Friday, November 29, 2013

Looking Forward To Christmas

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends. 
Last week Mr. Fanatic and I went to the Mountain Cottage for a few days last weekend and came home on Tuesday. 

It. was. cold.

and rainy.

and a little icy.

Remember that storm that came through the eastern part of the US?
It wasn't too bad where we were, but it was cold.

 Oh, and did I say rainy?

Knowing all that was coming, I went out the day before the storm and collected a couple of bags of pine cones and cut down some little pine tree sapling. 
I might as well take advantage of some free stuff.

All of the leaves have fallen off of the trees and the air was crisp even when the sun was shining on. 

All along the edge of the woods are hundreds of little pine saplings which I would like to cut down since there are rhododendron and other green shrubs growing there which won't do well if the pines are left to grow large. 

I figured now would be a good time to get started since I could decorate with all the branches. 

I cut lots of branches and whole little trees down and filled up a big Sterilite storage tub and we brought them home, along with the pine cones. 

We also  have three Noble Firs growing on the property, but they aren't bushy enough to be a Christmas tree. 
Did I ever tell you the first house in the mountains back in August had 2,000 Christmas trees growing on them?
I was thinking we could have multiple trees all over the house had that deal gone through!

I'd better get busy decorating the house for Christmas. 
I'll leave you with a  few photos of our Thanksgiving. It was just the three of us.

We will have Christmas dinner with at least 4 this year as our oldest daughter was able to get some time off and we booked her flight just a few days ago!

Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Inspiration From Christmas Past

With Thanksgiving being so late this year, I feel like I'm already behind for Christmas.
34 days and's hard to believe. 

I'd better get busy....

Last year I made some mini wreaths made from cuttings from some holly shrubs in our yard. 
They were truly easy to make and they cost zero, zip, nada, since I already had everything on hand. 
You can find them HERE.

We plan on being home for Thanksgiving, so next weekend would be a great time to decorate the front porch. I still have most of the green cypress  and the tiny blue spruce I purchased last year, so I will be using those along with a few new additions that will be harvested from the Mountain Cottage. You can see last years Front Porch HERE.

 We're  planning on four Christmas stockings hanging from our mantel this year again. Our daughter is going to be spending Christmas with us here in Charlotte. You can see the rest of last year's mantel HERE.

Unplanned vignettes  made with old and new found items are the most fun to put together. It's always satisfying when something turns out pretty. 

...could be as simple as some ornaments and a few pinecones in a footed silver tray. 

Our Breakfast Room is my favorite room to decorate. There's something about a single wreath in each window that makes me smile. 
I love repetition in design. 
and symmetry
and order.

 Even though we don't go down to the basement much, I love doing some simple festive decorations down in the basement family room. Maybe we don't spend much time down there because of the ancient tv and weak internet connection. 
hmmmm, sounds like a project to me. 

Maybe I'll bling up the Easy Stenciled Christmas runner I made a few years ago. A little glitter glams up almost anything. You can read about my Stenciled Christmas Table Runner HERE

One treat we make every year at Christmas is Buckeyes. 
We make a whole bunch of them.
We roll them, dip them, wrap them all pretty and give them to neighbors and friends and even save a few for ourselves. You can read how we make them HERE just in case you'd like to make a few of your own.
Just a warning though, eating these will ruin Reese's peanut butter cups for you. 
So sorry.

And after all that decorating, baking, buying presents and wrapping, remember to buy yourselves some pretty flowers to brighten your day. 

So, do you have a plan as to how you'll get everything finished before the 25th?
I have no idea how we'll get it all finished, but somehow we always do.
My attitude these days is whatever gets done, gets done. 
The only thing that matters is celebrating Christmas with family and maybe a few friends.

Have you started your Christmas plans yet?


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Little Snow And A New Chair

Since  snow was in our forecast yesterday,  here in Charlotte, North Carolina, 
I put out a little faux snow encrusted birdhouse ornament. 
I found this little birdhouse at Marshall's on Monday. 
It was too cute to pass up.

I thought it would looked great in a little vignette with a brand new chair that I found at HomeGoods last week.

I actually found two of these beauties and brought them both home.

Well, I did have an excuse for buying them....
Mr. Fanatic asked me to look for a side chair for him to put in our bedroom so he could work in the evenings. Seems sitting on the bed or the upholstered chair in our bedroom is just a little bit too comfy and, well you know what happens...

I bought the 2nd chair because I've been looking for a french side chair for our office.

Killed two birds with one stone.
Is that still ok to say?? Hope so.

The chair is comfortable, (but not take a nap comfortable)
I love the details too. 
Love Louis XVI style with a round back.

I love that little birdhouse too.
We actually had some snow last evening. It looked so pretty with the big flakes swirling in the wind.
Of course the pretty white flakes melted as soon as they hit the ground. It should be back up to the mid 60's by the weekend.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cleaning Help For The Holidays

Anyone having family and friends coming to visit and guests staying with you for the Holidays? 
If you're like me, you're probably thinking about cleaning the house from top to bottom before they arrive. 
I clean my house myself (sometimes my daughter cleans it) and I'm always looking for products that will make that task easier.
Wish I had known about this one sooner. 

About 2 months ago, right after spending the whole weekend with Mr. Fanatic at our Mountain Cottage ripping off wallpaper (and thinking bad thoughts about wallpaper and how it should be illegal), another blogger posted on Instagram about how great one of HomeRight's products was...

for removing wallpaper

I was so upset, I made a comment on that Instagram post basically saying I wish I had known about this sooner. I had seen their awesome FinishMax sprayers (that I was drooling over) at Haven, but I had no idea that they made a SteamMachine Multi-purpose Power Steamer to take off wallpaper. 

Long story short, HomeRight sent me a SteamMachine to review.
(Just wanted to say that even though HomeRight sent me this product to review, the opinions are mine and they have not paid me to say nice things about their product.)

....back to the story...
We've been working on putting in a bathroom at the Cottage, so we haven't had a chance to take down the wallpaper in the remaining two rooms, but...
 I really wanted to try out the SteamMachine and knew there would be spaces in my home that I needed help in cleaning, especially right now before the Holidays coming up.

The first thing I noticed as I took everything out of the box is that it is was very sturdy, even though it's wasn't heavy. I've had 2 other upright floor steamers, so I was pleasantly surprised. 
 You only have to carry the nozzle/attachment and the hose when you're cleaning, so you're not carrying a heavy motor around.

There are a lot of attachments to clean just about everything around the house that you can think of. The smaller attachments fit inside the front compartment. 
Very handy.

 After reading the directions included in the box and filling the SteamMachine with water,  I tried it out in our shower in the Master Bath. The shower really needs to be updated and replaced and it's getting difficult to clean. 
According to the product information, "the SteamMachine uses pressurized, high temperature, steam to loosen and dissolve dirt, grease, grime and kill bacteria"....
so be careful!
I steamed the left side of the glass about 6 times with the squeegee attachment. Then, I turned on the shower and steamed up the enclosure so you could see the difference. 
I still need to go over the lower part of the glass with some limescale remover, but then again, the shower is 13 years old. 
I'm pretty confident that if I use the steam machine once every week or two that the limescale won't build up like it has.

Here's what came out of the crevices in the bottom of the shower door.


Yup, I still have shiny brass in the Master Bath, but at least it's clean!

Next, I moved to the kitchen and used the SteamMachine on the oven. The little nozzle is great to get dirt out of little crevices.

All clean!
The SteamMachine will work great around the edge of your cooktop and around the edge of a drop in sink.

This is how I will use the SteamMachine the most. (cleaning our tile floors might be a tie)
I have several  no pile/outdoor rugs throughout my home that I  freshen up with an upright steamer when I clean the house. 
Since the SteamMachine is more powerful than my other steamers, I didn't want to steam them on the hardwood floor, so I draped the rugs over my clothes drying rack. I put  on the floor brush attachment, but preferred the same attachment I used on the shower glass.

In just a few minutes I was able to freshen up my hallway rug...

...the rug inside the front door...

...and the bathroom rug.

Depressing the red button gives you continuous steam and makes freshening up your rugs and easy task.
I can tell that a lot of thought has gone into designing the SteamMachine.

While I was at it, I thought I'd freshen up the upholstery and throw pillows.

Here are the attachments I used: 
The large and small round brushes were used on the shower door, the squeegee attachment was used on the shower glass and the rugs and the nozzle was used on both the shower door and oven.

Overall, I think this is the perfect tool to help me keep my house clean. The  HomeRight SteamMachine is designed and made well and works great.

I can think of a whole bunch of areas that it would work great on and they include:

tile floors (there's an extension handle for this job)
that space where the undermount sink meets the countertop
for freshening up curtains without taking them down!
for freshening up upholstery (my sofa and bedroom chair are next)
practically anywhere in the laundry room
around the toilet

I can't wait to tell you how it works at removing wallpaper and cleaning some of the still grimy walls at our Mountain Cottage. 

Would love to know if you have any household helpers that work well for you...

Happy Cleaning!

PS: you can find the HomeRight SteamMachine at, Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart  etc.
MSRP is $99.99, but I've seen it for less!

More about the HomeRight SteamMachine Multi-purpose Power Steamer per
You can use the attachments to clean and sanitize floors, cooktops, ovens, baths and grills.
Kills 99% of all germs and bacteria
Best of all, it leaves behind no chemical residues!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fall At The Mountain Cottage

This past weekend the trees at the Mountain Cottage donned their Fall colors. The brilliant golds were everywhere and looked gorgeous next to tall evergreen pines.

The air was brisk and the view off the porch was so pretty. 
I wish we had more time to have a fire in our makeshift firepit.

The burning bush' along the driveway were so pretty behind the brilliant gold leaves of this maple.

The poplars and dogwood trees have already lost nearly all of their leaves.

Our view changes as the day goes on. We never tire of it.
This weekend went by so quickly. Mr. Fanatic worked late into Saturday night to finish the rough framing for the new half bath upstairs. He still has to frame in the back wall for a medicine cabinet, but that can't be done until I buy a mirror to go over it. 
Every inch counts in that room and framing depends on some of the finished items. My job this week is to go to HomeGoods and find a mirror, choose a light for over the sink, and choose an overhead light/fan.
I was also able to spend a little time outdoors. The air was brisk and the sun was shining, so it was perfect weather to move 3 small Leyland Cypress trees that were planted along the driveway. I probably have to move at least 20 more because if left there, they will grow wide and into the already narrow driveway.
That was our weekend at the Cottage. 
Hope your week is off to a good start.