Thursday, December 8, 2011

Let's Get Some Christmas Up in Here

Over the last weekend, while the weather was dreary and rainy, I proceeded to get all of the Christmas boxes out of storage in preparation for Christmas-fying the house.  I keep all of my Christmas decoration in the closet under the stairs, it doesn't look like much, but it holds a heckofalotta boxes.  Devin said at least three time, man that is a lot of stuff.  Well for me, Christmas decorating is some serious business.  There is just something warm and cozy about a home decorated for the season. 

The first line of business and the only finished product I have to share with you is the Christmas tree.  Several years back we opted for a skinny faux tree.  I have been using artificial trees for a while now, mostly for the sake of convenience.  They don't die, you don't have to water them and you can put it up any time without having to haul it home. We purchased a 7.5 foot skinny version because it's footprint was much smaller so space is therefore saved.  Although my dream is to have a 9 foot pre-lit version, I have to work with what I've got.  I rigged up our tree, which comes apart in three easy sections, with lights on each section that plug in separately so that I don't have to put the lights on or take them off each year.

This is what the living room looked like as the tree was getting blinged up.  Oh and I was testing a giant paper star from IKEA as a topper.  I decided it wasn't working when I saw the scale was waaaay off, it kind of looked like the star was pooping out a tree.  Sorry for that imagery, but that is definitely what I was thinking. 

Did you notice the half covered ottoman?  Yeah I started that project right before Thanksgiving, like the Wednesday before and still have yet to complete it.  More on that when I finish it. 

So when I say that I installed lights, I mean lots of lights.  I like my tree to shine like the top of the Chrysler building.  I probably have anywhere from 1000-1500 lights on it.  And it is a thing of beauty!  That is, after I get all the stuff put on it to hide all the light cords.

Also, none of my twinkle light actually twinkle.  Blinking Christmas lights (outdoors or indoors) pretty much make me insane in the membrane.  Just a personal preference. 

I think I might have 4 or 5 boxes dedicated to tree decorating stuff like, ornaments, bows, birds, poinsettias, and some stick things.  I like my tree to be totally decked out.  The key is to get some sparkle way deep down in the tree by placing some of your ornaments inside near the trunk.  This way the tree will sparkle from the inside out. 

Here are some of my favorite ornaments. 

Here is the tree in it's final glory, without the large pooping star, complete with super cute tree skirt I purchased after Christmas a few years back from Crate and Barrel.  I love love love it.  Oh and see how great the tree looks with the wall color?  I totally planned that, ok that was a lie, it is a happy coincidence.

It is a several hour process, but it is totally worth it in the end. I love to bask in the light of a beautifully decorated tree at the end of the day.

Stay tuned for my Christmas-fying of our house!  I have finished many more tasks in between work and various other things.   

Friday, December 2, 2011

Birthday Boy

We celebrated Devin's birthday this week and it was such a great time!  I am so grateful for my wonderful husband, not only because he was such a cute little boy, but because he is such a patient man.  He undoubtedly will want to kill me for posting this pic, but I can't help it, this picture just kills me every time I see it.

We celebrated the day with dinner at Ruth's Chris steakhouse.  He had never been and I wanted him to experience it.  I had been to the one in Kansas City, where we sat next to Derek Jeter and some other players for the Yankees.  Of course I didn't really know who he was except that I had seen him on the magazines for dating Jessica Simpson.  Anyhoo, that paled in comparison to having dinner with my love on his birthday in downtown Austin!  Everything was just delicious, including this appetizer that I barely remembered to snap a picture of before we devoured it.  It was lobster bits with sweet and spicy Tai sauce.  Yummy!

After dinner it was time to open his gifts from me.  He had already received some early gifts from my family while they were here for Thanksgiving.  He was not so happy to receive underwear for his birthday, but I thought it was funny.  No worries, he also got a video game and a special print a la moi of Roxie for his office. 

It was a lovely evening and I can't wait to share many more birthdays with my husband!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Deets

We had a fantastic weekend with my family in town for the holiday.  My mom, sister and grandmother arrived Wednesday night.  We talked about the beautiful kitchen remodel for a long time and when we were finished touching and drooling on the new counters, my grandmother gave us (really more me) our Christmas present early.  I was so excited to get my grandmother's G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S dishes that my aunts had all gone in together to get her years ago.  I remember as a child admiring how beautiful they were and longing to play with them, I'm sure outside in the mud (I was the queen of mud pies).  I have always loved them so much and thought they were the most beautiful dishes I had ever seen.  I am so happy that my Grandmother chose to pass them down to me.  I will forever admire them and someday pass them down to my children. 

It was the best pre-Christmas gift ever, and just in time to use them for Thanksgiving dinner.  Perfect!  Somehow the table was prettier, and the food tasted better because of them.  Okay okay, I know I have a problem, but I have yet to find a twelve step program for dish lovers. I know one is out there...I can't be alone. 

Our table was beautiful, if I say so myself.  I had a mixture of pieces on the table, and many from beloved family members that were handed down to us. 

The dishes of course were from my granny Summerville, along with the salt and pepper shakers and taper candle holders (that have no candles in them).  The gold flatware is also from my granny Summerville, she gave them to me for my wedding gift.  The glasses are from Devin's late mamaw Green.  The amber carnival glass is from Devin's granny Ree.  I also used woven place mats as a runner down the center of the table and they are from my late aunt Vena.  You can also see the paper garland I mentioned making here that I ran down the center of the table also.  The votive candle holders did not get the mercury glass treatment also mentioned here because I could not find the looking glass spray paint, maybe for Christmas I can get that done. 

The rest of the decor on the buffet was pretty basic working mostly with what I had.  I did purchase the dried wheat and 2 yards of burlap for the top.  The wheat I just placed in some mason jars I had and arranged the rest around it. 

Our dinner was amazing, perhaps due to the fantastic kitchen we had to work in.  Just a theory really.  I had such a great time cooking in my kitchen with my mom and crew.  It was really quite easy.  Everything turned out perfect. 

Devin was a whiz with "the bird", turkey that is.  He smoked it all day Wednesday.  It was just delicious. 

The stove and oven certainly were put to the test.

My mom did agree that the kitchen functioned much better and made slaving in the kitchen for hours much easier.  Oh and notice the collection on top of the cabinets in this picture.  It is a thing of beauty.  The funny thing is that I found a tea pot and a pitcher that I swore was the same stuff as my granny Summerville's at Goodwill and spent maybe $10 on the two back in October, then when I compared to what my grandmother gave me this last weekend, they were the same!  So that is why you see two pitchers.  Oh and the shorter soup tureen came from Devin's late mamaw Green also.  I don't think it is from the same collection as my granny's but it all works together.  

The new island is so great and we had plenty of room to have the buffet full of deliciousness.

Now for some extreme close ups of the food!

Devin's famous smoked turkey.  It will forever be known and remembered in our family.

Lyn's divine sweet potatoes. Yes they were seriously D-I-V-I-N-E!

Yancey's steamed asparagus with butter (Paula Dean would be proud)

Mary Lou's traditional apple salad (made by my mom because granny swears she didn't make this all the time)

Devin's favorite creamed corn.

You could easily say we were truly blessed with lots of delicious food.  I am extremely grateful for such great family and for a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend. 

Now out with the orange and in with the red and green!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gruene with Envy

Along with feasting with the family over the Thanksgiving holiday, we also visited the sweet town of Gruene Texas.  Although we were very fond of calling it "groo-en" it is actually pronounced "green".  Home to the oldest dance hall in Texas, which made my granny very happy, Gruene provided us with entertainment for the day. 

Gruene has lots of super cute shops with gifts and antiques.  Devin and I especially loved the antique shop. 

We found several things that we liked, but came home with some letters from old printing presses. 

We had a fantastic lunch at the River House Tea Room, and I had the best squash soup I think I have ever had in my life. 

It was such a cute quaint place.  The service and food was great!

This time of year the historic district of Gruene is lit up for Christmas and the shops are open late.  We had such a great time browsing through all the shops and didn't get a chance to finish, so we will definitely be heading back to Gruene soon.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

From our table to yours, we wish you all a happy, safe, and gut busting Thanksgiving.  We are extremely grateful for all we have and the people in our lives including each of you who stop by and see what we are up to.  

Love to all
Yancey and Devin

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Our Kitchen Remodel (in a nutshell)

For those who have not been present during the 10 posts about our kitchen remodel, I decided to sum it all up in a video.  Enjoy. 

Of course there are still things to be done, like touch ups here and there, caulking, and we are contemplating a change in the wall color.  More on that later. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Our Kitchen, Our Backsplash Tile

The kitchen project is coming to an end.  It couldn't have come any sooner.  With Thanksgiving around the corner, it is nice to have a beautiful functional kitchen!

I believe I left you with a view of our new counters installed. 

After prepping the area to back splash, which included removal of socket plates and the addition of a ledger behind the stove, we were able to start us some tiling.

The new back splash tile is a combination of glass and marble mosaic strips.  It is all attached to 12x14 inch mesh with made it much easier to install.  The most difficult part was to cut the pieces around the outlets and then place pieces back around them.

We managed this very well by Devin taking the role of "The Muscle" and I taking the role as "The Figure-Outer".  This combination made for fairly simple installation with little crying, bleeding, or cussing. 

Next it was grout time baby, again.  Although this was a much different experience floating grout vertically, I had flash backs to the grout I had finished on the floor.  Here again, Devin and I were a great team, him doing the floating, and I doing the sponging. 

Here is how it looked after the floating and sponging...

and here it is after the cheesecloth rub down.  Cheesecloth is amazing at getting off the haze. 

Now the final reveal!  

Don't mind the leftover Halloween candy, it adds some nice color to the island. 

Now for a reminder of how the kitchen looked the day we moved in (complete with toilet paper).

And here is how it looks now!

Ah-maz-ing if I do say so myself.  Now bring on the turkey.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Being Thankful

In between the home improvement activities at our house, I am also preparing to host Thanksgiving at our home this year.  Nothing makes me happier than having a house full of people and entertaining.  That said, I have limited time to get things pretty at my house.  With one weekend devoted to major cleanup from the construction under our belt, it is time to think festive decor.  I like to keep it simple for Thanksgiving, as it seems to be the rushed-over-let's-get-to-Christmas holiday.  The thought of having to spend too much time undo-ing the Thanksgiving so I can start doing the Christmas is definitely not appealing to me.  So I like to use simple items that we have around our house or that can easily be found on the cheap to decorate for this "feast" of holidays. 

First order of business, the color scheme.  Built around colors that already exist in our home:  orange, red, yellow, green and white.
I plan to use food to decorate this year as it is appropriate for Thanksgiving and it has a double duty, which I love.  Items to use on hand or purchase from the grocery store are pecans in their shells, red apples, pumpkins and artichokes. 

To add some great texture it is nice to use natural fiber textiles like burlap and jute cording. 

We have lots of things left over from our wedding that I use around the house regularly and they will be nice additions to the fall decor like, lanterns, votive candle holders, and candles. 

For the votive holders, I am thinking about attempting some DIY mercury glass to jazz them up a little.  Anna at Take the Side Street has this excellent tutorial on how to do just that.

Of course any opportunity to use some of my china is AWESOME.  Hello my name is Yancey and I have a problem with loving dishes a little too much!
I have lots of orange card stock paper for some reason and I plan to make some cheerful garland out of it and some other papers similar to what Chrisjob did over on Curbly.

What things do you do to prepare for the holidays?  Do you go crazy with decorations, or keep things on the DL?
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