Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Day of 2011...HAPPY NEW YEAR!


HAPPY NEW YEAR!
This morning it was simply too beautiful outside.  It took very little convincing to get my husband on board to spend our morning in lovely Dana Point.  This is truly where I hope to live one day!!!  I love the breathtaking coastline, the cute, funky (and not pretentious) beach town, and the general vibe of the people there.  We have spent increasingly more time there and have looked at real estate on and off just for fun.

Here is the last day of 2011!  I am very, very anxious to get this year behind me and to move on to better and more peaceful things!


The ocean is always where I long to be and where I feel my most relaxed.  In design school, we learned that horizontal line is the most restful.  I know this to be true when I look out at the great expanse of sea...


Hubby snapped a quick photo of me with my horrible morning hair! HAHA!  We went down to the beach and I walked a bit and did some reading.  Very nice and relaxing.


Here is to a fabulous 2012 to all my family and friends.  Special thanks to those of you who visit my little blog regularly!  Blessings, Steph.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Home Improvements of 2011



In the spirit of decor blogging, I thought I would list my favorite home improvements of 2011.  For each project, I tried to improve upon something in a relatively simple and non-wasteful manner-and to    do so fairly inexpensively but NOT cheaply.  Here we go!  11 improvements for 2011!

1.  Redesigned Antique Wingback Chairs....I repurposed these chairs by giving them new life (and reduced heirloom guilt since I now love them!!!).  This is probably my favorite project of the year.





2.  Added new lamps to my Guest Bedroom...(donated old lamps)...





3.  Installed new Plantation Shutters to our living and dining rooms (gave away the blinds they replaced on Craigslist)...




4.  Spruced up my humble Laundry Room without spending a dime...



5.  Installed low maintenance/low water Front Yard Landscaping...(definitely the most expensive project of the year...)




6.  Replaced Family Room sofa and loveseat...(donated previous set)... 




7.  Replaced our Entry Mirror (the old one moved upstairs!)...



8.  Cleaned up my little Backyard...




9.  Turned a map into art.



10.  AND...purchased a new area rug (donated the old one, of course)!




11.  We also repainted Living and Dining rooms (late in the year), which you can see best in this photo below (chandelier lamp shades were purchased this summer when Pierre Deux was going out of business in Carmel, CA):




It is actually good to look back on these posts and see that my home is truly a work in progress!  I often feel like I am not doing much at all, but these pictures definitely prove otherwise (I am also gagging at the quality of some of my photos; since I have begun using my son's camera the quality has improved but I have such a long way to go!).

Also in 2011 I began working on the master bedroom but it is not quite finished.  I am struggling a bit with the wall color we chose (and after all the effort painting the room I don't want to re-do it!) and with what to put on the walls, but I will take photos soon.  :)



Monday, December 26, 2011

Decorating with What You've Got

Hi friends! 

On Christmas Eve Day, I had some spare time and decided to clean out a cupboard or two.  One of those cupboards holds random items like odd dishes, platters and candles.  I also had some old pinecone potpourri in there (remember potpourri????), a random hurricane and a very tarnished silver bowl.  So I polished up the bowl and made a quick centerpiece for our kitchen table for Christmas.


Not bad considering it was free, right?  :)


Neither my husband nor I really have extended family near us and we typically stay put for Christmas Day, often traveling to NorCal right after Christmas to see relatives.  This year I set our table with casual burlap placemats (from OneKingsLane of all places), our regular everyday china and the last of the paperwhites blooming for our centerpiece.  I was happy with how it turned out...



Simple mercury glass candlesticks bought ages ago from Restoration Hardware, our wedding crystal, and a rustic old planter for the bulbs...





The Christmas supper menu included roast chicken, homemade mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce, spinach salad with warm bacon dressing (recipe here) and a special corn recipe that I make for holidays only with green chilies and cream cheese.  It was very yummy.



We are working to get sugar out of our home gradually, so I did not make a special dessert this time, although there were plenty of leftover cookies, See's candy, and other holiday treats!

Hope your day was Merry and Bright!  :)

linking:



Sunday, December 25, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Here are a few outtakes for our Christmas card this year!  :D






"For unto this day, a child is born..." 

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dark Chocolate Christmas Fudge

One of my favorite things to make at Christmastime is dark chocolate fudge.  It is so simple to do and the recipients always seem to think I have slaved making it.  Not true!  Just follow the easy steps below.  :)


First, assemble 3 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips, one can of sweetened condensed moo, and vanilla.


Next melt the chocolate and sweetened condensed moo together over low heat, stirring frequently...


Add a pinch of sea salt and stir.  Remove from burner and stir in 1t. of vanilla extract...(that is my eldest son's hand!!!)...


Line a square baking pan with foil...


then pour in the melted amazingness...



Place in fridge for several hours, then remove from foil and cut into squares and put on platter on in container (if using a container, it is helpful to line it with wax paper...).



This batch was placed on a Christmas platter with cranberry bread that I also made today.

And made pretty with cellophane and a ribbon...ready for my husband to take to work tomorrow to share....


voila!  :) 





Sunday, December 18, 2011

Signs of Christmas here and there....

I've kept Christmas decorations very simple this year...in fact, I did not even put up my beautiful and monstrous faux tree.  My older son requested a "real tree" since he seems to think this will be his "last Christmas home" (I don't know if he realizes that he will have a winter break from college next year...hello?).  In any event, we ended up settling on a real LIVE tree that we can replant when we are finished enjoying it in our home.  I have been so busy and singlehandedly do all of the decorating for Christmas each year, so this was something of a welcomed relief!

On our fireplace mantel I placed the wooden manger that my mom found for me many years ago...it is rustic but I do love it so!


Under the manger is our little live tree...


A few things here and there adorn the house...some of you may recall my "TOPIARY ISSUES" (as seen below, haha)...



This snow globe was found at Target a couple of years ago... 



Simple poinsettias are scattered around...


I had difficulty shooting the front door because of a massive shadow today during the sunny portion of an otherwise cloudy day!  The garland was purchased many years ago at the Home Depot and has been well loved...


My mom sent me this awesome carved Santa Star a few years back...



Fun ribbon can add a festive touch to anything...



Last night we drove down to BEAUTIFUL DANA POINT to check out the boat parade!  It was freezing (by SoCal standards), but fun to watch.....these shots are not great but give an idea.  :)




This week I am off from work and the kids are off from school.  Tomorrow is a planned pajama day.  :)  I hope to make some treats to give away and work on more organization.  The house has just gotten out of control with work, school, kids, home, and my other issues!  However, today I began to tackle the garage and tomorrow I have some cabinets in mind....baby steps, right?  Anyone else????

Christmas thoughts to all,
Steph.

Linking:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Entry Mirror

I've had my eye on this mirror from Ballard Designs for quite some time.  So, when it went on sale for $150 off, I jumped.  We have an entry wall with a high ceiling, and this mirror definitely makes an impact and is very much my style!  A win-win. 


My Christmas decorations are very simple this year (kind of the opposite of my life right now....).

Below you can see the reflection of the back of our front door and part of the windows above the door, as well as my younger son's "art wall."

The desk below the mirror is an antique inherited from Rich's grandparents.


Please tell me what you think? 

I will have my black and white master bedroom reveal very soon!  Just a few more touches.  :)

linking:
http://debbie-debbiedoos.blogspot.com/


Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Tea

The Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills is always gorgeous, but especially at this time of year.




Each year, my sister and I each take a dear friend to Christmas Tea.  We have been doing this for probably at least 10 years now.  My sister, Amy, and I have been trying afternoon teas together throughout our sisterhood and have had tea together in Dallas, New York City, and all over SoCal where we both reside.

(Barb, Me, Amy (sister), and Puneet (FYI, Amy is 14 years younger than I)

The Peninsula is one of our favorites...



The attention to detail is wonderful...this is my place setting below:


We started with champagne...


and then my pal Barb and I shared this beautiful assortment of scones, sandwiches and tiny desserts with our tea (I always choose Earl Grey...never deviate!  Someone once told me that it's a "masculine tea" but I never feel masculine drinking it!)...


I could not resist snapping a photo of this amazing arrangement *LOVE*...



It's a nice tradition.

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