When our kids have birthday parties, I always try to give a single larger party favor, rather than a lot of little trinkets. It’s so gratifying to see the boys’ friends continue to use their Ninjago T-shirts and Superhero capes. … Continue reading
A while back, my friend Ari got the inspiration to paint decorative trays, and I caught the bug. She finished painting her tray some time ago, and it turned out beautifully with gold spray-painted stripes. I definitely took longer to finish my tray, but at last, it’s done!
The inspiration for my latest project was actually a tray that Ari found after I wrote my earlier post on ideas for decorating trays. This gorgeous Circles Silver Round Mirror made by Beaux Maison and was my inspiration piece!
I love the pattern and silver glow, which I thought would be perfect for an old round tray I had lying around. My original tray was from Target, and while I love the shape and the pattern of the bamboo, it had nicks and scratches in the finish, and the color doesn’t work with our current living room.
The tray had a very glossy finish, so I started by sanding it with a coarse (100 grit) sandpaper and using heavy-duty Zinsser Bulls Eye Primer.
I could have painted the tray in matte and glossy silver paint, to come closer to the Beaux Maison version, but I thought that might be a bit dressy for our living room, so I used a base of pale blue paint. The leftover can of Swept Away by Benjamin Moore has worked for several other projects already, like these painted screens.
Making a contact paper stencil:
To get the overlapping circles design, I found a simple graphic by searching the internet for images. This pattern actually came from a picture of a doormat!
I enlarged it and printed several copies to fit the large tray. After joining the pages together, I taped the whole template to a piece of contact paper. I then used a craft knife to cut out the design. This took a long time, but it made a good activity for a quiet evening, or should I say many quiet evenings!
When it was cut out, I used the stencil with some silver craft paint and created the design.
To finish the project, I applied several coats of a clear spray finish.
I’m still trying out ways to style this pretty addition to our living room. What arrangements do you like?
Yay! Very happy to have this one off the project table and into the living room! Just in time for an icy winter holiday theme?
When you welcome a baby into your life, you can’t help but think a lot about his roots and his future. One special tradition that Steve’s parents introduced us to was the Korean first birthday celebration – the Tol (also called Dol).
Even before our oldest son was born, his Harabuje and Halmoni (Korean grandfather and grandmother) were planning K’s Tol. This is a special celebration that originated in a time when infant mortality was high, and a baby reaching his first birthday was an important milestone.
I didn’t know much about the Tol at first, but it became a sweet tradition that we continued for all three of our boys. With a few simple and meaningful elements, you can add this special event to your family’s memories, too!
Steve happened to have gone on a business trip to Korea while I had been pregnant and he had brought home a traditional outfit (hanbok) for baby. Steve’s parents searched high and low and found the special socks and shoes to match. You can buy these in the US, too. Here is a link to a baby boy Hanbok and a baby girl Hanbok.
Harabuje and Halmoni hosted our first Tol in a private room at a Korean restaurant. It was a small event with family and a few close friends. The ritual of welcoming and honoring our young baby and his family seemed more important than putting on a display for others.
The main features at a Tol are the table set with an abundance of fruit and special rice cakes (called “duk”) and the Toljabee.
After the restaurant party for K, we hosted L and J’s Tol celebrations at home. While the restaurant had a set of fake fruits and accessories, I opted for something more simple, setting the table with red and blue decorations and fresh fruit and rice cakes. Simple, familiar flavors always go over really well with a crowd (especially if there are some picky eaters among you).
In the Toljabee, the baby is presented several items that each symbolize some characteristic, and the items that the baby chooses are a prediction about his future.
That’s a lot of pressure for a one-year-old! Luckily, the Toljabee is definitely rigged for success. Some examples of things a baby could choose are:
- A book, showing he will be intelligent
- A pen, showing he will be well-educated
- A bundle of string, symbolizing long life
- A Korean metal bowl of rice, meaning he will have enough to eat
- Grapes, predicting many offspring
- Money, representing wealth
For our Toljabee at home, I assembled some symbolic items on a decorative tray. Embroidery floss or ribbon makes a pretty string!
Sharing the tradition:
All of our Tol celebrations were small. We kept to a small group of family and close friends. A big party can be overwhelming for a little baby, and there will be plenty of bigger parties to come. If you are having trouble tailoring a guest list, try writing everyone’s names down. This can help you to see who really needs to be there.
When L had his Tol, I mentioned it to his older brother’s preschool teachers, and they asked if I could teach his class of three-year-olds about this tradition. L became a living show-and-tell presentation, and we let each of the kids pick an item as part of the Toljabee.
I also made a picture book for the class to teach them about the Tol tradition. This was easy to do with a photo book and some simple text. Shutterfly has lots of options for customizing a book to make almost anything you can imagine. I made an extra copy for our family, which I put out during J’s Tol, and it was very cute to see L request a reading from every adult in the family.
Looking back, we have a lot of special memories from these parties. Our kids tend to be more involved with their Chinese heritage, since they’re in a Chinese immersion school, and above all, their lives revolve around North American culture and interests, so I’m particularly glad to have included this Korean tradition in our family. While it was very important to Steve’s parents, it seems like a lot of other families didn’t know about the Tol, so it was also fun to share this tradition with our friends, and now, I’m excited to share it with you!
Do you have a baby with some Korean roots? This would be a beautiful event to hold for him or her. A lot of Korean restaurants are equipped to host a Tol, or it’s easy to do something simple at home. When I get a chance, I also want to tell you about our Chinese Red Egg and Ginger parties, and I’d love to hear about your traditional celebrations from other cultures, too!
A bit of Canadiana for you – Sharon, Lois, and Bram have the greatest kids’ albums – stuff you can totally get into as a parent, and if not, we’ll you didn’t hear it here. But really, please check them out. One of my favo(u)rites is actually a popular song from the 1940s, “A – You’re Adorable.”
You can listen, while you check out this sweet project we did for a baby shower last month. Since this was my friend Nicola’s second baby, we wanted a simple event, but of course, there had to be a craft project!
For baby E’s sister’s shower, we decorated onesies. For baby E, I gathered letter shapes, and we created an eclectic alphabet to decorate the room the sisters will share.
I loved seeing all the creative ideas, including some creations by the under-three set.
Here are some of the techniques we used:
- Paint – we discovered some of our friends had a lot of talent!
- Yarn – wrapping a letter took a little patience but turned out charming. I had fun with the multicolor yarn.
- Scrapbook paper – you can paint the sides first; then add a coordinating paper. So many possible variations with this!
- Craft tape – I couldn’t resist this cute tape with bicycles, since our friends are avid cyclists.
Here are some close-ups of the same letters I made before the party:
And here is our finished alphabet!
Creating the art made for a fun and relaxing afternoon!
I love watching my boys grow up, but you can never get enough of a new baby. One of my favorite places to find special gifts for everyone from babies to big kids is the amazing sales at Zulily.com!
Congratulations to the beautiful family on sweet baby E’s arrival!
We’ve moved quite a few times over the years, and I’ve definitely learned a few things. One of those is that while it’s tempting to try to furnish and decorate your new home all at once, it’s better not to take your time. Besides the fact that you’ll make better decisions once you lived in your home for a while, I’ve also found that right after I move, I tend to look for the cheapest possible decor, since I’m still recovering mentally and financially from the move. When I space out the purchases, I usually end up picking better quality things.
That being said, some things just really need to be done quickly, and that includes window coverings. Black garbage bags hung with blue painter’s tape only look good for so long, you know. So, when I bought shades for our house three years ago, I went with the simplest option for the boys’ room. I had it in mind to spruce up the shades eventually, and I finally got to the project this summer.
I really like the look of fabric shades with a ribbon border. I had created a border on the curtains in our master bath, and I love how that turned out. For the boys, I wanted something very simple. I found some cotton twill tape and used tacky glue to attach it to the shades. It’s holding up very well so far. You’ll have to experiment with your own shades, but for reference, the twill tape I used is 1 1/4 inches wide, and I attached it to the shades 3 1/2 inches from the edge.
I’m so impressed and happy with what a big difference this little change has made! It gives me hope that I might someday be “done” decorating the little boys’ room, a project which usually makes me think of the saying “Cleaning the house while children are growing is like shoveling snow while it is still snowing.”
Hope to be back with more projects soon. It has been a busy and fun summer. We’re renovating our kitchen and basement, which is a big project. I’m very excited and more than ready to be done with the dust and on to the decorating!
With two of my friends at work expecting babies, I realize I’ve crossed a strange line. Our family is complete, and while little J is just 3 years old, there is a part of me that feels a bit like a doting grandma, looking back on those long-gone days of pregnancy and first-time motherhood.
In any case, I wanted to make something special for my friend Kate’s baby boy, so I put together this patchwork of whimsical prints and backed it with warm fleece fabric.
Congrats, Kate and Rob. You have a lot of fun ahead! And try to get some sleep and date nights in…
Oh wow! I did not realize that a whole year has gone by since our oldest moved into his own room. This was formerly J’s nursery, so it is a small space. The bed I built out of IKEA Expedit shelves has been one of the most popular projects on the blog. I’m finally getting around to showing you the rest of the room, now that its occupant is away on a school trip. He’s actually pretty neat for a fifth grader, but I still needed a little uninterrupted time to make the room blog-worthy. Of course, this means I will be showing you the younger boys’ room in approximately… never?!
Because I wanted to make the most of this small space, I did buy a lot of the furniture new. But when I look at the room, I realize there are also a lot of personal home-made touches. I’ll list the projects at the end of this post. Meanwhile, go ahead and enjoy looking at K’s room, which will look like this for exactly 13 more days, until he gets home. I did update a few things, and I hope he’ll think they are a good “welcome home” surprise!
- Oversized wall initial
- Cozy fleece throw
- Decoupaged mirrors
- Art frames with clips
- Upcycled pencil tins
Boy, I miss my boy!
We’re in the early stages of planning a kitchen remodel, and we interviewed several architects. One, whom we didn’t end up hiring, became somewhat fixated with this large picture window in our living room. It’s the first thing you see when you walk into our house, and admittedly, the view is mixed. You can glimpse the western sky at the top, which is often stunning at sunset, but much of the view looks out on our neighbors and also on our own cracked concrete driveway, including parked cars and a basketball hoop. This particular architect couldn’t help himself from repeatedly bemoaning this “tragic” window. He coyly promised a solution, but I guess he’ll never get the chance to tell us about it.
Meanwhile, here’s my decorating solution. I love how this table makes a pretty focal point that screens and distracts from the less picturesque parts of this view. I realize it’s not technically in our foyer, but the table serves a similar purpose of dressing up our entry.
The table is actually a small dining table we had. Without the leaves, it works as a large display table in this space and doubles as a serving area for parties. The Craftsman style pedestal looks pretty standing in front of the window. The chairs are made over from a craigslist find and deserve their own post!
I can’t say I’m not a little curious what our sassy visiting architect had in mind, but for now, I’m very happy with the way this little vignette dresses up our living room while screening the less attractive parts of our view.
More on those dreamy chairs soon!
I’m a little crazy for these chairs. As in, I told Steve that if I go before him, he should feel free to get rid of most of my stuff, but could he please consider keeping these chairs?
I have a faux bamboo fetish that includes these Chippendale chairs. They are a good match for the chinoiserie theme in our living room. I had been scanning craigslist for a while when I scored these great chairs. They weren’t exactly cheap, definitely not free like the Queen Anne chairs I found, but they were still a good deal for well-made pieces in this classic style.
I still have four side chairs waiting for their Cinderella moment, but the three armchairs in this set are ready for the ball:
Are you looking for your own chairs to transform? I’m excited to share that my friend Ari launched a slick new furniture re-sale site over at www.revolvingdecor.com. Check it out to participate in a curated online marketplace for great furniture finds!
This project was so quick and easy that I almost didn’t post it… And then I thought, if something is so quick and easy, and I love it, that’s all the more reason to share!
I was in a rush, so I forgot to take a “before” picture, but just imagine a plain wooden tray. And then look at this!
The inside of this tray had a few water stains, and I was trying to think of an easy way to make it pretty and also more water-resistant for serving drinks. I remembered I had some of this Laura Ashley Self-Adhesive Shelf Liner leftover from laminating recipe cards at Christmas, and ta-da!!
That’s all – except now I want to do a dozen more trays with a dozen other pretty patterns. I should add it to my collection of ideas for decorating trays. It may have taken longer to write this post than it took to line my tray!
Get to it, fellow DIY friends!