decorating


Have you been to the stores and seen the new peel and stick decals you can use instead of stenciling your walls?  There are flowers, butterflies, balloons, teddy bears, cars, blocks, Disney characters… You get the idea.  While visiting my family in MN this last time, I came across these decals and thought it would be a great border in my granddaughter’s room.  I bought her favorite butterflies and a package of circles; just in case I needed more than one package to do the whole room.   

I randomly placed them along one of the walls as a border, but I never had the time to finish this process on the remaining walls before I had to leave.  A couple of days later I received a call from my daughter, she told me that my granddaughter did a little of her own “decorating” and had removed all the decals from her wall! 

I told my daughter that the border idea would have to wait until she was a little older, but in the meantime they could be placed above the closet and bedroom doors, on the inset panels of the doors (out of her reach).  Even above or around any of the hanging pictures would be cute!

They can be used on furniture, plastic containers that hold seasonal clothing, toys and stored in the closet.  How cute would that be to open the closet doors and see these containers personalized to match the room!  Use them on mirrors, windows in bathrooms, the ideas are endless!

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I recently visited my daughters and their families in MN. and find myself editing their room design.  One is more traditional like her mom, and the other one is very contemporary.  I feel very comfortable in both homes, and am very pleased when my daughters and I talk about ideas to make their homes even better.  A favorite past time of mine is painting; as you know if you have read any of my other blogs and having painted all of the walls in my home I now paint on canvas.   And yes, those paintings show up in my daughter’s homes, probably much to my daughter’s dismay.  While I am visiting them, I feel somewhat like a grade school kid beaming ear to ear; proud that my artwork is being displayed in a prominent area of their homes.   This last visit I was given the honor of decorating my granddaughter’s room.  I painted several canvases to hang on the walls, color coordinated it with the bedding we had picked out on another trip and I even got to paint the walls.

Granddaughter's room

Smell is so underrated , but it probably is one of the most significant senses in our lives.  A smell can bring back a childhood memory, a favorite holiday, an important person in our lives.  

There are certain scents that remind me of my favorite holidays; Thanksgiving and Christmas being my most favorite.  As the air cools, the landscapes turn golden and brown, the harvest of apples and pumpkins begins.  I pull out the spices that I relate to at this time of year; cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are a few of my favorites.  I create pot-pourri that I can simmer in a bowl of water and heat gently by candle or in a pot on the stove. 

One cinnamon stick, one part ground nutmeg, one part anise seed, two parts whole or ground cloves, and a pinch of ground ginger.    This makes a great hostess gift when layered in a glass mason jar, a holiday themed fabric trimmed to fit the top of the jar and the cinnamon stick tied with a note card, including instructions on how to use the pot-pourri!

Essential oils are another favorite of mine and can be therapeutic as well!  I like pine, (Oh, Christmas Tree…) and peppermint.  It is pretty simple to create a pleasing mixture as long as you buy good quality essential oils with a pure scent that is a natural extract.  Trust your nose! Blend favorites together, there are no rules.  Again, I like to use my simmering pot with about a cup of hot water and a couple of drops of essential oil.

Tired, stressed from all the holiday planning, shopping and running around?  These same dry mixtures (wrapped in cheesecloth) and essential oils can be added to a hot bath and have a soothing, relaxing effect on you.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly we go from Fall to the Holiday Season!  I love this time of year; the changing colors, the crispness in the air, but it is also a bittersweet time for me.  My daughters and their families live in another state, as well as my parents, siblings and their families.  I haven’t been home for the holidays since I moved away some 10 years ago.  Every year at this time I long to go “home” to share the holidays with my family.  This year seems even more difficult now that I have a granddaughter.  I would love to share these special family holidays with her and the whole family!

I have begun to pull out the boxes of decorations; a whole collection of houses, shops and people – enough to create several “villiages.”  Christmas ornaments my daughters and I have collected throughout their childhoods.  Garlands of lights and swags of greenery, holiday “themed” dinnerware and linens, down to the guest fingertip towels to decorate the bathrooms.  No detail is overlooked.

With so much to do during this season, I decorate in stages.  After pulling out all the “stuff,” I start with simple centerpieces that I can change up.  The base of my centerpieces usually starts with a basket or tray, some candles, and other natural materials such as stones, shells, pinecones…  This Thanksgiving, I am going to use a black wooden tray filled with mixed nuts (the ones in the shell).  Pewter candle sticks placed among the nuts with pumpkin colored candles (not the scented ones, they tend to distract from the meal being served).  This a simple, but elegant look to a dinner table.  You could even go out to the garden and select a few branches or flowers (we live in an area where we have flowering plants all year long) and lay them among the nuts.

I have used wrapped candies at Christmas as my base; edibiles are something guests can enjoy to snack on before or after a meal.  Coordinate the colors of the candies, candles and tray to make another fun centerpiece.  Christmas bulbs in one color and various sizes, a white tray and clear glass vases with greenery or a string of lights looks terrific!  Fill a basket with pillow stuffing, looks like snow and place a Holiday figurine or little house decorated for the holidays atop of the snow, and add couple of candles makes a great coffee or end table piece. 

This year I am going to make centerpieces for my daughters; reminding them of holidays past and to cherish each year as they set up their own homes for the holidays.

I love to entertain; the planning and the preparation is all part of it.  I think of the person(s) who will be a part of party and make meaningful and personal for them.  I don’t even mind the cleaning frenzy I get into; mind you I have three dogs and a husband that work against me at all times.

You don’t have to go all out to make your home inviting, as my husband says, “they are not coming to see how good a housekeeper you are, they are coming to see you.”   So I try to keep that in mind and not worry about the house so much as I think of little things that will make my guests more comfortable. 

I will clean up the guest room, fresh linens on the bed and towels in the guest bath.  Along with a basket at bedside that contains a book, crossword puzzles, bottled water, snacks, and pain reliever.  I even set up a small coffee bar with mugs, canister of coffee, assorted basket of teas, hot chocolate so they don’t feel they have to wait until they hear someone stirring outside their room to come out.

I place another basket in the bath with personal sized shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, soaps and I even place a bath robe and slippers in the room for their use.  

I create a gift bag and a personal note with travel size lotion and body spray, candies, a scented candle; it doesn’t need to be expensive, just personal.  I set this on the bed so they see it when they enter the room, this let’s them know how much I look forward to their visits and how much it means to me.

These little things take very little of my time, but has a huge impact on my guests.  They don’t care if I didn’t get my floors mopped or the flower beds weeded.  Best of all I get to enjoy my company and the weeds and floors can wait.

Fall has officially arrived and with it longer, cooler evenings.  The perfect time to lounge outside!  I love this time of year and look forward to creating a special little spot to enjoy it. 

You guessed it; I walk around my home and pick out items that I want to use in my outdoor room.  Seating is critical so I selected a futon that is only used when I have overnight guests, and a couple of chairs.  A few plant stands that will work as side tables and framed mirrors for the tops.  In my linen closet I found some curtains, pillows, and a throw to bring in color.

This past summer I came across some really cool french doors that some one had thrown out; they will make a great folding screen.  I also found a discarded bathroom vanity that will make a great beverage bar; another mirror could work for the top and a couple of shelves added inside to hold drinkware.

A couple of house plants that could use some fresh potting soil and add a homey touch to my outdoor living area.  I will add a candlescape and frame a couple of favorite summer photos to create the perfect “room” to enjoy.

One last thing!  How can I forget a water feature?  There’s a urn that held a plant that I managed to kill…. it will make a great water feature for my room.  Well I better get to work or my room won’t get done!  Hey, what are you waiting for?  Go create your own special area to enjoy this weather!

I’m always looking for little “touches” to change the look of a room, a table or shelf because I get bored with the same ol’ same.  I walk from room to room always on the look out for a new way to display a favorite something of mine.  I like candles; the way they smell, the flickering lights that dance across the various surfaces beneath them and I love putting a bunch together in a collection.  Someone brillant came up with the idea of “candlescape kits” and it is very popular!  I know that you have ideas and items around your home that you can create these candlescapes from your favorite things.

My grandmother’s old mason canning jars is a favorite of mine.  I group various sizes and heights in a tray, add sand, pebbles, shells, I have even used coffee beans before to fill the jars and dropped in tea lights. 

How about using several small clear plain bud vases, fill with sticks, small budding branches, or flowers and arrange on a bed of bannana leaves and place candles around the vases in a pleasing arrangement.

This next one is very easy and so elegant, also my favorite!  Take several clear glasses, jars or vases and place them on a mirror.  Using candles of same color, but of various heights and place them in and around the glass containers of choice.  You can even add some clear or colored glass florist stones to the arrangement.  You will love the way the light reflects on all the surfaces!

So go ahead and make your candlescape; it’s addicting!

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