Happy Holidays!

For some reason I’ve been thinking lately of my first Christmas home during college and then my second semester of school.

When I got back to the dorm, unpacking my new presents hauled from California to Virginia, a friend of mine from the debate team burst into my room in tears.

“Don’t you miss your Mommy?” she finally asked, swiping the tears from her cheeks.

Uh, not that much? It was hard to answer because yes, I missed my family who I did not see mid semester unless they came to the East Coast but also I was excited to be on my own, to experience college and debate and travel.

So we talked about our siblings instead and I recalled how my brother woke me up at six in the morning shouting “Santa came! Santa came!” and then, when I didn’t get out of bed (hey, college student habits!) he threw me my stocking which contained something solid and left a bruise.

“Hey,” my friend protested, “it’s cute he’s so excited! Little brothers are cute!”

“Little? No, my brother is 19…”

Just another Christmas at home.

This year was my first time having the parents at my house for Christmas Eve – we picked up Grandpa and made a stir fry for dinner before opening presents.

 PhotobucketIt was a wonderful, relaxing night and really feels full circle. From flying home for a few weeks, living out of a suitcase, to hosting in my home of three years.

I even shot a few videos in front of the tree for my colleagues and clients. It’s definitely “me” with the candles lit, thrift decor and a batch of 6 dozen cinnamon rolls ready to go in the oven.

PhotobucketMerry Christmas everyone!

Enjoying the Whole Holiday

After yesterday’s post on the FEMA zone home for the holidays, I started thinking about what we focus on most. Some people are a lot like me and focus on the one thing that isn’t done yet. Like sweeping the hallway and scanning papers and a few dozen bigger projects on my home to do list.

Sometimes we focus on the done things and that’s when bloggers might shove everything undone or imperfect into the basement of horrors and photograph their perfectly styled living room.

There is no right or wrong, only balance. Enjoy the beautiful things. Smell the roses that are still blooming in December as you rake up 100 gallons of leaves each week. But don’t be discouraged, this life isn’t a contest and she with the most creative holiday decor and least clutter will not win Queen of the Blogverse.

PhotobucketA few fun things to share today, mostly Christmas related for those of you finding my site with the search term “christmafication” 🙂

Even though the leaves are still falling and piling up outside the front door, the trees are almost bare.

PhotobucketThis doesn’t even touch on the pile in the backyard and the layers still covering the backyard. Sigh. City of trees has its downsides.

But I’ve got my cheery welcome wreath and the Santa sign I love, plus the hallway mirror all decked out:

PhotobucketAfter playing around with my camera for a few hours I got a series of shots of the tree that I love!

PhotobucketWhile I don’t have a lot of Christmafication going on in the guest room, there is some holiday spirit happening.

PhotobucketNow, I don’t mean to give away any presents but let me tell you, one of the easiest things to do is combine beautiful simple pieces, candles and ornaments and shoot at night. See?

PhotobucketThe house is still a bit FEMA worthy but steady progress over 6 hours yesterday made a big dent in the mess. Of course I stopped for supplies halfway through so then I had to put things away. Do you ever find you just need different solutions?

I bought these big plastic bins for under the kitchen sink. They’re much easier to move and clean than the cardboard box I’d been using for the last 4 years:

PhotobucketI get most of these from the dollar store and they’ve held up pretty well.

And what about all the unfinished projects and boxes of presents I’ve been referring to lately? Well, they’ve taken over the kitchen table and it’s my goal to have that cleaned up by next weekend. One step at a time.

PhotobucketOf course it’s impossible to get a good picture of all of the dogs, especially the small, squirmy ones, so here’s an archive pic of me Wilson getting in the spirit:

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When Your House Becomes a FEMA Zone

I know, I know, it’s the holiday season and thus our homes are supposed to rival Martha Stewart’s as we bake cookies in homemade aprons and cheerfully wrap presents with two foot long bows.

And sometimes it feels like every other house must be that way, at least all the ones in the blogs we follow and on Pinterest.

I surely hope no one thinks my house looks like that! Because for every moment of really clean, minimalistic decor like this:

There’s a thousand more moments that look like this:

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You see, everything is in a constant state of flux, December or not. Those cute candles? They burn down and need to be replaced meaning I almost always have a box out. And the ones that get finished up, those are being saved for a new project but in a quarter dozen places around the house. And dishes don’t self clean. Even clean clothes don’t put themselves away.

I know, Disney has deceived us with images of dancing dishes and animals that clean house.

So today, a week before Christmas and family arrives, I decided to get the house cleaned up and hopefully finish a few projects.

Here’s a peak at my to do list:

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Yes,  I write things down like “put on shoes” and “eat kiwis” – don’t judge me.

You might have noticed in the picture above that there’s also a bunch of food on the counter and the pantry is half emptied because yes, I also have ants.

Now, the most efficient way to get things done when you have a LOT to do is put on a movie. One that represents the long journey and struggle you have ahead of you.

Naturally, I chose Lord of the Rings. The complete trilogy. Extended Version.

It’s important you don’t choose a movie you haven’t see before because you want to move around a lot. Take things to other rooms. Vacuum without pausing the movie. Be able to move about freely.

My time is equally split between

  1. putting stuff away
  2. finding places for stuff
  3. cleaning

Of course it’s slow moving, getting cleaning supplies out, moving things to another room. Throwing a few things away like stale or ruined food (thank you ants..) but the most important thing is to steadily make progress. Don’t take too many breaks. Don’t sit down!

Keep moving.

I discovered some important things, like all those medium sized boxes I save in the garage are totes handy for sending presents. And spiders love my window sills. I found the floor in the kitchen has a ton of small vein like crevices and the dirt that settles into the cracks looks like it’s part of the pattern. It’s not.

Also, buying Magic Erasers in bulk on Amazon was one of my smarter decisions.

Thankfully 3 discs in, I’ve finally got the living room and kitchen to “not horrendous” meaning tomorrow there are more movies to watch and cleaning to do. Maybe I’ll post some after pictures. Either way, be assured that it’s completely natural to have a few disaster zones this time of year.

Christmafication – Living Room

Last weekend when my parents were in town with their truck we picked up a live tree. Let me tell you, having someone to hold it straight while it gets secured into the base makes all the difference in the world! I did the lights first while sorting all the ornaments and pulling some out for other projects.

PhotobucketJackson even got in on the Christmas tree picture action:
PhotobucketThe other dogs, alas, are far too wiggly to behave for such things.
I’ve got a lot of close up pics of the ornaments but I’ll spare you 🙂 Here’s just one of an old rocking horse I bought last year.

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The mantle was probably the first thing I did and previewed in this post. I started by covering the mantle with silver wrapping paper from Costco (I bought a huge roll two years ago) which serves to both protect the mantle from candle wax and it reflects back the lights.

I added a bunch of crystal, candles, pine cones and snowflakes and these great green votive holders:

PhotobucketThen, using this tutorial from (where else) Pinterest, I borrowed a metal hanger and made this fantastic wreath while watching a movie:

PhotobucketAll I did was add a ribbon and hang it from a command hook above the mantle mirror. Here’s the whole mantle:
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Finally, a shot of the whole room:

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Christmafication – Master Bedroom & Bath

So typically I don’t decorate my bedroom, or even the bathroom. But since I hope to have the bathroom remodeled by next year I wanted to make use of the counter before it gets replaced.

In addition to soap, a snowman lotion dispenser and lots of candles, I added the lighted garland and some random decorations.

I call this one “the year Santa got fabulous”

these little votive holders were $1 ea at Target and light up really nice:

In the bedroom I took the shelf Dad installed for me last year and cleaned it up, added a runner to catch the candle wax drippings and added decorations:

This is the picture that would be “done” except I broke the glass. Yeah, oops. So until I replace that it’s just hanging out but I LOVE how the candle light looks like it’s casting those shadows on the water.

And because I love Paul Nicklen and his stories about the leopard seals and other animals in the Artic:

p.s. see his amazing TED talk with pictures of these amazing animals here.

These candy cane candles (say that fast twice) are awesome, a little bit wobbly as they melt but fun:

And finally, this cloche jar and snow people:

Almost done editing pics for the living room post, there are so many good ones to share!

Christmafication – the Kitchen

I’m back with more holiday spiriting 🙂

First challenge was to clean the room and put away some of the “stuff” like notes on the fridge, boxing up the china I’m selling and cleaning the counter and sink.

I added these simple stars to the upper cabinets, they come from Wal-Mart:

In the past I’ve used walnuts hanging from ribbon but those are going in the living room this year. You can see behind the star my collection of Christmas salt & pepper shakers:

Decorating the table is always fun, for this table I layered a red satiny table runner,  green bamboo place mats, silver chargers and a white place setting with a small red bowl to keep it interesting. Right now I’m using a green napkin but if I can find red cloth napkins I’ll pick them up:

The centerpiece is a red glassy hand tray I got at Target after the season one year and I bunched up the green napkins and threw in a bunch of red and silver ornaments and candles to light up the table.

another shot:

I know, that picture is huge but it’s just so pretty….

Next up was decorating my china cabinet with candles, Christmas lights and all the random gold stuff I’ve picked up.

That’s the $3 platter I picked up on Black Friday at Salvation Army and the bird cage came from the consignment shop by my house, I want to say it was $10. Filled it with a bunch of cheapo gold globes, stars and lights.

Across the top of the china cabinet I did more lights and a stack of gold star boxes :


And just a bit of fun with this Santa shoe tree:

Finally, it wouldn’t be Christmas without hot spiced apple cider and some mixed drinks:

I’m still working on the living room, master bed & bath and adding some easy decor to the guest room. I don’t really do anything outside (also because my rain gutters are nearly falling off the house so no lights for me) so there’s plenty to decorate inside.

Christmafication – Bathrooms

I will completely blame this on my love of shiny objects but I started gathering ideas in October (on Pinterest of course) and decorating for Christmas.

And in my love and haste to have all sorts of holiday goodness I wanted to document just so I can refer back and do completely new things next year. Because I’m obsessive like that.

Let’s start with the most obvious place to decorate: the bathroom.

What’s that? You don’t like garland and tinsel and snowmen staring at you when you’re in the bathtub? Too damn bad. My tree is only so big can can only hold so many ornaments so adjacent rooms are fair game.

The before (aka every other month of the year):

I’ve already got the color scheme ready you see, blues and greens, silver mirrors and hardware and lots of white. Love it. So I clean up the bathroom first, sweeping and scrubbing and basically getting all the dust out. Then I can bring in the fun stuff.

Like this fun ornament hung with fishing wire:

then I add some extra candles and ornaments to jive with my color scheme in here (blue and green):

in this one I added a layer of bath salts so when the candle heats up it smells so good.

I love this tray, it’s a salad plate I found at Target and the top is blue with snowflakes but the bottom is bright neon green.

I’ll have pictures of the kitchen, master bedroom and mantle soon. I should have my Christmas tree up this weekend too!