We Moved! First Holiday in the New House…

2 months ago we moved from Denver, Colorado to Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s been a crazy whirlwind but we are finally starting to feel settled in our new city. There is still a ton of work to do, lots of painting, wallpaper, landscaping etc. etc., and of course I will be blogging lots of “Before & After” projects as things progress. It’s been a big challenge as we have seriously down-sized (the new house is much smaller) and got rid of at least half of our stuff in the move. It’s been good for us ūüôā Even though I havn’t had time to do any painting yet, I just had to get some holiday decorations up. It’s definitely scaled down after our over-the-top Denver Victorian, much more streamlined. On the bright side, I can do it in a day instead of the 2-3 days it took in the old house. You’ll see that most of the decor has been “recycled” from the old house. The only new holiday stuff are some stunning flowers and fresh greens from good ol’ Trader Joe’s (I wouldn’t have moved here if SLC didn’t have a TJs ūüėȬ† I spent a total of just $29 on 3 bunches of flowers, a bunch of greens, and cedar garland, and got enough goodies to make 3 flower arrangements and had enough greens left over to spread around the house. Oh and a tried a couple waxed amaryllis bulbs on the dining room table (also from TJs, $7.99 each) and I love them! Zero maintenance, perfect. TJs is the BEST place for flowers!

 

I will get pics of the outside in the next couple of days. In the meantime, enjoy. Happy Holidays!

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The entry to our house is actually what was originally the back of the house. Long story, but they apparently moved the street some time ago, so we live in the Backwards House ūüôā For now our front door is a sliding glass door ( we may change it to French doors in the future). The front room serves as an entry and my art studio. More pics in the near future, I promise. holidayhouse2017o

I spoiled myself with a lovely flower arrangement and an orchid on my desk. (all from TJs) It’s the perfect spot to work at, with a view of the yard and the city and mountains to the West.holidayhouse2017m

Our quirky home came with this antique wood-burner (yes it works!) Right now it is functioning as a fancy plant stand.holidayhouse2017e

Our little dining room is just big enough and flooded with light. This area gets the most action in the house so it has most of the holiday decor. You may recognize most of these metallic ornaments as being on our mantle in the old house in previous years. They look great in their new space.holidayhouse2017lholidayhouse2017j

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The living room is much more minimal than at the old house, just the tree and holiday flowers under the TV (I really need to work on hiding the wires! Add that project to the list ūüôāholidayhouse2017dholidayhouse2017c

Can’t wait to see how it all looks next year after I’ve painted and wallpapered…

I will post the outside decorations in a few days. Have a great weekend everyone! Happy decorating!

Simple (ie: Cheap) DIY Valentine’s Day Heather Hearts + Dried Flower Pots

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The day of Hearts & Flowers is almost upon us! These sweet little Heather Hearts are fast, easy and cheap to make. Hang them on a door, stick them in a pot, or wherever you want to show the love. All you need are a couple stems of fresh heather (the longer the better) and a little raffia or thin ribbon.

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Start by overlapping the ends at an angle and winding the raffia (or ribbon) around the crossed bit, side to side and up and down. Tie it off securely.

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Then tie one end of a long piece of raffia at the base and wind it around the stem of heather, not too tight, just enough to hold the side branches in a little. Tie it off about 3″ from the top end. Repeat on the other stem.

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Next, cross the tops over each other where the raffia wraps ended and tie together. Add a longer piece of raffia to tie to the bottom of the heart. BE CAREFUL NOT TO BREAK THE STEMS! I did on one of my hearts, and well, it looks funny. Pull down gently. And you’re done!

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Cuteness. These will dry in place pretty well, but be warned, they will drop some leaves. I used my hearts as centerpieces to my outdoor pots.

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All year I save and dry the flowers I buy for the house when they are no longer suitable for fresh vases. (Not all flowers dry well. The ones with woody stems, like hydrangea and roses, dry best.)

Here’s what I had accumulated:

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I stuck the heather hearts in the middle, and started adding the dried flowers around them with the taller stuff in back. I just stick them right in the dirt. (Dried flowers are fun to use here in Denver this time of year when it’s still too cold to put anything living outside.)

The funny-looking heart is the one where I broke the stems by bending them too far. Don’t do that!

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And here they are all done:

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More fun Valentine’s Day fun & weirdness to come. FOLLOW THE BLOG and you won’t miss a thing!

How I got 5 Flower Arrangements for Thanksgiving out of $38 worth of Grocery Store Flowers. A Fresh DIY Story, Part 2: the Other Four

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I love it when the house is full of flowers! I managed to glean 5 vased arrangements from about $38 in grocery store flowers (see the first one and all the details here). One large centerpiece, one medium for the bedroom dresser, one smallish one for the coffee table, and two tiny ones, one for each nightstand. Yesterday I showed you the big centerpiece arrangement I did for the dining room table, and as promised here are the other four.

We’ll start with the medium vase for the bedroom dresser. As I said in yesterday’s post, getting creative is the key. Unusual containers and interesting add-on’s (sticks, fruit, etc.) For the dresser vase, I again went with a more high-style arrangement. I started with a vintage black ceramic vase, more sticks from the backyard, and our old friend, Spanish Moss. Just like the centerpiece, first I taped off the vase, then played with the sticks till I liked the placement and taped them down as well, then tucked in some Spanish Moss. I also wrapped a little moss around the end of the horizontal stick.

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Then it was time for a little green (more of the Seeded Eucalyptus) and the flowers, 3 roses and 3 Gerbera daisies, placed following the height of the stick in a triangle shape. (This is a one-sided arrangement so I could get away with fewer flowers. Because it will be against a wall it only needs to look good from the front.) Yes, that’s a glass of wine in the background. That’s just how I roll.

Done! Now on to the other 3…

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The final three are a small one for the coffee table and two tiny ones for the nightstands. Here I picked out a couple unusual containers, including a glass skull shot glass and a simple short drinking glass. The bud vase is part of a pair I snagged for $2 each at a museum sale. First I taped off the larger one, then added the last of the seeded eucalyptus to all three, plus one more small stick to the largest of the three.

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I kept the bud vase simple with a single rose and a touch of Spanish moss tucked in. The tiny shot glass got a single spider mum and a few rose petals in the water for added color. And finally the coffee table arrangement was made up with 2 Gerbera daisies, 3 roses and 3 Spider mums. I kept it low as this fits the space.

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And there you have it! 5 vases of flowers for about $38. Not bad! Here they all are in place:

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Be sure and change the water in your vases as often as possible so they will last longer. Have a wonderful and beautiful Thanksgiving!

(See the Art Magazine Nightstand Project HERE, and the Industrial Coffee Table Project HERE.

The art print on the bedroom wall is by one of my favorite artists, YUMIKO KAYUKAWA

How I got 5 Flower Arrangements for Thanksgiving out of $38 worth of Grocery Store Flowers. A Fresh DIY Story, Part 1: the Centerpiece.

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Stretching your flower budget is all about being creative. Unusual containers, found-object add-ons, fruits and vegetables, and my favorite filler, moss. I stopped by the Cherry Creek Whole Foods in Denver on Saturday to grab some freshies and make some pretties for the house for the upcoming Hanukkah/Thanksgiving week. As always, my budget is teeny, so I aimed to stretch it as far as I could while still using quality flowers. I spent about $38, including the pears used in the centerpiece.

A few tips for getting the freshest grocery store flowers: In Colorado at least, Whole Foods has the highest quality selection of flowers, hands down (believe me I know, I was in the floral industry for over a decade), and their prices are not much above wholesale. The best selection in Denver proper is the Cherry Creek store, though the very best is the flagship store in Boulder. I always head right to the floral counter and ask what just came in. Don’t be shy! They are happy to show you. On Saturday spider mums and gerbera daisies in great Fall colors hadn’t even hit the floor yet when I grabbed a bunch of each. I added in a dozen beautiful roses (always feel the heads, you want them to be firm, never squishy) and a bunch of seeded eucalyptus. Then I headed to the produce department for some beautiful pears. Fruits and vegetable make great additions to flower arrangements and they are nice and cheap!

When I got home I foraged for some sticks from the back yard and grabbed a handful of Spanish moss (I always have a bunch of moss on hand), picked out some containers and got busy. Today I’ll show you the big centerpiece I made for the dining room table, then tomorrow you’ll see the other four arrangements.

First things first: Gather your supplies. Vases/containers, flowers, any add-ons (sticks, fruit, moss) a floral knife (a good sharp paring knife will do in a pinch), clear floral tape, floral preservative (grab a few packets of this when you buy your flowers), and today I also needed Floral life Sure-Stik. (These items are all available at most craft stores.)

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For the centerpiece I selected a round dark purple glass vase (purchased from the thrift store, of course). When it comes to table centerpieces, you generally want them to be low enough for your guests to see over and to look good all the way around. I decided to go with a more “High-Style” arrangement for Thanksgiving. This means it will be more style/design and less substance, ie: “stuff”. (less stuff means less cash ;-)). Step 1: Tape off the vase. Taping off the vase will hold the flowers in place, which means you need to use fewer greens and filler.

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Next comes the foundation, in this case, a nice stick I pilfered from the back yard. I played around with the placement until it looked right.

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I held the stick firm to the vase using more clear floral tape. Then it’s time to start filling in with just a touch of greens, in this case, seeded eucalyptus, one of my favorites (it dries nicely too if you’re into that).

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Then a little moss to cushion the pears which came next. I also added a few bits of moss to the stick, just wrapping it around to secure it.

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Now it’s pear time. This was the most challenging part. I used the Floral Life Sure-Stik, which is crazy sticky and water resistant as well, to secure the pears to the stick and to each other. The pears were so heavy this still was not enough, so I ran a single layer of clear tape low around the three pears to hold them together, and it worked. See the green stick-on stuff? This is where my Spanish moss comes in to cover it up, as well as the tape.

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I love the way the group of pears looks, and it takes up a lot of visual space that would normally have to be filled with (more expensive) flowers. OK now it’s time to add the flowers. I started with three of the roses coming out along the long end of the stick.

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…then I added a group of three red Gerbera daisies at the other end to balance them. It’s all about visual, not literal balance in a high-style arrangement. The big daisies make up for the long roses opposite them. Just play around with the flowers till it looks right. We still have some filling in to do with the mums, 1 more Gerbera and a few more roses for the other side (remember it has to look good from all angles).

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Looking good! If there are any little bare spots you can tuck in a little more moss.

And we’re done! Here it is on the table looking pretty as a picture, all bright and funky.

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I only used about half the flowers for this large vase. I’ll show you the other 4 arrangements tomorrow. Remember to change the water in your vases as often as possible, preferably every day, to keep your flowers fresh for as long as possible.

(See how I did the mantle, using stuff leftover from Halloween, HERE.)

Recycling Halloween into Thanksgiving, Part 2‚ĶOutdoor Decor Redo for Zero Dollars

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Fall, Part Deux! As I said in the last Thanksgiving post, because I go a bit over the top for Halloween and Xmas, I like to chill things out a bit in between and go for a simpler look. It took me about an hour to “recycle” Halloween into Thanksgiving out front. Here’s what I did:

BEFORE: (Halloween in full force)

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I removed everything distinctly Halloween: all the black and orange, along with the crows, lights, spooky eyes, and carved pumpkins. What was left was the faux Fall foliage and “whole” (un-carved) faux pumpkins. I added some silk sunflowers I snagged from the Goodwill a couple years ago, as well as a large dried grapevine wreath separated into 4 pieces.

AFTER:

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The pots out in front were the easiest. The faux Fall leaves (originally from the thrift store) stayed in the pots. I just removed the crows and added a few silk sunflowers. (It’s too cold here already for live outdoor plants, (low of 25 tonight!) so faking it is the best we can do.)

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The two pots on the stoop were much the same, a bit of faux fall leaves wrapped around the top, a faux pumpkin (all the pumpkins are also from the thrift store for a couple bucks apiece) plopped in the middle, (no real pumpkins possible here, the ravenous squirrel army would be munching on them within minutes) and a section of dried grapevine wreath added on top. I purchased the grapevine wreath from the floral wholesaler for about $35, and have been reusing it for many years now. You will be able to find these at most hobby shops as well. With a little care they will last for many many years. (I store mine in the garden shed when not in use.)

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Next to the door, the column gets the same leaf-&-pumpkin treatment.

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The table on the other side of the door (patiently awaiting a new paint job) is just a pile of dried gourds, also left over from Halloween.

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The far end of the porch got a nice dried flower arrangement. Dried flowers are a great choice for a covered outdoor area, just make sure they don’t get wet. During the year I dry all my old flowers from indoor arrangements so I can do a few of these outside in the Fall. These dried flowers are just stuck right in the dirt in one of the pots from the garden. The old magnolia wreath laying under the pot has seen better days (I’ve had it for about 5 years) and is no longer suitable to hang on the door, but it works great here on the table. Drying your older fresh flowers is easy. Just put a few together, use a rubber band or twist tie around the bottoms of the stems, and hang them upside down in a dry, out of the way spot. Most flowers will dry well, especially those with woody stems like roses and hydrangea. Flowers like carnations and mums, not so much.

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And that’s it! A sweet and simple Fall decor design for the front yard that cost zippedy-do-dah dollars. Now I get to relax for a couple weeks, before getting all loco again for Xmas/Hanukkah/New Year’s…

 

Recycling Halloween into Thanksgiving…A Mantle Decor Redo for Zero Dollars

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Halloween is over, sniff sniff. I always wax a touch melancholy packing up the skulls and bats, simultaneously mourning the end of the Season of the Witch while savoring the tiny bit of caramel wedged between my molars from the final mini Milky Way bar. Yesterday I bid a fond frightful farewell to my favorite holiday, and made room for the next one: Thanksgiving. Because I go a little nutsy coo-coo for both Halloween and Christmas, I like to go a bit simpler in between the two for Thanksgiving. (Though admittedly my “going simple” is still over-the-top for most people. I’m like the Liberace of Holiday Decorating ūüėČ I’m also saving for holiday gifts, so spending cash on decor is a big fat no-no. It’s time to recycle!

Thankfully Halloween and Thanksgiving have a lot of crossover decor: Pumpkins, gourds, fall leaves and the like, so it’s easy to do double-duty with the decorations. I simply saved the whole pumpkins and gourds, reused my silk fall leaves and did a little presto-chango on the mantle.

BEFORE:

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AFTER:

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I thought an asymmetrical arrangement might be fun this year, well that, and I had only one large pumpkin left that was still solid.* I placed the big guy on the far left, then added one spray of my old faux fall leaves next to it on the right. Next I added some sticks and small branches with dried real fall leaves that I salvaged from my Halloween floral arrangements and from the yard. (That’s a great trick for using “faux” flowers and leaves: work in some real ones for a more authentic look). Then I worked in all the smaller leftover pumpkins and gourds. Nothing special here, I just set them in place on the mantle. As a final touch I tucked in some pheasant feathers (I reuse these for Thanksgiving and Xmas every year. You can find them cheap on Ebay), a few dried seed heads (I’ve been reusing these for about 3 years now) and some Spanish moss (I always have a bag of moss around for plants and flower arrangements. It gives the arrangement a grounded and finished look.). Done! I love that I didn’t spend a dime this year, and it still looks great.

* FYI: I don’t know if this is just a fluke, but I bought three pumpkins the first week of October. One from Whole Foods and two from King Soopers. Both Sooper’s pumpkins had started rotting and had to be tossed. The Whole Foods pumpkin is still solid and looks great.

Next time I’ll show you the rest of the Thanksgiving decor. FOLLOW this blog and you won’t miss a thing!

What decor items do you recycle during the holiday season? Tell me in the Leave a Reply/Comment section.

How I Made a Tropical Backyard Oasis in Denver on a Cheap-Ass Budget

The air is cooling, (I actually had to put on a sweater last night). Fall is upon us, and all too soon I’ll be putting the garden to bed and hauling out the snow shovel. With that in mind, I thought I’d share my yard with you before the first frost hits and I’m crying over shriveled leaves.

The backyard is ever a work-in-progress. A constant battle to create something that feels tropical in dry-as-a-rattlesnake-fart Denver. (OK, MOST of the time it is dry here, the recent crazy rains not withstanding) I think this year is the best yet for my little tropical oasis. Ready for the tour? Here we go…

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This is the view coming out our backdoor. That “L” shaped thing is the pond. It was a planting bed until 3 years ago when we had a wee stinky sewer line leak. I bribed the diggers to dig out the pond, too. (It’s amazing what men will do for homemade chocolate chip cookies.) The lotus mural on the garage wall I painted to cover up a bad repair job, and I wanted some color back there in the Winter when all is plain and dark. The vines running across the garden are Virginia Creeper that has been growing on the far North side of the yard for years, trained on strings of white lights that run from the gazebo to the big tree. They just keep getting thicker every year. I tucked a little hanging Spanish Moss on them to enhance the tropical look.

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To the left of the pond is this oddly leaning tree that I dolled up with bromelaids this year. (You can see the how-to on that one by clicking “Bromelaids”) And of course the coolest cheap garden lighting ever is at the base of the tree.

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Our poor Ganesha fountain here has seen better days. He is the victim of an unfortunate freezing incident in which he lost 3 of his four arms and most of his legs, though his face remains intact. I think it makes him look like an ancient relic. I especially like the ball of moss growing on the tip of his trunk. We’ve found the glass flowers at various yard sales for a couple bucks a piece. I love my little pond. The water iris with it’s leaves overflowing the pond started as divisions given to us by a neighbor are now completely taking over (anyone want some Water Iris? Seriously…) We have a hardy water lily that has somehow survived 3 Colorado winters and seems quite happy. There are 2 big koi, “Ghost” and “Spot”, a big fat fancy goldfish (named “Fatty”, I don’t have much imagination for names), and what was once a mere feeder goldfish, “Tiny”, who is now quite pretty and not so tiny anymore. They are rather camera-shy, but I did manage to snap a picture of Spot, who is now over 10″ long. (He was under 4″ when we got him) All our fish came from Petsmart.

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The area along the fence is dark and dank and it’s nearly impossible to grow anything there, so all the plants are in pots. That monster tree philodendron was purchased at a yard sale for $10 when he had only 5 leaves. The thing has gone crazy this summer. I have no idea how I’ll get it back in the house for Winter. Almost all the ceramic pots were alley finds, a few from the thrift store. I bring all the houseplants out into the yard in the Spring. The plants are happy and really help to fill in the yard. I scored 5 more houseplants from a nice guy on Craigslist for free this Summer as well. The dwarf bananas in the big pots I bought last year, and they were super-easy to overwinter. You just pull them out of the pot, hack off the leaves and stick them in a box or bag, leave them in the basement and forget about them till the next Spring. I did buy a few sweet potato vines and coleus this year, but everything else I over-wintered from last year. The metal pedestals were surprisingly cheap. I bought them about 4 years ago, all three were about $60. (OK I admit I got them wholesale) And you’ll note two more of those awesome cheap garden lights on the ground.

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The iron and wood seats were here when I moved in, I just painted them white. The table was another fab alley find, as were the ceramic pieces on top. One of my neighbors is a potter. She sometimes puts “off” pieces in the alley. Love that! She came to a party here and loved what I did with these. The big wood candlesticks were found dumpster diving as well. I’ve had the white candles forever, purchased years ago at Big Lots.

What makes these plants look so good? Levels! The secret to a great display. Nothing fancy here, the pots in the back are up on top of other pots turned upside down.

Here’s a view looking back at the house, and Emma, my little pug-ham, getting in on the action.

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The North side of the garden is our ever-popular Gazebo (click for more details). It was easier than it looks, and everything in it came from yard sales and thrift stores.

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Looking out of the gazebo into the yard…

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And lastly, the Golden Duck, sitting on the edge of the pond, hidden in the Water Iris. Another great alley find.

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This concludes our little Backyard Oasis Tour. I hope you enjoyed it!