Christmas home tour....

I noticed many bloggers featured their Holiday Home Tours earlier this month. I've been a bit slow getting around to it for a number of reasons.

First, the dog ate my card reader. Seriously. She ate it. And I read somewhere that you should never hook your digital camera directly to your computer because it could get "infected" with any bugs or viruses that might be lurking in your computer. So I always use a card reader to get my pictures. 

Second, I have been "playing" with the camera. I am notorious for taking "not so hot" photographs. Primarily because I was afraid to use anything but the "auto" setting which makes it difficult to get decent interior photos. Last week I decided to step outside my comfort zone (reasons explained here) and start playing with the camera settings in the manual mode. SHOCK! I was able to take some half way decent interior shots without blowing out the room and subjects with a flash! In the past I had to wait until the light was "just right" in a room or move pieces around or live with cruddy "flash" photos. 

I still honestly have no idea what I am doing "setting wise." But I feel better about turning dials and experimenting. At some point I will take a photography class and actually learn how to use a DSLR camera! Funny thing...I am not a newbie. I have had a digital camera for ten years...I just never used the manual settings and I was terribly limited in the quality of photos I could take.

So today I am going to share a few holiday shots of my house. I still have to be careful about when I take the pictures because I have a lot of windows and the sun can cast some pretty harsh shadows during the day! And they still aren't the best photos...but they are a tad better....

Welcome....

I always try to do a little something during the season around the front. I stick a little lighted Christmas tree in one of the flower pots and then a few wreaths and garland here and there. It is tough to see my Santa and pine forest in the arch window but he is well lit at night!

The living room...

...the BIG feature of course is always the tree! 

I made several Christmas pillows this year...you can see the post here!

Decorating can be as simple as sticking a few sprigs of berries or floral in vases or urns!

I absolutely LOVE the look of garland and ribbon down a bannister, but several years ago I decided I had to make holiday decorating a little easier on myself so I made 6 identical wreaths and tie them to the bannister! Simple but pretty!

For both Thanksgiving and Christmas I buy the little "candle wreaths" and tie festive ribbon on them and hang them on the doors throughout the downstairs. It is an inexpensive way to dress up the doors and I don't feel guilty about buying "fad" colors or styles because they are pretty cheap.

I have a thing for skinny Santa's...I don't think it is intentional, but it just seems that all my Santa's are a bit on the thin side...

This year I took the gold shades off the dining room chandelier...I like the "brightness" of the lights.The fixture really is simple to decorate. I just wrap a little plain garland around the fixture then stick a few sprigs of red and white berries here and there...a few crystal doo-dads from last years clearance...pretty! 

When my oldest daughter was a baby, my grandmother made her this Raggedy Andy and Ann. With my girls "grown" I really had no way to display them so a few years ago I made little pilgrim outfits for Thanksgiving and Santa outfits for Christmas. Now they get to hang out during the entire Holiday season!

The den during the day...

...and at night! Very cozy especially when it is cold enough for a fire!

Several years ago I decided to dress up the windows in the den...again, wreaths and festive ribbon! Simple.

Another skinny Santa by the fireplace...

I keep the holiday decorating in the kitchen to a minimum. Mainly because I have limited counter space and I don't want to clutter up what space I have. In the last few years I started adding little simple elements to the top of the cabinets...like Lord/Sir ? (Still no name!) 

Just a few little touches here and there can make a difference. I found a Christmasy apron at Hancock's Fabric this year. Holiday salt and pepper shakers, a penguin soap dispenser (you can't see it!), leftover ornaments in glass bowls and serving pieces, wreaths, my Southern Living cookbooks, and again, a few sprigs of holiday floral stuck here and there! Just a few things I think are pretty and festive.

Not much changes from year to year. As I have said before, I stick with the traditional and add just a few little elements here and there every year. But honestly, little changes. My basic rule is if I haven't displayed it or used it in the last two years, it gets donated...and I try not to spend too much time and money on the "fads." One thing about holiday decorating...if you stick with traditional, you probably won't go wrong. "Fads" are good in moderation as long as you don't bust your decorating budget. 

I don't mind hanging a few inexpensive peacock blue and neon green wreaths, but let's be honest...when it comes to Christmas, Santas and snowmen, green garland and pine trees and red, gold or silver colors, will probably never go out of "style!"

 

Simple Christmas gift!

These cute little coasters aren't "Christmasy" but they would make awesome, inexpensive gifts...and you are ONLY limited by your imagination. You could use favorite family photos, holiday graphics from The Graphics Fairy...maybe tickets stubs from your favorite concert or movie...old letters or stamps...or anything that can be copied or printed onto paper!!! These would make awesome teachers or hostess gifts...or even stocking stuffers!

As I mention here, I am horrible about using coasters...as a result, my bedside table was in pretty bad shape from the beating it took from my nightly glass of water and morning coffee cup!

After finding and refinishing this walnut table treasure, I knew I needed to do something to protect the top. I had a piece of glass cut to protect the old Duncan Phyfe table, but I honestly didn't want to cover this table with glass.  

Pinterest to the rescue! I saw some really darling personalized coasters on Pinterest and I knew exactly what I wanted to do! (Did I bother to pin it so I would have a "link"...no!)

Brian and I love to fly fish and I decided to make "map coasters" of a few of our favorite fishing spots in Colorado and Arkansas.

I picked up a few pieces of ceramic 4 x 4 tile at Habitat (.10 each!). I found a few old maps in my closet and used the tile to trace the area I wanted to cut out....

I used a 2" chip brush to coat the top of the tile with Modge Podge....

...and carefully placed the cutout map on the tile and then brushed the top with more Modge Podge.

The map paper was a tad flimsy and wanted to "crinkle" and bubble. I used my finger to smooth it out and then brushed it with the Modge Podge again! After letting the MP dry per the directions, I sprayed 2-3 coats of poly on the top just for good measure! 

After the poly dried, I cut a piece of "felt blanket" to fit and used hot glue to secure it to the back of the tile. You could use cork board as well! 

There you go...a simple little project that can be personalized to your heart's content! I had honestly intended to make some "Christmasy" coasters for the holidays but "crafting" isn't something I have a whole lot of time for during the holiday season! You could make one for every holiday...Valentine's Day, the 4th of July, Halloween. This is a simple, inexpensive little project that would be easy and fun for kids as well!

Help, I'm trapped!!!

Two things happened this week that forced me to pick up my son's professional DSL camera and flip it to "manual." Something I have needed to do from day one, but just couldn't bring myself to do...messing with ISO and AF and Fsomethingoranother...just so out of my comfort zone.

I pretty much just use the "point and shoot" feature and my pictures are often "lacking." Since I am more about sharing "the process" than I am the "pretty" I have never taken the time to learn how to take awesome "professional looking" photos of all my projects.

First, I received an email from another blog asking me to share my tutorial on refinishing a dining room table. One of the things they asked for was "amazing images" of the table, both before and after. Um...okay...probably not going to happen with my current photography abilities. I love sharing, but I have seen other blog photographs and they are amazing. And this table has a lot of carving and detail that I just can't capture well with my "point and shoot" abilities.

Second, I was trapped for an entire day in my house. My phone was dead, the dog ate the charger cord, the stupid Mophie thing wasn't working and my son had to take my truck because his car wouldn't start. It's not like I haven't had entire days when I was home ignoring the phone...I just always had the OPTION to leave if I wanted...and I could call for help if I fell and broke a hip or something! Not this day. This day I was stuck with no way to leave and no way to call anyone. 

Soooo, it was a good day to pick up the camera and start playing with the settings! I have to say, I did manage to take a few picture inside that were much better than what I had before.

One thing I did learn was I desperately needed a tripod. When you start taking pictures inside without a flash, you have to have your camera very still...not something I am going to be able to do without help. I knew Matt had a tripod, I just had no idea where it was...and of course I couldn't call him, or drive to the store and get one. 

I do feel a little better now about flipping over to "manual" mode. And the great thing about digital cameras...you can instantly delete anything that looks bad and take another shot! This, of course, assumes you can see well enough to judge whether a picture is going to look good on a computer screen verses a 3" display on the back of the camera. Truth be told I thought I was doing pretty good until I loaded them on the computer and could see how blurry many were! 

Once I set the camera on a tripod, the pictures turned out a bit better!

I was able to get several really pretty shots of my tree...day and night time! Since I am "sharing" my tree, I will tell you a little about it...I don't add a lot to my 9' pre-lit tree...just colored lights and pearl garland. The real show stoppers are the ornaments. Every year, since my oldest daughter was a baby, my mother has bought each of my children 2-3 beautiful, special ornaments. Four kids and thirty three years later, my tree is bursting with heirloom ornaments! It is indeed beautiful!!

I still have NO idea what I am doing but I know with more time and experience I can do better. I wish I could tell you exactly what settings I used, but um...no. I just know I changed the exposure, shutter speed and white balance A LOT! Matt tried to explain everything to me, but him teaching me how to use a camera is a lot like me trying to teach him to flyfish. Probably should let someone else do that.

My point...take your digital camera OFF auto, turn the flash off, set it on a tripod or stack of books and start playing with all the settings...AF, ISO, white balance....again, the great thing about digital is the ability to delete pictures you don't like! I bet I took 30 pictures of my tree to get just a few I like!

Maybe after the holidays I will take a REAL photography class and actually learn what all those buttons and dials mean. 

But again, there is hope! Hope is good!

Simple Christmas project and a new member of the family....

I'm sure you are wondering...did she have another grandbaby...get another cat...did one of her kids drop another dog on her?

Nope. Nope. Nope.

But I do have a new member of the family. And I think he is MARVELOUS!!!! 

The minute I spotted him in the flea market in Tontitown I knew I had to have him! Brian was with me because he was on vacation (No, we did not see the sun. Typical vacation week!) I wanted to take him home immediately but Brian talked me out of it because he thought he was ugly.

So I went home without him...only to text my daughter later and tell her to go pick him up...how could I NOT bring him home. She said the minute she saw him, she was like "OH. MY. GOD. SERIOUSLY?"

I don't care...I think he is awesome. 

Meet...? Honestly, I can not come up with a name for him. He desperately needs a name. I'm thinking something with "Sir" or "Lord" as a prefix.

I think he is so regal. Everyone else thinks he is hideous!

I may paint him white at some point...maybe leave the antlers gold. Don't know. Saturday I went over to a friend's house for our annual Christmas cookie baking and she had one almost identical but twice his size...her's is silver. I kind of liked the silver. She also put garland around his neck...I think it looked beautiful so I may have to do that!

Right now I am just letting him chill on the cabinet. Getting acclimated to a new home can be stressful enough.

I have REAL deer antlers I "crafted" last year.... 

My grandsons didn't seem the least phased by the fact that Grammy has Rudolf's antlers mounted on her wall...not sure they believe me. I may have to do the other sets and put little name plates on them...Rudolf, Blitzer, Dancer, Prancer, Donner, etc.

ANYWHO...on to the simple Christmas "crafty" project I promised to share. I rarely actually sit down and do "crafty" projects. Last year I made stockings but I sold those and since they required sewing, I viewed them more as torture than "crafting." I also made Christmas pillows this year...again, more along the lines of torture.

I had picked up an old butter dish at an auction and then saw something on Pinterest or a blog or somewhere that kind of rung a bell with me. I had already taken the dish out to my flea booth so I stopped in and brought it home. (That was when I spotted ?)

I picked up some little miniature trees and red birds at Hobby Lobby (by all the miniature house stuff). I already had the white glitter.

The miniature trees were a tad too tall for the dish...no biggy...I just pulled the wood base off, cut them down with a pair of wire cutters and stuck them back into their base. 

I hot glued the little trees and a few of the red birds onto the glass base....

Then I filled the dome with glitter, put the bottom on it and flipped it over...the "snow" fell on the trees and birds...and there you have it. A super simple tiny Christmas "snow globe." 

The great thing about this piece is I can easily remove the little trees and birds and glitter and do something entirely different next year.

It really is a tiny little thing. You could probably do the exact same thing with any glass dome (cloche)...large or small. Or maybe even a simple jar! I have two larger glass domes in my garage that I could do something with if I was in a "crafty mood." Maybe someday!

My Christmas decor pretty much stays the same year after year...and it always gets done the weekend after Thanksgiving. I do make a few changes and add a few elements every year. This year I made a few tiny changes. 

First, I took the shades off my dining room light. Not a huge change but I like it!

I also made a few more Christmas pillows. I used wired Christmas ribbon...beautiful, except for one huge problem...you can't put them anywhere someone is going to sit because it smashes the bow. 

And last but definitely not least, my Colorado Christmas purchase. Every year, when Brian and I go to Colorado in the fall, I pick up one new Christmas piece from a little shop in Georgetown. Two years ago, it was the little snowman ....

Last year I brought home these precious snow birdies...

This year I picked up a birch Santa....

This was a new "tradition" I started a few years ago, but as I have said many times, a "tradition" has to start somewhere. Someday, when I am gone, my kids can fight over who is going to get the snowbirds Mom bought 40 years ago in Colorado. (Yes, I plan on being around for a looooong time!)

I doubt any of them fight over Sir/Lord ?....but now all my grandkids will grow up with this awesome deer reigning over the kitchen...so no doubt one of them will want him!

 

My everyday life...

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!!! Now I feel like I can move on to Christmas...I just can't decorate or shop until after Thanksgiving!

I would like to think that OTHER bloggers get to hang around all day painting, sewing, cooking and just blogging away about all their fun and creative projects.

I suspect that is not the case. Truth is, we all have a REAL life. One that requires our daily attention.

I am a "list maker." I keep multiple yellow note pads all over the place...in my truck, in the kitchen, on my desk...consolidated when needed. Seriously, if I don't write it down, it probably won't get done. Errands, calls, chores, needed supplies...all has to be on the list. If I forget my list, I drive around aimlessly with no idea what I need to do. 

Do I have a phone that has a "list" function? Yes I do. But I can barely make calls and text with it...forget about making a list on it!

If I forget to consult "the list," chores don't get done.

Sometimes a chore or errand gets moved from list to list...in other words, it didn't get done today, so it goes on the list for tomorrow...and then maybe the next day...and the next.

Last week, before all the Thanksgiving hoopla started and Christmas began creeping out of the attic (an avalanche actually!), I wanted to get a few mundane "honey-dos" completed that had been languishing on my lists for a few months! You know, that stuff most women tell their husbands to do...um, I don't have that luxury!

I finally shut off the seasonal meter...only because the hiss from a busted pipe reminded me I forgot! I pulled down some creeping plant stuff that overruns my front facade every year so Brian and Matt would be able to put up Christmas lights, (that is one "honey do" they do have to do) and I reworked the flagstone in the front bed to make room for a HUGE rock (220 lbs...seriously!) that was needed to deal with the roof run-off!

And last but NOT least I desperately needed to recaulk the kitchen backsplash and do some touchup grout and caulking in my bathroom! 

If you want your tubs and kitchens caulked, invite me over...that is one thing that drives me nuts! Nasty, cracking, mildew infested caulk...or poorly done caulk. Either way, I am liable to go to my truck and pull out my utility knife and caulk gun! 

It is one of those tiny maintenance things that needs to be addressed in your home. If you do not keep your tub or backsplash properly caulked, you WILL eventually have water damage to your walls and/or floor. It may take a few years, but it will happen. So ever so often, scrape out the old, nasty caulk and replace it with new! It will look better AND you will prevent water damage around your tub and in your kitchen!

It seriously is not a hard thing to do!

Here are a few general "rules of thumb." 

1) Always caulk between your countertop and backsplash and between your tub and wall tile. DO NOT use grout in those gaps...grout should ONLY be used between tiles...never between tile and another material. Caulk between tile and walls but make sure you use a "paintable" latex caulk...and recaulk every time you paint! 

2) Silicone caulk only cleans up with mineral spirits and is usually NOT paintable. You should use silicone in "wet areas" like in your tub/shower or outside in areas you will not be painting. You can use latex caulks on walls and trim and on your kitchen counters. Latex caulk will clean up with water. 

3) If caulk or grout cracks or separates, cut or scrape it all out with a utility knife before applying new caulk or grout. If the area is "stained" with mildew, spray it with bleach and use an old toothbrush to scrub it out. Let it dry thoroughly before applying new caulk or grout! 

Some caulk says it is mildew resistant...I think they lie. 

4) Less is better....if you glob the caulk or run a thick bead, you are going to make a nasty mess. Especially if you are using silicone caulk!

This is a "before and after" picture on my kitchen counter.

On the left is after I had removed the old caulk and applied new...on the right is the old stained, cracked caulk. You can often find latex caulks that match tile grout! In bath tubs, it is best to go with a caulk that matches your tub, if possible...white on white, almond on almond, etc. 

 

 

The tub caulk had gotten pretty nasty and I had some cracking in the grout in the corners. (It is evident from the pictures that I put this chore off entirely too long!)

I removed all the old grout and caulk with a utility knife, used a little bleach and a toothbrush to scrub out any mildew and nastiness... 

...and then applied new grout and silicone caulk.

First, I mixed up a small batch of grout. I used my finger to mash it in the corner and then wiped it with a dishcloth. Small and simple repair!

Pure silicone caulk is not the easiest thing in the world to deal with but it really is the best sealant for "wet" areas. When cutting the tip on your caulk, try to cut the tip no bigger than your "gap" and make sure you cut it at about a 45% angle.

When you run the tip along the "gap" make sure you run a smooth and even line...keep the caulk gun moving at an even and steady pace. I use my finger (whichever one has a broken nail at the time) to smooth out the line, wiping any excess on a paper towel as I go! 

I saw a little trick online one time where they run a piece of tape along the tub to keep excess caulk from getting all over the place.

I tried it. Honestly, I have done this so many times, I can run a good line and do a pretty good job smoothing it with my finger. The tape thing didn't work for me, but no harm in trying!!! Especially if you are prone to getting a lot of caulk where it shouldn't be! 

Just know that if you use this trick, remove the tape immediately and you still need to run your finger along the caulk to smooth it out because the tape is going to "pull" the caulk up a bit on the edge. 

(After the caulk dried I did some serious scrubbing on the grout with baking soda, followed with bleach! Man that stuff can get nasty!)

I did learn a valuable lesson...caulk does not store in your garage! No telling how long that silicone caulk had been in my garage and just because it had never been opened did not mean it was good. After 4 days, it had STILL not dried...so I had to scrape it ALL out and apply new caulk! Such is life!

Again, caulk is not something you want to ignore when it begins to break down! 

Now that I have a few "honey dos" completed, I can concentrate on Christmas! Yippeee! Not much has changed from last year, but I did make a few Christmas pillows and I have one or two little additions to my Christmas decor that I can't wait to share! I even have a little "craft project" I will share!

'Tis the season!

Mid Century dining chairs...

I originally shared my mid century chair score here. My intent was to restore them and keep them...after all, they are my greatest design love...mid century!

Unfortunately, I figured out early on that I honestly have no place for them. They just don't mesh with my dining table... (which is absolutely NOT mid-century but I love it!)

....so I have been dragging my feet getting them done. Why bother. I just have to get rid of them....*sniff*

I finally finished two of them and they turned out as beautiful as I knew they would.

I stripped the old finish by scrubbing with steel wool and the acetone/lacquer thinner mixture. I applied 4 coats of tung oil finish and recovered the seats with white vinyl. Vinyl was kind of the "thing" for mid century furniture and I didn't want to deviate too much from the original! 

I reattached the original seat bottom because it had the "Roomates Baumritter" mark on it! 

They are a little nasty and there really was no way to clean them up since they are just cardboard. But for a mid-century lover, the identifying mark can be important!

The other two are sitting patiently in my garage waiting for a little love and attention. One has a broken cross brace and will have to be replaced with something new...makes me sad! 

I listed these are on my Etsy shop and if they don't sell I will take them to Midtown. For now they are sitting in my living room and I am trying to keep the drool off of them...and the cats...and guests.

Seriously, who would actually SIT on a chair like this!

Dining room buffet....

Fourteen years ago I added the den and the bar in my kitchen...since then the dining table has been shoved against the wall in the dining area and only comes out for Thanksgiving! Basically, my dining room is a thoroughfare between the living room, kitchen and den. Lord knows you need this kind of space when you have teenage boys tossing balls around!

This picture was taken while I still had my Duncan Phyfe table...

...before this table....

I really love the openness of the space but Saturday I picked up a piece at an auction I fell in love with! I had honestly intended to sell it, but it fit this space perfectly!

(Again, sorry for the photographs....I did the best I could...it is a very dark piece! I edited with Photoshop just so you could see the detailing!)

This piece baffles me.

The top is definitely mahogany. I suspect the doors are walnut...and some of the inside of the cabinet and drawer is oak. The screws are all flathead screws. None of the wood is veneered. Today's reproductions are usually constructed with less expensive woods and different hardware.  Basically, the quality of construction, the quality of the wood and the fasteners all lead me to believe it is an "older" piece.

It does have a maker's mark on the inside of the drawer but part of it is missing so I can't figure out who, what or where...

Until I know more about a piece, I hesitate to do anything to it. If it were in really rough shape or if I knew for certain it is a "newer" piece, I wouldn't give it a second thought and I would refinish it or paint it...but it is not and I don't know! It could be from Pier One or it could be from the 19th century...I just don't know!

It is not "my style"...ornate and a little on the "traditional" side. Obviously not that "mid century" style I love. Bringing it in means moving my table into the center of the dining area (like a normal person) and "cluttering" up that space....

But I think I love it! 

It just "fits."

My initial plan was to paint it...off white or a pretty pale blue or green. But the general consensus among the fam is to leave it "as is." And truthfully, until I can find something a little more definitive about it, I think I will leave it be for now. 

This is a prime example of "do no harm" when dealing with "old" furniture. If it is damaged beyond reasonable repair and/or would somehow be enhanced by painting, go for it. I'm not sure this piece wouldn't look better, in this space, painted...but at the same time I hesitate to start slathering paint on a piece I know little about. 

So for now, it will sit as is. That is not to say that at some point I won't get a "bug" and break out the paint!

No promises! 

Opinions are always welcome...what do you think?

That ALL being said, I went to Hobby Lobby this week and they already had their fall decor 80% off! Needless to say, I just had to get a few little things!

I love these little crows...silly but fun!

I couldn't pass up this strand of fall garland ($18) and this wooden pumpkin ($5)! Perfect for the bench!

A few little trinkets for the new sideboard, more berry wreaths I have no idea what to do with (yet) and more!

Again, as I mentioned here, one of the best ways to build a cache of seasonal decor is to shop the "after season" sales...but this year it started BEFORE the end of the fall season!!! I may only get to display this stuff for a week, but it is so worth picking up little things now while they are pennies on the dollar!

A new look....

You may have noticed my new blog header. Totally awesome!

I lost the original somewhere in the mess of my computer. I have no doubt I filed it right where it should be, but in my efforts to stay organized, I lost it...I'll find it someday. I do that all the time...put it where it makes sense and then I have no idea where I put it.

In the meantime, I have had a simple "poppy" header stuck up there. I'm going through a "poppy phase." Pretty, but a little "heavy."

I knew I needed to make another and I knew exactly what I wanted...but I just couldn't figure out how to do it, even in Photoshop.

So while I was cruising the blogosphere, I found this tutorial on The Alexander Collective!

She used "Picmonkey." I followed the tutorial on The Alexander Collective to a T and it is perfect...exactly what I wanted and it didn't cost a thing!

Transparent, clean, simple...just a smidge of color. Pickmonkey is super easy to use so I will be able to play around with the header from time to time and easily change it up!

It even let me create a transparent signature.

Now if I can just remember to use it! (It's kind of big too...so I guess I will keep playing with it!)

While I am on the subject of "changes," we had our first snow of the season today! It was in the 70s a week ago...wow! I honestly can't remember when we had snow this early in the season.

Yesterday Brian and I went to an auction and I picked up some fabulous pieces...most won't need a lot of work and that is a good thing...just too stinking cold! 

Last year we had snow in MAY, this year snow in November...I don't think "global warming" is having much impact on Northwest Arkansas!

It's still fall in my house but it is definitely feeling like winter outside!



Simple fall decor....

I am a "warm" person so I love the traditional colors of fall and it is my favorite time of the year!

I know a lot of people are decorating with blue and white pumpkins...tablescapes, vignettes (that's a fancy way of saying a "grouping" of decor), mantles, etc...but I like the orange, burnt reds and yellows of a traditional fall! Warm tones....and I have TONS of natural light in my house so it makes it a lot easier to decorate with "warm" holiday colors!

Several years ago I decided I wanted to remake my bannister Christmas wreaths in blue and silver....a touch of "cool." Katie quickly reminded me that "red and gold" were our TRADITIONAL colors and she didn't want that messed with. So I obliged and stuck with the "traditional" colors of the season. Occasionally I sneak in something a little "non-traditional," but very little.

So very little changes from year to year...except maybe a few little "additions." 

Traditional decorating is, in my opinion, the way to go. I said last year that I thought it unwise to spend a great deal on burlap and chevron Christmas decor only because I knew it was a "fad" and would eventually fall by the wayside. As I predicted, we are seeing less and less of that this year.

So find a style or decor elements that you truly LOVE and make that the bulk of your "traditional" seasonal decor. No harm in infusing a few "faddish" elements here and there, but if you try to go all out with the newest fad, you may find yourself with an attic full of outdated seasonal decorations. (A few of us are old enough to remember Santa ducks and "mauve" Christmas ribbon...ouch!)

The BEST time to buy seasonal decor is AFTER the season. I know it is tough to buy things you are going to immediately stick in storage, but it is soooo much fun to discover all your new goodies year after year...and it is a great way to build a stockpile without spending a lot of money. MOST of my seasonal decor was purchased on sale for 80-90% off after the season! 

Another tip...you are going to get older and there will come a time when a lot of fluffing and froofing and climbing up and down ladders is hazardous...to both your physical well-being and your pets (yes, I have stepped on a few coming off the ladder!) So years ago I started transitioning to things that were easy for me to "set out."  It is much simpler to tie wreaths to the bannister than it is to struggle with yards of garland and ribbon...and I am not consumed for days every year painting and sewing and making wreaths and garland with the newest fads. 

So this is my "traditional" fall decor....

The den is the perfect template for fall decor. The fireplace wall is "burnt red" and it makes a beautiful back-drop for both my fall and Christmas vignettes. Years ago I bought new fall garland for the front door...the old garland had gotten a little "aged" looking but I didn't want to toss it, so now I just lay it across the mantel....takes all of 10 seconds. The white owl is a new addition I shared here. I bought 4 identical wreaths and hang them in the windows from ribbon. Fall leaf floral in the urn, pumpkins and scarecrows and knick-knacks here and there...

I shared how I dress up these simple outdoor lanterns for Christmas here. For the fall, they get a "fall" ribbon and floral pick, pine cones or a seasonal candle. 

Outdoor lanterns are great for all seasons. After the holidays I just remove all the ribbon and seasonal stuff and place a candle in them! I love that they are simple to decorate and don't have to be stored from one season to the next! 

The den side table gets a little fall vignette as well....

I shared the branch box on the floor here. Years ago I made two "table wreaths" with a round floral form, a grapevine wreath and fall picks. I put a candle in one and I found a nifty little grapevine pumpkin at a garage sale for pennies for the dining table! Both are simple to set out and store!

A few little knick-knacks here and there. (I bought the silly turkey at an auction for a few dollars! Garage sales, thrift stores and auctions are great places to find holiday decor for next to nothing!)

I bought a bunch of candle holder "berry wreaths" several years ago. I hang them on all the downstairs doors and on a few frames and cabinets with seasonal ribbon...super simple and when I decorate for Christmas, I just replace them with holiday wreaths!

This wreath I hung on my new living room mirror is a little larger. I think I found it in a box of seasonal goodies I bought at an auction for next to nothing! For Christmas I have the perfect crystal wreath I shared here and I think I will pick up a boxwood wreath for after the holidays! Wreaths are super simple to decorate with and store after the holidays! I just drop mine in plastic bags for storage!

Inexpensive (especially on clearance) floral picks and sprays are ideal for vases and urns...it usually doesn't take a lot to dress them up and they make a huge impact. I just replace the fall floral for Christmas floral every year!

Seasonal garland is super simple to lay on top of hutches, wrap around light fixtures, hang around doors and lay on tables. I love fall garland...but if you have ever priced it, you know it can be super expensive!!! And that, my friends, is where "after holiday" sales are great. Every year, I hit Hobby Lobby the weekend after Thanksgiving and snag their 80% off decor!

I lay inexpensive garland in the dining and den transoms and then mix in a few real pumpkins and gourds....well, usually but this year I didn't quite get around to picking up pumpkins and gourds...but it is still pretty!

Last but not least, the "kiddo scarecrows." I hesitate to even share these because it is so hard to get a good picture because of the glare (as I have said MANY times, I am NOT one of those bloggers that has killer photog skills!) I originally put these up when my two boys and youngest daughter were little...now they and the pumpkins are a tad faded and tired looking. I intend to change this little vignette every year, but a busy life always seems to get in the way. So, someday! In the meantime, they take their place every year and are replaced the day after Thanksgiving with Santa and the pine forrest!

Building a cache of seasonal decor can take time. But if you keep your eyes open at thrift stores and garage sales, shop the after season sales and stick with "traditional" decorating, you don't have to break the bank. Save the "fad" vignettes for one or two special places in your home and avoid the frustration and stress of having to decorate your entire house every year in a "Pinterest theme." 

Enjoy the season!!!! 

Christmas pillows....

One of the great things about the "blogoshere" is all the great inspiration AND motivation!

This past week I was reading one of my favorite blogs, "The Interior Frugalista", and Marie was sharing her snowflake decorative pillows...only she calls them "toss cushions." Gotta love those Canadians...lol!

Anywho, it not only inspired me, it motivated me to do something I seriously dislike doing...sew! 

I have been scavenging down pillow forms. I wanted down forms for the decorative pillows that have poly-fill and a few extras for some holiday pillows!

As I mentioned before I like down forms because they are more comfortable and have a "designer" look! To me they just look "rich" but their price tag can reflect that and it is difficult for me to fork over twenty bucks for something I am going to have to make a cover for and something that is nothing more than a "doo-dad." 

This past week I found 6 awesome down pillow forms, in varying sizes, ALL for under $7...a few for as cheap as $5. Thrift stores and flea markets. Yep...I am buying ugly old designer pillows, removing the cover and sanitizing the forms for reuse! (just toss them in a hot dryer with a dryer sheet!) 

Since I had all these forms piled up, I knew it was time to drag out the old sewing cart and get busy!

TIP: If you have a 18 x 18 pillow form, you may be tempted to cut your cover fabric 19 x 19 to allow for the seams. DON'T. Cut the fabric 18 x 18...your cover will be about 1" smaller than the actual pillow form, but that is what will make them look super "puffy" and "full." I read that once on a designer website (no source, just info stored in the back of my brain!) and I tried it...makes a huge difference! 

I have shared "pillow tutorials" on several posts in the past (you will note I advocated cutting your cover fabric larger back then...again, don't)...you can check them out here, here, here, and here. 

There is no sense in rehashing the "how to." I've provided a tutorial and there are "how to" tutorials all over the internet. Marie does a great job of "tutorialing." (As I have said before, if you can sew a straight stitch, you can sew a decorative pillow...if you can't, now is the time to learn.) 

So I am going to share just to provide inspiration AND motivation and give you a few little tips on where you can find material to make inexpensive holiday covers. 

My first "inspiration"  came from a Pottery Barn knock-off I found on Pinterest....

This little pillow was super simple to make. I used two pillow shams that came with a white bedspread I ordered to put over my down comforter for the winter. I was never going to use them on the bed, so I decided to use the fabric for my decorative pillows. I didn't have enough for the back, so I used the leftover fabric from the tea towel pillows I will share in a bit....

As you can see, I changed things up from the "inspiration" pillow. I used green sparkly felt and rhinestones...both of which you can buy at your local craft store. I cut a bunch of "leaves" from the green felt, and used a bowl to guestimate a circle...

Then it was just a matter of filling in the "wreath" and placing a few rhinestones here and there...basically, I eyeballed it! I used fabric glue on the green leaves and "Jewel It" glue on the rhinestones and let it sit overnight before I constructed the pillow. I used a "premade" silver bias tape for the piping! 

I made this pillow out of tea towels I picked up at Hobby Lobby...

....they were around $4.50 (50% off!) for two!

One set of towels made TWO pillow covers and I used the leftover fabric for the backs of the wreath pillow! I spruced it up a bit by placing a rhinestone in the middle of each of the snowflakes and added a little piping around the edge. The piping is made out of bias tape and you can find a tutorial here on how to make inexpensive decorative piping from bias tape!

I made two pillows with this snowflake cutout table runner and a white table cloth I bought at TJ Maxx. (I would not suggest using inexpensive tablecloths for pillow projects...just seems too "thin" and tends to ravel quite a bit. Lesson learned.)

I centered the runner on the piece of fabric I cut out for the front of the pillow and basted the top and bottom to it with my machine to keep it in place. After I basted it, I used the fabric glue around the edges of the cutout to keep it "flat."

Again, I glued a rhinestone in the middle of each snowflake. I just love "sparkle!"

After making two white snowflake pillows, I had enough of the snowflake cutout to make one more pillow. I picked up a "burnt red" pillow and I kind of liked the color so I deconstructed it, made it a tad smaller so the pillow would be fuller and added the white snowflake cutout material.

I only have one, but I think it will look great in the den where I have more "fall" colors year round!

I also put zippers on all these pillow covers so I can easily remove them and reuse the forms!

I tend to be an "OCD/symmetry" kinda person so I made two of each of the decorative pillows so I will have one for each end of the couch when it is time to decorate for Christmas.

All these pillows are 18 x 18 and honestly, I don't like the three lined up together. I found two smaller pillow forms and plan on making Christmas covers for them and using one with two of the 18" pillows on each end of the sofa...maybe...someday...IF I get a little more motivation in the future! 

While I was making a mess, I decided to make another "floor pillow" for the den. I had two large poly-fill forms (actually they were Euro-pillows with ugly covers!) I bought at an estate sale and I thought they would be perfect to toss around on the den floor for tv watching! I had already made one large toss pillow and two smaller decorative pillows out of some leftover fabric from my dining chair project. 

I used the drop cloth material leftover from this chair project and an iron on graphic from The Graphic Fairy. Since the pillow was fairly large, I decided I wanted the graphic to be bigger so I pulled it up in Adobe Photoshop, enlarged it and then printed it out on four sheets of iron-on transfer paper.  Then it was just a matter of piecing the graphic together and ironing it on the fabric. There was a little "line" where two of the pages didn't quite fit together perfectly...I used a Sharpie to fill it in a tad.

I removed the "Grain" wording on banner in Photoshop and had intended to replace it with "Love Life." But I had a few issues with my printer so I ran out of transfer paper. Since I put zippers on all my pillow covers, I will just remove the cover and iron on the new words when my order of paper comes in. 

I still haven't shared my fall decor. Truthfully, it hasn't changed a whole lot from last year. But I have a few little additions and I thought it would be fun to do an entire post about the fall decor and update my Holiday Decor pictures. After all, Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away and the day after Thanksgiving, it all goes back in the attic! If you see anything that "inspires" you, it will be the PERFECT time to snag fall decor for pennies on the dollar!!! You may have to wait til next year to use it, but it is always fun to find things you forgot you bought last year!

Fall 2014

So this week...I promise! 

 

I'm Not a Trophy Wife