Posts tagged ‘BHG’

Make your own gifts

Be careful, you may want to keep these “gifts” for yourself. The good news is they are so inexpensive and easy to make, you can make one for your friend, and another one for yourself!

Last year Chris and I fermented vodka for a few of our close friends. We bought funky corked bottles at stores like Home Goods and Marshall’s, peeled lemons (no white pith) and placed in vodka along with raspberries. After 2 weeks they tasted like flavored vodka, which some may enjoy, but we prefer fruitier, less stringent drinks. This Limoncello recipe from Learnvest will deliver just the thing:

What you’ll need:

  • 8 lemons
  • 750 ml bottle of 100 proof vodka
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • Funky corked bottles

First combine the lemon peels (no white pith) with the vodka in a jar. Let this sit airtight for 1 week.

When the week is up, boil the 2 cups of sugar with the 3 cups of water and let cool. Strain the peels from the vodka mixture and stir in the sugar mix. Pour the tasty concoction into the funky bottles and add lemons for garnish if you choose. This gift will also go good with a set of martini glasses if you want to go the extra mile.

If you’re looking for something that will last longer, this picture frame tray is a good idea for the entertainer in your group.

I love trays. They’re decorative, keep clutter off the table, easy to hide, and they just add that little touch that a boring coffee table needs. They’re especially handy for the popular upholstered coffee tables that have been taking furniture stores by storm. When I was tray shopping upon move in, I was specifically looking a tray that I could hang on the wall when not in use. I didn’t find it. So when I saw this Picture frame tray at BHG, I knew what my bedside tables would be getting for Christmas.

Remove the glass from the frame and paint a color of your choice (skip this step if the original color is appropriate). Once dry, screw a drawer pull onto each short side of the frame. Place the glass back in with a decorative wallpaper or fabric remnant in the place of a photo. Or for a more personalized touch, keep a photo of something sentimental in the frame(think landmark, page from their favorite book, recipe for the cookie dough you 2 devoured before baking). Pair with these photo coasters from Bed, Bath & Beyond for a full coffee table wardrobe:

If you’re looking for something less sappy for a colleague, MIL or new acquaintance, these Gourmet Spoons from Learnvest will show how thoughtful you are without being a permanent reminder in the home.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups of gourmet chocolate chips
  • 20-25 heavy-duty plastic spoons
  • Nuts, small candies, or crushed candy cane bits
  • wax paper
  • Decorative plastic wrap
  • Ribbon

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for 2-3 minutes and stir until smooth. Dip the spoons into the chocolate and sprinkle on the candy bits. Refrigerate on wax paper until chocolate hardens. Wrap each spoon separately and tie with the ribbon. Present in a decorative box or tin. These can be savored as a lollipop or used to stir flavor into drinks.

I have not personally tested these DIY gifts yet but plan on doing so next week. Check back for my experience and review.

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Christmas Decor

This may surprise some, but I’m not one to decorate seasonally. It took me 6 months to decorate our 850 sq. ft. condo. Imagine if I had to change it every 3 months! Granted, only a few accents should be replaced to make a home “in season,” but I’m still in the honeymoon stage with my condo as it is. Adding a few leaf motifs would just seem…cheap. And there’s a difference between fashionably frugal and cheap.

However, Christmas is the exception. I LOVE decorating for Christmas. I love all things sparkly, from wet snowflakes to sequins to diamonds. (I’ve been known to cause temporary blindness with my NYE wardrobe selections).

There are several different approaches to holiday decorating. Some choose to have their home professionally decorated. This is great for people who love to entertain and/or live in a large house. Decorating the 18 foot tree in your 2 story foyer can prove dangerous without professional help. When having office colleagues over for dinner, the bright green penguin towels in the bathroom may not suit the corporate image one is going for. It may even be as simple as getting bored with the same ornaments and the same centerpiece and the same mantle decor year after year and wanting some fresh ideas. All of these are reasons interior design is a successful profession.

To the other extreme, some openly believe that when it comes to Christmas decor, the tackier the better. If it can’t be seen from space and it doesn’t give you a massive headache upon plug-in, it’s just not Christmas. Forget the gifts, the entire Christmas allowance is put toward the astronomical electrical bill.

There is no pattern or technique for these displays (well maybe the car owner started out with some sort of idea in mind). They basically resemble what the North Pole would look like after a terrible earthquake. But to some, that is what Christmas is about. It’s a traditional holiday and there are many different traditions honored around the globe.

Not to say that massive amounts of lights and exterior figures are always tacky. A beautiful light display can bring local fame and make your home a traditional landmark for all ages.

In the middle of those extremes lie people like me. I like to make my house appear professionally decorated for the price of a few tacky stuffed animals. The only constants in my Christmas decor are a well decorated tree and stockings. Everything else changes year to year. With so many creative ideas out there, why stick to the same centerpiece year after year? Especially when you can make a tradition out of creating new decor. I like to spend the month of December doing arts & crafts. Each night I warm up my hot chocolate, slip into my slippers, and settle down in front of the glitter and paint.

Here is some great inspiration to get your house looking DIY beautiful:This is a very easy way to spruce up your coffee table. Just place some ornaments in a bowl for instant Christmas decor. BHG used multi-colored ornaments of similar sizes but this project has many different looks. Use 1 color of the same size for a simpler look, or 2 colors of 2 different sizes: large green globes with small gold globes.

This look is more fitting for a formal dinner party. Place overgrown branches in a wide vase and weigh them down with metallic glass stones. Once secure, place clear glass ornaments on the branches as if it were a Christmas tree. The candlelight balls shown on the branches can be found at Crate & Barrel, but you can achieve a similar look for less with various sized candles places around the vase. If you still have room on your table, place a few glass ornaments on a mirrored vase.

These candles will make any room in your home feel like Christmas. Buy the candle in a Christmas scent like Sugar Cookie or Christmas Tree and surround it in a large vase with cranberries. Place a few in the bathroom so you don’t have to go the way of the green penguin towels.

I love this ornament chandelier. Tie ribbon of different lengths to metallic ornaments and hang from a chandelier or ceiling fan (only if you’re not using the fan this time of year). This would look great over your dinner table, bed or center stage in the living room. If you’ve already placed the ornament centerpiece bowl on your coffee table, I would suggest hanging the ornament chandelier in another room.

Check back later in the week for a how-to for mantle decor, pictures of my own Christmas tree, and DIY gifts.

Pictures from top to bottom:

1. – 3. Redesign + more

4. & 6. Design Crisis

5. Lori…Lovin’ Life!

7. & 8. Dobbies

9. & 10. Better Homes & Gardens

11. & 12. Learnvest

Pretty Practical

I am on a constant lookout for new ways to stay organized. Owning a piece of property will bring out Danny Tanner-esque habits that one never knew existed. In previous residences, I never put much time into storage and de-clutter because the lease expiration date was always looming in the distance. I was always thinking of moving. Knowing that I will be staying where I am now for several years, I have no qualms about improving the space. Really, organizing is just a way of making a space easier to keep clean. Who doesn’t love that?!

Better Homes & Gardens really gets me. They know what I’m about. That’s why they’re always sending me emails with new storage ideas. Of course, some of the slide-shows they send me are a complete waste of time, especially when they fore-go instructions for a measly “Find a decorator in your area” link. But every relationship hits rough spots. They always make it up to me with flowers (I’m talking beautiful centerpieces in my email).

I can’t possibly use all the ideas given, especially with my 20 sq. ft. pantry/laundry room/coat room, but I can sure as heck pass the good ones along. Think of me as a weed whacker. I cut through the unsightly disaster to bring you beautiful, inspirational ideas for your home.

This small red laundry caddy was once an entertainment center, before the days of wall-mounts. A can of paint, a few screws, and a metal pole later: stress free laundromat.

Lazy Susans are not just for picnic tables anymore. I have 1 in my fridge for various sauces and condiments. Everything is within easy reach, refusing to be forgotten about to the point where it no longer resembles its original state. Seriously, these things have saved me so much money. I can’t tell you how often I used to make my grocery list, jotting down an item I already have because it has been relegated to the back of the fridge. AND..they’re under $10! Make sure to get one with a raised lip to avoid sliding.

I LOVE this floating ironing board. I, myself, use a steamer for all my wrinkly garments, but if I had an ironing board, I would definitely mount it to something. If you’re new here, I love things that float. Floor space is very valuable in a condo.

Along the same lines…

Most of us have those few articles of delicate clothing that won’t hold up in the rough and tumble of the dryer. We’ve all seen the fold-up drying rack that gets propped in the middle of your bedroom/ living room/ kitchen, etc overnight until your clothes are dry. Or worse, if you’re like me without such rack, you resort to draping your clothes over pieces of furniture. You should see our place after laundry day, it’s as if our bedroom closet spit up.

But this little treasure is out of the way even when in use. I don’t hang my wet clothes like shown here, for fear of them losing shape, but all the wooden bars are perfect for draping articles over. These are somewhat pricier than their cumbersome counterpart, but given how much I hate waking up to wet clothes in the living room, I’ll spend the extra $30 on the floating variety at Amazon.

Moving on..

I am a fan of glass containers. I have several on my vanity for hair ties, make up brushes, earring studs, etc. I have 1 in my laundry room as a “lost & found” for quarters and such that fall out of our pant pockets during the wash cycle. I also have several under my bathroom sink for shaving necessities, chapsticks and the like. They are very affordable…as low as $2 at Walmart, and can come in all shapes and sizes to meet your needs.

Always remember that practicality can be pretty. Guests may not see your laundry room, but that does not mean you should neglect it. With simple solutions like these, you’ll be looking forward to laundry day before you know it! Wash on!

Headboard, without such a bed is not complete

After sleeping on an air mattress for 3 weeks, we finally upgraded to a plush mattress/box spring set with, get this, a bed frame! But spoiled little me still wasn’t happy. I felt that in our first adult place, we needed an adult bed. That required a headboard. My male counterpart didn’t see the necessity nor did he want to spend hundreds on a headboard to match my theme of “tranquil dream bedroom.” I agreed, and therefore set out learning how to make a custom headboard.

After deciding on 5 feet wide by 4 feet high, I marched over to Home Depot to get a large piece of plywood cut ($12). Next to Joann’s I bought white velvet fabric ($10), upholstery batting ($6), and 2 inch thick foam ($20 for two 5-ft pieces).

For an easier tufted look, try this bench pad idea from BHG

To achieve the tufts, I measured and pre-drilled holes in the plywood before stapling anything onto it. Next I lay down the batting in the middle of my living

Bed set from Steinmart, 19 pieces for $129

room, carefully aligned the foam on top of the batting, and finally dropped the plywood down without disturbing the 2 layers. My staple gun took over from there, securing the batting, and therefore the foam, to the back of the plywood. Next I stood it up and fastened the velvet fabric in the same way, making sure it was smooth and free of snags and ruffles. That part was easy and looked great too. I had never tufted before and was set on it, but I would have been content with just an upholstered headboard.

The tufting was the hard part and I spread it out over 2 days. I bought a string of pearl beads and thin clear beading wire from Potomac Bead Company. With a sewing needle I strung the wire from the back (through the pre-drilled holes) to the front, through the bead, and back through the same hole again. The hardest part was going from the front through velvet, foam, and batting, to find the same hole that it had come through, without disturbing the set location for the bead. Once in the back, I secured the wire with 3-4 staples, looping the wire in a criss-cross pattern. 21 times later, my headboard was complete!

Love this drape idea from BHG

The velvet is bright white, but the green foam bleeds through a little to make the headboard match the light blue wall. To achieve some contrast, I’m thinking of either framing the headboard in gold, or adding a cornice and sheer gold drapes above the bed.

There are inexpensive ideas that don't involve stealing items from your neighbor's front yard.


Easy headboard (Sacrificing Design): Drape a towel over existing metal bars

Headboards don’t have to be expensive to be beautiful. Even a sanded and oiled piece of plywood can make all the difference in your bedroom.

All headboards pictured here are from Better Homes and Gardens (except for the 2 of my own bed).

See more ideas, good and bad, at http://www.bhg.com/decorating/do-it-yourself/headboards/cheap-chic-headboard-projects/

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