Monday, November 30, 2009

New Christmas Tradition - Christmas Books


We have decided to start a new Christmas tradition this year! This is actually something a friend of mine does, so it is not an idea I came up with, but we are excited to try out something new this year! Plus, I am looking forward to being able to do something SIMPLE every day in December to help keep us all in the Christmas spirit!

I have been collecting a lot of Christmas books: 25 to be exact. I have collected a variety of books that are both silly and serious, with topics ranging from the true meaning of Christmas, to giving, helping, friendship, snowmen and Santa. There is a big variety (here are just a few)!


I will wrap them all, and put them under the tree. (*Hint: I bought two rolls of wrapping paper from the $1 section at Target. Because they are shorter than a traditional roll of wrapping paper, it is easier to wrap smaller items like books. Plus this way I know exactly what gifts under the tree are Christmas books!)

Then, each night in December (and on Christmas morning) our daughter will get to choose one book to open and we will read it together as a family.


You can start small. It is quite the feat and a big expense to collect 25 Christmas books all at once. Luckily I already had a lot to begin with, plus with Scholastic book orders this fall, and Grandma's help, I was able to acquire many more books this year. But you can just start with the books you already have, borrow books from the library (just remember to return them!), or buy just a few each year to build your library. Instead of starting on December 1st, start later in the month and read one book every night until Christmas!

Now here's the best part of this entire thing. After Christmas, I will pack up all the books and use them again next year! Of course eventually, the kids will catch on that they are reading the same books every year. But I think that is what makes it part of a fun new tradition. (And really, won't it be just a little bit fun watching your teenagers read silly board books about snowmen every year?)

Here are a few of the books that we will be reading this month:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess
Christmas for the Snowmen by Wolfram Hanel
Olive, the Other Reindeer by J.otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh
The Christmas Song: Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire by Mel Torme and Robert Wells
This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotton
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff
My First Story of the First Christmas retold by Deanna Draper Buck
Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer
A Christmas Dress for Ellen retold by Thomas S. Monson
The Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

Please leave a comment with your favorite Christmas books!
Happy book hunting!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Happy Thanksgiving!

As most of you are preparing for a Thanksgiving feast today, it won't be until tomorrow when you realize you have a fridge full of leftovers and no guests to help you eat it! Eating straight Thanksgiving leftovers are good...for a day or two. But that quickly tires long before the perfectly good leftovers are gone.

So, what do you do with all that yummy turkey, stuffing and even cranberries? Here are a few ideas to help you use your Thanksgiving leftovers and enable you to spend less time cooking and more time with your family.

1. Sandwiches - I like to use the cranberries as the condiment of choice for my left over Thanksgiving sandwiches, my husband prefers mayo. But let's face it, you can pile anything on a yummy left over roll or slice of bread and it will be delicious! From turkey, to stuffing to even mashed potatoes, some even like to soak a piece of bread in gravy and put that in the middle of their sandwiches too! (Hey! I've heard of stranger things!) Yum yum yum!

2. Turkey Noodle Soup - Think chicken noodle soup with leftover turkey instead. Nice and warm on a cold fall day!

3. Turkey Pot Pie - Layer plenty of cubed turkey, left over chopped veggies and gravy in a pan. Even put a layer of mashed potatoes on there! Top with a left over, unused, premade pie crust and cook until the crust is browned.

4. Turkey Enchiladas - Cube or shred turkey. Place turkey, cheese and enchilada sauce on a tortilla. Roll and place in a pan. Cover all enchiladas with enchilada sauce and cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and enchiladas are warm throughout.

5. Turkey and Stuffing Casserole - Cube several cups of turkey and lay in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Mix 1 pint sour cream and 1 can cream of chicken soup and spread over turkey. Next, put a layer of stuffing on top. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes until bubbly around edges.

6. Turkey Pizza - Why not? Either make or buy a premade pizza crust. Layer with sauce, cubed turkey pieces, maybe some chopped veggies or bacon and lots of cheese. Cook in the oven according to pizza crust directions.

7. Turkey Pineapple Curry - This recipe I found on About.com. I have not tried it but it looks yummy! Check it out here.

8. Salad - Lettuce, turkey cubes, cheese, nuts, cranberries, etc., throw caution to the wind and mix up a salad using all sorts of Thanksgiving leftovers.

9. Turkey Egg Rolls - Let's face it. You still have tons of leftovers but you don't want to feel like you are eating Thanksgiving every day! This will give your turkey an entirely new flavor! Buy egg roll wrappers. Chop up some turkey, green beans (from that green bean casserole I know you made but haven't touched since!) and maybe some mashed potatoes or stuffing. Throw it all in a food processor until the consistency is coarse; perfect egg roll filling consistency. Place in egg roll wrappers and fry (or bake) according to the wrapper directions. For dipping sauce, try mixing a little soy sauce in with left over cranberry sauce.

10. Cranberries - Still have more cranberries? Warm it up and serve it over vanilla ice cream. Or mix cranberries with cream cheese and use as a spread on bagels!

I hope you all have an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving and happy leftovers!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

FALL Wooden Letters



Hurray! It is finally Fall! Ok, so I realize that most of the country is getting snow right now, but in northern California it finally feels like fall! The leaves are changing color and the air is getting colder and my house still looks exactly the same as it did all summer long. It is time to make my house look a bit more festive!

My daughter, who is 3 years old, is working on letter recognition. So, I thought this would be an easy craft that would help encourage her to learn her letters. Her favorite one: the yellow "A".

You can buy premade wooden letters at any craft store, Wal-Mart, or I found mine at the Dollar Store. If they are rough, you will want to sand the edges down first. There are many ways to paint the letters but I choose to use 4 different colors of craft paint: burgundy, mustard yellow, forest green and navy blue. I used a foam sponge paint brush to paint each letter a different color.  I painted several coats of paint on all sides of all letters.

(*Hint, if you have 4 different paint brushes, you can have each paint brush painting a different color and continually paint until they each have several coats of paint on them. It saves a lot of time!)

Let them completely dry. At this point, you can be done. They look great just like this...



But, I took it one step further.

After the letters were completely dry, I took a slightly moist foam sponge paint brush and dark brown craft paint. (Black would work also for a more dramatic effect.)



Then I quickly and haphazardly painted over the letters with the brown paint one side at a time. It is scary, I know!

(*Hint, for the lighter colored letters, I used more water on my brush so the brown would be a little less intense. For the darker painted letters, I almost painted the brown paint straight on. You can experiment with this on the backs of the letters until you get the look you want.)



Immediately after I painted one side, I took a paper towel and wiped it off, not worrying too much about getting it even. I continued to do this to all sides of all letters to give the letters a more worn and rustic look.




Let them dry and voila! All done! (Now if I can just keep my daughter from swiping the letter "A"...)


Monday, November 23, 2009

The Importance of Complementary Colors in Design

As an NCIDQ Certified Interior Designer, I will be posting articles about interior design occationally.  The first one I am posting is an article I previously wrote for another fabulous blog: Design Dazzle.  My article can found here.  It is a great article about how using complementary colors are important in design.  And, this article was recently referenced on Sherwin William's website Stir which can be seen here.  (How cool is that?)

So please, check out the above links and enjoy my article!


There is an old story of a famous Hollywood star who wanted to redecorate the interior of her home in purple. Purple is historically the color reserved for royalty and the elite, so I assume that it only seemed fitting to her that she have her home reflect that status. She hired a designer to help with her project. She made it very clear to the designer that she wanted to use only purple in her space. Under no circumstances was there to be any yellow in the space, as she deplored the color yellow. So, as any good designer would do, she took her client very seriously and together they meticulously planned the perfect home, using purple almost exclusively. One of the few deviant colors in this space was the neutral tan carpet. I can only imagine how many times the designer checked and rechecked her work throughout the entire design process to make certain that all was ordered correctly.

Once everything was installed, the designer received an irate phone call from her client; she was livid with the designer for the yellow carpet in her home! I can only imagine how frustrated and confused the designer must have been. She checked and rechecked all her orders and delivery slips to ensure that everything was ordered and installed correctly, which, of course, it was.

In the designer’s meticulous designing, planning, and the care she took to ensure that the client had an exclusively purple design, she neglected one crucial color theory principle: when the eyes are overwhelmed with one color, both the eye and the brain, seek the respite associated with the color’s complement. The brain automatically seeks out the color’s complement and, if it cannot be found, it will create the illusion of that color in the space. In the case of this home, the massive amount of purple overwhelmed the senses and caused the eye and brain to seek out and create purple’s complementary color, yellow, in the tan carpet. There was, in fact no yellow in the space, but the space was designed in such a way that the illusion of yellow carpet was created, thus making an angry client and what I can only imagine would be a mortified designer.

The moral of this story is quite simple: when designing a room, it is important, in order to create a calm and peaceful atmosphere - one in which the eye and brain can relax - to incorporate both a color and its complement.

Complementary colors are colors that are opposite each other on a color wheel. Thus red and green are complements, purple and yellow are complements, and blue and orange are complements. Complementary colors are interesting to work with in spaces, because, when placed beside each other in equally intense forms, they can almost appear to vibrate. This is not the effect most of us want in our homes. But, when placed tastefully in a room, they can create a wonderfully colorful, yet incredibly well designed, sophisticated room.

When working with complementary colors it is not important, and generally not advisable, that the complementary colors exist in the room in equal parts. Thus if one prefers purple to yellow, only a tiny bit of yellow need be placed in the primarily purple room. It is equally important to note that the complementary colors do not need to exist in the room in equal saturation (intensity) or in equal value (lightness or darkness). We often see rooms with red and green in them. If both red and green are equally bright and saturated, we typically think Christmas. If the green is a bit more subdued (think sage green) and the red is a bit richer and warmer (think a deep, dark red) then both colors can exist in the space without it looking like Christmas.

Complementary colors are fun to experiment with in a room and can help create the contrast, movement, and richness that most of us want in our spaces. It is the goal of every one of us, whether we be a professional designer or a layman redecorating his or her home, to remember that when dealing with color, it is not always as straightforward as we would hope. Color is seen, not on its own, but in relationship to the colors and the light surrounding it. Color is instrumental in creating the mood and feel of a room and is one of the most powerful tools we have in the design world. It is important to exercise care in how we use color and to realize that using only the colors we love can create unwanted effects in our space.

Be bold, be creative, and remember to use color wisely. (01/30/2009)


 
Rug showing the use of complementary colors: green and red.
Because neither color is too bright, the subtle sage green is offset by
the rich red accent border without being too bold or overwhelming.



Children’s rug demonstrating the subtle use of complementary colors.
Because pink is considered to be a tint of red, green
and pink are used here as complementary colors in this rug
creating both vibrancy and balance.



Because there is so much yellow in this children’s room bedspread,
is it important that yellow’s complement (purple) be used somewhere
in the room.  Complementary colors do not need to exist in a room
in equal parts; they just need to exist.  Note in this example that purple
can be found in the nearby artwork on the wall.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Welcome!

Welcome to my new blog: Simply Designing. This is a blog dedicated to providing easy home decor, interior design, floral design, craft, food and seasonal decor ideas for improving the beauty of your home, and your life – SIMPLY!

A little bit about my background: I am an interior designer by profession. I am NCIDQ Certified and have successfully completed the CA Codes and Regulations Exam. In addition, I have a Floral Design certification and own my own floral design business.

Each week I will post new ideas and projects for your enjoyment. Please enjoy these fun ideas! Thank you for visiting!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Privacy Policy and Disclosure


Fair Use Policy

You are free to share this blog or links to its contents.  However, it is not to be used for monetary gain or on other websites/blogs/institutions etc. that are for profit unless prior written approval has been given.

My blog is copyrighted and can not be copied and reproduced (either in print or electronic form) without prior written consent.  Reproduction of my text and / or photos may be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

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This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact  Ashley at simplydesigning@gmail.com

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.

The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content.

The owner of this blog is sometimes compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for some of the posts or advertisements, she always give her honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers' own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

The owner of this blog does her best to indicate relationships in each post that is sponsored in anyway according to FTC regulations.

This blog does not purposefully contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.

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We use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit our Web site. These companies may use aggregated information (not including your name, address, email address or telephone number) about your visits to this and other Web sites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, please see: http://www.networkadvertising.org/managing/opt_out.asp

If you have questions or concerns about our Privacy Policy or Disclosure, please email me at simplydesigning@gmail.com

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Use Policy


Please note that all my blog posts are copyrighted material.  Use of any or all of my posts without prior written permission by Ashley at Simply Designing may be prosecuted to the full extend of the law.

If you would like to feature my anything from my blog or use my photos, you may share one photo with a brief title / description, provided that you link to my original post and reference it as Simply Designing's work/idea etc.  Any photos used must not be altered and must be linked and referenced back to www.simplydesigning.blogspot.com

In addition, I would love it if you sent me an email or commented on the post to let me know you featured my idea! (I love visiting other people's blogs and this gives me a good excuse to look at yours!)

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Simply Designing



If I use an idea I found somewhere else, I will credit the original creator by linking to their site.  If I use photos that are not my own, I will place a link to the website where they are from.

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I welcome all questions, comments and suggestions.  Please use the email address below to contact me.

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A little about my blog...
Since starting to promote my site in January 2010, I have received well over 2 million hits as of December 2012!

As of August 2012 Simply Designing typically receives:
Approximately 5,600 hits per day
Over 90,000 unique monthly visitors
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    If you are a blogger looking to blog swap or write a guest post for my blog I'd LOVE to hear from you!  The subject matter must be in keeping with my blog, it needs to make sense that we are are swapping blog posts or that you are writing on my blog :)  But you can use your creativity any way you like as long as it is appropriate and family friendly.  The blog post should be original content.  There is no charge for blog swapping or guest posts from another blog when you are only promoting your blog (not your shop).  Please contact me at simplydesigning@gmail.com to coordinate details!


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