Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Front Door Retrospective-Farewell to Fall & Halloween!

550_100906830Photo: BHG

Well, the pumpkins are gone and I’m ready to take down the last remnants of my Fall décor at the front door, and get ready for Christmas. But before I do that, I thought I’d share a few front door photos and memories from this past Fall with you.

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This was my Fall front entrance. Do you remember when I made this Fall arrangement? Click HERE to learn how easy it was.

I ended up spraying some of the pumpkins with a blast of bronze paint and later I used a few of the polka dot pumpkins for our Halloween party as well. To make a polka dot pumpkin, I simply put those sticky round labels (from any office supply store)  randomly over the pumpkin, sprayed a few coats of bronze paint, then I removed the round labels. 

Before:                                                              After:


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I placed this finished pumpkin on an urn at my ‘Edgar Allen Poe Halloween’ window. You can click HERE to see more photos from Halloween.

Very festive looking don’t you think?


Now, for the Halloween season. First,  I found some cheap black garland (yes, only $6.00 for 15 feet) and I bought three strands. They already had lights attached.

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I sprayed some of those plastic orange pumpkins black, filled them with dried moss, and hung some orange paper lanterns from the ceiling, all with fishing wire. Actually my Dad and I did this (I have the greatest Dad).


I kept my Fall garland over the door and simply tucked in some black tulle and red and black fake flowers. And with the addition of a skeleton head it was Halloween-ready.

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I snapped a picture right after. But for the actual party night, we added a few extra touches. 

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It’s hard to tell from this daytime shot, but those are two faux painted panels attached to the front of our house pillars. This makes it easy to staple black sheeting and enclose the front entrance if we want; this year we kept it open. Did I mention that we go kinda crazy at Halloween?


This is a picture taken at night without the flash. Sorry it’s so blurry but you get the idea. Here is one of the faux haunted house-looking panels next to one of the garden torches. We brought some of the torches out to the front yard and lit them on party night.

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And this is a picture of the very last party guests to leave our Halloween party. Can’t you see that wild and crazy werewolf glaze in their eyes…or, maybe that was just the tequila? Hard to say. But the night was so fun and worth every last minute of decorating!


One last funny story


Oh, and remember this guy? I have a funny “front-door” story about our life-sized Mr. Werewolf.

On Halloween night  Jim and I actually stayed home with a cozy fire and a glass of wine. For some reason, we’re normally not home on Halloween and it actually felt luxurious. Yep, that’s the word for it. Our days of trick or treating with the boys are a thing of the past. But we decided to have a little fun anyway, so we set up Mr. Werewolf behind our front pillar, added some additional tombstones and body parts, then we sat back to enjoy the reactions from the neighborhood kids.

Near the end of the evening, as we watched television in the family room, we heard one of the last groups approaching our house; it was a group of very loud, pre-teen boys. And there was lots of laughter and then a hushed quiet as they apparently approached our front door. Suddenly, the silence was broken by a shrill scream followed by two distinct words: “Holy SH#*!”

He had obviously just met our Mr. Werewolf.

Afterwards, I don’t know who laughed louder, us or the kids. Ah, it was a good ending to the Halloween season.

And now, it’s on to the magic of Christmas …..Are you ready?





Monday, November 28, 2011

Things that are on my mind…


I’m thinking about Pulling out the Christmas decorations…

christmas-fireplaces-1-l southernlivingphoto: googleimages

and…paperwhites for the mantel

For tips on how to force bulbs you can click HERE.

p_BHG145215Photo: BHG

I’m thinking about…Red and White Toile Christmas Stockings…

photo:martha stewart

and Garland and greenery for the front entrance…

Country_Living_mini_tree Photo: Home Goods

I’m thinking about A smaller tree…

imagesCAZEA9HVPhoto: Country Living

or staying with a big tree?

1 tiny prints

photo: Tiny Prints

I’m thinking about our family photo for this year’s Christmas cards…

Did you already take yours? Check out Tiny Prints for more ideas…

(thinking of skipping your card this year? make a simple one instead and hear about Christmas card etiquette here.)


Eiffel Tower  & Tan Gift Wrap Ensemble 001


photo: a gift wrapped life

I’m thinking about …Collecting pretty ribbon and paper on sale…

(for lots of beautiful ideas on gift-giving just visit a gift wrapped life)

scandinavian_chic_entryway scandinavian chicPhoto: Scandinavian Chic

I’m thinking about…Cleaning up the house after a busy Thanksgiving weekend…



and I’m thinking about my latest juicy book read, Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews.

I just started it this weekend. To read Rolling Stone’s interview with the author go HERE


How about you… what’s on your mind as you enter the last week in November?



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Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

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I hope you all had a safe and happy Thanksgiving day with those closest to you. I snapped a few shots of my Thanksgiving table colors this year, but I wished I would have gotten a picture of that gorgeous looking 24 pound turkey. This year I tried something different. Roasted turkey with a hazelnut-prosciutto crust. It was a recipe from the Epicurious website and it was a definite success. Hazelnuts and prosciutto are combined in a seasoned butter and slathered over the turkey as it roasts, then added to the gravy for a rich, hearty flavor. Unfortunately, my camera was nowhere to be found at the moment when the oven door opened. But in case you’re curious here is the RECIPE.

This year I chose colors that were unusual for me. No beloved orange in sight. Instead, I found a gold toned fabric remnant that was my inspiration.


Only once I got it on my table, I saw that it was a little short. My solution? I hot glued some bronze/ deep brown ribbon to the edges.

Remember all my miniature orange pumpkins from Halloween?


They got a coat of gold from a spray can. I used the pretty I Am Thankful downloads from the Silverbox Creative website and if you look closely, you can see that I attached two labels that read, I am Thankful for and the guest’s name. These pumpkins were the place cards at each setting. When each guest sat down they received the personal message that they are truly appreciated.

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This is a shot before the table is completely set, but it gives you an idea. Simple white plates and wine goblets with blue stems. Cranberry and rust-colored napkins coordinated with the deep scarlet eucalyptus, bright red and lavender flowers.

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I also made little strips that read I am Thankful for…

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Here is a close up picture. I placed them on a silver tray and after dinner, I passed them around. Instead of asking everyone to write something down, I kept it casual and simply asked for anyone’s thoughts.



And guess what? Everyone actually joined in. And I have to admit, I didn’t know if that would happen. I started off by sharing a few things that I felt truly thankful for these days, but I made it totally optional and it was such a lovely surprise to have everyone say something.

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And now that Thanksgiving is over… I need to remember this quote by John F. Kennedy:


As we express our gratitude,

we must never forget that the highest appreciation

is not to utter words,

but to live by them.


Have a wonderful day my friends!



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Monday, November 21, 2011

Gratitude on Thanksgiving: How to teach our kids

3054664103_dbbc66c47e_z[1] (2)-giving thanks

Photo: jenna nelson photography

A day to role model for our kids… about counting our blessings

Thanksgiving is almost here and soon we’ll all be sitting down at our dinner tables to enjoy our annual feast of turkey and stuffing. We will be spending time with our families and friends on a holiday that’s completely focused on one value: gratitude. So it’s the one time of the year when this topic can be easily slipped into our discussions, without the sense of it being completely corny, artificial or ‘forced.’  As a mom of teenagers, I love this fact. That’s because I happen to believe that being thankful for what we have at any given moment is the key to living a great life, and I want my kids to learn this.

As a parent, it’s a challenge. How do you teach your children the meaning of gratitude, so that it’s not simply some polite, intellectual idea, but an actual behavior they can practice in their lives? Because my humble motherly hope is this: someday when my boys are launched and living their own grown-up lives, I want them to know the emotional affects that happen when you slow down and reflect on the smallest, easy-to-take-for-granted things in your life.

Even in tough times I want my kids to have the deeply engrained ability to appreciate what they have in the moment, and to know the difference in value between “material things” and people. Because we are always fortunate, even lucky to have material stuff, but we are truly blessed when we have real things in our lives of substance; such as a loving, warm family. Sincere, supportive relationships. People in your life that you can trust and turn to during tough times. Personal integrity. A spiritual life.

And in case you didn’t realize, the field of psychology has confirmed that practicing gratitude has positive effects on your physical body and your mental health.

Research on Gratitude-   Robert Emmons a professor from the University of California at Davis has confirmed how the simple act of keeping a gratitude journal makes you more optimistic, improves your heart rhythms and sleep, and reduces physical symptoms such as headaches and colds.  Click HERE for more information.

Begin with You (What do your kids see?)

There are no easy shortcuts to teaching the value of gratitude, and certainly nothing magical will happen after only one day. Values are internalized over time and the most powerful teachers are parents. I recently stumbled on to a website that offered a quickie Thanksgiving and Gratitude Quiz that I found provocative for one reason. It made me stop and reflect on MY feelings and the associations I have with Thanksgiving. It reminded me that our kids come to their own conclusions about a particular holiday based on what they “see” and experience around them.

You can follow this link to read about this short Thanksgiving-Gratitude Quiz.

But in the meantime, let’s try this quickie gratitude test.

Take this test

Imagine your version of the “perfect” Thanksgiving dinner. If you’re like me chances are that you’ve spent some time and energy into making your table look special and pretty. There is a pretty centerpiece and your nice dishes and possibly you’ve bought a new tablecloth. You’ve also spent time in grocery lines, poured over your recipes and cleaned your home.

So of course, you’re expecting this:


Now close your eyes.

And whatever lovely, perfect image you had of your upcoming Thanksgiving dinner….let it GO.

It’s all about the expectations

That’s right. That perfect Thanksgiving dinner that you’re hoping for?  Let it all go.

Instead, expect that the turkey cooks slowly and some of the food gets cold. Expect that your most difficult relative says something rude. And expect that the kids are bickering though out the day.

And imagine that you are perfectly happy with it all. And that you’re still feeling grateful. Because the truth is, it’s all about expectations. If you stop expecting perfection you’ll be able to feel thankful for what you actually have. You’ll be happier.

And what about all your hard work? The lovely tablescape you sweated over and perfected?  The answer? Be grateful for your sense of generosity to others. If you took pains to make things special for your Thanksgiving guests, you can be grateful for your values of family, and home and tradition. You’re a wonderful role-model.

And what about that rude comment? Ask yourself this one question about your outrage: Did I really expect something different? And if so, WHY?  Maybe it’s time to stop being surprised when our difficult relatives keep acting the same way. I’ve found that once I stop reacting to ‘the same old thing,’ I’m also able to see the other person more clearly. Because the deeper truth is, that a consistently ‘difficult’ person is suffering in some way. It’s something to think about, don’t you agree?

Now here are some pretty ideas I’ve collected for you that you might incorporate into you Thanksgiving day.

I hope you enjoy these.

Pretty things with an important message


Website: style me pretty

This photo actually shows a “wishes” tree that is often used at weddings, but can easily become a tree filled with messages of gratitude. Simple tags are provided in a basket for guests to write down something they’re thankful for, and then they slip it on the tree. Click HERE for some easy DIY directions for your family’s own thanksgiving tree.



Here each guest gets a special thank you written on a scroll and left at their place setting

river rocks with messageThanksgiving%20centerpiece%20from%20rocks,%20pots%20and%20moss%20(BHG) poshposh

photo: google images, BHG

 Flat river rock are transformed into personal messages. Afterwards, you can place these on a platter amid simple candles.

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Photo: the apartment therapy

This idea of a Thanksgiving altar appeared on the Apartment Therapy website. Basically, you create an area where objects of special meaning are placed. Thanksgiving guests can add a photo or small object that expresses gratitude for someone, or something, or even a  situation going on in their life. Examples might be a recent wedding photo to celebrate the addition of a new family member, or even a business card that represents a first job or new business venture. If a family member is absent for any reason, you might include their photo as a loving gesture.

countryliving photo idea

photo: country living

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Photo: stylelist

Another version of a Thanksgiving Gratitude tree that is filled with handwritten tags that express thankfulness.


No time for a tree?

Provide a basket or bowl and some paper. After dinner the bowl can be passed around and guests can read and try to figure out who wrote each tag. This is a nice way to initiate a different kind of  “sharing” at your Thanksgiving table.


Looking for beautiful tags? These can be downloaded for free if you click HERESilver box creative website invites readers to use these strips for napkin rings, tags for branches of trees or as a conversation piece. Here they are printed on kraft paper. I love these as chains hanging from a gratitude tree.


Well, I hope I gave you some things to think about. Remember, if you begin to get too stressed, you can always go on a Gratitude Walk.

Have a great wonderful day my friends!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why I Pray to the Blessed Mother


Hi friends, today I posted on my God and Coffee blog. To read about this topic please follow THIS link.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ideas for your Thanksgiving Table

thanksgiving-centerpiece ivillage

photo: ivillage

Hello friends. Are you having your family over for Thanksgiving this year?

Please don’t stress, because there are so many ways to create lovely tables that are affordable and quite simple to do; I’ve got some inspirational pictures to share that will provide you with lots of ideas for your centerpieces and color schemes. Only please be warned. After being around so much of my Halloween decor, I’m feeling a bit tired of the orange/rust palette so I’ve chosen a few non-traditional color schemes as well. By the way, don’t you love the simplicity of a wooden plank in the middle of this table? Just layer some candles, pumpkins, gourds, and grapes and you have a pretty centerpiece that would also work well on a buffet table.


Photos: BHG, Pottery Barn

I’m loving the use of so much white on these tables. And I like the idea of bringing in grasses for a different and dramatic centerpiece. Hmm…I want those wicker and glass vases!

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Photo: Martha Stewart

For more formal settings I like these gold pumpkins paired with blue. What a refreshing change. A cheap can of spray paint is one of my most reliable friends. And do you notice how simple the place card is? A thin gold ribbon tied to a piece of hand-written cardstock and a pumpkin…written with a gold-colored pen of course. For a selection of ultra thin ribbon and wire, don’t forget to check out the jewelry aisle at places like Joann’s  or Michael’s Crafts Stores.


A white tablecloth is a perfect backdrop for fresh fruits and votive candles. If you’re short on materials you can stick to a dominate color for the center of your table. Here, sage green and golden hues pop against the white. Add a contrasting taupe ribbon for your napkins and you have a understated, classic look.


Kumquats, nuts, and grapes are easy to assemble…


I personally love the pairing of purple and brown right now, especially with the orange & rust colored leaves as an accent. You could press your own leaves and use a gold paint pen to write each guest name on a single leaf and place at each setting. Pressing leaves is so easy, after you pick them off a tree (while they’re still soft) just stick them under a pile of books-- otherwise, use fake ones. I recently saw some realistic ones at Joann’s Craft Store.


Here are some DIY placemats that are painted to look like a white birch tree. What an eye-popping table! For complete DIY instructions for these placemats or this colorful centerpiece you can visit the The Wedding Chicks blog HERE.


If you’re in the mood for some scissors,  stencils and cardstock, you can create your own message for your table. In this BHG photo it looks like strips of cardstock were hot glued around basic white candles. You choose your message and then with stencils, you simply trace and cut out the words. Then glue the letters to the cardstock.


This photo shows you how with a simple stamp and ribbon, you can personalize your napkin holder.


Do you like the shape of this vase? Did you know that Home Depot has cheap, silver paint buckets that can be covered with fabric or wrapped in burlap for a similar look? Check out the paint aisle for these.


And in this Country Living photo, a lone feather adds pizazz to a common place card.

Before I leave you, here are some fresh pomegranates and persimmons that look wonderful next to branches that you could cut from your backyard; simply lay them in the middle of your table alone, or alongside a vase with some red-hued flowers and berries.


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Photos: Google Images

Do you have any wooden crates or big wooden bowls around? Try adding some candles, pumpkins, gourds and fresh parsley and you have another natural-looking centerpiece; place this on top of a rich paisley runner and it really completes the look.

Well, have I given you any ideas for your Thanksgiving table?

I hope so, and don’t forget to check back as I explore ways to inject the concept of Gratitude into your dinner table.

Thank you so much for stopping by!

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