The Front Door

Monday, November 30, 2009

By René @ Cottage and Vine

Thank goodness for the evergreen shrubbery in our garden.  Not only do I use it during the holiday season, but throughout the year I go outside and take a snip here or there and bring it inside just to add some life to our home.  The holidays really shouldn't make us all crazy running around decorating like mad people, throwing elbows at Micheal's and trying to be the first one in the door on Black Friday.  My goal is to do the simple things that I always do, and have time to spend with family.  That's it.


Keeping decorations simple allows me to spend time doing more important things. Making my own wreaths actually simplifies the holidays for me, and it doesn't take that much time.

Magnolia in the urns, three minutes.

The wreath on the door, 30 minutes.

I love a natural Christmas.

Yes the front door and threshold need  a coat of paint and yes I realize that the door knocker and hardware don't match.  I'll get to that later...maybe.

Wishing For Slipcovers...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

By René @ Cottage and Vine 

This picture is from our living room.  The room doesn't receive much natural light and tends to be one of our darker rooms.   In an attempt to lighten the room, natural colored slip covers are on my list of things to make, but with the holidays quickly approaching, this will have to wait until after the New Year. 

  I opted to bring in some lighter colors.  I picked up a couple of compatible fabrics that were 50% off at a local craft store, and the pillow makeovers began.
Always looking to use what I have, I carefully removed the old fabrics from the existing pillows, took measurements, and created a fresh look.
You can't really see it well here, but in the first picture, there is a leather ottoman.  I'm thinking of making a slipcover for it as well (after the holidays of course). 
The room looks much lighter now does it not? And these changes with look great with my dream of a white (and green) Christmas.
Small changes can make all the difference.

Modern Tablescape

By René @ Cottage and Vine

Even though my tastes tend to be of a more traditional flavor, I recently entered a few pictures in a modern table scape contest with Dwell Studios.  It's not that I don't like modern, I do.  It's just that my husband and I have inherited furnishings that tend to fit the traditional mold.  I like both modern and traditional, like Donnie and Marie, a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.
The objective was to use what you had and not to go out and purchase items for the table scape. Do you recognize the wall paper runner from the china cabinet makeover?

My husband was sweet to climb up a ladder  to retrieve the sycamore balls for me while having Thanksgiving with family.  The other branches are Crape Myrtles.

 Have fun with your table settings by looking around and using what you have both inside and outside the home.

Dreaming of a White (and Green) Christmas

Saturday, November 28, 2009

There is something so clean and pure about the combination of green and white.  Without a doubt, the combination can go anywhere, especially during the Christmas season.
With little effort you can create a stunning entrance to your home.  No ribbons and bows required, and really none are needed as the evergreens speak for themselves.
Gather all of your white containers and place cuttings of evergreens or paper-whites inside for a simple green and white display.  No white containers?  Paint clay pots white and fill with evergreens from the garden.
Create a simple table scape by filling an apothecary jar with found objects such as pine cones, nuts, sweet gum balls, or bird nests.  Greenery, and a collection of white boxes or candles will complete the scene.
Add accents to the tree with berries, hydrangeas, or glass balls.   String ribbons of green, white, and brown from the top of the tree to the bottom.
Pillar candles are even better when arranged on a bed of greenery.
Cypress and spruce from the garden add the perfectly festive touch.

Together green and white allow me to see the simple beauty.

{Photos: My Home Ideas, Southern Living, BHG}

Embroidered Towels

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

By René @ Cottage and Vine

Most of our creations aren't original, but come from a seed planted by another creative person, planted by the seed of another creative person, planted by...  This seed was planted by Living With Lindsay.  One day I was sniffing around on her blog and found inspiration. Didn't have to look hard.

It has certainly been a long time since I have done any embroidering and when I saw her embroidered towels, I remembered how much I enjoyed it and how easy it is to do.  Thinking that I was prepared with my dollar store flour-sack cloths, embroidery thread and needles, I sat down for a little crafting only to discover that I didn't have a hoop.  Hoops are pretty important, but it was 9:30 and the stores were closed.  You know how we are when feeling crafty.  We do the best we can with what we have and that's what happened last night.

Here is how:

  1. Type a message in Word.  You can play with the font and size to achieve the look you want here.  I used Bradley Hand font sizes 50 & 72.
  2. Lay the pre-washed flour-sack over the piece of paper and trace the letters.  Lindsay recommends using a brown permanent marker.  I used a pencil which was difficult to see.
  3. Next you simply embroider your design.  I'll let Lindsay explain that here.

I am linking with CSI Project

Burlap Stocking

Sunday, November 22, 2009

By René @ Cottage and Vine

Waiting in the grocery store checkout line is actually a pleasure IF there are magazines.  The other day I was waiting to check out, flipping through the latest greatest, and found a cute idea.  I believe it was in Country Living my apologies for not being certain.  Anyway, the stocking was made of burlap (big buzzword these days) and was stitched around the edges with a contrasting yarn.  I did my best, memory struggles and all, to make my own version (with the addition of the initial).

How to:

  1. draw desired stocking pattern with pencil onto burlap
  2. cut stocking out of two layers of fabric with selvage being at the top edge of the stocking
  3. pin grosgrain ribbon initial in place and stitch around
  4. machine stitch two pieces of fabric together, right side out, turning top down about 1 1/2"
  5. hand stitch around edges using contrasting yarn
  6. attach loop at top using grosgrain ribbon
  7. unravel edges and trim it a bit

    I am joining the CSI Project.

    Gift Tags

    Saturday, November 21, 2009

    By René @ Cottage and Vine

    It's the thought that counts right?  Gift tags are inexpensive as it is, so trying to make them more economical is almost lost here.  Giving the tags a personal touch is more what this is about.

    Look for old photos, perhaps from Christmases past, and print them on textured card stock.  For this card I used the sepia feature on Picasa.  Love Picasa.

    Simply punch a hole and add a pretty ribbon.  A nice message can be written on the back.  Easy.

    Thanksgiving Tablescape

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    By René @ Cottage and Vine

    Wishing not to bore you because you have may already seen the Thanksgiving centerpiece, I am linking with  Between Naps on the Porch today.  My apologies to those who have seen these pictures before.  I did add a few new ones to the post today.


    My son doesn't know that all the ladies are looking at him pouring the sweet tea. 

    Moss Covered Reindeer

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    By René @ Cottage and Vine

     Reindeer make a strong appearance this time every year.  It seems that every store and catalog has one.  They come in many shapes, sizes, and finishes.  Seeing reindeer reminds me of the sleigh full of goodies and paints a child's scene of all things wonderful this time of year.  Every home needs a reminder of dreams we had as children.

    Ballard Design
     Ballard Design

    My Reindeer
    This reindeer is easy to make.  All you need is a paper reindeer found at craft stores in a variety of sizes.  First I sprayed the antlers with gold spray paint.  Next I glued moss all over (not the bottom) the reindeer with a hot glue gun.  Sometimes I tie a bow around his neck, but this time for a little whimsy, I used grapevine and berries.  When the moss begins to fade it's an easy fix.  Simply mix together food coloring until you have the desired shade of green and spray the food coloring onto the reindeer with a spray bottle.  This goes for any of your moss projects.

    Senseless Beauty

    As a young girl, I recall running errands in the small town where I grew up.  On occasion, I would spot a lady driving a beat up old pick-up truck.  It was a small truck probably a Datsun or a Toyota.  It wasn't so much about the truck, but what the truck was carrying.  You see, the bed was lined with flower boxes filled with flowers, mostly pansies.  How this lady managed to reach a good traveling speed without the flowers flying out is beyond me.  Even though most of us knew each other in this small town, I didn't know this particular lady.  She will always be remembered as someone who took the time to share senseless beauty with others.

    Our homes are the perfect place to add senseless beauty.  We really need nothing more than a place to eat sleep and bathe, but yet we try to add beauty where we can.  We spend so much time in our homes why not make them look beautiful?  Little pockets of beauty can be added in many ways and it doesn't have to cost a fortune.


    Flowers on a bedside table give you a little happy before going to bed and upon waking in the morning.  Couldn't we all use a little happy?  Talk about senseless...roses in beakers?  Beautiful and trust me, science was never my thing!

    What about a night stand wearing a tu-tu?  Why not?  This is especially a nice touch for the daughter who no longer dances, but wants to hang on to the memories.

    Wallpaper requires a bigger commitment than say changing the paint color, but I must admit that the little splash of wallpaper in this closet is truly beautiful, and senseless.

    Washing your face and brushing your teeth merely requires running water.  Make it senseless with the addition of an elegant fixture.  There are so many faucet fixtures available at every price and changing them out is easy.

    It is rather ridiculous to hang a crystal chandelier in a kitchen I suppose, but a kitchen like this almost calls for it.  I just don't want to be the one who has to clean it.

    Curtains serve one purpose really and that is to cover a window.  Many of us have window treatments that merely hang there and don't move or serve any function; senseless beauty if there ever was.  What do you think of these panels lined with a check pattern?  Pretty senseless aren't they?  The next time I make window treatments, I'm so using this.

    Taking the time to make our homes more beautiful is rewarding.  Bringing in flowers from the garden or even leaves or acorns add so much warmth.  Pillows make a sofa come alive the same way a fresh set of towels in the bathroom can enliven the space.  These details can make all the difference in the world.  Details are the difference between a house and a home.

    Photos {Southern Living, Martha Stewart, Real Simple, Pottery Barn, BHG}

    Simply Sweet Boxwood Wreath

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

     Boxwood is one of the most versatile shrubs when it comes to decorating.  It maintains its color long after being cut and rarely sheds a leaf.  I love to use it to make wreaths for our front door that are much fuller than this, but this simple one has found its home here on the pantry door.

    It was easy to make and took less than 30 minutes. Free and easy, gotta love it.

    Bend a clothes hanger into a circle.  Cut the hook off with cutters.  Tape ends together to connect the circle.  Take about 15 cuttings of boxwood like the size above.  You might need more, but this is a start.  I will say that all of the cuttings on this wreath fit in one hand if that helps.

    Next begin wrapping the cuttings snugly with a wire paddle.

    Continue doing this overlapping slightly as you go.

    Once you are finished, step back and look for strays that might be sticking out and trim them.

    Holiday Bliss

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    By René @ Cottage and Vine

    If there is such thing as a design crush, then I have one.  Phoebe Howard in my opinion can do no wrong.  Everything she touches is exquisite. Here she uses boxwood (a holiday must) to complete a beautiful setting both on the mantle and in the dining room.  Boxwood orbs are to die for!


    Is it possible to live in a picture?

    All photos from Atlanta Homes Mag

    Magnolia Wreath Tutorial

    Sunday, November 15, 2009

    By René @ Cottage and Vine 

    Getting together with my mother and making things is one of my favorite things to do.  She is the one who taught me everything I know about wreath making, gardening, and basically all things home.  Every time we get together I walk away with some new tidbit from our time together.

    This time we made a magnolia wreath.  There are many ways you can do it, but today we used magnolia branches.  First we went in search of "just the right" branches.   It is important to look for leaves that are glossy and free of holes.  By the way, if you ever see someone with one foot on a ladder and the other foot reaching for the top of a garbage can, stop that person.  I stopped said person and was told that I was no fun. 

    The next step is what looks like wreath butchering.  Branches go into the wreath form more easily if you poke a few holes in it with a knife. This wreath form happens to be covered with green plastic.  I usually use wreath  forms without the plastic.  There is really no difference when it comes to making a magnolia wreath because the form doesn't show through the leaves.

    Cut your branches to look like this with a 3-4" stem.

    Holding the branch from the top, gently (or forcefully) insert the stem into the wreath.

    Continue inserting stems until you make your way around the wreath.  If you have empty spaces try to fill them in as you go.

    I usually make a magnolia wreath the weekend after Thanksgiving to hang over the mantle.  It stays green until the New Year.  I apologize for the blurry picture...can't blame it on the coffee this time.

    Items used
    • wreath form
    • magnolia branches, around 15 to start depending on the size of the wreath
    • pruners
    • knife for poking holes

    Thanksgiving Centerpiece

    By René @ Cottage and Vine

    If you are like most of us married folk, you celebrate Thanksgiving twice, once with each family.  Today we enjoyed lunch with my family, and after 4 days of steady rain, we were due for a day of nice weather.  Nice it was, with temperatures reaching the mid-70's.  My mother, in her usual festive fashion, made an arrangement that I wanted to share with everyone.  She simply hollowed out a pumpkin, filled it with oasis, then placed a few flowers inside. Branches from the garden filled in the rest.

    My mother is such an inspiration.

    Plant materials used:
    • pumpkin
    • roses
    • alstromeria
    • solidago
    • acuba japonica
    • beautyberry
    • mums

    Molly and Rose (my dog sisters)

    As always, Mom and I couldn't resist the opportunity to make something together.  Look for the Magnolia wreath tutorial on Tuesday's post.