Photos and quote: House Beautiful
decorate your mantle for fall
After a long, hot summer, there’s an inkling that fall might (finally) be in the air! Not one to waste time in the decor department, garden guru Chris Olsen of Botanica Gardens is already planning ways to celebrate the new season in his home decor. This month, he turns to his mantle, decking it with gourds, mums and other tell-tale fall finds.
For more info about Chris and his new book, visit www.chrisholsen.com!
With the cooler temperatures and the shorter daylight hours, most of us start to get motivated to change our dÃ©cor from summer to a colorful autumn display. Since your mantel is usually the main focal point in your home, then why not start there first? Whether you have a flat TV screen or a piece of art hanging above your mantel, add some vertical emphasis by decorating with an odd number of colorful containers just bursting with fall mums and 48 inch high contorted willow branches.
Why stop there? Battery lite candles and an assortment of gourds will finish the mantel look. You never want to use real candles under a plasma TV. I am talking from experience. Live and learn.
Dare to be different and dress up your firebox as well. Here I stuffed the firebox with an assortment of real pumpkins and gourds and a few croton plants to add fluff and hide the ugly charred walls. Then I placed lite squash candles to warm the chilly autumn nights.
Hereâs an easy way to add color to your mantle in a hurry!
You will need:Â 3 potted mums, 3 containers, and 6 large curly willow branches, assorted sizes of small pumpkins and gourds, and candles.
Step 1 – Place your mum in a container. (Note: Be sure to use a liner inside your container to prevent leaking when watering.)
Step 2 – Using 2 branches for each, push branches into dirt of pot. Branches will add height.
Step 3 – Add candles and small pumpkins and gourds to mantle.
g is for giveaway! win two tickets to tobi fairley’s design camp a to z
We’re partnering with Tobi Fairley to give away two tickets to her popular Design Camp A to Z, May 16-18! To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. The contest closes April 30 at midnight.
During this three-day, all-inclusive experience at her studio, Tobi walks campers of every skill level through all 26 letters of the alphabet. The best part is, campers leave the course with all the tools necessary to help bring a room to life!
Here are a few of the topics:
- A is for Art
- B is for Budget
- F is for Fabrics and Finishes
- I is for Inspiration
- N is for No Nos-Avoiding designers’ biggest mistakes
- S is for Style and Shopping
- X is for X-tra special ways to take your project to the next level
On top of all that, the camp is a complete blast. Get to know other enthusiastic design attendees during the daytime classes and also at two fun evening events featuring plenty of drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
If this giveaway doesn’t pique your interest, we don’t know what will! Don’t forget to leave a comment… and check Tobi’s web site (here) for more information about her popular design camp series.
**Giveaway includes tuition and food/transportation during the camp as provided through Tobi Fairley Interior Design; travel to/from design camp and hotel/accommodations are not included.
Wardrobe-stylist Lynlee Critz dishes on fall fashion
Fayetteville-based wardrobe stylist Lynlee Critz is a featured fall fashion expert in our October issue (more here). Ever the fashionista, Miss Lynlee also put together this inspirational collage with some of her favorite looks. And, scroll down to hear more about her own wardrobe this fall–frilly socks, oxford flats and all!
Recently, I had the privilege of dishing about my favorite fall accessories with a gal at At Home in Arkansas and we truly had a ton to discuss. When she asked me about my fall must-haves, the first item that came to mind was shoes, of course, which are always an obsession of mine. This season, I’ve truly been inspired by the boyish charm of oxford flats. And, there’s nothing like the edginess of a black mid-calf boot paired with a frilly, girly frock! I’m also a big fan of rocking the socks…I wear my J. Crew bright neon ankle socks with my muted ensembles and they give them just the pop of color they need. Being the accessories maven that I am, I have to tell that you that one mustn’t live without a bold, collar necklace with mixed gold and silver metals. This piece can make the simplest white tee come alive. And lastly, every girl needs a fur vest…it will make any silk blouse and skinny jeans look soo Kate Moss!
Fayetteville resident Lynlee Critz is wardrobe stylist and personal shopper for Not a Thing…to Wear, with offices at Maeâs Emporium in Fayetteville.
Tulip Tease, plus a reminder to enter our Arkansas’ Best Contest
Our friends at Netherlands Flower Bulb Center sent over these gorgeous images, accompanied by how-to’s for creating these beautiful bouquets in your own home. If you’re not craving spring yet, these visuals will surely do the trick.
Parrot Tulips, Hyacinths & Viburnum
Take tulips to the nth degree: fill a vase or two with an abundance of lush plush parrot tulips. Their feathered petals in soft shades of violet, cream, green, yellow and orange are nicely accented by a few stems of fragrant yellow hyacinth and green ball-shaped viburnum. For cut bulb flower care and handling tips, see www.bulb.com.
Parrot Tulips: T. ‘Rai’ (violet), T. ‘Weber’s Parrot’ (green/white/pink), T. ‘Rontgen’ (orange/green). Hyacinth ‘City of Haarlem’, Viburnum (green)
Parrot Tulips, T. ‘Salmon Parrot’
To a vase full of fresh parrot tulips, add a few stems of budded twigs, no more. Tulips stand alone in their beauty, but also mix well with friends and strangers.
Narcissus, Ranunculus, Hyacinth
Spring is a season when flowers are particularly appealing when arrayed in small simple arrangements. With bulb flowers, no floral mix or filler is needed; these arrangements take their flowers “straight.”
Narcissus ‘My Story’, Hyacinthus ‘Aiolos’ (white), Ranunculus ‘Pauline Pastel’
Parrot Tulip, T. ‘Green Wave’
Pairing two clear vases, one short, one tall, sets the stage for a trio of exquisite parrot tulips and one freesia. Such beauty sends dour moods packing.
Hyacinth ‘China Pink’, Tulip ‘Weber’s Parrot’
Here we see a few stems of fragrant, blush pink hyacinths fully enclosed in a clear glass cylinder, flanked by a low glass with one lovely tulip flower.
Tulips, Narcissi, Hyacinths, Hippeastrum
Four vases of bright bloomers march across a windowsill, switching season from winter to spring in one fell swoop! This cast of floral characters includes orange amaryllis, multi-colored tulips, yellow-and-orange narcissi, and purple hyacinths.
Hyacinthus ‘Purple Star’, Tulipa ‘Monarch Parrot’, T. ‘Yokohama’, T. ‘Aukland’, Narcissus ‘Soleil d’Or’, Hippeastrum ‘Orangina’
Narcissus ‘Texas’, Hyacinthus ‘White King’
Repetition is a design technique for unifying varied elements. In this sleek, elegant display, three identical square glass vases present three different archetypical visions of springtime: brightly-colored daffodils, fragrant hyacinths and budded branches. One can almost hear the robins singing!
Cut Daffodils, Narcissus ‘Standard Value’
Trends are evident in all forms of stylish presentation. In floral design, simplicity looks fresh and appealing now. Here a posy of twine-tied daffodils is framed by a few glossy decorative leaves. No filler flowers or foliage are used. A graceful visual balance is achieved between the flowers and tutu-esque leaves (up-top) and the nipped waist, spreading stems and vase (below). Spring is peak season for cut daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and other cut spring-blooming bulb flowers.
Plus, don’t forget to enter your home for a chance to be featured on the pages of At Home in Arkansas! Send us your images to be reviewed by our panel of judges, and we could be sending a professional photographer to capture your home! Click on the tab below for more information.
Gracious Living Tips Day 4: A Very Merry UN-birthday Party
You may recognize her from our Fall Fashion Stylebook (also here and here), but Hannah Alexander is also wildly creative when it comes to throwing parties. We absolutely fell in love with this “un-birthday party” she planned for her beautiful daughter, Tristin. It’s clever, creative, and wouldn’t those outfits be perfect for Halloween?
Thanks for sharing your tips with us, Hannah!
When you have a child whose birthday
falls one day after Christmas, you are always wracking your brain to make her birthday something other than an afterthought. So this year we opted for an âun-birthdayâ and celebrated in July! I got a âhareâ brained idea to put together an Alice in Wonderland themed un-birthday party, a mad tea party to be precise. Maybe what inspired me was that Tristin is about to be 8, has blonde curls, blue eyes, and is curiouser and curiouser with every new day…the perfect Alice. Alice in Wonderland is such a wonderfully impossible story. I love its nonsense and whimsy. What else could you want for an almost 8-year-oldâs birthday party? Nonsense and whimsy…how inspiring!
I did the invitations myself.
Decided to stay with the classic Alice illustrations.
I opted for an indoor mad tea party.
So I turned my dining room into Wonderland.
I placed mirrorsalong every wall, some crooked.
And made âthis way” and âthat wayâ signs that also hung along the walls. Clocks would be another good option, but I didnât have any.
Signs how-to: I first cut jagged wood-like shapes out of cardboard boxes I had around the house. Then I painted them to look like wood. When that dried I hand painted directions on them such as âMad Hatter this wayâ or âup,” âdown,” âyonder,” âgo back,” etc.
I made banners from two decks of playing cardsand some ribbon.
I just made a couple of slits in each card then put the ribbon through the slits. Very simple. I used these to hang around the âQueen of Artsâ area, where my mom, an artist, taught the kids to draw some Wonderland characters.
I also made tissue paper pom poms
to hang for a little added color. Martha Stewart has a good tutorial for those (www.marthastewart.com/how-to/tissue-paper-pom-poms-how-to). They are very easy, but a bit time consuming if you are going to make as many as I did. So plan ahead.
For the Mad Hatter table
I just used what I had. I pushed a couple of tables together then cut some material I had tucked away and used it for table cloths. You donât have to be too concerned with things matching or not matching because itâs Wonderland: nothing is as it should be. Then I used chairs from around the house and put throw pillows in them. Of course you must, if you can, put an arm chair at the head of the table for the un-birthday girl.
I got a bunch of tea pots,
creamers, sugar bowls, cups, saucers, and such from family (saved a bunch of money), but I also bought some at second-hand stores. Then I just set them around and tried to make it all look pretty. My sweet mother-in-law provided fresh flowers to spice things up.
Instead of tea we had a frozen cappuccino beverage. I figured it would be more of a crowd pleaser.
To eat, we had cupcakes with little âeat meâ cup cake toppers on them.
I made the toppers with stamps and toothpicks and jagged scissors.
We also had the Pepperidge Farmchessmen cookies.
And thatâs it!
I really like giving kids books,
so I found a really nice hardback copy of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass for each of the girls that came. We only invited four so it wasnât too much of an expense. I think I got them for $5 a piece. The rest of the stuff in the goody bag was really cheap: Laffy Taffy, Twizzlers, suckers, and then some little drink me candies. I bought those little wax bottles with really gross juice in them and put âdrink meâ tags on them. It was selfish, I admit it. I know they donât taste good, but they were just so cute I couldnât resist!
I got another of the original illustrations from the Alice book,
the one of the Mad Hatter, and designed a little label for the goody bags that said, âAnd a Very Un-Birthday to You!â After all, it WAS everyoneâs UN-birthday.
Rabbit Hole: When the kids arrived I had them enter the house through the âRabbit Hole.” I put up a floral curtain (in attempts to make it look woodsy) and had one of those little tubes kids crawl through at the base of the curtain. Then I made a sign that said âRabbit Hole.â Super easy. They seemed to enjoy it, too.
Queen of “Arts” Lesson:
My mother, who is an artist and who happened to be dressed as the Queen of Hearts, taught the girls how to draw Alice and the Cheshire Cat. You donât have to be an artist to do this. They are really quite simple.
Mad Hatter Says:
Like Simon Says, but Wonderland-style.Â If the Mad Hatter said to jump on your right foot you had to jump on your left. The kids got all goofy with it.
Follow the White Rabbit:
This was really fun and would have been more fun had it not been a million degrees outside. We went outside and basically played Follow the Leader. I was the first leader since I was dressed as the White Rabbit, and I did anything crazy I could think of to set the pace for the rest of the leaders. I didnât want them to be timid. I had a pair of rabbit ears for the leader, and each girl took a turn being the leader. We had a lot of fun with this, doing some very silly stuff. Iâm sure my neighbors were quite entertained.
After the activities we had cup cakes and watched some of the Disney movie.
Since I had my computer set up right by our tea party, I let the âMerry Un-birthdayâ song and scene play while Tristin blew out her candles. We did that instead of singing the traditional Happy Birthday.
We had a blast doing this party!!!
And I think I accomplished my goal…Tristinâs birthday celebration was certainly no afterthought! She loved every minute and, I hope, will remember it always.
In case you missed them:
Chris Olsen’s step-by-step hanging pumpkin how-to
Halloween party decor tips from Eddie Ross
At Home visits with Eddie Ross
What a fun morning! Eddie Ross was in town for a presentation organized by The Fine Arts Club of Arkansas. And At Home in Arkansas had a front-row seat as the lifestyle expert and former Martha Stewart Living editor discussed, “The Art of Entertaining.”
The Arkansas Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock was a lovely setting, with its beautiful gardens, which were designed by P. Allen Smith, visible through the windows.
After being introduced, Eddie talked about his fabulous work with House Beautiful and Martha Stewart Living. (That’s Martha’s stable kitchen.)
And his project ideas had everyone ready to run home and plan a party. These pine cone cakes are made using sheet cake and slivered almonds, and those pine needles are chocolate. How creative is that?
Eddie also demonstrated a few projects for us in person. DIY wreaths, fancy floral arrangements, gorgeous gift wrapping… it was hard to believe how simple and budget friendly they are.
Our editor, Diane Carroll, caught up with Eddie, as well as his co-presenter Jaithan Kochar, in the gardens outside the mansion. All in all, a great way to spend the morning and get inspired for the holidays.
PS- If you haven’t, be sure to check out Eddie and Jaithan’s blog! And stay tuned for At Home’s Holiday Guest Blogger Series, when we show you how to create each of the projects Eddie discussed at today’s event!
Holiday decor tips and seasonal touches
Lauren Liess, an interior designer and author of the popular blog Pure Style Home, has a simple style that’s ideal for holiday decor. We invited her to join our star-studded guest series and share some of her favorite tips for making your home more festive with just a few tweaks. We love her ideas. Enjoy!
PS- Donât forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a year-long subscription to At Home in Arkansas magazine! Click here for details, and to see our month-long Holiday Guest Blogger Series schedule.
1.Â Rearrange your mantle and display surfaces.
Because the fireplace is typically the focal point of a room, this is one of the quickest and most obvious ways to impart some cheer into your home. Cozy stockings and some garland will do the trick…
…As does a wreath and bunches of candles.
Bookshelves and table surfaces are also a great place to add seasonal touches.
2.Â Bring the outdoors in.
Bundle up and go for walks with your family to collect natural items to bring into your home. We place sticks into our Christmas tree each year.
Bunches of holly are festive and colorful.
And don’t forget the many uses for pine cones.
3.Â Switch out accent pillows and throw blankets
to incorporate festive colors and cozy textures.
4.Â Â Leave little bowls full ofÂ seasonal treats
around for guests who “pop” in.
Thanks so much for reading and happy holidays!!
In case you missed it:
P. Allen Smithâs favorite holiday recipes, especially for At Home
A trio of seasonal project ideas from designer Eddie Ross
Designer Andrea Brookâs tabletop holiday trees in 4 easy steps
Designers Christopher Todd and Daniel Keeley bring the outdoors in
tracy porter’s ideas to simplify summer gatherings
We are thrilled to introduce Tracy Porter, an exciting addition to the At Home in Arkansas blog team! Tracy is a lifestyle, home and fashion designer, author and photographer. Her publication appearances include O, Better Homes & Gardens and InStyle, she’s appeared on Oprah, E! and HGTV, and her eclectic designs in home and fashion are sold in thousands of retail stores and boutiques around the world, including Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s.
We had the pleasure of meeting Tracy at the recent Design Bloggers Conference in Los Angeles, and she charmed us with her warmth and kindness. Her monthly column, about all things entertaining, will showcase her unique style, inspiring At Home’s readers to live life to the fullest.
Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the post for her $250 giveaway!
With summer nearly here, entertaining becomes more top of brain than ever! But…I get it entirelyâ¦having people over can overwhelm even the most seasoned entertainer! All of our days are terribly busy, we seem to easily fill them with activities, events and running about…throw in a wagon full of kids + pets and the idea of friends for dinner can seem utterly daunting!
However, it CAN be easy (sigh of relief). It takes a bit of planning, and some winging it…and in my book thatâs how you get to easy. I have a handful of tipsâ¦that I hope inspire your next gathering to feel fabulous in mind and spirit
I keep a basket full of folded cloth napkins in a range of colors and prints… Ok, I keep several of them, truth be told! It is just so easy to have them handy, right in your kitchen or pantry all the time, and one less thing to be running around after when company comes!
Have a few âgo-toâ cocktails… and a range of pretty glassware sitting out. Everyone loves the idea of âbeing entertainedâ so when your company shows upâ¦be ready! A choice or two is niceâ¦.we make a great Meyer lemon cosmo in our house (Iâll share that recipe down the road!) thatâs always a crowd pleaser. Add to that a gorgeous martini glass…ahhhh, irresistible!
Always add flowers. It is one of my favorite things to do once most everything else is covered! (Sort of like playing!) It makes any eating and gathering experience just that much more enchanting. A little charm goes a long way. Donât spend a fortune…if you must buy flowers, go simpleâ¦all one kind. Plunk them into little vessels or teacupsâ¦and scatter them about the table. No fuss…! If your yard is abundant, then get out your nippers and have at it! Clip bits of this and that and again plunk them into lower simple vessels that you gather from around your house. I often times will just set flowers on the table in my gathering basket…never mind that they slowly wilt a bit here and there…still so lovely…nature adds beautifully to any meal!
Dim the lightsâ¦ALWAYS! I have walked into more fully lit kitchens in the evening (wanting to put on my shades) than I care to admit to. No one wants to be blasted with light…low light is calming and sensual…and it hides everything! Next, keep a stash of âready to goâ candles. Mine change often (I cannot help myself) but I keep a basket in my pantry full of candles. Right now, I am onto jam jars (with 4 little boys, we go through lots of jamâ¦too bad peanut butter jars are not cuter!). I keep a little votive in each. Sometimes I will spritz some rosemary with water and drop a small bit of it in the jarâ¦youâll catch an occasional whiff of goodness that is over the topâ¦try it!
I adore large trays, and I truly use them! I have them out on my countertops ready for action! I cannot tell you how well this works! If you like your plates, then keep them out in a nice stack on a tray. Then dig up a great vessel, fill it with useful utensils and…viola! Sounds simpleâ¦but when you see it you use it!
Zero in on your âgo-to recipes.” I love knowing that everything will (for the most part) work out when company comes. There are always surprises, but a good recipe is worth its weight in gold! My best example is chocolate sheet cake! No brainer…everyone loves it…no one ever tires of itâ¦and you can make it in a snap! I even let my kids doll up the top with little cookies and candies. No matter the occasion, this sort of thing adds magic to any gathering! So, find a way toÂ round up your top recipe picks and go to them for fearless entertaining. Even little sticky notes popping from the tops of your cookbooks (as I do) will do the trick. Just mark the ones you can count on anytime!
I keep the appetizers really simple. I just find this approach easier for all! Keep several cutting boards in various sizes on hand. Add to that a few odiferous cheeses, some pretty little knives, a mix of nosh-able crackersâ¦almonds, salami, salt and vinegar chipsâ¦use small pretty bowlsâ¦and youâll have something to set on your counter or nearby coffee table, or wherever you and your company are hanging out!
A few more thoughts…Itâs sometimes the little things that throw us off last minute, so the âdo ahead and plan listâ can also include:
~ Finding a no commercials music station (try www.pandora.com) that sets the mood with one tap of your finger!
~ Decide if you will be setting the table or going more casual family style buffet (so easy and fun for all!)
~ Choose recipes that are make ahead if at all possible…even a few hours really can help!
Most importantly, I share these ideas with you to lessen the overwhelm. I have been there, running around swabbing my forehead, shoving toys into random drawers, scoopingÂ dog hair tumble weeds off the floor. I NOW choose the EASY route. I plan a bit more, dim the lights, have a sip of my drink beforehandâ¦..and calmly, happilyâ¦await my friends and family to show up!
Cheers to you!
I am so excited about my first of many columns with At Home in Arkansas that I want to celebrate it with a wonderful giveaway for a $250 gift certificate! Besides my love of writing, and sharing inspiration for all lovely things in life, I am also a designer of delicious home and fashion goods!
Surely youâd love a shopping spree?! Well alright then! In order to enter this gem of a giveaway, all you need to do is post a comment here (by clicking on responses at the top of the post next to the date, or scrolling down underneath the current responses below) about my first columnâ¦let us know what you think! How simple is that! The giveaway will run today through May 23. The winner will be picked randomly. Please check back on May 24th to see if it is you!!
P.S. You may want to pop over toÂ www.tracyporter.com to check out the goods in case you are the lucky winner! Also please “Like” us on Facebook here.
I am there to chatter every day, would love to meet you! Â Good luck & happiness to you!
tobi fairley visits disney world resort and theme parks
Hi Travelers! Last month I took you along with me on the Disney Dream, the new cruise liner that sails to the Bahamas and Disney’s private Island Castaway Cay.
Well I promised I’d be back this month with part 2 of my vacation just in time for you to plan your summer trips. This month I am giving you the lowdown on all my favorite spots and tips for Walt Disney World resort and theme parks in sunny Orlando, Florida….