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June 10, 2013

Progress Report: Bathroom, Office, Guest Room

There's nothing like the prospect of a few dozen people coming over to goose the home improvements back into action. We'd stalled for the past few months on juicing up the joint, but last week, in between a bridal shower and a housewarming party, my mother-in-law offered to paint our guest bathroom and office while we were at work. All we had to do was buy the paint and do the prep work. It was a heckuva deal.

Our guest bathroom had been the color of a canoe pack I'd gotten for Matt for his birf. That color was called "olive drab." It wasn't really going with my pretty blue shower curtain, so we picked out a lovely dark teal.

Bathroom before:

Bathroom after:

I was very happy to find a permanent home for this pastel drawing I'd picked up circa '95 when I went to see the Chinese Opera in Beijing. This room is seldom used for showering purposes, so I wasn't too concerned about moisture damaging it.

I think this room is pretty well set. The only thing I would add would be a colorful valance above the window.


The Office:

We first took a whack at the office back in February, when we added the evil Ikea furniture that left me with many wounds. Dude was feeling like he wanted a manlier color than the pale pink that had graced this former nursery, so we picked out a nice, calming dark blue instead. The new color was a perfect backdrop for the Van Gogh print his dad had given to us, as well as a photo of the Weisman Art Museum on the U of M campus (where we both went to school).

As a reminder, this is what we started with:

And here's what we have now:

Office To-Dos:

  • Paint
  • Buy a chair for the desk
  • Buy an area rug
  • Buy a lamp for the desk
  • Get some binders full of women so it looks real profesh
  • NEW: create frame collage above the bookcases... perhaps with family photos?


Guest Bedroom

The last time we checked in on this room in February,  Dude and I were living in the guest room as we waited for our new gigantic bed from Slumberland to arrive so we could inhabit the master suite. I feel like this room has come a long way and is nearing completion.

Again, here is the before:

And here's what we have now:

I had been thinking about painting this a different color, but I think the purple will stay for awhile. The pink chandelier will stay forever, obviously.

Our lovely realtor Lisa gifted us with a Pier1 gift card (thanks Lisa!) and with it I purchased this collage frame. I filled it with postcards I collected from around Europe and put a print that says "What a Wonderful World" in the middle. (When did I get this cheesy? Who can say?) I also added the heart made from book pages that Matt's cousin Kali made for our wedding. Say it with me now: OH FER CUTE.

Dude hadn't been a big fan of the frilly outlet covers that had been in the office (former nursery), so we did a switcheroo and put them in here instead.

Aunt Wendy sent us a lovely Grand Canyon painting that is now living in the opposite corner of the froufrou, and Ma gave me the nightstand (hand-me-down from our former rabbi's study) and lamp (Tar-zhay Boutique).

The MIL and I had a craft night this winter to mod-podge these maps onto canvases. The robot was a gift from my sweet friend Danielle for my robot-themed 25th birthday.

 Guest Room To-Dos:

  • Re-paint (I don't wanna anymore!)
  • Get new bedding
  • Get lamp for night table
  • Hang map canvases so guests can pin where they're from
  • Make curtains
  • Refinish/paint furniture (No! I don't wanna! OK maybe later.)

Next up is trying to figure out what color to paint the kitchen, which is the same olive drab that the guest bathroom used to be, and the hallway, which is a very pale purple. Onward!

June 2, 2013

Tea Party Dream Team

I feel like tea parties are one of my core competencies, so when my girl Amanda asked me to be her Main Lady for her upcoming nups and requested a fancy tea party shower I said, "Yes. Yes, I can do that." Ma P-P volunteered her ample baking services and bam: Tea Party Dream Team.

I spent many an hour on Pinterest gathering conceptuals for the decor and grub and curated a fête fit for a princess bride (which Amanda is, natch). Wanna hear all about it? Read on, dear reader!


Here is our menu in full:
-Marie Antoinette tea from Ladurée (thanks for sending it, Nick and Kelly!)
-Honey-lavender lemonade
-Roast beef and horseradish sandwiches
-Smoked salmon and herb butter sandwiches
-Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches
-Deviled eggs with caviar
-Dates stuffed with goat cheese and hazelnuts
-Pistachio macarons with salted caramel sauce
-Thumbprint cookies with raspberry jalapeno jelly (a Ma P-P specialty)
-Raspberry rose meringues
-Lemon lavender shortbread
-Mexican piggy cookies
-Lemon curd in phyllo cups with candied violets (Ma P-P said it was the best curd she's ever made. I will cosign.)

The spread.
Raspberry rose meringues

Lemon curd in phyllo shells with candied violets and raspberries

I don't dabble much in the floral arts due to ye olde pollen-averse sniffer, but I went to the Minneapolis Farmer's Market yesterday with a wish and a prayer and left with 48 roses and some mums. I follow a professional florist on Instagram so I felt like I kind of knew what I was doing. Sort of. This was the end result:

I made colorful tissue poufs and a construction paper garland to add more pops of princess color. To make the former, I aligned eight sheets of tissue paper and accordion folded them into one-inch segments. I wrapped wire around the middle, and then snipped designs on the end. I then carefully separated each layer to fill out the pouf. (Here's a toot from The Martha if you want more explanation.) For the garland, I used my 2-inch circle punch to cut out various colors of construction paper, and then lay them out in a straight line. I ran a glue stick down the center of each, and then pressed a length of string atop the glue. After adding additional glue to the tops and bottoms of the circles, I added a second batch of circles to the first so that the string was between two circle layers.

Tissue poufs

Construction paper garland


I was noodling around on Crate and Barrel's website, and found pretty little tins of Wedding Tea! Could you imagine a more perfect favor? I got the favor bags and adorable pink polka dot ribbon at JoAnn Fabrics and added little bits of leftover tissue paper from the poufs. Boom.


I was most nervous about the entertainment portion of the afternoon, as shower games are notoriously awful. Even a Google search of "Bridal shower games that don't suck" returns a truly pitiful selection of blah. I did three games/activities, one of which was fun, one of which was meh, and one of which hit it out of the park.

Fun: Celebrity Couples Guessing Game. I wrote the names of famous historical, political and fictional lovers on notecards and taped them to the guests' backs. (Some examples: Santa and Mrs. Claus, Sampson and Delilah, Barack and Michelle Obama, Madame Butterfly and Pinkerton.) Each person had to ask yes or no questions to try to figure out who they were. The kicker: Amanda's card said, "Whatever I ask, say no." Ha! Hijinks. Hilarity. The ice was broken and a grand time was had by all.

Meh: I tried to create a version of Catchphrase using true-life Amanda facts. It was clunky. After three questions I somewhat smoothly transitioned to gift-opening by saying that Amanda won and her prize was to open presents.

Out of the Park: I sent Amanda's intended a questionnaire about their relationship for him to fill out. The goal was to ask her the same questions before hearing his version. We decided to up the ante a bit by having him film his responses, which were funny, sweet and touching. He even made the Scandanavian bride leak a little emotion out of her eyes. Impressive.


Aside from a brief Freddy Freedom Run at the tail end of festivities (pun), everything went off without a hitch. Most importantly, Amanda wore a truly gigantic hat.