Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Inspired: Christmas Light Wreath

Since we decided that we were going to put colored lights on our tree this year(and by we, I mean me) and (I'm positive my Mom just gasped) we didn't have a need for the white lights from last year's tree.

Yes, I said we were putting colored lights on our tree Mom. You read it right.  I have ALWAYS been a white Christmas light person. Always.  So, what brought on this sudden change in the traditional light choice?  

Well, we (again, I) have decided that Christmas this year is going to be different. It is going to be casual, colorful, quirky, and (mostly) handmade. Life is too short to be taken too seriously, and I can be guilty of being too serious sometimes.  I am a worrier.  I worry about what other people think, I worry about things I can't control.  I laugh often, but who couldn't use more laughter in their life?  Alan knows how to make me laugh and reminds not to take life too seriously.  

So, this year, Christmas is going to be funny...it's going to have character, it's going to be whatever we want it to be.      

So, when I came across the spare strands in that measly Christmas decoration bin, I remembered this post that caught my eye.  The post is actually about the little recovered love seat, but I remembered it for the whimsical wreath.  I loved the fact that it wasn't perfect and it just looked fun! I don't know why, but this isn't something I would normally like, but there was something about it that inspired me.

I picked up a green wire wreath for a few bucks at Michael's a few weeks ago in hopes of being able to recreate this wreath when the holidays rolled around.  I spent about 20 minutes wrapping the lights around the wreath and one minute hammering a nail into the wall, hanging the wreath, and plugging it in. Yep, it took less than 30 minutes.

After getting it on the wall, I made a few adjustments to get the lights exactly how I wanted.  I love shadows, and the lights cast great shadows on the wall, along with Alan's deer antlers that were already hanging on this wall, just waiting for something to join them.

The wreath gives off the perfect Christmas glow, however, I like lights so much that I would be happy to keep it up all year around. 

So, have you started decorating for the holidays yet? I have a ton of handmade decorations in the works and can't wait to get them up around the house! 

A Tale of Christmas Past

As I pulled down the one measly bin of Christmas decorations we have from the attic today, I got to thinking about how we decorated the house for the holidays last year.  Since we were in the midst of planning what ended up being the most amazing trip EVER (more on that later), we didn't do very much decorating. We picked out and chopped down our first Christmas tree together, because I had never done it (we had an artificial tree growing up).  

So, when it came to decorating the tree, we wanted to keep everything simple (yet again), and cheap (that's how we roll). So I grabbed some pine cones from the yard (yet again), and added a bit of silver spray paint, a dab of hot glue, and a little red ribbon. 

Presto. Chango. Instant Christmas ornaments.

Add some classic red ball ornaments and the only other ornaments we owned at the time, a little Red and Black from our Alma Mater. Go Dawgs! 

We didn't have any theme planned when it came to decorating our first Christmas tree, but it just so happened that with the silver pine cones, red balls, white lights, and what turned out to be a lot of Georgia ornaments, we were officially sporting a UGA Christmas tree without even meaning to.  However, that was fine with us, since just a year earlier around the same time, we were in Athens graduating.  It brought back so many great memories we made at school.  The kind of memories you won't ever forget.

Yep, you saw our tree correct, and even though this was the night we put the tree up, the tree skirt stayed that bare until we took the tree down in January. No gifts were wrapped and placed under the tree last year. We had gifts in the making that couldn't be wrapped or put under our tree. Gifts in the form of wedding plans in far off big cities.           

You can see little Baxter in the picture with us.  We had just adopted him a few weeks prior to this picture.  He was so tiny, so sweet and thought that we brought the tree inside just for him.  Good thing he didn't weigh enough to do any real damage. 

Other than our decorated tree, a fresh wreath on the front door and some lit garland over the mantle, we didn't have any other decorations for our first Christmas together in our lil house. We really didn't need any of that to make the holiday special.  There were other events that followed later in the month that made the holiday season unforgettable for us.  

Monday, November 29, 2010


As you probably already know, we hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year.  It was our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, and I really enjoyed having our families at our house.

Not everyone could come down, but my parents, Alan's parents, and his sister's family were able to join us for the holiday and we are so thankful to be able to spend time with all of them.

I set a really simple table, with the easiest place card holder. Ever. 
I told you there would be more pine cones, and here they are.  I simply cut out a piece of card stock, and slipped it right into the top of the pine cone.

I found these striped, colorful napkins at Pier One for a few bucks each (they were my favorite, and I knew our smallest guest would like the bright colors), and then, picked up the solid orange and green napkins at Target.

I decided to mix up the colors since we rarely feed nine people on a regular basis. (This way we have a few different colors to add to the others we use throughout the year.)  

Our menu was posted

And little ones scurried around the house, and had fun drawing. 

The dessert table was packed full of pies, cake, and cookies.

Pumpkin Chocolate Cake

Mom's pumpkin pie

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

and finally, apple pie.

Instead of passing out from food comas like most people do after Thanksgiving dinner, we all headed downtown to partake in our town's Thanksgiving Day festivities.  

I love Christmas lights of any kind, anywhere.  But, our town has the most magical lights ever. 

Our downtown is a large square, with the old courthouse right in the middle.  Lights drape from the very tip of the courthouse, all the way down and across the streets that make up downtown.

I think it's simply beautiful, and have found, after two years, that pictures just don't do it justice.
For the entire month of December, I go out of my way to drive under the downtown lights. 

We hope your Thanksgiving was as magical as ours! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Colors of Fall

We are still getting geared up for Thanksgiving here in Georgia and I wanted an easy way to freshen up the table to get it ready for guests to gather around Thursday.  Since I moved the pumpkins and table runner to what will be Thursday's dessert table I needed something else to adorn our dining table. Over the weekend, I picked up a more heat friendly runner from Target for our main table, but it needed a little something more.

With a little inspiration from my favorite home design bloggers, I stepped out to our backyard and plucked a few branches from the only tree in our yard that changes color in the fall.  According to Alan, who was a high school 4-H tree expert, the tree isn't native. He doesn't know what it is. But, there's one thing I do know, it's beautiful this time of year!

Don't you agree?

After a few minutes of arranging, our dining table looked perfect. Really simple, yet again, (are you beginning to catch on to the theme of our house. Yea, we're pretty simple around here).   

I clipped the branches over the weekend, so by now, they are getting ready to fall off and turn into a pile of leaves on the table.  You can see they are starting to look a little wilted.    

You can see how the ones on the dessert table have already started to fall.

They are still so bright and beautiful, so I don't really mind cleaning up a leaf or two. Since they are completely free, I can clip some new branches before our guests arrive Thursday, that is, if there are any leaves left on the tree by then.  

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I wanted to share a recipe I have whipped up for the second, yes, second time this fall already!  These cookies are amazing and I am so glad I came across them on Dana's blog

The only change I made to her recipe was the addition of a few spices in the frosting.  I have never made cream cheese icing before, and apparently I'm not a big fan unless there's a little cinnamon, nutmeg, or just some pumpkin pie spice in it.  Yum!

The first time I made these I used regular size chocolate chips, and this time around I tried mini chocolate chips.  The minis melted much quicker, giving the cookies a bit more of a chocolate kick.  However, there's not a big difference in the taste, and they are divine either way. 

Head over to MADE for the recipe, and while you're there, look around a bit.  You won't be sorry.

Here's what the Hurst kitchen looked like last night.

Delicious! Simply Delicious! 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

DIY Yarn Wreath

Since we are hosting Thanksgiving this year I wanted to bring some fall colors into the house.  This year is actually our first Thanksgiving as a married couple (we got married last December), so we are excited about having family over for the holidays.

Instead of skipping from Halloween, straight to Christmas, like many people like to do, we are strictly wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas kind of people. Christmas is my favorite holiday, by far, but there are so many great things about Thanksgiving and the autumn season that are worth enjoying.

Lately, I have had an itch to hang some wreaths around the house to bring in some fall colors. After coming across this wreath, I knew it would be the perfect project! 

I made my wreath pretty much the same way Danielle did, but with a few different supplies.  

Here's what I started with

A simple styrofoam wreath from Michael's and some yarn from my stash.  I chose a yellow/green color called Moss.  You will see in some light it looks yellow, in others it's more green.  Nonetheless, it says autumn to me.

Next, I tied the yarn around the wreath, knotted it, and began wrapping. I made sure to pull the yarn tight as I went.  The slick texture of the styrofoam made it very easy to slide the yarn around as I needed, and helped the project to go really quickly. 

The wrapping process only took about 30 minutes.  However, as you can see, my wreath is pretty thin. (I love the modern look of the skinny wreath). When I came to the end of the wrapping process, I simply tied a knot around a straight pin, and pushed it into the styrofoam.  Easy as that!  Also, since my wreath is fairly skinny, it used much less yarn than I thought it would.  I could have definitely wrapped my entire wreath with yarn scraps.  There's no need for a whole skein of yarn.      

Since we have an abundance of pine cones hanging around (thank you outrageous number of pine trees in our yard), and they are free, and just lying there for the taking, I knew I wanted to add them to my wreath. I found the perfect Mommy and perfect baby pine cones waiting on me in our front yard. I don't know about you, but these are the most perfect, rustic addition to any fall decor.  (You will be seeing many more of them around the house later on). 

With a little wired twine (I also picked up at Michael's), I attached the pine cones to my wreath.  

Being extra careful not to damage them in the process.

And, with a little wrapping, and twisting the pine cones were attached.

Now, I know this is really pretty plain, and there's isn't much to it, but like I said before, we like to keep things simple around here.  Less is more for most everything except Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (look out for the recipe soon).  You won't be sorry. 

To hang the wreath, I cut a piece of twine and wrapped it around a tack that I hammered into the top of the door, making sure the door could still open and close easily. 

It turned out much better than I could have imagined, and it was quick, easy, and cheap.

This project can easily be adapted to ANY occasion, and I look forward to making some more (it was JUST that easy) - really, you should try it!   

Now, it's back to baking and preparing for the upcoming week! 

(Doesn't the wreath have a great view of the fall leaves outside?  Stay tuned to see more of those...they are more colorful than they look.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Swinging Away

I'm back with another update on our lil 'ol porch.  Yep, I know what you're thinking.  I am not being very organized with my blog posts lately.  Well, actually, I meant to do that.  I am going for a skip around, no real order, free as a bird, keep you coming back for more approach.  Is it working?

Well, since our porch has been one of the easiest places in our home to update, I have a lot left to share with you.  See, easy is what we like. Making easy, quick changes to our home is rewarding.  Our house didn't get much love before we came into it's life, and we like to do little things to make it OUR home.  This project is just one of those little things.

One of the very first additions we bought for our porch was a porch swing.  Well, we didn't buy it necessarily.  My parents gave it to us as a wedding gift of sorts.

I grew up with a swing on my front porch and am rather fond of swinging. It makes our house feel like home to me.  Reminds me of days when I was young and ventured to the front porch just to swing.  And, no, I don't swing 24/7.  I wish I had time to, but it is nice knowing the swing is there whenever I want to feel like a kid again, with no worries or responsibilities.  I mean, who doesn't love to swing?  And, the best part about our swing, there's room for more than one!  Because swinging by yourself is great and all, but swinging with someone you love is even better.  

We wanted to put one up last winter, but had to wait until the Spring since they are a "spring" item and couldn't be found in the stores during the colder months.  

It was pretty easy to put together, and is the best place to enjoy sitting any time of day.

We now have a great spot to relax, take in some fresh air, and enjoy our neighborhood.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The Hurst home has been quite busy lately.  I can't wait to share what we have been working on.  Over the weekend, we finished an amazing amount of work.  With the help of my mom (Thank you, Mom!) we got our house looking back to normal (somewhat).  Well, it's really a new normal.  A lot of changes have happened in the last month and we are loving the results so far!

Here are a couple of the things that got completed over the weekend

New flooring was installed

A new fan was put up

Vents were replaced

and quarter round was painted and installed

These are just a few of the things that we completed over the weekend. Our latest project is coming along quite nicely and I will be back to share more with you soon!