Thursday, December 3, 2009

Of Lemons and Cow Bells

I have some of the best family ever! Every year a waxy, fresh scented box arrives from the great state of Maine right after Thanksgiving. In it lies Sigrid and Rick's holiday gift - a beautiful fresh spray of ceder, balsam and fir. It's the first thing to go up and immediately puts us in the holiday spirit. The only problem is, it doesn't look like this when we get looks like this....

God bless plastic bells and acetate ribbon, it's not really the look I was going for...and so the doctoring begins. I like to do a little of the unexpected in my holiday decorations. One thing that I've found works well is using citrus fruits. They're inexpensive this time of year, look good with greenery and hold up well. A quick rummage through the kitchen, the backyard and a couple of Christmas boxes and I have everything I need: a few glass Christmas ornaments and some old cow bells (don't ask), a handful of lemons, a few pine cones, floral wire and picks (if you don't have these, you can use a wire hangar cut into pieces instead - just don't tell Joan Crawford), and a decent piece of ribbon (I channel my grandmother and keep every piece of ribbon that comes into the house in a grocery bag in the basement).

Now, take the floral picks and insert them into your lemons, attach the wire to the ornaments and bells and bundle together a few of the pine cones.

Next step, strip the spray of all the old stuff - if there are any decent pieces (like pine cones), hold on to them to add back in later, and then wire in the new pieces. Start with the biggest and keep filling in empty spots with the smaller pieces.

I finish it off with the ribbon and a cluster of pine cones to hide my laziness when it comes to bow making. And we're finished.

Don't forget to spritz any kind of greenery you have with some water every few days - I know that sounds really up tight, but it makes a huge difference to keeping everything from drying up before the big day. Another life saver is the over the door wreath holder, makes hanging things a snap, I always make sure it's on the top of the Christmas box since it's the first thing I look for. And we're finished. Now, we're off to cut down a Christmas tree. That will be an adventure, I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hugs for Sale

Share the love! Hug Tees just arrived in the San Francisco store and on the Web. Who knew love only costs $29.00.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Oh This? I Just Threw it Together

With everyone running out to the grocery store this weekend to fight over cranberries and figure out where they keep the mincemeat, I thought I would try to ease the pressure of hosting Thanksgiving. Here's my trick for whipping together a custom centerpiece using items from the grocery store. This one truly took 15 minutes and looks like I had to order it weeks in advance.

1. Pick out a nice pumpkin or gourd. Keep in mind the size of your table and the color of your plates and napkins. You don't want anything too tall or it will block conversation. I chose a nice green and white round one with a lovely low shape.

2. Head to the floral department and check out their assortment of ordinary prepackaged flower bouquets. Here is an example of where the whole is definitely not better than the sum of the parts. You want to find a bouquet or two that have some interesting flowers mixed in between the carnations and baby's breath and have some duplicates within the bunch instead of the one of everything method. I found two - a bunch of Jade roses which are creme with hints of green and a mixed bouquet that has some of the same colors - green, white and some orange.You'll also need some tape, a knife, a spoon, and a plastic cup.

4. Slice the top off of your pumpkin. Don't cut it in the jack-o-lantern method, but further down, just above half way so you create a bowl. Then scoop out the inside and flatten out the bottom a little.

5. Set the plastic cup inside the pumpkin, trimming the top down if necessary with some scissors so it's flush with the top of the pumpkin. Run the tape across the top of the pumpkin to make a grid. This will hold the cup and your flowers in place.

6. Take your bouquets apart and separate your bounty. Group together the stems by type: the filler greens, those things that have similar colors, those things that have only singles and decide which ones you're going to use. I'm going with all of the green and white choices (okay, not all, those dyed green little mums I'm just throwing out.) and the nice greens. All of the other pieces won't go to waste, but will find their way into little bud vases in the bathrooms or guest bedside table.

7. Starting with the greens, cut them down and place them around the gourd, spacing them out and having them sit relatively flat to create a nice base. Then take the flowers that you've chosen and place them in one by one. As a basic rule, I like to make my overall arrangement about twice as tall as the base - so cut the stems appropriately. Keep turning the pumpkin and adding more flowers until you've created a nice full arrangement. Put in the larger blooms first and then fill in the space with the smaller flowers. Take the top of the pumpkin and lean it up to the base for a casual little - "oh, this, I just threw it together" look.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


In the wake of Hallowe'en, I want to take a moment to salute all of the parents who take time out of their busy days to be imaginative and creative with their children....and a nod to those who do not have the time or sewing skills, but make up for it in dry wit.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Lifestyle Tip: Pumpkins are a great price at the market as of today. Buy plenty and arrange them at your front door, hearth, and landing for Halloween weekend. Come Monday, add a few gourds and you're set for Thanksgiving. Come Turkey day, gather them up and spread them down the center of the table with a few votive candles. You just got 30 days of glamor for 30 bucks.