December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas...Cards!

Since this is probably one of the last posts until the New Year, I wanted to show you our Christmas Card. Holiday cards are one of my favorite parts of Christmas. Checking the mailbox everyday in December becomes enjoyable. The hubby leaves me the cards when he collects the mail so I can open them with him. Isn't that sweet? :)

Since I got swamped and never made the clothespin wreath that I saw in pinterest, I decided to display our cards we received by taping them to our entry wall.

Look how great and full it looks? It brings a smile to my face to see all the well wishes from family and friends as soon as I walk in the door. As for us, we decided to go with a picture from our October winter wonderland family portrait session that we surprised my mom with. Did you know if snowed in the Philly area on Halloween? And that that is the only snow we have had this season? Its true. It was a bummer it snowed on Halloween but it allowed us to get some great shots for holiday cards. Check out what picture we picked.
courtesy of Rachel Beck Photography

I love that we actually got James to look at the camera for us. So from us to all of you out there, we wish you a Very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!

December 22, 2011

Phanatic about Making Gifts

So this isn't exactly a holiday post but since I have made a few gifts for loved ones this season that I can't show you yet (in case they are reading) I wanted to show you one I made for one of my best friends this year. She is a die hard Phillies say the least.

 I do not usually paint family and friends anything because I am pretty critical of my work and I never know what to paint them. But when it was time to shop for this girl I was drawing blanks on something new and different.

 So I began to think about what she loves and what I can paint that would have meaning and be fun. Then this wonderful "creature" came to mind.

If you live on the east coast or love baseball than you know that this is the Philly Phanatic. He's a big, furry green creature that entertains thousands of people all season long. Looking at him makes me smile.

 It doesn't hurt that he has some killer dance moves. :) Tell me you don't want to dance with him can't right?!

Anyway, now that I had my muse I got to work sketching him out on a 11X14'' canvas. I wanted to use oils because it had always been my favorite medium to work with and I could get really detailed when it came to this lovable guys fur.A week in, it was starting to look like this.

Not much right? I have to admit, it took awhile to sketch out the body.I started with the background because it was the easiest part and it would help set the stage on the colors I would use on him. By week two it was really starting to come together. You could say I was in a groove.

I was really starting to actually like it! I thought about keeping it for myself a few times but I know it would have a better home with my friend. I finished the stadium and made a few touch ups and was left with the final Philly Phanatic.

*drum roll please*
I LOVE IT! I think it came out really great. It wasn't easy and I definitely was ready to throw it against the wall at times but I was really happy with it....and most importantly- so was my friend! Yay for homemade meaningful gifts. Sometimes they can be labor intensive but it is worth it.

Are you making any homemade gifts for the holidays? Do you get as frustrated as I do? Do any of them involve a giant green creature?

December 21, 2011

Christmas Decorating Flashback- Outdoors

So yesterday I gave you a glimpse into our little home and how we decorated for the holidays last year. Simple and to scale with our small ceilings and our smaller living space. For the outside, hubby and I both knew we wanted to have lights outside. I mean- who doesn't love driving by neighborhood houses all lit up? I know I still look forward to seeing all of them. Our house would be no exception.

Tim got to work on the outside.
If you remember we have a tree out front. Well ever since we saw this house, Tim knew he wanted to wrap it in Christmas lights when the time came. He got his wish 5 months later. Look how happy he is! :)
After that we tried to figure out how to decorate the rest of the house. Here were some of the issues we needed to address:
1) our house windows were not completely symmetrical. (The previous owners covered up one of the windows to gain space in the kitchen.)
2) The slant on our roof is so severe that it would be a little too dangerous to try and outline the whole house. 
3) we wanted to decorate our house but didn't want to be "that" house that went a little to extreme.

My in-laws solved the first problem. We inherited this holiday projector that (you guessed it) projected holiday images onto the house. We decided to balance out the window with a simple winter image. Next we decided to outline the small porch with white lights since we couldn't outline the whole house. Finally we used all white lights so they would be cohesive and simple candles and stockings in the top windows to spread cheer without blinding the neighbors.

I loved how it came out. It added just the glow we wanted. Here it is from another angle.

I was so in love with our house the whole month of December. I loved pulling into the driveway and seeing those lights twinkle. 

So what about you guys? Do you decorate the outside of the house too? Do you go all out or just stay simple?

December 20, 2011

Christmas Decorating Flashback- Indoors

I know...two days in a row! and with a broken computer and everything! How does she do it? Thank God for phone apps. Thats all I'm saying.

With Christmas only 5 days away (how did that happen?!) I find myself thinking back to our first Christmas in the house and how excited we were to decorate a whole house however we wanted to.  Here are some pics and tips to decorating a smaller house. (our ceilings are only 7 feet high!)

Look how peaceful our puppy looks!

We went pretty simple last year. We focused a lot on the tree and the mantle. A great tip with a small space is not to overdo it. We had a few Christmas statues on the coffee table and a manger on the small table by the window. Since we couldn't move our furniture too much due to limited space, we needed to get creative.

Our Christmas Tree was one of my favorite things to decorate. We inherited a lot of ornaments from both of our parents so it was nice to incorporate them into our new decorations. Here we focused on red, green and gold ball ornaments to unify the tree amongst all the various decorations. My parents also had some leftover little snowmen that I thought would be a nice touch to add to our tree. We went with a 6 foot tree so it didn't look like we were trying to jam it into our little house. It may be small but it is perfect for the space.

On a side note, I have to tell you a secret...having a fireplace is just as much fun as everyone says it is! When we were house hunting we had a fireplace on our "want" not "need" list but we happened to get lucky when we found this house. We love it and we really use it all the time. It makes our already cozy house seem even more charming. 

For decorations on the mantel we went pretty simple. We did 2 wrapped garlands lit in white lights. (We scored them at Walmart for like $2.50 a strand!) Then we just decorated it with some simple fake poinsettia flowers and a little Charlie Brown Christmas figurines. Tim loves Charlie Brown Christmas so we picked these up when they were on sale last year. The Santa in the middle was actually something we inherited from our in laws. I love Santa's and this one had a globe and everything.

So there are a few pictures of how we look our main room and made it a little more festive. In a small space, simple was better.

Is everyone done decorating? Did you go with a theme or just put up your favorite decorations? How about shopping? I just finished yesterday! I even tried not to procrastinate.

December 19, 2011

Gingerbread house show down

So while my computer situation is still going on, I thought I would share with you a time honored tradition with our best friends...making gingerbread houses... out of graham crackers. In our defense we tried using real gingerbread one year and it was a disaster. 

Over the years we have slowly perfected the art of creating them and there is really only one rule: no kits!

(warning these pics were taken with my phone so the quality is awful)

This year we really knocked them out of the part. We consider no roof collapses a successful night.

Take a look at our masterpieces.

We have mine.

Hubby's- his is apparently called "frosty's last stand" (boys- haha)

And our friends who knocked it out of the park!

Look at that chimney and the right one is a replica of these house- aww

Wow- those doors rock!
First submarine gingerbread house!

All in all it was our best one yet! It is a tradition I hold near and dear to my heart and its always a ton of fun to bust on each others houses.

Do any of you make gingerbread houses? Any traditions you have with your friends during this season?

December 16, 2011

Christmas invasion at work

So while my computer is getting fixed, I thought I would show you guys how I decked out my office window for Christmas. A small tree and some left over decorations we couldn't fit on the tree make it ready for the holidays. It's definitely a Matthews craptacular so enjoy!

November 11, 2011

Where in the world is Lisa?

Before you even say it, I know....I disappeared. First let me sincerely apologize but this past month and a half has been a whirl wind to say the least. I started a new job, went to a few weddings, our computer crashed and left the country. Needless to say it has been hectic but I'm back and ready to fill you in on all of my adventures.

Of course I think I need to start with that whole leaving the country thing since it's the funnest part. See my brother in law has lived in Europe for over 4 years and we try and go visit him when he moves to a new city. Recently he moved to Munich so we jumped at the chance. Why? Because we get to wear these:

Don't we look adorable?!? They are traditional German attire for Oktoberfest. It was pretty amazing. It's hard to describe this amazingly huge carnival celebrating Germany and all its traditions...mostly beer though.

Don't worry Mom- that wasn't all we did while we were there. We also took an amazing bike tour around Munich.
The weather was amazing and the bike tour was a different way to tour a city. I definitely recommend it. We also made the 2+ hour trek to see the Disney Castle...aka. Neuschwanstein Castle.

It was pretty amazing on the outside but only like 16 rooms were completed before this guy died so the tour is pretty short and uneventful. But that view is pretty picture worthy and it was definitely something off the bucket list.

The hubby and I decided that although Munich is amazing, we didn't want to spend a week there so we packed our bags and headed off to Dublin for a little more fun. We stayed on O'Connell Street which is pretty popular and in the middle of everything. Of course we tried some of the local specialties while there...
On the top of the Guinness brewery

Noticing a theme to this trip? Still, we learned the proper way to drink a Guinness (still not my cup of tea but its better) and that people in Dublin drink their Jameson with cranberry juice (surprisingly delicious).

Again, that is not all we did in Ireland. We also crossed something off of the bucket list.

The Blarney Stone! This is my attempt to kiss it. Did you know that the blarney stone is a smooth little stone at the underside of the top tower lip? Ridiculous. I wasn't reaching it. But Tim did so he could gab for both of us.

Overall, it was an amazing trip with some great memories. I will post over the weekend to fill you in on everything that happened over this past month and a half plus a few fun projects that I did along the way.

September 14, 2011

Its Still a jungle out there

So when we left, the left side of the garden got a little cleaning and some new plants added to the collection. But what about that jungle of a walkway? If you don't remember, the second part of my garden makeover involved this mess....

The flowers are pretty but the day lilies kept getting bigger and bigger and with our cozy house, I felt that it was too much. So I decided that I wanted to clear them out and create a pattern. Instead of just getting rid of the day lilies, we felt that they could use another home. Remember the shed we built in the back yard?

Well if you look closely you on the bottom left you will see the garden box we built there. Genius right? That's my father in law for you. He always comes up with the best ideas. We figured that it would be nice to have some flowers there to make the place feel more homey. So we transplanted as many day lilies as we could. I will take a picture of them next year when they hopefully come back fighting.

After the garden beds were clear in the front we did a little shopping. We knew that we wanted the plants to be long lasting, small and able to handle part sun. This was not exactly easy. We went to Lowe's first since its closer but their garden section was a bit difficult to navigate and didn't have many part sun options.

Then we went to Home Depot. Here we hit the jackpot. First we found these babies:

A dwarf evergreen shrub. This works great because it can handle part sun, I can keep it cut small and it will last year round. So we grabbed 6. That still left me with what type of flowering plant I could get. That one was trickier. After weaving through the garden center longer we found these:

It's called Lilyturf. I chose this plant because it was a perennial, it stayed low to the ground, it was a pretty blue, purple flowers guessed it- it's part sun. So we went to work planting and mulching. Unfortunatley I forgot to take a picture right after we mulched and it was truly glorious. Instead I took a picture after not only Hurricane Irene but a tropical storm as well.

I love how it is more open now. The walkway looks so much bigger and people can focus on other parts of the garden. Plus now I can line the walkway with annuals to highlight it and lead visitors to the door. I can't wait.

There is still more work to be done. Although I cleared out the right side of the garden when I moved the hostas, I haven't put anything in there yet. I have no idea what to put there and I may have to wait another winter before I figure it out but I'll get there....eventually.

September 13, 2011

It's a jungle out there part 1

So remember yesterday when we talked about the excited, happy, good looking newlywed couple?

Yup, there they are! Well did anyone happen to notice the jungle around them?? I mean even looking back now I don't remember the front garden looking so wild but here is the evidence.

Before I even get too deep into this post I should mention that I never really had any experience with gardening before we moved in. I had plants in apartments and places we stayed but never a garden that was all my own. Talk about pressure...

One of the first things Tim and I did to the front was remove the Humongous hasta plants that were in the small section of our garden. We felt like they were suffocating that smaller space. I had a strong impulse to rip everything out at that moment but my voice of reason (my hubby) convinced me to wait. He was right too. By the time we moved in it was getting pretty chilly so we decided we would wait until the spring to see what came up and surprised us.

Winter came and went....

And we were excited to see what would spring up. But I wasn't ready for all of this.

It was too much for me. I was starting to wish that I ripped everything out in the fall but if I did that I would have missed out on these gorgeous flowers:

Aren't they pretty? I have no idea what they are but I am glad I didn't rip them out. After spring was in full swing though I realized there were some ground covering and weeds that I didn't want so I went to work. First we planted these gorgeous blue and purple plants and cleared away the weeds. It started to look better already. 

These were working out great. The area looked more open and yet still full of flowers. This did not come easy. It took me hours and hours to do all the weeding, pruning, digging and planting that by the time I wanted to work on the jungle up the walk way I was wiped out...But I wasn't too tired to check out my neighbors yards for some inspiration and tips.

This neighbors garden had elements that I really enjoyed. I liked the idea of having small bushes that would remain relatively healthy looking all year round. I also wanted to plant perennials in between. The last point I liked about this garden was that it had some sort of pattern to it. The rest of my garden may be random but I like that idea of a pattern up the walkway to lead to the front door.

With all these ideas in mind I got to work on looking for plants that would be part sun (since I have a shady lot), perennial and smaller in size (to avoid the jungle affect).

I will talk more about the steps I took to finding the right plants tomorrow and explain why I am now in love with Home Depots garden center.

September 12, 2011

Arranging photos in the home

I am working on a fun art project right now that I can't wait to show you but until then I am going to talk about hanging artwork.

Picture one year ago, excited newlyweds moving into their first home.

Good lucking couple, aren't they? :)

Now imagine how petrified I was to put a single hole in the freshly painted walls of my new home. Hanging photos and art can be really overwhelming but I used a few helpful tips when hanging my art.

First, there are many places online you can find tips and inspiration to hanging arts and premade arrangements. One that I found on Pinterest comes from brandsushi.

The first type of arrangement I went with was more random. It worked around the thermostat and light switch.

Since I went all "rogue" on this wall I used the theme, picture tint and color frame to remain cohesive.  Pretty smart huh? 

Another photo collage that was pretty intimidating to me was the staircase. Staircase art is a main focal point for any house especially since mine can be seen from the living room. So I took advice from the great king of rock and roll and remembered only fools rush in. ( I know- that one was pretty corny) I decided to layout my photos on the ground first so I can move them around easier. 

Sorry this photo is pretty blurry. It was done with my phone. I knew I wanted to layout my larger photos on a diagonal and then work my smaller photos to sit in to the pattern. I played with this a little before hanging.
Then the hubby and I worked from the bottom up hanging the larger pieces first and then molding frames around them.

I love how it came out! The best part about it is that it is a work of progress. We will continue to grow our photo arrangement when we find pieces to hang.

The last art arrangement I want to talk about is using the corner of a room to tie in similar art so your eye moves from one wall to another.

When my grandmother moved out of her house I found two watercolor flower pictures that my aunt painted. I decided to get brand new frames and hang them in our guest bedroom. The colors work off of each other really well and the room. It is one of the first things you see when you walk in.

Well those are just some of my walls. I have plenty of blank ones left in my house but I will wait until I find the perfect art to hang.

Does anyone else have severe anxiety over putting holes in their walls like I do? What are some arrangements you have though of?

ps: Wanna see more of my gallery makin, photo takin, art obsession? Check out my newest gallery here.

September 8, 2011

Did I miss something?

I'm not sure about you guys but I have had an interesting morning today. When I woke up I thought it was going to be a normal day. It was wet but not raining and the weather seemed fine. I happen to check facebook on my phone while I was trying to get up and I see some of my friends posting about their trains being canceled. I got nervous so I decided to check my train and then I see this on the septa website:

SEPTA West Trenton, Warminster (my train line), Lansdale/Doylestown lines suspended

Umm..did I miss something? My train is canceled as well as many others due to flooding. Then I turn on the news and they are showing pictures like this:
and this...
Amazing. Luckily, my home is on a good hill and the creek in our backyard doesn't seem to be flooding right now. I am really thankful that we have been okay so far. The puppy doesn't seem to mind the flooding...especially because I got to spend the whole day with him while I worked from home. I mean, he wouldn't leave my side all day. But how could you get mad if you turned around and saw this face...

Anyway, I hope all of you are safe and not trying to drive through any large puddles. You never know how deep they get. Hopefully the trains will be up and running in the AM. I know that tomorrow morning I will be glued to the news as I am sure most of my Philly suburb friends will be as well. So be safe and stay dry!
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