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How to make simple arrangements with grocery store flowers

Houseplants and fresh greenery are key to my neutral decorating style … but first came my love of flowers.

As a teenager, when other girls were covering their bedroom walls with cute boys and fashion tips, mine were filled with magazine tear outs of flowers. Martha Stewart Weddings was my first subscription and I couldn’t wait to pore over the pages looking at all the breathtaking bouquets, boutonnieres, arches and table arrangements. I noticed the color combinations, learn their names, and mostly, just admired the beauty and intricacy of each petal, each leaf, each bud.

This love of flowers grew deeper when I met my future mother-in-law.

Robyn has two sons and was more than thrilled to finally have a girl in the house for dinner and visits. She would show me her latest thrift store find or tell me her decorating plans and I would almost always leave with a gorgeous arrangement of freshly picked garden flowers that she threw together so effortlessly.

Robyn showed me that flowers are not only for weddings and fancy events – they are just as important in the every day.

If you spend any amount of time looking through home magazines, reading decorating blogs or following interior design instagrammers, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that flowers are always part of the equation. You can have a perfectly decorated space but until the flowers are in, the room feels somewhat lifeless.

So how do we incorporate flowers into our homes to bring life and make us happy, even if we don’t have an endless flower budget?

Here are a few of my best tips:

BRING IN HOUSEPLANTS

The main reason I have so many plants in our house is that they bring life to our otherwise pretty dark interior. If I could, I would fill the space with flowers, but that would be crazy expensive. So as an alternative, I use a few houseplants and then bring in a simple arrangement of flowers for color.

CUT FROM OUTDOORS

Now that spring is here, more trees and plants are blooming outdoors. It is the perfect time to clip branches or stems and bring them into our homes.

Perhaps I should not admit this, but I have been known to pull over on the side of the road and clip lilacs from an abandoned tree, peonies from a vacant lot and armfuls of hydrangea blooms from a neighbor’s yard for our wedding bouquets (don’t worry, we asked for permission). Keep an eye out for wildflowers, flowering shrubs, and branches.

BUY READILY-AVAILABLE FLOWERS FROM THE GROCERY STORE

Look no further than your grocery store floral department for reasonably priced blooms. Most carry a good selection of mixed bouquets and single variety bunches. With a bit of intention, you can bring flowers home, prolong their vase life by trimming and feeding them and arrange in a way that gives generic cut flowers the organically arranged look we all admire.

So how, exactly, do you arrange flowers?

The temptation is to bring them home from the store, remove the wrapping and pop them into a vase.

RESIST THE URGE!

Instead, take a few extra minutes to cut the stems, give your flowers a chance to hydrate, clip extra greenery from outside and build a simple arrangement that looks sweet and much more impactful than the original cut bouquet from the store. Not only will it look amazing, but it will actually last longer! Win and win.

If you want to learn how to arrange flowers for your home and to give as gifts (who doesn’t love a sweet bouquet from a friend?!), if you need help figuring out the best tricks, tools and techniques for caring and prolonging the vase life of cut flowers, and if you’d like to figure out how to make those grocery store mixed bouquets look fabulous, I’ve created a class just for you.

SIMPLIFIED FLOWERS

Beautiful flower arrangements made simple.

As much as I adore flowers, it is really my mother-in-law, Robyn, who knows what she’s doing. We filmed Robyn creating a handful of flower arrangements using flowers from the grocery store. Nothing super fancy or unattainable, just beautiful arrangements to bring life and joy to your home. With the addition of teaching lessons and a workbook, this Simplified Flowers class is applicable, informative and so enjoyable to watch.

The class takes place online where you can go at your own pace, moving from lesson to lesson as quickly or slowly as needed. You will have unlimited access to the class and can always refer back to it as needed.

AFTER TAKING THIS CLASS, YOU’LL KNOW HOW TO:

  • Identify common flower + greenery varieties
  • Pick the right flowers for your arrangement
  • Properly care for flowers to encourage growth and prolong cut life
  • Build shape, texture and contrast into your arrangements
  • Incorporate unexpected elements – like produce! – into your arrangements
  • Take generic mixed bouquets and make them stunning

 

For all of the details, a sneak peek at the welcome video, to register and claim your free gift: CLICK HERE.

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how to camouflage outlet covers with wallpaper

Up in the studio (and throughout the whole house, actually), the outlets, light switches and wall plates are almond colored. I’m assuming this almond color was the standard back in 1992 when the house was built. Not a huge deal except that they look pretty grimy next to all of the white walls.

So on our very lengthy list of house projects is the tedious task of switching out not just the plate covers, but changing the actual outlets and light switches to white throughout the house.

Up in the studio, the outlets/switches/plates are also the almond color and they really do stand out against the walls.

The light switch in the above photo is the goofiest of all because in order to trim the window, we had to notch it out to fit the plate. Since it is right at my eye-level while I’m working, it’s been one of those things that I felt motivated to find a solution to.

Replacing all of the outlets/switches/plates in the studio falls very, very low on the project-totem-pole so an in-between fix was in order.

My answer: decoupage.

I did this same project five years ago in our old house. The issue then was that I had just painted the walls a dark color and the white plates stood out too much. Covering the plates with a pretty scrapbook paper was the prefect solution.

In this case, my goal was to make the plates look meaningful (and hopefully camouflage the almond-toned outlets and switches in the meantime).

This project is truly simple, fairly fool-proof and requires only a few dollars worth of materials.

Here’s how to decoupage outlet and light switch covers:

SUPPLIES

wall plate | pretty paper | Mod Podge (in matte finish) | paintbrush | scissors

A few notes:

  • No need to buy new wall plates – just take them off your wall and reuse them.
  • I prefer matte Mod Podge for this project so that you don’t get a glossy finish.
  • As for paper, the possibilities are endless. In our last house I used thick scrapbook paper. For the studio, I’m using a sample of the most gorgeous wallpaperWhatever you choose, go for something on the thicker side to reduce the puckering that can happen with thin paper.
  • I am not decoupaging the front of the paper for these outlets, but I did in our old house. It just depends on how durable you’re wanting them to be.

Okay, let’s get to it.

STEP ONE

Cut out a piece of your selected paper approximately 1/2″ larger on all sides than your plate.

STEP TWO

Coat the front with Mod Podge, flip it over and press to the center of the paper.

STEP THREE

Cut a notch in each corner.

STEP FOUR

Brush on glue and fold around edges.

If your paper doesn’t hold down, use a small clip to keep it in place while it dries.

Once the Mod Podge is dry, remove the clips and continue on (this only takes a few minutes).

STEP FIVE

Poke a hole in the center of the opening, then make several cuts around the circle.

STEP SIX

Brush on decoupage medium to paper, fold and press firmly to hold. Again, these little clips come in handy to hold it all in place as it dries.

After a few minutes, grab your cover, screw it in place, step back and admire your work.

Now I no longer cringe at the dingy looking outlets! The paper adds a subtle visual interest that looks purposeful.

The outlets are still clearly off-white, but look less out of place with the addition of the wallpaper.

And now I don’t mind looking at that goofy light switch anymore because it is covered in my favorite paper.

#itsthelittlethings

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get your free set of valentine note cards + envelopes

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to share a few freebie love note designs.

What’s not to LOVE about watercolor hearts, arrows, rain clouds raining down hearts?

My illustrations were scanned and formatted into sweet little note cards with matching diy envelopes. Keep reading for the how-to and to download the files!

To make the envelopes, here’s what you’ll need:

free-valentine-and-envelopes templates printed on thick white paper / scissors / adhesive (like this) / washi tape (here’s my favorite source)

STEP ONE / cut template on dashed lines

cut-envelope

cut-out-envelope-template STEP TWO / fold in sides, press firmly to crease

fold-in-sides STEP THREE / fold up bottom, press firmly to crease

fold-up-bottom-flap STEP FOUR / use glue dots (or other adhesive) to attach bottom flap to sides

glue-dots-on-envelope STEP FIVE / write a love note and slip it in

card-in-envelope STEP SIX / fold down top flap and seal with washi tape

plus-envelope-taped Add a name to the front and send to your valentine!

plus-envelope-front

heart-card-and-plus-envelope

plus-envelope There are four designs with matching note cards + envelopes, but feel free to mix & match!

These cards and envelopes can be found in THE ARCHIVE along with all of our best free prints, templates and fonts.  If you are not an Archive member, simply add your email to the list and you’re in!

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE ARCHIVE

enjoy!

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When you can’t find the table lamp you want, you improvise

After all the back and forth and option-weighing, I decided the desk in the studio will stay as originally planned. We’ll adjust the chairs to raise them up a bit and call it good.

I actually feel very happy with the decision and can continue on with putting the studio together …

Next up is adding in more ambient light in the form of table lamps. The light of table lamps is nice to work by and will also anchor either side of the desk.

In my initial design board, I planned on using these white textured lamps from Target. I liked the simple shape, but when I went to order, there was only one available (what?!).

As a second option, I came across this handsome ceramic lamp from West Elm, which I also really liked. I just couldn’t justify spending $300 on lamps for my office.

While out shopping the other day, I saw a pair of these column table lamps on clearance in the kid section and snatched up both of them for $45.

The shape is great, I love the wood base, the color was definitely not right for my studio, but I had an idea of how to fix that.

Enter the good ole days of DIY-Emily.

(Side note: I have not done a DIY project in almost a year. Crazy for a crafty girl who loves a DIY project! I’m glad to be back, friends. Glad to be back).

By altering these lamps, I hoped to create a hybrid of the two inspiration lamps – combining the shape of the first with the chalky gray color of the second. And because I didn’t spend much, I figured it was worth the DIY risk.

After taping off the base and neck, I painted on two coats of basic black chalk paint.

As chalk paint does, it dried a nice matte gray-black.

I could have left the paint as is, but went with the next step of ‘seasoning’ the chalk surface.

Typically, you season a freshly painted chalkboard to cure the surface and allow for full erasing once you start writing on it. These lamps won’t function as writable chalk surfaces, but I still wanted that pretty mottled look that seasoning creates.

After rubbing chalk all over the lamp, I wiped it in with a dry cloth and blew off the remaining dust.

The finished color is just the chalky black I was hoping for.

The lamps are now flanking the desk and look so nice!

Even though I initially wanted a pair of white lamps, these lamps remind me that bringing a touch of black into a room is always a good idea.

This was about as simple of a DIY as could be and I’m happy to be back in the crafty game.

Have you created anything lately that you’re particularly proud of? I’d love to hear!

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5 favorite tricks & techniques in Illustrator AND details of the new class

Here we are on day five of a graphic-design-y week! I hope you’ve found beauty and inspiration in the posts so far.

In case you missed any, first I shared a handful of designs from my custom stationery designing days. Lots of cute projects and many examples of great print-at-home invitations, christmas cards and announcements. Next, I shared this adorable set of free clip art for you to download and use in your designs. For those who want more control over color and size of clip art, this video shows just how easy it is to turn a regular image into a vector graphic.  Then we talked about selecting the best printer for you and discovering thousands of fonts (can you ever have enough?!).

To wrap this week up, I made another video for you … this time sharing my top five favorite tricks and techniques in Adobe Illustrator. I didn’t begin designing using such a fancy program, but as I have spent the past several years learning and practicing, finding new tools and little tricks to make designing easier, I completely love it. I think you will, too.

So obviously I kinda enjoy designing. I never set out to be a graphic designer (my degree is in child & family psychology!) and even though I am self-taught and often do things the wrong way (did you see how I draw in the video?!) I feel so grateful for the creative outlet it has become.  I just adore what I do, am constantly learning and practicing and am so excited to share my knowledge with others.

About seven months ago, I began putting together a graphic design course that would focus on the basics I use for every day designing.  No techy language and super-advanced skills because honestly, I don’t think most of us are looking for that. I wanted the class to feel like it would if you came over to my house and I explained in regular terms and simple steps how to design your daughter’s birthday invitations yourself.  A friendly approach to learning a slightly intimidating program.  Well, after seven months, it’s finally ready.

simplified-graphic-design-logo

So here are the details:

about
Simplified Graphic Design is a course created for the beginner graphic designer who is new to Adobe Illustrator.  Illustrator enables you to create professional vector artwork (images that can be scaled to any size without losing quality) for both print and web graphics. While the program can be intimidating upon first glance, this course will walk you through the most essential and helpful tools showing you how to create your own designs and leaving you with a comfortable understanding and confidence in working in Illustrator.

This is a great class for those who love graphic design and want to learn how to create their own graphics. Whether you have no experience in Illustrator or a basic knowledge of the program, you will finish the course a more proficient designer with a handful of shortcuts that will make the process simple and enjoyable.  If you are well-acquainted with Illustrator, a professional graphic designer or looking for tips for creating a graphic design business, this course will not be a good fit for you.

format
Because most of us learn best by watching a task being done, this course is a series of eleven in-depth videos that cover all of the basic functions, most helpful tools and many tips and tricks in Adobe Illustrator useful for everyday designing.  You can watch and re-watch to learn new techniques and then pause the video to practice on your own.

The course covers:

  • familiarizing ourselves with Adobe Illustrator
  • using the most common functions for every day designing
  • how to create, transform and design with text
  • using clipping masks and digital paper to create art
  • turning hand drawn doodles into vector graphics
  • altering images using the live trace & paint functions
  • how to create shapes, templates and tags
  • printing and saving your work
  • the work flow of a start-to-finish invitation
  • the work flow of a start-to-finish web graphic
  • resources for tools, design elements and inspiration

The course and all its content takes place online in a password protected classroom.  Go at your own pace, moving from section to section as quickly or slowly as needed. You will have unlimited access to the class so you can always refer back to it as needed.

All questions can be asked in the comment section of each topic. This will act as our forum and helpful troubleshooting for all students.

register

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