Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Window Woes

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Christmas decorating is in full swing here now, so you can expect to see all of that soon (although there's a bit of a preview up in my header). But, first things first.

I was trying to hold off on posting about our living room windows until I had actually done something to them. But obviously -- as our "temporary" paper blinds can attest to -- that's not happening. Yes, it's been two and a half years and these $5 blinds are still hangin' on, long past their intended life span.

(Yes, that would be Phoebe in her favorite spot. And yes, I need to replace a light bulb.)

It's a little embarrassing, because I've become so used to them that I almost forget they're not real window treatments. I mean, they've got these nifty plastic clips to fold them up and everything. Classy, right?

But I just know that our living room would feel so much more homey if we had real blinds or even curtains. I just can't decide what to do!

The windows in our office and master bedroom also have paper shades, but no one sees those as often and I think they'll be easier to tackle. Sadly, there are only two other windows in our entire house that have been appropriately dressed:
Guest bedroom

Both these windows were rather large, but the only real difficulty was finding 96" curtains instead of the standard 84" length, and that wasn't really all that hard. But this wall of windows in our living room has been far more intimidating. 

So, I need some window covering counseling from my fellow stylish and thrify bloggers. What would you do? Blinds? (Wood or faux? White or matching the trim?) Roman shades? Curtains? Any inspiration photos to share? Something must be done, if not just for aesthetic enhancement, then at least to add a little more of a barrier between the drafty windows and us (especially now that winter is right around the corner).

And obviously it would be ideal if this project could be done on the cheap. If it comes down to DIY, I may not be able to sew, but I can Steam-A-Seam!

Oh, and for what it's worth:
- These windows are south-facing (so it's nice during the winter when we can let some sun in).
- The loveseat under the windows pretty much has to stay put. Our living room is small and our three big pieces of furniture only fit a certain way. *sigh*

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Last-minute Thanksgiving Recipe

The past couple of years, I've made creamed corn and pumpkin bread for the office Thanksgiving potluck. This year, I wanted to bring something different, but it also had to be something quick, cheap, and easy. While browsing through All Recipes (my favorite go-to resource), I came upon this recipe for cranberry sauce. Obviously, cranberry sauce is not a new concept to the Thanksgiving menu, but I've never tried making it before. This recipe sounded too easy to pass up (or screw up). And it only took three ingredients, two of which I already had on hand. Here's my experience:

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, dissolve 1 cup sugar in 1 cup orange juice.

If I'm not mistaken, a lot of cranberry sauce recipes just use water and sugar, so I think the orange juice adds a little something special here. And of course, cranberry & orange is a great flavor combo anyway.

Stir in 12 ounces of cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes). 

This part of the recipe was a little alarming to me, having never cooked cranberries before. What happens when cranberries pop? Would they explode and squirt scalding cranberry juice in my face? Would this require some form of protective eyewear? I decided to err on the side of caution and just covered my pot with a lid. Sure enough, after a few minutes, I began to hear popping noises. It wasn't as scary as I thought it would be, but definitely noticeable. I moved the lid aside just enough to stir them around every once in awhile.

Remove from heat and place sauce in a bowl. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

I took the pot off the burner after about 12 minutes, when I wasn't hearing any more popping, and it appeared that most of the cranberries had burst. The sauce looked frothy and runny.

After my taste test, I'd say it was a success! Tart yet a little sweet, and you can taste the hint of orange. I spooned it into a white bowl to set off the red color. This cranberry sauce would make a great addition to any Thanksgiving or Christmas table! In my opinion, much better than cranberry sauce out of a can (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Stretchy pants, here I come!

* Notes: I bought the bag of Ocean Spray fresh cranberries in the produce section, but there might be frozen ones, too. Also, I doubled the recipe (2 cups/2 cups/24 oz).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thrifty Thanksgiving Tablescape

While I'm not hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year (I haven't achieved that status in the family hierarchy yet), that doesn't mean I can't pretend! As part of the Dare to...Entertain blog party over at Newly Woodwards, I got in the Thanksgiving spirit this weekend and staged my own tablescape. Therefore, keep in mind it's only for looks and not necessarily function.  :)

With that said, if I were a holiday hostess this year, my Turkey Day table might look a little like this...

Rather than using all the same plates, I mixed it up with two different styles (which were conveniently perfect colors for fall). It's a little more fun that way. I think the stemless wine glasses add to the casual feel, too.

You might notice that one important thing I'm missing is some fancy cloth napkins. Well, I don't own any, and a roll of paper towels on the table just wouldn't have had the same effect.

To dress up the silverware, I got a little creative. *pats self on back* I took some wide ribbon I had just bought on sale at Wal-Mart ($2.50), rolled it around the silverware, and tied a piece of raffia around it. Voila!

I didn't feel like using spoons. Remember... pretty, not practical.

The leaves scattered on my no-sew table runner were plucked off of a clearance garland (also from Wal-Mart). For $1.50, they look realistic enough for me!

My centerpiece consists of elements from various stores (Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, Z Gallerie) that I managed to assemble into something pretty decent. All in all, I think it cost around $10.

Finally, I had to get my $12 wreath from Home Goods in the background. We added a small hook on the top of our mirror, and I just hung it with raffia. It's perfect for fall!

I have to admit, it was pretty fun to set my Thanksgiving table, even though it won't be put to use. Thanks for the idea, Kim! So I might leave it like this for the next few days, just because I can.

More gratuitous "ambience" photos:

 Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Deconstructed DIY Advent Wreath

While Christmas is still a month and a half away, the season of Advent starts right after Thanksgiving! Admittedly, I've been guilty about overlooking Advent in years past; I get wrapped up in decorating and stressing out about Christmas shopping just like everyone else (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I meant to get an Advent wreath last year but never got around to it. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the whole history and symbolism of the Advent wreath, I won’t pretend to be some sort of religious expert. Instead, here are a couple good articles:
What is the Advent Wreath? (About.com)
The History of the Advent Wreath (Catholiceducation.org)

This year, I thought it would be fun to try and make my own. Here’s one example of a traditional wreath:
[ image credit: Catholiceducation.org ]

The two purple candles are lit on the first and second Sundays of Advent. The pink candle is lit on the third Sunday, and the final purple candle is lit on the fourth Sunday. And there’s usually a white candle in the center to be lit on Christmas Eve, too. When you light the candle(s) each week, you should take some time to appreciate this season and its meaning.

I thought about just recreating this look, but then decided to put my own little twist on it. I perused the Christmas and candle aisles at Hobby Lobby for materials and found these:

Candle ring - $3.49 (50% off)
Mirror base - $2.99 (50% off)
White pillar candle - $2.49 (50% off)
Pink and purple(ish) votives - $.99/ea
Votive holders - $.60/ea (from Wal-Mart)

I couldn't find the right colors of pink and purple votives, but got the closest I could. I decided to go with these instead of taper candles because I felt they would look better and not get knocked over. After assembling everything, this is my deconstructed advent “wreath” on our dining table:

If you know me, you know I’m drawn to sparkly things like a moth to light, so I couldn’t resist the temptation to add a glitzy touch with the candle ring. And I like how the mirror adds a reflective quality and helps to ground it. Although I did realize after reading through this article that I’m missing the evergreen element, which is supposed to symbolize life. Oops. It's pretty, but maybe lacking a little meaning.

So, when I was shopping at Home Goods this weekend (while visiting my sister; unfortunately we don't have one where I live!), I found a 12" wreath--complete with berries, pine cones, and ice crystal-tipped garland--for $12.99.  Substitute the mirror for a new charger from Z Gallerie ($2.95), and I now have this:

Which version do you like better?

The garland wreath has a nice, full look to it. And I can always use the other candle ring elsewhere in the house. But since it's not Advent yet, I still have a couple weeks to decide. For now, it's back to my simple fall centerpiece!

NOTE: Little House on the Corner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Time for a makeover...

For my blog, that is! Next week--November 15, to be exact--is the one year anniversary of my very first post. (Oh, the memories!) And what better excuse than this momentous occasion to change things up a little? So I finally decided to experiment with this newfangled Blogger template designer. Honestly, I didn't spend much time on it, and I think I still have some kinks to work out. Anyone else using the template designer? Do you have any secrets or tricks to share?

Oh, and I also figured out how to add the e-mail subscription form over there (I know, I'm way behind), in case anyone loves my blog so much that they want to be notified when I write a new post. :)

You can probably expect to see a few more changes here and there, but overall I'm trying to keep it pretty clean and simple. You likey? I'm open to suggestions!
P.S. I promise my next post will be for a fun little project!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Giveaway Winner and Upcoming Projects!

For those of you who are dying to know, the winner of my $35 CSN Stores giveaway was commenter #11 - Chelsea from This Fresh Fossil! Congratulations, Chelsea, and thanks to everyone who entered!
Meanwhile, I have a few things in the works here at the house that I'm excited about sharing! Just to name a few...
- Painting of the hall bathroom
- Making a photo display wall
- Organizing the garage (ok, that's more Luke's project than mine)
- Re-designing my blog (perhaps in time for my 1-year blogging anniversary?? :)

And, I finally decorated my console table. Ok, so it's nothing special, but it helps spruce up our entryway! I got the "Faith" word on sale from BB&B for about $2. It was black, and I spray painted it white. Since we have an outlet right there, I suppose I could replace the candle with a lamp, I just don't have one that's a good fit. Anyway, I'll change it up again for the holidays!

Finally, I'm also looking forward to participating in the upcoming Dare to DIY parties hosted by Kim at Newly Woodwards! This fun idea comes just in time for the holidays, too. Go check it out - she was even nice enough to post a schedule for us!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday Fun-day Giveaway!

** This giveaway is now closed to new entries. **

Let's face it, Mondays suck. So make your Monday better by entering my giveaway for a chance to win a one-time-use $35 promo code to use at any CSN Store! Whatever it is that you need for your home, you can get it from CSN. A set of bar stools? A light fixture?  Maybe even a pet bed for your fur-child? I don't have the time to list everything they have, so just go to CSN Stores to see all the options. Here's another idea... if you're one of those un-selfish types, you could even use this to buy a Christmas present for someone, since the holidays are right around the corner!

I, for one, wouldn't mind snagging a couple of these sleek Aloha bar stools for our kitchen counter.

But, this $35 giveaway isn't for me, it's for YOU! So here's what you really care about... the rules!

1) Leave a comment on this post and let me know which CSN Store you'd use your $35 gift certificate at. (One comment/entry per person, please!)

2) Include your e-mail address in your comment. (Unless you don't want us to have a way to contact you if you're the winner.)

3) Become a follower of my blog. (See all my lovely followers over there on the left? You know you want to be one of them!)

That's it. Easy peasy!

This contest will remain open until Friday November 5, at 10 p.m. CST. Check back on Saturday to see who the winner is. Good luck, bloggy friends! And thanks to Cameron at CSN Stores for sponsoring this giveaway!

 Boring yet important fine print: Giveaway open to U.S. and Canada residents only. The winner will be chosen via random.org. Shipping charges may apply for certain products. Canadian residents may be responsible for paying international fees for certain products.


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