Easy and Elegant Easter Place Settings

Let’s get real for a minute here: You’re probably not hosting Easter brunch for a magazine shoot. Your place settings don’t have to look like the Easter Bunny couldn’t decide what to buy, so he bought one five of everything. There are several reasons why I like to feature simple, but elegant place settings.

First, hosting friends and family for a meal doesn’t need to be unnecessarily complicated. Your guests aren’t expecting a “show.” What they really want is conversation, fellowship, contact. It’s possible to make them feel special when they sit down to eat without killing yourself to make it look that way.

Next, making a place setting look special doesn’t need to cost a fortune. As I talked about in this post HERE, I like to find basic dishes that can be used for all sorts of occasions. White works…go with it. If you buy different dishes to use for different holidays and events, the cost of hosting will take some joy out of doing it. Not to mention, you will need to find storage for all the various things. We are blessed to have an abundance of storage space; but honestly, there’s never enough space to store all of the things you have. Bottom line, invest in some nice, quality basic pieces that you can use time and time again.

Finally, sometimes less is more. I firmly believe in keeping things simple and classic. I don’t want to sit down to a meal and feel like I’m surrounded by cluttered decorations. Can we say, “Claustrophobic”? That’s not how you want your guests to feel. Hosting is all about making your guests feel comfortable and welcome. Focus on that!

With all of that said, here are some examples of simple and elegant Easter place settings.

This is in our dining room:

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To see any photo larger, just click on it!

The tablecloth, place mats, and napkins are all from HomeGoods. The plates are antique German china, but I’d also be completely comfortable using my favorite white plates from World Market. The mini tulips are from Publix; we used them all throughout our Spring decor this year and you can see more of that HERE and HERE.

Here are some examples of other people’s place settings that I found on Pinterest. If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, use the button on the top, right corner of the page.
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I found this on Or So She Says…. She has a great how-to. I’m not great with acrylic paint, so I’d opt for a gold or silver Sharpie marker. Look for the little nests in the floral department of Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. 
Cookie cutter bunny
This one seems so simple and FUN! I found it on All You.com. You can find M & M’s of all one color at Party City, Michael’s, or Hobby Lobby. 
Super affordable and your guests can take this one home! I found it on With a Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart. Use simple twine, string, or even embroidery floss to bind the sticks together. If you want to skip on the tags, you could type of the verse on some paper or card stock and cut it into strips. You could lay it with the strip or even glue the strip. Since it’s sticks, simply use Elmer’s glue. 
This one is a little different, but I love it: 

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I found this on Apartment Therapy. If your local store has carrots with the green tops attached, you could totally use those, too. It reminds me of the poem by Else Holmelund Minarik:
Little seeds we sow in spring
growing while the robins sing,
give us carrots, peas and beans,
tomatoes, pumpkins, squash and greens.

And we pick them,
one and all,
through the summer, 
through the fall.

Winter comes, then spring, and then
little seeds we sow again.
Enjoy! Remember, relax and don’t make hosting a chore.
Want to see more posts about simple place settings? Go HERE

How to Plan for a Home DIY Project


Spring Break for our kids is in just a few weeks. Because of Ken’s job, this means that he will have some more free time on his hands than he usually does. So what are we doing for Spring Break? The beach? Lake? Stay-cation? Not quite.

We are diving head first into some home renovation projects. Some indoors and some outdoors. These are not projects that we have any kind of experience with. None. Zilch. This could be disastrous amazing! So if we have no experience with these types of projects, how do we expect to have a good outcome? Here are a few tips for you:

  • Research. ReSEARCH. REsearch. Easy to say, but how? We are researching in these ways: YouTube, Pinterest, Blogs, Books, and Friends. Search for the type of project you are doing, and endless results should come up. This is not a “one and done” type of research. We’re piecing together tips and instructions from different sources that will work best for our house and our taste.
  • Measuring. Know exactly how much of each material you will need. Guessing is going to add to your frustration when you either have to go back for more or you buy too much. Frustrations = Stress = Bad Experience.
  • Pricing. This could go along with research, but it’s important enough to stand on it’s own. Know ahead of time how much you’re going to spend on materials. Simply deciding to walk into a store and buy what you find isn’t the best way to do things. You should shop around, price materials, and discover all of the options that are available to you.
  • Gather and prep your materials. I like to think of this as making a recipe for dinner. You’re going to make sure you have all of the ingredients before you start cooking it. Make sure you have all of your “ingredients” before you start your project. If some items can be prepped ahead of time, like priming something, go ahead and do it before the day you plan to do the project.
  • Make sure you have the tools you need. If you need a tool such as a saw or nail gun that you don’t have, make arrangements to buy it, borrow it, or rent it before the day of the project. You don’t want to spend time on the day you start your project to track one down. Tool rental places may have rented all of them out, friends may not be reachable, and impulsively buying a tool that you need will likely lead to overspending.

When you take the time to plan ahead and prepare yourself with knowledge and materials, your project is going to go a lot smoother than if you don’t.

Maybe next year on Spring Break we’ll actually take a break. 😉

XOXO,
Abby

    Use a Screen Door for an Organizer, Room Divider, or Craft Show Display

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    I wanted to share this screen door that we use a lot. Over time this has evolved into something that I’ve changed to be functional and beautiful.

    I currently use something similar in my antiques booth to display items on, but here you can see that you can create a home organizational piece with a screen door.

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    Start by finding a screen door. You can either repurpose an old one or buy a new one from a home improvement store. I bought this one from Home Depot for around $20. Either paint or stain the door the color that you want. Staple chicken wire to the back of it. Make sure that you purchase a roll of chicken wire that is at least as wide as the door. At this point you can decide if you only want chicken wire on it, or if you want to back the chicken wire with something. For the one in my antiques booth I put some burlap fabric behind the chicken wire. On this one I used an old lace curtain that I purchased at a thrift store.

    The final steps in this project are to make the door stand up. Screw some decorative wood corner pieces (Home Depot, trim department) onto the front and some metal L-brackets on to the back.

    Diesel, our maltese, really thinks that you should give it a go and let us know if you like it!

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    XOXO,
    Abby

    UPDATE: Thank you for all of the interest in the desk and screen door, both have sold. 
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    Putting Together an Entry Table

    Recently a large portion of our home got a fresh coat of paint. We’ve all heard it before, but honestly, it’s true; Paint changes everything. And since the walls looked so fresh and clean, I procrastinated a bit to put things back together once the paint was dry. After all, I spackled all of the holes. Why make new ones?

    But then the bare walls got boring. So, hello hammer.

    First up was to put an entry table space together. There’s not usually a spot on the wall that says, “Put your entry table here. X” We’re lucky enough to have a large entry area, so I took a couple of things into consideration. First, I made sure that the front door had enough space to swing completely open. We have a constant parade of furniture in and out of the front door, so I needed to make sure that nothing would be in the way. Next, I have this  thing  obsession about symmetry, so I had to make sure that the table would be centered in the space.

    Once I had the spot where I wanted my table, I could start hanging things on the wall above it. TI knew that I was using this mason jar lamp, so I checked was to make sure the “Family” sign was hung high enough that the lamp wouldn’t block it. Of course, I used my level to make sure it was!
    

    Ignore the stool. I’m a shorty.

    By the way, if you haven’t heard of this trick to hang pictures using tape, you should really try it. Tape in between the hold of your picture. Then use the tape on the wall to measure the distance between your nails.

    The entry in our house is two stories, so the scale of this arrangement was important to me. I didn’t want to make anything too low or small and have it seem puny in the space. I added another picture to heighten the display. It goes with my “family” theme that I have going on. There are four of us and there are four birds. Awwww, so cute!

    Finally, I set some items on the tabletop to complete the look: a tray to place keys and sunglasses on, a lamp to provide a little light at night, and some other decorative items.

     
    I recently created a different display on the table to use for one of my Etsy listings. I think this turned out beautiful and functional. I love functional. This reclaimed window frame organizer is currently for sale in my Etsy shop.
     
    I got this perfect “Family” sign from Amazon. The quote is exactly what I was looking for.

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    XOXO,
    Abby

    Christmas Scenes in Glass Canister Jars

    Hi All!

    I wanted to share an easy Christmas decoration idea with you — Glass canister jars with Christmas scenes inside of them. These were simple and affordable to put together.


    I bought all of my supplies at Walmart. Walmart zaps the life out of me, but it is the absolute cheapest place to buy everything you need for this project. I bought three glass canisters. The largest 2 gallon size is $9.97 and the smallest is $4.97. If you bought these at a big box craft store they would be twice as expensive, even with a coupon.

    You’ll also need:

    • some Epsom salts, which you can find in the pharmacy or garden department.
    • Bottle brush Christmas trees, which you can find in the Christmas department with the village stuff. Trust me — the best price was at Walmart. $7 or $8 for a large pack, I think. Hobby Lobby & Michaels both scalped me for a lot more when I bought some there.
    • Toy cars or trucks
    • twine


    Pour some Epsom salts into the bottom. Settle some trees wherever you like them. Take some of the smaller trees and attach them to the trucks with some twine. I didn’t glue anything down so that I could reuse it. If you don’t have any trees that are small enough, use some wire cutters to cut the tops off of some bigger trees to the size that you need.


    My kids love looking at this!

    Merry Christmas!
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    A chair, Me, and God

    It’s raining today. It’s a typical Atlanta day in October, overcast and somewhere in between warm and cool. But the humidity envelopes you when you’re outside, so, for the most part, it’s basically warm.

    Today I take my project outside despite the rain. I have a chair that I’ve painted gray with some spray paint. I’m going to finish it with some antiquing glaze. I take the chair onto my little front porch, and together my chair and I are protected from getting wet.

     

    Since I’m outside in the humidity, it’s going to take longer to dry and finish once I put my glaze on. But it’s so peaceful. Amidst the steady rain, the birds are still singing and leaves are cascading from the tulip poplar in my front yard. I am away from the computer, iPad, and phone. I am away from the multi-tasking. It’s just me and the chair.

    It looks so much better with glaze. More finished. More natural and “relaxed”. Less “freshly painted.” Less sterile.

    While I am adding the glaze, I am thinking. I’m currently running a giveaway on my Facebook page, and Ken (my husband) and I were discussing a trend that I noticed. Every time I post something related to God people “unlike” my page. (The book I’m giving away has God in the title.) This makes me sad, and it makes me want to tell you part of my story.

    For years I prayed. I prayed for a lot of things, but something that I prayed louder, and longer, and harder for was this: Please God, point me in the right direction. Lead me down the path I should go. I’m not always good at picking up on small clues, God. So please make it obvious.

    For years God’s answer was “not right now.” About a year ago I was lucky enough to have God shout loud and clear. While “working” on the blog, searching for antiques, and repurposing I had a moment that with every fiber of my being, without a shadow of doubt in my mind, that THIS…this “Belle & Beau Antiquarian” is exactly what God wants me to do. In that moment I was 100% sure that I was doing the thing that God had planned for me. This is the path I should go down.

    I can’t say that since that moment I have experienced 100% easy success. I wish I could say since that moment that I have not doubted that I was on the right path. I have doubted. I have wanted to quit. I have experienced failure time and time again, in small ways and big ways. I have had many months where I did not break even. I have had months where I overspent and then spent months paying for it. I have had months where I have neglected the blog. But I always return to that moment of 100% conviction. Despite failures, I have had successes. People read this blog. A lot of people. People are interested in what I do. I have an opportunity. This is what God wants me to do. Now, I need to make sure that I do it HOW he wants me to.

    So like this chair that still needed a finishing touch, I still need some finishing touches, too. It’s hard not to take “unlikes” personally. But if you are “unliking” my page because I “like” God, then go ahead. The unlikes are certainly something that I will put in my “success” column.

    “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
    Proverbs 16:3

    Hope you “like” the chair.

    XOXO,
    Abby

    P.S. Um, there’s a fabulous giveaway going on. You should really enter it!

    The {Final} Nitty-Gritty on Sanding. When You’re Done?

     

    I’ve noticed that a lot of times tutorials that go over how to use “furniture” (aka “chalk”) paint don’t go over what to do once the paint has dried. I personally have several more steps to go once the paint is dry on my furniture. I sand it, seal it, and often glaze it.

    Sand it when the paint is dry? For latex or spray paint, not usually. For “furniture,” chalk, or milk paint, yes. There is an incredible difference in the finish of “furniture” paint when you sand it after it dries and when you don’t. It becomes incredibly smooth and “finished” looking. The paint should dry 8 hours, or overnight, before you sand it.

    Depending on the look I am going for, I will either use 220 grit sandpaper or “00” steel wool. Usually using 220 grit sandpaper with my Black & Decker Mouse sander will give more of a distressed look. That means whatever the surface color was before you sanded it (wood or a different color) will show through on the edges and raised details. If I just want to “finish” the piece and I don’t want to distress it I will use “00” (double fine) steel wool. Even when using the “00” steel wool, be careful on the edges and details.

    DON’T freak out when you sand your painted piece. Paint dust will come off. Trust me when I say, do not sand indoors, even a garage. You will cover everything in a fine coating of chalk dust. The great thing about “furniture” paint is, if you sand off too much, just touch it up with some more paint. Also, don’t freak out if your paint color “lightens” up a bit. This is just the effect of the “chalk” or plaster of Paris in the paint. When you apply your wax the color will deepen again.

    Before you continue the process of finishing your painted piece after you have sanded it, wipe it down completely with a DRY cloth. Actually, most of the time I vacuum the piece with my shop vac when I’m done sanding. You can even use the final sanding process as a way to be creative with your paint. Once you have done a final sanding, you are ready to finish your piece with wax, polyurethane, or glaze. (or all of the above) 😉

    I will go over more info on using “furniture” paint in a future blog post.
    XOXO,
    Abby

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    Blueberry Investment: Blueberry Pie

    The birds left a few blueberries for us to eat. We only have two bushes, so when we manage to actually get some ripe berries before the birds, I really try to use them wisely. I froze several small baggies for smoothies or for using in muffins. We ate a quart or so for snacking, and the kids ate a bunch off of the bushes. After that, I’ve been hoarding them. I wanted to make something delicious and I knew that would require a great investment of blueberries.

    This is what 5 cups of blueberries looks like. For what? A pie. I don’t know why it had to be a pie. I’ve never baked one before. Which is ridiculous, considering the number of pie plates that I own. I looked on the web for the easiest, simplest recipe that I could find. I picked this one.

    Pour one tablespoon of lemon juice over 5 cups of blueberries and set aside.

    Mix one cup of sugar, half a cup of all-purpose flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, & 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

    Add the blueberries and gently stir together to coat the berries. Next use pre-maid pie crust to cover the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate. Fill the crust with the berry mixture and dot with 2 tablespoons of butter. Use the remaining crust to cover the pie. Trim the edges, crimp, and cut slits to vent.

    I know, I know. It’s not pretty. But I did it! My first pie. And I didn’t burn it!

    You simply have to have it with some vanilla ice cream. So good.
    XOXO,
    Abby
    P.S. I hope one day my pies will be this beautiful. And isn’t this pie plate to die for? Love it. 

    Functional Push Pins.

    I like it. I don’t like it. 

    I want it up. I want it down. 

    It motivates me. It irritates me.

    The sun is shining. The sun is not shining.

    Life changes. I change my mind. Sometimes. A lot. Every day something new inspires me. Colors, People, Quotes, Photos. I needed a way to be able to actually use my bulletin board that I made in yesterday’s post.

    Typically I put the bulletin board up, and then I pin some things onto it. And then those same things stay pinned up onto the bulletin board for 3 (or 11) years, while the little things that I use every day stay on the surface of my desk.

    What if there was a way to avoid looking lazy improve the functionailty of my bulletin board? When I really thought about it, the reason that I wasn’t using my bulletin board as an organizational piece on a day to day basis was that I was constantly needing to pin up, remove, and repin what I was using.

    For example, a paint chip. Found one I love: pin it up. Want to hold it next to something: take it down. Lose the pin. Leave paint chip on the desk. Need to take the paint chip to the fabric store. Can’t find the paint chip.

    Example No. 2: Put up a fancy-schmancy quote to inspire me throughout the day or week. Get used to the quote being there. Stop looking at the quote. Stop being inspired. But leave the quote up because if I take it down, it’s going to get lost on my desk and wrinkled. Then I’ll have to throw it away and that will hurt a tree.

    Solution: Pins for my bulletin board that are also…CLIPS. I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

    Pin once. Clip over and over and over again. Clip several things together. Switch them around.

    The best part? NO. PIN. HOLES. *gasp*  So simple to do:

    Both from Walmart in the Office Supply aisle. Next to all the cute Post-It Notes. You could use flatter push pins, but I like these.

    Glue Gun. You’ll need one. Also found at Walmart. Craft section.



    Life changer.

    Functionality.

    And don’t forget. You’re a Peach.
    XOXO,
    Abby

    Fabric Covered Bulletin Board

    So, here’s the thing:

    To a creative person originality is very important. When a creative person comes up with an idea and then suddenly discovers that it wasn’t their own individual idea that they can take credit for entirely, it’s not a good moment. It’s like a HISSY FIT inside the head. “No, Ma’am. I do not think so, Missy! That idea was mine, mine, mine!”

    That is exactly what happened to me. At any given time I have several blog posts in progress at the same time. Sometimes there are even snippets of other projects in the background of other projects that I’m posting about. I’ve had this project done entirely (and up on my wall) for weeks now. I’ve even used it as a background for other posts and for some Etsy listings.

    That being said, the other night I was browsing Pinterest before bed. I don’t know what it is about scrolling Pinterest on the iPad, but it always lulls me right to sleep. Anywho, suddenly, there it was. My project (this project) done entirely, exactly like mine. Same exact fabric and everything. So ahead of time, if you happen to see a similar exactly the same project on Pinterest, it was not intentional. I did however get inspiration from a Pinterest project, and I want to give that project credit for inspiration here. 

    ~~
    I’ve mentioned (either here or on our Facebook page) that I’m revamping my office space. Step one for me is organization. I want it to be organized so that it’s not only functional, but also enjoyable.  One of the small things I’ve done is to take a bulletin board that I was already using and make it beautiful and even more useful. Today I’m going to show you the more beautiful part, and tomorrow I’m going to show you the more useful part.

    I started with my bulletin board, some spray adhesive, my fabric of choice, my handy-dandy staple gun, and some upholstery tacks.

    Next, I cut my fabric to size so that I could wrap it around the edges. I rolled it up, so that after I sprayed the adhesive it would be easier to apply.

    Once the fabric was wrapped around to the back, I trimmed off the excess and used my staple gun to attach it to the wood trim in the back.

    The last step was to use the upholstery tacks as a finishing touch around the edges. Since they are sharp, they simply push into the cork board. To make this project a super easy snap, below are links to the supplies that I used.

    Time to get to work!
    XOXO,
    Abby