Fall Decorating

17 10 2011

As I mentioned last week, it’s been busy around here, between travel, some immediate-attention projects at work, and having a bad head cold…oh, and a little something called “Oliver.”  We’ve been doing a housebreaking bootcamp for over a week, and the little guy seems to be getting it.  We’re still working on the teething thing (he nipped my little niece yesterday!), but he’s really trying hard to be a good boy.

But I have found some time for home projects – some BECAUSE I’ve been doing the bootcamp, and was sequestered in the kitchen with the little guy all last weekend. But more on that later.

First, I want to talk about decorating for fall. I have three plastic containers of Halloween stuff – I thought I had enough for decorating the house, but it turned out that I mostly have Halloween costumes, and some things that are only useful if you’re having a party (cups, forks, etc.).  I was bummed to realize that I really didn’t have much to decorate for fall!

So I headed to Michaels, to Target and to Pier One, and picked up some great stuff for fall (I stuck with more fall stuff, because although I LOVE Halloween, you can get more mileage out of “fall” decorations! Since there are no directions for fall decorating – just do what you love! – without further ado, here are the photos!

How have you decorated your house for Fall/Halloween?


Easter Plans!

22 04 2011

Hello all – I know I’ve been delinquent on blogging, but between travel and being sick, I haven’t had much time to do anything too handy! However, this week, I’ve been working around the house a bit more.

The main thing I’m getting ready for is this weekend’s Easter celebration. I’m not particularly religious, but I am spiritual, and enjoy any excuse to celebrate a holiday.  I’ve never hosted a holiday before, but this year, I’m having my parents and their bassets over for dinner.

I won’t tell you what I’m making yet, since my parents read this blog, but I can share some photos of the prep I’ve done so far!

The table is set!

I used some credit card points to order this tablecloth from Williams-Sonoma - it's fabulous!

The tulips brighten up the whole room

The table is set

I put my ceramic bunny in the decorative lantern on my sideboard

I also picked up a new apron

What are your plans for the weekend?

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…

23 12 2010

Just like last year, I went nuts with the Christmas decorations this year.  I thought you’d like a peek into how they came out:

Here's a little elf I actually picked up at the supermarket. She's a favorite new addition

At the time I took this picture, we had 16 days left. Now, not so many!!

My tree! Much smaller than last year, but still pretty - I cut it down myself! (with some help from my bro-in-law)

My pup is getting a lot of gifts from Santa this year!

It's annoying to put up the greenery, but I'm always glad when I do

This snowman fits perfectly in a pot I painted several years ago

This angel is one of my favorites

Another addition this year is a new collection of houses I've started. The church's stained glass windows light up at night

I've also got a coffee house

I added this snowman candle to my collection a few months ago - I love that he looks as though he's melting!

Upstairs, I brought Christmas into every room

Did you know that Michaels has Build a Bear kits for reindeer??

My snowman couple

Another snowman from my collection

I've got lots of snowmen

I love this little guy

The Christmas tree in my office

I even have a snowman door holder

From my tree - the bassets

Another ornament - Bad to the Bone

More bassets - can you sense a theme here?

This is a new ornament this year - it was part of the gift our host firm did at our conference in Houston

This is an ornament from my grandfather

I got a pillow for the couch this year...it's snowmen sewed together

Another little pillow snowman

This guy too

This guy's pretty cute too

This is the end guy

My dining room - always a favorite when I'm decorating

Another view of my tree - so pretty

The living room

The fireplace (I hung the greenery from hooks this year - MUCH easier)

I believe the bathroom should be decorated too

The guest room is looking snazzy too

My bedroom

My office

I even decorated myself

And I decorated my dog 🙂

This year’s Christmas Card

22 12 2010

I might be biased, but I have the most ridiculously cute dog ever.

So I thought I’d make him this year’s Christmas card – so many people I know are sending out photo cards of their kids and families, so I thought why shouldn’t I get to send out a picture of my fur baby?

Without further ado, here is the photo I used for my card. I then had it made into a coffee mug, so I can enjoy all my holiday hot chocolate while looking at it:

What's better than a basset in an elf hat?

Wait until you see his bowtie for Christmas…

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

16 12 2009

I really believe in the magic of Christmas, and nothing makes me feel more magical (besides lots of fairy lights) than a beautifully decked out Christmas tree.  Since I moved to the beach last year, I’ve been lucky to be able to afford the biggest trees I can find.  Lots of people I know believe in narrow trees, but I love a good fat tree and since I buy my own trees, that’s what I get! 

Last year, I had a beautiful tree.  It was big and lovely and I could actually carry it (since I like to joke that I have freakishly strong upper arms).  With the help of the local tree farmer, I strapped it to my little MINI Cooper and off we went.  I had a tree stand for an 8 foot tree (and this wasn’t that tall), so I figured it out, put it in the stand all by myself, decorated the whole thing and was happy.  And in the middle of the night, it fell over, splashing water everywhere, breaking ornaments I could never replace and making a huge mess.  In the practical scheme of things, it wasn’t a big deal, but I was still upset.  I managed to put the tree back up and clean up the mess, and I used bungee cords to secure it to the walls.  It stayed up the rest of the season.

So I was a little nervous this year.  And I realized that this was one job that this handy homeowner girl really needed help with!  Fortunately, my sister and brother-in-law were in the area last week and offered to help me with the tree.  We went to a local farmer’s market to pick one out.  I wanted a good smelling tree (last year’s didn’t smell at all), but I think I ended up with another non-smelling one, because some of the others smelled so good.  The woman asked if I wanted a fat tree, and I was already eyeing the one that would become mine.  It was HUGE.  I’m a big believer (like my sister) in trees that “speak” to me, and this tree did.  The tree is as wide as it is tall (and it’s about seven feet tall) and just lovely.  It was a good thing we had my sister’s big SUV and not my little MINI, because the tree would have been bigger than the car! 

We finally got it back to my house and inside, and it took us a little while to fit it properly into the stand.  It seems that the stand got warped in my hot attic this summer, so we ended up sticking some cardboard under one side to give it stability and again bungee-cording it to the wall.  The tree is so ridiculously wide that it took me three tries to find a spot that I could reach the top of the tree to put the angel on it! 

Now that's a tree!

That night, I popped in a Christmas movie, got out my camera and got to work.  I tested all the lights first this time, and added seven strands to the tree (I really like lights). 

Lots of lights! Don't worry, I don't store them in a tangle

Looks magical!

Finally got all the lights on!

Then, I set to work adding the ornaments – my brother-in-law had been concerned that I wouldn’t have enough for such a large tree, but my sister and I just looked at each other and said, “Oh yes, there will be enough ornaments.”  It took me a while to put them all up – I’m not one for a theme on the tree. I just like to enjoy the memories that come with each ornament and to put every single one on the tree, unless it’s broken.  I’m a firm believer in a very decorated, home-y tree. 

My Grandpa made these a very long time ago and I'm sure he didn't know that I would now be putting them on my own tree!

My 2009 ornament - Rodney the Reindeer!

I have the snowbuddies collection of ornaments

I love this litle bear - he's English and I'm half-English!

Finally, the ornaments were up and it was time for tinsel.  My mom’s been trying to get me to give up tinsel at their house for years and we finally did because of their dogs.  But even with my puppy, I decided I’d keep the tinsel and just teach him to avoid the tree.  He’s pretty good – the biggest problem we have is when he’s facing away from the tree and wags his tail, tangling tinsel on the end of his tail until he waves it onto the floor!  But there’s something about the reflective glow of the tinsel in the fairy lights that makes me think Christmas really is a magical season. 

Tinsel is the best part!

The final touch was the angel on top of the tree. I bought it last year, and she was beautiful.  The tree crash damaged her a little, leading to a missing thumb and a cracked cardboard star.  I like to think she just shows that you can survive a little fall here and there, so I keep her up there. 

My poor tree topper!

After putting some water in the stand and adding my tree skirt, I was ready to sit back and enjoy the tree! 

My tree skirt - that went on at the very end

Decorating complete!

Of course, it’s so wide that I’m not sure I can light a fire while I still have the tree, because sparks might reach it, but we’ll see.  I’m also not entirely sure that I’ll be able to take the tree out, so it might live at my house for a very long time…

Christmas Home Decorating – Outside

16 12 2009

I had managed to get almost all of my inside decorating done before I headed north to my parents’ for Thanksgiving.  My thought was that I’d come home to a lovely house decorated for Christmas and be ready to celebrate the holiday season.  Because of a business trip to DC and deciding to stay at my parents’ house through their annual holiday parade, I didn’t end up returning home until after the first full week of December was almost finished.  So I was late getting my lights up.  My neighbors were going crazy with lights this year, so I was really feeling pressured to get started.  Finally, on a chilly day towards sunset (a good time to do it so you can see how the lit lights look), I got out my stepstool and headed outside. 

I was excited to find out that they have outdoor electrical timers – I should have assumed as much, but I’d never really thought about it.  So I found one that senses dusk and dawn, and set it to come on at dusk and go off after six hours (around 11PM).  I snaked an extension cord from the back of my house (where the only plug – a GFI one – resides) and figured out where it would need to sit to plug my various lights into.  I had lights for the bushes and small fir tree out front, as well as for around one of the porch posts and icicle lights for the top of the little porch (for the first time, I was SO excited!).  My neighbor came outside as I started to put up the icicle lights and suggested that I use outdoor screws instead of nails, which won’t rust.  He had a few and helped me put them in (I couldn’t get the leverage I needed on my little step stool to put them in myself) and I hung up the icicle lights – perfect!  He had already decorated the middle post between the two (I basically live in a semi-detached house, though they call it a condo, so we share a porch), so I ran some lights along my post and connected them to the lights on the bushes.  It sounds like it went quickly, but it really took me about two hours, between hanging the lights, finding out some were burned out (check your strands BEFORE putting them up!), replacing the bulbs and adding extra strands to the bushes.  But when it was finished, it looked lovely!

Lookin' good!

Icicle lights are the best!

I also have a beautiful, huge real wreath on my front door.  I love it, and it smells divine, but it’s placement between the storm door and my front door along with the full sun for most of the day is killing it quickly.  My neighbor is trying glass magnets to hang his wreath on the outside of the storm door, so we’ll see if that makes a difference this year.  But I can even smell it from inside when I walk past the front door, so it just makes me happy.  I’ve also since added three little snowmen angel lights to light my sidewalk at night.  Ideally, I’d have six, but I’ll just have to wait until next year to get those! 

My wreath at night.

Christmas Home Decorating – Inside

16 12 2009
Christmas is my favorite holiday.  A lot of people think it’s Halloween (which I also love) because I get dressed up every year and decorate my house – except for this year, thanks to the bronchitis!  But Christmas is my favorite.  This year, as I hauled down about five boxes of decorations and two boxes of ornaments from my attic, I thought I might be set with all I needed for the house.  But as I unpacked them, I realized that most of what I have is very knick-knacky.

That’s fine, but I needed more to decorate my home!  So I picked up LOTS of fake greenery and put it everywhere  – around the bathroom mirrors, wrapping the banister, decorating my bedposts, along the mantle and around the fireplace, along windows, gracing bookshelves, and behind guest beds.  I increased my lights both inside and outside and took out almost every piece of glass I own after reading about how clean, shiny glass can make your holiday decorating sparkle.  I put up a fake tree in my little entryway and a real tree in my living room, set the table for holiday guests (though I’m only having one person stay with me before Christmas!) and set the mood with Noel oil for my lamps downstairs and upstairs.  It’s very festive here!

Some rooms were easier than others to decorate.  In my dining room, I put a lovely checked tablecloth I’d picked up at Kohls on the table, followed by a runner I’ve had for years from a Pottery Barn sale.  I finally found red chargers (these are technically candle displays, so I’m told, but they work as chargers) at Michaels and I used my everyday dinner plates on top of them.  I added my reindeer napkins and a metal napkin holder to complete the place setting.  Then, I added a glass bowl full of lovely potpourri and plastic ornaments from Walmart on top of a candy cane platter and included some other glassware and small snowmen to make it more festive.  Over the window, I put up some greenery, anchoring it with the shade hooks already in place and by adjusting the metal of the greenery itself around the edges.  I found a couple of giant plastic ornaments at Target, and strung them up with some Christmas ribbon over the table, and draped some garland over my lighthouse picture in the corner of the room – it didn’t take me too long to get that done!

The full effect

The table is set

I really am very excited about these chargers!

The downstairs bathroom was similarly pretty easy to decorate.  I picked up some new guest towels at Kohls, and they make me happy every time I see them.  I had some looser greenery, which I wrapped several times around the mirror (held in by the corners of the doors, so I can’t really use the cabinet right now!).  And I added a few snowmen knick knacks (I have a collection of snowmen, so there are a LOT of them in this house!).

Very festive! I even added some potpourri in a mug on the counter

My towels!

Then, things started to get a little more difficult and that’s when the yelling, swearing and accidentally breaking things started to happen.  I had picked up some hooks to use in my living room to hang up the garland around the fireplace.  Last year, I had used push pins, which had not only left small holes in the wall, but had required me to regularly push them back into the wall and repair garland decorations.  I was pretty pleased with myself about the new garland hooks (which are plastic, with foam stickers on one side to stick to the wall), so I cleared my mantle and got to work putting up the garland and white lights.  It looked great!  For about five minutes.  Then, piece by piece, it started to fall a little.  Okay, I thought I just needed more hooks.  I added them.  It stayed. I put my decorations back on the mantle.  And it fell down, knocking a favorite blue glass vase into the mantle and shattering it.  @#$^&%.

Not to be deterred, I knew that getting frustrated would make it worse.  I decided to try a different hook I’d gotten as well.  No dice.  Finally, I reverted to the push pins and added those in with a few more of the other hooks and so far, it’s stayed (knock on wood).  It looks beautiful, but I’m afraid of what it will look like when I take it down in January! 

I also added garland to the mantle, using the second kind of hooks I’d gotten.  They worked pretty well at securing it, but I had to unravel parts of them (that’s how they’re designed) and bruised my fingers nicely in the process.  So next year might be a whole new set of hooks!  To add to the festiveness of the mantle, I also put up some red Christmas ornaments.

Once I had gotten past my anger about the garland and I believed it was going to stay up, I added some candles to the hearth, as well as my puppy’s stocking, and replaced a photo in a frame with a Christmas card.  A few days later, I picked up some red beaded garland at Michaels and some gold stars, and I cut the garland, using the beads as “cranberries” in with my candles.  The gold stars added some glitz.

This is pre-tree. Some small changes had to be made once my tree arrived - a separate post will show you why. And yes, that's Daniel Craig on the mantle.


Here is my candles & "cranberries" - I think it's my favorite decoration this year

And more glassware moved to the coffee table post tree

I almost felt like giving up after all that work in the living room, but I finished up my decorating that first night with the upstairs bathroom.  In here, I was so happy with the garland, but it was again a struggle to get the hooks to hold onto the vanity and the garland to grab the bottom of the cabinet.  I was so afraid I’d pull it off the wall as I worked, but eventually, I managed to finish it.  I just can’d open the leftmost section of the vanity, so it’s a good thing I don’t really keep anything in there!

The upstairs bathroom - I added more potpourri and eventually my peppermint handwash and lotion (and of course, a snowman)

Over the next few days, I worked on the guest room, my office, and my bedroom, along with the entryway.  The guest room was fairly easy – I had pretty much mastered the evil garland by then, so I put some along the headboard and window and added stockings to the side tables.  I put up some Christmas lights (or fairy lights as they call them in England – I like that so much better!).  And I added some reindeer and two pillows I’d made to the bed – I think you always need homemade things around at Christmastime!

Ready for guests!

This is my other favorite area of decorating, mostly because I adore these curtains. I added electric candles to the windows facing front - they had been battery-powered, but were always low and ate batteries!

In my office, I added garland and knick knacks to the shelves, including a few of my favorite snowmen.

Doesn't this guy just make you happy?

I like this one too!

In the hallway, I put a lighted garland around the bannister and tucked a tree at the bottom.  It makes the entryway feel very welcoming and warm, particularly when it’s lit at night!

I think I've had this tree for a decade!

And finally, I wanted my bedroom to feel festive as well, so I put up a few knick knacks and added a garland and lights around my bed.

It's like Santa lives here!

My favorite part!

And of course, I have a homemade quilt to sleep under – I made this when I was in college, using two big sheets and a bunch of my old tee shirts.  It’s very warm and full of memories as well!

Don’t worry, I didn’t neglect the outside of my house! I’ll get into that and my tree adventure in separate posts!