Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pull it down, pack it up, and put it away: 10 tips for De-decorating after Christmas

My latest column as published in The Daily Sentinel the day after Christmas.

Pull it down, pack it up, and put it away. 10 tips for de-decorating your house after Christmas

The bad news is Christmas is over. The good news is that the decorations will come down faster than they went up. Here are some tips on how to pull it down, pack it up, and put it away:

1. The day after Christmas is not too soon to start de-decorating, especially if you have a real tree, time may be of the essence. Valentine’s Day is too late. New Year’s Day, is just about right for people who want to start the New Year off fresh.

2. Upgrade all your storage containers. If you are still using the same cardboard box, year after year, it’s time to start storing in plastic bins. Consider purchasing them in red and green to easily distinguish them from your other storage bins. You’ll know exactly which ones to pull down next year.

3. If possible, return your ornaments, lights, villages, and nativity sets to their original packaging. The Styrofoam and plastic trays will protect them from damage.

4. If you have lost the original packaging for your lights. Take the time to neatly wind them back up and secure them in a rubber band, masking tape, or a twist tie. If you have lost the original packaging for your ornaments, consider purchasing an ornament organizer. They are plastic boxes with individual slots. It’s well worth the investment if you plan on using your ornaments year after year. If new storage options are not in your after-Christmas budget, shoe boxes and crumpled newspapers will do just fine to cradle your shiny wares until next year.

5. Don’t let the little odds and ends linger loosely on the bottom of your bins. Keep all the extra ornament hooks, replacement light bulbs, and adhesive backed -wall mounted hooks in a clear plastic baggie. You won’t want to scrounge around for them later.

6. Tired of your old decorations? Ready to switch your traditional red and green ornaments for purple and silver next year? Cull any decorations you don’t think you will use again. Consider doing an ornament swap with friends and family. Toss what is damaged. Donate the rest.

7. Think about how you want to group your decorations for storage. Is it more convenient to store them by room i.e., “Entryway décor,” or by like items, “Garland and Greenery?” There is no right or wrong way. It’s whatever makes the most sense to you.

8. Has your Christmas tree box taken a beating? Is it getting harder and harder to re-tape the thing year after year? Buy stretch wrap. It’s like a giant roll of plastic wrap. Stretch wrap reinforces the box and protects your tree from damage. No more taping and re-taping because the stretch wrap adheres to itself. One roll will last years. It can be purchased locally at Grainger for between fifteen to 20 dollars per roll depending on width and thickness. Stretch wrap can also be found at other shipping supply stores.

9. When you are doing your after-Christmas returning /shopping, you will find some great deals on marked-down decorations, be sure you have enough storage for the incoming items.

10. Label each box and store with the label facing out. If you are an over-achiever, an itemized list of what is inside may save you time later.

The good news is that after following these tips, your decorations are organized and safely stored until next year. Put up your feet and enjoy some hot chocolate. The bad news is Christmas is still 364 days away.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from Anniethology


From the snow of Mt. Baldy to the sand of Newport Beach. Merry Christmas to my faithful readers. Wish you were here!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tiger Woods, you gone and done a bad, bad thing

I'm not going to say that I am surprised. Fidelity isn't a common attribute among professional athletes, but I would say that I am disappointed. Most men, like him, you see coming from a mile away, but Tiger, you wouldn't expect it of him and that makes him even more dangerous. But this is what happens, my ladies, when a man gets too successful and too rich. He starts to think the rules don't apply to him. That's why I like my men po' and humble. Secret Agent Man is too busy to bother with another woman and he couldn't afford another woman anyway, I make sure of that. If he has a twenty in his wallet, I'll take it. Don't want him getting the idea that he can take someone else out to Taco Bell for lunch. Keep him broke, keep him humble, keep him home. Broke, humble, home. Nuf said.
And, I don't believe for one minute that she had no idea what was going on. I think it only became a problem for her when the rest of the world knew about it. I'm not judging. If I was married to a billionaire, I could turn a blind eye, too. Don't judge me. Don't feel sorry for these celebs and rich folk, they don't marry for love anyway. You know they don't. It's all about (ahem) the class and power that money can buy. It's the kids, the kids I feel sorry for. They have a sorry excuse for a father and that is sad. A big bag of money will keep mommy warm at night,but money can't replace what those kids are going to miss out on.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What does your Christmas tree say about you?


I have a rare talent. Some might call it a gift. Others, the more incredulous, call it a cheap party trick, but I have yet to meet anyone who can do what I do. I am a Christmas Tree Prognosticator. It’s sort of like reading palms. I can tell a lot about a person’s life and personality by their Christmas tree. Here’s a free sample:
Artificial or real
There are two types of people: Real Christmas tree people and artificial tree people. One is not better than the other, just different.
If you are a person who likes real trees you probably like the outdoors. You enjoy creating an ambience that invokes smell as well as sight. Real tree people feel that the experience of searching it out, chopping it down and dragging it back to the old homestead is all part of the fun.
If you like artificial trees, you like an investment that lasts. You want something pretty, but don’t want to make a lot of fuss. Artificial tree owners can also be perfectionists. They don’t like to deal with gaps in the branches or dropping needles of a real tree.
White lights or multi-colored lights
If you have white lights on your tree, you think of each light as a tiny star. White light people like simplicity. White lights convey the serenity of an “Oh, Holy Night.”
Conversely, multi-colored lights say, “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.” People who like multi-colored lights are party people. They like the festive feeling of multi-colored lights because it reminds them of a disco or Las Vegas. To them, the holidays are one big party and everyone is invited. And it wouldn’t be too far out of the realm of possibility that when the holiday party rolls around, they might even don a strand of multi-colored lights like it was gay apparel!
Matching or eclectic ornaments
If you have a tree with an eclectic assortment of ornaments, each one having a special meaning or story, you value your past and family history. Perhaps it’s the clothespin reindeer your first-born made in kindergarten or the delicate snowflake that Grandma crocheted. Each one is different, each one is special, they may not match, but it doesn’t matter to you.
The decoration of an eclectic tree is often a group effort. Some will hang the ornaments; others will string popcorn and cranberries together. Even the littlest elves in the house will take part in decorating the eclectic tree.
A matchy-matchy ornament tree is usually a one-woman (or man)-show; a person with a vision of what a perfectly coifed tree should look like. Matchy-matchy ornament people like order and consistency. They usually have a theme for their Christmas tree. Like Victorian, Old World, or country. For the matchy-matchy ornament people, the tree is the crowning glory, the pièce de résistance, of all the Christmas decorations.
Angel or star
Angel people believe in a higher power guiding their lives and directing their path. Angel people might have, at some point, imagined what it would have been like to be in that choir, as told of old, that sang to shepherds guarding their flocks by night that a babe was born in Bethlehem.
Star people are the hopefuls, the ones that hope for a better, brighter tomorrow. They are sign seekers. They lead their lives by, the sometimes imperceptible, directional arrows. Star people will follow that little nudge inside of them that says, “Take cookies to your neighbor (peanut butter cookies with the chocolate kisses on top),” or “slip a twenty into the bell ringer’s red bucket.”
That’s it. That’s all you get for your free sample. How did I do? Eerily close, eh? If you want a full Christmas Tree Prognostication, you’ll have to invite me to your holiday party. Don’t worry, I work cheap. You can pay me in cookies (peanut butter cookies with the chocolate kisses on top).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Christmas Decorations

Peacock Pete, the mascot of our Christmas tree, with his vanity mirror. He's so vain, I bet he thinks this blog is about him.

Click on the pic to see it big time! Picture collage created in Picasa.


The reflection of the dining room chandelier in my heart mirror ornament.




I use mirrors at the base of the trees to reflect prettiness. I didn't use all the ornaments I'd used in previous years, so I put them in pretty stuff that holds other pretty stuff.





Peacock feather sticking out of the top of the tree.



Less than $5.00 chandelier decor. One strand of garland. Two strands of beads. 6 tassels and 10 or so poinsettias.


From the outside looking in. Garland and big jingle bells in the window boxes with fake frost on the windows.



You can buy "Peace" at Walgreens!


Dear Santa, I've been a really good girl this year. Please bring me a decent camera for Christmas so I can quit using my crummy camera phone. Thank you.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Spruce up your home with two basic colors: black and white


I love classic game shows.One of my favorites is “Password.” It’s played with two contestants giving and receiving word clues.Let’s try it!
Me: Dice.
You: Vegas?
Me: Piano keys.
You: Liberace?
Me: Zebras.
You: The zoo?
Me: Pandas.
You: China?
Me: Black and white.
You: What paint colors to use to inexpensively spruce up your house for the holidays?
Me: Correct!

THE PRICE IS RIGHT
This being our second holiday season in a recession, perhaps you, like me, want to spruce up the house for guests but don’t have a lot of extra money. Paint can make a big impact with little out-of-pocket expense.
If you look away from your monitor, for just a second, and have a look around your house, I bet you will see something that could use a fresh coat of clean, white paint or something else that could use a modern lease on life with black paint.
And you probably already have cans of white and black paint in your garage.
If you need to restock, I recommend buying just a quart of each with some sponge-tipped brushes. That will get you on your way.

BEAT THE CLOCK
There never seems to be enough time during the holidays to get everything done. So don’t try to paint a whole room ... besides, white is too stark and black is too Goth. Instead, use little touches of each to freshen or sophisticate.
Use white to repaint doors, door frames and moldings. They are most likely white to begin with. Clean them off first, and then give them a fresh coat of paint.
Use black on a worn-out pieces of wood furniture or picture frames.
I gave some dated gold frames a modern look by painting them black. It took less money and time than driving to a store to buy new frames.
I also used black paint on a $5 table I picked up from the Fruita Thrift Shop. It had great “bones” but needed some love. It took me less than a half-an-hour to change that table’s look from trash pile to Pottery Barn.
A can of black, outdoor spray paint also added a few more seasons on to my old patio furniture.

DO YOU TRUST YOUR WIFE?
My husband, “Secret Agent Man,” and I never agree on colors.
To avoid a fight, and to his chagrin, I paint the walls in our house when he is out of town. But he doesn’t flinch when I bring out black or white paint. He knows it will just be a touch-up and not a whole style change.
With black and white you don’t have to worry about matching or color coordinating.
Whatever the season, whatever the trend, black and white are mainstays of design.

QUEEN FOR A DAY
Not me. My daughter, “Mini Me” is the “queen.”
I woke up one Saturday morning with the idea of painting her dingy off-white dressers a clean, bright white.
Mini Me helped by taking the handles off the drawers, which we later spray-painted silver (another cheap fix). I loved the change in the dressers so much that we painted her bed headboard white to match ... and then her bookshelf ... and then her toy box. By nightfall, her room was transformed by one can of leftover white paint.

WHEEL OF FORTUNE
If the bonus round has eluded you these past few months, make your own good fortune by making due with what you have.
Just take a look through what you’ve been storing in your garage, shed or work bench, perhaps all you’ll need will be there in black and white.