Monday, December 29, 2014

How to Make a Winter Wreath (with your leftover holiday table decor)

What not to do the day after hosting a large dinner and your table is full of greenery and red wine stains ;)

Make a fresh wreath for your front door, of course. I'm not sure what burst of energy got into me the day after hosting Christmas dinner, but that's what I was doing. Full disclosure. I was groggy from the turkey and the wine so this took me a couple of tries to get it right and not look like I was drinking while crafting.





This is what it looked like before it was a wreath. It was a table runner of fresh greenery...




It's a simple and inexpensive way to make a big impact (well I thought so anyways) on your table. The fresh greenery cost less than $20 for a very long table. This table sat 15 patient souls. Dinner may have been a little late...




I even pulled out the good china for this one. Mikasa circa 1998 mixed with everyday white dishes because I didn't listen to my Grandmother and order enough for a large family. But I'm good with mixing it up. It keeps it from looking too fussy.


Back to the wreath...




Materials:

fresh greenery
floral tape
floral wire
scissors or clippers
wreath form




Cut your greenery down to the size you would like for the wreath. Then gather not too big bunches of the greenery together and secure it together with the floral tape. Once you've got your bunches done, start laying them out on your wreath form so you get an idea of the shape. Then start wiring them to the wreath form. This form has holes you thread the wire through and kind of tie it on/wrap it around until it's secure.  A florist may take issue with my method but it worked for me ;)




I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. It makes for a pretty wreath, that doesn't scream Christmas, right? I'll leave it up all winter if I can get away with it.






If you are hosting New Year's Eve the fresh greenery runner could be a nice idea for your table and then on New Year's Day you can make a wreath. LOL.  OK maybe the day after New Year's Day, then.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Debra

Monday, December 22, 2014

How to make your own Christmas Crackers - easy and environmentally friendly too!







Christmas crackers are a fun holiday tradition but all that wasted paper that just gets torn apart and thrown out makes me cringe a little. So this year, I decided to make my own Christmas crackers out recycled and vintage paper I had around the house.  It's really easy and I like how they turned out. Simple and a little rustic.

I saved up toilet paper rolls for a few weeks to make these but you could also cut some heavier paper and make you own rolls.

I try to save tissue paper from gifts if it's in good condition to stash away for projects like this. 




Materials:

Tissue paper - I used 12" x 18" sheets of tissue folded in half lengthwise and 4" wide tubes.

Christmas cracker snaps (I found them at Michael's)

Tape or glue gun

Vintage book pages from an old book

Ribbon or baker's twine

Washi tape, kraft paper and star punch

Small gifts to hide inside the crackers such as chocolates, lip balms, mini flash lights, small toys etc..

Print out some jokes to put inside too. I found some good corny ones here.

Instructions:

Step 1: Tape or glue the cracker snap to the inside of the tube making sure it is in the middle of the tube.

Step 2: Wrap the tissue paper around the tube and secure it with tape or glue. 

Step 3: Wrap the vintage book page or other decorative paper around the tube. This paper should be approximately the same width as the tube. Mine were 4" wide.

Step 4: At this stage, I found it easier to tie one end of the cracker with the ribbon and then drop your treats inside. Then tie the other end with the ribbon. This way you don't have to deal with them falling out.

Step 5: Add a little embellishment or name tag to your cracker. I made these little stars using kraft paper, washi tape and a star punch. I secured this piece with glue.




Traditionally, Christmas crackers have paper hats but I didn't have time to make these and since I was trying to keep this project green, I didn't really want to buy them. I did come across instructions on how to make the hats here and on Pinterest I found a really pretty star head band that would work well inside these crackers too. 


So although these do take a little bit of time to put together they can also be a fun holiday craft to do with kids.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Merry & Bright - - Brass Wire & Glitter Bunting

Here is a simple holiday craft you can whip up in one evening ... a brass wire and glitter paper bunting with your own holiday message.




All you need some thin gauge brass (or copper would be pretty) wire and thick/heavy glitter paper which you can pick up at a craft store like Michael's and a small hole punch and scissors.




After you decide what you want your message to say, sketch out your letters and cut them out with scissors. My letters are approximately 5" tall. Use your mini hole punch to make holes in your letters for stringing the wire. I find it helpful to have two holes side-by-side so that the letters hang nicely. If you use a small punch you will hardly see the holes. Then string it through the wire. Pretty simple. The wire is a pretty alternative to twine or ribbon, and you can bend the wire to shape your message if you feel like it.



  I love how the brass wire looks with the glitter letters.

There you go. Something simple and festive to fill the empty wall over my sofa.


PS. Something weird is going on with my camera lately so I apologize for some grainy looking photos. I think I know what's on my Christmas list now.... 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Making your floors cozy ...

We love the new room that we added at the back of our house. When we were renovating we made sure to factor in heated floors in this space to keep it cozy. However, even with the heated floors and rugs, the floors can still get chilly when the temperature drops here in winter. We had rug pads but they weren't great and didn't provide any cushioning or added warmth. I needed new ones for this winter.  

As luck would have it,  a company called Rug Pad Corner approached me to review their rug pads this past month. After looking at their website and researching their products and reviews online, I decided they would be a perfect fit for our house and my blog.

I love that their rug pads contain only natural materials, have been certified LEED and are rated GREEN for air quality. A lot of rugs and rug pads are made of synthetic materials which off gas nasty chemicals into your home or have glues to hold them together. Rug Pad Corner rug pads are natural and heat pressed. There is no glue, which is something that is important to me. They are also made in the USA.




This added family room at the back of our house has solid oak floors with in-floor heating. I needed a rug pad that would work for heated floors and also protect my new floors. I ended up choosing the Ultra Premium rug pad suitable for all hard floors including heated floors. 



It has 100% felt surface and solid rubber non-slip backing. 

It's sooo comfy and it stays in place.






It's so cozy to walk on! This pad is 1/3" thick.





We also got a rug pad for the living room. I really love how it has transformed how our rugs feel to walk on. I'm serious. It's awesome. Now it's more comfortable to sit on the floor and play games with the kids.



It's super easy to order your rug pad and figure out which one is right for you with the Rug Pad Wiz which helps you find the right rug pad for your space.

Rug Pad Corner trimmed the rug pads to fit properly under the rugs, just slightly smaller.




They arrived quickly and with instructions and information about how to care for the rug pads.

Rug Pad Corner offers free shipping if you live in the USA. They also ship to Canada and provide very clear shipping information. I love when shipping costs aren't a mystery!

Rug Pad Corner s offering a 15% discount for readers. Just use this promo code: REVIEW15

Anyways I am honestly much more happy with my rugs now that they are so comfy and I know my floors are well protected. I would definitely recommend this company if you need rug pads.

*This is a sponsored post. I was invited to review Rug Pad Corner products in exchange for rug pads. I was happy to partner with Rug Pad Corner on this post because I like their commitment to creating healthy products. I really like their products and I think you will too.


Monday, December 8, 2014

a sweet night with friends - the cookie swap!


This past weekend was my annual cookie swap. I think it's year three or is it four? Anyways, I've lost count, but it's loads of fun. I posted about it last year including some tips on how to host a cookie swap/exchange and packaging ideas. 
You can check it out here.

I thought I would share some snippets from the swap but forgive the slightly wonky photos. It was dimly lit, so these shots are a bit dark.



 The cheese board was a hit and it was so easy to throw together! 

I was inspired by some of the gorgeous cheese trays I've seen on Pinterest lately. I wanted to keep the evening simple so this yummy board and lots of wine kept everyone happy.





I put together a box with some packaging materials for everyone to package up treats to share. 

Chinese take-out boxes, food safe cello bags, and small bakery boxes tied with baker's twine and tags are fun ways to package it all up.




Pretty shortbread cookies on display.



Cranberry shortbread, ginger cookies, raspberry almond thumbprints and in-your-face triple chocolate cookies - just a few of the delicious cookies we shared... yum!

Have you done any holiday baking? 
What's your go-to cookie recipe during the holidays? 
I'd love to know.


Friday, November 28, 2014

sale!



Jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon to offer you an awesome 

25% off everything in the SHOP!

Use coupon code: BLACKFRIDAY14 at Checkout.

That includes personalized holiday cards. Woot!

Fill your bag with lots of paper goodies.

Sale ends Monday at Midnight EST.

Happy Shopping!

Debra xo

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Last Minute Thanksgiving Ideas


I just wanted to wish my American friends a very Happy Thanksgiving. 

No doubt, you are busy preparing for your celebrations tomorrow. So, I thought I'd share some last minute ideas for your Thanksgiving table that you might find helpful. Just a little Pinterest round-up :)

last minute thanksgiving ideas


They are simple and easy ideas to pull together using natural elements you can find in your yard, in your fridge or a quick trip to the grocery store. Get the kids involved with helping to set and decorate the table so it's one less item on your to-do list tomorrow.

You can find them on my Pinterest page here.


I hope you have a wonderful celebration with your family and friends.

Debra xo


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

12 Gift Ideas for Teen Girls - Etsy Gift Guide

1/ Knit Cat Beanie via Slouchy Beanie     2/ Peacock Feather ring via Ruth Reizin    3/ Trees and Stars SHoulder Bag via Jenna Rose    4/ Owl Necklace via Ruth Reizin    5/ Peter Pan Collar via Blum Art   6/ Gold Temporary Bracelet Tattoos via Shine On Tattoos 


Full disclosure: I stole my teen daughters Christmas list for you. It's all in the name of saving your sanity. 

This my friends, is the Etsy version of a 13 year old girls wish list. 

...and yes that peter pan collar is supposed to be here. It's back in style. This time around it isn't laura ashley lace. Do you remember that?!

Spot the trends.... well, my observed trends in the school yard.

Bethany Mota style ie: the cat hat above. She is the teen/tween girls blogging vlogging star du jour. She dishes out advice on fashion, room decor and crafty goodness. She is why every tween girl you see is wearing a hair bow. Please don't bring back the banana clip.

Peter Pan collars, Owls, Jewelry tattoos, Boho, Cacti, Arrows, some others ... Doc Martens, fringed purses


7/ Knit Cacti in Pot via Yeff Knits     8/ Arrows Wall Decal via The Lovely Wall     9/  Porcelain Glove Mold via Klinker   10/ Calligraphy Starter Kit via LineaCarta     11/ Velvet Pouffe via Rangila Rajastan    12/ Art Print via Love Sugar  


Etsy has amazing gift options for girls this age. There are so many cool vintage and handmade accessories, fun t-shirts, and great stuff for her bedroom like wall art, throw pillows. Over the years I've bought my daughter many gifts from Etsy and they are always so unique and special. 

PS. Another idea is to purchase an Etsy Gift Card and let her go shopping!

Have some gifting ideas you want to share. I'd love to hear them!

Happy Shopping :)



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Glitter, Gold and Rustic - Etsy Holiday Decor Finds




Some holiday decor items I'm loving over on Etsy right now. 

I try to stay away from holiday decor that is commercial looking and instead like to find pieces that I can use year round but still have a nod to the holiday season. All you need is to add a little glitter, some great metallics and some fresh greenery or something rustic but festive. 

Mixing vintage and modern keeps it interesting, don't you think?

These vintage inspired marquee signs are popping up all over Pinterest. There are loads of great DIY versions of this Etsy pick above. Here are a few versions that you might like to check out herehere and here.



Add art with holiday appeal that will look fresh all winter long such as the vintage print or the brass ornaments that you can display air plants. New linens like these gorgeous pillows (I'm obsessed with these pillows) add some holiday glam that will still hold when the tree comes down.

So there you go, a handful of Etsy finds for you to be inspired by or head over and check them out for yourself. (PS. Links to shop are below images.)

**There is a 20% off sale in my Etsy shop right now! The coupon code is HOLIDAY14SALE. 




Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Holiday Wrapping Ideas - shades of white, vintage bits and scavenged finds



These are images from a shoot I did for Gathering's Magazine Winter White issue last year, which I didn't really share with you but I still love and find relevant today.

I like to collect materials for gift wrapping year round. Things to make your gift unique and without spending a ton of money.  So I invest in a few things I can utilize in different ways like Washi tape and twine.

Then I look for items around the house, at thrift shops and antique markets that can add a unique look and because I'm re-using materials are enviro-friendly too.

If you keep your eye out now you won't be under pressure and maybe you'll prevent having to buy as much newly made packaging.






Kraft paper, leftover fabric remnants, pages from old books make great gift wrap or can be made into pretty embellishments.

I save tissue paper, boxes, wrapping paper etc (if it's in good shape) from gifts we've recieved. It's not a big deal. Just smooth it out, fold it up and put it away until you can re-use it. It's not just being thrifty, it's also thinking green.

It's pretty easy to find ways to make your wrapping a little greener if you do a little advance planning and in my case, a little hoarding :)





If you visit thrift shops now you'll be able to pick up (if you're lucky) some vintage holiday ornaments. These make pretty adornments for gifts. 

Vintage book pages can be folded into pinwheels gift toppers and cut into little leaves. 

Use Washi tape to make your own gift tags.



I really like a monochromatic palette for gift wrap using a little old and a little new. 








A little planning well-ahead of wrapping day will make your life easier and your gifts more unique.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

holiday season countdown has begun - holiday trends

Halloween just closed up shop and before you could take a breath Christmas arrived. Admittedly, I start thinking about the holidays while we are just starting to feel the first heat waves of summer. It comes with the territory...

I know some of you may find the onslaught of the holidays this early kind of annoying, but as a retailer it is the most important time of the year. As a blogger and stylist, I also like to think about projects and ideas that I can share with you on this space. 

So, to gently ease you into the holiday spirit here is a snapshot of my Pinterest Holiday Inspiration board right now.





I attended West Elm Toronto's Holiday preview last week. They are in full holiday mode and the collection is pretty impressive. I thought I'd share some of the collection with you and talk about a couple of this year's trends in holiday decor.





This was my favorite table.

It combines two of the biggest trends this year - animals and metallics and I'm seeing lots of marble and natural stone materials.



The woodland animal trend continues to be popular this year. 
Many of the retailers have their own take on this trend. I really enjoyed the collection from Artist Rachel Kozlowski. Dapper looking animals dressed up for the holidays. With the popular plaid trend showing up on some of the animals attire.

Wool blankets are always perfect for the holiday season but this year you are seeing more wool blankets on store shelves.



Gold, copper and rose gold. There is a metal for everyone out there. I love all the warm metals and don't you think the holidays are a great time to try out this trend?




I really like mixing natural fibers such as linens with warm metals and adding in fresh greenery. A little glitz mixed with understated works for me. West Elm does it well.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

a little florida get-away...including some tips for Universal Orlando

Last week I snuck off to Florida with my daughter for a little mother-daughter holiday. It was so great to spend some one-on-one time with her. I remember doing the same with my mom and treasure those memories.


We spent about four days languishing on the beach at a hotel I used to go to as a child. It's old-school Florida style. You know the kind, on one of those stretches of the gulf that are full of low-rise motels and hotels which have been there forever. It's perfectly kitschy. 


This is what we woke up to every morning. Breakfast on our balcony overlooking the beach. I booked a room with a kitchen so we could stock up on healthy snacks and breakfast essentials. It is a great way to travel with kids. You don't have to worry about finding restaurants for every meal. 


A highlight for Isabella was a dolphin watching boat trip we took. We saw an amazing number of dolphins that day including a baby dolphin swimming with her mama!

Then we headed up to Orlando to meet up with my son who was on an epic holiday to Disney World with my brother and my sister-in-law. He had such an amazing time. Great memories :)




We joined them for a day at Universal Orlando. The kids are HUGE Harry Potter fans so we spent most of our time exploring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley which just opened this past summer.


It was incredibly realistic and it was easy to get swept up into the whole Harry Potter experience. The attention to detail was pretty amazing. 

The kids visited Ollivander's to purchase their wizard wands and Julian got picked for the wand experience. So fun! If your kids buy the interactive wands they can practice their wizard skills throughout the park where kids (or grown-ups) can wave their wands, recite a spell and try to make magic happen. It's marketing genius.

If you go, make sure you buy the park-to-park pass. This allows you to take the Hogwarts Express between the parks. It's incredible. You board the train at King's Cross Station and travel to Hogsmeade's Station (or vice versa). It's more expensive but I think it's worth it if you want to get the full Harry Potter experience. 

We only spent a day here but I think you could easily budget for two days if you want to catch all the rides and experiences throughout the park (not just Harry Potter). 

We also purchased the Unlimited Express Pass ahead of time. I would say it is worth the extra expense in not having to wait to get on rides. However, check the details because there are some rides in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade where the Express Pass isn't valid. Another tip about purchasing tickets online is to select the Will-Call Kiosk to pick up your tickets. I was told it avoids waiting in long line-ups to get your tickets and it was for us. We pretty much sailed right through.

Although you can stay at a park resort we stayed outside the park at the Crowne Plaza Orlando (Universal) and I found it to be convenient. We had a car so we just drove to the park. We could have taken a shuttle but I found the schedule inconvenient. Parking was reasonable by my big city standards at $17 for the day. Staying out of the park will save you money but it's also worth looking into the park resorts because sometimes they have deals that include park tickets.

We all loved Universal Orlando but the crowd favorite was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter especially Diagon Alley.

If you have any questions about our experience at Universal Orlando let me know. I know I had lots of questions prior to planning this park experience.

So that was our little trip south :)


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