Friday, January 30, 2015

Picture Frame Christmas Wreath and More Knock-Off Decor

Hey everyone!  
Today I'm sharing the last bit of Christmas decor from this year.  I did some Pinterest inspired things that I wanted to share with you, as well as share a neat little photography trick that I used.

I had SO very much going on this season that by the time I was finally able to get around to actually decorating I was not feeling very creative or original at all.  I just wanted it up and done.  So I scoured my Christmas board on Pinterest to try and get my creative juices flowing.  I saw a few ideas there that got me moving.

This is the shelf that hangs above the couch in the living room.  I kept it fairly simple this year with a wooden star hanging above, a white ceramic Nativity, candles, antique wooden toys, greenery, and red berries.

The wooden star idea came from my Pinterest board.

 I already had a similar star that I got at a yard sale a couple of years ago as well as some extra large galvanized jingle bells. 
 (I found the picture on Pinterest, but couldn't find the original source.)

Here's my version.

I love these little wooden animal toys.  My mom bought them at an antique store 30 years ago and I love the touch of simple rustic-ness they bring.

This candle idea was another one from Pinterest. 
 It caught my eye because I knew I had similar rustic snowflakes.

I used the candles that were on the dining room buffet in the fall, and just turned them around so the key was in the back and hooked the snowflake to the twine that was already on the candle.  I set them both up on pieces of the Christmas tree trunk that Hubs had cut off.

I enjoyed the simple rustic look of it all very much.

The third idea I "knocked off" was this picture frame wreath.  
(Again, I couldn't find the original source.  The blog must not exist anymore.)  

As I was looking over the board I saw this pin and it struck me that, "Hey! I have the perfect frame for this!"  I had just decorated for our church Christmas banquet and had bought and spray painted a frame to use as a photo prop that I knew would be just right for this.  I dug out my box of garland from the shed and came up with my own version.

I added a string of white lights to it that gave off the most beautiful cozy glow above our new piano.  I also tucked in some bunches of faux berries here and there.

 I really loved how it turned out!

 This last picture has nothing to do with decorating, but it is a little DIY frugal photography trick I wanted to share with you.

Can you see the difference in the two pictures above?
The one on the left is darker and has harsh shadowing on the right side of the wreath since the light source was coming from the window on the left.  The picture on the right is brighter and the shadowing is greatly reduced.  Different exposure settings you say?  Nope.  Same exact settings.  Different times of the day?  No, both pictures were taken within 10 seconds of each other.  Fancy umbrella flash on a stand?  No flash was used in either of these pictures.  Good editing skills?  Wrong again.  

The answer is.....poster board.  Yep, just a 33¢ piece of white poster board.  As I was taking the pictures I noticed the harsh shadows being created and I realized I needed to reflect the light coming from the window back onto the wreath.  Sitting nearby was a poster board calendar I made for my kids awhile back so I used the plain back side of it.  Using a tripod I set the camera to the timer mode, pushed the button, then quickly positioned myself just to the right of the wreath holding the poster board so that it caught the incoming light and bounced it back onto the wreath.  Pretty neat trick, huh?  My aspiring photographer brother taught me that trick when we were just kids.

That does it for Christmas decor pictures for this year.  I had more decorated, but just did not feel inspired to take pictures of any more of it.  Hopefully I'll be a better blogger next year.  : )

In other news, all the free products I ordered have been delivered.  Yay!  Now, I have 2 weeks to get them up and blog about them.  Two items are part of current projects that will help finish them off, one item is going to be the starting point of our next room makeover project, and the other two items are much needed replacements but aren't necessarily a big makeover project.

So stay tuned for that post coming up in.....2 weeks!  :D 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Red and White Nordic Christmas Decor

Ok, so Christmas is long past by now...I know I know.  But by way of explanation for my tardiness on sharing my Christmas decor, here-in lies my excuse.  I wanted to focus on my family.  Plain and simple.  I had many responsibilities this year between church, home, and Etsy shop and I didn't want my family to "miss" me because was I too busy blogging in the down moments to actually enjoy the moments with them.  And I did enjoy my time with them, so very much.  I didn't even stop to take one single picture on Christmas day.  Can you believe that?  I just wanted to soak it all in instead of forcing everyone into cheesy smiles and frustration of stopping every 2 minutes to "capture the moment."  And for what?  So that the Facebook world could see how great of a day it was for us?  No thanks.  I just wanted to cherish each moment in my heart and be really present and focused on my favorite people.

So....that is why I never got around to sharing pictures of my decor.  

But now that things have slowly returned to normal around here (in all honesty though, my dining room tree is still up, so not completely normal yet) I have a bit more time to share.  I promised I would, even if it was late, so here goes.  :)

The below picture was a cell phone shot I shared on Facebook of the overall view of the dining room.  If you're just now joining us, we had two full size trees this year!  The family tree in the living room, and then "my" tree in the dining room.  I kept the whole dining room and kitchen a red and white Nordic style theme, and then the living room was a little more traditional with reds and greens.

You can read more about the red and white tree {here}.  

I really enjoyed having a tree in the dining room this year.  Will I do it again next year though?  Most likely not.  Simplicity is my goal for next Christmas.

I found the tablecloth at Home Goods this year and thought it fit in perfectly with a Nordic farmhouse style.

The centerpiece on the table was a cloth napkin layered underneath a vintage wire paper organizer, filled with fresh greenery clippings (though not so fresh anymore by the time I got around to taking pictures of it), and three adorable Nordic style reindeer bought a few years ago from Home Goods.

I found these adorable little snowflake plates at Oriental Trading of all places!  I was ordering some things for the kids' class I teach at church and happened upon these and loved them!  They're ceramic and sturdy and I so enjoyed using them this year.
(The plates can be found {here} if you're interested.)

I've had those knit stockings for years and I still love them just as much as I ever have, probably from Home Goods as well, lol!  The middle punched tin piece was bought at an antique store years ago and I love incorporating it into our Christmas decor each year.

On the top of the buffet I layered 3 place mats that were thrifted, and added in white distressed frames that I've had for years but rarely ever display for some reason.  The picture inside is of my daughter and her BFF cousin a couple of years ago.  It's a little too bright to see them well, but the jars had Espsom salts and a votive candle in them.  

This platter was also bought at Home Goods this year and I love it so much!  It was perfect in this room.  The red felt trees were a thrift store find from a couple of years ago.

And on this end of the buffet was another jar candle and picture frame, with a more grown up picture of the girls from last year.

The curtains that are always in here fit in perfectly, and in each window I placed some favorite things.

The kids helped me spray snowflakes onto the windows and it looked SO festive and cozy!  We used a stencil and a can of fake spray snow.  It was especially fun since we live in Florida and there's no hope of ever seeing real snow.  One window had my favorite carved-looking Father Christmas and the other window held a little ceramic tree lamp that was given to us by my husband's grandmother.  I've always loved it and this year it fit in perfectly with the red and white theme.

Up in the big arched window I replaced the aqua canning jars with my collection of Jim Shore Father Christmases.  I love these guys and their quilted looking garments and how they have the look of being hand carved.  My family has gifted these to me over the years and I love them.  This is the first time in years that I've actually had a place to display them and I was so happy to finally be able to unpack and display them.

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I shared this cell phone picture of the kitchen on the Facebook page.  I think this lighted garland that I put together was my favorite bit of decor besides the trees.  It was beautiful and cozy and had a lot of impact on the room.  

The ribbon that was wrapped around it also had the red and white Nordic theme going on.

Well, that wraps up the decor for the dining room and living room for this year.  In my next post I'll share just a couple of things I did in the living room.  I didn't take pictures of everything, but there were a couple of things I did that I want to share.

Also, stay tuned for some fun upcoming posts!  I'm so excited to be doing my first partnership here on the blog and I had the opportunity to select some products to try from a building website in return for blogging about my experience. Some of the things I ordered should be here soon so I'll be sharing those in the next couple of weeks, 2 other things were backordered so it will be next month before I share those.  But it's a very exciting thing for me and it'll be fun to share!

Oh yeah, one last thing.  Be sure to stop by the Facebook page and check out a sneak peak "Before/After" picture of my current room project.  It's a dramatic difference already and I'm not even done yet!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Red and White Nordic Style Christmas Tree....{again}

Well, here I am.....finally sharing my Christmas tree....on New Year's Eve.  A little late I know, but technically I still had 5 more days to get it in since the 12 days of Christmas don't actually end until January 5th.  :)

Ok, so if you've been around this blog for awhile you might remember that last year I did a red and white Nordic style tree as well.  See that one {HERE}.  We had just moved into our new home and the tree was basically the only decor we had time to put up.  Well, this year was my husband's year for the tree, (if you're new-ish to the blog and don't know our tradition, one year I get to pick the tree decor and the next year Hubby picks and we alternate back and forth each year.)  so that meant the tree would have colored lights, lots of non-themed ornaments, and tons of tinsel.  And I'm ok with that, I really am.  His family teased me a lot this year that I got upset about it being his turn and demanded to have my own tree.  Not true.  I simply decided that we finally have a nice home that has the space for two full sized trees, so why not?  I certainly have enough ornaments for it.  Truth be told, I could outfit a 3rd full size tree with my vintage ornament collection, but I didn't think he'd be willing to go that far. :)  

 I LOVED the red and white tree last year and it made me a little sad to think of it all staying packed away and not on display.  So, I used some of my hard earned Etsy money and bought my own tree for the dining room.  His tree was displayed in front of the big front window in what we call the school room.

I added 4 new ornaments and a new strand of white garland to it this year, but otherwise it was all stuff I already had.

During the editing process I realized that maybe part of a strand of lights quit working there at the bottom of the tree.  It's not lit up as bright as it should have been.

After looking at last year's pictures I realized the tree needed better garland on it.  You couldn't really see the wooden cranberry garland in the pictures, and I think a tree doesn't look complete without garland.  Plus, it just needed more white on it.  I considered going old-fashioned and stringing real popcorn, I can remember doing that as a kid a time or two and I always enjoyed how it looked.  But I decided against it since we have a kitten in the house this year and I just didn't know if she would try to eat it and in so doing knock the whole tree down.

So instead, I bought these felted strands I found at Hobby Lobby.  The guy cashier looked at it funny when he scanned it and in a bewildered voice he asked, "What are you going to do with this?"  I don't think he even knew what it was, lol!  He looked like he thought I was nuts when I told him it was tree garland.  Hubby had the same "wow, you're really strange" reaction when I showed it to him, too.  He said, "What is it?  It looks like dreadlocks from Santa's beard."  That made me laugh out loud!  :D  Well, whatever it was it was perfect for this style of tree. 

The tree topper is a fuzzy snowflake that fits perfectly with this theme.  I can't remember where I bought it though.  I'm thinking it was Walmart last year, but I didn't see them there this year so I'm not 100% sure.

The trees skirt is actually a round vintage tablecloth I bought on Etsy.  I cut a slit in it and it works perfectly!

The tree doesn't consist of just "decorator" type of ornaments either.  There are plenty of meaningful ones on there too.  The top left "Let it Snow" is a favorite of mine and just this year I discovered it was a favorite of Hubby's too when he looked up there and said, "Hey, you stole that off of my tree!  I really like that one."  Huh, I never knew that.  :)  There's also a new felt star in the that one.  Top right has an "H" for my daughter, as well as an ice skate since I used to love my ice skating lessons as a child.  I also have a nice collection of Santas/Father Christmases that I've received over the years and you can see one there.  Bottom left has an "R" for Hubby.  Bottom right has a set of mittens found at Sears last year.  I love them!  There's also another word ornament.  I love word ornaments on a tree.  I think it adds a lot of interest to it.  I have had the wooden primitive style icicles for years and I still love them.

In the above collage you can see another one of my Santas, a set of the mittens in white, a Christmas tree made out of shells that my mom bought for my daughter to remember a fun shopping trip they had, a swirly lollipop ornament that my mom gave me 21 years ago, the red felt tree is a new one I added this year (found at Home Goods), and a cute set of red and white snowflakes found at Cracker Barrel last year.  There are plenty more ornaments on here, I just didn't capture them all.  You can probably see a few more of them in last year's post if you're interested.

I wanted to point out these white and red snowflakes to you though.  These were actually two sets of felt coasters that I bought on after Christmas clearance 2 years ago.  They make for perfect ornaments on a Nordic style tree! 

Another new one I added was "Mini-Lucy."  I named my beloved red KitchenAid Mixer "Lucy," so when I found this miniature sized one at Michael's I just had to have it.

I wanted to show you one other new one on the tree this year.  This is one I made.  My husband's grandmother passed away in August and we miss her so much.  She was truly a dear woman and absolutely one of a kind.  At her funeral they let us each pick a flower from the arrangement on her casket to keep.  I brought ours home and hung them upside down in a dark closet to dry.  Once completely dried out I simply clipped the stems off and put them inside of a large clear plastic ornament that you can pop open and then put back together.  So simple!  It's a beautiful reminder of her and we have loved having this one on the tree.  I know it will be on every tree from now on!

I have loved having two trees this year, and have really enjoyed my red and white Nordic inspired theme again.  I'm not sure if we'll have two trees again next year or not, I guess it will depend on what furniture has been added to the dining room by then.  : )

I hope you all had a wonderfully blessed Christmas and I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!

P.S.  If you haven't stopped by the Facebook page lately be sure to do so and check out me and Hubby's version of gingerbread "men."  Funny stuff!  :D


Monday, December 15, 2014

A Rustic Themed Christmas Banquet

Has it really been almost a full month since I last posted anything?!?  I'm so sorry you guys.  Life just got crazy busy all of a sudden and I just couldn't juggle everything I had going on.  Last week alone I had 3 big events at church that I was involved in back to back and it kept me hoppin' the entire week.  Add in soccer games twice a week and my class I teach on Wednesday nights and we felt like we were barely ever home.  But things will start to slow down a bit this week thankfully.  All the big events that I was in charge of are over now, and Lil' Man's last soccer game is tonight so that should help slow things down a lot!  

One of the things I was in charge of last week was our church's annual Christmas banquet.  A couple of months ago our pastor asked me if I'd be willing to be in charge of the decorations and the food.  An excuse to decorate for a party?  Of course I said yes!!  I had it all planned out the next day, lol!  

Fast forward about two months and it was finally banquet day.  When I got to the fellowship hall this is what it looked like.  Pretty much a disaster because we had been working on stuff for our Christmas parade float in here the day before.

All the float signs and paint and other paraphernalia were still around the room, as well as the stacks of wrapped boxes for the float.

The ping-pong table was in the corner and extra tables, etc, etc.  In short, it was a mess.  And I didn't bring anyone to help me because when it comes to decorating I work better by myself.  I just hadn't planned on having to do SO much cleaning up first.  But thankfully the pastor and his wife came and helped me move all the float stuff out, and extra tables, and such and get all the chairs up so I could clean the floors.  That was a blessing.  But after that was done I was on my own to transform the place into some semblance of order suitable for a banquet.

After 8 hours of cleaning and decorating it looked like this.

I wish I had more time to set up a tripod and get better pictures, but people started showing up early and I had to just snap what I could and be done with it.  I kept some of the wrapped boxes from the float and stacked them to fill one corner over by the back door.  Notice in the back of the above picture, on the right, the drink table.  I never did get a closer picture of it, but it looked cute with a wool plaid blanket spread over it and the drink dispensers sitting on top.

I used the lattice that was leaning against the wall to cover up the unused piano and organ over against the far wall.  

Against another wall I set up a photo-op area.  It's kind of a "thing" with our church that every party or banquet has a photo area, so of course I had to uphold the tradition.

I strung white lights up and down the wall and then hung a white sheet over them.

It gave off the most beautiful soft glow and made a wonderful background for pictures.  The lanterns were glowing too, but you can't really tell in these pictures.

I brought in stumps of wood from our wood pile at home and set the cute battery operated lanterns on top.  My mom was sweet enough to let me borrow these for the banquet.  At the time she told me I could use them I had no idea what I would do with them, but I knew I could figure out something cute.  They looked great on the wooden stumps.  The empty red frame was a photo prop that people could hold up and put their faces behind for their picture.  I got it for $2 at a thrift store and just gave it a few coats of red spray paint that I already had.   I picked up the cute little chalkboard signs from Walmart for $2 each and they were photo props as well.

I already had the little tree and actually threw it up there at the last minute as part of this vignette.  It's propped up on an old wooden drawer that I brought along.

Now, let's take a closer look at the centerpieces.  
This picture from Sweet Something Designs was my point of inspiration.


Now here is my version.

Over the couple of months that I was planning I began collecting Christmas colored plaid scarves.
Some I already had, some I found at yard sales, and the rest I scoured eBay for and bought the cheapest ones I could find to keep it as low budget as possible.

I laid the scarves down the center of each table as my table runners, then I layered in the wood slabs.  Each table had 3 of them.  Hubby was kind enough to cut these for me from his wood pile in his work shop.  Did you know that just ONE of these wooden pieces like this costs $15 at the craft store?!?  I got 21 of them for FREE from our own stash.  :D

I poured Epsom salt into canning jars (brought from home) to resemble snow, and tucked a little unscented votive candle into each one. I layered in fresh greenery all around, and then tucked in faux berries for some color.  I finished them off with cute little jingle bells from the dollar store (a pack of 9 for only $1!).  In keeping with the low budget, I already had all of the faux berries in my own personal stash, and as for the fresh greenery, when we went to buy our Christmas tree I told the owner of the tree farm about the upcoming banquet and asked if they had any extra greenery they wouldn't be using for their fresh wreaths.  She said she couldn't let me have any of the Fraser fir branches, they needed all they had, but she said they couldn't use any cuttings from the Scotch pines because they were too pokey.  So she gave me a pair of clippers and told me to go around the lot and that I could clip and have any branches that were touching the ground.  They were indeed very pokey, and I had sore hands afterwards, but hey, I had a huge pile of FREE greenery!

These plates I found at Hobby Lobby were absolutely perfect.  I had been to a few different stores looking for the perfect ones to go with this theme.  I had some criteria.  They had to be big (our church likes us some food!), they had to be sturdy, and they had to match the theme without having Santa or anything else too cutesy on them.  I didn't really know exactly what I wanted, I just knew that I'd know when I saw them.  And I did.  As soon as I saw these on the shelf I knew they were the ones.  I couldn't even remember at the time what colors were in all of the scarves I had bought because I had collected them over time and actually hadn't looked at them in awhile.  So I was really excited when I got the plates home and pulled out the stash of scarves to compare and I realized they matched perfectly with all the reds and blacks!  I also loved how they had sort of a chalkboard look to them.  It matched my "naughty'' and "nice" chalkboards really well.  But probably nobody but me noticed that detail.  :D

The forks were actually plastic (no extra dishes to wash, yay!), but I loved how shiny they were and that they had a "real" look to them (also found at Hobby Lobby).  And I found nice plastic cups that were just a bit more fancy than plain old clear plastic ones or even styrofoam ones that dressed up the table a bit.

I ended up with 7 different scarves that had 7 different patterns, but all coordinated very nicely on the tables.

There were 35 people signed up to come, so I bought 40 of everything and made 40 place settings, but what I forgot to take into account was the generosity of our people.  Some invited extra family members, some invited neighbors at the last minute to come and join the fun and we ended up with closer to 50.  We just pulled extra chairs up to the ends of the tables and got out the white styrofoam plates that we always have on hand and it all worked out just fine.  The more the merrier.  : )

Over on the dessert table I set up this little display using my long wooden ammo box turned upside down and a bit of decor from my own home.  The tables were slightly different heights and I had to prop up one end of the box, so the greenery helped disguise the height difference.

The rustic decor was a hit and many people were so kind to tell me how beautiful it all looked.  All the hard work of cleaning and setting it all up was worth it.  

One lady even told me at church on Sunday that it was the most beautiful she had ever seen it look in the fellowship hall.  And that's why I enjoy what I do.  I love transforming a space from something plain and boring into something beautiful and festive.  And since I used so much that I already had on hand or that I was able to get for free, and since we did the food potluck style, I was able to keep this banquet budget right around $115.

I hope to be back again with another post before Christmas, but if for some reason I don't then I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!  And if I don't get my Christmas decor pictures shared before, don't worry, they may be late and Christmas may be done and over with by then, but I'll get them shared.  :)


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