A Spring Branch Bouquet

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Dogwood trees are starting to bloom where I live and their blooms are so pretty! The Redbud trees are also blooming and their rich color looks so striking against the other trees that are just starting to produce small leaves.

I decided to pick a few blooming branches and make a bouquet–something I had wanted to do last spring, but by the time I thought about doing it, the blooms were past their prime. So here’s how my “Branch Bouquet” turned out–I just combined 2 Dogwood branches with 3 Redbud branches and I think the different blooms look so pretty together! You could use other kinds of blooming branches, too–Forsythias, Pear Blossoms…whatever type of blooming branches that are growing around you. It brings a nice touch of the spring outdoors into your home or office.

You could also use this idea to make a pretty Easter centerpiece for your table!

Do you have any pretty blooming shrubs or trees in your yard?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday and Inspire Me Monday.

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Spring Fever

I had to make a quick trip to the mall and ended up staying longer than I intended because I was admiring some pretty Spring and Easter tableware and decor at two of my favorite stores, Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma! Teal, light and bright greens, and nature-inspired neutrals seem to be big color themes for the spring season. These happen to be some of my favorite colors–no wonder I was so drawn to the store displays! :) (Photos shown in this post are from Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma)

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At Pottery Barn, I loved all the teal in the table settings displayed right by the front entrance. The tableware looked great with the natural color and texture of woven place mats, along with some burlap and twine accents–so springy and outdoorsy! The inside store display I saw looked very much like the set-up in the photo above, featured on the Pottery Barn website.

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And I thought these bunny cupcake stands were sweet–they also work great for mini pies and tarts or cookies!

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I also liked these nature-inspired basket fillers

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…perfect for creating your own woodland baskets!

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The teal-green-neutral combination also looked great in other home accessories…

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…like this brightly-patterned pillow.

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I thought this embroidered butterfly pillow had a great spring feel, too.

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And I loved all the glassware in spring colors, especially the teal!

img45cWilliams-Sonoma also had nature-inspired designs in some of their spring tableware

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…and they have a new Botanical Citrus Collection which looks very springy.

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You can always find fun baking accessories there, like this Buttercup Cakelet Pan. How cute is that?

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And I saw these cookies later on their website–some great Easter cookie decorating inspiration!

Do you have Spring Fever like I do? Have you found any inspiring Easter and Spring decorating, entertaining, or gift ideas out there?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.

33 Different Uses for Mason Jars

I’ve become a mason jar-saver, and I have a small but growing collection of different shapes and sizes that have held jams, jellies, pickles, sauces, and other homemade foods that friends have given me. So I was glad to find a helpful guide at MidwestLiving.com on 15 Ways to Use Mason Jars. Then I found more ideas at a few other sites. These are all great ideas because they’re so simple!

Here are a few from Midwest Living that I plan on using…

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Silverware holders–use each jar to hold a napkin and “silverware setting for one”–the jar can also be used by your guest as a drinking glass. Or organize spoons, forks, and knives in three different jars for a buffet-style arrangement.

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Or you may just want to use the jars for serving your beverages in–they’re great for outdoor parties or picnics because they’re so sturdy!

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Use as containers for forcing bulbs. I love this idea!

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Make an easy centerpiece–just float a pretty blossom in a jar filled with water.

Other Midwest Living ideas include:

Using jars to store dry foods like oatmeal and other grains, rice, lentils, dried fruit, sugar, flour, salt, dried beans, pasta, etc. They come in handy if you buy bulk foods. Add your own homemade labels.

Keep your desk organized–use jars for holding pens, pencils, markers, paint brushes, and scissors.

I found more uses at a site called Care2. They list 50 uses for mason jars! These are the ideas from their list that I use or will use most:

  1. Storing cookies
  2. Storing homemade mixes
  3. Use for “recipe in a jar” gifts
  4. Storing saved seeds
  5. Use as containers for homemade soy candles
  6. Holding sour dough starters
  7. Storing homemade cleaners for the home (make sure they’re clearly labeled!)
  8. Storing cotton balls on the bathroom counter
  9. Storing bulk or homemade shampoo
  10. Storing bath salts
  11. Storing small office supplies
  12. Making sun tea
  13. Use as vases for fresh flowers
  14. Use as containers for homemade candy gifts
  15. Storing sewing notions-buttons and other small items
  16. Use as containers for loose change

These uses are from a site called Keeper of the Home. Here are some ideas I like from her list of 31 uses:

  1. Storing leftovers in the refrigerator–soups, stews, cooked rice, veggies–pretty much any kind of food that will fit in the jar (if you need extra lids, you can purchase some like these).
  2. Store leftover smoothies so you can drink later in the day or take to work.
  3. Keep track of how much water you’re drinking–if you drink from a quart-size jar, you can easily keep track of how much water you’re drinking each day.
  4. Sprouting seeds or grains (you can buy these special lids if you want).
  5. Storing homemade juice or iced tea in the refrigerator.
  6. Keeping herbs fresh in the refrigerator (like green onions, cilantro, etc.) by filling a jar 3/4 full of water, then placing your bunch of fresh herbs in it-the herbs stay fresh longer than if put in the produce drawer.
  7. Storing homemade spice mixes–use the 1/2 pint or smaller jars for this.
  8. Mixing and storing homemade salad dressings, marinades, and other sauces.
  9. Mixing and storing homemade syrups.

And then I found a few more ideas at Yahoo Voices:

  1. Start plant cuttings in jars filled with water (I do this a lot!)
  2. To be more eco-friendly, use mason jars instead of plastic containers for your lunch–they’re a great container for soups and salads.

So all together, that’s 33 different ways to use mason jars–plus all the other ideas at those sites that I didn’t mention!

Do you have a collection of mason jars? What different ways do you like to use them?

Decorating Ideas for Next Christmas

It never fails…when Christmas is over, I come across ideas I wish I had seen earlier in the season so I could have tried them out. Well, I’m saving these ideas for next Christmas! Maybe you’ll find something here you’ll want to try next year, too!

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From My Picture-Perfect Life–Top photo: display ornaments in a variety of glass containers or covered plates or stands. Even larger vases work great! Bottom photo: Silver and gold are a great combination–add fullness to a silvery Christmas tree with decorative gold stems.

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From A Fanciful Diversion–a Shabby Chic lantern filled with a collection of snowy, glittery treasures.

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My artistic friend Eileen had a similar idea this Christmas, making such a pretty arrangement, above, on her table!

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From Carpe Diem–Glttery gold ornaments paired with rustic and natural elements–and more lanterns surrounding the bottom of the tree.

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Love this outdoor lantern on a vintage sled–from Self Architecture. Gives any porch a warm and welcoming look!

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A great way to add a touch of Christmas to bedrooms–hang stockings at the foot of the bed and add a Christmas pillow on top! From Passion Decor.

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Top photo: Pinecones go great with the other rustic decor in this Shabby Chic display, from Seda y Nacar. And from the same site, a festive bannister with gifts and greenery.

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What a cozy entryway from Texstil Design!

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Cute little Christmas trees add a nice touch on tables indoors or out. From Jaynes Cozy Corner.

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A glowing, golden vintage village warms up any room. From Old, but gold.

Well, we will sure be prepared for next Christmas, won’t we? :) Have you collected some ideas you are saving for next Christmas?

Autumn Lights

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As the autumn days get shorter, you may be looking for different ways to add warmth and light to your fall decor. These ideas would fit right in! Like this one from iVillage–tie fall leaves around the outside of glass jars with twine and–to be on the safe side–add a battery-powered imitation votive candle or tea light inside the jar–that way you have “candlelight” that is safe as well as pretty!

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Here’s a similar idea with a fall flower tucked into the twine wrapped around the glass jar. You could also use artificial autumn leaves and flowers–that way you could use your autumn votive holder from year to year.

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This is a fun candle centerpiece idea! Miniature Indian corn is arranged around a pillar candle and kept in place with twine. Make sure you keep your bow small and away from the area of the candle flame.

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Or, instead of Indian corn, surround your candles with cinnamon sticks!

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Turn pumpkins and apples into natural holders for your candles!

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Or use hanging lanterns for a warm, homey, rustic touch.

What favorite ways do you have of adding soft, restful lights to your fall decor?

Upcycling: Clever DIY Decor

I saw some very clever DIY decor projects at Country Living recently. They look pretty easy, too. There are lots of ideas, and I’m sharing a few of my favorites! Visit CountryLiving.com for complete directions.

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If you like quilts, here’s a framed quilt design made out of paper! It’s a great way to use your paper scraps from other craft projects. This design was made from four different patterned papers, and they’re just glued onto an illustration board with a glue stick. Add a frame and you have a great quilt wall hanging with no sewing involved!

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I thought these Lampshade Tables were a great way to upcycle old lampshades–maybe you have some in your attic you can upcycle! Or maybe you’ll find a really unique shade to use from a flea market. All you need is a little spray paint for the metal lampshade wire, the right type of glue, and a round-cut piece of glass for the top!

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I love this pillow made from an old sweater–another great upcycling idea! It sounds pretty easy to make this–just cut two square pieces from an old sweater and sew together–you’ll need a pillow form, too. The flower is a bit more involved, but it’s a really cute touch!

Hope these ideas give you some upcycling inspiration! Are you working on any fun DIY projects of your own?

Shell Decor Ideas

I have always loved seashells and going to the beach! They add such a light summery touch to rooms! But I also like displaying shells year round, to help remind me of summer and the good times I had at the beach. So I keep my eyes open for new ways to do that. I found some ideas at several different sites that I really liked–If you went on a beach vacation this summer and collected some shells, maybe you’ll see some ideas here that will work in your home!

Take a look at the many containers you can display shells in…

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Above, from Pinterest, a large round basket

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Stoneware and pottery ideas from Stone Gable

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Glass container ideas, like this fishbowl, from Coastal Living, with a candle nestled into some white sand, shells, and sea glass…

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Or a rimmed glass cake plate shown on Roses and Rust

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Glass canisters of different shapes and sizes found on Pinterest

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Glass vases, simple or elegant from Pottery Barn and shown on Habitually Chic

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Or crystal goblets and vases, for an elegant look, featured in House & Home

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Simple vintage glass jars seen on Better Homes and Gardens always make great decorative containers…

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As well as pretty bottles, from Country Living, filled with sand and shells from your vacation and labeled if you like, so you’ll remember what beach they’re from!

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Here’s a very creative way to display shells–fill a bird bath and cover with glass for a striking side table, from Completely Coastal.

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And a very practical way to use shells–as a soap dish! From Martha Stewart.

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These shells glued to candle jars are really pretty, shown on homedit.

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Other ways to use shells in decorating…I love this wreath featured on Coastal Style

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And this shell garland from Better Homes and Gardens–the wreath and garland make great decorations year round as well as for Christmas!

That’s a pretty good start for some shell decor tips!

Are you a shell collector? How do you display shells in your home?

Wedding Flowers and Songs

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I took these flower pictures awhile ago…the daughter of a friend of mine had pretty bouquets in mason jars displayed at her wedding reception and I couldn’t resist taking pictures of one of them. As I was going through my photos last month, I came across these pictures and was going to post them, since it was June…because June is the most popular wedding month, right?

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Well, I discovered that is changing…July has been the most popular wedding month in recent years, followed by August, September and October. So it seemed appropriate to post these pictures in July!

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As I was thinking about some of the weddings I’ve been to, I remembered some songs I really liked that were sung at them.

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None of these songs I’m mentioning are very new, but they are beautiful songs–maybe you’ll remember some of these.  Click on the song titles if you want to listen to them.

God Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts; this was also recorded by Selah, and their version is more like what I heard at the wedding I went to.

The Prayer by Josh Groban, performed with Charlotte Church

I Will Be Here and Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman

Remember Me by Mark Schultz, performed with Joy Williams (sung when the bride and groom took communion)

What are some of your favorite wedding songs? What songs were sung at your wedding?

Stylish, Thrifty Decorating Tips from Simple Sustainable Style and a Giveaway!

51dzdLt93oL._SL500_If you’re wanting to do some redecorating in your home this spring, you may want to check out Simple Sustainable Stylea Country Living Book by designer Randy Florke. It’s filled with lots of wonderful ideas and tips! The author shows you how to “decorate with style and thrift, transforming the ordinary room into into a place of extraordinary personal charm.” Florke mixes in fabulous finds from flea markets and thrift stores in his decorating. The book is wonderfully written and filled with beautiful full-color photos as well. It’s a book you’ll really want to sit down with!

I have a copy of this book to give away, courtesy of Sterling Publishing, so you can leave a comment for a chance to win it! See the end of this post for details!

Here are just some of Florke’s many helpful tips found throughout the book:

For the Kitchen:

  • Liberate cabinets of doors to expose china collections.
  • Display humble foodstuffs…if they have colorful or retro labels.
  • Choose an accent color for a white kitchen and display it in seat cushions, throw rugs, pottery, or flowers.

For the Living Room:

  • Resist buying pieces from all one period or the room will appear either “store bought” or fussy. Mixing pieces you love, of varying periods, will put a stamp of originality–YOURS– on the room.
  • Use furniture where you need it, not where it’s “supposed” to be. Place a hutch, sideboard, or dresser in the living room if the look works for you.
  • Splurge, if you can, on one truly great piece for the living room. It might be that dreamed-of sofa or amazing pedestal table; live with special things.
  • Look for interesting lamp bases at thrift stores and flea markets, where many are for sale. Take the base along with you to purchase its shade, which should cover the hardware but not the decorative base.

For the Dining Room:

  • Even if you don’t have a room relegated to dining, create a dining niche in the living room corner or in an entryway alcove.
  • Home Comforts for a Dining Room: The biggest table possible. comfortable chairs aplenty, loads of fresh flowers, a sideboard (of any make) to display crystal and silver, candles and flattering light,  pale walls and important art, some aromatic, homemade dish, lovingly served.
  • Resist the urge to place flowers in an ordinary vase. Think enameled coffeepots, colorfully labeled cans, old milk bottles, or even olive oil tins. Place glass jars inside tin or metal containers to keep the rust away.
  • Chandeliers were made for dining rooms. Don’t be afraid to mix ornate fixtures with simple surroundings or vice versa.

For the Bedroom:

  • Home Comforts for a Bedroom: A comfortable bed, fresh bedclothes of natural fibers, calm, restful art, good reading light, handy bedside table, ample storage.
  • One of the little things that make a room memorable is a bed lavished in wonderful linens. Layers of color and texture, and natural fibers create a beautiful, luxurious bed.
  • Mix lightly used fabrics with contemporary purchases and layer interesting textures of chenille, linen, wool, felt, and lace.
  • A decorative bedstead anchors a room and imparts a sense of timelessness and stability.
  • The accompanying (bedside) table should be almost as tall as the top of the mattress.

For the Porch:

  • Choose wrought-iron tables with glass surfaces, three-legged side tables, and plenty of Adirondack-style chairs. A porch is not a porch without a rocking chair…
  • Metal furnishings work well on a porch, be they 1940s lawn chairs, more industrial-type stools, or even medical cabinets acting as storage or side tables.
  • Try not to crowd too many pieces on the porch…
  • Line up cast–concrete flower boxes along the perimeter of the porch and fill them seasonally with peonies, daisies, or swaths of evergreen.

There are also decorating ideas for the bathroom, entry way, staircase, and other transitional spaces, along with tips on decorating the exterior of the home and making smart flea market purchases.

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED Comment 12–Isabel–is the winner…Congratulations!

Now for the giveaway…if you’d like to enter to win a copy of Simple Sustainable Style, leave a comment on this blog post between now and Saturday, February 23, at midnight (CST)–the random drawing will be made from the comments on this post only! The winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org and announced on Sunday, February 24. Winner will be notified via email (if  winner does not respond in 3 days, I’ll do another drawing).

First entry: Leave a comment on this post telling me telling me which room in your home you love best.

Bonus entry: If you are a new or existing follower or subscriber, you can leave one extra comment telling me the way (or ways) you are following.

The giveaway is open to residents of the continental U.S. and Canada.

Hope you find these tips helpful! Are you decorating any rooms in your home now?

All that Glitters: Easy Holiday Decorating Ideas with Ornaments

I found some great ideas at Better Homes and Gardens for adding shimmer and shine to your holiday decorating with ornaments! If you want to add a special touch to your Christmas table or just make your living room a little more festive when guests arrive, there are lots of easy ways to do that! You’ll find 24 ideas in all at the site, and here are some of my favorites (all photos shown are from BHG.com)…

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Make an ornament napkin ring using a wide and narrow ribbon…loosely tie a wide ribbon around a rolled napkin, slide a narrow ribbon through the wide knot (then pull the ends of the wide ribbon to tighten the knot), and thread small ornaments onto each end of the narrow ribbon, tying ornaments in place with knots. Even just using a wide satin ribbon by itself tied around the rolled napkin in a knot or bow would be pretty!

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Or, just use one ornament, tied around a rolled napkin with shimmery ribbon…and tie the ends in a pretty bow!

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A beautiful centerpiece can be created with ornaments and candles. Just arrange varying heights of pillar candles on a round tray and fill in with a variety of shimmery ornaments. To fill in the smaller spaces, you can even add some glitzy and inexpensive costume jewelry.

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Another centerpiece idea…fill a large glass vase with shiny and shimmery ornaments of varying sizes. Any large glass vase will work!

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Fill a vase with natural winter greenery and shiny ornaments. If you want your display to last longer, add some water to the lower third of the vase and keep the ornaments nearer to the top.

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Using an ornament as a place card holder is a great idea, too! It also doubles as a special gift your guests can take home!

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Make an ornament swag, tying ornaments onto a long piece of wide satin ribbon. I have a cabinet in my living room I could do this on!

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These next few ideas were in another section of the BHG website and I loved these, too! Hang ornaments from a chandelier or light fixture with ornament hooks…such an easy idea, and so pretty!

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Or fill a serving tray with ornaments…how easy is that?

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Mix things up by displaying ornaments with fruit, nuts, berries, leaves, or other natural decorative items in a fancy footed bowl.

And here are a few other shimmery ideas that you can add ornaments to, if you like…

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Add some bling to your decor with a glistening wreath…just use a hot glue gun to attach sparkling buttons to a thin 9″ wreath form and tie a silver bow at the top. Attach a small ornament or two to the bow for extra bling!

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A mirror display or centerpiece using candles, greenery, and crystal or glass also adds a shimmery, glimmery touch to your table. Some ornaments added in would be pretty, too.

Do you have creative ways of your own for decorating with ornaments?