Monthly Archives: July 2012

In progress: A store opening

I’m working on an exciting project tonight…well, actually I’ve been working on it for a little while.


Tonight I’m “merchandising” my friends’ store, the New Family Naturals Community Market & Juice Bar which is opening tomorrow (!!) at Lake Anne in Reston, VA.


It’s a very exciting project, designing a shop on a dime :) and I’m hoping to have some good before & after shots to show later this week!


PS: This post was written and photographed via smartphone.  That was a fun first for me! :)

Creating Personlized Wedding Invitations

Today I’d like to show you what wedding invitations we ended up choosing, and how I personalized them on a budget before mailing them out.

But before we begin – a quick note about that “personalization on a budget” idea.  This process turned out to be quite time-intensive, full and trial and error(s), and there were times when I accepted that it may have been easier and just as nice to order the custom package.  In the end we may have saved $50 . . . but I lost a ton of time.

In case you hadn’t already guessed, we chose the Watercolor Ombré Invitations from the list of three we were considering.  Sometime after I posted them as an option on the blog I became obsessed – and I do mean obsessed – with watercolor and ombré styles.

Ryan and I didn’t love the coordinating RSVP card that Minted offered, though.  It was bland in comparison to the beautiful invitation.  Additionally, we were asking people to RSVP online via a survey so that we could gather specific info.  The standard included reply card wouldn’t accommodate that.

RSVP Survey Sidenote:  We chose the survey route because we wanted to know what dates people were staying, where they were staying, if they had kids, if they were vegan or gluten-free, and their kids’ ages.  This is because we wanted to have “welcome bags” waiting at their hotels, wanted to invite them to the rehearsal BBQ or the morning-after-breakfast if they’d be in town, and wanted to provide enough kids’ activity buckets at the reception.

I got card stock when it was on sale, then printed our RSVP information onto it.  After cutting the squares out, I edged them with orange watercolor paints to attempt a coordination with the actual invite – basically in reverse.  They turned out pretty well.

Ombre Wedding Invite RSVP Card

Just for fun – and maybe a little because I’m obsessed with stamping – I added a surprise stamp on the backs of the RSVP cards and the invitations.  Yes, I put a bird on it. 😉

Stamped Backs Wedding Invites

I’ve always loved the look of “wrapped” invitations; the style where you have a band or ribbon tied around them.  It helps ensure that people pull both the larger and the smaller cards out of the envelope, so there is a bit of logic tied into the aesthetics of it. :)

I used strips of burlap ribbon that I found on spools at JoAnns, and I cut out the tiny hang tags using a special paper punch I got at the craft store. I tried to find a “you’re invited” stamp to use on that hang tag, but couldn’t find one that fit the space well.

Wedding invitation wrapped with burlap ribbon

Because I didn’t really measure and plan ahead of time, I didn’t realize how much ribbon I’d need or how much it would end up costing. Unfortunately, it took about 14 inches of ribbon per invite to create this wrapped style, and those rolls don’t go as far as you’d think.  I ran out and had to go to several stores. I still couldn’t find enough to finish, so I ended up switching over to lace ribbon – which also looked awesome.  Sadly I don’t have a photo of that.

Finally, I stuck the invites in envelopes that my friends and I had lined with white lace doilies ( a nod to the lace theme of the bridesmaid dresses and some of the decor).   These, too, were difficult – because they didn’t want to stay stuck where they were glued.

Sadly, when I was done assembling the invites – I was relieved.  I wished that I’d just purchased the RSVP cards as well as the coordinating envelope liners. It would have so much faster, and easier.  Live and learn, right?

We still love how the whole package turned out, though.  And even though the wedding is over, I’m still obsessed with the look of that watercolor ombré invite.

If you’ve been married, did you DIY the invites? Was it as full of trial and error as mine was? I wish I’d blogged about the process I planned to take before doing it. I have a feeling I could have learned from some of you! :)

Psst: If you missed it earlier, here’s our Big ‘Ole Wedding Recap. :)

Our New Hampshire Honeymoon, Part 1

After our wedding, Ryan and I popped up to New Hampshire where we spent some time in the White Mountains, stocked up on vintage furniture and goodies from our vintage home registry at Just L, and relaxed at a house on Lake Winnipesaukee.

We chose to do this easy, semi-local honeymoon immediately after because we didn’t have the mental energy to research and plan a foreign honeymoon while also planning our wedding.  We plan to travel to Indonesia or Bora Bora or Italy or Costa Rica sometime this winter or early spring for a “second” honeymoon – which should give us enough time to plan an excellent trip.

All I can say is – thank goodness we did it this way, because I was exhausted after the wedding weekend – and aside from a ton of driving, which we enjoy doing, it was totally relaxing and easy.

I’m going to share a quick, photo-based overview of our adventures – but it will be broken into two posts because I have a ton of photos.


By the time we packed up, drove home, and unloaded three cars from the wedding weekend, the house was a total wreck and we had to re-pack and get back on the road . . at 5 pm.

Stopping in New Brunswick, NJ for “dinner” at Ryan’s favorite late-night-snack venue from his college days:  the Grease Trucks (aka food trucks) on the Rutgers U. campus.  Yes, I said grease trucks.

Sandwiches are named ridiculous things like Fat Cat . . and other, less polite words.  They’re stuffed with everything you need to satisfy your post-frat-party appetite and/or give you a hardcore stomach ache.

Fresh Remote

Crashing at 1 am at an eerily empty, albeit clean, hotel in Danbury, CT. 

Oh look, honey – they don’t have soap in the bathroom, but at least we have a “fresh remote!”


Delicious cappuccino and brunch at Esselon Cafe & Coffee Roasters in Hadley, MA.  

The Hempest Northampton

Stocking up on eco-friendly and fair trade clothes shopping at the Hempest in Northampton – where yes, the clothes are woven from hemp fibers.  It’s much easier on our planet to farm hemp for fabric than it is to farm cotton.

Giant Tick Honeymoon

Turning the car around to photograph absolutely absurd things, like this nasty blow-up lobster –  that really looks like an engorged tick – on top of a restaurant somewhere in New Hampshire.

Colonial Theater Keene NH

Refueling – er, caffeinating – with really good coffee at Brewbakers and photos of old theaters in Keene, NH.

Sugar House Collapsing Old Barn

Turning the car around – again – for random photos. 

Boat Lake Winnipesaukee NH

Dinner with a view at Garwoods in Wolfeboro, NH, with a rainy view of Lake Winnipesaukee.  I devoured my steak and veggies – having not eaten a good, calm meal in several days. 


Bike Week NH Traffic Jam

Sitting in our first of many motorcycle traffic jams, thanks to thousands – and we mean thousands – of bikers convening around the lake for Bike Week in New Hampshire!  Who knew?

Lavinias Restaurant Center Harbor NH

Wednesday night:  Dinner at Lavinia’s Relaxed Dining in Center Harbor, NH.  The house was beautiful, inside and out, the service was friendly and attentive, and the meal was nice but nothing mind-blowing.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we tackle Mt. Washington, vintage furniture shopping, moose hunting (without guns), and pretending to be Amelia Earhart.


Choosing a New Sofa {AKA Buy new or reupholster?}

Our living room is back to looking like this:

Living Room July 2012 The Borrowed Abode WIde Angle

After its brief audition for “Honey, I shrunk the sofa!” last week:

What are we doing with the mid-century sofa?

To answer the question(s) many of you asked in the comments:  The too-small mid-century teak sofa that we showed you last week is not staying.  We *could* put it opposite the original white sofa or find another way to make it fit into the house.

Ryan and I do like the sofa, but we don’t need it.   One sofa plus two teak armchairs is enough in our living room, since we like having the space rather open.  When we have extra guests we can grab some more chairs from around the house.  So we’ll sell the sofa and put that money towards upgrading our current white sofa.

Why not keep the C&B Sofa as-is?

The loose weave of the fabric has not worn well, and attracts stains like you wouldn’t believe. Before you say “that’s what you get for having a white sofa” let me tell you – years ago I had a white Ektorp sofa from Ikea, and that fabric slipcover washed clean up like a charm!  It all depends on the quality and type of fabric used.  From reading other reviews of the C&B sofa it appears that their fabric choice (at that time) was a major FAIL.  Everyone complains about the fabric staining and snagging easily.

Where do we go from here?

Determined not to let this project lag on and on (a fate that befalls many projects at the Borrowed Abode) I started researching (aka pinning) new sofas right away. I didn’t really set a budget, but kept a ballpark of $1600 or so – figuring we’re a married couple now and we wouldn’t mind investing in a really good living room sofa.

I pinned a few, but none of them really screamed “awesome sofa” at me.  Here’s what we discovered in the process:

  • Ryan doesn’t like the style of the Pottery Barn slipcovered sofas, and I’m not in love with any of them.
  • We really love the style of our current sofa more than any others we looked at.
  • It turns out we both prefer a white or off-white sofa.

Then I thought – what about finding a basic, inexpensive sofa from Ikea, and pimping it out with custom removable cushion covers and a slipcover?  The Karlstad sofa gets great reviews, and the $400 – $600 price can’t be beat:

It’s a good template to start with to create a mid-century sofa effect.  There are some sweet hacks.

IkeaHackers showed how one woman boxed her Karlstad sofa in to create the great 1950’s look, while most likely discouraging her cats from scratching the armrests:

Ikea Hackers Karlstad Boxed Sofa

And these smart people at Our Mid Century simply switched out their Karlstad sofa feet and tufted the cushions – resulting in a sofa surprisingly similar to our current C&B Petrie one:

Karlstad Sofa Hack Our Mid Century

Photo credit: Our Mid Century

Ryan liked both ideas, and was practically chomping at the bit to “box-in” a Karlstad.

But then I started thinking again.

(That always gets me in trouble!)

1. Slipcovered sofas still require effort to keep clean.  Especially white ones, and we want white.  Pet hair still has to be vacuumed off them.

2.  A good, hardwood frame leather sofa would cost upwards of $3000.

3.  Our C&B sofa was hand built,  in Virginia, from kiln-dried hardwood.  In other words, it’s got better bones than any Ikea sofa will ever have.  Why buy a new one just to make it look like the real thing, why not work with what we have?

We’ve decided to keep our dingy-but-solid C&B sofa and have it professionally reupholstered in an off-white pleather (aka faux leather).  I’ve ordered some fabric swatches, and we’re budgeting $1,000 – $1,500 for the total cost of the job, including fabric.   It’s still a hefty investment, but knowing that we’ll be able to brush the pet hair off easily has us pretty excited that we’re making the right choice.

I’m excited, because it means our living room will continue to look like this, minus the oh-crap-guests-are-coming sofa vacuuming sessions!

Living Room The Borrowed Abode June 2012

Now’s the time when I’d love to hear your experiences with leather or “pleather” furniture!  Any advice? Horror stories?  I can’t guarantee I’ll take your advice, but I would like to hear it so I can weigh it before we plunk down the cash.