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I am a little late to the party –which if you know me, know that is just so “me” to be fashionably late, but I finally got to some holiday decorating this weekend. As a holiday card designer, this is my busy season and I sometimes miss being able to enjoy the pleasures of the holiday season without feeling frantic. But, I did spend some quality time in my dining room this weekend getting it ready for the coming season.

I just picked some of my favorite things and put them all together, with some new $1 ornaments from Wal-mart. I picked out the sparkling silver church during our annual “replace all the burned out lights” shopping trip, and my son picked out the bird (you can only see the tail in this picture) but everything else I had on hand. The Christmas tree decoration in the middle used to look like this, and it had always been one of those decorations I never knew what do with. Pink and gold really isn’t ever in my holiday color scheme, but it was one of those after Christmas bargains from Homegoods I couldn’t resist.

the before...

With a little spray paint and sparkle, now it integrates my silver and white color scheme perfectly.

Every year the focal point of my dining room is “my” Christmas tree–a small tree that only I am allowed to decorate. After years of debate with my husband who prefers the LARGE colored lights and doesn’t believe that a “color scheme” has a place in Christmas (I know…I know…), I up and got a second small tree all of my own. This tree also serves the purpose of showcasing all the really breakable or sentimental ornaments far away from the prying hands of my baby girl. Here is a preview, it still needs some tweaking but I love how it shines through our front window (when the curtains aren’t closed for a photo session) at night.

My Christmas Tree

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We are living in an awesome old house (built in 1915!) right now, and it just happens to have four fireplaces.  So, what that means is that at Christmastime, I have four mantels to decorate!  I am NOT complaining about having four mantels, because that would just be annoying, but I am stating for the record that it is a bit of a decorating challenge.  My husband will probably be dragging me, kicking and screaming, from this house over the summer, when it will be time to move again, so since this is my last Christmas here, I am trying to make our decorations extra-special.

The first mantel that I did was in our library/family room/den/whatever-you-want-to-call it.  It’s where the TV is, and my husband’s recliner (I took one for the team on that decorating horror!), so that’s where we put our tree and our stockings.  I already posted pictures here and I do like the way that it turned out.  I put it on Rate My Space, because I’m slightly masochistic, and it seems like the tough crowd there has liked it, too.

Library Mantel

OK, so a few days ago I did the mantel in the formal living room.  This is where the piano is, and it’s painted a yellow-gold color.  The chandelier is gold, as are the frames around most of the artwork in the room, and so I had to go with gold decorations.  Plus, the focal point of the room is the old stained glass window from the church in which my parents got married.  My mom and dad had it on display for years in their house, and then I asked if it could be passed down to me.  If my house caught on fire, I’d make sure my family was safe (yes,  including the cat, even though he wouldn’t return the favor!), and then I’d wrestle this window down and rescue it.  So, it has pride of place in my house, and it’s smack dab over the mantel.  I just don’t think there’s any way to decorate this spot except simply, otherwise it detracts from the window.  So all I did was string a gold “Noel” banner across the mantel (yes, I know, the banner is a recurring theme in my decorations this year), put a crystal bowl of gold ornaments on top, and pop a white poinsettia on either side of the hearth.  That’s it.  The folks on Rate My Space were not overly enthusiastic (here),  and maybe something gets lost in translation with my camera, but I’m not sure if a bunch of greenery and lights would work much better.  I’ll post some pictures below–and I’d love to hear what you think!

Here’s the full-frontal snapshot!

 

This is what I’m dealing with in the rest of the room–see all of the gold accents?

Click below to check out some other AWESOME mantels at the Holiday Home Linky Party at the Lettered Cottage!

The Lettered Cottage

We are living in an awesome old house (built in 1915!) right now, and it just happens to have four fireplaces.  So, what that means is that at Christmastime, I have four mantels to decorate!  I am NOT complaining about having four mantels, because that would just be annoying, but I am stating for the record that it is a bit of a decorating challenge.  My husband will probably be dragging me, kicking and screaming, from this house over the summer, when it will be time to move again, so since this is my last Christmas here, I am trying to make our decorations extra-special.

The first mantel that I did was in our library/family room/den/whatever-you-want-to-call it.  It’s where the TV is, and my husband’s recliner (I took one for the team on that decorating horror!), so that’s where we put our tree and our stockings.  I already posted pictures here and I do like the way that it turned out.  I put it on Rate My Space, because I’m slightly masochistic, and it seems like the tough crowd there has liked it, too.

Library Mantel

OK, so a few days ago I did the mantel in the formal living room.  This is where the piano is, and it’s painted a yellow-gold color.  The chandelier is gold, as are the frames around most of the artwork in the room, and so I had to go with gold decorations.  Plus, the focal point of the room is the old stained glass window from the church in which my parents got married.  My mom and dad had it on display for years in their house, and then I asked if it could be passed down to me.  If my house caught on fire, I’d make sure my family was safe (yes,  including the cat, even though he wouldn’t return the favor!), and then I’d wrestle this window down and rescue it.  So, it has pride of place in my house, and it’s smack dab over the mantel.  I just don’t think there’s any way to decorate this spot except simply, otherwise it detracts from the window.  So all I did was string a gold “Noel” banner across the mantel (yes, I know, the banner is a recurring theme in my decorations this year), put a crystal bowl of gold ornaments on top, and pop a white poinsettia on either side of the hearth.  That’s it.  The folks on Rate My Space were not overly enthusiastic (here),  and maybe something gets lost in translation with my camera, but I’m not sure if a bunch of greenery and lights would work much better.  I’ll post some pictures below–and I’d love to hear what you think!

Here’s the full-frontal snapshot!

 

This is what I’m dealing with in the rest of the room–see all of the gold accents?

Click below to check out some other AWESOME mantels at the Holiday Home Linky Party at the Lettered Cottage!

The Lettered Cottage

If you’re like me, this is the time of year when you need a hostess gift several times a week, as you trot out to one cocktail party after another.  Or, perhaps the in-laws are arriving for an extended holiday visit and you feel the need to premedicate!  Regardless of the occasion, we have three awesome recipes that will have you making your own holiday cheer in a bottle.  These have all been tested and approved by us, in a rigorous double-blind study with multiple repetitions, and we have deemed them perfect to make and serve to everyone on your gift list!

My personal favorite is this limoncello recipe at allrecipes.com, by Michele O’Sullivan.  I’ve made it many times, without tweaking it a bit (as some of the commenters have), and I love it.  The only drawback is that you have to zest TEN lemons to make a batch, so watch your nails and your knuckles and get to work!  Limoncello is great just to sip on its own, or mix it with some citrus vodka and a splash of sweet and sour mix for an awesome lemon martini.

Raspberry vodka, by the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, is as simple as washing fresh raspberries and dropping them into a liter of vodka to sit for at least a month.  There isn’t an online link to this recipe (probably because it’s so easy), but it’s in my copy of her Parties! cookbook that you can find here.  By the way, if you don’t own every single one of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, then I highly recommend that you ask Santa for them–they are awesome.

For coffee lovers, kahlua is always a great liquor to make for the holidays.  My favorite recipe for kahlua is from my dear friend Candace, and I’ll post it below.  Be warned, though–the other two recipes are vodka based, but this one starts with Pure Grain Alcohol.  If you’ve never consumed PGA, it’s 190 proof and will knock you on your rear end for days if you’re not careful!  Also, I just read that for those of us in North Carolina, we can’t buy PGA at liquor stores anymore.  You can substitute with vodka without any repercussions, other than the fact that you’ll be able to have a second sip!

One thing you’ll want to remember is that all of these recipes take several weeks to make as the flavors need to blend.  You’ll want to get going on them soon if you intend to use them as holiday gifts.

The last part–but definitely the most fun–is to find cute bottles for your creations and package them up beautifully.  Thrift stores are usually a great place to start, although I’ve found good ones at Wal-mart, Pier 1, Trader Joe’s (I had to drink what was in them first–what a shame!), and TJ Maxx.  Amy was kind enough to make us drink tag printables.  I usually tie a couple of ribbons or some raffia around the bottle’s neck and then they’re ready to give away…or keep for yourself!

drink tag printables

Click Here for Printable

Here’s to holiday cheer!


Candace’s Holiday Kahlua

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup instant coffee
  • 2-1/2 qt boiling water
  • 1 qt pure grain alcohol (this will probably be 2 bottles)
  • 1/4 cup pure vanilla extract or 2 madagascar vanilla beans

In a large bowl, combine sugar and coffee granules.  Slowly add boiling water, stirring with a whisk until completely dissolved.

Allow to cool completely (this is really important.  Walk away and come back in about 3-4 hours!).  Slowly, whisk in pure grain alcohol.  Slice open vanilla beans and scrape seeds into mixture, or pour in extract.  Whisk together.

Bottle and store in a cool, dark place for at least 2 weeks.

Purple Inspiration Board

By Terry

As most of you know, I am an event planner by trade and I have to admit, I really love what I do. I dream about celebrations throughout my day and find inspiration in clothing, furniture, paper, nature, jewelry, blogs and magazines. At times, I am attracted to color and I am instantly inspired to create an entire event around that shade or hue. With the holiday season underway and the New Year on the horizon, I have been searching for the perfect cocktail dress that I can jingle, mingle and ring my way into 2011. This dress has me dreaming of sugar plums, (well, maybe just the color plum) and party ideas are filling my head.

The deep, rich, regal shade of purple is what attracted me to this dress and has since taken me down a path of holiday inspiration. Purple has been a hot color on the runways as well as a top pick for weddings and events this year. I love the idea of mixing different shades of purple with metallic accents. Pairing both gold and silver is a must this holiday season as it adds a level of sophistication and sparkle. I personally think sparkle is a requirement for all holiday soirée’s.

This color combination has been such an inspiration to me that I am designing my holiday cards around it. Thanks to Amy Boyle Designs, I have found the perfect color match through their Envelopment line of paper. My cards are a trendy shade of “ruby” sparkle paired with a sophisticated “graphite” brocade border. I am really excited to share them with my friends and family, as it is an unexpected holiday greeting yet the perfect color twist for the 2010 holiday season.

Images:
Centerpiece: (http://www.projectwedding.com)
Cupcakes: (http://www.thesweetestoccasion.com)
Hors d’oeuvre: (http://veganyumyum.com)
Table design: (http://www.homedesigncorner.com)
Dress: Shoshanna, Bejeweled One Shoulder Dress (http://www.neimanmarcus.com)
My Holiday Card Inspiration:(http://www.amyboyledesigns.com)
Wreath: (http://Marthastewart.com)

In real life, I have a husband and kids and a very busy calendar (and a very messy kitchen), and so my Christmas decorations do not go up overnight.  Rather, it takes me about a week.  We were out of town for Thanksgiving, too, and so I feel like I came home already behind the eight ball.  So, room by room we are getting decked out for Christmas.

I had to start with my daughter’s room, mostly because she would have decorated herself if I hadn’t, and that would have been a mess!  We had a great time in there for a day, and then I moved on to the kitchen because I love my little kitchen tree the most of any of my trees.  I must admit here and now that the Ritz cracker can is an idea that I borrowed from my good friend Andrea.  All of the ornaments are kitchen/cooking related.

Kitchen Tree

Next, I did the wet bar.  I took down my mint julep cups from the shelf and put up my grandmother’s Santa mugs and little Santa nut cups (I think they’re nut cups, at least).  Thank you to my cousin, Stephanie, for sharing some of the mugs with me–they were the best Christmas present ever!  I didn’t do much else here besides add some evergreens and holly (I cut both from the backyard) and light some candles.  I think the old leaded glass window is a decoration in and of itself.

Wet bar

Grammy's Santa Mugs

Vintage decanters from my grandmother and a thrift shop silver tray

JOY!

After the kitchen and the wet bar were done, I moved into the library, and did the mantel there.  Our house has four fireplaces, so I’m going to need a few more ideas.  Fortunately, Southern Hospitality and The Lettered Cottage are having a vignette party, so I can get lots of good mantel ideas there!

My goal for this Christmas was not to buy anything new, and to just use what I had, whether it was technically a Christmas decoration or not.  I did buy fresh poinsettias ($3.50 each at Wal-mart) and the letters to make the JOY banner ($5 at Hobby Lobby for the letters and the ribbon–I already had the spray paint and the glitter), but that’s it.  Everything else was already in the house and just got moved to the mantel.  I cut cypress greens from the backyard and magnolia leaves from the front.  I’m still tweaking it a bit, but here it is as of 8pm tonight!

Close up of mantel in library

All right, this means it’s time to move on to the next room tomorrow.  At this rate, I’ll just be getting done by Christmas!

More pictures of these rooms are available on Rate My Space.  Thanks for coming by!

The Lettered Cottage

By Amy

One of my favorite blogs and fellow graphic designer, Emily at Jones Design Co. made the most beautiful holiday gift tags and she is giving them away for FREE! How lucky is that? I had to share them!

Just download them, and print them. Even her packages are perfection. I didn’t want to not share this great find. Check them out here at Jones Design Co.

Gift Tags from Jones Design Co.

Happy Wrapping!!!