Happy New Year!! Hope you and your friends + family shared a fun & festive (or quiet & reflective) Christmas / Holiday season! THANK YOU for making the first year back east so wonderful, including getting to see & be with family this year, getting to do some travel, attend market events, meet more online friends in real life, and of course - work on transforming this house into a home! Still more to do, but really excited that the hubs and I are actually getting dressed up and heading out this evening to celebrate the past year (we rarely ever go out on New Years!!) Yesterday, I took down most of Christmas inside the house, (mostly trimmings & wreaths), cleaning up the needle mess, and added my traditional sparkle & shine to the living room for New Years Day. Blessings to you & your loved ones for a happy, healthy, safe & successful 2016!!

(above) Evening in candlelight... (below) Daytime shine!

Make home yours!

Happy New Year!!

Thanks for stopping by!



I'm so excited to have gotten to spend time this year really being able to decorate our home for Christmas! Last year, although I was grateful to have moved back east, I was a little exhausted from packing and unpacking to have truly gotten into the Christmas decorating spirit - But this year, now that we're much more settled in, I was able to create that festive and cozy Christmas atmosphere, beginning with our front door...

Earlier in the year, I lucked out and scored a great curbside find: a pair of tall fiberglass urns (I actually had my eyes on since we moved here because I loved how they looked at the neighbors driveway). When the neighbors sold their house, the new neighbors scaled back on some of the outdoor elements, removing the driveway urns - and eventually one morning, hauling them to the curb on trash day. The hubs saw this, stopped, and together with the neighbor, they brought the urns to our back deck. 

Over the summer, I planned their transformation - And for Fall, worked on them. First: One urn needed to be repaired (top broke off the base). Next, I painted the urns a matte black (just watered down chalk paint jar sample from HD), leaving some of the original color exposed, and afterwards, sanded a few of the edges. I used a bag of garden rocks to give the urns some weight, and began the layering / building process.

Earlier in the year, I had picked up a pair of metal orbs from HomeGoods, and later in the summer, I picked up a pair of grapevine wreaths from At Home (formally known as Garden Ridge). I didn't measure anything, but my  instincts told me these pieces would all fit together - and they did.

Since this urn display was going to be outside, it needed to be wired. Using some branches I gathered from the back yard last year, I weaved them through the orb, that was nested on the wreath, sitting on the urn top -- and wired the three elements together. For Fall, I used a few faux leaves I had, plus moss and eventually, in late Fall, I layered some black crows (also had from previous outdoor displays) -- which was all really easy to remove and put away the day after Thanksgiving.

For the Christmastime - Winter urns, I knew I wanted to use fresh greens, but a mix - not all the same kind. So as I've been exploring my new area this year, I was also keeping an eye on accessible trees for me to gather cuttings from for the holidays (Tip: Shopping Plaza parking lots, especially in the back can be a great source of you don't have a yard to cut from). I found a spot, gathered my clippings (Tip: keep pruning shears in your car door), and kept them fresh with water in Home Depot buckets, outside on the deck, until I was ready to build the urns.

When I put together the Fall urns, I built them in our garage, and asked Jeff to help me carry them up the sloped driveway, to the front door. Home alone, I needed to figure out a different space and means to build the seasonal urns (and not right at the front door). A simple back door mat on reverse helped me to simply slide the urns inside the house, and work on them I the living room. yes - I made a bit of a needle mess, but I kept the mess to a minimum by sweeping them up into a side pile as I was working.

 Fall Harvest Entry

The Fall urns were a nice start, but I wanted to make something a little more grand for Christmas. To start with, I added a few more gathered branches, plus I layered in a pair of flocked branches I've used inside the house in the past. Now it was time to bring in the greens...

Since the house faces south, it spends most of the daytime baking in the sun. Last Christmas, I had gotten a fresh wreath for the front door, which quickly dried up. Keeping this in mind, I picked up a few green floral bricks, soaked them really good with water, and cut them (with a bread knife) to fit into the urn. Some bricks only needed to be cut in half, others needed to be cut into quarters -- because I needed to fit them through the already wired orb - branches - grapevine wreath ... but it worked!

First branches to weave in were the large pines, next I layered some Frasier fur cuttings from our tree (we had already gotten), and finished off with a few feathery cypress branches. In AZ I had mixed cypress branches onto our faux tree and garlands - but I had to by a 25ft. garland from Lowe's and cut it apart. It was so nice this year to be able to just go freely cut my own, and really take in some of the nature surrounding us! Since these branches are all fresh, they are more pliable, and easy to work with without snapping from being dried out.

Now the urns were ready to shift back out front - but only after sweeping the stoop and cleaning the glass! I again just slid the urns to the door with the door mat (on reverse) - which was a huge back saver, not only for the hubs, but me as well (I cant lift as well as I use to!!) 

Also earlier in the year, I scored a pair of vintage Greek Key concrete planters at the Liberty Antiques Festival. They were originally a glossy black and chipping, but a quick coat of the matte black paint, and they were as good as new (but still something old + had history). They had been on the back deck all Summer, but for Fall, after I painted them, I used them on the front steps with bronze mums. When they died, I pulled out the mums, but left the dirt. For Christmas, I just tucked some branches into the planter's dirt. 

To help keep the branches in both urns as fresh as possible throughout the season, I water & mist them every other day...

For the urns finishing touch, I added a few pinecones (most I had collected back in AZ). To add a little sparkle, but not too much bling, I wired acrylic Moravian stars to the branches. I think these were the first Christmas ornaments I ever bought - I got them from a lighting store in Miami called Farrey's. Many of the houses here in the Triad hang Moravian stars on their front porch during the holidays. I recently got a pair of Moravian lights I had originally wanted to also use, but I need to build them plus figure out how to hide their white cord - something fresh to layer in next year!

For the entryway finishing touch - I dusted the urns with some buffalo snow and I once again picked up a fresh wreath for the door (to beautiful not to!!) And buying the fresh wreath (plus our tree) local also helped to support a local Boy Scout Troop. Last year, I used my traditional red plaid scarf  plus a few berry sprays mixed into the wreath - super simple, especially having just moved. This year, since I didn't use any red inside, I used a grey / black / white scarf, which flows the Christmas decor from the outside inside... I've shared a few peeks on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter - I'll be sharing next here on the blog...

And that's the thing about moving, and holiday decorating... While some displays are over the top, some are simple, and some are new every year, some can also be a mix of new and old, and also be created without spending tons of money on elaborate decorations. Use what you have, which helps to create your personalized traditions. Even old decor used in new ways can look fresh again -- although some of the best has to be using using the nature around you... and curbside finds are always great too!

 Left door: 2014 -- Right Door: 2015

Even a little outdoor TLC throughout the year can help the end result for holiday: 
Above (top pic) the grass was fried, the hedges were browning, the shutters, door, and trim were last painted by the builders (2005) -- During the year, (bottom pic) we cared for the lawn, expanded the garden beds + added fertilizer & mulch, painted the shutters, door, and trim, plus Jeff pressure washed the walkway, sidewalk and driveways.

 Old wreaths look new again when used on the lights above the garage doors - and the grass is so much healthier now, a year later (even in December!), after much needed care...

I already purchased new outdoor lantern lights for the front door (more to scale), and I planned on adding window boxes in the Spring - which next year will make the front look more festive (it does look really pretty at night with simple net lights on all of the ball hedges + a candlelight in each window! I should probably take a pick and add it to the post!!) I wasn't planning on it being this unseasonably warm, or I might have planted something in front of the ball hedges -- Going to have to hunt for white poinsettias to cluster (in pots) - and also next year: I'd like to add boughs to the top row of window sills, since the lower windows will get those flower boxes for Spring! 

 Holiday Entry & Urns:
(Elegant impact without breaking the bank!)

Large Fiberglass Urn Pair: FREE - Curbside find
Medium Concrete Greek Key Planters  - Liberty Antiques Festival (Spring) ($50)
Grapevine Wreaths - At Home (aka Garden Ridge) ($10)
Large Metal Orbs - HomeGoods (Giftcard)
Lanterns - HomeGoods (Giftcard)
Acrylic Moravian Star Ornaments - Farrey's Lighting, Miami ('95)
Pinecones - FREE collected in AZ
Evergreens - FREE collected from nature & tree lot
Branches - FREE collected in back yard
Flocked Branches - Pottery Barn ('07)
Silver Bells on Lanterns - Dollar Store ($2)
Buffalo Snow - Goodwill Kernersville ($1)
Grey Plaid Scarf - Goodwill AZ ($2)
Fresh Frasier Wreath - Local Christmas Tree Tent (only $16!)

You can also view my other Outdoor Holiday Entryway here:


 plus pick up tips and ideas for your urns in my previous post:


Thank you for stopping by and hope you are inspired to create your own winter holiday entryway!

Seasons Greetings & Merry Christmas!

Christmas in NY - The Dazzling #SaksHoliday Window Display

Since I was a child, experiencing New York during the holidays has always been a magical experience. Probably the most breathtaking sights, besides the concrete canyons and hustle of the people whizzing by, had to be the whimsical themes and sparkling decor of the holiday windows. I've always admired how the holiday windows creatively showcased themes and stories from the imagination of retailers - and no doubt the inspiration and drive behind my visual merchandising career! One of the many spectacular holiday presentations I was able to see during my recent visit to New York was a night-time view of the #SaksHoliday windows. For the 2015 holiday season, Saks Fifth Avenue created a Winter Palace banquet theme in addition to their creative interpretation of the earth's most spectacular wonders - transforming them into remarkable wintry fantasies... Grab yourself a cup of coffee, tea, or wine (depending on your time zone) to view not only my photos (which really don't do these windows justice!) plus some behind the scenes videos towards the end of the post...

After viewing these fabulous holiday windows at Saks, I basically felt like this...

Mind blowing! The attention to detail, and the time it had to take to plan, create, and execute these meticulous windows -- truly a lost art within the retail industry today -- and not something one can experience through online shopping. 

Intriguing window displays are very much a brick & mortar experience. And New York City has definitely evolved this tradition including unveiling presentations of historic flagship stores, such as Saks Fifth Avenue, plus also now utilizing the addition of social media (hence the use of #SaksHoliday in this post).  
And this year, Saks Fifth Avenue has created a designated, interactive social media driven content hub, SaksHoliday.com, where consumers may download exclusive Saks' holiday emojis, join The Winter Palace experience by sharing photos of their favorite icy destinations, and participate in holiday contests, polls, and quizzes.

Although I wasn't there for the unveiling, I did see the video on their Facebook page, you can watch here...

Before seeing the windows, Jeff and I were across the street at the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting, where we also watched and listened to the light show extravaganza that is on the exterior of the historic Saks Fifth building.

This stunning light show is the first of its kind for Saks Fifth Avenue and required:
  • 225,000+ individual points of controlled light
  • 10,000+ hours to produce
  • 250+ individuals involved both internationally and domestically 
You can view the behind the scenes making of the #SaksHoliday window here...

The Winter Palace is a completely new concept for Saks Fifth Avenue and is certain to leave audiences mesmerized! (I know we were!!) And although you may not be able to make it to New York to see this presentation, Saks Fifth Avenue stores nationwide also transformed their windows & stores into a Winter Palace holiday theme, which also included icy chandeliers, frosted decor, and wintry, lux fashion throughout its departments. 

Seasons Greetings and I hope you are inspired to have a magical Christmas!



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