Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How to Make a Bay Leaf Wreath

bay leaves make great wreaths!

since moving to the san francisco bay area, i've been hiking the hills of the area. the vegetation is all new to me since we lived in the pacific northwest for the last 17 years. so one day, i asked my hiking friends the name of a tree that was surrounding us on our hike. they said it was the bay laurel tree, and the leaves were used for cooking. from that point on, i wanted to make my own bay leaf wreath! so, the other day, with clippers and tote bag in hand, i grabbed a few branches along my hike. i'm so excited to share this fun little craft. the great thing about this project is that the directions apply to most wreath making directions. so whether you want to make a evergreen wreath or bay leaf wreath, you can use these same directions for both. also, the bay leaves can be plucked off the wreath and used for cooking! anyway, once you have all your supplies on hand the project only takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. 

~ a funny note about the nester ~

when i finally planned to pick some bay leafs on my hike,
i totally came ill prepared. i had to borrow a cutting tool from one friend,
and i bag from another.  :o)

supplies ~ here are the supplies you'll need. a grocery bag full of bay laurel branches, a foam green styrofoam wreath, and florist wire.

wire ~ you'll need this floral wire. here is the link: wire     i love this wire and i just like having it on hand for many projects.

bunches ~ put your branches into bunches. you'll want to trim off the stems so that you can tie the wire around them. 

tie with wire ~ here i have tied a few branches together. sometimes you have to tie them and sometimes not. 

arrangement ~ when placing the branches on the wreath make sure the bulk of the branches conform to the shape of the wreath, you don't want the ends of the leaves point out and away for the circle. so, i point the branches down and to the side (i tried to show this in the above photo). also, you want to work your way along the wreath and place the branches in the same direction. 

wrap ~ now that you have the branch in the next spot, wrap the wire around the branches to secure them down. you'll want to place the branches on top of the earlier branches and work your way around the wreath. in a nutshell, just layer with branches every 3-4 inches and work your way around the styrofoam form.

the fun part ~ once you've filled the branches all around the wreath, you can now add some fun decor. to hold them in place just wrap in wire around them and then wrap the whole bunch around the wreath. 

accents ~ these hydrangeas are from my little bush in my yard. i like the green on green look.

i found this martha stewart's wreath book at our local library sale. this book has 50 wreaths that represent each state. here is the link on amazon: wreath book. it is a wonderful book and is sure to inspire you to make one. is there a wreath that you make, or want to learn how to make. let me know by commenting at the end of this blog post. i would love to hear from you. but if you don't have a wreath question, just say, "hi" if you want!



Monday, September 15, 2014

Decorating with Pottery Barn Style Silk Flowers

decorating with silk flowers.

pottery barn has definitely brought back faux flowers into our homes. flowers just warm up a space and add wonderful color, and if you are like me, you'll buy some fresh flowers every now and then and pick flowers from your garden. but sooner or later your house is empty of these beauties and you don't want to be bothered with replacing and dealing with the whole fresh flower thing. so, i do have quite a few silk flower arrangements in our home. i noticed that pottery barn has quite a few silk flowers in their stores, but as you all probably know their prices are pretty expensive. i've bought most of our silk flowers at the craft stores where you can always find them on sale. 

here are few of my thoughts surrounding the faux flower thing...

flowers ~ a few things to keep in mind when choosing out your flowers is that you want to have a bouquet of one type of flower. i noticed that pottery barn decorates with this in mind, and i think it looks more natural and real. the arrangements with many flowers and many colors actually look rather fake to me. 

choose realistic ~ i like to use flowers that look as close to the real thing as possible. today the silk flowers are just amazing. i studied my dogwood branches and most the flowers are unique and placed on the branches in a random natural way.

containers ~ mix it up and place the flowers in interesting vases and pots. don't choose out the generic containers but, use rather unique ones that will make a statement. this design choice makes it less faux. also, i love to place the silk flowers in baskets which kind of bring out a natural look. 

branches ~ pottery barn has started a trend of using faux branches of fruit or flowers. this is a fresh choice and is such an awesome look. 

organic placement ~ arrange the flowers or branches in an organic style. if the branches are bendable, style them so they hang in a natural and organic way. think of the arrangement as a composition. you wouldn't just stick the flowers in a vase and have them all clumped together. you want to shape them like natural branches and have some bending down, up and out. balance them out and you'll have a realistic bouquet. 

~ a funny note about the nester ~

when i was a little girl, my older brothers would often pick some flowers 
from my mom's rose garden. these flowers were always intended for their girlfriends. 
my mom, would always comment to me that she thought maybe 
my brothers needed to patch up their relationships with their girlfriends.

the little sneaks ~ i kept trying to take a photo of my sweet peas, and these little sneaks kept photo bombing the picture!!!

orchids ~ i place faux orchids blossoms in my live plants. this makes the whole waiting for a real blossom not to painful since you can enjoy a blossom. i wrote a blog post and here is the link: orchid post

baskets ~ i love to place the flowers in baskets to make them more natural. with this door flower arrangement, i'll change out the flowers with the seasons.

organic look ~ i love how these flowers were easy to bend and look more organic.

so, here is a peek into our house of flowers! i hope i have inspired you to decorate some quiet corner of a room. these beautiful flowers will definitely bring your house alive with color and a breath of fresh air. thanks for stopping by!



Friday, September 12, 2014

Tough Sofa Stains Test

should i buy pottery barn's white sofa?

i'm sure that most of you that follow my blog, know that i've been preoccupied with my sofa dilemma.  so here is the scoop, i'm in the market to replace our old worn, uncomfortable, out of style... sofa. can you tell, i'm wanting to have a new sofa? so, not sure you know my little secret but, i will research a project to death and i get to the point where i suffer from "analysis, paralysis!" i started this adventure with the mindset that i would not get too involved in the research and because after all, i wanted a slipcover sofa and the stain issue could be solved with a wash cycle. well, the whole process has snowballed and i'm now experiencing a white blizzard in my mind. i don't know which way is up or down and i haven't narrowed my choices all that much. so, i did do one thing... i took the pottery barn swatches and reluctantly put stains on three white fabrics and then i washed them by hand with cold water. what followed was information that was eye opening for me so, in this blog post i'm sharing my experience and results. i proud that i conducted my own science project and it was all driven by my crazy obsessive personality! well... enjoy the read and i hope my journey is interesting and helpful.

the details of my little study:

1. three pottery barn slipcover swatches (not sure if they have scotch guard applied)

        ~ performance canvas white (100% polyester)
        ~ washed linen cotton white (55% linen, 45% cotton)
        ~ twill white (100% cotton)

2. stains

        ~ black pen
        ~ cooking oil
        ~ chocolate
        ~ dirt
        ~ lipstick

3. handwash with cold water

          i wanted to hand wash the fabric so i could feel how tough it was to get the stains out.

4. air dry


~ a funny note about the nester ~

when our kiddos were toddlers, they would jump on our sofa 
like little monkeys. well, our cat, huxley loved these two so much that she would lie 
on the sofa right next to where they were jumping. 
i'm was sure she was going to get crushed, but somehow she didn't! 
she was the best kitty!

catalog ~ ok, this is serious... i have the pottery barn furniture catalog, and the crate and barrel, and restoration hardware, and ballard designs... just saying!

let the games begin! now you know which lipstick i use. so here is the line up of all the stain makers i wanted to test. i'm sad to say that i didn't include red wine, oye!

everyday dirt ~ that's right, i went out in our garden and scooped up a little dirt and added a little bit of water. i think i have technically lost it! hopefully i won't lose you as a reader.  :)   

here are the other 3 stain offenders ~ cooking oil, a generic version of lovely nutella, and a black pen. hmm... i can see cases for all four of the stains ending up on my future sofa!

the tough sofa stains ~ here are the pottery barn slipcover swatches with their line up of stains!

line up of cleaners! ~ cleaners to the rescue, oxi clean non-chlorine, resolve, and grandma's secret stain remover (this stuff is the best, here is the amazon link: stain remover). i didn't include bleach, since the fabric care states only non-chlorine bleach when needed. i'm sure non-chlorine bleach will work marvelously well on the stains, but i chose not to include it in this study. my friend's daughter used the regular bleach on their slipcover and it got yellowed, so i was kind of reluctant to try it. maybe next time!

restoration hardware sofa ~ i just thought i would throw this photo in since the sofa is so pretty. a little distraction... :)

the results are in! these results are from just hand washing in only cold water and vigoriously scrubbing without any help from the cleaner team.

twill ~ note the cooking oil is pretty faint and the others are pretty light. it cleaned up well with just cold water.

polyester ~ this one was interesting. it took me a while to even get the fabric wet. it like stayed dry and the water beaded up on the fabric, you can kind of see little droplets of water on the bottom right side. according to my friend, who has a science background, polyester is nylon which has a petroleum base. and this petroleum wicks water. the stains are still strong on the material.

linen cotton blend ~ when washing and scrubbing this fabric, the stains didn't budge at all. maybe the dirt and cooking oil are lighter but the chocolate, pen and lipstick are just as strong.

now the tough stain cleaners are put to work! ~

twill ~ this fabric cleaned the best and the quickest! one thing i noticed that when it was wet it was the most wrinkly of the bunch and as you can see in the photo, the dried fabric kept the wrinkles. the swatch's threads held up nicely and it didn't unravel too much or change it's shape. 

polyester ~ the results of this material was surprising. i thought for sure this would be the easiest to clean and it wouldn't hold any of the stains because of the polyester. but it turned out that the stains were difficult to get out, i had to scrub it quite a bit and you can see the fabric kind of got worn on the left bottom corner.  i'm pretty certain that i won't be choosing a polyester blend.

linen cotton blend ~ this one was the toughest fabric to get the stains out. i'm not sure why, but i would guess it was the linen that held the stains. also, as you can see it unraveled the most. the threads moved around a ton. this would definitely not be a fabric i would choose because of the stain factor and the lack of durability, since i have two teenage kids in our home. 

conclusion ~ 

this was the most interesting tough stain test i've ever done and i'm so glad that i put these sofa fabrics to the test! i've totally been reading opinions on the internet, but it was nice to experience it first hand. i feel like now i know what to expect of the various fabric types and it's not so much a mystery. so, onward with this sofa quest... next, i'll have to figure out how the various sofa company's cushion shapes hold up. should i buy a down sofa cushions, spring and down, and foam. this process is pretty overwhelming, but hopefully i have just narrowed down my options and i'm glad to help out anyone else out there! let me know if this was a helpful blog post. and if you have a white sofa, i would love to hear what type and how you like it.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fall Decorating Ideas

fall decorating ideas that are natural and fresh!

for some reason this fall, i'm totally into colors, white, beige, brown and grey. the more natural look seems to be what i fancy these days. the above table decor had been floating around in my head for weeks and i was waiting for the white pumpkins to appear in the stores. finally our local grocery store had them in stock and i bought quite a few of them. i just love these pumpkins, they feel like a decorating accent rather than a holiday prop. i also love that they can transition into thanksgiving and christmas as well. so gather up all your pumpkins, silver candle holders, beige candles, and burlap and let's get started fall decorating!

~ a funny note about the nester ~

i have a box that is full of scraps of ribbon that i save. if the ribbon is cute, i hold on to it. 
it can be from a gift to ribbon to some pillows that i have bought! 
you never know what project you'll need it for!

recycle ribbon ~ this is close up of the pumpkin. i found the grey ribbon in my supplies. i find that if something i bought is wrapped in a beautiful ribbon, i'll hold onto to it and use it for another project. 

natural leaves ~ here are the dried brown leaves that i bought at our local store. i guess i could've used real leaves, but so far our trees haven't turned color.

spanish moss ~ i just love this moss. it has such an organic look and just brings a energy and beautiful to the decor. use it as a nest for things. also, it has a shabby chic quality and makes things soft and beautiful. here is link on amazon if you don't have any of this great moss: moss

door decor ~

mix things up ~ i moved this basket to the front door and added the flowers and leaves. i love to relocate my decor, it gives it a fresh start and makes a spot come alive. these yellow flowers were just kind of existing in my kitchen, but it comes alive in this basket against the red door. also, i used a 3m temporary hook so that i don't damage our craftsman door. here is the link: 3m hook

halloween ~

fun fall decorating ~ i made this banner last year. it is fun and sparkly. here is the link to the post: banner

crows are popular ~ our yard has a ton of crows that hang out and visit. so, it would be so appropriate to have them inside as well! i found these at our local craft store and i love them. what better way to decorate for the fall then with black crows. the ones that i bought are actually made with a black colored straw and have glitter on them. it has a nice rustic folk art look. here is the link for the feathered type: crows

happy fall decorating! what is your favorite decorating item to use in the fall? do you like the white or orange pumpkins? i'm always curious to see how others decorate for autumn. thanks so much and hope you have a wonderful day!



Monday, September 8, 2014

Papersource Labels

paper source labels and stickers are the best!


i love the paper source. i'm sure our local store must think something is wrong with me, since i drop in on the shop like 4 times a week. our store's location is awesome since the container store is locate right across the street. i know, i'm a total nerd to like these two stores! well, recently i needed to package up some homemade cookies that i made for our new neighbor. i actually found a very cute project on the blog, honey we're home. here is the link: website. i love her container idea, and so i took it and changed it up a bit. i hope you find this post inspiring and thanks for visiting! let me know if you have done anything with these products, i would love to hear from you.

~ a funny note about the nester ~

when my daughter was a toddler, she got a hold of my supply 
of round hole reinforcement stickers. of course she had a blast 
placing them all over her face!

labels ~ these labels are so fun. i do want to mention that they are for a one time use and aren't like chalkboard labels that are washable. here is a link to my earlier post which goes over how to print on these labels via your printer. label instructions

the paper source store sells ribbon too! ~ i just love this ribbon that i bought it at the paper source store. if you make this project, wrap the ribbon around the jar and place the two ends in the front of your container. i bought these anchor hocking jars from the container store, but you can also buy them from amazon, here is the link: jars

attach the label ~ next you'll want to place the label over where the two ends meet in the front of the jar. this will hold the ribbon in place and you won't need to glue it down. you'll want to make sure that you get the ribbon tight so that it won't fall off the jar. 

cookies ~ next you'll want to make a batch of cookies. here is the link to my all time favorite almond cookie recipe: my mom's almond recipe it is such an easy recipe and i bet you already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen! so once you have your sweet treats in the jar, let's go onto the next step.

another ribbon ~ place a ribbon just below the bottom of the lid and tie a knot on the backside of the jar. i double tied it so it wouldn't come undone.

rose ribbon ~ i tried placing a bow in the front and it was just too bulky and overpowering. then i thought that a little ribbon rose would be so cute. so, i made my own, it isn't too hard to make. here is a link to an old post that shows how to make a rose: how to make a rose ribbon most ribbon roses are sewn, but i just use hot glue. when i completed making my rose, i just hot glued it onto the jar.

other chalkboard labels from the paper source store:

pre-made chalkboard labels ~ these labels are great. they are reusuable as well as removable. so use them on your jars or containers and then if you want to stick them to something else, you can. just peel off and restick to another surface. this comes in handy with my husband's homemade beer. he doesn't like the sticky labels that are difficult to clean off so these work out quite nicely.

easy to use marker ~ i just used a chalkboard marker that is washable with a damp towel.  here is the link on amazon: marker

flower stickers ~ i just love these cute paper source stickers. i use them a ton for little gift cards. just attach them to any tag or piece of cardstock paper and you have the cutest little card. they look so fresh and store bought and they are way cheaper!

tags ~ made this little thank you package up and used a plastic food container that veggies come in. here is the link to this project.  

birthday stickers ~ these are the best for kid's birthday cards. i have my kiddos use these a ton and then they embellish them with markers are keep them plain. i always have these stickers on stock.

well, that sums up my paper source blogpost, whew! i'm in love with their products. they are so easy to use and so cute. let me know if you have a project that you have made or want to see on my blog. leave a comment and i'll get back to you. thanks so much for stopping by!