Christmas 2011: Our Tree


December 24, 2011
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Merry Christmas Eve!  I can’t believe the big day is almost here.  Presents are wrapped, dessert is baked, but I haven’t yet shared this year’s Christmas tree.  You can check out part 1, my vintage inspired faux Christmas tree, and part 2 my holiday living and dining rooms, but I’ve finally taken some photos of this year’s big tree and family room to share.  Here she is!

christmas-tree-and-mantle

This year, I chose to put the tree to the left of our fireplace so it’s right between our kitchen and family room.

decorated-christmas-tree

Keeping to my vintage inspired theme this year, the tree is decked out with ornaments from Christmas of yore.  This year, I brought over a lot of ornaments from my childhood since my parents no longer put up a large tree like they did when we were kids.  So I added a lot of wonderful and sentimental ornaments, like this fabric owl ornament:

owl-ornament

This year we also have some vintage ornaments that were passed down to Rob which were originally from his great-grandmother.

vintage-ornament

I think the old family ornaments are so special and make our tree more meaningful.  In addition to all of the real vintage ornaments, I sprinkled some vintage looking glass ones and glittery baubles.

christmas-tree-decorating

For an added vintage feel, I added tinsel to the tree this year.  We used to have tinsel on our tree when I was a kid so I really like the added touch of sparkle.

indoor-christmas-decorations

Over on the mantle, I used a tinsel garland for the vintage feel and decorated with some mini light up trees and a few more of those glittery ornaments that I love so much.

christmas-stockings

mantle-ornaments

On a nearby side table, I set up a little Christmas village, another thing that I loved as a kid. 

christmas village 

christmas-village-church

Our staircase ties matches the mantle as it’s decorated with even more glittery ornaments (can you tell how much I like them). 

christmas-staircase

I also added some colorful garland that I used on the mantle as well.  I think it ties everything together nicely.

holiday-bannister

And of course, my colorful glittery ornaments are a must for this year. 

christmas-garland

I’m so happy I went with a more colorful look for this year, but most of all I’m excited I was able to decorate with a  lot of vintage ornaments from both of our families.  Did you have a theme for your tree this year?  Are you feeling more colorful this year too?

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I’m about to head out to wrap up my Christmas shopping (yes, I am usually one of those last minute Christmas Eve shoppers), but I wanted to pop by here first to share a quick tip for sending holiday cards.  Although these tips are really simple, they have helped me keep my Christmas card sending organized from year to year, which is always a relief given how busy this time of year gets.

First, I buy boxed holiday cards each year and usually there are a few left over in the pack.  The leftover cards typically don’t end up being used because the following year I can’t remember who already received one of these cards and I don’t want to risk sending the same card to someone two years in a row.  So now, as soon as I write a card I jot down the recipient's name and place the note in my box of cards.  Next year, I’ll be able to see who received one of these cards already.  This is also a good way to remember who I send cards to each year so I don’t accidently leave anyone out. 

christmas-cards

My other tip is also quite simple, but it’s something helpful that I don’t always remember to do.  Whenever I get a card in the mail, I tear out the sender’s address to compare or add to my address book.  As holiday cards come in the mail, I save all of the address clippings on my refrigerator and then make sure they are entered correctly in my address book when I sit down to send out my cards.  I still like keep tracking of everyone’s addresses in a book rather than online or on the computer and this is just a helpful reminder to make sure I have everyone’s most up-to-date addresses.

address-book

So there you go, those are my quick holiday card tips that are quite simple, but can save me a headache.  Do you have any quick tips for keeping things straight during the holidays?

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I’ve finally snapped some more photos of my Christmas decorations this year.  This year, I was inspired to have more colorful holiday decorations with a bit of a vintage inspired look.  Earlier this week, I shared my living room Christmas tree:colorful-christmas-tree
I loved the glitterly ornaments from this tree so much that I used them in a few other places as well.  My living room coffee table centerpieces has candles on a red charger along with a few red sparkly ornaments.  Simple, but pretty! 

christmas-candle-centerpiece
The real vintage touch in this room are these Santa toys from my husband’s family.  I’m not sure what year these are from, but they’ve been around for several decades and I think have such a fun and distinct look.

vintage-christmas-santas
Over in the dining room, I went a bit more traditional with the décor, but still tried to keep things colorful.  My dining room table centerpiece has a few Christmas cone trees along with some crystal candle holders. 

christmas-centerpiece

Instead of candles, I popped some more of the glittery ornaments into the candleholders.  I think it’s a fun look and ties together nicely with the Christmas tree in the adjoining room.

christmas-cone-tree-centerpiece

I also strung some garland along the chandelier to add to the festive look.

christmas-table-setting

Here’s a shot of the entire table setting:

dining-room

I also used ornaments instead of candles in some Winterberry painted glass candle holders that are displayed on a nearby ledge.

winterberry-candle-holder

I think the glittery baubles add a fun touch and tie everything together nicely. 

So that’s what’s happening in our living room and dining room these days.  I’ll be sharing our family room and main Christmas tree hopefully tomorrow.  What do you think of my look for this year?  Have you changed up your décor for this year?

I am linking up this post at House of Hepworths.

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I've been so busy getting ready for the holidays around here, that I haven't had the chance to share what I've been working on.  Namely, my holiday decorations.  I still haven't photographed everything, but here's a look at one of my Christmas trees for this year (yes "one" as in I have more than one tree this year!)

I like to change things up a little from year to year, and after two gold and red color schemes in 2009 and 2010, I decided to do something more colorful for this year's Christmas decorations.  This year, I'm having a colorful, vintage inspired Christmas!

After Christmas last year, I picked up a 5-foot tree on clearance at Walmart.  We always get a real tree for our family room, but I got this second faux-tree for our living room.  I've always loved how pretty houses look with a decorated tree in their front window and couldn't resist putting it up.  Plus, I love being greeted by it when I walk in the front door.



We saved the real vintage ornaments for our family room tree (more on that later), so this tree got decked out in what I think are vintagy looking ornaments.  Really, they are just ornaments from Target that I picked up for super cheap after Christmas last year but I think their bright colors have a vintage look.  I was inspired to pick them up after the colorful vintage Christmas mood board I put together last year.

Here's how the tree looks at night:



The tree's skinny little trunk is a total giveaway that this tree is a fake, so I tried to disguise it by placing a cute little animated Snoopy (a gargae sale find) and animated singing Santa (a gift) in front.

But the best under the tree decoration is my little Santa Paws, all decked out in his holiday frock:



If you read this blog regularly, you know I'm no stranger to dressing up my pooch so save the crazy dog owner comments!

So that's my faux vintage Christmas tree?  What do you think, was I able to pull off the vintage vibe?  I'll be sharing the rest of my colorful and vintage inspired decor later this week once I actually take some photos of it!

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Reindeer Dust Recipe


December 13, 2011
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Any kid who is waiting for Santa Claus to come this Christmas knows the importance of preparing for the big guy. You need to leave out milk and cookies for Santa to make sure he comes to your house and leaves you some nice presents. Santa gets all of the treats, but let’s not forget about his reindeer- they’re the ones that drive Santa around and make sure he gets to your house after all. Make sure to leave out some food, also known as reindeer dust, for the reindeer this year.  Here's a special recipe for Santa’s reindeer that will attract them to your house and give them a nice snack while Santa’s inside working his magic.

reindeer-food-bag

When I first heard of the idea of reindeer dust from a friend, I had to mix some up for my nephews. The kids sprinkle the reindeer dust on your lawn before going to bed Christmas Eve to attract Santa and his reindeer and give them something to munch on. It’s a lot of fun for the kids and they will look adorable sprinkling it around outside.

reindeer-dust-gift

You can get creative with what goes into your reindeer dust, but here’s my recipe:

-Popcorn
-Oats
-Raisins
-Sprinkles
-Magic Dust (glitter)

Just make sure your kiddos don’t think the snack is for them to eat if you’re putting glitter in it! I mixed up a batch of the reindeer munch, put it in a zip lock bag, and attached a reindeer image that I designed (from my printable gift tags) to a square cut from a paper shopping bag.  I think it makes a very cute gift!

Have you heard of reindeer dust before?  What Christmas Eve traditions do you celebrate?

I'm sharing this post at House of Hepworths.

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$25 Gift Card Giveaway from UPS!


December 12, 2011
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I’m so happy to bring you guys another giveaway today!  Who wants to win a $25 American Express gift card?!  UPS wants to make your holiday shopping easier this year by sponsoring this gift card giveaway and with their cool new service, UPS My Choice







UPS My Choice is making online shopping a whole lot easier by helping consumers avoid the disappointment and hassle of missing home deliveries  by providing delivery alerts, specific delivery time frames, reroute options, and electronic signature release.  This way, you can focus more on the fun of online shopping and less on worrying about when your package will arrive, where it will be left, and what will happen if you’re not home to receive it.  You can now schedule package deliveries around your schedule!

UPS My Choice is free to sign up for and will allow you to receive phone, email, or text alerts notifying you a day in advance of when your package will arrive and an approximate delivery time frame.  You also have the option to electronically “sign” for a package or for $5 you can reroute your packages to another address or nearest UPS Store.  There is also a UPS My Choice Premium membership that will also give members access to an online delivery calendar that shows the status of home deliveries, a shorter delivery window, and can provide drivers with detailed information on where to leave your package.  For more information or to register, visit UPS My Choice.

Now, onto the giveaway! Here’s the scoop:

- Prize: $25 American Express Gift Card
- Enter By: Tuesday 12/20/2011 12pm EST.
- To Enter: Just leave a comment! (Remember to leave a method of contact. It can be blog/twitter/google profile/email address/or email me with your info if you don’t have those accounts and don’t want to post your email online).
- Bonus Entry 1: Sign up for UPS My Choice (basic membership is FREE and is quick to sign up for) and leave a separate comment saying you’ve done so.
- Bonus Entry 2: Follow me on Google via Blogger/Google Friend Connect or with Google Reader.  Leave a separate comment saying you’ve done so.  If you are already a follower, leave a comment saying so.

Good luck!


Note: I received compensation from UPS in the form of a gift card to participate in this campaign promoting the UPS My Choice delivery service. In addition, UPS provided the gift card I am using as the prize in my promotion.

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The White House is decked out in its holiday best once again this year.  Each year, the First Lady picks a new theme for the holidays and the 2011 White House Christmas theme  is “Shine, Give, Share” which includes a tribute to military troops, veterans, and their families. 

The official White House Christmas tree, located in the Blue Room, is 18.5 feet this year.

White House 2011 Official Christmas Treesource

The Blue Room tree features holiday cards created by military children and medals, badges, and patches from all branches of the military.


A second tree honoring the military sits in the East Landing of the White House.  This tree honors Gold Star military families, ones that have lost a loved one in service.  The tree features star ornaments which families inscribed with the name of their loved one.

A total of 37 Christmas trees are part of the official 2011 White House Christmas decorations.  Two large trees stand in the Grand Foyer.


The China Room features a decorated tree and elegant table setting.

The Red Room features two smaller trees and red wreaths.


The Green Room features handmade tabletop trees made from recycled aluminum.


The Library has a large tree decorated with red ornaments and a banner highlighting this year’s theme.


The Library also features a large topiary sculpture of First Dog, Bo, crafted from plastic trash bags.  This is one of the many Bo sculptures made this year.


The East Garden Room contains the largest Bo sculpture, a 4.5 foot Bo made of 35 yards of felt which stands next to several paper Christmas trees. 

The White House even provides details and a template to make your own mini paper Christmas tree.

I think this year’s White House Christmas decorations look beautiful.  I like the special tributes to the military, the handmade trees, and of course all of the Bo features.  What do you think of this year’s White House décor?

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I've been seeing a lot of sweaters turned pillows on Pinterest and wanted to get in on the fun.  I was particularly inspired by this cable-knit sweater turned pillow that I pinned (originally found on Better After and made by Grand Design Co.)  I originally wanted to use a thick cable knit sweater for my version too, but I realized that I had given all of my ill-fitting ones away to Goodwill recently.  But I did find this old, but cute, argyle print sweater in my new Goodwill pile that is perfect for pillow making.

argyle

It no longer fit me, but my model looked pretty spectacular wearing it:



I must admit I briefly considered keeping the sweater for him, but I didn't see any country club visits planned on his calendar, so I decided to move forth with the pillow project.



I'm a total novice when it comes to sewing, so I don't feel qualified to write a full tutorial about how to make a sweater pillows, but I did put together this quick picture showing where I made cuts and where I sewed (just keep in mind, I'm no pro!).


Basically, I cut off the sleeves, stitched the top of the sweater, stitched the bottom of the sweater part-way (leaving just enough of a gap to squeeze my pillow form in), and then cut off all of the excess material.  The width of the sweater was perfect for my pillow form so I didn't have to touch the sides of the sweater.  Once the pillow form was in, I hand sewed the bottom of the pillow where I had left the opening.   

Here's the finished project.  It was pretty quick, easy, and cute!

argyle-sweater-pillow

I also added a small rosette that I made from excess fabric.  I played around with a bunch of ways to make a rosette, but the only thing that really worked was rolling the fabric until something it looked nice (this must be the vaguest tutorial ever!).

sweater-pillow

I think the pillow looks festive for the holidays, but can also be kept around other times of the year.  What do you think?  Have you made any sweater pillows or from other upcycled materials? (I also made placemat pillows and a tea towel pillow over the summer).

Have you made an Pinterest inspired projects?  I'm linking this post to the Pinterest Party fun going on at Bower Power, Young House Love, Hi SugarPlum, and The Great Indoors.

This post was also linked to House of Hepworths and Thistlewood Farms.

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Who wants some extra spending money for the holidays???  The folks over at Apartment Guide have been kind enough to sponsor a $50 AmEx Gift Card Giveaway!  Woohoo! 


I am partnering with Apartment Guide to share some tips on how to decorate your first place.  I know how challenging decorating a new home is; we moved into our first home three years ago and it is still a work in progress!  But whether you’re settled in, looking for a new place, or planning a move, Apartment Guide can help to point you in the right direction. 

Apartment dwellers who are looking to move, can find helpful photos, floor plans, and tips on finding the perfect apartment community at Apartment Guide.  But there is plenty of information for home owners too, anyone looking for moving or home decorating tips can visit Moving Today to explore decorating styles and get decorating inspiration or check out Apartment Guide’s Blog for fun ways to explore your new city.  You can also check them out on Facebook or Twitter for even more tips on making the most of your space!

I’ll be back later to share tips for decorating your first place, but in the meanwhile lets get to the giveaway!

Here’s the scoop:

- Prize: $50 American Express Gift Card
- Enter By: Friday 12/16/2011 12pm EST.
- To Enter: Just leave a comment! (Remember to leave a method of contact. It can be blog/twitter/google profile/email address/or email me with your info if you don’t have those accounts and don’t want to post your email online).
- Bonus Entry 1: Follow Apartment Guide on Twitter @AptGuide and leave a separate comment saying you’ve done so.
- Bonus Entry 2: Follow me on Google via Blogger/Google Friend Connect or with Google Reader.  Leave a separate comment saying you’ve done so.  If you are already a follower, leave a comment saying so.

Good luck!

This giveaway is now closed.

Note: Apartment Guide is owned by Consumer Source, Inc. Apartment Guide partnered with bloggers such as me to participate in its “How to Decorate Your First Place” program.  As part of that program, I received compensation.  They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products used for the “How to Decorate Your First Place” program. Apartment Guide and Consumer Source believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Consumer Source’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

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Pretty Penny Sign


December 06, 2011
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I’m excited to share a guest project for DIY December today!  Reader and fellow blogger, Dacia, sent in her pretty penny snow sign to share here.  Dacia blogs over at Lemon Drop Life and is a newlywed who recently moved into a new house with her hubby.

For the holidays, she bought these white letters from Joann Fabric and put her money into sprucing them up…literally!

snow-letters

Dacia spray painted the letters bronze and added some sparkle by gluing pennies on them!

snow-sign-penny-mosaic

The pennies are so clever and I think they make the letters look very festive.

 holiday-snow-sign

Don’t they look so glitzy and fabulous now?

Penny-snow-sign

Dacia shares more details about this project over on her blog.  While you’re there, check out all of the other awesome projects she’s worked on!  Thanks for sharing, Dacia!  And if you have a holiday project you’d like to share, I love to feature it as part of DIY December too- just email me!

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I’m so excited to share my first DIY December project today.  If you missed it, check out my intro to DIY December here.  Now onto the project!

A couple of years ago, my fully decorated Christmas tree fell down, shattering a lot of ornaments.  Being one who likes to make lemonade when I’m handed lemons, I held onto the broken ornaments with the intentions of making something with them. Even broken, the ornaments were too pretty to just throw out.

broken-christmas-ornaments

I had the idea of making a mosaic picture frame with the broken ornaments and I finally got around to it this year.  Spoiler alert…I love how it turned out!

I took a cheapy black photo frame and spray painted it a nice holiday gold color.  I did a quick coat of spray paint and didn’t worry about making it perfect since I knew I’d be covering it up with the ornaments.

gold-frame

Then I started hot gluing small pieces of the broken ornaments onto the frame.  At this point, I must warn you that as far as craft projects go, this is a dangerous one!  With little pieces of glass ornaments everywhere, I had a to be very cautious not to cut myself.  I was also very careful to clean up the project area afterwards to make sure there weren’t any tiny pieces of broken glass that slipped by me.  This is definitely not a project for kids!

Back to the project- I started in the corner, gluing larger pieces onto the frame first.  Since the ornaments are curved, I used a lot of hot glue to fill in gaps on their underside and get them to stick to the frame.



I kept gluing along the frame, trying to alternate the types of ornaments I was using.



Once I glued one layer of ornaments around the entire frame, I filled in the gaps between pieces with a second layer of smaller ornaments.

ornament-phote-frame

And here’s how the finished frame looks!

broken-ornament-frame

I love it!  I’m so happy I was able to reuse the broken ornaments in a unique way.  The texture of the frame is still a little rough, so this is a project I would keep away from kids even when finished.  Even so, I’m very happy to display this frame for the holidays.  I think it would make a pretty cool homemade gift too.  The ornaments just look so festive, colorful, and cheerful! 

christmas-mosaic-ornament-frame

What do you think? Have you found a way to reuse broken ornaments or turn other holiday mishaps into something new?

I'm sharing this project over at NewlyWoodward's Dare to Give Homemade Gifts party, House of Hepworths, and DIY Showoff.

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DIY December 2011


December 02, 2011
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Happy DIY December!  Like last year, I’m planning a month full of blog posts featuring holiday décor, crafts, and recipes.  I will be sharing some of the projects I’ve been working on to get ready for the holidays, as well as some gift guides and round-ups of great projects I come across online all December long. 

If you have a project you’d like to share to be featured here, please email me, I’d love to see it!

But before we jump into this year’s DIY December, here’s a look at some of the posts from last year’s DIY December 2010:

2010 Holiday Décor




Holiday Decorating Ideas
   




Creative Gift Wrap
    




DIY Project Ideas
 
DIY Christmas Ornament Ideas        -            DIY Homemade Gift Ideas



Holiday Gift Guides
      

2010 was a busy year, but there’s even more in store for DIY December 2011!

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