December 2019:


Winter has arrived. We had early snow Halloween weekend (3-4 inches) and about a week later we got another 3-4 inches on top of that, and cold weather. The snow melted (thank goodness!) but winter caught autumn unprepared - a surprise ambush!

The house is now decorated for Christmas season and I snuggle underneath a thick throw blanket on the sofa at night admiring the Christmas tree. It's cold enough now to fire up the fireplace, brrrrr!

I hope everyone has a wonderful and blessed holiday season. May we all be jolly and bright and happy.


Friday, February 21, 2020

Refreshed Bedroom for New Year

Hola everyone!

You may recall back in November that I was thinking about getting different bedding for my bed and/or putting up some of that gorgeously dramatic large floral print removable wallpaper.  I blogged about the bedding here.  I blogged about the wallpaper here.

Here are a few photos of what my bedroom looked like BEFORE:

For budget reasons and because I decided to go visit my friends in Las Vegas in mid-April this spring, I decided to stick with the less expensive option of changing out my bedding and leaving my walls as they are rather than spending the money to buy a removable mural or wallpaper large enough to cover one wall in my bedroom, probably the one that you see from the hall.

I ended up buying a bright floral print on black duvet cover with pillow shams.  I kept my gallery wall intact (not shown, but in the original layout the gallery wall is on the wall directly across from where the bed is, it is the same wall where the sliding closet doors are and the entrance to the bedroom from the hallway).

Since shortly after I got my bedroom set up after I moved in, more than 5 years ago (eek!), I'd wanted to try out angling the bed in the room so that the head of the bed was centered on the corner where the two windows meet in the corner.  But I didn't do it - until last month.

I wasn't sure it would work, and I was concerned about scratching the wood floor by moving the bed around the room.  But I worked slowly and methodically to maneuver the bed into the position I'd visualized and lo and behold - it worked!  And I loved it!

Here is the bed with the black bed skirt on, changed out shortly after the photos above were taken.

Here's the bed with the black bed skirt on, I put
it on last autumn and added a plush throw
(hanging at foot of the bed) for colder nights.
Here are AFTER photos:

I purchased the Getiann Black Floral Duvet Cover Set (full/queen size with two pillow covers).  I replaced the bed skirt with an already owned 16" long black ruffled skirt. Oops, I see the duvet was a little cockeyed on the bed when I took this photo.  I also purchased a much brighter (louder) coral ruffled bed skirt that matches some of the coral colors in the flowers, but the color doesn't go with the pink in the rug.  Me bad - I wasn't even thinking about coordinating with the rug when I purchased the bedskirt.  

You may recognize the rug.  I purchased it from Amazon in late spring or early summer last year for the living room when I did my "Think Pink" living room for the summer (which is definitely going back in for summer 2020).  It got tucked away last autumn for a nice rest and has now reappeared, as pretty as ever.

I swapped out two pictures on the gallery wall, but it
otherwise stayed the same.

I replaced the scenic Rocky Mountain views in the gold frames
with delicate bird prints for free from online.  The bureau was moved
much closer to the closet door but I still have enough room to access
the items hanging on that side - some old office clothes that I haven't
yet gotten rid of and an upper rod holding winter shirts and sweaters.

I've had the jewelry box since I was 9 years old, a Christmas from my dad
one year.  It's very precious to me, even 59 years later.  The bird resting on top
wears a crown - she's a symbol both of the Queen of Heaven and the Queen on the
chessboard.  The photo on the left is of me and my Las Vegas "sister and niece"
when they visited me in summer 2008.  On the right is a music box I purchased
in Las Vegas in 1999.  It plays "The Wind Beneath my Wings" when wound, one
of my favorite songs.
Still in love with my old bedroom set (the original bed is in storage in the garage)
that was purchased in the mid-1970s!  Almost an antique now, geez.  I replaced
the two smaller photos that used to hang near the chair in the corner with some
venerable (from the 1980s) Chinese silk embroidered prints that I had framed years
ago.  The border is a orange-color but the floral embroidery is filled with pinks
and golds, just beautiful.  You can't really see it in these photos, but the new duvet
cover does have some deeper coral tones in it (that's why I bought the bed skirt,
but it turned out to be rather overwhelming), so I figured they'd "go good enough."
I reorganized all the stuff I use daily (various creams, powder, deodorant, skin serum) that used to be scattered all over half the dresser top on to a glass topped picture frame with a pretty print underneath the glass that has the colors in the bedroom in it, a tip I picked up from Brenda at Cozy Little House.  Makes dusting much easier and amazingly quite easily cleaned up the cluttered messy look I had before.  Why I didn't think of doing it myself years ago - well - knock knock on  my skull:  helllloooooo, is anyone at home???  The chair is another much used and much loved hold-over from the first house I bought in 1986.  Yeah, I keep stuff forever :)  

I didn't remove any furniture from the room.  It's not large, per se, but at about 10' x 12' it's fine for me with my full/queen size bed frame (I only use a full size box spring and mattress), night stand, Queen Anne wing chair, dresser and bureau.  It looks more spacious because when I walk into the room now, there's plenty of room at the foot of the bed.  It gives the illusion of more space although in some areas it's pinched where it didn't used to be.  But since I'm the only one living here, it works fine for moi!  I haven't banged an elbow anywhere, that's my test for whether a furniture arrangement actually works :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Deconstructing the Christmas Tree

Hola everybody and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all, whoop whoop!!!

Over the past few days I've been taking my "good natured time" as my mom used to say, slowly deconstructing the Christmas tree.  The decor in the kitchen was the easiest to put away, so I did that first.  And then I removed some of the decorations in the living room, and took down the large wreath on the front door because it was starting to dry out and was beginning to shed needles.

I still have the cardinal prints up in both the kitchen, dining area and living room - they will stay until it definitely turns to spring, we'll see when that happens this year. 

I need to rearrange the top of the fireplace mantel, not sure what I'm going to do up there yet, so the candles are still in place.  Meanwhile, I finally decided that as much as I don't want to do it, it makes sense for me to remove the lights from the tree since I picked up two long strings of LED warm white mini-lights on clearance at the Pick 'n Save and want to add them to the tree next year.  I figured it would be easier to just start over from the bottom and re-hang all of the lights so they're properly spaced rather than trying to add 240 more lights helter-skelter next Christmas.  Not looking forward, that's why I've been dragging my feet.  The only other decoration remaining on the tree is the strung pearl garland.

Here are pictures of all the other ornaments and decorations I removed from the tree and am now in the process of re-boxing for storage:

Above, seven of my hand-blown crystal and gold Egyptian Store ornaments toward the left side, and slightly above them are two new ornaments I got from two of my sisters for Christmas:  one is a gold toned and white doggy (actually, it was from one sister's dog, Duke, to me) and barely visible behind him is a much smaller white doggy with a red scarf wrapped around his neck.  On the right side of the chair are a set of four golden "partridges" with long tail feathers and three crowned composite birds in tones of silver and champagne.

Below, more ornaments, including small gold ornaments in varying shades that were used to fill in crevasses where there wasn't enough space for ornaments to hang (they just get snuggled in and rest there), assorted glass finials and some larger ornaments I pulled out of my stash to fill in some blank spaces on the tree, plus one (missing his mate) acrylic reindeer with gold colored horns.

The biggest assortment of ornaments were the various pearl adornments, lots of crystal snowflakes, a couple of hearts, all sorts of goodies in silver, glass, pearls and gold (below):

More ornaments below (almost to the finish line, pant pant pant...).

And, last but not least, more ornaments below!

The tree toppers (five pearl beaded branches) were boxed separately.

I'm sure you're wondering how on earth I got all of those ornaments on a 5 1/2' tall tree that I stood on a table in order to be seen through my front picture window, LOL.  I'm wondering that myself...

Monday, December 23, 2019

2019 Christmas Decor II

Hola everyone!  Christmas Eve is tomorrow, and all is ready at Maison Newton for a beautiful holiday.  I'll be making a pot roast Christmas but with my special "easy beef burgundy" gravy - soooo good! 

I wish everybody a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a wonderful prosperous and healthy New Year.

Here are the photos of the Christmas decorations in the kitchen and dining area.  As in the living room, nothing too extravagant, but just enough to add a little holiday fluff and color.

Below is the bookcase that provides me storage below for extra kitchen thingies and my cookbooks/recipe collection folder (you can never have too much storage), dressed up with a couple of cardinals, a "Hot Cocoa Express" metal truck on top, a little snow man that lights up, the second shelf hosts a votive candle holder, and on the bottom shelf is my cardinal snow globe.

Below is the tabletop display made up of two beautiful padded cardinal placemats (they're small, but I don't know what else to call them).  Two more of these were framed for the display above the console table in the living room.  I added two composite deer that have a wood finish I picked up 3-4 years ago on sale at Walgreens, and a pair of faux topiaries with a bit of red, black and white plaid ribbon added around the containers.  Those topiaries are probably close to 30 years old - a gift from one of my nieces.  They came from the old Bombay Company before that closed down.

Next is my little cardinal tree on the peninsula/breakfast bar that divides the kitchen proper from the dining room.  I should probably add a couple of stools to the breakfast bar - but I don't use it for just myself!

The south wall of the dining area opens to the side door to the driveway and holds a small built-in display case.  I put my Christmas cards in the shape of a Christmas tree on that wall each year:

And photos from around the rest of the dining and kitchen areas.  You'll notice that I love cardinals and squirrels :)

There's a bunny too, dressed with the requisite red winter scarf.  There are matching tiered shelves on the other side of the sink (corner sink and corner windows, they look cool but are impossible for me to reach to crank open or to clean unless I'm either kneeling on a board laid over the sink (ouch to my knees!) or on a ladder bending and reaching over (ouch to my back!)

Thursday, December 19, 2019

2019 Christmas Decor

Could you tell I go nutso over decorating my Christmas tree from the photos in the last post?  LOL!

I did decorate elsewhere, too.  Some more photos.  I don't go overboard.  Some people have gorgeously decorated homes, but that takes a lot of time, effort and money to do it the right way.  Just as an example, take a look at the 2019 Kinwoven Christmas decor at Youtube.  I love how they decorate - but no way would I try to duplicate that in this small house.  Just buying the supplies alone would probably cost me a couple of month's worth of income.  I also have no grand staircases, no huge rooms and no 12 foot tall Christmas trees!  LOL. 

This year's mantle started out VERY plain:

You can't really tell, but that's a small runner of three cardinals on top of the mantel underneath the clock.  Compared to how the console table looked after I dolled it up:

I felt the mantel was just too plain to pass muster.  So I added a little of this and a little of that and voila, a new Christmas mantel was born:

I kept the candles in place, the clock and runner, and added:  two Christmas plates, the "Noel" and "Joy" ornaments, the antiqued Santa clause and the colorful boot music box/ornament on the right side of the clock.  Much better.

I pulled out the gold and silver sequined cushion covers this year I bought a couple of years ago from H&M Home online:

I kept the red accents going:  the two red velvet stockings trimmed in gold and green; the red table cloth on the table holding the tree; the red oriental rug; and on the sofa, the red cushion covers purchased last year from Bed, Bath & Beyond.  Touches of red are everywhere throughout the room except on the tree:

Pictures of cardinals replace the colors from this year's autumn decor.

Large cardinal art fills the frames above the console table, which is topped by a long cardinal decorated Christmas runner.  The chunky knit cozy afghan which I wrap myself in at night is once again on the sofa, and will stay afterwards until spring.  The lamps on the console table have red and green bulbs in them (you can barely see the colors in the daylight).

Outside again this year are two artificial trees decorated in multi-colored lights, a Christmas themed lantern, a natural wreath with a large red bow and a single strand of multi-colored lights, plus a colorful "stained glass" look light bulb in the porch light that goes on over the weekends between sunset and the time I retire for the night.  The tree lights are on for six hours so they go out automatically on a timer at about 10:30 p.m.  I turn the lights on the wreath on and off manually.  That's it for outdoor decorations, plus the Christmas tree placed in the window.

Inside, I place battery operated candles in the windows on the front and sides of the house.  I also add some Christmas decor to the kitchen.  I'll show those touches in a separate post.

All in all, I don't decorate every square inch of the house.  I just spend a lot of time putzing with decorating the tree every year!  I pretty much use the same decorations year after year, slightly rearranged.  This year I added some new cardinal pictures printed from the internet and framed others that I already but hadn't used before.  I even pulled out of storage my battery-operated cardinal snow globe this year and put it on the bookshelf in the kitchen.  It runs and the "snow" gets circulated in the water inside the globe, but it is noisy so I normally don't have it on.  A pair of cardinals sit inside of it snuggling up to each other, so cute!   A few photos tomorrow of the dining area/kitchen Christmas decor will wrap it all up tomorrow.

Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, How Lovely Are Thy Branches...

Hola everyone!

Would you believe what the last four weeks have been like, yikes!  Being on warfarin, I normally go to a clinic and had a monthly blood draw done to test my blood for relative "thinness."  My cardiologist wants me to be within a certain range, and typically I am in that range.  But when the weather changes, if my diet changes even a little bit, if I have an extra glass of wine or two during the holidays, and even when I lose weight, all of a sudden my numbers get all out of whack and the doctor starts having seizures.  Okay, that's a slight exaggeration. 

The upshot is that during a nasty cold Cold COLD streak for this time of year I've had to make weekly trips to the lab for six - SIX - weeks in a row because my numbers have become a bit wonky and everybody seems to think I'm in the process of dying or something.  Believe me, folks, I'm not.  I know this is a result of the weather drastically changing without my body having time to adjust adequately, in combination with having somehow managed to misplace 20 pounds during the summer and so far through today, hooray!  I am SO proud of myself!  But there's no pleasing my cardiologist, who WANTED ME TO LOSE SOME WEIGHT.  And so did I, truth be told.  It's bad enough looking saggy, but when you look baggy too (as in carrying excessive fat baggy), it's time to do something about it.  I changed my diet (another big "upsetter" to the warfarin regime I'm on) and increased my physical activity (ditto), and the scale isn't lying.  I've done this over a good 7 months or so - nice and slow.  And each couple of pounds I lost gave me an extra boost to do even better, so really watch my calorie intake and keep upping physical activities just by doing a few more of everything - walking more often, getting outside for at least half an hour daily, no matter how damn cold it is out there (I HATE COLD, did I mention that?) 

Enough.  The Christmas decorating has been done for awhile, sort of.  I am constantly tweaking.  Lots of photos.

A new Christmas tree this year.  The old much loved one finally just lost too many of the pre-wrapped lights and the old style PVC branches were showing wear and tear after 12 seasons of use.  I also wanted to get a smaller tree in the hope that it would be lighter and easier to carry up and down the basement stairs each season.  I don't remember where I ordered the tree from, or what I paid for it either.  Me bad!  It's only about 5 feet tall from tip to the bottom of the stand, and came in 2 parts plus the stand.  But it's heavy!  That's what I don't understand.  It feels like this tree weighs as much as the 6 1/2 footer I reluctantly put into the trash earlier this year!  Or else I'm just getting weaker and weaker every year.  Geez.

What I like about it is the full shape - you'll see after I've fluffed it up a bit. It also has tips that are made of PE in a style that mimics the natural shape of pine trees, unlike PVC branches.  It's a mix - PVC stems about 3/4ths of the way up each branch and then the PE natural appearing tips at the ends of each branch.  They don't crush and they won't get flattened out like PVC branches tend to do after awhile.

There she is after I worked to fluff out each and every single tip, stem and branch per instructions, starting from the bottom up to the top.  I should have spent more time shaping the bottom of the tree.  That became evident after I'd finished decorating the tree, and was not happy at all with how the bottom portion of the tree looked!

The tree is set on top of a table to elevate it enough to show in the front picture window!  FYI, I jerry-rigged my 18" tall small table that I use to hold glasses when I'm in the living room since I removed the coffee table.  I use the round ottoman all the time to elevate my feet and legs (which otherwise have a tendency to swell by the end of the day) so using a tray on top of it looks pretty but isn't very practical when I'm actually using the room!  Anyway, the table top is only about 13" in diameter, not large enough to hold the tree stand.  So, I added a 24" round pressed board table top that I had stashed in the garage.  It's unfinished and meant to be covered with a full length cloth, which is what I did after centering it on top of the tiny table.  I wasn't sure the arrangement would hold the tree, but it did.  (More about that later).

This was the first attempt at decorating.  I'd intended to do a "red" traditional tree this year similar to what I did last year because I liked it so much, but noooooooo - I swear the ornaments went on strike and said we're going pearl, white, silver and gold.  And that's exactly what they did.  Do you think it means I'm psychotic when I let Christmas tree ornaments talk me into doing something I didn't intend to do???

As is my modus operandi, I am a firm believer in more is better when decorating a Christmas tree.  I threw on more and more and then even more ornaments, jewelry from my jewelry box and gew gaws all over the tree until I was satisfied that it was suffering from excessive weight and indigestion.  Then I added my three little chrome colored reindeer around the table at the bottom of the tree.  Next year I will add more lights, at least 2 more strings (there are 4 on the tree now, 1 100-bulb string and 3 60-bulb strings, all "warm white" LED lights so it only costs me about 3 cents an hour in energy to have my tree lit.  Love it!  (The curtains were later pulled back a bit more so more of the tree could be seen from the sidewalk and the street). 

Okay, you may have noticed in the photo above that there's an awful lot of stuff hanging around the bottom of the tree (I added even more and changed it around later on, but I haven't taken photos of it).  The reason I did this is because when I'm sitting on the sofa looking at the tree, it looked absolute too BARE on the bottom - like there was a branch or two missing and too many blank spots between the bottom of the tree and where the stand hits the table.  Unfortunately, the angle at which I took this photo exaggerates what looks like an over-abundance of stuff dangling from the bottom of the tree, LOL!  Well, there is a lot of stuff there, no denying that.  But it doesn't look like a capsized Titantic in the actual room/live view!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Glam Gifts for $25 or Less!

Hola darlings!  If you haven't already finished your Christmas shopping, here are some quick ideas I found as I was dashing through the snow on the internet yesterday and today doing this and that.  Heck, I may end up buying some of them for myself :)

Kenzie Asher Sparkle Glam Throw at TJMaxx, $24.99:

If you remember the song "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton - you're my age, LOL!  Check out these lovely blue velvet pillows also at TJMaxx, Rachel Ashwell 20"x20" 2 pack velvet pillows for $19.99:

Habitat Davela Bird Sculpture at TJMaxx, in gold on a marble base, 12" width by 13 1/2" height, $14.99:

COOL candle holder!  TJMaxx offers the A& B Home Candle Holder in gold, 6" tall for $12.99:

What could be better than a healing Himalayan salt block in the form of a candle holder, for only $7.99?  Aviva Stanoff Design Himalyan Salt Candle Holder in orange (it's pastel) 4" tall, at TJMaxx:

HGTV Magazine November 2019 Copy Our Cover - Part 4

Hola!  I'm sorry I haven't been here for a week, holy cow!  The time has been absorbed since 11/28 actually decorating the house for Christmas.  More on that later.  Suffice to say that this year, for whatever reason, it literally took what seemed like forever to get it done!

So, here we are, the last part of the November 2019 HGTV magazine Copy Our Cover.  I have the October cover to do - I really liked that one a lot, so watch for it coming up some time before the end of the year.  I also have lots of photos of the new Christmas tree and the decorations around the house this year - nothing too extravagant.

Candlesticks and Candles

The HGTV cover features sleek modern style candlesticks in brass from West Elm.  The price said "from $29 for 3 1/2 tall."  The 3 1/2" tall is the smallest of three, so it could get very pricey quickly to buy all three.  But I checked out West Elm online and they were on sale: for a short period of time the small size (3 1/2") is on sale for $21.75, and if you sign up to receive West Elm offers/emails (and no doubt authorize them to share your email address with other retailers who will bombard you daily with offers and emails) you can get another 15% off.  The medium size (5 1/2" tall) is on sale for $24, regularly priced at $32; and the large size (7 1/2" tall) is on sale for $25.50, regularly priced at $34.

I found visually similar sets of candlesticks at Amazon, but they were all much taller (like this set, for only $14).  I wanted to find something that offered somewhat similar heights.

I found this set at Wayfair with a similar stem and base, but the holder is open rather than closed and globe shaped:  3 Piece Small Iron Candlestick Set by Style Me Pretty, for $34 on sale.  The heights are 4", 5 1/2" and 7" (pictured below):

I looked at Hobby Lobby, Joann, Michael's, Kirklands, World Market, All Modern, Goedecker's, Target, and a few other places too, and couldn't really find anything that was remotely similar.  I did find this traditional style but non-traditional finish set of three at Oriental Trading Co.  The heights are 7", 8" and 9", so taller than the original but the price is right at $19 and they come in a bright copper finish.  Take a look:


I found some fuchsia candles online, but nothing for less than $6 for a pair in that color and specific shape and height.  The Caspari candles from as featured in the HGTV November 2019 magazine cover were the best price for a pair of them.  In reality, I would shop for candles at various stores in person because even if you find a good bargain, you have to take shipping into consideration unless you can find it for free somewhere.  And for small purchases that's not likely to happen very often. 

You can buy one dozen of hot pink (not fuchsia but the same size and style) from Candle Select for $9.78, that's less than a dollar a candle, but no free shipping for orders under $100.

Cake Stand

The stand featured in the HGTV magazine cover is a designer special:  Kate Spade New York Deco Dot 10 1/2" diameter wood cake stand, $75, from Bed Bath & Beyond:

Amazon has it for the same price with free shipping.  Lenox also is offering this cake stand for $75 with free shipping.  Sorry - I won't pay that kind of money for a cake stand, designer label or not!  I guess Cheap is my middle name, although Frugal (said with a French accent) sounds much more elegant, n'est ce pas?  

How about a really frugal option out of plastic made to look like wood from Oriental Trading Co.?  Their Wood Pattern Cake Stand is 11 1/2" diameter and stands 4" high, at a price of $12 ($11.97) - shipping is extra:  

Actual wood options:

Amazon has a nice offering from Bamboo Essentials in this Acacia wood 10" diameter, 4" tall cake stand for $20 ($19.95) - free shipping on orders over $25:


I like these two options from Target: Threshold Round Glass and Wood Dessert Stand, 12" Diameter, height is listed at 11 1/2" but I assume that includes the height of the dome and base or just the height of the dome?  It's not clear from the description. The shape of the base (below) gives this more of a country/Farmhouse look.   Price is $30 ($29.99) and free shipping:

Wayfair has this offering from Ivy Bronx, Modern Homestead Acacia Cake Stand, 12" diameter and 4 1/2" height, for $40 ($39.99) (free shipping on orders over $49):