Thanksgiving decor, pt. 2 & Friendsgiving 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Ok we’ve got a few more days but I got my Thanksgiving started early when we had our first “Friendsgiving” yesterday.  It was a great time.  I think it’s the first time we really had a party at this apartment.  We got to break in our new Ikea table, eat lots of food, play games, and hold a very high-stakes pie contest.

I completed my Thanksgiving decorating prior to Friendsgiving.  First we made and hung the Thanksgiving banner, and then I decorated the “mantle” (i.e. floating shelf over the TV), and table, and some other areas. I got these turkey salt and pepper shakers on sale at Michael’s for a couple dollars.  We certainly did not need any more salt and pepper shakers, and the print was sort of obnoxious, so I decided to cover them in…something.

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Against my good judgment, I decided to cover the first one in gold glitter. As always, that was a messy and frustrating disaster.  I continued down that path until it was all the way covered, but decided to NOT USE GLITTER EVER AGAIN after that (ok, I have said that many times and I cant seem to dump glitter completely, except for all over myself). IMG_3215

I had this gold nail polish I got for free in something, so I decided to cover the second turkey in that.  MUCH better. It took a couple minutes, no mess, and I also think it looks better. Lesson learned.

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Much to my delight, I found two of these concrete Smith and Hawken turkeys at Target in the clearance section for $6 each.  They would be perfect for the table! IMG_3250

I sprayed them with a flat paint to brighten them up a little bit, and then decided to try my hand at gold leaf. I don’t know if it’s because gold leafing is difficult, or because gold leafing an uneven concrete surface is difficult, but I got as far as gold leafing the beaks and gave the hell up. Good enough!

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Then I went to Trader Joe’s where I had previously obtained a whole lot of small pumpkins for my Halloween decor.  Unfortunately, finding pumpkins AFTER halloween is no easy task.  All they had left were some medium-sized “tiger” pumpkins that were cream colored and striped with either green or orange…not exactly matching my decor.  I got some high gloss white spray paint and painted them all and put them in the hurricane. tada!

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The next thing I did was decorate the shelf over our TV.  I also decorated this shelf for Halloween a month earlier. I was kind of at a loss as to what to do, and honestly I have no idea what I am doing with artificial/dried flowers/plants. Michael’s was having a 70% off sale on the fall-themed dried and artificial flowers by late October, so I grabbed a few in yellow, orange, and purple colors and figured I would figure something out.  I also got a 5′ strand of battery operated “Starry String Lights” in amber from Restoration Hardware.  Don’t you just love these?! I may get more in the silver color for Christmas.

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I also held on to a few of my Halloween Trader Joe’s pumpkins that were still in ok shape, got a roll of burlap at Michael’s, put some stuff in my apothecary jars and also added the painting I did at Cheers to Art recently.  Do you have a place like this in your city? Basically you and a bunch of your friends go paint a painting according to step-by-step instructions by someone while you drink wine. What a great idea.  Anyway, so the colors sort of matched the decor so I threw it in there, too.

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I am really loving burlap as a “trend” right now.  It’s neutral and cheap and you can use it for a million different things.

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IMG_6951The other day I was wandering around Ikea and saw these little square fall-colored Fyrkantig candles and candleholders at Ikea. 
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I also loved these Thanksgiving Printables from TomKat Studio.  I have Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, so I made my own “Happy Thanksgiving” sign similar to the one they have available, and bought some super-cheap 3- and 4-packs of plastic frames at Big Lots.  IMG_6955 IMG_6960

Much of what I found to decorate the table and the buffet table, just like everything else, was decided based on what I already had and what was cheap and/or on sale at places like Michael’s, Big Lots, Home Goods, Ikea and Target. I just wanted everything to have the black, white, gold, silver, purple, orange and golden yellow colors that I put on the shelf.

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I found these great serving ware dishes at Big Lots for I think maybe $9 each, and three 4-packs of the white placemats for $6 a set.  I also found this burlap runner at Michael’s – a few yards for less than $10…I could cut it to the length of the table and it actually fits, versus all the table runners I found which were upwards of $40, $50+ and not even remotely long enough for the table. NO THANKS! I found the napkin rings and napkins at Homegoods, and got a bread basket at Ikea and used some black and white kitchen towels from Target that I’ve had for a couple years and haven’t ever used for anything.

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I made a couple different deviled eggs recipes and they were pretty good. I got these deviled eggs with goat cheese and proscuitto recipe from Food and Wine magazine (also available online), but took out the sour cornichons.  I got the Paula Deen’s loaded deviled eggs recipe here.  I also got the apples on horseback recipe from Food and Wine (here).  They were really good and super easy! I wrapped 16 slices of Manchego cheese/Fuji apple with panchetta, stuck them on some metal skewers, sprayed some foil with cooking oil and grilled them on the grill for a few minutes on each side.  I wanted appetizers that you could make without using the stove or oven since my boyfriend was busy with the turkey and other things…they were so easy and very good! I took them off the skewers and stuck them with toothpicks.  I got the roasted garlic and rosemary pumpkin hummus recipe here.   I made more labels, also inspired by the TomKat Studio post.

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I got a crockpot mulled cider recipe here.  It was so good and smelled even better! I also found this cute Pilgrim Rum picture online and swapped it out for the Bacardi Gold label…I didn’t want to make the cider alcoholic, so if somebody wanted it to be, they could just add as much rum as they wanted…and had cinnamon sticks as the stirs. 🙂

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And finally, I bought a couple chargers and a few candles at Michael’s and decorated them with some leftover twine.  My boyfriend really likes to go all out with things (for better or for worse, haha!) so his turkey was no exception.  We got a fresh turkey from the local Tewes Farm and did a dry brine on it for two days.  Then he wrapped it in bacon on Friday night and slow-roasted it at about 225 degrees for over 12 hours.  He had to get up every few hours to baste it.

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Last but not least, we held out First Annual Friendsgiving Pie-Off.  There were five entries.  I attempted to make some gluten-free, low carb “crustless pumpkin pies” in cupcake cups…Ugh! Haha.  I don’t recommend it (not that I thought they’d turn out great).

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We got this medal online for $5 with free engraving, plus shipping. Not bad!! IMG_3293 IMG_6981

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Overall it was really fun.  We are looking forward to doing it all again next year! 🙂

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Thanksgiving decor, pt. 1

I hope everyone had a happy Halloween!  I can’t believe it’s already November. Halloween was uneventful for me this year. There wasn’t a trace of Halloween present in my office, I had no costume, I attended no Halloween events or parties, and did not have one drop of candy. I did, however, decide at about 10 pm that evening to pull my old dog Jenny’s Old Navy bumblebee costume out of storage and put it on my dog Ella just long enough to point and laugh at her and get a picture…it’s so funny how sad and catatonic dogs get when you put them in a costume….lucky for her, she was only in it for a couple of minutes:

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Despite my deep, burning desire for a reclaimed wood dining table, I figured I wasn’t going to throw down $1000 or more on a new dining room table any time soon, but at the same time, our small blonde wood 4-person table was too small for the space, looked a little too yellow in that room, and wouldn’t get us through the holiday season.  I ended up getting the Ikea Bjursta table in black brown.  At $250, and seating for up to ten people with the leaves inserted, it is a bargain.  I also picked up some Ikea Soaré placemats since they are cheap and very fall-ish.

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We are having a “Friendsgiving” on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and then having some of my family over for Thanksgiving, so a decent table was a must.  We had 6 chairs already that matched our small table, so we’re holding on to those for the time being.  The cost of chairs can add up, especially when you want 6-10. We also really can’t decide on a style of chair…SO, in the mean time, we will just use the ones we have.

I’ve also been picking up a few decor items at Homegoods lately. AHHH I love that store! Everything is so cheap. I got a couple leaf dishes and apothecary jars on my last visit. I really don’t know why you’d go to a department store and buy an apothecary jar for $35 when they always have the exact same ones at Homegoods for $12.   This is my first year accumulating fall/Thanksgiving decor…hopefully in a few years I’ll have enough for a decently decorated house!

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One thing I’ve seen a lot of on the PInterestsphere is fall and Thanksgiving-themed banners, such as these and this one and this one.  Back in the day when I thought that I might possibly enjoy scrapbooking, I accumulated quite a bit of crafty stuff – papers, lettering, etc.  I went to Michael’s and got some large letter stencils, glue sticks and some jute twine and for just a few dollars made a banner (well, banners) with the items I already had.

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It was fun and easy to make! I was having flashbacks to Kindergarten with my construction paper and glue sticks.  I made a template from some green card stock and pretty much went from there.  I chose the colors, layout and size based on whatever I had lying around.

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gratitude ~ for the good, and the bad….

This year the words encompassing this particular holiday have sounded a little different to me.  It’s been a hard year, and I say that all the time, but I don’t say it negatively; I say it because every time I do, I am reminded that my version of a “hard year” is still thankfully mild compared to many, and that either way, I got through it one piece.  A necessary ingredient for true gratitude seems to be having the proper perspective. I know first hand that it’s an easy thing to lose.  Sometimes life helps us in that department, whether we want it to or not…

I’ve got one more challenge ahead of me after this weekend – I will study for 3 months, on top of working, for a three-day long bar exam that I can hopefully pass on my first try.  I’ve spent years fearing and worrying about this exam because I hate tests so much (who doesn’t?!), but something peculiar happened.

I wore myself thin in the spring.  We moved, I took four classes instead of three, I finished up my pro bono hours, and I was working full time.  I had to give up my bird Enzo, and as if that wasn’t difficult enough, the woman to whom I gave him turned out to be a scam artist and Enzo ended up at a flea market. The fact that I even found out about this in a roundabout way was all very lucky and unlikely.

After some action on my part and the part of others, I recovered Enzo’s belongings from that horrible liar, and got Enzo to a safe and loving home. I called the flea market man and made him cry. A month later, the flea market cohort of this woman had his aviary shut down because he wasn’t treating HIS birds right – all after my frantic communications with the man’s veterinarian lead to an investigation by authorities.  Animals may just be animals to some, but there were so many conflicted and heart wrenching feelings that came along with having to give him away.  I felt like I was trying to do what was best for him, and then after taking all the precautions I could, he still ended up in harm’s way.  The ending of all that was happy, but it was a difficult month and I learned the depth of deceit to which some people will go.

Amidst all those classes and pet drama, I ended up getting in a car wreck, through no fault of my own.  I spent my St. Patrick’s day in the hospital, and spent the rest of the weekend nauseous.  I spent another month navigating the messy world of auto insurance and car buying all while trying to get through the most demanding semester of my life.

May came, and I felt at peace for the first time all year.  Before long, my dog Jenny’s health started to fail, and then came 2.5 months of pain and worry and anticipation.  Immediately after she died, I had to take a class every day for 2 weeks straight.  It was a tough two weeks, stuck doing group work when I felt like i couldn’t think straight.

After all of that, things started to turn around.  School wasn’t overly busy this semester – busy yes, but manageable. As was work. But here I am, with a week of school left, and a big test over the horizon.  And I feel okay.  Maybe it’s an odd thing to say, but I feel like I must be as thankful for the hard times and bad things that happen in my life, as I am for the good ones.  Had I had an easy, smooth sailing year, I would be approaching my next task with the overwhelming fear and dread and negativity I felt about it for the last few years.  Instead, compared to the past few months, I am welcoming it and my current status in life with open arms.  No classes – coming home from work every night to sit with my books and study – with my boyfriend and pets safe and happy at home with me, and no more struggling at rush hour to get to class and eating dinner at 10 pm – sounds amazing.  I have lots to do but overall, the schedule is simpler and life is simpler right now.

The good feelings I feel right now would not be such had I not gone through some much tougher stuff to get here.  What felt tough and scary before, now feels manageable compared to the first 7, 8 months of this year.  When life gives you perspective, be thankful.  Sometimes it’s all you need in life to feel fulfilled once the dust finally settles.

I am not much of a cook but I’ll be making some turkey legs and sides for my immediate family today.  Wish me luck! And most of all, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

happy Friday ~ the holidays are here !!!

Long time no see! I cannot believe it’s November already.  This time last year we were putting the deposit down on the new apartment.  It really doesn’t feel like we’ve been there  for a 10 full months.  This has been a very crazy, busy, and difficult year, but the past couple months have been quite enjoyable.  I haven’t had any free time unfortunately, but overall, things are going smoothly and guess what…FIVE more classes and I am FINISHED with law school!!! I cannot believe it.  I started August 4, 2008. It’s been a long road.  I feel like I’ve aged ten years in the past 4.5.  I am not complaining, though.  I have no regrets as of yet and am just so thrilled to have my life back.  I am sure I’ll find plenty to worry about soon enough with studying for the bar exam and finding a job, but really, the worst of it’s behind me.

With all that said, I did not get to enjoy my beloved Halloween “season” because I’ve been really cramming in all my work early.  It all flew by in a blur – not one pumpkin or costume or spiced cider to be had by me. But with that over and my homework all but finished for the semester, I am definitely getting into the holiday spirit IMMEDIATELY!!!

At my old apartment, the living room was too small for our full-sized Christmas tree, so with a larger living/dining area at the new place, I am eager to go all out with the Christmas decor this season. I have an artificial tree…and I am also thinking of decorating with some live cedar garland.  It’s so pretty, but it only lasts about 3-4 weeks and I may have a bit of an allergy issue…have you ever used live garland in your house?

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I am also thinking of decorating with some luminaries – I love the lighting of the candles and it’s a cheap and easy way to decorate….

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There are just too many pretty holiday decor pictures on the internet!!

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happy friday ~

Happy Friday, everyone!  And happy 11-11-11, if you’re into that sort of thing.  I have not been around much….it’s been a busy couple of weeks!  Between pro bono hours I am doing for school, work, homework, etc., I read Mindy Kaling’s new book.  I LOVED it!!  I spent a particularly long time in the waiting room for a doctor’s appointment last week, and I am pretty sure it was the only thing that kept me sane.

I am loving the cooler weather lately, except for the days it’s windy and rainy.  Fall wind+rain is the WORST.  The best?  Fog.  The first picture is my backyard a couple Saturdays ago.  We live close to the Ohio RIver, so on occasion it will get super foggy in the mornings.  I find it really peaceful and beautiful.

Halloween was fun! I made a last minute decision to dress as the black swan.  45 feet of black mesh and 2 hours later, I had a makeshift tutu to wear with my costume.  I got the idea for the no-sew tutu here.  That, plus some feathers from Michael’s, some makeup from the local costume shop, and my old pointe shoes and leotard, I was good to go.  I had everything but the schizophrenic delusions.

Keeping with the ballet theme, I also took my boyfriend to his first ballet, Giselle performed at Music Hall by the Cincinnati Ballet.  My hair was feeling gross and not fitting for a nice night out, so I was super pumped when a french-twist-y thing along the crown, plus a low side bun, turned out pretty good.  My earrings are Banana Republic earrings I got last winter.

Following my usual routine, I went to Starbucks before class last week and was super excited to see the start of the holiday cups!  I know this is not particularly thrilling to most, but it marks the beginning of a happy season for me.  I have always enjoyed the holidays, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are some of the few days that I can relax and avoid things like homework and house chores guilt-free.  A lot of people seem annoyed by the fact that the season deemed “the holidays”/”Christmas season”/etc. seems to start earlier and earlier every year.  When I was little, I could not have imagined Christmas decorations being put out before Thanksgiving, let alone Halloween.  I am NOT one of those complainers.  The earlier, the better!  The other day I was feeling very grouchy because I had an abundance of laundry to take up to the laundromat.  They were playing a local radio station that had an “all holiday music” Sunday.  It really got me in a great mood! Next up?  Time to order the Nieman Marcus “Christmas Book”.  As a kid, the Sears Holiday Catalog was an integral part of every holiday season, so the whole holiday catalog thing really brings back some good memories.  Enjoy your weekend!