Snow globes and terrariums have been around forever. These miniature worlds under glass have always seemed to capture the imagination. And why not? They have a magical quality that evokes childhood memories and wonder.
I recently purchased a glass cloche for the purpose of creating my own holiday-themed miniature world. Going through my collection of Christmas ornaments, I found a couple of ceramic figurines of ice skaters which were the perfect focal point for my scene. Using a vintage silver serving bowl as my base, I filled it with fluffy fake snow. A few bottle brush trees of varying sizes were nestled in around the figurines. A wooden sleigh ornament added another texture to the scene. This little world requires more than a glance to take in, and brings detail and whimsy to my holiday decor.
I enjoyed creating this little scene and once I got started, there was no stopping me! I realized that just about any clear glass container could be used for such a project and set about my home to find other vessels from which to make more snow globes.
I learned a few things the hard way while working on this project. I had to disassemble and re-do my globes several times, so I’m sharing my tips in hopes you won’t make the same mistakes.
Tips for Making Snow Globes
The wider the mouth of your jar, the more space you will have to create your scene, so look for jars with large lids.
A pretty ribbon around the jar lid edge covers any printing and adds a bit of elegance. Glue ribbon around the edge of the jar lid first.
Test your scene inside the jar (with the lid screwed on) to make sure everything fits before adding snow. I made the mistake of putting everything perfectly in place only to find my tree was too tall to fit inside the jar!
In order to lift the scene enough to be clearly visible above the snow, you will likely need to elevate your pieces. I used a wine cork sliced into rounds to raise my ornaments a bit. Adhere your ornaments to the cork with glue.
Once you are satisfied with the appearance and fit of your scene, secure the ornaments to the lid with glue.
Place the snow inside the jar.
With your figures upside down, place the lid onto the jar. Then turn it upright so that the snow falls onto your scene. You may need to shake it a bit in order to settle the snow evenly between your figurines.
This is a project that can probably be made with things you already have on hand. While Christmas ornaments make great focal points, don’t limit yourself to them. A bird’s nest, pine cones, or other natural elements also look lovely surrounded by snow and placed under glass.
So I urge you not to toss that pickle jar when the pickles run out! Use it to create your own snow globe for the holidays. I think you’ll find this project will spark your imagination and fill your home fill with a touch of magic.
For me, a big part of decorating for the holidays includes changing out pillows in nearly every room of my home. It’s an easy and inexpensive thing to do that infuses the house with the Christmas spirit. When the season is over, I simply remove the holiday pillow cover and put a different cover on the pillow form. Storing pillow covers takes up little space and allows me to continuously change up the look of my rooms.
Last year, I made holiday pillow covers from a place mat, sweaters, a skirt, a flannel nightgown, and even a velour bath robe. This year, I added to my collection with a pillow cover made from a flannel shirt.
I found this bold red and black buffalo check men’s flannel shirt at the thrift store and knew the print would be perfect for my holiday decor. Here’s how I transformed it into a pillow.
Measure first. This shirt was exactly 20″ across and my pillow form measured 20″ X 20″ so I was able to use the existing side seams without having to cut or sew them.
Button the shirt completely and spread it out on a table so that it lies flat, making sure there are no wrinkles on either side.
Cut straight across the top of the shirt just under the sleeves. Then, cut straight across the bottom so that the total length is approximately an inch larger than your pillow form. If your shirt is larger than your pillow form, cut 1/2″ larger than your pillow form on each side. This shirt’s checked pattern made cutting a straight line rather easy.
4. Now, turn it inside out so that the right sides of the fabric are together. Pin across the cut edges and then sew the edges together.
5. Unbutton the shirt and turn it right side out. Ironing the seams open before turning creates a more professional look, especially if your fabric is stiff. With the tip of your scissors, poke out the corners so that you get nice sharp points on all four corners.
6. Insert your pillow form, button it up, and ta-da–you’ve just made a pillow from a shirt!
Would you believe this pillow only took about 15 minutes to make? It’s a fun, easy way to recycle old shirts. When the season is over, I’ll remove this cover and put on a different one, but right now I’m enjoying the cozy look it brings to my living room.
Do you have any old shirts that would make great pillows? If so, I encourage you to give this project a try. It’s easier than you think.
I recently read the book, Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller. It opened my eyes to the shocking process by which most of the world’s olive oil is produced and sold. While we know much about the health benefits of olive oil, these benefits convey only via fresh, pure, unadulterated olive oil. Unfortunately, there is little chance the mass produced olive oil you buy at your local grocery store actually contains “100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil” as the label claims. Because of lax standards in regulating the industry abroad, and due to lack of truth-in-labeling requirements for imports to the United States, most commercially available olive oil is mixed with other cheaper and less healthy seed oils (e.g., cottonseed, sunflower, canola oil).
Furthermore, due to lengthy shipping times and dubious storage conditions, these inferior quality oils are often rancid by the time they make it to grocery store shelves. Consumption of rancid oils can be deleterious to health. But because the American palate has become accustomed to the taste of these inferior oils, we hardly notice the “off” taste or the adulterated flavor of the olive oils we typically consume.
Mueller educates the reader about how small olive farms can hardly survive in the cut-throat world of international olive oil production. The average consumer tends to base purchasing decisions on the lowest available price and does not realize that the product they are paying for is inferior. As long as consumers are unaware of the poor quality of olive oils they purchase and are unwilling to pay the true cost of quality olive oil, the industry is unlikely to change. And unlike the wine industry in Italy, which became highly regulated after a number of deaths occurred from adulterated wine produced in the 1980s, the olive oil industry has had no such calamity that has forced governments to pass laws and enforce regulations which would implement higher standards.
Now, The Good
In spite of all this bad news, there is hope! As consumers become better educated about the issues surrounding olive oil, small specialty shops have opened throughout the United States that specialize in the real thing. And if you are lucky enough to live in or travel to California, where 99% of the olive oil in the US is produced, you might even be able to visit an olive oil ranch and purchase it directly from the grower.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the 140 acre Pasolivo Ranch in Paso Robles, CA. Not only did I see the olive orchard where the olives are grown, I also received a tour of the milling facility. Afterwards, I was able to taste fresh oil from these very trees and purchase some high quality olive oil to bring home.
Pasolivo harvests their olives by hand in the fall. (It should be noted that most large industrial growers use machines that voilently shake the trees, damaging the trees and bruising the olives in the process.) After harvesting, the olives immediately go through a sorting and cleaning process before they are pressed. The olives and pits are pressed together in one ton batches, creating a thick paste. This pomace undergoes treatment in a centrifuge to separate the oil and remove any naturally occurring water. The oil is then transferred to stainless steel vats. Over the next several months the remaining sediments settle to the bottoms of the tanks and are drained off. Finally, the unfiltered oil is bottled.
The early oil produced in the first two weeks of pressing is called “olio nuovo” or “new oil.” It is highly prized by Italians for its robust grassy flavor but is extremely difficult to come by because of its short-lived and fragile nature. I was lucky enough to get to taste three of Pasolivo’s olio nuovo blends from the 2017 harvest. Comprised of different olive varietals, these very special oils were among the most delicious olive oils I’ve ever tasted. They were all dark green in color, with a fresh, grassy flavor.
The Tasting Room
Pasolivo also produces flavored olive oils, all made with fresh, local ingredients. For example, the lemon flavored oil uses lemon peels that have been pressed to extract the essential oil which is then incorporated into the olive oil. The basil flavored oil is macerated with fresh locally grown basil leaves for a short period of time to impart the wonderful flavor of basil to the oil.
In Pasolivo’s tasting room, visitors are given a complimentary tasting of all eleven types of oil they produce. In addition, they mix up their tasting repertoire with various flavored vinegars and herb/spice/salt mixtures from local producers to give visitors a unique tasting experience and to display the range of uses for their products.
This olive oil was fresh, fruity and pungent, far superior to any mass-produced supermarket olive oil. While its spicy, robust flavors might require a palate adjustment for some people, I loved the intense flavor and the kick in the back of my throat that this oil produced. In fact, knowing that this “kick” is exactly what honest olive oil is supposed to provide, I relished it.
As one might expect, this is not an inexpensive product. The labor intensive process involved in producing these small artisanal batches of liquid gold demands that consumers pay a fair price. Pasolivo offers a membership program where a 15% discount is provided to those agreeing to receive three shipments per year. Knowing that I am getting pure unadulterated olive oil makes this membership well worth the splurge. For more information on their Press Club, click here.
Since reading Extra Virginity I have not looked at olive oil in the same way. And now that I’ve found a great resource for truly excellent olive oil, I will gladly support this industry. I encourage you to seek out local sources for high quality olive oil near you. Let us help create demand for the real thing so that oils of a dubious nature are not allowed to continue to flourish.
For more information on this topic, see the 60 Minutes expose, “AgroMafia” here. Also, Tom Mueller has compiled a list of the best supermarket olive oils at reasonable prices. To see his list, click here.
Note: I have not received any compensation of any kind from Pasolivo for this blog. All opinions are my own. I do wish to express my appreciation to Pasolivo for the tour and special tasting of the olio nuovo I received.
The holiday season is in full swing and it’s always a good idea to have a go-to drink on hand that can be served when guests drop by. Nothing could be easier than sorbet mimosas! This drink requires only two ingredients which can be kept stocked in your kitchen and served up at a moment’s notice.
The two ingredients are:
A bottle of your favorite bubbly
For the bubbly, you can use champagne, sparkling wine, or even non-alcoholic sparking cider or ginger ale. Tailor the flavor and color of the sorbet to the holiday you wish to celebrate. In this example, I am using mango sorbet because the orange color is a nice compliment to my current fall palette. For Christmas, a pretty red raspberry sorbet or lime green sorbet would be fitting. Gourmet shops often stock more exotic flavors so feel free to experiment, coordinating the color and flavor to your occasion.
Served in fluted glasses, and garnished with a sprig of mint and a fun polka dotted straw, this is a pretty cocktail that takes mere minutes to whip up.
I can’t think of a better way to welcome visitors during the holidays!
Are you a Pinterest addict like me? I can spend hours drooling over beautiful photographs and gathering ideas. Last year around the holidays, I came across a decorating idea I loved and decided that I would start looking for a way to replicate it. It was an old toy truck that had been decorated for the holidays as a table centerpiece.
A few weeks ago I found my truck! I visited a new-to-me thrift store and sitting right at the front of the shop was my toy dump truck. Best yet, the price had been marked down from an outrageous $75 to only $6. I’m not sure why it had been marked down so drastically but I don’t ask questions when I see these kinds of deals–I just do my inner happy dance and snatch them up!
While I initially intended to use it only for Christmas decorating, I quickly realized that it could be outfitted for fall as well. I immediately filled the bed of the truck with fallen leaves, dried foliage, sprays of orange berries, an acorn squash, and white mini-pumpkins for a natural fall display. I even placed one mini-pumpkin at the rear of the truck to make it appear as though it had fallen off during transit.
After enjoying it decorated this way for a while, it was time to look forward to Christmas. The truck’s original bright yellow color had been painted over with black paint and while it wasn’t terrible, I knew I wanted the color to be a little more vibrant for the holiday season. I was leaning heavily towards red but ultimately decided that green would be more versatile.
Knowing that milk paint adheres well to metal and makes for a old fashioned matte finish, I decided that this was the type of paint I wanted to use. I like its chalky texture and knew from a previousproject that it was easy and forgiving to work with. I researched my options on line and purchased a fairly bright Tavern Green color.
After the first coat, I could tell the color was going to be a little brighter than I had hoped so I added a second coat and then brushed on a brown antiquing glaze to tone it down a bit. To add more detail to the truck, I added an accent of cream colored paint on the tires to create “white walls.”
I love how it turned out! I tucked in some evergreen cuttings and placed a small artificial Christmas tree in the bed of the truck. I added a string of fairy lights to the tree to enliven it and filled the bed with a load of tiny wrapped gifts. A couple of the packages were placed at the rear of the truck to create the impression that they had fallen off during transport. To decorate the front grill, I added a tiny spray crafted from a sprig of rosemary, a brass bell, and some faux berries.
The toy truck adds a spirit of fun and whimsy wherever it is placed and I just love how versatile the piece is. I can envision it filled with a pretty spring flower arrangement in the summer or pots of succulents in the summer. I may even use it as a serving platform for party favors, drinks or utensils at an outdoor party. Rest assured, you’ll likely see it again in a future post!
Perhaps you have an old toy truck that once belonged to your children–or maybe you saved one from your own childhood. If you’ve got one packed away somewhere, I urge you to bring it out and use it in your seasonal decor. It is likely to bring smiles to the faces of everyone who sees it.
Fall is my favorite season. I love to take advantage of the ideal combination of warm days and cool nights by hosting an annual outdoor dinner party. It is the perfect excuse to gather friends around a beautifully decorated table and serve up some delicious comfort food. In this post, I share my thought process for creating the decor and table setting for this dinner party.
Several years ago, I purchased a set of antique English transferware at an estate sale. It provided just the sort of rustic elegance I desired for this dinner party. Its cream colored background and floral pattern consisting of brown, gold, and orange colors perfectly reflected the fall theme and became the starting point for the entire table setting.
Because nothing is more elegant than a white linen tablecloth, this was the table’s first layer. Another vintage tablecloth with a yellow-orange damask border was positioned diagonally across the center. Overlays such as this create an opportunity to introduce additional color and texture while giving the table a luxe feel. Matching napkins were gathered up in the wine glasses to add height and dimension to the setting.
Because my tables are somewhat narrow, I needed a centerpiece that would not interfere with the flow of food or conversation. I placed a rustic lantern in the center as an anchor and created a “runner” of greenery consisting of eucalyptus and other leafy clippings from my yard. I topped this base with branches of ornamental eggplant, also known as “pumpkin on a stick.” These cute mini-pumpkins added color and texture while giving the table a whimsical touch. Tiny white fairy lights and votive candles were dispersed throughout the plant material for extra sparkle.
I recently started collecting mismatched vintage silverplate flatware and I set the table with it. Though tarnished, worn, and imperfect, it was a nice compliment to the antique china which was also crazed and imperfect. Incorporating older pieces, even when in less than pristine condition, can add loads of character and personality to a table.
As a party favor, each guest was given a loaf of homemade cranberry-apple bread in a ceramic baking dish. Wrapped in cellophane paper and banded with dotted orange craft paper, a name tag that doubled as a placecard was attached with jute string. After guests were seated, the breads were removed and placed off to the side so that the table would not get too crowded. The favor was returned to each guest at the end of the evening to take home as a memento and perhaps to be enjoyed for breakfast the next morning.
Menu cards stood in little slices of tree branches to announce the coming meal. I designed the menus and name tags using clip art I found on line.
In anticipation that the weather might turn chilly by nightfall, cozy polar fleece blankets were folded over the backs of the chairs. A patio heater was positioned at one end of the space and the fireplace was lit at the other end so that warmth would be evenly distributed. I purchased a few white plastic tablecloths from the local dollar store, gathered them up, and stapled them to the top of the beams at the entrance of the patio. These easy, inexpensive makeshift curtains created a sense of intimacy, as well as helped hold in the heat.
Once the meal was over, we lingered around the table enjoying one another’s company. While the glow of the candles, the crackle and warmth of the wood fire, and the jazz playing on the stereo created lovely ambiance, it was the company of good friends gathered around the table that made it a truly enchanting fall evening.
A few weeks ago I gave you my recipe for easy overnight pizza dough.While everyone knows that savory pizzas can be made from all sorts of sauces, vegetables, and meats, did you know that pizza dough can also be used to make dessert?
Just like a regular pizza, you’ll need a “sauce” to act as the base of your dessert pizza. Here are a few ideas:
Ricotta with honey
Cookie dough spread
There are endless toppings to choose from to coordinate with your base. Consider things like:
Crushed Oreo cookies or graham crackers
Chopped strawberries other other fresh fruit
First roll out your dough, and dot it with butter. Bake for about 8 minutes in a 500 degree oven. Keep an eye on it as you don’t want to overcook it. As soon as you see it puff up and become light golden in color, take it out.
While it’s still hot, spread on your favorite base. For this pizza I used Nutella. It will begin to melt as soon as it is applied to the hot crust. Just spread it out evenly over the crust. Then add your favorite toppings. I added chocolate chips, slivered almonds and chopped white chocolate in this example, but let your imagination be your guide. You could even drizzle the finished product with butterscotch or caramel sauce for extra decadence!
Pop it back in the oven for about 3 minutes until everything is melted and gooey.
This is a unique dessert that is fun to serve for company. Guests can even customize their own pizzas. You can set out a spread of small bowls filled with various toppings and different types of spreads. Kids can have fun rolling out their own mini-pizzas and creating their own masterpieces.
What combinations would make your perfect dessert pizza?
A change of seasons makes me crave a change of scenery. Not only do I enjoy adding seasonal decor to my home, but sometimes I like to rearrange my furniture for a fresh look. Now that we’ve lived in our home for over a year, it felt like a good time to change things up in the living room. The room is ample in size and lends itself to an evolving layout.
Here’s the room’s previous layout. The sofa was placed directly across from the fireplace and two matching arm chairs flanked it. The coffee table was centered in the middle of the seating arrangement. The mahogany server was placed in front of the large window facing the street. My antique dough bowl held a place of honor on top of the server (see above picture).
After measuring my walls and furniture to make sure everything would fit with the new plan I had in mind, the sofa was moved in front of the large window that faces the street and the mahogany server was positioned on the wall where the sofa had been. The arm chairs now hold down the side of the room opposite the sofa. I reoriented the sea grass rug and the coffee table. A round end table from another room was added so that a lamp could be placed next to the sofa.
With this new arrangement, an accent table was needed to go between the two armchairs. Since there is an abundance of square and rectangular shapes in the room, I wanted a round table to soften the hard edges. I found this table on Amazon and thought it would work well. The black metal frame repeats the black metal on the coffee table and connects the other black accents in the room. The transparency of the glass keeps it from feeling too heavy and adds a reflective texture to the room.
I placed the dough bowl on the floor in front of the fireplace on an old hearth to elevate it a bit. It will likely move around the room once we begin using the fireplace, but for now it works fine here. It also helps draw the eye to one of the best features of the room.
Throw pillows in golden hues were added to the sofa. Two of the six prints that had hung over the server were moved to the wall space under the sconces which flank the front window. The added artwork provides symmetry and visual weight to the area behind the sofa. The four prints remaining over the server are now centered, and I believe the smaller gallery arrangement still carries sufficient weight to anchor the wall.
The room feels larger and more spacious now. There is ample space to bring in additional seating when needed, and there are more surfaces upon which to place food and drink. It should work even better for entertaining than the previous floor plan did.
It’s amazing how simply moving furniture around can reinvigorate a room. When is the last time you rearranged your furniture? Is it time for a refresh?
Ever find yourself needing a last minute gift with no time to run out to buy something? Ever gone to the store for a gift and not been able to find a thing that fits the person or occasion? I think this happens to us all at least occasionally and it can be a source of unnecessary stress. I solved this problem by creating what I call my “gift stash.”
I have a drawer in my home dedicated to little gifty goodies that I purchase as I’m out and about. I pick up soaps, lotions, candles, kitchen and bath items, hand towels, gourmet foods, and other things that I can assemble into a nice gift whenever the need arises. I take advantage of sales and I try to keep items on hand that I think would appeal to most people I know. I stash these items away so that I am always prepared whenever an occasion comes up that necessitates a gift.
The items I gravitate towards tend to be things I’d personally enjoy receiving. They also tend to be somewhat practical in nature. I think just about everyone enjoys a new dish towel, pretty picture frame, scented candle, or a luxurious bar of soap. I also keep a few gourmet items and extra bottles of wine stocked in my kitchen for gift giving. For example, a jar of gourmet olives, a hunk of tasty cheese, and a box of fancy crackers presented in a pretty serving bowl would be much appreciated by a foodie friend.
I also maintain a supply of gift wrap and bags, baskets, cellophane paper, ribbons, tissue paper and other wrapping supplies to make the presentation effortless. I look for good deals on these items at the end of each season when they can easily be found on sale.
Keeping a stash of gift items and supplies is easy to do and doesn’t require a lot of space. You can dedicate one drawer in a dresser, a shelf inside a closet or cabinet, or simply keep a box under the bed. Additionally, keeping a gift stash makes each shopping excursion fun as I perpetually keep an eye out for interesting items to stock it with.
Do you keep a stash of gifts at the ready? What kinds of items do you find make great gifts in a pinch?
Pizza is a bit of an obsession at our house. Calling for delivery stopped being an option several years ago when I discovered a super easy, ultra-forgiving way to make pizza dough at home that tastes far better than any delivery service pizza I’ve had.
Before I discovered this method, I thought yeast-raised dough was temperamental and time-consuming, requiring lots of watching and kneading. Nothing could be further from the truth! With this recipe, I simply mix up my ingredients the night before and refrigerate the dough overnight. By the next day, the dough has risen and is ready to be used. It just requires a few hours on the counter to reach room temperature and it’s ready to be rolled out.
I love the flexibility of this recipe. Something comes up and can’t use your dough the next day? No problem, it will wait for you. Can’t use it for a few days? Just add in a tablespoon of flour (so the yeast has something to eat and can continue growing) and it will keep a few more days. You can actually prolong your dough for quite a long time this way. You can even freeze this dough. When you’re ready to use it, leave it out for at least 12 hours so that it has had time to thaw and reach room temperature.
Here’s my recipe. I am giving approximate measurements as I have learned that being exact is not required for this dough. In fact, I don’t measure any more and just kind of “eyeball” the proportions. If you don’t use salt, leave it out. If you are cutting out sugar, leave out the honey or use another type of sweetener instead. I like to use an Italian XX flour as I find it gives a crispy bite and a nice chew, but it is certainly not necessary.
Overnight Pizza Dough (makes one 16″ pizza)
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add honey to warm water and sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit for a few minutes and then gradually add flour and salt. Stir until ingredients are incorporated. Once all the flour is incorporated you should be able to form a sticky ball. If it’s too wet, add more flour; too dry, add a bit more water. Drizzle a little olive oil on top of dough to keep the surface moist and place in a covered glass container. Refrigerate overnight. Remove at least 2 hours before you plan to roll it out. Roll out on a floured surface, then transfer to baking sheet. Top with your favorite sauce and toppings. Preheat your oven to its hottest setting (up to 500 degrees) and bake for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!!