Sunday, December 27, 2009

Now what?






The holidays are over and you’ve got a landfill full of wrappings, boxes and tissue to toss…not so fast, you can recycle all of it! My grandmothers never even realized they were saving the earth when they would fold up the wrapping paper (that wasn’t torn to shreds) and save those pretty ribbons. You can reuse many of the items and save yourself mucho dollars in the process! The rest can go into the recycling bin.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Terrific Tabletops



Well, we are very close to Christmas…are you ready? If you’re having family and friends over for a festive dinner or party, the table has to look as good as the rest of your house.
Tablescaping, the art of arranging tables, is one way to add drama to your tabletop. If you want to create a tablescape that wows your guests, vary the heights of the objects you use. For example, you can stack your favorite Christmas books and place a candlestick on top, pair a large urn with two smaller vases, or conceal a sturdy box under layers of luxurious fabrics to add height and sophistication. (That’s similar to what I did, below at right).


If you’re not in the mood to layer, just remember, it's all in the details. When you set your table this holiday season, the key is to add something unique to make your table memorable. For example, the photos above and on the left are examples of a very simple centerpiece. I used the inside of an old toolbox and filled it with mini pinecones and candles and then adorned with an articficial pine garland. 
Other ideas: Serve breadsticks in a tall champagne flute or pretty flower vase instead of placing them on a flat plate or in a basket. Add a sprig of holly or pine on your serving plates for a simple, yet festive look. Sprinkle a decorative seasoning, such as paprika or minced herbs around the edge of each serving piece. Stretch a garland or pine roping the length of your table and add some votives for a very easy, festive look. Sprinkle glitter or confetti around your serving bowls or centerpiece. Dress your chairs with bows, berries and/or branches to complete the look. I saw a quick tip on HGTV from designer Taniya Nayak the other day. She took creme pillow cases, placed them on the back of dining room chairs and then tied a big red bow around the back…they looked very festive. Check out HGTV’s website for more ideas…they have tons!
The way a table is set can add to the ambience of any meal. The key to setting the table this holiday season is to have fun and use your imagination. Of course, serving delicious food can't hurt. May you have a very blessed and merry Christmas!
Do you have any simple ideas for holiday tabletop d├ęcor?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Creating Holiday Vignettes





If anyone knows me well, they know that I like themes – yes, as corny as that may be – I just think themes are fun. The Christmas holiday season can lend itself to many, many themes. Think about it – snowmen, crafty, woodsy, nature, elegant, glitzy, soft, bold, all the shades of red and green and in-between – there’s just a zillion ways to decorate for the holidays. And since I like almost all of them, I decided to decorate each room and even sections of rooms, with different themes by creating vignettes. For example, my family room and connecting kitchen (above) has a more traditional, cozy feel, so my decorations enhance that look, whereas my dining room is a tad more formal, so I embellish it with lots of gold and glitz.



Crafting holiday vignettes is easy. Just group things in odd numbers – groups of three or five. For example, place three pillar candles of alternating heights together on one side of a buffet and a bowl of ornaments, a lamp and a smaller candle on the other side.
Creating holiday themes doesn’t take much doing, either, especially if you already have a definite decorating style (as you can tell my style is very eclectic). If you have a formal traditional style, then by all means go for the gold (or red and green). If you have a natural, earthy style, grab those twigs and bundle them together with some Christmas plaid ribbon or red and green raffia.
Modern styles lend themselves well to lime green and red or silver and light blue. And, don't forget get the glitter! 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Greetings from down under...


Under the snow, that is. Well, we had a crazy snowstorm that dumped 21 inches on our fair city. Needless to say, all plans are on hold until further notice. We had a blast sledding and just walking through this winter wonderland! Mother Nature provided us with the ultimate outdoor Christmas decoration!!! 


We are busy making cookies, playing in the snow, and we even made a gingerbread house (from a kit) yesterday. It was a kit that I bought last year after Christmas...I think it cost me about $3.00. Since they aren't edible, the house kits keep very well in their packaging, so this year, think about grabbing one for next year! It certainly gave us something to do when the blizzard (and it was a blizzard) was blowing in at full force. My youngest and his two buddies did the majority of the decorating (I was delegated to construction). We used the candy in the kit and some stuff we had around the house. As you can see, it turned out to be really "sweet." I'll post my "Creating Christmas Vignettes" blog tomorrow (I was going to post today, but I just had to share my snowy news).  

Friday, December 18, 2009

Whimsical Wraps





You’re probably wrapping all those gifts by now…right?! Oh come on, get with it! Just close the door, turn on some Christmas music or a Christmas movie and start wrapping. And, don’t worry if you run out of wrapping paper because I have some easy ideas:
First, how about that Christmas sheet music? You know, the stuff in the piano bench that you swore you were going to learn this Christmas! Make some copies of the music and stuff the originals back in the bench (hey, there’s always next year). Now, grab some red and green ribbon and get wrappin’!
Cloth Christmas napkins and tea towels can make artful gift wrap when gathered at the top. Or purchase a pretty scarf and wrap the box in it -- tying the four corners knapsack-style. Your special recipient will love getting two gifts!
Cardboard paper towel tubes can serve as easy "boxes" for soft goods such as tee shirt or set of cloth napkins rolled up inside the tube. Wrap it in tissue paper, tie small strands of ribbon on the ends.
Use white paper as a base for stamping, painting and gluing on decorative ribbons, rickrack and trims. Use a holiday rubber stamp and let your kids help stamp out a fun and personal gift wrap. Or have the kids paint or draw colorful pictures or patterns – a great project on days too cold to venture outdoors.
Even newspaper or plain white paper can be exciting (and economical) if you top your packages with one of these ideas:
An ornament attached with a color-coordinated ribbon or raffia to secure it to the top of the package is a bonus gift.
Garland added or used instead of ribbon can add a very elegant touch to your presents (see photo above).
Tulle offers a whimsical and soft touch to any package. Pair it with ribbon or use it by itself.
Sprigs of pine, holly or magnolia, used in combination with brown paper and raffia, offer a very, earthy natural look.
Cinnamon sticks gathered with a rubber band and then tied on the package top with gingham ribbon (make sure you hide the rubber band) conveys a cozy, country look.
Jingle bells attached to a present are a very merry way to say, "you're special."
Cookie cutters can add just the right spice to your present.
Shoelaces in festive holiday colors or patterns can double as ribbon and a gift!

Have you any great Christmas wrap ideas?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holidaze and Dazzle







I promised more holiday ideas, right? Well, here you go...you can add a new flair to your decorating this year just by repurposing. After all, is it a written law that you can only hang ornaments on trees? You’ll find ornaments everywhere in my house – in bowls, on doorknobs, on railings, in my window boxes (see above), on lamps, on window latches, on drawer pulls, and of course, on my trees. Group ornaments in a bowl or on a swag of greenery for an elegant holiday centerpiece.
Speaking of centerpieces, one beautiful (and easy) holiday centerpiece is to pack a clear glass vase or bowl with fresh cranberries; then add water and flowers. Flank the centerpiece with several medium-sized cocktail glasses filled with cranberries and candles tucked in the centers. Then sprinkle red, silver, and gold ball ornaments in between...dazzling!


I also use beaded and crystal garlands in unexpected places – I drape them over lamps, chandeliers and window frames (see picture above) and use them to add a little sparkle to my wrapped presents and greenery. 


I even threw a decorative candle ring (is that the name of it?) in a crystal bowl and placed plastic utensils in for my party…it looked very pretty (see picture on right). 
So, now you'll be able to see new possibilities when you open that box (or in my case, several boxes) of Christmas decorations.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I Love Christmas!


We had a great neighborhood, progressive holiday party last night. It started at my house with the appetizers, so of course, I cleaned and decorated like a maniac all day. It didn't help that our crooked Christmas tree fell over on Friday and we couldn't get it to stay up. So we did the logical thing and returned it! (Hey, if you pay that much for a live tree, you don't want lean it against a wall or cut three feet off the bottom just to get it to stand up.) My husband came home with a beautiful 10-foot tree late Friday and of course, we had to wait for the branches to fall in order to string the lights. So, at 3 PM in the afternoon (the party started at 6:30 PM), we had an undecorated tree, dirty, muddy floors, pine needles, boxes and ornaments strewn everywhere, and only half the downstairs cleaned. With my husband's help, we opened our doors at 6:30 on the dot, showered and dressed with a perfectly decorated tree and a clean house (I just had to tackle anyone who tried to use the upstair's bathroom).
In this blog post, I'm sharing some of my pictures (and easy ideas) for frolicking, festive fun...
For example, my friend, Mary, dropped off bundles of magnolia leaves (thanks Mary!) and it took me about 10 minutes to create simple, but elegant swags for my indoor windows ( I have no money for art, so my walls are decorated with old salvaged windows, rusty, iron fences and a screen door frame). I just clipped a few of the branches, secured them with floral wire and tied festive ribbon (that I picked up at Michael's for 80% off last year). Next blog...more ideas!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Let it Snow(flake)!


It looks like the Christmas spirit hasn't hit everyone this year. After many parking lot battles, dealing with line jumping jockeys and seeing that dreadful SOLD OUT sign at toy stores, I can say that I am glad to be safe and sound back in my cozy house. I just finished decorating the kitchen (yes, I decorate every room…except the upstairs’ bathrooms) and I must say that I love my snowflake windows. My third grader and I spent some quality time cutting out these little gems and I also cut some on the way home from NYC. I even brought extra scissors in case my friends wanted to join me in snipping snowflakes – no one wanted to – scrooges!

The best instructions that I’ve found to make paper snowflakes comes from – I hate to say it – but Martha Stewart. Check them out at http://food.yahoo.com/articles/martha-stewart/channel181245/paper-snowflakes and you’ll love how they turn out!

Well, back to decorating…

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Back from the Big Apple


There's nothing like going to New York City for some Christmas inspiration. The windows were beautiful (and so was the weather) and the city was buzzing with seasonal anticipation. Although, I can't recreate the windows, I can share with you a couple easy tips to add some delightful details to your home. If you have the time (even if you don't), you can easily find little spots to add some Christmas charm. For example, suspend a sparkling ornament from your chandelier or drape some glittery garland around it. Dangle an ornament from all of your doorknobs – you can even use those dollar store icicles and string them across your valances or use them as your curtain tiebacks. My fan pull even has a little ornament swinging from it! These are easy ways to add Christmas charm to your home without expense or a lot of work. Just grab a handful of those ornaments that don’t quite fit on the tree and walk around your house adorning everything that you can and pretty soon your house will be sparkling with magical merriment.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tis the Season to Use Spray Paint!


Spray paint is your friend. It can transform anything into a gilded Christmas treasure, a shimmering silver or snow-white sensation. Case in point: yesterday, while walking my dog, I found dozens of acorns and pinecones on the roadside. Tucking them away in my pockets (and the bag reserved for doggie you-know-what) I carried them home and promptly set them in the garage. This weekend, I’ll venture out for some unusual twig formations, gather a few of my dented and scratched up ornaments and lay all of them on some newspaper. I will grab my handy can of white flat spray paint and spray away…instantly transforming them all into winter-white accessories for my home.

You can spray paint just about anything and make it look great and very “Christmassy.” See what a can of gold or silver can do! Go wild and try some red and green glossy paint; and repeat after me: "spray paint is my friend; spray paint is my friend..."

Note: for safety’s sake, be sure to use your spray paint in a well-ventilated area (preferably outside). I usually wear safety glasses to protect my eyes from the spray, too. If it’s windy, stay far away from your cars, objects or home (unless of course, you want them to have a nice coat of “frost” on them).

Monday, November 30, 2009

Let Heaven and Nature...Decorate!


In the next couple of posts, I'll let you in on a few holiday decorating secrets that I've learned from the pros...yes, all those years of interviewing and observing floral designers and interior designers have filled my head with a plethora of perfectly practical ideas!

If you're on a tight budget (as many of us are this holiday season) then follow this blog for the next few weeks for some easy and affordable decorating advice.

Today's tip: Bring the Great Outdoors In
One of the simplest ways to create a beautiful holiday look is to gather tree branches, big and small and use them to decorate.
Spray paint large branches a crisp white and insert them in heavy duty blocks of floral foam. Then place them in white terra cotta pots or hide them with fake snow (see photo to the left). For a more natural look, just use the branches as they are, with a light dusting of white spray glitter.

I've also made a beautiful hanging sculpture or upside down tree by
bundling tree branches (which were spray painted white) and then adding crystal garlands and icicles (purchased at the dollar store). Hang the grouping upside down and you've got a unique arrangement. (See photo to the right.)

Stay tuned for more fun ideas...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a note to say Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your time with your family and friends.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Roadblocks



UGh! Spent many hours painting, only to find out that the paint on some of the furniture was bad and to top it off, the polywhey semi-gloss I used turned my perfectly lovely dragonfly mirror an awful amber. I'm calling the company on Monday; that shouldn't happen. So, what I did all Friday and Saturday was sand and repaint...not fun, but necessary. I didn't even get a chance to go to all the garage sales lined up for the afternoon. I felt totally unproductive, but there are always roadblocks and usually when you get to the other side, it's smooth sailing.
On a brighter note (actually very bright) I'm painting an adorable table and chairs set in vibrant beachy colors. It's looking great so far and I'm having a little better luck with this set. (Don't you love the lime green on this chair?) I also painted a pine bookcase in the palest of blues and can't wait to see how they all turn out!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One done, five to go!


Wow, I've finished one piece...my "Little Sailor" rocking chair! I had so much fun painting it. Traditional navy and red, brightened with a yellow citrus green and polka dots...I love polka dots! I put it on my website this morning, but I'm not publishing it until I get two more pieces done (originally, I wanted to finish everything, but that may not happen before Christmas....and I'm too excited to wait). Here's a sneak peek!
I just bought three pine bookcases and have a great idea for one of them...anyone need bookcases? I can customize them for you or a friend before the holidays!
Okay...I need to go back to writing about color trends. Note: green is going to be big in 2010; at least that's what the color gurus are telling me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Works in Progress

Almost completed a few pieces today...the nautical mirror needs one more coat of sealer and it's ready! The darling little rocking chair is ready for sealer. I found a great non-toxic, earth-friendly furniture sealer. I had to buy online because the only place that carries it is near DC and it was easier just to pay shipping than to fight traffic (gas probably would have cost me as much as shipping, too). It's from a company called Vermont Natural Coatings and it's a polywhey furniture finish/sealer. It's great stuff -- virtually no smell, goes on smoothly and dries to a nice sheen. It's a little on the expensive side, but so far, a little seems to go a long way. I'm heading back this weekend if the rain continues...otherwise, I'll be on the sidelines cheering for Kellen's soccer team and working the concession stands at Broadneck...ah, the life of a soccer mom!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Try Something New

Like my new blog background? Let me know! I'm not sure it's exactly me yet, but it's better than plain old white. Speaking of that, did you know the easiest and most inexpensive way to change the look of your home decor is through paint? Don't be afraid to paint your walls with color and lots of it ... it doesn't have to be bright. It can be subtle, but please, unless you're trying to sell your house, get away from all white walls!!! I'm researching an article on color trends for 2010, so stay posted (and friends in Annapolis, be sure to read the March issue of What's Up Annapolis for all the details).
I've wrapped up work on two of my projects and will be posting them soon on my website. (Of course, I'll give you the website address, but I'm not ready just yet.)
On another note, anyone looking for earth-friendly, non-toxic furniture finish...I've found it! (You can't recycle furniture and then use a toxic polyurethane finish...It would defeat the whole purpose! ) But, before I give them a big plug, I need to try it on my furniture first. If it looks great, I'll let you know. Note: Just because it's water-based doesn't mean that it's earth friendly or non-toxic.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fun Finds!

Ah, the thrill of the hunt...
Driving up to Severna Park in the early hours of Saturday morning, I anticipated a gold mine of treasures waiting for me. A daycare was closing and the thought of all those small tables, chairs and a rocking chair (advertised) had my creative juices up to blender speed. When I got there, however, a big disappointment -- plastic everything and the rocking chair was for a big person and much too nice for me to sand and paint over. I got back in my car, got a cup of joe and decided to make the most of my morning adventures. I saw a sign up ahead -- multi-family yard sale. As I pulled up to the homes, again, I was disappointed. But...but, wait! What was that ahead? Cars stopping and people getting out, some of them carrying items? As I pulled up to the curb, I saw it...a lone round table...just the right size. As it turns out, it wasn't supposed to be for sale, but I ended up getting it, two chairs and two adorable sailboat shaped mirrors!!!
I actually went over my spend limit, but the chances of finding all this in one place are usually slim to none, so I pulled out those dollar bills, packed up my car and went home (well, actually to a soccer game).
I got up this morning...too excited too sleep and sketched about ten different possibilities. I can't wait to paint! I'm thinking, this is how it should be...follow your passion.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Art Space

Far left: Old space--dark and crowded; Left: new space--bright and cheery!



I've got a new space to create my art! I'm using a little corner of my friend's warehouse. She started a new business, To The Trade, and in exchange for using her space, I accept deliveries and answer the phone while she is out on business. It's awesome and much better than my over-crowded garage (my husband is happy, too). Who knows, maybe we'll get a car in there this winter???

I recommend everyone create a space to work for his or her craft no matter where. I actually use the back of my (very long) closet for card-making and scrapbooking. My sis has a whole room dedicated to jewelry making and it's very cool. If you think about it, many people (except, perhaps, those of you in a studio apartment) have spaces they don't use.

Here are some ideas:

Being creative may mean that you have to turn a closet, laundry room or part of another room into an office. The end of a long hallway or a stairway landing (although you can't close a door) could also be an option. In addition, don't forget that space under the stairs.

If you decide to use part of a room for an office, be sure to set up boundaries, says Kanarek, also the author of Home Office Solutions, (Quarry Books, 2001). She suggests using a folding floor screen or large piece of furniture, such as floor to ceiling bookshelves, to divide the room so you can minimize distractions.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A PAINTING WE WILL GO...

I'm painting at least once a week now and getting stuff ready to debut my website. Yes. I've had the website for quite some time, however, I haven't been able to keep up with inventory. I need enough to sale -- at least five pieces before I send it out to every friend I know!!! I think I'll probably be ready to debut after the holidays. It's too crazy out there right now for anyone to take the time to scroll through my site at a leisurely pace ...which, all of you reading this will definitely want to do! Right?
Now that the cool weather is approaching, I've got to find a new outlet to get my bargains...of course, Crumpton will always be there! Any other ideas for finding furniture?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Crumpton fun

Well, I finally made it to the Crumpton auction...fields and fields of possibilities! Crumpton is a well-known outdoor auction on the Eastern shore of Maryland that is open every Wednesday, rain or shine. You can find some cool stuff and a lot of junk. It's really fun, but takes some getting used to -- you have to be a savvy shopper and bidder. It's the second time I've ever been there and this time I wasn't quite so overwhelmed.
I ended up with a sweet, little vanity that needs A LOT of work. I also bought a cute table, that needs a good cleaning, from my friend Cassie. So, much to do...so little time!!! I have made arrangements to get my stuff out of the garage and into a friend's warehouse. It's a barter deal. I'm there to answer the phone and receive deliveries once a week and I get to store and paint my stuff...it's a win-win.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Discovery and Painting

I'm painting again. Went on a yard sale hunt last weekend with success. Got some new items that I'm dying to re-create! Going to northern Massachusetts next month to visit my first born for Parent's weekend. When he's seen enough of me, I plan to yard sale up there. Last time I was there I bought an incredible wicker side table. However, since I'm flying this time, I have to limit myself to items that will fit in a suitcase...that's going to be tough.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Long time, no see...

Okay, I admit it. This blog thing can be tough if you are REALLY busy. Thank goodness I have been busy with writing, vacationing and the kids. My goal once the kids start school? Paint more furniture and write on this blog at least once a week!! My garage is literally overflowing with pieces to paint.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Green grass or weeds?

when you look at my front yard from a distance, it looks green and healthy, but up close, it's full of weeds. .. I should know, I just spent the entire day pulling them! An analogy...some people you know that are seemingly perfect and happy, really aren't when you get close. So, when you think that everyone else has it made and you've gone into the pity me mode, get a glimpse of real life by knowing that everyone...even the blissfully happy, aren't always that way. Thank God for what you have and be happy with that yard full of weeds...hey, at least you have a yard! 
Speaking of yards, I went to my first yard sale of the season...not much to report, but can't wait for warmer weather and bargains. Until then...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Yard Sale Basics

I was just thinking...how many new blogs begin with this sentence..."I'm new to blogging...?" Well, I'm starting out by saying that my blog will share tips, exciting finds at yard sales and auctions and my adventures a long the way. I would also love to share ideas with my readers for decorating their homes and turning trash into treasure...something I absolutely love to do! (Just ask my family who is forced to live with paint, projects and a houseful of "extra" furniture.) I guess they've just learned to go with the flow.
Idea number one: get prepared for garage and yard sale season by cleaning out your car, throwing in plenty of rope, blankets and bungee cords (so you can transport all of your favorite 
finds). If you're like me and don't have the time to leisurely attend every garage sale, just stop by on the way home from that soccer game (or go 
early). I prefer to go late because that's where the bargains are found. People usually don't want to pack up their things and will get rid of it for a song at the end of the day. Yes, you do miss some stuff, but I find it worth it!