Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Decorating: Bedroom Edition

This post is a bit late, but I've been very busy. Forgive me :)

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving full of great food and whatever it is that you're thankful for! I know I did. Aside from the parade, the dog show, and the abundance of food, the best part about Thanksgiving was getting to put up some Christmas decorations. Naturally, because I don't have a place of my my own, I decorated a corner in my room. I put up my little artificial tree, decorated it, hung my new stockings, hung my DIY garland, and hung my new Christmas countdown. The middle stocking belongs to the cat. If she starts acting like a good little kitty, she might have some surprises on Christmas morning.

I know it doesn't seem like much, but it's enough to get me in the spirit, along with the Christmas station on Pandora! I hope to add more over the next few weeks. Though these pictures show that there are 32 days until Christmas, there are now just 27!

When do you start decorating your home for Christmas? What are your favorite decorations?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey-Veggie Meatloaf and Crock-Pot Mac and Cheese

A few days ago, I made Turkey-Veggie Meatloaf for the first time. I was craving some classic comfort food with all the gloomy weather, but I didn't want to go overboard. This version is much better for you and you don't even taste the veggies. They just make this dish so moist! It turned out so well and I think I actually prefer it to the regular ground beef version. I wanted to share the recipe with you all, but I remembered to take photos as I ate my last bite. You have to forgive me, as I am new to blogging and I sometimes forget that blog readers want lots of photos!

I used Google and found a photo that looked a lot like it. Yes, I am aware that it looks like carrot cake. My family made this observation as well.

Turkey-Veggie Meatloaf
1 1/4 lb ground turkey
1/4 cup each of finely chopped green onion, carrot, and zucchini
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp ground pepper
1 large egg
1/4 tsp Italian herb seasoning
1/4 tsp dried parsley
2 tbsp ketchup
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350* F. Heat a skillet to medium-high and add about one tbsp of olive oil. Saute the onion, carrot, and zucchini until soft. This takes about 3-4 minutes.
Place the turkey in a large mixing bowl and add the veggies to the turkey. Allow the veggies to cool off and add the remaining ingredients.
With your hands, combine all of the ingredients until well incorporated. Shape into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until cooked all the way through (170*F).

Crock-Pot Mac and Cheese
I chose to make some crock pot macaroni and cheese to go with the meatloaf. It was super simple to make and soooo yummy. I dare you not to eat the whole thing! I also forgot to take a picture of it, but this one (thank you Google) looks just like it!
1/2 lb elbow macaroni, cooked
12 oz evaporated milk (I used reduced fat)
1 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 cups shredded cheddar (I used mild cheddar)
Coat the crock pot in non-stick cooking spray. Add all of the ingredients, saving 1 cup of cheese. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. Sprinkle the remaining cheese in the crock pot a few minutes before serving.

What's your favorite go-to comfort food? Pizza? Fried Chicken? I want to hear about it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Countdown to Christmas!

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and this means that I am only a few days from decorating for Christmas! I had been wanting to make a "Christmas Countdown" for a while now and had been contemplating the best way to go about it. My boyfriend came across an old clock that was to be discarded and thought that it would be perfect for my project. I know, he's the best :)

Here is the before photo, after all the clock components were removed. (Take note of the hole.)

Chuck taped the back of the hole and filled the hole with some Bondo.

After the Bondo dried, he sanded it smooth. I painted the backing with Chalk Board Paint by Rustoleum. It's awesome stuff and it really is easy to make any hard surface a chalk board! I then took some acrylic paint and added my own touches.

The red and green "dots" are actually the nail holes in the metal border. Pretty cute!

34 days until Christmas! WOOO HOOO!!!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

November Etsy Finds

I often turn to Etsy not to necessarily purchase something, but to admire the thoughtful and creative work out there (and to get some ideas for DIY projects). There are so many neat ideas for gifts and so many cool handmade ornaments and decorations for the holidays.

I am in LOVE with this tree skirt from The Poppy Hollow. I catch myself staring at the listing at least once every day. It is made of cotton and linen. Beautiful and simple. Each piece is hand cut and carefully stitched together. I can't imagine how long it must have taken Amy to make this. It is simply gorgeous, but at $205, I think I will just have to admire it on my computer screen.
You can admire along with me, here.
I, lover of all things garland, naturally adored this cute Give Thanks banner made by Sawdust Market. It has sold since I saved it as a favorite, but it is so cute... and I might actually be able to re-create it on my own. I'm thinking a Christmas-themed burlap banner.

Last but not least, I instantly fell in love with these gorgeous linen stockings by Satin Stitch Designs. I caved and purchased two that same evening. Thank goodness I purchased them when I did; the price has gone up $8 per stocking since I ordered them. They arrived last week and I cannot wait to hang them, fill them, hug them, pet them, and cherish them (Yes, they are that great). These stockings are perfectly classy and simple.

Do you ever shop on Etsy? If so, what are your favorite finds on Etsy this month?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

DIY Paper Garland

I've been pretty excited about holidays lately and my new "thing" is making garland. It's a really simple and inexpensive way to add some holiday spirit to a room. I started on Etsy, trying to figure out what kind of garland I could easily manage re-creating. About half an hour later, I had this hanging over the entry way to the kitchen!


I noticed that a lot of these types of garland on Etsy were sewn together with a sewing machine. For fall/Thanksgiving, I wanted to incorporate a more natural look and the hemp from my previous projects was just what I needed! I gathered card stock in my favorite fall colors, a one-inch circular hole punch, scissors, and photo squares to make this super cute garland. If you don't have photo squares, spray adhesive would work well too.

After cutting off about six feet of the hemp, I began cutting out my card stock circles with the hole punch. After I had a large amount of each color, I placed photo corners on the back of two circles and adhered them together with the hemp in the middle. I continued this process with a pattern of five different colored circles until I reached the end of the hemp cord, knotting a loop at each end for ease of hanging. Ta-da! I saw similar garland strands on Etsy for $10 plus $4 for shipping. This project didn't cost me anything!

While I had my supplies out, I went ahead and made a garland for Christmas. Instead of the fall colors and the hemp, I used red and green circles and a white satin ribbon. Same concept and just as cute!

I originally got the idea to make my own holiday garland when I found bat cut-outs at the Dollar Tree just before Halloween. As you can see from the photo below, I turned it into something festive with a regular hole punch and some orange satin ribbon.

How do you add simple touches to your home for the holidays?

Friday, November 9, 2012

DIY Shell Ornament

For those of you who do not know me in "real" life, I live on an island off the east coast. Our tiny island suffered a bit of damage from recent Hurricane Sandy, but this is nothing we haven't seen before. The upside of a hurricane is the shells that wash onto the shore.

 And after searching for about an hour, I was satisfied with my finds. A few perfect starfish, a perfect sand dollar, and a bunch of pretty white clam shells. I actually picked up the clam shells with the intention of hanging them on the Christmas tree.

After a soak in a 50/50 mixture of bleach and water, I got my awesome boyfriend to drill a tiny hole in the shells so that I can hang them. Use a small drill bit and a lot of patience.
Note: Do not ever put starfish in bleach. You will return to the bowl waiting to find a perfectly clean, stink-free starfish and it will be gone. Gone. The bleach literally eats it.

I used some of the hemp from yesterday's ornament to make a loop and they are ready for the tree. I can't wait to put up the tree and have tons of natural and simple ornaments on display this year.

While we're on the topic of shell projects, check out this mirror I made last summer. Have you ever made anything with the shells brought home from a beach vacation or from shells laying around the house? If you have, I want to know about it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

DIY Hemp Ornament

Before Halloween had even arrived, I was ready to put up the Christmas tree. If you can't tell, I LOVE Christmas. When my tree idea got vetoed, I decided to start thinking about Christmas-related projects. Last December, I bought some clear glass ball ornaments at Michaels on sale and had full intentions of decorating them for Christmas 2011. Oops... Needless to say, I've been searching the web for some easy DIY ornament projects for these little guys. Because I'm obsessed with the ideas of simple, rustic, and natural, I thought I'd look around the house for some twine and see what I could come up with. I couldn't find any twine, but instead, I found a bunch of hemp.

I cut off about four feet of hemp and started cramming it inside the glass ball. It twisted and did its own thing with minimal effort on my part and I think they look great! I added a piece of white satin ribbon for a touch of femininity and ta-da! It is just about the easiest project I have ever come across (and the cheapest!). This picture does not do these little guys justice. They are going to look amazing on my tree!

What does your tree usually look like? Do you coordinate the ornaments? Do you have a theme? Is it a random collection with your child's handmade beauties?