New Decorations

December 21, 2011

This year I made some changes and additions to our holiday decorations. As always, we have  a tree in the living room with my ornaments and white and pink lights, braided pearl strands and pink bunting. We have a tree in the family room with the kids’ ornaments. I also have a tree in my office with book ornaments.

This year, partly because I now do a lot of my work in the kitchen, I added a kitchen tree, with kitchen themed ornaments. It has blue and white lights. I found all sorts of cute ornaments – knife, fork, spoon, blender, pots and pants, strainer, PBJ sandwich, milk carton, pitcher, tray of gingerbread men, toaster, crate of blueberries, a ravioli, chocolate covered strawberry, and even a Hostess cupcakes – all on eBay! I must admit though I am jonesing for another ornament on eBay. It’s a little oven with cookies baking in it. It lights up AND it smells like cookies baking. It’s going for around $110 though, so I won’t be buying it any time soon. I had the most fun prowling eBay for the ornaments I did buy though!

I haven’t figured out what to put on the top of this tree yet. Some people have suggested a chef’s hat, but I’m not a chef, so I don’t like that. I was thinking maybe a little doll’s apron tied around the top, but am not sure what that would look like. Any ideas?

Teen Martha and I went to a Christmas tour of homes and I loved how some people had ornaments hung in their windows. If you look in the background of the kitchen tree photo, you can see I have my 12 days of Christmas ornaments in the windows, but I wanted to do something else. I realized I had 3 blue star ornaments that would be perfect in the big window over my sink, so Mr. MarthaAndMe hung those for me. Next year, I am going to do something on the shelf above it as well – maybe a grouping of reindeer with some that cottony stuff that looks like snow drifts.

At the tour of homes, I also loved decorations people put on the backs of their kitchen chairs. Next year I’ll be doing that too. I haven’t been able to find what I want to do it this year.

And just a note here that my kitchen walls really are not the color they look like in these photos! They are a very, very pale subtle green but somehow they look horrible and neon in these photos!

Moving on to the dining room, I’ve added to my tree collection this year with several new ones, and I also bought a white sparkly runner to put them on so they pop more.

In case you didn’t know, I don’t do red for Christmas. Pink is my Christmas color. I do cranberry in the family room. The kitchen is blue themed so I am going with decorations in blue in there.

I have had the same Christmas dining room centerpiece my entire married life. It was time for a new one. Not an easy task with my color scheme. I bought this 60% off at Michaels and had to do some work on it. It had some awful brown roses in it I pulled out. I added more pink poinsettias, some gold accents, and put it in a shiny mercury glass vase I got at TJ Maxx for $19. I am THRILLED with the results!

In the living room I have my display of tree toppers on the mantel. This collection has grown as well, so I thought I would share it with you. I also found some fabulous vintage pink curly-que garland at an antique shop, so I’ve replaced the pink bunting on the mantel with that. I also bought pre-lit garland this year because I got tired of seeing all the wires from the lights I wrapped around the garland.

Again, the colors of my walls just look horrible in these photos for some reason!

Decorating for Christmas is so much work, but I just love it so much! The hardest part for me is I spent so much time and put so much thought into and we never have a single person come over to see it (neither set of parents is interested in coming here for Christmas), so at least I get to share it with you!


Yule Log

December 27, 2010

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrated. I thought I would share a photo from ours. My dad made this yule log for Christmas dinner. He says he made it once 30 years ago, but I don’t remember it. I think it looks gorgeous. The cake was very moist, but he used a prune filling that had some liqueur in it and I didn’t care for that. The mushrooms were light and yummy though.

I Am Not Martha

December 14, 2010

I try really hard to decorate beautifully, cook wonderful meals, and buy lovely gifts, but I don’t have a wrapping room (and how I wish I did!). The wrapping supplies live in the closet under the stairs. When I’m ready to tackle the holiday wrapping, it all comes out and takes over part of our bedroom. We set up a folding table and I sit on the edge of the bed and wrap on the table. When I’m actually wrapping, all the junk you see on the table is on the bed so I have the entire table for wrapping. It’s a horrible, ugly mess, but I live with it for a week or so while I work my way through the wrapping. I would love to have a room just for wrapping, but that’s not possible. So every year I live with this disaster, hating it. It’s so very un-Martha, yet I think I’m able to produce gifts that look lovely.

Do you have a very un-Martha area of your house this holiday season?

Iced Thumprint Cookies

December 6, 2010

Thanks to Pru at Perfecting Pru for choosing Iced Thumbprint Cookies for today’s project. Pru, I was thinking of you while I was making this because you said you chose this because you tried to make some other thumbprint cookies and they ended up in the trash. I was hoping that would not happen with mine or yours this time!

Mine did not go spectacularly well, I have to admit! First of all, the dough was just crumbs. I tried to make it into a disk and it just wouldn’t. I refrigerated it and tried again. I gave up on that and then tried to make the balls. I had some success. But when I pushed in the middle with my thumb, some of them just fell apart. Yikes. I put them in the oven and then pushed the spoon handle in them and that went ok.

These are iced with just milk and powdered sugar (and food coloring). I’ve never had thumbprints that didn’t have jelly/jam or a cherry in the middle, so this was sort of weird. Everyone agreed they were pretty, but we missed the center filling we’re used to. I liked the taste of the cookie itself, so if I made these again, I would put jelly in the middle – probably strawberry.

Thank you Pru for getting me started on my holiday baking. I have so much to do and only 2 weekends left before Christmas. Yikes! I will be baking chocolate chip, sugar cookie cut-outs, gingerbread men, Russian teacakes (which most people call Mexican wedding cakes), fruitcake (there is a secret family recipe for this and I make one to give to my in-laws and one for us), and I need to make and freeze our Christmas morning donuts. I’ve got a giant index to get done before Christmas and I haven’t wrapped a thing. The shopping is mostly done though at least! How are you doing with your holiday baking and preparations?

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Final Giveaway

December 5, 2010

This is my final Martha giveaway of the year. 10 lucky winners will get a Martha Stewart Holidays double-edged snowflake trim punch (this creates a strip of die-cut paper to use as a decorative strip) AND a set of Martha Stewart Holidays treat bags (each package includes 8 bags, 8 paper boxes/trays that go at the bottom, 8 tags, 8 pieces of ribbon, and 16 adhesive strips). The paper cutter is super fun to use and makes such pretty strips of snowflakes. It’s perfect for scrapbooking, crafts or making cards. The treat bags are a great way to package candy or small cookies. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the bags have tiny white dots on them which are really cute.  The prizes are courtesy of MSLO and they will mail them out. Previous winners of my other contests have written to tell me how much they liked the punches and treat boxes they received, so I know you’ll love them!

Here’s how to win. Follow me on Twitter. Then leave a comment here with your Twitter handle, so I can match you up. If you are already following me on Twitter, just leave a comment here with your Twitter handle. You must enter by midnight ET on Friday December 10, 2010. I’ll randomly and blindly select ten winners by random number drawing (numbers assigned in order of comments here). Sorry, offer limited to U.S. addresses only and entrants age 18 and up only. One entry per person. Winners notified by email given when entering, not responsible for email transmission problems. You are responsible for notifying me of your correct  address if you are selected as a winner. Contest closes at midnight Eastern time on 12/10/10. Prize is nontransferable and may not be redeemed for cash. MarthaAndMe reserves the right to announce the name of the winners on the blog. Prizes will be sent by MSLO to winners and MarthaAndMe is not liable for any failure of MSLO to deliver.

The Martha Wrap

December 17, 2008

Martha has lots of great wrapping ideas in December Living. I love wrapping gifts. I only buy paper that coordinates with my tree, so that means it’s got to be pink, blue, green white, etc. This is a huge challenge for a holiday where everything is green and red.

I love to wrap creatively and always use lots of ribbons. I think it’s so boring when people wrap a gift and slap a bow on. I even know someone who doesn’t even bother with bows and I can’t imagine that.

I usually insist that my gift tags color coordinate with the wrapping paper. This year I’m cutting corners a bit and trying to use up my backlog of tags that may not exactly match (so please pardon any color faux pas you see).

Here is a gallery of some gifts I’ve wrapped – some with Martha-inspired ideas and others that are all mine.

Using my shredder

Martha's tissue paper idea

Tissue as ribbon

Ball o' ribbon

Wrapping paper as ribbon

Tying my own bows

Ribbon halo over bow

Ring of ribbon

A little wild

Martha's pom pom bow

Please Come In

December 7, 2008

Welcome to my holiday home. Since I’m trying to do everything as Martha would, I am especially proud of my decorations this year. Here are photos of my living room tree and mantel (complete with Martha Stewart tree skirt and stockings that came from KMart several years ago). I’m also popping in a photo of my office tree. Since I’m a writer, it’s a book tree. Enjoy!


Getting Organized with Martha

December 4, 2008

In my quest to do things the Martha way, I am taking to heart the suggestions in the December issue of Living.

On page 4, Martha provides what she calls “gentle reminders”. I’ve read her tipping guide. I don’t have that many people to tip, although I do have to buy gifts for teachers, tutors, and a house cleaner. Usually I do gift cards for these people and I’m going to do that again this year. However, I may be cutting back on the amounts (isn’t everyone cutting back?) and giving some candy (Martha’s recipes) in addition to the gift card.

Next, Martha suggest we create handcrafted gift card holders. I am going to give this a try for some gift cards I am giving to relatives.

Martha suggests we organize all of our paperwork from the holidays – receipts and warranties. I’m ahead of the game on that. I have a manila folder in my desk I put every receipt in. What I really need to learn to do, however, is to write on each receipt what it is for and what item it is. In the spirit of Martha, I’m going to add that to my to-do list.

Protecting our pets is the next tip. I actually have a funny story about this one. I have a gumdrop tree. It’s a metal tree that you stick gumdrops on. My kids love it. It usually sits on an end table in the family room. Last year one of our dogs disappeared while we were eating dinner at some point in December. He returned licking his lips which is a bad sign. It turns out he completely denuded the gumdrop tree! This year, we put it out again and I forgot about that, so he promptly helped himself again. We’ve now moved it to the top shelf of a bookcase in the family room. He occasionally walks over there and lifts his nose in the air and sniffs to let us know he would really like some.

Because we have big dogs with big tails, I don’t do candles, except for one Yankee candy that sits on a high table. I don’t have anything else that is dangerous for our dogs, so I think they are safe for the holidays.

Page 134 has tips for simplifying the season.  Martha suggests keeping a master calendar. I already do that. Next she says to remember to unwind. I do need to remind myself of that. Yesterday I ordered a holiday mystery for myself from Amazon and I am going to make time to sit down and enjoy it.

Another tip is to update your address book. When we got out the Christmas decorations, I found the cards we received last year in the basket I keep them in. I went through them to see if I could make any into gift labels and came upon a note from friends with a new address. I’ve got to add that into my address book (which I now keep in pencil so it is easy to make changes!).

Last year I cut back my Christmas card list and stopped sending them to people we don’t really know. I’m continuing with that this year. I bought one box of cards and that’s going to be it. If I need more, I have lots of leftover ones from years past.

Martha recommends postponing some holiday festivities. This is good advice. My dad’s family does not celebrate together until Jan 2 this year and we usually see my in-laws a few days after Christmas. It eases the craziness and gives you something to look forward to after the big day.

Another suggestion is to reevaluate gift exchanges. Oh, wouldn’t I love to do this! We buy gifts for some people that we barely know and I would love to put an end to that. It’s easier said than done though and negotiating something like in my family is nearly impossible.

Our decorations are completely up (I’ll post some photos soon) and my shopping is just about done. Next I’ve got to get serious about wrapping and baking.

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