Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Placemats

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Can I be real for a minute? I absolutely adore my boys. I truly do, with all of my heart. They are busy, curious, tenacious, and strong willed. They are also sweet, affectionate, kind and funny.

All of their amazing qualities aside, I sometimes find myself thinking “This is why we can’t have nice things”. My boys can be rough on our belongings. They love to jump, climb, push, pull and explore in all the ways that you can imagine little boys would. I love that they are curious, imaginative, and adventurous. The curiosity tends to mean that our home looks like a tornado has swept through daily!

The evidence of their love for cars and trucks takes over our family room floor daily. My sofa cushions, accent pillows, and throw blankets are almost alway askew. Objects get disassembled (ahem, broken) on a regular basis. It comes with the territory of having young children (3 under 4.5 years old in our household!). With that said, I try to be realistic about the types of things I buy at this period of our lives, with the expectation that they are very likely to get dropped, ripped, taken apart, and spilled on.

So today I am sharing with you a super easy DIY project for making your own placemats! Sure, I would love to get some gorgeous cloth printed ones from Pier 1 Imports, but at this point in our lives there is no point. Keeping them looking nice would be futile and they would quickly become covered in yogurt and stained with spaghetti sauce.

The placemats that I have made in this tutorial are low-maintenance and easy to clean. Most importantly, they are very inexpensive to make so it’s not a huge loss if one (or all) get destroyed. The idea came to me while shopping at Walmart last week, after seeing some rolls of easyLiner shelf and drawer liners on display. The liners are typically used to line the bottoms of cupboards, shelves, and drawers which makes them durable and easy to clean. They come in a variety of colours and patterns and cost $6 a roll. Lightbulb moment!

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Supplies:
1. A roll of easyLiner Smooth Top shelf liners
2. Scissors
3. Measuring tape or a placemat that you already own
4. Optional: Glue gun and ribbon

Directions:
1. Roll out the liner with the back side facing up (I photographed it with the back side facing down to show better in the picture). Using a measuring tape or placemat, measure the length of the placemat (or 19″) and mark a straight line with a pen.

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2. Cut across the line that you measured to cut out the placemats.

3. Repeat 5 more times to use the entire roll, or until your desired number of placemats is achieved.

4. Optional fourth step: To add more of a design/esthetic element, add ribbon to the outside edges of the placemats using a glue gun.

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There you have it! A set of 6 placemats for about $1 a piece. Allow your kids to use these bad boys guilt-free, for everything from eating on, colouring on, and making messy arts and crafts. They wash up easily with a cloth and warm soapy water, and dry quickly.

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Depending on how much you want to perk them up, you can easily use them for your hosting needs as well! You’re welcome!

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For fun, here is a little feature of my 2 year old’s most recent art project! At least he choose one of my favourite colours, right?

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Summer Entertaining and an Overlooked Detail

The summer is rapidly approaching! The upcoming warm weather months are a peak time for entertaining. Whether it be a family barbecue, Sunday brunch, or an evening dinner party, we scarcely need reason to host or attend a summer shindig, big or small!

In preparation for your summer hosting duties, you may be interested in stocking your bar, creating a catalogue of yummy food and drink recipes, and planning fun activities to regale your guests with (I highly recommend the game Cards Against Humanity for  copious amounts of laughter!).

One of the things that often gets overlooked when preparing for summer hosting, is the supplies, specifically, dishware for serving your tasty meals on. Summer entertaining does not have to be limited to red solo cups and white paper plates! I wanted to spotlight some places and share some tips on selecting dishware to set up eye catching place settings for your summer hosting!

On a recent grocery shopping trip to The Superstore, I was inspired by a table display of vibrant and summery, plastic dishware that had the look of stoneware. There were a number of solid and printed designs in various colours that could be mixed and matched. The prices ranged from $3-$5 per piece. It got me thinking about how much more inviting a get-together or event looks and feels when the details have been considered. With that in mind, I want to share some tips that I find useful when planning the tablescape for hosting an event. The photos below the tips were taken at The Superstore during my shopping trip that day, to illustrate some of the suggestions.

Tip #1
If you do a lot of hosting and entertaining, opt for reusable dinnerware. To get the maximum use and versatility, choose solid colours for the primary, everyday use pieces (plates, glasses, bowls, etc.). Add bursts of colour or pattern with vibrant cloth napkins or place mats. If you have a bigger budget, add a patterned bowl to the spread!

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Tip #2
When shopping for dishware, take a few minutes to find a surface to lay out an entire place setting on (a store tabletop or counter works well). You can get a much better idea of how the pieces work together, especially if you are mixing and matching colours and patterns. A little bit of trial and error goes a long way to help you achieve the look of a beautiful and balanced table set up.

Note: I didn’t need to purchase anything to get a clear visual of how the pieces would work together-bonus!

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Tip#3
If you are working with a small budget, consider mixing and matching pieces that coordinate from different stores. You can find pretty and durable plates, bowls, and glasses at various dollar stores for $1-$2 a piece. Create the base of your place settings using the dollar store pieces (plastic or disposable), and splurge on a set of beautiful printed bowls, bold place mats, or detailed drinking glasses from another store to perk up the overall look! Add pretty printed paper napkins for an extra element of colour or pattern. Below are fun and vibrant disposable dinnerware from Party City. They have a rainbow selection of colours and prints to choose from!

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It’s possible to create inviting tabletops featuring fun and beautiful place settings on any budget. Incorporate fresh or faux plants and flowers to your spread to complete the set up!  If you are hosting a large number of guests and it’s not realistic to use individual place settings, places like the Dollar store, Walmart, Loblaws/The Superstore and Party City have disposable options that come in a variety of colours and prints! Don’t be afraid to step outside of your white disposable dinnerware comfort zone! Happy summer event planning and hosting!

Our Next Step & The Look for Less

Happy weekending Shiplappers (see what I did there?)! We kicked this beautiful weekend off with the confirmation that our house has officially SOLD! We are thrilled that we can move onto our next chapter by succinctly closing this one. With relief comes the feeling of excitement and anticipation, and I now feel confident giving into those feelings!

Sold-YES!!

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This morning we took the littles to the zoo and playground, and despite the heat, we all had a lovely morning. The two oldest spent time in the backyard running through the sprinkler with my husband. This has been our most relaxed and balanced weekend in a long time, and I am reveling in it. Taking in what will be some of our final moments in our current home. I’m feeling nostalgic, as we have created the most memories as a family of 3, 4, and then 5 in this home. We have brought home 2 precious babies and celebrated many birthdays, Christmases, and milestones here. Though we are elated to be moving closer to “home” and our families, there is a bittersweet aspect of it all. I am ready to move on, but this house, our home for the past few years will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Alright, moving on from the sappy, sentimental stuff! One of the most exciting parts about our big move is the purchase of our new home! House hunting was an interesting and challenging experience this time around, since we had to travel to another province to see things in person. I stalked the MLS listings from the time my husband accepted his new job in January up until we made an offer. We made our first trip to our new destination in January and did not find any properties that fit the bill.

I poured through the new listings daily. There were a handful of potential houses that I was interested in seeing, but nothing that really jumped out at me. One day I clicked on a listing that had a thumbnail image that caught my eye. I immediately experienced a feeling of excited anticipation as a got a closer look at the house’s exterior. As I began scrolling through the images, my excitement grew. The house was beautiful and I felt an immediate sense of chemistry and connection when viewing it. I sent the listing to my husband right away and he agreed that it looked like a great option. It checked almost all of the boxes on our must have list and we were really impressed with the overall layout and footprint of the home. The feelings of excitement quickly lead way a sense of disappointment because I knew that a house like that would not last long on the market.

Time was winding down in relation to our search, so we planned our second trip to the new destination for the following 2 weeks. We were excited and relieved to learn that the house that caught our eye was still on the market! Two weeks later, we set off to our destination equipped with a list of properties to view! The coveted house was the first one that we saw that day. I think that I knew it was the one the moment we stepped foot in the foyer! Viewing it first was a perfect set up because we were able to compare the subsequent homes that we saw to it. None of the other houses held a candle to the home that we fell in love with first thing that morning! We parted ways with our realtor when the showings were completed and went back to the hotel to discuss our next move. It was a quick and easy decision. We called our realtor shortly after and told her that we wanted to make an offer on the house. We meant business! We submitted our offer by 5pm that day. We spent the evening excitedly discussing the possibility that we may have found our new home. It felt right.  The next day we waited in nervous anticipation for the sellers to respond to our offer. The clock rolled by as my anxiety elevated and we began to feel discouraged. Just before noon, as we were packing ourselves up to check out of the hotel, we received the news that we were waiting for…our offer was accepted!

The purchase of our new home was conditional on us selling our current home, so that added an element of pressure. In the grand scheme, we made it through the home selling and buying process pretty quickly and pain free. Getting that sold sign up in front of our current house has felt like a long time coming!

Our New Home!

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Now, we prepare to embark on our new path with our sweet boys in tow. We have many projects (primarily cosmetic) planned for our new home, as well as slew of new rooms to decorate (including a finished basement)! I am excited to get started as my personal decor and design style becomes more defined. I have a much better idea of what I like so I think that decorating our new home will be a much different experience than when I decorated our current home. The modern farmhouse style will be fairly dominant, but I also hope to incorporate some varied elements (think coastal/cottage, industrial, and shabby chic). Only time will tell if I can bring my design vision to fruition!

I have been picking up items for the new house here and there if I see something that I really like. Yesterday I found the below hanging bottle/vases for $11.99 each! A steal considering that I had my eye on a similar set on Etsy for $77! The darling little jar below was $2.98-I love a good deal!

The Look for Less! – $23.98
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The Etsy Version- $77.65 (Appalachian Artisans)

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I hope that you will join me as I document the journey of our move as we take our new property from a house to a home!

Magnolia Wreath Tutorial

 In the previous post, “Farmhouse Chic on a Dime”, I made a grapevine wreath with faux magnolia flowers. Buying a premade wreath can be expensive- I have seen them range from $20-$60 at Homesense. I wanted to share how I made my wreath to show you how easy and inexpensive it is to complete as a do it yourself project!

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I purchased my supplies at Walmart, but you can also find similar items at Michael’s and other craft stores. I purchased a wreath ($4.94) and one stem of faux magnolia flowers ($6.50) to make an elegant wreath for under $12! Due to the simplicity of the look I wanted to achieve, I only needed 1 stem of flowers (each stem had 3 flowers). If you would like to make a wreath with a fuller look, purchase additional stems of flowers. The prices of faux flowers vary depending on the quality and where you buy them.

Tip: The Dollarama has a variety of faux flowers and greenery if you want a fuller look for your wreath but want to keep the costs down. Try Michael’s for a larger selection and higher quality flower options.

For the method that I used to create the magnolia wreath, I recommend finding faux flowers that have blooms at varying height placements across the stem (as opposed to all one height at the very top of the stem).

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Supplies:
1. Grapevine wreath
2. Faux flowers on a stem
3. A wire cutting device (optional depending on your design)

Instructions:
1. Decide where you would like your flowers to be located on the wreath (I choose off centered to the left). Line up the flowers to the location of your liking. With your wreath facing down on the front display side, insert the wire stem of the flowers between a few of the vines.

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2. Using the curve of the wreath, continue to weave the remaining length of the stem through the vines and secure the end of the stem under a vine.

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3. Faux flowers are typically designed so that the flower bloom can be removed from the stem (you just pop it right off!). To position the blooms how you would like and to help them lay flush against the wreath, remove them from the stem and pull the stem part in between the vines. When you are satisfied with where the flowers are positioned, reattach the blooms to the stem.

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4. The stems usually have wire in them to make them flexible and bendy. In the final stage, make any adjustments needed to ensure that the flowers are positioned well. You may also want to “fluff” up the blooms using your fingers to make them look fuller.

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Viola! You now have a simple and elegant wreath using only two items!

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The thing that I love most about this project is that it is completely customizable. You can choose any type of flower, in any colour, and even in a combination of flower varieties and colours. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even spray paint the wreath to a colour of your choosing!

To make your wreath as versatile as possible, I recommend choosing a neutral colour for the base flower. I personally love to make changes to my decor throughout the year. Sometimes on a whim if I find a new piece that I love and want to incorporate into my home, but most often my design changes are seasonal. I love to switch things up in the Fall to emphasize warm earthy tones, and in the winter it’s all about Christmas and holiday charm.

If you choose a neutral flower colour as the base of your wreath, it is incredibly easy to change the look of it simply by adding more flowers in different colours. To show how easy this is, I have included some photos of how I have changed the look of my wreath by adding different flowers, and leaves. This is the part where you may need to use a wire cutter (or other cutting device) to remove individual blooms from the stem. Since the flowers are not permanently affixed to the wreath, you can remove some or all at anytime to change the look, or start from scratch with a new look!

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I had fun doing this little project, and I hope that you have enjoyed this tutorial and feel encouraged to try this for your home!

Farmhouse Chic on a Dime

You may find this shocking, but I am kind of a Joanna Gaines and Fixer Upper mega fan. I kid! I won’t reiterate my reasons for my admiration, but if you want some background read my post “Separated at Birth?!“.

I adore Joanna’s decorating style! I would classify it as a mix traditional, rustic, and shabby chic, combined with some industrial and modern elements. Though the dominant theme to her dersign style is “Farmhouse Chic”, I would argue that her ability to incorporate those various elements into designs that flow is quite eclectic! I now find myself recognizing a lot of the elements that seem to represent the Fixer Upper style in so many places in my everyday life.

The homes and spaces that Fixer Upper creates are beautiful and decorated impeccably. The way that the elements flow adds a seemingly effortless continuity from one room to another. We all know that home decor can be pricey, especially when you have multiple rooms and different areas within rooms to decorate.

There are some great home decor stores that offer reasonable prices with a variety of selection. Homesense, Jysk, and Bouclair are great examples of places where you can find beautiful decor with good prices. I know firsthand how quickly multiple items in the shopping cart add up though!

So today, I challenged myself to find some of the lowest priced decor pieces out there, that are reminiscent of the signature Farmhouse style that I love.

Destination? Walmart!

Walmart is one of those places that I have a love/hate relationship. I love the competitive prices, great deals, and one-stop-shop element to the store. My biggest dislike is how busy and crowded the store can get at peak times. I try to eliminate that annoyance by going early in the morning (my local store opens at 7:30 a.m.!).

So, Walmart delivered on the challenge! I find that it’s hit or miss when it comes to the decor options, but there are some great pieces that are really inexpensive.

Tip: Combine inexpensive items with mid and higher range pieces to create a balanced space that won’t break the bank!

One of the things that Joanna Gaines does so well to create beautiful spaces is set up vignettes of decor pieces. Creating a vignette on a shelf, bookcase, mantle or in a cabinet can really elevate the design of your space. It typically involves taking a number of various decor pieces and arranging them in a way that is interesting and pleasing to the eye. That is what I set out to do with this challenge and I ended up with the following items:

1. Wire basket with liner $12.96
2. Medium glass vase with twine $7.47
3. Small glass vase with twine $6.47
4. Crackle candle holder $5.97
5. Flameless 6″ pillar candle $7.97
6. Grapevine wreath $4.94
7. Magnolia faux bloom $6.50

The combined total (prior to tax) was $58.78 (Note that I purchased 2 stems of the magnolia flowers ). I ended up with some great pieces for under $60! Not too shabby for multiple pretty additions that add interest and detail to a highly visual area in your home!

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The end result also included a picture frame that I already own from Homesene ($12.99) and a mini candle from Bath and Body Works ($4.50).

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To show how versatile the decor pieces are, I used them in my master bathroom as well! I love the functionality of the basket for added storage. On the mantle it can be used to store anything from books, magazines and remote controls. In the bathroom is can be used to store toilet paper, towels, or toiletries. Who doesn’t need extra storage?

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I appreciate that the farmhouse style is not for everyone. Others prefer traditional, contemporary, or eclectic design. To each their own! I was able to find many other decor items that would represent the styles above. Whatever your specific design tastes are, there are ways to achieve the decor look that you love,  on a dime! As for me? I’ll continue on my journey of Chasing Shiplap!

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