Thanksgiving crafts

We’re going to have people write what they’re thankful for on these leaves and then hang them from some manzanita branches as a centerpiece:

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Even the leftovers are so pretty!:

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Kitchen and Craft Room remodel pictures, finally!

Okay, it’s a bit anti-climactic at this point since we’ve been living in the house for about 3 months now, but some friends afar have asked for pictures of the remodel.  I wasn’t sure how to best do “before and after” pictures since we moved 3 rooms around (kitchen moved to where the dining room was, dining table moved to where the kids’ craft area was, kids craft/project area + my laptop moved to the old kitchen location). I could sit around and weigh the options, but in the end, I decided it was best to just start posting pictures. 🙂

First is our new kitchen — ooooh, ahhhh….  (Confession: Even after only 3 months I had to move a ton of our junk stuff just outside the picture so it would look all nice and clean, but of course you knew that, right? haha)

DR corner after

We are LOVING the island, having all that extra counter space for prep and eating, plus the extra sink on it. I had initially wanted NO seating at the island, but the kitchen designer pushed back and said it’s something we would really enjoy, and we decided to take her expert advice, and she was right!  We are also loving the huge gas rangetop and the second dishwasher (soooooo useful when you are counting on your kids to empty the dishwasher).  Lots to love, I am so grateful.

Here’s a before and after of this particular space: (I hate those “before and after” makeover pictures where it seriously looks like they told the person to look as terrible and depressed as possible in the before picture. Sadly, I didn’t have to do anything extra to make the space look this cluttered, just ordinary life, but I do recognize that this unfairly makes the before even worse and the after even better.  Oh well)

DR corner BandA

The dining area didn’t change much (other than get moved to a new location), but the kids’ craft/project area did!  Here are two sets of before and afters.  The first is what their craft area used to look like compared to now.  The second is how the space changed from old kitchen to new craft/project area.

Art Area BandAOf course it will never look this tidy — it’s a craft/project area, so it’s always messy! 🙂

Kitchen View BandAThere were a lot of subtle things we had to do with walls, doors, and windows to make this all happen.  Come to think of it, I think almost every door and window in these spaces had to be moved/replaced!

Here’s a comparison of the view into this space as you walk through the front door…

Entry View BandA

We also expanded the laundry/pantry area just a little bit and reconfigured the doors.  The new door is in the middle dividing the laundry/cleaning supplies from the second fridge and pantry cabinets.

Laundry Pantry BandA

We also expanded the kids’ bedroom and added a nice cubby area for shoes/jackets/backpacks, etc.  I’ll have to post those pictures another time.  In the meantime, we’ve started having friends and family over to start “using” the new space, and it’s been working out great for us!  It’s been an inconvenient and sometimes painful 6 months, but we love the changes. (much like pregnancy and childbirth)  As we enter into the major “celebrations and gatherings” season of the year, we look forward to really putting the new spaces to the test!

Celebration of Life

A couple weeks ago, a dear parent at my school passed away after a tough struggle with cancer.  She was very involved in school and bettering our community.  Her family decided to have an intimate Celebration of Life for her in their backyard.  I had the opportunity to attend and help with the decor and desserts.  I tried to make everything worthy of our beloved friend and what she represented.  She had always wanted to entertain and have a party in her backyard, but never had the chance to, and I wanted to make sure this celebration would be everything she would have wanted.

Here is what a corner of my house looked like in preparation:

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I called it the Amazon Bakery.  🙂

Complete with crazy thorns:

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Here are a few pictures of some of the finished flower arrangements  (the pics aren’t great because I was in a rush and just took a few shots quickly with my phone):

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We shipped plumerias over night from Hawaii because they were her favorite flowers.   We floated plumeria and gardenias in their pool (not pictured), along with floating candles of various sizes.  We also placed the loose blossoms around the refreshment tables.

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We hung orchids from the pergola and wrapped some of the columns with vines, orchids, and bougainvillea.  We used a stapler(!) to create a garland of orchids on the top beam.   We also strung white lights from the pergola so there was a beautiful glow when the sun started to set.

Here are some of the finished mini cupcakes:

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These are mini lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting.

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These are Ultimate Chocolate (AKA Chocolate Lover’s) mini cupcakes with gold sprinkles.

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These are guava chiffon cupcakes.  I had so much batter left over that I made these regular sized cupcakes, but they weren’t so tasty.  The minis were definitely better.  The guava buttercream was not cooperating with me and I had to redo it 3 times.  Even the third time wasn’t super satisfactory for me, but I was running out of time so I had to stick with it.  😦

As you can see, I was also experimenting with different frosting techniques for each flavor.

Although it was a sad situation, I’m glad we were able to come together with other friends to celebrate the life of a very significant person.  Her presence among us is deeply missed.

Breaking Out the Sewing Machine

At some point in every remodel, there comes a time when you need to break out the sewing machine, a.k.a. curtain time.


Side note: K took this picture. She said I looked old in it because I was smiling, and when I smile, I get these “wrinkles on the sides of my eyes” that make me look old. Gee, thanks, dear. Gotta stop that bad habit of smiling… not. 🙂

(A sneak peak of the craft/work area)


I love this curtain I got from Pottery Barn. It’s being discontinued so of course I had to buy a couple extra pieces _just_in_case_ I should ever need more. It’s being used in the dining room to help define the space, and I was making a “mini-version” for the craft room, thus the sewing machine. Can’t wait until you gals can see it tomorrow and Sunday!