Oct 23, 2011

{A trip and one more project…}

We just got back from a fabulous, but quick, fall break trip to Chicago!  And would you believe that shopping was not included?  We did do the following:

Day 1: Checked in at Marriott Courtyard.  We got an amazing online deal.

  • Shaw’s Crab House for lunch upon arrival.  Justin got the most amazing lobster roll sandwich with more lobster than I could believe on a toasted brioche bun.  I got clam chowder (my favorite), the chopped salad, and a lobster sushi roll with caviar.  Delish.
  • Shedd Aquarium.  Teachers get in free! 
  • Pequod’s Pizza for dinner!  It’s our favorite.

Day 2:

  • Brunch at The Bread Company.  We all ate from the children’s menu.
  • Cab ride to Lincoln Park Zoo.  It’s free!
  • Walk through Lincoln Park, and then the train back to down town.
  • John Hancock Observatory and Water Tower Place (just to walk around).
  • Wildfire for dinner!  They have a three course dinner deal…I got a petite filet, which wasn’t very petite, Justin got a porterhouse, and “The Kid” got a grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Swimming back at the hotel.

I do have a few projects in the works here at home…seemingly all at once.  First, I am planning our Thanksgiving dinner this year at our house.  I am working on napkin rings, place settings, and a few special fall decorations for the house and for my special guests.  I will be posting more about that soon!

On the horizon is a post about our door casings that we have been working on for our dining room and living room areas.  This process is taking longer than expected, but mostly because we just don’t have the a large time block to start and finish.

Plus, we have decided to revamp our bathroom.  I have included our mood board and some ideas we having going on in our heads…

  • The color is “Hazy Skies” Benjamin Moore
  • Board and batten!
  • Basket shelf from Pier One
  • Art inspired by the photos…sea fantastic!

bathroom mood board

Oct 12, 2011

{Play Kitchen}

About two years ago, Justin and I made a kitchen and refrigerator for “The Kid” for Christmas from three IKEA Rast side tables.  We looked and looked to find one suitable for a boy, but also sturdy and well made, and we didn’t want to spend a fortune.  The kitchens made out of wood were extremely expensive, and many of the plastic ones were pink and purple (which is okay, but really, it just wouldn’t do for “The Kid”).  So, we decided to make our own…out of IKEA stuff…

IKEA Rast End Table ($14.99 each)…

RAST Nightstand, pine Width: 20 1/2 " Depth: 11 3/4 " Height: 15 3/4 "  Width: 52 cm Depth: 30 cm Height: 40 cm

Kitchen (stove, oven, and sink)…IMG_3722


Refrigerator (with upper storage)…IMG_3725


Together as a set…IMG_3729

Two years later and I am happy to say that he still loves it.  It has held up and still looks great.  Since the holidays are approaching…and the madness has officially begun around here, I thought I would share with you how we made it…just in case you have a little one at home who might enjoy cooking right along with the family.

You will need:
1 Rast End Table (if you just make the kitchen stove part)
3 Rast End Tables (if you make both the kitchen stove part and the refrigerator)
1 IKEA Grundtal Towel Rod (for the plate rack)
2 Packages of IKEA Grundtal Hooks (for the plate rack)
1 Package IKEA Satta Knobs or 2 Packages of IKEA Attest Knobs (for stove burners)
1 Package of IKEA Panna Coasters (to glue on for stove burners)
Stainless dog bowl (got ours from Menards, to use as sink)
1 Rigel Hook (inverted to use as faucet for sink)
3 Stainless Handles (we got ours from Menards as well)
Glue (to glue on the coasters for burners)
Jigsaw (to cut a hole out for the sink)
Screwdriver (or drill to attach hardware, brackets and wood pieces))
1X10 wood piece (for door of oven and right door of fridge)
1X6 wood piece (for door under sink and left door of fridge)
1x2 wood piece (for where the knobs get attached for stove and in
                the middle of fridge doors)
plywood (cut at the store to 20.5 inches wide and 31 inches tall for the back of the kitchen)
8 (1 1/2 inch) hinges (two for each door on the stove, sink cab, and refrigerator)
4 flat stainless brackets (if you are making a fridge)

Food came from Melissa and Doug    
Pots and Pans came from Target  

The kitchen was built by drilling the plywood piece to the back of the Rast side table.  Then we attached the Grundtal Towel Rod about a foot above the stove part.  We used a jigsaw to cut a circle in the top, making sure it wasn’t bigger than the lip of the dog bowl so the bowl would slip into the hole to create the sink.  Then we inverted the Rigel hook for the faucet and drilled it to the back plywood.  Adding hooks to the towel bar created a great place to hang the pots, pans, and utensils to hang.  Then we hinged the doors to the front of the Rast side table and added the 1x2 to attach the knobs for the stove controls.  We drilled the handle hardware and painted the window for the oven door.

The refrigerator was built by attaching two Rast side tables on top of each other (bottoms together).  We attached them by using stainless brackets.  We drilled the doors into the sides with the 1x2 as a divider (because the doors didn’t fit completely across).  We then drilled the handle hardware for the freezer and refrigerator door.

We did use Odeedoh’s feature to build our play kitchen, but as you can tell we did make several adjustments and added the fridge. 

“The Kid” loves it and still plays with it today, especially when we have “kid” company.  He’s almost four and it’s seen two years of “hard” play time…and I have to say it still looks great.

We did purchase a Latt children’s table to go with it, too.  It has been wonderful and easy to clean…especially now with all the paint, markers, and crayons that get used around here.


LÄTT Children's table and 2 chairs, white, pine Table length: 24 3/4 " Table width: 18 7/8 " Table height: 17 3/4 " Seat width: 11 " Seat depth: 11 " Seat height: 11 "  Table length: 63 cm Table width: 48 cm Table height: 45 cm Seat width: 28 cm Seat depth: 28 cm Seat height: 28 cm






Oct 9, 2011

{Festive Decorating}

We’ve been doing fall things around here.  Power washing our driveway to get it ready for a coat of sealer.  Cleaning the windows.  And a little festive decorating…

First, I made these simple (and cheap) wooden candy corns for our mantle.  They were so simple and easy to make, plus they didn’t break the bank (they practically were free because we used what we already had)!

I had Justin cut three different sized triangles from scrap wood we had laying around.

Then, I painted them white, yellow, and orange with regular craft paint…making sure I blended the edges where the colors would meet, just like the real tasty little things.

I let them dry…and then displayed them on our mantle. 


I got the grapevine pumpkins from Target’s dollar bin. 



I filled the hurricane vase with dried great northern beans, green lentils, and popcorn (which I need to get more of from the store.)  The candle is a flameless candle with a four hour timer…it comes on every night at 7 p.m. and turns off at 11 p.m.   No worry…no fuss.


The sticks were collected from what our birch trees shed in our back yard.

Then, we made this cute ghost for our front flower bed (which is in desperate need of a tree, but it will have to wait until spring).  It was slightly altered from Layla and Kevin’s hanging ghost, due to the fact that we didn’t have a place to hang him…


First, we used a 1x2 that was about 6 feet tall.  It was left over from our side table project and it was a piece we ended up not using.  Then we screwed two pieces of lattice to the front side of the 1x2 for the arms.  Then using one large foam ball for the head, we pushed the 1x2 into the foam.  We used two small foam balls as the hands.  Then we took an old white sheet and draped it over the whole thing.  I added dabs of hot glue to the styrofoam balls to make sure the sheet would stay. I cut the edges of the sheet to make it look torn and old.  Then we draped 3 packages of cheese cloth over the whole thing, adding hot glue to the layers.  I cut the cheese cloth in half so I could get more draping from a single piece. 

Then I cut little shapes out for the eyes and mouth…and voilà…a spooky ghost!  Stuck in the ground, it looks great!

We love him…IMG_1997

Oct 4, 2011

{A Skirt…it’s sew simple!} Seriously, I'm not kidding!

Up until now, I’ve never actually sewn clothing. My sewing repertoire has been limited to pillows, placemats, table runners, and hemming curtains…but never clothing! And there’s a reason…I’m not very good at it…sewing that is. In the last couple of years I’ve been trying to teach myself to sew. I bought a machine from Overstock.com for about $75 and started making pillows. I didn’t know the rules, or the lingo, and sewing just allows me to save a buck by making my own stuff.

Okay, so as y’all know, I am not claiming to be a seamstress here, by any stretch of the imagination, but I did give sewing a skirt a chance. What did I have to lose? (Except a few bucks by wasting fabric, but I could always turn the fabric into a pillow, placemat, or something…right?) I wasn’t even going to blog about it, but Justin thought it turned out pretty good and that I should share it with you all! (Isn’t he so thoughtful?)


So, using the “dress tutorial” from the Trip over Joy blog, which I found on Pinterest…I gave it the old college try!  I changed it bit to make a skirt, instead of a dress, and am very happy with the results.

What you will need:

-fabric (about 1 ½ yards – 2 yards, depending on your size and the length of the fabric)
-black thread and thread to match your fabric
-sewing machine
-2 inch elastic band (sized to your waist, but buy a few inches longer for extra just in case)

Note: This is a “high waist, gathered skirt---to be worn with a tank or shirt (tucked in). I will wear mine with a black tank and a black cardigan, with black, peep toed pumps.

Step 1: Cut your fabric. You will need to identical pieces, and I just used rectangles for this.


  • Width: This will depend on your waist size, but add a few inches for gathering.
  • Length: Again, this depends your size. Go longer, though…you can always trim the length later. The length should be at your knee, but if you’ve got great legs, by all means…GO SHORTER! But since I’m in my 30’s, I’m gonna keep mine age appropriate.

Step 2: Hem the two pieces of fabric on the two sides using your matching thread. Trim the extra fabric.


Step 3: Make the waistband: sew the cut ends of a 2 inch elastic band together using black thread. Trim the extra elastic.


Step 4: Pin the top of the two pieces of fabric (the skirt) to the inside of the elastic waistband. Gather the fabric as you go and pin, pin, pin…the more pins, the merrier!


Step 5: Sew the top of the fabric to the inside of the elastic waistband using black thread.


Step 6: Try on, and pin to mark your desired length.

Step 7: To finish the bottom, I didn’t want to use a regular hem with a knit fabric because I couldn’t achieve a “crisp” ironed finished look…so I used a zigzag stitch on my machine. Sew VERY CLOSE and VERY SLOW at the edge of your fabric and it will give the edge an “almost” scalloped look using your choice of matching thread or black thread. I used black to tie the edge into the black elastic waistband.


Step 8: Tah Dah…you just made a skirt! Pat yourself on the back! Congrats!


Do you want to go the extra mile?  Before Step 3, you can choose to cover your elastic band with fabric! (This is what I did with my skirt in the photo!  But this is optional and really not necessary.  I actually made two skirts using both methods, and they both look great!)  The elastic covering can be a coordinating fabric, the same fabric, or black fabric. Just cover the elastic band and hem along the edge. Be careful not to sew the actual band into the fabric, because you want to move the fabric so the seam is in the middle of the back of the elastic. You will then pin the top of the skirt directly on this hem. When you wear the skirt, your sewed hems will be hidden under the elastic waistband.

If you’re like me, you’ll have nightmares about wearing this in public and it unraveling, and then dropping to the floor.   I’m left standing in a group of people in my skivvies and I wake up in a sweat.  Yes, I’ve had this dream.

I actually did face my fears, and wore this out in public…twice! It didn’t unravel and I didn’t embarrass myself by ending up standing there in just my skivvies!  I was so relieved in this photo that my skirt was still on…


And now for the shoes…

I LOVE these (actually, lusting over these)…
Jimmy Choos (Isabel) for $500. OMG…there is no way I can buy these. I’ve got “The Kid’s” college to save for, and not to mention I’m back in school as well! But I do admire the simplicity of these shoes…gorgeous, right?
The Look for Less…
ALDO for $35 on Amazon. I know, I know…you shoe people out there will probably think they’re terrible, and I know the quality of the Jimmy Choos cannot be beat, but I’ve got bills to pay people!

Oct 1, 2011

{Free Advertising for Two Months}

Happy Fall Y’All and happy first day of October!  It’s hard to believe it’s October already…and the holidays are quickly approaching!  Let the madness begin!  In celebration of our blog, and receiving over 100,000 hits in the few short months of us blogging, we have decided to offer an advertising deal here at {A Charming Nest}.  Our main purpose is to support local and small businesses that have to do with home improvement, cooking and/or baking, crafts, decorating, landscaping, Etsy stores, other blogs, and travel.  So, we have decided to offer a free 125x125 pixel spot on the right side of our blog for the months of October and November!  We are hoping this will help feature your product and/or business before the holiday months, which we hope will help stimulate your business for the winter, and maybe give {A Charming Nest} readers a few ideas on home projects and/or gifts for the holiday season.  I know, I know, I know…nothing is free…right?  But this really is!  There will be no obligation to continue with us after November, and if I help you develop your advertising “button” you can take it with you!

The {A Charming Nest} blog was created in May of 2011 as a creative outlet for us to share with family and friends the projects we did in our newly built home.  Both of us have relatives that live out of state, or long distances, and we really wanted to share with them our home projects and upgrades that we did ourselves.  Our readership has grown as noteworthy projects that we have done ourselves have been featured on other blogs, including Censational Girl, Apartment Therapy and Homedit.  According to Google Analytics we’re now receiving about 1400 visits and/or page loads every day, and about 30,000 per month. We just hit 100,000 page visits on the last day of September!

So, if this is something you are interested in, you will need to email me at acharmingnest@gmail.com and provide your own 125x125 pixel image, which should include your link to your website.  If you do not have an image, I can help you develop one (which I will offer for free as well).  That way if you decide to continue advertising with {A Charming Nest} or with another blog and/or website, you can take that image with you to use else where.

We are accepting up to 20 advertisements for the sidebar of our blog.  I will choose the advertisements based on the order and time in which we receive your request and/or email, and the genre of your advertisement.  We will also reserve the right not to feature your advertisement if we feel it will not appeal to our readership.  Therefore, we will want advertisements to focus on the genres listed above!  If you have been chosen, you will be notified by an email from me!