Dec 29, 2011

{A Charming Nest}'s Best of 2011: Top Five Countdown!

I officially started {A Charming Nest} in May of 2011. Since then, we have been immersed in a whirlwind of activity. I can honestly say that I have learned so much about blogging in my short time as a novice blogger and I have really had a blast doing it.

A few months ago and after seeing all the attention my blog was getting, a friend of mine asked me if I thought it was cool that people I had never met were visiting my blog. My response was "Well…yes!" But, honestly I couldn't (and still can't) believe that people are interested, and an added bonus was that people actually really liked a lot of what we were doing. When I started writing and sharing about our projects, I never expected anyone to be interested in what I (we) had to say.

Of course, none of this would be possible without Justin. We truly do work as a team. All of our projects start as a plan that I create. I spend a lot of time measuring, looking up products, and drawing pictures on notebook paper to figure out what I actually want. Once I get the plan somewhat presentable, I plant the seed by sharing the picture with Justin. Sometimes he sees my vision, and other times it takes awhile for him to see how it will actually be worthwhile. After every major project, we usually find ourselves standing back with our arms around each other saying to ourselves how shocked we were that we were actually able to pull the whole thing off.

Then there's the sewing. This is a whole new obsession venture for me. I purchased my refabricated machine from about three years ago. I think I spent $60 on my Janome sewing machine and I hadn't sewn a thing since my home economics class in the 7th grade. The first thing I sewed were drop cloth pillows to practice. Then I sewed drop cloth curtains for our living room. I remember that once we put “The Kid” down for bed, Justin began painting Restoration Hardware's Silver Sage and I was sewing away…hoping what I was making would work.  I ended up loving the curtains, Justin was impressed, and the people who bought the house wrote “window treatments” into the offer…unbelievable.  I've been sewing ever since...and I'm still not very good, but I'm still trying.

Photography is a whole other beast in itself.  I struggle with this all of the time.  What’s the right ISO? What’s the right F-stop? What lens should I use? I try not to use a flash, but in Indiana winters, and when you work during daylight hours, it’s hard to find the right light for the photo you want to take of the perfect project you want to share.

Time is our only issue at this point for more. For every day I have been given, I wish I had an extra eight (or more) hours. I tell Justin all of the time that I feel like I have split personalities...going from writing a paper about equity audits in schools to sewing cafe curtains for the bathroom to making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with my homemade jam. Even though we are extremely busy, I do feel that we have accomplished some balance.  We spend time together as a family.  We work hard at our jobs.  We spend time learning new things.  We are creative…together as a team.  And the awesome thing about it all is that we are really enjoying ourselves.

I love all of the comments that you all leave. I read every single one. It truly inspires us to keep on keeping on! From the bottom of my heart...thank you.

Cheers to a great 2011, and to an even better 2012!

And finally...drum roll, please.

{A Charming Nest}'s Best of 2011: Top Five Countdown! 

Number 5: {DIY: Pottery Barn Knock Off "Vintage Keys"}
One of my favorite knock off projects…mostly because it doesn’t really look like a knock off, it actually turned out looking like I purchased it from the store.

Number 4: {Fireplace Reveal}
This project had us shaking in our boots.  We were scared.  We didn’t want to f*#! mess things up!

Number 3: {A Half Bath Makeover}
This was a fun project.  At this point we had confidence in ourselves that we could get the look we wanted.  After two trials of paint colors, we finally got it right with Sherwin Williams Beach Glass.


During this time period, I also learned about Windows Live Writer.  I started adding a watermark to my photos and posting them with curved corners.

Number 2: {New Bedside Tables...they're a RAST hack}
I love when form and function come together to create…affordable beauty.  Not to mention that these bedside tables saved us a lot of dough.

Number 1: {Mudroom Storage: Reveal!}
It’s been pinned, it’s been copied by other bloggers, it’s been featured, and we’ve gotten more positive comments on this project than I could have ever imagined.  I am so happy and so grateful for the great feedback!

I’ve linked to one of my favorite blogs…Southern Hospitality’s Best of 2011 Link Party.  Check it out…


Happy New Year y’all!

Dec 26, 2011

{Refashioning: Boot Cut to Skinny}

I use Pinterest for everything!  Recipes, gift ideas, décor, fashion, sewing, gardening…everything. 

I recently pinned a tutorial on how to refashion boot cut jeans to skinny jeans:

Source: via on Pinterest

I’m not a huge skinny jean fan, but I recently made an impulse purchase and bought a pair of boots and needed something to wear with them…I was thinking skirts and tights, and of course skinny jeans.

These are my new Born “Mallory” boots, and I love them…I really do!
I just don’t have anything to wear with them…yet.

So, I tried Merrick’s tutorial on sewing pre-owned bootleg jeans to a new pair of skinny jeans (A Skinny Jean is Born: Tutorial).  Check her out on her blog Merrick’s Art.  This girl can sew…I mean really sew.  She also may be the cutest thing out there in the blogosphere.

What I used:
pre-owned boot cut jeans (Lands End for $16, a clearance purchase a few months back)
invisible ink pen to make marks
navy blue thread
my sewing machine

Following her directions, I put them on, pinned where I wanted the alteration, and I sewed my first leg… 


Before I trimmed the excess denim, I made another pass with my sewing machine and then used a zigzag stich in between the hems.


I used Fray Check at the bottom 4 inches of the pant leg.


Then I just folded the pants in half and used my disappearing marker to mark where the second leg should be.

Hint:  Sew the bottom of the leg first, so you can make sure that the
bottom hems line up exactly. 

I kept them a little long so I could fold a cuff and wear with ballet slippers.


(My right leg is “before” sewing.)


Here they are with my boots. 

Now, I know I’m a far cry from Merrick as a model, but oh well.  Plus, I know my skinny jeans aren’t really “tight and skinny” and I’m okay with that, too.  I usually shy away from anything “tight and skinny” since I don’t want to look like a 2 lb. ham stuffed in a 1 lb. can.  You know?

As far as I’m concerned, the best thing about the whole project: I didn’t have to run out and buy a thing!  To me, that’s the best kind of project!  I love the idea of refashioning.  I’m currently working on a cable knit cashmere sweater, turned into a cardigan with my sewing machine and ribbon.  It’s a work in progress, so we’ll see.

Yes, I did sew the second leg and plan on wearing them tomorrow for Christmas with the In-Laws!

Thank you, Merrick!

{Does it still count?}

Does it still count if it’s a day late?  Because I just now got my wreath up on my front door.  I just didn’t have enough time to get it done, and actually kind of forgot.

Michael’s is having some killer “after the holidays” sales on their holiday merchandise and I picked up a few items…like a wreath for our front door.  With the added jute upholstery webbing that I picked up at Wal-Mart for .67 cents, I think I may have a winning combination.  This was super easy and cheap, especially since I paid 60% less for the wreath.


Cut the jute webbing in half.


Wrap the jute webbing around the wreath.


Tie a cute little bow on top and hang!

It’s my Christmas/Winter wreath…so technically, I’m not really that late.  Right? 

Total cost:
2 Yards of Jute Webbing: $1.34
1 – 24” Greenery Wreath: $13.97
Total Cost         $15.31

Dec 24, 2011

{Merry Christmas…}

…from our charming nest to yours!




Pictures taken by Mimi Barry Photography, Zionsville, IN.

We haven’t disappeared, things have just been busy, busy, busy!  We will be back in the new year with new projects!  While school is in session, our posts won’t be as often.

A few things happening at {The Charming Nest}:

  • Justin and I are still working full time as teachers.  Thank goodness!
  • I took a part time job teaching at the local community college.
  • I am back in school…getting my administration and leadership license which will probably turn into a doctorate degree in education.
  • I’m officially crazy. 


Love to you all,
Erin, Justin, and “The Kid!”

Nov 26, 2011

{Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours}

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It’s my favorite meal. And quite honestly, it’s my favorite day.  It’s a day where family togetherness and tradition are the expectation…and I love that about this holiday. 


I hosted my in-laws this year and we had a marvelous feast!  Turkey, my mother’s dressing, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, yeast rolls, and of course a 7 layer salad all were present for the party!  I attempted nut roll, which was always made by GiGi Esther (Justin’s grandma) who recently passed away.  It turned out…okay.  I need to practice.  We also had pies that my sister-in-law made, which were delish.

I made a pie as well.  My grandmother Sara used to make the best chocolate chip cookies and a Sugar Cream Pie.

Let me tell you…her pie is really good.  My mom has taken over the tradition of making this pie, and she has done a fabulous job.  This year was the first year I have attempted to make it, and I have to say…it was pretty easy and turned out just like I remembered.

Sara’s Sugar Cream Pie

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Prepare pie dough and lay in pie pan.  Crimp the edges.  (I used Pillsbury pie dough.)

In a medium sauce pan mix:
1 Cup of Sugar + 1/4 Cup Flour + 1 TBSP Flour (mix dry ingredients with a spoon)
To this dry mixture add:
1 Cup of Half and Half (mix)
then 1 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream (mix)

Heat until it is warmed.  It will seem almost like milk at this point, and will not resemble a custard at all.

Pour mixture into the pie crust.

Dot with 6-8 dots of butter and sprinkle with ground nutmeg.

Bake the pie in a 375 degree preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Turn down your oven to 350 degrees, and bake for 20 minutes.
Turn down your oven again to 325 degrees, and bake for 15 minutes.

Let cool and enjoy!  The filling should be a creamy white custard, that sets after it cools.  It shouldn’t run on the plate.

I don’t have any pictures of a slice, because quite honestly, it just didn’t last that long! 


            I hope you all had 

             happy thanksgiving.

Nov 20, 2011

{A Half Bath Makeover}

We just finished the half bath makeover I talked about in this post…just in time for our Thanksgiving guests and increased bathroom traffic.  

We started with this mood board…
mood board half bath

…and this very basic builder basic bathroom (nice, but just not cutting it)…bathroom
I’m sorry that I don’t have more pictures of our half bath before.  It really wasn’t anything to photograph…it was pretty boring.

But, now…we have this!
The board and batten is painted in the Sherwin Williams Extra White that our builder used for the rest of the trim in the house.  It is a semi-gloss so it’s easily wipe-able and cleanable, which is awesome because before we painted we would get water spots on the flat paint they used for the room from hand washing (and I have to admit a few sprinkles of pee-pee from a 3 year old who isn’t tall enough to aim in the toilet every single time).

The top ledge of the board and batten is mdf in a 1x2 (laying on its side to make the ledge) with a 1x4 up against the wall (under the ledge).  Then we added cove molding under the 1x2, which makes it look more like molding, rather than just two pieces of wood nailed to the wall.
We used lattice for the vertical battens. We went with this option because the top of the base molding is kind of narrow and we didn’t want the battens to hang over.
Notice the non-overhanging goodness?  That makes me really happy.

The pictures really don’t do the paint color’s hard photographing a space with very little natural light (unfortunately, there are no windows in this little space). 

The paint is Beach Glass (Classic Colors #1564) by Benjamin Moore (their Ben paint line, which is their cheapest).  It’s a misty green/blue, and changes colors during the day.  Sometimes I look at it and it looks really green, while other times it looks really blue. 

I love it!

(This swatch probably looks a little differently depending on the computer monitor, so go check it out at a store that sells Ben Moore paint.)

I have to admit we are first time BM paint users and loved it!  It covered really well and was easy to use.  We are believers in BM paint now.
The art is a Pinterest inspiration.  I found and pinned this awesome photo of a New Jersey state map on a chalkboard. 

Which inspired this...

The art was easy-peasy…I used a white paint pen, chalkboard fabric, stained dowel rods, jute twine, and upholstery tacks.  While looking at a sea fan on my computer screen, I just drew it with the white paint pen onto the chalkboard fabric.  Then I stained the dowel rods, and stapled the fabric to the back of the rods.  Using upholstery tacks on the ends, I tied the jute twine to them to hang.  I hung it using the same upholstery tack pushed into the wall.

I still need to purchase this basket tower from Pier One…

And there you have it folks.  Our new and improved half bath!  I have to say I think it’s the best looking room in the house.

And I’m happy to report that our door casings (which we have dubbed the never ending project) are almost done!


Nov 5, 2011

{Lazy Saturday}

As Justin is putting the finishing touches on our new door casings (which look awesome),  I thought it would be fun (and necessary) to keep The Kid busy!  He got two small containers of Play-Doh from his Trick or Treating…but they had been mixed, dried out and ruined as the week progressed.  So?  Let’s make our own! 

Homemade Play Dough is the best…easy, cheap, and just like the real stuff.  My mom made it for us when we were kids and I loved it just as much as the real thing.

The recipe: 4 cups water, 4 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 2 tablespoons cooking oil, 4 teaspoons cream of tartar, food coloring. Combine ingredients. Cook in a big pot, stirring constantly, until most of the moisture is absorbed.

Store in a covered container or Ziploc – and it does NOT need to be refrigerated, just sealed TIGHTLY.  Add a couple of drops of baby oil to keep it soft.

Perfect for those lazy Saturdays when you just want to keep everyone busy and happy! And possibly a rainbow of colors will be perfect stocking stuffers placed in little ziplock containers.




Keeping little hands busy…


And now the pot…


Nov 2, 2011

{Fall Décor: Part 2}

Fall is in full swing and after a whirl wind of an October…I welcome November.  Justin and I have always felt so grateful for the family, friends, our health, and the time to enjoy them.  My mother gave us a blessings plate when we got married that reads…

“Health, Love, and Wealth…and Time to Enjoy Them.” 

…and as I think more about that quote, I find that I am reflective on how truly blessed I am to have all three of those, even in the smallest increments.  Together as a family we make the best of our time together.  We try to make best of our wealth.  And we certainly do not take our good health for granted.

Personally, I feel I am most thankful for my family and for being here, in this place, together.  I know in my heart of hearts that this is where I am supposed to be, and I am so happy for that.

To remind our family to “Give Thanks” I’m changing some of our mantle décor to represent how thankful we all are of the lovely life we are living together by including this…


What you’ll need to make it:
Chalkboard fabric (cut into squares)
Felt (of any color)
White Paint Pen
Sewing Machine (zigzag stitch)

I do have a new obsession with chalkboard fabric…which was used on the flags. 

Each flag was cut from an oatmeal hued felt fabric, then I sewed the chalkboard fabric squares onto each using a zigzag stitch.  With a white paint pen I wrote each letter and a center one with an acorn. 


Once the paint dried, I then scribbled white chalk all over the squares and buffed with a paper towel to give it a used chalkboard look.  I slit holes in the upper corners of the flags and stung the twine through to hang on the mantle.



So in the spirit of November, and preparing for Thanksgiving, I ask…What are you thankful for?