Friday, October 29, 2010

I Love Fake Flowers

I actually love real flowers (growing or cut!) more, but I love fake flowers as well.  Since it's not always possible or practical to have real flowers inside, I make up for it with the faux kind.  I'm not a "snob" about many things, but flowers are one of them.  I do quite a bit of searching to find ones I don't feel look ridiculously fake.  I use them frequently in various places in my home and switch them out/mix them up/move them around quite often, because I don't like things to always look exactly the same.

Fall berries on the den bookcase...

White tulips in the corner of the kitchen...

Gray willow branches and pink "flowers" (no idea what these are!) by the hallway...

Ivy in the kitchen window...

White lilies in the master bedroom...

Orange tulips in the entryway...

Yellow and orange tulips on the kitchen countertop...

I like to think I was born to live in a garden!  :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Easy Topiary

I love the beauty and English-hidden-garden feel of topiaries.  I have always wanted to grow and prune a real one of my own, but I think that's far beyond my gardening skills at this time.   So, I will have to settle for making one of my own for inside the house.

I got a few supplies at Hobby Lobby: a green stryrofoam ball and wooden dowels.  I inserted the dowel into the ball like so.  I also put a little seal of hot glue at the entry point just to make sure it wasn't going anywhere.

The little flower pot I chose had a drainage hole in the bottom so I inserted the topiary form into it and hot glued.  If yours doesn't have this, you can insert some foam at the bottom to stick the dowel into.

Next, I used hot glue to cover the ball in moss. (You could do this before the previous step if you like.)

I squeezed some hot glue into the bottom of the pot and jammed some paper down into it to act as filler.

Then I glued some moss into the pot to cover the paper.  And I'm done!

One thing that draws me to certain projects is versatility.  With the topiary, you can go big or small, change out the pot, add flowers or vines, whatever comes to mind. I went plain jane with this one, but I am sure I will make more in the future.  For now, this one will look great in the master bedroom!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Susan Tuesday

Britt loves southwest/Mexican food, so this week's Susan Tuesday was just for him.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Coffee Filter Wreath

Manuela at The Pleasures of Homemaking had yet another fantastic wreath tutorial on her blog, so I gave it a try as well.  I knew a pretty white coffee filter wreath would be perfect in my white, green, and pink master bedroom.

Like her book page wreath, this project is inexpensive and looks great once completed. (You can see where I made my version of it here.)  The cost broke down as follows: $2.40 for a clearance wreath at the Dollar Store, $2.49 for white coffee filters. (You probably already have these, eliminating this cost altogether! However, as you'll see, I made four wreaths, so I had to go get more filters if we wanted any coffee the next morning!)

I started with the Dollar Store wreath (but you can use a styrofoam one, or just an old piece of cardboard cut into a wreath form in any size you want). 

I pulled what was left of the flowers out.

I then took the coffee filters and formed them into little rosettes, bent the ends, and hot glued them into place.

I attached a ribbon for hanging it, and voila! It looks gorgeous hanging from the wire rack in the master bedroom.   I left a little bit of the brown wreath showing on this one, because I like a little bit of a rustic, natural look.

In fact, I liked the results so much that I decided to make a few more and see how they all looked together.  I tweaked the design just a bit for the second wreath, adding rosettes of tan and white toile amid the coffee filters.  I poked holes in the cardboard wreath form (that I made from the back of an empty box of Cheerios) and pulled the fabric through.

I continued all the way around the cardboard, using one square of toile per two coffee filters.

(After I finished this wreath, I cut a piece of toile fabric into a strip and hot glued it onto the back to hide the ends of the fabric poking through.)

I also made two rectangular wreaths by simply cutting the cereal box into a rectangle and then gluing on the filters.

Once all four wreaths were arranged on the wire rack, I could see the final effect, and I loved it! The results of having all the wreaths in varying sizes displayed together was beautiful. (I also love the look of whites and tans mixed together!)

There is so much to love about this project.  One, it yields beautiful pieces for your home that have a look of elegance and quality (they do NOT look like coffee filters, even in person). Two, if you have coffee filters and cardboard, you have the materials needed at NO cost, and buying them if you must costs next to nothing.  Three, it's a very customizable project.  If you wish, you can cut your wreath form into any shape or size you wish and add any color cloth to vary the look.

Thanks again to Manuela, and I hope you will make one (or many!) of your own!

(P.S., I'm linking this up to My Cottage Charm's linky party as well as White Wednesday!)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Gardening

I love to garden.   It's one of my main hobbies and contributes greatly to my love of the warmer months when gardening is in full swing.  The yard at my home back in Georgia was worked and loved every day.  Lilies, four o' clocks, lamb's ear, impatients, buttercups, ivy, azaleas, petunias, zinnias, sweet potato vines, asparagus ferns, begonias, camellias.  A fig tree and a pomegranate tree.  I loved taking care of them all.

When we moved to Mississippi, not only did I have no garden to tend to, but the traditional gardening season was coming to a close.  In addition to leaving my new yard looking rather barren, this situation eliminated one of my favorite things to do. 

I never dabbled much into fall gardening because I would just focus on sustaining my summer plants as far into the colder months as I could (which wasn't hard in southern Georgia), and then buying a few mums to get me through till spring.  I've never been faced with starting afresh when the natural world is retiring away.

But I must! And here is what I'm doing:

1.  Planting a vegetable the grows in colder months.  Namely, broccoli.  The shoots are just coming up nice and tall.  They require regular water and lots of sun.

2.  Potting plants.  Or, putting them in hanging baskets. This way they are not subjected to the cold, frosty ground (when that day finally comes), and they can be  moved indoors temporarily if need be.  The plants I chose to place in pots are those that can withstand cold temperatures and are good for fall/winter in USDA Zone 8, which is where we live.  You can find your planting zone here.

I love ornamental grasses and different varieties of creeping jasmine, both of which are cold hardy.

Colorful mums are especially beautiful in pots!

3. Taking care of basic landscaping.  Most types of shrubs grow year round, so now is a good opportunity, when I'm not preoccupied with other flowers, to get some shurbs in the ground.  I'm also spreading pinestraw in new flower beds that I've created, which makes a yard look much neater and more finished.

4. Preparing soil for spring.  The soil around our home is very chalky and light, which is not at all ideal.  I've spent a great deal of time this past week softening it with water and adding in a good ground mixture I got at Lowe's.  That way, if I want to plant bulbs for spring, I don't have to worry about them suffering and potentially dying in barren soil.

Happy gardening!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Susan Tuesday

Today's Susan Tuesday requires almost no effort.  Again, this recipe would be great for a chilly evening, but it was in the 90s today and has barely dipped into the 70s this evening, so alas, it is not to be.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Framed Book Page Wreath

As I've stated before, I love using wreaths indoors but find them to be too overpriced!  Luckily, I recently discovered a wonderful blog, The Pleasures of Homemaking, that covers a variety of home decorating and do-it-yourself topics.  The blog's author, Manuela (who is from my home state of Georgia!), created a beautiful wreath using the pages of an old book.  Being a huge bookworm and loving the idea of adding another wreath to my home, I had to try it out.

The best part about this project (besides the beauty of the result!) is that it was so inexpensive.  The cost broke down as follows:  paperback at Goodwill-$1.50:  circular corkboard made to place under a houseplant: 25 CENTS on sale at the Dollar Store. That was it (provided you already have a gluegun which is not very expensive).

I began by tearing pages out of the paperback, folding them several time longways, and taping the ends.

I then glued them in a circle along the edges of the corkboard.  (You can use other material--posterboard, foamboard, etc. for the wreath base.  I made another one of these and used the cardboard from an empty box of file folders.)  Once I completed the outer circle, I began another smaller circle inside the first until I had it nicely filled in.

Once I was done with the book pages, I took tan coffee filters, folded them longways also, and glued them in a circle in the center, making a little flower.  I finished it off with a small plastic pumpkin I had sitting in a

I recently bought a framed flower print on sale for $14 at Steinmart.  I loved the frame, but not the picture.  So, I took off the back and carefully removed it as well as the glass.  I then took the piece of cardboard inside and covered it using a glue gun with two beautiful (and cheap) pieces of cloth from Hobby Lobby and returned the covered cardboard to its frame.

Rush and Amos made the process more "interesting."

The last step was to glue the wreath onto the onto the framed fabric.  I was thrilled with the result!

This are my favorite kind of project--one that is cheap to do but looks more expensive than it really is and not homemade at all! 

Thanks to Manuela for inspiring this lovely wreath.  You can find her blog link at the beginning of this post, and I have also put her button on my sidebar.

More creations to come!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cats as Decore

Don't my sweet, beautiful little darlings just add so much to the house? 

They simply fit right in with the decore.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Things I've Learned About Marriage

With our wedding date only a little more than four months ago, I barely qualify as "married."  However, we've moved twice and spent an extended period in a hotel out-of-state for Britt's job.  We've driven thousands of miles as we looked for places to live and lugged all our worldly goods to Lawrenceville, Georgia, and then to Mississippi.  We've lived in a casino for twelve days.  We've adopted a (third) cat.  What followed our wedding was more like a series of intense team-building exercises than a cozy married life.  Late nights, hotel laundry, long drives, fast food, homes out of our price range, Penske trucks, new jobs, and airline delays.  I never imagined that these would be the words that would best sum up the start of my marriage.   As we have (finally) settled into our home, it has been easy to overlook the bad and see the insights I gained in the high stress of the first months.

My most humble advice is to:

1. Serve.  People are selfish.  I know I am.  So when you put two selfish people together, you often don't get a lot of serving.  Not to mention, how exactly does one "serve" a husband?  It sounds rather abstract and intimidating. I try not to overthink it and instead just do what I know how.  I make a point to serve Britt in small ways: fix his coffee in the evenings; hang up his clothes after work; pack up his work in the mornings.  My prayer is that my meager attemps will create in me a habit of service that will strengthen our marriage.

2.  Relax.  I spend a lot of time fixated on small, non-pressing tasks around the house during the evening when Britt is home. What's more important, enjoying my husband's company when he comes home from work, or flurrying around to clean up where he's scattered around his shoes...and keys...and the entire contents of his pockets?  Relax, I tell myself.  He always gathers them up himself, anyway.  (Just not always exactly when I want him to....)

3.  Zip it.  During frustrating situations (getting lost, being locked out of the house, losing car keys, etc.), I have caused countless problems by just not zipping it.  I had to say one more thing.  I had to have the last word.  And for what?  To prove I'm right?  To sound smart?  I have to ask myself, are those things really valuable when you are dealing with the one you love and when there is a problem to be solved?  I have to sometimes fight the mindset that it's "Me vs. Him."  In reality, it's the two of us versus whatever issue arises.

4.  Take a look in the mirror.  For every "flaw" I overlook in Britt, he overlooks at least the same number of imperfections in me.  Treating him like a project to complete assumes that I operate from a place of perfection, which I most certainly don't.  He treats his car like a dumpster, and he has to hear me whine about it.  Neither one of those is very desireable.

I'd say we're pretty even.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Empty Spaces and No Money

It's tough for a gal when she moves into a new house.  The first thing she (me) wants to do is go decorating crazy.  All the freshly painted blank walls.  The empty corners.  The vacant countertops.  The bare windows. 

I simply could not overlook this.

But as everyone knows, home decore ain't cheap.  I am not working right now, so a big "design budget" is obviously out of the question, and being a frugal girl myself, large chunks of money on most anything are not my style.  Britt has been very generous as our finances allow in letting me decorate our home.  However, there is only so far you can go without spending a fortune.  So I had to get creative without putting us into debt.  After all, we got cat mouths to feed. 

I managed to really improve the look of the house by using three simple steps:

Step 1.  Using items I already have.

I'm a really big believer in things being beautiful and functional.  I don't like tons and tons of knick-knacks.  A towel hung in this location is useful and pretty. Not only does the hanging towel add interest, but it can be switched out every few days to add a different pop of color, no money needed.

Here is another example of using items around the house to create functional decore.  I used a colandar I already had and filled it with a apples and pomagranates from my tree back home.  You can fill colandars/bowls you already have with colorful folded dishrags, fruit, or other miscellaneous items for instant and useful style.

Step 2. Creating my own decore.

A few dollars of embroidery floss, a little aida cloth, and an old picture frame turned into this little accent for the kitchen.

I've always loved putting wreaths indoors.  However, for whatever reason, wreaths are expensive.  So, I opted to make a few myself.  Keeping them simple and rustic lessened the cost and went along with my "simple, clean" theme (see step 3 below).  I got both wreaths, the embellishments, and a glue gun and glue sticks at Hobby Lobby for around thirty dollars, and I was very pleased with the results.

Step 3. Embracing a simple, clean look.

You always hear that "less is more," but it's always my instinct to "overdecorate" and put too much "stuff" into one area.  I'm always happier with my end result when I add one or two items to a space, and then just stop.

This example falls into the "clean look" category as well as the "use-stuff-I-already-had" category.  Here we have wedding reception decore recycled for a simple bathroom wall hanging.

Oh how I wanted to go nuts and fill this big wall.  In the end, three plain white plates was all I needed.  Simple. Beautiful.

The results of these three steps have been great.  And I can still afford the cat food.

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