Posts tagged ‘holiday’

2011 Resolutions

Is it really possible to leave all that we dislike in 2010 and bring only good things forward? Maybe not. But the point of New Years’ resolutions is to better ourselves over time, right? I like to think that I have the willpower to change bad habits as they occur, but the truth is I like to binge on the unhealthy and inconvenient until I can take no more. So here are my New Years’ resolutions for 2011:

1. Work out more. I am happy to say that I am 4 for 4 in the gym this week. (May be 4 for 5 due to this lazy snow day). You may be thinking “Day 5? Today is January 7th, where is she getting ‘Day 5’ from??” Obviously weekends don’t count when it comes to diet and exercise. This couch sure is looking cozy right about now.

2. Decorate more. As I went through old notebooks, cleaning up my workspace, I came across home plans that I drew up months ago. Some I accomplished halfway and some never got further than the pen hitting the paper.

Among such were dining room drapes. It is true that I bought, hung, and steamed the drapes. However, that is as far as I got. The drapes are still loosely hanging with no drawback. (I taped them back with electrical tape for the photo below. Shame on me). Instead of presenting the dining room like a pretty little package, it resembles the balcony of a beach house with wet, sandy towels drying to a stiff uncomfortableness (only more silky and soft than stiff and uncomfortable). It is also asymmetrical. I’m not encouraging perfect symmetry in every aspect of a home, but the entrance to our dining room is too wide to have only one side dressed.

Also on the list was the dining room bench. With the haste stapling and the lack of foam and batting, I had planned on reupholstering the bench while also adding sides and a back. This will ideally give a more sophisticated-lounge-like feel rather than a playground-picnic-like feel.

Last in the notebook of procrastination was the Master Suite Makeover. I started on my mom’s bedroom a few months back and progressed pretty far during the 2 weekends I spent on it. But with the holidays and my own home plans, the master makeover fell to the back burner. This morning I came across the original plans I had for the room, and while I’ve got to say that the floorplan itself is close to complete, isn’t it really all about accessorizing?

The footboard doesn’t yet exist. The 2 chairs in the ‘seating area’ have become 1 chaise, table yet to be found. The TV is on the opposite wall to the left of the bed. Other than that, this is spot on. But the accessories! The tables need lamps, the seating area needs an area rug, the walls need art, the windows need drapes, etc, etc!

This photo is pre-paint.

3. Take and post photos regardless of progress. In the past, I have hesitated to take photos in the before and during stages. While this may seem shallow and vein, it is really mere forgetfulness (with maybe a dash of vanity). I would clean from top to bottom in preparation of a photo shoot, and regret it later when I am explaining only in words how long and hard I worked on any given project. For example, in 2010 I would have never posted these cringe-worthy photos of our office during laundry day (laundry week).

Stage 1: Wait until clean laundry builds up on the floor and the closets are empty.

Stage 2: Sort laundry into his and mine, foldables and hangables.

Stage 3: Rejoice in clean room

 

4. Be more efficient at doing laundry.

 

I hope everyone’s 2011 is off to a great start and I look forward to jumping back into inexpensive elegance now that the hectic holidays are over.

Advertisements

Need a new recipe for your family potluck party?

Its 2 days before Christmas and all my gifts are wrapped and placed safely under the tree for my friends and family. As the story goes, I hit a bump in the road last night while tweaking my sister’s gift (won’t be revealed until next week for her viewing purpose). So I have one more stop on my map tonight to exchange said gift. After that I will fully be in holiday party-mode. I stumbled across this MAGNIFICENT website just last week and have already tested 1 recipe with intentions of trying another one tomorrow:

Believe it or not, this is a jello shot! There’s always room for jello, especially in a cocktail setting. 2 sisters have created an art out of these once only-acceptable-in-college party snacks. I’m obsessed! I made the Blackberry Cosmo Martini Jelly Shots this weekend for friends, and they were a huge hit! I will be making these Candy Cane Martini Jelly Shots this weekend for my family. My aunts will enjoy the throwback, sans the messy fingers.

I refrigerated overnight in a bread pan and cubed them to look like the above photo. They were perfectly gelled, even after sitting out for an hour or 2 while my guests were devouring. The recipe says it will make 24 shots, but I got almost 60 from a single batch and they were 2-bite size. All the ingredients are very inexpensive (under $3 each with the exception of the alcohol. If you’re really on a budget, make them virgin!) but your guests won’t even realize because they will be too busy appreciating your efforts! And isn’t it really the effort that counts here?

I hope everyone has a very happy holiday weekend and if you’re having guests, show off your home with all the deceivingly inexpensive tricks you have learned!

Merry Christmas! I’ll be back next week!

Home Depot Designer Coasters

Coasters are something that you don’t go out specifically to shop for, but instead may remember to look at if you’re already out. We’ve acquired a few of the cheap cardboard bar coasters in our lives, not exactly worthy of my champagne tastes, but have made do for the time being. Well that time has expired. I grew tired of the coaster sticking to my glass every time I went for a sip. I needed heavy duty coasters to protect our hand stained coffee table. To Home Depot!

I know what you’re thinking: huh? Coasters at Home Depot?

Yes! Designer couture coasters!

These are heavy duty floor tiles, $2 each.

With a little glue and a patch of felt ($.49)…

My tables are protected from water marks and my glass can rest comfortably (and fashionably) upon.

If there’s someone you haven’t yet shopped for, or if you want to add a little supplement to the bar-ware you bought your mom, these are perfect. The malls are PACKED this week, but Home Depot is not! This project cost me 5 minutes and $8.50. Wrap some ribbon around the stack and present it beautifully under the tree.

What Happens when I try to be Martha Stewart

This instructional should have been posted weeks ago, but since it didn’t turn out how I had intended, or at all for that matter, I was too bitter to post before now.

Martha had a segment on her show about how to make these magazine Christmas trees, she was selling them for approximately $50 at her annual craft fair. It is a lengthy project and some of you may remember making these in elementary school. It’s something good to do with kids in your family, or while you’re on the couch watching TV. It took me an hour per tree to create these over 2 days.

I started with a rather thin Raymour & Flanigan catalog. I wasn’t about to attempt to fold 500 pages of O Magazine. I broke the spine to make the pages able to fill out all around, once folded.

Then I began folding. Starting with the corner, I folded all top corners down to meet the spine.

It looked like this before I started Step 2:

Then I tucked the folded edges in to meet the spine:

It began to get more robust and a little harder to fold since it refused to lay flat on the table while I folded remaining pages:

But I kept going. The third step is tuck the bottom corner that sticks out into the folds. This part is the most annoying:

The result of all that folding:

With 2 trees complete, I decided to spray paint them a shiny gold color. We set up this station in the hallway to minimize the mess:

But the stench was so powerful, we thought it was smart to take it outside. We were having friends over that night and we didn’t want people passing out from the fumes.

Unfortunately these are the only after shots we have, thanks to the cats and dogs that came raining down from the skies that night. Our better judgment told us to let these dry outside for a few hours. Apparently our judgment has nothing on Al Roker. If you decide to make these for the holiday or any other occasion, I wish you better luck than I had.

Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree…

We’ve had our tree up for the past 2 weeks but it took as long to be camera-ready. In addition to a light snafu…as in we didn’t buy enough…we also had no wrapped gifts under the tree. And a decorated tree without some holiday joy underneath is nothing more than a mischief night spectacle.

Chris and I went to 2 different tree farms before relinquishing to the $50 price tag for a 6½ foot tree. Since we’re new to the area and only knew of a few tree farms that we pass during our daily commutes, we figured that we could possibly end up spending more on gas and time looking for a less expensive tree. (The next day we passed the Produce Junction 2 blocks from our home with a sign that read “All Trees: $27”). The lessons we learn.

As this year marks the first time Chris and I would have our own tree, we were faced with many decisions that would affect all future Christmases. Having no decorations already, we also had to buy the tree stand, skirt, ornaments, etc. etc. that we will continue to use year after year.A trip to Kmart and $100 later, we were ready to begin.

Real or fake?

My family has always used a real tree. My dad would have it no other way. Chris’ family uses a fake tree. A fake tree may be more practical and would eventually prove to be less expensive, but having nowhere to store a tree 11 months out of the year, we had no choice but to go real. Chris was excited by the authentic pine tree smell, and he also got to show off his newly acquired handy-man skills.

It didn’t fit. Chris had to scrape off the sappy bark with a steak knife. It worked perfectly and while we may have 1 less steak knife, we now have an arts & crafts knife. Win-win!

The supplies:

We used red and gold as our color scheme. Anything more than 2 colors starts to look tacky in my opinion, and while some people define Christmas as tacky, I like to keep it simple.

Candy canes are a must on any tree. We bought 4 boxes and have probably eaten half of that since. Eating food straight off a tree, how much more natural can we get!

 

Skirted tree:

Skirted tree wrapped in ribbon with sporadically placed red ornaments:

Fully ornamented with star on top and popcorn bin underneath.

Above you can see the light snafu I mentioned earlier. We only bought 150 lights, thinking that was plenty. By the time we had realized it wasn’t, we were in our sweatpants with Christmas music blaring and hot chocolate in the microwave. It took another week and a half before her bottom was lit up.

Twinkle twinkle

(The peacock perched above is a prelude to my New Years Eve attire).

Here is a close up of the “snow” we used for the first and last time. It was essentially a bag of glitter that now comes to work with us on our faces, coats and shoes. Every inch of our floor, even after several sweeps, now sparkles with faux snow. Opt out.

Decorating a Christmas tree is a fun tradition at any age. It brings families together and enhances the holiday spirit. With work, school and other obligations, the last week of December can sneak up on a person. But there’s no forgetting the holiday joy when you come home to a tree that you decorated with your loved ones. Merry Christmas!

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.

%d bloggers like this: