...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Everyone knows the kitchen is the heart of the home. A few gift ideas for those who keep it warm…

gift guide : the kitchen

 

1 – acacia pizza peel – Perfect for pizza night.

2 – Thug Kitchen – Because cooking should be healthy and fun(ny).

3 – oil pourer, cruet – Hands down, the best oil / vinegar dispensers on the planet. No drips, no messes. You get a perfect pour every time. (We use the large one for olive oil and the small one for balsamic vinegar.)

4 – melamine bowl – Great for the kids’ snacks.

5 – gold foil kitchen print – Dancing makes everything better.

6 – sustainable bamboo trivets – Earth-friendly. Countertop-friendly.

7 – salt & pepper bottle grinders – Functional and beautiful. Two qualities of a perfect gift.

8 – One Pot – A fresh and easy take on comfort food. *BONUS* – Less dishes to wash.

9 – stainless steel straws – Eco-friendly. Kid-friendly. The only way our kids will drink the green juice we make.

10 – shallow maple bowl – Display fresh produce, or corral coffee and tea brewing supplies.

P.S. – Our juicer is still going strong after two years of almost daily use!

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

ghost lights 1

Other than displaying carved pumpkins, I haven’t really decorated for Halloween in years. (I’m more of a seasonal decorator than a holiday decorator.) This year the kids were hounding me more than usual and I’ve been on a recent “life’s too short” kick so I finally came around and spooked up this place. It’s nothing over the top but I think I have a chance at Mom of the Year 2014. (You know I’m kidding, right?)

ghost lights 2

I spent $6 (coupon included) on two yards of tulle and black poster board at JoAnn’s to create ghost lights over the kitchen island. I rolled out the two yards of tulle and left it doubled over (for a layered effect) then cut it into three equal sections, one for each pendant. I cut a hole in the top of each section, slipped the tulle over the pendants then secured it with string. I trimmed the tulle to my desired length then “fringed” the ends by cutting ~2″ wide strips on the bottom half of each ghost. I freehanded three ghost faces and cut them out of the black poster board then secured them to the tulle with double-sided tape.

ghost lights 3

They turned out pretty creepy. I think the key is to use a really thin and airy tulle (not the stiff, scratchy stuff) and to scrunch the ends. (Where are all my ’97 high school grads at? We hella good at scrunching.) The moaning ghost faces portray way more emotion and despair than two black eye holes. The cat is real. Yeah, you’re going to need to rescue a kitten to pull off this look in its entirety.

spider web

I attempted to make a spider web out of jute string that I already had on hand. It turned out okay?? There’s a good reason why I’m not a spider. Apparently, webs take patience and a certain amount of skill. I immediately felt horrible about all the real webs I’ve swiped.

First, I hung three lengths of jute in an asterisk formation. I tied the ends to anything I could find: antlers, cords on the side of the cabinet, a doorstopper, etc. I rigged it so that we can still open the cabinet and door. Starting from the outer most part of the web and working my way in, I knotted off sections of jute in a hexagonal pattern. I taped a paper spider to my creation to better designate it as a “spider web.” I don’t know. It reads more like an unfinished, ginormous dreamcatcher to me.

All the spiders are crying, “You call that a web?! You disgust me.” In my defense, I don’t extrude silk from my nether regions.

halloween living room

I couldn’t boo the kitchen and not the living room.

bats

I bought two sets of removable 3D bats and filled the area above the TV with them. (A ladder was involved.) I love these bats! Don’t let the reviews fool you. A few people were disappointed that the bats aren’t larger but I actually prefer this size. The bats are plastic and you bend them to get the 3D effect. They also come with removable stickers. I’m not sure how the adhesive will hold up after one season but I can always break out my trusty putty tabs if necessary. These bats are definitely going to be a mainstay of our Halloween décor.

halloween mantel 1

I grouped pumpkins and squash on the mantel on either side of the TV wall. They were a steal at Trader Joe’s and were left over from a Thanksgiving tablescape shoot. (It goes live mid-November.) That’s where the eucalyptus branch came from, too. I laced the mantel with these copper string lights. They are the best! The delicate LEDs put off a warm white glow and the copper wire can be easily manipulated. Unlike traditional string lights, they’re barely noticeable when not lit. I can see myself using these throughout the holiday season.

halloween mantel 2

I sprinkled in a few paper maché skulls. I bought them for pennies at Michael’s several years ago during one of their post-Halloween sales and they’ve been stashed in the attic ever since. I’m very proud of myself for remembering to bust them out this year. FINALLY.

spiders

Likewise, I scored these window decals during a post-Halloween sale a while back when we were living in our previous house. They were originally two large window-sized poster decals but the size and shape were all wrong for our current home’s windows so I cut the spiders out from the background. I wasn’t sure how well the spiders alone would stick to the window. I used a damp rag to wet the window first to help with adhesion. So far, so good. I may end up laminating the spiders after this season to protect them. (You could easily DIY something similar with a little black craft paper or poster board. I was just trying to use what I had on hand.)

And now for some nighttime pictures because that’s always fun…

ghost lights 4

spiders 2

spiders 3

Ah, the ol’ spider in the lampshade trick. It’s a classic. There’s also a little spider in one of the windows on the front door that I failed to photograph. Have I mentioned Steve is terrified of spiders?

Anyway, I threw all this together one day last week while the boys were at school. It was fun to see their reactions when they came home. They were so surprised! Everett’s favorites are the ghost lights. Layne likes the bats and skulls. I like the fact that I can reuse almost everything.

What are some of the ways you decorate for Halloween? I need to up my game for next year.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

modern shed and playhouse 1

Today I’m sharing two more golden nuggets from our friends’ home: a modern shed and playhouse nestled in a corner of the backyard. James designed and built both structures on his own. (If you haven’t noticed by now, his craftsmanship is impeccable.) The outbuildings are covered in 12″ HardiePlank lap siding, a fiber cement product known for its beauty, strength and durability. The planks are meant to be lapped over each other but James installed them flush for a simpler, sleeker look.

modern shed 1

Since James uses the attached garage to work on client projects, the family needed a separate space to store tools and equipment for lawn maintenance and gardening. A wood ramp allows James to wheel out the lawnmower easily. I wasn’t able to snap a shot of the shed’s interior, but the walls are lined with leftover walnut paneling from the home’s interior renovation. (It’s the same paneling that wraps the pony wall as seen here.) It’s the most attractive shed interior I’ve ever seen.

modern shed 2

The exterior is painted a rich chocolate brown. Colored acrylic windows (from TAP Plastics) are a surprising and fun feature.

modern playhouse 1

Many elements are repeated in the playhouse for cohesion: chocolate brown HardiePlank siding, colored acrylic windows and a mono-pitched roof. The door is painted the same turquoise as the home’s front door. Large outdoor playthings are stored underneath the raised structure and concealed by timber slats. A small deck cantilevers off the front of the playhouse supporting a staircase on one end and a slide on the other.

modern playhouse 4

A series of five small acrylic windows in orange and blue tie in to the shed’s colored windows.

modern playhouse 3

The interior is outfitted with interlocking foam floor tiles, a chalkboard wall, a small picnic table and a toy box. A niche in the chalkboard wall (not shown) provides a convenient spot for storing a bucket of chalk.

modern playhouse 5

modern playhouse 6

modern playhouse and shed 2

modern playhouse 2

The modern designs of the shed and playhouse fit the family’s midcentury home so well. James and Kristina have a knack for incorporating their style into everything they do. When you visit their home, you experience the different spaces – inside and out – as parts of a bigger whole. The spaces flow into one another with ease thanks in part to deliberate, consistent design. I love that.

So what do you think? What’s your favorite aspect of the shed and / or playhouse? Obviously, my kids are big fans of the slide ;)

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

family photo books 1

I’ve been meaning to create family photo books for a while now. I held off as long as I did because I was waiting for the perfect photo book to come along. I really didn’t want the thick albums of yesteryear with their photo pockets. I’m horrible at printing out photos. Horrible. Not to mention, traditional bulky albums take up a lot of space – space we don’t have. It saddened me to know the photos of our life were stuck in limbo on our laptop and phones. Surely there was a tangible yet beautiful way to share family photos.

Enter Artifact Uprising. The company offers a variety of photo products you can hold in your hand: photo books (hardcover and softcover), calendars, postcards, prints, etc. It doesn’t sound all that different from any other company offering similar products but Artifact Uprising focuses on design-worthy aesthetics and eco-friendly materials. Photo book pages are made of 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper and wood items are handcrafted from local, fallen beetle pine – versus healthy trees. The commitment to quality along with the inspiring back story are what set this company apart from the rest of the pack.

“We believe that doing good is more important than doing well – and that kindness makes the world right. We believe in travel and the things you can learn from getting lost. And we believe the best lessons come from the listening. We try to laugh when light is needed and persist when the path requires it. We love wide open spaces and campfires and the kind of quiet that allows you to hear the snow crunching below your feet. We believe in those who wake up every day to choose joy. And we believe in the underdog. We believe in always remembering where you came from. We believe each of us will – in time – do something really, really nice for the world.” – Jenna Walker, CEO & co-founder of Artifact Uprising

family photo books 2

So, yeah, choosing Artifact Uprising was a no-brainer. I sat down one afternoon while the boys were at school and Mabrey was napping and created nine softcover photo books in the 5.5″ x 5.5″ size. They candidly document the last three years of our life. Most of the photos are from my instagram account but I downloaded a few from our computer as well. I didn’t include every photo from my instagram feed – only the ones that were family-oriented. I chose mostly nature-themed photos as cover photos so the books would look pretty on display. They. are. gorgeous.

family photo books 3

The day the books arrived I tossed them in a bowl on the coffee table and immediately the kids were flipping through them. They are the perfect size for little hands. To say we LOVE them is an understatement.

family photo books 4

I can’t believe how one photo can spark a memory and suddenly we’re talking about “that one time…” They are such great conversation starters for kids. Mabrey especially enjoys seeing pictures of people she knows in a book. “Dat’s ME!” She thinks they’re legit books and we’re all famous ;)

family photo books 5

One softcover book runs $16.99 and would make a special gift for a family member or friend. Mine are in chronological order but you can create “themed” books, too. A book that tells the story of a child from newborn to graduation would be great for a graduation party. A book dedicated to a family vacation could be fun. Steve and I have even talked about creating a book that documents our home’s renovation.

How do you display family photos at home? We have a gallery wall plus these new photo books and we also stream our computer photos on to the TV (via Apple TV) on the weekends when we have guests or are working on a project. The kids love seeing themselves on TV. #mininarcissists

*I love Artifact Uprising‘s mission so much that I contacted them about becoming an affiliate soon after our photo books arrived. They agreed! While I purchased the photo books shown above on my own with no special discount, I do earn commission on any orders placed via affiliate links. This post was NOT sponsored and Artifact Uprising didn’t request a post. I just love sharing good stuff. Thanks for your continued support!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking