Happy Holidays House Tour, Inside – 2016 (with helpful hints & tips)


2016 has been a rather mad year (broken foot in March, graduating my tattoo apprenticeship in July, getting married in September, hubby’s surgery in November, and that crazy election). I am very much ready for 2017, but that won’t stop me from sending 2016 out with a good time. We have so very much to be thankful for…

I scaled back just a bit this year (I know, it’s still completely over the top 🙂 We now have a smaller tree (I’ll describe what I did below) and I left a few decorations packed in the basement this time.

The table isn’t too different from last year, I did add a fuzzy leopard runner just for fun. (I had bought it at a yard sale for $5 years ago). Everything else I had, just moved things around a bit. The beautiful flowers are from Trader Joe’s. (Tip: They have the best price on flowers in town! Better than wholesale in most cases.) Everything you see has been collected from thrift stores and yard sales over the years.

The one addition to the mantle this year are the gold “pine” branches, a thrift store find from a couple months ago. (Everything on the mantle has been collected from the thrift store over the years). I usually add some fresh pine boughs but decided to stick to the fake garland this year for easier clean-up :-).

I was lucky enough to find a second set of clear bubble lights at the Goodwill this year for $3.99 (I LOVE bubble lights! I’d happily cover the house with them.) and put them on a garland by the front window. I usually put all the peacock feathers in the tree, but since we scaled down the tree this year I made a little display of them with the green balls in a vase in the corner.

I love our tree this year! A bit smaller and fits the space better. It is still covered with all our delightful Asian/Indian inspired ornaments along with feathers and new this year, flowers! (see below for a step-by-step on the tree).

Because I went so nuts on the front room, I keep the living room a bit more simple. Just my favorite pink tree and the big pink ornament. And of course flowers (Trader Joe’s again) Holiday Decor Trick!: Many places that sell fresh trees will let you take the branches they trim off the bottoms for free! I use these in my flower arrangements and outdoor pots. Just be sure and ask first if you can take them 😉

Here is the step-by-step on the tree:

Our new tree. It is a 6.5′ fakey with white led lights. I put it on top of 4 paint cans to make it taller (and keep the pups off it). Stage 2 I added 4 strings of pink lights as well as my favorite string of color-changing star lights. (Hint: wrap the light strands around the branches for a professional look). Stage 3 I layered extra bits of fabric to form a tree skirt. Next came 3 pink feather boas tucked inside the tree and a few pretty pink silk orchids. I love the way the pink feathers add a glow to the tree. Next came all the ornaments. (Hint: layer your ornaments throughout the tree, from inside by the trunk all the way to the tips, saving your nicest ornaments for the outside.) And lastly, I added some jewel-toned feathers to fill it in and top it. The only new thing this year is the tree, everything else I had from previous years or was re-purposed from other projects.

Happy Holidays everyone! I’ll post pictures of the outside tomorrow.

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!

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.