Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 IN A NUTSHELL...

So are you psyched about the new year?  I am.  I totally am!!

First though, before launching into the future, the vastness of the unknown, let's take a moment to reflect on the year behind us.

I always love doing a year end review because it reminds me that I really did get some things accomplished throughout the year.  Though getting the house all clean at one time hardly ever happened because...I have kids...that live at home...need I say more?, I did get most everything checked off my to do list this year.  Wow, did I just say that?!

Anyway, after taking a look back at all the completed (or almost completed) projects this year, I feel pretty good about myself right now.

I set out in January to makeover the dining room...it took A WHILE...but it went from this...



to this....










Major improvement wouldn't you say?

I still need to accessorize but that is only happening if the house doesn't sell soon.  I don't want to buy a lot of things that I might not use somewhere else.

Anyway, I hung a gorgeous chandelier that I found at the thrift store for just a few dollars, made over some Craigslist chairs, gave a Craigslist china hutch a facelift, made my own Restoration Hardware style art for the walls, and built a farmhouse style dining table.  Not too shabby, huh?

To update you on the costs of this makeover as promised way back when, after selling (or giving away) some things and purchasing mostly Craigslist finds, the entire makeover was around $200.00.  Not bad if I do say so myself!

In the spring we (the hubs and I) tackled the screened porch.  It was a total mess and was pretty much a complete rebuild.












It was SOOOO totally worth it.  The porch has been the most used and enjoyed room in the entire house since...seriously! And, it is the one thing that I am truly going to miss when we sell this place.

After that, we tackled the flower bed along the front and side of the house.



We took out all the weeds, laid down a cardboard weed barrier and filled in with some mulch and plants.

















Beautiful!!

By the way, the all natural cardboard weed barrier worked like a charm...no weeds all summer long. Yayyyyy!!!

I finally got around to redoing the bubs' room.







EVERYTHING got a fresh coat of paint and he got a new (used) antique bed...




























I have partially given the dresser a facelift and hung some new window treatments since this picture but I still have some accessorizing to do in there yet.  Again though, I hesitate to do anything else with the house being up for sale.

The biggest accomplishment (the biggest, hardest and most pain in the rear project) this year was redoing the hardwood floors throughout the entire house.  We completely moved out of the house for two whole weeks...furniture and all...and lived in a camper in the backyard...but we got them done and though they are far from perfect, I am truly proud of us and of them.  They have made the biggest impact in this house to date and I couldn't be happier with them.  With that said, I will NEVER, and I do mean NEVER, refinish hardwood floors again!!!!!!!!!!!







With that, most of the major projects in the house are finished (as finished as they are going to get anyway) and I must say, after looking back at everything done, I have been VERY blessed and I truly do feel a big sense of accomplishment this year.

So that's 2015 in a nutshell here at Beyond the Portico. Now I am hoping the house sells soon because in 2016 I hope to get my hands on something a little farther out in the country!!  That would make for a REAL happy new year here for sure!

I pray that you have a very HAPPY NEW YEAR and that your 2016 is everything you hope it to be.

Ciao,



Wednesday, December 23, 2015

THIS TREE'S A HOT MESS!!...

So yesterday I mentioned that the reason you had not seen our Christmas tree yet this year was because it has some problems...and problems it has.  The spine is curvy, it has a few bald spots, the ornaments are in all the wrong places because I have a 10 year old (wink, wink), and the lights at the top and now the bottom of the tree have gone out.  Suffice to say it's a hot mess; but, with it being just a few short days until Christmas, it'll have to do.

As promised though I took a shot of the tree this morning to show you how it's looking.  Unfortunately I left my SD card at work yesterday so I had to take a picture with my phone. It's not a good one but that's just the way things have been going for me lately.





Fortunately with the low lighting you can't really see the curvature of the trunk so that's a good thing because when you look at it in person it kind of makes you a bit dizzy.

I was thinking that this mess of a tree might just cure me from ever wanting a "real" Christmas tree again.  I'm a perfectionist so dealing with this tree instead of a perfectly shaped fake tree has been a real challenge for me to say the least; but, I don't know, there's just something about a real tree that makes Christmas better, even if it is a hot mess.  Strangely enough, I love the real best even though it has flaws.  It kind of reminds me of me.  Like my Christmas tree this year, I'm not perfect but one day God decided that I was worth saving and he came to this earth to rescue a hot mess like me....and you too!  So although we've talked this year about pretty Christmas trees and decorations and food and parties and presents, I just wanted to leave a little reminder that Christmas is not really about all those things. It's about our savior....JESUS. He's the reason for the season and I don't know about you but I'm so thankful he overlooked my flaws, has had much patience with me and loved me anyway. You too?

So with that, I say MERRY CHRISTMAS my friends.  Have a fabulous holiday!!



Tuesday, December 22, 2015

MY ATTEMPT AT A PROFESSIONALLY DECORATED CHRISTMAS TREE...

I know you all have been wondering why I haven't showed you my Christmas tree yet this year as I usually post a picture or two the week after Thanksgiving.  Well, let's just say I haven't wanted to talk about it.  Here's why...

It's been our tradition every since I can remember to put up our Christmas tree Thanksgiving weekend.  Somehow this year we missed the boat on that one....whooops!!  We were a week or two late at picking out and putting up our tree.  Can anyone say BUSY!!

I had a special time planned to go to the Pea Ridge Forest tree farm and enjoy the hayride out to the forest, pick out our tree and cut it down ourselves. You know like they did on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation...only our experience would be so much better...of course...Hehehe.  I was so looking forward to enjoying a nice steaming cup of hot chocolate and warming myself by the fire at the lodge and then listening to Christmas carols all the way home but that did NOT happen.  We ended up at Lowes when the hubs decided that paying $10 per foot for a Christmas tree was too much.  O HUMBUG!!!

Anyway, Lowes had a bunch of trees and though I was pretty disappointed that we didn't make it to the tree farm, I found one that looked pretty good....or so I thought...and we took it home.  The 6.5 - 7 foot tree was only $21.00.  Sure beats paying $10 per foot doesn't it?  Not!!! Because once we got it home we realized that it has scoliosis of the tree trunk.  Yes, our tree is curvy...VERY curvy and yes it's noticeable.  Another whooooops!!, but it's not like we could take it back or anything so we were stuck with it...it's curvy spine and it's few bald spots as well...OH MAN, what a tree!!  Nevertheless I went ahead and decorated it...the best I could.  Then after it was completely decorated with ribbons, ornaments and all, the top strand of lights blew out...every last one of them!  Yes, that's been my luck this year.  Needless to say I have pretty much lost all patience and hope with this tree and so I haven't taken any pictures of it.  I know you understand.

However, I didn't want to leave you this Christmas without showing you a Christmas tree at all, so I thought I would share with you the tree that I decorated for Children's church.

Now you might remember that a few weeks ago I shared Jennifer Davenport's video on how to decorate a tree like a professional.  Well, I decided to take a few ques from that video when decorating the Children's church tree and here's how it turned out....



Hmmm, not bad!!

I used the pencil tree that I used in my dining room last year.  It's prelit, slim and super easy to use. You basically fluff it and plug it in.  Easy!!

Since it was for kids church I went with a whimsical theme in the traditional reds and greens.  I used a similar theme last year as well but I hadn't tried to "professionally" decorate it.  I simply decorated it like I decorate all my trees..and I thought it looked okay. Ha!! However, I think you will agree when you see my side by side comparison of last year's tree vs. this year's tree that Jennifer's ideas and suggestions really do work...




Boy what a drastic difference!!! And you know what? I used way less ornaments to boot.  Can you believe that? This year's tree looks sooo much fuller.  Wow!

I found the Noel, Wish and Joy signs at $1 tree for just a buck a piece and I think they make such a big impact.  Hmmm, maybe because they are so BIG and take up a lot of space.




 The large candy cane ornaments I used as a topper also came from $1 tree and the large "lollipop" is a small styrofoam plate I decorated to look like candy and wrapped in cellophane.






The most tedious and time consuming part to the whole tree was attaching the ribbon.  I layered three different ribbons for fullness which made it a little difficult to tuck in between the branches because this tree is so compact.




but it was totally worth the effort because that ribbon gives the tree so much dimension.



So there you have it, my attempt at a professionally decorated Christmas tree.  What do you think? Did I do a good job?  The kids thought so.

Before I go, I will tell you that I did attempt to somewhat professionally decorate my spine challenged tree also and since I have already told you about the poor little thing, I guess I will go ahead and try to post a few shots of it later this week...before Christmas...you know, in case you need a good laugh.  Haha.

Until then I hope you are enjoying this holiday season.  Merry Christmas!



Monday, December 21, 2015

AN UNEXPECTED AND EARLY CHRISTMAS PRESENT...

Did you know St. Louis now has an IKEA?  It opened at the end of October! YAY!!!

I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for an Ikea to come to this area because I have been wanting one of their Ektorp sofas.I had heard so many good things about them and have wanted one for a VERY long time. However, with the nearest store over 4 hours away and the astronomical costs of shipping, I couldn't have one.  Boo!!

When I found out this spring that Ikea was coming to St. Louis I started saving and counting the days until I could finally buy one and although I hadn't quite saved enough money we took a little trip to the new Ikea a few weeks ago to check it out and to make sure that the Ektorp was what I really wanted.  You know I had to go and check out the comfort and quality factors before making that purchase..wink, wink.

If you've never been to an Ikea you really MUST go.  They're HUGE!!!  They have a play place where you can drop off your little ones while you shop.  They have a restaurant with awesomely yummy food and the one in St. Louis has three floors...it's an ALLLL day shopping trip for sure!  Make sure you wear your walking shoes!!

Anyway, I have to say that I was super impressed with the store and with the quality and the comfort of the Ektorp sofa...but not so much the size.  It seemed a little small.  It's not really small but the cushions are so big and fluffy that it didn't seem there was any room left for sitting.  However, the loveseat with chaise was perfect!

LOTS of room! and the comfort factor...WOW!!...but we left the store that day without one because I still had some saving to do (Whaaa!) Not to mention that with Christmas coming up, all our extra money was spoken for.  You know how that goes, right?

Anyway, I figured I would probably be able to get one at tax time.  That's just a few months away and since I had already waited about three years, what's another couple of months, right?  However, much to my surprise, my Christmas bonus from work was a little more than I was expecting.  The Lord really blessed me because not only was it enough to finish up the Christmas shopping for the kids but there was enough left over to put with my savings to get my Ektorp.  YAYYY!!!

The hubs and I took a vacation day this past Friday and drove up to Ikea St. Louis. We came home with this...





Yes, it was in boxes. In case you didn't know, all Ikea's furniture comes in boxes and has to be assembled and THE INSTRUCTIONS DO NOT HAVE WORDS...PICTURES ONLY! I have to say though that it was very easy to assemble.  It only took about 20 minutes from start to finish...not bad!!  Then it took about another 30 minutes or so to put all the slipcovers on, with the chaise slipcover being the most difficult.  Not gonna lie that one was a booger! The cushion is just so big that I had a hard time maneuvering it into the cover.  The hubs had to help with that one so I hope I don't have to take it off and wash it too often.  Hehe.







Anyway it's totally gorgeous and HUGE (about 15 inches longer than our last sofa) which is why it's not centered under the mirror.  Of course you know my OCD will not allow the mirror and sconces to be off centered for too long so I will be centering them as soon as I get the chance.  It's also SUPER comfy and I like the fact that I can move the chaise to the other end or in the middle if I like.  It's adjustable, which is ideal for someone who likes to rearrange furniture as much as I do. Hahaha.

Now I know you're thinking that I'm CRAZY for buying a white sofa with kids in the house, but here's my reasoning for buying this specific sofa...it's BECAUSE I have kids in the house....this sofa is inexpensive (half the price of the last one I bought), has a 10 year limited warranty and the entire thing is slipcovered, which means I can take any or all the covers off anytime I want to wash (and bleach) them. You can't do that with a regular sofa no matter how dirty it gets.

Also, when these covers get worn out I can buy a whole new set for just $99.00 instead of buying a whole new sofa. Not to mention that if I ever want to change my decor and go for something darker, I still won't have to buy a whole new sofa. I can dye this one since it is 100% cotton or I can simply buy a new Ektorp slipcover set in any of the other colors Ikea offers. They have dark gray, red, brown, tan, striped, etc...most of those covers though are dry clean only and that's why I didn't choose any of them right now.

What it all boils down to with this sofa is that I have choices, lot of choices but without the expense. Now that's what I'm talking about!

Would you buy a white sofa? Have you ever had a white slipcovered sofa or an Ektorp? What is your opinion of them?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on or about your experience with a white sofa!



Tuesday, December 15, 2015

5 GREAT LAST MINUTE GIFTS FOR $5

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way to the poor house...if your Christmas shopping list is as long as mine is....Hehehe.

Do you have all your Christmas shopping done?  Me either!  I find that I always have one more present to buy for this person or that person...you know "last minute gifts"...and I always seem to be stumped as to what to get them.  I hate giving the proverbial gift card because they are so...well, just so...and the recipient can usually tell that their gift was your last minute thought. Ewe, that's not good.  Anyway, I like to give everybody on my list something...something they can unwrap...because that's the fun part!!  Something that is useful and that they can enjoy more than once but I also don't want to break the bank.  After all I would still like to be able to pay my utility bills when Christmas is over...YOU TOO?

With that in mind I have put together a list of 5 great gifts for $5 or under that anyone on your list will like.

1.  Blanket scarf.






Any friends of yours love to bundle up on a cold winters day?  Give them one of these blanket scarves from Five Below.

2.  Scarf hangers.





Have a friend with a lot of scarves and no place to keep them?  Give them a scarf hanger or two. You can get a two pack for just $5 at places like Five Below, Dollar General and Ross.

3.  Texting/touch gloves.





These are great for all those texting enthusiasts on your list. The special fabric allows the smart phone to read the finger through the glove.  You can find these just about anywhere these days for $5 a pair Check Wal-mart or Five Below for all sorts of fun colors and patterns.


4.  Winter slippers or Sherpa boots...


It's been said that if your feet are cold, your whole body is cold.  Brrrrr.  Your friends will never have cold feet again if you get them a pair of these fleece lined imitation Sherpa boots.  They have them at in all different colors and sizes at Wal-mart, Five Below and Dollar General for just $5 a pair.  The best part...they are soft, warm and comfy!!

5.  Boot tray.




Of course the recipient of this gift might get that weird sort of look on their face when they open this one...you know the look that says "what in the world is this thing" but once they see how useful it is in corralling all those dripping snow boots and how it keeps their nice floors clean and free of water, it is sure to be their favorite gift of the season.  You might pick yourself up one too...just in case.  They have them at Wal-mart for just $4.64.

So there you have it...5 great last minute gifts for just $5.

Now HURRY grab your wallet and your keys and get to shopping because Christmas is ONLY a little over a week away...EEEEEK!!



Friday, December 4, 2015

LET THE PROS SHOW YOU HOW TO DECORATE YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE...

Hi guys.  Do you want to learn how to decorate your Christmas tree like the pros?  Me too!  I've decorated my Christmas trees the same way for years, just twirling a length of ribbon around the body of them and adding in some ornaments.





Very simple, nothing too fancy; and, while I like my style and will probably never change it (because I'm a creature of habit), I've always wondered how the pros do what they do to make their trees look so full, fluffy and festive.





How do they get all that ribbon tucked into the branches?  How do they get ALL those ornaments on there and in just the perfect spot?

I want to know!! You too?

Well there is one professional that all we bloggers know and love who is going to show us how...Jennifer Davenport from Jennifer Decorates, formerly Decorating Made Easy. She truly is a Christmas decorating pro and offers all sorts of tips and tricks in the following video that shows how the normal, average, everyday person like you and I can achieve a professional looking Christmas tree in just a few easy steps.

As a matter of fact, I think you will be SURPRISED at just how easy it is...





See, EASY!!!

Now go decorate that tree!!!



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

CLIPBOARDS AND AN OLD CALENDAR = A GREAT GIFT IN LESS THAN FIVE MINUTES...

It seems like I have no shortage of friends and people to give gifts to each year.  You too?

I also seem to have no shortage of pretty picture laden wall calendars at home and at work that are all used up and ready to be thrown in the garbage around this time of year. You too?







So why not kill two birds with one stone. Get rid of those old calendars by recycling, restyling and reinventing them and giving them as gifts to all your friends.

All you need is scissors, a few clipboards (new or vintage), some glue dots and five minutes...






Clip all those lovely pictures from the calendar, cut them down to size if needed and hang them from the clipboards.  Secure the bottom corners of each picture with glue dots...so easy!

Then give them to your friends to hang as art on their walls...






Feel free to use a new, current calendar if you like.

I like the idea of hanging them in line down a long hallway...











Or perhaps in a grid on a large wall...





I think botanicals are especially pretty and VERY trendy, yet classic...




You know on second thought, maybe you should just keep all those beauties for yourself...hehehe...

JUST KIDDING!

This is a super quick, super easy and inexpensive gift idea and...the possibilities are ENDLESS. The best part is you can really give your friend, son, daughter, ANYONE a gift that matches their personality, taste and style. Have a friend that loves animals, use a calendar with cute, fuzzy, furry animal prints.  Your son love cars? Use a car/automobile calendar to hang in a grid over his headboard. The best part is when their tastes or styles change (or the seasons change) the pictures can be switched out with something different.  So versatile!!

Clipboards are only about $1 each, the calendar is free or you can get one for a dollar at most places and the whole project only takes about five minutes...can't beat that!!!

Don't like the idea of recycling the pictures off an old calendar? Give a whole new 2016 calendar with gorgeous photo prints made especially for clipboards.  They're a little pricey at about $25.00 but they would make a lovely gift for anyone on your list.





Check them out HERE...

Don't have the kind of money?  Download this free printable 2016 clipboard calendar. Copy and paste any image you want into it and print from your own printer.

Anyway, I just wanted to throw this idea out there, before Christmas.  You know in case you are looking for a unique, fashionable and trendy gift that is personalized and inexpensive to give to someone on your list.

Get creative this year...without breaking the bank!!


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

IT'S DECEMBER....YEAH, BABY!!!

It's December y'all!  Can you believe it?

It's time once again to celebrate and savor the season. The Christmas season...which I LOVE!!!

Sadly though I haven't even put one single decoration out yet.  I usually deck the halls and cozy things up the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving but not this year.  I just can't seem to decide what I want to do this year as far as decor goes.  The only thing I know for sure is that I want fresh, real and simple.

We will be getting a fresh tree from Lowes this coming weekend.  I can't wait!  Secretly, I hope it snows like it did the first year we picked a real tree...




We had SOOOOO much fun...dashing through the snow in a "one horse open sleigh" or a PT Cruiser, I should say...Hehe.

I have considered doing everything in the traditional red and green, which I love...







because it's so whimsical and festive!  But...naw, I'm just not feeling it.

I could go with something a little less traditional....like the gold and purple I did a few years back...





but I'm not feeling that at all!!!

I could do something with a wintry theme like I did last year...




Which I thought was GORGEOUS!!!  I'm just not feeling that for this year either.

Maybe I will go with an "all natural" theme this year and decorate the tree with flocked pine cones, cranberry and popcorn garland, dried apple and orange slices...something like this...











I bet it would smell AMAZING...

Or perhaps I won't decorate it at all...





or at least not too much...




and let the tree do all the talking.

Hmmm, I guess we'll just have to wait and see!!

How is your Christmas decorating going this year?



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