Sunday, November 29, 2009

Trim A Tree For Your Tabletop And More

This is one project that I would really love to try this year.  We usually put up one Christmas tree but I would like to add another "table top tree" into our decorating scheme.  I am looking for our house to be more festive in other rooms.  Table top trees in urns especially appeal to me.  I am crazy over urns!  The above image is so adorable and colorful (other images are cute too).  You could probably find an inexpensive urn, or metal bucket, and spray paint it red or any other color.  As far as our main Christmas tree we use a tree stand with the typical tree skirt.  I am thinking that I want to use an urn instead for our large tree.  If I can't do that then I may try a oversized galvanized bucket with a tree stand to fit inside.  I have seen this done in various forms.  I got this image below and idea from Bethany at Curb Appeal.  She said that she has done this in her home and it helped to protect her wood floors too.  It certainly is different!  I am in the mood to stray out of my comfort zone.  How about you?  Are you seeing something that you would like to try this year?  Shake things up a bit?

More cuteness...

Eddie Ross doing it best too!

~Finished and lovely~

Found this image below from Martha Stewart (so many great ideas, can't stay away).  Great example of a "classically trimmed" tree.  I included the "how-to" below.  I don't have pretty ornaments to spare like pictured here, but I am sure I could come up with something that I would enjoy looking at everyday.  This looks easy enough if you have the time.  It is definitely something I am going to try.  I could see this on my buffet...  I hope you give it a try!  If you have already done this kind of thing, let me know how it came out.  I would love to hear about it and your decorating adventures!

Trim a Tree How-To
Choose a fresh tree with branches that directly oppose each other, such as a Norway spruce. A full-size tree can be pruned this way, but it may require additional support around the base.
Tools and Materials

Galvanized metal bucket
Pea gravel
Garden gloves
Masking tape
Pruning shears
Wood saw
Brown liquid shoe polish
Urn or other heavy decorative container
Garbage bag
Plastic paint-mixing bucket
4-inch-thick floral foam
Kitchen knife
Decorative sheet moss

1. Most of the necessary supplies are basic hardware-store items; floral foam and sheet moss are available at floral-supply stores.

2. Stand the tree upright in a galvanized metal bucket filled with pea gravel (you will transfer it to a decorative urn later). Examine the tree to determine which branches to prune. For this tree, Eric removed every other ring of branches.

3. Wearing gloves, place a piece of masking tape at the inner and outer ends of every branch you plan to remove.

4. Use pruning shears to cut away the tagged branches, working from the top down. If the trunk appears too long once you remove the bottommost limbs, trim it with a saw.

5. Once boughs are removed, conceal cuts with dabs of liquid shoe polish.

6. Line the urn with a plastic garbage bag to prevent leaks; place plastic bucket inside. If the bucket doesn't fit snugly, fill the space around it with gravel. Transfer the tree to the plastic bucket. Fill the bucket three-quarters full with gravel to secure. Pour water in until it reaches the top of the gravel.

7. Use a kitchen knife to cut floral foam to the same diameter as the mouth of the urn. Cut a pie-shaped wedge from it. Soak foam pieces in water until saturated. Place wet foam cylinder around the trunk like a collar, and replace wedge. Trim excess foam. Gently press sheet moss onto foam. To keep the tree fresh, remove the foam wedge and water as needed.

8. The tree is ready to be decorated.

Isn't this great?  Have fun...


(Images from Martha Stewart, BHG,Curb Appeal, Eddie Ross)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Welcoming Front Door Decorations

I am just loving these front door decorations.  I am a big fan of moss and the wreath above is getting me all worked up!  Of course, Martha knows how to do "simple elegance" best.  The above "living" wreath can be made with plants, and can last all year, but has to be kept out of the sun.  I am thinking that is not going to work for my front door.  It is so beautiful, sigh....

Keeping your decorating simple, really sets the scene for a warm and welcoming entry to your home.

I love to decorate with natural elements.  These large pine cones are inexpensive and just attached to a pretty ribbon.  How simple and easy is that?

A more traditional decoration for a colonial.  I love the look of this house.

You don't have to use inflatables to be festive! {Don't mean to offend if you love using them, but I don't get it...they usually are just lying flat on the ground when not turned on!}  Using "bulb-y" lights on this gate is really a whimsical alternative.

I love the use of light in this picture with torches flanking the entry and candles in the snow.   Great way to say to your guests...come warm yourself in our welcoming home!

I am definitely in the mood to cozy up my home and get ready for Christmas!
Have fun

(images from Martha Stewart, Country Living, My Home Ideas)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Getting in the Thanksgiving Spirit

We were in a merry Thanksgiving mood and ready to take a drive to Philadelphia from Boston for a family gathering, when my daughter came down with the flu.  Now that our plans have changed we have to regroup and make the best out of the situation.   We of course will be home and I am o.k. with it.   I will likely run out tonight, I know...insane, and pick up a few things to throw together tomorrow for us.  I just hope my daughter will feel better by then, she was really looking forward to all the festivities with her family.  I was thinking of things to be thankful for and...I am very thankful that we were not at a hotel somewhere and she then became sick, that would have been awful for her.  I am also very thankful that she is strong and healthy and she will get through this.  I am very thankful that we will be together at home where we can all be comfortable and have a quiet, simple evening (of course with the sounds of football in the background!).  So, we are going to do our best to get into the Thanksgiving Spirit.  I found some quotes that I found to explain it best.  Hope everyone has a wonderful meal and that you are with the ones you love.
Happy Thanksgiving

"If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily." -Gerald Good

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." -John Fitzgerald Kennedy

"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving." -W.T. Purkiser

"Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence." -Erma Bombeck
*Images are from Martha Stewart..of course!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Traditional Yummy

Old fashioned sweet candied yams are a must at our table.  Make them even better with this recipe using "hand cut" marshmallows.  I usually find the marshmallows at Whole Foods.  It has been tradition for us to serve this every year.  It is even better the next day.  The yams are so sweet and melt in your mouth!  ~Enjoy~

3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch thick slices
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons sweet butter, melted
1/4 cup apple cider
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Whole foods All Natural marshmallows (essential for best result!)

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine the maple syrup, honey, brown sugar and cinnamon with the melted butter.  Toss the sweet potato slices with this mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Place mixture in a lightly buttered baking dish and cover with parchment paper and foil.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes and remove the paper and foil; bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender and slightly caramelized.  Be sure to serve these warm.
*For a tasty addition, when you remove the paper and foil, add 1 cup of the hand cut marshmallows (if prefer them smaller, cut up with clean shears) and cover.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes until top is lightly browned.

I hope you add this to your menu.  It is easy and tastes heavenly.  Make sure to take a deep breath and slow down during your Thanksgiving preparations.  I know how stressful it can be!  Put on some nice music, throw on a cute apron, and have a glass of wine.  It will all come together!  ~jamilyn~

( Knife-spoon-fork apron by Heliotrope Home, image Southern Living)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Time For My Drama Marathon!

Every once and awhile, I need a fix of drama.  If you are in the mood for movies that are pure period masterpieces filled with betrayal, seduction, love, fetching costumes and breathtaking locations — then look no further, you will not be able to tear yourself away.  Of course, I cannot leave out the incredible acting.  Speaking of the actors, if the pictures of these Gentlemen below don't get you to seek out these films ~ then watch these period pieces for their excellent portrayal of a different time...
Meet the handsome bad boy, Alec D'Urberville played by Hans Matheson in Tess of the D'Urbervilles...
*He also plays in Dr. Shivago with Kiera Knightly, The Tudors*
Tess Durbyfield played by Gemma Arterton

North and South
You are going to love the intense and passionate Mr. Thornton played by Richard Armitage.

North and South is an excellent period drama.  This is one of my all time favorites.

Pride and Prejudice
The dashing, devoted Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy played by Colin Firth (don't miss his wet shirt scene).  Lizzie played by Jennifer Ehle.  This is the best Pride and Prejudice version by far.  I enjoy watching this movie again and again.

Little Dorrit
Kind and generous Arthur Clennam played by Mathew Macfadyen

Little Dorrit played by Claire Foy

Lost in Austen
This is a great series that takes a different twist on the Mr. Darcy saga.  A modern version.  I enjoyed it very much.  

{Honorable mention}

I have to mention these two French subtitled movies.  Love, love, love them.

Oliver Martinez is beautiful in this movie.

I also recommend these excellent series:

I have watched all of these movies and more, I am sure I am leaving some out by accident or loss of memory capacity!  I have to warn you though, most of these are "series" and add up to many hours on the dvd's.  I usually sit down to watch one episode, and cannot stop and watch them all in one sitting.  Of course, this list has been compiled from many years!  This is not all I do!  However, I am obsessed with period drama's and it is one of my favorite things "to do".  So, clear some time, get out your favorite blanket, snuggle up with fresh popped pop corn, invite a friend over, and prepare to be dazzled by these talented actors and superb plots.
So happy to introduce these to you.
Enjoy! Let me know if you watch any of them.

~ jamilyn~

*images from BBC, Masterpiece Theatre,Amazon,Face book.  You can buy these series on*

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Decorating with Herb Standards

Interior designers are using small herb standards for their decorative value.  Architectural in feeling, they're more visually interesting than many ordinary houseplants and usually more fragrant as well.  Planted in formal containers and displayed in pairs, standards appear proper and traditional, but in baskets or clay pots, they look more like inhabitants of an enchanted forest.                  

*Both Images from Pure Style Home*
Lauren from Pure Style Home  uses topiaries beautifully in her kitchen.  I like the touch of green they add to her black and white decor.  Having a Herb Standard in your kitchen, can help you to use more fresh herbs when cooking and they also make your home look fabulous!   Lauren says that one is fake but I cannot tell, can you?

Herb standards are plants trained to grow with single stems and lush, geometrically shaped heads.  Standards are a simple form of topiary, the art of training plants and trees into fantastic shapes.

Martha says, "A lone topiary might look lost atop the table, but a group of five in staggered heights provides an arresting tableau {love her use of vocabulary words}.  The spherical forms highlight the tables shape and the soft edges of the other furnishings.  Living centerpieces can be rotated to suit the season."

I really enjoy using topiaries in my home.  I think I am obsessed with them.  When I am out and I see one, I want to buy it.  They usually are very expensive, so I hold off.  I may try and make one myself.  It has to be cheaper...right?  So much to do, so little time.  Go here for instructions.  I love this photo below.  First, the table is fantastic.  Second, I love all the lush plants.  It would be like having a mini garden in your home. I think it would make me happy to see that everyday.  Unfortunately, I don't posses a green thumb, so it probably wouldn't look this great after a few months! *image from Lonny Magazine

These "baby" Myrtle topiaries make a great gift in antique tea cups.  Adorable!

Topiaries for a wedding decoration...

I could go on and on with images of topiaries.  I hope this has inspired you to add these beauties to your home!

(images for Martha Stewart, Country Living, Pure Style Home, Living It At Home)