Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Card Display Ideas

I heart receiving Christmas cards.  It is probably one of my most favorite things about the holiday season!  I think that may be why I got so excited over our own cards this year.  There is just something really special about opening a Christmas card from a friend or family member.  Plus, let's face it, as adults, it's nice to find something other than a bill in the mail.

                                                 Source: via Carmel (@ Our Fifth House) on Pinterest

Everyone sends something different.  Lots of people do photo cards.  Some cards are funny and some are sweet.  Regardless, they make me smile.  The idea that this tradition has been around forever warms my heart.  In an age where people are now reading novels on a hand held computer screen (cringe) and sending birthday wishes via facebook, twitter, or text message; I'm really glad that we still take the time to order/buy, address, and send out a Christmas card.  I hope that tradition continues for many, many years to come.

Because I love them so much, I like to display them.  Last year I used a couple of apothecary jars on a side table.  I liked that look, but this year I wanted to ensure that every card gets some face time.  I strung up a little crochet chain that I made with 2 different yarns and some twine (if you want to learn how to make a crochet chain go here -it's easy I promise) with some clothespins on one of my kitchen windows.

This is so simple and easy!

I have yet to receive any cards just yet, so I hung up a few Santa pics from previous years.

You can all rest assured that I stopped the torture last year.  No more Santa pics for the Phillips kids, so everyone can breath easy now.  ;)

There are lots of other creative ways to display your cards.  Here are a few ideas that I really love!

                                                          Source: via Carmel (@ Our Fifth House) on Pinterest

                                                          Source: via Carmel (@ Our Fifth House) on Pinterest

                                                          Source: via Carmel (@ Our Fifth House) on Pinterest

                                                               Source: via Carmel (@ Our Fifth House) on Pinterest

This last idea is from Cassie at Hi Sugarplum! and it's a great way to add some holiday cheer to your kitchen!

                                                    Source: via Carmel (@ Our Fifth House) on Pinterest

So what do you do with your Christmas cards?  Anyone else get giddy when they see the mail man in their neighborhood?

*P.S.  Dear Kindle and Nook readers - don't be mad -  I still love you!  I'm just never giving up my books.  It's a personal choice that every reading lover has to make.  ;)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Joyful Wreath

Tuesday is in the house!  I told you I love the week after Thanksgiving.  I can't help my happy or should I say joyful mood.

I'm not really a wreath person.   I think they're pretty, but the desire to craft one is usually just not there for me.  I see beautiful wreaths and great tutorials all over blogland.  Sometimes I'll even decide that maybe I can follow the steps and make one myself.  I'll start reading a tutorial and then quickly realize two things:  1. This is going to take more time than I want to spend.  2.  I don't have the skills or patience required.  So, I typically wait for them to go on sale and just buy one.

That is what I had planned to do for the big window in my kitchen.  Then I started cleaning out my boy's closet and stumbled across a vest and shirt that no longer fit him.  He wore this combo for all of our dressy occasions last Christmas, so these items held some special memories for me.  Unfortunately he had not only outgrown them, but they were also a little too worn.  The vest had a small hole, and the shirt had a stain.

Still I couldn't let these items go, so I decided to turn my memories into pure joy.  I can't help the wording. It just keeps coming out cheesy like this today.  ;)

From this

to this

in 15 minutes!  WOOT!

Want a tutorial?

BAM!  You can do this!  Anyone can!  It won't take foreva and it will be easy!  Pinky bestest friendship!  I don't just throw the pinky around, so you know I'm serious. ;)

While I didn't get the hot glue gun in on the little photo collage tutorial, you will need one.  One other tip - You may want to use an old sweater instead of a vest or at least maybe not a kids-sized vest.  Apart from that, all you do is just wrap your wreath form and hot glue.  I then cut strips from the back of the shirt just leaving the edges raw and wrapped them around the wreath.  The wreath then became the "o" in joy after I hot glued on a wooden "j" and "y".

In addition to being super easy to make, it was also quite inexpensive.  It cost about $5 - thanks to a 50% off sale at the Hob Lob!  I believe that deserves a double woot - WOOT WOOT!

Oh yeah and guess what else?  I had some left over material, so I whipped up a little cozy for my grocery store poinsettia.

Just cut, wrap, and hot glue.  Three steps to total cuteness!

Mr. Brassy is from Arhaus.  It's the only thing I can afford to buy from that store.  ;)

So, if you need a little joy in your life all you need is 15 minutes, a hot glue gun, some old clothes, and a few craft supplies.

Are you getting joyful this holiday season?

**  I'm linking up at HiSugarplum! and joining in the Christmas Cheer in the Blogosphere Link Parties!
and also at Thrifty Decor Chick

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bringing Red to the Table

Hello Monday!  I know most people were sort of dreading today after the nice long weekend, but I'm excited for the week ahead!  I love the first week after Thanksgiving, and I always have.  It's so fun to watch the changes being made around the neighborhood as people start to decorate their homes for the holidays.  I love seeing the outdoor decor, but I really love getting a glimpse of the Christmas tree inside.  I just enjoy driving around and seeing a little sparkle as I pass by.

                                                                           Source: via Hawlie on Pinterest

In the middle of getting my own Christmas sparkle on I decided to tackle another project.  Why not add more crazy to the mix?  I wanted to create a little better flow from the family room to the kitchen.

The walls colors contrast.  While I don't feel like every room in my home needs to be painted the same color, I do want the rooms to flow, especially in areas where the rooms are open to each other.  One of the things I love about this house is that the kitchen is open to the family room, but you don't see the "working" part of the kitchen.  All you see is the eating area from the family room. Since clearly I like the color red, I thought bringing in a little red (emphasis on little) to the table would be an easy way to create a visual flow between the two spaces.  So, off to the fabric store I went.  It's like a candy shop for me, so I have to make a list.  I wrote down with a black sharpie - ONLY BUY 1/2 YARD!  With Christmas shopping at the top of my priority list right now, I didn't want to shell out a bunch of money on this project.  I stuck to the plan and bought just 1/2 yard, which cost me $10, of a fabric that I loved at first sight.

It's an ikat.  Go figure.  I only recovered the chairs at the head of the table.  I stood back and thought, "The other chairs need something too."

This is just a "test" pic.  I did actually recover the chairs,  but I forgot to take another picture.  Oops!

So, I decided to paint the fabric.

I taped off two lines with Scotch Blue tape with edge lock.  I just eyeballed it, and the stripes look decent (but most certainly not prefect).  It's all good.  I'm not that in to perfection, and I was going for more of a hand stamped look anyway.  At least that's the story I'm going with now.

I used craft paint mixed with a little fabric medium and a sponge brush to fill in the lines.

You know you love my leopard slippers that my dad bought me for my birthday!

Yay for stripes!

Then I stood back again.  This time I thought, "Well, that's good but still something's missing."  So, I busted out the alphabet stencils.  Everyone has alphabet stencils in their craft closet right?!

I used a small stencil brush and made sure not to overload my brush with paint.  It's best with stenciling to use an almost dry brush.  It took me 2 chairs to finally figure out the right spacing.  Live and learn - that is how it goes with most random-not-super-well-thought-out diy projects.  Like I said before, perfection is most definitely not my middle name.

Considering that my kitchen chairs are really just glorified crumb catchers for my little peeps, I'm thinking this will work!

You really only see the words when the chairs are pulled out from the table, but they make me smile when I see them!  This was a really inexpensive way to transform our kitchen eating area, and bringing in a little red to the table does create a nice flow between the two rooms.  I never snapped a pic from the family room so you'll just have to trust me on that for now.  It was looking like a hot mess with boxes and bins of Christmas decor splattered all over the place.  I thought I'd spare you.

So, how was your Thanksgiving weekend?  Did anyone randomly decide to redo their kitchen chairs?

*Linking up at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Primitive and Proper, Savvy Southern Style, At the Picket Fence, Home Stories A to Z, Thrifty Decor Chick, Miss Mustard Seed, The Shabby Nest, Fingerprints on the Fridge, Chic on a Shoestring

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Card Plan B

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We had two great feasts; one on Wednesday night and one on Thursday.  I just love having a fridge full of leftovers when I didn't cook a single thing!

Wednesday before we headed to my mother-in-law's house, I decided that we should take advantage of the warmish weather and get our family Christmas picture done.  We all got dressed in the outfits I planned for us to wear and got outside just in time for the sun to start setting.  Grrrr!  I had this idea for my daughter to hold a bunch of balloons and my son to hold a chalkboard with the message - Happy Birthday Jesus.  I had the whole thing planned, so how could it end up being a total flop?  Well, the sun was going down, and the lighting in my backyard isn't great.  I was only able to salvage one decent photo out of the numerous shots we snapped.

I call this photo decent because you didn't see the others.  ;)   I did my best to make it work and was all set to use this not-great-but-not-bad photo on our Christmas cards.  Then I went online to order and the photo wouldn't fit in any of the cards I liked from Snapfish, Shutterfly, or Tiny Prints.  I'd have to crop the photo to make it work and that would either cut off the balloons or the chalkboard.  I'm not even going to tell you how much time I wasted trying to figure out what to do.  We don't really have the time to take another photo, and at this time of year the weather is hit or miss for an outdoor photo session anyway.  So, I decided to scrap the original idea and just put together a little collage of photos from throughout the year.  Once I decided to do this, I had the cards done and ordered in less than 30 minutes!  Plan B was easy, simple, and ended up being better than Plan A.  

I love this card!  I put it together using Picasa - text and clip art via Picnik.  I used a picture of my ikat stencil wall as the background.  Then I just layered on a few of my favorite pics from the year.  I ordered a plain 5x7 flat card from Tiny Prints taking advantage of their Black Friday sale and free shipping promo!

I'm pretty excited to get one of the big things crossed off my list.  Do you send photo cards?  Did any of you score any great Black Friday deals?  None of the items I really wanted were going to be on sale, so I decided to skip the hoopla this year.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Last Thanksgiving

Hey friends!  I'm just popping in today to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!  I'm so very thankful for all of the sweet people I've "met" since I started this little blog.  I never posted any pictures from last year's Thanksgiving because I didn't really fully commit to the blog until January of this year.  I guess you could say I was only half in until last January.  I thought a short trip down memory lane would be fun!

Is that not the sweetest pilgrim you've ever seen?!  

Last year, I put up a tree of thanks in our entry foyer.  This is the first year I haven't decorated a fall tree.  I gave our old trees to goodwill back in the summer, and I just bought a new one last week.  I didn't want to decorate a fall tree that would only be up for a week, but I'm pretty sure the tradition will carry on next year.  It's amazing how much has changed over the past year.  This area of my home looks nothing like this now. 

When you ask a Kentucky boy to take care of the bird, he gets the job done right.  The hubs smoked our turkey last year and let me tell you- it. was. good!!!  

This year, I'm not hosting, not setting a table, not cooking one single thing (except for the pumpkin cupcakes I just pulled out of the oven for my seester-n-law's 40th birthday), but I will be eating a lot and enjoying this special time with my family! 

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  My favorite part is the stuffing.  What's your favorite part of the meal?  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Winter Skin Care

Once upon a time I wore a white lab coat to work.  No, I wasn't a scientist.  I used to work at the Clinique counter.  I was also a manager for Origins.  Let me see if I can make a long story short.  I realize that would be a first for me.

After earning a BA in business and going into finance, I had a minor early-life crisis.  I worked like a dog to get my series 7, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was way too young to hate my job.  I didn't have a car payment at the time, and thanks to my dad's awesome advice I had zero college debt.  I might have a BA from a state school instead of a fancy UC school, but the state paid for half of my college tuition (it pays to get good grades in high school) and my dad could afford to pay the rest.  I graduated in four years, and I didn't owe anyone a single cent.  At 23 I was a college grad and newly married.  I was also hating my work life.  So, I decided to get a fun job that would allow me the flexibility to go back to school for a Masters in Education.  I wanted to be a middle school math teacher.    I had only completed one class when we moved out of state for a job promotion the hubs was offered.  I thought about starting another program in Virginia, but I found out that I actually really liked working in cosmetics.  What?  Huh?  It was quite the surprise to me too!

Working for Clinique and later Origins, both of which are a part of the Estee Lauder companies, was a great experience.  Both companies provided great training.  I learned a lot about skin care during my time there.  In fact, I think I would have eventually moved away from sales and became a trainer if I had continued my employment.  When my son was born, I found my true career.  I never looked back.  However, if you ever lose track of me at the mall it is a safe bet you'll find me in the cosmetics department.  I like Sephora too, but trust me when I tell you the peeps that work in the cosmetics departments are better trained.  Shop Sephora when you know what you want; shop Macy's or Nordy's when you need some questions answered before you purchase.

So much for making a long story short.  I tried people.  Really I did.  I just felt like I needed to give you some background info before I get up on my skin care soapbox.  ;)

Winter makes many things look really beautiful.

                                                       Source: via Diane on Pinterest

The drawback is it tends to make our skin feel less than beautiful.

                                                                       Source: via Dolly on Pinterest

The best tip I have for your winter skin care is one word - exfoliate.

Most people tend feel like their skin is dry or drier than normal during the winter months.  The weather and the heat in our homes has a tendency to suck out the moisture.  Typically when you feel dry you reach for a moisturizer.  I think most women use some kind of facial moisturizer everyday .  However, many women (and this applies to men too) find themselves feeling like what they are already using isn't getting the job done when winter rolls in, so they find themselves in the market for a new/better moisturizer.  Well, I'd like to change your thinking.  When you think your skin is dry and you need a better moisturizer, more often than not all you need to do is exfoliate.  Your moisturizer isn't working because it can't do its job.  It can't get through that layer of (don't freak out) dry, dead skin cells.  Your skin needs a little extra help getting that layer off during the winter.  In diy terms  -   Your moisturizer wants to act like a stain on wood (skin) but it can't do that if you've got a layer of primer (dead skin cells) on your face.

Okay, so most people think exfoliation equals scrubs, but that is just one form.  I'm a fan of the 7 day scrub cream from Clinique, but there are a number of great facial scrubs out there.
                                                                              Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

Skin care is not a one size fits all; every ones skin is a little different.  More sensitive skin types should really only use a scrub once or twice a week.  I use mine every other day.  I would stick to scrubs that are grainy and not too coarse.  Whatever scrub you choose, use it regularly.  Whether you're a once-a- weeker or an every-dayer, your skin wants you to stick to a routine.  It doesn't like it when you only scrub every now and again.  Also, be gentle.  Scrubbing your skin is not like scrubbing a pan.  Treat your skin nicely and she'll be nice right back to you.

The other form of exfoliation is chemical.  I'm a big fan of salicylic acid.  It's the best for over the counter use.  The bonus is that it doesn't make your skin more sensitive to sunlight like some other chemical exfoliants can.  Clinique's Clarifying Lotions are great for a twice daily chemical exfoliation.  I use the #2 morning and night after cleansing and before moisturizing.

                                                                      Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

Last but not least is a new favorite of mine that I just had to share with you!

Clinique's Turnaround Overnight is an exfoliating cream that also moisturizes!  Jackpot!  It's an overnight cream, and it is awesome!  It is $44.50 and worth every penny!  You only need to use a little bit (think less than a dime size) and only at night, so it lasts for a good long while.

So in a nutshell, if you aren't exfoliating you need to start.  If you're doing it already make sure you're diversifying.  You know, like don't just use one form of exfoliation.  Ideally, you should be manually exfoliating (scrubs) and using some form of chemical exfoliation.  I just wanted to share this with you because the winter weather can be quite harsh on your skin.  While you're decking the halls, trimming the tree, and holiday shopping don't forget to spend a few minutes on you.  That way you can put your best face forward.  ;)  It just came out -I couldn't stop myself.

I wasn't paid to write this post.  These are just my personal opinions of products that I love and use.  However, if they wanted to pay me ........

Do you have any tried and tested winter skin care tips?   What works for you?

Linking up at Home Stories A to Z

Monday, November 21, 2011

Adventures in Making My Own Chalk Paint

Happy Monday!  It's a short week, so it's a very happy Monday!  I just got back from a nice long weekend trip with my family.  I'm feeling refreshed and ready to eat some turkey.  How was your weekend?  Did any of you go see Breaking Dawn?  I'm going tomorrow night with some friends, and I can't wait!!!

Enough chit chat, let's get to the adventures shall we?  First off, do you know Sherry from No Minimalist Here?  Well, she is the genius behind my adventure in making chalk paint.  She actually found three different ways to make your own version, and you can read all about it right here.

I had this console table behind my sofa in my family room.  I never loved it there mainly because it was a black table against a dark brown leather sofa on a black floor.  Basically it just looked really heavy and dark.  You almost couldn't even see the table.  Take a look for yourself.

I had already removed the accessories in the above picture but you get the disappearing table idea, right?  It's like where's waldo.  This Pier 1 table that I purchased years ago was the right size though, and I liked the shape.  The easiest way to change the look would be with paint.  And that's how this adventure began.

I wanted to avoid priming mainly because I wanted to distress the table to have a little of the black show through.  I had a specific shade of blue in mind for this table, and the real chalk paint didn't come in this color.  I'll be honest though, I mainly just wanted to see if Sherry's version of chalk paint would really allow me to skip priming.  Considering that her version would only cost me $6, I figured it was worth the experiment.  So, I picked up some Plaster of Paris at Lowe's and began making my own chalk paint.

There is no specific formula, and as I mentioned before Sherry found that there are 3 different ways you can make your own paint.  I chose the Plaster of Paris route because it was the easiest thing to find.  I would say I mixed about 2 parts paint to 1 part Plaster of Paris.  The more P of P you use the more of a chalky look you will get.  The paint will thicken up a bit.  If it gets too thick you can add a little water, but I never had to do this.  I did notice that you have to mix really really well.  In fact, I'd recommend using a whisk to mix instead of a wooden stir stick.  Whisking it in will make it mix together very smoothly.

The first coat I did was a light blue-grey.  I did not sand first, and I did not prime.  After the first coat was dry, I used a little gold rub 'n buff on the edges.

It worked!  The paint stuck without priming or sanding, and it distressed beautifully!

This was not the color I was trying to achieve though, so I mixed in a little craft paint in phthalo blue.  I just added it right into to my homemade chalk paint and mixed.

Again, this wasn't the "right" color.  So, I mixed in a different shade of blue craft paint - navy blue.

 I was working at night, so I decided to wait until morning to access the color situation.

I woke up to this.

Nope, still not the color of blue I was trying to achieve.  It was time to mix up a new batch of homemade chalk paint.  I grabbed the navy paint I used on my son's bedroom ceiling, and added another coat of paint to the table.

Ahhhh, finally I'd found the right color.  Then I distressed the edges allowing the different shades of blue to peak through in areas and also some of the original black color.  I love the worn edges.

There are even a few hints of the gold rub 'n buff showing through!  I applied 2 coats of satin polycrylic to finish.

I'm in love!  You can actually see the table now!  I wanted the color on this table to match the color of these old books.

It was an adventure trying to get to the right shade of blue but it was worthwhile.

I love this blue against the brown leather sofa.  This combination of colors is one of my favorites - brown, blue, red, and black.

I'm really glad I decided to try Sherry's version of chalk paint.  It was easy to mix and use; and let's not forget how inexpensive it is compared to the real thing.  It only cost me $6!!!  I only had to buy the P of P since I already had the paint.  I've never used the real chalk paint, so I'm not going to say that this was better.  What I will say is that it gave a chalky finish and allowed me to skip priming.  Holla!  Sorry, but that deserved a  - Holla!  You know it did!  In addition it was very easy to distress.  I'm also loving that you can make any color you want since the real chalk paint only comes in a few shades.  The homemade version just gives you an alternative.

Have any of you tried making your own chalk paint?

Linking up at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern Style, Home Stories A to Z, Thrifty Decor Chick

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