Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Life of the Mantel

Not quite ready for summer decorating, but need to add a little 'life' to your mantel?   Try this tip . . . display a large plant (such as a philodendron) in style using a low container such as the Viridian Oval Container I've shown here.  It is the easiest way to bring life to a space.  I countered the weight on the opposite side of the mantel with two flipped Hemingway Hurricanes (a la cloches).  One hurricane is placed on a pedestal to vary the heights and add interest. Starfish hint of seasons to come, and the Amira Luminary and Annabelle Votive give a welcome glow. 
I used the Hemingway Hurricanes as cloches along my Spring Dining Room Table as shown here.
The Willow House Hemingway Hurricane has a unique hollowed base to use for a candle, flowers and other adornments. I used mossy goodness to secure the candle and greenery to the top (which is actually the base of the hurricane).  The Trilogy Mirror makes an excellent base for the 'cloches'.  I created the nest from burlap scraps adorned with reindeer moss and dried flowers (and speckled eggs of course). 
If you like the classic approach to hanging a mirror above your mantel - perhaps try it with a twist, as I have done with our Trilogy Mirrors.  Super simple to duplicate, I promise!  This example uses four sets of Trilogy Mirrors to create a compelling pattern that became a focal point in the room.   My living room mantel (top photo) displays 3 sets (9 mirrors for a squared off design, and because I like the number 9).
Hanging multiple mirrors can seem frustratingly tricky — that is, until you learn our easy trick. Read on for instructions on creating a grid ... without losing your cool.
Photo courtesy of
1. Create a paper template — We used craft paper, but you can use any paper that's large enough to cover the area you're designing. Try butcher paper or wrapping paper if that's what you have on hand.  I personally like to use the wrapping paper that comes with a grid on the back. 
2.  Arrange your frames on the paper — Keep working and measuring until the pattern is exactly how you like it.
3.  Mark for hardware — Carefully lift and make an "X" under each mirror's hardware where the nail should go.

Photo courtesy of

4. Tape your template to the wall — We used masking tape to keep it stable. Make sure it's straight!  This is where the grid on that wrapping paper comes in really handy!
5. Hammer nails directly through your template and into the wall.
6. Once nails are secure, carefully pull the template off the wall.
Photo courtesy of
7.  Hang mirrors on the nails.
8.  Stand back and enjoy!
This method is perfect for a gridded wall display that relies on perfect symmetry, but you will also use it when we hang a grouping of picture frames: Use the steps listed above, but instead of cutting one large template, make several by tracing and cutting out the shape of each frame. Use masking tape to attach the templates to the wall, and keep moving them around until you're happy with the arrangement. Then just hammer nails through the templates, remove the paper, and hang your frames!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Prep for Shake-Down

We are preparing to prepare for a garage sale.  Ugh. 
I am a thrifty shopper.  I love a bargain.  I especially love to share bargains with my friends, family and customers.  So why do I hate garage sales?  I don't think I am alone here.  I know a LOT of people hate garage sales.  More men than women, but a LOT of people just the same.  My husband is on board with this.  I know, I am surprised, more surprised than you (especially since I am not even sure if you know him . . . anyone reading this? :)   Back to the reason why I dislike (nicer word than hate, I have an elementary school child, I know) garage sales.  Oh there are so many and I am sure I will leave out most of them.  Perhaps the main reason is I price very low (as you should) but no matter how low, the person who wants it wants to only pay half of what it is marked at.  Seriously?  Is there a garage sale bargaining correspondence course I am not aware of?  You're right, I need to just let it go, literally.  Price it.  Reduce it. Sell it.  hmmmm . . . t-shirt idea?

Of course, just as soon as I pumped myself up, I read an article about selling on-line (thanks all you) that makes me want to jump off the garage sale ship (S.S. Misery) altogether.  But that route takes a lot of daily work.  I just want it to be  O V E R  W I T H.   Okay, I'll admit, there may be a few select items that will be set aside for a possible on-line sale . . . which I will probably take to Half-Price Books when the moon is full.

I have sales, but not garage sales.  I have what is referred to in the retail business as 'Sample Sales'.  Selling off the product 'samples' that I no longer need to run my business.  I have done these sample sales twice in any given year, and they are very successful.  I price the products low, believe me.  I suppose the big difference is the expectation.  On my part. I am selling very quality products at below market value price at my Sample Sale.  I am selling above garage sale quality, or at least my interpretation of garage sale quality, products at gut-wrenching prices.  And again, this is where I need to let go.

So what camp do you find yourself in?  Personally, I have always leaned towards loading up my trusty Tahoe and heading over to Goodwill, G.R.A.C.E. or the Helping Hands truck at our church.   I think the only reason I am entertaining the idea of it now is . . . (a) my sweet hubby saw the stack of paint chips I have gathered to repaint hmmmmm the majority of the house (interior) and he felt compelled to inquire (don't blame him there!) and offered to help . . . (b) my hubby saw our neighbor literally dancing in her cleaned out garage a few weeks back and he wants in on some of that action (ahem . . . to clarify, my husband wants a clean garage, the freedom to dance within the space and the money she earned from her garage sale).  Better?

Okay, so I guess my husband's offer to help is really pushing me in the direction of doing a sale, otherwise I would drop the goods off, pull out a credit card and buy the paint & supplies (thereby get after it!).   I better get busy.  I am sure no matter what the outcome is, I am sure my Tahoe will be loaded with Goodwill Goodies prior to and after the sale.  Because there are some things that I am just not willing to slap a price on and expect people to pay for.  Clothes and half-full bottles of mouthwash are just two of them!  Have you seen the trailer for the Will Ferrel flick I'm referencing, 'Everything Must Go'?  Yep, get rid of all your 'stuff' and You're Gonna Feel GREAT!

Want me to let you know when the sale is?  You should - I've got a lot of great stuff :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Barbed Wire Family Ties

HOWDY!  Get'n ready for an Old Fashioned Family BBQ round these parts and got to look'n for a way to display some family pictures on the buffet table.   I thought about stringing up some barbed wire and using clothes pins to hang pictures from it.  I even ran across this realistic barbed wire cord from Oriental Trading Company, so I wouldn't have to use the real thing (and risk boo boos).  This cording is soft, pliable and only $4.99, so not too bad.  I originally used it for a Cowgirls & Caviar Party I hosted - FUN!
barbed wire cording
I liked the idea, but really didn't have a decent way of hanging up the barbed wire cord, and besides I really needed a centerpiece of sorts on the buffet table.  I soon found my inspiration with our Avalon Accent Trees.
Avalon Accent Trees, set of 2 from Willow House
They were the perfect height, and I loved the pattern and style.  I have added a bundle of twinkle lights to them in the past and clipped Christmas cards along the swirls for a fun holiday accent.  I knew they would be great as a centerpiece to display a few family pics.  It was the color I wasn't so sure about.  The Avalon Accent Trees lean toward elegant, and this was a rustic affair, fit for a saloon, not a country club.  What I really needed was a rustic tree to hang our photos from . . . So I decided to spray paint the trees to give them the look of my barbed wire.
love the spay nozzle - Thanks Rust-o-leum!
I must say how much I love the new spray nozzles from Rust-o-leum.  I've been spray painted for decades and the nozzle always did a number on your finger, including turning it a different color.   So a big THANK YOU to them for giving us hope that it is possible to use a can of spray paint without injury!  For this project I used Espresso Brown.  I ended up doing a few coats, letting them dry about a half hour between. Flipping them over, turning them around, until I painted them inside and out.
Lovely emerald green towel huh?
The color is actually darker than it appears in this cruddy shot, but I hope you get the idea.  After giving the new brown trees a chance to loose some of their fumes outside, I brought them in to sand them down a bit with a fine grit sandpaper (on top of my ugly green towel leftover from my college days).  This would remove the paint on the embossed pattern, letting some of the original gray pain from the tree poke through - which would mimic the barbed wire.  The finish result was much more to my liking.
Love the bits of silver peeking through!

Now, all I had to do was gather my pictures, some clips to attach them with and put it all together.  I loved the idea of incorporating a few bandannas into our buffet set up, and I wanted to add a pop of color to this display to tie it all together.  I ended up using small strips of bandannas and gluing a piece onto one side of each small clothes pins (not mini, but small :).  I used fabric glue, but any tacky glue would work.
The fun part came next!  Picking some fun family photos from the history books and putting the display all together.  One of the first rules of setting up a buffet table is adding interest by elevating several dishes to create levels, and I wanted to add extra height to this centerpiece so it wouldn't go unnoticed.  I absolutely love using the Parisian Ottoman Tray, and felt the intricate metal cut outs would be great with the western theme.
Parisian Ottoman Tray from Willow House♥
Makes a cool cake stand too!

I just needed to flip the tray - now, I got my added height and enhanced the design of my display to boot!  I top the tray base with a round sea grass place mat that I picked up at Pottery Barn a while back.  I love to add texture to the base of a large vase by placing it on top of the place mat.  In this instance the place mat mimics rope. 
No display of mine is complete without a little candlelight, so I added one of our adorable Drake Firefly Lanterns.  I placed a strip of a red bandanna around the glass tea light holder for a pop of color and I love how the candle light glows through it (not sure if you can pick up on that here).  I dabbed a bit of glue to keep the fabric in place.
Until it is time for the family shindig I have placed the display on top of a wine cabinet within my foyer.  I added one of my favorite pictures of my little cowpoke (when he was 3) to the display to really make me smile.
I love incorporating family pictures in any family gathering.  I think they encourage story-telling, or story exaggerating (which is most often the case in my family).   It is a wonderful blessing to be able to share fun, thought provoking details of our childhood and family history with our kids.  It keeps the memory of our departed loved ones alive, plus, I believe the details of these moments will remain within our children's hearts.
To keep me from being as lonely as a preacher on pay night, let me know what you think!  How do you like to incorporate family photos into your décor?  Any family stories you're willing to share? : )

Linking to TDC's Before & After Party and
Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Olé! ☼ It's Fiesta Time!

Everyone (especially those over the age of 21), loves Cinco de Mayo . . . Who doesn’t love the perfect excuse to gather with friends, chow down on some tasty Mexican food, and sip the single most festive drink around — margaritas!  No need to travel to Cancun to celebrate,  How about su casa? Here are some refreshing tips to get the party started.
Número Uno ► a fiesta is all about food, fun and plenty of cold, tasty beverages. Traditional libations always include fresh lime margaritas.  Our Savannah Beverage Server is the perfect self-serve container for you.  Margaritas will pour out, avoiding a long line at the beverage station. 
Our large Parisian Luminary is the perfect dispenser for 16oz Solo Cups, because let's admit it, as much as I would love to have everyone dancing around with a margarita glass, if the party is outside, I'll go with easy and tossable ware.
Número Dos ►Of course you'll offer ice-cold Mexican beer (a sure-fire fiesta favorite) served with a squeeze of lime.

Look for imported soft drinks (try the international foods section of your grocery store). They’re available in a rainbow of colors and everyone loves trying a new refreshment. Serve them on ice in any of our Entertaining Buckets, or a set of our Zoe Organizing Buckets shown :).

For your margaritas (skinny, virgin or traditional) be sure to have a bucket (or Hawthorne Trifle) full of ice nearby. Your guest can serve themselves, just add a scoop, and a few frozen cranberries for a PoP of Color!  There are mucho margarita recipes out there, so experiment with something new, like one of these from Southern Living.

Don't forget the rimmers! Traditional margaritas include a ring of salt around the rim (yum) but consider colored sugars if your Savannah Beverage Server is dispensing limeade :)
My personal crowd favorite margarita recipe is what is considered a Beer-ita, check out the recipe on my website here.

Número Tres ►  Put a little whimsy at your serving station.  Party warehouse stores offer furry mustaches (99¢ each at Party City) and sombreos (2 for $3.99) and fiesta flags (18' for $3.99) that will add instant flare to your fiesta.

Número Cuatro ►Consider adding a pitcher of fruity sangria. House your Ruffled Glass Pitcher in our Large Rosedale Plant Holder burried within your Party Bucket. The plant holder will keep the ice at bay each time the pitcher is pulled out, and the sangria will stay ice cold (with no worries of watering it down).

Sangria is a delicious treat for thirsty adults. But for kids, a second pitcher of “virgin sangria” fruit punch is a must-sí.

Have a blast this Cinco de Mayo, or anytime you fiesta . . . but please remember to party responsibly!

Make Mom's Day

Moms are waaay too special to celebrate with just a standard just down dinner.  Instead, throw together a day mom will never forget!  Make it an intimate family get-together, or extend the invitations to get several of your friends involved.  Either way, everyone will have a great time, and Mom will know she is loved.

Garden Party ▬
Ask most mom's want they want for Mother's Day and you'll hear the response, "I just want to spend it with my family.  I don't need anything else."      Honor this classic reply with a simple garden party.  Just a clean, manicured backyard lawn makes a pleasant backdrop for any outdoor gathering.  Add a few niblets (bring out mom's favorite recipes perhaps?) a great tea or punch recipe, and decorate with family and friends.  Send guests home with a seed packet as a thank you for coming.

Mom's Brunch Bunch ▬
Make mom's day extra special when you and your friends host a joint Mother's Day celebration.  Entertaining often gets lost in the wake of our fast-paced lives, and no-one would appreciate a gracious setting filled with hospitality more than mom.

Start by calling some friends and asking if they would be interested in bringing their mom and a single dish to as part of this easy buffet-style brunch.  Decorations can be as simple as colorful flowers in ceramic pitchers and fruit stacked in glass vases.  Everyone should be encouraged to tell loving, or funny, stories of their childhood and sipping a favorite beverage and nibbling on finger sandwiches.  Everyone will have such a great time, this may become your new Mother's Day tradition.

Barbecue ▬
A laid-back and casual barbecue is a great way to celebrate Mother's Day, especially if you have lots of special ladies who you want to celebrate.  Two words - MEN COOK!
Hamburgers and hot dogs outside on the grill make an easy main course, but your options for grilling are nearly endless. Ask everyone to bring a side dish -- except mom, of course. This way, you don’t have to worry about planning the whole menu. Outside festivities mean you won’t have to get your house spotless beforehand, and paper plates and plastic cups make cleanup a breeze.

Intimate Family Picnic ▬
C'mon guys, anyone can pull this thoughtful celebration off.  Just keep it simple. Pack a loaf of bread, some assorted cheeses, fruits and chocolate for a nice yet easy meal.

You can also whip together some great picnic sandwiches with meat and cheese from the deli and butter croissants. Add in some fruit and some gourmet chips and you are set to go. Take along some games or activities you can do as a family like a frisbee, kites or softball and bat. Make it fun and keep it lighthearted.

Whatever you decide to do for Mother’s Day, just do it from your heart and make sure Mom knows how much you love and appreciate her.

What am I doing?  I'll be at the stadium watching the Rangers beat the Yankees with several thousand of our closest friends!  And it will be magical!  I know my mom will be rooting them on in spirit! ♥

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The perfect ▬ and the perfectly affordable ▬ Mother's Day Gift!

What you have are good intentions.  What you need is help!  The best approach for you would be a thoughtful gift any mom would love.  Trust me, and let me offer you a few suggestions based on what you already know about your dear mother.   First tell me a little bit about her . . .
What is your mom's idea of fun?
Does it include browsing a makeup counter, salon, or jewelry store ▬ preferably with someone else's credit card?
If so, let me suggest the Amelia Beaded Tray and Trio. The clear glass will add a sparkle to her vanity, and your mom loves her baubles (she even believes in the healing power of lip gloss).  She may also like the Sutton Vanity Set, because the finial on these lids is too cute (trust me, she'll think so too). 
or perhaps our gorgeous set of Soda Glass Containers to add a bubbly glow to her personal spa.
Then again if your mom would prefer catching a marathon of cooking shows, then I would suggest any piece from our amazing Hyacinth Collection. 

Maybe she makes everything from scratch.  Maybe not.  But her kitchen is cozier than most people's homes and there's always something good (translation: non-moldy) in the fridge.  You might want to thank her for pushing you to try, try again ▬ only after burning those first batches did you understand the sweet reward of getting it right.

Hmmmm . . . Perhaps your mom would prefer to be out planting, pruning, re-rooting ▬ or whatever it is moms do to gardens.  Your's too?  I suggest we go with any one of our outdoor living line of products.

Perhaps you often refer to her as 'Mother Nature'.  She knows how to attract songbirds and ward off mosquitos.  Plus she loves to serve drinks on the patio.  One question, when can I meet her?   Besides, isn't she the one who is always telling you to 'go outside and get some fresh air'?

Then again, if your mother's idea of fun is rearranging her collection of photos, decorative accessories intermingled with your 3rd grade craft projects, she may keep and display everything!  And lucky for you, there are easy ways for you to display your gratitude.
For instance, our fabulous Villa Footed Server
or Villa Petite Pedestal
▬ either one will be adored by her (just like you!). 

Of course you could never go wrong with the Caitlin Standing Cross.  Wonderful weight to this cast iron piece, a treasured piece for sure.

A beautiful serving tray (like our Parisian Ottoman Tray) is a very thoughtful gift.  Mom can personalize it by placing photos of you during your awkward phase underneath the glass (p.s. mine was between the ages of 12 to 31).  Awwww, so special.   A tray is a must have for the coffee table.  You know, to keep your dad's 7 remotes in check.    
Perhaps your mom is a woman after my own heart.  Her idea of fun consists of two words:  Par, Tay.
She's fun. She's generous. And she's always hosting something.  Maybe she'd like a little help?  No worries, I'm not asking you to tie on a cute apron, besides when you do attend one of her parties, she says "Don't just stand there. Mingle!".   I was thinking more along the lines of our Savannah Beverage Server or a must have party bucket!

Plus, I bet she will let you borrow them on occasion . . . but only if you return them in the same condition she lent them to you in : )

So tell me, do you see your mom in any of these gifts we both know she'll love?  I thought so.  She didn't raise a fool.

Monday, May 2, 2011

a-MAY-zing Deals during May Days!

Stock your gift closet with a little help from my Willow House MAY DAYS Sale. Save up to 50% on more than 30 items. Save even more with your host and customer discounts! Great gifts for moms, dads, grads and brides ▬ so be sure to take a look.

I strongly believe that good design should be accessible and affordable to everyone, and I know we all love a good deal. I am proud of the amazing deals my online store offers every single day! So don't forget to check out the Willow House outlet available within my online store.