Category Archives: Holiday
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…
My family has a tradition of having a second Thanksgiving dinner every year we affectionately call Alt (or Anti) Thanksgiving. We spend a day cooking a new cuisine every year as a family then enjoy it. (It really takes about 2-3 days to research all the foods to cook, shop at specialty stores and make everything from scratch, but the bulk of the cooking happens the day of.)
This year we tackled one of our favorite cuisine – Mexican. It’s kinda amazing we haven’t featured it before since we all love the food so much. We vowed to focus on traditional menu items we weren’t as familiar with to make it a little more interesting.
ANTOJITOS Y BEBIDAS
Wild Mushroom Queso Fundido
Mango Pomegranate Guacamole
Silver Coin Margarita
Ensalada De Noche Buena
Chicken in Blackberry Mole with Mexican Rice
Chile Rellenos Rancho Gordo with Classic Red Salsa
“Zarandeado” Style Whole Pink Snapper Tacos with Chayote Slaw & Chipotle Mayo
Chile-Spiked Chocolate Cakes
After our menu was set, Mom and I divided our shopping list. I went to Costco and a couple local shops while she hit Whole Foods and a few other specialty stores. Finding all the chilies we needed for marinades and mole turned into our biggest hurdle, but Mom succeeded in finding them at a local specialty shop.
The second dilemma was finding enough Red Snapper. I was able to get two fillets cut at our local butcher shop. The rest we had to get frozen. Can you tell the difference?
Making the food
Here’s a run down of a few items on our menu that I would definitely make again.
Silver Coin Margarita
The evening started with a watermelon margarita.
We soaked a chopped mini watermelon in the tequila the day before. Then blended it with Triple Sec and fresh lime juice. I loved their mellow flavor and took leftovers home to make popsicles out of them. Hopefully they set up okay.
Fonda San Miguel’s Blackberry Mole
Mom and I spent an afternoon a few days before the event prepping and cooking up our blackberry mole. With 25 ingredients and almost as many steps, I am glad we didn’t wait until the day of to cook. I was surprised how nutty the sauce was. I have been loving using leftover sauce in my salads this week for lunch.
Here’s the finished product on our dining table ready to eat. The chicken was seared and then cooked in the sauce for about 20 minutes before it was served. For the vegheads, I baked some mole marinaded tofu which was also really yummy.
Chiles Rellenos Rancho Gordo with Classic Red Salsa
As a vegetarian, Chiles Rellenos is one of my common options when we go out for Mexican. It’s usually hit or miss. I am not a big fan of overly cheesy plates, so that’s usually my biggest turn-off with this dish.
That said, I loved this homemade version. The grilled veggies and beans shined while the cheese played a minor role. We used poblanos from my parents garden and made homemade refried beans and red salsa. Trust me – it was amazing.
Zarandeodo Style Red Snapper Tacos with Chayote Slaw and Chipotle Mayo
I don’t think this picture is even in focus. By the time I took it, I may have had too many margaritas to care.
The fish marinade was great and so was the slaw. I was able to find chayotes at my local grocery store. I love the vegetable’s very mild, cucumber-like flavor. I’d make the whole dish again in a heart beat.
Chile-Spiked Chocolate Cakes
Our dessert was insane. I was determined to eat mine even though I was stuffed from the main courses. The cake was very decadent and I think I would serve it in a small portion next time.
I made the sweet tomatillo sauce for the cakes. I cooked down tomatillos, piloncillo (a unrefined brown sugar), vanilla bean and Mexican cinnamon bark. This stuff tasted and smelled so good I wish I could bottle it.
So there you have it, Alt Thanksgiving 2012 was a total success. A few of us even enjoyed a little nap by the fire with a full belly. Viva México!!
If you are interested in the recipes we used you can download this handy PDF here.
I’ve always loved to decorate for the holidays with fresh wreaths and garlands. Leave it to Martha Stewart to inspire me in my teens with her elaborate Christmas special on HGTV. Once I moved out of my parents house, I usually splurged on a fresh pine wreath for the rental door, but I never have made my one until now.
On my current quest to not spend money, I decided to make my first fresh wreath out of bay branches from my parents’ lovely tree. My dad was happy to agree to a little pruning. As he worked on the tree, I loaded my back seat full of bay branches. I certainly was a happy girl driving home with the fresh bay smell filling the car with loveliness.
I did a little internet research on making a wreath and was happy to find Martha making a wreath on this video as my guide. I picked up a 18″ wire wreath form, a paddle of 26 gauge green floral wire and clear hair bands for the project. I think I spent about $6 on all the materials which is certainly on my budget.
Set up was simple, I rinsed the branches off outside and let them dry in the morning sun for a few hours before I got started.
Then I just clipped the branches into small, compact bundles.
I positioned the leaves so they all laid the same direction and then wrapped the clear hair band around the bottom.
Once I had a few bundles ready, I secured the end of wire to the form and then wrapped the wire around the bundle tightly.
The second bundle overlapped the first and was secured the same way. I kept this pattern going until the whole wreath was covered with bundles. Then I just cut the wire and tied it off on the back of the form.
Here it is finished. It’s bigger than any other wreath we’ve had on our door, but I like it over-sized and simple. Maybe next time I add some texture with different types of leaves or a bow.
Happy Belated Halloween! I hope you had a lovely evening of tricks and treats. Currently it’s about 10pm and I am lounging in sweats after scrubbing gold glitter off me for an eternity. The pain of removal was well worth it.
I took my Pinterest inspired gold painted shirt, a long black skirt, gold bangles and hoop earings then ut my hair up in a bun and tied a gold twisty thing around my head like a crown.
Next I applied a crap load of Martha Stewart glitter paint (don’t worry it’s non-toxic) down one side of my body. On my face I used al the gold makeup I had to embellish my face. I applied gold all over my face to give it a gold sheen. Then I outlined my eyes in black kohl and used a Glitter Eye Pencil to line my upper lid and lips.
Now on to the important stuff, my cat costumes.
I had taken inspiration from this amazing photo that made its way around the internet about a month ago and a few baby costumes.
Nate is demonstrating each cat costume below since the cats wouldn’t sit still for me. Bless him. I decide to push cat gender stereotypes and dress Loki as a unicorn and Pixel as a bat. Both costumes were made out of felt, elastic, cardboard and a bunch of tacky glue.
For the unicorn, I made my horn out of cardboard and then wrapped it with glitter felt. I then built a base of the horn with a couple layers of felt to secure it in place. Then I used gold puffy paint to add the spiral to the horn.
I let it dry overnight then cut the ear holes out and secured elastic for the chin strap. Here’s Loki allowing me to put the hat on as I adjust the ear holes.
My second costume was a little dark which fit Pixel to a tee. I decided to make her a diabolical bat. I traced out my bat wings on cardboard and then black glitter felt. I made a felt sandwich with the cardboard in the middle to add structure to the wings and glued it all together. Then I attached the wings to a cardboard base.
After the wings dried overnight, I added another piece of felt support on the back of each wing to keep them upright. Again, I glued it all together and let it dry. Then I attached to each corner of the base to two elastic bands so I could secure it to Pixel’s torso.
Pixel wore her costume twice as long as Loki did. I think next year’s costumes may focus more on the torso look since it doesn’t bother them as much as putting something on their heads.
After messing with the cats, we moved our attention to the front of the house. Nate graded and I made us dinner listening to a great Halloween mix. We got a record number of tricker treaters and almost ran out of candy before it started to rain. Overall, it was a mellow Halloween evening.
Our Halloween decor has been pretty consistent the last few years. After my colorful Halloween rave theme in 2009, I changed direction for a more modern interpretation. My favorite prop has been animal and monster silhouettes. They are so easy to add to my current decor for a little more spooky flair.
This is the third year I’ve used Martha Stewart’s skeleton cling in our front picture window.
It’s so easy to put up and take down. All you need is a spray bottle with soapy water and a squeegee to apply. I learned how watching this video. Basically you spray the window and decal down before applying. Then position it exactly how you want it and squeegee the excess water and air bubbles out. Work from the center out. Spray more water if it dries out before you are done.
Once it’s up, I add orange fairy lights to the window with a combo of strategically placed nails and 3M command strips. At night when our shades are drawn the strands give enough light to see the skeleton from the street.
The windows are such a fun vignette to tell a little story. Joining the creepy skeleton this year, is a witch in our kitchen. I bought her the same time I bought Mr. Skeleton, but wasn’t sure where to put her up.
After a lot of deliberation, I really am glad she’s found a home in the kitchen. It’s fun to see her there especially when I am cooking dinner.
I had to cut her down to size so she unfortunately lost her cauldron in the process. She still has her bone though that she’s about to throw to the raven I stuck to the other window pane.
Window decals are not the only way I use silhouettes. I’ve made my own bat and mice silhouettes out of card stock to decorate the interior in years past, but I couldn’t pass up on these sparkly spiders and ravens I found on clearance to use this year.
It made sense to add more spiders to the front picture window and a raven to the kitchen one. The rest went all over the house. I just used double-stick tape to mount these guys on windows, walls, mirrors and picture frames. When I am ready to take them down, all I have to do is peel of the tape and store them for next year.
With my murder of ravens and cluster of spiders, I did bring one little mouse back. He’s messing with the raven in the Great Room.
Of course decor is only part of the Halloween celebration. I recently got this scaredy cat mug to drink my Pumpkin Spice beverage selection from. It sure makes my evenings much more fun.
Later this week, I’ll finish the look with a few carved pumpkins to decorate our entry way, but that’s it — a very simple Halloween look.