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holiday | Gift Wrapping 2011

Wednesday, December 28

I promised to share with you some of my favorite images from our holiday season this year...'s all about presentation.

To me, it doesn't necessarily matter what's in the box...
it's the love and care put into making the wrapping intriguing and magical.
(not claiming the receiver agrees with me on this...*wink*)
I was fortunate this year to actually REALLY enjoy this process...
I wasn't rushed and it was very therapeutic.

The best part is...
aside from purchasing a $3.00 roll of masking paper from the hardware store...
I used materials I already had on hand...
• leftover wrapping paper
• yarn, fabric ribbon, string, twine and other trimmings from the Holiday Warmth Dessert Table  I styled.
• branches I intentionally saved after trimming our tree the day we brought it home
• cupcake liners
• artificial berries taken from my annual tree trimmings

Here's how it all came together...









Although I like for all of the presents under the tree to match...
and I generally pick a different theme every year for the gift wrapping...
It doesn't necessarily always come together like it did this year.
I'm so sincerely grateful for the sense of peace I felt through the holidays this year...
It's the little things/details I love pouring my heart into.

holiday | Holiday Wishes 2011

Monday, December 26



I have to say...
This was one of the most "relaxed" holiday seasons I've experienced in a very long time.
We had no visitors...
We didn't need to travel anywhere...
I didn't host any dinners or breakfasts...
And I found myself really able to take the time to enjoy everything.

From the wrapping...
To the baking...
To addressing and mailing out the holiday cards
(despite it being two days prior to Christmas)
I just had a real sense of peace this year.

I hope you were able to enjoy the same feelings...
and really savor your family and friends.

With my kids on Winter Break...
It will continue to be a bit quiet here on the blog.
I will, however, be sharing some of my favorite holiday images with you this week.

Merry Christmas...Happy New Year...
and warm wishes for whatever Holiday you may be celebrating!

holiday | Elf on the Shelf

Tuesday, December 20

When my cousin mentioned Elf on the Shelf at Thanksgiving...
I KNEW it was a tradition I wanted to start with my family this year...

You get a book explaining the story...
and a cute little "scout elf" that reports back to Santa each night while you sleep.


You even have to name your Elf...
We chose "Stuart" as the name for our little Elf.
He's got quite a sense of humor...
 showing up in different, sometimes precarious places, each morning.

Today, we found him singing Silent Night while sitting
right in the middle of our Willow Tree Nativity Scene.

He's been a fun addition to our Holiday Traditions...

Here are a few videos taken straight from the Elf on the Shelf website...
I think you'll find them quite entertaining...

Hope you all are enjoying these last few days of holiday preparations...

No lights on the house or bushes...yet.
Holiday cards ordered just last night...
Wrapping to be started...
Shopping to be finished...
Tree is up and decorated but still missing the tree skirt...
Ate a good majority of the cookies I was going to give away as gifts for the neighbors...

Still feeling jolly though...
how about you? *wink*

holiday | inspiration

Friday, December 16

Today I thought I'd share some of the inspiring images I've been collecting on my Pinterest Boards...
And they are ALL about the holidays...

With a little over a week before the big day arrives...
I hope some of these photos help to inspire you to put the finishing touches on your holiday preparations...

Still no lights on the house but at least the tree is up and decorated.
I may go out today with Ella and put lights on the bushes...*wink*
Cannot locate my wreath hangers so those are still sitting by the front door.
And I've only bought a total of three gifts.
Game on this weekend! *wink*

find | Castle Key Bottle Opener

Wednesday, December 14

If you've been searching for a fabulous, unique gift...

going to...
LOVE me...

I've found it for you...


This little lovely was part of the decor for the "Holiday Warmth" dessert table 
I recently styled for the Holiday Issue of The Party Dress Magazine...

To find out more about how PERFECT this little treasure is...
even if you don't need a bottle opener...

You always have THE BEST finds!!!

tutorial | All-Season DiY Wreath

Monday, December 12

As promised...
The DiY year-round wreath tutorial I've been promising to share with you.

To start with, you'll need to create some SiMPLE doily flowers...
(I'm using tea-stained paper doilies because I like the shabby-vintage look). 
Go HERE for the tutorial.
Using plain white doilies is perfectly fine and will also save you the extra step. *wink*


You may actually remember this same technique from THiS POST...
in which I demonstrated how to make hand-painted paper flowers for cake decorating...

Now it's time to add the flowers to the grapevine wreath.
You'll be grouping the flowers together in clusters of three...
 in three separate places on the wreath.

(If the wreath were a clock I placed one grouping between 1 o'clock and 2 o'clock, 
a second grouping at 6 o'clock and the third grouping at 9 o'clock)

Start with one flower and place it on the wreath.
Add flower two and then flower three until you like the way the grouping looks together.

Repeat this process until you have all three groupings on the wreath.
Keep adjusting until you like the way it looks on the wreath.
If you like the overall placement of the three groupings of flowers...
it's time to get your glue gun out.
(Remember to leave space at the top of the wreath for hanging)

Secure the doily flowers to the wreath with the hot glue gun.

You could stop here and be done with the wreath.
It's a gorgeous, rustic-vintage-shabby wreath with just the paper flower doilies on it.


How about gathering some faux floral picks for a splash of color...

Since we're in the holiday season right now...
You could use small festive clusters of red berries...

Or a larger spray of red berries - which is what I stuck with.

Don't use a glue gun for the berries/floral picks.
(unless you want to use the wreaths for one particular season only).

Just stick the floral picks into the wreath around the clusters of paper flowers.
Use the spaces between the gathered grapevines to secure the picks.
This will allow you to swap out the floral picks to accommodate every season.

Here's the finished wreath...


I've got two of these wreaths done...
and neither one of them are hanging on my front door yet.
I sure hope to have them hanging before Christmas comes and goes! *wink*

5 minute blog post....

The rooster has already crowed...(see this post)
which means I've got to get off of the computer and devote the next few hours to spending time with Ella.
I will be back later this afternoon...
 to finally share the details of this DIY wreath...
I promise...


If you actually had to have a voice for blogging...
I would not be able to share anything today.
This cold has taken its toll on me...
along with the festivities from the weekend:
• Ella's 3rd birthday party
• Annual Holiday Baking with family.
(which both turned out fabulous, by the way). *wink*

behind the scenes | The show must go on...

Friday, December 9

Because I've officially been bitten by the cold I've been desperately trying to avoid...*grumbling*
Because I've got a low level of energy...
And because I've got to use every little bit of time and lack of energy I have left...
to finalize everything for Ella's birthday party tomorrow...

I'm not sharing the wreath or flower tutorial yet. *wincing*
(Truth be told...I've got all of the photos ready for you...
I'm just too exhausted to finish the post *sigh*)

But the show must go on...
I've got to make things happen around here.
It's time to give everything I've got to do this thing!! (Ella's party)

I'm going to turn things around today.
How about a little fun?
How about I send you off into the weekend with a little game.
A game in which you could WiN something!!!
Woo Hoo!!

The very first person to guess what this photo is all about...
will WiN what this photo is all about!!

How's that for a game?
You've got no idea what I'm working on...
But you're going to win it!? *wink*

Who doesn't LOVE surprises?

Just leave your guess as a comment here on the blog.

I promise to let you know as soon as we have a winner!!

ONE rule:
You can't "kind-of-sort-of" make a guess.
The guess has to be "right-on-the-nose".
The guess has to be "exact". *wink*

Make it a WONDERFUL weekend everyone!!!

KEEPiNG iT REAL here's where I'm allowed to whine a little...
• I feel like doo-doo train (anyone else use that term?)
• I've got 1,000+ things to do and I'm about to FREAK!
• I've already missed a deadline for HWTM that was due yesterday! (sorry Jenn)
• my head is spinning right now
• All I want to do is curl up in a ball and fall asleep
• I could totally cancel Ella's party tomorrow and not care right now.

I'll SO care later...
and so the show must go on!!
Let's ROCK THiS OUT Jessica!
You. Can. Do. This!!!
And I will...

tutorial | Tea Stained Paper Doilies

Tuesday, December 6

There's something magical to me about the process of tea-staining.
More than likely it's just the fact that new objects suddenly appear vintage...
And it just so happens, anything shabby, vintage, or farmhouse-chic completely rocks my world!!

Take for instance these tea-stained paper doilies...
(The contrast between the original white doily and the three variety of tea-stained doilies is gorgeous!)

I've cut small tea-stained doilies in half 
and used them as decorative wraps for shot glasses...

I've turned them into flowers...
(see the doily flower tutorial)

And then used the flowers to adorn dessert tables...

And added some to Ella's hat to go with her 
"Vintage Good Witch" costume this year.

If you are interested in learning all about the simple technique of tea staining...
keep reading!!

You'll need some white doilies and a large pot of tea.
I bought my doilies HERE
a fabulous kit containing both square and round varieties.

1. Fill a large pot with water and place on stove.
2. Bring water to a boil, add your choice of 5 tea bags to the boiling water. (I used peppermint tea, which tends to be a bit lighter than normal tea. But you can use whatever tea you like). 
3. Turn off stove and let pot cool completely. (VERY IMPORTANT or your doilies will tear)
4. Remove the tea bags once you think you've achieved a deep enough stain for your taste.
5. Add 1-3 doilies at a time to the pot - depending on their size. (They will try to float on top so push them under the water with a pair of tongs to attain even staining).
6. Remove doilies to a drying/cooling rack when you've achieved the desired results.
• 5 minutes - very faint stain
• 20-30 minutes - a nice apparent aged stain
• 1 or more hours - a richer stain
• overnight - a deep stain

I have found my favorite soaking time seems to be between 30 minutes to an hour.
(Again, this is based on my selection of peppermint tea).

7.  Once the doilies have dried completely, it's time to get creative!!

I'll be back with the tutorial for the flowers and wreath later this week...

I have been M.I.A. due to a house full of sickos...*wink*
Ella got sick last week with a cold/cough. (still has the cough)
She then gave it to Jay, Clara and Ema.
And then Ema woke up Sunday night/Monday morning with a stomach bug.
Plug your ears and close your eyes...
I've never seen so much vomit...
You can open your eyes and unplug your ears now.

Despite all of that we've managed to:
• get our Christmas tree up - fully decorated as of last night.
• attend the local Christmas Parade that both of my older girls participated in.
• watch/listen to the Christmas Choir program on Sunday evening that Clara has been preparing for. (sore throat and all).
• go to Jay's company Christmas party on Saturday evening

I've been the only one spared from the illnesses...
Thank you Airborne and Vitamin C!!
(please continue to get me through this very important weekend coming up)!!

And then there's the news I received yesterday...
A sweet friend of mine has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
She was actually Clara's 3rd grade teacher.
That's how we met and became friends.
I've photographed her beautiful family several times.
She's got two gorgeous girls and a sweet husband.
We've been out of touch for awhile due to our busy lives...
so the news that she was diagnosed at the end of October
and has already lost her hair due to chemo was quite devastating.
I'd love for you to send some prayers her way...
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