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Christmas decorations!

This is starting to sound like a broken record – it’s been a while since my last blog post. I was doing good there for a while with writing and keeping the content coming. But, life gets busy, and I get lazy. And my back went kerplunk in October (that’s a whole other story)! So let’s just move on and try to get back into the swing of things!

I can’t let January end without a few shots of my home at the holidays. I LOVE Christmas decorations – LOVE them. And even though I was struggling big time between November and December, I still managed to get the house done – with a lot of help from my mother in law and son. Thank you to both of them – as well as my father in law and neighbor, Hudson, who helped set up my big tree and huff all the storage bins up from the basement! His wife, Tara, also strung the lights on my outside tree! You guys rock!

So here’s some of my favorites and new items this year…

Christmas decorations! (1)
A countdown design from Simply Said. Saxon loved moving the magnet each day!


Christmas decorations! (2)
Another Simply Said item – the “No Place Like Home for the Holidays” distressed board, next to a lantern from Pottery Barn.


Christmas decorations! (3)
I purchased this photo of Arlington National Cemetery locally, from photographer Gail Vitikacs.



Christmas decorations! (4)
The lights on these garlands worked last season, but this season not a one would light. Go figure. I was too incapacitated to really care, let alone go buy new ones. So, up they went. And honestly, I still love how they look.


Christmas decorations! (5)
My bestie, Sharon, came to visit after the holiday and brought me this sweet pillow.  I love it!


Christmas decorations! (6)
I found the doe at Anthropologie this summer and added a red bow.


Christmas decorations! (7)
Scored two of these adorable polar bears at Pottery Barn after Christmas last year. Half price baby!


Christmas decorations! (8)
A neighbor was selling this Willow House chandelier. I grabbed it and added the candles and greenery.
Here’s my tree. I love this tree. She’s so pretty!
Christmas decorations! (9)
There’s still presents under the tree because my hubby comes home next week from Afghanistan. He’ll be home for a few weeks and we’ll be celebrating Christmas!


Christmas decorations! (10)
The last two years I have gone to Great Gatherings for ornaments. The day after Christmas they mark them down half price! Here’s some of my fav’s!


Christmas decorations! (11)


Christmas decorations! (12)




Christmas decorations! (13)


Christmas decorations! (14)


Christmas decorations! (15)


Christmas decorations! (16)
This one came from The Empty Nest in Warrenton last year. Still one of my absolute favorites!


Christmas decorations! (17)


Christmas decorations! (18)


Christmas decorations! (19)
The paper flowers and butterfly were from Cracker Barrel this year.


Christmas decorations! (20)


Christmas decorations! (21)


Christmas decorations! (22)
This Summer hubby gave me this Eiffel Tower ornament!



Christmas decorations! (23)


Christmas decorations! (24)
The bedding was purchased from Stein Mart this season- wow, it was super cheap! I think the King quilt was only $39!!
It’s all staying up until after Damon comes home and we celebrate. Plus, I really need his help to take it all down and put it away. Since he was away when we put it all up, I think it will be nice to play holiday music while we take it down. I know that’s backwards, but I want him to feel some of the “special,” too.
Stay tuned for what’s next in our great room – it’s got me a little “grey!” And not in a sad way, either.
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Wallscaping! Examples and the step-by-step to creating your own beautiful gallery wall.

So what is wallscaping you ask? It’s my made-up word for dressing up your walls. You’ve probably heard of gallery walls, where you group photos into a pleasing arrangement on your walls. Wallscaping takes it to the next level. Like landscaping where you plant flowers and greenery in various heights and colors to achieve a cohesive look, wallscaping follows the same principles.

You can use a variety of photos, mirrors, frames, collected items, antiques, sports equipment – really just about anything – and arrange it on the wall in a pleasing manner. Wallscapes can be coordinated by color, theme, size, or shape. Sometimes the groupings are symmetrical, others haphazard. Always completely interesting!

Here’s some examples from the Pottery Barn catalog that inspired me to create my own wallscaping.

Of course everything Pottery Barn does looks great and the above example delivers. Love the Americana theme, and use of items in a variety of shapes. The oars are unexpected, yet create the rectangular shape and draw the eye across the top.

Here they keep the look consistent with black frames, and throw in a few circular pieces to keep it interesting! This is one of my favorites – its like a museum exhibit!

Again, this space makes use of the black frames, but throws in a few antique-inspired pieces to keep it interesting.

A few of my friends have wallscaped their spaces, too. My friend Tara did this wall in her rustic-themed basement (it’s so cool, there’s real whiskey barrels down there serving as side tables!). I love the use of large and small pieces.

Tara is a professional photographer (you can see her work here), and takes full advantage of her gorgeous children as models. Here she created a gallery wall along the staircase. Awesome frames!

My friend Hillary is a master of wallscaping! Check out the nursery she designed for her new baby. Of course, the theme here is little-boy inspired with a fishing rod, antique toy cars, alphabet letters, and more. Isn’t it downright adorable!!

Here’s a pretty display in her living room, too!

So, after all the drool-worthy inspiration, I was motivated to create my first wallscaping, too. I thought I would document the process for you here, so you can create your own wallscaping.

Steps to Creating Your Own Wallscaping

1) Find your space. I have a 2-story great room with really, really large walls. They are an overwhelming blank canvas, that I have fretted over for 3 years. It was only recently that I felt I could tackle a big project like this. So, I decided this wall was it!
2) Gather your items for the wall. You may have precious family photos you want to display, or heirloom antiques that deserve some spotlight. Maybe you have a movie-theme in mind for your man-cave, or boating items for a nautical theme. Put all your goodies in one area and look at them to determine how much space you need vs. how much space you have. 
3) Take your piece that you want to be the focal point and hang it on the wall. For me, its this antique frame I scored for a couple of bucks at a yard sale. Then map out the remainder of the space you plan to use with painters tape. Don’t worry about getting the lines straight. You’ll use a level when hanging the items. Measure the height and width with a measuring tape.
4) Using your measurements, layout the same sized space on your carpet with the tape. This is your staging area.
5) Start experimenting with layout. Move items around. See what you like. At first, I thought I wanted my big frame off-center. I laid it down first, and began adding items around it. I started with the circle basket on the top right corner, then went for balance by adding the circle mirror on the bottom left next. After I had everything in my space, I took a photo to remember the layout, in case I changed it and wanted to go back to what I had originally done. This layout didn’t float my boat. Something felt “not right.”
6) Then I tried another layout, in which I put the focal point in the center. I liked that better. 
7) Items to gather before you start hanging to keep the process moving: a level (make sure you level everything, especially big pictures and shelves), hammer, drill, screwdriver, pencil, tape measure, nails, wood screws, drywall anchors, and those easy to hang wall hanger things that are hook-shaped. They are a breeze for hanging light-weight items in drywall without a stud. Where there are studs you’ll need to use nails or screws, and where there’s just drywall, the hook things are great. Or use the anchors. Measure and remeasure or you’ll have one too many extra holes in the wall. (take my word on that)
7) I started with my focal piece (the big frame) and worked from the 4 corners in. I slowly added pieces by holding them up on the wall and adjusting the spacing as necessary. Be flexible and adjust your layout as you deem necessary. For some reason, things might not look as good on the wall as it did on the floor!
Here’s what I ended up with!
I’ve got a mix of family photos, mirrors, an art canvas, metal initial, and other odds and ends. I wanted a variety of textures in neutral tones to match my decor, along with an accent of yellow.
My black and white family photos were taken by Tara Sutherland, who I mentioned above. So beautiful!

Inside the frame I plan to hang the piece de resistance – a Simply Said vinyl design. It looks like this!
It’s the big one that says “Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.” I had it designed in a chocolate brown color to match my accent wall across the room. 
I’ll be hanging it as a demonstration at my Simply Said business launch party, scheduled for June 6! I am super excited about it – because this new opportunity fits right in with my love for decor. The Simply Said designs are perfect for wallscaping – in fact, I think its the perfect way to showcase their wonderful messages, or to personalize your space. Look for a lot more ideas using Simply Said designs in coming blog posts – my brain is overflowing with fun things – wait and see!
Speaking of wait and see – as soon as I have the design hung inside the frame, I’ll update this post with a final photo – so you can see just how striking it becomes.
And here it is!!!!!!!
Stay tuned for a link to my Simply Said website! Coming May 28th! 
Thanks friends!
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Painting a Chandelier

I found this chandelier during a trip to a local consignment shop. It was hanging and I almost didn’t notice it. The dark color, the dinginess of it – it faded into the background. It had been there for several months, so I was able to negotiate the price down to $25.

I’d been on the hunt for a chandelier to make over. I wanted one that was delicate, yet not too feminine. I love the blingy, crystal-adorned chandi’s out there, but figured my hubby wouldn’t be crazy about something so girly. So the simplicity of this one above looked like it could work. And I was hoping that with a paint job and new candle covers, I could give this a weathered look, similar to these below.

I adore similar light fixtures found at places like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware. So I was hoping I could get close to the same look, without the price. 
What do you think – did I come close?

I started by painting a base coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paris Grey. Then I dry-brushed on Coco followed by Old White. Next I clear waxed the whole thing. Normally I don’t think its necessary to wax a light fixture like this, because the paint won’t risk getting wet, touched or damaged. But, I wanted to age this with dark wax, and I prefer how it looks when its applied over clear wax, vs. straight on the paint.  I used a cloth to apply the clear wax to the entire thing, wiping it away. Then I used a small brush to apply dark wax more sparingly. Afterwards, I painted and waxed new candle covers. It was only when I started to put new bulbs in did I realize one of the sockets was damaged. So, it will have to be repaired before I can hang my new chandelier. Now to find myself an electrician!
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Time to play blog catch up – a recap of what I’ve been up to lately

Has it really been a month since I blogged? I’m sorry folks, time has really gotten away from me this past month. I can blame it on a lot of things, like being uber busy with work (both painting and book publicity), preparing for the holidays, or one of the biggest events that sucked me dry – a holiday show that I painted several large pieces of furniture and accessories for. So let’s start there – with a recap of the show…

The Holiday Extravaganza show was a huge success for me. I sold all of the furniture I took, and nearly all of the small decorative pieces as well. And more importantly, I made many contacts with people interested in custom paint work. It was so fun to see many of the friends I have made on my Twig and Twine Facebook page, as well as my son’s teachers, and our neighbors. And my hubby was home! So I had his muscles to help with the heavy lifting – thank you baby!

Here’s a photo of my space:

Since the show, I’ve done no painting. I took the remainder of December off to decorate and prepare for the holidays. We put up a couple of trees.

And crafted gingerbread houses for my son’s kindergarten class.

We had out of town family come for a visit, too. Here’s a first – I made a breakfast pizza. (I’ll stick to painting!)
Our family celebrated the holidays a bit early this year, as hubby had to deploy before the 25th. But, it’s okay, he got to see Ohio State beat Michigan, so all was good!

We also began a major basement renovation. Well, not really we…a construction company is doing all the work. But, we get to make a lot of design decisions, so that is fun. Phase 1 is complete, which included a week of major noise (poor Charlotte was hiding in the closet for most of it). They finished all the framing, HVAC, plumbing and electrical. Here’s a sneak peek…

We had selected pendant lights for the bar area that turned out to be too big for the space. So, instead of returning them, we hung them over our kitchen island. I LOVE them! In fact, I think they are perfect for our kitchen (which probably means they wouldn’t have been perfect for the basement bar). See, everything works out like its supposed to!

Christmas morning came and we opened Santa’s gifts, which included Skylanders and a pooping reindeer for Saxon.

Charlotte enjoyed her new comfy sherpa blanket.

And hubby gave me a fabulous new I-Pad mini – perfect for the mass amounts of reading I love to do! Mother-in-law gave me gift cards to Home Goods and Pottery Barn (she knows me so well)!
With those I bought a weathered wood mirror and a lantern.

We did some traveling to see family and are now having our first evening alone, with nothing to do, in weeks. Hence, why I am sitting here, able to play blog catch-up. My lack of blogging has been eating at me. I laid in bed thinking, “I have got to get on the computer and write something!”
And speaking of writing, here’s something that perhaps I shouldn’t even mention, because its so far from being a reality at this point. But, it was flattering and exciting nonetheless…I was asked to consider writing a how-to project book for painting furniture! If more develops on this topic, I’ll be sure to let ya know.
So, the holidays are almost over and I hope to be more regular with my blogging. And with the New Year comes resolutions for things I hope to do with the blog. Of course I want to grow my blog and Facebook audience, and to do so, I want to provide a lot more how-to. I plan to provide more tutorials for craft projects, for painting, and other decorative goodies I have in store. So, please come along into 2013 with me…and always feel welcome to leave comments, concerns, requests or questions! Happy New Year my Nester friends!

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Memorial Day Weekend Yard Sale Swag

Of all the things I love about living in Haymarket, yard-saling is not one of them. Damn gated communities. Seriously, there’s little to no yard-sale activity in this town, because its filled with gated communities. My community doesn’t even allow yard-sales. And it seems the others have a once-a-year community-wide sale, and then the remainder of the summer is a yard-sale ghost town.

So, that means I have to hit-up local cities and towns to find a bargain. I spent Friday on Craig’s List trying to decide where to go. And since I am not from Virginia, I have to map quest everything to see what kind of drive I am talking about. This is too much work. I like the good ‘ole days of driving around town and just discovering endless neon-colored signs pointing me in the right direction. Boo!
At any rate, I was all ready to go at 7 am yesterday, in hubby’s truck, with an address for a Fairfax flea market. Then I realized, “crap hubby doesn’t have GPS in his truck!” So, I had to get into my SUV. That changed my game-plan. Without an open-bed truck, I wasn’t likely to walk away with huge amounts of furniture. So, why drive all the way into Fairfax? I changed gears and decided to try a closer town called Warrentown. I found a few sales on Craig’s List. They were a bust. Except for the freebie plastic Transformer action figures Saxon scored for a quarter. On a side note – taking Saxon yard-saling is the easiest shopping trips EVER! He can sit and look at books or the quarter-toy bin and find something that makes him so happy – and literally only cost me a few coins! Gotta love that.
So, we drove into Old Town Warrenton. I hoped to get into their Salvation Army there. It was closed for the weekend. Of course.  Then we just drove aimlessly – looking for the brightly colored intersection signs with arrows. We found one, and jackpot…it led me to a town-home community sale! And here I discovered a lot of great stuff, at equally lovely prices!
A gigundo area rug. It had never been used before (and it really does look brand new). The lady gave it to me for $45. I thought that was a steal, considering how much a rug of this size costs new! I don’t think I will keep it in this spot, as I have a french-script rug from Ballard on back-order. But, for now, this rug does the trick.

This was the only furniture I found, but without my hubby’s truck it didn’t matter anyway. These pieces fit into the back of my SUV with that big ole rug! I love the Asian chest. The lady, who was probably in her 30’s told me she bought it at an auction when she was just a teenager. It has some expected wear-and-tear, but otherwise it’s in good shape. I don’t even think I am going to paint it. The red is awesome! I’ll clean up the brass, and see if hubby thinks I should keep it. Otherwise, it will be for sale – so stay tuned! The other two little tables will definitely get paint jobs and be posted for sale soon!

Cool clock, huh? The face is what caught my eye. I’m going to paint the body and distress those great edges, so they show through. It will have so much more oomph!

Birds! Imagine how pretty these will look when the frames are painted Old White and lightly distressed!

This cheese tray is going to make a gorgeous decor piece or terrarium after I am done!

Cute little mirror for a girl’s room! It’s already painted and pretty!

I have a thing for carved ducks. These decoys are the real deal, too. Not mass-produced from a home-store. They are signed by the carver, and I have to decide if I want to add them to my flock, or find a new home for them.

Slightly rusted, but in otherwise good shape, this aluminum planter box will look pretty when she’s all painted up! Wait and see!

Dinged up and scratched Pottery Barn frame waiting on a little paint.

Shadow boxes! Going to get a bright color of paint!

This note board/picture frame will look beautiful in Old White too! (can you tell I am a sucker for the antique white color!)

I couldn’t pass up this old peg rack for a dollar! It too will be painted!
So there ya have it, my weekend finds! If you ever want to go yard-saling with me in the Northern Virginia area, email me. Next on my list of adventures is trying out some auctions!
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Gold pictures frames get a makeover

Yesterday I worked on my powder room. It wasn’t a big renovation (although I would love to take out the mirror, replace the lights, and add glass tile down the vanity wall – but that’s for the future). All I did was paint a few pictures, a small little table and hang a fabulous shelf I found at a consignment shop.

First things first – I had to remove pictures I had hung in there when we moved into this house. They’re about 10 years old, and each were framed in gold frames. I like the botanical prints inside – just have outgrown those gold frames. In removing them, I had a few little holes to patch in the walls. A quick slab of joint compound, some light sanding and a coat of our original wall color (another thing to change sometime soon), and we were back in business.

The picture frames got a coat of in Old White. Just one coat and no wax (Why no wax? There’s very little potential for the frames to see any touch of water, so a seal isn’t needed). To distress, all I had to do was dampen a cloth and rub over the raised edges. The paint came right off. We actually worked on this technique at the Annie Sloan workshop I attended in Leesburg. They provided us with a gold, gilded piece of trim work. My frames were very similar with their detailing, so I pulled out my notes and proceeded with the same steps.

Next I quickly painted a small little table I keep in the bathroom to hold toilet paper and tissues. This got a coat of Duck Egg Blue, clear wax and distressing. I went with the blue, as I want that to be my accent color in the tiny little room. I hope to pick up some pretty little hand towels the next time I am out in that same color. Shouldn’t be too difficult – since summer is upon us it seems every retailer is pushing nautical and beach decor themes and gorgeous shades of blue are in abundance.

After everything was painted and my bathroom wall was dry – which took all of 5 minutes because the space, which is about the size of a catholic confessional, heats up like a sauna when the door is closed – I hung the shelf. This was no small feat. Each iron bracket is heavy and had 6 screws to anchor them to the wall. I had to measure the wall, measure the distance between the two brackets and figure out how to space it smack dab in the middle. That required math. MATH.

After 20 minutes of thinking and making pencil marks on my wall I was ready to drill anchor holes. Slapped in those plastic wall anchors, and used hubby’s big boy electric screwdriver. I felt so Holmes on Homes!

Here you can see what the largest frame used to look like.

And here’s the “before” for one of the smaller frames…

Here they are all finished up! The white gives them a softer, more feminine feeling.

And here’s the shelf hanging happily in the powder room.

And the small pictures on the back wall.

And a close up of the iron brackets. Love the chippy paint! I did not paint these – found this shelf with the included brackets at a consignment shop. It’s from Pottery Barn, so I’m sure you could grab the same thing off the internet.

There ya have it. Another project checked off my to-do list!