what I do

what I do

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Transitioning into Christmas

It always takes me a while to get into the mood to decorate for Christmas. I dig in my heals and resist and then gradually get into it. I think part of it is that I really like my house more undecorated and so bringing in all the 'stuff' overwhelms me. But honestly, once I get into it, I love it and the day it all comes down my house feels extremely bare and sad.

Here is my entry piece the way it is most of the time. I like it and it is clean and simple. When I want to dress it up I just pop some fresh flowers in the pitcher and it is beautiful.

Here it is decorated for Thanksgiving. I brought in a rustic urn from outside and added some branches that were left from last year - I think they must have come from some live branches I picked up at the florist (sad that I have to buy what many of you probably have in your own backyard!). The leaves were left over from the Wizard of Oz trees that I made for the party and although I really don't like using 'fake' I thought they actually looked pretty authentic. They look like I could have gone into my backyard and clipped some Azalea leaves. That is kind of my 'using fake flowers rule' - if it looks like it could be authentic then I can live with it. Most of the time I would prefer just using real clippings or fresh flowers. The wreath is something I have had around for years and the pumpkins were left from Halloween.

And here it is transitioning into Christmas. I had picked up the silk flowers to use for my Christmas packages this year and borrowed them for the display. The balls were the new ones I purchased to go with my turquoise and orange theme this year and since they were already out and not packed away, I just popped them in a bowl. Once the tree is up, I will move things around but for now it looks festive and happy. 

One of the fun things about decorating for Christmas is that you can do things that you would not normally do. I thought it might be fun to try to bring in some of my outside decor inside ... so I dragged in a few things and played around with them this morning. 

I cut some lemon branches and added them to the mantle . . . 

And brought in some of the outside balls.

I tried bringing in some plants but then decided against it ... these were looking a little scraggly. But I definitely like the idea of it. 

I have a lot more playing to do but at least I have started!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Getting down the Christmas boxes

Photo: David Zellaby via Flickr
Well, today was the day. The day to take down the Christmas boxes from the 'attic' (well, it is not really an attic but it is a space above our garage where all our storage goes) and start thinking about decorating for Christmas.

Boxes after I rummaged through them to get started on decorating!
Each year after Christmas I box up the decorations in clear plastic boxes. I know that a lot of people prefer not to see inside the boxes - it is neater looking I suppose but I like to see inside the boxes for easy identification. I label each box and although I don't list every item inside the box, I do list some of the more important items.

I also number the boxes so that I know how many to take down the following Christmas. If I have 6 boxes total, I will label my boxes, 1 of 6, 2 of 6, 3 of 6 and so on. That way when I go to get the boxes I know how many I am looking for. I also put the following year on the label rather than the year I am boxing up and putting away. I have found that it is confusing to have the previous year's date on the boxes when I am looking for them.

I had to laugh at this label - 7 of 5? At least it had the right date on it!
I also label the ornament boxes that I did not use. Some years I will use certain ornaments and other years I won't. For example, last year I only used white and silver with a few turquoise ornaments. All the browns and golds and oranges and reds were labeled - "Did not use in 2009." That way I know that if I want to replicate what I did the previous year I will not need that box.

I was planning showing you exactly how I packed my ornaments away but when I was taking everything down I was looking at my system with new 'blogger' eyes and realized that I could do it much better! So here are a few tips for you as you plan for packing away for next year ... and I will share my more blog worthy storage with you when Christmas is over!

1. Store like things together. I try to keep my colors together and the type of ornament as much as possible. 

2. Keep the original boxes to re-pack them in later. 

3. Keep the tissue paper from your gifts to wrap your fragile ornaments in. 

Tip of the day: When you are unpacking your Christmas decorations and come upon things that you have not used for a while, take them to a donation center or share with someone else right away. Someone can enjoy them now and you will have less to store next year!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Be thankful always

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Our Gratitude Tree - Thanksgiving 2010

Thank you LORD for the things you give us and for the things you withhold from us. 

Nothing occurs that is beyond His control, apart from His command, or without His permission. Nothing. He rules over all events, including blessings and calamities. He rules over everything seen and unseen, material and immaterial, good and evil.”
-Charles R. Swindoll

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Target Christmas

Today is 'black Friday' which has never been something I have participated in or really paid attention to but this year my two daughters got up in the early hours of the morning to be at Target when they opened at 4 A.M. They did it for fun and because there was a really great Target commercial - the one with the gal in the red jogging suit and the pearl necklace - that made it seem very appealing. If you have not seen it you can watch it here. The girls said that the line was wrapped around the building when they got there just before 4:00 and when they walked up to the front of the line just to ask a question about how they were going to let people in (some at a time?) they were yelled at not by a few but by the crowd who started chanting 'cutters! cutters!' at them and so they shrank back and waited in their car for the store to open. Intense!

In honor of the day and their early morning adventure, I thought I would share with you some Target bargains that I found a couple of weeks ago. They caught my eye because of my 'turquoise and orange' themed Christmas and I thought they were very cute and inexpensive.

I love this box ... it is a great size (7" x 8") and is only $4.00. You could tie a satin ribbon around it ... or not. The lid has just the right amount of glitter.

This gift bag would be perfect for a bottle of wine or even to tuck in a scarf and mittens or a rolled up sweater. It is $1.50.

I love these gift card holders - they feel very 'Anthropologie' to me and sell for $1 each.  Tuck a little cash or a gift card into one of these and you are set. I love that yellow - I may need to bring some of that into my Christmas decor too. 

I just liked these and thought they would be cute tied onto a package for a little extra glam or even hung from the tree. They are also $1 each.

This little owl is my favorite and if I were buying ornaments this year I would buy a dozen of these and hang them on my tree - they are $4 each - not a great bargain but I think worth it. They would be darling tied on to a package as well.

And finally ... this tree skirt it is the perfect color and just the right amount of sparkle ... It sells for $30. Since I already have a nice tree skirt and I don't need to be spending $30 on something I already have, it will probably go back. Oh but I can really see my turquoise and orange wrapped gifts sitting on this ... so who knows, I just may have to keep it!

Happy shopping!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A simple organizing project

I have this 'thing' that before I can go on a trip or before a party or a big holiday ... I need to have everything cleaned up and in order. I can hear my sisters laughing at me right now; I have that 'gene' they say, or maybe they say that they 'didn't get it' - this 'have-to-have-things-neat' gene. So before Thanksgiving when I should have probably been preparing for the big day, I decided to clean out the craft drawers.

It started because the drawers were a mess and when I went to find the pretty cardstock for our gratitude tree I was appalled at the condition of the drawers. Not only were they a mess inside, but the drawers were so full and heavy that they had come off their gliders and would not even close properly. So I couldn't even 'hide' what was inside and ignore it.

Because my house is small and storage has always been an issue I decided way back when the girls were young that I would have to incorporate my garage as part of the house. I used it as a craft room and a playroom. I had the walls lined with little plastic drawer systems and all the kid's art supplies and the bulk of their toys were out there. It worked out great and freed up the cupboards inside the house for other things.

At one point I installed nicer cabinets and drawers and although we don't have the same kinds of art supplies (no more crayons!), I still have all my 'crafting' supplies in the garage - things like craft paint, drawing paper, scrapbooking supplies, markers and colored pencils, and sewing kit. The drawers used to be very organized and neat, but something happens and little gremlins come and mess them all up. 

I knew that I had a lot of other things that I should be doing ... like getting the house ready for Thanksgiving ... so I told myself that I would give the drawer clean-out one hour.

My goal was not to have the drawers 'perfect' the way that I would ideally organize them for a client with the right containers and everything ... but to have cleaned up enough that I could find what I was looking for easily. Here are more of my 'before' photos ... ugh! What a mess!

I used the containers that were already in the drawers and basically went through and just straightened up what was in each drawer. There were some drawers that I had to re-adust what was inside them because they were too heavy and it was causing the drawers to not close properly. I wasted a little time looking for boxes to contain things in the drawers. When I am working with a client, I measure the drawer or shelf space and then I shop specifically for what I will use to contain the items in that space. But since this was kind of a 'rush' job I was just making due with what I already had. 

I started with the easy things - the markers and colored pencils and tools. I found an old silverware holder and used that to contain the tools. Then I put all the paint together and the glue together.

I had to remind myself that this was to be a 'one hour job' and to not get to particular and fussy with the way it was turning out. I would have loved to have the paint lined up neatly and better containers inside the drawers but I had to stay focused on what I was trying to accomplish.

A friend of mine called while I was working on the drawers and so it took longer than I had planned ... interestingly she called about something I had written on my blog that day about getting organized! We chatted while I worked ... I finished up and checked the clock ... hmmm, almost two hours. But still not bad. 

The great part is that I can find what I need (the main thing) and the drawers close better now. There is still an issue with one of the drawer glides and they are still not lined up perfectly ... but that is  something to worry about on another day!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I will be cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my favorite people ... my husband, my two daughters, my new son-in-law and my mother. A perfect table of six! After our meal we will join my husband's family for dessert. I made my acorn and leaf cookies to take with us. They are both favorite recipes of mine. The acorn cookie is one I found or maybe from a friend - I can't remember, and they are delicious and buttery and just so great looking. The leaf cookies are from a recipe passed down to me from my mother. They have just a hint of almond and they are irresistible. I use the same recipe at Christmas for my snowflake cookies.

I like a simple table setting. Not too much fuss. I prefer a white tablecloth with a simple runner. This year I am using the burlap runner I have had on my table for months now that I picked up at Pottery Barn. It is a nice width and works great for all occasions - It can be dressed up or dressed down. 

My napkins I have had for years - I picked them up for a couple of dollars each from Pier One and I just love them. I have no idea what they say - it is in French.  I used the pumpkins that I bought for Halloween and picked up a bunch of orange roses at the market today. Simple. 

My inspiration for my place cards were these from Martha Stewart:

When I saw them I thought - how genius! I have those little balls in abundance in my front yard. They fall off our trees. I just printed our names on card stock, trimmed them to the right size in the paper cutter and stuck them in the balls. I love how my turquoise glasses go with my theme this year (turquoise and orange!).

The cookies came out great - I love all the colors - They really look like Fall.

The cheeseballs are a favorite appetizer for our family and also a favorite gift to give to friends and neighbors. They are easy to make and look wonderful wrapped in cellophane. 

A friend of mine dropped of this beautiful molded butter for our table that she made! 

She brought it over presented so beautifully!

I have so many things to be thankful for and as I count my blessings I am reminded that every good thing comes from God above. For everyone who is reading this - I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving too. I thank you for your support and for all your lovely comments and encouragement! May God bless you and may you be reminded today of all the good things you have to be thankful for. xo Sherri