Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Christmas-ing

Just a quick post to share a bit more Christmas-ifying that took place around here. I didn't go all out this year, just didn't have the energy for all the wrapping and unwrapping of stuff, but I did want to dress up my china hutch once I got the Halloween stuff packed away. I went with a sort of natural, woodland theme this year, using a few of my Currier and Ives houses (love these because they're based on real (or real-looking) structures and fit with my love of architecture), some newly acquired owl ornaments, a straw ornament garland (piled up in a footed glass bowl) picked up from the Animal Lifeline thrift, and some flocked thrift store deer. I stuck in some white pine sprigs from a branch that was down in our community. Pictures were done at night, so not great, but I don't see finding the time to redo them.

For the center of my table I pulled out two silver ice buckets I'd thrifted over the summer. The plan was to fill them with oasis and then greenery, but I bought the wrong type of foam (dry foam, doesn't hold water) so just went with the jumbo pine cones I had on hand, some sprigs of white pine and Douglas fir and after I took the pictures I added some silver glittery reindeer from Dollar General. The purplish red candles were the ones I used at Halloween.

Let's Leave the Trees to the Professionals, Shall We?

I was pretty happy with how my Christmas tree turned out this year, until I visited Longwood Gardens that is and saw all of the gorgeous, professionally trimmed trees. Their theme was gingerbread this year and they managed to incorporate it into almost all of the more traditional trees and wreaths, and each area sort of had its own theme too. On entering the greenhouse, the smell of lilies was overpowering, but in a good way. The first "room" was done up in red and white, this year's big trend, but not really my favorite color scheme (I've always been a "non-traditional" gal when it comes to Christmas colors). All the trees are live and this one had huge hydrangea (I think) blooms in it and was surrounded by the fragrant lilies.

Next up was more red and white and silver in this huge trio of trees. 

They had balls made from red rose petals (not pictured) and some sort of silvery white leaves (see below) that we really liked.

The gingerbread room smelled divine and had a fun candy theme in addition to the gingerbread. There was a toy train and fat colored lights, along with traditional gingerbread men ornaments strung together in an unexpected garland.

These gingerbread cones flanked one of the lawn areas that had silvery trees done up in green and gingerbread ornies (you can see just a peek of one in the background). This would be a fun look to recreate on a small scale for a dessert buffet or kitchen table (all the cookies were shellacked and had warning labels not to eat them - sad that you even have to tell people that. They were up on pedestals and not nearly has huge as they look in the photo - maybe about 4 feet tall.

Probably my favorite tree was the one in the solarium area of the farmhouse - it was decked out in glam silver and plum but also included natural elements like pine cones and gingerbread cookies shaped like maple leaves. I think they got the contrast between natural and glamorous just right and I'll be hunting down some purple and plum ornies for my tree.

I also really liked this tree done up in white, silver, and light green. It was a white pine (I think) with long silky needles which isn't typical for a Christmas tree, but so pretty.

So these are just some highlights, hopefully you'll get some good ideas and not feel like your own tree is inadequate (I do still really love mine). If you want to see Longwood Gardens in the spring, click here

I'm linking this to Thrift Decor Chick's Tree Party, be sure to stop over and see all the lovely trees people have done.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, How Lazy Can You Be?

Several years ago I swore I'd never put up another live Christmas tree. I got rid of my stand and everything (and I never get rid of stuff). The one I got was too big. It got stuck in my car. I bought it at a produce market where they don't cut the bottom off for you. I had a cheap-o saw. I think I made a few cuts in the trunk and gave up, figuring at least water would get in through the cuts. It fell over. Just as I hung the last ornament on it. I more or less threw the stuff back on after setting it back up and tying it to a hook on the wall. Here it is, it looked much better before it fell over:

I've had an ongoing debate with myself about getting a prelit fake-ola one. On the one hand, they seem so easy to set up and the lights are my least favorite part. On the other hand, the nice ones are expensive and what happens when the lights burn out? Also I don't want to store one and I really hate the idea of not supporting the tree farmers. So after a few years of no tree, I decided to go real again. I really was intending to just get a table topper, but they were $15 and the full sized ones started at $20 so I went with a smallish Douglas Fir for $20. It is nice and full, but the trunk is kind of thin, which made it easy to carry but somewhat of a pain to get it into the stand. I got a new stand for $5 at a thrift store - it is the kind that is supposed to swivel and tilt so you can straighten it and turn it to the best side once it is up, but it is hard to move and the tree ends up moving before the stand, so I'm glad I only paid $5 for it instead of the $35 price tag on the box.

I didn't feel like messing with a lot of my childhood ornaments - too much of a pain wrapping and unwrapping everything and it was Boy-Cat's first experience with a tree (unless he had one in his first home, he was 10 months or so when I got him in July, 2009) and I didn't know if he'd behave. My color scheme is green, blue, silver, white, and gold, and the ornaments are mostly unbreakable and/or not too precious from Dollar Tree (gold sparkly reindeer, cheap-o snowflakes), craft store (nicer snowflakes), WalMart (sparkly green, lighter blue, sparkly gold), thrift store (silver, darker blue), and Target (crystal icicles, star topper).

The skirt is a Christmas toile pattern I made a bunch of years back and stockings to match.

So everything was pretty easy up and will be easy down - everything but the crystal icicles can go in zip lock bags and into plastic totes - I think some of the darker blue and silver might be breakable, but easy enough to replace if I loose a few. It's a little bland with not much variety (lots and lots of plain balls) but low maintenance. I didn't bother with ribbon or garland which might have helped things out in the interest department but again, being lazy. And Boy-Cat has been very well behaved, other than wanting to drink the water, which I knew he would and thwarted by wrapping a towel around the base under the skirt.

 I'm also looking forward to moving it out onto the balcony after the season is over where it can spend the winter. I even have strand of outdoor lights I may put on it for outside.

I'm linking to Thrifty Decor Chick's Christmas Tree Party. Stop on over and take a look at all the gorgeousness.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Pinterest Challenge Fall Edition: Jewelry Display Board

The project I did for this quarter’s Pinterest Challenge (hosted by John & Sherry, Katie, Ana, and Erin) was an easy one. I had a small space behind my bedroom door to fill and needed a solution for organizing and storing some of my jewelry for easy access – I have a huge jewelry box in my closet but it is full of so much inherited stuff it is hard to get to the pieces I want to wear every day and there are some great vintage pieces I’d wear more if I remembered I had them, so I thought an open display that I could periodically change out pieces on might get more of my stuff into circulation. It always cracks me up when Nate Berkus suggests leaving your jewelry in a crystal bowl or a nice tray on the dresser. Obviously he doesn’t have cats and doesn’t know they are in love with all things shiny and think the world is their plaything. Hanging was the way to go for me.

I’ve seen a bunch of these little bulletin board displays and pinned a few, like this one:

And this fabulous giant one:

And if I wanted to be really ambitions, I could do a gallery like this:

For my own project, I used a small thrift store bulletin board that I had picked up some time back, it was maybe $3. I spray painted it back when I did my $10 laundry room makeover (which ironically, or maybe not) was also kind of a Pinterest inspired re-do. I also picked up the fabric – a clearance remnant – when I was at the fabric store getting the muslin I used on the bulletin board for the laundry room, again $3ish or so dollars I think for a nice home dec fabric, which I’m sorry I don’t remember the name or brand of. I dug a few cup hooks out of my on-hand hardware, drilled holes in the frame and put them in place, tucked some scrap paper under the frame and spray painted with oil-rubbed bronze spray paint.

To apply the fabric, I just cut it a little larger than the inner frame and used a credit card to push it in under the frame – no glue or anything. I had some long, pearl headed pins from a floral bouquet that I stuck in at the top to hang the jewelry from (I need more of these) and I use the hooks for rings and earrings (Remember, kitties, so long necklaces hanging down from the hooks = NoNo. They jump. High).

So here it is, my completed project:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Something Wing-ed This Way Comes

Halloween is upon us and it is a holiday I'm embracing more and more when it comes to decorating. I don't go all out, over the top, haunted house or anything like that, but I do start layering on the fall and subtle stuff in early to mid-Oct. and by the 3rd week or so get out the spookier stuff.

Last year I saw a Poe/Raven inspired vignette in a magazine that I absolutely loved and even went to far as to start scouting out copies of the Raven, bird cages, and a vintage typewriter (see my failed attempt at finding the books on this thrift store trip post).

I didn't come up with a typewriter on the cheap either, but I did eventually get a few cages and one fancy-bound Poe book at a thrift and dug another Poe anthology and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein off my bookshelves and put them in the Halloween box for this year where they became bases for faux pumpkins on my console and coffee table.

Rather than go full-on Raven, I went somewhat loosely with more of a "things with wings" theme - mainly because I fell in love with bat-themed cocktail napkins and this little vulture guy from Michael's Crafts, who I placed in a little thrift store bird cage lined with river rocks:

and the napkin from Target in a Dollar Tree frame:

I was already planning a purple and green color theme around the Missoni for Target dishes I'd scored in September and had them out along with an old green tablecloth, gold chargers, wooden placemats, and some cranberrish colored candles since the end of September. I layered in glass hurricanes filled with pink beans and votive candles, some spooky white pumpkins on the platter, and some other fake pumpkins from my Halloween stash to complete my tablescape.

As the end of October drew nearer, I styled up my china cabinet (I'm still terrified of the glass shelves and have put off my "final reveal" post because this is really the first I've done anything with it) with my black skull plates (last year from Target), the bat cocktail napkin in a little dollar store frame, various crows including one nesting in a nest of  black feathers (a feather boa from a craft store piled into a footed bowl, with initial balls for 'eggs'), some ironstone platters, (which I collect), pumpkins real and fake, a few more glass hurricanes with beans and votives, and a glass cloche with a twig in it (this needs a sparkly moon and an owl or something in it, maybe a mini pumpkin on the ground). The purple bat lights are from Target and I've had them forever - they flash somewhat annoyingly, which you're supposed to be able to make stop, but I never could.

Another great find I picked up in the dollar store were black cut-outs of mice and crows - one buck for a pack of 12 cut-outs, 4 each of 3 designs (mice were one pack, crows a second pack, they had cats too, but they were oddly the same size as the mice). I put them on one of the platters, a mirror, a cheese plate, and inside a lampshade, all to good effect.

I never did post pictures from last Halloween, where I went with a more traditional orange and black color scheme, so just for fun, some of those pictures follow. It is a lot of the same stuff I used this year, just arranged differently. The framed napkins are vintage ones found when we cleaned out my grandparents' house just layered on black fabric and framed in record album frames. I got them out this year but couldn't find a place to hang them without making extra nail holes so they and a few other ideas I had to frame up will wait again until next year, but I do love them.

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