Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rumpus Room

We have lived in here the past few days. A computer, the TV, good reading lamps, afghans . . . if only the lone fireplace in our home were in here, we'd never leave.

Mom's Placemat Totes

Even my mom got bitten by the handmade-gift bug this holiday season! She made all the girls in the family these totes made from a placemat, grommets, rings and a purse handle. She matched the placemat to our personalities (mine is the shell theme, obviously!!). Thanks, Mom, so much for these special gifts made with love! (She even sewed a "made by" patch into each.)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Katy Teapot Vase

Katy from work found this ceramic teapot in a thrift store and thought of me. She gave it to me this month to thank me for all I do at work around the holidays. A sweet gesture. One of my weekly treks to Kroger to visit their deeply discounted flower bins and the teapot makes for a great vase!


Courtney at work got me this perfume bottle for Christmas. She thought it suited me because it's glamorous. Courtney is one of those friends who inhabits that wonderful friendship place where we can be and do anything we want. We love each other's company and laugh, sing and dance our way through the workday. Can't ask for a better co-worker than that. Besides . . . she thinks I'm glamorous.

Here is the bottle, placed on a tin tray, a vintage ribbon tied at its throat, and showcasing a bright pink rose. Looking lovely. I like separating the stopper from the bottle so you can see the glass rod that gets dabbed glamorously on neck and wrists with the finest of fragrance. So elegant.

Monday, December 29, 2008

After-Christmas Sales

I really didn't make a point of hitting up the stores for the post-Christmas sales, but I did find these items that I couldn't resist. The stockings were $5 a piece (and fit in with my living room color scheme) and the "cupcakes" were 99 cents a piece, perfect for gift toppers.

ADDENDUM: I found these items at a store called Fresh Produce. They carry mostly women's and children's clothing, but have great gift items as well.

Domino Gift Subscription

My sister Karla got me a gift subscription to Domino magazine. The most fun part of the gift was her creative presentation. I opened a box to reveal cardboard muppet dominoes. It took me a minute to figure it out. (The subscription gift card, pictured here, followed in the mail a few days later.)

Homemade Gifts this Year

The downturn in the economy certainly had a silver lining this holiday season. It seems that our family, and many others, simplified this year, focusing on family and the true meaning of Christmas. Even our gifts were more thought-out, and, in many cases, handmade.

Here is a gift I made for my sister, Beth. Her home style is primitive. She had always wanted those decorative balls you find in places like TJ Maxx or Marshalls. They come in a variety of materials — ceramic, glass, beaded — and are usually showcased on a platter or in a large bowl. I'd been on the hunt for some to fit her decor, but was finding nothing. So I went online and found an online primitive shop that sells fabric, in this case fat quarters for quilting. I bought several fabric squares, some styrofoam balls, and then ripped the fabric (so the strips would have slightly frayed edges) and wound them around the balls, securing with straight pins. It was an easy project, and she loved the outcome!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Quilt and Pillow

For Christmas my sister got me a beautiful quilted cotton blanket in the same blue-gray as my bedroom walls. And a quilted white pillow with pink rosebuds. Looks so pretty on my bedroom chair.

Birthday Gift from Laura

I've gotten around to putting up the framed prints that Laura got me for my birthday back in September. I wound up adding mattes to them in a seafoam green, which, when hung in my bathroom, mimic the wall color and almost give them a floating look within the frames. Thank you so much, Laura! You know how much I love the beach!!!!

Christmas means fresh-squeezed OJ!

The same neighbors who bring me a smoked turkey every year (done-up-right on their back patio deck, infusing the whole neighborhood with a mouth-watering smell!), bring me a case of oranges at Christmas. This picture shows what's left. Every morning when I wake up I squeeze, with reckless abandon, a big honkin' glass of fresh orange juice. It's such a treat at the holidays.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Polish Traditions

Our Christmas meal — of ham, lots of sides, always including carrot souffle and the traditional sauerkraut and kielbasa — begins with the breaking of the Oplatki a semi-transparent wafer of unleavened dough, stamped with scenes of the nativity. Everyone at the table breaks off a piece and eats it as a symbol of their unity with Christ. In the past we've broken off pieces and offered a piece to each person at the table wishing them good luck, good fortune, and good health in the new year. But this year, with my grandmother not hearing well at all, we didn't do the passing. The tradition was still as powerful.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

First things first

Gideon is the first to dive into his gift: a giant rawhide. He'll chew on it until it takes on the feel and weight of a giant wet washcloth. He must have been a very good boy this year. We always tell him that Santa is watching.
After sitting and patiently waiting for Harleigh to unwrap the red-ribbon-tied bone, it's all his!
I love how as big as he is he still insists on lying on the ottoman. See his back leg hanging off.
Harleigh enjoying her stocking loot. Lots of great teen mags; Mrs. Claus must have clued The Mr. into that idea! And her favorite of the stocking stuffers is the I [heart] Jim note cube (see it on the table next to her; Jim from The Office). Who doesn't love Jim??!?!?!?!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

To all the new friends I've made since starting this blog just shy of a year ago, I want to say thank you for visiting me, for your heartfelt comments, for being the wonderfully supportive and kind people you are.

May we all strive to be more like Christ in the year to come. Merry Christmas, friends!

Dawn E. Girl

Christmas Cookie are DONE!

As of 10:00 this morning, all the cookies are done! My goal was 48 dozen, but alas I fell short and produced only 45 dozen. My punishment . . . eat cookies!!

And as of 12:30 today, most of the cookies have been delivered to wonderful neighbors. Always watching out for us, always greeting with a smile, a family of sorts.

Here are a few of my Christmas tins. Cookies belong in vintage tins, not tupperware. It's the law here at Chateau Gahan.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chair Collection

I began collecting small chairs back in the late 1990's (and have featured many in my blog). When I moved into my house, this recessed bookshelf seemed the perfect place to showcase a portion of the collection. While I think it might be time to pack them up for the attic, I wanted to post a picture first (Marisa, a visitor to my blog back in November, had asked for a close-up of the shelf).

Monday, December 22, 2008

New Chairs for the Study

I've had two chairs in the study FOR-E-VER that are not even suitable for sitting on. But they're really cute. I've now learned that cute and functional MUST go hand in hand.

A few weeks ago I went to sit down in one of the chairs (the one that seemed the most sturdy of the two, mind you!), and a second after my booty hit the seat, the chair seat split in two and I fell to the floor in a heap of splintered wood. A primordial dwarf (yes, I've been watching a lot of TLC lately) could have sat on it and the same would have happened; it had nothing to do with my chunky frame. The chair was on its last leg. Thank God that a house guest wasn't the one to embarrassingly break the chair.

Anywho . . . in my search to find two new chairs, I chanced upon two of these at a local thrift store, and with it being half-price day, scored the two for $20. I like the green accent paint on them. And while I had planned on replacing the chair pads, now find them in keeping with the decor of the study.

Baking: The Best and Cheapest Therapy There Is

I consider today a spa retreat, a much-needed respite. And it all took place in my kitchen. Small as it is. Counter space at a minimum, and I mean a MINIMUM. The picture above is the beginning of the day, setting out all my treasures.

I had begun the Christmas-cookie-baking days ago, but today I tackled it in earnest. Tree lit, Christmas music on the radio, a list of cookies-to-bake a mile long. And the spread before me — measuring cups, spices, flour and sugar, mixing bowls and mixer, wooden spoons — is pure heaven. And that my dear boy, Gideon, keeps me company, makes it all that much more special.Today I made chocolate chip cookies, cheese wafers, hot nuts, macaroons, and Greek cookies. The kitchen smells . . . ahhhhhhhhh. It's as good as any Yankee Candle.

And the best part of the whole day was when I needed some ingredients that I'd run low on. I asked Harleigh — the new driver in the family — to run to the store for me! Gave her a list and some cash, and she came home with what I needed. One of the perks of having your baby grow up.

Merry Christmas, little man!

Seems that my favorite post during the Christmas season is either the chair in my ken gazing at the lit Christmas tree or standing in the kitchen baking (and still gazing at my Christmas tree). And so while baking, it's only natural for Gideon to take on the responsibility of keeping my ken chair warm. The arm of the favorite seat in the house is perfect for his chin rest.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gift from my Secret Santa

I hadn't shown pix yet of what I got from my Secret Santa at our office gift exchange. Well here it is. From my boss, Shaun, who is way craftier than she lets on to be. This is a garland she made using ribbon and carefully wrapped gift boxes (her talent for gift wrapping, she did admit, was part of what led her to this craft project). It looks perfect on my living room armoire. Another one of those gifts from the hands and the heart that means so much.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gift for Ashley

My assistant at work, Ashley, is an alum of the University of Kentucky. When I chanced upon this kitchen scale that said "Old Kentucky Home," and then remembered that she said she needed plants for her new condo, the perfect gift just came together!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Office Makeover

I mentioned in the previous post that one lucky gift recipient, Kyle, got an office makeover. How fun is this? Her office was transformed into a Parisian apartment. This was accomplished by printing out a photograph in sections from our large-output printer and then tacked to the blank white wall behind her desk. It looks so 3-dimensional! And then the chandelier was printed out, mounted on foam core, cut out and hung by fishing line from an overhead pipe.

[Photo courtesy of David Naugle]

Secret Santa Gift Exchange

Today was our office gift exchange. One of my most favorite of our holiday traditions here at Unboundary. We do a killer breakfast followed by the gift-giving. This year our creative director came dressed as Santa Claus (pix of him with full white beard drinking a mimosa through a straw was well worth it!). And so he gave out the gifts. Then we take turns opening them so that we can give full attention to the gift.

Our gifts can be either homemade or store-bought, but as you can imagine . . . working at a design firm unleashes all sorts of creativity in Santa's workshop. There were all sorts of homemades: a wall calendar, a knitted hat and scarf, a sun jar, ornaments of all kinds, an office makeover!!, a Christmas tree skirt, a gourd birdfeeder, an Irish whiskey drink, magnets, jewelry, Christmas garland (which I got; picture to come!).

I chose Devon's name and made her these journals out of those standard issue black and white composition books. Devon is one of our writers. She loves to travel and read and, of course, write. She loves National Geographic and so I got some vintage NG maps from ebay which I adhered to the book. I painted the spines, and then made book marks from ribbon and charms (adhering them to the inside front of each book). The maps correspond to places she's traveled (Africa), where her boyfriend lives (Boston), and her love of the ocean. I had a list of about 30 things which I know she loves and so I found images of all those things, made stickers, and then stuck them randomly throughout each book to serve as inspiration.

It was hands-down one of the most fun craft projects I've ever done!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Every corner abustle with holiday spirit

Yes I did just make up a new word . . . abustle.

My study is all disheveled with the makings of my Secret Santa gift for work. To be gifted on Tuesday of this week. A gift I put my heart into for the special person I chose.

The rumpus room is decked out in study gear. It's the last week before school lets out which means finals week! And Harleigh is working hard to wrap up the year with success and enjoy a much-deserved two weeks off!

My bedroom is gift-wrap-central. Having a king-sized bed and a kitchen table in the room makes for quite the perfect surfaces to get everything wrapped all pretty for the giving.

The kitchen is beginning to burst at the seams with baking ingredients for the 7 different kinds of cookies I'll be baking for eating at home, bringing to Grandie's for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals and festivities, and for gifting to all our neighbors.

And the ken looks like this. I sit in my chair every evening, Christmas tunes on the radio, making list after list, orchestrating the days just-so, making sure it all gets done in an orderly fashion, without much stress, and all to the glory of the most special birth ever.

Keeping it all in perspective makes it enjoyable. I would like to think that Jesus is looking down on Chateau Gahan right now and smiling, knowing that all the joy that he brought into the world is being experienced here preparing for his birthday.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Headrests for Harleigh!

I don't think I can call these cozies because they don't fully cover the headrest. They're more like table runners . . . headrest runners in this case. I took dollar store (yes, I said it again) kitchen towels and with some cutting, folding and pinning, were able to fashion these. With the wreath on the front of her car and now these, she's a 16-year-old with a car rivaling Santa's sleigh.

Jewelry Box for Melanie

I love to make gifts that speak to the recipient. My niece, Melanie, a college student, speaks fluent French, can't get enough of literature, and works in a library. I found this naked box at a hobby store and made this jewelry/treasure box for her. I purchased vintage library cards from etsy to cover the drawer fronts and top of the box (luckily the drawer pulls came off easily and I could then glue them back into their holes). I had an old French/English dictionary, so I cut some pages out and lined the drawers. I took the lock charm, tied it with a piece of bakery twine, and glued it onto one of the pulls.

I think it's simple and personal, the way a gift should be!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cookie Swap

We have such wonderful holiday traditions at my workplace. The Feast starts off the season, then we head into Christmas fun. Tod, our president, gets the biggest tree on the lot. This year it was delivered and put up on the day as our Second Annual Cookie Swap. If anyone is ever looking for a great holiday party idea, the cookie swap is a keeper. Everyone makes at least 4 dozen cookies (we have 31 people on staff). The cookies are divided into two areas: an eating area and a swapping one. Everyone samples whatever cookies they'd like, then heads to the swapping table to fill a box. I get the white bakery boxes from Michael's and have parchment paper on hand for layering.
All cookies are labeled with the type of cookie and who made it. Last year's labels each had a different nutcracker on them. This year, Ashley, my new Traffic Coordinator, was gifted with the task of creating the labels. She chose dogs in Christmas hats; perfect for our canine-friendly work environment.

Recipes are available, printed out and ready for the taking. We have wine, beer, and lots of cold milk. Christmas music plays. It is a festive, filling day.

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