Decor for the New Year

So Christmas is over. And that means it’s time to clean up all those Christmas decorations.   But does it mean that winter is over?! No!  In fact, winter just started a few weeks ago.  Spring may have arrived in the Smith and Hawken section at Target. And cadbury eggs may be at the check out in Safeway. But my house isn’t ready for spring decor.  I’m not ready to put away my pine cones and candles…so I didn’t!

I did take down all of my “Merry Christmas” and “Noel” decor.   And I transitioned a few things from Christmas decor to winter decor.  Take a look! (and hopefully you don’t think I’ve fallen off my rocker by calling this a ‘winter look’ when it still clearly looks like Christmas!)

BEFORE – Christmas Mantel
AFTER – Winter Mantel
AFTER – Winter Mantel

I was browsing through the after Christmas sale at Target and found these trees on sale ($22 for the set!). I love them!  Maybe they are the reason I’m not wanting to pack up all of my winter decor!   I’m fairly certain that if we were on vacation at a snowy lodge, there would be white twinkling lights on trees.  So that alone is my justification for keeping these cuties up!

They came in red pots, but I wrapped them in some burlap to soften their look. I like them so much better with the burlap and twine!

On my front porch, I removed the holly from the greens, changed my chalkboard sign and removed the belt from the santa pillow. Quick and easy update for a fresh, new look!
BEFORE – front porch
AFTER – front porch
AFTER – front porch
The greens were officially dead on my dining room table. So it was in dire need of something new.  We just received a fun red tree as a gift, so the dining room table seemed like the perfect place to put it on display!
BEFORE – dining room
AFTER – dining room
And finally, here is the new look on our dining room hutch.
BEFORE – dining room hutch
AFTER – dining room hutch
That’s it from here!  Our home is still decorated for the appropriate season…winter! And maybe if we’re lucky, we might even see snow to go with my decor!
Happy New Year!
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How to Wrap a Cord

Do your cords ever look like this? Sprawled everywhere behind a lamp. Or hanging down next to an end table, creating an eye sore.

With just a little twisting of the cord, you can hide it and tuck it neatly behind the lamp!
Here is a quick how to! And it will only takes a few seconds, once you get the hang of it.
Wrap the cord back and forth into short figure 8’s, as seen below.
This cord had three and a half figure 8’s (you’ll see two loops on one end and three loops on the other end).  Once you finish the last loop, come 1/2 to 3/4 of the way back and start wrapping the cord around the middle of the figure 8’s.
As you wrap the cord, make sure you pull it tight.
Keep wrapping, until you have enough cord left to reach your outlet.
Take the plug end and poke it through the closest end of the figure 8.
Pull it through, keeping the cord pulled tight.
Plug in and you’ve got the perfectly hidden and disguised cord! Don’t you love how neat and tidy it looks!?
You can barely see it behind the lamp!  Happy wrapping!!

Wooden Crate Love

I love old crates.  I’m always drawn to them in antique stores, whether I have a space for one in my home or not. It’s particularly fun when the print on them feels near and dear to your heart.  I was sold on my last two crate purchases when I read their print.  We lived in Delaware for five years so you can imagine my excitement when I found this one!

from Wilmington, Delaware


I have another crate that has my hometown on it.   How can you not buy one that has such a personal connection to you?!

Here is a glimpse at how others have used their crates:

in the bathroom…
source real simple
as a bookshelf..
via pinterest
as a rolling storage cart…
via pinterest
as a coffee table…
via the swenglish home

My crates often migrate around my house, depending on the season and on my mood.  But right now, this is how they are being used.

in my laundry room to hold detergent and clothespins…
this is my delaware crate
plates and napkin holder when entertaining…
this was a gift from a good friend
as a bedside table…
this one has my hometown printed on it
as a shadow box or to display framed pictures….
this is my $3 bargain (and I still have a second one in my garage!)
I love that all of them have a story. Even if it’s just a $3 bargain from an antique sale.  They all feel personal and find a unique spot in my house.
Don’t you love old wooden crates?!  I’m sure you do…how couldn’t you!?
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Tooth Fairy Pillow

When Jack was about to lose his first tooth, I made him a pillow for his tooth/money exchange with the tooth fairy. I had assumed that Jack would be done loosing teeth by the time Emmie started. But that is not the case!  Jack was late losing his teeth and Emmie is on the earlier side. So it looks like two tooth fairy pillows are necessary in this house!

I decided to make Emmie a pillow that looked different than Jack’s.  After doing some searching online,  I came across this simple pattern and was thrilled to discover I had enough leftover felt from other projects to make one!

It didn’t take me too long to make it, and I loved how it turned out.  More importantly, Emmie loved how it turned out!! Here are the steps to create this darling pillow.  Click here for the pattern.

Cut two teeth out of white felt (you should be able to fold an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of felt in half to cut both pieces).

Cut out two pink cheeks, two eyes (I used brown for the eyes) and a pocket and flap for the envelope on the back of the pillow.
Now it’s time to start sewing (note: all sewing is by hand so no sewing machine is necessary!).  Using embroidery floss, stitch the eyes, cheeks (with a mouth, as seen on the pattern) on the front side and pockets onto the back.  I used brown embroidery floss for all of the stitching.  The original pattern called for white embroidery floss but since I didn’t have white, I kept my fingers crossed that the brown wouldn’t make the pillow look too busy!
Now you are ready to sew the two white teeth together.  When stitching the white felt, leave about three inches open at the top to add stuffing.  I added pink ribbon at this point so the pillow could be hung from a doorknob.  And the flower is an optional addition as well (makes the pillow fun if a little girl is the recipient).  Once the pillow is stuffed to your liking (and the ribbon is tacked down) continue closing the pillow with the embroidery floss.
Project complete!  Wrap it up and give it to any little one about to lose their first tooth.
front of pillow
back of pillow
Emmie opened the pillow up on Christmas morning and she loved it! Now that tooth just need to fall out so we can really test out the pillow!
Isn’t it fun!? And it was really easy to make too!
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Blog Update

Six weeks ago, I started writing this blog.  I wrote for one week before telling anyone about it (except Dan, of course).  Then one night, Dan ‘outed’ me with some good friends over dinner.  That’s when I decided to go public with my blog. I shared it with it all my friends on facebook. I’m sure most people were just curious, so clicked on the link to see what in the world I was doing.

I must have done something right, because only 14 days later, I had 1000 hits to my blog.

Seven days later, I tripled that number and hit 3000.

Nine days later, I doubled that again….6000 hits!

It has been six weeks since I started writing (five weeks since I’ve been public with it) and I now have over 8000 hits to my blog.

So that brings me to my blog update. I set up my blog (probably not a big surprise given it’s simple look).  Obviously my blog design knowledge is minimal.  I had hopes of seeking some blog design help at a later date.  I was able to figure out enough to get myself going.  But there are some features that I wanted to implement that were out of my area of expertise.

My friend, Lori May (check our Lori’s blog here), recommended Elizabeth at The Mustard Ceiling Designs, to do some blog design work for me.  So Elizabeth and I have been working together to create a blog that is fun, yet easy to navigate.   I had some debate about whether or not to keep the feet picture…..but  don’t worry – it’s staying!  Elizabeth is just helping give it a face lift (or in this case, would you call it a ‘foot’ lift? OK, bad joke).

I’m also switching over to Word Press (from Blogger)…again, with Elizabeth’s help.  So I appreciate your patience during the time of transition.  I can’t wait for you to see the update (and I can’t wait for ME to see the update too!!)  I’m not sure when it will be complete, but I’d imagine sometime around the new year!!

This will be my last blog post until after Christmas.  I’m building a shelf for a friend that I’d like to finish up and give her soon.  And I’m also making a special pillow for my daughter who has her first loose tooth. So make sure you check back next week for some new posts!!

I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!  Enjoy a special weekend with your family.

Merry Christmas from the Gildays!

Santa Pillow

I was doing some of my weekly blog reading and came across the cutest front porch at Home Stories A to Z.  She had a darling Santa pillow sitting on a chair that I was coveting.  Today during my typical stroll through the Target home decor section, I came across some red pillows and thought “here is my chance to make myself a Santa pillow!”

Now, this project is TRULY as easy as 1…2…3.  Honestly.  Anyone can do this. Crafty or not crafty.  Can you dress yourself in the morning?  If yes, then you too can create this super cute Santa pillow!

OK – are you ready?  Here are the supplies needed:  One red pillow (These were a sold as a two pack at Target for $12.99).

Black Belt (I purchased a belt in the boys section for $6.99. Though you could certainly use one from home or pick one up at the Goodwill. Any black belt will do! In fact, an old, weathered and worn belt might look better than brand new!)
Here is the part that takes all of the effort – wrap the belt around the middle of the pillow.  Wasn’t that tough? (Sorry for the sarcastic tone.  That is targeted at my friends that claim to not be crafty. But they too could put this pillow together!)
Project complete!  Find a fun place to display….front porch, the bench by your front door, a couch or chair.  The possibilities are endless!
I know Christmas is almost here, but it’s not too late to make one!   You still have four more days!
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Brie Bites

I’m sure you’ve been to a party where brie was served in a puff pastry.  It’s an appetizer that I always enjoy making and it always seems to be a hit.  But as the party progresses and the brie cools down, frustration sets in. You go to dig into the brie and the cracker breaks, the brie won’t spread and you now have cracker crumbs on your face.  (Can you tell I’m trying to sell you on my great new recipe!?) Wouldn’t it be handy if this appetizer was bite sized?!

Brie Bites

After making a few alterations to a recipe I found online, brie bites (as we affectionally call them) have become my new go to appetizer.  They’re delicious, bite size and super easy to eat.

I made these for a party last night, which gave me the perfect opportunity to share them with you!  And it gave me the excuse to use the new breadboard that I got as an early Christmas gift, too.

Here are the supplies and ingredients needed:

mini muffin tin, 1/4 cup chopped pecans, honey, puff pastry and brie.

Thaw puff pastry sheets for about an hour before you plan to prepare the brie bites.  Chop pecans into tiny pieces and mix into 1/2 cup honey.  Grease mini muffin tin. Using flour and a rolling pin, roll out puff pastry sheets.  Cut into 2  inch squares.  Place pastry squares in tin and scoop 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the honey/pecan mixture into the middle of each pastry.

Cut rind off brie and cut into small pieces (approx 1″ square).  Place on top of honey/pecan mixture.

 Place another puff pastry square on top of the brie and squish all of the pastry into each muffin tin opening.  (I’m not a chef so you’ll have to excuse my lack of technical cooking terms.  Surely there is a more appropriate word to use than ‘squish’.)

Cook for 8 or 9 minutes at 400 degrees until puff pastry is golden in color.

 Let cool for a few minutes and place on a serving tray (or a new walnut cutting board!). Serve warm and eat up!

Breadboard from Vintage Home Designs
Happy cooking!!
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Christmas Greetings

Do sending out Christmas cards excite you or stress you out?  Ours is a little of both every year.  We look forward to doing something creative and fun.  Yet the expense and time involved can sometimes be a bit overwhelming.

Here’s a look at a few of our favorites.

2005 – I was 9 months pregnant here. Don’t I look fantastic?!

                      FRONT                                                            BACK

2007 – the year the iphone was released              
2008 – Election Year
The past few years, we’ve just done the standard family picture.  While we try to choose a fun one of the four of us, there hasn’t been anything terribly unique about them.  This year wasn’t too different.  We were debating between a great family picture of us up in Canada, at one of our favorite places….one of Young Life’s camps called Malibu.  The water and mountains were in the background. Everyone was clean, dressed up and smiling directly at the camera.

Christmas Card Option 1

The second choice was from a camping trip. It is a silhouette picture of us as the sun was setting.  That evening was terribly cold. And even though it was August, we were bundled up with plenty of layers.  My hair was pulled back in a messy fashion.  My jeans were old and faded and I had on my running shoes. The kids were in sweats. But the great thing about a silhouette picture is that none of those details matter!
Christmas Card Option 2

So in an effort to be a bit out of the box, we went with the silhouette picture.   Our assumption was that thanks to Facebook, people already know what we look like…so why not go with something a touch different this year.
I also wanted to use a unique mailing labels this year.  I figured Etsy had to have an answer to my boring envelope woe’s.   I came across these fun ones below by Tara at Paper Patch Ink.
via paper patch ink
I ordered option three and Tara was kind enough to change the coloring for me. I kept the brown and white dots.  The red turned to green. And the turquoise changed to red. I love it!  Here is what the envelopes looked like as I addressed them.

The return address gets folded onto the back.
For $9, I had personalized labels.  Six labels can be printed on a sheet.  Office supply stores sell labels where the entire sheet is one giant label.

The return address would appear below our names. 

So after you print your set of 6, you have to cut each one out.  I admit this part was a bit time consuming. But because I love to have my cards feel like a personal gift to each person, I figured it was worth the effort!

We wish a very Merry Christmas to all of you.  May your find some peace and joy amidst the chaos that this season often brings.

The final product….the 2011 Gilday Christmas card.


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Teacher Gifts – Done!

I finally finished up my teacher/bus driver gifts last night.  I had one more personalized doormat to paint.  And still had to finalize my bus driver gifts.  Last night I got to work and finished up everything so the kids could start delivering them today.

This week I had a girls dinner to attend (we call ourselves a book club, but truth be told, we don’t really read books and it really isn’t a club….)  Anyway, we did a gift exchange and I ended up these caramels that are way too delicious.

I did my fair share of sampling. But knew if these stayed in the house any longer, I may be sporting a good 5 to 10 extra pounds, thanks to these yummy goodies.  And since I needed a few more gifts, I thought these would be perfect!!

I happend to have a few cellophane goodie bags leftover from a birthday party.

They got filled them with caramels and tied with some red ribbon.

Attach a card and Starbucks gift card to it and you’ve got yourself a gift that will (hopefully!) be enjoyed by our bus drivers and class helpers!

So the doormats are completed and caramel goodie bags too. Now the delivering can begin!!!


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Grandma Beach’s Cararmel Corn

We sometimes get in a rut with bringing the same appetizers and desserts to parties.  So if you’re looking for a fresh, fun idea, here is a recipe that will be loved by all ages!

Dan grew up eating this caramel corn at his Grandma Louise’s house.  They called her Grandma Beach because she lived – ok, this is a stretch – on the beach!  Every time they went to her house, she would make a huge batch of caramel corn.  Dan has carried on this tradition and loves to make this recipe when given the opportunity. So this weekend when we were asked to bring a dessert to a family party,  caramel corn seemed like the perfect thing!

Grandma Beach’s Caramel Corn
6 packages of microwave popcorn
2 cubes of butter
2 cups brown sugar (note: this is NOT a weight watchers recipe!)
1/4 cup karo syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda


Pop the bags of popcorn in the microwave.  We use kettle corn for some added sweetness (not sure if it really needs this added sweetness, but it sure tastes good!)

Once all the bags have been popped, place popcorn in a large aluminum pan (trying to take out any kernels that were left unpopped). You may need two pans, depending on the size of your pan.

This recipe makes a LOT of cararmel corn – so you may consider cutting it in half if it seems like too much (the picture above is only three of the six bags).

Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Once melted, add brown sugar and salt.  Stir constantly for about 6 minutes on medium heat, until brown sugar and butter and blended together. Turn heat down to low and pour in baking soda.  This mixture will turn a bit foamy and light brown in color within 30 seconds.

This is what it looks like right after baking soda has been added.

Drizzle mixture over popcorn and stir until well coated.  (Dan likes to heavily sample during this time period to make sure that none of the popcorn is poisonous!!)

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 15 minutes.  Stir mixture and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  You can bake it for up to an hour, stirring every 15 minutes, if you prefer a more candied popcorn.

Set out for people to enjoy…and watch the caramel corn disappear.

Popcorn container from Target.
I bet you can’t eat just one handful!!
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