Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from Heidiopia!

I thought I'd share my mother's French Toast Casserole recipe with you today.  Mine is already chilling in the fridge for tomorrow's Christmas Day Brunch!  This is super simple and delicious...a real crowd-pleaser.

French Toast Casserole

2 tbsp corn syrup
1 stick of butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
10-12 slices of bread
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 tsp vanilla

Combine first 3 ingredients in small saucepan and simmer over low heat until syrupy (about 10-12 minutes).  Stir frequently while bubbling.  Pour into bottom of a 9x13 Pyrex dish.  Place bread on top (usually 2 layers).  Beat together eggs, milk, and vanilla and pour over bread.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Uncover and bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.  Slice into squares and serve.

Serves 8.

And, here are some of my holiday touches around Heidiopia...

My favorite new ornament this year!

Wishing you peace and prosperity this holiday season...we're on vacation next week, so I will see you back here in the New Year with more fresh ideas and some exciting giveaways in store.

Be blessed!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Decorating Tip: All Wrapped Up

As promised, here are the instructions for making a fabulous moss-covered box.  Super easy, and the natural elements look equally at home on your covered front porch or in your foyer on a table.

Start with any size box, taped shut (I used a 12x16x5 box), a can of spray adhesive and a bag of moss.  The moss comes in a variety of colors, but I prefer your plain jane green moss because of its texture and all the various shades of green. Be sure to put plastic or newspaper under your workspace.

Spray the adhesive on the box, a small section at a time and press pieces of moss onto the sticky surface.  You will have to press firmly and spread out the moss a bit.

Cover one side at a time, filling in gaps as you go.

Go all the way to each edge, making sure enough moss hangs over the edge to cover the corners.  Work your way around all sides of the box.  You may need to fill a gap or two, or readhere a piece here and there as you work.

Choose a wide ribbon.  Smooth or metallic works best, but I couldn't resist this red and green woven ribbon.  If you choose a woven ribbon, be very careful as you put it around the box;  the moss will stick to it.

Wrap it just as you would a package!

Now to decide where to put it...

 Next to my reindeer...

Or next to my Junk Yard Dog...
I think I'll make a few more and group them together.  :)

And that's a wrap!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Decorating Tip: Easy Festive Vases

These merry vases are crafted using your own square glass containers or empty cans with the labels removed.  Simply cover using scraps of your gift wrap, tie a ribbon around, and fill with greenery clippings, grocery store blooms, or votive candles nestled in a non-flammable material.  The new flameless candles look great in these, too.  Scatter them down the center of your dining table, along your window sill, on the fireplace mantle, or cluster on your coffee or entry hall table.  Instant festive touch! 

From Christmas with Southern Living 2009

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Decorating: What's It Worth To You?

Worked with an interior designer before?  If so, what would you be willing to pay them to do your holiday decorating for you?

The New York Times published an interesting article highlighting the services of certain interior designers that take on the holiday "zhooshing" (love that word!) for select clients.  It left me wondering if I'd ever be willing to let someone else do my decorating for me?  Sure I'd love some advice, fresh ideas, different perspective, but pay someone else to decide and install?  I don't think so.

Tree by Rick Garofalo; mantle by Scott Salvator
Photos by Robert Wright and Trevor Tondro for The New York Times.
The act of decorating for the holidays can be physically taxing and time consuming.  I've confessed before that I don't do all the decorating I'd like to do and only end up doing a portion of what I'd planned to do.  But the truth is that I love decorating for the holidays.  I love pulling out all my decorations, sifting through what I'd like to use again, searching for the new tidbits here and there to freshen things up, digging for new ideas in magazines or on the internet.  It's fun for me.  And it's personal.

How about you?  Would you let someone else do your decorating?  Click HERE to read the article and HERE to view the slideshow of various designers and their "zhooshing" for clients.  Maybe just the outside? :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday's Favorite Product: Ruffled Glass Bowl

One of our most versatile pieces!  Perfectly sized for a fruit salad, cold pasta dish, or an easy centerpiece.  The foot gives her a little bit of height to make her (and your buffet or table) interesting and the ruffled edge makes her beautiful.  She is the perfect gift and is a steal at the sale price of $17.96.  Click HERE to order yours!

Like the colorful glass ornaments?  They're on sale, too!  Click HERE to order your set of six!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Entertaining Tip: Peppermint Treats

Crowd pleasing Peppermint Milkshakes
While these are billed as sweet festive treats for the little ones in your life, I know a few grownups that would love these as well!  Whip up a batch that serves 8 of your favorite elves. :)

Peppermint Milkshakes

8 cups vanilla ice cream
2 cups milk (*use less for thicker shakes)
1 cup crushed hard round peppermint candies (approx 45-50)
1 8.5 oz can refrigerated instant whipped cream (Reddi-whip)
Peppermint sticks

Process 4 cups ice cream, 1 cup milk, and 1/2 cup crushed candies in blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.  Pour into small serving glasses, top with whipped cream, and garnish with peppermint stick.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Yield: 9 1/2 cups

Note: Use food processor for quick crushing of peppermint candies.

From Christmas with Southern Living 2009.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Decorating Tip: Berry and Bow Door Bucket

As promised, here's how to fill your door bucket easily and inexpensively.

Start with evergreen clippings in your yard.  I used Indian laurel, Leyland Cypress, and holly bush clippings.

Add a small selection of holiday picks from your craft store.  These were $1.99 each at Garden Ridge.  I only ended up using two.

Cut florists foam to fit in a sandwich size ziploc bag.  The bag should not be able to close.

Soak the foam in water until it's saturated.

While the foam is soaking, trim greenery off the ends of your clippings, leaving long stems.

Place the soaked foam into the ziploc bag as shown.

Settle the foam down into the door bucket.  All of your live greenery will be inserted into the foam.  Your artificial picks will be inserted on the outer edges of the door bucket.

Taller clippings were placed in back, shorter ones in the front.  Note the variety of leaf shapes and colors.

Hang on a decorative hanger, like the Mix-and-Match Wreath Hanger shown here. 

Your fresh greenery will last up to three weeks with a little water added every few days to the foam.  Maybe even longer in colder temperatures. :)

Like the Berry and Bow Door Bucket?  Click HERE to place your order online.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday's Favorite Product: Berry and Bow Door Bucket

I'm nuts about door buckets!  They can be used indoors or out and I love their versatility and the way they dress up a door.  This Friday's Fave is our Berry and Bow Door Bucket, new this season.  I love its rustic finish!  I have mine hanging on my front door (tutorial on how I did it coming Monday!), full of greenery from around my yard.  But I also envision this gracing a back door, a mudroom door (it would make a great catch-all for mail and newspapers!) or even a guest room door.  Fill it with a couple of recent magazines, a pair of slippers and a rolled up bath towel to say "Welcome" with holiday flair.  When the holidays have passed, the bow can be removed and our fleur de lis component from our Mix and Match Hanger slides right into its place.  Best part?  It's one of my Merry Markdowns this month-- only $26.96!  Click HERE to place your order.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Entertaining Tip: Simply Yummy!

photo by Victor Schrager
This Holiday Tip is courtesy of Real Simple!  This is the season of baking and sharing-- teachers, neighborhood functions, friends, family-- and the good folks at Real Simple are making it real simple for us.  Click HERE to access 50 Holiday Cookie Recipes, including this yummy Chewy Spice Cookie.  And then pass it on.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holiday Decorating Tip: Pillows are Tops

My mailbox is full of catalogs these days and yesterday while perusing one of my favorites, Sundance, I came across this photo:

Which got me thinking about all the adorable holiday throw pillows out there.  What a simple festive touch for a guest bed, the arm chair in your home office, or the family room sofa!  I love these at Sundance and here are some other gorgeous ones I found online.

How about Jingle Bells from Hillshire Station?

Or these tapestry beauties at Plow and Hearth?

Or this festive foursome at Amazon?

Or this southern sweetie from Amazon?

Or my very favorite from Sundance?

Here's the key:  look in unexpected places, including clothing retailers for the most unusual ones.  Hit up some of your local gift shops, too.  Easy does it decorating for the season!

Coming soon:  Tutorial on creating your own moss-covered package AND how to fill a holiday door bucket on a dime.

Don't forget to place your Willow House sale order online before December 15.  I'll send you a free cookbook as a "thank you" gift.  Click HERE to check out the Merry Markdowns AND the Weekly Deals!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holiday Decorating Tip: Including the Kitchen Sink

Christmas with Southern Living 2009
Another winner... this easy-to-do garland of little packages across your kitchen window!  I think this would be just as cute across a powder room mirror or the headboard on your guest room bed.  Here's how:  small boxes wrapped in scraps of your gift wrap (maybe even a few decorative gift bags) and attached to twine or heavy ribbon. Use each package's ribbon to attach or hot glue. Festive, easy, and budget friendly, too!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday's Favorite Product: Herald Angel

Because who doesn't need a beautiful angel as part of their holiday decor?  I must confess, I keep mine out all year long, because she is too lovely to pack away-- nobody puts Baby in a corner!  She goes from my foyer table, to my sideboard when I've set up a buffet dinner, to the mantle in the family room, to my kitchen island.  She's a beauty and with her neutral color palette she makes a wonderful gift -- mother, sister, niece, newlywed couple, teacher, friend.  And at the sale price of $19.96 you should pick up several.  Remember that you'll get a free cookbook from me when you place an order on my website.  Click HERE to order.

Happy Shopping and Happy Decorating!!

Holiday Decorating Tip: Advent Garland

Christmas with Southern Living 2007
I can't resist this wonderful idea, so even though we are three days into Advent, I had to share!   Get your kids to help you snip scraps of giftwrap or holiday cards from last year and glue onto little gift bags.  I always save little bags throughout the year (you never know!), but you can purchase them inexpensively in bulk from your craft or discount store.  Each bag will be numbered (1-25, or 24 depending upon your tradition), filled with a small treat or surprise (candy, a small ornament, a coupon for dessert before dinner, a crazy straw-- you get the idea), and attached to a length of twine.  You can use ribbon or clothespins to attach them.

detail, Advent Garland

Great idea for a kitchen or breakfast room, or even a casual family room.  Happy Decorating!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Say Goodbye to these WH Products Soon!

Brilliant Glass Ornaments, set of 6
Sad to say, these products will be discontinued as of December 31, 2010.  Click HERE to view them individually on my website.  You can place your order there as well...don't forget you will get a free cookbook from me with every online order.
The one that makes me saddest is the set of Brilliant Glass Ornaments. They are true beauties!

Item # Item Description

40936 Brilliant Glass Ornaments

41061 Cathedral Luminary

57111 A La Carte: Ciabatta Bread Mix

57104 A La Carte: Strawberry Daiquiri Beverage

41282 Estate Organizers Basket

41281 Estate Organizers Tiered Rack

40798 Estate Towel Bar

41228 Estate Towel Bar Small

40797 Estate Wall Organizer

41000 Estate Wall Shelf

41232 Flora Embossed Sconce

53093 Florentine Napkin Holder

53088 Florentine Paper Towel Caddy

41117 GP Bountiful Cross

41209 Innsbrook Ornaments

41212 Innsbrook Tree Topper

52061 Italian Stitch Cup Set

Item # Item Description

52077 Italian Stitch Dinner Plates

52087 Italian Stitch Dinnerware Set

52088 Italian Stitch Platter Set

52075 Italian Stitch Ramekins

52042 Italian Stitch Rectangular Platter

52078 Italian Stitch Salad Plates

52081 Italian Stitch Square Bowls

52041 Italian Stitch Square Platter

52035 Mario Batali Peeler

52036 Mario Batali Pizza Wheel

53005 Napa Cookbook Holder

41052 Ornate Iron Bowl Stand

41234 Santorini Candlestands

41235 Santorini Planter

41249 Soda Glass Containers

41416 Terra Vida Bowl **

41417 Terra Vida Platter **

**These products are no longer available for order.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gorgeous Giveaway...

My blogging friend Karena over at Art By Karena is hosting a fantastic giveaway-- just in time for the holidays!!  She's featuring Fifi Flowers, an incredibly talented artist whose whimsical works just make me smile!  Click HERE to visit Karena's blog and enter her giveaway worth $200 and check out more of Fifi's wonderful works HERE.
Frameable prints, notecards, calendars, plus I love that she does pieces on commission, too-- how about a pet portrait?  Or a rendering of your home?

Enjoy these sneak peeks of Fifi's works--Love to find new artists, don't you??

Which one is your favorite??

Holiday Decor Tip: Packages on the Porch

2009 Christmas with Southern Living
Your front porch is the gateway to your home, so during the holidays don't neglect to decorate it, too!  I love the idea of stacks of wrapped packages on a covered porch.  Choose empty boxes in a few different sizes and wrap with coordinating or complementary papers and large ribbon.  Notice here that only the top package has a big bow.  Use them as pedestals for smaller lanterns (using flame less pillars of course), or nestled among your planters. 

Coming soon:  A tutorial on how to make a moss-covered package-- one of my favorite, super easy decorating touches for the porch.

If you're keen on the lanterns pictured here (and who wouldn't be!), the red one can be found at and the dark metal lanterns are from Pottery Barn.

Great look!!