Sunday, November 28, 2010

HOLIDAY DECORATING - Getting Started................

One of my favorite things is a woodburning fire especially on  cold and cloudy winter days. Yesterday,  I lit my fire and a few candles, and ..........

I gathered all my old December issues of Martha Stewart, Veranda, Southern Accents, as well as a few of my favorite holiday decorating books to find inspiration for decorating for Christmas.  With a cup of hot chocolate ( Emma Bridgewater Toast & Marmalade cup & saucer), I sat near the fire and flagged my favorites.  

These are all the greens I purchased Saturday morning on a trip to our local farmer's market.   Look at the beautiful silver blue eucalyptus pods and  leaves.  Now I have to gather some greens, branches, and berries from the woods.  Having lots of galvonized buckets and containers makes it handy to store the greens until I am ready to bring them inside.   I couldn't wait to get started.......

I decided to begin with this fabric (Ralph Lauren) covered table in our family room.  The sculpture was a hand me down from my Mom.  This dictated the rest of the elements - I knew glass wouldn't work with this, nor would something shiny.  It needed items that had a matt finish so I found an old olive jar (can't see except for the handle as it is behind the sculpture), a small urn with reindeer moss and a candle, another urn just like this one which I turned upside down to use as a base for a taller candle, and lastly I used two old leather bound books to provide a base for the sculpture and an old Taaken mold of a curtain finial.   Since the sculpture would not show up well with the wood cabinet behind it, I decided to fill an old pot with a mix of  eucalyptus, eucalyptus pods, cedar incense and another tall green which I can't recall the name.   Working with natural elements and neutral colors is truly my favorite.  

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I went to the flower market today to pick up some greens to start some of my holiday decorating next week. As the years go by, I am finding I like the simplest decorations - mostly all naturals and neutrals adding colors with fruits like oranges, pomegranates, kumquats, cranberries, and golden pears. Last year, I purchased a lot of pheasant feathers and they are beautiful and fun to add as well.

I hate to admit it, but I must have about eight large plastic crates in my basement storing all my holiday decorations. There was a time when I was into Department 56 houses, paper mache Santas, English antique fairy lights amongst other "stuff". Two crates are filled with decorations for the tree, and while I know our girls like to see the same ornaments every year, I want to do something different. Our girls are older now, so I feel that it's ok to be creative this year without feeling too guilty.

Well, to be truthful, the other great benefit of using greens and fruits is that you don't have to spend all that time dragging the crates upstairs and unwrapping everything - only to re wrap everything six weeks later to store back in the basement for 11 months. The greens can be recycled and the fruits and nuts can be eaten - how easy and simple.

Its funny how some collections seem to come to life by just adding a few greens. Take for example, this shelf displaying some of my antique pepper mill collection. The greens seem to add an extra touch and dimension that makes it much more appealing.

In the next few weeks, I will post some of my favorite holiday decorating ideas from magazine clippings that I have saved throughout the years.  I love traditions and will share some of mine.  Please comment and share your traditions.

Monday, November 8, 2010


This is my desk area in my kitchen.  I like to keep my cookbooks handy, but I didn't like the look of all the various cookbook covers together with all their colors and patterns.  My designer friend, Sara Cullen, suggested I make book covers for them.  I don't know why I hadn't thought of it, but I immediately went to Michaels to look for paper.  Since I have Emma Bridgewater "Toast & Marmalade" dinnerware, I selected Strathmore's Charcoal paper.  It is cream color, a good weight and texture.

I couldn't imagine how I would possibly get the cookbook titles to appear clean and neat as I don't have the best handwriting.  Our daughter, Dawn, (the creative one in our family), suggested I use the computer to select a font and print the title on a binding to adhere to the book cover.   I viewed all of the fonts and decided it would look best to match the type on my Emma Bridgewater and my letter "B" mug from Anthropologie.    I couldn't believe the difference - it was clean, neat and the titles were legible.  I now have the clean, simple look that I was trying to achieve.

Did you notice my little French chef.  How cute is he?  I picked him up this summer at a flea market in Sandwich, MA.  He is a bit tattered, but has so much character and I loved his leather slippers.  Best of all, I paid only $5 for him.

The leaves mixed in with the small pumpkins are made of velvet.  I purchased a kit of leaf stamps from Martha Stewart some time ago and I love how they look.

Now, if you would like to make these covers, here are the instructions.  I purchased a very large pad of Strathmore Charcoal paper at Michaels.  You need a good size paper to have enough length to wrap your books.  You can use any paper you like, this just worked out the best for me.

I usually work on a cutting mat.   In this case, I didn't cut the paper, I just folded it as this is a rather large book.

Here is the paper folded to the size of the cookbook, leaving enough paper on the sides to fold over as a pocket for the cover and back of the book.

Once I decide on a font, I do a test print on regular copy paper to be sure I like it before using my Charcoal paper.  I then cut a piece of Charcoal paper, or whatever paper you decide, into an 8 1/2" x 11" to put into the printer.

Using my cutting board and Olfa knife, I trim the paper so that I have a 1 1/2" to 2" overlap on the front and back of the book to form the binding.

Here is the typed binding ready to be applied to my covered cookbook.

You can adhere the binding using a glue stick or spray adhesive. 

Here are my books.  It is a good idea to check the ink in the printer before doing this project.  Now that I have done this post, I realized that all the books I had done previously did not have the great bold lettering as the Martha Stewart book I just finished.    I have always been a big fan of Martha's.  I was so excited to have her sign this book for me when she came to our local Borders store for a booksigning event.

Monday, November 1, 2010


As I was driving along the scenic Old Kings Highway (6A) on Cape Cod, I saw this charming little shop and had to stop to take a photo. Unfortunately, it was closed, but I peaked in the windows and was anxious to return when the shop was open.

Last week, I stopped in and was so excited to see this great addition to our area. There were several customers including me and one of them commented "I actually liked my home when I left it this morning until I walked into this shop". It was refreshing, clean, simple, elegant and timeless - reminded us all of the movie "Something's Gotta Give". 

As you can see by the photos, the shop has fabulous windows and details. Kelly, the shop owner, designed beautiful window treatments that are the perfect accent without being too fussy or busy. She stocks a great selection of sisal rugs, pillows, lighting, botanicals, baby gifts, and home accessories.  Kelly has a great eye, and a natural talent to inspire all of us to improve our decorating skills. 

If you visit the cape, be sure to stop by this wonderful shop.