Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our Christmas Mantel

It's finally done! I was so inspired by the pictures I showed you earlier. And while our mantel is certainly nothing like those, I'm very pleased with the way it turned out. I like a reasonably spare mantel. Ours typically looks like this:

If you'd like to see the hot mess we started with, you can click here.

I centered this year's decor around the Hereford cow painting. I think it is absolutely gorgeous and I'm not going to take it down, not even for the holidays. My mom-in-law painted it for her father, who was a Texas cattle rancher. And while we're unlikely to ever live in Texas again, it's crucial to us that our kids are raised with the same culture and heritage that we were. So, in that vein I decided that we'd go all green. The fireplace is sage and the painting's framw has hunter green in it, so why not?

We took a quick (ha!) trip to Target and got our stocking holders. I like that they're flat- they'll go with anything I decide to do decor-wise in the coming years. The best part, though, was the price. Each 2 pack was 8 bucks, so we got out of there for 16.

Then, a trip to Michael's for the hunter green candles. Once again, I have to say that I am married to the best guy on earth. How many men would brave Michael's on Black Friday just to keep their wives company?! Mine! And my friend's husband, too. They both rock! And mine got a pressure washer out of the bargain- 69 bucks at Lowe's- go now if you're in the market for one! But he's out pressure washing our porches right now, so I came out pretty good, too :)

 The candles were about a dollar each and the green poinsettias were 98c each. So, everything you see here was achieved for a whopping 24 bucks.

And here it is, almost all done: we made our stockings last year, but I need to make another one for our newest addition. Fortunately, I always buy way too much fabric, so that won't be an issue. I'd love if the picture had them all up, but that stocking isn't likely to get made this week, so I'm just going to go with what we have. I'll update when it's all done and give you the lowdown on making your own stockings, too.

Need more inspiration or general mantel advice? Check out Elle Decor's Making The Most of The Mantel. Gorgeous Slideshow!
Hints, Tips & Tricks:
  • Off-the-shelf- candles never look quite right when you place them. Burn them for about 20 minutes to get that rounded edge going.
  • A poinsettia in a quart pot will thrive on 1 ice cube per day- it's the perfect amount of water and it melts slowly, so you shouldn't have to worry about leaking.
  • Stuff stockings with wadded up plastic bags- they're light and will help fill them out if you haven't prchased the real "stuffers" yet.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Decor (so far)

Well, we got about a third accomplished of what we set out to do this weekend. We started on the front entry. I had visions of icicle lights and a lush winterscape and it did not happen. First, our door wreath didn't really survive storage. and I was not going back to the craft store this weekend. I stripped the wreath that was already on our door, threw some ribbon on and shoved a couple of peacocks on it. It's okay. Hint: dab essential oil or diffuser fragrance onto your entry wreath with a q-tip. The scent will follow your guests as they walk in.

The leaded glass cut out is in entirely the wrong spot, but it is what it is. We started in on the lights, but they kept shorting out- brand new lights mind you. So, I turned my attention to the tree. it's a magnificent tree and it smells wonderful.

This is what we had at around 10 am. I kept running out of lights, so it took until about 5pm to get this:

burlap tree skirt

There are approximately 1000 lights on this tree, or 7 strands of lights. I am pleased with the "tree skirt" though. It's a bout 8 dollars worth of burlap, strategically shoved under the tree. I'm bound and determined to get it done today, ornaments and all. I will have order Christmas in this house!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I whipped up a batch of these for Sunday breakfast as we were putting up the Christmas tree, which I will show you soon! They were super simple and turned out amazing. THe apple ws the perfect combination of sweet/tart. Here's the recipe:

1/2 stick butter ,melted
1 scant cup of sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon to preference
3 dashes (I almost never measure) nutmeg
1 large apple (I used a Jonagold) coarsely chopped

Combine all ingredients and spoon into a paper lined muffin tin. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

More Ikea Finds

Good morning! Enjoying my coffee and trying to keep our 90 pound mutt from obsessively licking our son's face.

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that Ikea was our go-to source for knock-off replicas of interior furnishings. I showed you the couches we ordered, but you can see them here if you missed that. I though that I'd share some other finds with you. Here they are:

First up, a gorgeous Pottery Barn lamp:

Cole Task Table Lamp, Antique Silver finish
credit:Pottery Barn

This retails for about $150.00. Absolutely gorgeous, but I'd want two, and I'm not going to drop $300 for two lamps. Not with kids and dogs in the house ;)

Here's the Ikea version:

BAROMETER Work lamp, nickel plated Height: 19 " Base diameter: 7 " Shade diameter: 6 " Cord length: 5 ' 5 "  Height: 48 cm Base diameter: 18 cm Shade diameter: 14.5 cm Cord length: 1 m 65 cm

Retail is about 50 bucks. And while it isn't quite identical, I think it's pretty close. And for a third of the price, it looks even better.

Here's an artichoke lamp. Designed by Poul Hennigsen:

Artichoke Lamp - Small, White

It'll run you between 7k and 14k, depending upon the size. Or you can get this for about 40 bucks:

KNAPPA Pendant lamp, white Diameter: 18 " Height: 14 ¼ " Cord length: 15 ' 5 "  Diameter: 46 cm Height: 36 cm Cord length: 4.7 m

Saarinen Tables- my Dad has two reproduction Saarinen side tables in his house. My sister is also an interior decorator. Here's the fun part: my Dad has her absolutely convinced that they are the real deal. She has been trying to get him to give them to her for the last million years. There were a couple of times I though she was going to wet herself. It is hilarious watching her trying to convince Dad to hand over his side tables, but even more so watching Dad pretend he doesn't know why she wants them so badly. Anyway, the real deal isn't cheap:

Saarinen Dining Table 42 in Laminate

Depending upon size, you can expect to pay anywhere between 2k and 4k for this table. Or you can own this one for about 200 bucks.

DOCKSTA Dining table, white Diameter: 41 3/8 " Height: 29 3/8 "  Diameter: 105 cm Height: 75 cm

So, a few fun knock offs at a fraction of the price :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Christmas Entryway Inspiration

This year, I'm starting our Christmas decor at the entryway and working my way inside. I'm gathering up ideas for our own home and thought I'd share with you. Our family's rule is no Christmas anything until Thanksgiving dinner has been eaten- I'm itching to get started, though. Enjoy!

We'll show you our front door soon. I hope it'll be half as cool as these. And, since blogger is being difficult, the photo credits starting from the 2nd photo are as follows:,,,, and

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Visible Tabletop

We're that family- the one that comes in, chunks the gym bag, hat, scarf, whatever on the table and leaves it there. It's a nasty habit. But, I've been working on that and even have proof of it. I am ridiculously proud of myself over the fact that you can see actual table top.

The roses are from my awesome husband- he loves me. Or maybe he's trying to butter me up...I heard him say something about upgrading his table saw not 10 minutes after the bouquet showed up :) And the wooden panel on the wall is Chinese. They are acually part of the interior walls in Chinese homes. This particular one was cut out of a home that was being demolished and sold by a dealer in Dallas, Texas.

But there you have it- I do occasionally clean AND dust.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kitchen: In Progress

I am officially one happy housewife. Our couches will be delivered on Dec. 6th, in 4 more days I can start decorating for Christmas, AND we have finally, finally -after 8 months of obsessive compulsive nuttiness- picked out our kitchen countertops and cabinet colors! So, just a quick recap here: this is what the kichen looked like before we moved in.

Yes, that is green and pink paint. And here's what we've got now:

It's not really that bad. I'm not in love with the cabinets or anything, but we have an original, almost 100 year old brick column in our kitchen. It could be worse. But I digress.

The countertops we picked are Wilsonart laminate and the color is Tumbled Roca. It comes precut, so all we have to do is slap it in place.

Tumbled Roca 4835
Wilsonart Tumbled Roca
 Probably kind of hard to tell, but there are tiny little flecks of sage green in there. Which made picking out the cabinet color really easy. Yep, sage green. Trust me, it'll be fab. Plus, it'll  coordinate with our sage green fireplace, which is visible from the kitchen. This is the general idea:
Traditional Green Kitchen
the overall effect

Traditional Green Kitchen
with brick
 Can't wait to get started. Kitchen photos are from  You can browse by color, so if you're in need of inspiration, check them out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Living Room Redo

If you've seen our "living room", you know it's a challenging shape- long, rectangular, and divided by our fireplace.

one iteration of the living room- I miss those colors!

The best way I've found to work with it is to divide it into three separate areas- dining, fireplace, living. We previously had a mammoth of a corduroy couch- very comfy but way huge for the space. It made our modest living area seem miniscule.

To really play up the space we do have, we decided to go with a more modern, streamlined looking this one....

Theatre Sofa in Edelman All-Grain Leather
But not this one. Because it is almost $7,000 dollars and that just isn't gonna happen! So, where to go for designer knockoff furniture? Ikea, of course:

 SÄTER 2.5-seat sofa, Fräsig dark brown Width: 77 1/2 " Depth: 32 1/4 " Height: 29 1/2 " Width: 197 cm Depth: 82 cm Height: 75 cm
The color isn't as cool, but for 400 bucks, I'm not complaining. And I've got a trick up my sleeve to "customize" them that I'll show you later, too. If all goes well, they should be delivered in 2-3 weeks, right before we host Christmas. Fingers crossed.

Ikea also does a really great job of knocking off high-end light fixtures and Saarinen tables, too.