DIY Christmas Decorations

Over the years, I have created several Christmas decorations either as gifts or to use in my own home.  This weekend as I was beginning to decorate our house, I was remembering the different years when I created the decorations.  Since these are decorations I made in previous years, there are no step-by-step tutorials to go with them.  But, all three of them are easy enough that you can put them together easily.

I use two of these centerpieces in my Christmas decorations on our dining room table.  The year I made them, I made one for each of the females in my family. All of the supplies are from Michael’s or AC Moore.  You just need a glass vase, some floral foam, vase filler (the stones in my vase), and then floral bushes or picks.  I cut the floral foam and put it in the vase, and then filled around it with the stones.  Then, I cut the floral bushes apart with wire cutters and just stuffed into the foam until I had the complete look I wanted. 

The lights in canning jars is probably the easiest of all.  I just used the small strings of lights.  Mine are old strings before the days of LED lights, so they did get a bit warm, which is the reason I keep them sitting on coasters.  All you do is stuff the lights into the jar with no order, so it looks random.  Then, I cut circles of Christmas fabric, several inches wider than the jar.  I put the fabric on top of the jar and just wrapped a wire ribbon around and tied it with a bow to hold it in place. 

The last decoration is a gingerbread cookie cutter wrapped in jute twine.  The beginning and end is secured with hot glue.  Then, I attached a bit of fake greenery and berry with the hot glue as well.  If you wanted to use it as a tree ornament, you could just attach a loop of twine with hot glue to the top.  I just sit the gingerbread man on one of my shelves add a little extra texture to my decorating.

I always enjoy displaying the items that I have made, and these are simple enough that you can make a few extra for gifts.  I’ve also made several different ornaments over the years, so I will share those next.  Anyone else like creating your own Christmas decorations?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Hope you are enjoying the holiday with family and friends.  Our day is full of family time.  We are blessed to be able to get to share the day with both of our families.  As in year’s past, we will start the day at lunchtime with Bob’s family.  It is a serious event, and we always have Thanksgiving Trivia first.

My brother-in-law creates the trivia each year, and it is very competitive because of the prizes!  The prizes are treasured items like wine or lottery tickets.  Nonetheless, it is always fun!  As you can see, Amy and I were very serious about our trivia quiz last year.

After trivia, we gather around the table and share in the delicious Thanksgiving meal.  And, before we can depart for the day, we play a game of hoops.  Again, it is a serious game like H-O-R-S-E, or sometimes S-H-I-T because of a lack of time.

I’m pretty terrible at basketball, which you maybe able to tell from my poor form shown above.  It is still fun though.  Some shots are crazy ones like one eye closed, tongue sticking out, and standing on one leg.  But, at least it burns off a little bit of the turkey dinner.  Before we end the celebrating with Bob’s family, we have made a tradition of our post-basketball line-up picture.

Looks like it must have been a nice day last year, as we are not all bundled up and freezing.  Today is predicted to be another beautiful day for our Thanksgiving basketball!

After just a few hours with Bob’s family, we return to our house, pick up Puddy and start the drive to my parent’s home.  Crazy as it is, we take two cars. So, Puddy gets to ride with me on the way, because he ends up returning home with Bob at the end of the evening.  I stay with my family so that we can continue our tradition of  Black Friday shopping.

The tables at my family are full of people and food!  My Mom thought ahead when she designed her floor plan in this house.  Her kitchen and dining room are connected with a large open doorway.  This design specifically helps to accommodate our family on holidays.  We connect the kitchen table to the dining room table for one long table so that we can all sit and share the day together.  This year should look very much the same, my parents, siblings and their spouses, nieces and nephews, and my grandmother and her husband.  My younger sister got married this year, but her husband is currently in Georgia for his National Guard training.  We will miss having him here with us to share his first Thanksgiving as a member of our family, but he will definitely be in our thoughts and prayers, and fortunately he will be returning home to my sister next week.

What are your Thanksgiving Day traditions?  Anyone else have trivia or basketball?  Or, what about some serious Black Friday shopping planning?  Whatever your Thanksgiving traditions, I hope that are able to enjoy the day and remember all the reasons we have to be thankful.

Bamboo Chairs – Before and After

I took my mother-in-law on one of my recent thrift shopping adventures.  We were actually shopping for her, she wanted to find a new nightstand.  But, of course I had fun looking as well.  We both lucked out at Charlie’s Used Furniture in Lancaster.  As she was checking out nightstands, I was just browsing the store.  I found a pair of bamboo chairs.

They were definitely used, but in good enough condition for me.  I didn’t really know where I would put them, but I inspected them and knew they could easily be reupholstered. I still wasn’t sure until the owner ventured over to see how we were doing, and informed me that the pair were half price.  So, instead of $19 each, I could have the pair for $19.  SOLD!  Meanwhile, my mother-in-law also found a nightstand she liked, so we did good on our first stop of the day.

I had flipped the chairs over to see how they were put together, so when I started my disassembly at home, it was a pretty easy process.

There was only 1 screw in the front and 2 on the rear of the chair holding the seat to the base.

I removed the seat and was left with the fabric staples to remove.

I found a surprise after removing the fabric, which I just use a flat screwdriver and then pliers to pull out the staples.

There was another layer of fabric under the first one.  I’m sure this was the original fabric, and the previous owner had just added new fabric  on top of it.  I wanted to make sure that the foam was in good condition, so I also removed this layer of fabric.  Once all the fabric was gone, I found the foam in very good condition.

I had some batting on hand, so I just added that as an extra layer to maintain the condition of the foam and hold everything in place before attaching my fabric.  I purchased 1/3 a yard of fabric at Jo-Ann Fabrics, on sale for only $14.99/yd, so my cost was $10.  The fabric is called Signoria Harvest, and it was in the 55″ rolls of home decor fabric.

The batting and new fabric are secured only with the staples.  I do one side at a time, then the opposite side and then repeat the same steps on the other two sides, saving the corners for last. I didn’t want a seam to show on the corners, so I rounded them the best I could and stapled.  That part took two hands, so I don’t have an in-process picture.

To make sure I was fine with the corners, I tested it by putting the seat back on the chair.  Looks good to me.  I also used some wood glue to secure sections where the accent details (not sure what they are called) were coming loose.  Then, I had to get Bob’s help to secure the seats back on the chair, as it was much more difficult putting the screws back in than taking them out.  I held the seat in place and he used his drill to make them really secure.

 For now, the chairs have found a place in the basement beside the console table and under the sconces.

Puddy gives his approval by testing them out in their new home! 

While I was rearranging, I started to take down some of my Fall decor and change up the look on the console table.  I still feel like it needs something else.  I seem to always struggle with getting the right look on tablescapes and vignettes….it takes me a few tries before I get it right, and I have to live with it a while in between the tries to decide what I think about it.   Any suggestions on how to finish off this spot in our basement?  Am I the only one who is ready to take down all the Fall decor and start decorating for Christmas?

Natural and Faux Fall Decor

I already posted some of my Simple Fall Decorating here.  But, I didn’t stop there.  I added some more touches of Fall to our house, some compliments of nature, and some faux items that I picked up here and there.

Our porch is a combination of the two.  I filled my flowerpots with pumpkins and guords.  The guords were compliments of my sister’s garden, which I very much appreciated.  The wreath is one of my yard sale finds from a few years ago.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to hang the same old wreath again, but I also didn’t want to spend money on a whole new one.  So, I choose a few new picks at Jo-Ann Fabrics to give it a bit of an update.  I added the ones with the pine cones, sprays, and the red flower.  It was just enough for me to feel like it had been refreshed and good for another Fall season.

This vase is another combination – real pine cones and faux leaves that I picked up at Dollar Tree.  I’ve used real leaves in this same form in previous years, but they would always break apart too easily, so this year I bought the fake ones so that I could use them again and again.  I’ve had the same real pine cones for a few years now.  I just bag them up and pack them away, and they have stayed in good shape.

This is our decorations on the coffee table.  I keep it pretty simple, because our coffee table gets used.  I like to be able to easily push the tray out of the way.  I know some people are very opposed to fake flowers, but for Fall I liked being able to just pop them in the vase and keep them for the whole season.  The vase is another one of the vases that I picked up for free at a yard sale and then spraypainted. 

The see through green was transformed with a few coats of metallic gold spray paint. I think it really helps to bring out the texture in the vase.

The leaves in the crock is actually from my Mom’s house (just ignore the dog bone).  Mom chuckled as she said she decorated for Fall and pointed to the crock, but I thought it was a nice simple idea to add a touch of Fall to her house.  I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing with the world 🙂

I shared our Fall dining room table before, but I added the colorful gourds to each end to bring in some more nature.

How do you decorate for Fall?  Natural, Faux, or a combination?

DIY Show Off Fall Festival Party

Our Basement Retreat

When we bought our home, the basement was unfinished, but we knew that we wanted to finish it some day.  Since our house is a ranch home, finishing the basement allowed us to double our square footage.  Before we finished the basement, it only was used for storage and a space for my workouts.

We began the process of finishing the basement during Winter 2010.  As much as we like to do the work ourselves for most of our projects, this was not one of them.   We chose to hire a contractor for our basement project.  It took him and one other laborer about 4 months to complete the entire basement.  Bob and I worked closely with the contractor to create a design that worked for us.  We wanted a very open family room, a bar area, a workout room, an office/music room and a bathroom. Now, we have just we wanted and envisioned for our basement, and the only part Bob and I had to do was paint!

This is the view of the family room area from the bottom of the steps.  The one door you see is to our storage area.  I use it for my seasonal decor, paint, and we keep our patio furniture in there during the off-season.

To the right is a small dining area.  I imagine it would be a great game space too, but we haven’t used it for that purpose yet.  This area is full of my DIY projects.  The table and chairs used to be painted blue – I searched for a before picture, but it was long before I thought of blogging.  It is my one successful staining project though.  The chairs were also the first ones that I reuphostered.  The small side table was a $5 craigslist find that I painted.  And, the wicker chair was free from a friend and I just made my cushion and pillow.  There is a matching footstool that you can’t see that I got for 10 cents and reupholstered as well.

The bar is to the left of the dining area.  From the very beginning, we imagined a bar in this space and we are so happy with the final design.  It just needs a back splash, which will be one of our upcoming Fall/Winter projects.  We bought a beautiful glass tile for it this year, we just need to find time to install it.

This is the view from behind the bar into the dining area.  The door you see on the far left is to the storage/furnace area.  The two open doors are the bathroom (left) and workout room (right).

I originally didn’t want a bathroom in the basement, mainly because we have three upstairs!  But, I am so glad we added it.

The workout room is quite a change from what I used before.  To take the picture, I had to stand in front of the TV, so that is the only part you cannot see.

This is the view from the sofa.  Bob and I saw shelves similar to this in a magazine.  The shelves weren’t used for a television in the magazine, but we shared it with our contractor and he customized it to fit our needs exactly.  He also added the idea of the cut-outs on each side to give it more definition.  And, just to orient you more, the door on the left is to the workout room.  The door on the right is to the Office/Music Room.

The Office/Music Room is Bob’s space.  We used to share the office space in one of the upstairs bedrooms, but when we finished the basement, Bob made this  his space.  He can play away and I can just barely hear it upstairs.  Plus, I took over what used to be the office upstairs and made it my craft room.  I’m trying to wrap up some projects in the craft room and then I’ll share pictures of it with you.

 You’ve already seen this corner, it is directly outside of Bob’s Office/Music Room.

So, that is the tour of our basement retreat.  How do you use your basement?  Or,  do you even have a basement?  My first home didn’t have one, so I had to use the attic for all my storage there.