Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Decorating for a Mexican Fiesta

Recently my nephew got married. I was honored when they asked me to decorate for their rehearsal dinner. Their choice for a theme was to have a Mexican Fiesta.  Immediately my mind "exploded" with ideas.  I could not turn them off.  At some point I have to say to myself, "Stop!"  That is very hard for me to do.

When I think of a Mexican Fiesta, I think of pinatas, sombreros, mariachi bands and lots of bright and bold colors.  It was important to know how many tables there would be so that I knew how many centerpieces I needed.  We were planning for 75 people. When the tablecloths were ordered, I had the choice between black or white.  I chose black because of the impact it would have with all of my bright colors.  White was just too blah for this event.

The first thing I do when planning a party like this is to research the idea which for me is the internet. I searched such places as Pinterest, craft sites, and Google, to name a few.  When I decorate, I want to pay as little as possible for my supplies.  Goodwill, second hand stores, dollar stores and other discount stores are where I largely shop.  This totally depends on the event, but for a Mexican Fiesta it was very doable.

Part of my plan was to personalize each table in some way.  I decided I wanted to have different pictures of the couple at each table and still stay within the decor.  I banked at Goodwill on several Mexican type frames like the one pictured here.

I also decided ahead of time that I did not want to use paper plates.  There are plenty of Mexican themed paper products, I just didn't want to use them.  I'm known for not making things easy on myself.  I had previously bought some Mexican type dinner plates at Dollar Tree.  When I realized they no longer carried them in the store I was so disappointed. However.....they still carried them on the their website....AND....if you have them delivered to a local Dollar Tree for you to pick up, there is no delivery charge.  Boom! These plates were $1.00 each.  What a deal!  (The paper napkins were not mine to choose.....rats!)

In the center of each table I had one of two larger items as the anchor point for that table.  In my case, it was either a pinata or a sombrero. I added a box covered with napkin to give height to each item. I wanted to use serapes (Mexican blankets) to cover the boxes and strew across the table, but they were cost prohibitive.  Each of the pinatas were cut open and an array of flowers, typical of Mexico, were added.  From there, the sky is the limit in terms of what you can use to finish out the table.  Real chili peppers, colored beads, Hot Tamales candy, maracas, colored ribbon were just a few of the things I used.  I also used bell peppers, hollowed out (and cut flat across the bottom so they wouldn't roll) with designs cut out on the sides to use for tea lights.

Our original plan was to have this outdoors but because of forecasted inclement weather, we moved it inside a VERY CLEAN garage. It was still beautiful. The food was catered by a local Mexican restaurant, cupcakes made by my niece looked like cactus, a margarita machine was rented locally......we even had a mariachi band!

The honored couple
Your imagination is the only thing that will limit you in planning a party. Set a budget and start far enough ahead of time so that you don't have to make last minute purchases that will probably end up costing you more. If planning a party is just "not your thing", I would love to help you plan and implement a party.  Just leave me a note on my blog and we can talk about the details.
Party on!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Refurbishing Your Deck

It's that time of year again.....time for planting flowers, starting up the sprinklers, mowing the lawn.......and the DREADED staining of your deck.  I started this labor of love at the beginning of last summer thinking it would take me about a week.  2.5 months later, it was finally finished.  Yes, I could have hired someone to do it but I wasn't sure I could find someone who could stand me being so picky about every little detail.  So, I decided to do it myself.  My husband's advice was to just stain over the deck after power washing it.  Au, contraire!  You would think after being married to me for 36 years, he would know better by now.

Let me say it up front......I'm not a professional deck re-finisher.  But this is my journey, my experience hoping it will inspire some of you to try a home improvement project yourself.  The internet is an amazing tool....and we all know that you can't lie on the internet.  Yeah, right!

We started with a pretty messed up stain job from the previous owners.  I think they just re-stained every year and never prepped the surface properly.

We started with power washing thinking that would take off all the previous stain. We tried different commercial deck stain removers to no avail.  This stuff was tough.  Bring out the sanders!!!  Believe it or not, I started with a hand sander.  Yes, a hand sander.  I thought I was all that with my manly tools....that is until someone introduced me to a belt sander. It's a miracle!  Slowly but surely, the old stain was coming off.  When we got to the balusters, there was only one way to do hand.  Good ole fashioned sand paper in hand.  Thanks to my husband and my incredible next door neighbors, Matt & Jen, the job was soon finished......"soon" being a relative term. It looked like a brand new deck. I cleaned the deck really well getting rid of all the sawdust and allowing it to dry before starting to stain.

I NEVER wanted to have to go through that process again, so I researched thoroughly my options for stains.  You know the old saying, "You get what you pay for?"  Well, I wasn't going to skimp on this part.  I had worked way too hard.  I landed on a stain, which is not the cheapest, but for me seemed like one of the best. I wanted the color of the wood to show through so I chose Cabot's, Natural Wood Toned Deck & Siding Stain.  I purchased mine at Lowes at roughly $33/gallon.  Worth every penny.

I won't bore you with the steps of staining but the one word of advice I will give you, if you don't want drips (and they will show), properly cover the area below where you are staining.  We started with the balusters and did the floor of the deck as our last step working our way off the deck.  NOTE TO SELF: When staining the floor, give each slat one long continuous motion or the stain will overlap and you will be able to see it.

THIS summer, we get to sit back and enjoy our "like new" deck, enjoying life in Nebraska.  Every step was so worth it!

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's Not Your Grandma's Chandelier Anymore

One of the best ways to add warmth and atmosphere to a room is with lighting.  Lighting can be expressed in many different ways from lamps to dimmer switches to up-lighting to hanging pendants; the lists goes on and on.  Some things, like adding a dimmer switch, can be very inexpensive and have dramatic effects!  Some options can cost thousands of dollars.  I don't know about you, but thousands for lighting would not be in my budget.

What style of lighting to choose is totally up to you.  I've decided my style is kind of "eclectic", in that I like a little bit of many different styles.  So if I like it, I'm going to use it. I particularly like "bling" in just about anything!

Pricing is also important to me.  I change my mind too often to invest a lot of money in any one thing except for major furniture anchor pieces, i.e. a sofa or dining table.  So I'm always looking for a bargain.  I love shopping second hand stores and perusing websites for good deals and ideas.  One site I particularly enjoy shopping is I came across some fabulous hanging chandeliers that might just be perfect for you and your pocketbook.  

Chandeliers aren't just for dining rooms anymore. Think outside the box. Every electrician will tell you NOT to hang one over a bathtub, but I have seen so many beautiful ones in this setting that I might just break the rules. Bedrooms are another popular place for chandeliers.....if you're willing to part with your ceiling fan.  There are so many options.  There is no WRONG place for a chandelier, in my humble opinion.  I love to try new things.  What's the worst that could happen?  If you didn't like it in a certain place, move it.

Here are some of the lovely and affordable options I found on  I hope this gets your creative juices flowing.  Happy decorating!

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Shop for more ideas.