Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year from Chateau Gahan

So, this isn't a new home scene for most of you who frequent my blog, but it is probably one of the scenes that most captures what my home life is all about . . . coziness, a big hairy dog, squishy slip-covered furniture, grammy lamps, and a project to work on. This evening I'll forgo the bad TV (at least until 10:00 when a new Jersey Shore comes on . . . guilty as charged) and sit down at the table in the study to work on the invitations for Ali's bridal shower. And a fun project it is, especially when I've got Michael Buble singing in my ear (well, on the stereo, but I pretend to feel his warm breath in my ear as he croons sweet nothings).

Here's to a wonderful 2010. To those who visit me and those whom I visit. We're truly a big happy family. And that doesn't go unappreciated by me, not at all. I am blessed by each and every one of you.

A Gift for the Birds

Every year around the holidays I get the birds a little something special. And so this year, from my kitchen sink, this is what I am looking at most of the day.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Last-Minute Christmas To-Do's

I actually enjoy leaving a handful of items to do on Christmas Eve. The day is so festive, everyone is in good moods, people wearing Santa hats while shopping. Dear daughter Harleigh agreed to tackle half of my list (a good portion of it more errand-related) and so in good time we got the last-minute gifts bought, Henry the mailman found en route so we could give him his Christmas gift (love living in an area where you know the mailman by name), dry cleaning picked up, met up for lunch together, got Gideon from the groomer (he's gotta look good when Santa comes tonite!), and finished the last of the cakes to deliver to neighbors. In past years I've done the standard 48 dozen cookies, but this year, what with all the other commitments, I scaled it back to something more manageable, so neighbors got a warm-from-the-oven poppy seed cake instead. The pans, bowls and beaters are washed, we're getting ready for church and an evening with family — dinner, English poppers, singing Christmas carols, and laughing. Jesus likes this a lot, I'm sure.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Matchbox Advent Calendar

When I picked Amanda's name at our office Secret Santa, I knew just what I would craft for her. She loves loves loves Christmas AND she has a baby boy due in March. I'd seen these matchbox advent calendars on several blogs and craft sites, and just knew I could make a super cute one for her family of three to enjoy for years to come.

I lined each box with paper, painted the drawers ends white, made ribbon pulls (using Fray Check on the ends; love this product!), filled the drawers with goodies, covered the outside of the boxes with wrapping paper, and embellished with plastic bulbs, a snow-tipped forest tree, and a little deer nestled on reindeer moss. For the numbers, I used an old-fashioned rubber stamp, the kind where you turn a wheel to the numbers you want to print.

Amanda was thrilled. And it was one of the most fun craft projects I've ever done!

Prayer Cards

I went to a local Catholic gift and book store the other day and was drawn to these laminated prayer cards. Just look at the beautiful images, the serene colors.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

House Transformation

I love our humble home, but its light brown color was dating it so. It felt like Brady Bunch meets bad '70s architecture. Well, the transformation into cozy, timeless cottage has begun. I felt a little (no, a lot) daunted by all the colors out there. And let's face it, a bad paint color inside the house is easy to fix, but a bad color on the outside . . . that's a neighborhood eyesore not cheaply remedied. And so when I went to my local Benjamin Moore paint store and was told that the owner, a color specialist, could come to my house and help me with the colors for $85, I figured it money extremely well spent. And it was. First I drove Becky to a house nearby that I've always loved. Granted, it's worth 3x what mine is and has the charm of the English countryside, but I wanted to give her an idea of the look I was going after. Pure cottage.

She poured over the gajillion shades of gray and landed on this one. The trim, which I would have painted white, is now a warm ivory. The front door will be red (again, a gajillion shades of red . . . I'd have pulled my hair out to decide on one if it'd be me making the choice). And I'm adding shutters. And she chose the most warm shade of black (hullo . . . yes, there are tons of shades of black out there!!!! Who knew????) for those.

The shutter story is worth telling. I went to Lowe's and got the greatest salesman. Sense of humor, knowledgeable, my age (and despite the fact that he had a wedding band on, Harleigh and I agreed I need to marry him). He worked up the price for wooden, flat panel shutters. Pricey, but the charm they'll add to the house is worth it. And then he pulled me aside and told me to get a price from a local millwork company. Which I did. Bought them, saved myself $100 per pair, had the customer service that you only get from a family-run operation, and the shutters are a piece of art! Custom made to my windows.

Here is the before, and where we stood as of yesterday. The weather has NOT been on our side. The college student boy across the street is painting the house for me (at a very good price, and he's done three other houses in the neighborhood; I'm thrilled with his commitment and attention to detail). I feel good about giving the work to him. And some of the siding needed replacing, which his Dad helped him with.

I'm falling in love with the outside of my house!!!!!!


IN THE WORKS to becoming a charming country cottage:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Little Boxes in the Mail

Don't you just love it when you arrive home to find a package in the mailbox or on your front porch?? Dear Jackie over at Empty Nest Full Life surprised me with just that this week. She and I had been corresponding about a table she was decorating for a ladies event and she sent me these as a thank you! I am ever so grateful for her friendship. The beauty of blogging is that I've met such talented and kind women such as Jackie.

Also included in the box was a packet of mulling spices which I plan on using this holiday season; what a heavenly smell to make Chateau Gahan feel even more Christmasy! The pink buttons are chocolate; she used a standard candy mold and then when the candies hardened she used a warm skewer to create the button holes. And she made the pincushion; just look how lovely its underside is in a different fabric!

Thank you to Jackie! And do stop by her blog for a visit.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Vintage Reindeer

Picked these up in one of my favorite thrift stores this morning. 25 cents a piece. Cuties, ain't they?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Vignettes around Chateau Gahan

A friend gave me two Hendrick's gin bottles because he thought they were pretty. And indeed they are. I spray painted one blue and am using it as a Christmas vase on top of a Johnston Brothers plate.
A bird nest gets a little holiday touch.
The cuckoo clock needed lights and a wreath. Afterall, it is a house.
A pink bottle brush tree fits into our girly girl house.
A pair of ice skates on a chair. Won't be using 'em but they sure look cute.
Put up a little village this year. I wanted a bit of magical in the mix.

Even the rubber dear head in my bathroom had to get in on the decorating action.
A serving bowl full of vintage Christmas cards. As fun to look through as an old Sears Christmas catalog.
The little ceramic bird under the cloche has a little tree in his heart-shaped bird bath.
And the lifeguard chair sports a tree as well!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ahhhhhhh . . . the weekend

Sort of a tough week, and so I'm looking forward to the weekend. Not that it means lying around watching TV and getting nothing accomplished. I've got more decorations to get out, cooking to do for a neighbor and his boys whose wife is out of town with a sick parent, have to take the screens off of the windows in preparation for the house being painted, work on my Secret Santa gift for the office gift exchange, get Christmas cards out. Lots on my weekend plate but none of it has to do with client deadlines, presentations to get out the door or staying on top of everyone's workloads. These TO DOs are accompanied by Christmas music, a lit tree, a sweet daughter around, a big fuzzy dog at my side, the smell of something delish baking in the oven, cool crisp air giving me a reason to build a roaring fire, and, more than likely, a glue gun in my hand.

Above is a close-up of my front door wreath — live greens with a bow made from vintage eyelet.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Random Thoughts

Here is a fun meme I got from Rachel over at Not-So-Plain-Jane. I liked it for its simplicity, yet its telling qualities.

I see the night view of my neighbor's house across the street. Whenever I walk past my front window, I always look at their house, to see what lights are on, if they're home, if all is well. It's not a Mrs. Kravitz kind of looking. But just a motherly kind of safekeeping that we neighbors do because we care about those who surround us 24/7. It's all about neighborhood.

that I need to go to bed, but there is so much more to accomplish, to think about, to do. And if I did go to bed, I'd be turning on the light every 5 minutes to jot down on a bedside notebook some inspiration, some TO DO, something to look up. I stayed home sick today with a sinus infection and truly felt sick yet tied to work obligations. I need a day that allows me to devote myself to me.

the safeness I feel in my everyday routine. I'm all for spontaneity, but I really do relish the everyday things that I know will be there without fail. . . to make me laugh, to make me a better person, to make me feel good about being me (a mom, a daughter, a sister, a co-worker, a friend).

I want a good camera and I want to learn how to take beautiful pictures. Period.

My kitchen is so small. So very small. And when I bake or cook, I sometimes teeter on a place that makes me anxious and resentful, so not the place I want to be when I'm basking in the glory of measuring cups and double boilers. I sometimes imagine myself in one of those magazine-layout kitchens and I swoon with envy. But it always comes back to the results. Forget the lack of counter space and the close quarters . . . I make things with love, that people enjoy. God bless MY kitchen.

Good gosh. It's always the same. Big man shirt with polyester pants. A Christmas pin (at this time of year). A pair of Merrells as worn in as a good pair of slippers. Hair up in a chip clip. Laid back. Casual bordering on needing help. But content. Oh so content.

We're doing our Secret Santa at work and I've got the perfect gift. Need to hunker down and get 'er done!!!!!!!

I AM GOING . . .
to all sorts of places in my head thinking about Harleigh going off to college. Pray for me. I love her so much and want the best for her. All my parenting will reveal itself now. I pray that she takes a Godly path.

cookbooks, lists, the newspaper, magazines. No time for books now.

that the church's middle and high school Christmas party is well attended. Our dwindling youth participation is so sad.

You get one guess.

it looks cozy and snuggly and oh so Christmasy.

is the Christmas wreath on the front of my car. A Thanksgiving tradition. After the meal my Dad puts one on every family member's car. Harleigh even has one!

HERE IS A PICTURE FOR THOUGHT I AM SHARING . . . it is really what this season is all about.

Our Tree

It has only been in the past two years that we've done a live tree, and I don't think I'll ever go back to artificial again. Since I leave my tree out so long, I'd always thought that a live tree would wind up losing every needle and turning brown as it got closer to Christmas, but so not the case.

Harleigh and I went out Saturday and she talked me into getting an 8' one! In past years the tree has gone in the ken, but this year we decided to put it up in the living room. And so I agreed to getting something a little more worthy of all that space and ceiling height. In an effort to de-stress the holiday season this year, my girl and I agreed to decorating our tree with no trips back and forth to the attic. I love my collected ornaments dearly, but we just knew we could create a spectacular tree using pretties that can be tossed or used after the tree comes down.

Harleigh offered to make ornaments out of scrapbook paper and found a pattern for origami boxes, which we just tucked into the branches. While at Hobby Lobby that day, I chanced upon a big batch of white ball fringe on clearance . . . perfect garland. 600 lights later, a sprinkling of tinsel, candy canes on the branches and a quilt wrapped around her base, here is our tree (lovingly captured by Ali!).

Wedding Idea

I spent a craft-filled Saturday with Ali (bride), Nan (mother of bride), and Laura (gal pal of bride) working on one of the bigger projects for the wedding in May . . . the fabric flowers that will line the grassy walkway leading down to the ceremony site. We had a blast. We're still brainstorming what we might do on the chairs, and staged this idea using vintage sheet music. Not a keeper for Ali's wedding, but I like it enough that I'm going to keep it out. If I decide to fill it with real flowers (these are silk), then I can pop the flowers into a florist tube before popping it into the cone.

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