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Monday, November 29, 2010

All About Wreath

One of our favorite family Christmas tradition is making our own Advent wreath.  We are on our fifth year now, and counting.  It's simple to do and a great bonding time for the family.  This is how we made it...
Easy, right?  So if you got inspired with this simple DIY Xmas project, why don't you start gathering your materials and make one for your home.  You can also print the prayer from here

Our wreath from last year
Wreath from Christmas 2008

I've also done a bit of work on our old wreaths to give it a fresher look.
This used to be red and green, now it's blue and gold.  Sits on the dining table.

This wreath holds a big cinnamon candle, decorated with holly and cones.

Rapha's fabric Xmas wreath.  He made this in school when he was in first grade.

Wreath on the main door.

Isn't Christmas just soo exciting!  There's so much to do with the family, and everyone's busy but at the same time, in high spirits!  Enjoy the first week of Advent my dear readers!

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas Came Knocking on our Door

Can't delay it no more...Christmas came knocking on our door!  When you have kids in the family and a husband who loves celebrations and hosting family and friends, you get all the pressure of keeping your home spic and span and in sync with the season.  (Not that I'm's my joy to give my family a beautiful home.)   And of course, Christmas is the biggest, grandest of them all!  It took hours and hours to finish decorating the house and setting up the tree, but it's all worth it!  Come take a look...
As you enter our house, you will be greeted by this nativity set on our console.  Christmas won't be complete without it, right?

In my previous  post, you will remember that I said I was leaning on a silvery, glittery Xmas decor. did not happen.  I got inspired of a family dinner we hosted few weeks back.  I prepped our table using jewel-toned linens, plates and candle holders.   And since then, I started to dream of sapphires, rubies, emeralds, tiger's eye, lapis, amethyst and topaz!
That's why the silver, glass and white were forgotten and replaced by the very rich tones of jewels!  And everyone's happy with it.
There are more Christmas vignettes around the house and I shall share them with you soon.  For the meantime, enjoy your weekend and I wish you all the joy as you start making your home Christmas-sy over the weekend (if you haven't done so!).   As for my family, we are looking forward to the first Sunday of Advent.  Two more sleeps and we will be making our traditional family Advent wreath!
I'm guessing we will be working on our wreath here in our lanai.  Happy weekend everyone!

 I would love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Up Close and Personal

Exactly a month ago I shared with you here, the house of my dear friend Aura.  I was just being bold and ambitious to create a once a month post on beautiful, REAL homes.  But to tell you honestly, I didn't know if I can come up with a second one.  Now it can be told, I was a bit scared if I can really pull this through.  But I guess luck is on my side or should I say I got friends on my side?  Because today, I am excited to show you another friend's house.  Yup...I charmed my way to have her house posted here in 40andbeyond.  And of course, she cannot resist as I implore with French pastries in my bag.  So, for this month of November, let me share with you the second...
Up Close and Personal
My very good friend Doris, has the most charming "Shabby Chic" - inspired home right smack in the middle of the City.  The moment you enter her home (shared with her hubby and beautiful daughter), you instantly feel like you're in a country home and you just want to find a corner (amongst the many cozy nooks that she has!), lounge and bask in a good book.  Or just like what I would do when I visit her, I'd just be idle and feast my eyes with all her pretty vignettes!  Take a visual tour with me and feel some French, country charm...

As you enter the main door, you will be greeted by the family's oval-framed silhouettes.  I am not very fond of frames but this set is just perfect to welcome the guests!

The warm and inviting living room.  The color palette of green and white, accessorized with silver makes it very relaxing.  It really feels you're in a bed and breakfast  cottage.

(1) Collection of antique, silver candle holders  (2)  A snuggly corner of the living room (3) Simple cushions dot the all-white cozy couch (4)  Shabby and distressed candelabras on the coffee table

The dining area is right next to the living area. I love the way Doris make use of old pieces, (some were hand me down from her family) and gives them a new life by making it functional again. Can you see the old sewing machine behind the chair?  She refurbished it and made it into a console.  Now it's perfect to hold her antique, silver tea set. 
The study is accessorized with inherited and vintage stuff.  This nook is screaming I-N-S-P-I-R-A-T-I-O-N!  Can you hear it??
(1-2) Medicine cabinet of Doris' grandfather, now houses her collection of thimbles and vintage children's books (3) A bread box cum chopping board is now used to keep clutter away (4)  My favorite!!!  Super cute, vintage, mini Golden books (remember those story books with very simple illustrations?) (5) A DIY mirror/candle holder.  How clever is that? Doris has her own handyman whom she trained to make her distressed furniture (6) A collection of mini bird cages

Located at the attic, is Doris' guestroom. Very "Rachel 
Ashwell-y"! I would not be surprised if guests would want to stay there forever!  It's very cozy and it's like a big eye candy for people who like vintage and shabby chic interiors!
The white, wrought iron bed is draped with a quilt hand made by Doris' grandmother.  Can you see the pretty Doris by the canvass panel?  Sorry Dors,   I know I said you were not in the picture. :-)
(1) Study nook at the guestroom with an antique swivel chair (2)  Bookshelves that hold Doris' collection of Classics (3)  Hard bound Charles Dickens collection.  I envy this! (4)  Bedside table is home to vintage Pooh collection (5)  An antique Dutch table lamp with a pretty vintage photo frame, shaped like a purse.  Very pretty! (6)  Complete view of the bed with the side tables 

And here is the master's bedroom...simple, white and still true to the house's look - very Chic!  Doris made sure she is surrounded with all her favorite, pretty, vintage things.  Most of them were found and bought in the antique and thrift stores during her US trips.   
(1) Doris' closet is defined with a pink, fabric curtain.  Just pull the curtain to the side, and voila!  You see all your clothes in a single hand sway.  How easy is that?  (2) Desk that holds her thrift store finds, like the African American ragdolls.  Truly a rare find!  That's my other favorite!  (3-4) Her pretty, pretty, (did I say pretty?) dresser.  I love the mini, dainty luggage boxes used to hold her perfume, brushes, etc.  I thought it's a mini boudoir in it's own right!

Now, let me take you to Gaby's room.  As I have known Doris way back our working days in the same company, I kinda witnessed and watched Gaby grow from that little cute girl, and now a beautiful woman.  Yup!  I feel so old last time I saw her.  She's all grown up and working!  Where did time go??  And this lady is not just physically gifted; she is also very smart and writes very well!  Visit her blog here and be the judge.  If only I can have a fraction of her writing competency.

Hand painted checkers in baby blue and white for the wall.  How sweet is that?  Her quilt (again another handmade piece by the great grandmother) matches her wall and complements her white, shabby, wooden bed.

(1) Study bureau with shelves on top that houses her books and collectible toys (2&4)  Some of Gaby's vintage dresses and camisole.  Sorry Gabs, your mom and I raided your closet! (3)  The classic Pooh collection which my daughter Bianca adores! (5)  Hat and bag rack by the side table keeps her collection organized.

More pretty things that can't be missed!  
So, there you have it.  The "Ignacio cottage" brought me so much inspiration that I started pulling out my Rachel Ashwell books just so I can continue to enjoy Shabby Chic interiors when I got home.  I should start looking for another home to feature here...before I start painting my house white!  I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed working on it.  Thank you so much Dors, for opening your home to 40andbeyond!  Hopefully I can produce the third post  of 
Up Close and Personal  
by December!  Calling all my dear friends!!!

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Oregano, Basil and Tarragon

A bit of cuttings from the herb garden,  oregano, tarragon and basil (plus some leaves for the powder room).  I did a little gardening this morning.  That's how I started my weekend.  Of course, that was after a light breakfast and newspaper reading with hubby.  How about you?  How's your Saturday?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, November 19, 2010

TGIF..A Sneak Peek

I am sooo excited...but I can't tell you why just yet.  So keep visiting because there's something cooking up at Casa Insigne!  Are you loving the colors and texture of the objects on the photo above?  I do! (hint! hint!)

We did an after-dinner walk around the neighbourhood and these are some of the photos that Bianca (my daughter) took along the way.  It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our village.  And you know what happens during this time of the year, right?  Everyone is smiling and simply happy!  Enjoy your weekend and spread the's never too early!!!

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tablescape: Simple & Elegant

If you know me personally or have been following 40 and beyond, you would know that one of my interests is table styling.  Some women collect bags and shoes.  I collect plates, chargers, platters and bowls.  I love plates, candles, coasters and flatware.  I love plates, glasses, linens and napkins.  Oh did I say I love plates already?  :-)  I would like to share with you some of the past (and future) seatings and settings (that's how hubby calls it!)  I have done.  This first one was a tablescape done for hubby's Birthday last May. 

I knew there will be a lot of chatting that would happen that night, so I opted to dot the table with low vases and candles so my guests can see each other eye to eye.  The green oregano from my herb garden and some purple statice brought just the right amount of color for a setting for the male celebrant.  

Gold chargers on an embroidered ecru table linen invokes elegance and the round candles, wrapped with rattan added texture and shape to the otherwise all glassy candle holders.  Female guests get their own personal little glass vase with a single stem of flower.  Take a closer look at the photo below, can you see it?  It's hanging on the charger.  I call it my little pacman vase.

I hope you like this post and I should be sharing more of this kind regularly.   Stay tuned for more tablescapes!

I would love to hear your thoughts.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

For Keeps

I love stationeries, cards and pretty paper.  For me, you can't have enough of these stuff.  And I have collected boxes full of cards and letters all these years.  Then there are the gift cards that are too dear and pretty to toss away.  So what do you with them?  To keep them neat and easy to retrieve (when you get sentimental, and would like to read and reminisce :-)), I bundle  them together using the same ribbons and gift charms.

This is my latest bunch of gift cards from my Birthday.  

So you see, if you do not have the interest of making a scrap book, this is an easier alternative and equally pretty, plus, you get to recycle the ribbons and charms!  You might want to start doing this in the coming Holidays.  I'm sure you will be receiving lots of nice Xmas cards.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Holiday Visions

We can't deny it...'tis the season, and it seems everyone's twitching to Christmas shopping and decorating mode.  My kids are always excited to do our traditional Advent wreath making  (more on that later) and tree decorating.  But hubby is even more excited!  As soon as Halloween was over, He demanded for Xmas decors.  Unfortunately, since this is our first Xmas at our new home, I don't have enough decors yet, nor a concrete decor plan.  Lately though, I have visions of a glittery, silvery Xmas.  Since most of my pieces are wood and brown, I thought it would be refreshing to see decors that are light, translucent and delicate.  I'm leaning towards creating subtle and elegant vignettes this year.  What do you think of these??...

Images from here and here.

I haven't really gone out and checked what decors are available out there, so I'm guessing I might change my theme later on.  I had visions of Filipino crafts too!  And of course, I need my nativity set (It can't be Xmas without it, right?).   But for now, I'm loving silver and glass. :-)

I would love to hear your thoughts!
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Online design magazines

Click here to browse the latest issue.  They're on their 3rd issue now!

Click here to browse the debut issue.

If you are  a magazine junkie like me, you will like these two online design magazines I recently discovered.  Covet Garden and Ivy & Piper.  Every page will bring an inspiration to your home and will quickly arouse your creative side.  You would remember my other two favorite online mags which I posted here and here few weeks back.  I always end up browsing through them and each time I discover new ideas worth replicating.  Check it out and enjoy!

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Not just a Birthday but a Birthweek!

The first week of November is a busy week at Casa Insigne.  During this week, we celebrate (spills of) Halloween, All Souls Day, Raphael's and my birthday.  And this year is even busier with Raphael turning 10 and me 40!  Take a peek how our week went...

We drove to Anvaya during the long weekend to celebrate Raphael's and my birthday plus to take part in the Anvaya Western-themed Halloween Party.  It was so much fun!  Rapha was dressed like a native American Indian and he was one of the winners of the best in costume.  He was so happy and proud, as he prepared for this event weeks ahead!  Bianca dressed like Pocahontas, likewise enjoyed herself parading and getting treats around Anvaya.  Another highlight of the trip is the zip line and the open air movie night.  We watched Monster's House under the stars, amidst the cold breeze of Anvaya!  Kids can't get enough and came back the next night for Toy Story 3.

On Raphael's birthday, we had a family dinner at home.
  One of the two birthday cakes...

Make a prayer and wish birthday boy!

This needs concentration..I pray ...I wish...

For a Paper Jamz...

Yay!!!  Answered prayer!  

So there goes the first half of our week.  Second half later...
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