Sunday, December 12, 2010

{Our Home at the Holidays}

I'm linking up to The Nester's Christmas Tour of Homes, and I'm so excited about it. I've enjoyed looking at the homes of some very creative bloggers the past couple of years, via this link-up party, and this year I have a blog and can join in on the fun!

First, here is a quick look at the front of our house. We always keep it simple. Just some greenery and lights.

Next up...the tree. We got a real beaut this year. It's full, as symmetrical as they come, and a perfect fit for the space. We bought it here, which is always fun because it involves a little frozen treat after the tree is selected and loaded up. In the comfort of our warm car, of course. I used 11 strands of lights. That's a record for me. Hopefully not a record that will result in a blown fuse or an electrical fire.

Close up of some of my "new" vintage ornaments.

Next is the mantle. Every year, I swag a combination of real and "faux" greenery, with white lights and embellishments. What I put on top of the mantle varies from year to year. This year, I brought in two metal topiaries from the front porch. I got these at an estate sale this year - $15 for the pair.

I also hung a fresh boxwood wreath from the mirror.

One more close-up shot. The lighting was pretty terrible,
especially for my sad litle camera.

More garland & white lights hung on the railing.

I stick different things in this garland every year. This time around,
I tied some strips of fabric in and added some gold bells and orange picks.

Here is a little vignette on my old trunk.

I propped up this sweet little book I found...probably at an estate sale???
There is no date to be found inside, but it's really old.
The cover is like velvet - so pretty.

My dining room buffet, all dressed up for the Holidays. The wreath is actually a strand of garland wound up. I bought it a couple of years ago at Crate & Barrel,
and they still have it. It's really pretty in person.

A white poinsettia on the table.
Red never looks quite right in my house, so I always go for the white.

The little china another blurry photo.

Here is my entry table , with a couple of Christmasy touches,
and of course...a wreath (from Wreathfest 2010) hung over the mirror.
I might have a slight obsession with the wreath/mirror combo.

Moving on to the kitchen. I don't put much holiday decor in here.
Just a pretty little display on the table...

And a simply dressed mantle, including a wreath on the mirror.
I tried to leave it bare, but it looked so, well...bare.

Here is my book page wreath, hanging in the kitchen window. It looks awfully cute here. That's the problem with this wreath. It looks cute everywhere. So I need to make like 4 more. But having 5 bookpage wreaths scattered among the house would be kind of weird. So I guess I'll just have to move this one from time to time, to spread the cuteness around.

I do love decorating for the holidays. While the process can be a little tiring and time consuming, there is nothing like having a cozy home all decked out for Christmas. But what I love the most is having my family around to enjoy it with me. Isn't that what it's all about?

See, we're giddy with Christmas joy! ;)

{Merry Christmas, and many blessings to all in the new year! }

Friday, December 03, 2010

Dial Turners

As I've mentioned, I really enjoy some good Christmas music. It puts me in a good mood, evokes warm & fuzzy memories, etc., etc. I pretty much have my radio tuned in to Christmas stations from the day after Thanksgiving (or sooner) through Christmas Day. That being said, I also have a pretty strong aversion to bad Christmas music. I thought I'd share some artists that earn top "dial turner" ranks in my book, via a Top 5 list.

5. Willie Nelson - Willie and Christmas just don't fit, if you ask me.
4. The Carpenters - Is there anything cheesier? The correct answer is no.
3. Alan Jackson - Uggh.
2. Annie Lenox - She scares me.
1. Gloria Estefan - For me, her voice cues reflex-like dial turning...all year round.

No offense if you enjoy any or all of the above. We just can't be friends. ;)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Vintage Christmas

I decided it's time for some new tree decor this Christmas. I've been using the same ornaments since I bought my first house, seven Christmases ago. High time for some new ones, I'd say. Over the past several months, I've been picking up vintage ornaments, at estate sales and antique malls. I also bought a few new sparkly ones, to complement the oldies. I'm excited to trim the tree with them next weekend. If they look this pretty sitting on the floor, I can't wait to see how they sparkle on the tree!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

{Wreathfest 2010}

WARNING: Long post ahead, chock-full of recipes, photos, wreathing, and rambling.

Yesterday I had 7 of my closest friends over for some very important business. Brunching. Wreath-making. Wreathfest 2010. And I think it is safe to say, it was the first annual. We'll be doing it again. Because it was awesome.

Over the last few months, I've been noticing lots of adorable wreaths out in the blog world. And naturally, I've been itching to make one (or twenty). So a few weeks ago, I sent out a little feeler e-mail to my crew, accompanied by photos of the wreath beauties I'd found. Everyone was on board. On board, and pumped. I bought all of the supplies, after polling them to find out which designs they wanted to make, and they all pitched in to cover the cost.

The girls arrived at 10, ready to make some wreaths! But first we fueled up on a little brunch. I meant to take some pics of the spread, but I got busy and before I knew it...everything was just about gone. I guess that's a good sign! Here is what I served...

Impossible Quiche
*Not sure where this name came from because it's about the opposite of impossible to make. Should be called the Very Possible Quiche. We have it every Christmas morning at my parents' house. I like it better than your typical quiche with crust because I'm just not a big fan of pie crust.

12 slices of crispy fried bacon, crumbled
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mix of swiss and cheddar)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup finely chopped onion (I prefer green onion, but yellow onion works too)
3/4 cup Bisquick
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
Optional add-ins: mushrooms, peppers, any veggie you like.

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 9-10" pie plate. Sprinkle bacon, cheese, and onion (any any other veggies you're adding) in pan. Place remaining ingredients in blender and blend on high for 1 minute. Pour into pan. Bake 50-55 minutes, until golden brown. If you want to be extra sure it's done, insert a knife in the center. If it comes out's ready.

Cranberry, Brie, & Caramelized Onion Pizza
*I put this together on my own, so I don't really have exact measurements.

Pizza dough (store bought or homemade)
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Brie (1 wedge, about 6 oz.???) - sliced thinly. Make sure it's really cold when you slice it...or it will be tough to do.
Dried Cranberries - about 3/4 cup
Yellow Onion - 1 medium
Garlic - 2 cloves finely chopped or 1 tsp. minced
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Preaheat oven to 425 (or temp specified for your crust). Start by caramelizing the onions: Slice the onion thinly, add to hot pan with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, cook over low-medium heat until the onions are soft and golden in color - about 10-15 minutes. Add the minced garlic during the last couple minutes of cooking. Set onions and garlic aside.

Roll dough out and place on cookie sheet or pizza stone. Drizzle dough with a few tablespoons of olive oil, just so the whole thing has a light layer of oil. Prick the dough with a fork in several spots, so it doesn't bubble up too much in the oven. Bake the dough without toppings for about 4 minutes. I like to do this because it helps the crust get nice and crispy.

Take crust out and top it. If all of the olive oil has absorbed, you can add a couple more tablespoons. Add the mozzarella, brie, onions and garlic, and cranberries. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the crust is golden and cheese is melted. Let cool slightly and cut into squares.

Pumpkin Butter Dessert Bars
I came across these delectable treats on Kasey's Blog a few weeks ago and really wanted to try them. I thought this ladies' brunch/wreathfest was the perfect opportunity. Mostly because I knew I wouldn't have the whole pan sitting in my kitchen, tempting me day and night until they were all gone. They were a huge hit. I'm pretty sure everyone had at least two. I am refusing to tally my bar consumption over the last couple of days. What good would it do, really?

OK, onto the wreaths! Three of the designs we tried came from Emily @ Jones Design Company - the bookpage, burlap ruffle, and Nonna. On her site, she has tutorials for the bookpage and burlap ruffle wreaths, for everyone to use. She also has an awesome Christmas tutorial that features all kinds of adorable holiday crafts. I purchased it, and let me tell you, it was $7 well spent :) That's where we got the instructions for the Nonna wreath. Check out Emily's "tutorials" tab for links to all of them.
I also snagged a demonstration from The Nester, for the coffee filter wreath. And I found this tutorial for the yarn wreath, via Danielle @ Take Heart.

Here are a few photos of the ladies, hard at work...

And here's a lady who couldn't join us in person, but she was there in spirit. In the form of yarn. Did anyone else know Vanna had a yarn line? I was quite surprised when I saw her face in the aisles of yarn at Michaels'. I wonder if she's ever knitted a scarf or sweater for Mr. Sajak?

Back to the wreathing. To say things got a little messy...would be an understatement.

We talked, we laughed, we worked intently. The excitement alone was enough to wear anybody out.

But all the work and mess resulted in some major cuteness. Here are the girls with their finished beauties.

Val & Jessica with their coffee filter wreaths.

Casey with her burlap ruffle wreath.

Tarah with her fabric ruffle wreath and bookpage wreath.

Close up of her ruffle wreath. She used the tutorial for the burlap ruffle,
but used this cute green and white fabric instead.

Annie with her bookpage wreath.
Four of us made these, and they all turned out looking a little bit different.
All very cute though!

Katie with her festive Christmas yarn wreath and burlap ruffle wreath.

Sarah with her bookpage wreath and burlap ruffle wreath. I crowned her best wreather. Everyone's turned out so great, but that Sarah...she has a real knack for wreathmaking. I'm so happy she discovered it at WF2010.

Me with my bookpage wreath and Nonna wreath.

I also made a couple others later.

Here's my bookpage wreath, hung in the dining room. I hung it inside an old gold frame from Value Village. I know it would really be a perfect fit in the den (you know, because it's like made from a book)...but I kind of love it in here. So it will stay put for a while.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've worked up quite an appetite compiling this very lengthy and informative post. And there is one last, loney pumpkin butter bar calling my name.

Yes, it's sitting on a wreath plate. I promise I didn't buy them especially for Wreathfest though. Honestly.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and...happy wreathing, too!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hiatus Over

So it's been a while since I posted. What can I say? I don't really have a good excuse. I wasn't backpacking across Europe, or working on any super exciting projects. Just staying busy with the usual stuff and also taking time to relax and enjoy my favorite season. But hopefully my little blog hiatus is over, and I can muster up the inspiration (and the time) to get back to semi-regular posting. With the holidays upon us, it shouldn't be too difficult to find some good blogging material :)

Speaking of, I'm getting awfully excited for Christmas. I haven't started shopping or decorating...I don't get my decorations out before Thanksgiving because it just feels wrong to me. I, however, have no problem listening to Christmas music mid-November. One of the STL stations is playing it already, non-stop, and I can't help myself! It just puts me in a better mood, especially the old classics. Bing, Dean, Frank, Johnny - I heart them all.

Back to Thanksgiving...I thought I'd share a great source for Thanksgiving art for any of you searching for some last minute decor for Turkey Day. I downloaded this print, from this generous blogger, after seeing it on Shannon's blog. I just printed it on my color printer, and it looks great in my most favorite white gallery frame from Target. I assume the quality would be even better if you printed it, or had it printed, on photo quality paper. This was good enough for me though. Here it is propped on my mantel.

So even though I only get to enjoy it for another week or so, I'm so grateful I found it (pun intended). I'll definitely be bringing it out year after year!

I hope to be back this weekend with photos and details from what I'm calling "Wreathfest 2010". This Saturday, I'm having a few friends over for a little wreath making brunch. I'm so glad my friends respond with enthusiasm to ideas like this one, as opposed to thinking I'm nuts. I guess they just know what to expect from me by now!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Oh so silly.

So, I strolled into Ashley Furniture on my lunch break today, to scope out kitchen tables and comfy chairs for our breakfast/hearth room. I didn't find anything that fell into those categories, but I did find a precious little lamp, for...wait for it...$8! Seriously, $8?!? I snatched it up fast.

Truth be told, I felt a little silly checking out. It went a little something like this: I walked back to the customer service desk, tiny lamp in hand, and asked "Where do I check out?". They asked me who had greeted me, to which I replied, "Christy. But this is only $8. I doubt it really matters." Nonsense, they said. "That's her job." OK then. They called Christy over the intercom, she appeared at the customer service desk, led me to her desk, and then proceeded to process my "order". It was all very strange. And I felt bad she was going to all of that trouble over a potential...$.80 commission??? But, I decided, that's Ashley's problem. I walked out of there with an adorable lamp for $8!

I didn't know where I'd use it, but some things are just too cute (and cheap) to leave behind. So here it is, sitting atop the cabinet my great-grandpa made, in our dining room.

I think it's the perfect fit. It adds a little modern glam to the room. Just goes to show, you can find the best little treasures when you aren't even looking for them. May require an awkward encounter with a salesperson, but's worth it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Busting Out the Fall

It's that magical time of year. The nights are getting crisper, pumpkin spice flavored things are everywhere, and the fall decorations have been busted out. And I love it all.

I started decorating for this favorite season of mine last weekend. My mantel and entry table are all fall-ified. I thought I'd share them here, via this "Fantel" link-up party on one of my most favorite blogs.

For the mantel, I decided to use some of the candlestick holders I've accumulated on my thrifting adventures. I added some fall branches and a bushel of fake wheat, filled my apothecary jar with a fall mix, left my mirror and "There's No Place Like Home" etsy print, and...voila, my mantel is ready for fall. I like how it glows :)

To fall-ify my entry table (the one I recently transformed), I hung the feather and cattail (at least I think it's cattail) wreath I made last year. I added some pumpkin shaped mercury glass candle holders, a pot 'o branches with a spooky sign, and a glass pumpkin filled with a mix of black and orange pretties.

I'm looking forward to finishing up the fallification of our house this weekend, which includes the planting of mums. And for me, that can be a dangerous activity. Let's just say, I can go a little overboard. I mean, how many mums is enough? It's an awfully tough judgement call.

Happy Fall!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saturday Night in the Den

It's late on Saturday night. The Mr. is in Columbia, likely passed out from tailgating and football excitment, and I am here at home, working on the den. It was kind of the forgotten space in our house. But I'm working on turning it into a stylish workspace for us (OK, mostly me - it involves a fair amount of pink). I can't wait to share the finished product with you. But until then, Quincy would like to extend an exhausted "hello" among paper scraps and scotch tape. Poor buddy, stuck with mom and her madness ;)