Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Inspiration: Christmas Mantels

So far, the week here has been a little cold and rainy... And strangely enough, it is putting me in the perfect mood to decorate for Christmas!  I just want to cuddle up with my hubby, sweet puppy, sweatpants, and a cup of hot chocolate... put some Christmas music on the radio... and decorate!

Unfortunately, all that will have to wait until this weekend.  But in the meantime, I've been scouring my favorite blogs and sites for inspiration!  I'll be the first to admit that my decorations were lacking last year, so time to get the ideas flowing...

Other than the Christmas tree, I think the most important holiday decoration is the mantel.  Here are some of my inspiration images...

{image via}

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Stay tuned for a few more installments of holiday inspiration this week!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipes

Everyone knows that I am thankful for Paula Deen... and all her butter-filled recipes!  And what better time to indulge in Paula's southern cooking than Thanksgiving?

I made her pumpkin bread and mini-pecan pies... Both were big hits, so I wanted to pass along the recipes for your upcoming holiday gatherings!

Paula Deen's Pumpkin Bread
3 cups sugar (I substituted 1 cup brown sugar)
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease & flour baking pans (I used Baker's Joy and it worked like a charm).
2.  Mix sugar and oil with mixer.  Add eggs and blend.
3.  Add pumpkin and blend.  Add water and blend.
4.  Combine remaining ingredients and add slowly to mixer.
5.  Add pecans.
6.  Fill pans about 3/4 full and bake for 1 hour or until golden brown.

Recipe yields 2 loaves (I only had mini bread pans on hand, and was able to make 6 mini loaves)

Paula Deen's Mini Pecan Pies
1 stick butter (8 tbs)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3-ounces cream cheese

1.  Soften cheese and butter.  Blend well in mixer.
2.  Stir in flour.
3.  Chill 1 hour.
4.  Shape into 12 equal-sized balls.  Place in ungreased muffin tins.
5.  Press down to shape into crusts.

1 egg
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt
2/3 cup chopped pecans

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
2.  Beat egg, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth.
3.  Divide half the nuts among muffin tins (over crusts).
4.  Add egg mixture over top.
5.  Top with remaining nuts.
6.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until filling hardens.

Recipe yields 12 mini pies (or 24 if you use the mini-muffin tins)

Thanksgiving Wrap Up

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!  Hope that everyone enjoyed a long weekend filled with friends, family & fun!

Every November, Jeff proclaims that Thanksgiving is his favorite weekend of the whole year... and this year, I have to agree with him!

We started off Thanksgiving Day with the Turkey Trot... and ended with tons of food & family!  I am so thankful that we were able to eat with all the Whittakers and visit with my family (including my sister, my brother & his family, and the DesNoyers!)

Friday morning, Jeff hit the early-bird sales... While my sisters and I waited to hit the mid-morning ones.  After checking several people off my Christmas list, we prepped for camping. 

Jeff headed to the annual Thanksgiving camping trip (10th year in a row for him and his friends) early Saturday morning.  I joined a little later in the afternoon, and must admit that I had a great time!

We ended up with 16 people total - providing lots of friends, food, and comforts even in the cold outdoors.  The guys had a battery hooked up to a computer with satellite... Still not sure how, but we watched football in the woods.  And grilled hot dogs and burgers, played corn hole, and rode ATVs... Definitely a deluxe campsite!

{image via the Morrisons}

Sunday night I headed over to my Yiayia's for the first round of Christmas decorating!  Jeff and I are planning to get our tree some time this week... Can't wait for a chance to get our house in the holiday spirit!

Less than 4 weeks until Christmas... Let the countdown begin!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sunroom Progress

Jeff was hard at work over the weekend... Two full days of sunroom construction, and it is actually starting to look like a room!

Unfortunately, 4 out of 9 windows were broken when they shipped to our house.  Eventually, there will be 6 windows across this back wall. 

On Sunday, Jeff and I headed to Lowe's to pick up one of the doors.  We originally picked out a basic-model, vinyl sliding glass door.  But when we got there, we found this Pella door on clearance.  Over 50% off and only a little over $100 more than the basic-model (it would have regularly been over $500 more).  

The new door meant that Jeff had to switch around the layout (the original plan was to have the window to the left of the door), but I think we're both really happy with how it looks!  And, most importantly, Ellie really likes how her room is coming along...

Now that the room is almost all framed in, I can't believe how big it looks... or how great Jeff's work looks!  He could seriously do this for a living, and I still have no idea how he just intuitively knows what to do to build an entire room!  A huge thank you to Jeff's dad, brother Micheal, and brother-in-law Nick for all their help this weekend! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday's Pretty

I've been obsessing over these images lately...

{via Lonny}

{image source unknown}

I've said it before, but I'm really finding myself moving away from bright or colorful interiors.  There is something so soothing and polished about these... and the bottom image is especially inspiring for our sunroom.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sunroom Start

Jeff is continuing to make lots of sunroom progress (I won't even pretend that I have helped, outside of a few minutes on the ladder to snap chalk lines).  Being oh-so resourceful, Jeff is saving the banister that was previously on the back porch for when we add a front porch eventually.  But for now, the porch has been stripped down (ready to frame up walls), ceiling taken down, insulation added & ceiling put back up, floor pressure washed, and batten strips added to cover where the pieces of bead board on the ceiling meet.

It currently looks like this...

 And this morning, our windows arrived!  That means framing this weekend and more progress pictures next week. 

In the meantime, I'm still considering what items of furniture will be shuffled around the house to decorate said future room.  One thing is for certain, there is no shortage of couches in this house!  Which is pretty good, considering I'm tentatively planning to move almost all of them (you really can't be surprised by this, right?)

Remember the original living room couch...

Which was moved to the office last year and slipcovered...

And will live the rest of it's life in our current house in the sunroom...  The location is a definite, but I can't seem to decide whether to decorate around the purple (given that the sunroom will be very bright) or keep the slipcover (until I can scrap & save pennies to reupholster one day... in a galaxy far away)

What do you think?  Should your entire house be kept to the same color palette?  Or can I have red in the living room and purple in the sunroom?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Christmas Cards

I'm all about 'respecting the turkey' and not skipping from Halloween directly to Christmas... but I also can't help but get excited about my favorite time of the year!  Not to mention the fact that it is never too early to get organized for the holidays.

Jeff & I are putting together our annual Christmas spreadsheet (nerd alert)...

... And choosing our Christmas card!  This year, I've been in love with the photo card offerings from Minted.  We've narrowed it down to three contenders so far.

Card 1:

Card 2:

Card 3:

What do you think?  Do we have a winner?  Do we need to attempt an actual 'Christmas card' photo session?

Charlotte Friends

Anyone interested in checking out an estate warehouse sale?  I saw this flyer over at Matter of Style and am just itching to go!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Metrolina Deals!

My mom & I headed to the Metrolina Expo on Saturday for the Fall Antiques Spectacular.  Browsing any type of antique show, consignment shop, yard or estate sale is quickly becoming my favorite past time.  And finding an incredible deal on something makes it all the more fun!

My mom is kind of my lucky charm... She found the world's best deal on our Henredon dining room chairs at Sleepy Poet (among many other finds).  But this time, I spotted a mirror from a few feet away, looked at her and said, "I'm going to buy that."  The best part?  I asked the price... $10!

The only downside is that it appears to have been rained on (or somehow gotten wet).  The actual mirror is fine, but the back is a little warped.  For $10, I think we can spring to get this fixed at the Frame Warehouse in town!

Is it not a dead ringer for the mirror below from Lonny?

Or this similar mirror from Go Antiques?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Start It Up!

I can't believe it myself, but we have Jeff has officially started the sunroom project!  Ceiling panels are almost all down, insulation has been purchased (and is currently taking over our kitchen), and we found a great deal on windows.

I also fell in love with this door (to open from the sunroom to outside)...

I love using a glossy black door and was inspired by some of these images...

{source unknown}

{images above via High Street Market}

I'm ready to paint all of our doors black... But for now, we'll have our hands full with the sunroom!  Stay tuned for more updates to come!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Super Size Me

We have a plan for Ellie's bed underway... But are somehow reconsidering the plan for our bed now too!  When we first were married, I put a ban on the king-size bed that literally took up the entire master bedroom.  But, in typical Catherine fashion, I'm reconsidering it. 

- Great reason to redecorate!
- Enough room for a particular spoiled pup who doesn't actually use her own bed at night
- Would be a little too large for our room now, but would hopefully be the right size in our next house

- I love our current duvet cover, in Barbara Barry's Poetical (but it is a queen size)
- Would most likely have to move the smaller dresser into our room (and put the larger in the guest room)
- Would be a little too large for our room now, but would hopefully be the right size in our next house

As I deliberate, I can't help but brainstorm a few ideas for the king size room...

Any thoughts on queen versus king size beds?  Does anyone know if a queen size duvet would be at all workable on a king size bed?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Custom Bed

Amy's post on Premier Prints had me re-visiting their selection this week.  I've used their site before and highly recommend it to anyone looking for nice, budget-friendly fabric.

I'd love to use the 'best friends' fabric in linen & chocolate to make a dog bed for Ellie.  I've been searching for one everywhere that has a zipper, so I can easily throw it in the wash when needed. 

Wouldn't this be so cute with a light blue piping around it too?  Although I think that the piping may be getting a little too advanced for my first sewing project...  If I can figure out what to use for the insert, I may be tackling this relatively soon.  Famous last words, right?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Keep It Fresh, Part 2

I’ve mentioned decorating in a traditional style without feeling stuffy before. But I continue to look around our traditional-style house and think of ways to keep our home from becoming just that… especially after seeing Bijou and Boheme's home, featured on Two Ellie recently.

I’d love to swap out our current living room TV stand for a mid-century modern credenza, like they did...

Perhaps this one from Craig’s List?

I also love their Lucite chair in the living room…

Perhaps I could replicate on the cheaper side with either a coffee table, or the Tobias chair from Ikea…

And while we're on the subject, I’m totally inspired by Bryn’s reupholstered wing back chairs... What an amazing spin on the traditional wing back!  Plus you can easily find this style on Craig's List for under $50... making the reupholstering not quite as budget unfriendly.

Sometimes I wonder if my mind will ever stop redecorating?  But then again, it's way more fun to imagine all the possibilities... Unless you're Jeff's never-ending house to do list!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Belated Birthday Post

{with my sweet hubby on his actual birthday... at Sarah & Ryan's wedding!}

To my husband,

The enforcer of the budget, endless to-do list tackler, Carolina fan despite the season, outdoor enthusiast, DIY extraordinaire, Ellie’s obvious favorite… You are so many things to so many people, but I am most grateful that you are my husband. You continue to surprise and amaze me, and I am always touched by your never-ending support. You challenge me to try new experiences & stretch my comfort zone, debate with me on everything from how to cook scrambled eggs to politics without actually arguing, encourage me to be independent… you make me a better person.

I am thankful for you every day, and can’t wait for many more birthday celebrations to come! Happy 28th birthday, Jeff!

Sarah & Ryan

Sarah & Ryan's wedding was amazing... fun-filled & heart-felt, like the bride & groom!  The Baucoms hosted a great rehearsal dinner at Olde Providence Racquet Club.  There was delicious barbeque & sides for dinner, followed by a slide show, and 'open mic' for toasts.  I have never heard so many people say 'these two are perfect for each other'!  It was such a testament to how much love & support was in the room... and how great Sarah & Ryan are together.

{with the gorgeous almost-Mrs. Baucom}

Saturday morning the bridesmaids headed to the Ballantyne hotel to get ready with the bride!  Everyone that came in the room to say hello mentioned how calm the vibe in there was... must be all that yoga training paying off!  Sarah was calm as could be, but so excited to get married at the same time!

{Elon ladies with the bridesmaids getting ready}

Then we headed over to the Dairy Barn for pictures and to finish getting ready.  The band was warming up, and the place looked incredible!  The leaves here in Charlotte are still changing, and it provided the most beautiful backdrop to all the great fall centerpieces, flowers and barn decor!

{dessert table at the reception}

The whole day was perfect, and Sarah was an absolutely stunning bride!  I think the pictures speak for themselves... Everyone had a great time!
{with all her bridesmaids}

{one of my favorites... dancing with her nephew}

{all the girls!}

{party going strong!}

Lot of love & best wishes to Mr. & Mrs. Ryan Baucom!  I know you have a lifetime of happiness together ahead of you!