Super Easy Holiday Cookie Bags

I had to share this insanely easy holiday cookie bag which I originally found on Pinterest.  I was looking for a new way to share homemade treats with our neighbors and friends.

I ran paper lunch bags through my printer. That sounds easier than it looks because my printer was not happy about feeding the paper bags and some of them got smudged. I hope to perfect the technique by next Christmas!  I won't show you my "baked goods" since they are nothing to really write home about and although they qualify as homemade they do not really qualify as baking despite some use of the oven!  I made pretzels with melted Rolos and M&Ms on top, magic bars, and white trash Chex mix.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

I'll be back in the new year!


Holiday House Tour

With Christmas only a few days away, I thought I should share a few more bits of our Christmas decor before everyone runs off to be merry and bright this weekend!  I finally got everything cleaned up and put away before hosting a small holiday brunch for a few friends on Sunday morning.  It's so nice to fuel up on wonderful friend power before the holidays!

The front of the house is still sporting the same tired greenery we've used for the past 8 years. Honestly, I'm pretty tired of it and really need to change things up next year. Hoping to score some good stuff on the post Christmas sales if I get a few minutes to run out and shop with my mom on Monday or Tuesday next week. Not sure exactly what I need but something would be good.

Inside, the living room has some pretty basic decor including our second mantel decorated in more monochromatic tones than the family room mantel

I decorated the console table with our kids' advent calendar and a couple of stained glass lanterns purchased at an outlet store about 10 years ago.  Next year I'm going to decorate the mirror somehow.

Next up the dining room which is sporting red and gold everywhere. The balls hanging from the chandelier are plastic from the dollar store last year.

I like the addition of the wreath on the mirror over the buffet. I had the great vine wreath, floral picks, and ribbon in the attic and ready to go. Zero dollars.

Finally, I added one of my fake amaryllis to the liquor cabinet. My 5 year old added the baubles on top of the lidded glass container and I didn't realize it until I just saw this picture!

In the eating area in the kitchen, I used the same reindeer ornaments (dollar store) and greenery on the chandelier. The "BELIEVE" sign over the doors was from HomeGoods after Christmas 2 years ago. The fabric placemats are from April Cornell (I think) and the round placemats were a really cute Target find - they count down the days until Christmas.

Back to the family room the tree and mantel are still my favorite parts of the house.

4 more days until Christmas! Are you panicked?!  I am 99% ready as far as shopping, packing, etc. Don't hate me because this almost never happens!


Gingerbread House Building Tutorial

Yesterday, I posted all about my neighbor Meghan's gingerbread party for 4 and 5 year old kids. (Read that post here). A great time was had by all in part because of Meghan's hard work in advance of the party. They key to making this party work for younger kids is to let them get to the decorating as quickly as possible. For kids who are 7 or 8 (and very patient), building might not be a problem if you have everything cut and ready to go.  So, here's how it goes...

Make the dough using the recipe in the Joy of Cooking. Roll out the dough and cut out the front, back, roof, and sides.  

Next, bake the pieces according to the recipe directions.

Next cover a pint container with foil.

Next, mix up a batch or two (depending on how many houses you're making) of Royal Icing (recipe here) and spread on each piece.

Then attach each to the sides of the pint container.

Finally fill in the crevices with Royal Icing.

Gather your candy and get ready to decorate!!

Aren't they adorable?!! Great job to Meghan (and Jeff) on all of your hard work!! And thanks for taking these awesome pictures of the process!

Happy Holidays!!


Gingerbread Revival

My friend and neighbor Meghan hosted the now annual Gingerbread Party as a fundraiser for our kids' preschool. Honestly, the parents got a real deal when they bought this at the school's auction in early November!!  Not only do they get 3 hours of shopping/wrapping/sleeping in but their kids came home with creations they were so proud of - rightfully so!

Learning from last year's (more on that here), Meghan ran the party the same way with only minor tweaks. This time we had a few more kids but that didn't seem to matter at all. I think the main secret to a successful gingerbread party with kids under 8 is preassembling the houses. That can get tedious for little (or big) hands so having that hard work done in advance leaves all of the time to eating decorating with the candy.  Tomorrow I'll post Meghan's tutorial on how to make these adorable houses!  As with last year, I'll give you a quick play-by-play in case you are planning one of these parties for this weekend or even next year.

Meghan planned on 2-5 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon. The kids got there between 2 and 2:30 and all played in their basement playroom for 20 minutes or so. I helped Meghan get the last bits of stuff together and the table ready. When the kids sat down, this is what they had...

Then they decorated the houses for about an hour. We had 3 adults for 9 kids and that worked pretty well considering that Meg's husband was on icing making duty for a good part of that. Meg and I helped the kids find inspiration (they didn't need much help with that!), decorate around tough problems, scoop icing, and wipe their hands. The kids ate a lot of candy but that was all part of the fun!

When they were done, the kids headed outside to burn off some of that sugar.  We had an incredible village of houses!

While Jeff watched the kids outside, Meghan and I made a mad dash to clean up the table in preparation for a quick snack before their parents showed up for the "awards ceremony."

Each child received an "award" for their house... Most Beautiful, Most Sparkly, Sweetest, Tastiest Looking, etc.

Here's my daughter's house for which she won "Sweetest House"!

Come back tomorrow for Meghan's gingerbread house building tutorial!


Alex's Room: Part 1 (of 25?)

We started an exciting project here last week! Alex is outgrowing his nursery and we're ready to have that room back as our home office. Here's our upstairs floor plan in case you were wondering what room we're talking about...

What is currently our upstairs guest room will soon be Alex's room, but it definitely needs some changes before we get there.

Let's take a walk down memory lane... 

Here's how it looked when we bought the house.

When we first moved in, this was our master bedroom. This and the room next door (now Elizabeth's room) were close to the same square footage. We later moved to the other room because we liked the layout better.  This room became the guest room and has stayed that way ever since (although through a few different colors!).

Before the addition...

After the addition...

The major change in this room after the addition was the addition of a real closet and squaring the doorway. Hard to explain but basically the room had a tiny closet and now it has a huge closet. Unfortunately, this room generally served as a dumping ground for furniture, wall art, and stuff that needed to find a home. The closet generally looked like this most of the time.

As with all room redos, we started by emptying the room. We sold the mattress, and put the bed frame in the attic in case we ever want to use it down the road.

Then we had a clean slate. 

I really wanted to add some interest to this room which is quite small 10' x 11'. I really wanted board and batten moldings. It feels boyish but would add some simple interest to the room. Hopefully the molding will grow with him. 

Here are some of the inspiration pictures which I found on Pinterest.
Two Story Cottage via Pinterest

Mini Manor via Pinterest
Time to put Handy Hubby to work!

Linking to Shine Your Light Before & After Party


Bed Makeover - Upholstered Headboard and Footboard

We've owned our bed for about 8 years. We bought it soon after we moved into our house because we really wanted a queen sized bed. That seemed HUGE after many years of sleeping in full-sized bed. Honestly, I still have no interest in a king. I feel lost in a king - especially if Handy Hubby is away for a night or two. The bed was one of our first real furniture purchases and I loved it at first sight. We bought it at a used furniture store which no longer exists here. It was marked down to $400 as I remember although I probably have the receipt. It's a Lexington bed so definitely good quality and I loved the mix of woven rattan and slightly distressed wood.

Over the past year or so, I've started pining for an upholstered headboard. Ever since I made the headboard in our guest room (more on that here), I have loved the look and wanted one for myself. I still loved the shape of our bed but the woven portion was not really fitting in with our room anymore.

So, I started with the footboard which has the same paneling, because it's smaller and easier to access. Both the headboard and footboard have a wood backing which is screwed on. I wanted to avoid removing the backing on the footboard because I feared it would not fit over the fabric, and it would be visible because the mattress does not fully cover the footboard. Kind of hard to explain but stick with me.

So, I decided to try my luck at cutting a piece of cardboard to fit into the space, and then upholstering the cardboard. I had no plan for how to actually attach it which is probably why this project has been in the works for about six months. My goal for both the head and foot was to preserve the original panel in case I ever wanted to switch back to that. You never know so best to keep all options open in the future.

Here's my cardboard - a free moving box. Very thick and sturdy so perfect for this project.

Next I made the template with newspaper and cut the cardboard to fit.

I then upholstered the cardboard with 2 layers of quilters batting, and attached it using very conventional duct tape! It worked.

The fabric is actually 2 Ikea linen curtain panels for a total cost of $20. Incidentally, they are the same type of panels that I used on my porch last year. More on that here.

After some maneuvering, the panel did actually fit into the space but I was worried it would pop out, so I was able to put a few small nails in which you cannot see. 

And here's the result...

I'm totally smitten! Now I was inspired to do the head board but I knew I would have to take off the back panel. I procrastinated for another couple of weeks, then I dug into it one afternoon last week while my son was taking his nap.  

I had to fully remove the back panel (heavy!!) and wrap the new batting and fabric over the rattan woven part of the bed. 

It was relatively simple - like recovering a dining chair.  

I had to enlist Handy Hubby to help me lift it back into place. Fortunately my fabric was thin so it fit!  (Sorry about the dark shots - we had to do this after the kids went to bed.) The back was not pretty but it won't be seen by anyone but the wall.

In the end, the headboard was a quicker project than the footboard. I may end up reupholstering the footboard if it ends up popping out or falling apart (duct tape!), but for now it is totally adequate.

And here's the final result!

And the before one more time...

This makes me love our bedroom even more. Of course, I wish  the bed got made like this magically every morning but a girl can dream.

Back to wrapping gifts now...