Monday, December 21, 2009

Flower Frog Fun

Over this past summer I purchased a milk glass flower frog at a yard sale. Flower frogs seem to be plentiful at yard sales, antique stores and flea markets and as a bonus, are very inexpensive. I didn't really have a plan for how I was going to use it, so it has been sitting in my closet ever since. The other day I decided to pull it out and came up with these fun ideas. A colored pencil holder for my desk.

A birthday candle holder. I like the idea of placing the flower frog with the candles on top of a cake stand on which you could put cupcakes, cookies or other treats.
A card display. Here are a few of my vintage Valentines Day cards. I used paper wrapped floral wire and bent the end into a circle to form the end to hold the card. This would also work for photos, small art work, etc.
Of course, a flower holder, the original purpose of the flower frog.
A Christmas decoration of simple greens. (Sorry these are looking a bit dry.)Finally, a lollipop holder. How fun would this be for a child's birthday party!

I had some other ideas as well including candy canes, small flags, knitting needles and even a fruit kabob holder. If you have other ideas for using a flower frog I would love to hear them!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Wish Granted

One of the observances I have made over the years with my children is how important the little things in life are to them. A phone call on their birthday, a letter in the mail, or a surprise package all make them feel so special. It isn't the monetary value of the item, it is the fact that someone remembered them. So a goal of mine this year is to do more "surprises" not only for my own kids but for all the special people in my life.

When my sister and I were talking about Christmas, she told me she was having an impossible time fulfilling her oldest son's only wish. I came up with an idea to help and made him this pillow.
You see, her six year old son is obsessed with stop lights. He dressed up as a stop light for Halloween (complete with working lights) and wants nothing more than a stop light for Christmas. As my sister can attest to, not the easiest thing for a parent to find.

It makes me so happy that I was able to grant him his Christmas wish. We will be seeing him over the Christmas holiday and I can't wait to see the look on his face when he gets his pillow.
To make a pillow like this for the "stop light lover" in your family you will need a pillow form, duck cloth, felt, scissors, needle and thread. Cut two pieces of duck cloth the same size as your pillow form. Using black felt, cut out a rectangle for the back of the stop light. Cut one circle (all the same size) from red, yellow and green felt. (A cup or small plate works great for a circle template.) Sew the three circles by hand to the black felt. Pin and sew stop light on to duck cloth.Using a program like Word, print off the words "stop", "slow", and "go" onto a piece of paper. (I used Gil San Ultra bold in size 110). Cut out each letter from the paper to form a letter pattern. Pin paper letters to black felt and cut around. Pin and sew letters to pillow front.
Pin right sides of pillow front and pillow back together, matching up corners. Sew around edge using a 1/2" seam allowance and leaving an opening several inches long along one side. Turn pillow right side out through opening. Insert pillow form. Pin opening closed and sew.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

I have long admired pictures of houses decorated with more than one Christmas tree. They always look so festive. So this year I decided to add a second tree to my house. I went out to the small patch of woods behind our house and returned with ....
... my own "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree. I placed it in a vintage white McCoy pot and anchored the tree with small gravel from our garden. The pot was then placed in a vintage wagon which usually holds either a large plant or a variety of blankets and books during the rest of the year.
The branches are few and far between so I kept the decorations simple and to a minimum - glass balls from Target and stars I made from left over feed sacks fabric pieces.

To make the star ornaments print a picture of a star off your computer. (I made two different sizes.) Pin the wrong sides together, inserting a raffia loop on the top. Sew around the edges by hand or with a sewing machine, leaving a small opening for stuffing. (I used a sewing machine and sewed around the outside twice to prevent fraying.) Stuff the star lightly and sew closed. Embellish as you wish or leave plain.
This will be my final holiday decorating post for this Christmas season. Thank you for allowing me to share my home and traditions with you. I have so enjoyed all your wonderful comments and blogs. Best wishes for a blessed holiday from me to you.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gingerbread House Decorating Party

One of my favorite holiday traditions is my annual gingerbread house decorating party. I make the houses and my friends bring the candy and icing for the decorating. We spend the afternoon talking, eating too much candy and decorating houses - peeking at each other's ideas along the way.

About two weeks before the party I bake the gingerbread house pieces. The weekend prior to the party I assemble the houses. The houses are made from a cookie cutter kit available at The kit includes cookie cutters, directions, and recipes for the gingerbread and icing used to glue all the pieces together. I find making the houses in an assembly line fashion much quicker than making each house individually. For the base, I head to the dollar store and purchase small pizza pans which can be reused each year.

Below is a picture of the houses all assembled and waiting to be decorated. A little gingerbread house village. They are not perfect but once the houses are covered in candy, no one will notice!As everyone arrives, they put the candy they have purchased in the middle of the kitchen island. As you can see there was no shortage of candy here. To attach the candy, we use store bought icing.
Almost done.
And here are the finished houses. Even though we all started out with the same basic house each one turned out a little different. Each one as pretty as the next.

When it is time to go, all the houses are wrapped with cellophane and tied with a white ribbon. The big question at the end of the day is always "when are you going to eat it?" Most of my friends leave their houses wrapped until Christmas day. A fun family tradition my friends have started as a result of this party. Since I don't end up wrapping mine, it usually only lasts a few days before pieces of candy begin to go missing from my house. I will give you one guess as to who is the first to take a piece!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Home for the Holidays - Part II

In the second part of My Home for the Holidays series, I wanted to highlight some simple table top decorations as well as show how I use continuity - inside and out - to bring my entire house's decorating scheme together.

Although I am quite sure this is not a new idea, I use white ribbons to hang the wreaths on the outside of my house instead of the traditional red. I love the way they look against the gray siding and the red door. They also give everyone who drives by a hint of what lies inside . . .

. . . more white. I use a simple garland with pine cones, white ribbons and hand blown glass ornaments on my banister to continue my simple color palette.
I also hang a wreath on an inside door leading into my "red" room. The stand in the left hand corner is really a tall candle holder that I have filled with pine cones, greenery and a twig wreath. The oak door with glass insert and copper handle is part of a pair that my husband found while we were building our house. We were so pleased that our builder was able to install these instead of the new paned glass doors we had originally planned.
The simple theme continues with table top displays including this white compote filled with pine cones, greenery and a bird's nest. I covered the books underneath the compote with simple brown wrapping paper.
Here I filled an a white ironstone sugar bowl with greenery and a snowman ornament.
Finally, a domed cake stand complete with "snow," snowman ornament, vintage looking glass balls, and flocked miniature Christmas tree. If you look in the background of this picture you will notice several undecorated gingerbread houses - a hint for what is coming up in my next post!

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Home for the Holidays - {Part I}

I admit I am not one to decorate for every holiday, season, occasion, etc. A few pumpkins (preferably of the white and green variety) for Halloween, a fresh bouquet of white tulips for Easter and I am pretty much set. Christmas, however, is a different story.

Like many people, some of my most wonderful childhood and adult memories are of my family's Christmas traditions. My Mom baked wonderful Norwegian cookies, my grandmother cooked a full course Italian dinner {which took hours to eat} and our entire house was decorated with love. Each ornament on our tree held a memory - a place visited or lived, a childhood school project, a favorite past time or sport, a gift from a cherished friend.

Traditions tie us to the past and help us to remember from where we come. As a Mom, I want to pass these same feelings on to my children. Which is why I make the effort to decorate my home during Christmas. It is the time we spend together as a family that means the most. So over the next few weeks I would like to invite you into my home to share some of my favorite decorating projects.
This week's post features my mantel (seen above) and a simple table top decoration. For several years I have wanted to hang a wreath on a garden gate above my fireplace. I had seen pictures of this done before but had never been able to locate a gate until last week. I am so pleased with how it looks and I am trying to figure out how I can have the gate there all year!
I also made stockings out of white burlap, linen and muslin, with raffia hangers. The round fabric embellishments are called "yo-yo's" and have been used in quilting circles forever. If you can sew, making stockings are a simple and quick project.The second item today is a "peppermint candy stand." Many people have some sort of wire stand in their house similar to mine. I simply outfitted it with a few clear bubble glasses, ornaments, greenery and candy.

My kids love this during the holidays as it is the only time of year I have candy out and on display in my house. They find it fun to sneak a piece while they think I am not looking! (another great memory) I have used this as a centerpiece on my island as well as part of Christmas party dessert table.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Favorite Housewarming Gift

Like most people, I never show up at a party without a gift for the host and hostess. One of my favorite simple holiday gifts is a paperwhite in a vintage tea cup. I purchase the tea cups throughout the year and save them until Thanksgiving. Here is what you do.Supplies:
Paperwhite bulbs, river rocks, tea cups, water and rubbing alcohol, cellophane and raffia

Fill tea cup about 2/3 full with river rocks. Place bulb, root side down, on top of rocks. Fill around the bulb with additional rocks. The rocks help anchor the plant once the roots begin to grow.

Fill tea cup to bottom of bulb with a mixture of 10 parts water to one part rubbing alcohol. The rubbing alcohol will keep the paper white from growing too tall. Place in a sunny location until ready to give. Note - you will have to monitor the water level of your tea cups almost daily.
When ready to attend a party, simply wrap your tea cup with clear cellophane, tie with raffia and add a tag.

Homemade Gift Ideas at Tatertots and Jello

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bag of Tricks

Be sure to grab a copy of Better Homes and Gardens winter edition of 100 Decorating Ideas Under $100. Inside you will find a story on using vintage sacks for many simple decorating projects. I created the roman shade and the small pillow shown in the article.

100 Decorating Ideas Under $100 / Photographer - Michael Partenio
Stylist - Donna Talley, Regional Editor and Producer for Meredith Publications

The coffee sack roman shade was very easy to make and required a minimal amount of sewing. (Directions are included below.) I think the most difficult part of this project is finding a sack that is close to the right dimensions of your window. If you can't find one wide enough, simply add banding on both sides like was done on this shade. If you are not a sewer, you are better off using a smaller sack and adding banding to it, rather than trying to take apart the sack and make it smaller.

100 Decorating Ideas Under $100 / Photographer - Michael Partenio
Stylist - Donna Talley, Regional Editor and Producer for Meredith Publications

I also made the small red and black striped feed sack pillow shown below. I closed my pillow with a zipper, but you could also use a needle and thread. Feed sacks can be found in a variety of colors and patterns. Some (like the one shown) even include embroidered initials. Because these sacks are typically fairly long, they will make two or three smaller pillows depending on the size of your inserts.

100 Decorating Ideas Under $100 / Photographer - Michael Partenio
Stylist - Donna Talley, Regional Editor and Producer for Meredith Publications

100 Decorating Ideas Under $100 / Photographer - Michael Partenio
Stylist - Donna Talley, Regional Editor and Producer for Meredith Publications

Here are some other photos from the article.

100 Decorating Ideas Under $100 / Photographer - Michael Partenio
Stylist - Donna Talley, Regional Editor and Producer for Meredith Publications

One of my favorite attributes of vintage sacks is their versatility. If you keep the sack as found, it can be used as a table runner, table topper and a large pillow - no sewing required! I have several sacks in my house that I simply inserted a body pillow and secured the end with a large antique laundry bag pin. This allows me to use the sack for several purposes.

100 Decorating Ideas Under $100 / Photographer - Michael Partenio
Stylist - Donna Talley, Regional Editor and Producer for Meredith Publications

 100 Decorating Ideas Under $100 / Photographer - Michael Partenio
Stylist - Donna Talley, Regional Editor and Producer for Meredith Publications

100 Decorating Ideas Under $100 / Photographer - Michael Partenio
Stylist - Donna Talley, Regional Editor and Producer for Meredith Publications

My previous tablescape post also included a picture of a chair seat that I covered using a vintage sack and my kitchen includes stools covered in vintage sacks. If you have other ideas you would like to share for using vintage sacks I would love to hear them!

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