Sunday, December 11, 2011

Outdoor Winter Urn

It's been a while!

I haven't been kidnapped by aliens...

or living it up in Las Vegas...

I've just been busy with the day-to-day life of three kids and a dog, volunteer commitments - and now Christmas.  Nothing terribly exciting has happened (unless you count Awesome Possum's braces as exciting - I'm sure he doesn't).

I couldn't stand seeing the Hallowe'en post on my blog one day longer, so I thought I would show you my big decorating accomplishment for the last few weeks ;)

Every year my dad brings me an assortment of dogwood, pine, fir and cedar boughs to decorate my outdoor urn.  This year I kicked it up a notch and asked for some birch logs.  They seem to be the trendy thing to add to outdoor displays this year...

... and I'm nothing if not trendy!

My dad always manages to get some branches with pine-cones. I'm not sure what the red berries are - but they are real and they look great.

I still have to add the twinkle lights and since I've got some free time today I might even add some ribbon...

... Las Vegas and the aliens can wait.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Yes - We're THAT House

When it comes to Halloween, we don't do 'cute'.  As a matter of fact, we pride ourselves on being the scariest house on the block... 

... you know...

The Addams Family House

... THAT house...

the one that frightens away more than a few trick-or-treaters. Our 'decorations' are decidedly geared towards braver souls.

Inspired by those old movies that terrified the daylights out of me, this Halloween post will be presented to you in black and white.

Thank you, Mr. Hitchcock.

The House From Psycho
This skeleton hangs in the tree above the sidewalk in front of our house.  We put a few mini spot lights in the branches around him, just to make sure he's seen and appreciated! 

When our kids were younger, they never trick-or-treated at houses like ours. Once Awesome Possum turned 9, he couldn't wait to make Halloween dummies with his dad.

This gangsta dude has been with us for a few years.  He never fails to surprise me - even in daylight.

 'Granny' is a Purplicious creation.

 What happened here?

Rattley bones...

Our graveyard...

Who's over there...  in the background?

I guess the marriage didn't end well.

On Halloween night, our front porch goes from creepy...

... to creeptacular ...

I think there's a rat on the roof!

Did it make you scream?

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Creepy Curb Appeal

We gave the house some creepy curb appeal this week. The big night is a little over a week away and we're getting into the spirit of Halloween!

We freakified the front lawn (which I'll show you in my next post), and spooked up the main entrance of our house.

There is something a little bit chilling about black birds this time of the year.

I don't think I've ever recovered from watching The Birds, and sometimes I still startle myself when I see these ravens sitting in their nest of twigs (an idea I got from a decorating magazine a few years ago).

We don't spend much money on our Halloween decorations - most of them are homemade and reused from year to year.

Are you lookin' at me?

Once I toss the dead annuals from the urn, I gather some sticks, secure them in the soil, and then layer smaller twigs on top.  I perch a pair dollar store ravens on the sturdier sticks, and it's as easy as that.

The nest is a cheap and easy Halloween idea. It takes about 5 minutes to put together, costs under $5.00, and it gets a bunch of compliments!

I love it when Mr. StyleBurb gets into a spray painting frame of mind! He suggested giving our tired-looking gold Christmas wreaths....

... the Halloween treatment.

The wreaths look perfectly eery now that they're painted black.

Pumpkins and corn stalks finish off this part of our Halloween house.  I can't wait to show you who has been creeping around the front lawn!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Autumn In A Jar

This is another fall display I really should have photographed earlier...

 ... because those adorable little white pumpkins don't enjoy being trapped in their glass prison.  (I have cleverly positioned the pumpkins so that you can't see the brownish spots.)

This is the first time I've put these mini white pumpkins in my apothecary jar.

Live and learn.

It was very easy to put together this fall display.  I used leftover Christmas nuts (I can't believe I kept them!) for the base...

... added in pine cones, the little white pumpkins, and fake fall foliage.

The great thing about faux plants and leaves is that they don't start rotting just when you want to take some attractive pictures.

The apothecary jar sits on this table in my front hall and I have fun changing it for the seasons.

Since Halloween is right around the corner I don't mind changing the display a bit early.  I have some bones and rats that I can use as filler.

Fake bones and fake rats, that is.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Neutral Fall Mantel

I planned to show off my neutral fall mantel about two weeks ago....

.... but sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men often get put on the back burner because life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

Or something like that!

Usually I'm all about color when it comes to decorating for autumn. I had given the family room a mini makeover in the spring by adding lots of white accessories, so this year I felt I needed to keep the mantel neutral and natural.

I began by filling an old brass and glass vase with some branches cut from the crab apple tree in my front yard. I bought the vase 20 years ago from Bombay Company.  Thank goodness I rarely throw out anything that's home decor related. I knew I'd need it one day.

Hmmm...  I think I may have heard that exact phrase used on Hoarders once or twice.

I copied Pottery Barn's styling trick of turning hardcover books around so that you can see the pages and topped the stack of books with a few small brass pumpkins.

I kept the existing hurricane lanterns and flanked each end of the mantel with a faux/fake white pumpkin...

... and filled in the blank spots with some of those cinnamon scented pine cones.

Once October rolls around I like the house to have a full and layered look. Layers in the fall are like a piece of pumpkin pie....

.... good on its own, but even better with whipped cream!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How Do You Like Them Apples!

I really enjoy the fall season, but its arrival always seems to sneak up and bite me in the behind. One day it's a balmy summer afternoon and the next it's downright chilly and there's frost on the pumpkins....

... not that I've got a pumpkin patch. Or even a pumpkin at this point.

I've been a bit slow to get my fall decorating groove on - just haven't felt the motivation.  But yesterday's visit to the apple orchard was just the thing I needed to get my head around the fact that fall officially begins in just a few days.

We're lucky to have a number of apple orchards within a 15 minute drive, and yesterday was perfect apple picking weather.

McIntosh were on the left, Delicious were on the right.

The trees were full of apples, and we barely had to reach for them.

... a little bit closer...

... got it!

McIntosh apple 'before'

McIntosh apple 'after'

Can you believe that there are 7,500 different apple varieties world-wide.

We came home with dozens and dozens of apples and a few other goodies.

The candy apple got eaten; the pumpkin pie and caramel apple pie are gone now too. The caramel apple pie was so good!

For a little while the apples will have a decorative role in the house.  I knew this bowl would be perfect for apples in the fall!

I guess I'll be making apple muffins, apple crisp, apple pies, apple oatmeal, apple butter, apple pancakes etc. over the next few weeks!

How do you like your apples - straight up, baked in a pie, diced into muffins or covered with red candy coating?

As of yesterday, my new favorite way to eat apples is baked in a pie with caramel filling!


Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I know... it's not January 1st, but that date has always seemed like a false new year to me.

To me, the day after Labor Day - when summer unofficially ends, and people head back to school or ease back into their routines - is the real New Year.

Tomorrow is my kids' first day back at school after nine weeks of summer vacation.  The start of a new school year brings a fresh sense of potential, optimism, and the wonder of what's to come.  The beginning of fall is all about New: new grades, new beginnings, new teachers, new friendships, new clothes, new pencils....

When you're a kid, "back to school" can be the ultimate do-over.

As much as I'm excited for my kids, and looking forward to getting back into a routine, I think many parents will agree that this is a bittersweet time of the year. A new grade is a reminder that our children are a little bit closer to growing up and leaving home.  That's the whole idea of parenting, after all.

Confession: I'm the mom who got all teary when I dropped my little kids off on their first day of kindergarten.

I've never felt like crying on the January 1st New Year's holiday (well, at least, not for the same reasons as the post Labor Day new year), so this must be a special season!
Whether you are headed back to school, or back to routine, I wish you health and happiness for this new year!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Brownie Pops For Cheaters

I fully expected this post to be titled "Brownie Pop Fail", but I had to come up with a new title when my Brownie Pops actually looked pretty cute, and more importantly, didn't fall off the stick.

I can't believe I made these!

I've been fascinated by these adorable little desserts on a stick for a long time; I mean Martha Stewart makes Cake Pops.

Cake Pops are even available at Starbucks.  Starbucks sells these little guys for almost $2.00 each (including tax), which must mean they're pretty special and difficult to make.  Right?

So I felt that the odds were stacked against me when I decided, on a whim, to make my own - with Purplicious as my trusty sidekick.

I visited Bakerella and Martha Stewart for instructions and tips on making Cake Pops.  

Since I was convinced that my Brownie/Cake Pops were going to be a disaster, I decided to cheat and use store bought brownies and canned Betty Crocker frosting as the basis for my treats... that's just how I roll.

This is how I made easy (but not quick) Brownie Pops:

  • I tossed half of a 1.34 kg (3 lbs) container of Two Bite Brownies (the kind you find at Costco) into my food processor and whizzed them until they were crumbled.

  • In a separate bowl I added about half a container of Betty Crocker chocolate frosting to the crumbled brownies and mixed them together until the texture resembled truffles.

  • Next we rolled the mixture into balls and placed them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

  • I dipped a candy stick into melted chocolate and stuck that end into the ball. Everything went into the freezer for a couple of hours while Purplicious went for a swim.

Decorating was messy, but fun in a very frustrating sort of way.

Purplicious helping out.

  • I melted some good quality chocolate coating and spooned it over the frozen Brownie Pops. Because the pops were cold I was hoping that the chocolate would set fairly quickly, but it dripped when we were adding the toppings. That was messy!

  • Once all the Brownie Pops were chocolate coated and decorated I put them back in the freezer for an hour or so to set.

I didn't have anything prepared to stand them upright, but I guarantee you those little brownie balls didn't move.

I'm very proud of my chocolate and white marbled Brownie Pop.

Our favorite combinations were white chocolate coated with coconut and dark chocolate coated with peanuts.

I made them again last weekend (using the same shortcuts) for my sister-in-law's birthday. I was concerned that maybe I had beginner's luck with my first batch and that her guests would end up with melted chocolate in their laps.  I almost melted with relief once I knew they turned out.

Mr. StyleBurb made a grown-up version of these Brownie Pops by adding some rum into the mix....

... now that was a good treat!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Killing Weeds

We just returned from another fabulous, sun-filled week at the beach.

While we've been busy having fun, so too have the weeds growing in between the bricks of my interlocking walkway.  It puzzles me that only a few feet away the grass is singed from heat and drought and yet these blasted weeds are growing as though they've been doused with top grade fertilizer.

These weeds have really gotten out of hand!

Truth be told, I don't mind the singed grass all that much because it means I don't have to mow the lawn.

But I definitely mind the weeds.
Our area has banned the cosmetic use of herbicides and pesticides, so we have to use natural ways to get rid of the weeds. I was complaining to my friend about my weed/interlocking problem and she gave me the greatest, easiest tip on how to get rid of them:

Boiling water

That's it, that's all!

These weeds were doused with boiling water about 2 hours ago:

After a few days the weeds were dead. I did my best to shoo away any ants before I poured the hot water.

Of course, you shouldn't try to kill the weeds in your flower beds or veggie garden using this method, but it definitely works on brick and concrete.

Weeds a few days after the boiling water treatment.

At this point you can just brush the dead weeds away.

It's better if you don't let the weeds get established in the first place, as I have done, but some things are more important than weeds!