Holiday Season Kick-off!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends!  We shared the day with my Parents and Hubby’s Grandfather and are all very thankful for the many blessings of this past year.

Ever since I can remember Thanksgiving has been my favorite day! I love the anticipation that comes with knowing next few weeks will be full of seeing old friends, looking at Christmas lights, wearing sparkly things, everyone being extra nice and friendly, eating and drinking rich, delicious things, baking cookies, decorating, cuddling by the Christmas tree and celebrating with those we love! Umm, can you tell I love the Holidays?!? 

Our weekend was full of Holiday Cheer!! We completely stuffed ourselves with a delicious meal, did a little Black Friday shopping and started decorating our home. The kick off to the Holiday Season would not be complete without some pictures! If you follow me on instagram you’ve already seen a few of these, but if not, enjoy! :)

Our Thanksgiving stuffing is my late Uncle’s recipe – might be my favorite-ist food ever!

My Mom got this adorable Turkey Mum for our table.
Our delicious Turkey!
Our latest food tradition – going strong for two years now – homemade cranberry sauce! Yum!
Turkey Butter for the Hubs!
Enjoying a romantic sunrise in the mall parking lot on Black Friday!
Proudly wearing my new shirt from American Signature’s gift bags – this will certainly become my new black friday uniform!
Channeling our inner Griswold’s for some outside decorating!

Do you have any fun Thanksgiving weekend traditions?

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Bzzz… Glade Expressions Oil Diffuser

I’ve mentioned before that I love being a BzzAgent… I love talking to others about great products and BzzAgent lets me do just that!

My latest campaign was The Glade Expressions Collection.  My opinion of ‘scented’ items like these have never truly been that great.  I’ve often felt the scents were too chemical-like and headache-inducing, but this time I was pleasantly surprised! I have been smelling the ‘Pineapple and Mangosteen’ scent from my new oil diffuser for 16 days now and I still love it!

What’s even better is that this collection is actually designed to be left out and used as an accessory in your home.  My bamboo diffuser is very modern and chic looking – so much so that friends of our had to inspect the piece close up because they couldn’t believe it was something more.

My favorite feature of the new Glade Expressions Oil Diffuser has to be the fact that it is safe for Little Caesar.  Unfortunately our well-behaved affenpinscher sometimes ends up on our end tables if something smells good to him… like a candle! The first time he got close to one was the last time we ever burned one in our family room so consequently, that room has remained scentless! Now however I feel safe leaving the diffuser on end tables, coffee table, in front of the fireplace, you name it.  I know it won’t burn him if he gets too close and thankfully he’s not interested in it enough to chew it. If your dog is inclined to chew things I would make sure to keep the diffuser out of reach since there is a small container of scented oil in the bottom.  Pretty safe to assume this would be harmful if swallowed. 

Here is my bamboo diffuser on our mantle.

Be sure to visit glade.com to learn more about the Glade Expressions® products and to explore all their scent collections. I also have some coupons available thru facebook if you’d be interested in trying the new Glade Expressions Collection for yourself… just let me know and I’d be happy to share!

Disclaimer: BzzAgent provided me coupons for a free Glade Expressions Oil Diffuser for the purpose of trying the product and creating Bzz. I also received coupons to share with my family and friends. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and have in no way been influenced by BzzAgent, Glade Expressions, or any other company or person.

Fall Apothecary Jar version 2.0

I apologize for another blog hiatus – this one is due in part to the quick trip we took to Disney World for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler (recap coming soon!) and the fact that Hubby’s Grandfather’s house finally sold! Yay! The closing was scheduled for Monday but has been pushed back a bit since the buyer’s are getting an FHA loan and they demanded requested many repairs.  We’ve spent every non-sleeping and non-working hour over there since the beginning on the month and I can finally see a tiny glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Finally!

I thought I’d repost a popular DIY from last Fall that has been getting many hits recently thanks to Pinterest.  Feel free to pin this year’s jar and mantle, too! :)

Fall Apothecary Jar

This great and easy Fall Decoration you can put together in only a few minutes that can make a huge statement on your mantle or dining room table!

Last year my Mom purchased a box of small pumpkins and gourds after Halloween at Michael’s on major clearance.  They vary anywhere from about 3-5 inches long and are different colored – some even have an icy, glittery look to them!  I wanted to find a way to display them without having to set them all out individually so I gathered my box o’gourds, some leaves (mine are faux but real ones could work too) and some corks.

You can use a vase or big glass bowl for this project, this time around I chose an apothecary jar I usually have about an eighth full with corks on the hearth of my fireplace.

I set out my materials – in this case pumpkins, leaves and corks…


And then the fun begins! Just start arranging until you find a look you like. I started first with leaves at the bottom and quickly noticed that no one would see them so I dumped everything else and started over.  I found the corks to be the most substanial ‘bottom’ and just started adding things one at a time until I had this:

I added some more leaves and corks and in a few minutes had this:

Finally, after a few re-dos to ensure this piece looked just like I pictured, my new Fall Apothecary Jar was complete and on display on our Mantle.

As you can see, this project was SUPER easy and very fun to put together!
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This year, I actually forgot to include chose to leave out the corks and used only the pumpkins, gourds and leaves.

I also have a few new accessories: my mercury glass Owl (thanks, Kohls!) and fun sequin pumpkin from HomeGoods.  Also, the walls are now a nice, neutral gray – yay!
I love modifying my decorations each year… they’re familiar and give me a cozy feeling but also feel new at the same time!

A Deck Makeover… part 2!

To tackle staining our deck we chose semi-transparant Olympic Deck, Fence and Siding stain in Coffee. The Acyrlic/Oil formula is supposed to ensure the stain penetrates deep in to the wood, conditioning it and hopefully prevent it from peeling away. It was very dark in the can, and a bit frightening, but the other color swatches just appeared too light for the look we were going for.
Though I’m aware you can spray on stain, and also use rollers or a big push brush I chose to use a 6″ paintbrush.  Crazy, I know, but again I was very nervous about the stain not adhering correctly and waking up to our deck looking like this again one morning:

Yuck!

If you’re like me and have never worked with stain, it is incredibly thin, almost like water!  I stirred it for about 5 minutes expecting it to thicken it up a bit before I realized it wasn’t making a difference.

I started with the top rails after taping off our siding. I took my time and made sure to ‘backbrush’ the stain into the wood.  I also quickly learned that you need much less stain on the brush as you think you do. Since our deck had sat un-sealed for so long the wood was very porous and just seemed to suck up the stain.  Over an hour later I could finally step back and notice a difference.
Even Caesar liked it!

After the rails were finished I was thrilled the “hard part” was over.  I thought the floorboards would go much more quickly since I could use bigger brush strokes and not worry so much about stain dripping off the boards since I wouldn’t see it under the deck.  I figured if the rails took an hour, the floor itself would take maybe a little more than 2 and I would still have time to shower and make a nice dinner for Hubby and I!

The next picture taken of the deck was this,
Notice, it’s incredibly dark out and the floor isn’t even fully stained!

Yes, it took a good 8 hours for me to get this far.  Poor Hubby came home from work to me looking like a train wreck and holding back tears.  That nice dinner I planned on making that night? Umm, we ended up at Chili’s at 10:15.

 I’m still not sure where I went wrong…I focused on 2 rows at a time staining the entire length of the deck back and forth, back and forth, for literally hours!  I think the most time consuming part was coating the sides of the boards – I had blisters from pushing the brush in-between.  Thankfully someone in our neighborhood was hosting a Sweet 16 party and their DJ kept me entertained from about 7pm on.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit I tend to take my time and focus on doing things right, not necessarily quick, but I have no idea what happened that afternoon/night!?! I don’t know why it took me so long!

It was a good thing we had plans that weekend so I was forced to take a 2-day break until from staining.  Finishing the last few rows was not as hard as the previous day.  Perhaps I was just used to it by then? Not as tired? Whatever the reason I was thrilled to be able to complete the remaining boards less than a day a few hours.
Loving the dark stain accented with the white rails I chose to only stain the top treads of the stairs and painted the backs of the stairs with the leftover paint from the rails (Sherwin Williams Duration in Satin White).  I was nervous to use blue tape on the newly stained wood so I instead cut a paper bag from the grocery store apart and used it to prevent the white from dripping.
The stairs were finished in only an hour (quite an improvement from the floors) and are probably my favorite part about the deck now. It looks much more finished and I just love how crisp the white makes it look.
There are a few touch-ups still needed to be made – seems I got a bit cavalier with my staining around hour 6 or so – so I’m hoping to finish that up this weekend!  We are also waiting for our new outdoor rug to be delivered and the deck will finally be complete.  We’re hoping to add some lights to it as well but that may wait till next spring.

Despite the fact that this project took incredibly longer than expected I love that the finish is so smooth because of the brush and I take comfort in knowing the stain was worked into the wood reallllly well.  I pray that it prevents the stain from ever peeling off and would be happy to re-stain again in a few years if the color fades or the waterproofing-ness (technical term) starts to disappear.  However, as I was staining I think I would have happily forked over a million dollars pretty penny to a painter to finish it.  Let’s just say I’m happy I did but am even happier it’s over!

Have you ever stained a deck? Did your project take forever too?!

50 Shades of Grey… paint

Thankfully it was not quite 50… but it was close!

We struggled to find the perfect grey for our entry way.  We sampled everything, Benjamin Moore Galveston Gray (gorgeous, but too brown), Sherwin Williams Gray Clouds (nice, but too light and a tinge of blue) even Martha Stewart Dolphin (too similar to our kitchen color, we wanted some contrast).

There were a lot of rules: it had to be dark, but not too dark; a true gray, no blue or green undertones; compliment the Grey Owl we recently painted our dining room, kitchen and family room; and be something we could live with for many years – as much as I love painting the 2-story entry way frightens me.  I’m just asking to fall or spill paint from the top of a 14′ ladder!!

Finally, we settled on Gray Matters by Sherwin Williams.  The color is beautiful – very rich and warm – and we can’t wait to see it on the walls!  We don’t have to wait too long since this was the scene 5 minutes ago from our kitchen…
Yikes!!
I can’t wait to see the finished product!! Nor can Caesar, he hates visitors he can’t play with.
Come back next week for an updated tour of the first floor :)