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blue room tree
Have you ever wished you could sneak behind the curtain at the White House and snoop around? Wish granted! Genevieve Gorder was given exclusive access to tour the White House while it is all dressed up for Christmas. We took tons of pictures to share with you, but don’t ask us to pick a favorite! It’s too hard. Pour a cup of hot cocoa, lean back and have a look at these stunning shots of the president and first family’s home.

michelle obama decorating cookies

First Lady Michelle Obama decorating cookies with special guests.

red room

The Red Room

state dining room

State Dining Room decor

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I admit — I haven’t even started holiday shopping yet. I’m so bad, I know. But that’s what overnight shipping is for, right? With less than a week until the big day, you probably need some quick yet thoughtful gifts to pack up for your Christmas road trips. Crafty or not, we’ve got you covered.

For Anyone: Personalized Gift Baskets

Holiday Gift Baskets

Gourmet gift basket ideas >>

For Her: Vintage Hair Comb

Vintage Hair Clip

Get this plus even more handmade gift ideas >>

For the Chef: Rustic Bread Board

Rustic Bread Board

Make a bread board in six steps >>

Gifts for Him, the Pet + More

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brown butter eggnog waffles

The big morning has almost arrived and between all of the shopping and wrapping of gifts, have you stopped to think about what you’ll be eating? A great way to begin the special day is with a tasty and filling breakfast (or brunch, depending on how early you awake) and serving Brown Butter and Eggnog Waffles will make it extra special. The golden brown squares have a crisp crust and moist fluffy interior with bits of brown butter streaked throughout. Also, the recipe helps put the last of the eggnog to good use. The batter is purposefully designed to be made the night before, saving you precious time. In the morning when you’re ready to make the waffles, simply heat and oil your waffle iron and cook until golden brown. Serve with a spoonful Strawberry and Orange Topping and a hefty dollop of whipped cream for extra decadence. Complete the meal by serving the waffles along side cooked thick cut bacon and plenty of orange juice. Happy Holidays!

Get the Irresistible Recipe

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Congratulations to this week’s winner, Cranberry!

Can you guess which holiday decor belongs in this foyer?

Decorate This Space

Type A, B or C in the comments section, and we’ll reveal the answer tomorrow. One lucky winner will win a ceramic travel mug with a fabric cozy from HGTV HOME. You don’t have to answer correctly for a chance to win.

Type A, B or C

You may only comment once to be considered, and you don’t have to purchase anything to win; a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Odds depend on total number of entries. Void where prohibited by law. Only open to legal residents of 50 U.S., D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 years of age to win.  All entries (comments) must be entered between 10:00 a.m. ET on December 17, 2014 and 12:00 p.m. ET on December 18, 2014. Subject to full official rules. By leaving a comment on the blog, you acknowledge your acceptance to the Official Rules. ARV of prize: $30. Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC, d/b/a HGTV, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37932. 

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After an extensive selection process involving 100+ submissions from talented designers across the US and weeks of online voting where HGTV fans cast hundreds of thousands of votes, we have a winner. Drumroll, please.  Everyone join us in congratulating Caitlin McCarthy, the winner of our Fresh Faces of Design competition!

Caitlin’s genius small-space solutions and approachable high-meets-low design style wowed HGTV fans who voted her design tops in the small space category, then won over the judges who crowned her the winner overall. Here are a few photos of Caitlin’s award-winning downtown Los Angeles loft plus the judges’ POV on why she swept the competition:

Becky LaFranchi, Communications and Interior Design Manager for Ikea USA, had this to say: “When designing a small space, every detail is important, each decision impacts another, and the ability to edit is key.” Caitlin pulls together a beautifully balanced, collected-over-time look that tells a story but is well edited and doesn’t feel cluttered:  grouping on side table
Jillian St. Charles, Vice President of HGTV.com adds, You don’t see many luxe-looking galley kitchens. This very functional space combines materials and judicious use of color in a way that’s really engaging.”small-space-urban-kitchen
Brian Patrick Flynn, Interior Designer and Founder of FlynnsideOut Productions was impressed with Caitlin’s mastery of scale and the way she incorporated the loft’s century-old architectural elements, like the exposed brick and original hexagonal tile floor:
Caitlin McCarthy urban loft seating area
All the judges could agree that Caitlin’s design is approachable and deftly combines bargain finds with glamorous touches, like these Thomas O’Brien Hicks pendants that illuminate the hallway-turned-dining room: Hicks pendants
Off the dining room is the loft’s main bedroom. Doorless white walls give the loft a cohesive feel that helps the small spaces flow one into the next:
small urban bedroom
The jewelbox of a bedroom conceals a real gem: a boutique-worthy glass-doored closet:
illuminated closet in urban apartment
But that isn’t the loft’s only surprise — what looks like a built-in in the living room is actually…
apartment living room
a Murphy bed that cleverly tucks away when not in use. Genius!
murphy bed hidden in built-in cabinet
Judge Becky LaFranchi summed up this petite pied a terre best, “Caitlin’s design proves that small-space living can be both stylish and comfortable. It also feels very individualized, and not at all cookie-cutter, like you might expect a tiny space to be.” Brava, Caitlin, congrats on your win!

But Caitlin isn’t our only winner, HGTV fans chose the designers listed below as a stand-out in their category. Need a little design inspiration? Be sure to check ‘em out!

Best Outdoor Space: Mike Albert, Design Workshop, Inc.
Most Serene Retreat: Angela Rasmussen, House 2 Home Design & Build
Best Use of Color: Bria Hammel, Bria Hammel Interiors
Most Family-Friendly Space: Jordan Iverson, Iverson Signature Homes
Best Space for a Party: Katie Marvin, S&K Interiors
Best Kitchen: Katy Lyons, Jamestown Designer Kitchens
Most Dramatic Transformation: Lauren Levant Bland, Lauren Levant Interior
Most Unusual Space: Angela Rasmussen, House 2 Home Design & Build
Best Use of Pattern/Texture: Sadie Sanchez Johnson, Amanda Austin Interiors
Best Small Space: Caitlin McCarthy, Caitlin & Caitlin

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Hanukkah starts tomorrow, and we have some pretty festive ideas to keep your celebrations rocking until the 24th.

Mood Board Monday: Hanukkah HuesPhotos: Dining Room, Place Card, Tree, Favor, Doughnuts, Cupcake, Centerpiece, Garland

Check back every Monday for an inspirational mood board. Miss one? See all the posts here.

More last-minute Hanukkah ideas:

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happy hanukkah

Ceramic Dachshund Menorah: Jonathan Adler

 

Hanukkah is coming! Hanukkah is coming!

While those of us who celebrate the festival of lights don’t have elves on shelves or themed frothy alcoholic beverages, we’ve still got some pretty fab ideas on how you can make your 8-day holiday extravaganza totally rockin.’

1. Listen to SiriusXM Radio Hanukkah

From December 16-24, you can tune into channel 68 on SiriusXM for more Hanukkah tunes than you’ll know what to do with. You can keep Radio Hanukkah on in the background while you’re whipping up some sweet potato latkes with feta and leeks #ifyouknowhowtocook #idont

hanukkah manicure

Photo credit: Flight of Whimsy

2. Get a Hanukkah Manicure

We all know that you can decorate your home to get more into the Hanukkah spirit, but why not decorate your nails? Nothing says “Happy Hanukkah” like a custom nail art glittered menorah on your nails. Amirite??

3. Play Connect Four or Checkers with Hanukkah Gelt

You know those surprisingly delish little gold coins you buy to get the kids all hopped up on sugar? Well they’re also the perfect size game playing pieces! Here’s a great tutorial on how you can get the kiddos into the holiday spirit by using their gelt as playing pieces in some of their favorite games.

4. Embrace the “Mensch on a Bench”

Ok, I know I already said us Hanukkah folk don’t have an elf on the shelf option, BUT, we do have a “mensch on a bench!” This handy alternative was invented by a Jewish father who felt bad telling his son that they couldn’t get onto the elf on a shelf train with the rest of his Christmas-celebrating friends. So voila: he invented the mensch on a bench! (a “mensch” is a Yiddish term that means a really good, kind person). After raising some money on Kickstarter, the mensch was ready to hit the streets.

dreidel surprise cookies

Photo credit: Tablespoon

5. Make Dreidel Surprise Cookies

What’s better than a cookie? A COOKIE FILLED WITH CANDY! These dreidel surprise cookies are kind of like a Hanukkah piñata for your mouth. I would make as many as you can fit into your oven…and then make some more.

dreidel garland

Photo credit: Scrumdilly-do

6. Make a Dreidel Garland

If cookies aren’t your thang, than this adorable dreidel garland should be on your to-do list. It’s made with old ties that you might have laying around (and if you don’t have any, a quick trip to Goodwill or any thrift store could hook you up with everything you need). There’s no sewing involved either! The whole thing can be whipped up with scissors and glue.

Dr. Dre-del

Photo credit: Sillyreggie

7. Send out Some Funny Hanukkah Cards

Bring a smile to your kids’ faces, or any of your Hanukkah celebrating friends with some hilarious cards like these that offer a”Dr. Dre del” or “Happy Challah Day” options. Who says hip hop and Hanukkah don’t go hand in hand?

Happy, happy Hanukkah everyone!

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You guessed correctly if you chose option B. Interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn combined the graphic pattern on the pillow with quatrefoil window treatments for a bold statement. A cube-shaped end table serves dual purpose as a dog bed.

Decorate This Space

We randomly chose one person from the comments, and Elaine is the winner of handmade wacky stockings, a KONG brand pet bed from PetSmart and a monogrammed jewelry dish from Silhouette Boutique. Congrats!

Check back next Wednesday to decorate a new space.

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galette slice

Clove, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and the like are, in my opinion, front and center in too many holiday desserts. Although a certain amount of the familiar bouquet is enjoyable, when October rolls around America seems to go on spice overload. (I’m talking to you Starbucks!) This golden delicious free-form pie is a way to get your seasonal dessert fix, hold the spice. The flavor highlights the sweet goodness of baked fruit with bright notes of lemon and subtle tones of ginger and vanilla all wrapped in a sturdy crust. If plums aren’t available in your area, try making the galette with another variety of apple such as Braeburn or Gala. It’s truly easy as pie.

Norm’s Notes: H 2 Uh…oh.

When creating this galette recipe, I wanted to make sure the crust resisted becoming overly wet and soggy. This was not only to appease my dislike of gummy textures, but to insure the dessert would easily slice and transfer to plates once cooled. To accomplish the goal, I had to find a way to remove as much of the water from the fruit before baking. Tossing the fruit pieces in sugar and flavorings and allowing it to stand for 20 minutes released enough moisture to reduce the chances of a soggy underside without drastically altering the texture of the fruit. Once the excess juices were drained, two main benefits emerged. First, the bake time became more consistent; second, a syrupy glaze could be created from the reserved juices and drizzled on top after baking. You can use this trick on fruit pies, tarts and turnovers to relieve a soggy crust’s main culprit: excess water.
plum and apple galette

Holiday Plum and Apple Galette

makes 6 to 8 servings

FOR CRUST:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ cup chilled unsalted butter, cut up into ½-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup ice water

FOR FILLING:

  • 3 to 4 medium-size sweet green plums*, sliced (about ¾ pound)
  • 3 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut into large pieces (about ¾ pound)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbsp. turbinado sugar
  • Coarsely chopped roasted hazelnuts

*Red plums may be substituted

1. Stir flour and next 2 ingredients together in a large bowl until blended. Cut butter into flour mixture using a pastry blender until butter pieces resemble small peas. Stir ice water, one tablespoon at a time, into flour mixture just until dry ingredients are moistened and dough begins to form. Discard any excess ice water. Shape dough into a disk; wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes up to overnight.

2. Toss plums, apples, and next 5 ingredients together in a large bowl until coated. Let stand 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap chilled dough and place on lightly floured surface. Lightly dust top of dough with flour and roll to a 15-inch circle. Transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

4. Drain plum and apple mixture, reserving juices. Toss plum and apple mixture with flour until coated and spoon into center of dough, leaving a 3-inch border. Fold edges of dough over plum and apple mixture, pleating as you go and sealing any cracks. Lightly beat egg white until foamy. Brush exposed dough with a thin layer of beaten egg white and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

5. Bake at 350 degrees 40 to 45 minutes or until fruit is tender and bubbling and crust is golden brown. Let cool on baking pan on a wire rack 20 minutes.

6. Bring reserved plum and apple juices to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Drizzle juices over exposed fruit and top with desired amount of hazelnuts.

 

 

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My sweet tooth is unstoppable, and there’s nothing I love more than creamy, chocolate-based holiday cocktails. Calories might as well be unicorns from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. I let myself indulge in foods I won’t see for another 12 months, like most of these lovely bevvies. So, get out all the garnishes and warm up with a decadent dessert cocktail this season.

Peppermint Mocha Toddy

Peppermocha Toddy Recipe

Photo + recipe courtesy of Old Forge Distillery

Ingredients

  • 3/4 ounce Old Forge Coffee Moonshine
  • 3/4 ounce Old Forge Chocolate Moonshine
  • 1/2 ounce white creme de menthe
  • hot coffee
  • whipped cream, for garnish
  • peppermint candy, crumbled, for garnish

 

Pour coffee moonshine, chocolate moonshine and creme de menthe into an Irish coffee mug. Top with hot coffee. Garnish with whipped cream and crumbled peppermint candy.

Uncle Billy’s Holiday Treat

Holiday Cocktail Recipe

Get the recipe for this creamy cocktail >>

3 More Recipes to Whip Up

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Congratulations to this week’s winner, Elaine!

Can you guess which pattern belongs on this throw pillow?

Decorate This Space

Type A, B or C in the comments section, and we’ll reveal the answer tomorrow. One lucky winner will win handmade wacky stockings, a KONG brand pet bed from PetSmart and a monogrammed jewelry dish from Silhouette Boutique. You don’t have to answer correctly for a chance to win.

Choose A, B or C

You may only comment once to be considered, and you don’t have to purchase anything to win; a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Odds depend on total number of entries. Void where prohibited by law. Only open to legal residents of 50 U.S., D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 years of age to win.  All entries (comments) must be entered between 10:00 a.m. ET on December 10, 2014 and 12:00 p.m. ET on December 11, 2014. Subject to full official rules. By leaving a comment on the blog, you acknowledge your acceptance to the Official Rules. ARV of prize: $90. Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC, d/b/a HGTV, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37932. 

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LIZ: The 2015 Pantone Color of the Year…is Marsala. AKA reddish-brown. Here’s a video of the announcement. I mean, come on. It’s the worst:

Do you like marsala, the new Pantone Color of the Year? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens blog!

Does anyone like this?

LILI: SIIIIIIGH.

BRIANA:

Do you like marsala? Or does it make you make this face? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens blog!

via reactiongifs.com

 

MALLORY: Not a fan. We’ve been renaming it here all morning. It’s just…muddy.

LIZ: Looks a lot like “oxblood” to me.

LILI: It looks like how oxblood would taste.

JESSICA: -steps up to the mic-

I kind of….

Like it…..?

A little?

HANNAH:

via a-gif-for-you.tumblr.com

JESSICA: I’m of course, completely ignoring everything about it except for the pomegranate seeds I saw on the landing page. I’ll only accept the pomegranate color. Please don’t throw oxblood on me this is a new cardigan.

HANNAH: I would argue that they put the pomegranate seeds there to throw you. It’s like how Real Simple keeps putting pomegranate seeds on vegetables people would, under less pretty circumstances, not want to eat.

FARIMA: I only like this color in my wine glass.

KAYLA: In fashion, yes. In decor, no.

LIZ: This seems like a relatively okay way to use it:

Do you like marsala? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens blog!

via Pinterest

I’d probably wear marsala pants.

KAYLA: Ariana Grande sort of has marsala hair here…She’s so trendy.

Do you like the marsala color of Ariana's hair? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens blog!

via Pinterest

CAMILLE: I could get behind this color if it were just more saturated and not so wishy-washy – is it brown? Is it red? I agree w/ Mallory – it’s just too muddy. The Pantone peeps are supposed to be color experts; they need to select colors not color fence straddlers. Now aubergine or pomegranate (like I think Jessica said) or even an intense ruby – those are reds I would embrace.

LIZ: I agree. I think this is their attempt to embrace the “neutrals with a hint of color” trend that’s been going on for awhile, but it’s too wishy-washy.  However, there’s typically a pretty wide-ranging interpretation of the color, so we’ll probably see some more saturated versions being billed as “marsala.”

KELLY: I have to say that I like this color. Do I want to paint a whole room with it? No. But maybe an accent wall … or chair covers. It reminds me of the Southwest and certain colors of rock and shades of adobe. What I don’t like is the name. It makes me think of overcooked chicken. I’d much rather call it Canyon or Terra Cotta, something that alludes to the earthiness.

MALLORY: I mean….ew:

BRIANA: Do you think marsala is gross? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens blog!

LILI: Maybe they thought they were picking Masala instead of MARsala:

Do you like marsala or do you like masala better? Vote now on HGTV's blog!

via food.lohudblogs.com

JESSICA: Maybe they should have picked blue like I wanted them to and none of this would be happening. When do we get to overthrow?

LIZ: Not that it really matters, but the Sherwin-Williams color of the year is “Coral Reef.” Better, no?

Do you like the Sherwin Williams color of the year? Or do you prefer Pantone's? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens blog!

JESSICA:

via wikimedia.org

LILI: I might hate that more.

KAYLA: Yeah, that’s bad.

LIZ: Well, at least it’s not named after wine too crappy to drink.

We’ve given you our colorful opinions about marsala, now tell us what YOU think:

 

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The holiday season is upon us whether you’re ready or not. If you’re hosting a holiday party this year — casual or formal — our easy tips will help you get party-ready in no time.

Cookie Exchange

Around-the-World Cookie Exchange

Take this traditional holiday party to the next level with an around-the-world theme. Ask guests to use international cookie recipes, serve hot chocolate to accompany the cookies and offer to-go boxes so guests can easily take their favorites home with them.

Easy Tips:

  • Keep the decor to a minimum, such as a pinecone garland and other natural elements.
  • Arrange guests’ cookies buffet style to keep hosting duties to a minimum.
  • Ask guests for their cookie recipes in advance, so you can set out recipe cards the day of your party for guests to take home.

Get Cookie Recipes + More Party Tips>>

Get More Holiday Party Tips

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Holiday decor is typically dominated by the classic seasonal colors: Think red, green, royal blue, silver and gold. (Cue the Burl Ives Christmas classic.) But for this year’s HGTV Holiday House, our designers wanted to create an unexpected color palette that was still evocative of the season. The colorful anchor in this season’s design? Cool, crisp lavender.

Christmas Tree

We loved it so much, we also chose lavender as our December Color of the Month. See how this color shines when paired with plum and silver on a white Christmas tree? It also brightens up a holiday door in this ADORABLE yarn-ball wreath. Since the tone-on-tone design uses non-traditional holiday color, you can leave it up until the first signs of spring!

Yarn Ball Wreath DIY on HGTV.com

Though lavender is typically thought of as a spring color, it has lots to offer year-round. The Holiday House designers chose a hue with a gray undertone to pair with weathered barn wood siding, a sleek stainless-steel mantel and gray furnishings.

Lavender Painting on Barn Wood Siding

Lavender also offers a fresh alternative to traditional holiday table and party decor. Whip up a batch of our dollar-store napkin rings, then bring them back out for your late-winter or spring bash.

Or, use up leftover holiday baking cups to create an unexpected, ombre wall installation:

HGTV.com DIy Baking Cups Art With Lavender

Do you try new holiday color schemes, or stick with traditional hues? Tell us in the comments below.

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Hollies are my favorite traditional holiday plants. Nothing feels like Christmas more than bright red holly berries and green leaves contrasted against a blanket of snow. And if you love the look of classic holiday decor, then holly branches are the perfect touch to a mantel or tablescape. (You can even embellish dining chairs with fresh holly sprigs.)

Mood Board Monday: Holly Jolly ChristmasTop: Bride With Holly, Boots, Place Settings | Middle: Dessert Table, Vintage Card | Bottom: Wreath, Gift Wrap

Check back every Monday for an inspirational mood board. Miss one? See all the posts here.

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Calling all House Hunters Renovation fans! We’ve teamed up with Overstock, so you can now shop the looks you love from your favorite show using our shoppable photo gallery. Each photo in the gallery consists of clickable hotspots, so you can easily buy the products you love. When you see a product you want, click on the blue hotspot to buy the product or get more information. So, what are you waiting for? Your favorite product is just a click away from showing up on your doorstep!

House Hunters Shoppable Photo Gallery

House Hunters Renovation Shoppable Photo Gallery

Shop Now!

This post brought to you by Overstock, where you’ll find everything Holiday at prices you’ll love.

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custom throw pillows
I’m not afraid to admit that me and sewing machines are not exactly BFFs…in fact, we kind of hate each other. And so through the years, I’ve had to get creative when the “custom pillow” mood strikes.

Haven’t you ever just been sitting around, eating your cronuts for breakfast and then BAM! You think to yourself, “If I don’t get some custom pillows all up in here, it’s going to be a p-r-o-b-l-e-m.” Just me?

After getting these bad boys made many, many times now, I’ve picked up a thing or two. Here’s all the inside scoop you’ll need:

1. Size does matter (and so does shape)

In my early custom pillow days, I was unsure what sizes I wanted or what sizes really made the most sense. But I had a couple of throw pillows on my couches that I hated and wanted to replace, so I simply replicated the size–easy peasy.

TIP: If you don’t have any pillows to replicate and want to just wing it, I would suggest going to a store like Home Goods with a measuring tape, and see if anything there tickles your fancy (if so, measure it up and write down the dimensions, and try not to buy a multi-colored, rope dyed ram’s head for no reason whatsoever).

throw pillow fabric

Photo credit: pies+ travel

2. Now you need some fabric

There are about a billion amazing sites online to get gorgeous, reasonably priced fabric (buenos dias, spoonflower.com), but I like to go out and get my fabric my own damn self. You can always hit up a general crafts store like Michaels, or Joann’s, but I prefer to go to a real deal, mom and pop, fabric store. I think this a great option because you can see and feel and the fabric in person, and also talk to someone directly regarding how much yardage you’ll need (I’m very bad at math, so I need help with this stuff). Also think about whether or not your fabric is machine washable (and if you care?).

TIP: I have a dog, so I’m always thinking about anything nice I have getting ruined. When I’m particularly excited about a custom pillow I’m getting made, I’ll sometimes buy enough fabric for two pillows! One pillow to keep on the couch that can get all slobbery, and one pillow to keep in the closet that I can bring out when guests come over and I want to pretend that my place is actually clean.

throw pillow stuffing

Photo credit: lovesac

3. Get stuffed

Ok, I’m going to give it you straight: pillow inserts are not cheap. In fact, you could easily spend more on your pillow insert than you did on your fabric…especially if you’re a down pillow insert girl like me. But, believe it or not,  even the poly/foam inserts are pretty expensive too. Unfortunately, there is no getting around this–in order for a pillow to be a pillow you need that soft, fluffy, insert-y piece to make it happen. Here are a few options for making this less painless: buy extra inserts any time you come across a sale; scour ebay and etsy to see if there are any good deals there; or just suck it up and buy the nicer insert. We all accept that cereal is strangely and ridiculously expensive, so why not pillow inserts?

TIP: Awhile back, I read this fantastic post from Vintage Revivals (Confessions of a Pillow Addict: My Secrets to the World’s Cheapest Pillow Inserts), and she shares a really great tip on how to score some super cheap down inserts on the regular.

pillow art

Photo credit: made by meg

4. Get sewing

At this point you realize: “If I’m not sewing this thing, then who is??” As a newbie throw pillow dabbler, I’d highly recommend that you track down the dry cleaner in your area with the best tailor and head on over there. How can you be sure they’re good? Yelp it up! Sort the reviews by “latest” and read all about what people are saying. You can also find seamstresses by asking for recommendations at fabric stores, but I find that this tends to be a more expensive option. Bring in your fabric and your insert, let them know if you’d like any extra options (zippers, etc) and they’ll give you a price right away. A few days later, voila! You’ll have some kickass custom pillows!

TIP: Keep in mind that any extras will…uhm…cost a lot extra. There are so many little add-ons that you get on your pillows, and all of them look snazzy, but they cost extra bank. Zippers, hidden zippers, piping, tassel trim, etc. So for your first go at this, I would suggest you keep things as simple as possible and move on to the double reverse, inside out, pom pom trim on your next go around.

Once you have your new collection of custom pillows, here are all the tips you’ll need on how to mix your patterns!

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You guessed correctly if you chose option BStephenie Atkins mixes different textural elements, including a wreath made of old sweaters, vintage bottles and a basket of antique fabric balls to create a sophisticated, wintery theme.

Winter-Themed Mantel

We randomly chose one person from the comments, and Joy is the winner of handmade wacky stockings and PetSmart holiday items including a Santa collar, Hello Kitty squeak toy, a rawhide treat bag and more. Congrats!

Check back next Wednesday to decorate a new space.

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cheddar rosemary shortbread
Is it me or is the holiday season when unexpected company is expected? Even with annual knowledge of this reality, many of us manage to be ill prepared to easily entertain our drop in guests. This year, solve the problem by creating this quick and savory shortbread. The recipe requires no food processor, stand mixer, or any other counter top appliance; just a bowl, fork, and oven will do. It is crafted from pantry staples and intentionally allows one to use the odds and ends of cheese and butter that lie in various refrigerator compartments. You can make it from start to finish in under an hour or stir up a couple batches and store unbaked rolls in the freezer, allowing you to simply slice and bake upon unplanned arrivals.

Norm’s Notes: For all my shorties 
The key to any great buttery flaky shortbread is not only the butter to flour ratio, but the proper amount mixing and kneading. Over-kneading can produce too much gluten in the flour resulting in tough chewy dough. Not enough kneading and the cookie is unable to hold shape and falls apart when baked. The method in this recipe is designed to prevent overworking of the dough and yields a crispy yet tender cookie.

With the butter at room temperature, it gives off more moisture than chilled butter and is quickly absorbed into the flour mixture. Stirring in the cheese and shaping finishes the blending process leaving unincorporated pockets of butter dotted throughout the dough. Chilling sets the butter fragments in place and when baked, water trapped within the butter turns to steam and escapes the dough leaving behind little caverns throughout the layers of the cookie. The benefit of this technique is a shortbread that comes together with little effort and has a heavenly taste and crisp texture that disintegrates in your mouth upon contact.

Get the Easy Recipe

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  • As seen on HGTV's "Property Brothers At Home"

  • As seen on HGTV's "Property Brothers At Home"

  • As seen on HGTV's "Property Brothers At Home"

  • As seen on HGTV's "Property Brothers At Home"