Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reflections on 2011 and a New Year's Eve Drink

New Year's Eve is soon upon us!

I have to say, 2011 has been a very good year in many ways, and blogging has had a lot to do with that.

Twenty-eleven was my first full year of blogging and through this medium I've gotten to know several wonderful, talented ladies in a relatively short amount of time.

This blog started off on a whim in the fall of 2010 and it never entered my mind that I might make friends along the way. But trading emails and developing friendships with people like Ali, Cassie, Cindy, Dawn, Janet, Robin, Stacey, and others have made this hobby unbelievably fulfilling.      

This past year has also been an excessively creative time thanks to the plethora of online inspiration via blogs and Pinterest. I managed to paint more than 25 pieces of furniture in 2011--even though I didn't necessarily have time to document all of them here!

Toss in the crafting, sewing, and making candles, and it's been wonderful to be able to be able to simply create, beautify my home, and learn new skills. 

This year was also one of great serendipity.  I have literally never won anything, but I was utterly thrilled to win a copy of Fifi O'Neill's Romantic Prairie Style in May through The Old Painted Cottage.  That led to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of Fifi's next book (due out in Spring 2012) and have the house photographed by Mark Lohman for a future magazine article.

And since then, I've been further blessed to win The DIY Club's 31 Days of Paint Party, plus giveaways from Inspired by Charm, A Canadian Cottage, A Sort of Fairytale, and Twice Lovely. Still stunned by that run of luck... 

And the cherry on top to all this blogging wonderfulness?  YOU!


I'm still mildly baffled that people want to read the long-winded drivel and so-so photos I post here, so the fact you regularly leave positive, encouraging, and thoughtful comments, well...I don't have the words to fully articulate how appreciative I am.  Thank you!

(Plus, it's nice to know that I'm not the only gal crazy for bunting, or that I am not alone in swooning over that perfect paint color, or that I have kindred spirits in the hunt for thrifty diamonds-in-the-rough!)

I've had some challenging times in the last few years, but I can say without a doubt, that I will remember 2011 with great fondness and that's due in no small part to blogging and the people who populate this blogging community.  


After all that sappiness, is anybody ready for a drink? :)

For those you who like to ring in the year with a libation, I tried a tasty, simple drink last week courtesy of Nigella Lawson that I want to share.

If you've ever watched any of Nigella's cooking shows, you'll quickly notice she's a big proponent of prosecco, a fizzy white Italian wine, somewhat similar to champagne.

Now, I've never been a fan of champagne because it's usually so, so dry.  Then again, I've never had good quality champagne, so that may be part of the issue. :)  

However, to my unsophisticated palette, prosecco is much less dry than champagne and has more fruitiness to it. It's honestly like a nice sauvignon blanc with carbonation.

Last week, when in need of a cocktail for a holiday get-together, I decided to give a version of Nigella's "Filthy Fizz" a go.

This cocktail has exactly two ingredients:  prosecco and raspberry liquor.  Nigella's original "Filthy Fizz" uses Campari, but she also recommended the French raspberry liquor, Chambord, as a sweeter alternative. Knowing what tasty raspberry margaritas Chambord makes, I went with the latter.

Pay no mind to the fact that both bottles are half empty...

Simply splash some Chambord into the bottom of your glass...

Then top with the prosecco and watch it fizz!

Isn't that a gorgeous color?

Not only is Filthy Fizz a pretty drink, it's tasty. 

Imagine drinking a raspberry Italian soda...with a kick.  That's this cocktail.

Hope you all ring in the New Year safely and in good company. See you in 2012!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday, Jacob!

At 12:05 p.m. today, my son, Jacob, officially turns 5.

It seems like only yesterday that I spent four, grueling hours pushing to deliver him on a grey December day.  And how everyone was surprised that he was a 9 lb. baby with a Charlie Brown-sized head...which explained why the delivery took so long! :)  

I can distinctly remember my friend, Brandee, taking this photo of me and Jacob in the spring of 2007 when she was visiting North Carolina from Chile.  She recently sent it to me when she was going through her email and I'm glad she did.  We don't often look at baby pictures as life is busy these days, but it was a sweet reminder of just how precious Jacob was as an infant.

Now, that little baby is a spirited, bright, outgoing boy who runs full-tilt boogie to do most things, loves building with Legos, and has already lost his first tooth.  Oy!

There's an adage about motherhood that says, "the days are long but the years are short."  As Jacob gets older, I feel the years ticking right along. And now it seems the days are getting shorter, too.  I won't worry about that (too much) today--instead we'll celebrate our big boy's milestone birthday with family and a homemade cake.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Jacob Cole!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Eve Eve House Tour

Come on in and have a look at the decorations around the cabin...

Simple clippings of berries and fraser fir branches adorn the hallway mirror.  (You can see a tinsel garland hanging on a door in the mirror's reflection, too.)

Making our way into the living and dining rooms...

Here's a close-up of the arrangement on top of the living room armoire.

It was inspired by Dawn's mantel at Creative Cain Cabin.   She had the most adorable red gingham bunting in her vignette and when I saw it, I knew I had to make one.  The glass candle holders were picked up this week on major clearance at Michaels (the red one was $1.99 and the silver mercury glass was $4.99--it sometimes pay to proscrastinate!) and currently contain Wintergreen candles.  The wooden bowl was carved by my now-deceased uncle and everything else I already had on hand.

My friend, Sara, made this sweet little wooden Santa, reindeer and sled for my son last year. 

And nearby is our Elf on the Shelf, "Frigsby."  I have no idea where my son got that name from...

More greenery and berries in a zinc pitcher picked up earlier in the year at Nest in Burlington, NC.

Check out this fabulous pillow made from a vintage table cloth!  Not to sound like a commercial, but I found it and its mate at Fetch Antiques and Interiors in Hillsborough, NC.  Karan had another similar pair the last time I was at the shop.

And though I already shared these photos in a previous post, I'll show them again since I love these glitter houses so hard.

On the dining room table is another wood bowl carved by my uncle.  It holds pinecones and some great vintage glass ornaments my mom brought over earlier in the week.  She hit the cheap-vintage-glass-ball-mother-lode at an antique shop in Winston-Salem when she found at least 8 boxes of ornaments for only a $1 per box!

The corner cabinet is looking festive, too.

Family members, avert your eyes from this upcoming photo and skip on down to the next picture, please...

Everyone else, here's one of about a dozen ornament-sized glitter houses I made last week.  I'll take photos before they're given as gifts and share them with you in my next post.  I just had to sneak one in here because I was so happy with the way they turned out. :)  (P.S.--The delightful paper JOY tag came with the goodies from Stacey's giveaway and I thought it was just perfect to incorporate into the decorations.)

The dining room plate rack sports a glittered paper birdhouse from Uniquitiques, another great shop in Hillsborough.

In the kitchen, I added some pine clippings from the woods around our house to the bunting-bedecked shelf over the sink.

Sitting on a thrifted silverplate cake stand is a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer craft that my son and I completed over the weekend.  We will never tire of the cuteness of these characters!

The decorations in the kitchen are very simple.  Another glittered birdhouse here...

...and some red berries in a milk bottle found at a yard sale this summer.

So, that's it for the decorating this year.  Now, there is baking to be done, presents to be wrapped, Christmas movies to watch and time to simply enjoy these next few days.

This will likely be my last post of 2011, so in the words of the Peanuts gang, I wish you a safe, joyous and...

Vintage Peanuts puzzle my in-laws put together and framed for our family this year.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Came Early

A package arrived in the mail yesterday and when I saw {A Sort of Fairytale} on the return address line, I hightailed it inside...

I was the unbelievably lucky winner of Stacey's holiday giveaway last week and the goodies arrived!

Stacey and I have eerily similar taste in our loves for all things vintage (she even has an Etsy shop called Maggie Jane's Vintage), Cath Kidston, Cabbages & Roses fabrics, buntings, and books published by Ryland Peters & Small.

So I was beyond excited to win the giveaway, which featured several of the above items.

Let's a take peek at all the lovelies, many of which were made by Stacey herself...

First, these sweet, very English-feeling heart ornaments made from Cabbages & Roses's new Moda line called Northcote Range. They were hung on the tree pronto, but I foresee them remaining out long after Christmas.

The hand-sewn details are charming and those frayed 'em!

Next up is this fabulous vintage hankie bunting featuring poinsettias.  Stacey and I both have hankie buntings in our bathrooms.  See hers here and mine here.  We may or may not be obsessed.

My kitchen is probably the least decorated of the main areas in the house this year, so this bunting couldn't have been more perfect to amp up the festiveness in here.  The glass hens approve heartily.

Stacey also slipped an unexpected extra something in the package that had me squealing when I realized what it was...

Check out that pillow cover!  Here's a close-up:

Thankfully I had a spare pillow form handy. :)  Isn't that fabric yummy?  Very Cath Kidston-esque. (Edited Sunday evening: Stacey informed me this is actual Cath Kidston fabric and the cover came from CK in London! OMG, OMG, OMG.) 

And finally, to round out the package of goodness?  A Ryland Peters & Small book to add to the growing collection.  Funnily enough, I had this book--Cheap Chic by Emily Chalmers--on my wishlist this year!  Can't wait to sit down and give this a good read-through by the woodstove.

Thank you, Stacey, for such a delightful assortment of early Christmas presents! 


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Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Morning Music: Mumford and Sons

An aptly named song for this cold, overcast, and windy day:

Winter Winds by Mumford & Sons

If you enjoyed that song, here are a few more of my favorites from this British folk rock group:

The Cave

Dustbowl Dance

The Banjolin Song

After the Storm


Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Start of the Christmas Decorating

Well, we got the tree up last night.  And it wasn't horrible for once! (I exaggerate only slightly.) 

The last few years, it's been a total ordeal to get the tree in the house and in the stand fairly straight. And then there have been annoying, unanticipated light issues.  (I was lucky to find two strands of white lights two weeks before Christmas last year when we discovered the lights we'd previously been using were kaput.)

And while the decorated trees have ultimately been gorgeous, the process leading up?  Not so much...

But not this year...thank goodness. It was fun and done in one evening and we even listened to Celtic Christmas music.

I still need to get candy canes to hang on the tree, trim the top so the star isn't lop-sided, and take close-ups of some of my favorite ornaments, but our Fraser Fir is looking pretty good!


The other main decorating accomplished so far revolves around my latest obsession: glitter houses.

Robin at Happy at Home has a fabulous collection of glitter houses she's made herself, which I saw last year at Christmastime and immediately wanted.  Look at all this wonderful inspiration!

via Happy at Home
On her site, she also has this tutorial and this tutorial. Between the two of these, all the bases are covered for making your own glitter houses.  Highly recommend them!

Now, I haven't actually constructed any houses...yet...but instead started off with the chipboard/paper mache houses available at Hobby Lobby to get my glitter house village going.

Here's a shot of the burgeoning collection in the living room.  (The house second from the left was a gift from my mom.)  I'll be making this house next from to fill in the bare spot on the far right. 

The last house is my favorite with its sweet vintage color scheme.  The sparkle is just perfection. The insides of the windows of all the houses I made are lined with crinkled wax paper (to give the feel of frosted glass) and have battery-operated tea lights inside so they can glow at night. 

Making glitter houses is addictive and now I'm trying to figure out the color scheme for the next one.  Anybody have any ideas?  I have an 18-pack of Martha Stewart glitter so there are plenty of color choices!


Since there is no shortage of mason jars in this household, I also a jumped on the Anthro snow globe knock-off wagon. They are very simple to make and are cute as pie.  Here's just one of several I made last weekend.

And after much struggle, I managed to get a little bottle brush tree into a glass ornament.  It's cute but gawd was it a pain!  I won't share a photo of the other one I did--that poor little tree looks like it has scoliosis after all the unceremonious jamming it took to get it in there. And don't even get me started on the process of finally getting it to stand up straight! 

Is there any technique to these kinds of ornaments or am I just clueless about how to assemble them with ease? Because I couldn't find a single tutorial anywhere on Pinterest or in blog land. 


I still need to go clip some cedar branches and red berries from outside to add more natural elements to the house. And for some artificial elements, I'm dying to get the spray snow/frost to spray on some of the windows.

Hey, it's slow going around here but the decorating will get done eventually.  :)

Happy Decorating,

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Blog Award (and I Tell You Some Random Things About Me)

In all the hubbub right before Thanksgiving, Melissa over at Shabby Love showed me some blog love by passing along The Versatile Blogger award.

How nice, right? Thank you, Melissa! :)

I just learned about her blog in October when I ran across her ingenious pallet cabinet at a blog party:

Made out of salvaged pallets. then whitewashed - beautiful, rustic perfection!
She has since drawn me in with her love of burlap, industrial elements, and vintage items like blue mason jars, ironstone, and anything with a farmhouse feel.

And girlfriend is, like, seriously crafty, too. But her crafts all have a rustic, country feel to them, which of course appeals to someone who writes a blog with the word 'country' in the title and lives in a log house.

Nature-Inspired Christmas Wreath

Rustic Tree Topper Tutorial

Bi-Fold Doors Turned Shutters - with a delicious chippy paint job!
Kindly pay Melissa a visit at the lovely Shabby Loveif you haven't already!

So, now I have to share seven things about myself.  Let's see if I can make this good:

1. My most graceful moment ever:  senior year in college, my roommates and I are living in an apartment in Chapel Hill.  My roommate, Claire, has friends visiting from out of town. They're a married couple, a little bit older than us, and super cool.  Like she talked them up so much I must have been nervous about their cool factor. Anyway, we're sitting around eating Mrs. Smith's Blackberry Cobbler (best non-homemade dessert EVER), having a perfectly normal conversation, and I go to put a bite of cobbler in my mouth.  But I miss and stab myself in the nose with the fork.  In my embarrassment, I quickly stand up to go to the kitchen to hide my mortification under the pretense of needing to wipe my face, and instead proceed to run smack dab into the kitchen door frame.  Thank God I didn't give myself a bloody nose or a black eye--that would have topped it all. But my friends still like to remind me of that incident a decade after the fact.  I blame my mother for my clumsiness--it's definitely genetic.

2. My favorite color is green and instead of wearing a traditional wedding band set, I wear a green amethyst ring on my left hand.

3. I love to visit cities and travel whenever the opportunity arises, but something inside of me would be very depressed if I actually had to live in a city for any length of time.   My soul requires grass underfoot, open spaces and not many people around me.  Remember that Dixie Chicks song Wide Open Spaces?  Yeah, that sums up how I feel.

4. I'm a Cancer through-and-through: hard shell, soft interior; intuitive; creative; ruled by my emotions; not always wanting to let go of the past, a lover of old things, etc., etc. One of the main aspects I identify with as a Cancerian, though, is the desire for one's own home. After years of living in dorms, then apartments, a missing piece in me was found when my husband and I moved into our house in 2007.  It was my first house home and I've loved decorating it and knowing it is mine. I feel grounded in this abode and it gives me peace and security.  

5. I struggled through a decade of disordered eating in my 20s, specifically emotional eating. With therapy and much practiced awareness (and relapses, plenty of those, too), I believe I've made it to the other side.  I highly recommend the writings of Geneen Roth for anyone battling emotional eating and overeating.  She is brilliant and writes about the truths behind why so many women share in this despair about their bodies and their relationship with food. Her Women, Food and God was a revelation in my path to healing.

6. One of my top five favorite moments in life?  Standing on the rail at the finish line at Santa Anita Park in California, watching Zenyatta win the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic in 2009.  For non-racing horse racing fans, let me just say it's a rare thing to see true greatness any more in this sport.  Zenyatta was the queen of the sport of kings. I will never forget the sight of her running by in deep stretch, or the electricity of the crowd as it erupted when she prevailed.  I won't lie, I cried.

7. My guilty pleasure is reading gossip blogs and my hands-down favorite is Lainey Gossip

Whew!  The final step in this award, share an eclectic list of 10 blogs I've particularly enjoyed of late:

A Nourishing Home
A Sort of Fairytale
Cindy's Fractured Fairytale
Cottage (Tinkered Treasures)
Derfwad Manor
Happy At Home
Inspired By Charm
Jason Good 365
Tales From the Coop Keeper

Thanks, again, Melissa!

Give me a few more days and I'll be back in the regular swing of blogging again. I had a bunch of other commitments to attend to since Thanksgiving, but now they're done and I can cruise 'til Christmas.

And speaking of Christmas, I have most of the Christmas stuff out, and tomorrow we're getting our tree, so stay tuned for the obligatory Christmas decorating posts!