Category Archives: Holiday
It’s way too early to start in on Christmas decor, but it’s perfect time to get a few holiday projects started. Especially the ones that take time to cure, grow or whatever they have to do.
Today’s project is one of my favorite “early” projects. If you have been a long time reader you may recall that I’ve had an obsession with forced bulbs. I think its in my genes. My grandma Estelle always had an amaryllis every year for Christmas. (As a kid I remember charting the growth by how many string ties my grandmother added to it’s stalk.)
If you have never forced a bulb before — don’t worry. It’s really simple. Go to you local garden store and they should have a ton of spring bulbs in stock. Any bulb can be forced, but traditionally amaryllis and paperwhites are used for the holidays.
I picked up a brand new amaryllis bulb to my collection and two packs of paperwhites. One reason I bought so many is I’m going to stagger mine a little and plant half now, another few next week and the final few the week after.
The bulbs just needs light and water to grow so you can use a variety of planting compounds (gravel, marbles or glass). I like using soil the best because it secures the bulb a little better than the other alternatives.
I decide to use a variety of white and terra-cotta containers this year. Then I layered an inch or two with river rocks at the bottom then added potting soil. I made room for the bulbs and placed them in the soil with the roots facing down. Wet the pots to moisten the soil and put them out in a sunny location.
They take anywhere from 4-6 weeks to bloom so don’t wait. Plant them now!
Happy Halloween! I wanted to show my last-minute addition to my decorations this week. I picked up this balsam, laser-cut sugar skull this summer and have been debating what to do with it ever since. I kept thinking about working it into my Day of the Dead wreath, but that seemed to much. Finally this weekend, it came to me – just do something simple with it.
And speaking of cat costumes, I have to finish making this year’s look when I get home from work tonight. I have high hopes the cats will wear them for more than 5 minutes this year!
I had grand plans for elaborate Halloween decor this year, but in the end I chose one more simple project to tackle – a masked pumpkin. In fact I made a whole crew of them to decorate the whole house with.
They joined my other Halloween craft the Day of the Dead Wreath on my porch.
I also decorated with some of my favorite seasonal pieces including a pirate patch of our ceramic pig and the always popular, can’t-be-Halloween-without-him, Devil Mini Nate.
Masked pumpkins also found a home next the center of our football-obsessed lives, the 52″ television (with Sleepy Hollow appropriately playing). Someone keeps moving them away from the screen, but I prefer them to just sit slightly in front of it.
My masked pumpkins were inspired by these cute felt-lined pumpkins I bought from Target. My favorite is the fat masked pumpkin so I made a similar mask for the Cinderella-shaped red pumpkin. The trio of felt-lined styrofoam pumpkins are now sitting on my office desk and bring me lots of joy every time I am in there.
In order to start the project, I needed a few more pumpkins so I invested in three new “foam” ones from my local fabric store. I really liked how these fake pumpkins are made to look like the heirloom varieties. I like my pumpkins to have some personality and buying these guys saves me from purchasing a couple real Cinderella pumpkins. I should note that these foam pumpkins are labeled “for inside use only” so I took the precaution of coated them with a clear sealer to make them a little more hardy.
Although super simple, this look is also ingenious because the masks are removable. This means November 1st, I can de-mask them and still have harvest/thanksgiving appropriate decorations up. Woo!
Okay back to the project… Masking the pumpkins is a very easy craft. You will need black felt pieces, a piece of white chalk, some sort of stretchy string (I used clear beading string) or elastic, scissors and possibly a sharpie.
First determine a size mask for each pumpkin. Then cut the felt into a rough rectangle. (Mine ranged from a third to a half of a felt piece.) Take the rectangle and fold it into half. Make sure the edges line up and sketch half the mask shape onto the felt. Mark the eye placement as well. I went with different mask shapes for each pumpkin so they all had their own look.
Cut out the mask shape and eye socket. Open the felt up and flip it so the unmarked side shows. Trim anywhere you need to make the mask even.
Then, take the stretchy string and measuring around each pumpkin to get the right length. Cut small holes in each side of the mask and then knot the string through them. Stretch the mask over the pumpkin and take a look to get the placement right. If you go with a light color string like I did, you may need to use a sharpie to black it out.
I am down with the simple black, but it would be fun to add different colors for a superhero look as well. The masks would also be cool molded or embellished.
Oh, and I did get two real pumpkins as well. They will live on the front porch until the 31st. I’ll try to convince Nate to carve one, but there’s a good chance I’ll be doing them both with the cats help, of course.
My favorite change in Autumn is the way the sun makes everything outside golden. It’s the one constant I can trust will happen this time of year. Besides that, October is always a transitional month in Northern California. It could be warm. It could be cold. More often, it’s a frustrating combination of both. Today, it actually started to look and feel like Autumn and that made me start thinking.
I’m on a mission to refresh my Halloween & seasonal decor. I’ve got a few ideas churning in my head I want to work on over the weekend, but one was so good I just had to do it immediately.
So I tackled my first project before work between getting dressed and eating my breakfast. Luckily it took about ten minutes to put together! My idea was inspired by all the wonderful Día de Muertos decorations and artwork. So using my wedding flowers and black satin ribbon, I made a wreath for our front door. I can’t wait to hang it up when I get home!
Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) Inspired Wreath
- Straw Wreath
- Black Satin Ribbon
- Straight Pins
- Fabric Flowers
- Secure your ribbon to the wreath with two straight pins.
- Wrap the ribbon tightly around the wreath. I used about 30 feet of 1 1/2″ ribbon on this 14″ wreath.
- Secure the end of the ribbon with two more straight pins.
- Attach flowers to wreath with more straight pins or hair clips (if attached).
Here’s the wreath up on the door. I’ll post a better photo when the rest of the decor is up.
As I mentioned yesterday, Nate and I had a very relaxing Winter Break. We didn’t touch the bathroom remodel at all. Instead we hung out with friends and family plus spent some quality time vegging out on the couch.
I also tried to stay off the internet and even did a five-day iPhone detox. (I know…crazy talk!) The experience was very encouraging. I’ll talk more about goals later this week, but for today here’s the best of our holiday break.
Most Talked About Decoration
I struggled this year with decorating around our missing ceiling in the Great Room. It’s cold and potentially wet so I was limited a little in what I could do. One of my biggest complaints with the arrangement (besides it being cold and potentially wet) is the room is much darker without the white ceiling.
I had a moment of inspiration and maybe pure lunacy, but I decided to string up white lights like my old, college days. I will say I think I did a much more interesting and neat job this time around. I mean I used actual hooks not just duct tape and push pins to hold up the lights.
The final effect gave the room a balanced, warm glow that Nate and I both decided was our favorite decoration this season. It gives the room that need light and some ambiance. I put all the lights on a remote clicker so with one touch I can turn them on and off. My mom introduced me to the wonder of a remote control system and it’s pretty rad.
I wanted to mention how awesome our Home Depot Noble Fir was as well. This tree may be the best of all time. It’s the right shape, straight and it’s still alive! I love it so much I haven’t taken it down yet, but I think that’s what I am doing tonight after dinner.
Best Re-positioned Decor
I bought these lighted paper trees at IKEA last year, but never found the right place to display them. I tinkered around this year and discovered the perfect spot on the top of our bookcase. I love the look and shadows it throws on our ceiling.
Ornament I am keeping out all year-long
I received this gigantic raccoon ornament Christmas morning from my very funny parents. You may recall we had a friendly visit from two adult raccoons earlier this month that scared the beejesus out of the whole household. This guy is certainly going to stay up year around now to remind us who may be close by.
New display I will repeat again and again
Wow – cards on the fridge! This is the simplest thing ever, but it’s such a fun way to display all our holiday cards. I think this will be a tradition for as long as we actually receive cards in the mail!
Not only is it colorful, but you can smile at all your friends and family every time you go looking for something to eat.
Favorite Holiday Craft Project
I loved my Halloween windows so much I decided to repeat the look with tissue snowflakes for Christmas. I’ve always used regular paper for snowflakes before, but I really like the transparency and delicacy of the tissue flakes.
To make them, I just cut three different circle sizes out of green and white tissue paper. Then I folded 3 or 4 sheets into a triangle and cut out shapes with a sharp pair of scissors. I attached the finished flakes with some removable double-sided tape.
Nate and I got our TV fix by streaming almost all five seasons of 30 Rock on Netflix. I know, that’s an enormous amount of television time, so I am glad we watched something intelligent and funny for hours on end. It takes a lot for me to snicker at a TV show, but this one got me going a few times.
Well played apps
And when we were not watching the tube, Nate and I played silly games on my iPad.
Nate’s game of choice was Bejeweled Blitz. I’m a brat and keep referring to it as bedazzled. I mean anything with shiny things lined up in rows reminds me of the 90′s craft obsession, but from the amount of time Nate spent playing I think the game is probably a lot more fun.
So there you have it, some of our memorable decor and activities over this lazy staycation. Did you have some time off as well? What did you do for the holidays?
We waited until Saturday, December 8th to get our Christmas tree. Every year its a little of a mental battle for me to decide when its the perfect time for the tree. Last year, we got ours the Saturday after Thanksgiving and it was dead by Christmas. Drat.
Nate claims we have never gone to Home Depot for a tree as a couple. I am not sure if I believe him. Regardless that’s where we found ourselves Saturday evening. We picked out a 6-7 foot Noble Fir. The nice guys in the tree area even helped us tie the tree to our car which was a first. I’d happily go back next year for that service.
Once we got home, I got the Christmas tunes going while we set up the tree. I have to say that I am really impressed with the quality of our Home Depot tree. It’s still drinking about a liter of water a day.
For lights, I go with white lights on the tree and multicolored on the house. I plan on switching them all out to more energy-efficient LEDs once my current strands break, but so far these strands haven’t had any issues and I have had them about four years.
With the lights up, I start decorating with my collection of vintage ornaments. I am very lucky to have inherited (hoarded) all my grandparent’s globe ornaments.
My favorites are these giant hot pink ornaments from the year my Grandma Estelle had a white flocked tree with only pink ornaments. Can you imagine? I have added to the globe collection anytime I come across them at thrift stores or estate sales. You can never have enough.
Once the globes go up, I add the special ornaments. Like a lot of families, I got a new ornament every Christmas of my childhood. Some are pretty unique like this mad hatter ornament.
I showed the ornaments we got from my parents last year, but they deserve another feature. We love Mexican Loki. It’s a spot-on representation of our weird orange cat. The Pixel ornament is nice and sassy, we just wish it was a little more burly. I mean, our girl cat is also a bad ass.
Finally, with the rest of the ornaments up, I dress the bottom third of the tree for the cats. They are the plastic and wooden kind that can take a beating. Here’s Loki hiding from his sister. I have found him under the tree every morning this week ready to play.
With the tree up, I have a few more decorations to finish up and I am ready for the season. Nate’s going to be very excited for me to move all the storage boxes out of the front room since they’ve been cluttering it all week. Fingers crossed I get it all done tonight before I leave for the midnight showing of The Hobbit.
This year I am easing into the holiday decorations with greenery and a few craft projects.
Our grocery store had amazing pink Christmas cacti that I had to pick up. I am bound and determined to keep this one alive.
I just found this simple tutorial on how to take care and promote it blooming that should help me out.
I also purchased a new Amaryllis bulb. I got a white one this year that I think will look great with a bunch of paper whites I am going to dig up from the garden. There is something I love about white flowers at Christmas time.
I hope it begins to grow soon. Fingers crossed I at least get the plant for Christmas.
Last week I painted a new underlay for my IKEA coffee table. I was very inspired by the simple, modern look seen on Oh Happy Day recently.
After measuring out the piece of paper, I made a simple vine stencil out of a piece of card stock to stencil down the middle. I stuck with white paint and after it was dry I lined it with thick gold ink pen line. I then traced gold circles and free-handed blue stars on both sides of the stencil.
Once it was dry I placed it on the table and trimmed it with an x-acto knife to fit. Then I had to carefully place the glass tabletop back on top.
Greenery & Underlay Cost
Christmas Cactus – $3.95
Amaryllis – $4.95
Kraft Paper Underlay – Free
TOTAL – $7.95
What do you think? I am really liking the blue, gold and white color scheme. I am thinking I may be repeating it elsewhere in the house…