May 18, 2012

Table Runners Add Pizazz

Table runners can add so much personality to
a table for (depending on your fabric choice)
a very reasonable cost.

Here are a few examples from Pinterest:
 Jesi Hack Design on Design Sponge

Recently, I helped a friend of mine decorate the tables
at her daughter's wedding reception.  To get a pop of color
for not too much money, I made table runners out of
material similar to the color of the bridesmaid dresses.

So that we could possibly use them again for other parties,
I made them 108" long...that would even work on
an 8 foot long table in the future.  Since the fabric the
bride and her mother chose was 54" wide, when it was
cut into three sections, the resulting width was 18" wide.

Not that you would have to but we did add a point
to the end of the runner.  I was too lazy to measure
but just pulled the two corners together until
there was a straight line, hand pressed a
crease along the fold and then cut along the crease.

Then I ironed in and sewed a hem along all. 27. of. them.
(If you don't sew, you could use a product like
Stitch Witchery to turn under a hem or don't
hem them at all!)

It was a lot of work, but I think the end result
was worth it.  The bride's family rented cream colored
cloths to cover the reception tables then we
placed the runners on top of those.
There were 7 tables on the other side of the room also.

The food table was actually three tables pushed
together to make one long run of tables.

In keeping with the idea of making the runners to
be used again, we just used 3 of the 108" runners butted
 up against each other instead of making one long one .

When all the food was on the table, it
was not noticable that there were actually three runners.

Here is one of the runners on the guest book table:
There were several generations of family wedding photos on this table.

We ended up with a couple extra runners so we
criss crossed them on the bride and groom cake tables.

I was surpised how creased the table cloths were from the rental company but I didn't say
 anything...what could you do at that point a few hours before the wedding?

Also trying to keep the table centerpieces at a reasonable
cost, we hunted around for inexpensive elements to
mimick a look the bride had seen on Pinterest.

The mom found dark brown framed mirrors for less
than $10 each. We had had a "paint party" to prime the
frames white then dry brush them with two other shades
of off white paint colors.  Then they were sanded down
to make them have a time-worn look.

In the months leading up to the wedding, we kept our
eyes open for clear glass vases to place on the mirrors.
Most of them were around $1 and came from Old Time
Pottery, Dollar Tree, WalMart, and Target.  We put
seven vases (all different on each mirror) on each table.

I also kept on alert for vintage-y looking elements on
sale in the jewelry section of craft stores to add to
the tallest vase in each arrangement with a navy ribbon.

Just in case you are interested, here is a
breakdown of the table top costs:

Runner... $8 
(material $8/yard...bought 3 yards for each 3 runners)
Mirror... $10
7 Vases...$7
7 stems of flowers...$7
4 votive candles w/holder...$4
Jewelry Charm w/ribbon...$2

Everything (with the exception of the flowers) can be re-used/repurposed.
You don't have to save the idea of colorful
table runners for a party!  Use them at your house
too for a fun, seasonal change of pace. 
You can make them the length and width you need.
 They can be made from lots of different
types of materials but if the runner will possibly
get spills on it, choose a washable fabric. 

May 8, 2012

From Art Print to "Painting"

An art print in the clearance bin for $5 at Michael's
made me want to change out my living room
accessories from Spring-y to French-y.

It is a print of a painting done by Lorraine Christie
entitled "Paris Remembered".  I liked that it had a
very brush stroke look.  I have enjoyed the print of
has been above the mantle since January but I'm
ready for a change (now that I know how easy
and inexpensive it is to change out the artwork).

Although it could look a little winter-y, I like the pops of
orange and am going to use the orange in other areas of
the room.  I'm telling myself it is a May rain in Paris.
Here is the real weather forcast for Paris for the next few days:

"Open frames" (no glass) are easy to find at thrift stores,
yard sales, etc. Most arts and craft stores also carry
them and they are regularly on sale.
Art prints are also at the same stores or if you don't see what
you want there, the internet is a wonderful source.

When matching up the frame to the art print, make sure
that you will be able to cut off any writing on the bottom
of the print and the print still fill the opening of the frame.
For this print, I also had to cut off a couple of inches from the side too.

Although it is more money to spend than just
using the cardboard that comes with the print,
it is worth it to purchase foam core to mount
your print.  Mine was $6 at Hobby Lobby full
price (don't you hate to forget your 40% off coupon?)

Measure your foam core to the size of your 
print (which is the size that will fit your frame).
Mark and cut.  It is easy to cut with a
steak knife (or an exacto knife if you are 
an exacting person).  

This time I am springing for the proper
mounting spray instead of just adhesive spray.
This is from Michael's...$8 full price...bring your coupon.

Go outside (and away from the cars sez Tom Kat) to spray the adhesive
onto the foam core.  Try hard as you can to lay the
art print onto the foam core straight...if you don't
get it even, you can pull it up and try again if
you do it immediately.  Press the print with your
hands to try to get out any air bubbles and
adhere the print to the foam core all over.

After that dries, spray the print (now attached to
the foam core) with a clear acrylic sealer. 
 Let the sealer dry at least an hour.

The fun part is putting the gel medium onto
the print.  For the first coat, get an artsy layer of
the medium on the whole print.  You can use brushes
or palette knives or both.

Don't worry...the gel medium dries clear.

The artist gel medium comes in gloss and matte.  The gloss
gives you a more shiny and obvious looking brush stroke.
The matte version has no shine but takes more layers
to build up the brush stroke look.  Each has its own merits.
For my final coat, I actually mixed the two together in
equal parts and the "painting" has just a little shine. 
Just to save you "sticker shock" each of these jars was $13 at Hobby Lobby.  This product is not usually
 on sale so you could use a coupon to purchase it.   There are other brands of this same product.
There are other artist products that look similar on the shelf.  Just be sure you don't buy "gesso" or "modeling
paste" as those are NOT transparent.  I have not tried it but some people also use Mod Podge to achieve
a similar brush stroke look.  My stores do not carry any but there are products out there specifically
made for creating this look and have the words "brush stroke" in the title.

After the initial coat of gel medium dries, you can
add another layer of the gel, this time trying
to mimick the brush strokes on the original print.

How many layers of the gel medium you want to
add is up to you to build up the brush stroke look.
It helps in the illusion of making the print look
like a painting if you start with a print that
has obvious brush strokes.

Yikes! I did have some bubbling...I probably did not press
the print down all over enough when I adding it to
the foam core.  I pressed the bubbles down with a brush
that had gel medium on it and they went away
enough for them to not be noticeable. 
(If you are a perfectionist, this might not be a project that you would enjoy.)

After you have the look you want on the
print/painting, put it in the frame.  I used the
redneck technique of doing it with duct tape.

And as the French say, "La vous l'avez".
I tried to get photos of how the brush strokes look but they are hard to capture. 
This certainly looks and even feels like a painting up close and from a distance.

Here are some photos of Paris in/after the rain:

I am going add other elements to the living room
to French-i-fy it in the next few days. 

May 5, 2012

Magnolias and Mint Juleps

Today the Kentucky Derby will be run in Louisville.
I have never had the opportunity to actually go to the
"Run For The Roses" or, as it is also called,
"The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports"
but I do like to mix up a mint julep drink to watch the
horse race on TV.

The mint julep drink is THE drink associated with 
The Kentucky Derby and is also enjoyed by many
Southerners while we have fresh mint in our yards.

A few years ago when I decided to have a mint julep
while watching the race, I looked up the "recipe" .
It did not sound good to me so I "doctored it up" 
to my liking.  I have served my recipe to lots of
folks since and nobody complains or tells me it's not
a "real" mint julep.  In case you would like a mint julep
while you are watching the race today, here is my version:

Miss Kitty's Mint Julep
-2 ouncesof Southern Comfort or Bourbon
-2 ounces of water
-1 tablespoon Rose's Sweetened Lime Juice
-1 tablespoon  Simple Syrup
(you can make your own simple syrup with 1 part sugar/1 part water dissolved)
-Mint leaves

"Muddle" (crush) some of the mint leaves in a glass

Add shaved or crushed ice, then all remaining
 ingredients and stir well.
(The crushed mint leaves don't look so great in a clear glass but I can't find my silver
mint julep cup right now.  Maybe they use the silver cup to cover up the messy leaves.)

Stick a long enough sprig of fresh mint into the glass
so that when you take a sip, you will smell the mint

We served mint juleps at the cocktail portion of
my daughter's wedding.  Here are some photos from that:

Another Southern "event" going on now is
that the magnolia trees are in bloom.  Magnolia trees are
native to the United States from North Carolina down to
Florida and as far west as Texas.   They are transplated
in planting zones 6 - 10 now as landscape plants. 

The blooms are magnificent but they only last a few days
and then they are gone until next May.  Here are some
photos of the "life" of a magnolia bloom.

After the male upcurving stamens release their pollen to fertilize the female stamens
they drop off of the pineapple-like structure.  Many times they collect in the large
 cup-shaped white petals.

It has been almost 90 degrees many days of the magnolia bloom time. 
The flowers are so delicate that some of them are turning brown
in the heat even before they open up completely.

Differing type of magnolia trees have different-looking gynociums (the pineapple-looking thing).

After the bloom's petals fall off, the seed pod is left.

Reproduction is the primary function of the beautiful, short-lived magnolia flower. 
 This resulting pod will produce bright red seeds in the Fall which will mostly be
food for birds but some seeds will go on to be more magnolia trees for us to enjoy.

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