How to Conjure a Witch’s Kitchen

Witch's Kitchen overview

This year’s Halloween theme is drawn from the witches’ cave scene in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. When I read the scene, the list of ingredients stood out to me, and I had an “a ha” moment: why not create a witch’s kitchen, complete with the ingredients for the spell? So that’s what I did!

This project is really fun, and curiously easy. I’ve styled it with make believe ingredients, but this would make a great candy buffet for a Halloween party with edible “ingredients” in the jars.

Ingredient collage

Supplies

  • Empty jars
  • White paper or labels such as Avery® 6470 (see below)
  • Black card stock
  • Ingredient label artwork
  • Black and orange ribbon
  • Double-sided tape

1. Decide on the number of ingredients you’d like to display. I chose 8 ingredients that I thought I could replicate easily enough. You can download the Macbeth Bottle Labels as shown, or create your own.

2. Collect clean, empty jars. I used an apothecary jar that I already had and purchased a new one at World Market for $15. Then I filled in with jars whose previous tenants included pickles, olives, salsa and spaghetti. (It’s a great time to clean out the fridge!)

3. For a cohesive look, use spray paint to paint the jar lids whatever colors you’d like. I used black and silver.

4. Print the jar labels and carefully cut them out. I used Avery® 6470 Removable Full Sheet Labels (about $16 for  a pack of 10 at office supply stores). I only recently discovered these labels, and they are genius for this project. You could just as easily use white paper.

5. Cut black card stock for each label, cutting it just larger than the label. Adhere the labels to the card stock backing. For variety, I wrapped a couple of the jars with a wide band of the black card stock and adhered the label to the band.

6. Embellish the jars with black and orange ribbon; adhere with double-sided tape.  Attach the labels to the ribbon with double-sided tape or hot glue if necessary. For hanging labels as shown on the apothecary jars, punch a small hole at the top of the label and insert the ribbon.

7. Fill the jars with the real or faux ingredients of your choice. Here is where your creativity can roam wild! I had been thinking about Scale of dragon“scale of dragon” and coming up with possibilities like waxy green magnolia leaves or something. And then one day I was in the front yard and the wind had blown some bark from a tree. I looked at the texture and the cracks and thought, with a lick of paint these could be dragon scales! So I went into the garage, dusted off the bark and hit the pieces with some olive green spray paint and just a smidge of black spray paint. I love the look!

Here’s what I used to fill the jars:

  • Scale of Dragon – tree bark
  • Slips of yew – evergreen cuttings
  • Eye of newt – black beans
  • Filet of fenny snake – beef jerky
  • Root of hemlock – twigs
  • Wool of bat – steel wool
  • Teeth of wolf – fake teeth (about $4 at Halloween stores)
  • Toad venom – colored muddy water

8. Style these jars with a copy of the recipe, printed on parchment paper for full effect. (Download a copy of the Macbeth recipe here.) For this look, I made a book stand by placing a binder (wrapped in black fabric) on a silver candle stand, and then placed the recipe page in my grandmother’s well-worn cookbook for an authentic look. A piece of black seam binding creates a page marker.

***

Witch's Kitchen detail

Round out your witch’s kitchen display with candles, mercury glass bottles, a skull and a crystal ball. Look around your house for accessories than can translate into this theme and add to the look.

Oh! And don’t forget the witch’s other spell books. I’ll give you the instructions for that project tomorrow.

Happy Haunting!

 

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Soup to Vase? Creating Home Decor in Minutes

Soup Can Vase

 

Ever since I started blogging about home decor and holidays, I’ve been a big proponent of using what you have to decorate. This easy and fun project ticks all those boxes: it reuses something that would be headed for trash or recycling, plus leftover paper or a custom collage printed with your home printer.

It’s … a vase made from a soup can! If you’re on Pinterest at all (follow me here!), you’ve probably seen some iteration of this project, either as a utensil caddy for summer parties or as a pencil cup for a budget office makeover.

Yes, the simple soup can has a variety of uses! This year I’m decorating soup cans to use as vases—one in the powder room and one in the hall bath.

Soup Can Vase 3

For this project, you’ll need a clean, empty soup can. I prefer Progresso® cans with the tab top that leaves a clean, smooth edge.

You may use whatever decorative paper you desire—something that coordinates with your style and your décor. The hall bath features last year’s art project, and I’m covering the “vase” with the same wrapping paper I used for the artwork, and the trim coordinates with the shower curtain valance.

Soup Can Vase 2

 

This year my powder room has a vintage greeting card theme, so I created a vintage inspired wrap with clipart purchased from paperstreetsupplies.com for $3. I just love the results!! I could use this wrap on a pillar candle, or a votive cup, or use it as a napkin ring.

Vintage collage wrap

 

See how I put together the collage (in under 10 minutes!) in this video:

 

Supplies:

Soup can
Black acrylic craft paint
Decorative paper
Double-sided tape
Ribbon/trim of choice

1. Paint the top edge of the can with the craft paint. (I noticed the Progresso® cans had a little rim at the top edge and I wanted to butt the paper right up to it for a smoother appearance.)

2. Measure the height (up to the top ridge) and diameter of the can. Transfer the measurements to a piece of decorative paper, adding ½ to the length (diameter) for overlap. Cut the paper to size.

3. Wrap the paper around the can and secure with double-sided tape, overlapping by ½ inch.

4. If desired, trim your “vase” with ribbon, rick rack – whatever coordinates with your décor.

5. Fill with orange roses and enjoy! For two arrangements I used two dozen roses from the grocery store. For a little change of texture, I added some twigs from the yard that I spray painted black, and included some of the filler included with the flowers.

So, how about some soup for dinner, and a quick craft project afterwards?

The vintage vase looks great in the powder room.

The vintage vase looks great in the powder room.

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5 Tips to Restyle Your Halloween Home

Do you remember reading the “Mini Page” in your local newspaper when you were a kid? There was always a puzzle where you had to find hidden items, like a beehive or a wooden spoon or a sailboat, in a seemingly straightforward drawing.

Well, this post is kind of like that, only I’m going to give you the answers! These photos are of an identical area in my home where I display a vignette. Most days, it looks like the photo on the left. But, this is prime real estate in the family room, so come the holidays I change up the vignette to reflect a more seasonal look. The photo on the right is how that area looks today. Can you spot the differences?

Liquor collage 3

Here’s what I did — and what you can do in your own home to give any tabletop, sideboard, shelf, or any place else a new look and a new life for the season.

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1. Change the artwork.

In the everyday scene, a drawing by my oldest brother fits the space nicely. For Halloween, I used a printed canvas that I purchased a few years ago from Grandin Road (www.grandinroad.com). Clearly, it’s not as large as the everyday artwork, so I filled in the space with BOO letters that I made. I’ve used these items in combination with each other for a few years in different part of the house, but this feels like the perfect spot.

2. Change the textiles.

Switching up any fabric element such as pillows, draperies, area rugs, or towels is an easy way to update any space with a seasonal look. Here, swapping the cream colored runner with an orange one adds just the right punch of color in this vignette.

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3. Cover up.

I love using books as risers to change the height of a display. In the everyday look, the variety of colors in the book bindings is perfect, but the books felt a little busy and clashy with the seasonal look. So, I simply covered the books with brown kraft paper for neutral appeal. (You could also use brown paper bags for this project.)

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4. Swap accessories.

I’ve been collecting and creating Halloween accessories for years now, and this is key to any seasonal decorating. You don’t need to buy or make things all at once! Add to your collection as time and budget allow. Soon you’ll have a lot of accessories to choose from when putting together your holiday looks. I like to lay out all of the accessories on the kitchen island and see what groupings natural emerge based on a texture, color and material. For this Halloween look, the unifying elements are black metals paired with neutrals. I used an iron crow from Pottery Barn’s Halloween collection a couple years ago with some Party Lite candle holders. Next I layered in a couple of candle crafts from my Raven collection.

5. Add multiple points of light.

To me, every holiday display should have at least three (but preferably more!) points of light – either real or LED candles and/or electric light. Most of the accessories in this Halloween look are already candles, but I added a couple more to give the vignette more light. Two orange glass tealight holders from Cost Plus World Market (www.worldmarket.com) that are used on the patio in the summer seemed like the perfect accent to this collection.

Following these five simple steps no matter what the holiday or season will always give you a new look using what you already have.

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How to Embellish a Valance for Halloween

If you haven’t guessed it, I love decorating for holidays. I mean, re-doing entire rooms for a holiday. Bathrooms are particularly easy to makeover seasonally; they’re generally smaller, with fewer accessories and furnishings. So I endeavor to re-do the powder room and the hall guest bath for the holidays.

Baby basket and Hween 1013 056

A few years ago I purchased two simple black valances at Target to use in the guest bath at Halloween with a black and white shower curtain. I knew I wanted to embellish the valances, but kept putting it off, thinking it “had” to have a contrasting fabric trim or something. Then I decided to simplify the project, while still achieving a very Halloween look using simple grosgrain ribbon ($3 a spool) and orange rick rack that I found on sale for 10 cents a yard (so I bought a lot!).

For this project you will need a black window valance* (Target has discontinued this product, but Wal-Mart has several options under $12 online); ribbon and/or trim of your choice; fabric glue; fusible tape (available at fabric and craft stores); and an iron.

Decide on a design for your ribbon/trim. I kept this look simple with two bands of rick rack with a band of ribbon in between. Measure the width of the valance and add two inches; cut the ribbon/trim to that size.

Halloween preview 0813 019

Following the instructions on the fusible tape, adhere the ribbon to the valance in the desired position/pattern. Leave one inch of ribbon overhanging the edge of the valance. Take care to make sure the ribbon is straight as you work your way across the width of the valance. (Use a ruler to periodically check, measuring the distance from the edge of the valance to the ribbon.) You should have one inch left over at the opposite edge. Turn the piece over and adhere the two end bits to the back of the valance.

Halloween preview 0813 024

Repeat with remaining ribbon or trim. For this project, I used fabric glue to adhere the rick rack to the valance, following the instructions on the glue bottle and using the same one inch turn under on each end. I rather like the way it turned out! Here I’ve styled it with jack o’lantern jingle bells simply tied to the shower curtain rings with thin satin ribbon. Halloween accessories complete the look.

Baby basket and Hween 1013 055

*For fullness over a standard bathtub, use two valances. Carefully transfer the measurements for the design on the first completed valance to the second, to ensure continuity once they are hung.

Baby basket and Hween 1013 058

 So the question for you is: what simple accessories do YOU have around the house that, with some simple trimmings, can become Halloween accents for your home this year?

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10 Fall-Inspired Vase Fillers

River rock vase

Smooth river rocks anchor three simple stems for an easy autumn look, shown here at Parcel 104 at the Santa Clara Marriott Hotel.

Vase fillers have become very popular with nearly every home décor retail establishment and craft store offering a multitude of options beyond glass pebbles. Far from merely taking up space in a vase, vase fillers have multiple uses and can accent candlescapes, be scattered on a holiday table, mounded in low bowls for a coffee table centerpiece, gathered in clear containers … the list goes on. (This Halloween I’m using small, sparkly, lime green balls that are marketed as vase fillers for the bubbly brew in a witch’s cauldron.)

Of course, with nearly everything that rises in popularity, the price also rises. One of my favorite stores has an average price of $20 for fillers! I love to decorate with vase fillers seasonally, so it can be a substantial added expense to the holiday decorating budget, unless I can find low cost, yet appealing, alternatives.

And over the years I’ve done just that. So here are my top 10 stylish and affordable fall-inspired vase fillers. Most of them are either found in your yard for free, or may be picked up on your next trip to the supermarket. Any one may be used on its own, or combine them for interesting layers. Find a couple of branches from the trees in your yard and voila! An instant fall accessory.

Candles

1. Bird Seed ($5 to $10 for 10 pounds) I love using bird seed in my fall arrangements. It displaces easily, so pushing a candle into the filler or arranging large stems is a breeze. Look for a seed blend with all the colors of fall.

2. Pinecones (Free to $5/bag) Your yard can be the source of wonderful home accessories for the fall. I’ve collected basketfuls of pinecones from having just one tree in my front yard. Pinecones are relatively easy to paint, especially if they’re still closed, so they can take on a black hue for Halloween or red, gold, or silver for the holidays.

Layer Spanish moss, faux leaves and twigs for a rustic fall look.

Layer Spanish moss, faux leaves and twigs for a rustic fall look.

3. Fall leaves (real or faux) (Free to about $10 for 120 leaves) Real leaves can be brittle and break easily, while a good quality faux leaf will last for years. Sprinkle them in as the top layer of your vase arrangement, tuck them into a basket of pinecones, or scatter them on the Thanksgiving table.

4. Candy corn (about $2 for 1 pound bag) – The classic Halloween candy looks great with candles or spooky branches.

5. River rocks ($3 for 28 oz., Cost Plus World Market) – Rather than scooping rocks from your landscaping, opt for clean, smooth river rock as an alternative to glass pebble. They compliment any fall arrangement and make a good, study base for botanical stems. Great when layered with other materials.

6. Tree bark (Free) Take to your yard and collect any naturally exfoliated bark. Allow it to dry completely in the garage or mud room and dust off any critters or dirt before adding it to your arrangements. Lightweight and textured, it fills space and adds rustic charm.

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Display seed pods, pine cones and leaves in clear vessels for an instant fall display.

7. Seed pods (Free) If you’re lucky enough to have a tree that drops interesting looking seed pods, use them! Be careful, though – some pods can burst open and deliver their contents unexpectedly if crushed.

8. Twigs (Free) See how much your yard can yield? After every storm or windy day, it seems like there are a ton of little twigs blown from their branches. I experimented with twigs a couple of years ago and was more than satisfied with the look. They can be spooky for Halloween or rustic for Thanksgiving.

9. Spanish moss (About $3 a bag at craft and home improvement stores) This gives great texture and a different look than the other filler ideas. Great for layering!

Thanksgiving 09 038

Dry beans are a colorful and inexpensive way to add texture to vase displays and candlescapes.

10. Dry beans ($1 to $3 per pound) The range of colors available in the dry bean section of the supermarket is astonishing, from green to burgundy. I find the best selection at Fresh and Easy markets. Layer them in a tall cylinder and pop in a few branches of bittersweet for an arrangement to take you from September all the way through to Thanksgiving.

So much color, so much texture … I hope you’ll try using vase fillers in your décor this year!

Note: As many of these options are flammable, if you’re using a vase filler in a candlescape, be sure to keep the flammable material away from the flame. A clear candle sleeve works very well. ($12 to $16, www.williams-sonoma.com)

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Backyard Update: Inspiration & Organization

A room design—in this case, a backyard patio—often includes an “inspiration piece” around which the color scheme and mood can be created.

Backyard organize 009

Over the weekend I found these pillows, along with some coordinating seat cushions at Home Goods for a good price — $20 for 2 pillows and $30 for 2 cushions. (Shopping online, comparable pillows in outdoor fabric start at $20 each.) And, these are made in the U.S.A. I love the print and the colors! This print is my jumping off point for the color scheme for the backyard update.

Backyard organize 011

I have several metal accessories such as lanterns and candle holders that can use a new coat of paint, and that’s a perfect way to use color. By rummaging through my paint collection, I found a few metal primers and a metal top coat that I can use (saves me money!) and a spring green interior/exterior spray paint that pulls out the green in the pillows. I also like the coral-orange color and the sea blue in the pillows. I found the same brand of interior/exterior spray paint that I already had at Michaels craft store that pick up those hues so this is the palette:

Outdoor palette 001

 

Total cost for the paint: $13. As I shop for and create new accessories for the patio, I’ll keep both the print and the color palette in mind. If possible, it’s a good idea to carry your inspiration item with you and/or paint swatches.

 

Getting Organized

And this leads to the next step of the makeover: organizing.

In terms of my decorating strategy, to organize has two meaning: (1) to see what you already have; and then (2) assemble everything you need before starting the project. For the first part, simply shop in your house—see what you already have on hand that can be used or repurposed for the space you’re working on.

Look around your home for accessories you’re not using any longer – what would it look like with a coat of paint? Is it a durable finish that could go outside?

I collected everything that I currently use outside, or could be used out there, and put it in one place to see what I have. I included craft supplies and paint in additional accessories. This step helps the budget tremendously! (I’m sure I’ll come across more supplies, too.) Now with one glance, I can see the universe of resources at my disposal and create a more focused shopping list.

Backyard organize 005

I can certainly recover the red pillows (I swiped them from chairs on the front porch) to add some life to the chaise lounges, so I’ll look for some outdoor fabric.  I also have some great outdoor dinnerware and serving pieces in a bright aqua/lime color so I know I can re-use all of those accessories in the dining area.  I’ll look for some new placemats to bring even more color to the table.

Finally, I saw some outdoor nesting tables in a high-end accessory catalog that would go well in this space, but they’re a budget-busting $129! Instead, I’ll prime and paint some little-used outdoor tables and make a new tile tabletop for one. They’ll be “bunching tables” instead of nesting, but the cost will only be about $6 for the tile. (I already have mortar and grout on hand from a previous project.)

The next steps include prioritizing the various aspects of the makeover to make sure that the things that will have the most impact get priority both in terms of action and budget. Then, I’ll look at my schedule over the next few weeks and put my action plan on the calendar.

It’s coming along … stay tuned!

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