Snuggling Up Cozy Style

I’ve been an absentee blogger for a few days now!  My family flew in for the holidays so I’ve been spending most of my time showing them around town, cooking cold-weather meals, gossiping, baking, and wrapping presents.  Although most of my giant family is still back home, I think this may be my favorite Christmas ever ^===^.  So now I’ll get back to baking, chatting, and making Christmas cheer!  I’ll return to regular posting shortly, complete with lovely new tutorials, interviews and general adorableness!

Halloween Front Door- Phase 1

Halloween is absolutely, positively my favorite holiday of the year. Usually it revolves around a three-months-in-planning party and very intricate decorations, but since we’ve just moved a thousand miles from all friends and family, this year we’re just going for a family-friendly decorated yard.  No need to terrify any toddlers to tears or make their parents hate us.  So here are a couple of pictures of phase 1 of our spooky house decorations.  I made ample use of our mountain of fallen leaves, which line the walkway in elegant heaps, plus our giant spider is happily wrapping bats into his web. Dollar store spider webs do their job admirably, and our bleeding skull candle illuminates our little skull pansies.  There’s also my dead floral arrangement, thank you very much, and some random gargoyles and candles. In a happy coincidence, the previous owners left us a rickety porch floor and “distressed” white picket fence (not pictured), which really ups the creepy points I think!  Phase 2 will involve more gothification, maybe some blood, and maybe some dry ice.  I’ll keep you informed!

Real Men Bake

I’ve been meaning to share with you all that Eric has been baking fresh bread almost every day!  He has officially regained his baking confidence after an unpublished baking incident back in California (which I am never to speak of).  Boy howdy am I happy to have a bake master in the house once again.  The ancient Sunset Bread book has been dusted off and is now beautifully covered in flour and water spots.  Eric’s latest favorite is something that Sunset calls, “Paine Francais”, whatever that means in the bread world.  Who cares what it’s called,  it is so scrumptious and so fresh and warm . . . yet another reason to love autumn.  And as a symbol of his love for me, Eric has been adding adorable little decorations to the bread like this one-

Aww, isn’t that cute?

Eeep- FIRE, Dog Pee, and Cookies- all in one post.

What a night.  I’m just now recovering enough to talk about it.  Our atrociously ugly bathroom light fixture is, as it turns out, not only a sin against aesthetics, but it is also electrically unsound.  Last night sweet cherub Eric stepped into the bathroom and flicked the switch on- POW!  ZIP!  SPAT!  The hideous overhead light fixture exploded.  Ex-plod-ed.  Esploded. Because the ceiling in the bathroom is strangely low, that explosion must have been extra scary.

There was smoke, there was more smoke, the fire extinguisher was much more complicated than it should be, and then more smoke, panicking, etc.  Eric turned off the fuse, or whatever that action is called when you make power go off from the magic power box.  Long story short, we did not have to call the fire department or use the fire extinguisher.  Thank God.

We decided to sleep downstairs because we really don’t know how old the smoke detectors are in this house.   After a couple of episodes of X-Files (season 1!) we turned in,  2 of our 3 doggies smooshed onto our noisy air mattress.   I really wanted to leave them in their dog cubby, but there’s no way they’d passively cuddle up in the doggy den while mommy and daddy slept a mere ten feet away.

It always seems like it’s going to be okay at first when we have house guests and the pups have to sleep with us.  They snuggle down under our covers, all sleepy eyed and innocent looking.  Just when I’m feeling like “tough cookies, they need to sleep in their den”, they lick their little sleepy lips or push their noses down into the pillow or something equally adorable, and I’m totally incapable of moving them downstairs. But then around 1 am I remember why they sleep in their den.  It’s called PEE.  Either they do pee somewhere and I wake up at 3 am to scrub it, or I just wake up every thirty seconds, thinking they’re going to pee. Naturally Eric sleeps right through all of it.  Last night was no exception, pee scrubbing included.  You can imagine what an angel I was when I finally got out of bed at 7 am and innocent little Eric slept on, completely oblivious to the pee smell, the loud scrubbing noises, my feet stomping, or doors slamming.  Sigh.

There is something good in this post, I promise.  In my sleep-deprived and incredibly irked state this morning I thought it would be a good idea to focus on a little baking.  I got to work out my frustrations in that dough, boy did I!  And here are the delicious results.

Raspberry, apricot, and strawberry jam and butter cookies!  I got the recipe HERE and it was incredibly simple and I already had all the ingredients!  The deliciousness almost makes up for the lack of sleep.

Oh yes, and as for the light fixture, we cant’ seem to get an electrician out til Saturday!  One of the joys of living in the country!  I guess that means candle lit showers and tooth brushing for a couple of days, a-la-old school!

UPDATE:  We  found an electrician to come out and take a look at it the same day.  He rigged up a quick new socket for us until he can come back and rewire everything, plus install a steam vent and new vanity lights, which will happen next week.  So we didn’t have to do any flashlight showers after all!

Diorama Dining Room- A Flora and Fauna Fantasy

Welcome to my dining room!  I’ve finally photographed my favorite wall of dioramas and botanical fantasies for you to see.  Mind you, there’s much to be done in the new house, but sometimes I can’t believe we’ve only lived here a month!

Eric has always snuffed my obsession with little fake birds, but graciously sucked it up when I used them as a central theme for our wedding four years ago.  He must have been kidding himself if he thought that I’d get rid of all of those little birds after the wedding was over.  And indeed, I’ve held on to those birds ever since, without any real idea of what to do with them.

When we moved into our new house most of the walls were painted truly disgusting colors, but the living room was a shade of green that we could work with.  It has turned out to be a fantastic backdrop for our botanical/library/harry potter decor, which by the way we had no idea our furnishings could support.  The flora and fauna theme was strengthened by the fact that we live in a beautiful small, rural town with natural elements all around us.  Our morning walks around the park are the perfect opportunity to collect luscious tufts of moss that fall from the hundred year old oak trees.  It didn’t take me long to put my love of birds, glassware,  and moss covered twigs together to create a diorama heaven.  I love living here.

I think the birds look quite happy, don’t you?

As for the wet moss, I just give it a squirt of water every so often to liven it up.  Eventually it will dry out, in which case I can either replace it with a quick trip to the park ( I LOVE it here!) or leave it brown.  While I’ve used live moss, this look is just as easy to re-create with supplies from your local craft store and I encourage you to give it a try!

Romantic Placemats

Our first house guest just left us on Tuesday ;_;- it was so wonderful to have family visiting just at a time when I had started to feel a little bit lonely in a whole new state, a thousand miles from all my friends and family.  But while little Alyssa was here I realized that I had failed to prepare for dining for three!  I’ve been using the same 2 placemats since we moved in simply because who thinks of placemats?!  Being both thrifty and crafty I decided to make my own, which perfectly coordinate with our botanical dining room.

I used some really gorgeous fabric left over from an old Urban Outfitters tapestry, a green upholstery fabric from Ikea,  my maroon striped bias tape, and some miscellaneous lace.

I wanted a layered look so I used some bits of my wedding lace and tucked them into the bias tape as I stitched.  I know that’s a bit extravagant, but what else am I supposed to do with my love of ragged luxury?!!  Let’s just say that these are special occasion placemats.

And they’re reversible!  Look for the full tutorial on Friday.  For now you can check out the adorable new bias tape now in the shop!

Before and After- A Free Sofa Makeover

Num Num Num Num Num- I am so in love with the idea of free goodies!  How did I never notice the FREE section of Craigslist before we moved?  I’ve been trolling Craigslist for the past couple of weeks looking for stuff to fill in the blanks spots in the house, especially since we’re about to receive our first house guests.  The result of my efforts is this awesome retro sofa that just happens to fit our decor to a T (a “tee”?).  We attempted to fit the whole thing in the back of our mighty Versa, but alas, we had to return this morning with tools to take it apart.  Our efforts were well rewarded!  Check out the before and after:

Before- fabulous original plaid cushions didn’t quite make the cut.

After- Some heavenly green satin twill, a couple of fabulous pillows, an adorable Petina, and some odds and ends and voila!  It fits our Harry Potter/ Botanical/ Library theme perfectly!

I think Petina was almost more happy to have a sofa than I was!  She jumped up the second I was finished with the cover and with a great big sigh, she snuggled down like she hadn’t snuggled in months.  Thanks Craigslist, and thanks Amy!

A Collection is Born- The Best Ever Paint By Numbers Jesus

While my studio may have very limited wall space, the rest of the house contains more blank walls than you can shake a stick at.  So Eric and I have been trying our hardest to fill that wall space with things we enjoy.

Eric has had this small, vintage Jesus portrait since college, when he found it, took it home, and drew headphones on it with a Sharpie.  Little atheist Eric hardly knew what he was doing then, but years later that little picture with peeling paper has taken on new meaning.

I’ve always enjoyed vintage religious art and so I decided that little headphones Jesus needed a companion.  And that’s how we ended up with the best paint-by-numbers Jesus EVER!  Behold!

This is how collections are born, my friends.

Oh yes, and in case you were wondering, Eric is no longer an atheist.

Organization- HO! A Bulletin Board Re-Do

So I’ve had this gigantic bulletin board that I’ve been lugging around for the past couple of years and I’ve never really found a great way to use it.  It’s super tall and super duper long, but it’s almost too much space.  Now that I’m in the sunroom/studio my wall space is incredibly limited due to the fact that most of my “walls” are lovely, beautiful, huge windows (I’m definitely not complaining about that!).  So I figured I should make the most of my giant bulletin board and give it a makeover.  Sadly, I was too enthusiastic to take “before” pictures, but suffice it to say that it was bland and kind of ugly really.

A bit of paint, some nummy striped washi tape, spray painted vintage push-in letters (from the same set that I used in the mailbox project), rickrack, and fabric-covered thumb tacks, and voila!

I had to break the “To Do” section up into categories because for reals, my to do list just goes on and on and on.  I’ve been testing out my lovely new system for a week now and it’s really been keeping me on task!  What’s out of view are a “Orders to Fill” section and “Ideas” section.  Being organized is so much fun!