Archive for October, 2010

Down Home Hoedown

A few weeks ago, my family made a trip to South Florida for my niece’s 5th birthday party.  It was ridiculous fun, to say the least.  And my sister-in-law did an amazing job summoning back the faintly-familiar, carefree feelings of my youth.  There was no real agenda…the only real necessities being food, fun and, of course…ponies.  Each portion of the party seemed to effortlessly flow into the next…from chow time to pony time…from pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey to an impromtu hay fight…it was pure happiness in the faces of all who attended.  For any of you looking for the idyllic children’s birthday party, look no further than this….


Party On


 The once simplistic, thrown-together, backyard shindig that used to describe a child’s birthday party in “the good ol’ days” has slowly morphed to a level of complicated and time-consuming usually reserved for weddings,  charity benefits and coronations!

In an effort to reign-in my daughter’s ever-growing expectations,  I decided to have a camp-themed party in our backyard for her fifth birthday.  While the trickiness of developing a list of invitees still existed, I was determined to make this a whimsical throw-back to backyard parties of yore.

For my daughter’s party, I relied on a few essential elements while developing my overall “look” for the camp theme…lighting…seating….and smores!  I used mason jars with tea lights, tiki torches and large globe lights, all of which I either already owned or borrowed.  I also found dragonfly LED lights at an end-of-summer clearance sale at Target.

I was stuck for an idea for a banner until I came across red poster-boards at CVS for $.99.   I cut the boards in half and arranged strips of white copy paper to form my “CAMP ELLE” sign.  It was definitely a one-hit-wonder…as it eventually fell victim to Florida’s infamous humidity…

The following pictures are brought to you in black-and-white (old-school style)…


The evening started out with guests entering through the side of our yard, under the sign, and between the tiki torches.  A trail of dragonfly lights lead our guests in the right direction.  We roasted hotdogs on skewers over our backyard firepit.  My sister set up her large tent, which we filled with balloons (some with coins), and had each blind-folded child take a turn at trying to find a “prize balloon.”  Once they were successful, they had a chance to choose something from the “prize bucket.”


Next up was tug-o-war….over a kiddie pool….filled with (plastic) snakes.  Let’s just say a good time was had by both the children and parents alike…

(That’s my husband body-turfing)

The games continued with a real classic …..Limbo (purchased from Oriental Trading Company for $19.99, Limbo Rock (Reggae version) from iTunes for $.99)

That’s my girl!  She gets that from her mommy…1995 Palm Beach Gardens High School Homecoming Limbo Champion.  (On a serious note, I hope no one truly looks that up, because it may or may not be true…the point is….I was damn good at limbo!)

Let them eat cake….

Let them eat smores (the lesser-known portion of Marie Antoinette’s famous quote)…

Last, but certainly not least….the opening of the birthday presents….

The evening was certainly a success!  We threw in a little karaoke at the end (sorry no pictures!)…and that was the icing on the cake (excuse the pun.)  A super-simple, inexpensive party and a serious good time! I forgot to mention I took the “free route” with the invitations (thank you Evite!)  As for the “prize bin”…I collected trinkets and toys from the clearance sections, $1 bins, and wholesale online stores (i.e. Oriental Trading Co.)   There was actually so many prizes left, that we re-used the bin at my niece’s party (which was awesome by the way,and I can’t wait to post about it later this week.)  As for party favors, Hobby Lobby is a great source for themed-party paraphenalia.  We used bandana-print boxes and filled them with compasses, flashlights and smores ingredients.

So, you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a successful child’s party.  And, honestly, I think you can’t beat old-fashion fun!  My sister-in-law just threw a wonderful “cowgirl” themed birthday party for her 5-year-old daughter, complete with ponies and hayrides (granted, it helps she lives on 5 acres and is surrounded by horse farms!)  Some other great party themes I’ve seen recently include tea parties, carnivals, and Hawaiian luaus.  A great resource for some totally amazing birthday party (and wedding, etc) ideas is .  Some may not fall in the economical category, but you can always tweak them to fit your budget. 

I’m always looking for new party ideas, so if you’ve been to/thrown any parties lately…I’d love to hear about them!  And, as always, subscribe to this blog so you don’t have to waste your entire day checking to see if I’ve updated anything!!

Getting Ready for Fall (Part I)

Last weekend, my husband finally got our rubbermade bin, marked “Fall,” down from our very own “leaning tower of Pisa” of rubbermade bins,  precariously balanced atop one another in our garage.  I always get a little excited to open up these seasonal decorating bins, since they usually contain items I haven’t seen in…well…a year (except for in 2006 when we didn’t take down the majority of our Christmas decor until February. I’m so not exaggerating!)   Actually, I think we were to blame for our HOA instituting a cut-off date for taking down seasonal decorations.

Anyway, I have taken a few pictures of the decorating I’ve done so far.  Remember that foyer I just jazzed-up a couple of weeks ago?  I had a lot of fun decking that out for Fall….


I love tiny white pumpkins and I thought they would look great perched upon one of my unused candlesticks, similar to those shells-on-a-pedestal that are so popular in beachy decor…

Next, I filled a small candle holder with those little, yellow spore-thingy’s that I scrapped from my topiary project…


The next decorating touch came from my daughter, surprisingly!  (She’s a natural, I tell ‘ya!)  She guilted me into buying her a nest and eggs from JoAnn’s, while we were there picking up some fake pumpkins.  When she unintentionally placed her nest and eggs on the shelf in the foyer, I took a double-take…it looked great there.  Unable to convince her to keep her little treasure there permanently, we were back in the car a few days later on our way to JoAnn’s to buy mommy a nest and eggs of her very own!

I also filled the empty pedestal dish with tiny gourds and pumpkins, and added my little fall leaf candy dish to finish off the look.  In addition to the foyer, I also added a few autumn-themed touches to my dining room.  I absolutley loved the way the unraveled berry wreath looked in my enormous pasta bowl…

Since this is still a work in progress, I will continue to post updates on my seasonal decor change over the next couple of weeks.  If you  have any fall decorating ideas, I would love to hear about them!

By the way, I love hearing your comments…so keep them coming.  And please subscribe to this blog if you want to stay up-to-date!

Beautiful Black

This is a follow-up post to the one announcing the winning paint color for our bedroom walls.  I know that the other contestant (Benjamin Moore Gray) may not have been the fan favorite, and I think the reason for that may be because such a dark color (on the blog it appeared black) is a little intimidating for some folks.  So here are a few examples of black walls in almost every room setting.  With just the right amount of contrasting white (or other bright color) in these rooms, the black walls look sophisticated and elegant (as opposed to dreary and cave-like)….

The large white couch and panel help to break up the black walls in this living room

The white backsplash and pendant lights do the same thing for this kitchen

Black also works well in dining rooms…


and even bathrooms.

My favorite thing about black walls is how they seem to make even the most mundane, framed,white, matted print look dramatic and important.  I also love that by adding the tiniest hint of color, it catches your eye instantly (like the green flowers in the living room picture or the red border in the bedding in the bedroom pic above.)

So, have I had any affect on you, anti-dark-paint voters, out there??  Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it…(you know what they always say!!)



And the Winner is….

Benjamin Moore Kendal Charcoal….by a mile!  It was my husband’s favorite (translation…if we must repaint and he can only choose from those colors, then he would have to pick that one.)  It was also my favorite…so I was really glad when it appeared to be everyone else’s favorite as well.

Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal

So, not much in the way of home improvement happened at the Fox household this past weekend.  We unfortunately had great seats and a unobscured view of the debacle that was the Florida Gator football game on Saturday.  But, we hope to get back-on-track this week, starting with the painting of our bedroom and continuing with our fall decorating projects.

A Topiary for all Seasons

So, today I decided to make a topiary.  Actually the idea hit me the instant I rested my eyes on this little beauty during my last trip to the Goodwill Store…

After a quick trip to JoAnn Fabrics, I gathered together my supplies, and got to work…

This little project was ridiculously easy and crazy cheap…here’s the cost breakdown:

White, ceramic urn                           $.59

Bag of styrofoam balls                     2.49

Bag of Moss                                        2.99

Glue gun & glue                                Free (I already had this)

Stick                                                      Free (from my backyard)


Total                                                   $6.07 

(way cheaper than the $30 you’d pay for one at Ballard Designs or Pottery Barn, right?)

First, I shaved down the sides of one of the styrofoam balls so that it fit snuggly inside the urn…

Next, using the hot-glue gun, I adhered moss to the styrofoam, making sure to cover it up entirely…

Starting to look pretty good, right?  Next, I stuck the stick into the center of the moss and placed the second styrofoam ball on top.  I decided not to glue the second ball to the stick in order to make it easier to switch it out with the change of seasons (or holidays.)  For example, I could take the moss-ball off and replace it with a cranberry-covered ball for Christmas, a conversation-heart-covered ball for Valentine’s Day, or tiny, silk flowers for Spring…

The last step was to glue moss to the top ball, and….voila!

So…you might be wondering where do those little, yellow, pollen-spore-looking things (in the picture of supplies at the beginning of this post) fit in?  Well, originally, I attempted to glue those to the top styrofoam ball instead of the moss, but ran out of them just shy of finishing.  Instead, I opted for the moss (which I actually like better than the little yellow spore-thingy’s!)

For Your Foyer

Disgruntled at the state of our home office and the barren appearance of our foyer, I decided to finally do something about it.  Originally, the only thing that greeted our guests once they entered our humble abode were two enthusiastically happy homeowners and their equally excited child.  Oh…and two sepia prints of Central Park…

These pictures have been screaming for something to anchor them since the day I nailed them up there.  Today would be their day of reckoning!  I grabbed the old, white, shelving unit that used to belong to my husband’s grandfather from the cluttered office and added a few accessories (mostly from my kitchen cabinets and linen closet)…

Corks make a easy and inexpensive filler, and since I drink a lot of wine…I have a lot of corks!

I needed something to take up some real estate on the bottom shelf and also provide some storage, so I picked up the two wood baskets from the clearance section of Target for $5 each.  These were the right width and length, but a little shorter than I had hoped.  But, at $5 a pop, I couldn’t argue…

Be sure to check out the blog in the next few weeks to see how I’ve updated this, and other parts of my home, for autumn…..