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Canton Christmas Tour of Homes 2010 – Part I

We finally made it! We finished the tour today, Patrick just threw another log on the fire, and I’m getting ready to crack open some frothy goodness. I’m going to give you the run through the tour (we didn’t open the guest room, basement, or attic to tourees) which featured the main rooms of the house and tomorrow I’ll post detail shots of the tree, garland, etc. Unfortunately or fortunately it flurried all day to day. Sadly, it decreased the usual tour attendance, but the flurries really made it feel like Christmas. Let the tour begin:

In the immortal words of Bill Engvall “Here’s your sign.” or in our case here is our sign.

As you rapidly spring from your car and rush through the cold you might glance at the entry way. The little alpine trees had to be held down with bricks to keep from blowing away. Of course I only figured this out after I reset the damn entryway three times. I’m a slow learner at times.

Then we have split the living room into an entryway behind the love seat. On the console table I created a snowy vignette in a wardian case that Patrick gave me a few years ago.

Moving on to the living room.

Patrick and I had some helpers in the form of “The Granny”, Papaw (not pictured), and the neighbors’ kids. Their house was also on the tour so they went back and forth between houses. The often come by and are a real hoot. It is so nice to live in a town with fun, friendly neighbors. I’m not sure if they are posting pictures of their house but if they do it will likely be at their blog 21 Penn.

The fact that their house is so radically different than ours, makes the Tour of Homes worth participating in. I love their breezy whites, pennant garland, and covet their black bedroom. If only I had the ceiling height I would totally steal their ideas. However, what works for one house doesn’t for the next. It makes each stopn on the tour unique. Back to the helpers:

One of the features we love most is that the living room opens into the dining room through a double set of french doors (we found in the basement and rehung). I like the open floor plan, but it is a bit of a challenge to unify the public areas of the living room, dining room, and kitchen. We chose various shades of grey for the wall color and metallics for the decorations.

Personally, I would like to rip out all of the cabinetry, revamp the floor plan, and basically start fresh in the kitchen. However, we are on a modest budget, so after painting the walls (the life of the cabinetry has yet to be decided) we opted for a warmer Christmas feel after all the metallic and used springs of bittersweet and oranges to fill out the space. We did use similar greenery to tie it to the other adjoining rooms. For more sensory input we boiled a mix of cinnamon, cloves, and star anise to give the hint of fresh Christmas baking.

There is a nice sized hallway that separates the public areas from the private bath and bedrooms. We decorated the hallway just for us. One of our gothic/nerdy habits is collecting gargoyles (grotesques for the history purists). We picked the first one up in France in the form of this owl from Avignon. We haven’t looked back sense. We used them in the hallway topping our copious bookcases.

The best thing about having a child is getting to do child-like things again. I wanted color and fun in the boy’s room. Since we haven’t repainted it yet (next on the list) we have not hung pictures. It is hard to add color in a white room with white walls. The granny had a cute white Christmas tree we borrowed plus she managed to find colored Christmas lights on white wire (no small feat). Then we added a lot of figurative glass ornaments, plus the family ones. We also used McClain’s toys and some Christmas beanies for decoration.

The bathroom was so awesome that we actually put a sign up saying it was “Still under renovation. Unless you like it, then this is how we meant for it to be.” So, here’s you obligatory picture of the toilet vignette. Nothing says Christmas like a sparkly toilet topper.

The bedroom gets two photos. 1. Because I actually made the bed (We almost always pull the bed straight, but who actually uses this many pillows?):

Don’t you just love those beige-pink walls? Especially with the red bedding. Trust me one of the two is on the docket to change… 2. I used my collection of green glass to add a touch of Christmas to the bedroom dresser.

That’s all for now, but tomorrow you can see some of the closeups and a more in-depth descriptions of the Christmas tree and vignettes. Then, maybe, we can be done with Christmas until the 25th.

To see part II click here.

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Simple Christmas Table Setting

You know how I said I wouldn’t give away more of my house before the Canton Christmas Charity Tour of Homes? Yeah, I lied. I am so excited about how the table setting turned out in the dining room that I had to give a few more peeks at the Christmas vignette I created as my centerpiece.

Instead of the golden shimmer of the living room, I went with a frosty blue shimmer in the dining area. I created a scene of deer in a snowing forest for the table setting’s centerpiece. Clearly this is more interpretive since I have yet to see metallic deer bounding about Western North Carolina. Though I bet some of the local hunters would go ape-shit if we did have silver deer running around. But only if they were 12 point bucks, because everyone has already bagged an 8 point this year…

Back to the centerpiece, I scored this young buck and his mate at Rite-Aid, on sale for less than $7. I already had the crystal candlesticks (wedding present) and silver Christmas tree. Then I added some fake snow and glass babbles from a garland that got broken.

The whole table setting is set for two (don’t worry McClain has his own place setting at his high chair) and looks like this:

Yeah, I had to Google how to lay all that glassware out correctly… I mean we always entertain with water, red wine, and a sparkling aperitif. Doesn’t everyone?

You might notice there is one HONKING-huge light fixture hanging above the table. Words can not describe its beveled glass, brass, hugeness. Suffice to say it is UGGGGGly. Since I didn’t have the time/budget to remove this bad boy I covered it in fresh evergreen garland mixed with ivy that had flowered and made blue berries. Who knew ivy could do that?

I also bought a large pack of plastic snowflakes at the Dollartree and covered them in a large flake glitter I got in the floral section of A.C. Moore (Due to my craft hoarding habits I just happened to have that on hand from a previous project I never actually completed). These snow flakes then got suspended from the brass tentacle arms of the light-monstrosity.

While I’m still not a fan of the fixture I do love the way the snowflakes are suspended over the eating area.

Oh and I got to use more of my wedding gifts in the form of my china pattern (Vintage Jewel by Lennox) and cobalt-blue, satin placemats and napkins. I actually took two napkins (one matching the runner) and rolled them together and used the extra snowflakes as a napkin ring.

Finally I created other touches to match around the room by using unbroken bead garland on the window.

And using my stash of cobalt blue glass. I found a single bottle of cobalt blue glass in the local river when I was around 13. I have been obsessed ever since!

I hope you enjoyed the other side of my Frosty Metallic Christmas. If you want to see the whole thing and you live in Western North Carolina you can attend the Canton Christmas Tour of Homes Dec. 5. After that date I will be posting all the details for those that can’t come!

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How To Make Evergreen Garland Or Swags

So you want to make fresh, evergreen garland? I don’t blame you! It’s another one of my cheap and easy Christmas decorations that people go gaga over. Moreover, nothing smells like Christmas except the scent of fresh cut pine. Let’s get down to business and learn how to create evergreen garland, also known as swags.

The process is very similar to my evergreen wreath tutorial. You might want to give it a quick run through before going through this one. Wreaths are a tiny bit easier because you are working with a stable frame and on a smaller scale. However, I’m one for jumping head first into most crafts, so feel free to ignore my advice.

Feel like you need a little more help? Check out the new Evergreen Garland Video Tutorial.

Alrighty, here we go:

Necessary Materials

  • Evergreens: The above pictures show my collection of branches from white pine, cypress, ivy, fraser fir, and some other random pine. I just mooched off of family and neighbors because you don’t need more than a few limbs of each. Just promise them you will cut without gapping the tree/bush. Usually people are happy to let you tidy up their plants. The piles in the first picture made around 30 ft of garland for my house. The second photo shows the greens cut into various lengths 6″ to 1′ depending on how thick/wide I wanted the garland.
  • 24 Gauge Floral Wire*: I like a 24 gauge, just make sure it’s thick enough that you can pull it without it breaking but thin enough to wind easily. I like the green florist wire because If I’m not careful (which I’m not usually) it will blend better.
  • Rustic Wire 18 Gauge* or Rope: In the past I have used brown rope (big mistake), green rope, and this year green covered thick wire (in the floral section of craft stores). Make sure whatever you choose is green. The brown rope was a beotch because every single micrometer had to be covered in greenery or the brown showed through. I like the wire the best because it was strong enough to hold the garland together, thin enough to cover easily, and it held its shape better than the rope. Cut it into the lengths you want your finished garland to be.
  • Cheap/Old Clippers: Once you cut the wire and gummy pine trees they’re pretty much done. I always just use my old garden shears for this project.
  • Gloves & Old Blanket/Old Clothes: Yes, most of the pictures show my bare hands. Do as I say not as I do, because this will eat your hands alive. The old sheet is to sit on, because you are going to want to do this OUTSIDE or in a garage. You will be covered in rosin and needles when done.

Step 1

Secure your two wires together.

You can see I did some awesome girl scout knots here… Or I just kinda squished it together.

Step 2

Take a handful of greenery (all facing the same way) and stick the wire through the middle. It isn’t important that the wire be 100% covered because, let’s face it, your going to be putting layer after layer after layer of greenery on this puppy. As you overlap it will cover most gaps.

Then take the floral wire and wrap it a couple of times around the whole bundle near the ends of the greenery. Do NOT cut the wire. It needs to stay in one continuous strand to help hold the whole thing together.

Step 3

Take another bundle of greenery and bundle it around the first piece and the wire, BUT make sure the ends are maybe 1-3″ further down the wire. Then take the STILL ATTACHED floral wire and wrap it a couple of times to secure the second bundle. Now repeat this about 10 billion times for however long you want your garland to be.

Please note that the closer you bundle your evergreen together the thicker and less gaps your garland will have. However, the closer it is the less progress lengthwise you will make.

Basically you just going to keep going, bundle, wrap, bundle, wrap, bundle, wrap… Of course it will be the coldest day of the year when you choose to do this outside. So you might also want to bundle and wrap yourself.

Step 4

Now that you are almost at the end of your garland you may realize “How the Hell am I going to finish this?” Well it is pretty simple. When you’re one bundle away from finishing the garland take the last bundle and turn it the opposite direction and secure it end to end with the last piece. Now you may tie off your floral wire and cut it.

Step 5

Bend the piece going in the wrong direction back on itself and stick some random pieces of greenery in the few wires that show. Voila, your done! And probably cold and sticky, but DONE!

Really, cover the wire better than this with loose pieces of evergreen…
Here’s about 15 feet laying in my driveway. It waited while I made 4 more smaller garlands.


  • If you know where your garland is going then you can focus on one side or the other. For example I made a swag to go in the kitchen over the window. I knew only one side was going to show so I put all my pretty berries etc… on one side of my bundles. Beware! Staircases will be seen from both sides.
  • Incorporate other things in your garland: You can use ivy, vines, twigs, juniper, dried flowers, etc… Anything that is not going to wilt or rot in 3 or so weeks
  • You can decorate garland: While I tailor each garland for my rooms (i.e. bittersweet vines for the kitchen, ivy mix for the living room) I also decorate it after it is in place. It’s easy to take a little floral wire and stick on lights, ornaments, fruit, etc. Also, if you messed up an area or it has a gap just shove a few loose pieces in. Usually the will be held in place by the other limbs.
  • Remember that it is going to be MUCH heavier than fake garland: Secure accordingly. I just use doubled over floral wire on hooks and nails to secure it. If you put up a 15′ piece by yourself cuss accordingly. Also try draping it over your shoulders, poke yourself in the neck, and cuss more.
  • To prolong life mist with water: I mist mine ever morning when I water the tree. Okay, I mist mine every few days when I hear the cats drinking the water out of the Christmas tree and it reminds me.

We all think of garland over the mantel, but I use mine over windows and around light fixtures (be careful about potential fire hazards). Where will you use your garland?

Feel like it is too much to make your own garland?  Read my tutorial on how to Make Artificial Garland Look Real for tips to cheat the DIY process and come out with beautiful Evergreen Christmas Garland.

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The Metallic-Frosty Christmas Mantel

I promised a preview of my Christmas mantel and by damn I finally delivered (Yes, this is the same fireplace that included the saga of (removing 6 layers of paint from brick). If you’re just following this blog then I should let you know we are decorating for charity. We are on the Canton Christmas Tour of Homes this year so I feel the need to kill myself by going over the top with handmade wreaths, fresh garland, and a lot of bling. Anyway enough with the talking here she blows:

The mantel incorporates fresh, handmade evergreen garland, various DIY candle holders, antiqued mirrors, and a shit-ton of candles. If your interested in how to make garland I will be posting a tutorial tomorrow. It incorporates fraser fir. white pine, some other random pinetree, leyland cypress, and ivy. For now here are a few details of the mantel.

Please ignore the fact I need to dust.

The second candle holder that is grooved it actually a cut glass sugar holder from Goodwill. After painting and antiquing it achieved a burnished metallic look I was pleased with.

The metallic-frosty look was a little cold so I decided to add a few pops of cranberry to the mix. Also, you can see how to create the antique gold of the candelabra here.

I don’t want go go into how many photos it took to get a picture without myself being reflected in the mirror. I’m not exactly part of the Christmas decor.

Final detail shows my altar inspiration.

So what do you all think? Did I get the glowing but shiny Christmas from my inspiration? I would love to hear your comments/critiques before I show this puppy off at the tour on Sunday. I’m thinking I’m close but I still have till December 5th to mess with it. If your interested in the garland I’ll add a link to this post tomorrow.

Edit: Here’s the link for DIY evergreen garland

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Goodwill Rocks: Rub N Buff to the Rescue

Rub N Buff used to create an antique gold luster finish

“Granny” has been helping me collect cheap items for the Christmas Tour of Homes. Since McClain is not always the easiest baby to entertain she sometimes resorts to taking him places, which, often happens to be Goodwill. She has found lots of wonderful items that just need a little love to look fantastic.

I thought it would be wonderful to have an antique, Rococo, gold candelabra to set on the mantel. However, the real things (even in brass) are upwards of $200. Luckily, my mother found this beige rusty candle stick at Goodwill. I believe it was marked down to $2.

Mmm… Beige and rusty. Can’t imagine why even Goodwill had to mark it down.

First, I knocked off the loose paint, but because I wanted it shabby antique style I didn’t bother making it smooth. Just left it chipped and rusty. Then I spray painted*a nice SHINY gold. Bling, bling.

I figured while I had everything out I should antique a donated mirror and some ugly fake birds from the DollarTree.

So, this is the point when I get involved in the project and forget to take pictures. But, basically I need to knock the gold down a few notches. I had some black craft paint that I mixed with a LITTLE water and rubbed all over the candlestick. Then I took a rag and wiped the black off of everything but the crevices and ruff spots (Yep, I giggle at crevice but it’s the best word to use). For the final step I took one of my favorite craft products, Rub N Buff* in antique gold. Despite the name it is safe to Google and trust me Rub ‘n Buff didn’t pay me to say how much I love their product. If they did then I would totally require more than the 4 colors you can get at the local craft store.

Moving on, the product has instructions but basically you squirt a TINY amount on a rag or your finger and rub it on. I just hit the high places leaving the black and shiny gold showing through in. Honestly, I was so excited! It turned out awesome. So awesome, that I am going to have to find a permanent home for this candelabra after the holidays. The final look is more of a Rococo, lustrous-gold candelabra. Here’s a picture of it in my mantel display.

I like the gentle luster of the finished gold versus the bling directly from the spray can.

Speaking of mantels, I really hope some of you can make it to the Canton Christmas Tour of Homes this Sunday (Dec. 5). I’ll give you a sneak peak of our mantel tomorrow, but for the rest of it you’ll have to wait until after the tour, and not just because I’m not completely done yet. The event is for charity and only $12 so I want to save the whole shebang to surprise the attendees.

Anyone else have any fab Goodwill finds?