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Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

We’ve been partying it up here in North Carolina, and Friday morning was no exception.  My dear friend, Megan, had a Christmas open house at her new house (she moved a few months ago and has been hard at work redoing much of it), and she was kind enough to allow me to bring my camera and show the world her awesome Christmas decor.   Megan is my partner in crime at the Cameron (NC) Antique Fair twice a year, and hopefully she’ll allow me to show you some of her great decorating ideas after the holidays, too, but today I wanted to concentrate on her Christmas decorations.

Here’s her front door wreath–you know it’s going to be good with such an awesome wreath.  OF COURSE she made it herself!

 

LOVE the firescreen wrapped up as a present–that’s from our Junior League’s Holly Day Fair last year.  The magnolia leaves on the mantel are from my tree.  She came over and cut magnolia and cypress boughs and I went to her house and cut pyracantha berries.  They turn red instead of orange this time of year and are a great stand-in for holly (our holly bushes have been pillaged in the name of decorating for Christmas!).  It’s a great idea to swap greenery with a friend, so you can have a nice variety on your mantel, and everywhere else.

Here’s the dining room, and the table is loaded with awesome food (I could do a post just on her recipe ideas).   Meg and her family have lived all over the US, courtesy of the Army, and did a stint in Germany, too, so she’s got some great pieces in her home.

I just love the use of natural elements–the clove-studded oranges (courtesy of her husband and kids), the cranberries in the hurricanes, the cypress boughs, and of course the berries on the chandelier.

 

Megan has a great collection of transferware, and the red and white pattern is perfect for the holidays.  I also love the old mason jars filled with greenery–she’s got them scattered throughout the house.

 

It’s hard not to be jealous of this stained glass window–she’s got a couple–one day I’ll find one I can afford at a flea market!

I was scolded because I took the pictures before the peppermint bark made it onto the table (sorry!!), but it still looks great.  I never get tired of the apothecary jars filled with ornaments, and take a look at the antique goblet filled with peppermint straws.

A collection of vintage European Santas…

 

…and a tabletop vignette of clove-studded oranges and berries.  It smelled heavenly!

What better time to bring out the heirloom silver and demitasse spoons?

Thanks for opening your home to us, Megan!

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What’s the saying, if you are lucky enough to live in a small town, you are lucky enough? (OK, maybe that’s a liberal interpretation). We really are lucky enough because we live in a small town outside of a very big city, so we get the best of both worlds. But, no time do I appreciate where I live the more then at Christmastime.

The first week of every December, our Town has an annual celebration called “Gumdrop” Square. Folks from the town and surrounding areas bundle up and parade down Main Street  trailing behind Santa’s magnificent horse-drawn carriage accompanied by local children dressed up as Elves. Santa is transported down the spectator lined street to his special seat at Gumdrop Square where children can visit him and his kid-friendly “Secret Shop” throughout the month of December.  That night, Main Street is lined vendors offering wonderful goodies like hot chocolate and baked goods, and local musical groups perform carols along the way. It’s a truly magical night, one that I hope my children remember fondly for the rest of their lives.  This year was all the more magical because it started snowing shortly after Santa’s festive arrival! A rarity in Virginia early in December.

Despite the cold, the crowds and the millions of holiday “to-do’s” on the list, it’s a night that ushers in the Christmas season like no other.  It was truly a night to for all of us to treasure.

Local Children's Choirs Perform

Santa's Elves

 

Gumdrop Square

The Town was even more beautiful this year as our store owners are participating in a Window Decorating contest, I wanted to share a few of my favorites. It’s so nice to have local retailers who not only carry lovely things, but are also so nice to shop with.

Definitely a contender to win the decorating contest!

A gorgeous and creative window

A stop in the Wine Bar would cap off the night perfectly...(if only)

Yes... I would like one of everything here please...

Hope your holidays are also off to a magical start!


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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

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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

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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.

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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

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Visions of Sugarplums

Probably the saddest thing about this photo medley is that it might be the last one done in shades of pink and green, as my daughter tells me that next year she wants her room done in robin’s egg blue and green with ELEPHANTS on the walls.  OK…no problem, honey!  Actually, I’m not sure how I’m going to include the elephants without it looking tacky, so I’m hoping she’ll just forget about those.  No need to remind me that I’m stifling her creativity by saying that!  Her room is pretty much entirely pink, green, and white, so it will be a challenge to shift gears with the color palette.  But, since I really do love to decorate, I will arm myself with a can of spray paint and create a more grown-up retreat for my seven-going-on-seventeen-year-old!

Teapots for Two

So, all of that is a little background as to why I really savored the Christmas decorating this year and decided to take pictures.  I know that everyone’s taste is different—consider me and Annabelle to be absolute proof of that statement—but I thought it might give some of you inspiration as you decorate for the holiday.

I seem to have a bit of a “tea theme” going on in Annabelle’s room, hence the two teapots and the tea-related books stacked under the topiary.  I know you probably can’t see that the books are titled Muffins, Scones, and Tea for Two, but that’s because my camera is pretty old and has been dropped on its head a few too many times.  As a side note, I asked Santa for a nice one this Christmas, but I’m not really sure that I’ve been good enough to get it!

Back to the teapots…the larger one is from a dear friend who gave it to Belle on her fourth birthday, and the smaller one was actually hand-painted by my great aunt and is a real family treasure.  I hold my breath over that one every time we move.  The topiary is from TJ Maxx (raise your hand if you LOVE TJMaxx!) and is going on fifteen years old, but we don’t discriminate against the aged in this house, since the house is older than all of us put together.

A quick aside on the tree:  it’s kind of a Charlie Brown tree this year, having lost several of its branches in our last move, but since we’ll probably be moving again next summer, I think I’d better hold onto it and buy a new one once we get there.  Also, since I find tons of Christmas decorations at yard sales, I can keep an eye open for a “new” one.   In the meantime, I stuffed it full of ornaments and other decorations and I hardly notice that it’s a little lopsided, although you might now that I’ve called attention to it.  I continued the tea theme (but did NOT beat it to death, I promise) with her silver tea set and a Christmas-themed set under the tree.  The Christmas set was from my mom and since she died before meeting her granddaughter, it’s extra special to me.  The tree skirt is actually a dresser scarf and it was embroidered by my grandmother, but I think I need a better camera for you to see the detail on it (Santa, are you listening?).

Oh, and do you see the bed in the picture?  That’s my old white iron bed, and I love it.  My daughter, on the other hand, does not.  She has asked me to paint it green or blue next year.  I will normally spray paint anything that sits still, but I have to admit that makes me nervous.  Any ideas?

 

This is normally Annabelle’s bedside table, but of course I had to rearrange to put the tree in the window so it’s hanging out at the foot of her bed this month.  I actually snagged this little old table for $3 at a yard sale, painted and distressed it, and glued the pompom fringe around the top.  Love it!  (I wonder how it will look in green and robin’s egg blue?).  The Sugar Plum Fairy nutcracker is a reminder of our annual trip to see the Nutcracker—my daughter’s seen it in three different states already.  You can’t really see the quilt, but it was my great-grandmother’s and we think it’s almost one hundred years old.  I sewed the duvet cover out of two fabric shower curtains I found at Marshall’s.  My mother always told me I’d need to know how to sew, and as with everything else she told me, she was right.

 

 

“No Pouting.”  These are words to live by during the holiday season, aren’t they?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made this dollhouse for my daughter last Christmas and I won’t lie, it was nearly the end of me.  It turned out great, although there were moments of despair along the way (and several bottles of wine consumed late at night).  The dollhouse has been decorated for the holidays, but only on the outside.  The residents are extremely messy and when I took a look today, the toilet was in the attic and the bedroom furniture was in the living room.  Some of them were missing articles of clothing, too.  It must have been some party!

I have a few more pictures that I’ll post below without a lot of explanation; if you’re like me, then the more pictures, the better.

Thanks for taking a look around, and enjoy getting your home ready for the season!

For a lot more pictures, you can check out this room on Rate My Space.  I’ve never posted anything there before and am petrified that everyone will give me horrible ratings, so please say nice things (even if you have to fib a little bit–that’s what girlfriends do!).

Take a look at Southern Hospitality’s Vignette Party; Annabelle’s room is entry #192.

 

Santa Pillow (made by my talented aunt)

Pinky Bear (made by another talented aunt)

Angel Chandelier
Old Dining Room Chair–Redone

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