Friday, January 28, 2011

New Series: Top Ten Tips for Decorating on a Budget

One of my favorite things about being a Willow House Design Consultant is sharing creative ideas with my customers as they think through ways to brighten up their homes. It can be such an overwhelming task when you look at the big picture, but breaking it up into smaller steps really makes it do-able!

To help with that, I’m beginning this ten-part series on decorating on a budget. This will be a Letterman-style countdown, with a new tip appearing on this blog near the end of each week. I hope you’ll join me… and be sure to comment – discussion and joint brainstorming is another one of my favorite things about being a Willow House Design Consultant!

So, let’s begin with Tip #10…

#10 Take a look at your front door!
The first thing folks see when they come to your home is your front door, but when did you last enter your home through the front entrance? Walk from the street or your driveway to your front door and ask yourself, “What kind of first impression does this front door area give?” At the worst of times, mine has been less than welcoming with sadly neglected plants, cobwebs, and various remnants of abandoned childhood playtime. At the best of times, it has been neat and tidy with seasonal plants warmly beckoning. If yours is currently at its worst of times, a bit of elbow grease may be your biggest investment! Once that’s accomplished, you can accessorize…
Door buckets can be an easy and inexpensive way to dress up your front door. If you don’t want to use a permanent hook, there are great wreath hangers available that give you even more flexibility.  you have a storm door, take care that the door bucket you select is slender enough to fit between you front door and your storm door (such as the Flower Market Door Bucket shown here).

You can simply fill your door bucket by purchasing permanent greens, then adding long-stemmed picks for the season. This makes updating your front door d├ęcor child’s play! Another simple and inexpensive way to fill your door bucket is to simply use things from your yard, such as magnolias, hydrangeas (fresh or dried), or holly. To maintain freshness, put a piece of floral foam in a sturdy plastic bag, add a bit of water, then insert your fresh stems. Feel free to mix fresh flowers with permanent, as well. And remember, a big bow can add to your arrangement and fill in space.

Hang your decorated door bucket in your neat and tidy front door area, and take that walk from the driveway to the door again. Welcome home!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Glassware brightens up every style!

Glass just adds class, doesn't it. It's an easy way to tie an area together while not being locked into one color, because you can simply change out your filler, whether candles, flowers, fruit, or collections. It easily moves form room to room, allowing you to change things up in your home without a major project.

For ideas on styling with glass, watch this video. Melanie Grant really knows how to let the glass shine in your design!

For more great glass stylings, visit my Willow House website and browse the catalog!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A little tip for the organizationally challenged...

Some of the best inventions for womankind have to include sticky notes, binder clips, and label makers. This video takes two of the three to a new level for great organization!

(Thanks to Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie for pointing me to Lorie at the Clutter Diet Blog!

Hot chili for a chilly day!

Chili seems to be my go-to comfort food during cold weather. I love to make a big pot early in the week and then just enjoy it for days. I eat it by itself, over pasta or rice, over a baked potato with cheese, over tortilla chips with cheese and sour cream, even in an omelette! Here's my mom's recipe, tweaked just a bit:

Pecos Chili

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes)
2 15-ounce cans chili beans (I like Ranch Style when I can find them)
1 15-ounce can seasoned black beans
1 15.25-ounce can corn (I like Del Monte Summer Crisp)
1 tsp ground cumin
½  to 1 ½  tsp ground red pepper
½ tsp garlic salt

Brown ground beef and onion in a medium skillet, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper along the way. While meat mixture is browning, add all other ingredients to crockpot. Once meat is browned and cooked through, drain and add to crockpot. Stir to distribute ingredients evenly, then cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Serve over hot vermicelli or rice. 

*If you don’t have time for the crockpot, simply brown the meat mixture in a large nonstick skillet, drain, then add all other ingredients to skillet. Simmer for one hour or more (the longer, the yummier!).

Note: I served the chili shown above in the Small Server from the Gail Pittman Alfresco Pottery Collection. See more from this collection at  my Willow House website -- just click on the Online Store.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bring a little Spring into your home!

Willow House designer Melanie Grant wants to give you a little preview of Spring!

Contact me to learn more about our products, my design workshops, or how to own your own Willow House business!


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