Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Handcrafted Halloween- How to get spellbinding decor

Designers Challenge 101
Top tips for decorating like a pro!

Don't forget this Friday we go live with all our decorating tips, tricks, and how-to's for decorating on shoestring budget; do it like the pros!

 Below is a list of all the designers participating: 

Traci Zellar of Traci Zeller Designs
Kelly Berg of Arte Styling
Kelly James of Design Ties
Dayka Robinson of Meditations on Life and style 
Kathy Passarette of Creative home expressions 
Amanda Burdge of
Susan Snow of  Movingdesinz

Ok great, so what does this mean for you? All seven of us are decorating the same family room with a six thousand dollar budget in mind. The idea is to see how the pros take a few thousand dollars and make a room look fabulous, when done right! We will be showing pictures, products used and much more so tune in and be sure to see all the great ideas!

Now back to our regularly scheduled broadcast....

Is it me or were we just celebrating the New Year? I cannot believe that Halloween is just a few short weeks away. Fall has approached us at warp speed and it is time to get decorating! October is the best time to send shivers of delight throughout the house, and prepare for another holiday filled with ghouls and goblins. Here are some of my favorites!

Get a heads up on this Halloween:

Super easy to make. Hollow out the bottom of an eggshell, or mold from clay. Spray on an antique white paint for a base coat. Then paint with crackle paint (like Delta cream coat.) Buy little hats from a craft store, and glue on an orange nose made of felt, or paint one on. Take a sharpie and paint on a ghoulish grin and you have yourself little monsters. With a hot glue gun you can glue string on them and hang them from chandeliers, over archways, and make fun mobiles with then to hang on the porch.

Stencil your Pumpkins
Have a favorite poochie and want to show him off? Better Homes and gardens has pumpkin-carving stencils for a Happy Howloween! Click here to get yours!

DIY creepy crawlies
Everyone knows that half the excitement of trick or treating is the presentation of the entrance! Add a wicked web of scary delight by using black clothesline. Use one large eye hook to secure bottom of the web and use tacks to build and secure the design. Add a big black spider from a craft store and for extra fun add baby creepy crawlies (every craft store has them) all over your front porch, pillars and plant beds.

No carve Pumpkins for the lazy at heart (me)
Take old paint from around the house, Black sharpies (add a little painters tape to help get a straight edge if you like and I recommend doing this before you dip into the sauce) and you have a plethora of decorated pumpkins. This is great for unused fireplaces, table buffets, porches, and mantel decorating.

Another quick and easy way to decorate pumpkins is with tacks, and ribbon:

Candlescape your way through fall
Grab the kids and the hubs and take a stroll around the neighborhood. Gather up acorns, pinecones, seeds and plop them into a mason jar. (make sure the mason jar doesn't  have vodka in it for those who read my previous vodka post!) Insert votives of spiced orange, chai, cinnamon, and vanilla to create the smells of autumn and a beautiful holiday candlescape.

A pillar of harvest
Take pumpkins and stack them into a topiary. Start large on the bottom and cap off with one thats a little smaller. Remove the tops of the bottom two to secure pumpkins placement. You can also take a steel rod or landscaping stake (both from a hardware store) to hold them more securely. For added fun take the painted pumpkins from above and stack into fun colored arrangements. Put onto an old pot and use for a festive tablescape, fireplace decoration or porch decor.

Spooky candy
This is a great way to use what you have and update for the current holiday. Take existing apothecary jars, or vases, fill with candy and decorate with craft paper a haunted jar of BOOO!

I love the fall season and everything it brings. This fall decorate your home with everything that reminds you of home. Fragrant candles, yummy candy, harvest decorations, good food, and of course booze!

What are some of your favorite holiday memories?

Eat, drink and be scary!

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Cleaning 101: How to clean in record time

I hate cleaning and as a child I always daydreamed of adulthood. It would bestow upon me no responsibility, reckless abandonment, and a carefree lifestyle. As an adult I could do whatever I want...

Fast forward seventeen years and now I daydream of being a kid again doing little to no chores and stressing about whether Shane B. from the football team really likes me.

Cleaning is awful, but we have to do it. Well actually you don't have to do anything, but when I come to your house and it's clean, I really do appreciate it! Not to mention a clean house lessons your stress load, and lifts your mood. Think about it. When you leave the house in a hurry and forget to make the bed, clean the dishes and pick up your clothes, what do you come home to at the end of the day? Chaos. And when it's a bad day, the last thing you need is more chaos! Here are my top tips to lighten the load and make it a breeze to do.

Stay focused
This has got to be the best tip I have and if you take my advice on this, you will save an hour. I am about as ADD as they come. I start to pick up and straighten the house and five hours later I have accomplished nothing and started 20 different tasks. Get out the kitchen timer. Write down all the things that need to be done in a weeks time. Break it down into two to three items at 30 minutes tops a day. Knowing that the timer is going will keep you going, and the list will keep you focused.

Flash Cards
I learned this trick years ago and still use it today. Keep 7 flash cards for all the chores that need to be done in a week for your home. Limit 2-4 chores per card. Keep the flash cards in a recipe box, junk drawer or cupboard. Randomly pick out a card each day. Whatever the chores are on the card is what gets done that day. Set your timer (preferably 30 minutes) for the flash card pulled. Once those chores are complete separate that card from the rest of the chores that have not been done for that week. This keeps chores manageable, and not so routine. Sometimes I vacuum on Tuesday's and sometimes is gets done on Saturday.

Straightening up
Keep baskets, or attractive tubs around the house that are labeled or distinctive in some fashion. For example, keep baskets at the top and bottom of stairs, if items need to be taken upstairs they can be thrown into the baskets and hauled upstairs when someone uses them or vice versa. Also, keep baskets or tubs in various rooms for quick clean up. Toys, magazines, and misc items can be quickly thrown into them to organize and straighten up a room until you have time to distribute the items to their original location.

Lint rollers
Like Vodka, these little guys are multitaskers. They can quickly clean upholstery, lamp shades, headboards and chair cushions at record speeds. They are great at quickly rolling over placemats if you don't have time to wash them.

Handheld Vacuums
Invest in the best you can afford because these are perfect for in between cleans. They can quickly pick up crumbs, dust bunnies, little messes and allow you to go longer without the big mammoth vacuum.

Get out the cheap Vodka and wipe down all your counters and glass surfaces with newspapers. It is the greenest way to clean possible,  cheap, and won't leave streaks!

Baking Soda
Whatever the Vodka can't clean the baking soda will take care of. Mixed with water it has the necessary grit to scrub anything clean, but is gentle enough to not harm hands, pets or kids. It is also a green product and wont hurt the environment!

Unfortunately it is a part of adulthood no one ever told us about. I was under the elusion that it meant eating ice cream for breakfast, pancakes for dinner and staying up till 3am just because I felt like it. And while I can do all those things, no one told me I'd have to clean up the messes I made at 3am. (  the pancake syrup really sticks if it isn't cleaned up right away!)

'If you want to see me, come on over. If you want to see my house, call ahead.'"

Melissa Taylor, Denver, Colorado

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Friday, September 24, 2010

3 ways to make party punch more interesting and fun

Most adults will agree that the school dance without punch just wasn't a dance at all. And thanks to Angie Sanders, the coolest senior in High School, I learned that punch was way more interesting and fun with booze! But between you, me, and the fencepost, I'll never admit that to my mother because according to my bent truth, I didn't start drinking the magic juice until my early twenties. ( but I swear that woman has eyes in the back of her head and she knows more then she's saying!) 

 Fast forward to now and most adults still like punch but eventually the day comes when punch just isn't enjoyable and we forget to make it. In this A.D.D generation of the 'grass is always greener elsewhere' we crave variety. I personally crave all things easy and find my thoughts wandering to an easier time of school dances, endearing crushes on boys like David Thompson and fruity punch.  As we approach this fall season amidst record breaking highs, punch not only seems appropriate, but refreshing and fun!

AB HOME'S Adult Party Punch
1 C Sugar
1 C Water
4 C Orange Juice
1C Lemon juice
1 C strong tea
6 Sprite zeros
As much vodka as you need 
(I recommend generous amounts)

1) Tip number one- Roll lemons or limes on a hard surface with the heel of your hand before cutting. This softens the fruit from the protective wall, and makes squeezing fresh juice much easier.

2) Tip two-For this holiday season, make punch more fun by hollowing out a pumpkin and using it as a punch bowl for Halloween. Serve up in mason jars filled with a few slices of fruit for extra flavor

3) Tip 3-Soak apricots,  fresh or frozen in Vodka for three to four weeks and store in the fridge in a sealed mason jar. The day of the party put flavored fruit into the pumpkin with punch and let sit for an hour before you serve. Use remainder of vodka (as much as you need) to flavor punch.

Boil sugar and water together for approximately ten minutes. Add tea and chill. When you are ready to serve punch mix everything together and pour into the pumpkin with ice. For extra amusement, you can also float strawberries, cherries, lemon and orange slices on top for decoration;  in my opinion this makes the punch a nutritious and a well balanced meal!

Gulp  Drink up!

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

7 ways to simplify your life with Vodka

Ah, Vodka,.. so many memories I have with this marvelous substance. Ok, so I know what your thinking. Either this is going to be really good, or this conversation is about to head South really quick! But aside from drinking it, vodka actually has many other uses and it is a surprisingly simple substance. Made from a primary ingredient of either grain, rye, wheat, potatoes, or sugar beet and combined with yeast to generate alcohol. After distillation, Vodka is almost pure ethyl alcohol, watered down before bottling for easy consumption. Yummmm!

Each one of us leads a hectic life. As I read your comments about making life easier I realized how all of us could use more simplicity in our lives. So what is the solution? It's called Vodka. And I am not saying that drinking yourself silly is the answer, although if you feel that today of all days a quick slurp, or a large gulp of the good stuff will calm your nerves, by all means I won't step in your way.

You all know that vodka is my drink of choice. A good dirty martini, with blue cheese olives just sings in my ears after a long day at work. But did you know that this magic juice is also quite nifty as a multi-tasker around the house? Now my hardest decision is whether to drink it, or put it hard to work! Or maybe I just do both!

1) Freshen Laundry- Don't have time to wash your favorite shirt before you head out of the house? Put some vodka in a spritz bottle and lightly spray down your garment. (do a spot test first before you go wild) Vodka kills odor-causing bacteria, but dries without any scent of alcohol.
2) Shine up your bling-Tired of looking at your dull chrome fixtures in the kitchen and bath? Put a generous amount of the spirit onto a rag, mix with a little elbow grease and voila! Bright shiny fixtures!

3) General cleaning agent- Green house cleaning has never been so fun! Slurp...Using harsh chemicals around the house is not only dangerous to kids and pets, but harmful to our environment. As we wash those chemicals down the drain they get into our water systems, and effect our ecosystem. Replace them with an inexpensive Vodka from the liqueur store. Vodka is the most versatile cleaner you can have around the house. It disinfects, cleans, deodorizes and shines up glass, porcelain, and chrome beautifully. 

4) Freshen flowers- To increase the life of your floral arrangement add a few drops of Vodka to the water with a few teaspoons of sugar. 

5) Remove ink and paint-use an undiluted solution of pure unflavored vodka to remove ink and paint from clothing. After spritzing the solution onto the garment let sit for a minute and simply dab and blot the stain out.

6) Pet odors-Nike had a bit of an issue relieving himself on the carpet whenever he wanted me to know he was mad for what I had done...which was??? Anyways, he was mad at me and I had to clean the madness out of the carpet so he wouldn't be tempted to do it again.I would always clean the carpet and spray Vodka on the stain to remove the odors.

"I don't have any idea what your talking about
I never did it, no one saw me do it."

7) Kills mold-Have mold in your shower, and in your grout? Use straight vodka as a tile grout cleaner to kill mold and mildew. Spray onto the affected areas and let sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe off.

Hope all of you have a blissful day! Find one thing today that you are grateful for and be thankful for your blessings. And if all else fails get out the Vodka and....clean!

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Making life easier!

I have realized that my hectic schedule and craving desire to appear "together" has led to an epiphany; and mid life crisis. Life just needs to be easier! As Julia Roberts said in Eat, Love, Pray, " I am not asking for life to be easy, I am just asking for it to not be so hard!" This statement resonated with me. As a designer I am trying to create a beautiful lifestyle, but why does it need to be hard? 
The AB HOME Interiors new Home and lifestyle blog are expected to go live by October 1st, but to save appearances, I will tell you that reality tells me it will probably be closer to the first week of October. My goal with this new blog is nothing short of miracle. My life has always been hectic, and most likely always will be. Because I demand things to be simple,  appear effortless, but always look fabulous, my new blog will focus on all things fabulous but EASY! Life should not be difficult. There is already too much chaos in our lives. We need more bliss, and more joy and this blog will leave you feeling as if the simple things really do matter, and make life better! I want all of you to live in each moment, and to live your bliss. And it is important to me that everyone who reads this blog lives a glamourous lifestyle, in an uncomplicated elementary way. In the meantime as we get it "together" leave us your thoughts.
 What brings bliss into your life? 
How could your life be easier? 
What could you use to be more simple?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Get motivated! The best ideas to get you through fall with ease!

This holiday season at AB HOME is turning out to be one of THE best! We have all kinds of great articles chalked full of tips, tricks and time saving suggestions to get you through this season with ease! 
First off, coming Friday, October 1 seven designers including myself will be going live with: 

Designers Challenge 101
Top tips for decorating like a pro!

After my post How to design a room on a budget and 5 Super simple things to update your dining room my inbox was flooded with inquiries from my faithful readers wanting more! 
I wanted to do something big but wasn't sure what to do that would be helpful. I started talking with Kathy from Creative home expressions and we started swapping emails about a budget friendly post chalked full of ideas, with a strict budget in mind.Well two of us on this challenge just wasn't enough! So I called on all my designer friends and basically gave them an ultimatum: Put together a fabulous room on a budget and tell our readers how you did it, or we aren't friends anymore! Well it didn't really go down in that fashion, but VERY close. Ok, not really, the truth is I am a drama Queen, there was no ultimatum because everyone loves and adores me and would do anything for me so they of course said yes! 
Who could say no to MOI! 

So who is participating in this fabulous, magnificent post?
 Below is a list of all the designers participating: 

Traci Zellar of Traci Zeller Designs
Kelly Berg of Arte Styling
Kelly James of Design Ties
Dayka Robinson of Meditations on Life and style 
Kathy Passarette of Creative home expressions 
Amanda Burdge of
Susan Snow of  Movingdesinz

Ok great, so what does this mean for you? Can I just say awesomeness all around! All seven of us are decorating the same family room with a six thousand dollar budget in mind. The idea is to see how the pros take a few thousand dollars and make a room look fabulous, when done right! We will be showing pictures, products used and much more! And I may be a little biased, but AB HOME'S room is fabulosity in big proportions! Can't wait to show you!

I will also be participating in Housewife Bliss':

Holiday Workshop 
Mrs bliss and friends

I am honored and excited about participating in this series. Coryanne's goal with this series:

"The Holiday Workshop is a collective effort by some of my favourite sites.  Together we will be tackling some of the tricky subjects that face every woman in the run up to the Holiday Season….household management, decorating, cooking, drinking, social graces, creating, gift giving, entertaining and fashion."
The series will run each Thursday in October and will touch on various holiday events from October to December. The fabulous sites who are participating:

AB Home Interiors (thats me!)

Did I mention I am very excited about this series? I will be offering great ideas on effortless decorating, colors to update your holidays, great floral tips, and the finale post will BLOW YOU AWAY!! 
Our finale post will offer some of the best ideas for the holidays, from some of the top people in the industry, on festive table scaping and the art of doing it right, without all the work! Love that!

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

5 ways to update your home for fall

There is nothing I love more than fall. It offers cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and a happy state of mind. Everyone seems to drink the kool-aid of fall magic. Wouldn't you agree? People in general seem to be happiest in the fall. I think the idea of big meals, family gatherings and good things to come (like a New Year) bring everyone's spirits around. One thing I love to do in the fall is update a few things in my home to "winterize it." 

1) Custom Wreaths- Wreaths are super easy to make and most craft stores carry wreath forms. Get creative and use unexpected items. Below (from country living) this herb wreath is the perfect introduction into your home for the holidays. Fill your wreath with sage, oregano, rosemary, and bay leaves. The aroma is amazing, and it's an entertaining delight for the upcoming festivities!

2) Maps-Maps are great little treasures with so much potential. They are inexpensive (some even free) and super easy to find. Here are some awesome things I like to do with maps! 
a) Buy a large map and cut it up. Frame the pieces and hang it up in a family room. This creates instant, inexpensive art that is interesting and fun. b) Buy cardstock and cut out a favorite shape. Outline the shape with trace paper and place it on the map for a template. These can be used for labels, gift tags, or wall art, like below.

c) gift wrap your presents with old maps. It creates a homemade feel, and makes gift giving extra special. 

d) cover ugly books with old maps. 

3) Decorative Bowls- One of my favorite things to do is put a large decorative platter on my cocktail table and fill it with old family photos. We see the most of our guests this time of year and they just LOVE sifting through them. This is a great way to reminisce, laugh and remember previous holidays gone by.

4) Fruit- Fruit can add a lovely touch to the holidays, and make wonderful gifts. Also overlooked, fruit can be hung from the tree, placed down a dining table, or delicately wrapped (like the pears below) as a centerpiece or gift.

Country Living

Adorning fruit with simple ribbon dresses it up, making it perfect for a gift and adds a little sweetness.

5) Creamers, Pitchers and Serving dishes- The fall is a time to celebrate and be festive. It is also a time we sit down for family gatherings, and visit with friends. Add to your current collection of serving dishes by finding unique pieces that make it feel luxurious, and provide the comforts of home.

Earth Works via etsy

Ummm... hello how great is THIS pitcher?

Tandem Glass on etsy
How's about this creamer?? Can't tell me this won't liven up the party!

What types of things do you do to welcome in the holidays?
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AB HOME is offering 
FREE Holiday Decorating classes in October
contact us to sign up!