Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas from MLBD...

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from our house to yours!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas cards for couples...

I love receiving photo Christmas cards. I have friends from all over the country that I don't get to see very often, so it's nice to see how they and their children have changed over the last year. It makes sense to do a photo card when you have kids but what if it's just the two of you?

The first year we were married, we did a photo card with our wedding photo. Last year, we just sent a regular card and my husband told me he wished we'd sent a picture card. So this year, we did.

Part of me felt a little strange about sending a photo of just the two of us since we don't have any kids yet, but then I thought as much as I want to see my friends who are far away, they (hopefully) want to see us too. To me a photo card feels a little more personal. 

What do you think? Photo card or regular greeting card? What about photos for couples vs families? 

Photo or not, The O'Briens wish you a very Merry Christmas! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree... and other stuff...

Yikes, it's been two weeks since last I posted. I assure you there have been post-worthy things going on, just not enough time to post them. 'Tis the season. Last year we cut down a Christmas tree. This year due to some serious snow, we bought one from a tree lot. It's tall, it's full, it smells great.... and it's dead. Well at least we think.

As soon as we got it home, we put it in water. Then when we moved it into the house, we dumped out the water, I filled it again and that same water has been sitting there for two weeks. Oh well, Christmas is Wednesday, so it will be fine until then. And most importantly, it looks great. I've never had a tree smell so fresh before.

We don't "theme" our trees. I know some people do something different every year and they do look beautiful, but I feel like a Christmas tree should reflect your family. After all, isn't that what Christmas is all about? Making memories with the ones you love? Most of my ornaments are hand-me-downs from my grandmothers, some I have purchased and we have a few that were given to us. I love the idea of having our tree evolve every year as we collect more and more meaningful ornaments.

Speaking of trees, how many of you had one of these ceramic trees in your house growing up? They were super-popular in the 70s and 80s. My mom had one and I was so bummed when she said she got rid of it because it was missing lights. But much to my delight, I found one at a local antique store. And for just $18, I had to snatch it up.

I kept the dining room super simple. Just a jar filled with ornaments and a festive red/bronze/gold runner from HomeGoods. Over in the corner, I added a red and gold ribbon to the plant pot and dressed up some old candles I had with plaid Christmas ribbon.

I didn't do too much DIYing this year, but I did update one of my old wreaths with gold accents. I just wrapped it in a white and gold ribbon and added a gold ornament in the center. 

It hangs on the basement door and is the first thing you see when you walk in the house. It's accompanied by my favorite sign ever...

The perfect mantra for the holidays. 
Don't get your tinsel in a tangle and just enjoy the spirit of the season. 

Merry Christmas! 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tasty Taco Casserole...

Tacos are a staple in our household. We love them, but sometimes having the same thing over and over gets a little boring. That's when I came up with my Tasty Taco Casserole. You use all the same ingredients that you normally would for tacos but just in casserole form.

First brown the ground meet and season with taco seasoning. Next line a casserole dish with tortillas, then layer refried beans, ground meat, cheese, tomatoes and jalapenos.

Top with another layer of tortillas, your favorite salsa and finally cheese. Then bake in a 350 oven for 15-20 minutes. I also put it under the broiler for a few minute to make the cheese a little crisp.

Just top with lettuce and sour cream. 

Instead of Taco Night, why not shake it up and try a Tasty Taco Casserole!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas mantel 2013...

Mantel oh mantel, how you have challenged me over the years. This year my approach was more laid-back. I wasn't trying to emulate any Pinterest mantel, I wasn't set on DIYing every single element of the mantel and I tried to use decorations I already had on hand. Instead of stressing, I just let it happen and lo and be hold.... it's my favorite mantel yet.

When my in-laws visited, I found the cutest candleholders that had a cork on the end so you could stick them in a wine bottle. It's the only part of the mantel I DIYed this year, and I'll share the how-to in the coming days. 

I bought those lanterns two summers ago with the intention of spray painting them and using them around our deck. Yeah..... never got around to that, so there they sat in my office closet. I just bought some $1 red candles and they fill the mantel with Christmas spirit.  

I wanted my garland to look really full so I took two strands of garland, folded them in half, wrapped them around the end of the wine bottles and it gave me the look I wanted. Plus it was easier to work with than trying to manipulate it around all of the decorations. Then I added a faux poinsettia, a metal Christmas tree, reindeer stocking holders and the red/green/silver berry garland I've had for a few years. 

This year's mantel taught me to trust my instincts. Just go with what I like and not overthink it. I'm so happy with the results. It's starting to feel like Christmas up in here! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Low-cost holiday craft: Wall art...

This weekend seems to be the weekend for holiday decorating so I thought I would share a low-cost craft that makes a big impact. In our family room we have a beach sunset canvas print on the wall. While it's beautiful, it's not very "Christmasy." So I grabbed a few supplies I had lying around the house and got to work.

I used an old canvas, craft paper and staple gun. You simply wrap the canvas in paper, staple and you're ready for decorating. As far as decorating goes, you can do whatever works with your decor. 

I added ribbon to make it look like a package, painted the word Joy in glitter glue, then add glitter. 

For a little more sparkle, I added a few snowflake ornaments and it was done. Easy peasy. This one is at the top of our stairs. The one below is the one I created to replace our sunset canvas.

You could cover the actual art you have on your walls this way, instead of using an old canvas, but I would be careful about the hot glue or glitter glue getting onto your print. You could even hit up Thrift stores for cheap canvases to cover.

Happy Holiday Decorating! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holiday decor sneak peek...

I know Thanksgiving isn't here yet, but Christmas decorating has begun. I need a full 4 weeks of Christmas up in here.
Here's a sneak peek....

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book recommendation: The Time Keeper...

This is a My Life By Design first, I believe -- a book recommendation. 
Last night, I read The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom in its entirety in a couple of hours. 

You all probably know his other works, Tuesdays with Morrie and The 5 People You meet on the Way to Heaven. The Time Keeper was written in Albom's signature fashion. Simple prose, deep message. It explores the idea of time -- wanting more, wanting it to stop, and our fascination with it -- seen through the eyes of Father Time himself. It is such a unique and captivating story. I've never read anything like it. The message, like in all of Albom's stories, is simple and true, and something we seem to forget in our busy lives. 

My dad gave me this book after he had read it. It sat on my nightstand until last night, and once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. I bet you won't be able to either. I urge you to read The Time Keeper, you won't be disappointed. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thank you, Veterans...

To all those who have fought, continue to fight and will fight for our freedom in the years to come, I humbly send you all an immense thank you. I cannot even fathom the sacrifices you make on a daily basis. To your families: thank you for your sacrifices, which may not be as obvious to the casual observer, but are equally as great. I hope that, even with our downfalls, we as Americans make you proud to defend us and that we continue to strive to be worthy recipients of the freedoms you you so honorably fight for. May God Bless You All. 

Thank you. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Decorating the bedroom...

"My name is Jenna and I do not know how I lived before owning a king-sized bed."

Ok, that may be a tad over-dramatic, but man, I love our bed. We found some neutral bedding at JCPenney (who P.S. has an awesome home section) that goes really well with our new bed and frame. Don't judge my pillow game, it's a work in progress, I just used old pillows from around the house. And excuse the bad iPhone pic.

Ever since we moved into the house I have had a vision of a very calm, neutral bedroom without a lot of color. I would have preferred an almost ivory colored comforter, but my husband wanted something darker. I like the bronzey color we decided on. Compromise. It's what makes marriage go 'round. It still gives the whole space a calming feel. 

We need bedroom furniture and some seating by our window, but I need to decide if I want to stay totally neutral and just layer texture like these: 


Original source unknown




Or if I'd like to add in a subtle color like slate blue or muted green...


Or a little drama with an accent wall...

 I'd also love to do swing arm sconces instead of table lamps. 


How to you prefer your bedroom: a relaxing retreat, a burst of color, a dark and cozy getaway? 

Monday, October 14, 2013

HomeGoods haul...

The HomeGoods store closest to me recently reconfigured their layout. It was under construction for a month but now that it's done, it is overflowing with furniture. After a few fruitless searches for just the right cabinet/buffet for our dining room, I found this guy last week. 

She's coming home tonight and I can't wait to show you what she looks like in the space. Stay tuned! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

POP! O'Color: Easy DIY Art...

Our guest bathroom has a very neutral palette except for one lone fuchsia orchid on the counter. 

And there was always this blank space above the toilet that was calling for something. I could never find exactly what I wanted, so I decided to DIY my own art. 

I am by no means an "artiste" but I had a clear vision of what I wanted -- a bold pop of color to play off the orchid. So I gathered my supplies: 12" x 24" frame, paint, foam brush (not roller), water and paper towels. 

I forgot to take in-process photos but the instructions are simple:
  1. Paint a large thick band at the bottom of your piece, gently blending as you move upward. This will be the darkest area of the painting. 
  2. Wipe any remaining thick areas of paint off your brush then dip it in water.
  3. Gently run your brush along the remaining 2/3 of your canvas trying to create an ombre effect as you go. It is important that the foam brush is wet for this step. 
  4. Then immediately take your paper towel, starting at the top of the canvas, and begin gently wiping off paint as you make your way closer to the thick band of paint. 
  5. As you move down the canvas, decrease your wiping pressure until you reach the thick band. You shouldn't touch that area with the paper towel. 
  6. It should look like a nicely blended painting that goes from light to dark. 

The beauty of this project is you can really mess it up and any color will work. If the bottom isn't dark enough, add more paint. If the top isn't light enough, add more water. Then just blend using your brush and paper towel or rag.

It only took me about 10 minutes to make and it's the perfect piece to bring the room together. 

See, anyone can be an artist! 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Look what I found on Joss and Main....

This Rattan Ottoman just popped up on Joss and Main this morning for the cool price of $110. 

I was pretty pumped because as you may remember, I picked up these two babies over the summer.

And paid $30 for both. I love being ahead of a trend. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

DIY Halloween Wreath...

Sorry for the silence again, things have been busy, busy, busy around here. So I will have lots to share with you in the coming weeks. But first, it's that spooky-ooky time of the year... HALLOWEEN! Here is an easy DIY Halloween Wreath tutorial.

The supplies are simple: 
Foam wreath • Felt • Halloween coasters • Glue gun

I started by wrapping the felt around the foam wreath, leaving a seam along the back. It doesn't have to be perfect because the coasters will cover up any imperfections along the front. 

Like I said, easy. 

Now we're ready for the trick or treaters!