Friday, December 31, 2010

Safe Ornament Storage

I have an idea that most of us who haven't already done it will be taking down the Christmas decorations this weekend.  Up until now, I have always stored my Christmas ornaments in their original boxes, inside a Rubbermaid bin.  However, every year it was getting progressively less organized and the original boxes more banged up.  I know they sell ornament storage boxes, but I got looking online and found an interesting project from Martha Stewart.

She suggests making your own ornament storage box with cups. Since I already had the bins, I decided to give this a try.  Notice how Martha's is perfectly square and fits perfectly in the box, and is even color-coordinated.  Well, I'm not Martha.

I cut a piece of cardboard to fit the bottom of my bin, and hot glued cups to it.  Super easy, although the cups I used did not allow for a perfect fit, and I had to stagger them.  These are 16oz cups, and they had smaller ones, so maybe either just the smaller ones or a combination of the two would fit more snugly.  My bin allowed for a second layer of cups-on-cardboard.

Then I started wrapping my ornaments in tissue paper, and setting them in the cups.

Even though these pine cones were just 2/$1 at Dollar Tree, I really like them and would hate for them to get broken.  I think they are pretty secure in their little individual nests.

I was able to get a few extra cups on the top layer since the bin widens a bit at the top.  In total, there are 39 cups.  There's still some head room, so I will put in another piece of cardboard and store things on top of that.  Another Martha suggestion is to use egg cartons for smaller ornaments, and they would easily fit.

I think I will be pleasantly surprised when I get out the ornaments next year and find them so well organized!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Overstock Update

Remember when I posted about the 10% off Overstock code that I was given, and how I had decided it was some kind of strange fraud?  I had emailed Elyse Malone, who originally contacted me with the "deal", and it seemed that her email wasn't working.

Well, I eventually did hear back from her.  Here is the transcript of our emails:
(me) gave me the code
for 10% off at Overstock, reusable and never expires.  I used it once
shortly thereafter, and it worked.

I tried to use it the other day and it didn't work.  I spoke with an Overstock representative, but they had no idea what I was talking about.

Can you give me any help with this?

Sorry for taking so long to get back to you.  Once you use the discount code you are no longer able to use it from the same email address.


(me)Thanks for getting back to me.  It might have been helpful to mention the one per email address thing at the beginning.  You did assure me that it was reusable!
May I ask who you are?  Overstock doesn't seem to know anything about you.

I work for MSO marketing and work on behalf of


Before I heard back from Elyse, I also emailed Overstock to tell them about her, and I think they thought I was the wacko.  They seemed totally unconcerned, but neither did they say anything like "oh yes, we hired MSO marketing".

So, I don't think anything is really any clearer.  I didn't test out the different email with Overstock, because I'm still having computer issues and I'm trying to get this done quickly.  But I can tell you that I haven't had any problems from having used the code the first time.  Perhaps I'll give it a try next time I shop at Overstock, and let you know what happens. 

ETA:  I think I should mention that I like  I have purchased from them several times, and never had any trouble with the company itself.  I just thought this whole Elyse Malone thing was kind of strange, especially after I did some looking and many other bloggers were suspicious.  But as I said in previous posts, I was able to use the 10% off code once, and I never gave her any personal or financial info, so I really don't see how she could be benefit from it.  It's entirely possible that Overstock really did hire a marketing company, and that the customer service representative wouldn't necessarily know about that.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Overnight Caramel French Toast Recipe

This recipe was given to me by a friend quite a few years ago.  It's a wonderful breakfast for overnight guests, and has always gotten rave reviews when I bring it to breakfast-themed potlucks.  Best of all, you assemble it the night before and put it in the fridge, so in the morning you can just toss it in the oven, which is also what made it work so well for our Christmas breakfast.

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp light corn syrup (I like to use real maple syrup, or maple-flavored pancake syrup)
12 slices bread
6 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
  • Combine sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a small saucepan; cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly.  (I have found that letting it reach a light boil, as below, is about right, but don't let it continue to boil, as it will thicken too much and not have the syrupy consistency you want.)

  • Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Place 6 slices of bread over syrup.  Top with remaining 6 slices.
  • Combine eggs, milk, vanilla and salt.  Pour evenly over bread; cover and chill 8 hours.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until lightly browned and eggs are set.  Serve immediately.
If you used regular sliced bread, it will fill up the pan nicely (you may have to cut some pieces to fit).  I chose to use thickly sliced French bread this time, which left gaps in between, but tasted very good.

The mixture on the bottom of the pan will create the syrup for the French toast.  Invert for serving, if you like.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Favorite Projects of 2010

Visit Southern Hospitality

I've got two favorite projects of the year (and let me just say that looking at everybody else's quantity of fabulous accomplishments makes me feel like a bit of a slacker!).
The first is my powder room vanity.  Not to brag, but I really think this was a rare stroke of genius on my part. I'm pretty good at copying things I see, but not the greatest at coming up with unique ideas, and to my knowledge, this is unique. 

For the story behind how I used my great-grandmother's antique mirror to create a "wash stand" out of the builder-grade vanity, see this post.

My other favorite project is my bedroom nightstands.  The one on the left was $10 on craigslist, and the one on the right was $46 at an antique mall.  I painted them both Heirloom White.  I love that they are similar, but not identical.

For befores and afters, and to see the old clunkers they replaced, see this post.  For more of the master bedroom makeover, go here.

What's your favorite project of 2010?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

Our postcard Christmas Eve:  fire in the fireplace, family together,

snow falling outside.

Christmas morning before:

 and during:

The boys got BB-guns.  Craig went to great lengths to make sure they didn't shoot their eye out.

Christmas breakfast was Overnight Caramel French Toast, freshly squeezed oj, and bacon.

I made out pretty well in the gift department; I got the stand mixer that was on my list. 

A fun time was had by all!

You have all week to link anything Christmas-related to my linky party.  Thanks to everyone who has already joined; I promise I will make it around to your posts, it's just taking forever on this antique computer!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas House Tour and Linky Party

(Our approximately one-year-old computer totally died yesterday.  Dead.  Kaput.  So I'm having to do this on an ancient computer that can only do one thing at a time.  Fun times.)

I totally missed all the Christmas House Tours this year, so I thought I'd just do my own before it's too late. 

The blinding white light behind the tree is snow falling--yay, white Christmas!  Restoration Hardware had the letter ornaments again this year so I got a few more.  They only had full sets of 26 in the catalog or online, but they had them individually in the store, and I got there when all Christmas ornaments were 50% off!

I also got several of their mercury glass onion ornaments.  Love!

I got the velvet Pottery Barn stockings when they were having free personalization and free shipping (I turned them around so as not to reveal the kids' names to the blogosphere). 

Ho ho ho!

Kitchen counter display.

I displayed our Christmas cards on the mirror at the bottom of the stairs.  This is all we got this year!  Does it seem to you that fewer and fewer people are mailing out cards each year?  Or am I just losing friends?

I kept it simple and silver in the front room this year.

Remember that Jesus is the Gift, and have a very merry Christmas!

If there are any of you out there who missed the linky parties, too, or just have something else Christmas related share, link up here.  I'll leave it open all week.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Running Out of Time to Watch Your Favorite Christmas Movies?

I’ve got several of my favorite movies that I haven’t watched yet, and now I’m almost out of time.  Watching them after Christmas just isn’t the same.

Fortunately, there’s a solution for those of us who need to get our movies in quick: 30 Second Bunnies.

A Christmas Story:


And the piece-de-resistance, It’s a Wonderful Life:


All caught up now?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bow-Making Tutorial

Alrighty, we’ll give this a try.  I’m not sure how well this is going to translate into photos, but I’ll do my best to explain each step.

You will need wire-edged ribbon, a 6 or 7 inch length of floral wire, and scissors.  Work with the ribbon still on the roll; you will cut it when you are finished.  Otherwise, you may underestimate the amount of ribbon needed and come up short.

Start at the end of the ribbon and loop it around, right side out, with a good inch or two of the tail end wrapped around on the inside.

 IMG_7275  IMG_7276

Pinch both layers with your non-dominant hand.  This is going to be the center “knot” of the bow.  You’re going to be constantly pinching with this hand and it’s probably going to get a little cramped.


Looking at it from the top:  assuming you have a one-sided ribbon, it will now be wrong side up.  My ribbon doesn’t show this very well because of the flash, but take my word for it.


Still pinching with your (probably) left hand, use your right hand to twist the ribbon over, right at the pinch.  (If your ribbon doesn’t have a wrong side, you won’t need to worry about twisting it.)


Make a loop, bringing the ribbon under and across to the other side.  That side will now be wrong side up again.


Twist as before, make a loop, and bring it under and across.


Repeat this step until you have as many loops as you like.  I usually make six.  Keep your loops the same size, and radiate them around the the middle “knot”.

IMG_7282 IMG_7283

All this time you will be pinching all the layers with your left hand.


When you have all the loops you want, slip the floral wire through the middle knot, and twist it at the back like a twist-tie, tightly.  In fact, I couldn’t find my floral wire, so I used an actual twist tie for demonstration purposes.



Now you may cut the ribbon off the roll, leaving about a 4” tail (or whatever looks right for the size of your bow).


You can either angle the end of the tail, or notch it.  I prefer to notch.  The easiest way to do that is to fold the tail in half and then cut on an angle from the fold up to the outer corners. Essentially you are cutting a V out of the end of the ribbon.

IMG_7293 IMG_7294

I suppose you can leave it with just one tail like that, but I like to add another.  Cut a strip of ribbon about 6-8” long.  Lay it over top of the floral wire with the right side facing the top of the bow. 


Twist the floral wire around to secure it, and notch the edges as before.


Now fluff your bow!  This is the one I just made for this tutorial.


And this is one I made previously.  I think it’s fluffed a little better.


Let me know if you have any questions, or if I didn’t explain something well enough.  I’d also love to know if you try it, and are able to follow my instructions successfully!