Heart of Gold Ornament

Even though I doubt there's a gift teachers like to receive more than a gift card, I wanted to make something to include with it for our son's teachers.

I used a sparkly sequined paper to cover an mdf heart and created a shiny ornament with a message on the back that we appreciate their heart of gold.

To keep the paper from tearing and to keep the tiny little bits of sequins from falling off, I coated the heart with sealer before threading the rope back through.

I wrote a message on the back with a gold marker.

I might use the ornament as a gift tag on the gift card box. I think it would also be really cute to make a gold star for a teacher gift!

Make Guests Feel at Home during the Holidays

Each year since we lived in San Diego we have served Thanksgiving at our house. Our tables were set in an apartment in California for just the two of us and my sister, for a table full of Marines in our house in Yemen, and for a table crowded with family with high chairs and messy faced babies in New York.

I spent some time today looking back at all of the photos from those Novembers, all the way back to 2002. My taste (both in food and decorating) has changed but what remains is a love for this holiday and the way it brings people special to us to our table.

Here is the cheese log we made in Yemen with cheese I ordered online for the occasion. For some reason this seems so funny to me looking back at it.

Here was our cheese and appetizer setting a few years ago when we served nuts as an accompaniment to the cheese instead of rolling it in them!

As the years passed, the Thanksgiving table and cheese became less of the focus and my photos started to show the faces of the people who joined us saying cheese. My parents have traveled to Switzerland, North Carolina, and now Georgia to spend Thanksgiving with us and I'm so thankful they're able. No holiday decorating, no side dishes or desserts, no place setting matters to me as much as the feeling of having my family spend that time together.

Because we travel to visit family so often, I know how it feels to be a guest in someone's home. Clean and comfortable rooms are great but what always stands out are the little gestures that make them feel relaxed and welcome. Instead of trying to make my home into a hotel, my favorite way to welcome guests is to help them feel like my home is home.

We all know how it feels to need something in the kitchen at someone else's home. If the host is preparing a meal, it can be uneasy to ask them for something. To prevent that in my house, I used these little chalkboard stickers and labeled the most important cabinets in the kitchen!

Labeling doors like the coat closet or the kitchen cabinets to save someone from opening them all in search of one thing is easy, quick, and a nice touch.

Labeling your doors is a way of not just saying 'please help yourself' but actually helping the guests to do so.

No one wants to be the first one awake and not know where to find the coffee!

G is for Grateful

It was hard not to give in to the temptation to decorate for Christmas this week when I put away all of the Halloween gear but a fall chill in the air and the leaves finally turning put me in the mood for Thanksgiving style around the house.

I had this fall leaves wreath above the door.

Just inside the front door a green and brown vase is filled with fall colors. Even though I don't love fake flowers, this time of year the faux seems to work. 

The foyer table has a horn of plenty pine cones and the same spray painted white branch I've been using around the house since a New York Easter it spent as an egg tree.

I like to stuff the horn of plenty with dinner rolls on the Thanksgiving table but pine cones and gourds work in the meantime. (and I just like saying horn of plenty)

For the mantel, I took away the orange but left the white pumpkins from Halloween. I added the 'Grateful' leaves canvas I made with my son and some sparkly flowers that I've used in the past to decorate a grapevine wreath.

Nearby some paper leaves and a 'Count Your Blessings' pumpkin warm up a corner of the living room bookcase.

There are only a few simple fall items here and there throughout the downstairs, leaving it room to breathe for the next few weeks until I cover every inch of it in Christmas cheer.  But right now the only thing I want decorating the kitchen is the pumpkin bread. 

Trash to Treat: Candy Corn Pumpkin Stands

Candy Corn Pumpkin Stands

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love candy. Halloween is a tempting time for me because it ends up being such an all out treat fest. I decided this year that I wasn't buying candy for trick or treaters until the morning of Halloween because if it's in the house, I'm eating it.

So it's no surprise that when I looked at this black Ikea FNISS trash can, I saw an upside candy corn. Can you see it?

Trash bin upside down plus orange, white, and yellow paint, equals candy corn!

Candy Corn Pumpkin Stand

The trash cans were already being used for plant stands so my candy obsession is only partially to blame. Over the summer I bought two for $1.49 each and used them as stands for ferns on either side of the front door. They're just the right height for our entry and much cheaper than any other planter or stand available.

Trash Can Candy Corn Pumpkin Stand

I knew they could double as pumpkin stands for our carved jack-o-lanterns and again as stands for our fall mums.

Because the can is a series of rings that act as a guide, painting the three sections was easy and I rolled it on without taping. 

Front Door Candy Corn Decorations

I'm already planning my red and white striped candy cane Christmas tree bases!

Picasso Pumpkin Portraits: Inspired by Creative Galaxy on Amazon Prime Instant Video

For most of my son's first two years, he didn't watch much t.v. or play with the IPAD. I believe in many cases, screen time ends up 'thinking' for children rather than inspiring them to think creatively. Like it or not, as he got older and a baby sister shared my attention, more shows and apps found their way onto our screens. That's why I jumped at the opportunity to review the Creative Galaxy series from Out of the Blue Enterprises, produced by Angela Santomero (Blue's Clues and Super Why) and offered via Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Creative Galaxy is a create along, interactive art adventure series for preschoolers following Arty and Epiphany as they travel through the galaxy solving problems with art. The episodes are designed to inspire children to use their imaginations and instill an awareness of how art is all around us. At the end of each segment, there is a live action piece with children creating their own projects based on the art created in the show.

My three year old son enjoyed the characters, storylines, and the 'problem to solve' style plot that he's very into. It's common for him to act out the scenarios that he watches on a show. We often have 'rescues' for trains trapped in a mine or need to tow an engine that has derailed. 

After watching only one episode, I saw him make a circle in the air with his finger and when I asked what he was doing, he said he was drawing the spaceship that Arty flies in. What makes Creative Galaxy unique and valuable as a learning tool is that seeing characters create on the screen made him imagine he was creating, rather than just miming what he saw. 

painted pumpkins kid craft

In one of my favorite episodes, Arty paints a portrait of his friend Annie but is frustrated when the crooked features on his canvas don't look at all like her. The episode conveys the message "If you like it, it's not a mistake" and goes into a lesson about Pablo Picasso's style of painting and surrealism, making Arty realize that his portrait was perfect just the way it was because he liked it.

We decided to paint our own Picasso-esque portraits of baby sister on some foam pumpkins. After he showed me where he wanted to glue the eyes, my son chose to use red and blue to paint her features on the pumpkins while she 'posed' in her chair watching his every move. 

I asked him to paint her eyebrows, nose, and mouth and he understood that I wanted him to look at her and try to paint her face because he had just watched Arty and Annie in that same scenario.

painted pumpkins kid craft

Watching episodes of Creative Galaxy followed up with an art project is a great addition to the art class my son gets in preschool. With many schools cutting art classes, I could also see this helping parents that may not have an art background, give their young children a lesson at home! Parents that are versed in art history will get a kick out of seeing artists like Seurat, Pollock, or Picasso referenced in the series. (Because I was a fan, I also just have to mention that any parents who were fans of 90210 will recognize the voice of 'Sketch' the pencil as Jason Priestley.)

Teaching young children that it's fine to paint trees that are purple or draw a dog with five tails if that's what makes them happy isn't always easy but so important for building on their creative ability and Creative Galaxy did a great job getting that point across. It's a good lesson for anyone to take away- focusing too much on perfection or little details can cause you to miss more important parts of an experience; in this case, the creating. I know these pumpkin portraits mean the world to me because of who created them!

painted pumpkins kid craft

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Fast Fall Foyer

It's cold enough in Georgia for a jacket today! To mark this occasion, I decided to take down this forsythia that has been hanging above our front door since April.

The grapevine that hangs around our giant letter 'G' makes for an easy to change with the seasons wreath. Using seasonal garlands, it's super fast and simple to change the look.

I used an orange and green leaves garland that I've had for a few years and just wove and wrapped it through the sticks in the grapevine wreath to make the spring/summer G more season appropriate. The autumn leaves look great with the orange and brown flowers on the corner table and it's a nice change from the bright yellow!

I could shape and move the leaves around for an hour until I was satisfied with their arrangement but obviously that's not possible so for now, I'm happy with it just the way it is.

Entryway Wall Inspiration {Hometalk Curated Board}

Have you ever considered your entryway a table of contents? Just as you skim through to see what's inside a book, an entryway can be designed to show guests what to expect inside the rest of your home or better yet, encourage them to take a look around. I don't know about you but if the first thing I see when entering a home is leopard spots, I want to see the rest!

Are you a member of Hometalk? If not, let me tell you why I love it. It's a great place to search for and share home and garden inspiration and clip photos to boards you've created, all without the distraction of luscious looking food photos finding their way into your feed! So it's somewhat like using Pinterest but won't make you crave cake and brownies all day.

I love finding inspiration and sharing our DIY projects via Hometalk and having recently finished and shared this entryway wall of our own, I was happy to oblige when they asked me to curate an Entryway Wall Inspiration Board!

It was so much fun searching through all of the beautiful posts shared by Hometalk members and I think you'll agree these are amazing! Along with the examples shown below there are some great ideas for small spaces for those that don't have a defined 'entryway' wall.

Here's a sneak peek at a few of the posts I clipped:

Stunning planked wall by Lovely Etc. 
on Hometalk on Entryway Wall Inspiration

Not everyone has a large defined entryway but can 
show their style in a small space like this example
by The Blissful Bee on Hometalk on Entryway Wall Inspiration

Such a fun collected gallery wall entry 
by Funky Junk Interiors on Hometalk on Entryway Wall Inspiration

As unique as these examples are, they all show how an entryway can be used to define a home's style. When you walk into the spaces featured above, the style and personality of the owners is obvious and makes you want to see the rest! 

To find ideas in all shapes and sizes for your entryway walls, be sure to check out the rest because this was just a peek at the gorgeous ideas. Click on the graphic below or here to see my entire Entryway Inspiration Board and be sure to take a look around at the rest of my boards on Hometalk.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks to Hometalk for the fun opportunity!

Atlanta Country Living Fair Weekend Passes Giveaway

I'm very excited to be teaming up with Explore Gwinnett to offer a lucky reader two weekend passes to the Atlanta Country Living Fair, October 24-26, 2014 at Stone Mountain Park!

In addition to amazing shopping, there will be seminars, demos, antique appraising, and the opportunity to meet HGTV's Cari Cuksey and the editors of Country Living.  

How does a weekend of shopping, great food, and finding fall inspiration sound!? 

Enter to win by following the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below. Giveaway ends Monday, October 13 at midnight EST.  Good luck and hope to see you there!

Explore Gwinnett is the official tourism office for Gwinnett County, Georgia. The first 100 people to stop by the Explore Gwinnett booth and sign up for their e-newsletter each day of the fair will receive a free jumbo shopping bag!

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