Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Our Man Cave Renovation - time to redecorate!

As many of you already know, we recently had a plumbing fail in our basement, and my hubby's newly finished man cave suffered a big loss. All the flooring had to be ripped out, the drywall had to be cut out, and a lot of the electronics and decor got wet and damaged.

Thus, we're now in the process of getting ready for a major renovation. With that in mind, its fun to take your mind off the sucky part of this experience, by imagining how we might redecorate the space.

Coincidentally, I was just invited to participate in Man Crates Gifts for Men's "Man Cave Makeover" campaign. Man Crates is an online source for sending your guy a gift he'll laugh at, brag about, and probably grunt over while breaking it open with its included crow bar. Yup, they come with a crow bar! Highly covetable, these wooden crates come filled with things guys want - beer, beef jerky, grilling gadgets, barware, sweat-inducing spicy snacks, survival gear (in case of an zombie apololypse of course), golf goodies, and products for the poker player or old-school video gamer.

Man Crates asked me how I would decorate a Man Cave, and I have to say I would do exactly what the hubster and I did the first go-around - with an industrial aesthetic. You can check out this previous post that shows a lot of the items we used in our basement, like Edison light fixtures, stainless steel, etc.

For the purposes of this post, I'm thinking pie-in-the-sky, money is no object...and making a list of what I would do, if I could, without a budget or a hubby to stop the madness!

First, I love exposed brick...so I'd give one wall that treatment.

Next, there'd be a lot of exposed ductwork, beams and track lighting with grey walls. Black beams though (which is exactly what's in our man-cave now)

I'd choose a comfy grey upholstered couch, and pair it with some reclaimed wood pieces, like a coffee table, console or media center.

There is no lack of cool industrial light fixtures available on the market today. I love cage lights, vintage barn lights, and even big mercury glass globes. Oh how to choose!?!

And of course, any self-respecting man-cave needs a game table - especially a pool table. Check out this baby (from Great Gatherings)...oak hardwood, mortise and tenon construction, decorative metal bolts...I think I can hear my husband moaning with pleasure already!

A bar is another given for a man-cave, and these bar stools make my heart go pitter-patter.

As for artwork, I'd do vintage maps...especially city maps, like this...

So there ya have it, my vision for an ideal man-cave - a place where he can enjoy solitude with his Xbox, or a Sunday in front of the big screen with his buddies!

Thank you Man Crates for the invitation to participate in your campaign.

Now back to dealing with the insurance company!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Halloween decorating and making your own spell book

I hate scary movies, but I love creepy Halloween decorations. Go figure. 

So every season my son and I dig out the skeletons, skulls, and other creepy-crawlies to liven up the front yard. I really wanted to do something different this year - less cheesy. Less cheap scare, more Fall, with a touch of the hair-raising, in a subtle way. But, it didn't happen. I had hoped to have a hoard of time and money to shop for new things. Neither happened. So, we went with our usual. 

The only part of the outdoors I am really happy with are the crows. Why? Because the pizza delivery guy told me that this one scared the hell out of him! I don't blame him. (Have you seen Hitchcok's The Birds??)

Here's a couple of the indoor vignettes...

The only real fun I had with decorating for the 31st has been the "mad-scientist lab," as I like to call it. I saw this idea on Pinterest and more or less just stole it!

To think I bought these apothecary jars for a baby shower I hosted last year! This one now holds my son's rubber snake!

These lovely cloches were scored at Great Gatherings during a 75% off sale! I got such a deal on them! And doesn't the skull look creepy in there!

I found these jar labels online. Gotta love free printables! I can't remember where I found these. If you Google search images for Halloween printables, you're bound to find them!

Another snake in a jar, with little mice scampering over things on the table!  I wish I had a realistic looking frog! How can a household with a 7-year old boy not have a fake frog??

My only real project was making this spell book. This was also an idea found online - and easily recreated! Below are the simple steps (so simple you don't really need steps, but I'll list them for you all who insist on complete tutorials)!

I bought this big dictionary at a local used bookstore. Only $1.00!! And fortunately for me, it already had a black board cover. Look for a thick book - it doesn't matter if its old, you can make it look old.

1) Find a big, thick book, with black board cover. If you can't get a black cover, paint your cover black.

2) I used a wet sponge to moisten all the edges of the pages. Let it dry. 

3) Design two sheets to look like an old spell book. Again, there's a lot of wording examples on the net. I found both of these "recipes" on the net. I used an old-fashioned gothic style font and designed using Adobe InDesign. I downloaded the free skull and snake images from The Graphics Fairy

4) Next, open to the center of the book. Spray each side with spray-mount glue and stick down your newly designed sheets.

5) Then, I antiqued the page edges and two new sheets with Annie Sloan's dark wax. I just brushed a small amount on with a paint brush and it looks beautifully old!

6) I took my wet sponge again and went over the edges of the pages and started to roll them with my fingers. They dried slightly rolled up and look great!

7) Last, I grabbed an old black ribbon, cut a forked end, and just draped it across the open book, and tucked the other end under the book. I didn't even attach it, as I don't expect anyone will be touching this evil-looking thing! (insert bewitching laugh here)

And that's it - the hardest part was driving 30 minutes to the used book store!

Now that the house is all decked for Halloween, I can't wait to take it all down and start putting up my Christmas things! Damn, two more weeks until Trick-or-Treat.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Decorating Bottles for a Vendor Event

This past weekend I did my first vendor event with my Simply said business. It was at Haymarket Day, in down-town Haymarket, Virginia, on an incredibly gorgeous day. As you would expect on a sunny, warm Saturday afternoon, the masses were out. Who doesn't love a parade, beer garden, and bands?  And over 250 venders?!!  I do, I do!

I had the great fortune to be placed right next to the kettle corn truck. Oh yeah - a mile of people waiting in line to get their grub on, all the while eyeing up my Simply Said goods! They'd walk right on over after getting their giant bag-o-popcorn, and say, over and over again, "What's Simply Said?"

 By person #1,345 I had gotten pretty good with my response. And a jar full of registration slips proves it. But seriously, I had a lot of very interested folks tell me they want to host a party. I even took a few orders right on the spot. And I sold about a dozen of my fun, little decorated bottles.

I made the bottles in an attempt to try and make up some of my investment for the booth. Normally I wouldn't spend that kind of money on a vendor event, but, I know I have to grow my biz outside of my lovely community, and figured this was the biggest show I could afford to do. Especially if these bottles sold like the kettle corn did!

I made thirty of them. I did not sell thirty, however. The Christmas ones didn't move. Guess when its sunny and 80-some degrees outside no one is thinking about Dec. 25.  They did love the candy corn bottles, though!! (kettle corn, candy corn…this is starting to sound like a sponsored post)

I should have made all of them with the white/orange/yellow combo of colors. But, I wanted to give people variety! So, I made these, too…

It's okay, I have two more vendor events coming this holiday season, so I hope that the festive designs will be in demand then.

So, I've had a lot of questions on how to make these lovelies, so here ya go:

1) Drink a lot of wine! Or better yet, host a Simply Said party with me, and let your guests drink all the wine. (psst…drunk ladies like to buy stuff)  Kidding. Kind of.

2) Once you have some empty bottles, soak them to loosen the adhesive on the labels. I soaked for about an hour, then scraped the labels off. I got all remaining goo off of them with mineral spirits. Rubbed it on, and wiped them clean.

3) I bought cans of Valspar gloss spray paint at Walmart. I took the bottle outside and set them upright on a flattened cardboard box. I sprayed them each with three coats.

-hold the can a few inches away from the bottle at all times
-spray using even strokes back and forth
-do not expect to have complete coverage on the first coat - its better to have very light coats
-if you spray in one spot for too long, you will get a drips
-go around the bottle in a circle - spray from 12 o'clock, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock
-let each coat dry before adding a second or third coat
-when overlapping layers of color (for instance in the candy corn bottle) spray with a fine light mist at the point where they overlap for seamless blending
-spray on warm sunny days and a bottle dries in a matter of minutes
-let paint cure for at least a day before attempting to decorate with vinyl designs or accessories

4) After I sprayed the bottles, I let them cure for 2 days in the garage. Then I applied Simply Said vinyl designs to each. All that entails is rubbing and removing paper!

5) Next I embellished with ornaments, ribbon, jewelry and other pretty little trinkets. 

6) For a decorative touch to make these bottles look like vases, I go into the woods, fetch a bunch of twigs and skinny branches, and spray-paint them as well. Then I pop them into the tops of the bottles. Done!

The grocery store gave me a few wine boxes and they made it so easy for traveling with the bottles. No clinking around, or worrying about dinged paint jobs.

So there ya have it, instructions for decorating your own wine bottles. Drink and be merry my friends! See ya at the next show!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Nine wineries in one day!

Yesterday I spent the day visiting Northern Virginia wineries. Nine of them. Yep. You read that right. Nine!  Of course, you'd think after spending time at that many wineries, I'd be in bed this morning working off a hang-over. Nope, I'm good. Because I was the designated driver.

You see, my mother-in-law and her friends, from Pennsylvania, planned a weekend to Loudon County to visit the vineyards. They got a hotel and were even going to hire a limo to take them around. But, it was crazy expensive, so I offered to help. And it was a ton of fun!

Here's some pics from along the way!

This is Deb, Linda (my MIL), Linda and me at the Loudon Valley Vineyards.

 One of the things I like best about wineries is their beautiful landscaping and flowers!

 And so many of them are pet-friendly! Many had bowls of water and food outside for the visiting furry-friends! Although I think this guy lives at Village Vineyards!

Village Vineyards had a great-tasting nonalcoholic  drink for me - made from Elderberries and Aronia tea. Yummy!

The two above are the views outside Loudon Valley Vineyards - beautiful! I was told that the farm is a place for special needs children. This grand white house once belonged to the vineyard property, but now its been made into apartments.

The above three are views from Crushed Cellars

 Here's a cool use for an old window - picture frame! This is hung inside the door to The Barns.

 More ideas for crafting with corks! I do have a rather large collection waiting for something to be done with them.

 I fell in love with this chandelier!

This is a great shirt for a book club with wine-drinking ladies. Not that I would know anything about that.  

The next dozen shots are from 8 Chains North. I loved their interiors!!
 Vibrant wall colors, and amazing light fixtures!

 LOVED this gallery wall of art that was for sale! They are by artist in residence, Linda Hendrickson.

 Drooling over their mercury-glass pendants!

 If I ever have the opportunity to design a bar again, I am so going to do this!! Love the bar top over the barrels!

 This room was stunning! it's hard to see it in these photos, but their were so many of these breath-taking chandeliers! The floor had just been mopped, but it was a beautiful wood, very grey in color. I can only imagine how spectacular this must be when its decorated for a wedding!
Even their bathrooms were cool! Check them out below!

 Look at that mirror!

Reclaimed barn wood and a chandi - yes please!

 Outside was like a dog park - there were 5 pups running around!

A view of the grapes!

The next several pics are from Hunter's Run Wine Tasting Barn..

 By this point, we were working on winery #6. You can see things were starting to get a little crazy! Here Deb posed for a grape-eating shot!  

The two Linda's below opted to just hold the grapes. But I do recall my MIL telling me to sniff the the grapes!

 I had to take a photo of this huge, gorgeous bird house!

They had a cowboy theme going on!

The next several photos are from Hillsborough Vineyards. This was by far the most beautiful and scenic of them all! It sits way up on a hill and the views down into the valley were breathtaking! I could sit out there all day!

Beautiful hammered copper bowl on the wall! This is my kind of artwork!

The next set of photos are from Zephaniah Farm Vineyard. Of all the wineries we visited, this one was certainly the most interesting!! It sits on a big farm and the tastings are held in a c.1830 home, in which the owners, Bonnie and William, live. 

We were seated in the parlor - filled with amazing antiques and original woodwork. 

 Double pocket doors.

 There were historic documents, books, antique accessories and black and white photos everywhere. It truly was a feast for the eyes, and anyone interested in history would devour this place. 

 The owner, Bonnie (on the right posing with my mother-in-law, Linda) spent a good hour with us, talking about the history of this manor house. I was riveted! Especially because I had asked if the house had ghosts…low and behold…they do! Bonnie told us a story about the first family that had owned the home…and she believes it is the lady of the house, Madeline, who still walks the halls and oversees the happenings. I had goosebumps!

 Here's an article about the current owner of the home, Bonnie's husband, William Hatch. Here's a blog that gives you the history on their family. That too was fascinating.

 They had a big library, and inside was a beautiful card catalog!

 Five generations of the Hatch men.

Outside in a gorgeous stone courtyard.

Seeing and learning about Zephania was a great way to end our day. Everyone was sufficiently filled with wine, and tired from our tour. I'd love to do this again someday. Next time, I'll do a little tasting myself!

(We did also briefly stop into 868 Estate Vineyards, but they were crazy busy, and we didn't wait. Sorry no pics from that stop.)