Christmas Card Fail

It has rained every weekend since Thanksgiving so we haven’t been able to get a Christmas tree yet. We wanted to get it last weekend — rain. Tried again this weekend — even more rain. Ugh!

Last year, it happened to snow early in the season. We already had our colorful Christmas lights up along the fence so we ran outside, grabbed them and snapped this cute photo for our card. It’s one of my favorite shots of us. Can you believe we took this ourselves — selfie style?

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So this year the pressure is on to snap an even better photo. Ideally I’d like to get a shot of us at the garden center picking out our Christmas tree. The evergreens would make an awesome background on a holiday card.

I’m anxious to get our cards ordered so I decided to try and take a photo inside before we ventured out into the rain (and humidity struck) on Saturday.

It didn’t work. First the olive print was half in the background. And it just looked too busy.

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I took the print down to snap a shot with our plain tan wall in the background, but I didn’t like how these photos were clearly a poor attempt at a selfie.

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Then things just got silly…

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Wish us luck on snapping a more charming photo for our Christmas card this year. :)

Fa la la la Living Room

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I’m continuing this week’s tour of Christmas decor in my house with a peek at the living room where I’ve decked the halls with red, green and silver accents.
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I mixed some of my old favorites with a few new pieces this year to make the room feel extra festive.
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I splurged on a pair of green and white houndstooth pillows that coordinate with my table runner in the dining room. The couch is the first thing that draws your eye in when you walk through the front door so I focused my attention there this year. A trio of new pillows, glittery garland and DIY holiday-themed art transformed this spot for Christmas. My couch and rug are so neutral that it’s easy to change the look of the room by switching up a few accent pieces and swapping out the yellow pillows for green. My strategy for decorating the living room was to take away yellow and replace it with green which complemented my existing red accents nicely.

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A few silver accents go a long way to make this space feel Christmas-y, too. I found this wreath made of silver, vintage-looking ornaments that I placed on a tray on the coffee table as a statement piece. When we put the tree up it will make my large silver ornaments really pop.

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Silver also makes a statement atop my entertainment center where a bevy of glass Christmas trees in a variety of sizes add interest to this side of the room. I treat my entertainment center as if it were my fireplace mantel (because I’ve always wanted one). It’s one of my favorite decorations in the whole house and I love how it turned out.

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Last but certainly not least is the stairway where I draped the same glittery garland down the banister and secured it with some red and green striped ribbon. I like the fact that you can see the ribbon holding up the garland and I think it gives the banister added character.

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And with that, the tour of our indoor Christmas decorations is complete. Next up I’ll share with you my Christmas tree and our display of lights outside. Also, look out for a new vlog with a video tour of our Christmas decorations which will give you a better feel for the layout of the space!

Red, green and… Copper?

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When it comes to Christmas decor I don’t play favorites. Red, green, white, silver and gold all have a place in my home for the holidays. This year I added a small splash of a new metallic tone to the mix — copper.
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My husband’s favorite holiday drink is the Moscow Mule which is traditionally served in frigid copper mugs. The bright hue was the inspiration for my dining room sideboard this Christmas season. It makes a bold statement and a little goes a long way so I paired it with some rose gold pieces, deep reds and classic greens for a playful holiday look.

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Take a closer look at my DIY Noel sign.

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I used the cover art from another pretty notebook as the background with a metal “Noel” ornament (both from Target) on top for a custom piece that goes perfectly with my color scheme. I nabbed that rose gold Nicole Miller frame and Earth & Vine cocktail mixer at Marshall’s a few weeks ago.

Here’s a closer look at the rest of the dining room:

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I’m really excited about how the dining room turned out this year. Have I mentioned how much I love that preserved boxwood wreath? Vern Yip’s go-to decoration for December in HGTV Magazine was preserved boxwoods because they look like real/living plants and are maintenance free. I got the wreath from Target last year but I spotted it in the store again this season along with a smaller version.

More photos of my living room are in the works and I still have to trim the tree, so more to come!

DIY Target Felt Wreath Hack

I’d like to start this post by saying my husband is both a genius and a saint. A genius because he suggested we take off of work from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday and a saint because he agreed to sit home with me for three straight days while we decorated the entire exterior and interior of our home for Christmas — save for the tree.
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If you know my husband Mike you know he suffers from something my Mommom likes to call “gas ass” (I do too in all fairness) and our social calendar is eternally full. But we spent most of the ENTIRE weekend at home and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at our house.

With no time constraints holding me back I had a great time DIYing three felt wreaths for my kitchen and powder room. I bought the wreaths at Target a few weeks ago with the thought that I’d cut them apart into separate pieces and use two of them on my kitchen cabinets. This is what I started with:

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First I snipped the burlap holding the wreaths together to separate them.

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Then I snipped these glitter pinecones off of the tri-pick they came in (also from Target.)

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Then I hot glued the pine cones to the wreath, followed by a few white berries.

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I knew I wanted to hang the wreaths from my kitchen cabinets so I hot glued a piece of ribbon to each one. In the meantime I had hung command strips on the inside of the cabinets upside down where I would hang the wreaths from for a clean look.

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Ta da! Here’s the finished product. Very festive! My kitchen is the first room you see when you walk in the front door so I wanted it to feel just as Christmas-y as the rest of the house.

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I hung the paper banner I made last year over the window and weaved a garland through the wrought iron swirls of my vintage ice cream parlor table to give the whole kitchen a festive feel.

With two of the wreaths in the kitchen, I figured the third would be perfect in the powder room across the hall. I added the same pine cones and white berries but wanted to give it some extra oomph. I bought some gorgeous notebooks (also at Target) a few months ago because I loved the cover art but never found a place to put them. Something in my brained clicked and I thought — custom art and paper flowers!

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I just cut out a square piece of the notebook cover to fit my existing frame and cut out the remaining flowers to hot glue onto the wreath. How cute?!

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Here’s how the rest of the powder room turned out:

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I love how both rooms feel holiday ready without screaming red and green! As excited as I am at how the kitchen and powder room turned out — I’m even more excited about the dining room. Stay tuned for more Christmas decorating fun coming this week!

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you’re enjoying your family, friends, loved ones and pets today.

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Yup, that’s me many Thanksgivings ago. I feel so blessed the word thankful doesn’t feel like enough. As someone in the later half of my 20s I’m amazed by how much I learn and grow year over year. It becomes easier to understand what makes my family tick, why I am the way I am and why the people in my life (both near and far) are so important to me.

In the age of “busy” it’s not easy to stop and take a minute to tune out the digital distractions and tune into you and your family. Among all the holiday chaos today I hope you have the chance to enjoy whatever it is you’re thankful for.

Cheers to the good food, warm hugs and funny stories you’ll share today. I hope you’re able to relax and take it all in.

Autumn Dinner Party

You’re cordially (virtually) invited to my autumn dinner party…

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I hosted a small dinner party for six a few weeks ago to toast the season and informally celebrate my BFF Laura’s birthday. The table setting was one of my best so I decided it was too good not to share.

You probably won’t be surprised to see succulents gracing the table. I used some purple and cream echeveria cuttings paired with seeded eucalyptus and leafy foliage to create a natural centerpiece.

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And some smaller cream succulent rosettes graced the napkins.

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I spent an embarrassing amount of time cutting out some leaf place cards by hand.

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With only four guests (six including my husband and I) place cards weren’t necessary but they added a touch of whimsy to the table. I’ve read that giving your guests a reserved spot at the table eases the worry of where to sit and I think there’s something to be said for that.

We planned to have a fire outside after dinner so I used candles and ornamental kale to give the back yard a more festive fall feel.

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You can easily recreate the rustic candle holders with two terracotta pots, two cylindrical glass vases and some green preserved moss. I’ve had them on my table for the past few weeks through all sorts of weather and they still look great.

I even spruced up the powder room with two stems of succulent rosettes and some extra seeded eucalyptus in a clear vase. Small touches like this are easy and they help make your home feel extra special for your guests.

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On to the important part –the food! I served the meal in four courses to be a little fancy shmancy.

We had acorn squash soup.

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I didn’t use a recipe to make this and just sort of flew by the seat of my pants. I roasted the squash cut side down in a 400 degree oven (smothered in olive oil, sea salt and cinnamon) for an hour until it got nice and soft. I sautéed some garlic in a large Dutch oven and scooped the squash into after it had a chance to cool. Then I added some chicken broth, stirred and let it summer for about 30 minutes. After adding some salt, pepper and a little cream I puréed it with an immersion blender and it was ready to serve! For an added touch I topped it with a few springs of fried sage and roasted pumpkin seeds. Yum!

The second course was a delicious fall salad made with spring mix topped with dried cherries, pomegranate seeds, Gorgonzola, red onion and pumpkin seeds dressed with a lite Italian vinaigrette.

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Next was the main course — prosciutto sautéed Brussels sprouts and stuffed chicken breasts. I got both of these recipes from Skinnytaste. You can find them here and here.

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And to top it all off I made gingerbread tiramisu for dessert served with espresso. I used my friend Laura’s recipe because it’s AMAZING and the flavors scream fall (hello pumpkin pie spice and gingersnaps). You can get it here.

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I opted to serve the tiramisu in individual vintage punch glasses for an extra special touch. They took a little more prep before the party but were super easy to grab out of the fridge and go when it was time for dessert. Laura’s recipe made 10 of these little guys so I had some left over. I wasn’t mad about it.

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It was a very special night and we all decided we should have formal, fancy dinners more often. Maybe I’ll host another for the holidays? Or to combat the winter blues in January? Who knows, but I hope it’s soon!

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Just remember the most important thing is to make your guests feel welcome and relaxed so don’t try anything outside of your comfort zone for a dinner party setting. Rely on your favorite recipes and think of a way to elevate them — like serving dessert in punch cups instead of bowls. Little touches go a long way when you’re entertaining. Now go call your friends and invite them to dinner! :)

Sunday Football Baked Potato Bar

Sundays for me mean two things: football and good food. Today we’re hanging out at Mike’s Uncle’s house to watch the Eagles game.

When we get together at Uncle Brian’s we each bring something yummy and always else up having some sort of epic meal. Seafood lasagna, antipasto, steak, fresh caught perch and homemade meatballs to name a few.

Today, we’re having prime rib (!!!) so I decided to make a baked potato bar to go with it.

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For the potatoes, I simply scrubbed them, poked a ton of holes in the skin, rubbed them with almond oil to lend a nice nutty flavor and sprinkled the skin with course sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Then I put them right on the rack in a 350 degree oven for 75 minutes. They were done a bit early so I turned off the oven and left them in there for an additional 30 minutes and they got nice and soft inside and crispy outside without burning.

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I threw together a fixin’s bar using my glass chips-and-dip platter with sour cream, butter, chopped bacon, finely chopped chives and shredded cheddar cheese. Everything you could possibly want to top your spuds!

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Now it’s time to eat. I hope you get the chance to relax and enjoy your family today.

Go EAGLES!! :)

#succulentaddict

So, don’t promise to start blogging more when you’re jumping head first into a new job. It leads to yet another blogging hiatus. Sorry about that.

These beauties have been keeping me busy…

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I’ve fallen (even more) head over heels for succulents since starting my job at ArizonaEast (don’t visit our website yet — that’s one of the projects on my docket) and have been learning A LOT!

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The beauty of signing on with a small, quickly growing company is that I’m marrying my PR skills, marketing know-how, branding expertise and social media savvy with this crazy new world of business strategy, logistics, growth projections, business development and product design. Do you have any idea how hard it was just come up with a title for my position? #LinkedInproblems.

But the chance to see a company explode with growth right in front if my eyes is exciting, and the opportunity to get up from my desk a few times a day to put my hands in the dirt and create products from such gorgeous plants is truly soothing to my soul (and my strained eyes). I feel blessed every day at the unique opportunity I’ve been given at such an early time in my career.

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To be honest, blogging hasn’t been what I thought it’d be. I found myself being too much of a perfectionist to post regularly and that’s just not keeping it real. So with the business of starting a new job I opted to ignore the blog rather than posting anything less than ‘the best.’ What is the best, anyway?

I’m realizing every post doesn’t have to be an amazingly intricate DIY project. I have to remember the whole point of blogging is opening up and letting you guys get a glimpse of my (not so) fabulous life whether it’s picture perfect or not. And what IS real is the fact that I LOVE all the DIY projects, crafts, cooking, entertaining and decorating that was my motivation for starting this blog — but there’s more to me. So buckle up and get ready to accompany me on this journey that is La Vie de Brie. It’s not perfect, but it’s me. And that’s a-okay in my book.

If you agree, leave me a comment to let me know you’re with me!

Xo,
Brie

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Holy Hiatus

March 13, 2014. That’s the date of my last post on La Vie de Brie. Ugh! I’m so sorry, guys. Life definitely got the best of me in these past few months and I didn’t keep up with the blog the way I would have liked to. But, I’m back!

Even though I haven’t chronicled my DIY projects for you in these past… gulp… five months, I haven’t slowed down one bit. I have four great projects and some new furniture and design choices to share with you in the coming weeks! Here’s a sneak peek (or a reminder if you follow me on Instagram).

I transformed my stairs…

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…refinished the top of my coffee table. Hello, Minwax shine…
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…gave my closet a sassy navy, pink and gold makeover. Yes, those eagle hooks are vintage. And Ahhhmazing… IMG_5627

…Painstakingly scraped, prepped and painted my backyard fence. What. A. Job…
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…found a new area rug for our living room. Pattern on pattern seems to be my thing right now…
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…refinished these cute benches that were handed down from my husband Mike’s late grandmother. Such a lovely family heirloom…
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…and finally, got new patio furniture, though I’m still searching for the perfect (and perfectly priced) outdoor rug to give our patio some pizzazz… IMG_6279

 

I also wanted to quickly update you on another big change that has happened to me in recent weeks. I left my job at a PR agency to join a friend’s company called ArizonaEast. If you follow the Vitales on YouTube, you may have heard Joe and Laura announce that I’m joining the team, and I’m so excited!

Well, that’s all for now. But I promise to be back soon with more DIY details to share. Until then, enjoy these last few weeks of summer and squeeze in all the projects you can while the weather is gorgeous and the sun is out!

Goodbye Office, Hello Craft Room

Mike and I recently decided to move our office downstairs into the living room for two reasons. One, the living room spans the width of our house and at 21×14 the far end felt empty and lost. Two, we rarely set up shop in the office upstairs because neither of us wanted to feel locked away up there by ourselves. I swear a post is in the works detailing the move and unveiling our awesome little corner-turned-office downstairs, but this isn’t that post.

Moving the Mac, extra monitor and scads of technology down onto the main floor left the office ripe for the picking, and boy did I take advantage of the newly-vacant space. I was so excited to get my crafting/DIY/gift wrapping stuff out of the chaos pantry (though it’s newly organized for the second time) and up into its own space.

Craft & Reading Room

This mix-and-match feel of this room is truly the epitome of me. Every. Single. Piece. is collected/thrifted/salvaged from somewhere. I didn’t purchase any of the furniture specifically for this room. It’s a little disjointed, but I love it.

Craft & Sitting Room

Notice the two nearly identical wingback chairs? One is navy, the other is hunter green, and I successfully made them work — staring right into each others’ nailhead trim…

You may recognize the green chair from our living room downstairs. It sat proudly across from our old charcoal grey sofa. A little too proudly, in fact. It was so tall someone sitting at the newly positioned desk couldn’t see the TV, and that just wasn’t going to work. Another fun fact about our pair of wingbacks is each one came from our grandparents. The navy was given to us from Mike’s grandparents, and the green came straight from my grandparents’ office. The style of both chairs is nearly identical which is why they both work here even though they’re different colors. Another neat feature of these chairs is that each relaxes into a comfortable reclining position, so my goal is to use this as a sitting/reading/writing room when I’m looking for some solitude.

Navy Nailhead Wingback Chair

The Sicilia print is an old linen piece from Mike’s grandmother, too. It used to live in the bathroom of our old apartment, and I think it looks great on the wall in the office. That small chest next to the chair was a second-hand find from my grandmother’s neighbor. She was giving it away and I decided to spray paint it black and cart if off to college with me. It’s been tagging along ever since. When I made this room the craft room, I gave it the new job of housing my plethora of gift bags and displaying my Keyboard Cat and Andy Warhol print — both treasured gifts. A noble task, indeed.

Hiding Gift Bags

Moving to the right of the navy chair, I placed my DIY’d crafting table/cabinet/shelf-like thing-a-ma-bob. This is a TOTALLY makeshift piece. The two white cabinets used to house canned goods and glassware in the kitchen of our old apartment. With an entire room devoted to storage in our new townhouse, I decided to repurpose these into storage space for my crafting supplies. The wooden top is made up of two solid-wood Ikea shelves that I screwed together with brackets to make them extra sturdy. It’s floating on top of the white shelves so it’s easy to disassemble and move if need be. I do want to paint the top white to help it blend in, though.

Craft & Sitting Room

Kate Spade & Craft Paper

Tray & Metal Hooks

Crafting Supply Storage

The black shelf next to it is a hold out from the old office. It was laying on its side housing some office supplies, novelties and the printer. It wasn’t very useful in the office, so I decided to sit it right side up and get some extra baskets/containers to house my crafting and party supplies. I tilted it on an angle a bit to break up all the straight lines in the room, and I took a small globe-shaped light out of storage with a teeny tiny bulb that stays on pretty much all the time to act as a night light in the upstairs hallway since we always leave the door to this room open.

Crafty Shelf Styling

See that graphic black and white pillow up there? It kept catching my eye on Pinterest and in several blog posts so I snapped it up. It’s not the most practical pillow in this space since I already have two other throw pillows in here that work well together and the graphic pattern is a little too much next to the curtains, so I plopped it in a basket above the shelf for visual impact and as an option for future floor sitting. Looking at it makes me happy, so it stays. And those curtains? They dressed the window in our bedroom at the old apartment and I was thrilled to be able to reuse them here. They’re a perfect match with the wall color I chose. What a happy accident.

Gift Wrap

Onto one of my most practical sections of the room – my gift wrap storage. I started keeping all those rolls of gift wrap in that gold bin in the pantry when we first moved into the house and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s so easy to grab what I need in a rush to wrap a stylish gift in no time. And that even more stylish gold bin is a hand-me-down from my Mommom. I know, right? Score!

And finally, to keep it real. This is the office-turning-craft-room transition that I started with. Yeah, a lot of work when into getting this room organized. The closet is even spic and span now. What a relief.

Craft Room Before

Second Craft Room Before

And to go back even further, this is the office I started with.

Office

Book Shelf

Do you guys have a dedicated space for crafting or gift wrapping? Even just a dedicated closet, perhaps? I’m pretty lucky to have a third bedroom at my beck-and-call, that’s for sure. And I’m basking in the glow of extra useable space for now.