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Thursday, December 6, 2012

a lovely rustic christmas.

I couldn't wait to decorate our home for Christmas this year...the day after Thanksgiving wasn't 2 seconds old before I ripped the fall decorations down and put up the Christmas ones.

by far, my favorite elements are the 75 feet of fresh cedar garland [oh yes, it's nice to live in the pacific nw!] on the front porch and the old garden lantern that I ran to earth in the garage. crammed it full of lights and nestled it in a metal basket on the front porch.

[old rusted garden lantern, repurposed.]
for me, it's tempting to just do it the same every year but since I committed to trying new things in my life I mixed it up just a bit.
[portion of the mantle.]
below is one of 2 clay santas. I love their skinny orientation and you can definitely feel the soft clay. neat.
[clay santa.]
[snowmen on the ledge by the front door.]
[gotta have an owl.]

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

lovely, easy velvet pumpkins.

are you as obsessed with velvet pumpkins as I am? well, it's very easy [and inexpensive!] to make your own...bonus is that you get to pick your very favorite colors and make any size you want.

step #1: choose your material.
I purchased crushed polyester velvet. I prefer it over silk velvet because no silkworms have to die to make it, and it's about 1/4 of the price. shazam!
I chose a deep olive, silvery-blue [double yum, my fave], creamy champagne, a deep dark chocolate, and rich burnt orange.

step #2: root around your house to find something round that approximates the size you want. 
remember that your finished pumpkin will be about 1/2 the size of the fabric circle that you cut, because you're going to gather up the ends and sew them at the top, effectively halving it's size.

the biggest circle in my house is a plastic bowl that's about 11.5 inches across so I used that, placing it on the back side of my fabric and tracing around it.
but I wanted my fabric circle to be a bit bigger so when I actually cut the fabric, I used my traced circle as a guide and cut an inch or so outside the tracing, making my final cut circle about 14 inches.

step #3: sew a really easy running stitch.
hand sew a running stitch all the way around your fabric, leaving long tails at each end so that you can tie it off.  I inexplicably have a lot of embroidery floss [why in the world? I don't embroider] so I used that to do my stitches. it's strong and I need to get rid of it.

your stitches definitely don't have to be perfect, believe me mine weren't!
the smaller and closer your stitches are to each other, the more pleats your pumpkin will have.

step #4: fill.

place a good amount of beans in the bottom, enough to weight the pumpkin and give it balance on it's bottom.
cram polyester fiberfill in, filling it all the way.
remember those ends we left nice and long? grab those puppies and tie a really tight knot. if you're like me and you don't have 3 hands, enlist some help to tie that final knot because the stuffing's going to be pushing back at you! cheeky stuffing.
trim off the excess ends of the string.

step #5: hot glue the stem on top.

for me, this was the hardest part, not because it's difficult to actually accomplish, but because I forgot to save my pumpkin stems from last year. duh.
so I cut some stems off this year's pumpkins. remember later on when you're composting your pumpkins: cut those stems off and hoard them!
don't be shy with the hot glue...really load it all over the base of the stem.
once you've got your stem all nice and gluey, press it down hard on the top of the pumpkin, holding for about a minute.

once again, here they are in all their glory! each of these took me less than 15 minutes.
and they look so lovely all piled on the dining room table.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

a little bit farmhouse glam, a little bit classic.

when Fall rolls around, my mind turns to Christmas. even though my family lives 1000 miles away [thus they are never at my home for the holidays!] I still spend hours sitting and dreaming about how I plan to decorate my home for the season.
[this centerpiece I made should've been my first clue...]
yesterday I was in HomeGoods [yum] and they had the store totally Christmas-ed out; it was so lovely. and that got me thinking.
about a different look this Christmas.
then I came to a dead stop because I couldn't decide just *what* that look should be!

fast forward to today and I'm browsing the HomeGoods website and I took their Stylescope quiz. lo and behold it was spot on: I'm a little bit Farmhouse Glam and a little bit Classic.
browsing pics of my decorations from years past does indeed point in this direction, so I just need to expand on it a bit:
[oh yea a little rustic, a little shimmer-shimmer]

[oh yea more a little rustic, a little shimmer-shimmer]

[ahem, are you sensing a pattern here?]

HomeGoods even has a wonderful Farmhouse Glam Pinterest board...I couldn't click Follow fast enough.
so I think I've got my cues for decorating this Christmas :-)

follow cynthia on pinterest
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Friday, August 3, 2012

the rounded corner paradox.

a solution for the rounded corner paradox...moulding!

my house has terrific flow, partly due to the rounded corners that separate different rooms. but you can imagine the trouble if you dare to paint 2 adjoining rooms different in the world do you deal with that oh so smooth lack of break between the rooms? I recently encountered this in my foyer.

as you can see from the picture below, my foyer has this great little recessed pocket which I painted using Martha Stewart's Gabardine in a lovely eggshell finish.
[before the vertical moulding].
so far so good. but here come's the big but...I also wanted to paint the bottom half of the wall but there were two problems:
1. I only wanted to paint the bottom part of the wall between the 2 existing pieces of horizontal moulding [I didn't want to take the gabardine up the vertical part of the wall]
2. check out the rounded corners that already made the transition between the brown paint in the adjoining room and the existing builder's white paint look weird. can you imagine how much weirder-er it would've been with 2 rich colors up against each other?

Home Depot moulding department to the rescue! I purchased 2 10-ft lengths of the same plain craftsman moulding that was already being used in the foyer, hunted down the trim paint color from 7 years ago [turns out it was plain old non-tinted Kelly-Moore semi-gloss base, who knew?], whipped out my trusty and much-loved Purdy paint brush and got down to it.
[a few supplies].
first I painted the bottom half of the wall with the Gabardine color, not worrying about how it would look in the vertical side areas where the moulding would later rest.

next I cut the moulding to size and attached them to the 2 vertical bits of white wall, all the way to the ceiling. I puttied the holes, sanded them down, and painted them. finally, I used DAP's Alex Painters Acrylic Latex Caulk [about $1.50 at HD] and a caulk gun that we already owned to run a bead of caulk all the way down each side of the moulding where it meets the wall, and also along the top where it meets the ceiling. 
[DAP caulk].

the trick to easy caulking is to use a sharp utility knife to cut the very tip off the caulk tube at a sharp angle. this way you can really tuck that tip into the area to be caulked and get a very fine bead. 
what I read after the fact that I'll try next time: spraying the painted bit of wall [in this case the brown and the blue] with Windex before caulking. say what?! they say this keeps the caulk from sticking to the painted part of the wall so you don't have to touch up the paint. nice.

if you've never used caulk like this before, it's really easy. google how to caulk and you'll find lots of great super short videos that describe how to do it.
[after...nice boxed in lower wall...closeup].

[after...nice boxed in lower wall...closeup].

[after...nice boxed in lower wall...closeup].
apart from the touch up painting I had to do on the brown wall where the caulk hit it, this was a super easy project. me thinks I spy some other areas in the house where I can add more moulding...

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Friday, June 22, 2012

gigi's legacy.

part of my legacy from my grandmother [affectionately nicknamed Gigi when she became a great grandmother] was this great ink sketch of her high school in Covington, Kentucky. the sketch was in a very thin and plain black frame so i've been on the hunt for a frame that is a little dark but also has a little shine. i think this one does the trick, and even has some rustic scratches so it matches a lot of what i already have.
the building was called Holmes Castle and it was a private residence before being sold to the school district in 1915. however, in their infinite stupidity, the district tore this beautiful building down right after Gigi graduated in 1936 and put up a typical sanitary school building. Gigi shared a lot of her fond memories of growing up in northern Kentucky, crossing the Ohio River on a sternwheeler to visit Cincinnati, and attending this beautiful school. i am grateful that she willed this sketch to me.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

the meandering path.

we recently installed a simple gravel path in the backyard ['cause I like the crunch underfoot]. just 20 ft from patio to gate was 3 years in the making...geez.

it's not that it was difficult, far from it. just that I kept putting it on the back burner.  but I'm so glad to have it because it's not only beautiful but functional as well.

the cats are less enthusiastic. they try their best to walk along the bordering rocks, with varying degrees of success  :-)

I love how the path twists and turns, and really sets off the plants along it's edge.  oh, did you notice those golden ferns? I bet you thought, hey this picture is clearly from summer, why are those ferns showing fall color?

I'm glad you asked! These magical plants are called Autumn Fern, so named because the new fronds emerge as a coppery-pink, then slowly turn green over time:

[autumn fern]
Here's a view of the path facing the other way, toward our teeny tiny back porch:

I have some secret sneaky plans to put in another gravel path in the front yard this year.
If you've created your own garden path, I'd love to see it!

As always, thanks for reading,

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

canister lights are [so not] lovely.

no idea what possessed me to put so many hideous canister lights in my home. they're great for mass-lighting a room but lack any kind of warmth or charm. cripes.

so now i've launched a full offensive to obliterate canisters that make me sad: over the kitchen sink and in the downstairs powder room. pottery barn to the rescue with the Serena antique mercury glass pendant, which we put over the kitchen sink
the canister was inexplicably off center over the sink so we put up a gorgeous heavy hunk of mahogany and centered the pendant on it. fake out! 

yum. sigh. heaven.
next one to fall is the powder room.
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