Thursday, December 23, 2010

Greenhouses and potting sheds ...

I've always loved the look of weathered greenhouses and potting sheds, but we just don't have cold enough winters to justify building one. For the most part, even annuals are perennials in South Texas, and I'm getting ready to plant Larkspur and Poppy seeds in the ground this week, for heaven's sake.

But, a girl has dreams, and I long for a rustic shed made of salvaged materials that smells of soil and mulch. Let's chalk it up to the Earth Mother in me.



I'm really attracted to the greenhouse above. It has the feel of both greenhouse and potting shed, with a bit of chicken coop charm.  This one is made from totally recycled materials.


In these two photos above from Deep Energy Retrofit (left) and Make zine (right), the use of old, recycled windows is a clever and earth-friendly greenhouse construction method.


I could spend an afternoon here any season of the year. This photo by Echo is a seductive whisper in my ear.


 

It's the little details that personalize a space, like these garden pulls (left) shown in Country Living magazine.

That window begs for a Potato Vine to wind its way along the sill.

Maybe a potting shed would clear up my stash of pots, pails and gardening tools. Both of the spaces below corral the clutter beautifully. Images from My Sparrow (left) and Martha Stewart (right).



But, I have to say that the simplicity of a potting bench, with its eco-friendly nature and farmhouse character, may be all I need to satisfy my green thumb and design esthetic.


Above image comes via Remodelista. The homeowner had a covered walkway along a wall that filled the bill for potting space. They simply added a rustic table and shelves to house their gardening gear. Love it.

But, how clever is this? Recycling wizardry has turned an old blue door into a green gardening center.  Desire to Inspire shared this project photo that makes me weak at the knees. It's really straightforward - an old door, a few pieces of reclaimed wood for shelves and supports, a bit of wire and 'S' hooks for hanging tools, and there you have it. Find a nook for setting up the gardening center and start collecting your wares for oh-so-inspired spring planting.



Saturday, December 18, 2010

Home for the holidays ...

From our home to yours ... Merry Christmas! I know you have a lot going on during the holidays, but if you have a few minutes, I'd like to welcome you into my home so we can share the spirit of Christmas together.

This is my sparkle year, with a color palette of gold, silver, graphite, and metallics in pearl and champagne.

Remember my daughter Kathryn's handmade acorn wreath I posted a couple of weeks back? Here it is (above) at the front door along with our small Welcome Tree in the entry.



I probably won't light a fire anytime soon, so I have sewn a couple of cushions for the hearth in case we need extra seating for family and friends. The revamped topiaries I featured in my blog a few weeks ago provide just the right amount of glimmer on the mantle.



Just for fun, I accessorized my accessories, too. Sparkle, sparkle!



Remember this hideous little chest (above left) that I transformed over the summer? It was one of my Before & After blog posts. Well, now I love it, and the drawers hold oodles of napkins and napkin rings in a corner of my dining room. It's fun dressing it up for the holidays, too.

On the dining room table, you might recognize my holiday project from last week's post, a zippy-quick handsewn tablerunner. The graphite linen and gold trim works well with the casual elegance of my centerpiece. Evergreen stems, ribbon and bows, ornament balls, a glass compote and some gold-leaf leaves in my holiday color palette dress the table for dinner.


Merry Christmas to me! I couldn't resist adding these '4 Calling Birds' dessert plates by Rosanna (above left) to my dishware collection. So, I'm using them for my holiday tablesetting. The lovely gold birds are so festive, yet they can be used year-round since they do not shout Christmas.

I love the way my wrapped guest favors pick up the golden scheme. I like to add a special collected trinket to the bow. This year, I'm using clock parts I purchased at the Marche aux Puces de Clignancourt (flea market) in Paris.


Here's a helpful hint. I love to use votive candles throughout my house during the holidays, but digging the wax out of the holders afterward used to be a pesky task. I started pouring salt into the candleholder as a base and nestling the candle into the salt. It looks like snow, and as the candle burns down the wax drips onto the salt. Easy to pour out and no scraping or cleanup!


Come join us in the family room for a little hot chocolate, put your feet up and relax before you have to get back to last minute preparations for family and friends. We really enjoy our family tree with vintage ornaments and handmade rememberances of generations past and present.

Merry Christmas, my friends! 

Holiday Project: Christmas table decor

It's time to get the holiday table set and ready for guests. There are only a handful of things to consider when designing a holiday tablesetting. Let's chat about those considerations using a few inspirational photos to demonstrate.


Color Palette: Pick a single color or a palette of complementary colors to influence your design scheme and adhere to it faithfully. It would be best if your palette reflects a similar family of colors used in your room decor. There is no mistaking the white on white Christmas concept in these images from My Romatic Home.


Centerpieces: Glittering gold makes an unforgettable statement in this glamorous tablescape featuring merchandise sold on HSN. Keep centerpieces low enough that guests will not need a booster seat in order to converse with others across the table, and remember, you can never go wrong with candles -- oodles of candles.


 
Bring out your best: Bring in touches of silver to add pinache to your table. Polish what you have to a high shine and let it be the focus of your high style. Photos via Better Homes and Gardens (above left) and Country Living (right) magazines.


Take artistic license: You really want to use a burlap tablecloth with grandmother's best silver servers? I say, "Why not!" Follow your artistic spirit within to create a painterly, casually elegant masterpiece. I'll slide off my shoes under the table and no one will be the wiser. Image from Decor Dir.


Make the most of traditions: Enjoy the sentiment of long-held family traditions or create new ones to pass along to the next generation. Why not trim a few branches from the olive tree this year and add them to your centerpiece. Sharing a symbol of peace with your guests is a great way to conclude the year. And, if your roses are still in bloom as mine are (yes, we're in Texas where Christmas weather is like a Canadian summer) then, add them to an earth-friendly celebration like the one shown above. Image via She Knows.


Placesetting refresher ...

It's time to start thinking about placesettings with Christmas dinner just days away. So, consider this as a public service announcement. Before your in-laws arrive for the holidays, it might be good to have a refresher course on where the salad fork goes and which glassware to use. Let's stave off embarrasement and confirm which butter plate is ours so we don't eat the dinner roll meant for the guest seated in the next chair!


FORMAL TABLESETTING
The silverware used at a formal table setting should be sterling silver flatware.  It is not necessary that all the sterling silver match, although I like to have forks match and knives and spoons match. Dessert sterling silver flatware, which can be set at the table or brought in with the desert plates, need not match the dinner flatware.

Didn't inherit grandmother's silver service or planning a less formal tablescape? Not to worry. In this day and age, stainless steel will do just fine. But, whatever you use make sure it's the best you have for festive occasions and polished to a blinding shine.

INDIVIDUAL PLACE SETTINGS
Give your guest ample elbow room.  About two feet from plate center to plate center is ideal.  If the chairs have narrow and low backs, people can sit a bit closer together.  I'm a big fan of chargers, so those always are first put around the table at equal distances and set with dinner plates.  Next, the sterling silver flatware is placed in the order of its use, with the implements to be used first farthest from the plate.  The meat fork is placed to the left of the plate, then the salad fork on the outside of the meat fork. Just to the right of the plate is the meat knife with the cutting edge toward the plate.  Outside the knife is the soup spoon. If serving seafood, the seafood fork will rest outside on the right of the soup spoon.

If bread or rolls are to be served, a butter plate should be used.  The butter plate is located above the forks at the left of the place setting.   A butter knife is laid across it, slightly diagonally from upper left to lower right, with the sharper edge of the blade toward the edge of the table.

If you plan to serve coffee with the meal, the cup and saucer go to the right of the setting, with the coffee spoon on the right side of the saucer (not shown in diagram).

The wineglasses chosen for the formal table setting depend upon the menu, but their table setting arrangement is according to size, so that little ones are not hidden behind large ones.  Place them directly above the knives in a straight row slanting downward from the upper left.  Generally only one - at the most, two - wines are served, so a water goblet and one (or two) wineglasses are all that are necessary. I've never served sherry in my life, so there are never any sherry glasses on my table. Frequently wine is not served at all, and iced-tea glasses or simply tumblers for water or mugs for beer are used.

Let's review what type of glassware is appropriate for the drinks being served.

GLASSWARE



Water: full body glass with short stem. Hold the glass by the stem to preserve its chill.

Champagne: a narrow fluted glass, which reduces the wine’s surface area and keep the bubbles from dissipating.

Brandy: brandy snifter. Roll the snifter between both hands and then cup it in one hand – warming the glass brings out the bouquet in brandy.

White wine: slightly smaller glass with wider bowl to capture the bouquet. Hold the glass by the stem to preserve its chill.

Red wine: the bigger of the wine glasses. Hold the glass at the bottom of the bowl where it meets the stem.

Burgundy Reds and Pinot Noirs: a wide bowl to bring out their complexity. The glass is slightly taller than the white wine glass.


Let it snow ...

I can say with some degree of certainty, "If I want to see snow during the holidays, I better build a snow globe." The current weather forecast for Christmas Day in San Antonio is 73° F/ 22° C. Our last meaningful snowfall was in 1985, so there is actually a generation of South Texans who have never seen a blanket of white covering the land. Sad, isn't it.



I know European cities have been brought to a standstill in recent days due to heavy snow. Just look at this week's photos of Paris from CF News 13 (above left) and Christine Marie (above right). Even Paris' parked bikes were wrapped in white! So, please send us what you don't need or want.

Well, until I see the little flakes fall, I am going to build my San Antonio snow globe and share the tutorial with you. By the way, this is a great craft project for kids with adult supervision.

What You'll Need
  • A globe with rubber base and plastic stand
  • Epoxy
  • Ceramic or plastic ornament
  • Distilled water
  • Liquid glycerin
  • Glitter
How to Make It
  1. Look for 7- and 8-inch flower aquariums, which include a globe, rubber base, and plastic stand, at floral shops or online.
  2. Use expoxy to attach ceramic or plastic ornament or figurine to the rubber base, which also serves as the lid.
  3. Fill the globe with distilled water to just below the opening; add about 1 tablespoon of liquid glycerin (found in soap-making sections of hobby stores) to thicken the water.
  4. Sprinkle with glitter.
  5. Working over a sink, slowly invert the decorated portion of the rubber base into the water; stretch the seal of the rubber base over the lip of the globe.
  6. Attach the plastic stand, turn the globe upright, and watch the snow fall!
  7. For extra sparkle, stand the snow globe in a silver wine bottle coaster.

Image and tutorial from Better Homes and Gardens.


Holiday Project: Inspired decor ...

Inspirational eye candy for holiday decorating is always a treat. No matter what your design taste may be, there are creative examples for bringing home the Christmas cheer.

Thoroughly Modern ...

Photo from Cal Finder.


Images from Contemporary Home magazine (left) and Raftertales (right).

Transitional ...

Photo from Country Living magazine.

Image via Room Envy.

 Photos from Home Decor Exchange (above left) and Country Living magazine (right).

Traditional ...



Images via Home Decor Options (left) and Unique Structure (above right).



Waterfront living ...



Holidays seem brighter when living at the beach. Both of the images (above and below) look like they would fit nicely on a waterfront, decked out in Christmas finery.  Images from Home Decor Arcade (above) and Lookiloos (below).



Holiday Project: Wire hanger wreath

Here's a super simple Christmas wreath tutorial that comes from decorator and stylist Eddie Ross.

Take one of these...


and bend it into the form of a circle. Then, grab your glue gun and as many round ornaments in varying sizes as you can find. You'll need about 80 in all.



To secure the metal cap to the ball, dab a little hot glue and press. That way, the cap will remain attached as the ornaments are strung.



Next, untwist the end of the hanger, then string one ornament at a time, making sure to alternate the placement and colors as desired. Use smaller sizes to fill in the gaps!



Check out the final result! The hook end of the hanger is covered with bubblegum pink satin ribbon and a bow. How simple and beautiful is that?

Tutorial and photos via Eddie Ross.
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