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Christmas Decorations (Part 1: Upstairs)

I know — it’s a little late in the game to finally be sharing our Christmas decorations! The house was photographed this year for the Christmas issue of a magazine (to come out next year, obviously), so I was focused on getting the little details right. Today I’ll share the upstairs decorations, and tomorrow the living and dining rooms.

First, here’s Eleanor’s room.

Eleanor's Bedroom, Decorated for Chrismas

She picked out her little white tree last year, and she was happy to see its return. She decorated it herself (she really likes those spiky glitter ornaments), and was adamant about there being a star on top. We didn’t have one, so I bought a glittery star-shaped ornament to use and all was well. I probably wouldn’t have draped her bed with garland, but we had the magazine shoot and I was feeling a little extra pressure to really Christmas it up. E likes it, because “now her bed looks like a sleigh.”

Eleanor's Room, Decorated for Christmas

(And I stand by my love for all the weird deer in my house.)

August’s room was decorated too. The little Christmas tree is usually on top of his dresser, but his room is so small and hard to photograph that I moved it over to the table (temporarily) to fit it all in one shot with the wreath and reindeer in the window. It looks really nice there — it just wouldn’t survive very long!

Christmas Decorations in August's Room

The library has had the silver tree for the last few years — mostly because we already own it and I figure we might as well use it. We already had the birds, and the red yarn balls are new (from IKEA). I was slightly freaking out (oh, just slightly) about there needing to be something else up there, so I invited Kathryn over for a second opinion. She suggested the white feather wreaths from west elm, and I like how they tie in to the white feather birds on the tree.

Christmas Decorations in the Library

The other side of the library has had those brass deer up all year. I guess that’s strange? I added some garland and ornaments, white Christmas lights, and my giant sequin disco ball ornament things.

Christmas Decorations Upstairs in the Library

I think of these as the ancillary decorations. The pink tree is the real star of the house, and no doubt why we were chosen for the magazine. I’ll share the downstairs photos tomorrow!

DIY Colorblock Christmas Trees

Christmas Decorations in the Dining Room

Here’s a cute DIY project to add a little sparkle and shine to your holiday! These colorblock Christmas trees took a few hours to create, but if you simplified the palette (and skipped the glitter paint), you could finish them in about an hour. Here’s what you’ll need.


DIY Colorblock Christmas Trees (Supplies)

The smaller cones were to be glittered on one side, so I first painted the entire cone in a solid color. The larger cones were each going to be painted one one side with metallic paint (which I knew to have good coverage), so I started by taping them off and painting just half in a solid color. It’s easier to tape a cone vertically, though I’m sure these would look fantastic done horizontally if you’re up for the challenge.

DIY Colorblock Christmas Trees

Acrylic paint dries quickly. I found that by the time I was done painting the last of my six cones, the first would be ready for another coat (I did three on each). After the last coat had dried, I removed the old tape from the larger cones and retaped them to paint the other sides. The metallic paints I used looked good after just one coat, but I still did three — because I am weird and like to keep things even.

DIY Colorblock Christmas Trees

Adding the glitter… there went the whole ‘keeping things even’ idea. I lost count of how many coats of glitter paint I used! I knew they would take a while to build coverage, and I think I may have put 10-12 coats of paint on each cone. Early on in the process, I considered ditching the paint and just using glitter, but it was my hope that by using the glitter paint, each Christmas tree would be less likely to flake and leave a sparkly trail wherever she may go.

DIY Colorblock Christmas Trees - Adding Glitter

So far, so good. The glitter is staying put, and I love the two-tone effect.

DIY Colorblock Trees

I’m not sure if I’ve found the perfect place for these yet though. I like the effect of the mirror, doubling them and showing off both sides, but there’s already a lot going on in the hutch above, and with the stockings below. What do you think?

Christmas Decorations in the Dining Room

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Gingerbread Cake

This post is sponsored by Safeway stores-Safeway, Dominicks, Tom Thumb, Vons, Randalls. Tastier for the holidays!

I usually make something with chocolate when I want to bake, but yesterday I wanted something with a little more spice. Something that seemed right for the holiday season. I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks, Little Cakes by Susan Waggoner, and found a recipe for gingerbread cake. Perfect.

Gingerbread Cake Ingredients

Gingerbread Cake Recipe

As I was measuring the ingredients and setting up a little mise en place, I had it in my head that I was “pretty baking.” Turns out it’s actually quite nice to make a cake that way! My assistant helped.

My First Helper

(She makes faces for the camera now.)

I was hoping to link to the flour scoop below for you, but I can’t find it anywhere. It’s the best measuring cup ever. The shape is perfect, and if you turn it around, you can mix with the handle. I also have matching a 1/4 cup spoon that’s labeled “sugar”.

Flour Mixture

It was easy for Eleanor to help, since everything was already measured out.

Adding the Butter

My second assistant came in just as the first was leaving. August is super into anything mechanical, so he was enthralled with the beaters. I told him we were making Mickey cake; he liked that a lot.

Little Bakers

We baked that batter up to make a delicious gingerbread cake.

Gingerbread Cake Batter

Gingerbread Cake

I’ve transcribed the recipe for gingerbread cake below, since Little Cakes is out of print. (It’s still available in low quantities as a remnant or used book though, so grab one while you can!)

Gingerbread Cake

From Little Cakes, by Susan Waggoner

2 cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup dark molasses
3/4 cup buttermilk
PAN: 8 or 9 inch square pan, greased [I used an 8″ round springform pan with good results]

  1. Combine the sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, allspice, and salt in a bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.

  2. Cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar, creaming until light and fluffy.

  3. Beat in the egg, then the molasses.

  4. Add one-quarter flour-spice mixture, then one-third of the milk, beating until smooth after each addition. Repeat twice, ending with the last quarter of the flour-spice mixture.

  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula to make it level.

  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

A Slice of Gingerbread Cake

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