Easy Thanksgiving Centerpiece Ideas

>

When I was a little girl…a looooong time ago…we would make fun decorations for our centerpieces during the holidays.  Now that I look back, I think Mom was just trying to save some money and take advantage of the attention it took for my favorite brother and I to craft these works of art.  I’m not sure if Mom saved any of them but if so, they are probably not nearly as cute as these ideas:
Martha Stewart
This is cuter than mine was, I’m sure, but we tried something similar with the pinecone and pipe cleaner.  I think I used leaves from the trees in our front yard, but these feathers are super cute.  Hobby Lobby usually has a great selection of feathers and they would adhere easily with Elmer’s or hot glue.  I might give this a try next week if my schedule has the time in between client appointments, cooking, and getting the house ready for company!
Ooooh…now this I am absolutely going to do.  I have some fabulous candlesticks in my staging inventory right now that could really show off some pretty gourds:
Better Homes & Gardens
And if I get really crazy, I’ll spray paint them metallic:
Better Homes & Gardens
I’ll try to remember to take photos and post them here.  I get a little A-D-D during this time of year and forget to mix business with pleasure!  Would somebody remind me???  
Seriously though, what do YOU like to do for your Thanksgiving centerpiece???

Christmas Tree — Decorating With Ribbon

>

I love decorating my Christmas tree with ribbon rather than garland; in my humble opinion, it is dressier and more elegant than garland.  I have strung my ribbon both horizontally, like a spiral as well as vertically, like a waterfall:
(Yes, that is a peacock topper, but we’ll discuss those in another post.)
 
There are varying opinions as to whether you ribbon the tree at the beginning or the end of the process of decorating, so I’ll share with you that I decorate with ribbon just after I light the tree but there are many advocates of adding the ribbon last.  I’m not here to say they are wrong, it’s just not how I do it.   Regardless of at what point in the process you do it, the key to hanging good ribbon garland is that the ribbon should be wired. 
So here is a quick list of “how to” hang your ribbon on your tree, regardless of whether you’re taking it vertically or horizontally:
  • Consider ribbon size — larger trees get wider ribbon, smaller trees get narrower ribbon.  
  • Confirm the color will match the decorations you already have or are purchasing.  There are many many (many)options and you want to keep the decor of the tree consistent throughout itself as well as the rest of the ribbon you may have in the house.  It doesn’t have to be “matchy matchy” but it does need to be similar in style.
    • Bright red or burgundy?  Plaid or plain?  Silver or gold?  Velvet or organza?
  • You’ll need to purchase more than you think necessary and I have not come up with a magic formula as to how much you’ll need.  It may be inconvenient, but purchase extra spools knowing that you can either take it back or use it to wrap your gifts with.  
    1. If you’re taking the garland vertical, you’ll need to account for at least 5 – 7 waterfalls of ribbon and you’re not just going to let them hang, you need excess so you can wrap and twist and “pouf” the ribbon.
    2. If you are taking the garland horizontal, remember the tree is fatter at the bottom than it is at the top and again, you’ll have to account for wrapping, twisting & “pouf-ing” the ribbon.
  • Once you have decided on color, width and direction of the ribbon as garland, it’s time to start attaching it to the tree.  Don’t laugh but I put chairs all the way around my tree so I can walk around the tree adding the ribbon if I’m going horizontal.  (It’s easier than asking the hubs to stand there with the ribbon while I run around the tree!)  In either instance, I start at the top.
    1. Find an inconspicuous spot to start and wrap the end of the ribbon around a branch — just the tip of the ribbon, maybe an inch or two of a wrap that can be hidden by the topper.
    2. Swag the ribbon either horizontally or vertically, and consider giving it a gentle twist.
    3. Wrap it around a branch with alternating a small & large “pouf”.  You can also create a bow out of excess ribbon and put on the edge of the branch if you don’t like your “pouf”.  
Remember that you are going to follow the ribbon with your decorations, so don’t get caught up in the perfection of your twists & poufs…you can always mask the imperfections with bows & bulbs.  

Most importantly: have fun!!!


BOO! It’s a Giveaway by Michelle Lynne

>


Alrighty y’all…here we go!  It’s another giveaway (it’s been a while, hasn’t it?) and just in time to kick off the holiday shopping season!  Next week we will be giving away to one of our lucky (public) followers a $35 shopping spree to CSN Stores.  CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find everything from stylish handbags, to modern bar furniture or great cookware!


Here are some ideas of what you could buy if YOU were the lucky winner:

(click on the caption to be directed to the CSN store site)
Tiffany Spruce Wreath
Inchworm 11″ Vase
Sophia Throw Pillow
This is such a great price – I could afford to kick in $1.00 and get TWO!


So if you’re not a public follower, sign up now and early next week we will have a random drawing!

Have a Safe & Happy Halloween!

Low maintenance for your high maintenance guests.

>


The holidays are quickly arriving and that entails the arrival of holiday guests…maybe some high maintenance in-laws?  Oh joy.  Keep them happy in the guest room by outfitting it like a swanky hotel suite:

    • Good linens for the bed.  
      • Thread count is important but it doesn’t have to be expensive.  I like 350 – 400, depending on the brand.
      • A feather bed on top of the mattress adds a luxurious & super cozy feel.  Get the baffle box style so it maintains it’s shape.  If you don’t want to do a down mattress, you can get a fiber filled mattress that will give a similar yet, hypoallergenic result.
        • Your fitted sheet will need to be a deeper pocket to encompass this feather bed + the standard mattress OR
        • Get a neutral sheet to cover the standard mattress and use the fitted sheet that comes with the set to cover the featherbed.
      • All season cotton blanket.  
      • I suggest white or ivory so it will usually match your bedding choices.
    • Down comforter.  Ditto on the option to get a hypoallergenic fiber fill instead of feathers – you’ll be surprised at how similar they feel to down filled.  You’ll need to get a duvet cover style bedding set; I like these from Macy’s because they are reasonably priced and have good quality options.  Choose a set that looks like what you would find in a nice hotel:
  
  • Have some spare pillows available; show your guests where they are (maybe out of sight in the closet).
  • Be sure there is good lighting next to the bed – either wall lamps or table lamps – in case your guests like to read in bed.
    • Set out reading material such as recent magazines or a novel that you could part with (in case your guest becomes hooked, they are welcome to keep it).
  • Provide an alarm clock on the nightstand – get one that has adjustable brightness.
  • A carafe of water somewhere in the room…preferably by the bed.  I like this one from Crate & Barrel.  Leave coasters on your bedside table or other flat surfaces.
  • Provide a television if there is space.  
  • Clear some space in the closet for your guest to stow luggage or provide a luggage stand at the foot of the bed.
    • If there is a chest of drawers or dresser in the room, clear at least one drawer for each guest.
    • Provide some empty hangers and open space in the closet for hanging clothes.
  • Nightlights are useful for navigating unfamiliar spaces.  Find one that is not too bright and put near the door and / or the bathroom.
  • Offer a one size bathroom for each guest staying in the room.
  • Finally, a small basket with healthy snacks in case your guests get the munchies while staying up watching TV or reading the recent magazines you have left for them….
Do you have any other tips that have worked for you in the past?

Out of my gourd!

>

Aaaaahhh…it’s autumn!  Officially.  Although the weather in Texas hasn’t caught up to the calendar yet.  Hopefully soon.  
Regardless, it’s a time of year that warm & welcoming colors are trending in nature as well as in your wardrobe & home AND it’s time to switch out the pool toys for pumpkins.  To me, that means it’s high time to create new, seasonal centerpieces!
How fun are these?  You can set them in any shape tray with any type of bean or legume to fill in.
And if you want to mix & match heights, you could create some votive sizes.  I think these would be cool to line the front walkway with if hosting a dinner party (just make sure nothing is close enough to catch fire!).
This is what I would do with the gourds intended for votives but over-carved…I know my limitations!
Better Homes & Gardens
Finally…just a simple display of the mini pumpkins you can find at any grocery store or Farmer’s Market this time of year.  Add a dash of greenery or floral to dress it up.
Better Homes & Gardens
Yeah yeah, I know lemons are fruit and not gourd, but I thought this was too cute NOT to include.  Just substitute the little gourdys.
Am I out of my gourd?  Depends on who you ask…but you don’t have to be to try any of these simple and decorative ideas!

Santa has elves, and even THEY start preparing for Christmas early!

>

I know…it’s not even cool outside…HOW can we already be planning for the holidays?!  But pre-planning for your friends & family to visit will make the holidays THAT much less stressful.  
For example, if you are traveling to see friends or family, you should be coordinating your time off at work, booking your flights, renting a car now so that you’re not overpaying and ending up with the last available (Griswold’s) vehicle.
But if you are hosting the holidays this year, start getting your house ready now so you can enjoy November & December instead of working like a maniac to get the house ready for your guests (PLUS cooking AND shopping AND attending the social events that seem to multiply every year).  Here are a few tips to get started on outfitting a guest room:
    • If you have guests who will be staying with you for more than a night or two, be sure they have space to hang their clothes and put their luggage out of sight. 
    • If you have the space, get a small bureau or chest of drawers to put in the closet so the guest room (which is usually the smallest room in the house) feels more spacious. 
    • Any repairs that need to be done to the bathroom (whether it be a suite or down the hall) should be started now…just in case it turns into a bigger project.
    • Any drafts coming through the window now will be felt even more so when it gets cool.  Seal the windows from the cold.
    • Does the room need a ceiling fan?  A little circulation no matter what time of year keeps a room comfortable.
    • Squeaky hinges, noisy clocks, etc. are all easy fixes to do now.
  • Good time to update your decor
    • Many guest rooms are made up of “leftover decor”.  You know what I mean, don’t pretend you don’t:  Your old comforter set from the 1980′s…the big ol’ television you moved from the living room when you got the sleek, flat screen…the lamps your mother gave you to match the couch you had after you graduated college….
    • This is a great time to catch some end of summer or back to school sales and update your guest room to WELCOME your guests.  

Easter Bunnies

>

We hosted Easter this year and had fun preparing the untraditional meal (shrimp & scallops in a creamy garlic sauce over pasta, salad, yummy garlic & sundried tomato bread,  spring chick cupcakes and of course mimosas) but what was even more fun was coming up with a table setting that reflected the holiday.  Well, fun for me anyway…I don’t think my hubby was as enthused!
I started with fresh flowers and the holiday favorite PEEPS:
Added some home made spring chick cupcakes 
(yes, they are edible – aren’t they cute?).
And finally, the best part of all…
the cutest bunnies ever!

Keeping the Christmas Lights Up Is NOT Exterior Home Staging

>It’s January now, and the holidays are over so if you’re considering putting your house on the market, you need to consider what exterior decor is appropriate. Hopefully, you have taken down the Christmas lights.

If not, please do so.
Quickly.

Instead of paying enormous electric bills to power the electric light show, go buy some winterized planters. Fiberglass, wood or concrete will weather even the coldest of weather and can be dressed up nicely with twigs, winter greenery and “baubles”.

And if you’re wanting some color, I’m no botanist but my pansies managed to survive this last blast of arctic air we had here in Dallas and so I do recommend them.
They are hardy little flowers and if I can keep them alive, so can you! Really. And soon, springtime will be around and you won’t be as limited in your garden flower options.

In the meantime, consider some outdoor flood lights. Ahem, CLEAR and not colored and definitely not the leftover Christmas lights, okay? Point them on statues, urns, or uplight a large tree for a hint of night time drama.

Remember that these tips include your back yard as well as your front! And if you have an outdoor fireplace in the back, consider lighting it for nighttime showings.
…ooohhh…aaahhh….
Of course, that is only if the manufacturer says it’s safe for wintertime use…I know, why wouldn’t it be? But just double check to be on the safe side.

If you really need some help with the plant life in your front & back yards before listing your house, my friend Elizabeth at Splendid Gardens is the pro. I’m just advising you take down those Christmas lights NOW!

QUICK TIP to save money with good storage solutions!

>
I don’t know about you, but I’ll forget what decorations / gift wrap I have on hand and end up buying duplicates or so much extra that I can’t use it all so I’ve started a decorating file on my computer and yes, it’s a spreadsheet but don’t worry, it doesn’t take the cheer out of decorating! (Actually, it kept me MORE cheerful this year because it prevented money from flying out of my pocket unnecessarily!)

And don’t worry, it’s not completely too late if your items are already packed up: first number the boxes, then get a piece of paper and write what items you can identify by opening each box, and start your spreadsheet, listing each box separately. I’d also suggest leaving yourself a friendly little reminder IN the first box to take inventory next year as you unpack….

Chirp Chirp!

>
Yesterday’s mission was accomplished: the house is “un-decked” and my home is back in order. However, I couldn’t resist saving these little chirps from the dark gloom of the attic until next year. I only have two (and they are little) so the hubby shouldn’t object to their presence somewhere in the house (he’s not a big fan of the pouf-y feather-y look). But they just make me happy and anyway, a little whimsy is good to have in the house.

Hmmm…where to put them???