Christmas Wreath a la Kel

This week the Dare to DIY challenge is to Deck that Halls! Now, I LOVE Christmas. How much do I love Christmas? Well, I had a Christmas themed December wedding!! That should tell you something. I actually don’t have that many Christmas decorations. Before our big move up to Boston last year I purged all the cheap apartment decorations and decided to do it right when we got a house. Well….we got the house this year, so that means round 1 of ramping up the goodies! Here’s the wreath I put together for our front door:

I got all the supplies for this little puppy at Michael’s on mega-sale, so I think the whole thing cost me about $6. Nice. My only disappointment is that the dark green doesn’t show up too well against our black door. But, we’re planning to get a new front door (no clue yet what color), so we’ll see how it looks next year.

We also have a new tall skinny Christmas tree for our tiny living room! I think it looks pretty nice. Although, a bit sad that I didn’t get garland for the banister, or finish crocheting the puppy’s Christmas stockings.

I love my tree mostly because of my fabulous ornaments! We got a lot of gorgeus ornaments for our wedding and this is the first year we’ve had a tree since then, so it was super exciting to put them up. Here is a selection of the collection:


Dare to Give Homemade Gifts!

Like the cookie eating, I mean cookie ‘baking’ Dare to DIY, this is one I can definitely handle! I love making and giving homemade gifts! I love that it takes time (sounds CRAZY, I know, but it’s true!). That’s time you spend thinking about the recipient, thinking of how they will use/enjoy what you are making,  and thinking back on your friendship/relationship with the person. Or, in some cases, time wondering if they will know what it is (!).

While I do have a pretty awesome (if I do say so myself!) holiday gift in progress, it is a bigger undertaking than I originally thought (typical), so it might end up being a 2010 birthday present, opps! But since I need to keep that under wraps, I thought I would share a few other gift ideas with you:

Le Floof Scarf: made from a dreamy super fluffy, or floofy (technical term), yarn. This one took one ball of yarn for the scarf + tassels with a smidge left over! It is a simple garter stitch with large needles to give a lacey effect. I think any lady would love to wrap up in this!

Le Floof Scarf

Crochet Flower Brooches: I love these! I could wear a different one every day of the year and not get bored with them! #1 is made with handspun wool yarn and features a vintage button. This is definitely the ‘dressier’ of the two and features a variety of colors, from chocolate brown to peach, YUM!

Crochet Flower Brooch 1

#2 is made with handpainted yarn and features lavender, teal blue and a nice rusty orange. Definitely a striking combo that I think would look GREAT with a khaki blazer and teal sweater. (And teal pumps. Obviously I haven’t thought about this AT ALL.)

Crochet Flower Brooch 2

Oven Mitt and Angel Washcloth: I made this for a holiday gift swap I’m participating in. Both items are crocheted with 100% cotton yarn that is plied with a metallic thread.

Oven Mitt and Angel Washcloth

Toddler cap: a fair-isle style knit cap in two colors. In this case, I choose a family favorite, LSU purple and gold! I think these are GREAT because they are super fast and the two-color design makes them amenable to any sports team’s colors!

Toddler cap

Mittens: As you may know, I started a pair of Bella Mittens recently. I hoped to finish them this weekend, but alas, I was too busy for knitting! I am on the second one and it’s going well. I think these may actually become a gift for a friend……..and I already have yarn to start another pair for me!

Bella Mitten

So there you have it. A selection of gift options! Now, back to that knitting….

(PS Blog formatting in progress, so my “Leave a comment” button is really really really tiny, but it’s the hyperlinked thing below!)

Dare to Make Cookies!

HERE is a dare I can handle! Making cookies, I got this! Welcome to Week 3 of the Dare to DIY blog party!

This one was quite fun because I totally kicked the recipe and just did my own thing. Some of my friends may remember my pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Oh. My. Gosh. If you want decadent, chew-it-slowly-while-you-savor-every-tiny-morsel cookies, you NEED these. (Warning: they are cookie crack! You will eat them too quickly, then dream about them at night, think about them during the day when you hit that 3pm crash at work and need a sugar rush, then think of them again on your way home when you’re mentally scanning the pantry thinking “What can I whip up for dinner tonight?” and then you’ll remember the cookies and think “Who needs dinner? We could just jump to dessert, I mean they have pumpkin in them so that’s a fruit…!”) (<—-not kidding, make them now!)

Due to the sad sad addiction, I decided to make another batch of these and ‘healthify’ them!! I had some ideas and when I got started I realized that I used ALL of my canned pumpkin making cheesecake. OPPS! But I certainly can’t regret that one! So I rethought my plan and improvised. In the end I ended up with:

(Click on image for full size to print or right-click to copy and paste into your fav program to resize and print!)

Now these are good. They are quite healthy! We have a fruit (banana), some most excellent omega-3’s (flax seed and walnuts), fiber (wheat germ!) and anti-oxidants (I used dark chocolate morsels). I substituted the oil from the original recipe for Sunsweet Lighter Bake, so no fat there!

The result is pretty yummy and Terry is LOVING them! I’m very happy with them (although with the less chocolate…they’re not the same!). I think they are even healthy enough that since I didn’t go to the grocery this weekend, they may be breakfast in the morning!

I also made some turkey chili today that was really fast and easy. Here is the recipe for that one also, I made some individual serving sizes for our lunch this week 🙂

DIY-Dare to Entertain!

OK, so we are NOT entertaining anyone this year for the holidays. Poo. Woe is me 😦

But, for the Dare to Entertain DIY Challenge this week, I decided to whip out all the dishes and set the table anyway, just for fun! I even decided to do a ‘casual’ setting and a setting with my ‘formal’ china, since I hadn’t had it out since we moved earlier this year. Also, I’ve never really posted pictures of the inside of the house since we’ve moved in, so you can see that too. Here goes (please click on pictures to enlarge):


1. Meet our tiny dining room. It’s a little bigger than it looks…but not by much. Our front door currently opens into the dining room, so it usually serves more as an entry way than a dining room and the table is usually pushed up against the windows. SAD. However, we’re planning to move the door to the center of the house (see this post for house pic and future plan, idea #2), where it will open into the living room instead of the dining room. I can’t wait! Until then…ho hum, but hey, it looks great when the table is out in the center! Also note the temporary curtain tie-backs I made with some wire-edged ribbon and berries. I think it looks great for $3 🙂

2. Place setting. This is our casual everyday dishes, the Noritake Colorwave collection. I ❤ my wire pumpkin (gift a few years ago) and my candlesticks (bargain buy a few years ago at a Hobby Lobby…I think I got them both for under $20) I got the fabric runner this year on sale for $7.50 and it’s been up since October (combo Halloween/Thanksgiving autumn decor!)

So, my ‘formal’ china is the Lenox British Colonial set in the Bamboo and Tradewinds patterns (they’re mix and match). My husband loves ships and when I was planning my wedding I saw this china on a wall from across a department store and pointed it out to my Mom and said that will probably be our china, and it is! We love everything coastal and it suits our style so perfectly! When not in use it lives in a pretty cabinet:

which is 2/3 of this cabinet (the middle and right pieces, Crate and Barrel):

Anyway, here is the table set with the china:


3. I set out the crystal beverage glasses (Lenox Firelight Gold) and our china’s coffee mugs, because in my house, you must have dessert and coffee!!!

4. I also made a little centerpiece using a glass vase I had (free! came with birthday flowers from my in-laws), left over ribbon from the curtains, and I made a quick monogram design in autumn colors that I printed out. A few dabs of hot glue….I filled it with scented pinecones from the craft store and Voila! Insta-centerpiece! (pine cones cost $2.50 and I have LOTS left over for Christmas decorating!)

So there is my bargain budget use what you have autumn placesettings. I can’t wait until the door gets moved and we can use the dining room as a dining room all the time cuz I think it looks fab! Even DH was impressed!

In the meantime, I do have some champagne I could chill (and you haven’t seen my Christmas Mikasa Champagne flutes, GORGEUS!) Who wants to come visit so I have someone to entertain?!

A Year of Thanks – 2009

This week is week #1 of the Dare-to-DIY Blog Party!!! WOO-HOO! (I am celebrating this very moment with coffee and hot chocolate-chip cookies, YUM!)

This week’s theme is Dare to Be Thankful, and let me tell you, this one was tough. Sure, I could make a cute Thanksgiving themed decoration, but for some reason I wasn’t satisfied with that. I thought about this A LOT… In all this over-thinking I realized what a truly wonderful year we have had! We accomplished things this year that I have wanted to do for years….in some cases, my entire life! So, how can I do that justice?!

In addition, like fellow Dare-to-DIYer Ashley, I didn’t really want to spend any money on this one. In all my crafting arsenal, 99% of my supplies are yarn! (me=fiber addict) But a measly little box in the corner has scrapbooking supplies! So here is what I came up with:


A walk through our 2009:

  1. Home! In April we moved into our very first home! After 10 years in apartments, this was HUGE for us! I’m so happy to be in a house again. We have many projects we want to do, but it was a great turn-key home to start off in! This picture was taken when we pulled into our driveway for the very first time, just after the closing on March 31st.
  2. Adventure! In July we went to visit my MIL and FIL in SPAIN! It was fabulous! I had never been to Europe and the entire trip was beyond imagining! The history, the architecture, the culture, I loved it all. I also loved that we were there for MIL’s Change of Command ceremony at the navy base and got to celebrate with her. This picture was taken on the Rock of Gibraltar and the tiny bump you see on the horizon is the continent of Africa on the other side of the straight.
  3. These two pictures are from our trip to San Francisco. Although we were there ‘on business’ we stayed an extra day for a little fun since neither of us had been to CA before. The top left picture was taken on the deck of a ship at Hyde Pier, a National Park Maritime Site. This was super exciting for Terry because he volunteers on the ‘Friendship of Salem‘ at the Salem Maritime National Park Site. He wants to build his own boat someday and since we both love the water, I’m all for it! The lower picture was taken at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. I have been obsessed with lighthouses for years and Terry found this one on a map and decided to surprise me by bringing me there before having a fabulous dinner at a restaurant on top of a cliff with crashing waves beneath. My hubby is so romantic 🙂 This is the closest I’ve been to a real lighthouse (literally steps away) but it is closed down and you can’t go in, so that is another adventure for another day!
  4. Jasper – For years we have wanted a dog. But with apartment living and graduate school, we just couldn’t. After moving into our house, one of the most exciting realizations was WE COULD GET A DOG! On May 16th we brought home Jasper, a wire-haired fox terrier that is our mischievous pride and joy!
  5. Mickey – After two months of life with Jasper, we decided he needed a companion. Enter Mickey, our cute and confident Yorkshire terrier, who we brought home on July 17th. When we went to look for Jasper a little brother/sister, my eyes were drawn to Mickey, who kept running to the front of his little pen and jumping up to put his paws on the glass. It was destiny. I discovered that he had actually been there when we adopted Jasper and was STILL there two months later. Evidently, people wanted puppies and at 4 months, he was getting passed over time and again. NO MORE! He came home with us that night and we are so happy to have him in our little family!!
  6. SAINTS! This may be a silly thing to be thankful for, but the 2009 Saints (9-0 baby!) are also a point of pride for me. As a native New Orleanian, it was hard to witness the decline during/after Hurricane Katrina. I really didn’t think they would rebuild the SuperDome, which has always been (at least in my lifetime) a landmark of the city. I was so happy that they did rebuild and that people showed up in droves to cheer on the Saints. It has been a rough few years since then for NOLA and I feel like the Saints persevering when everyone had written them off is somehow symbolic of the spirit of Louisiana and NOLA in particular. I hope they can go all the way! WHO DAT?!

So there you have it. A simple project, but with several pieces of my heart inside. I can only hope that every year brings us as much happiness as this one has!

The quote on the left says “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year!” Great instructions for happiness, I think!

Dare to DIY / Bring it on!!

I’m doing my little happy dance. Right now, with my hair sticking up, wearing my super big polka dot flannel pants and my ratty old sweatshirt. Why all this excitement, you may ask?? BECAUSE I’M ON A MISSION!!!!!!!!!!

There is no mistaking it, I love projects.  And buying a house earlier this year of course led to a huge list of projects, that sadly, have gone by the way-side lately (the way WAY side).

But have no fear, because the Dare to DIY PARTY is here!! I’m hoping this gets my rear back in gear for the holidays and inspires me to jump-start some of the projects I’ve neglected! There’s nothing like a schedule with deadlines (….I mean, party dates!) to inspire the procrastinators of the world to get going!!!

Check out the details (and get a cute button for your blog) here:

Dare to DIY

The party starts soon folks, so check out the deets and start planning!!! I’m trying, but the first ‘party’ is the one that’s got me stumped!!!