Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Gatherer's Christmas Table

For Christmas dinner with my step-dad, I decided to go with a more traditional and masculine theme than the candy-theme I had done for my mother last week.

I envisioned something with traditional reds and golds mixed with plaid, and natural elements to add fragrance and texture.

Unfortunately, with the car and dishwasher needing to be replaced at the same time we were buying all the Christmas presents, my budget was ZERO!

So, I got creative, grabbed the wood saw and clippers and hit the back yard!

I started setting the room up with some pine and yew branches in these pots that held tomato plants over the summer.

Then I added some greenery (faux) to the window and buffet. It contrasted well with the red curtains and runner I'd used last week.

To add the green to the french door side of the room I hung this wreath from the curtain rod.

And in the corner I swapped out the usual silver branches in the vase for some white pine branches. You may also recognize the tiered server in the corner as last week's centerpiece!

I am VERY pleased with the way the centerpiece turned out.

My foray into lumber-jack-hood resulted in this lovely broken down pile of logs:

Which I cleaned off a bit, piled up, screwed together and drilled some 1 1/2 inch holes into...
And VOILA! Lovely rustic centerpiece!

To find an appropriate runner, I once again ransacked the closets, and came up with these two plaid wool scarves. (One covers almost the whole length of the table, the other- which is very close in color- is just under the last place setting.)

I would have preferred a red linen cloth to keep with the natural look, but you know, workin' with what I've got!

I kept the place settings simple since we really only needed dinner plates for the shepherd's pie, spiced carrots, salad and biscuits. (I know, could have used salad plates and bread and butter plates, but with 8 people that would have gotten a little crowded!)

The plates are Holly Holiday (from my sister, not sure where they were purchased.) Napkins are from Target last year (after Christmas sale!), and the gold flatware was a wedding gift. On top I placed the festive green crackers to add a little more green to the red-heavy table. I left glasses off since I planned to hand out beverages with the appetizers in the kitchen.

Gold sparkle came in with my trusty mosaic candles from Christmas Tree Shop, the foil on the poinsettias (they're faux, for the cats' safety!), and that fun gold reindeer on the buffet from TJMaxx.

All in all I was incredibly pleased with how it all came out. This was definitely one of those rare instances when the results more than met that ever-elusive picture in my head!

And the best part of all?

Seeing everyone sitting at it looking so happy!

Happy Holiday and Fortuitous New Year to everyone over a Susan's Tablescape Thursday!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Early Christmas Table

Mom came out this past weekend instead of on Christmas itself, so we kids decided to do an extra Christmas a week early in addition to Christmas Eve dinner with my step-dad.
So I decided to take the opportunity to design two different Christmas tables!

Mom is a little more playful, so I decided to do one for her with a candy theme.

The white tablecloth is actually two white sheets layered so they aren't see-through. The red runner is a dupatta from one of my Indian outfits.

I hung red curtains on the windows and porch doors to add a little seasonal color to the usual hangings.

For the centerpieces I piled a bunch of red glass ball ornaments in satin and gloss finishes onto my clear pressed glass tiered server.

I turned a couple of vases I already had into candle holders by filling them with peppermint candies and hanging candy canes around the outside.

I broke my usual all-white candle rule to pump up the red a bit!

The glass mosaic candles are from Christmas Tree Shop. (I couldn't possibly do a table without something from there!)

For the place settings I mixed and matched all kinds of things!

The beaded placemats are from Target about 5 years ago. The white plates are my everyday plates, on top of that are the red napkins from Pier One (from our wedding registry!) The bowls are Holly Holiday. Not sure where they're from because they were my sister's and she passed them on to me when she decided I was the new host! You'll be seeing more of that set at Christmas table part two! The gold-plated flatware is another wedding present (purchased from JC Penney), and the glasses are from Macy's.

To fill in some of the white-ness, and to put the table over the crazy holiday edge, I sprinkled peppermints and Hershey's kisses all over the table!

So there's table number one!

Check back next week to see the traditional meets rustic table I'll be doing for tomorrow's big dinner!

And as always, thanks to Susan over at Between Naps on the Porch for hosting Tablescape Thursday!

Dining Room has a Floor!

I am pleased to announce that our dining room now has a proper floor!

Remember this?

Well, there's no more visible plywood now!

Hubby and I decided to save some money and install it ourselves.

Which wasn't difficult really, but the tools involved were very heavy, so we could only work for a couple of hours at a time which meant is took us almost a month to finish!

The nail-gun was awkward on its own, but that mallet you need to hit it with must have weighed about 15 lbs!
I admit there was also a bit of a learning curve on the tools. We realized that it would cost less to purchase a compressor and table saw than it would cost to rent them (the price evened out if we took more than 2 days to finish- thank god we decided to buy them!)

There's Hubby assembling the table saw.

I am also pleased to announce that we finished without a single trip to the emergency room! There were certainly a few bruises and sore backs, but BOY was it worth it!!!


Mullican 3/4 inch HARDWOOD pre-finished in Antique Gunwood with 25 year warranty: $66.72/box on sale at Lowe's (box about 24 sq. ft) 8 boxes= $533.76

Rosin Paper, 1 roll: $12

Putty and Stain repair kit: $9.97

Ryobi Portable 10 inch Table Saw: $99 (Home Depot)

Ryobi Compressor Combo Kit (with nail gun): $129 (Home Depot)

Nail Gun tool rental: About $50/day for 5 days $250

Nails: 2 boxes at $18 = $36

TOTAL: $1069.73

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cute Holiday Quiz

Pigtown Design posted this cute holiday quiz yesterday, and encouraged us to do it ourselves, so here I go!

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?
I love the idea of eggnog, but can't manage to swallow more than a tablespoon at a time... cocoa on the other hand, add a shot of Bailey's (or Kahlua or Godiva...) and you've got a seasonal favorite!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

Unless they are for someone living in the house they get stored under the tree until s/he has a chance to wrap them!

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?

All white, all the time!

4. Do you hang mistletoe?

I used to, but there's no great spot for it in this house- Hubby tends to collide with it in the middle of a doorway!

5. When do you put your decorations up?

I start the day after Thanksgiving and keep going until New Year's Day when I'm told they need to come down!

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

The White family's Swedish breakfast bread. Never got the recipe for that, though...

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?

Hanging out in front of a roaring fire in the "fancy" living room, listening to Christmas carols and doing... whatever!

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?

I don't remember ever believing in Santa, actually, just loving the idea of him!

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

Well, since the family got so spliced up (with divorces and marriages), we're doing the original family thing on Christmas Eve and spouses' families on Christmas Day.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?

Differently every year so far!

11. Snow: love it or hate it?

Love to look at it, hate to shovel it!

12. Can you ice skate?

I used to... I imagine I still could... Hubby and I talk about doing it every year, but I haven't been in at least 10 years! Maybe this year...

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?

A wooden barn and folding fence for my Breyer's horses. It was all set up under the tree, and even though it was CLEARLY for me, I refused my sister's encouragement to play with it until that had been confirmed by my parents since there was no name tag on it!

14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?

The warm fuzzy feeling you get from the twinkling lights, the anticipation of seeing friends and family, and of course the decorating!!

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?

Mixed cookies- sugar, shortbread, and gingerbread especially.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Well, they're all changing now, but a new favorite is going with a grumbling Hubby to pick out the tree. This year I set a time record by picking one in under three minutes!

17. What tops your tree?

Sparkly things.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?

Depends on my financial situation. Crafting gifts, while fun, always leaves me feeling like I've cheated the recipient a bit... but when I have money to spend I LOVE the giving part! Receiving is great too, though...

19. What is your favorite Christmas song?

Oh, can't possibly pick just one... I love the entire Cheiftans Bells of Dublin album. As for specific tunes, I love some of the more somber ones like I Wonder as I Wander, Good King Wenceslas, I Saw Three Ships... so many...

20. Candy canes:

Only red and white peppermint ones.

21. Favorite Christmas movie?

A Christmas Carol with George C Scott

22. What do you leave for Santa?

Santa eats her treats before she goes to bed!

Monday, December 14, 2009

12 Days of Christmas- Indian Style!

My sister-in-law found this version of the 12 Days of Christmas on YouTube a few years back and it's been a necessary part of every Christmas since!
Check it out!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The (imperfect) Tree!

So okay, I still haven't figured out how to make the tree look just how I want. But seeing as how December is creeping by, I thought I ought to share it with you before Christmas has passed!

With this year's pink walls I veered away from the red and green traditional tree and went in for silver and gold (except for Santa tucked away there, of course!) It's a tree full of last year's after-Christmas discount items and all those collected and made since college.

I started with a base of white lights, then wound a two inch wide gold ribbon all around the tree. Well, 3/4 of the way, it ran out about a foot before the bottom! But I filled in with sundry other things... that's the way of decorations, isn't it?

For the topper I used the star Mom found for me last year and surrounded it with these super-sparkly silver branches from Joanne's florals (75% off, of course!) For the skirt (since the red one I used last year didn't look right), I used a gold tablecloth.

In this shot you can see the rug we're using out of sheer desperation for some coziness- it was a good quality hand-me-down that just happens to look AWFUL with our decor! Hopefully that will change soon...
So my problem with the tree at this point is that with all that sparkliness up top, there just isn't enough on the main part of the tree!

Don't you think? I mean, it's looking good... and the silver presents under it are helping, but I think it can look better! What I think I really want is old traditional silver tinsel, but you know with the cats, can't have that! So I'm hoping to find some sprouting out from the end of a branch or wand or something so the cats can't choke on it.

Well anyhoo, that's what I have for now, I'll let you know if I find what I'm looking for!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Funny Hubby

So Hubby... he's a funny guy. He does things sometimes, just out of the blue, that are just so silly...
Like the other night. Came home late from work and was wandering around the house filling me in on his day. I was online doing something. Suddenly his sentence trails off into a mumble, and a moment later he breaks into giggles.

I look up to see this:

"What on earth are you doing?" I ask.
"The Heisman," he replies, giggling some more.
"With the cat?"
"Umm.... could you do that again?" I ask as I grab my camera.
Hubby gleefully strikes the pose again.
"You realize this has to go on my blog, right?"
"Great!," he says. "Mom will love it!"

How can you not love that?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Surprising Source for Affordable Ornaments!

I've always loved the accessories in Crate and Barrel. Hubby used to tease me that every time we passed the Crate and Barrel store in the mall I was working in at the time, I would gesture to the window display and exclaim, "I love that store!" The prices, however, generally keep me from indulging in that admiration any further than window shopping. I think at some point I actually stopped looking at prices altogether just believing they were higher than I wanted to pay!
But the other day I passed their ornament section and loved a few so much that I just had to check the price...These little sparklers, for instance:

Which turned out to be just 75 cents!
They're all glass with a lovely dusting of iridescent glitter on the tops. They look spectacular on the tree!

(That shot is fuzzy, but you get the idea!)

And this antique mercury glass looking ball:

Love love love... just $2.99! You can't beat that anywhere I've found!
Now I'm wishing I'd indulged just a bit more as the tree needs just a little more sparkle to be perfect. I'll show you what I mean once I figure out what to do about that!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Couch... (cover!)

About 5 years ago, just before we were married, Hubby and I decided to go buy our first big "real" furniture together. As the main piece of furniture in the living room at that time was a futon from his bachelor days, we decided a couch was in order. After much hunting (and sitting, lounging, and napping... couch shopping is hard work!) we decided on a down blend number that was large enough for us both to snuggle on, but still tailored, and only about twice what we'd planned to pay! When choosing the upholstery I enthusiastically (and stupidly) picked a sunny yellow cotton twill.

It was so pretty and cheerful...
The sales lady assured me that by purchasing the stain protection plan I would never have to worry about my couch getting dirty- HA! Of course the first time I called to report a stain they wheedled their way out of that plan, but that's a different story altogether... So time passed and kids came and jumped around with grape juice in sippy cups, and the dogs snuck up there to nap, and then we got the cats and they adopted the couch... you know, life happened.
Anyhoo, I decided with the holidays coming up the couch deserved a little present too. So I bought her a new dress:

Nothing super fancy, just one of those sure-fit stretchy covers. But it's a very pretty purple jacquard velvet,

That is very similar in color to the curtains on the other side of the room:

And it looks much better with the pink walls than the yellow did!

So now Hubby can spill all he wants and not a thing shows! Of course getting the white cat hair out of that stretch velvet might just kill me, but I'm enjoying it for the moment!