Our Simple Christmas Decor

I’m still tinkering with my Christmas decorations, but since the big day is just around the corner, I thought I’d share what I’ve done so far.  I’ve migrated to a more “winter” look than full-on Christmas so things can stay up well into January without feeling out-dated.  That’s handy since winter in Alaska can last well into the months that most classify as “spring”.   I also find that my style is much more simple than it used to be, perhaps that’s an influence of our recent trip to Iceland where they have a very minimal Scandinavian look, or maybe it’s just a lack of time to create so much detail.

Things start out on the front porch, but I’ll share that in another post later this week.  Today we’ll start in the entry way where Red and Flint are the first of my reindeer herd to welcome guests.

Around the corner Gus hangs out above Brinley’s kennel where my cute storage bench used to be.  It was a victim of her teething stage and so now the kennel lives in it’s place.  Ahh the sacrifices we make for children….

Just past the entry the media cabinet in the family room became a bottle brush Christmas tree farm just like last year.  I’ve added the lighted houses in the pedestal cloches, a few more trees and this cute little red truck, which used to be an ornament.

The mantel has a frosted garland and trees.  All of the trees except the two twig ones light up and create a pretty glow in the evenings – or pretty much most of the day since this is winter in Alaska!

I found the light up bottle brush trees at Joann Fabrics this year and am very pleased with them, especially since I got them for a great price with a sale and a coupon!  I’ll be watching to see if they have any in their after Christmas sales.  The two mercury glass trees came from a local vintage shop called Revive.  I’d been hunting for some all over town and had pretty much given up when I found them tucked away in a display at a great price.  If she’d had more I would have snatched them up too.  They also had hollow centers and access through the trunk section so I crammed a strand of fairy lights into both to give them a soft glow as well.  I may just add a strand of the same lights to the two twig trees so everything lights up!

Next to the mantel Sebastian has a view out the window next to his own tree.  Max moved out to the living room this year from the office where he’s been the past few years.  Now he is one window over from Sebastian.

On the couch I’ve got a couple new festive pillows.  I picked up the Ho Ho Ho and tree one from Target’s after Christmas sale last year, but had to ship them to my Mother-In-Law’s house because they wouldn’t ship to Alaska.  Good thing I was able to visit and pick them up earlier this year. 🙂  The red plaid pillows are from JoAnn Fabrics’ fall line.  Pay no attention to the coating of dog hair – that’s what I try to do…

The side table next to the couch got a touch of color with this little wreath and lantern.  I found the lantern at a garage sale earlier this year for just $2 and the wreath was another JoAnn’s sale find for around $5.  I love how they look together.  This is the only time of year I decorate with red, but I love the pop of color during the long winter months.

The tree is behind the couch, next to the nativity on the curio cabinet.  When we first moved in 4 years ago I had a hard time figuring out where to put the tree, but this spot has worked out perfectly and become the tradition in our house.  We have a new tree this year, after our tree of many years stopped lighting up in several sections last year.  It’s an after Christmas clearance deal, so it’s nothing special but it will work for a few years until I can save up and somehow justify the cost of my dream tree along with the vintage style candles for it.

The tree has a bit of Scottish flair after our trip this year.  We picked up a couple of ornaments while there to continue the tradition of growing our collection.  Unfortunately one of those new ones met an untimely fate when Luna and Brinley ganged up to attack the tree soon after it went up (repeat that phrase about things you do for your kids…).  You’ll notice there’s less ornaments on the lower sections of the tree for that exact reason! But our Harris Tweed highland cow and Scottie dog are still safe… for now anyways.

I had this sign for the nativity made last year after the holidays and really like it above the creche.  It’s the perfect compliment to the simple style of my beloved Willow Tree nativity set.

Over in the dining room, Moe found a new home this season on the scroll wall hanging where we put up the holiday cards we receive.  I really enjoy seeing him more often this year and think this will be his ‘usual’ spot going forward.

Next to Moe, this new addition came to us from WA where my wonderful Mother-In-Law went on a mission to find him at an antique shop I follow online.  Several ‘elves’ have made an appearance around our home this year and I think they are great care-takers for our herd.   I haven’t named him just yet, so if you have suggestions I’m all ears.  He reminds me of the Nordic elves we saw depicted in Iceland and even the Scottish Highlands so maybe I’ll do a theme using either of those cultures.

My dear, Milo ended up in the other windowsill, where he’s safe from the dogs.  I’d be pretty heartbroken if something ever happened to him.  His expression seems to say he knows how dangerous being closer to the floor could be in this house!

On the back wall of the dining room I hung my North Pole sign from last year under the windmill and decorated the top of the buffet with faux winter greens, antlers and gold tone votives.  I’d like to make some twig luminary trees to add to this set-up and since the look is “winter” rather than Christmas I’ve got time to do that even after the holiday.

The two votives in the front are new this year.  They were a fun little find at the Alaska Chicks Vintage Market a few weeks ago.  At just $2 each I thought they were a great price too!

The new mug rack also has a few more additions to it for the holidays after the Alaska Chicks show.

This “Merry” Rea Dunn mug was one of my favorite finds that day thanks to one of my favorite vendors, Rustique Designs.  She’s who I got the other Rea Dunn mugs from and who made the reindeer sign and nativity sign!

This sweet little fella was also part of my Mother-in-Law’s adventure to the antique shop.  Isn’t he just the cutest thing ever?  While he’s not quite “Christmasy” I just couldn’t not put him out right away after she made the effort to find him for me.  Plus the little sprig he’s holding kinda looks like holly and the red rim ties him in to the season – at least in my mind. 😉

There are also little touches of Christmas in the other rooms, including this little church in the laundry room.  It started out as an ornament, but I like it much better as a decor piece here after a few little modifications.

Below the shelf is another little elf with a reindeer buddy just his size to keep him company.  These two also started life as ornaments – I think I’m sensing a trend here.

The office window where Max used to sit is now home to the lovely Daphne who joined the herd last year.  She’s got her own little tree and some pretty votives to light up the dark.

Also in the office is this sweet little fox I found at the grocery store!  He was the last in the display and just begged to come home with me.  He’s looking quite dapper on the daybed, among all the pretty pillows.  He also needs a name so keep those suggestions coming!

In the hall bathroom another couple of ornaments turned decor add a little touch of the season to the existing decor.

In our bedroom are two pretty little reindeer my sister found for me last year.  They too started as ornaments, but now they hold their own on our nightstands so we have some holiday cheer at the end and beginning of each day.

In the guest room, there are some little Santas on the nightstands.  If you follow me on Instagram, these are the find I made at that lovely store I made it out of only spending $10!

The chair in the guest room also got a little update for the season with this simple pillow I found at Hobby Lobby during our recent trip down south.  I’m so glad they already had Christmas stuff out while I was there!

So that’s the tour of our Christmas decor.  I hope you liked it!  Stay tuned to see what I’ve done out on the porch, or get a sneak peek over on Instagram! 🙂

Advertisements

Colony Christmas

We’ve been trying to make it out for the Colony Christmas festivities in Palmer the past several years, but schedules haven’t lined up.  Luckily this year they did and we were able to catch some of the merriment.  The Hubs had to work until around 3, so we decided to start with the ceremonial lighting of the iconic water tower at 5 pm and the parade right after that.

Alaska Picker helped orchestrate the lighting and housed the historic red light for the top of the tower for a while in preparation.  We spotted these awesome hats celebrating the tower, being worn along the parade route where everyone was gathered,  I wasn’t able to get a shot of them before they disappeared into the crowd.  Luckily our friends saw them too and stopped them to ask for a picture!

The parade was done on the main street in town, which has a quaint historic small town feel. Since it’s so dark this time of year, many of the vehicles in the parade were decorated with lights or pulled trailers decorated in lights.

We even spotted the Grinch far above watching the action from his modern day Mt. Crumpit.  There was no sign of Max, who I’m sure would have loved to see all the people and pretty lights!

One parade float done by a local church had a nativity scene, while others featured Christmas trees, large snowmen or pretty packages.

A new consignment shop in town had this pretty lighted arbor design with cut outs of items offered a the shop around the edge of the display.

The best entry of the night was this old truck, completely outlined in lights from a local coffee shack.

The big boom truck from the electric company was my second favorite because they decorated a good portion of the truck with lights, including a star on the grill.

After the parade we headed over to check out a bazaar at the train depot which was PACKED!  We made a quick lap to see all the products and the headed outside to catch the fireworks.  While waiting for the fireworks to start I enjoyed the light displays around the depot, including this one of a train driven by a moose.  There was also a Grinch with little Whos, the Grinch on his sleigh, moose and snowmen along with others.  There were so many people around the displays that I couldn’t get good shots of them, but I’ve shared links to shots that our friends got earlier in the evening.

The fireworks were totally worth the wait in the cold.   I made a video of them, which I’ll share on Facebook later today.  On the way back to our truck we spotted the old truck again and got to see it up close, which was even better!

While we were admiring the truck, the same friends who got the shots I linked to above spotted us and invited us to join them for dinner at a nearby cafe.  The rest of the night was spent laughing and sharing stories around a table.

It was a great way to kick off the holiday season.  I think this might need to be our new tradition, with a whole day devoted to all that’s available during the weekend!  I’d love to hear what activities you do to kick off the season, so be sure to leave a comment below.

My Christmas Wish List

Remember back when you were a kid and made your list for Santa?  It was so much fun to sit and dream up a list of all the things you’d like to get and wonder which might arrive on Christmas if you were good.

Now that I’m all grown up I tend to keep a running wish list all year, so that as budget allows I can get items from the list when I find a good deal.  Here’s a few that are still on my list, just in case anyone is wondering what to get me – complete with links where most can be ordered. 😉

At the top of my list right now is a letter board to go above the craft desk.  I’ve been eyeing them on other blogs and friend’s social media for months and love the idea of being able to change up the phrase to fit my mood, or leave little messages for the Hubs from time to time.  The size I need for that spot is a little pricey, so I’ve been watching for it to go on sale like it is now, but it’s not in the budget while I’m buying gifts for others.

 

I’ve been needing to replace the shams in the guest room for a while now, since the ones currently in there are from a bed in a bag set I bought several years before we were married.  The current ones are faded and missing ties, but I’ve made do with them because I wanted something different but wasn’t sure what, until I found these these shams.  They will coordinate with the existing bedspread and tie in the colors of the new throw pillow we got in Scotland on our trip!

Speaking of pillows, I’ve also been eyeing these check pattern throw pillows for the sofa.  I like their classic but neutral style that would work with my other seasonal pillows.  I drive the Hubs crazy with my pillow collection, which grows every year and is in constant rotation around our home, but he and the dogs always seem to enjoy them when they are snoozing on the couch!

 

There are also several small items on my list like these pot holders from the Hearth and Hand line at Target.  The pot holders we current have pre-date our marriage and are looking WELL USED.  In fact they are getting so worn I’m worried that soon they will no longer be functional.  These would be a pretty and safe upgrade!

Source: HGTV.com

Continuing in the kitchen, I’d like to update our soap dispensers.  While I still like the DIY ones I created back when we moved in several years ago, I’m ready for something different and love the look of the ones Joanna Gaines uses in her remodels on Fixer Upper like this one.  Although I’ve looked, I can’t seem to find her source and she doesn’t have any in any of her retail lines.  I found something similar, but the reviews are pretty bad so I’m still on the hunt for a set with metal heads that will be able to take the abuse of daily use at the kitchen sink.

Source: Pinterest

I’m also on the hunt for old rolling pins.  I recently changed up the decor on top of the kitchen cabinets and now have a crock I’d like to fill with a few vintage rolling pins like this.  I’m thinking I can fit 3-4 in the crock I have.  I’m sure I could find some on eBay or Etsy, but expect they’d be pricey for real vintage pieces.  I’d rather find bargains locally on ones that are just “old” since they will be displayed up high and don’t need to look good up-close.  I’ll keep an eye out at local thrift shops and on the buy/sell pages, but may also request help from my Mother-in-Law who helps run an amazing church rummage sale each year!

Another small item on my wish list is remote-or timer controlled, flameless votive candles.  I like using the small votive glass in my decor and it’s a pain to switch each candle on and off each time I want to use them.  If they were on a remote or timer like my Luminara candles it would be much easier to enjoy them.  Some I’ve seen online had horrible reviews but this set seems to hold up and work well.

I’ve also been wanting a vintage truck that I could use in my seasonal indoor decor.  I’d planned to get one for my Christmas decorating but my local Target doesn’t carry them and they are out of stock online.  I’ve heard there are similar options at Hobby Lobby and other similar retailers so maybe someone will spot a good deal on one and snag it for me. 🙂

Although we’re firmly in winter’s grasp, there are a few wishes for when the weather allows gardening again, like a new cement bird figurine to replace the one that froze before I could get everything in the yard pulled for winter.  It cracked and fell apart when I picked it up!  It was a random gift from my Mother-in-Law during one of our trips so I was pretty upset that it broke.  I’ve searched online for another just like it, but haven’t found just the right one.  During the search I did find this cute little hedgehog who might have to find a home in my garden next season!

And of course there’s a few photography items I’d love to get, including several I snagged on black Friday sales.  But one I haven’t gotten yet is a new camera strap for my backup camera.  The current one is a bit too bulky and I’d like to switch to a scarf style like I’ve been using on my primary camera for the past several months.  I’ve found several on Etsy that would be great options ranging from floral to modern and even classic.

I guess that is a pretty long list, but like I said mine runs year round – and I’d like to think I’ve been good this year, so a gal can hope right?!  I’d love to hear what’s on your list!

The Head That Wears the Crown

Right after our big trip I attended a workshop on how to make flower crowns with a well-known local artist & florist, Alaska KnitNat.  I’ve seen her work in many photographer’s images and it always looks stunning, so I was interested to learn a bit about how to create something similar for my styled shoots and special projects.  It was a “make & take” workshop I arranged to do a quick photo shoot for a friend a few hours after the workshop so we could use the crown and get some images of it, which is where the image above came from.  It’s a little different posing with a crown since it’s not something most people wear every day, but we had lots of fun with it.  Here’s the basics on how it went together.

The instructor had several flower options available to choose from and these little pink flowers, which I believe are was flowers immediately spoke to me.  I decided to use those and dusty miller that her landscaper friend had given her for experimenting along with some thistles (a nod to our recent trip to Scotland) and lavender.

The starting point is this coated florist wire.  It’s available at both JoAnn Fabrics & Micheals.  Using your own head as a measuring tool, wrap the wire around where you want it to sit and cut leaving 1-2″ extra on each end to create the tie in the back.

We opted to do a ribbon tie at this workshop because it was a bit prettier and allowed for different sizing if it was to be worn by different models.  The alternate is to leave excess room to weave or twist the two ends together.  To create attachment points for our ribbon ties we created a small loop on either end of the wire.

These loops were secured with floral tape wrapped around the wire.  From there, the pieces of ribbon were double-knotted through the ‘eye’ created by the tape on each side.   Now it’s time to start using the florals.

I got so engrossed in the creative process I apparently didn’t take any pictures of this stage, so I’ll try to describe it the best I can.  Using small sections of your selected florals (2-3 small stems or pieces arranged together), you begin to form the arrangement.  Tape the stems of each section down to the wire, working in one direction so each batch covers the stems of the previous batch.  Alternate the direction each batch points off the wire (right or left) in a cross-hatch style so that you keep things full and all the connections on the wire covered.  You also want to make sure your florals are all on the top side of the wire, so that the back side remains flat to sit against the head.

The process does take a bit of planning before you dive in since once each section goes down it’s nearly impossible to add to it because you layer each section with the sticky floral tape.  I forgot to include a thistle early on in the design of mine and had to work it back in trying to secure it without disturbing the other sections around it.  I made it work, but it wasn’t the best option.  I highly recommend just playing with a design or arrangement before you commit to the tape, or make a few practice crowns until you get it just the way you want.

I chose to make an asymmetric design rather than a full crown that goes all the way around the head, so I started my sections about a third of the way down my wire from the ribbon eye loop and stopped about a third of the distance to the other side’s ribbon tie.  If you were doing a full crown you would start closer to the eye loop and continue all the way down the wire.

Here’s me modeling the finished piece after the class.  The Dusty Miller really gave it a unique look and made it easy to transition from fall to winter.  One of the other participants in the class was a local cake maker I’ve met several times.  She also chose to do an asymmetric design with eucalyptus, lavender, thistle and statice.  It had a wonderful woodland fairy vibe and because of the flowers she chose the instructor was fairly certain she’d be able to let it air dry and keep it for years.

I enjoyed wearing my handiwork the rest of the day until my friend’s shoot, where we took turns wearing it.  I even wore it to do some shopping and got several compliments on it – although some didn’t even notice it since it was the same day as a big costume marathon in town!  Here’s one of my favorite shots with the crown from my friend’s session.  It certainly creates a whimsical look.  You can see the ribbon tie sticking out a bit in the back due to the angle.  I left it here so you could get a sense of where it tied, but I’ll probably photoshop it out in the final edit.

Because I also chose florals that kept well I was able to store it in the refrigerator and use it on a senior photo shoot the following week!  It had just started to snow and we were surrounded by evergreen trees rather than colorful leaves so it has a completely different look in this shoot.  I let the senior keep it after her shoot so she could enjoy it and feel like a princess for a few more days.

It was fun learning a new skill and I plan to put that knowledge to work for future sessions to spice up my portfolio.  Have you ever worn a flower crown or have a favorite ‘look’ that used one?  I’d love to see a picture of it for inspiration!  Alaska KnitNat also has a more in-depth, step-by-step tutorial with a video on how to create these crowns on her site, so be sure to check it out along with her other DIY tutorials for fun projects like a Modern Hoop wreath and even how to make grocery store flowers look like a professional floral arrangement!

 

My New Rack!

Hey there everyone!  I know it’s been quiet around here since our trip.  Life has been super busy and I’ve barely had time to work on projects let alone share any.  But today I’ve got a little change in the dining room to share.  We replaced the indoor herb wall that wasn’t growing to well with this simple farmhouse style rack.

It’s a perfect fit for the short wall just off the laundry room and has become the spot to display my budding collection of Rea Dunn mugs!  This was one of several larger items we hauled back to Alaska on our recent trip.  I’d ordered it some time ago and had to ship it to my sister’s house in VA so I could pick it up when we were there for my nephew’s wedding.  Here’s a wide shot to give you an idea of where it’s located, along with a sneak peek of the minimal fall decorating I did.

I love the contrast of the black distressed metal and white mugs against the tan wall.  I wish the mugs could face out to the left so they were readable from the main area, but overall it’s just what I envisioned.  I plan to add a little bunting or garland during holidays to add a bit of flair, which might be my next DIY project.

My collection is still pretty small with only four options. The MRS. one is my fave at the moment and the Relax is a close second.  The Hubs has enjoyed using the MR. a couple times already so I guess he thinks this is a good update, even if it did require patching the holes from the herb rack and repainting a section of the wall.  Good thing he loves me right?!

I’ve added a few more mugs to my collection recently that feature holiday designs so don’t be surprised if those show up on my social media feeds! 😉  I’ll be back in a day or two with another little project I did this fall, so stay tuned.

Last Minute No-Sew Halloween Pillow

Happy Halloween everyone!  I finished this project just in time to enjoy it today and am so pleased with how it turned out I just had to share.  It started with these fun spider place mats I found in the dollar section at Target.  I think the pair were just $3.

I loved the cute fringe on the edges and that the simple pattern didn’t scream Halloween since I’ve moved to more neutral decor, even for holidays.  The place mats already had hems around each edge and had a felt backing.  I’d seen several tutorials on opening up one side of double sided place mats to make pillows but since these weren’t double-sided and I don’t sew, I took the easy route with fabric glue.

While getting a little TV time in, I put a bead of glue around three edges on the back of one place mat and carefully aligned the other one to match.

The glue instructions say to wait 30 minutes to allow a good bond.  I compressed the two place mats together under a cutting board with several heavy items on top of it for about 24 hours to make sure there was a really good bond since this would be a pillow – plus it was already late at night and I had work the next day!  I was left with this cute pocket ready for filling.

I stuffed fiber fill I’d kept from one of many pillows the dogs had worn out until it started to look like a pillow.  I ran another bead of glue along the open edge and pushed the two edges closed.  Now that the pillow was filled the cutting board compression method wasn’t feasible so I dug out a bag of clips I’ve kept and used those along the edge to keep everything together.  I let that sit overnight as well because I had to be away from the house the whole next day.  One of the clips did stick a bit due to some glue that oozed out the side, but I gently pulled the spot back and was able to remove the clip without any issue.

And here’s the finished pillow!  Isn’t it adorable?!  I was at a workshop all weekend so I took advantage of a photo shoot setup to get a couple of good daytime shots for you.

The pom pom fringe was what initially drew me to the place mats and it’s the perfect finishing touch to keep this little pillow fun rather than spooky.

And it looks awesome paired with my velvet boo pillow I got at JoAnn Fabrics this season!  They look so romantic with this set-up and yet still neutral and festive.

Once it was done the Hubs pointed out that I put the place mats together in opposite directions so when you flip it over the other side is upside down, but that’s not a big deal thanks to the semi random pattern.  Since the care instructions are spot clean I plan to keep both of these pieces up high and away from the fur babies, so they last and I can enjoy them for several years.

This was such a quick and easy project that I’m sure I’ll do more like it. In fact I have a couple of place mats from our trip to IKEA last year that I plan to do something just like this with, so stay tuned for those!  Until then go grab your costume and find some treats rather than tricks! I’ll leave you with a few more shots from my fun Halloween themed photo shoot I mentioned in my previous post to get you ready.

DIY Witch’s Broom

With Halloween just around the corner I wanted to share a quick DIY witch’s broom project that was a happy accident.  It started with the purchase of these flower stems at Joann Fabrics.  I was working on creating a headpiece for a Halloween themed photo shoot and loved the look and texture of these flowers.

Upon closer inspection I realized that the flowers stems were just wrapped around branches and could be easily removed.  So I untwisted them, one-by-one while enjoying a little TV time.

I was left with two piles of pretty flowers destined for photo shoots and these two bare branch things.  I considered putting them upright in a vase or bucket with lights for a spooky arrangement, but when I saw the two together I suddenly saw a broom.

I grabbed some scrap black ribbon and wrapped the two stems together.  Normally I would have secured the ribbon with hot glue but I’m not sure I’ll use these the same way next year and I was at my office rather than at home so a few pieces of clear tape did the trick.

It looks pretty good in our office with the other Halloween decorations – follow me on Instagram and Facebook for peeks – but I wanted to get a nice shot of it so I took it back home and propped it up on the wood pile.

Not bad for a free project made from leftovers from another project!  I still think it needs something to finish it off.  Maybe a bow at the base of the stem or a hanging loop, but I can figure that out next year if I use it again.  If you have ideas in the meantime I’d love to hear them! And in case you’re wondering how the flower headpiece turned out here’s a peek from the session!

Isn’t she gorgeous?!  She’s a hair and makeup artist and did the makeup herself based on a couple of inspiration shots I sent her.  I’ll be sharing more of these awesome shots soon and give a quick recap of the location we used, which is a local historical park.  And I’ll be working with this lovely lady again in the future for some other fun ideas. 🙂