated to do it, but the mommy in me won out. Since Chace is only three and can't yet read - and is learning all his numbers - I edited the file in Photoshop so that each window only had one number. That way when we are asking him to "find number 21 - look for a two and a one together" then it's nice and simple for him.

After I did that, I uploaded it to a photolab that can print a 16 x 20 print and also picked up some foam core from the craft store.

When I had my print back, I used my exacto blade and ruler and (tedious alert) cut out all the windows and the door. It was worth it though :). I made sure to leave the left 'side' of each intact since that would become the 'hinge'.

Then I flipped it over and used some white glue on the back. In hindsight, a glue stick or rubber cement would have been much better (it's bubbling a bit due to the white glue) but I just used what I had on hand and didn't worry about it being perfect. Chace will love it just the way mommy does it. He's not picky!

Flipping it over, I glued it in place on the foam core. Since my foam core was larger than the print, I trimmed down the edges.

The version that Kiki and Company created has another sheet filled with fun Halloween related tasks to go behind each window (i.e. "make pumpkin sugar coookies and decorate them") but in reality, Chace is too young for most of the tasks and/or they require major mommy involvement and planning - and I'd end up having to do most of the task for him. Perhaps when he's a bit older...

So for now, most days will just have a little sticker inside. But when I saw these mini Halloween clothes pegs, I just had to work them in somehow!

So I grabbed three jewellery boxes from the craft store and realized if I used the top and bottom I'd end up with six little boxes that I could use as 'cubbies'.

I picked six windows and then cut through the foam core to make an opening behind them. Again, I didn't worry about being too precise here. It's a bit finicky to cut through the foam core and the edges aren't that clean, but don't sweat it if you try this yourself.

Then I flipped the haunted house over and simply taped the six boxes to the back of the board with a single long piece of scotch tape.

Then I used a remnant of the foam core excess and cutting it on an angle, made an easel for the back. I attached this with scotch tape as well.

Here are some of the little happy Halloween stickers waiting for my little ghoul.

And of course, one of the six cute clothes pegs that are sure to delight.

Such a fun and easy little project that lights up Chace's eyes. Now he knows when he gets to the '31' that it is finally Halloween time!

Still a ways to go kid.

What about you? Any fun toddler/kid projects going on over at your house? Do you have a holiday challenged boy like me? Easter? Halloween? Christmas? Anyone? Bueller... Bueller... Bueller...?

Or should I say Booller? {Groan}

Desktop Calendar Roundup: October 2012

The second favourite month of any toddler - Halloween! er, ah, I mean October. Wow. Already?

Here is my roundup of the calendars that caught my eye this month. Click on the link below each calendar to be redirected to the dowloads.

Trick or Treat! ... or calendar. Whatever.

Just as sweet right?

Red Stamp

The Foodies Kitchen

Oana Befort

The Pretty Blog

Stacy Hanna

Jennifer Squires

Dave Hornsby

Marina Design (via Smashing Magazine)

Paper Leaf

So which one is your favourite? Let me know if you download one and which you choose if so :). Do you design a calendar that you'd like included in my monthly round up? Drop me a note (or comment below) if so.

Happy October everyone! ... 84 days until Christmas ;)
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