Unique Christmas Holiday Decorating, Part 3, Other Spaces…

Happy Holidays people! It’s time for the third installment of the 2014 Holiday Decor, Other Spaces! In Part 1 & Part 2  you saw the entry and main room, now for those little touches of the holiday season in other rooms of the house.

The Kitchen.

I’ve been looking for the right place to display these sweet handmade ornaments my friend Gina made, and finally figured out the perfect spot in the kitchen. I found a fun way to cover up the nails with these colorful kids plastic magnet letters spelling out “XMAS”. They are simply hung on the nails, but a dot of glue from the hot glue gun would hold the letters more securely in place. (My friend Gina also made the ceramic chicken plate on the wall, and the rest of the art above the molding is some my old painted polymer clay art work. The colorful dimensional painting below the molding is a $10 thrift store find.)

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The Living Room.

This room is a tad more modern and funky than the rest of the house, and this hot pink tree fits it perfectly. This is one of those things that is the same every year (so far.) See the DIY on those chairs here. (The painting on the right is by Sandi Calistro.)

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The Master Bedroom.

I like to have just a little Holiday touch in the bedroom for us to enjoy. This is new (well, recycled) this year. All the bits were on a little fake white tree I’d had for years that just wasn’t looking so hot anymore, so I took all of the bits off and tossed the tree. I strung up the sparkly garland over the mirror and hung some of the ornaments from that, and put all the round ornaments in a silver dish. It’s subtle and elegant and suits the bedroom well.

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That’s it for the inside of the house! Next time, Part 4: the Outside. (And I promise a Holiday Decor Video soon as well!)

Elegant, Unique, and Sorta Victorian Holiday Decorating, Part 2, Christmas in the Main Room.

Welcome to Part 2 of my yearly Holiday Decorating series, the Main Room! This is the room we go all-out in. It’s in the front of the house and can be seen from the sidewalk, and is where we wind up doing the majority of the entertaining, so it’s where most of the madness happens for every holiday.

I really didn’t add anything new, just a couple odds and ends I picked up at the thrift store since last season and some new glittered ribbons. If anything I actually toned it down a bit from last year. I do like to change it up a bit every year, using things in different spaces and in different ways, leaving some things in storage, and finding new goodies from my “stash” of supplies to add to the mix. Moving things around is the key to keeping it fresh and fun.


Coming into the main room from the entry.


To the right as you walk in the room.

I kept it simple here, using the ornamental cabbage I already had in the white pots for Thanksgiving and adding in my old pine cones and purple balls. Nothing fancy, everything is just sitting in the pot.


Going counter-clockwise around the room, next comes the bookcase. I simply added some pine boughs to the purple glass vase collection that live there most of the year as well as a couple candles. I hung our stocking (it’s just the two of us big kids so we share one) on the book shelve this year, and put a pine branch behind it. I still love this wacky stocking. I found it years ago at the thrift store.



Next comes the mantle. It is very similar to last year, just toned down a bit. I used fresh mixed pine boughs instead of the faux garland and added in a new gold glitter ribbon. It has an Old World feel that I really like.


Daytime mantle.


Mantle at night.


Display case to the left of the mantle.

I had some fun creating a little vignette in the display case to the left of the mantle. I put monochromatic ornaments in the glass jars (the same ones that had candy in them for Halloween) and added a little purple light-up tree from the thrift store, some purple glittered ribbon, and a few pine cones. I also added some fresh pine greens and cones around the candle on the little stool in front of the case.




Next comes the tree. Again, it is very similar to last year, just toned down a bit. The one new addition is the teal ostrich feathers (the same ones I used on the stairs.) I still love our Bohemian India-Asia themed tree with all it’s feathers and unusual ornaments. I do want to get more of the glittered ribbon to add to it.



Here are a few more shots of the room. I’m very happy with it this year!


One of my favorite things, the giant gold ornaments hung from the chandelier (purchased at the thrift store a couple years ago).


Looking into the main room from the living room.


Next time in part 3, the funky stuff in the Other Spaces!

Elegant, Unique & Sorta Victorian Holiday Decorating (On the Cheap of Course), Part 1 of 4: the Entry

The Holiday decorating is finally done! It only took me 3 days this year 😉 I really didn’t add anything new, just a couple odds and ends I picked up at the thrift store since last season and some new glittered ribbons. I do like to change it up a bit every year, using things in different spaces and in different ways, leaving some things in storage, and finding new goodies from my “stash” of supplies to add to the mix. Moving things around is the key to keeping it fresh and fun.

Today for Part 1 I’ll share the Entry Way. (The Main Room, the Outside, and Other Spaces are coming to the blog soon!)

I actually toned it down considerably from last year, when I had the stairs done in ornament-packed multicolor garland (which is now outside, you’ll see it soon!) This year, I stuck with my jewel-toned decor and just made a few subtle changes. I still used my favorite decorating trick, peacock feathers (sooo cheap and what a great visual impact! Find them in bulk on Ebay), but added some dyed teal ostrich feathers left over from a big party decorating job I did a couple years ago, as well as a new wired purple glitter ribbon I fell in love with.

Instead of adding tons of feathers all up and down the garland like I usually do, I just used them in groupings at the newel posts and center point. They are simply tucked into the garland (this is the same garland I’ve been using for about 7 years now, purchased half-off at Target the day after Christmas.) At the bottom of the stairs I also added a couple of strings of big purple Mardi Gras beads from my supply stash that I acquired from a party years ago. The new purple glitter ribbon is simply added on top and held in place by the wired garland.


The view upon entering the front door.


A closer look at the stairs. That’s one of our Dogvacay guest dogs, Cleo the Weimeraner, towards the top of the steps.


Here’s a close-up of the newel post. Yes, that is a taxidermy peacock “Herman” to the right, one of my most prized possessions. He “lives” there year-round.



This is at the bottom of the stairs, just to the left of the front door. The big lamp is simply adorned with a bit of gold glittered ribbon (I used more of it in the main room) and a sprig of fresh pine. In the mirror is a “sneak-preview” of the Main Room, coming to the blog next!

Holiday Decorating: It’s in the Details, Like FREE Pine Boughs (Here’s Where to Get Them)

This post is #100! Thanks for celebrating this milestone with me. Enjoy!

Nothing screams “It’s Christmas-time!” quite like the fresh boughs of the humble pine tree. Green, needle-y and great-smelling. I used to buy a big box of cut mixed pine boughs every year. They are beautiful, but pricey. Last time I checked a box was $40, and that’s wholesale! I swore to forgo the greens this year. Problem was, I missed them. Then it hit me. The tree lots all over town are always cutting off the bottom branches. What happens to them? They usually go in a big box and get tossed out or composted. But if you bat your big eyelashes and ask real nice-like, they will probably let you have some. Do note that not all lots will give away the boughs. Some sell them as well, and some just aren’t so nice, but it’s worth visiting a couple lots if you have to. I got lucky at my local Whole Foods. They had a big bin of boughs and told me I could have as much as I wanted. I went back twice 😉 (Note: this was the Cap Hill Whole Foods. I asked at the Cherry Creek store and well, they weren’t as nice). The WF trees are locally grown (at least here in Colorado) and so are very fresh and long-lasting. (Do be warned that, just like a fresh tree, as they dry out they drop needles!) I’ve got boughs all over the house. It smells great and is, obviously, rather festive. Here are some ideas for using fresh pine boughs:

Use in flower arrangements instead of or in addition to regular greens.

Tuck into plants.

Tie a few together with a pretty ribbon and hang on your door, on the backs of dining chairs, or any vertical surface that needs some cheer.

Lay a few along your dining table, bar or buffet.

Is your holiday tree a little thin? Tuck in a few boughs to fill it out.

Wrap them around vases, candles, & plant pots.

Make your own fresh wreath or garland.

Weave around a chandelier (just keep it away from the sockets).

Lay along window sills with pine cones and lights.

Here’s what I did with my free pine boughs…


In flower arrangements.

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Tucked into houseplants. (This one also has a couple bird clip ornaments, a few feathers, and a little velvet deer.)


Hung on the curtains.

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Boughs tied together with ribbon. (This one is on our back porch door.)


In a vase, here with some peacock feathers.


Under a candle.


Laid along the dining table.


An unexpected spot, here tucked into a tall lamp.

Get some boughs and get creative! Happy Holidays!

Gettin’ Crazy with the Gift Wrap…Fun DIY Ideas for Creative Gifts from Stuff Already in the Craft Closet.

Gettin’ Crazy with the Gift Wrap…

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This year I decided to seriously get my gift on with some creative wrapping. I pulled out all sorts of funky things from my craft closet; leftover bits and odds and ends from other projects, feathers, end-of-spool ribbon pieces, washi tape, old greeting cards I couldn’t seem to part with, crafting bits from gifts I’ve received, etc. I laid everything out and played with putting different things together, and came up with some unusual gifts indeed…

Here are 8 unique ideas I hope will spark your creativity this holiday season! I’m assuming you already know how to wrap a box, so I’m focusing on the toppers.  (if you need help with the wrapping, It’s Martha Stewart to the Rescue) The first 6 are all with matching silver paper. (A new big fat roll, purchased from the thrift store of course, for $1.99) I like the gifts under my tree to match, I’m just anal like that. I got weird with the gifts I’m mailing out to family.

#1 Wrapsody in Blue

For this one I put together a couple blue feathers, a few vintage chenille wires twisted into tear-drop shapes (I think I got these in a grab bag of crafty stuff at a yard sale), a tree cut out from an old greeting card, a circle of textured card stock, and stick-on rhinestones sheet cut into strips from David Tutura (available at most craft stores)

The Ingredients:



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It’s all attached with simple Scotch tape. I also cut a gift tag out of the leftover card stock and edged it with more sticky rhinestones. Best part is, because it’s a gift for my man, I’ll get to save and reuse the feathers again 😉

#2 Arsty Fartsy

I’ve had this weird obsession with origami cranes lately (more on that in future posts) so I made one as part of a present topper from an art magazine page (great origami tutorials HERE) and added black feathers and crystals (I have a bag of old chandelier crystals), with some black and white washi tape wrapped around in place of ribbon.




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Again, everything is attached with Scotch tape, hidden under the crane. (and I can reuse it all again!)

#3 Furry Fun

I always a have bunch of faux fur scraps around (that’s just the kind of gal I am ;-)) I cut one into a circle (beware, cutting faux fur is crazy messy), and added simple loops cut out of the wrapping paper under it. Looking back I should have added more loops. I admit I got lazy, it was after midnight and my little wrapping fingers were sore…

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#4 Whimsical Pug

We have two pugs. If you know anyone with pugs, you know we get a pug-crazed and have pug stuff everywhere. Something about those smushy little faces makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do, like collect weird stuff with pugs on it…I cut this pug face out of a card from last year, it was just too damn cute. I added a bit of sparkly green sticky ribbon and another piece of grosgrain ribbon from an old gift.



By the way here’s the cards I cut out to use on gifts:




Again using only Scotch tape.

#5 Popping Up All Over

Here I used the pop-up inside a cute card I received last year. It was very easy to cut out of the card. Because the design is so large, I added only a simple bit of the sparkly green sticky ribbon.




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#6 Peacock Fantasy

This one is my favorite. I broke out the hot glue gun for this assemblage. I used a gorgeous piece of wired peacock feather on black ribbon as a base, and tied 2 black ostrich feathers together with a single peacock feather. I topped the tie point with a curl of the ribbon, glued a crystal into each end, and topped it with a short bit of Swarovski Crystals.




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#7 Mom Likes Purple

I used a bit of green and purple wrap for this one, along with a bit of purple silk flower, lavender textured card stock (cut in a circle and little strips), a couple purple floral crystals (usually used in bridal bouquets and what-not), more of that sparkly green sticky ribbon, and a piece of amethyst stone.




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I used the glue gun on this one as well.

And finally…

#8 Au Natural

This one was inspired by the lonely little owl I had in a box of craft supplies. He’d been there for ages awaiting a home, and now he has one. The box was wrapped in a clean brown paper bag, turned inside out and cut to size, and topped with the owl, a few vintage chenille wires, printed washi tape, raffia, a bit of the David Tutera sticky rhinestones in orange this time, a couple crystals, and a couple sticks of nice incense. I also used the hot glue gun on this one. I added a gift tag cut out of the paper bag and edged it with the sticky rhinestones.




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And all my holiday wrapping is DONE! Everything was done using bit and pieces I already had around, all I bought was the $1.99 wrapping paper. Now on to the holiday cards. A crafty woman’s work is never done 😉


My Holiday Decor Video, as Promised.

Here is the video of our holiday decorations as promised. You’ll see my infamous bubble lights and ornament spinners in action, and the funky assortment of ornaments on our Asian/India-inspired tree. (FYI the spinning ornaments featured in the video are all hand-blown/painted Polish glass purchased at Neiman Marcus Last Call during the big pre-Thanksgiving sale for an average of $10 each. They retail around $50. I get a new one or two every year.) You can see the blog on the mantle HERE and the blog on the tree HERE. The video is all shot on my iphone, I know it’s a bit shaky, so be kind, I did the best I could. (It was edited in iMovie) Now if Santa would just bring me the Cannon 5d Mark II camera I want, my pictures and videos would be much improved 😉


How to Trim Your Christmas Tree Like a Pro…and Some Unusual (and Cheap!) Holiday Tree Decorating Ideas


As you can probably guess from my tree, I’m into unusual holiday decor. “Traditional” has no place in my decorating vocabulary. In today’s blog I’m going to share some secrets of the pros for trimming your tree, and I’ll show you my unconventional tree-ness as well. I used to be a pro. I worked as a floral designer and event planner for over a decade, so I have a few industry tricks up my holiday sleeves. (Note: I am a serious Maximalist, the Liberace of Holiday Decor. If a minimal look is what you’re into, this may not be the DIY for you.)

Much like the last post on Holiday Mantles, the basics are the same: (I’ll not bore you by repeating the details today, if you want to delve deeper click the Holiday Mantles link)

The Basics:

1. Theme

2. Foundation

3. Lighting

4. Balance

5. Layers

6. Details

My tree theme is Indian/Asian in jewel tones. Over the past 4 years we’ve been collecting lovely themed ornaments such as peacocks, elephants, dragons, and even a couple sweet little Buddhas. To fill in I’ve added lots of pretty wired ribbons (a great (and cheap!) alternative to garland.), lots of more simple ornaments in jewel tones, some vintage and antique ornaments, and my favorite, feathers. There are scores of peacock and dyed ostrich feathers (purchased years ago on Ebay, and still going strong! A big visual impact for very little cash.) on our tree, making it rather unusual and really striking. I love unusual themes and color schemes. Try something weird! Go modern with black and white. Elegant with a monochromatic scheme, or get crazy with toys and primary colors. Sky’s the limit! I’ll share some other really fun trees I found at the end of this post.

We upgraded to a larger tree this year. We were lucky enough to find this very well made pre-lit faux tree at Goodwill for $40. I love it! All the lights work and it comes apart and folds up for storage. I saved hours of work because it is pre-lit. Always start your tree out with the lighting! And use a ton of lights. That’s the biggest pro tip I can share. A small 3-4 foot tree should have 600-1000 lights, and a 6-8 tree should have about 1600-3000. I know, it sounds like a lot, but it looks fantastic (ie: professional). Keep the lights steady, as a tree of all flashing lights is rather garish, and no one will notice your pretty ornaments. (I little dose of flickering lights is ok, just not the whole tree.) Do choose lights with green cords, unless your tree is flocked, then matching white cords are in order. Martha Stewart has a good diagram for putting lights on the tree:


She says: “Lights should be added to your tree before other decorations. Our technique will play up the depth of the tree better than draping lights only around the perimeter, while also concealing the wires.