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Home sweet home

I cannot believe I forgot to share the darling illustration I created of my house. I made this last month after working on a similar project for work, and I just adore it.

HOME-SWEET-HOME

How stinkin’ cute, right?

I designed this one of my building at work for a giant poster right when you walk in the building.

VMH

I think they are so charming. I am tossing up the idea of selling them on my shop — not that folks want to buy an image of my house (creepy!), but I could do theirs! So cute.

Speaking of designing things, I have exciting news! At the end of the summer I am going back to school to get my master’s degree in publications design. I am pretty freakin’ excited about it. Also terrified because, you know… homework. Haven’t done that in five years. But on the whole, I’m pumped for all of the awesome things I’m about to learn. In fact, I’ve started dreaming in Photoshop and inDesign — anyone else do that? It’s like I am editing my dreams. Strange, but cool.

Speaking of my sweet home, my pride and joy, my garden, is doing phenomenal. this season. Last night I made my first batch of pizza sauce from some 50+ tomatoes I picked over the weekend.

tometers

I also and the proud grower of a watermelon! Brian wants to pick it so badly, but I think it needs a few more days. I have never been so pumped to have grown something in my life haha.Watermleon

In other news, B and I just got back from a weekend trip to Buffalo, NY. My family had a family reunion and we had a great time.

I’ve got a few furniture projects I want to finish before the summer is over and I get crazy busy with school — a dresser and two nightstands to be exact. Here’s hoping I can find the time and cool weather to tackle each project!

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Graphic Design

Family Cookbook

I forgot to share the best gift that I made for my family this Christmas! I made my mom, stepmom, sisters and grandma a family cookbook of all of our dessert recipes. It took me hours and hours and hours. I also had to bake more than I care to so I could take photos — but it was all worth it.

Cookbook

I designed the book from cover to cover using Adobe InDesign. I designed the cover using a lot of the last names in our family as an interesting graphic element.

Once all of the pages were complete, I uploaded them to Shutterfly as images and put them into their blank photo book template — they call it Digiscrap. It shows a step by step guide on how to upload your own custom template onto a blank photo book.

The only downside to the blank template was a lack of measurements. For example, I made a jpg for the spine to fit into their template, but that spine wrapped around the whole book, so the words are partially on the cover (if you look at the first photo you can see what I mean). It would be great if they suggested art bounds and text bounds for the covers and pages. Not a big deal, but something to keep in mind if you ever design your own and use Shutterfly to print it.

Cookbook pages

Other than the spine mishap, the book is gorgeous. I’ve used Shutterfly before for photo books and they don’t disappoint. I love how the photos printed, which I was a bit nervous about because I am in no way close to being a professional photographer.

snowball

The recipes in the book go way back — we have one from my great-great-great grandma — and I even included pro tips from family members who are known for each recipe.

Cookies Page

Ever make a cookbook of your own? Did you use a template or design your own?

I am really glad I designed mine myself. I learned a lot through the process. I would definitely do things a bit differently next time, which will be next Christmas when I tackle the family entrée and side recipes! We make such yummy food in our family, I didn’t have time to fit it all in one book.

I can’t believe I forgot to share it — I’m so proud of it.

Christmas, Holiday, Home Improvement, Paint

A mini fireplace renovation and Christmas decor

I love the winter holiday season and all of the decorating that comes with it. I was extra excited to decorate our mantel this year because I just completed a mini fireplace reno.

Do you remember this gem of a fireplace that we started with when we moved in?

Before fireplace

This is how we changed our fireplace after we did our family room reno.

fireplace

The difference in the brightness alone is nuts! But something was still missing. The fireplace was outdated with the old metal doors. New doors are so expensive, so I decided to DIY the doors and the inside of the fireplace to complete the three-years-long reno.

Brass doors

To start, I removed the doors and cleaned out the fireplace. Then, I painted the inside of the fireplace black with heat-resistant paint.

Fireplace unpainted

I did two coats of paint on the inside to cover up the soot, and it turned out really nice! I actually contemplated not adding the doors back on, but Brian said he prefered doors to an open fireplace.

Fireplace Brick

Once that was dry, I started to work on the doors. At first, I sprayed the doors with heat-resistant black spray paint. I taped the glass, but didn’t cover all of the panes with newspaper. (Word to the wise — cover the glass! I had to later scrape off paint. Oops.)

Spray painted

The spray paint didn’t hold up so great, so I ended up painting the doors with the same paint I used for the inside of the fireplace. Once that dried, I was able to rehang the doors.

Ready for the big (small?) reveal?

TA DA! Oh, and Christmas decorations 🙂

fireplace3

Do you love the black doors? It’s taken me a while — I actually hated them at first — but I really like them. I’ll admit that I wish they were new and fancy and not spray painted, but considering we don’t use the fireplace and the doors are rarely opened, this little DIY will work just great for us. Buh-bye brass!

The only downside to the painted doors is the paint does scratch off if nicked in the right way. Other than that, I’m really happy with the new look. I don’t miss the old, dated color at all.

OK, enough reno talk. Check out my Christmas decor! I absolutely love my Christmas mantel.

fireplaceremmy

As you can see, Remmy loves it, too. Really, he just loves to sniff his stocking to see if there’s anything in it yet. Sometimes he cries because he can’t get it down. I think it is hilarious — does that make me a mean doggie mom?

santas

On my mantel I have my collection of Jim Shore Santas. We got one as a wedding gift, and I’ve been in love with them ever since. I can’t wait to see which new Santas I get this year as gifts.

Christmas is the one time of year we do seasonal decorating, so we take it pretty seriously. We have one real Christmas tree, a small fake tree I decorate with flamingo ornaments, a decorated mantel, a decorated TV shelf and a decorate console table. We even decorate by our bar. And, of course, we do lights outside.

How do you all decorate for Christmas? If you have a blog, I’d love to see what you’ve been up to this holiday season. And if you don’t have a blog, no worries… the rest of my house (outside of these photos) is messed up with wrapping paper shreds and stuff I had to move out of the picture frame. It isn’t quite as perfect as it may appear 🙂

Speaking of perfect, I have not been on the ball this year with holiday cards and gifts. I am looking to get holiday cards a.s.a.p. and I found the most adorable cards on Shutterfly that are in the cutest shapes (i.e. not just rectangles). Some have scalloped edges, some have rounded corners and some look like quatrefoils. They are such a fun twist on normal cards — now I just need a cute photo of me, B and Rem!

I also need to get a kickstart on my gifts. I’ve purchased quite a few things, but there are so many gifts I want to make that I haven’t even started on! Work, class and other life craziness has made this holiday season fly by so far. Where are my elves when I need them?! Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have time off before Christmas, so I’ll be my own elf and make my gifts then.

Are you making gifts this year or tackling any mini makeovers before your relatives come to town this holiday season? I’d love to see your holiday decor, renos and crafts! The holidays really do bring out the most creative and fun ideas.