Decorating : Thanksgiving 2011

November 25, 2011 00:00 by ehouston

This year I wanted to include the Little Guy in the creation of our holiday décor.  Normally I am not one to do a whole lot around the house for fall decorating.  Come to think of it, I don’t do a lot of “all around the house” decorating for any holidays really.  I guess coming from such a frugal retro school of thought, I don’t want to have to buy, clean up and store a ton of decorations for each holiday.  However, staying at home with a child means constantly coming up with ideas for projects to help him learn and keep crazy fingers busy.  So, I figure if I can get some holiday decorations out of it too, why not?

He had already helped me pick out numerous pumpkins and mini gourds, which he also arranged along the dining table and down the front steps.  We started that phase of fall decorating back in September.  I added our gourd wreath that my mom made for us several years ago and the big galvanized tub of mums and sage from the garden. 


(Here is the gourd wreath my mom made for us complete with removable gourd skeletons for Halloween.)

Soon after arranging these items we brought the paper mache pumpkins down from the attic and he set those up in the foyer.  It has been raining so much over the last couple of months that we opted to keep the paper pumpkins inside this year.  I’m sure they would have melted by now if we had tried placing them on the front stoop like last year.  So, we have enjoyed them throughout the last couple of months every time we go up and down the stairs and through the foyer.



Earlier this week I posted about making the faux birch bark paper and then using that paper to make fall vases.  I even hinted at the finished product on Wednesday.  Today I wanted to share how the vases came together with the pumpkins and gourds for our Thanksgiving table center piece.  Again, please note that I do not put together over the top place settings, so just getting some flowers to the table is a big deal around here.  The Little Guy helped give his opinion in picking out some seasonal flowers at the grocery store and then we brought them home and started arranging.



I discovered about half way through that I would not have enough filler or white flowers to round out all three arrangements so we went back to the store to see what we could find.  A stop in the front yard to snip some overgrown Nandina saved us the cost of filler and gave us some lovely deep orange-red berries.  Once we got to the store we found a bunch of white daisies in the sale bins- score!  He loved holding the flowers as I pushed him through the store while we shopped for some other last minute items too.  He nearly knocked out the lady offering sushi samples at one point, so eventually I had to put the bunches in the cart.  Dumpling sample in hand and he could care less about where the flowers ended up.


Once we got home it was easy to knock out the two smaller vase arrangements and fill in the large one a little more too.  I liked that we ended up with different white accent flowers because now the vases are not all matchy-matchy.  The vases and pumpkin and gourds are sitting on some neat leaf shaped suede cloth placemats that my mom gave us last year.  I think they make a cute runner when just placed down the middle of the table. 


The last decoration we created was the paper leaf garland you can see hanging in the background between the dining and formal living rooms.  It’s also hanging from our banister, but a little harder to see with all the rungs of the hand railing.  This was a super fun project that I enjoyed with the Little Guy a couple of weeks ago.  Somehow over the years I have managed to amass a pretty good sized collection of leaf shaped stamps and upon discovering them in one of my craft drawers a while back I decided we could have some fun.  So, I got out the washable paints, mixed up some colors and let him go nuts.  More on the making later next week.

The last thing I wanted to share are the little lovelies that my sweet boy made at school.  I don’t think a holiday is complete without some kid-made decorations adorning the fireplace mantel. 


We have the tree with fall leaves, the feather wreath and of course a feathery turkey!


I mean just look at those crazy eyes!  Gotta love it!

Yesterday was a lazy Turkey day at our place while awaiting our company.  So, today the cooking extravaganza begins and I cannot wait to chow down!  I hope all of you had a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving and were able to spend it with the ones you loved.

Kitsch Krafts

PS- Tell me how you decorated for the big day.  Do you go all out and decorate the entire house, or keep it simple and more about the food and family?

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Making And Crafts – Fall Decor

October 29, 2010 09:00 by ehouston



A while back my mom came for a visit and started me down a project path I was not really ready to take.  I was glad for the push, but I am even more excited about the finale.  I had been telling her about how every year I promise myself that I am going to go out and buy up the fall decor as soon as it goes on sale so I can get great stuff at a discount.  For years I have been wanting to get a bunch of those fake pumpkins that you can actually carve if you want to and use them to decorate our front stoop.  I just like the idea of being able to use them over and over again.  Well, every year I either forget to go back to the craft stores to get them or when I go back they only have the itty bitty ones left.  So, this year I had the idea that I would make some out of paper mache and that way I could have a whole big pile in every shape I wanted to decorate our place for the fall season.  It just so happened that I also received a box of goodies from another family member and in that box was an old Country Living magazine featuring paper mache pumpkins right on the cover.  Pretty funny, right?

Well, I was telling my mom the story and when I finished she said, “so lets do it”!  Even though I had about a hundred other things going I decided to take the leap and finally get to those pumpkins and gourds I had been wanting for so long.  Plus, it’s just fun to do crafts with other people that enjoy them as much as I do.

We started with some balloons and then used twisted paper to create “pumpkin” and “gourd” type shapes. 


(Day One: Getting encouragement to start from Grandma and the Little Guy)


(Day Two: Grandma, a little overly zealous in whipping up forms.  She was FAST!!)

Later I even did a couple of extra large “pumpkins” using both balloons and twisted paper to bulk them up a bit. 


(As you can see we created all different types of pumpkin and gourd styles.)


(We used old egg cartons to help elevate the forms and create air circulation for fast drying.)

I also realized that they needed some kind of ridge along the bottoms to keep them standing upright, especially after adding the stems. 



(A stem in process.  Just rolled a strip of newspaper, splayed the ends and used tape to hold it in place while adding strips of paper mache.  One note: we learned that using the 50/50 flour (white and whole wheat) created a paste that took a lot longer to dry and created a bumpy texture.  We stuck with regular white flour going forward.)


After several coats of paper, flour and water I also painted on a really thick coating of just the flour and water.  This helped to even out some of the paper ridges that are almost impossible to smooth out no matter how hard you try.  After the thick flour and water coating dried I primed them with regular old wall primer and then used various acrylic paints I had on hand to give them a final coat.  Although they are definitely stylized (and a bit lumpy) versions of pumpkins and gourds, and I doubt they will be fooling anyone, I still think they came out pretty nice. 




(We also added some discounted mums that appear to be about to bloom.  Hopefully that will happen before the frost gets them.  Cross your fingers for us!)

Even though these things took a long time to complete with all the other projects we have going on the biggest plus was that, aside from time, the only investment was one small bag of balloons and a couple of bags of flour.  I had paints and newspaper laying around already, so I think the total expense involved was around $5.00.  And, if we get lucky they will survive the fall weather so we can use them year after year.

Thanks for getting me started Mom!

Kitsch Krafts

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