Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Holiday House Tour

Annually, the United Way in my hometown sponsors a holiday house tour in which interior decorators and décor shops design and display festive decorations in  handful of family homes in the area.  This year my mother-in-law, Betty, and I bought some  tickets and spent most of the day Saturday visiting 7 homes done up for the season.
We began our day at nearby Christmas tree farm (pictured above).  It is minutes from our home and I had never visited before!  Inside one of the barns they had a huge display of Christmas trees decorated in every style and colour combination.  Betty and I got some great ideas for our trees!
It was obvious that the owners of this farm ADORE Christmas because they had a huge collection of vintage baubles, balls and decorations.  I particularly loved this vintage figures and little red truck (below)!
Before we traveled onto the next house on the tour we sat in their cute little café and enjoyed  a cup of coffee. Poinsettias and red café chairs added to the Christmas-y atmosphere. But you know what really made it feel festive?   Just as we settled in to enjoy our drinks, a light sprinkling of snow began to fall!
It is rather fun to be allowed to walk through the homes of complete strangers - especially when they are done up for the holidays.   However, the biggest let-down is the fact that we couldn't take photos inside these homes.  I would have loved to have captured a few of the table settings and mantel decorations if I could have!  So instead, I've grabbed a few pictures off of the website to give you a bit of a flavour of what we saw. 
Here's one of the more modern homes we visited.  This was a two-sided fireplace that glowed warm into their dining room and family room. 
(Milton United  Way photo)
After a few homes, Betty and I did what any smart girls would do when they need to keep their strength up for Christmas-décor -viewing  ---we stopped for a hearty lunch!!
Here's mine - a BLT (Brie, Lettuce and Tomato)

I love to get some new ideas for outdoor decor, too.  I took a lot of urn pictures (cause we were allowed to take outdoor photos!) and will use a few of these for inspiration when I do my own "urn filling" next weekend.  
Do you see the grey fox peeping out of the top, left urn? 
I love the tall birch branches sticking out of the top, right one. 
The one at the bottom has a bird house stuck in it.  Cute, huh? 
This grey house was our favourite on the tour. It is located in my favourite part of town where all of the historical homes have been renovated and beautified on the inside and out. 
The classic grey siding is so elegant and the basic black door is the perfect accent. 
Once again, this picture below is taken from the House Tour website.  This is how the dining room table was set for the tour.  Look at those birdhouses on the plates and the red candlesticks.  Very Scandinavian!

(Milton United Way photo)
Once we had seen all 7 houses, I felt I REALLY needed to get home and get a good start on my Christmas decorations.  I also felt the real need to go shopping, too. Even though I have 8 huge boxes of decorations in my basement, I had been inspired to try so many more NEW ideas and none of my own stuff seemed to make the cut. 
Luckily my hubby stepped in and helped me see how crazily I was thinking. 
Of course my own decorations were "good enough."  I didn't need anything new.   I've been collecting our Christmas things for nearly 15 years and every item holds a memory.
No decorator could come into our home and make it perfect for us using a ton of new, flashy accessories.  My own curated collection is going to be "just right" for Christmas 2015.
Of course, I'm sure I'll pick up a few new things in the coming weeks -- but they'll just help my much loved pieces sparkle even more!
Have you ever been on a tour like this before?
Would you engage the help of a "Christmas decorator" if you could?
Have a wonderful week!


Friday, November 20, 2015

Afton's Pink Christmas

Our daughter is 9 and three-quarters.  And she'll remind you if you forget the fraction. 
But she'll also fully admit that she is not too old for girly Christmas décor - glittery, sparkly and pink!

We bought this pink Christmas tree at Walmart a few years back and she is still filled with glee whenever it is time to pull it out of the box. It'll be a few weeks until our big green tree is out, so she and I enjoyed an hour together decorating this rose-coloured one for the upcoming festive season (cause truthfully, I love pink and glittery just as much as she does!!)
First we lit it up with three strings of white bulbs.  Then on went four different "necklaces."
Is does look like jewellery, doesn't it?

I've tried to pick up a new package of ornaments for her each year. This year we've added in the pale blue pine cones. 

It is pretty lovely when it's all lit and strung.  I can see why she adores it!

Most of all, she is full of bliss because now she has the most beautiful nightlight to fall asleep beside.

Today while she was at school, I re-hung the rosy wreath I had made for her a few years back.  It features several crocheted roses with pearl centres and a glittery snowflake.

It goes perfectly with her favourite "sparkly" Christmas theme!

(I found this  the other day and thought it was perfect for my little lady!)
How is your decorating going? 
Have you begun?
Is there any pink in your colour scheme?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What I Wore Wednesday #2

I've not done this in a few weeks.  Done what, you might ask?  
You know.  Post pictures of myself on the internet.
No. Not those kinds of pictures. 
 But equally as scary I might say.
Pictures of me, dressed for work or play in outfits that reflect who I am and what I like.
I'm joining in with Lindsey over at The Pleated Poppy Blog and sharing my Outfits of the Day along with many other women from across this world of ours.
Why am I doing it?  For one thing, I find there aren't enough women posting who represent me - short hair, glasses and fuller dimensions.  Don't get me wrong, I think women with long flowing locks, perfect vision and size 8 thighs are lovely, but I wish more women like ME would post.  Maybe my photos will help them do so.  
So without further ado, my outfit photos:

French Flair:  
 Serious Stripes and Fake Jewellery

Asymmetrical & Diagonal

Pretty Pearls and a Duster

Purple Purr

Puffy and Purply

Phew.  I did it.
And it didn't hurt one bit. 
I think this might get easier each time I do it!
If you want to see my first outfit post, take a look HERE.
How confident are you when it comes to selfies?
Will you let others take your picture??
I'd love to hear from you!


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Spice of Life Crochet-Along - Bryn's Blanket

Way back at the beginning of October I was looking for a new project.  My oldest son, Bryn, requested that I make him a new blanket because he had grown too long for the afghan he had been using since he was a toddler.  And then, one day, right into my inbox, came an invitation to join a "Crochet Along" lead by Sandra from Cherry Heart.  Her crochet patterns have always intrigued me.  I've made her granny tree skirt and two versions of her painted roses blanket and always found her instructions and patterns fun, colourful and easy to follow.  This "crochet-along" was no exception. 
Here is her original blanket:

The blanket was called "Spice of Life" because of its variety of colours and stitches.  Many of these stitches I had done before, but I liked how they mixed so well together. 
Instead of buying a bunch of new yarn, Bryn and I dug through my selection of worsted weight yarn and selected these bright, "boyish" colours. 
Sandra released a new section of the pattern each Tuesday for 6 weeks.   Each section was about 20 rows long and featured basic stitches as well as  a few lines of something "new."
Part One completed!
And Part Two!!
Gradually the blanket grew longer, covering just my lap at first.
As days past (I crocheted faithfully almost every night!) it covered me down to my toes!
I am happy to say that I loved every minute of creating this project. I was using up leftovers, each new stitch I learned added to my crocheting repertoire  and the colours and textures seem to appear like magic!

Okay. I need to be honest.  There  was one part of this colourful blanket I absolutely hated - and it was sewing in all of the ends!!

Because I had to switch yarn colour almost every row, the ends were plentiful.  I spent almost two evenings sewing them all in before I began the border. 
My favourite row in the pattern was this "tulip" row.  Do you see it?  Red flowers and green leaves.
I kept the border simple too.  Bryn wanted things to be "boyish" and I  figured these simple double-crochets finished it off just perfectly! 

And does Bryn feel about the finished product?  He says he LOVES it but he wishes he could use it more.
My youngest son is a blanket fiend and is always wrapped in something knit or crocheted.  It's true. Bryn hardly ever gets a chance to wrap himself in his new afghan because Camden finds it first each evening!!
I do really like this photo of the boys snuggling under it "sort of together." Bryn is kept warm by Camden who in turn is made cosy by the blanket.  Bryn is enjoying the blanket by proxy, I guess. 
No more big projects for me for awhile.  I've got a few Christmas crafts on the go that I'll share her over the next few weeks. 
Thanks to everyone who comes and visits me here in my little part of blogland.   I love it when you leave comments, too.
Wishing you all a wonderful week!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Five On Friday - 5 Photos From My Phone

Woot! Woot It is Friday!!  And as some would call it, "Fri-YAY!"
We are heading my mother's house tonight in order to spend some time with her.  We haven't seen her in several weeks as she has been travelling in Peru. She is managing to fit us in before she heads off again, this time to Hawaii! I am looking forward to some quiet time on her sofa with my knitting and my Christmas magazines. She'll likely be doing the same when she isn't having a roaring game of UNO with the kids! 
But before the weekend arrives, I must fit in my Friday post which is linked up with Amy's (Love Made My Home) "Five on Friday" link party. 
As usual, these are five photos taken from my phone that illustrate the week that has been.
Number One: Tidying Up and Thinning Out
My life has been feeling rather "crowded" lately because there has been a lot on my plate between home and school. So -- I have been searching out simplicity wherever I can.
This past weekend I did a lot of tidying - dusting and reorganizing and putting away unnecessary items from many surfaces in my home.  I know they'll fill up again when I start to pull out the Christmas décor, but for now I am enjoying the breathing space in between my favourite things.

Number Two: Christmas in the Shops
Oh yes! I LOVE this time of year.  I can literally spend hours looking at shop displays and windows and really not buy anything.  On the weekend I made a quick trip across the border to the US and visited Target. I spent a total of $23.00.  There was lots of wonderful stuff but I didn't need to buy it.  I just wanted to look at it. 

Number Three: Shorter Days, Longer Nights
This was taken on a doggie walk in our neighbourhood.  It was crisp and cool and the sunset was lovely, peeking over the tops of the houses.  The funny was - it was 4:30!!
How much earlier the evening arrives these days.....

Number Four: Changing it Up for Winter
Yes. The white slipcovers had to go.  With this wet autumn weather we've been having I was needing to wash the slipcovers constantly because they were covered in big brown paw-marks.  So off to Ikea we went where we bought some bright red covers for our couch and loveseat.  Do the paw prints show up as badly?  Nope.  But it is much easier to notice the light brown hair on everything!

Number Five: Festive Crafting
I showed you my most recent holiday craft completion in my last post.  I've moved on now from embroidery to felt applique.  I've never done anything like this and I am loving every minute. It takes tons of pins to hold each piece in place as I stitch, but the picture that is emerging makes it all worth it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Christmas Projects 2015: Home Sweet Home

As Remembrance Day passes here in Canada, I feel it's finally time to unlease the Christmas spirit on the blog. I'll admit- I've been crafting up a storm already, reading every festive magazine I can get my hands on and drinking as many Peppermint Mochas from Starbucks as I can!

  My goal during the next 7 weeks is enjoy as many hours of Christmas fun as I can - whether it's decorating, baking, crafting or reading Christmas books.   If I continue at the same rate as I have so far since Halloween two weeks agao, I am sure I will be able to share a new "make" with you each week right up until Christmas.  

Are you ready for my first creation of the season??

Home Sweet Home
What seemed like a simple hoop project at first glance turned out to be a many-stepped project involving a lot of time and patience.  But I enjoyed every minute of it!!
This was one of those projects that I couldn't wait to sit down and get working on every single night.

I traced the image "old-school" just as my mother taught a long time ago- white fabric on a black image, taped to the window.  An extra sharp pencil works best too! Next came my floss choices - a little bit traditional and a little bit trendy!

The first stitches I attempted were a simple back-stitch.  I had this done in no time. 

Then things got a little more complicated.  Next I had to perfect the lazy daisy stitch, apply and sew on some uncooperative felt letters then confidently create bunches of felt holly leaves. 

 After much ripping out and starting again, I was happy with the results:

See the little red berries on the "pine branches?" Those are glass seed beads sewn on one by one, too.  (No detail was missed on this project, my friends!)

I love how this turned out. Now I need to find the perfect place to display it. I think I may make several Christmas hoops and hang them on the plain wall around our TV.  

Hmm....Keep checking this space to see my final decision.....

What am I making now?  Well, it involves felt, too, and the faces of 3 Christmas friends - Santa, Rudolph and Frosty.  I should be done it tonight and I am already looking forward to showing it to you soon!

Have you started your Christmas crafting?
How about your decor?  



Sunday, November 8, 2015

My Favourite Recipe Right Now : Peanut Butter Fruit Crumble

Happy Monday everyone!  I hope you all had a relaxing weekend. The sun shone here and we got some more leaves packed into bags and hubby managed to get the Christmas lights hung. 
I tried to keep the weekend low key after another crazy week at work.  I filled my time with only the things that make me happy - cups of tea, crafting, reading, baking and cooking. 
I did do some housework, but I tried to "whistle while I worked" and I got through it all with a smile on my face.
I've mention this recipe for Peanut Butter Fruit Crumble a few times here in the blog so I decided I would whip it up again today, take some pictures and post the recipe for all of you who have asked. 
Try this recipe.  You'll be glad you did!
Peanut Butter Fruit Crumble
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup white sugar
4 cups of fruit (fresh or frozen)
1  1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1.  Preheat the  oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Measure out your fruit. Use one or many kinds of your favourites.  This time I went with apple slices and black cherries.
3.  Combine cornstarch, lemon juice and 1/4 cold water in small bowl and stir until cornstarch is dissolved.  (I like to put these ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake them up!)
4.  Pour the cornstarch mixture into the fruit and stir.  Add in the white sugar and stir.  (If my fruit is particularly sweet, I leave out the white sugar altogether!)
(I like how the cherry juice has dyed my apples pink!)
5.  In another bowl, stir together the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour.

6.  Once the dry ingredients  are combined, cut in the butter and peanut butter.  You can use a pastry cutter, a fork or a butter knife to cut in the butters, aiming for a crumbly texture. 
(It's hard to get a "pretty" picture of PB.  It's just so brown.)

7. Put the fruit mixture into a 9x9 baking dish. (I made 2 smaller crumbles today using 2 smaller pie plate baking dishes.)  Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the fruit.  Try to spread it evenly so that every serving has the same level of yumminess!

 8. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling on the edges.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. 
Now doesn't that look and sound good? 
Please give it a try and let me know how it turns out.  I'd love to hear about any other fruit combinations you try.
Wishing you all a wonderful week of sunshine and smiles. 
I think I'll be back later in the week with my first completed Christmas craft of 2015!