I love DIY Christmas decorations.  For the  last few years, I have made ornaments and decorations for my home and for gifts.  There have definitely been a few hits and misses.  My cone-shaped yarn christmas trees-a hit.  My green pipe cleaner monogram ornaments with stick-on jewels-a miss.  In all honesty, they were supposed to look like Christmas wreaths in the shape of letters, but ended up looking more like a green sparkly blob.

But the one I’m about to tell you about is almost too simple.  I came across the idea while browsing Apartment Therapy, an awesome interior design blog if you’ve never heard of it:

I already had the yarn (left over from the yarn christmas trees from two years ago) and, of course, sticks are free (just pulled a few dead ones off the tree in my front yard–where everything is dead now-a-days thanks to the record-breaking cold snap we had last week!)  A free project…that make-e me very happy!  Especially since my paycheck this time of year is spent before I even deposit it!

With no further ado, the instructions:

Step 1:  Wind the yarn around your hand 100 times.  This will give you approximately a baseball-sized pom-pom.  Wind it around two fingers (or your child’s hand) for a golfball-sized pom-pom.  Make sure not to wrap too tightly or else it will be difficult to remove it from your hand intact. For the smaller pom-poms, you can wrap the yarn around 75-80 times and still get the same fluffy effect.


Step 2:  Use another piece of yarn (of the same color) to tie the wound ball of yarn down the middle.  It is important to make sure that you tie it tight and exactly in the middle.  Now you should have loops on the top and bottom. 


Step 3:  Using scissors, cut the loops down the middle on both sides.  If you plan to hang the pom-pom, leave one loop un-cut.



Step 4:  Trim the pom-pom for a more uniform look.  You don’t have to do this step if you prefer the more disheveled look.

I decided to hang my pom-poms, of varying sizes and colors on my free twigs.  I grouped the twigs together in a vase so that they swayed in one direction.  I also used jingle bells (left over from yet another homemade Christmas decoration of yore) as filler for the bottom of the vase.

As you can see, I haven’t exactly found a spot to put this little creation of mine.  For now it is sitting on our kitchen island. 

You could also use the pom-poms as Christmas ornaments, hair bows, key fobs, etc. 

Are any of you planning to make your own Christmas decorations this year?  I’d love to hear about it!

You can also find a more professional-looking tutorial on how to do the above project here.


My Style

For as long as I’ve enjoyed decorating I have tried to single-out a specific style that defines my own…flea market chic….yard sale ecclectic…the list goes on.  I certainly can appreciate any style, but I just can’t escape the one that gets my heart racing and gives me the itch to scour my local thrift store for “diamonds in the ruff.”  Its funny, because if you visit my house, I’m 99.9% sure “vintage modern” is not the first term that would come to the mind.  There is a vast and deep valley between what I would like my house to look like and what my house actually looks like.  But I’ve done (what I think atleast) the best with what I have to work with (which is mainly a bunch of hand-me-downs and the occasional garage-sale find.)  I love giving old furniture or accessories a new lease on life.  Maybe its the recycling, tree-hugger in me or maybe its the hoarder, either way, I get a little thrill when I repurpose something. 

So where do you find this old stuff?  Your grandma’s attic? Perhaps.  But in this cyber-age…you can hit the motherload just by visiting Craigslist.  Yes…I so jumped on that bandwagon a few years too late.  It kills me to think of all the great furniture I’ve missed out on during that time, too.  But I’m trying to catch up on lost time I guess–I’ve visited the site almost everyday since “discovering” it a few months ago.  There really is some great stuff (and a lot of hideous stuff) for sale. For instance, today I found this awesome armoire (for $45, I might add!)….


Which reminded me a lot of this beautiful redo on younghouselove a few months back….

Think of the possibilities!  Its nothing a bucket of white paint and some wallpaper can’t handle.

Or, how about this cabinet for just $40….

Which would look great as a storage cabinet for bathroom towels and toiletries or for storing linens and fine china (as in the picture below)…

Again, just a little bit of paint and some crown moulding will do it.  And…how about this cabinet and hutch set (only $50)…

Which I think would fit perfectly into this dining room (after a little refinishing in a honey/walnut shade, of course)….

So if you happen to live near Jacksonville….there are some serious deals out there today (if you are willing to add a little elbow grease!)

Our problem is that, from the start, we have just accumulated random furniture items, with no real design plan in place.  I always knew what I kinda-sorta-wanted (which has definitely changed as the years go on,)  but I  have always felt obligated to use what we had to try to get there.  There is a part of me that says, “let’s just sell it all and start again from scratch.”  But, as much as that would be such a liberating experience, I’m pretty sure my husband won’t live without a tv-watchin’ couch until we find one that fits my dream living room picture that I’ve conjured up in my head.  So, for now, I will stick to my magazine cut-outs and emails-to-myself-of-pictures-of-rooms-I-love-that-I -come-across-on-the-internet (my inbox is full of them) for inspiration.  But I will no longer be afraid to ditch the overstuffed, tan couch for something more sleek, possibly tufted, or maybe leather, and of course, somewhat inexpensive, that I may find on Craigslist.  Because sometimes you just can’t force style on a piece of furniture….its got to be born made with it.

Inside Out

Hopefully, you all had a tummy-filling and thankful holiday last week.  I know I sure did.  And, as usual, it went by so fast  I found myself back in my little work cubicle today as if it had all been a dream.  I apologize for not posting for a few weeks, but we were/are having some technical difficulties with our laptop (and…as I say this… I better press the “save” button ’cause who knows how long I’ve got left on this thing…it could crash again any minute!) But, as for what I’ve been doing in the meantime….

Now that the weather can finally be considered agreeable (atleast here in Florida), I’ve had the itch to spend most of my day outside.  That’s what I love about winter in Florida…fewer bugs, lower temperatures and more dinners on the porch.  While I’d love to say the picture below is of my porch, sadly it is not….

 No…my porch has been taken over by my cat’s litter box and my daughter’s plastic toys (mainly her sandbox.)  Lets just say…its difficult to smell the mandeville vine past the kitty litter. 

My husband and I never really spent any moola trying to dress-up our back porch.  Basically, all the furniture leftovers end up there (a la the misfit toys in the movie “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”)  We had a wicker table and chair set from my in-laws, but you had to sit at your own risk, since the woven wicker seat was holding on by a thread.  We also had a small wood conversation set with faded cushions from my college apartment.  Up until recently we enjoyed the back porch…but definitely shied away from inviting guests to an al fresco dinner.

For our daughter’s birthday party, we decided to move our wicker living room furniture outside to the porch to  provide extra seating…its been there ever since.  Our outdoor cat and her “belongings” got the temporary boot for the party and the “sit-at-your-own-risk” chairs got the permanent boot.

My mother recently upgraded her back porch and, of course…we received the discards….

For some reason, this dining set always reminded me of something you would find in an old fashioned ice cream shop.  So I used that as my inspiration when selecting colors and fabric to make it over. First, I picked up 4 bottles of Rustoleum spray paint from walmart.  I had the hardest time selecting a fabric for the seat cushions, until I stumbled across a shower curtain in World Market that was exactly what I was looking for (and had mold-resistance to boot!) I removed the back cushion, as well.   Here is the end result…..

Now, if only I could get the rest of my porch to match this dining set!

Down Home Hoedown

A few weeks ago, my family made a trip to South Florida for my niece’s 5th birthday party.  It was ridiculous fun, to say the least.  And my sister-in-law did an amazing job summoning back the faintly-familiar, carefree feelings of my youth.  There was no real agenda…the only real necessities being food, fun and, of course…ponies.  Each portion of the party seemed to effortlessly flow into the next…from chow time to pony time…from pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey to an impromtu hay fight…it was pure happiness in the faces of all who attended.  For any of you looking for the idyllic children’s birthday party, look no further than this….

Party On


 The once simplistic, thrown-together, backyard shindig that used to describe a child’s birthday party in “the good ol’ days” has slowly morphed to a level of complicated and time-consuming usually reserved for weddings,  charity benefits and coronations!

In an effort to reign-in my daughter’s ever-growing expectations,  I decided to have a camp-themed party in our backyard for her fifth birthday.  While the trickiness of developing a list of invitees still existed, I was determined to make this a whimsical throw-back to backyard parties of yore.

For my daughter’s party, I relied on a few essential elements while developing my overall “look” for the camp theme…lighting…seating….and smores!  I used mason jars with tea lights, tiki torches and large globe lights, all of which I either already owned or borrowed.  I also found dragonfly LED lights at an end-of-summer clearance sale at Target.

I was stuck for an idea for a banner until I came across red poster-boards at CVS for $.99.   I cut the boards in half and arranged strips of white copy paper to form my “CAMP ELLE” sign.  It was definitely a one-hit-wonder…as it eventually fell victim to Florida’s infamous humidity…

The following pictures are brought to you in black-and-white (old-school style)…


The evening started out with guests entering through the side of our yard, under the sign, and between the tiki torches.  A trail of dragonfly lights lead our guests in the right direction.  We roasted hotdogs on skewers over our backyard firepit.  My sister set up her large tent, which we filled with balloons (some with coins), and had each blind-folded child take a turn at trying to find a “prize balloon.”  Once they were successful, they had a chance to choose something from the “prize bucket.”


Next up was tug-o-war….over a kiddie pool….filled with (plastic) snakes.  Let’s just say a good time was had by both the children and parents alike…

(That’s my husband body-turfing)

The games continued with a real classic …..Limbo (purchased from Oriental Trading Company for $19.99, Limbo Rock (Reggae version) from iTunes for $.99)

That’s my girl!  She gets that from her mommy…1995 Palm Beach Gardens High School Homecoming Limbo Champion.  (On a serious note, I hope no one truly looks that up, because it may or may not be true…the point is….I was damn good at limbo!)

Let them eat cake….

Let them eat smores (the lesser-known portion of Marie Antoinette’s famous quote)…

Last, but certainly not least….the opening of the birthday presents….

The evening was certainly a success!  We threw in a little karaoke at the end (sorry no pictures!)…and that was the icing on the cake (excuse the pun.)  A super-simple, inexpensive party and a serious good time! I forgot to mention I took the “free route” with the invitations (thank you Evite!)  As for the “prize bin”…I collected trinkets and toys from the clearance sections, $1 bins, and wholesale online stores (i.e. Oriental Trading Co.)   There was actually so many prizes left, that we re-used the bin at my niece’s party (which was awesome by the way,and I can’t wait to post about it later this week.)  As for party favors, Hobby Lobby is a great source for themed-party paraphenalia.  We used bandana-print boxes and filled them with compasses, flashlights and smores ingredients.

So, you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a successful child’s party.  And, honestly, I think you can’t beat old-fashion fun!  My sister-in-law just threw a wonderful “cowgirl” themed birthday party for her 5-year-old daughter, complete with ponies and hayrides (granted, it helps she lives on 5 acres and is surrounded by horse farms!)  Some other great party themes I’ve seen recently include tea parties, carnivals, and Hawaiian luaus.  A great resource for some totally amazing birthday party (and wedding, etc) ideas is www.pizzazzerie.com .  Some may not fall in the economical category, but you can always tweak them to fit your budget. 

I’m always looking for new party ideas, so if you’ve been to/thrown any parties lately…I’d love to hear about them!  And, as always, subscribe to this blog so you don’t have to waste your entire day checking to see if I’ve updated anything!!

Getting Ready for Fall (Part I)

Last weekend, my husband finally got our rubbermade bin, marked “Fall,” down from our very own “leaning tower of Pisa” of rubbermade bins,  precariously balanced atop one another in our garage.  I always get a little excited to open up these seasonal decorating bins, since they usually contain items I haven’t seen in…well…a year (except for in 2006 when we didn’t take down the majority of our Christmas decor until February. I’m so not exaggerating!)   Actually, I think we were to blame for our HOA instituting a cut-off date for taking down seasonal decorations.

Anyway, I have taken a few pictures of the decorating I’ve done so far.  Remember that foyer I just jazzed-up a couple of weeks ago?  I had a lot of fun decking that out for Fall….


I love tiny white pumpkins and I thought they would look great perched upon one of my unused candlesticks, similar to those shells-on-a-pedestal that are so popular in beachy decor…

Next, I filled a small candle holder with those little, yellow spore-thingy’s that I scrapped from my topiary project…


The next decorating touch came from my daughter, surprisingly!  (She’s a natural, I tell ‘ya!)  She guilted me into buying her a nest and eggs from JoAnn’s, while we were there picking up some fake pumpkins.  When she unintentionally placed her nest and eggs on the shelf in the foyer, I took a double-take…it looked great there.  Unable to convince her to keep her little treasure there permanently, we were back in the car a few days later on our way to JoAnn’s to buy mommy a nest and eggs of her very own!

I also filled the empty pedestal dish with tiny gourds and pumpkins, and added my little fall leaf candy dish to finish off the look.  In addition to the foyer, I also added a few autumn-themed touches to my dining room.  I absolutley loved the way the unraveled berry wreath looked in my enormous pasta bowl…

Since this is still a work in progress, I will continue to post updates on my seasonal decor change over the next couple of weeks.  If you  have any fall decorating ideas, I would love to hear about them!

By the way, I love hearing your comments…so keep them coming.  And please subscribe to this blog if you want to stay up-to-date!

Beautiful Black

This is a follow-up post to the one announcing the winning paint color for our bedroom walls.  I know that the other contestant (Benjamin Moore Gray) may not have been the fan favorite, and I think the reason for that may be because such a dark color (on the blog it appeared black) is a little intimidating for some folks.  So here are a few examples of black walls in almost every room setting.  With just the right amount of contrasting white (or other bright color) in these rooms, the black walls look sophisticated and elegant (as opposed to dreary and cave-like)….

The large white couch and panel help to break up the black walls in this living room

The white backsplash and pendant lights do the same thing for this kitchen

Black also works well in dining rooms…


and even bathrooms.

My favorite thing about black walls is how they seem to make even the most mundane, framed,white, matted print look dramatic and important.  I also love that by adding the tiniest hint of color, it catches your eye instantly (like the green flowers in the living room picture or the red border in the bedding in the bedroom pic above.)

So, have I had any affect on you, anti-dark-paint voters, out there??  Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it…(you know what they always say!!)