December 20, 2012

2012 White House Christmas Decorations

Every year I enjoy taking a look at the White House Christmas decorations.  The 2012 White House Christmas theme is “Joy to All.” 

The main Christmas tree is an 18+ foot Fraser Fir located in the Blue Room and is dedicated to military families and veterans.  The banner on the tree reads “Joining Forces” and it is decorated with ornaments made by children living on military bases. 

2012 White House Christmas Tree

The Blue Room tree is one of 54 Christmas trees decorated in the White House this year.  A pair of beautiful trees is located in the Diplomatic Reception room.  And take a look at that decorated mantle!

White House Christmas Decorations

The Christmas tree in the Green Room is decorated with living ornaments.  How cute is this terrarium ornament!  This could totally be a DIY project for anyone’s tree.  The White House even provides instructions on how you can create your own terrarium ornament on their website.

White House Living Christmas Tree Ornaments 2012

Another pair of Christmas trees decorates the East Room.  The theme of these trees is American folk art and the room’s décor is full of handmade elements.

2012 White House Christmas East Room

Another pretty Christmas tree can be found in the East Room.  This tree is decorated with all white ornaments.  In the photo below you can also see one of the few stained glass windows designed for the White House this year.

White House Christmas Decor East Wing 2012

My favorite Christmas tree in this year’s White House décor, is this colorful rainbow tree located in the East Garden room.  Most of the White House Christmas décor is so traditional, I think this bright and cheery colorful tree is such a fun surprise.

Colorful Christmas Tree White House 2012

Of course the White House Christmas décor isn’t all about the beautiful trees, there are holiday accents throughout the White House.  Each year a huge gingerbread house of the famous estate is created.  I love the little Bo guarding the front of it.  The gingerbread house weighs over 300 pounds, including 50 pounds of chocolate.  I hope someone gets to bite into this tasty treat after the holidays are over!

2012 White House Gingerbread House

Bo is a common element in the 2012 White House Christmas decorations.  There is even a huge Bo sculpture made of 20,000 pom poms!  It took a volunteer over 80 hours to create it.

White House Christmas Bo Sculpture

Bo tends to steal the show at the White House.  This year, he even gives a tour of all of the White House Christmas decorations which you can watch below!

I love taking a look at the White House holiday decorations each year.  With such a big and grand house, it’s no surprise they go big with their holiday décor!  You can check out White House Christmas decorations from past years with my 2011 and 2009 decorating recaps.

December 18, 2012

DIY Matryoshka Felt Ornament

I have a friend who lives in Europe and I wanted to send her a care package for the holidays.  I thought it would be nice to include something handmade and for her Christmas tree in the package, but of course it couldn’t be anything fragile and it couldn’t weigh a lot either since shipping overseas is so costly.  So I decided to make her a cute little felt ornament, and I loved making it!

I found this great matroyshka doll ornament pattern and wonderful instructions at My Sparkle and thought it would be perfect for her.  I printed out the pattern and cut out the individual pieces from paper and then traced them onto felt and then cut them out.

how to make felt ornaments

Then I used tacky glue to glue the front pieces onto each other.  I think what makes this ornament look so cute is the multiple layers it has going on.

diy matryoshka christmas ornament

For some added interest, I hand-sewed a cute outline from yarn around some of the pieces.  Once I had the front done, I partially sewed it to the back piece using the blue yarn again and then stuffed the ornament with fiber-fill before sewing completely shut.

diy matroyshka ornament

I finished up the ornament with a little bead in the center of the flower and a drawn on smile.  I think my little nesting doll ended up looking very cute and I really loved making it.  It was time consuming to get all of the little pieces looking just right, but I had fun in the process.

diy felt christmas ornament

I’m so happy I was able to send a friend who lives very far away something homemade and special just for her.  Now I’d love to make some more felt ornaments since I enjoyed the process so much.

Have you tried your hand at making felt or any other ornaments for your Christmas tree?  You can check out my round-up of 12 DIY Christmas Ornaments or 8 DIY White Ornaments for some more do it yourself ornament ideas.

December 13, 2012

DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater

I was invited to an Ugly Christmas Sweater party recently and thankfully I didn’t have anything in my closet that I deemed ridiculous enough to wear.  It was probably the first time I was happy I had nothing to wear to a party!  If you’ve never been to an ugly sweater party, it’s exactly what it sounds like- everyone comes decked out in their wackiest or most wonderfully ugly holiday getup and it is a blast!

I checked out Goodwill to see if there were any old fashioned sweaters there, or maybe a bedazzled holiday sweatshirt from the 80s, but no such luck.  So I decided to make my own DIY ugly Christmas sweater.  And I won’t lie, it was a ton of fun to go crazy with the glitter and decorations!

Here’s how I did it.  I started off with a white thermal shirt that actually used to be my hubby’s until it shrunk and was relegated to our give-to-Goodwill pile.  Then it was time to break out the scissors, felt, and glue!  I printed out a Christmas tree template and hot glued pieces of felt cut to size onto the shirt (this project was entirely no-sew).

how to diy ugly christmas sweater

Of course every Christmas tree needs ornaments, so I broke out the pom-poms and got gluing. 

make an ugly christmas sweater

I realized pom-poms make a wonderful accent, so the collar got trimmed with them too.  But the sweater wasn’t quite over-the-top yet, so I broke out some of my parent’s old soft ornaments and got gluing. 

diy ugly holiday sweater

While I like these ornaments for sentimental reasons, I’ve always found this bear to be a little frightening.  Anyone agree?

old christmas ornament sweater

The shirt was almost done, but it was still missing something important- glitter!  I used glitter glue to outline the Christmas tree and draw a star of gold.

diy ugly christmas sweater

Now that’s what I call an ugly holiday sweater!  And I use the word “ugly” very loosely, because let’s admit it, it’s a pretty awesome looking shirt!  This shirt very well might be a new Christmas tradition for me.

ugly christmas sweater

Unfortunately for you (but very fortunate for me), I didn’t capture any good photos of me wearing the sweater.  But I can assure you it was a hit and it looked wonderful worn with the jingle bell earrings I’ve had since I was a kid.

Have you been to an ugly Christmas sweater party?  I highly recommend going to one or throwing your own, it was so much fun.  Do you have any wacky things you like to wear for the holidays?

December 10, 2012

8 DIY White Ornaments

Every year I try to think of a slightly different look for our Christmas tree.  This year I wanted to go for a more white, silver, and gold look.  I’m calling it my elegant wintery look (and no I’m not done with the tree yet, please tell me I’m not the only one without a fully decked out tree at this point?  I feel like I make this same statement this time every year!)  Anywho, I already have some white ornaments but I’d like to make some diy white ornaments myself.  So in my interwebs research of diy ornaments, I put together a round up of some cute make-your-own white ornaments.

DIY White Ornaments

1- DIY Pearl Ornament – I think this looks so elegant!  And it seems pretty straight forward to make, lots of faux pearls glued onto an old ornament.

2- Paper Poinsettia Ornament – How cool is it that this beautiful flower is made from paper.

3- Glittery Newspaper Ornament – I couldn’t find instructions for this beauty, but I bet it’s made by mod-podging (that’s an adjective right?) newspaper strips onto an old ornament and then covering it with pretty glitter. It would be very cool to wrap the pages of a Christmas book or words of a poem onto an ornament.

4- String Ornament – A pretty ornament out of just string?! Crazy, but true.

Make White Christmas Ornaments

1- DIY Glitter Ornaments – I go a little glitter crazy during the holidays, so of course I love this diy ornament idea.

2- Button Ornament- How cool is this ornament made from repurposed buttons.  I bet this would also be a nice gift to anyone who loves to sew.

3 – Yarn Ornaments – So simple, yet cool!

4- Glass Feather Ornaments – The ornaments shown above are actually available for purchase, but I bet they would be fun to make yourself too.  Just a clear glass ball and some pretty white feathers are needed.

I better get to work making some of these ornaments!  Have you crafted any ornaments yourself this year?  And anyone else still working on (and way behind on) their Christmas tree and décor?

December 03, 2012

DIY December 2012

It’s December, so that can only mean one thing around here- DIY December is back!  For the third year in a row, I will be featuring a full month of holiday crafts, diy projects, decorating ideas, gift ideas, recipes, and more!  This is my favorite month for blogging and I already have a whole bunch of ideas and projects lined up to share! 

I pulled together a few of my favorite past DIY December projects below, but you can check out all of the posts from the past two years by clicking on the image above or here.


1.  Broken Ornament Photo Frame
2.  Reindeer “Food”
3.  DIY Sweater Pillow
4.  DIY Fabric Gift Bags
5.  Gold Painted Christmas Tree Branches
6.  Free Printable Holiday Gift Tags

Please join me this month for some DIY holiday fun!  And if you have a cool holiday project you’d love to share, please email me and I’d be happy to feature it!

October 17, 2012

Fireplace Phase 5

We’ve been updating our fireplace pretty much since we moved into our house.  It’s gone through several phases and is finally nearly complete!  I’ve probably talked more about the fireplace than any other thing in our house.  Here’s a reminder of how far we’ve come:

Since they way-before photo was taken, we added an expanded mantle shelf, hid the flat screen tv cables, painted the brass accents black, and painted the entire fireplace mantle white

Now we’re onto the fifth, and final, phase of the project – tiling!  We’ve done a few tiling projects in our home, including our kitchen backsplash and bathtub accent border, so I’m no stranger to tiling.  For this project, we decided to go with multicolored glass mosaic tiles as they have been pretty easy to install based on our past experience.  I like glass tiles because they have a smooth finish, unlike some natural stone tiles, which means that the adhesive and grout wipes off easily during installation and I don’t have to worry about it getting stuck in little crevices on the tile’s surface (a problem we ran into when tiling our bathtub).  I also really like mosaic tiles for this type of project because no tile cutting is involved.  I just cut the sheet of tile to the size we need with scissors and that’s it, the actual tiles themselves don’t get cut. 

I got the fireplace ready for tiling by taping off all of the painted areas (it’s hard to see in the photo below, but I taped off the inside of the mantle top and sides).   Our existing fireplace surround was a black stone material and since we had no idea what was underneath of it and it seemed like we could get tile to stick on top of it, we decided to take the easy road and tile right over it.

Tiled Fireplace Before Photo

I used a pre-mixed tile adhesive that we had left over from a previous project.  This is the only type of adhesive I’ve tried, so I don’t know how it compares to others, but it has worked great and has been very easy to use in my experience.  It’s by Tec and is available at Lowes.

Now, onto the fun stuff!  I got to work by spreading the adhesive onto the fireplace and sticking the tiles on top.  I’ve previously detailed this process in my kitchen and bathroom tiling posts, so I’ll spare you the details this time around.

The tiles we chose are from Home Depot and are sold in 12” x 12” sheets for $5 in my store.  I needed a total of 5 square feet for this project, so all of the tile ran me a total of just $25.  That’s pretty good, in my opinion, for a project that should have a big visual impact when it’s done.

How To Tile a Fireplace Mantle

Here’s another progress shot:

Tiling a Fireplace

It took me about 2-3 hours to prep the entire area and tile it (about equivalent to the length of a terrible TV sci-fi movie I inexplicably decided to watch during the project).  I wasn’t in much of hurry though, and may have taken a snack break, so it was a probably a shorter project if you count only my hard-at-work time.

And finally, here’s how the fireplace looks with all of the tiles applied:

DIY Fireplace Tile

The tile adhesive requires over 12 hours to dry for a project this size, so I wasn’t able to get to grouting this weekend.  But grouting is on my agenda for this coming weekend, so hopefully I will be able to get d-o-n-e!

What do you think so far?  What projects have you been working on recently?

October 03, 2012

Spotted At: Ross

In the world of home stores, I feel that Ross is often forgotten about, but it's actually one of my favorite spots to search for home accessories.  They have some nice stuff and fantastic bargains sometimes, especially if you score something on clearance.  I've gotten some great deals there, including my Pottery Barn knock-off mail station and powder room mirror, just to name a few.  This past weekend I was at Ross and spotted some very cute items.  I'd like to share them with you in a new segment I'm calling “Spotted At: Ross.”  Creative right?  Okay, onto the stuff.

How cute is this grey and yellow Waverly bedding set that I spotted? It comes with the comforter, bed skirt, two pillows, and two shams. I promised myself I would remember the price to share later, but the best my foggy memory can muster up is that it was around $45 for a Queen size set.


Then I saw these cute mosaic vases. I was really tempted to take the red one home with me, but I already have a shelf full of unused vases on a storage shelf in my basement, so I had to pass. I want to say they were about $12.


What I was most impressed with at Ross was their fantastic new selection of decorative throw pillows. I found these two, which felt really nice and I believe were stuffed with down or feathers, for $16 or $17. I really liked the peacock one, but I wasn't sure where I could put it so I had to pass. But now that I think about it, the idea of a peacock pillow stuffed with feathers just sounds wrong!


They had other cute pillows too, I liked all three of these pillows that I spotted, which ranged in price from about $11-$16. 


Oh man, looking back on these photos really makes me wish I would have bought these pillows, they're so cute!  Don't worry, I didn't go home empty handed though.  I couldn't bring all of these pillows home, but I also couldn't go home without buying any at all, so I snagged these two babies on clearance  for $9 each.  I thought they'd brighten up my dark and neutral living room couches and I think they're just the right splash of color.  Plus, they should coordinate wonderfully with the nearby window seat I plan to update soon!


I just can't help it, when I see a cute new throw pillow, I'm like a 13 girl at a Justin Beiber concert.  However, this has not gone unnoticed by my husband. He is keeping a running tally on the number of throw pillows we now own and that number is getting a little ridiculous.  It sounds so stereotypical, but men just don't understand throw pillows!  Oh husbands, can't live without them, can't purchase ridiculous amounts of pillows with them!

What about you?  Any pillows wars going on in your house?  Or any other Ross shoppers out there or is there another secret spot you dig for discount décor? 

October 01, 2012

Amazing Nutella Breakfast Panini Recipe

During the week I usually have quick breakfasts, that I can easily make and eat as I run out the the door to work.  But on the weekends, I turn into a bit of a party animal and make myself something slightly fancier.  Okay, so maybe party animal is an overstatement, but I’m not exaggerating when I tell you this- I invented the world’s best* breakfast panini this past weekend (*worlds best, in my opinion that is.)  I’m like the Thomas Edison of breakfast paninis (which maybe another slight exaggeration).

Get ready for this, it’s a Strawberry Nutella Cream Cheese Panini! 


And it’s easy to make! Here’s how: On Trader Joe’s Tuscan Pane bread (which is okay as-is, but amazing for paninis), spread a thick layer of reduced fat cream cheese and top it with fresh sliced strawberries. On the other piece of bread, add a light coat of Nutella spread. Put the sandwich together and into whatever appliance you use for making paninis. I don’t have a panini maker, but I have a George Forman grill which is perfect for making toasty sandwiches.


Once nice and toasty, prepare to have a breakfast sandwich that will knock your socks off! It really tastes like a special treat that I would order when going out to brunch, but it came out of my Forman grill and only took a few minutes to prepare. I actually wasn’t even that into paninis before this, but this sandwich changed my mind!


You have to try it!  And when you do, come back and let me know what you thought!

September 27, 2012

Show Your Colors Paint Gallery Tool

If you asked me what I thought was the biggest way to impact a room’s look, I’d say one word: paint!  Painting is fairly easy to do, inexpensive, and comes in so many choices, so it can really transform a room’s look.  Of course, if you’ve ever spent time debating paint colors and trying to pick one out, you know that it can be a nail biting experience some times.  One cool tool to make things easier and find color inspiration is Glidden's My Colortopia Show Your Colors Gallery. The gallery has user submitted before-and-after painting projects to really demonstrate how paint can transform a room’s look.

One of my projects is even in the gallery!  The very first project we took on when moving into our house was repainting our powder room.  The previous owner had painted the bathroom a bright electric blue color and to make matters even worse, the walls, ceiling, and back of the door were all painted the same terrible color.  You know, so the room really felt like it was about to close in on you!  We repainted the room ASAP, but interestingly enough we stayed in the blue family- this time it was just a much softer and more elegant shade of blue.


You don’t have to go far to see all of the before-and-after projects featured on Show Your Colors, just check out the widget below!  It’s full of great paint transformations and inspiring projects.  Scroll through the photos below to see the projects.  You can even submit your own photos. 

Have you done any painting projects recently?  Do you have a go-to paint color or palette of colors you like to use?

Note: I have been sponsored by Glidden brand paint to write this post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

September 24, 2012

2013 Ikea Catalog

The mail is always a big deal in our house.  There’s no good reason for this because most days the mail is just a junk pile of things I don’t need, like credit card applications or cash-for-gold fliers.  But getting the mail is fun anyway because every once in a while I’ll receive something good like a party invitation, Better Homes & Gardens, or best of all- a package I forgot that I ordered.  And once a year, something very exciting comes- the Ikea catalog!

For about the last 15 years, I’ve gotten a strange amount of enjoyment from flipping through a brand new Ikea catalog.  15 years ago, before high speed internet and certainly home decorating blogs, the Ikea catalog was my only source of decorating inspiration. Well, that and episodes of the Christopher Lowell Show (anyone remember that show?)  I was very young back then, but I’ve always loved decorating shows & catalogs!


That’s a very long way of telling you that I like mail, I was a weird kid, and the 2013 Ikea catalog came in the mail recently.  So as I like to do each year (you can see my 2012 and 2011 recaps here), I like to share some of my favorite finds from the catalog.  Here’s what I liked this year:

The MALM occasional table. For $129, I think this is a great looking table that’s very versatile.  I can picture it in an entry way or family room as a little office or homework space. Page 41.


HYLLIS shelving unit for just $14.99.  What a deal and a steal for galvanized steel (sorry, I can’t resist a rhyme once in a while and we’ve already covered the fact that I’m weird).  But seriously, what a great price for a shelving unit.  I can picture it in a pantry, garage, or basement- maybe even as a baker’s rack in the kitchen.  Plus, the description says it’s indoor/outdoor and I think it would look even cuter on a patio full with flower pots.  Page 51.


Hello, gorgeous upholstered bed, BEKKESTUA.  If you get just the headboard, it’s $250.  Not bad, right?  Page 62.


Speaking of the bedroom, I’m in love with the turquoise-blue Malin duvet set.  It’s shown in the catalog on page 79, but I couldn’t find the product description in there, but it’s on their website and available in different sizes from $19.99-$39.99.


This map pillow, the BENZY LAND cushion, also caught my eye and is listed as $12.99 on page 138.  No surprise that I like this pillow, after all I sewed my own nautical map pillow, have a big map featured over my new office/craft desk, and made a map photo frame (recently featured on woot!).  So yeah, I kind of have a thing for maps.


It was also interesting to see that this year’s catalog had, dare I say it, a more blog-like feel to it.  Scattered throughout it were their own Ikea hack suggestions as to how their products could be DIY modified or spruced up.  Anyone else notice that?

So those are my picks for the 2013 Ikea catalog.  Any other member of the Ikea fan club out there?  What did you think of this year’s catalog?

By the way, Ikea (or anyone else for that matter) did not ask me or sponsor me to write this blog post.  They have no idea who I am, except maybe as the weird lady that comes into the store every once in a while.  Point is, they had nothing to do with this blog post.

September 20, 2012

Clementine Box Turned Storage Container

Who doesn't love a sweet delicious clementine? They're one of my favorite fruits and lucky for me they also come in cute wooden boxes.  I held onto one of these boxes and decided it would make a cool pantry storage container.


I decided to paint it and started off pulling out some excess staples leftover from where the plastic tip used to attach to the box. This box has a pretty smooth finish, but if I had kids, and knew little hands would be reaching in there, I would have also sanded down the edges to prevent splinters.

I got to work by giving the box a coat of spray paint white primer. Usually I'm lazy and skip the primer step, but since the box is made of porous untreated wood I figured the primer is necessary. After the primer dried, I picked a cherry red spray paint color that I already had on hand (you might remember it from such projects as our painted planters or painted sea shell).

In hindsight, I would have rather used a flat finish instead of glossy, but I already had this on hand and the box is going into the pantry, so I'm ok with the glossy for this free and usually hidden behind closed doors project.

But I did think the painted clementine box needed a little something extra, so I decided to add a chalkboard label. I measured around the side of the box and marked off the area the label should go in pencil. Then I taped it off and started having some fun with my new friend, chalkboard spray paint.

A couple of coats later, and after waiting the recommended drying time, bada bing, bada boom, I had a new pantry storage container made from and old clementine box.


It holds my baking supplies and is a cheerful treat for the pantry. Not bad for a free project from an old box, right?


I will be holing onto more clementine boxes as they come into season this year. Maybe next time I'll paint a design onto the box. Now, orange you glad I showed you this project??? Hahaha!

September 12, 2012

DIY Craft and Office Desk Makeover

I’ve been holding out on you guys.  A while back I completed what can only be described as my FAVORITE DIY PROJECT EVER!  I took some time to tweak it and take some nice photos of it, but I’m finally ready to share it and I couldn’t be more EXCITED!  Can you sense my enthusiasm yet???

Get ready…It’s a DIY office/craft room desk makeover!  Before we get to the awesome (if I do say so myself) after photos, I must share the embarrassing before pictures.  You see, my husband is a truly wonderful man and has brought so many fantastic things into our marriage.  BUT, he also brought his computer desk from college into our home!


This style of computer desks was quite popular not that long ago and could be found in homes everywhere.  And while my husband was very fond of it and describes it as “functional” and “homey,” I was not as thrilled by it. 

This desk lived in the corner of a spare bedroom when we first moved in and I would use it occasionally (Hubby got a larger and nicer desk for his office), but I quickly decided it needed an update and one day I doodled a little sketch on a post-it note of how I could fix up this desk.

Although I didn’t stick to this plan exactly, the basics remain the same- a coat of paint and some new shelving to completely transform it.

I started off by removing the top hutch portion of the desk.  It was fairly easy to take apart and I covered up the holes from where the desk and hutch were attached with some spackle before painting.


Then, I sanded the desk down manually (it’s made of particle board so I didn’t want to go crazy and sand off too much with a power sander).  I know there are lots of tutorials online for painting furniture, but since this is a particle board desk and not an expensive antique, I just used whatever supplies I happened to have on hand.  I think I used a can of spray paint white primer to give the desk a base, then painted it with regular latex wall paint I had left over, and then finished it with a  coat of protective spray paint. 

So are you ready to see the after photos?!


Boom!  If I can pat myself on the back, I must say that’s quite a transformation!  Here’s a good before and after shot to give you the full picture:


I’m now able to plop my laptop down and use this desk as my office, or I can add my sewing machine and use it as a sewing or craft space.

Above the desk, I hung two shelves I had purchased at a garage sale.  They were originally red, but I painted them white too.  I used some empty food jars to store some paint brushes and pencils.  The letters are our initials and are from The Christmas Tree Shop.  I absolutely love the map too, it is another garage sale find.  I plan on adding pins to the map marking the places we’ve traveled.


The desk isn’t very large so I try not to keep a lot on it.  Just a lamp (also from a yard sale) and a couple of framed photos.


When I’m not using the sewing machine, I keep a little decorative box on top of the desk.  It’s filled with old birthday/holiday cards, party invitations, and other little keepsakes I like to hold onto.  I haven’t gotten a nice chair for the desk, so I’ve been using a dining room chair in the meanwhile.


Just for fun, here’s another before-and-after shot:


I couldn’t be more pleased!  This is probably the most fun and satisfying makeover project I’ve done to date.  I’m really thrilled with how this desk turned out and that I have a new office and craft space.  I’m so happy we were able to keep the desk and transform it into something that works better for us without too much difficulty and at almost no cost (about $8 spent on the map, shelves, and decorative letters, everything else we already owned).

What do you think of this transformation?  Have you created a craft or office space in your home?  Or have a spouse that has also brought some questionable furniture into the house?

I'm entering this project into the Creating with the Stars contest from East Coast Creative!

I'm linking up this project to House of Hepworths, Miss Mustard SeedFinding Fabulous, Beneath My Heart, Thrifty Decor Chick.