Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Tablsescape From Ikea For Under $20

Try as I might to create a beachy look this Christmas, I just keep heading back to Nordic Red and White. And why wouldn't I, when the prices for Nordic chic are just so right at Ikea.  Each time I do a story on Ikea, I get lots of comments and emails along the lines of, 'Oh I wish we had an Ikea near here'.  I hear you dear reader, because it is a great day out.   But that is why my friends, they invented online shopping.  Accordingly, you can put together a beautiful looking Christmas tablescape at the right price, delivered straight to your door. Even if it is a five hour round trip to the nearest Ikea.

Now this table is certainly minimalist, but it is simple and stylish and only cost me $19.95 to put together.  I am assuming you already have the plates, cutlery, wine glasses and table cloth, a white sheet would do.  I did cheat slightly with the table runner which was some left over fabric from my Nordic patchwork ornaments. The ribbon to tie the cutlery, I also had, but together they would have cost less than $5.  So even if this complete look was to cost $25, then you still have an elegant table that is sure to illicit some ooohs and arrrs from your guests at Christmas.

The little stand with the decorations makes a fabulous centre piece and cost $6.99 in total.  The little silver heart garland was only $1.99.  When Mr Beach House arrived home I had moved the centrepience onto the coffee table 'cause he had been complaning about my cypress arrangement blocking his view of the TV.  My suggested resolution was change chairs, but that would be too easy.  So to enhance his viewing pleasure, I moved these little silver babies onto the coffee table instead.  His comment when he first saw them was 'What are those? Aren't they supposed to be on the tree?'  Gee he can put a pin in my balloon sometimes. But that won't stop me foofing and jooshing the house to within an inch of its life this season.

These cushion hearts decorations would do beautifully as a party favour.  They come in packets of four.  I have been known to take a packet of Ikea decorations as a gift rather than a bouquet of flowers.  It's different and is usually very much appreciated

For the rest of the room, I pulled together what ever red accents I had about the Beach House.  I believe the Coca Cola colours were the reason that Santa's suit is red and white.  Some marketing genius way back when, really hit the nail on the head with that one, as the rest is history!!!!!

Love poinsettias at this time of year.  Not sure if they are seasonal here in Australia or are forced to grow, but they are definitely everywhere at Christmas time.

So if you are on a budget that is growing tighter by the week like me, then get your skates on literally or virtually for some Christmas tablescaping value at Ikea.  The range was the YRSNO, which appears to be the name of the entire Ikea Christmas range. 

And be sure to check out my growing list of Too Easy Christmas Ideas for some simple and cost effective ideas to help you survive the festive season without blowing the budget.

 This post was not sponsored by Ikea in any way, even though it should be.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Make Your Own Too Easy Christmas Beachy Lantern

Wanna find out how to make some beachy bling bling for your coastal Christmas table or Mantel?  Well the next part of my Too Easy Christmas Series reveals all......... about the making of this cute little lantern.    No matter if it's not a 5 minute walk to the beach for you either, as all the parts to this project can be sourced from your local crafting or thrift store and perhaps the local garden centre for a scoop of white sand.

The hardest part in making the lantern was the fight against gravity. Not sure about you, but I don't have time to sit and hold the shells in place until the glue becomes tacky enough to keep them there.  The problem was solved by setting this whole exercise up at the end of my kitchen bench, with the jar on its side.  Each time I walked past the end of the bench, I would add one or two more shells.  Finally making it around, full circle. Using this process I will have more than enough to give away as gifts or for a centrepiece running down the centre of my dining table for Christmas.

The beauty of these Too Easy lanterns is you can use these them all through the year. Just change out the ribbon as desired.  By Christmas mine may all be tied up in red bows.

I was fondling the nautical stripes at my local fabric shop this morning and I kept going back to red.  I haven't committed completely to it yet, but the red ticking looked so fabulous and would make a great base for a nautical Christmas table.   

 But for now I'm going with shiny blue.  I'll be adding more Too Easy Christmas Ideas to the tab on the top of my side bar throughout December, so be sure to pop back and check it out from time to time.  In the mean time have a great week!!!!!!

Today I'm partying at a great new party over at Life Love and Hiccups called Wonderful Weekends.  Why not go on over and check it out!!!!!!
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Friday, November 25, 2011

A Corner of My Bedroom in Blue and White

Well the Christmas party catch ups have begun in earnest.  I for one am only too happy to close the door on the Beach House and it's human contents every so often, to have a girly catch up at a wine bar with a few of the locals.  Last night it was the 3BB class mums' do and I have to say it was great to get away.  The lead up to a night out alone is always frantic.  To get the Beach House Brats bathed, feed and pyjamaed by the time I walk over the threshold in the opposite direction, is somewhat of a miracle.  

I should leave it to Mr Beach House but he is no help. I know if I don't have them 'bed ready' by the time I leave, they would be still swinging from the chandeliers when I got home if it was up to him. I've a mind to accidentally on purpose forget to cook him dinner before I go out next time.  Don't know why I can't leave it all up to him anyway, many do.  I guess it's the control freak in me!!!! I really need to take the risk though, as I came home to a stack of dirty dishes.  I must be crazy!!!!  

As I was getting ready, the kids were chucking bubble bath foam all around the bathroom and creating general mayhem, whilst he was swanning around in his own little world.  All the while, I was trying to make myself look beautiful, which I have to tell you is not as easy as it used to be.

Anyway, the getting ready process very much involves this little chair in a corner of my bedroom.  I like to do up my shoes here.  Brush my hair and dab beautiful smelling things on my wrists and behind my ears and knees while I sit here.  I once read that you should dab perfume where you expect to kissed.  So as you can imagine, the areas about my person, where I dab have narrowed somewhat over the years.

Anyhoo, until lately the chair has look liked this.  All boring and alone.  Then things started to happen.

I know we are on a tight budget here at the Beach House, but how, tell me, could one go past this gorgeous silk cushion?  I'll tell you, I have walked past this kinda thing copious times dear reader, but then it happened.  I was skulking around the homewares aisles of  K Mart and I stumbled on this gorgeous thing. All ruffled and white and silky.  They were so reasonable at $10, that I bought 2.  A quick check at the local Beachy boutique revealed they were going for around $75.....  The cheek of it!!!!! No wonder retail is in such trouble here in OZ.

The next thing that happened was that I took delivery of this lovely little side table, once owned by a great lady, who used to fly with my mum in the 50's and 60's.  She always sent me a birthday card and that continued well into my adulthood.  She said it was because her son was born the day after me and she always remembered by birthday........ but just quietly I think she liked me alot too. The birthday cards are no more if you know what I mean, but I will think of her often.  She also taught me how to accept a compliment graciously when I was an embarrassed pimply teenager, who had very imperfect manners at the time and I will never forget her for that either.

So when I snuck into the bedroom, last night, trying not to wake the natives, I sat all alone on the chair and pondered how I might pretty up this little corner of my world.

So here you have it, a beachy, coastal Frenchie little spot, where I can be all girly and alone for at least five minutes of my otherwise hectic day. I'll have to remember to shut the door though.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nordic Style Christmas Decorations

Hi Gals!  Looks like I'm running a Christmas series, doesn't it? And I seem to have a thing for Reindeers at the moment too.  Thanks for all the love you expressed for my Reindeer Cookies
Can't believe I'm getting all festive and it's still only November.

 I haven't made one of these patchwork baubles for 25 years and I haven't seen them around in the blogosphere either, so I thought I'd share this 'too easy' Christmas decoration with you.  Make it with the kiddos or make it on your own.  I found myself sitting at my kitchen bench singing Christmas carols, as I pushed the fabric into the foam ball with the back end of some tweezers and feeling a real lift in my spirits.   I am usually not that full on into Christmas, so this was a break through for me. It's amazing how this blogging can motive and inspire a new love of the season.

I am becoming a regular at my new found store love, Spotlight  It's cheap and cheerful and has lots of great crafting supplies.  I managed to just get my hands on the last four foam baubles available, until their new shipment arrives.   When styling anything, one should stick to odd numbers, whether it be flowers in a vase or baubles on a tree, but today through necessity, I am breaking my own strict rules.

What you will need is:-

Some foam balls.  Any size will do, but I used 75mm or 3 inch balls. 
At least three different pieces of fabric.  I have chosen beautiful 100% cotton with a Nordic theme.
Pearl topped pins to secure the ribbon.
Nail file or tweezers to press the fabric into the balls.

Cut the fabric into squares.  Again size doesn't matter greatly.  Obviously the bigger the ball the bigger the square.  Mine were about 7 cm  or 3 inches square, but by the last ball the squares were getting bigger, so as to cover the ball more quickly.

Place the fabric on the ball and start pushing it into the foam with the back of the nail file or tweezers, starting about 1cm or 1/2 inch from the edge of the fabric.  There is no need to make a perfect shape, but I started to make a rough circle.  Trim the fabric if needed but it's best to start with too much overhang as excess can be trimmed where necessary.
Use a contrasting fabric next to the one you have just pushed into the ball.  Sometimes you will find that the same fabrics meet up towards the end, as the ball becomes completely covered.  If you have the choice of a fourth fabric, you can avoid the same fabrics meeting up.

Once the ball is fully covered, choose your favourite profile of the bauble ensuring you can see at least a glimpse of all you fabric choices. Decide where your ribbon (15cm or 6 inches) will go.  Push the ends of the ribbon into one of the cracks and secure with a pin, pushing it in diagonally making sure it catches both ends of the ribbon.

These baubles will eventually be on my big tree, but I'm not that's no up yet, so I put together a little cypress tree for the coffee table.  It really needs more baubles, but you get the idea.

I hope you check out my other quick and  'Too Easy' Christmas ideas and recipes at the top of my side bar throughout December. The list will grow as I get more inspiration.

 Lord knows we need all the help we can get at this time of year, turning ourselves inside out to make it a great season for all whom we are close to.  For better or for worse, Christmas lunch is at the Beach House this year, so I better get my Beach Christmas hat on.  Our family is 20 strong....yikes!!!!! Hope my new found enthusiasm will get me over the line.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Reindeer Cookies

With Christmas bearing down on us hard, we got into the spirit at the Beach House this weekend past.  The Beach House kiddo cook and I put together these oh so easy reindeer biscuits, that are sure to impress the rug rats at your next Christmas do.

These ones ended up being donated to the yacht club canteen and sold out pretty darn quick.  There was no way they were staying at the Beach House. One, because my kiddos bounce off the walls enough in this place and second, my diet is still underway and I have limited will power .  On that note,  I can report another 2 kilos have been shed in the interests of living long enough to see the Beach House Brats come of age, not to mention the hope of annoying Mr Beach House into his dotage.  There's no way he's gunna out live me!!!!!!

Anyway, these babies are so easy to put together. Infact, once you have mastered the art of moulding  the biscuits into a basket shape and loading up the chocolate filling, you can decorate them anyway you like.  Each one looks a little different and I think has a personality all of its own.  Not sure which one is Rudolph, but I guess he'll be the one with the shiniest nose.

One tip, don't refrigerate the reindeer with their red noses attached, as they go dull.  I guess in the colder climes there may be no need to refrigerate at all, but as we swelter at Christmas time, that is not the case Down Under.

Also make sure you have a practise before you begin the assembly process and remember.....this is one case at Christmas time where less is more!!!!!

And most of all have lots of fun cause if you eat too many of really will be short!!!!!

Post script: My big Beach House Brat took the last one to school in his lunch box. He reports that "all the kids were gathering around me mum and they were saying 'wow that's awesome'"..... So I've promised him a plate of these for the Christmas class picnic.  And if you  too want to create the illusion of Domestic Goddess in your sphere, I encourage you dear reader, to make these and enjoy the ride.

Reindeer Cookies

1 packet Arnotts Butternut Snap Cookies
1/3 cup pouring cream
200g (1 block) milk or dark cooking chocolate
65g butter
pretzels cut in half for antlers
jaffas for the nose and some frosting to attach them.  I made one with butter, icing sugar and water, so it would set and stick well. But the recipe says to buy it.
White marshmallows cut in half for the snout
mini marshmellows for the eyes
Black icing for the eye centres

Pre heat oven to 180 C or 350 F.  Place cookies on a shallow cup cake pan and heat for 3 minutes.  Remove from oven and gently press down on the biscuits to form baskets. Repeat with remaining biscuits.  Cool on wire racks.

Melt butter, chocolate and cream on the stove over a low heat, stirring constantly until combined and completely melted ( about 7) minutes.  Cool in the fridge for 20 minutes, but don't allow to set completely.

Spoon one heaped tspn of chocolate mixture into the biscuit cases.  Refrigerate for a further 10-20 minutes so chocolate can firm up a little more.  Decorate as per my pictures above.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Nautical Sportical Boys Bedroom Style

How's tricks?  Well they're improving here at the Beach House.  I've started Christmas shopping this week, with a spring in my step.  It's best to at least start like that, don't you think? This year, Christmas shopping will be confined to shopping at markets, warehouse sales and thrifting stores.....but I bet you anything, neither the Beach House Brats, nor any of the relos, will have any idea. You see, I have an eye for a bargain and making something out of nothing, which will sure come in handy this holiday season.  Mr Beach House is OK with a new T- shirt and some new Bonds undies under the tree..  I squared that away with him last night as he was putting away his new socks.. He even offered to re wrap the socks so I could him give those how sweet!!!!

So with my new thrifting hat on, I attended a warehouse sale this very morning.  I was so early, for me anyway, I had to go and have a coffee before they opened the shutters.  It's still on tomorrow for any of you nautical loving Sydneysiders who can't refuse a bargain.

Well I have been bleating on around here, both in real time and virtually, that the Beach House Brats are getting  bedroom makeovers and I can report they are finally underway.  Here's the before shot of the shelves in my son's bedroom.. The usual junk that has been accumulated over the years.  Well today it's out with the old and in with the nautical sportical new.

I can't believe it gets to this state, but as we report the truth here at the Beach House, I'm letting you have it fair and square.  I do clean it up every so often, but the Beach House Brats pull it all apart almost daily and then it just gets chucked back in hast when a quick clean up is required.

So this is the kind of thing I advise my clients to do when we are talking about styling their homes for sale. The two principals I work on are space and increased light. It is so important not to make the room  look smaller than it actually is.  A declutter can achieve wonders and really add to the wow factor of a home.

I'm sticking with the navy, red and white theme, as that's what I have most of, which makes the whole exercise more cost effective as well.
As a sailing family, we have access to so many nautical icons, it's possibly a little over done here at the Beach House, so for some light relief I threw in a few sporting ones as well.  It's amazing what you can find in the sports kits piled high in the garage, in our case often waiting to be chucked with the next clear out. 

These little floats were a warehouse find today and became even chippier when I pealed what was an over zealously taped price tag off.  Half the paint came with it but no matter.  Goes with the dings in the shelves I guess!!!!!

Books, books , feels like it here at the Beach House anyway.  I love styling with colour coded books and here I've picked a few with a water theme.  The rest I'm afraid, have been hidden in the wardrobe.  That's the one of the down sides, and there aren't many I might say, of having kiddos 6 years seems you never get to throw much out. 

We also collect vintage tin toys as they are completely cool.

Loving these skittles I picked up today at the warehouse too.  The set came with out a ball....guess that's why I got them for next to nothing.  The chippy tennis racquet has seen better days and to me that's the way it should be. 

Well gals, I better box all the new bits up before the school run, as they are going in the Christmas stocking.  So gotta fly.  This weekend I'm getting Christmassy with craft.  It's been a long time, but it's amazing where this blogging journey takes you.  I for one love it.   Until then lovely people.

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