Merry Christmas from White Picket Fences!

Happy Holidays from My Family to Yours!

Today we are off to my grandparents house for a few days.  This means no internet (they still have dial-up).  So enjoy the holiday and I'll be seeing you on the flip side.


White Christmas

My favorite Christmas movie of all time is White Christmas.  I own it and every Christmas I force Chris to watch it with me.  I think of it as quality time even if he could care less.

I love all the songs and the sets and the costumes.  My favorite part is near the end when Rosemary Clooney is singing at the Carousel Club in New York.  Her dress is to die for!  A fabulous little black number with gloves!  It is a great dress but is complemented by the awesome set.  Pink, white, black, silver and gold; bold stripes paired with delicate details and actual carousel horses.  What's not to love!

I couldn't find a picture of the back but let me assure you it is equally as stunning.  I would love to own this dress and have somewhere to wear it to.  Maybe one day (sigh).


Christmas Tablescape

Since Claire was born we have hosted Christmas dinner at our house.  This year we will be visiting my grandparents for a few days before hand and won't be back until late Christmas eve.  We MUST be at home so Santa can bring Claire the baby doll she has been asking for since September. 

Anyways, I decided to go ahead and set the table so that I don't have to do it in a rush Christmas day.  I've never really decorated my table before.  Usually, I put some flowers in a vase and call it a day but I felt the need to dress it up this year.

The table decorating started with my off-white linen tablecloth and a conversation that went a little like this:
Me:  Do you think I would be sad if I dyed the tablecloth blue?
Chris:  You would be sad if it didn't turn out exactly the way you wanted it to.
Me:  (sigh) Good point.

I have so much white in my dining room that I didn't want the entire table to be white too.  How boring.  This got my wheels turning trying to figure out a way to put blue on my table without spending a lot of money. 

Then I had the bright idea to make a runner out of an old curtain panel.  It took a total of 15 minutes, including ironing, and turned out fabulous.  Plus, it's my favorite color so I know that it will make future appearances.

Next, I pulled out my gold chargers.  I bought these a few years ago at Target and I use them all the time.  They are the easiest way to dress up a table and they make any plate look fancy.  Which is good because I don't own fancy china. 

I decided to use my blue flower plates to add another blue element.  I'm sure they have a name but I don't remember what it is.

I was really pleased with myself when I thought to use the mini picks as napkin rings.  I bought them last year at Walmart after Christmas (on sale for .50 for 3) with the intention of putting them on Claire's mini tree but I thought they looked cuter here.

For my centerpiece, I used my owl pitcher and filled it with tree limbs.  It has actually been filled with limbs since the beginning of the month but I decided to jazz it up with some sparkly red picks and gold ornaments. 

Add some votives and a few more red ornaments and "decorate table" is checked off my list.

Notice the empty oval frame?  It is patiently waiting for a Berkley Illustration print that I posted about here.  I am hopeful Santa will leave one or two under my tree.

And if you were wondering where Claire sits, she is the plate right in front with no silverware.  She gets the same plate as everyone else but a special fork.

Merry Christmas from Minnie Mouse!

The whole table cost me $3 and is just perfect for a low key family dinner Christmas day.


Dinner Organization

Real Simple has a great meal planner/shopping list chart available in January's issue.  They also have it available to download for free right here.

Anything to make dinner easier.  Plus, you get the added fun of filling out a list! Oh, happy day!


I Want! - Spartina 449

I may be the last person to find Spartina 449 but I really like it.  It's similar to Vera Bradley but made of linen and leather instead of quilted cotton.

I have adopted a less is more theory when it comes to purses.  It's hard to lug a big purse and a kid when in the store.  All I need is something to hold my phone, keys and credit card.  Which is why I'm jonesing for this little pleated wristlet,

I would really love it if it were in this pattern,

  or this one, 

But alas, it does not.  Oh well, maybe they have a suggestion box.


Handmade Presents for All!

I told you yesterday that this week is full of parties and presents for me.  Chris gives gifts to all of the ladies in his front office and to his fellow principals for Christmas.  This usually involves a trip to Walmart the night before the last day of school and me putting together glasses filled with candy tied with a pretty bow.  This year I was a little more proactive so I was able to make some really cute and useful gifts.

The office ladies will each be receiving one of these,

I used an awesome free printable from Erin Vale Design and made a small to do list pad for each of them.  It was fairly easy and all I needed was some padding compound, which I got from here, to make six useful handmade gifts.  (Padding compound is the clear stuff on top of notepads that holds all the sheets together)

I made Chris' fellow assistant principal a completely adorable and super cool 2011 owl calendar available from My Owl Barn.

This application is really neat.  There are 30 different owl images to choose from and all you have to do is pick which image you want with which month and then you can download your personal calendar.  I printed it out on card stock and used the same padding compound to make a little desk calendar.  I also added a magnet strip on the back so she could put it on her filing cabinet or fridge.  Add this to a tin of the cookies I made and you have another great and inexpensive gift.

As for Chris' principal, I took the easy road and got him a gift card to Tractor Supply.  I know what you're thinking but he's a guy and we live in the South.  Trust me, he will love it.

Tonight we have the school party.  I'm super excited because low country boil is on the menu.  Yum!


One hundred and One Cookies

My husband is an educator.  This is the last week of school before Christmas break.  This effects me because this is the week of parties and gifts.  This effects you because I'm going to share my secret recipe for thumb print cookies that are guaranteed to make everyone your best friend.

In all honesty, it's not my recipe, it's my mother-in-law's, but our cookies taste nothing alike so I feel like I can call it mine.

The Dough... 

Combine 3 sticks of softened butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/8 tsp salt and 3 egg yolks in a large bowl.  Add 4 cups of flour sifted (I mix in one cup at a time, it's easier that way).

Cover and refigerate for 1 hour.

While I was making cookie dough, Claire was doing this...

She and I have had runny noses this week and we ran out of  kleenex today so she decided to fill the empty box with an entire roll of toilet paper.  She's a problem solver for sure.

Back to Cookies...

After refigerating the dough, pre-heat the oven to 350 and then pull out every cookie sheet you own and get to work rolling the dough into small balls.  Place each ball on the cookie sheet and put your thumb print in the middle (hence the name).

Bake for 8-12 minutes until golden brown on the bottom.  When you are done you will have a counter full of these...

I put them on wax paper because it makes the next step easier to clean up.  Make sure they are completly cool before adding the icing or else you will have more icing on your counter than on your cookies.

The Icing...

The icing is a combination of confectioners sugar, water, vanilla extract and food color.  I don't have exact quantities but use a lot of the sugar, a smidge of extract and add the water a little at a time.  You want it to have a thicker consistency so that it stays in the little bowls made by your thumb.  I use a baby spoon to put the icing on the cookies because it can really get away from you and a super tiny spoon doesn't hold that much so it can't get too far.  When you are done you should have something that looks like this,

I wanted to do some that were a little fancy so I tried multi-colored.  I think they are fun.

I let the icing set overnight to make sure it dries.  Nothing worse than icing everywhere except where it's suposed to be.  This recipe makes a boat load of cookies so it is great to take to parties and a very inexpensive gift for co-workers.  The number depends on how big or small you make your balls but this time I made 101 cookies.

Tonight we have the (football) coaches party.  I'm not sure if I have to bring a dessert or not but I'm prepared nonetheless.


Facebook Me

I just wanted to let everyone know that I have successfully finally set up a facebook page.  I have added a badge over on the far right so all you have to do is click it and it will take you right to my page.  For those of you with a phobia of following me here on the blog you can like me on facebook and will get updates when I have new posts.  As an added bonus, you will gain access to my random thoughts throughout the day. 
What fun!


What Would You Do...

...if you weren't afraid of color?  Would you be bold enough to try something like Eileen Kathryn Boyd?  This is her house featured in the holiday issue of Lonny.  I, for one, am obsessed with it.  It takes a certain kind of person to use this much bold color in one space.  It is rare to find a client willing to do it and most designers are scared of it as well.  One wrong move can take it from beautiful to circus side show.


Boyd balances everything by keeping her flooring and furniture very light and neutral.  She also uses pattern in small doses but in the appropriate places.  Her mix of traditional and contemporary furnishings is spot on and, speaking of spots, the dog portrait over the mantel is pretty great.

If you look closely, she is only using three colors in combination with neutrals.  Blue, green and pink used in three main areas, walls, fabrics and accessories.  She uses the same colors throughout the house and calms all the bold with a healthy dose of white.  Balance is key!  The whites act as negative space and allows you to visually breathe and enjoy the colors even more.


This image of her breakfast room is my favorite.  The geometric patterned wallpaper gives just the right amount of interest to the walls and is complemented by the fabulous painting that Boyd created.  Little pops of pink and a load of white create a fun and fresh space.  I wouldn't mind eating here everyday.

If you haven't had a chance to look through the Lonny holiday issue click here.  Trust me, it's worth it.


Inspiration - Feel the Love

Oh rooms, how I love thee.  Let me count the ways... 

Subtle, Calm, Fresh, Airy, Natural, Color, Warmth, Clean, Glamorous, Feminine, Light


and my favorite part,

this hallway...


...leads to this bedroom


It makes me smile.  I love the quilt, love the bench, love the cowhide, love the side tables (that you can't see) and can we talk about how much I love, love, love the wall lamps.  Go ahead, I give you permission to stare and bask in it's wonderfulness.  I mean it is Friday, it's not like you're doing anything else productive today.

These images are the ones that stick in my mind but the whole house is featured in this month's House Beautiful and you can go here to see the rest of it.


A Bed for All Seasons

It has finally turned cold here this week.  Last week it was in the 80's, today the 40's.  Gotta love the south.  This sudden change in temperature has prompted me to switch out my summer linens for winter ones and I wanted to share with you my recipe for a super comfortable bed.

The secret to a wonderful bed is layers.  Layers allow you to not only adjust the temperature of the bed but they also make your bed more interesting and beautiful from a design standpoint.  For me, there are four main ingredients for a comfy cozy bed all year long.


  • Sheets - Start with a nice pair of cotton percale sheets with a high thread count.  The higher the thread count the softer and smoother the sheets will be.  However, sheets with a lower thread count will become softer after many, many, many washes.  Go here to learn more about finding the perfect sheets.

  • Blanket -  The blanket is the element that most people leave out but it is the key to the best bed ever.  During warmer months you can use it as your main covering and add an extra one at the foot of the bed and when it is cold just switch out for something a little heavier.  A blanket is also the most important piece of fabric you will ever own if you share a bed with someone.  My husband is very hot natured and I am cold all the time.  The blanket makes our bed comfortable for both of us.  In the summer he sleeps on top of the blanket and I get the comfort of my covers.  During the winter we get to make our own combination of layers that works for each of us.

  • Duvet -  I prefer a feather duvet with a cover over a traditional comforter.  The feathers give a different look and feel then your typical fiber filled comforter.  I like to have it folded at the foot of the bed.  It gives that little touch of luxury that makes you sink into your bed and never want to leave.  During the summer I switch out my duvet with a lighter weight matelasse coverlet.

  • Pillows -  I'm not a big fan of a lot of extra pillows on a bed.  My husband requires three pillows to sleep with so that puts six standard pillows on my queen size bed.  There is no space for shams and 15 throw pillows.  Even for clients I don't usually use shams and I keep throw pillows to a minimum.  I think keeping the pillows simple make the bed more inviting.


The extra stuff including quilts, throws and mattress covers are at your own discretion.  Add them if you like but make sure they serve a purpose.  Remember that the best made beds are the ones that are beautiful in their simplicity. 



My bff Erin just made my day/week/year!  We are going to see New Kids on the Block in June!!!!



I was obsessed with them (I heart Jordan) when I was young and I'm not ashamed to say I have a few of their new songs on my ipod right now.  Erin and I had choreographed dances to all of their songs (we did vanilla ice and paula abdul too) with hopes that we would be discovered and asked to go on tour with them.  Ahh, the dreams of seven year olds.  I can't wait!  And since the concert is a week after my birthday it's the most perfect present ever!  Thanks Erin, I think you just cured my winter blues!


Work with What You've Got - Christmas Mantel

What I have is:
  • one fabulous sunburst mirror
  • two lattice ginger jars
  • three needlepoint stockings
  • four tree branches
  • five Christmas balls (there are more than five but just go with it)

My mantel arrangements are typically very symmetrical.  It's my ocd, I can't help it.  The mirror stays because I like it and I don't have anything else to hang there.  I pulled out my ginger jars again (a tj maxx find from back in the spring) and dressed them up with some red ribbon.  We always get a real tree so I use the branches that get cut off the bottom for some greenery.  Add some Christmas knick knacks and some old ornament balls.  Funny thing about the balls, this is the first year that they have ever been stored in an attic and I guess the heat got to them because it looks like they fogged over on the inside.  It actually looks pretty cool and I was really excited when I pulled them out of the box.  Lastly, the stockings.  These are my favorite part.  The one in the middle is Claire's and is a handmade needlepoint done by my grandmother.  She gave it to Claire for her first Christmas and I hope that one day it hangs on Claire's mantel.  The other two I found when Chris and I first got married at tj maxx (of course).  They have the same handmade look to them which is why I love them so much.

It's simple and whimsical, or so I think.  I would love to do more but my creativity has been severely effected by my bad mood lately. 

So tell me, how do you spice up your mantel for the holidays?


Floor Plan Friday - Glendale

1990 sf : 3 bedroom : 2.5 bath

This looks like your typical all-American home.  I like it, it's simple but still interesting from the outside.  I like the stacked stone they depicted but I would pick a different shutter color.  The inside has a nice layout and only has a handful of things I would change.

Things I like
  • all right angles!  I hate houses that have cut off corners and wonky angles, they are hard to work with.
  • direct line from garage to kitchen (easier for off-loading groceries)
  • good sized bedrooms
  • adequate master closet
  • screen porch
  • mulitple ways to furniture plan (gotta love options!)

Thing I would change
  • the dining room is separated by columns.  I HATE columns!
  • close off the entry to the bathroom from bedroom #3.  why is that bedroom so special?
  • doors going to screen porch from living room or breakfast room not both people

And for those of you feeling froggy, it has an option for a second floor that adds an extra 457 sf.



Good Stuff is Better When it's Free

I love a good giveaway and Bryn knows how to do them right. 
This is what's up for grabs this month.

For a full decription of all the items and to enter head on over to

ps - If any of you win I call dibs on the Jess LC necklace!


Bah Humbug!

I love Christmas, I really do, but this week I have been in such a foul mood I'm ready for it to be over.  I've decided that I would like to live here for the next few weeks and just let the holidays pass me by.


That couch is calling to me!  And maybe with all the natural light I can get my recommended dose of vitamin D and shake these winter time blues.