Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Day 550: holiday transition

This morning I reluctantly took (most of) our Christmas decorations down. Our neighbors were out early on 26th untangling garland from their porch banister, but us? No sir. I feel like I just finished putting everything up! I did finally decide to put all of the ornaments away, and now we're left with what would make lovely decor for a New Year's Eve celebration (though it's looking like our celebration is going to consist of eating a pot of soup on the sofa).

I always love how the tree looks with just the lights. Or maybe I'm just saving the hardest part -- wrestling the lights off and getting it out the door -- for tomorrow when Wes is at home, who knows?

I patiently waited until the after-Christmas sales before picking up these antique church bells (half off! sweet!) in a favorite store, and I'm just not ready to pack them up just yet. Paired with my mercury glass votive holders, they look quite festive.

On the table, I tucked a few mercury glass ornaments in a footed bowl, along with a card leftover from wrapping Christmas gifts. And you'd better believe I'm turning on our lighted garland one last time tonight!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Day 549's cheap art

John over at This Young House stole a little bit of my thunder today with his post about using calendars to add to his art collection.

I used a similar idea this Christmas in one of my gifts to Jennifer. Last year, you'll remember that I got her the "Cabinet of Natural Curiosities", a book that apparently every design loving girl must have on her coffee table. It makes me a little queasy to rip pages out of a $60 coffee table book and frame them for the wall. So this year I searched through Amazon and found the following book.

I hadn't seen it in a bookstore before so I had no idea what the prints were like inside, but for $16 I was willing to take a chance. Heck, even if there's only 3 or 4 good pages it would be worth it.

Many of the pages contain images of reptiles, shells, and plants. Others are filled with some pretty crazy stuff you'd find at the bottom of the ocean. Some are very vibrant and colorful while others are black and white. I haven't finished looking through the whole thing, but I'm pretty confident that the talented Mrs. Bonds can find at least a few pages to cut out and frame for a cheap and easy way to spruce up the guest bedroom or office. I bet she'll even put some shells or eggs in the bathroom if I ever finish renovating it. If you're interested there are two more books that I found on Amazon while writing this post. If you buy them let us know if they're worth the investment.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Day 548's loot

Sorry for the long absence. We have been all over the place since the last post and haven't had much time to stop, and honestly even when we did we didn't really think about posting. Again, we're sorry. Also, Jennifer doesn't have to be back at work until January 5, so posting will probably be either light or uninteresting until then.

Well, we stocked up pretty well this Christmas. We cut back a bit from Christmases past because of the economic uncertainty, but still had tons of fun. There's something to be said about good food (and wine), good company, Guitar Hero marathons, crying during Marley & Me, and sleeping late.

One of the main gifts I gave Jennifer was this J. Crew jacket (color: Sweet Potato). She picked it out and sent me the link so it wasn't really a big surprise, but she loves it and has already gotten several compliments.

She got me this Taylor Made golf bag. It was on sale back in October so we bought it and just stored it in the office. I had my clubs in it a month ago. Again, not really a big surprise.

Stay posted to see some of our actual Christmas surprises. What was your favorite gift this Christmas?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Day 538's pretty

I'm currently counting the hours until my two weeks (!!) of holiday vacation begins! Don't be too jealous though, as my lap top is coming home, and so it a little bit of work. But I will be working from my sofa, so I'm happy to have that ability. I'll be in and out (probably mostly out) and want to wish a very Merry Christmas to those who won't be back around until 2009.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Day 536's garland ... finally.

I was determined to make my own garland this year, and I'm glad I stuck to it. After the lot where we bought our Christmas tree tried to charge us $3 for a bunch of discarded branches of Fraser Fir, I got a little discouraged, but Courtney suggested hitting up the big-box hardware stores. Sure enough, Wes came home from is seemingly-weekly Saturday morning trip to Lowe's with a car load of branches. And all for free, my friends! Thanks, Courtney!

I made the garland by gathering small bunches and wiring them together with floral wire. Then I added them one on top of the other (so that the next covers the wire of the first) and wired them together. Some of the heftier branches were helpful in created a "template" to attach the bunches (Courtney also suggested that).

Hanging it was a little trickier. I made two long pieces and intended to attach them to the door so that the branches went "down" both sides, if that makes sense. But, that turned out to be a little too heavy. Plan B seems to have worked better. I attached the two side pieces to nails on the door frame with twine, then made a seperate piece for the top (also attached to nails with twine).

It's a little wonky, and uneven, but I kind of like it that way! Next year though, we'll have to hang it a little farther from the door, as we are now using the side entrance exclusively to keep from shutting the garland in the door multiple times a day. Oops.

I also made that wreath! It was super-easy, and I followed the same basic guidelines, except attached the bunches to a wire wreath form. And even after the garland on the television cabinet, I've still got some branches left over! I may just have to pick up a smaller wreath form and make one for the kitchen window. Can one have enough Fraser Fir during the holidays? I think not.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Day 535's alternative

Our Christmas tree is definitely not huge. When we were bringing it home, I had a pang of "oh, maybe we should have gotten a bigger one," but as soon as it came into the house, I knew we'd hit our max. Our little 1959 rooms just can't handle a big tree!

The more I see these gorgeous tabletop trees, the more I like them, and I can certainly see their value. After all, our's is bare on the bottom fourth to keep the ornaments out of Maddie's reach anyway (Wes was worried she'd confuse the round ornaments with her balls, but so far so good).

They'd be a great place to really showcase a collection of ornaments that might get lost in the shuffle of a big tree. We have a box of Wes's grandmother's ornaments, and I'd love to have a place to really show them off. Eddie Ross (the second tree) suggests trimming the weaker branches to make room for more ornaments, and it looks like Martha's team employs that strategy, too (the first and third trees).

Photo by Don Freeman for Country Living magazine

And it goes without saying that this is great for a small space. What about you? Do you have a humongous tree? Would you consider giving it up for one of these?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Day 534's last-minute project

Ten days until Christmas, and we don't have any stockings. Last year Wes' stocking was a paper gift bag. Neither of us can remember if he did one for me. This probably shouldn't be as big a deal as I'm making it, but I can't seem to help myself.

My mom used to make a big deal about stockings by insisting that we open them first on Christmas morning and always filling them with tiny goodies and surprises. I think that filling our stockings was her favorite part of playing Santa, and it showed.

I have been looking all over town for stockings and Wes has been scouring the Internet. Everything is either too glittered, too sparkled, too tacky, too cheesy or -- if it's just right -- too expensive. $45 for one stocking? Sorry, not this year (and probably not next, either).

All I want is a simple pair made of a pretty fabric. Linen, wool, or even an old handkerchief would be lovely. And I love, love the red ones Martha (er, someone over there) made from a vintage damask tablecloth. TJ Maxx has about one million damask tablecloths ... all with glittery gold stitches running through them.

Then, last week, I acquired five yards of Ralph Lauren's Wittenhurst Plaid, a pretty wool fabric in our favorite colors. I intended to save it until we can cover the big blue chair in Wes' office, but, silly me, I still probably need five more yards.

It looks so great in our bedroom that I'm tempted to take if all off the bolt and fold it at the end of our bed as a makeshift blanket. Then, hello!, it occurs to me that this will make a fabulous stocking! (Martha says it's easy) Now if only I knew how to sew ...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Day 531's enviable space

Photo by Lara Robby for Country Living magazine

Wes had dinner with some co-workers last night, and I took advantage of his absence by wrapping a couple of his Christmas presents. This morning, I woke up to a dining room table still strewn with rolls of paper, spools of ribbon, a pile of raffia and at least three pair of scissors. In other words, a mess. Wouldn't this wrapping station be so nice?!

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day 530: garland envy

Oh I just love real garland! The house I grew up in had a gigantic (overgrown, really) hedge of juniper, and Mom and I used cut branches and put it all over the house at Christmas. It smelled so good. Fake garland just doesn't do it for me anymore, which is why my mouth fell open when I saw what Eddie Ross has been up to in a stately Colonial house in Connecticut.

I know I promised to show you our little garland project today, but the weather's not cooperating with my camera, and it could use a little tweaking anyway. Promise it's coming soon! Enjoy Eddie's work in the meantime.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Day 529's project

I have been feeling super-crafty this holiday season. It's probably because I want the house to be all festive and decked out, but we really don't need to spend a ton (or any, really) on decorations (and I don't really do knick-knacks, anyway). Our moms took care of the ornaments for us, but just a pretty tree isn't quite enough, you know? Enter, my formerly-suppressed crafty side.

See that wreath and garland up there? I totally made those! The first time I saw this, I thought "I could so make that," so I did.

I bought an 18-inch straw wreath form and two packages of preserved sheet moss at Michael's. Martha says to use floral pins, but I already had some 20-gauge floral wire and some wire cutters, so I saved my pennies. I just started with the big pieces, and worked my way around. It was kind of no-brainer. Then I used my last hot glue stick to reinforce some place that seemed loose.

Two yards of wide double-faced satin ribbon and tack nail later and we have Christmas above the television cabinet (you may know it as my "mantle").

Stay tuned to hear about the garland!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Day 527: motivation to finish

Heather at Habitually Chic can always be counted on to find beautiful interiors with inspiring ideas. Today's inspiration came from this gorgeous blue sideboard by Morgan Harrison Home, which reminds me that I have one of my own that needs painting! We already have the paint, so I don't even have a good excuse.

A couple of clicks revealed a beautiful portfolio. Love the pretty white sofas.

Gorgeous gray bedroom.

Looks like I'm not the only one with a slight obsession with cake stands!

Now this is a good-looking kitchen!

Be sure to check out her holiday decor on Habitually Chic. Happy Monday!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Day 524's pretty


Looking forward to getting a little rest this weekend, finishing up the Christmas decorations, and hanging out with my favorite girlfriends!

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Day 523's antique browsing spot

I had a few minutes to kill last week while waiting to meet a friend for lunch in Homewood, my favorite area of town to shop. Naturally, I headed into one of my favorite antique shops to browse away a little time.

"Shop" doesn't really do this place justice. It's more like a warehouse filled to the brim with ... pretty much everything you can imagine. A lot of the stuff needs to be repurposed or cleaned up, but the hunt is half of the fun, right?

Benches all stacked up and waiting for an new upholstery job.

Mmmmm it was all I could do to make it out of the door without dropping $185 for this set of 12 (12!) knives with mother of pearl handles. I thought it was a little steep until I found this yesterday.

Gilded mirrors and silver tea sets galore.

There are always plenty of beautiful marble lamps (this is only half) -- including several pairs. They range from $120-$170 each. Love them.

Vintage wooden bowling pins -- so fun!

Love this Chinoiserie-esque tole chandelier.

How pretty would this have been on a Thanksgiving table?

The main room is surrounded by smaller rooms. This one is packed with architectural salvage pieces like doors, windows and shutters.

Red transferware of every shape, size and pedigree. There was also blue, purple, and a few green pieces, of which I haven't seen many.

I loved this English chest. It was in an out-of-the-way corner, which is typical of this shop. Furniture is literally stacked on top of other pieces.

There were ten of these French-inspired dining chairs. I don't think they are antiques, but would look fabulous with new fabric, and maybe a little paint.

Hundreds of empty frames and tole trays. If you collect something, odds are you'll find some pieces to add to your collection here.

I've had my eye on this set of nesting tables for more than a year (a third is out of the picture). And, once again, I've always considered the $125 price tag a little more than I would want to spend (especially for something I have no real place for), but here is a similar set for much more!

Beautiful old lanterns that just need a little love (and probably some new wiring).

Gorgeous copper cookware. Just imagine what Eddie Ross could do with these!

Just so you can get a sense of the place, I snapped this photo from the top of the stairs that lead to the second floor. It's definitely a little overwhelming, but it's definitely fun, too.

Tricia's Treasures
2700 19th Place South
Homewood, Alabama 35209