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The Season for Giving

So often, at this time of year we get wrapped around the gift buying, the decorating, the food, the family, the overall excess and attempting to make it a “perfect” Holiday.  I am guilty of this myself.  There are so many people deserving of our charity and kindness this season and so many who could just use a little boost.  There are a ton of organizations to choose from to give your time or a small donation to that would make such a difference, everything from supporting your local food pantry to helping refugees from Aleppo or supporting our troops.  Definitely do your research and ensure that you are supporting a reputable organization or choose one that you have worked with before.  Most significant organizations, like the USO https://www.uso.org, have websites where you can make a charitable gift in less than a minute.

Over the Holidays I’m taking a short break from the blog, Happy Holidays to all and a Safe and Healthy New Year!  Talk to you in early January!!

 

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Christmas Trees, Themed or Traditional?

I love the look of my eclectic Christmas tree with a mish-mash of ornaments that have either been handed down, gifted or collected from vacations and places we have lived.  Without getting super sentimental, it’s a reflection of our family and the experiences we have had together and I think it’s just perfect!  Does it all coordinate and match? Nope. Not a bit.  Does it look gorgeous enough to grace the pages of a magazine? Unfortunately no, and even as a person that loves beautiful coordinated things, I still think it’s just the perfect tree.  To me, it’s a traditional look because that’s what I grew up with.  Alternatively, when we spend our holiday at our vacation property in the Outer Banks our Christmas tree is a bit more coordinated and themed, naturally, with a beachy look.  The ornaments, store-bought, homemade and found are all in turquoises and sandy champagne colors.   I like both the unique and the coordinated Christmas trees.  Which kind of tree graces your home?  Here are some of the most gorgeous trees from traditional red and green to themed  to totally unique varieties.

Collected and Multicolored Trees

 

Traditional Red Themed

 

 

Silver and Gold

 

 

Coastal Theme

 

 

Blue Trees

 

 

Pink Trees

 

Totally Unique

 

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Window Wreath How-To

In keeping with my love of classic colonial design, I have for years admired the timeless look of putting a wreath hung by ribbon in each window.  I also am a fan of a candle in each window during the holidays and have been sporting this look for some time now.  This was the year I decided to make the investment in wreaths for each of my 8 front windows, and it was neither as difficult nor as expensive as I thought it would have been.  Here’s how it’s done.  First, a before shot of my house, boring!

windows-before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll need:

  • One evergreen or faux evergreen wreath for each window (most people only do the front of their home). I used 24” diameter wreaths for my windows.
  • Wired ribbon, I used 4 spools that were 10 yards each and at least 2.5” wide
  • Floral wire
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Scissors
  • Wire cutters
  • Stapler and staples

The first thing I did (and I bribed my kids to help which made it go SOOO much faster) was remove the screens from my windows and cleaned the glass.  This will allow you to hang the wreaths from the inside and will overall look very neat and clean.

Next, before you hang the wreaths you probably want to put a bow on them.  A bow can either be placed at the top or the bottom of the wreath.  I opted to put my bows at the top.  Making the bow is the most time consuming part of the whole process and I’ll be honest, it can take some practice to get them right.

Cut a length of wire about 5 inches long and place it nearby.  Take a length of ribbon of about 18 inches but don’t cut it off the spool, but pinch it at the 18” mark.  This will leave one of the 2 “tails” of the bow.  Take about 3 to 4 inches (depending on how large you want your bow to be and how big your ribbon is) make a loop and repinch it.

1st-loop-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s going to be a lot of pinching going on for the next few minutes – warning – your fingers will probably cramp up.  Turn the ribbon about a quarter turn and make and pinch another loop.

3rd-loop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repeat this process several times until you have 5 or 6 loops, just until it looks right.  Brilliantly descriptive, eh?  Take your pre-cut length of wire and wrap it around the area where you are pinching and twist it very tight so that the loops stay intact and are held together.

wire-box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pull the ribbon another 18” from the spool and cut it free from the spool.  Angle cut the end of each tail.  Ta-da! You made a bow.  Once you get the hang of this technique it is such a great skill to have in your repertoire for gift wrapping, floral arranging, it really comes in handy!

Next, it’s on to attaching the ribbon that will actually hang the wreath.  Pull several feet of ribbon from the spool (will depend on the size of your window and the size of the wreath).  I like to hang mine about halfway down the window so about 3.5 feet of ribbon was enough for me.  Again, leave this length of ribbon attached to the spool and wrap it around the “top” of the wreath leaving an overlap of about 4 to 6 inches in the back.  Staple the ribbon where it overlaps.

hanging-ribbon-staple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also like to add a few dots of hot glue between the 2 lengths of ribbon to really hold it.

hanging-ribbon-glue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next attach your premade bow.  You could hot glue it on, but over time, especially if you live in a warm climate, this could come free, so I prefer to wire mine on.

ribbon-attach-to-wreath3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a length of about 5 inches and wire the bow to the wreath.  Since I put my bow at the top of the wreath I wired mine around both the wreath and the top ribbon for extra security.

ribbon-attach-to-wreath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now it’s time to hang your wreath!  You could measure out exactly how long you want to hang them but I used the grids on my window and just eyeballed it.  Open the top of your window and dangle the wreath out, holding onto the spool end of the ribbon.  Lower the wreath to the place you want it and close the top window.  Cut your ribbon from the spool with about 5 inches to spare.  Use this excess to tie a knot (depending on how substantial your ribbon is you may want to do this several times over so your wreath stays secure in the window).  If you have wood windows you could also thumbtack them to the frame, but the knot method works for vinyl or wood windows.

knot-in-ribbon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut off any excess ribbon hanging inside the window.

close-knot-in-window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repeat for all of your windows, and once complete be sure to take a trip outside to make sure they all look even and if necessary just pop inside and reknot if a wreath needs to go up or down!

wreath-at-halfway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got both the wreaths and ribbon on sale and spent under $40 for the project.  Besides cleaning the windows it took me about 2 hours to complete and hang all 8 wreaths, though I did have this little helper.

wreaths-lil-helper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Window wreaths: Follow this simple tutorial to add classic holiday charm to your home exterior with window wreaths!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get to decking those halls!

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Christmas Town, USA – Picturesque Places for Visiting and Decorating Inspiration

Welcome back from Thanksgiving! Did everyone rush home to get their holiday decorations up? I didn’t. Maybe over the course of this week it’ll happen. I like pulling holiday inspiration from all over when decking my halls for the holidays. So many different towns across the USA have their own iconic feel and decorate for the holidays in their own special way. Here are a few that make for a fun holiday vacation destination or lend us some picturesque decorating style inspiration.

 
1. Williamsburg, VA. If you’ve never been to Williamsburg, VA during the holidays, you should go. It can definitely get a little touristy, but classic colonial Christmas quaintness abounds. Copy-cat an iconic Williamsburg wreath, which is refined and yet inexpensive to make. Gather a pre-made evergreen wreath and wire on apples, pineapples, oranges, pheasant feathers or other natural elements.

christmas-williamsburg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Asheville, NC. Asheville is a classy place year-round and during the holidays they up their game. The famous Biltmore Estate is decorated to the nines and lends a ton of opulent decorating ideas.

christmas-asheville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Nantucket, MA. The annual Nantucket Christmas Stroll is coming this weekend (you can bet it’s too late to find yourself a rental or hotel).  I’d prefer to miss the hub-bub of the stroll and opt for a quieter snowy winter weekend, but no doubt Nantucket does coastal Christmas perfectly.

christmas-nantucket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Charleston, SC. Think that sunshine, palm trees and Santa don’t mix?  Think again.  Mixing the charm of the old South with the nostalgia of the holidays results in whimsical and creative ideas for either coastal or traditional decorating.  To get the Charleston Christmas look, work in magnolia garlands, Spanish moss, and glittered seashells.

christmas-charleston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Santa Fe, NM. “Santa” is in the name for crying out loud, so you know they must do Christmas right!  You won’t find cheesy inflatable Santa’s but instead a combination of adobe, southwest architecture, simple luminarias, chili peppers on wreaths and maybe even a cactus with lights!

christmas-santa-fe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Leavenworth, WA. After living in Germany for a few years I’m a sucker for old-fashioned Bavarian towns and Christmas markets in the streets.  That same feeling is available right here in the U.S. of A.  With the Cascade Mountains in the background, Leavenworth is reminiscent of a perfect little Alpine town.

christmas-leavenworth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Cape May, NJ. Known for its Victorian architecture, Cape May offers an alternative Coastal Christmas.  As if Victorian wasn’t decorative enough these Jersey residents add more lights, more greenery and more bows to their charming gingerbread houses.

christmas-cape-may

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where will you visit for holiday decorating inspiration?