Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Starts at the Front Door

I recently spiffed up my front entrance with a new door mat,

and have been keeping flowers and plants in that little corner too (I guess I forgot to post my purple mums, ornamental cabbage, burgundy pansy arrangement, but it was lovely, trust me), so when I spied a cute white enamel bucket with red trim on a recent thrift outing, I knew just where it would go.

I tucked my Christmas tree trimmings into a plastic container (cut off a plastic bottle from the recycling bin) to keep them watered and then stuffed some plastic bags down in to fill in the space and then added my giant (and some normal sized) pine cones to the top. For sparkle, I strung a small string of battery operated white lights from Target around the pine branches and I now have a nice, full, twinkly bit of cheer at my door. 

Ideally I'd like some birch logs or some other pieces of fire wood in there too, but Lowe's didn't have the birch logs and I didn't want to run all over town for them (or pay online prices) and the packs of fire wood were heavy and I just wasn't in the mood to deal with slogging them along with the tree. I was going to borrow some from work, but wanted to get the arrangement done before I'd be back there, so for this year it is just the greens and cones. I like the rustic messiness of it and am enamored of enamel. Ha.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pink and Purple Butterfly Christmas Tree

As unlikely as that sounds for a Christmas tree theme, I have to say I'm thrilled with how my tree turned out this year. This is my second time doing a "theme" tree instead of all my collected ornaments from childhood, and I have to say, as much as I love the sentimental, traditional ornaments, the theme tree is just so much easier to get out and put away.

I stared with a live tree - a $20 Frasier Fir from Lowes - after a bad experience a few  years ago with a too big tree I swore off them for awhile, and now my rule is I need to be able to pick it up easily (and carry it up and down a full flight of stairs), so I go with the  small (5-6') size, which has the added bonus of being cheap. And they are nice trees and they cut and wrap them for you and help you put them in your car and give you the cuttings from the bottom. Truth be told, I'd rather support a local tree farmer, but just can't beat the price and convenience of the big boxes.

The color scheme was inspired by a tree I saw last year at Longwood Gardens, done up in plum and silver with gingerbread and natural elements.

Shortly after I lucked into some Martha Stewart ornaments at the thrift in shades of purple and pinkish red (I think they were from the Twilight Collection - for reals) so I snapped those up and added the straw pine cone-ish ornaments and star topper (from Ikea awhile ago) and a thrifted straw garland that looks a bit like popcorn to me. The butterflies are actually paper that is embedded with petals and seeds (you're supposed to plant them and grow wildflowers) and the lighter pink and silver ornaments are just thrift store stuff collected over the years. The "skirt" is just a big red and white ticking stripe sheet from,  you guessed it, a thrift store, that I've wrapped around the base.

So what do you think? I think I did a pretty good job emulating my inspiration tree.

P.S. I'm linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick's Christmas Tree Party - stop by and check out all of the gorgeousness.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Let's Talk Turkey: Place Settings That Is

It's hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is only a week away so time to do a little seasonal decorating and tablescaping. I picked up a few napkins from Target's new Threshold line - they have a feather painted on in gold and I thought they were just so pretty at only $2/each. I've layered them with my Ralph Lauren Claire dishes, a gold leaf charger, wooden tiled place mats, and the orange linen tablecloth left from Halloween.

I love the glint of the gold mixed with the more rustic wooden pieces. It just looks so warm and cozy to me.

The centerpiece is a wooden candelabra (needs candles still) and two amber glass forcing jars that I've added tea lights to. 

The china cabinet also got a little restyling - probably the most traditional it's ever been with actual china in it this time, although I still like to mix things up with mis-matched pieces and asymmetrical groupings. The tureen is a Wedgewood piece, the brown and white transferware is Johnson Brothers "Friendly Village" pattern. I also kept some of my Halloween pumpkins around.

I'm still not over my little owl, so he's still out along with a Johnson Bros. ironstone plate in the background.

My owl candle is also still out, along with some amber stemware that I just love

Another random tureen (I love ironstone for mixing and matching) and some cute wooden bowls over on the side.

More of the Friendly Village and the amber stemware. 

And one last shot of the stemware - I just love how it glows.

The majority of this stuff was all thrifted, except the Friendly Village pieces, where were actually, ummmm, trashpicked rescued.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Terrarium Time

Part of my Hurricane Sandy prep included dragging all the patio stuff into my living room. Yep, there was no food in the house, but my crap wasn't going to blow through anyone's window. When I went to drag it back outside a few days later, I took a look at my sad little succulent plants in their strawberry pot. I'm not "on the succulent bandwagon" so to speak, they're just the only thing I can keep alive because I'm not good at watering anything that doesn't come begging (note: the kitties always have water, one just likes to beg for the faucet to be turned on for him). Anyway, I remembered Katie's Pinterest Challenge terrarium project and the fact that I had purchased a jar to make one some time ago, so I got it out along with some rocks I had on hand (I think they were Dollar Tree vase filler) and went to town.

Rocks on the bottom, plants with whatever dirt they came out of their original pots with arranged in no particular order, more rocks around the edges, cute little clay house I had on hand, water, lid, done.

While this is not exactly a Pinterest Challenge Project (don't have a single terrarium pinned) since it was inspired by someone else's Challenge Project, I'm going to go ahead and link up here and here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Soup's On...

When this quarter's Pinterest Challenge was announced, I took a quick look through my "Crafty Ideas" and "DIY" folders on Pinterest, but wasn't really feeling inspired (mainly because I was looking for zero effort). So I headed over to the "Recipes" folder - I'm not a cook at all, but I have sooooo many recipes pinned it's crazy. I also like to watch cooking shows. Weird I know.

Anyway, with the hurricane coming, it seemed like good soup weather, so I went right to the Minestrone soup recipe I'd pinned from Better Homes and Gardens.

It was super easy and super delicious. The recipe as it appears on the BHG site calls for 

  • 1
    28 ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs
  • 2
    cups water
  • 1
    14 - 15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
  • 1
    cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1
    medium yellow sweet pepper, chopped
  • 2
    teaspoons Italian seasoning or 1 teaspoon each dried basil and garlic powder
  • 1
    cup dry rigatoni or penne pasta
  • 2 - 3
    cups baby spinach
    Shaved Parmesan and/or fresh basil (optional)

I didn't have the yellow pepper so I skipped it and used a chopped up small onion instead and I used the vegetable stock to make it vegetarian. I may add some frozen string beans next time.

The directions are two simple steps.

1.In a Dutch oven combine the tomatoes, water, beans, broth, sweet pepper, seasoning, and pasta. Bring to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until pasta is barely tender.
2.Stir in spinach. Ladle into soup bowls. Top with Parmesan cheese and/or fresh basil.

My vegetable stock was frozen, but trust me, it is not homemade. I buy the big cartons of it and freeze what I don't use.

Prior to adding spinach.

Right after putting spinach in.

After cooking spinach down.

Finished soup. Yummmmm.

I don't see any reason to ever buy canned minestrone again. Seriously, this was that quick and easy.

I'll be linking up to the Pinterest Challenge posts here, here, here, and here, so stop over and check out all the "Pinspiring" projects.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween Hocus Pocus

I have a little confession to make: I did my Halloween decorating at the end of September. I know. My intention was to start small with just a few pumpkins to get in the mood, but while I had the box out I just went for it. For some reason, this year summer seemed to vanish in a flash and it was suddenly full on fall with no transition time at all so just moving right into Halloween so early didn't seem too out of place. I only decorated one small space: my china hutch and used all things I had on hand with the exception of the black and white striped balloon lights (from Target - $12). Come to think of it, I think it was the desire to get those lights out that got me going on this project so early in the first place.

Crows are all from the craft store, pumpkins are craft store and Joann's Fabrics, platter is part of my iron stone collection picked up at thrifts here and there.

Crow silhouettes are from Dollar Tree last year or the year before - I looked for them again this year, but no dice. 

Bat print is a cocktail napkin from Target from last year or the year before.

Nest is made from a feather boa with plastic bag stuffed underneath to keep the eggs from sinking, and the eggs are raided from the Easter box (I pulled all the putrid green ones).

Crow silhouette tapped onto a plate with a printed black border - this is actually a new addition for this year - picked it up at a thrift with just this in mind for it. The owl is a Christmas ornament from Target last year.

The owl candle (he's battery operated and works on a timer!). I picked it up at a thrift for a few bucks, but when I couldn't figure out the timer (you don't set on/off times, it just runs for 5 hours from the time you first turn it on, and then turns back on at the same time every day - so simple!) I started googling and it turns out, he's still available at QVC for $18! 

The wooden candelabra is from a thrift and picked up thinking it looked kind of spooky and Halloween-y. I was going to paint it gray, but I'm grooving on natural wood as of late, so I'm glad I left it (besides, it would probably be half finished if I'd tried to paint it). The glittery witch hat, I have no recollection of ever buying or getting - maybe it came in some flowers? I tried to put it on Chloe when she was little to take her "Halloween  portrait" but she just keep trying to eat it. 

So anyway, that's it for this year's Halloween decorations - just pretty much used the same things I do every year (I have way too much Christmas cwap to start in on a huge Halloween collection), just rearranged a bit for variety.

I'm linking up at:


Friday, October 12, 2012

A Key Change

On a quick trip to Target the other week for cat food I spied a whole slew of cute accessories from Target's new house brand, Threshold. The current collection features classic equestrian and menswear inspired themes and fabrics, lots of texture, and great warm, fall-inspired colors. I couldn't resist this doormat, featuring the skeleton key from their logo to spruce up my front entrance. 

I had actually seen a really similar one a year or so in a Garnet Hill catalog, which was actually on sale enough for me to consider ordering it, but it was sold out by the time I got my catalog and logged on so I was beyond thrilled to find this one at Target for the really reasonable price of $12.99. 

Just for fun, I pulled together a small collection of some of the other items I really loved too - the chunky felt basket with nautical rope handle, the herringbone basket with equestrian-inspired leather trim, the leaf/flame print doormat (I seriously may go back and get this for the back door), the orange fox pillow and cozy orange plaid throw.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fast Fixes: Christmas Dinner No More

Like everyone else, I have a mile long list of quick projects I never make the time for, so I'm going to try and force myself to get a few of them done, especially the ones I already have the supplies on hand for. My first project was actually not really even on my list, and something a lot of people likely wouldn't bother with, but it was so easy and fast and I like the results so much, I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.

The cats have a big tray in the pantry to corral the loose kibble they like to scatter everywhere. It was one I picked up at Ross years ago for around $10 I think. It's nice wipe-able plastic, but the problem was it had a winter scene on it, so not really appropriate for nine out of twelve months of the year, even though I do think it is pretty.

Enter roll of "faux bois" contact paper and voila, they now have a swanky new look which I think looks great with the white sides of the tray and is still wipe-able and can be removed if I ever want to change the look.

I also considered the grass cloth wallpaper I used on this bathroom toe kick project, but decided the contact paper would be more functional for this particular project and easier too since I wouldn't need to break out the sizing. The blue cat food bowl was Chloe's first Christmas present way back in 2003 and from Target and the green polka dotted water bowl is a Sur la Table cereal bowl I picked up at a thrift for .90 or so - love the two colors together. Wet food is served up on paper plates.

While I had the contact paper out, I did do another quick project with it, but still need one craft store supply to finish it up so we'll get to that later.

I'm linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick's November Before and After Party. Hop on over to see all the great inspiration.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chalk One Up

I can't believe I've lived here almost three years and have just now figured out I can draw on my slate hearth with chalk! I have to say I've never been a huge fan of the chalkboard paint trend - it seems like so much form over function - I mean really, are you going to take your pantry door to the grocery store with you so you have your shopping list?


I do like the look for erasable labels though - cute and practical.

But back to my little quickie fireplace makeover. You may remember where we left off with painting the firebox and the doors and other metal parts. The plan for the hearth was to faux marble it and maybe mark off a herringbone or chevron pattern, but well, I'm pretty slow about getting things done (darn working). In the meantime, in the meantime I saw an awesome blog project that involved a dark wood top and a chevron pattern drawn freehand with a paint pen ...

I can't find the original inspiration project, but the effect was similar to THIS

... and thought, hmmmm, I could do that on my hearth, with chalk. And it will be fast and easy and reversible and I will actually get it done. So I dug out my chalk and went to town. I probably should have used a ruler or yardstick and I may search out thinner chalk at some point, but for now it is done and I like it and I can always redo it down the road, either with a different pattern or the original planned on faux painting.

For some reason the cat was fascinated with the process so it got a little smeary in places where she walked on it, and a day later it looked like someone had rolled around on it a bit too. Oh well, at least it wasn't wet paint.

I'm linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick's Before and After Party. Stop over and see all the great transformations.

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