Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It's probably not surprising that I LOVE decorating for the holidays. I have an obsession with Christmas trees, the more lights the better. I have one thousand lights on my 6ft tree this year (10 stands).

I'm pretty traditional when it comes to Christmas decorating though; choosing to stick with reds, greens, silver and gold.

While I do incorporate coastal and nautical tree ornaments, I don't typically decorate within my favorite color pallet of blue. But this could always change, maybe I'll develop an extreme love for snowflakes and snowmen someday.

Sorry for the blurriness

You can't tell from this picture, but I have a red glittery lobster, red sailboat, sand dollar and sea turtle ornaments on the tree. I love collecting ornaments from vacations and try to purchase red versions if possible. I think the pop of red on the tree is just so striking. I'm also a big fan of glass icicles. 

The custom stockings were a new purchase from the Etsy shop, Terrapin Knits. They're 100% wool and made by hand on a hand-powered knitting loom. I love their classic, fair isle design.

My new project this year was taking a chalkboard painted canvas hanging in my kitchen (I made this a while back), and drew a holiday greeting with chalk markers. I got the inspiration from Pinterest. As you can see, I made a play on a Christmas tree... because I have an obsession with Christmas

Merry, merry!

~ Alicia   

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Creating My Own Triptych Art

I finally have art above the bed! 

After nixing the too feminine hydrangeas that hung above the bed in my previous apartment, I decided on hanging a triptych art/photography display (three separate panels that create one piece of art). Buying canvased art in this format can get expensive - so I decided to create my own!

I knew I was searching for something coastal-inspired, but in a high resolution format. Unfortunately, iPhone pictures can look blurry if you're blowing it up to an 11x14 like I wanted. So I purchased the lighthouse/sailing photograph below from Thinkstock, and then pulled it into Photoshop to make my desired adjustments.

While I love the sunset blues and oranges in the photograph (Go Gators!), I knew I wanted black and white for my bedroom. To achieve this, I desaturated the image and then adjusted the levels to get the perfect amount of white vs. black. I wanted it to POP with silhouettes rather than be grey-scale. 

Using Photoshop's rulers, I cropped the panoramic image into three even sections and saved each image as its own file. Then I used Mpix to order high quality prints on metallic paper. (I received the metallic paper recommendation from a friend and am so glad I went with it.) 

The prints only took a few days to arrive by mail, and I popped them into the already hanging frames as soon as I got home. 

The B&W photographs feel so much more crisp and classic paired with my white studded headboard and silver side table lamps. I'm obsessed with the new look!

~ Alicia 

P.S. I would love to replace or display my own photographs at some point, but for now someone else's photography is just fine.

Friday, November 21, 2014

'Tis the Season for Homemade Apple Crisp

I know very few people who have been able to turn their passion into a full-time career, but a dear friend of mine is doing just that!

While working full-time, and earning her MBA at night, Lyndi has already registered her company Littlest Love Bakery. (Just imagine a pint-sized baker, with a big smile and an even bigger heart.)

With the goal of opening a storefront, lucky Nashville residents can already begin their love affair with her baked goods by placing an order on her website. I'm continuously amazed by Lyndi's drive and commitment. She's truly an inspiration in "making a career out of what you love".

Without her, I wouldn't have made the leap to create my own blog as an outlet for my love of interior design; and because we follow each other's blogs religiously we thought it would be fun to swap themes for a post. So in honor of Lyndi, I've written about an incredible apple crisp recipe my mom gave me. Yum!

Hop on over to Littlest Love where Lyndi is blogging about baking organization 101!

~ Alicia

As I mentioned, my mom gave me this recipe probably seven years ago. I had just moved to Boston after graduating from college, and was building my own arsenal of baking supplies. Honestly, I've always loved to bake; most likely because baking is a science and if you follow the measurements exactly - it's difficult to mess up. Unless you leave something in the oven too long, but I've certainly NEVER done that before...

Cooking Time: 40 min
Temperature: 350 degrees

8 large apples
1 cup of flour
1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup of melted butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt

Peel, core and cut all eight apples. I personally like fuji apples but many people swear by big red or macintosh apples. Along with this recipe, my mom gave me an old-school apple peeler and it dramatically speeds up this part of the process. I've cut and peeled apples by hand before and had to keep the slices in iced water to prevent them from turning brown.

Once the apples are rid of their skins, place them in a 9x13 or similarly sized greased pan. If you are baking in a non-stick or glass dish greasing is not necessary. I like to use my round pie dish to amp up the dessert's presentation.

This ingredient is optional, but I like to add dried cranberries (Craisins/similar brand) to add some tartness and flavor complexity. These aren't part of my mom's recipe, so I left them out of the ingredients list.

Next, mix the cinnamon and brown sugar in a bowl and sprinkle half of the mixture over the apples. Set aside the remaining mixture for later use. In a separate bowl mix white sugar, flour and one egg -then add salt and baking powder.


Take the batter and spread over apple slices. Don't feel like you should cover the apples evenly like you would with a pie crust, this batter will be thicker in places and even crumbly at times. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon and brown sugar over the apples and batter.

Next, melt 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter in either the microwave or on the stovetop. Pour the melted butter over everything, making sure to drizzle the butter evenly. Don't think about how much butter you're using - it's worth it, I promise!

Finally, place in a 350 degree oven (uncovered) and bake for 40 minutes. I use a cookie sheet to catch any sticky, sugary spill-over. I'm not a fan of cleaning the oven. I don't think anyone is. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

I admit that I didn't take a picture of my apple crisp with ice cream - I was too busy enjoying it. I hope you'll love it too.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Painted Pumpkins

FINALLY, my completed pumpkins!

You guys aren't going to believe this, but I caught a nasty head cold last week AND then I got all four wisdom teeth yanked on Friday. Hence, the delay in getting these bad boys painted and the blog post published.

This is the first time I've painted pumpkins. As you can see, these are not your traditional Halloween pumpkins. I'm hoping to have them around through November as well, so I went for a more contemporary look. The littlest one with the blue is my attempt at creating an Ikat design.

Maybe I'll wait until after Halloween when all of the pumpkins and gourds go on sale and I'll paint a few more!

Here are some Pinterest inspiration pictures that got my creative synapses firing. 

Bling with an unexpected color

Candy Corn Stripes, Argyle, Chevron

Puffy paint? Yes please!

What girl doesn't love glitter?

I've been searching for small/taller
pumpkins ever since seeing this!

Is anyone else stretching their creative muscles with pumpkins this year?

~ Alicia 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Creative Seasonal Decor

Autumn has definitely arrived here in New England.

The foliage has finally reached Boston, gourds and pumpkins are nestled on doorsteps and in window boxes, I've broken out the riding boots and scarves - it's glorious!

I've been busy with a pumpkin project of my own... I'll post pictures as soon as it's complete (hopefully tonight).

But in the meantime, I stumbled across this fun project on Pinterest and had to share. It's a little reminiscent of my recent blog post 'For the love of succulents!', and a little bit of foreshadowing for my project to come.

Check out Cheryl's post over at Tidymom.net for details on how she made an Elegant Succulent Pumpkin Planter.

Perfect for the season!
~ Alicia

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Little Privacy (With a Curtain) Please!

I don't currently own a sewing machine, so I'm a pretty big fan of 'no sew' tape. I first learned how easy it is to hem curtains with 'no sew' tape from YoungHouseLove.com 

If you are a fan of this blog, you already know that John and Sherry recently announced that they will be permanently stepping away from their blog of 4 years to pursue other careers. Sad for readers, but wonderful for their family. For this project, I decided to channel my inner Sherry. 

In my last two apartments, the front door has had a pane on glass looking out into the foyer. Which makes for a pretty door, but doesn't offer a whole lot of privacy. 

I thought about purchasing a curtain and just hemming it to the correct dimensions, but curtains can be pretty expensive and I knew I wanted something light to contrast the darkly stained woodwork. I purchased some white fabric from Joann Fabrics a while back and had just enough to make a new curtain for this window. 

Here are the steps I took:

First, I measured the dimensions of the window so that I knew how wide and long the curtain needed to be. There's nothing worse than going through all of the work only to find that the darn thing is too short. Believe me, it happened with a panel of curtains I hemmed a while back. Ugh!

Taking one side, I evenly folded over the edge of the fabric TWICE. You want the raw edge to go under the nice, new edge that will be exposed. I like to iron my folds to make sure I'm creating straight lines with the fabric. The hems can be any width you want. I usually go with 1-1.5 inches on the sides, and 3 inches for the top and bottom hem. Note that you don't want to close up the top hem entirely since you will be pushing a curtain rod through it!

Then I took a strip of 'no sew' tape and cut it to the desired length. I like to work with shorter sections so that I can be more precise, otherwise I find that the fabric puckers.

Next, I placed the strip under my second fold, treating it like a fabric sandwich, and ironed with a HOT iron. I let the heat of the iron rest and sink into the fabric/tape (glue). More of a 'pick up, and press' sort of motion. 

Once I had 'no sew' taped all of my edges, I was ready for hanging (a small rod and bracket had already been installed by the previous renters - yay!).

And... tah-dah! Much better don't you think?

P.S. I hemmed all of the curtains in the apartment the same way. I measured how many inches needed to come off, folded the fabric under, and 'no sew' taped to create a new hem. Time intensive, but easy peasy.

~ Alicia

Friday, October 10, 2014

Bathroom Humor

Decorating small spaces can be a challenge, especially a small bathroom. Upon moving into the new place, I made the mistake of buying a dark gray shower curtain that I thought it would look chic, but when in reality it made the small bathroom... feel even smaller.

After switching it out for something more light and airy, I knew I was on the right track to achieving the calming bathroom of my dreams.

I combined a few decor favorites from my last apartment and added a few new things too:
  • Shower curtain (already mentioned above)
  • Two bathmats, one for in front of the tub and another for in front of the sink. (Tootsies on the cold tile is not fun)
  • Silver magnifying mirror
  • Qtip holder in a vibrant blue glass
  • Blue wooden frame for art

The blue frame hung vacant for a while as I searched for something worthy. I thought about creating something myself to match the coastal decor I already had going on - a framed postcard from a trip to Nantucket, a glass vase filled with the remains of my smashed terrarium, and a couple other odds and ends. 

But it wasn't until I stumbled across this image on Etsy that I knew I'd found the winner, and surprisingly it had nothing to do with the ocean. 

It's a print of the 1891 patent for toilet paper! Not only is it funny (in my opinion), it's also interesting (also my opinion). I opted for the parchment paper look and purchased from Etsy's Patent Prints for $7.00. The print now happily resides in the blue frame above the toilet - which hopefully amuses our guests as much as it amuses me. 

Renting = outdated wooden vanity 

If you've done something unexpected and quirky in your bathroom or home I would love to hear more about it. Feel free to comment or reach out.
Have a great weekend!

~ Alicia 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Driftwood Mirror Update

I've been dragging my feet when it comes to my driftwood mirror project. I first started talking about it back in May, which feels like an eternity ago!

If you take a look back, you'll see that I salvaged one of my old mirrors from its' broken frame and glued it onto a new piece of plywood with enough of a border to do something creative. I decided on driftwood and purchased 100 real driftwood pieces from the Etsy shop Driftwood Amour.

The project turned out to be a bit of a challenge since the pieces are so small and it's like a puzzle trying to completely cover the plywood. I may have to order more pieces to finish the project, and then I'm going to have to figure out how to hang it - I anticipate it being pretty heavy.

Anyway here is the progress. Stay tuned, I might finish it... possibly by next May.

Happy Hump Day!

~ Alicia

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

For the Love of Succulents!

Succulents seem to be all the rage right now and I've officially jumped on the bandwagon. 

I purchased a little handing terrarium similar to the one at the right from Whole Foods over the summer. Well, he didn't last long. I had it nicely displayed on the window sill over the sink so that I could enjoy it while doing dishes, and well... the boyfriend came along to put the shade down and... SMASH!    
I'm still waiting for my replacement terrarium (and surprise roses - ahem!). But moving on!

I purchased the white planter (below) from Home Depot last Spring to keep fresh herbs in the house. Sadly, the planter was a bit small and my cilantro, basil and mint didn't even last through the summer. 
My replacement plan was always succulents, but it wasn't until I came across these FAKE succulents at Michaels that I finally got moving with the project. 

As you can see, I simply bent the stems of the fake succulents and pushed them into the already existing potting soil. I know it's not the cleanest option, but I do have plans to replace the dirt with pebbles. Stella was very curious about the whole process. As you can see, I couldn't get a picture without her in it. Meow!                                                                                                                            

I'm really happy with the end result, they look very realistic for being plastic. I even had the boyfriend touch them because he didn't realize they were fake. It works out well since the apartment doesn't get a lot of natural light.

I can't wait to start another succulent project. Check out some of the inspiration pictures I have pinned on Pinterest. There are some really creative ideas out there. 

What a bright idea! (Get it?)
The natural wood, the glass dome, LOVE.
A great way to add some coastal flair.
I passed one of these in TJ Max recently
and now totally regret not taking it home.
Funny enough, I have the exact same bowl!
But I use mine to hold fruits and veggies. 
Channeling a little Kim & Kanye,...
a WALL of succulents.

Has anyone else done something awesome with succulents?

~ Alicia 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Decorating With Vintage Maps

Confession: I've been a total flake when it comes to blogging lately. Blame it on a lack of inspiration, or laziness. Probably more of the second one. 

Anywho, back to business!

I consider myself very fortunate to live in a historical house in Charlestown, MA. It's one of those large estate/boarding style houses that has been broken into multiple units by adding a wall here, removing a set of stairs there... Hence, we have a strange layout where each room connects to one another, but there is also one long hallway that stretches the entire length of the apartment connecting the rooms too.

Call me crazy, but I went ahead and mocked it up for you. (Homestyler.com stole my productivity for an entire afternoon.)

Since moving in a couple months ago, I've been racking my brain on what we should display for art in the long hallway. After endless Pinterest searches, Etsy browsing, and many trips to local businesses in search of inexpensive art; I landed on the idea of framing vintage maps. And after failed attempts at finding reasonably priced maps on Etsy, I found my way over to the USGS website. Their online store has maps from across the decades, plus they are priced at only $8.00 a piece (without shipping).

Given my love of all things nautical, I thought it would be a neat idea to purchase maps of coastal New England cities - featuring lots of blue ocean area. I tried to pick maps from the 1970's, as they appeared to use the same blue shades and I wanted the maps to appear "gallery-like" and one cohesive look.

Next, I purchased five 11x14 white frames with white matting and maps for the following destinations:

- Portland, Maine
- Nantucket, Mass.
- Provincetown, Mass.
- Newbury Port, Mass.
- Boston Harbor (early 1900's version)

Framing the maps was easy. You simply position the map under the matting to frame the part you like best (they were much larger than the frames and needed to be cut down).

I love, love the way they turned out!

I'm now on the hunt for blue runner-style rug for the hallway's hardwood floors. Wish me luck!

P.S. Apologies for the terrible photos, and for not having an "after" image of the hallway - I promise they look awesome!

~ Alicia


To satisfy your curiosity (I flatter myself), here is a picture of the frames in the hallway.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Gray Malin

A couple weeks ago, I posted this image from Instagram. I was loving the layout, colors and sea inspired theme. I'm still just as in love with it.

What many of you may, or may not have realized is that the framed pieces are all from a single photographer - Gray Malin.

I only recently discovered this photographer and have since been completely captivated by his destination shoots. Something that caught my attention on his website was a quote about his approach to photography - "Capturing a moment you want to live within."

Well I certainly want to live within his art! Owning one of his prints, let alone multiple, is certainly not something I can afford at this point in my life. But window shopping never hurt anyone, right?

Here are some of my favorites from his various collections (links provided). Swoon away!

~ Alicia

Aqua Glam Collection

Greek Isles Collection

 A' La Plage Collection