Well, the Hampton Hostess might have been hanging with William and Kate last week, but remember how Kate practically welcomed me to England (I "ran into" her after I'd been there for all of 14 hours)?

I love looking at other people's houses all holiday'd up. Linda's decorations are refined, unique and restrained. I bet everything she puts out has a story. I love it.

This foraged wreath is to die for. The how-to post is almost as beautiful as the finished product.

This is not at all a very cheery topic, but finally people are starting to learn about options for a green burial. Hopefully this option will become better understood and more accepted in the future. The quicker I become compost, the better.

Justina Blakeney photo via Apartment Therapy

Are you hosting a holiday dinner at your house? Here are some great ideas for decorating your table (note that I have refrained from using the hideous word "tablescape").

Have a great weekend everyone! I've got cookie baking on the brain.


Behold! I bring you tidings of great news!

I got my Christmas tree decorated this week. No pictures to share yet (and frankly, I do the same thing every year on my Christmas tree so it doesn't look much different than in the past), but I will definitely share my pared-down holiday decor with you soon.

Despite the fact that I just got my tree decorated a week before Christmas, I'm actually feeling like I'm in a good place as far as the holidays go this year. I finished my shopping last week and almost everything is at least partially wrapped (I'm doing a little something special as far as wrapping goes this year, so it's a multi-step process). I'm making cookie dough on Friday and my mom and I will be crazy baker ladies on Saturday. We're not hosting anything at our house other than having my parents over for our traditional Christmas breakfast, so there's no menu planning to do. And I scaled way back on decorations. The only real issue I have right now is that there is no star on the top of my tree. When I went looking for it last night I realized it broke last year. The poor thing looks naked so I'll make a little attempt to find one.

Anyway, I wanted to bring you an update on the slowest moving project in history, mostly because the pace of this project is now downright comical. That's right, I have garage pergola news!

A couple weeks ago we got the main beam put up. Hurray!

That sucker is a beast. Although the design of this pergola mimics the pergola on the deck, we thought that it was too small do to the double beam, but since the top pieces (I do not know my pergola terminology) are going to be made from 2x8s, as well as the beam, we decided to make it a double width. That also solved our problem of how to make it long enough (it's 24 feet long).

To make it, we put two 12-foot boards on the front with a seam in the center, and three 8-foot boards on the back side, so that no seams matched up on the front and back. We used construction adhesive and screws to put it all together. I also used a liberal amount of exterior grade wood putty to fill all those screw holes, smooth out the joints and cover the bottom seam that you'll see if you're standing under it. For the top seam that won't be visible, I just used exterior painter's caulk.

Before we put the boards together we cut the detail on the end, then sistered the boards, then used a belt sander to smooth out the the end details so they were nice and even.

And although I didn't have the heart to take a photo, let's just say that if you decide to do a project like this, you're going to want to make sure that you have the ends facing the right way when you make your cuts. When we sistered them, we ended up with one end detail facing up and one facing down. Fortunately the construction adhesive did not dry nearly as quickly as advertised and we were able to pull it apart and remedy the situation.

The next step is to attach the top pieces and then there's a lot of hole filling that needs to be done and touch-up on the solid stain in spring. And with the way this project has been going, I'll probably need all winter to get the rest finished anyway.

Like I said, it's downright comical now.

There's still a Friday Finds coming later today so stay tuned.


I didn't bother to look up the history of the kissing ball, but I imagine it goes something like this: Mistletoe is ugly but people still need an excuse to kiss, so someone invented a ball covered in greens, called it a kissing ball and people started smooching under it.

Works for me.

Anyway, I recently took a class on how to make a kissing ball. Other than a few small tricks that make your life a little easier, this is the biggest no-brainer project ever.

Here's what you'll need:

  1. 4-inch oasis floral foam, really well saturated (overnight or all day).
  2. A chopstick, sharpened pencil, skewer or something else long and pokey.
  3. A 12-inch chenille pipe cleaner, preferably green.
  4. A bit of string, anything will do.
  5. A 1-inch piece of a twig, or a cut from the previously mentioned poking device.
  6. A selection of greens.
  7. A length of pretty ribbon.
I think it's probably easiest to prep everything first, so start by preparing all your greens. You want them cut into about 4-inch lengths, with the end of the "stem" part (the part you'll be sticking into the oasis) clean of needles for at least a half-inch. For the balls we made, we used white pine, port orford cedar and seeded eucalyptus. You can use anything, including flowers. Boxwood would be great and if you really want to guarantee some kisses you could also use mistletoe.

Then take your soaked foam ball (work over a sink or something because this bit is messy) and find the seam and think of it as the equator on a globe. Take your chopstick or pokey thing and stick it through the ball from the north pole to the south pole. If you're using a skinny tool, you may have to wiggle it a little to get a big enough hole.

Then take your chenille pipe cleaner and stick it through the hole. At the bottom of the ball, take your inch-long piece of twig or a cut from your poking device, and wrap a bit of the pipe cleaner around it to create an anchor. Hole up your ball by the other end of the pipe cleaner to make sure it's secure.

On the top of the ball, create a small loop, maybe an inch or so, and twist the rest of the pipe cleaner around the base of the loop.

Take about 8 inches of string and just tie a loop into the small pipe cleaner loop. You'll be cutting this off later so it doesn't have to be fancy; it's just so you don't lose track of the pipe cleaner loop when all the greens are in the ball.

The rest is easy. Starting at the top, stick in your prepared greens. Because we were using several kinds of greens, we started with the white pine as the base, spacing them out about 3/4-inch. Work around the ball, rather on one side, to keep it uniform, and cover the whole ball. Don't forget the bottom.

Then go back and start filling in with the other greens in the spaces you left between the first group of greens. You don't need to cover every last bit of the ball, because you won't see the oasis once it's hanging, but you do want it full. If some extra long greens sneak in there, just trim them off.

We also added a few gold-dipped greens to the very top, but you could also put pinecones or ornaments up there too.

When you're finished, find your pipe cleaner loop and string a piece of pretty ribbon through it, tying it into a loop (as long as you like) with 3-4 inch ends on either side of a square knot. Work the knot under the loop, cut off the piece of string you used as a place holder earlier, and you are finished.

Easy, right? There's no reason not to have a reason to smooch now. You're welcome.

The winner of the Uncommon Goods gift certificate was Laurin, who shared the worst gift she ever received: "The worst gift was from a previous M-inlaw. It was a hideous green and white polyester top that had clearly been on sale! That was well about 35 years ago and I still remember."

Buy yourself something nice with that gift certificate, Laurin. If you wore that top even once, you earned it. 


This is actually getting out so late that Friday Finds has most likely turned into Saturday finds. Either way, here's my (mostly) weekly roundup of cool stuff I found on the Interwebs this week.

Don't forget to enter to win a $50 gift certificate to Uncommon Goods. I'm closing the giveaway on Monday night so the winner has time to use it to finish up their holiday shopping.

I found a new skincare line thanks to my friend and clean-makeup blogger Kate. It's called Antipodes and it's a New Zealand line of products that is organic and clean (check out Kate's youtube channel for info on what makes makeup/skincare clean and why you should care). I will admit, I'm biased toward all things Kiwi because I loved my time there and I love the people there. Kiwis were into organic and clean stuff way before Americans figured it out, so they have a good handle on how to do it right. And I believe that New Zealand skincare tends to be very good because it has to be: the sun down there does damage that you cannot believe so you really have to take care of your skin. I just received my order of a small size of the Vanilla Pod day cream and the Manuka Honey Mask today and I'll let you know what I think after I give it a try.

If you read pretty much any design blogs, you probably saw that the announcement of Pantone's Color of the Year for 2015—Marsala—was met with what could nicely be called trepidation and not-so-nicely be called disdain or mockery. Of course these "color of the year" things are all conjecture and I'm certain the main purpose of them is to get people talking about the Pantone brand, so the cynic in me assumes that was the main reason behind this choice. My opinion is that Marsala is an ugly color and I hope to never have it in my house. My pick would have been navy because not only do I love it, it is everywhere. But that would have been a no brainer and that's why a gross burgundy-brown, dried blood color is the pick.

New House New Home photo

I'm way behind on Christmas stuff this year, so there may be no hope for me, but Heather has a great post on how to not lose your noodle and stay organized at this time of the year.

Loi Tone got a new shipment of vintage lovelies and antiques from Sweden and it's so damn good. Some day I will have to get to his store (I shall start saving now).

Deborah Silver isn't the only one who can make amazing Christmas containers. Check out Debra's (maybe it's in the name) work over at 5th and State.

I love wreaths, and this is a nice round up of oodles of beautiful Christmas wreaths.

That's it for this week, gang. I'm going to kick some serious Christmas butt this weekend: tree, mantel, rest of the house, wrapping presents, cleaning, you name it. By Sunday night, I hope to collapse into a heap of holiday satisfaction and feeling good about the coming week, which is full of parties, activities and more. I hope you all have a great weekend!