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~A Rustic yet Elegant, Cowgirl Party~

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I'm going to step away from Christmas today (gasp!!! I know!!!) and do a little "throw back Thursday" post today.

So I would like to welcome you to my daughter's 8th Birthday party!

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My little girl loves horses and knew she would begin riding lessons this year, turning 8.  She wanted to have a pony party to celebrate. I wanted to throw a fabulous party, but like usual, have a budget.  I knew the cost of the ponies alone would just about set me over the edge, so I got my creative juices flowing!

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Preptime

This picture here shows my staging area!  I spent quite a few weeks ahead of the party scavenging for party items, rustic elements, and anything I would be able to use in the décor.  I even posted a request on facebook to see if anyone had some items I just wasn't sure where to purchase.  Items like the picket fence pieces, an old milk can, or anything from an old farm!  I was pleasantly surprised that many people had these items lying around and were willing to let me have them or borrow them for the party... for free!  It's always worth the ask. I also started shopping the local thrift stores, Good Will and the like for other things I might be able to use.  I collected and stored things in my garage until the big day!  I was lucky enough to be able to borrow tables and chairs from my church.  Since the party was to be outside, I didn't have enough seating for 12 little girls and their mommies!

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Right off of my drive way, I created a "path" with these pink and white painted horseshoes to lead the way to the festivities.  The guests passed by one of the picket fence pieces with a hand made welcome pennant.  I created the banner using my Cricut cutting machine.  The horseshoes were spray painted onto the grass with a template I made out of a large cardboard box.  You can see the template on the floor in the garage picture.  Later in the afternoon, the lovely lady who brought the ponies wanted my template, so I dug it out of the trash can for her!

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Here is a photo of the ring toss game I made by collecting and reusing brown, glass bottles.  I attached them to a heavy piece of cardboard covered in pretty wrapping paper with hot glue.  I did have to order the plastic rings on-line, but this final result was an amazingly cheap game to entertain our guests!

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The pink cow girl hats were hung on the other piece of picket fencing and made an adorable backdrop.  The girls also loved picking one to wear before it was their turn to ride the ponies!

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The tables and chairs were nothing fancy on their own, so I dressed them up with pink table cloths, tulle bows and name tags.  More brown, glass bottles were added as centerpieces, filled with a lovely baby's breath like flower that grows in a filed near our house.  The first table was set for eating and the second was set with simple coloring pages, a horse craft and crayons.  I left this open for the girls to use while they waited in line to ride the ponies later!

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Down the center of the table was a burlap table runner.  Each guest had a place setting that contained a brown or gold charger layered with a pink plate, then a brown polka dot plate.  Topped with a mason jar and a pretty paper straw.  We also later added adorable chocolate, cowgirl suckers, but it was so hot we didn't want them to melt!

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Here is the food table set up.  Again with the heat, no food is out yet.  I layered different size tables, wooden chests and crates and added the milk can and urn filled with flowers.

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I drug my DIY chalkboard from my dining room outside and used pink chalk to write a sweet bible verse to my daughter.  1 Peter 3:3

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Out comes some of the food!  We served snacks and not a full meal.  I decided on a chex mix "bar" so to speak.  The bowls on the table were filled with popcorn, pretzels, corn chex, peanuts and chocolate candies for the guest to create their own snack mix.  I used brown paper bags, cut in half and stamped with a horse, for the party goers to fill, with their mix.  The crate on the table held birthday cards and another banner I made with my Cricut spelling the birthday girl's name hung on the front.  The pink frame has some photos of Sophia riding at the barn for the first time!

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The little plastic containers are each filled with pink cotton candy, YUM!  I created paper labels that say, "You are what you eat" to dress up the plain plastic lids!

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I used little boxes and vases in clear as well as milk glass to hold other sweets like pink suckers and shiny gumballs. These were a hit with the little girls!

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These cupcake stands are actually 2 old wooden candelabras that I found at the Good Will.  I painted them off white and distressed them a bit.  I think they make these store bought cupcakes - hey we can't all be good at everything ;-) - look pretty special!

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Ahhhhhh, the cake!  As I hinted at earlier, (the reason for my store bought cupcakes) I can't bake!  I enlisted the help of my BFF who happens to be pretty fabulous at cake making, and she created this!  It tasted as good as it looked!  I topped the caked with another miniature pennant made on my cricut and a small horse figurine spray painted gold.  I placed it on top of a cake stand and stood it in front of the mirror!  The mirror was also a drab, brown find from the Good Will.  A new coat of paint and little sandpaper was all she needed!  A pink, painted "S", pink spray painted cowgirl boots, more sweets and flowers complete the table.

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Moving on to the drink table!  I made the pink sign with the birthday girl's name spelled in rope.  It was a fairly simple DIY. I painted an old plywood board we had laying in the garage with pink spray paint and used hot glue to attach the rope that spells "Sophia".

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I used mason jars with colorful paper straws for beverages for the kiddos.  I found this lovely beverage serving set at the Good Will and thought it was perfect for sweet tea for the mommies!

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Our guests look as though they are enjoying the food!  There is the sweaty, (did I mention it was H O T!?) birthday girl, stopping for a smile before biting into that chocolate covered marshmallow!

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After eating we played some fun, old fashioned games like bobbing for apples!

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And even the littlest guests like the ring toss game!

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The moment they were all waiting for... the ponies had arrived!

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These boys were as sweet as could be!

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The birthday girl and I posed for a picture at the "photo booth"!  I set up a photo back drop of sorts using table cloths and wrapping paper cut into strips to hang behind the area.  I placed the painted white, steamer trunk in front for a good place to sit.  There were some fun paper photo props to use and Sophia took turns with each of the guests having silly pictures taken!

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Here is one of her and "Sage" with their matching, glitter, horse t shirts I made for them!

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All in all I believe everyone had a great time.  I have about 100 more photos I could share with you but I think I'll quit while I'm ahead!

I love creating pretty, creative, memorable and fun parties for my kids and I hope you maybe picked up a few ideas to use in your next party planning adventure!

As always, I love to hear from you!  Please leave your comments or feedback below!  What was your favorite part of the party?

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~My Dining Room Re-Design~

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How often do you use your dining room?  Everyday?  Only for dinner?  Just on special occasions? Almost never?  Do you HAVE a dining room?  And why do you, or do you NOT use it?

My dining room fell into the "almost never" category.  Not because we don't need the extra space, or because we prefer to eat in the kitchen (we don't, we have a small island that almost seats 4, we are 7)  but because I didn't like it!!

Sound petty?  That's because it is! ;-)  Hey, the Lord loves me despite my imperfections!

I made my family cram around the kitchen island, precariously balancing plates, half sitting, half standing, simply because I didn't enjoy the look or feel of my dining room.

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Here is a picture of my dining room before we moved in.  It is a weird angle but it gives you a sense of the colors I had to work with.

 I called it rusty automobile combined with Dijon mustard.  Plus it was separated by orange, oak, trim... it took away my appetite. ;-)

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I wanted to create a more soothing to the senses feel in this space.  I needed to do this for little money, yet still accomplish a feeling of elegance, calmness and of course beauty!

Again, for little $$$   Can this be done?  I have faith it can!  So I spent a little time on Pinterest (you can follow me here...http://www.pinterest.com/grunwaldlove/) and decided I would like a bit of texture and interest on the walls in the room, like this...

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Who doesn't love a good board and batten, or wainscoting, whatever you want to call it, I wanted to have it!

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I am NOT a carpenter, I also can not afford to hire one, but I want to accomplish this look, for less!  I was thankful I already had chair rail and baseboard moldings installed so I only needed the vertical boards.

I started by measuring out how tall my wood strips (the vertical pieces) would need to be to fit in between the existing chair rail and base trim.  I measured this a multiple spots around the room, no trim is perfect, some may be off by as much as a half an inch!

I then decided how far apart I wanted the wood to be spaced, keeping in mind things like outlets, air return vents, windows and corners.

I came up with 26inches in height (some varied a bit) and I went with 12-13 inches apart, varying some slightly due to said obstacles. By my math (that's a scary thought) I needed 27 total wood strips.

I took a trip to my local hardware store to choose a material that would be durable, paintable and still affordable!

I came across some pine, precut strips at $0.98 a piece!  Score!  I needed 27, but at that price it only cost me  $26.46, do able. The generous employee even cut them all down from 36" as they came to the 26" I needed, for FREE (my favorite word)!

I also needed to purchase some finishing nails to attach these strips to the wall.  These are not heavy pieces of wood,  you do not need liquid nails or screws or anything major to hang them on the wall.

Since I was at the hardware store I also picked up paintable caulk (necessary to fill and smooth any gaps between wall and wood strips), wood putty (to cover the finishing nail heads in the wood) and paint in the colors I chose as well as other painting supplies.

I brought it all home and got right to work!

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Wood strips attached with finishing nails, right to the wall between the existing chair rail and base trim, about 12-13 inches apart

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Because my previous wall color was so dark, and I was going much lighter, I painted two coats of Behr paint plus primer in Bleached Linen, before attaching the wood.

Then I filled the finishing nail heads with wood putty, make sure to sand when dry.

After that I used a caulk gun, with paintable caulking and filled any gaps down the sides of the strips where they meet the wall.

Sorry I don't have any pictures of this step, but there are plenty of YouTube tutorials on caulking to check out if you need help! Again sand smooth when dry.

I then moved on to painting all the wood, the chair rail, the newly installed wood strips and the baseboard trim also in the Behr Bleached Linen.  I needed 3 coats to cover the wood properly.

Newly installed and painted board and batten.  Behr Bleached Linen on bottom and Behr Perfect Taupe on top.

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Here it is completed!  Now my camera or lighting (or floors if were really complaining) are not nearly as nice as the inspiration picture, but I say "mission accomplished"!

And now onto the FUN part, re-styling the room!

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For this part, I "shopped" my own house looking for items that could be moved from other rooms or used in different ways.

I also made a trip to my local Good Will and scored some fun finds as well as a quaint little repurposed shop where I found a great piece of salvaged architecture.

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Isn't it pretty!?!?!?!

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After I gathered all my décor pieces, I started putting the room back together.  I revamped a little pie safe that I store dishes in.  It used to look like this...

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The fabric panels match the upholstery on my end dining room chairs, but they don't allow the dishes inside to be on display.

So I removed the panels all together and added chicken wire instead.  I also aged the black paint a bit just by sanding the edges and corners.  Here is what it looks like now...

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LOVE IT!

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Now for the part you've all been holding your breath over, pictures of the finished, styled, final result!

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Those lovely plate racks you see here were part of my find at the Good Will, $5 a piece!

And the polka dot plates will have to be a blog post for another time, for they are a story worthy of their own posting!

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Here is a close up of that amazing salvaged metal piece, I just adore the chippy white paint revealing that wonderful gray color!

And that cute little number hook rack I've been holding onto for months waiting to hang something on it!  The polka dot mugs fit the bill here!

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That space on the opposite wall was feeling empty so a few days after I finished this we had our first snowfall of the winter and I felt the need to add a hot chocolate station!

It too will have it's own blog posting, so look for it soon!

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I now no longer have to banish my family to eat around the kitchen island!  We all sit together in the new and refreshing dining room to enjoy our meals and everyone gets a chair!

I also am happy to report I stayed within my budget of "little money", spending just under $155!  For a complete redesign of the whole room, that is a great price!

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So that's it friends, my first blog post is just about complete!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my dining room transformation as much as I enjoyed telling you about it!

I would love to hear from you too!  Let me know your dining room dilemmas and how you solved them, or if they still need a solution, ask and I'll try to help!

Leave your comments and questions below, but remember we're all human, no one is perfect, so be kind! ;-)

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