...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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Wood bead garlands have been popping up in interiors for years. I think I first noticed them styled in Scandinavian vignettes. Then they became pretty popular as holiday garland on trees and mantels. More recently I’ve spotted them casually gracing tabletops in interiors with a natural, organic vibe. (Lauren Liess’s coffee table and Anissa’s dining room table come to mind.) I love how effortless they look. Oh, this ol’ thing I just tossed on my table?

A few weeks ago when cabin fever hit hard, I was itching to make something. Putting my spin on the famed wood bead garland sounded fun so I gave it a whirl. Obviously, I’m not reinventing the wheel here but it was nice busying my hands and tweaking little details to my liking. Here’s what I did…

wood bead strand 1

I knew I wanted a pretty substantial strand with a longer length and chunkier profile (no measly little necklace of wood “pearls”) but when I started gathering my supplies I quickly discovered that pre-drilled wood beads are expensive! And I needed quite a few. To save money, I ended up buying wood balls in various sizes and drilling the holes myself. I bought three bags of 1″, two bags of 1¼” and one bag of 1½” wood balls along with four yards of leather cording. I raided the garage and found some heavy duty grip pliers to stabilize the balls during drilling.

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One by one, I placed each ball on top of a scrap piece of wood, secured the ball with the pliers in one hand and drilled a hole through the center with my other hand using a 3/16″ drill bit. (I’m a lefty so if you’re a righty flop the image above for a better visual.) You can drill whatever size hole you want. The key is to drill a hole at least slightly larger than your preferred stringing material: rope, string, jute, yarn, etc. Keep a firm grip on the pliers!

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Drilling through the ball into the wood scrap below prevents splintering and produces a clean cut. Ideally, this would be an outdoor project but below-zero temps kept me indoors. I kept the vacuum nearby and swept up sawdust as I went along.

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After all the holes were drilled, I wasn’t digging the cool grayish tones of the unfinished maple. I busted out my trusty beeswax + orange oil wood conditioner (previously seen here) and applied it with a soft cloth.

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This was about halfway through the waxing process. The beads on the left are unfinished. The beads on the right are waxed. I love how the beeswax warms up the wood tone and emphasizes the graining. Instant patina!

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Once waxing was complete, I strung the beads onto the leather cording.

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I decided to string the largest beads near the center of the garland and the smallest beads near the ends for a graduated effect.

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After all the beads were strung, I went back through and spaced them out a little so the garland wasn’t too stiff and had some play in it. I wanted the garland to drape easily. I knotted the ends and cut the excess cording. Done! (You could also tie the ends together to create a circular garland.)

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The end result is so pretty in a natural, unfussy way. I love that you can see little indentations from the pliers. Living proof that they were touched by hands – not just a machine. There’s really no wrong way to style them. They kinda just do their own thing and go with everything. They’re the J. Crew of home accessories. I’ve already had a heyday trying them out all over the house.

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As a cat-friendly centerpiece on the dining room table.

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Spilling out of a thrifted bowl on the media cabinet.

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Curled up in a large bowl on the coffee table.

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Dangling from a hook on a sliver of wall.

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Draped over a pile of books on my dresser.

They’re so versatile. I keep moving them around. Who knows where they’ll end up. I’m going to start a new blogger game called Where Are the Wood Beads? Should be a good time.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

02.02.16 / A Great Gift Idea

blue apron jan 4

Want to know what I gifted nearly all the adults in our lives over the holidays? Yep, Blue Apron. If you’re a long-time reader, you’ve heard me tout the food delivery service in the past. (Keep reading further though because I’m not simply regurgitating all the things I’ve mentioned before.) If you’re new here, let me fill you in briefly.

blue apron jan 1

Blue Apron delivers fresh ingredients in a refrigerated box right to your doorstep. The ingredients arrive in the exact proportions along with a recipe card and detailed instructions which include photographs of steps to give even novices in the kitchen the confidence to churn out a delicious meal. Typically, the cost is less expensive than dining out or ordering takeout. Simply sign up online for weekly orders. You can skip or cancel deliveries at any time! An online “cookbook” is free to anyone so you can replicate meals at home with ingredients from your local grocery if desired. (We recently tried the cajun fried catfish with collard greens and mashed sweet potatoes. It was a hit!)

blue apron jan 2

I’ve been subscribing to Blue Apron going on two years now ever since our friends in Nashville recommended it. I especially love to use the service during weeks that Steve is out of town (this week!) and also while on vacation. In fact, I had a delivery sent to our vacation rental in Asheville this past fall. I was a little worried because our location was nearly off the grid and tricky to find – especially after dark. After we arrived at the cabin, I called Blue Apron to relay better directions and they were super helpful about forwarding the information on to UPS. Even with the new directions, our food arrived after 9:00 p.m. the day of delivery so my account was automatically credited for the full amount. Nothing was wrong with the food (it was still fresh and we ate it) but the company was great about upholding its promises of timely delivery and quality ingredients. And I talked to a real live person on the phone who was super nice, easy to understand and not reading from a script!

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In the last year alone, there have been several improvements made to increase customer satisfaction. You can now view weekly menus weeks in advance of ordering and select which meals you would like to try. There is also a new recycling program available and plenty of tips and ideas for reusing the packaging. (We have reused the ice packs for picnics and packing coolers for road trips.) The company is working to provide more sustainable food by working directly with farmers. I would like to see organic produce offered, but overall I am impressed by the company’s efforts to listen to and address customer feedback by implementing change.

blue apron jan 5

blue apron jan 6

At the end of 2015, I was surprised to discover that I had accrued free meals which I gifted to some friends and family members at no cost to me. I also purchased some meals to gift. Blue Apron is a great gift idea!

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If you’re a Blue Apron virgin, you can score two free meals on your first order by clicking here. Offer is only good for the first 50 readers so act fast!

*This post sponsored in part by Blue Apron. In order to remain transparent, I would like to mention that I pay out of pocket for my own subscription. Blue Apron provided the meal seen in this post. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

02.01.16 / Liked & Linked

mild winter

kid free target shopping

How was your weekend? The highlights for me included some epic kite flying at the park (sixty degrees in January?!) and a date night with Steve that ended with toilet paper shopping at Target. #sohot I had the absolute best meal of my entire life at Hawthorn Grill, a local chef-owned restaurant. If you’re ever in Dayton, Ohio, you must give their pan-seared walleye a try. It’s to die for.

Mine and Steve’s only resolution this year was to go on more date nights. We’re actually following through with it! We found a great sitter (one of the many advantages of living in a college town) at the beginning of the year, and she’s watched the kids TWICE for us in the last month. The kids adore her. Last week when we told them she was coming Saturday evening they were all, “WHAT?! You guys just went on a date!” They aren’t used to seeing us do the date night thing more than a few times per year so twice in one month is pure craziness. But it’s awesome. Our motto for 2016 is date nights > divorce ;) Seriously, they’re cheaper. Toilet paper included.

A few more awesome things…

*The leather teardrop earrings I wore for date night. They’re oversize but super lightweight!

*My favorite $5 carafe with cork stopper.

*I’m trying not to want this leather + kilim laptop bag but…

*A vintage rug in a killer kitchen.

lived in home

lived in home

lived in home

*Loving the lived-in vibe of this family home.

*A dreamy kitchen makeover featuring IKEA cabinets. (Bravo, Anna!)

*Triple bunk beds and some very honest words on parenting.

*I finished reading this magical book over the weekend and I think it deserves an entire blog post. To be continued…

Happy one month closer to spring!

images: 1 & 2) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 3-5) Lauren Kolyn for Apartment Therapy