Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Come and Gone...

I can't believe that Christmas has come and gone already! It goes by way too fast! I love the day after Christmas, though, I must admit. I have tons of leftover food to give my family, so I don't have to spend any time cooking. I don't have to wrap anything, come up with any last minute gifts, or think about crafting one more project before Christmas. Basically, I'm all done making Christmas and I can just sit around in my PJs enjoying the quiet. I did have to get up and get dressed today to go to church, but that just added to the joy of the day. I got to sing with the choir in the Christmas program, which is always enjoyable.

This is also a great time to reflect on the past year and look toward the coming one. My mind is brimming with ideas for the house. I recently found a house that seemed just perfect for us. I called my realtor and asked her to take us to see it. I started imagining all the wonderful things i would do with this amazing fixer-upper. Then, a couple days later, my realtor sent me a message telling me the house was already under contract. I was unbearably disappointed. I have watched four fantastic homes in the country come on and off the market in the last couple of years. This was almost more than I could take. But I have been trying to stop looking elsewhere, stop trying to force it. I realize that I need to try harder to be content where I am. But what that means for me is a lot of changes to the home I have. And so the wheels are turning. One of my big issues with this home is how generic it feels. I am hoping to make some changes that will make it feel a little more unique, a little more me. So that's what is on my mind. Here are some inspiration pictures.

From Nikki at Grand Design:

This bedroom is so light and bright, without being colorless. I love the look of all white rooms, but I know I'm not the kind of gal who can actually live in them. One of my goals is to lighten up our bedroom. It currently has a very similar color scheme, but many many shades darker of each color.

I've also been wanting to lighten my dining room. I love this inspiration for the table and chairs from Miss Mustard Seed.

As part of my dining room plan, I intend to paint my china cabinet. Ten or so years ago we purchased the hutch at a yard sale. I painted it in a crackle finish, back when crackle was all the rage. I LOVED it. However, I think it's time for the crackle to go and a cleaner, fresher finish to take its place.

I'm considering painting my piano as well, but that might be a bit ambitious. It just seems like the big brown elephant in the room. I want to paint my great room area, the open kitchen, dining, and living rooms. And, as if all that isn't enough, I'd like to put up some shelves in my laundry room, install a countertop, and replace the light fixture. Oh yeah, and come up with better storage for my mudroom. Oh, and did I mention painting all the trim? As in, throughout the whole house? That should keep me busy, eh? Obviously I won't get to all of it, but I'm excited to see what I can accomplish.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Living Room Tree

How do people keep up with blogging during the holiday season? I missed the Christmas tree party over at Thrifty Decor Chick, but still wanted to share my tree. So here goes.

We had an absolutely gorgeous day for tree-getting. Seriously, we couldn't have asked for more perfect weather. It was warm, with a light snow falling and sunshine weakly shining through, just enough to create a warm glow.

We traipsed out to the back portion of the tree farm and searched carefully for the perfect tree, shaking showers of snow from evergreen boughs.

We finally settled on a full, medium height tree for the family room, and a small, narrow but full tree for the living room.

We were able to catch a ride back to the barn on the hay wagon.

We enjoyed (free!) hot chocolate in the barn while the workers sent our trees through the shaker and binder. Lincoln and I secured them to the top of our car and we merrily toted them home.

The family room tree is the one we decorate together. This one gets colored lights, (we bought new LED lights for it this year and we LOVE them), and all the ornaments collected over the years. There are ornaments that I made as a kid, ornaments my kids have made, ornaments I purchased at the Dollar Store before I was married, and colorful, rustic ornaments we've collected as a family.

The living room tree is mine to decorate. I start with all white lights. This tree gets regular small lights, a couple strings of C9 white lights, and a couple strings of candle lights that I found at Goodwill several years ago. On this tree I put some antique ornaments I purchased at an antique store this year on our anniversary trip. ( I tried to stick with colors that were similar, but I couldn't resist the train one, knowing Jesse would love it.)

I also put our glitzier ornaments here that fall into the gold, crystal, shiny, category.

I placed the Symbols of Christmas ornaments on this tree, too.

I like to juxtapose glittery ornaments with rustic, which is how these wooden bead candy canes we made this year ended up on this tree.

Plus, they look great with our set of wooden ornaments that Lincoln's step-father has made for us. For a while he was making a new one for us every year.

The whole look gets set off with some red, glittery snowflakes I bought at Walmart last year. I just can't resist throwing in some red. Plus, it helps tie in the train ornament. The base gets wrapped in red burlap.

The cat finds it cozy.

And in the same room, the piano "mantle".

*Disclaimer: Will I ever gain the patience to hide my lights cords better? This is obviously not my forte.

***Looks like I'm not too late. This is the last day!
I can't get the button to work, but here's the link to the Christmas Tree Party!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Symbols of Christmas Ornaments

Now that you've seen my trees, here's another craft I did this year. This is not an original idea. I got this from Gooseberry Patch Christmas. For four of the ornaments, I used stickers from Hobby Lobby that depicted the symbol.

But for two of them, the bunny and the fruit basket, I could not find stickers that worked with the style of the others, so I handpainted them. This was a project that I taught at our church's Super Saturday craft event. I did finally find stickers for all the symbols, but I'm kind of liking the handpainted ones and I'm considering redoing the others with paint as well.

The ornaments are frosted glass. I used paint-on textured snow with a little glitter sprinkled on top while it was wet for the snow around each picture. Gold highlights were added with a gold paint pen. I used regular cardstock tags for the labels, with handwritten words written with a black Sharpie and accented with the gold paint pen. I added in some gold snowflakes and some antiquing glaze, then softened it all with more snow paint and glitter.

A Christmas Craft

I mentioned these cone trees in my last post, but I thought I'd talk about them in a little more detail here. I did not create a tutorial, but I can tell you exactly what i did.

First of all, as I mentioned before, when I went to the craft store I was surprised at how much the styrofoam cones, that are generally used as a base, cost. Knowing I wanted to make at least three, but not wanting to spend a lot of money, I went home from the craft store empty handed and racking my brain for an idea for the base that would cost me little or no money. I thought about it for a few days until I found myself in Dollar Tree. I was scooping up items I wanted for crafting when I came across the posterboard. Finally the lightbulb went on. 2 large pieces of posterboard for $1. That's more my price range. I brought them home and just cut and folded into a cone shape. I made all three from one piece of posterboard. (If I ever find a spare moment, I'll probably make more with the other piece.) I just stapled and masking taped the seams and I had three cones in varying sizes.

Next, I wrapped them in yarn. The first one took me forever because I started at the base and worked up toward the tip. I had to hot-glue every single bit of the yarn down. On the other two, I was wiser and started at the tip. It holds together better as you go, and then I just glued a little section every couple of inches.

I added the wire stars on top. I used needle-nose pliers to bend it into the star shape. I left a couple of inches of wire as a stem, then stuck the stem down in the tip of the cone shape, attaching with a dollop of hot glue. The wire I used is very heavy-duty and stiff. I got it at the hardware store. I think it's called rebar wire? I got about a million yards of it for $3-4. I will never have to buy more. Ever. I couldn't find a more pliable craft wire in a gauge I liked or for a price i liked. I've used this on a couple crafts and I've been happy with it, but i know there will probably be something I'll make that I'll wish it was more pliable.

I embellished with twine I had on hand, and a berry sprig I got at Hobby Lobby a while ago for $.50.

I love that they are rustic and cozy. I have always loved the idea of decorating with yarn, and this year I've kind of run with it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Family Room "Mantle"

I don't have a fireplace. This makes me sad for a couple reasons, but this time of year one of the biggies is that I don't have a lovely place to hang the stockings. What I DO have is a half wall with a ledge. This helps, but it's actually a really awkward space to decorate. It's big, it's not centered in the room, it's narrow. Last year I kind of wimped out. I decorated my piano "mantle" and just strung some lights up on the ledge. This year I was determined to do it up right.

I started with an old shed door. When my cousin moved into her house and announced she would be tearing down the old shed in the backyard, I told her I would be happy to help if I could have the door and some of the barnwood. Thinking I was a sucker, she readily agreed. I haven't used the door until now. It has sat in my garage, much to my husband's chagrin, waiting for the perfect project. Do you ever do that? Find something you love and then not use it forever because you want it to be just right? Well, this is not a permanent spot, but it is perfect for what I wanted to accomplish. Rustic, country Christmas.

I built on the look with a yarn ball wreath I made this year, inspired by this at Recaptured Charm. I think I will add a little greenery to it- sparingly- after our trip to the tree farm on Saturday.

These were inspired primarily by my friend Erin, over at Sutton Grace. My take on the many variations of foam cone trees flooding blogland.

I have a secret though. I found the foam cones to be a bit pricey, so I made my base out of posterboard stapled into a cone shape. I made all my bases for $.50. Not too shabby. The red frames I made from some of that barnwood I scored from my cousin. The little bird is a dollar store find. I spray painted it with oil rubbed bronze paint and I love it now.

The stocking board I made a couple years ago with knobs from Hobby Lobby. I free-handed the letters. Everything here was either hand made, thrifted, or a dollar store score. Except the rattan lights. They are from Walmart.

You might have noticed that the accessories changed a bit from picture to picture, but I think I've settled on the bottom picture. I may be adding some greenery, however. I think that's all it is lacking. We'll see what I can find at the tree farm.

I'm linking up over at The Lettered Cottage's Christmas Mantle Party.
The Lettered Cottage

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Real Closet

I FINALLY got around to installing a closet system in the girls' new closet last weekend. Since I moved them in they've only had a big ugly dresser in there with an overflowing basket on top of it. Oh, and a basket for shoes on the floor. This doesn't sound as bad as it truly was, and I don't have photos for proof. But trust me, it was a mess. The stupid thing about it is that I've had a ClosetMaid rack system sitting in an unopened box in my basement since we moved here. We bought it for our last house in NC and never installed it. I've known all along that I would use it in this room, but frankly, I was a little intimidated about getting started. Turns out, it wasn't that bad, with the exception of cutting down the wire shelves to size using a hacksaw. That was not fun, but it was doable. Basically, if you can use a tape measure, a drill, and a screwdriver, and of coarse, the hacksaw, you can do this. I'd rate it in the easy to moderate category of DIY for a beginner. I'm thrilled with how it turned out, though I couldn't get a very good picture. I'm very happy with all the shelf space since the room is small and I don't want dressers in here. This gives us plenty of room to hang dresses and shirts, with room still for baskets of jammies, piles of pants, a basket of belts and such, a small set of drawers for socks, panties, and tights, a hanging organizer for school outfits, and a hanging shoe organizer. There's even room for a big basket of purses and bags.

For some reason, blogger refuses to let me add any photos to this post. What's up with that?!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wreaths are my thing this year...

I love pinecones. I also love acorns. On a recent walk at the state park I brought along a bag for collecting both, because more than anything I like FREE items for decorating. I had been dreaming about a pinecone wreath and piles of acorns.

Yesterday I finally got around to making the wreath and putting the acorns here and there around the house.

First let me tell you that all the acorns we found had lost their tops. So we collected a bajillion tops and bottoms and I hot-glued them back together. This took a little time, but it wasn't as bad as I feared it would be.

For the wreath, I planned on purchasing a Styrofoam wreath form, painting it brown, and gluing on the pinecones. Then I remembered an old wreath in my basement that we (my family) had made a few years back. It was falling apart and honestly, I don't think it was that great to begin with. It seemed nice at the time...

I yanked off the pieces that were still hanging on and was left with just the grapevine wreath form- which was perfect because I didn't have to worry about it showing through. No painting, fabric wrapping, or anything required. I glued on the pinecones in a few different sizes and kept one sweet gum ball from the old wreath because we collected it from the yard in our home in NC. I hung it on the door along with my indian corn and I think I looks great. I have no idea why the wreath appears lop-sided in the picture because it doesn't look that way in real life. Maybe it's the shadows? Weird.

And here are a few gratuitous Thanksgiving decor pictures...