simple is beautiful

The Front Door

Monday, November 30, 2009

By René @ Cottage and Vine

Thank goodness for the evergreen shrubbery in our garden.  Not only do I use it during the holiday season, but throughout the year I go outside and take a snip here or there and bring it inside just to add some life to our home.  The holidays really shouldn't make us all crazy running around decorating like mad people, throwing elbows at Micheal's and trying to be the first one in the door on Black Friday.  My goal is to do the simple things that I always do, and have time to spend with family.  That's it.


Keeping decorations simple allows me to spend time doing more important things. Making my own wreaths actually simplifies the holidays for me, and it doesn't take that much time.

Magnolia in the urns, three minutes.

The wreath on the door, 30 minutes.

I love a natural Christmas.

Modern Tablescape

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I recently entered a few pictures in a modern table scape contest with Dwell Studios.

The objective was to use what you had and not to go out and purchase items for the table scape. Do you recognize the wall paper runner from the china cabinet makeover?

My husband was sweet to climb up a ladder  to retrieve the sycamore balls for me.  The other branches are Crepe Myrtles.

 Have fun with your table settings by looking around and using what you have both inside and outside the home.

Embroidered Towels

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

By René @ Cottage and Vine

Most of our creations aren't original, but come from a seed planted by another creative person, planted by the seed of another creative person, planted by...  This seed was planted by Living With Lindsay.  One day I was sniffing around on her blog and found inspiration. Didn't have to look hard.

It has certainly been a long time since I have done any embroidering and when I saw her embroidered towels, I remembered how much I enjoyed it and how easy it is to do.  Thinking that I was prepared with my dollar store flour-sack cloths, embroidery thread and needles, I sat down for a little crafting only to discover that I didn't have a hoop.  Hoops are pretty important, but it was 9:30 and the stores were closed.  You know how we are when feeling crafty.  We do the best we can with what we have and that's what happened last night.

Here is how:

  1. Type a message in Word.  You can play with the font and size to achieve the look you want here.  I used Bradley Hand font sizes 50 & 72.
  2. Lay the pre-washed flour-sack over the piece of paper and trace the letters.  Lindsay recommends using a brown permanent marker.  I used a pencil which was difficult to see.
  3. Next you simply embroider your design.  I'll let Lindsay explain that here.

Burlap Stocking

Sunday, November 22, 2009

By René @ Cottage and Vine

Waiting in the grocery store checkout line is actually a pleasure IF there are magazines.  The other day I was waiting to check out, flipping through the latest greatest, and found a cute idea.  I believe it was in Country Living my apologies for not being certain.  Anyway, the stocking was made of burlap (big buzzword these days) and was stitched around the edges with a contrasting yarn.  I did my best, memory struggles and all, to make my own version (with the addition of the initial).

How to:

  1. draw desired stocking pattern with pencil onto burlap
  2. cut stocking out of two layers of fabric with selvage being at the top edge of the stocking
  3. pin grosgrain ribbon initial in place and stitch around
  4. machine stitch two pieces of fabric together, right side out, turning top down about 1 1/2"
  5. hand stitch around edges using contrasting yarn
  6. attach loop at top using grosgrain ribbon
  7. unravel edges and trim it a bit

    Gift Tags

    Saturday, November 21, 2009

    By René @ Cottage and Vine

    It's the thought that counts right?  Gift tags are inexpensive as it is, so trying to make them more economical is almost lost here.  Giving the tags a personal touch is more what this is about.

    Look for old photos, perhaps from Christmases past, and print them on textured card stock.  For this card I used the sepia feature on Picasa.  Love Picasa.

    Simply punch a hole and add a pretty ribbon.  A nice message can be written on the back.  Easy.

    Thanksgiving Tablescape

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    By René @ Cottage and Vine

    Wishing not to bore you because you have may already seen the Thanksgiving centerpiece, I am linking with  Between Naps on the Porch today.  My apologies to those who have seen these pictures before.  I did add a few new ones to the post today.


    My son doesn't know that all the ladies are looking at him pouring the sweet tea. 

    Moss Covered Reindeer

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    Reindeer make a strong appearance this time every year.  It seems that every store and catalog has one.  They come in many shapes, sizes, and finishes.  Seeing reindeer reminds me of the sleigh full of goodies and paints a child's scene of all things wonderful this time of year.

    My Reindeer
    This reindeer is easy to make.  All you need is a paper reindeer found at craft stores in a variety of sizes.  First I sprayed the antlers with gold spray paint.  Next I glued moss all over (not the bottom) the reindeer with a hot glue gun.  Sometimes I tie a bow around his neck, but this time for a little whimsy, I used grapevine and berries.  When the moss begins to fade it's an easy fix.  Simply mix together food coloring until you have the desired shade of green and spray the food coloring onto the reindeer with a spray bottle.  This goes for any of your moss projects.

    Simply Sweet Boxwood Wreath

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

     Boxwood is one of the most versatile shrubs when it comes to decorating.  It maintains its color long after being cut and rarely sheds a leaf.  I love to use it to make wreaths for our front door that are much fuller than this, but this simple one has found its home here on the pantry door.

    It was easy to make and took less than 30 minutes. Free and easy, gotta love it.

    Bend a clothes hanger into a circle.  Cut the hook off with cutters.  Tape ends together to connect the circle.  Take about 15 cuttings of boxwood like the size above.  You might need more, but this is a start.  I will say that all of the cuttings on this wreath fit in one hand if that helps.

    Next begin wrapping the cuttings snugly with a wire paddle.

    Continue doing this overlapping slightly as you go.

    Once you are finished, step back and look for strays that might be sticking out and trim them.

    Magnolia Wreath Tutorial

    Sunday, November 15, 2009

    By René @ Cottage and Vine 

    Getting together with my mother and making things is one of my favorite things to do.  She is the one who taught me everything I know about wreath making, gardening, and basically all things home.  Every time we get together I walk away with some new tidbit from our time together.

    This time we made a magnolia wreath.  There are many ways you can do it, but today we used magnolia branches.  First we went in search of "just the right" branches.   It is important to look for leaves that are glossy and free of holes.  By the way, if you ever see someone with one foot on a ladder and the other foot reaching for the top of a garbage can, stop that person.  I stopped said person and was told that I was no fun. 

    The next step is what looks like wreath butchering.  Branches go into the wreath form more easily if you poke a few holes in it with a knife. This wreath form happens to be covered with green plastic.  I usually use wreath  forms without the plastic.  There is really no difference when it comes to making a magnolia wreath because the form doesn't show through the leaves.

    Cut your branches to look like this with a 3-4" stem.

    Holding the branch from the top, gently (or forcefully) insert the stem into the wreath.

    Continue inserting stems until you make your way around the wreath.  If you have empty spaces try to fill them in as you go.

    I usually make a magnolia wreath the weekend after Thanksgiving to hang over the mantle.  It stays green until the New Year.  I apologize for the blurry picture...can't blame it on the coffee this time.

    Items used
    • wreath form
    • magnolia branches, around 15 to start depending on the size of the wreath
    • pruners
    • knife for poking holes

    Thanksgiving Centerpiece

    By René @ Cottage and Vine

    If you are like most of us married folk, you celebrate Thanksgiving twice, once with each family.  Today we enjoyed lunch with my family, and after 4 days of steady rain, we were due for a day of nice weather.  Nice it was, with temperatures reaching the mid-70's.  My mother, in her usual festive fashion, made an arrangement that I wanted to share with everyone.  She simply hollowed out a pumpkin, filled it with oasis, then placed a few flowers inside. Branches from the garden filled in the rest.

    My mother is such an inspiration.

    Plant materials used:
    • pumpkin
    • roses
    • alstromeria
    • solidago
    • acuba japonica
    • beautyberry
    • mums

    Molly and Rose (my dog sisters)

    As always, Mom and I couldn't resist the opportunity to make something together.  Look for the Magnolia wreath tutorial on Tuesday's post.

    Ivy Topiary

    Monday, November 9, 2009

    Do you ever have a duh moment?  That's what happened to me the other day when I read the December issue of Martha Stewart Living.  Andrew Beckman shows how to make absolutely gorgeous topiaries and recommends buying hanging baskets of ivy (this was my duh moment).  I never thought to use hanging baskets and so I decided that today was the day to try it.  I must admit, this is definitely the way to go.

    To make 4 topiaries, divide your hanging basket into four equal parts.

    Next place something over the hole in your pot to prevent soil from washing out of the bottom.  I usually keep pieces from broken pots to serve this purpose.
    Next, start potting the ivy.  I add a sprinkle of Osmocote to everything.

    For the forms, I use clothes hangers.  Just tweak them until you have the shape that you want.  I recommend using needle nose pliers to help with this step.  Then press the straightened hook part of the hanger into the soil until it is snug.  Don't worry, it doesn't have to be perfect.  If you want perfect topiary forms, check with your local garden shop.

    Start wrapping the ivy clockwise around the form.  When you get to the end, give it a snip.  Do this until you have finished with all of the long strands.  I usually trim the short pieces that are left over.

    To make the smaller circular topiary (shown below), I used this kind of clothes hanger.  When you take off the cardboard, there are hooks in each end that can be connected with needle nose pliers.
    For the larger topiary, I used two regular clothes hangers, bending them into a triangular shape and placing the bases opposite each other in the pot.  Have I lost you yet?
    Not bad for $15.00 huh?

    Christmas Wreath {For the Garden Gate}

    Sunday, November 8, 2009

    Between the cooler temperatures and the steady supply of inspiration from all of my favorite bloggers, I find it difficult to delay Christmas projects any longer.  Today I decided to dive into my first project, one that requires no more than a grapevine wreath, red spray paint, jute ribbon, and an evergreen branch from the garden.  Easy.

    A Little Flower With Your Cabbage

    One of my favorite plant combinations for fall is pansies and kale.

    Pansies look like little smiling faces and brighten any day.  Hearty as they are, both plants will still be going strong when the bulbs emerge in early spring.  Gotta love that.
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