C'est la vie

As the year comes to a close we have the opportunity to take a moment and reflect on our blessings. I count you, my readers, as a huge blessing in my life. Thank you!!! Willow Decor is labor of love and my sincere thanks for reading, and sharing your comments. I never imagined when I started writing this blog it would reach so many readers in so many countries. Your emails, comments and questions inspire me to be better each day. Wishing you all the best for the Holiday Season! I look forward to continuing the journey with you into 2009!



Is posting gift wrap ideas a dead giveaway that I have yet to do any wrapping??
Procrastination at it's finest...

I came across these gift wrap ideas while browsing through bhg.com. You should check out the site! They have some really great ways of dressing up a package! These are a few of my favorites:

The first picture is of "wrapping paper" that comes straight from your printer. Just print out Christmas inspired words or messages in a pretty font and, Viola!

This cool, blue bow was made from a typical, sticky-back bow, but all of the loops were clipped to make something fun and new!

I love the addition of berries and greenery...

These packages were wrapped in fabric. Just use a hot glue gun to secure the edges.

I think these mitten gift bags are adorable!

Such a simple idea!

This was one of my favorites! What grandparent wouldn't love a package wrapped in their grandchild's custom art work?

This was my absolute FAVORITE idea! An empty paint can with it's shiny exterior would be the perfect container for small items! What an unexpected and beautiful package! I love it!

Photos courtesy of bhg.com

Only two more spots to fill on the Advent Calendar! The kids are giddy! They can hardly wait!

I'm looking forward to the time spent with family, all of the incredible food and watching the expressions on my children's faces as they see what Santa has brought them! I'm just hoping that my pilot will be able to be here with us. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and asking Santa for a little help with that...

All of this snow has given me a severe case of cabin fever! So if I'm going to be stuck at home for days on end, I might as well make the most of it. It was time for the boys' bedroom to get a makeover anyway!

I added the darker, horizontal stripes to the top of the wall using paint that I already had from a different project. I painted the bottom of the wall using the left-over paint from our master bedroom. I switched out the curtains from heavy denim to this lighter, buttery yellow. I had used them in the playroom of our previous house. I like how they look - they tie in with other things in the room that have yellow in them (sheets, quilts, art, etc.), but I really want to try red curtains! I think the warmth of the red will look great with the cool, steely blue on the walls. I think I'll get them at an after-Christmas sale!

Their room had been a shade of pale blue on top and a pale, celery green on the bottom. We added the distressed, white washed chair rail about a year ago. This room previously belonged to their sister (before I switched their rooms) and the top was pale pink with white polka-dots where the chair rail was. So the green was something that I just made work for the boys' room. It was never truly planned for them. I had been thinking about changing up their room for a while and wanted a look that was a little more grown-up, not so little boyish. I think that was definitely accomplished by adding the darker grayish blue tones. All of their "decor" (Transformers and Bionicles) look much better in this room now! And the best part of this makeover.....I didn't have to spend a penny to make it happen! I only used things I already had. Nice!

I wonder how long all of this snow is going to stick around?

Martha Stewart

Why do we love using white for the holidays? Perhaps its the way it sets off the table setting or the tree, or decorations in such a way that makes everything look fresh and magical. Here are some of my favorite holiday decorated rooms. Some of these photos I have been saving for years and may not remember where they came from. If you recognize any as your own please let me know so I can give credit to these wonderful images.

Above, an entry way with fresh greenery and a moss wreath. Cast iron urns and small trees add to the wonderful mix of textures.

Min Lilla Veranda
A small tree decorated in the traditional Scandinavian style with real lighted clip on candles. Windows adorned with fresh greenery and a gingerbread house on the counter. I love the warmth and simplicity of this room.

What a beautiful dining room! I love the small flowers at each place setting. I also like the way the three trees, only adorned with white lights, bring your eye out of the room. They add a simplicity to the what could be a very formal and fussy space.

Perfect for a cozy holiday breakfast. Just the right amount of decorations. Notice the pine-cones and fresh greenery. This is a simple look to duplicate in your own home. All you need is a white tablecloth, a linen topper and them some items found in your back yard. Don't forget the candles!
Marie Claire Maison
Austere, but very chic. Not necessarily something I would choose but I like the interesting tree and the how it adds so much texture to the room.

Another more modern look, but also lovely and elegant. The wonderful chandeliers add drama. I especially love the angels.
I have had this picture so long and I absolutely love it. Is it the black server, the linen, the wreath, the canisters?? I love the pears and the ornaments. This picture makes me want sit at this table and share a cup a tea with friends. (It also makes me think I should start painting some of my pine pieces black.)

Annette Hus
Another room I adore! I especially like the wreaths on every chair. A simple tree with small lights and homemade linen ornaments. (A tip: make sure you hot glue some linen or cloth to the backs of the wreaths so you do not have sap and dirt on your chairs later.)

Magdalenas Hem

Magdalenas Hem
A simple spray of white paint or spray snow transforms the ordinary into extraordinary.
Magdalenas Hem
Is this bark or linen? Either way, with the branches and the berries it had a wonderful unusual texture and makes a unique wreath.


Two more white wreaths-both simple and beautiful.

Camilla at Home
Finally - a sweet vignette that you can do anywhere in your home. Just find a small chair, add a tray or plate with candles and some greenery and at tiny wreath - viola !

Simple, lovely decorations to lift your spirit!

I LOVE to make old things new again and that was definitely the case with this black dresser. It was given to us by some friends that were packing up to move to Japan for a great job offer. They were limited on the things that they could take with them and furniture was something that they had to leave behind. When I saw that they had a dresser they wanted to get rid of, I jumped on it! It was not very attractive, but it was definitely functional and I knew that I could make it into something that would blend perfectly with the look of our house! All it needed was a little love...

We gave it a good scrub down, took off the very tall, skinny legs that were on the bottom, added brushed nickel knobs and label holders to each drawer. It was simple and inexpensive and I love the result! It looks like it has always been this way...

It's in our entryway and we have a drawer for mail, magazines, all of the kids' cold weather items (scarves, gloves, hats) and a drawer for miscellaneous items that need a home.

And this is the only "before" picture that I have of it. You can see the legs that we took off the bottom...

My husband thought I was crazy for taking it! Even as we were loading it into the truck he was saying "WHY are you taking this?", "We don't need this", "Karla, seriously. What are you going to do with this??". He definitely could not see my vision for it! I was certain that it would be great when I finished it though and it has turned out to be something that we use many times every day.

So keep your eye out! You never know when you'll stumble upon a diamond in the rough!

Two months after we moved into this house we started on the first of two fireplace makeovers. The fireplace surround in our family room consisted of some small, white trim around the brick and a very small, low profile mantle ledge about 6" above the trim. The ledge was only about 4" deep and pretty much unusable as a mantle. The look was so different from the fireplace in our living room that it just felt like there was a disconnect that happened somewhere in the original planning. The living room fireplace is big and grand while the family room's fireplace surround was small and barely noticeable. So, naturally, we had to fix that!

We (and by "we" I mean my handy man husband!) took down the mantle ledge, but left the white trim that surrounded the brick. We could use that in our design. We proceeded to build up the surround piece by piece to make it more of a presence in the room. Fluted columns were added to the sides and planks of MDF were stacked on top to make the support for the mantle.

Even the small details on this ended up making a big difference...

The original plan was to stop after adding the new mantle, but I decided that it needed something more...

My handy man built a frame for above the mantle to house beaded board and more trim. The next step was to paint it all out in white. That's where I come in...

The finished product!

It makes such a huge difference in this room and now the family room and living room have a cohesive look.

Many thanks to my handy man for all of his hard work on this!

On the night of December 13th it started to snow...

It felt like a present! It rarely snows here in mid December! Our oldest son was still awake when it started, but the other two were already asleep. I was just hoping that at least some of it would still be there in the morning for them to see it too!

We woke up to a winter wonderland! It was beautiful! The boys wanted to go out and play right away, but it was 6:30am and, out of respect for our neighbors and it being the weekend, I made them wait until 9am.

The backyard covered in snow...

Looking out our front window...

It wasn't much snow, but it was enough to go out and make some snowballs! The forecast is calling for more snow. We're keeping our fingers crossed and wishing again....

I love rediscovering the memories every December that hide in the Christmas boxes under the house all year long. From the boxes and boxes that are taken out of storage to make our house fit for the holiday, come bits and pieces of Christmas past. I love it that each of them hold a different memory for us and that each one takes us back to a different time in our lives.
Here are a few of mine...

The first picture is something that I made when Will and I were newlyweds (10 years ago!). I saw it in a magazine and had to have one for our house! It's funny how every January I pack it back up, not to be seen until the next December, and in that time I forget all about it. It's like unwrapping a sparkly new present every year!

This tree was painted by my mom the year after I was born. I grew up with it being in our house every single year, without fail. Last year she decided that she was ready to get rid of it, but I couldn't let that happen, so I kept it. Now my kids will remember it being in our house every Christmas. They love to turn it around and see all of the decorations and toys that are around it. It's a keeper!

No Christmas would be complete without my husband's airplane ornaments. My mom has been buying these for him every Christmas since we first started dating (15 years ago!).

This is another decoration from my childhood. The Santa votive holder will always have a spot at our house during Christmas time!

I bought this village the year that I was pregnant with our first baby. He's seven now! I am not a Christmas village person, but I am definitely a lover of beautiful, white churches and this one caught my eye. The lights on the house (to the right of the church) change colors and the kids love that!

These nutcrackers are my husband's collection that started when he was a kid. Our boys love them! Especially Owen. That would explain why they're way up on top of the bookcase!

I hope you've enjoyed reliving your memories while you decorate for Christmas!


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