Monday, December 15, 2014

A Rustic Themed Christmas Banquet

Has it really been almost a full month since I last posted anything?!?  I'm so sorry you guys.  Life just got crazy busy all of a sudden and I just couldn't juggle everything I had going on.  Last week alone I had 3 big events at church that I was involved in back to back and it kept me hoppin' the entire week.  Add in soccer games twice a week and my class I teach on Wednesday nights and we felt like we were barely ever home.  But things will start to slow down a bit this week thankfully.  All the big events that I was in charge of are over now, and Lil' Man's last soccer game is tonight so that should help slow things down a lot!  

One of the things I was in charge of last week was our church's annual Christmas banquet.  A couple of months ago our pastor asked me if I'd be willing to be in charge of the decorations and the food.  An excuse to decorate for a party?  Of course I said yes!!  I had it all planned out the next day, lol!  

Fast forward about two months and it was finally banquet day.  When I got to the fellowship hall this is what it looked like.  Pretty much a disaster because we had been working on stuff for our Christmas parade float in here the day before.

All the float signs and paint and other paraphernalia were still around the room, as well as the stacks of wrapped boxes for the float.

The ping-pong table was in the corner and extra tables, etc, etc.  In short, it was a mess.  And I didn't bring anyone to help me because when it comes to decorating I work better by myself.  I just hadn't planned on having to do SO much cleaning up first.  But thankfully the pastor and his wife came and helped me move all the float stuff out, and extra tables, and such and get all the chairs up so I could clean the floors.  That was a blessing.  But after that was done I was on my own to transform the place into some semblance of order suitable for a banquet.

After 8 hours of cleaning and decorating it looked like this.

I wish I had more time to set up a tripod and get better pictures, but people started showing up early and I had to just snap what I could and be done with it.  I kept some of the wrapped boxes from the float and stacked them to fill one corner over by the back door.  Notice in the back of the above picture, on the right, the drink table.  I never did get a closer picture of it, but it looked cute with a wool plaid blanket spread over it and the drink dispensers sitting on top.

I used the lattice that was leaning against the wall to cover up the unused piano and organ over against the far wall.  

Against another wall I set up a photo-op area.  It's kind of a "thing" with our church that every party or banquet has a photo area, so of course I had to uphold the tradition.

I strung white lights up and down the wall and then hung a white sheet over them.

It gave off the most beautiful soft glow and made a wonderful background for pictures.  The lanterns were glowing too, but you can't really tell in these pictures.

I brought in stumps of wood from our wood pile at home and set the cute battery operated lanterns on top.  My mom was sweet enough to let me borrow these for the banquet.  At the time she told me I could use them I had no idea what I would do with them, but I knew I could figure out something cute.  They looked great on the wooden stumps.  The empty red frame was a photo prop that people could hold up and put their faces behind for their picture.  I got it for $2 at a thrift store and just gave it a few coats of red spray paint that I already had.   I picked up the cute little chalkboard signs from Walmart for $2 each and they were photo props as well.

I already had the little tree and actually threw it up there at the last minute as part of this vignette.  It's propped up on an old wooden drawer that I brought along.

Now, let's take a closer look at the centerpieces.  
This picture from Sweet Something Designs was my point of inspiration.


Now here is my version.

Over the couple of months that I was planning I began collecting Christmas colored plaid scarves.
Some I already had, some I found at yard sales, and the rest I scoured eBay for and bought the cheapest ones I could find to keep it as low budget as possible.

I laid the scarves down the center of each table as my table runners, then I layered in the wood slabs.  Each table had 3 of them.  Hubby was kind enough to cut these for me from his wood pile in his work shop.  Did you know that just ONE of these wooden pieces like this costs $15 at the craft store?!?  I got 21 of them for FREE from our own stash.  :D

I poured Epsom salt into canning jars (brought from home) to resemble snow, and tucked a little unscented votive candle into each one. I layered in fresh greenery all around, and then tucked in faux berries for some color.  I finished them off with cute little jingle bells from the dollar store (a pack of 9 for only $1!).  In keeping with the low budget, I already had all of the faux berries in my own personal stash, and as for the fresh greenery, when we went to buy our Christmas tree I told the owner of the tree farm about the upcoming banquet and asked if they had any extra greenery they wouldn't be using for their fresh wreaths.  She said she couldn't let me have any of the Fraser fir branches, they needed all they had, but she said they couldn't use any cuttings from the Scotch pines because they were too pokey.  So she gave me a pair of clippers and told me to go around the lot and that I could clip and have any branches that were touching the ground.  They were indeed very pokey, and I had sore hands afterwards, but hey, I had a huge pile of FREE greenery!

These plates I found at Hobby Lobby were absolutely perfect.  I had been to a few different stores looking for the perfect ones to go with this theme.  I had some criteria.  They had to be big (our church likes us some food!), they had to be sturdy, and they had to match the theme without having Santa or anything else too cutesy on them.  I didn't really know exactly what I wanted, I just knew that I'd know when I saw them.  And I did.  As soon as I saw these on the shelf I knew they were the ones.  I couldn't even remember at the time what colors were in all of the scarves I had bought because I had collected them over time and actually hadn't looked at them in awhile.  So I was really excited when I got the plates home and pulled out the stash of scarves to compare and I realized they matched perfectly with all the reds and blacks!  I also loved how they had sort of a chalkboard look to them.  It matched my "naughty'' and "nice" chalkboards really well.  But probably nobody but me noticed that detail.  :D

The forks were actually plastic (no extra dishes to wash, yay!), but I loved how shiny they were and that they had a "real" look to them (also found at Hobby Lobby).  And I found nice plastic cups that were just a bit more fancy than plain old clear plastic ones or even styrofoam ones that dressed up the table a bit.

I ended up with 7 different scarves that had 7 different patterns, but all coordinated very nicely on the tables.

There were 35 people signed up to come, so I bought 40 of everything and made 40 place settings, but what I forgot to take into account was the generosity of our people.  Some invited extra family members, some invited neighbors at the last minute to come and join the fun and we ended up with closer to 50.  We just pulled extra chairs up to the ends of the tables and got out the white styrofoam plates that we always have on hand and it all worked out just fine.  The more the merrier.  : )

Over on the dessert table I set up this little display using my long wooden ammo box turned upside down and a bit of decor from my own home.  The tables were slightly different heights and I had to prop up one end of the box, so the greenery helped disguise the height difference.

The rustic decor was a hit and many people were so kind to tell me how beautiful it all looked.  All the hard work of cleaning and setting it all up was worth it.  

One lady even told me at church on Sunday that it was the most beautiful she had ever seen it look in the fellowship hall.  And that's why I enjoy what I do.  I love transforming a space from something plain and boring into something beautiful and festive.  And since I used so much that I already had on hand or that I was able to get for free, and since we did the food potluck style, I was able to keep this banquet budget right around $115.

I hope to be back again with another post before Christmas, but if for some reason I don't then I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!  And if I don't get my Christmas decor pictures shared before, don't worry, they may be late and Christmas may be done and over with by then, but I'll get them shared.  :)


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Monday, November 17, 2014

A Christmas Feed Sack Shower Curtain

Ok, so this is the post I have been so excited to share with you guys!!  
Once the idea for this project hit me I couldn't wait to get it finished, and then once I had it finished I couldn't wait to get it photographed and up on the blog to share with my readers.   

You probably remember several months ago I shared my DIY "feed sack" shower curtain I made out of painter's drop cloth.

Well, since then I've started selling them in my Etsy shop and they are selling surprisingly well!  I have a waiting list that takes me all the way through to next year!  Well, in the midst of making one of these curtains for a customer I messed up and made it too short for the order.  I folded it up and just tossed it in my basket of scraps until I could figure out what to do with it.

A couple of weeks later this idea hit me and I decided that instead of using it for scraps I'd turn it into another curtain for myself.  It was too short for that customer, but it wasn't too short for me.  So I came up with a whole new design, this time for Christmas.

A reindeer feed sack!  
I'm loving how it turned out and it's such a fun change for the holiday season. 

I changed up the font from the original curtain, found a reindeer clip art that was free, made the stripes on the sides red instead of the usual grey, and added "North Pole Granary" to it.  My husband asked me, "Shouldn't that be 'grainary?'"  But I Googled it before I painted it to make sure, and it is indeed "granary."  I'm not exactly sure why the "i" gets dropped, just another annoying quirk of the English language I guess.

I kept it pretty simple.  I didn't want anything about Santa Claus or magic on it like I've seen on some of the other reindeer themed pillows and such that are out there.  There really are reindeer (caribou if you want to be technical), and there really is a North Pole so I can feel comfortable that I'm not spreading any lies to my little ones.  : )  We've never told them that Santa is real, but we've never told them that he's not real either.  We've always just let him be a fun part of Christmas, and we've known they would figure it out on their own eventually.  In fact, when I was working on this curtain my 7 year old asked me why I put a reindeer on it since Santa isn't real.  I asked her how she knew he wasn't real, and she said, "I just know."  So we had a conversation about how he's just a fun tradition, but there really are reindeer, they don't fly of course, but they're a real animal and there really is a place called the North Pole even if Santa isn't actually real.  I was thankful that I had never told her that he was, because when I was unexpectedly asked about it point blank I didn't have any feelings of guilt for having lied to her, she didn't have any blame for me or my husband, and she can still keep enjoying him as a fun part of Christmas while still knowing the true meaning of it all.  I understand that not everyone believes the way we do or handles the situation the same as us, to each their own, but this is how we've handled it in our home.

Anyways, back off of that rabbit trail.  : )  

I had so much fun coming up with this reindeer feed sack design and turning a messed up pile of scrap into something beautiful.  I'm loving it, my kiddos are loving it, and even Hubby was a little bit impressed.  : )

I'd love to hear what you think of my salvaged mistake! 


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Friday, November 14, 2014

Farmhouse Fall Decor {Part 2}

 So...I finished up a project this week that I am SO excited to share with you!  I can hardly wait, but wait I must because it was a Christmas project and I never did finish showing you my fall decor in the dining room and kitchen so I feel I need to do that first.  

On the table I have a set of place mats that I thrifted years ago.  We alternate between these and a pretty fall tablecloth that I also thrifted.  When the 4 year old spills something (and he always does) then we switch them out.  I also have a cute little leaf S&P shaker set given to me by a friend a few years ago, along with a fall themed silverware caddy.  Though we're using it to hold napkins and seasonings that Hubs likes left on the table.

Behind the table in the buffet area I hung my fall picture I love so much.  Of course,  I love old red trucks for sure, but it's also really special because it belonged to my grandparents before they passed away and the truck has the name of the town where they lived on it.

The plaid runner was thrifted a couple of years ago.  It was actually just a strip of fabric that I turned into a valance to use in our 2nd bathroom at our last house.  In this house I don't have any place to use it as a valance so I simply folded it in half and used it as a runner.  I added the Rub-N-Buff made over candleholders set and some pillar candles with a bit of moss around them.  I really wanted to find pretty fall candles to put in these, but I couldn't find just the right ones like I had in mind.  I already had these ivory colored ones so I ended up using those instead and just added a bit of twine and an old key to make them a little more interesting and a little less "vanilla."  : )

Here's a reminder of what these candleholders looked like before.

A bit of silver Rub-N-Buff and then some Spanish Copper over top of that gave them a perfectly aged looking patina.  A 5 minute project with wonderful results.

My $1 rusty rooster makes his appearance again.  I love this little guy!  
Some faux bittersweet tucked in around it finishes it off.

I tucked in a berry vine around my Mason jars that are lined up in the big dining room window.

Above the kitchen cupboards I added a few touches of fall as well.

This end has a Pilgrim couple that my mom gave me and one little faux gourd.

In the middles hangs a vintage looking sign that I got several years ago, probably from Home Goods.

On this end, I took away the little stack of towels on the scale and added a small faux pumpkin, and I replaced the bright red geraniums with a fall colored bouquet.

The cookie bucket belonged to my granny back in the day and my mom just gave it to me recently.

Beside the sink I have this little touch of autumn.

It's a vintage potato masher.  
I added a small berry vine around it and tucked in a tiny little jar candle. 

Above the sink in the window I have this little arrangement.  I took the picture in the dark because it looked so cozy with the candle lit.

I keep this little feeder jar that my sister found at a thrift store on the counter within easy reach.  We added some candy corn to it for fall, and then for Christmas we'll change it out to some green and red M&M's.  Ain't it so cute?!?

And then I just had to show you our painted pumpkins from this year.  In my last post I shared a picture of our pumpkins from last year, but I never did show you this year's.  My daughter decided she wanted to make hers a minion this time around.  Well, when my son heard that he decided he wanted his to be Gru.  So, then we decided well if we have two Despicable Me pumpkins then we might as well go ahead and do all of them as characters from those movies.  So here's what we came up with.

This yellow minion pumpkin is my daughter's.  I drew in the parts for her and she did all the painting.  We glued on canning jar lids as his goggles.

Here's Gru, done by my 4 year old.  He painted the whole thing pinkish, I drew in his main parts and he painted them, and then I finished off a few of the details of the eyes for him.  I molded his nose out of Play-Dough and we attached it with a skewer.  A thrifted scarf finished him off.

The kids decided that mine should be a purple minion.  I found this fuzzy purple hat at a thrift store for $1.  I tucked the brim under and it made for the perfect crazy purple hair for it.

We all decided that Hub's had to be an El Macho pumpkin since Hubs has a big mustache, too.  :D  It ended up that he was too busy to paint his pumpkin this time around so I did it for him.  I thought it turned out pretty cute.  :)

 This last picture has nothing to do with decor, but I wanted to share one more thing with you.  We hosted a fall festival on Halloween night at our house for our church's youth group and one of the things I did was to make this Pumpkin Puke chip dip.

It was just spinach dip, and I wasn't sure how the kids would react to it but they loved it and thought it was the coolest thing ever and gobbled it right up to the last scrapings.  Brave bunch.  :)

That's it for my fall posts for this year.  Later today I'm off for my weekend trip to Mt. Dora, FL for the Renninger's Antique and Flea Market Extravaganza.  I am SO very excited to be going again!  I went about 5 years ago with Hubby for my birthday, and it was 8 solid hours of walking to booth after booth after booth and we didn't even get to them all!  This year I'm going with my mother-in-law, just us girls, no men, no kids, for 2.5 days.  It's in celebration of both of our birthdays this month and it's gonna be some serious junkin' fun!!!  

And when I get back from that.....the Christmas decor is coming out!  I am so excited for Christmas this year for some reason.  I just love love love it and it never lasts long enough for me.  So this year I'm breaking my rule of waiting until after Thanksgiving to decorate and we're gonna get our jingle on a couple of weeks early.  I can't wait!!

How about you?  Are you already decorating for Christmas?   Or are you a die hard for waiting until Thanksgiving is over?  Has anybody else ever been to the Mt. Dora Extravaganza?
I'd love to hear from you!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How to Get the Most Out of Your Fall Pumpkins

This week I've been helping my kiddos paint their pumpkins.  It's a yearly tradition that we do instead of carving them, partly because we don't really celebrate Halloween so carving them into scary faces is kind of pointless.  We like to do happier and more creative things with them.  But also because the pumpkins last a whole lot longer this way.  Once they're carved they start rotting and only last a few days and that seems like a waste of money to me.  Keeping them whole makes them last quite a long time.

So, I got to thinking about what we did with ours last year and how I got my money's worth out of them and I decided some of you might like these ideas, too.

So here's what we did last year.

Sometime in October we have a family night and we break out the paints and brushes and go to town creating faces (or in the case of the 3 year old's pumpkin, lots of random colors mixed everywhere).  : ) The kids loved my Mike Wyzowski pumpkin and that inspired them to want to do a whole set of Despicable Me characters this year.

Three out of the 4 pumpkins were still good by Thanksgiving time in November so I spray painted one of them white and we toted it along on our trip to visit family.

I took a permanent marker and set it up in my mom's living room and it became our "thankful pumpkin."  Throughout the day everyone wrote something they were thankful for and signed their name.  It was really fun to turn it around and around and read what everyone added.  I made sure to take a picture of each side to help us remember.

By December we were down to 2 pumpkins that were still good so I let the kids paint them again and this time they turned them into "snowmen."

The 3 year old's looked a little more like a melting snowman, lol!  : )

If we had enough pumpkins that were still good we may have tried this stacked snowman from Sweet Pepper Rose.  Isn't he adorable?

Here's another cute Christmas pumpkin idea from Club Chica Circle that I like. 
 (They also have a cute idea in that same post about using "snow" paint to do a snowman pumpkin.  We might try that one this year.)

You could even do the ornaments first for December and if your pumpkins are still going strong you could do the snowmen for January.  

So there ya have it.  Just a quick post to give you some ideas on how to get the most out of your fall pumpkins.  Not only are you getting your money's worth out of them, but it makes the fun last that much longer, too.  

Do you guys have any additional creative ideas on how to repurpose your fall pumpkins?  
I'd love to hear about it!

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