Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas at Home Made Haven

Last year this little Charlie Brown tree was our it (with the red Christmas ball that has since been broken). No, it wasn't a sad Christmas, just a hectic one with the house torn up with a building project. Decorating just seemed to get in the way. This year, however...

I think I was making up for last year. I took the advice of Brenda at Cozy Little House and grouped all my trees together. It really does make a statement, so thanks Brenda. I had a lot of fun putting the living room together and had great ambitions to finish the rest of the house, but I have to...

Life sure gets in the way. Shopping, cleaning and of course, work have all piled up and I'm ready for Christmas to be over. 

Does that happen to you? Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas, but it seems the closer I get to it, the more I want it to be over. It's not that I'm tired, it's just...

No, not joy... more like anticipation of what the new year is going to bring.

Will my stocking be stuffed with fun and exciting projects?

Or will my wings get clipped and I'll be forced to head back to the corporate world?

I guess we'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, have a wonder holiday everyone! And don't forget to...

Merry Christmas and God Bless,

Linking to:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Country Christmas Decoration Copy Cat

As I'm getting the house decorated for Christmas, I came across this little pitcher. Hmm, I wondered to myself: is this little pitcher just waiting to become part of my country Christmas decorations?

Then as I was browsing around Blogland the other night I came across Debbiedoos' Copy Cat Challenge. Great idea and enough to get me moving on an idea for that little pitcher.

But it had to be a copy cat! Hmm! Well I headed for my Gooseberry Patch Christmas book. (It never got put away after my last "inspiration!"). And what did I find! A perfectly simple idea for dressing this little homespun pitcher into it's country Christmas decorations finery!

Ta da... I added a checked bow to dress it up with a little more Christmas flair.

You could fill all types of pitchers, pots and vases with greeny and they'd look just as good. And I get to sneak in a photo of my beautiful grandbabies :)

Still working on the the rest of my country Christmas decorations between writing assignments. Should have those finished soon. In the meantime...

"It's beginning to seem a lot like Christmas..." Oh there goes that song again!

Photographs: copyright Home Made Haven 2011
Vintage Christmas Postcard: The Graphics Fairy

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New Cheap Floor for the Holidays

What is it about holidays that makes you want to start a remodeling or home improvement job? It seems to happen to me all too often. Last year it was enclosing the third bedroom (the original owners never finished the remodel and it was open to the living room as a den). This year is was a new floor for the living room. A cheap floor -- laminate -- but new nevertheless. I can't say it didn't need it. We've been living on concrete ever since we pulled up the nasty old carpeting. And it's taken us a while, but ta da, finally a floor...

I even splurged and bought myself a cowhide rug. Pretty nifty, huh? I wrote a little more about the cost to install laminate flooring (nothing when you do it yourself!) at Cheap Floor Diva, so hop over a take a look if you're interested. Me? I'm heading off to the barn to get the Christmas decorations.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Traditions

It's beginning to seem a lot like Christmas...

LOL, that song has been playing in my head for a couple of weeks.  The fact is, I'm not totally ready yet... this coming weekend is the big event, however. We'll be hauling in boxes and boxes of Christmas stuff. But I do have a few Christmas traditions that take place right after Thanksgiving. Like putting up the Christmas treasures I've accumulated this past year. The pink Christmas tree above is a recent purchase... for the girls. They decorated it the other day with the sparkly butterflies and fairies (and the CO detector is new, too, and UGLY! But what can you do!).

And I can't wait to have cookies and hot cocoa with the girls with this cute set I found at a sale last summer.

And my big find a couple weeks ago at the thrift store... these vintage-looking Santas. They're not really vintage, just resin made to look like carved wood, but nice, nevertheless. I scooped these four fellas up, plus a ceramic Santa, too. It looked like someone was getting rid of a Santa collection. Kind of sad, in a way, but I'll make them a nice home.

And then there's my Christmas coffee mugs. The morning after Thanksgiving, I pull them out. They're a mish-mash of styles and all mostly from the thrift store or gifts from office mates. There's something really comforting about pulling out those cup and sipping my coffee or tea. And that, of course, is what traditions are all about.

How about you? Do you have some favorite Christmas traditions? Or pretty finds?

 Linking to:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Inspirations from Gooseberry Patch

Gooseberry Patch is one of those stories that inspires me on a lot of levels. Of course, the books are filled with lots of great recipes and craft ideas, but the history of the company is just as inspiring. It was started by two young moms over 25 years ago. One was an airline hostess and the other a teacher and both were looking for ways to earn money and stay home with their young families. They decided to start a mail order company selling the cute, crafty-style items they both loved.

Along the way, they started creating and selling small cookbooks. I have a couple in my library. It also started a community of readers who shared their ideas. More cookbooks lead to craft books and the mail order business fell by the wayside. Gooseberry Patch is now a major publisher and last year was bought out by a larger company. Inspiring story, yes?

Well, my inspiration starts with a Gooseberry Patch Christmas book I found a the thrift store for a couple of bucks. I love old recipe and craft books and when they're wrapped around Christmas, I love them even more.

As you can see it's Book #3. The current Christmas book is #17, so this one is about 14 years old. In publishing time, that's old, but the book is still filled with lots of cute ideas and yummy recipes that still work.

Now, like those two young mothers, I'm trying to make an income so I can stay at home, too. While I write for a variety of clients for upfront fees, I'm also trying to create my own income with other writing ventures. One of the places I've started to write is at Squidoo. It's a platform that allows you to share your writing and do a little Internet marketing on the side (or a lot of marketing depending on how good you are at it). In my case, I sell products through Amazon. The hardest part is coming up with ideas that readers might be interested in and that lend themselves to selling products.

Inspiration struck for me with this book. Why not a lens on Gooseberry Patch? So I set about writing a lens about 10 Reasons to Love Gooseberry Patch. And I wanted to re-create a couple ideas from the books.

One of them was for Nestled Bowels with Fruit. It's a very simple centerpiece idea for anytime of the time of the year, not just Christmas. And it's turned out to be a way to use some of my thrifty finds.

The problem was, my yellow bowls are waaaay too small for fruit. But I improvised.

Nuts work as well as apples and oranges. Besides, it was the first time I got to use these since I found them at the thrift store -- these two bowls plus a pie plate for $5 at the thirst store. And I picked up the red doily for a dollar at an antique mall. First time to use that, too. I added a few pieces of greenery and dried rose hips from the yard and a homespun ornament (another yard sale find) and voile... inspiration was born. And a crafty start to my Christmas decorating!

Thanks for stopping by,

Linking up with:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Keeping Warm

Last year we spend a bundle on keeping this house warm. The house leaks like a sieve and has aluminum-framed windows. Last year, for a lot of reason, it was just easier to turn up the heat. This year is different, however (as in, I'm a freelance writer now and not a corporate employee with a bi-weekly paycheck and a 401K plan.) This year we have to be thrifty and frugal. Yikes!

That's means keep the programmable thermostat set lower, wear sweaters inside (a heavy flannel shirt in my case) and live like the pioneers. Or in this case, relay on the fireplace and wood stove for more heat.

Meet my wood stove. A 1930ish Sears cook stove that was left here by the previous owners.

In fact, this wood stove was the only heat for this part of the downstairs for many, many years. The previous owners truly were of pioneer stock. While they had electric baseboard heating and the big fireplace for the original part of the house, they didn't add any type of heating for this part of the house, other than a couple of woods stoves -- this one down stairs and another small one in the bedroom upstairs.

We thought it was cute and romantic... until that first winter. Pioneer stock we are not made of and so by the second winter we had central heating. Unfortunately, adding heating after the fact is problematic and this side of the house is always cold unless you turn up the heat, which is expensive and not going to happen this year!

Luckily, this old wood stove does a pretty good job. As I write this, it's a nice toasty 71-degrees. But having to rely on the stove for more heat does cause a few problem. The biggest of which is I can't work in my upstairs office -- waaaay to cold -- and we removed the wood stove upstairs so I had room for an office. Ugg! So, guess where I've moved my new office?

And this requires I do a lot of this...

Of course, it could be worse, because I could still be making that 112 mile round trip to my corporate cube each day, being totally stressed and unhappy. It's a small price to pay... and as I think about it, sitting by the wood stove is the middle of the day is kind of romantic.

Linking to a couple of parties today:
Mockingbird Hill Cottage "Reality Shot Thursday"
My Romantic Home "Show and Tell Friday"

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rustic and Refined

My neighbor Judith stopped by the other day to drop off these pretty little candlesticks. Nice and very much like Judith.

She comes across little treasures all the time and with them has created the most charming cottage for herself. She just has a way of pulling things together. I'd say her style is a little shabby chic with French elegance. Totally unlike my style, which is mostly rustic mixed with cowboy. After all, I'm the gal with a cowgirl on her wall and horse blankets on the hearth.

That happens when you live with three guys. Not that I don't like my pretties, but the overall style I've gone for here is a ranchy cabin style -- leather, woods, painted or stained and a lot of simple vintage decor. But I do love these candlesticks and how they contrast with the rest of my stuff. So onto the mantle they go, right next to log candlesticks the hubby made for me.

Well, maybe mostly rustic with a hint of refined!

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Been AWOL lately... just busy with projects (that pay), slow Internet and a camera that's not cooperating. Anyway, hope everyone has a great -- and safe -- Halloween. Especially you folks back East. Snow, oh my, on Halloween.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Keeping it Real

Earlier this evening I was sitting on the front porch reading an post from Claudia over at Mockingbird Hill Cottage. She's proposing a weekly series called Reality Shots about... well, keeping it real. The blogosphere is so filled up beautiful and often staged shots that a dose of reality can be refreshing. Claudia wants to make it a weekly meme. Good idea I thought to myself as I looked up and saw my own reality.... yikes!

Inspired by Claudia, I'm sharing my a little of my reality this evening. This is what it looks like from the other side of the porch. 

And this is before you even get into my house. Ack!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Savoring Peach Pie

Every year about this time I'm flush with peaches. We have old trees, new trees and they put out a lot of peaches. Except this year. A late frost right after they started to bloom did them in. Only one small tree, tucked away in a sheltered spot, managed to produce peaches. Not many, but enough for one peach pie.

Luckily, I didn't screw it up and it turned out perfect. I used this peach pie recipe here, but without the cinnamon, sugar on top and lots more peaches. It was simply "peachy" and thoroughly enjoyed.

Here's hoping to a better peach crop next year because I have whole bunch of recipes and canning I'd like to try.

Linking to the Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage

Monday, September 12, 2011

Making Mimi Crazy

Hi everyone, Emma here. Want to play a game with me? It's called "Let's make my Mimi crazy." She wants to take a pretty picture of me today, but I say... no way.

Not gonna make me smile, uh uh!

Mimi makes a funny face when I do this, too. Hehehe!

This is fun! No, really!

She's bringing in reinforcements, but not even my sissies will make me smile today!

Uh oh! Mimi says she's going to save these pictures and show them to my first boyfriend! Okay...

Is this pretty enough for you, Mimi?

"Thank you, Emma, Mimi's happy now!"

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Trying Out Table Centerpieces

So many bloggers are getting ready for Fall that I'm inspired to make a change or two (even though its as hot as Hades here at the moment). Because of the heat I'm not ready to pull out all the Fall decor, so I thought I would start simple. A new centerpiece for the kitchen table.

This is the way it's been looking for a few months. A vintage style tablecloth with a yellow Bauer bowl with fruit.

Of course, I could change it out with an orange Bauer bowl... but that's not much different, huh?

A couple months ago I found a real vintage, 40's-style tablecloth on eBay. I love the blue and red and as long as you don't look too close, you won't see the tiny holes or specks of green paint. I got it cheap and I don't mind "old and used." But my table takes a lot of abuse, so I don't like to use this tablecloth too much. (See note below.)

The hubby likes to see the wood on the old table. It originally belonged to his grandmother and we spend a lot of hours stripping and refinishing it. If you look close, you'll see it's about time to do that again. Oh well.

I have a lot of dark blue in my kitchen, from the wall to the 70's floor, so blue it is. I like the blue check of the tablecloth ($2 at my favorite thrift store) and the blue vase (number #2 son gave that to me for Xmas a few years ago) and the sunflowers really say "Fall," (even though they're fake).

Note: A few hours later the tablecloth was covered in chocolate milk! Good thing it's washable! And I realize it won't be long before I do have to pull out some of my Fall decorations. The kids were talking about Halloween already. Yikes!

Linking to Tablescape Thursday at
Between Naps on the Porch
check it out because there's
some really great Fall tablescape
ideas over there