Welcoming Winter

Baby It's Cold Outside!
Well here is that cooler weather we have been hoping for! It is chilly interspersed with days that are downright frigid! These are the days that it feels so good to light a fire, bake some cookies, and have a cup of hot tea, just get cozy. The winter months here in Georgia are thankfully not too awful, but they do make you want to snuggle up, read a good book, and watch the weather from inside! In the warmer months we are all about making our homes look and feel cooler- we pare down, use more whites in our accessories, and keep the iced tea handy. But now that December is upon us, let's spend a bit of time visually warming up our homes, especially the kitchen, the heart of the home.

First, add a few plants.  You have probably already brought your potted plants in, so make sure the pots are clean and attractive (and bug-free) and group them in the corner, near a window, or on the countertops if you have some tospare. Or go plant shopping.  Herbs work beautifully in these groupings. Be careful to keep any plants that may be dangerous to animals safely out of their reach--some common ones to avoid are Dieffenbachia, Kalanchoe, and Cyclamen. Also, as the holidays approach, keep those beautiful Amaryllis and Poinsettias away from animals.  Plants lower our stress, improve our concentration, and clean our air, as well as making our environments prettier!

To keep those plants (and you) healthier and happier, be sure you are letting in plenty of natural light. We all know that a lack of sunshine can result in a real syndrome for humans--the less sunlight we see in the winter months, the more likely we are to develop Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In researching this, I learned that the lack of sunshine and Vitamin D can result in the increased risk of heart disease, prostate and breast cancer, and even dementia! So, open up those blinds and drapes, and let the sun shine in! You may also want to look into new window treatments from Hunter Douglas ---many styles are dual purpose:  very sheer when open, dark and insulating when closed. More light during the daytime will make you and your plants healthier, and your home will look much more welcoming, cheerful, and happy.

While you are opening those blinds, be sure the view is beautiful. If it isn't, get out there now and change it-- move those trashcans, plant some pansies, trim those overgrown bushes, now before the weather forbids that kind of outdoor activity.

Decorate the kitchen in a warm and cozy way. Some of the components I love to use are copper pots, old "tea towels" and throw rugs on the floor. Well-worn is even better! My favorite thing in the kitchen, though, is to have a lamp. Glowing in the night, or on a dismal day, it just automatically makes the kitchen warmer and more welcoming. If you can find an old one with some character, and fix it up with a fresh shade, so much the better. I have old fingertip linen towels that my great grandmother monogrammed. I kept them for years in a drawer, "saving" them, and then I thought, "they're not doing anybody any good in a drawer" and so I brought them to the kitchen, and I use them and I love them, and they remind me of my precious "Big Mama" who was all of 4 foot 10 inches! Have an old mixing bowl that belonged to an ancestor? Bring it out and fill it with fruit! Or even your great grandad's old boots? Stand them in the corner- I promise you will think of him every time you see them!

Another effect I love in the kitchen is to make the two chairs we use all the time different than the others. They are upholstered instead of plain wood, and they don't even match! But they are ours, and so comfy!

Wood components are good to use to warm up the look in a kitchen: an old cutting board, pretty salad bowls, or a jug full of wooden utensils can add to this. Lately, we have installed several wood or wood-look walls in kitchens and breakfast rooms. They do a lot to change the whole look of the room. We are carrying a new product especially designed to go on the walls, called Vercade. Come in and see it!

Of course, there is always paint, but painting for the seasons may be a little drastic! But you can try painting one accent wall a new fun color. Or if you have bookshelves in the kitchen, hang some removable wallpaper on the back walls as an accent!

Finally, nothing enhances a kitchen like the wonderful aromaof something delicious in the oven or on the stove! Pies, cookies, a rich stew, are all inviting and comforting. You don't have to be a great cook to know this, or to make it happen- pick something up that is prepped, and take it from there. YUM!

Speaking of yummy, we had a Chili Cook Off here in the store recently, with 8 entrants! We had so much fun, and gave away some great raffle prizes! If you missed it, well, too bad, maybe next year. In the meantime, we are publishing the Award-Winning Recipe that won First Place in our contest:

Jere's Chili
1 ½ lb. ground chuck3 (15 oz) cans of tomato sauce1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes1 package of McCormick's Chili Seasoning Mix (Hot)1 (27 oz) can of Bush's Chili BeansSalt, pepper, garlic and onion powder to taste

Brown hamburger, drain and add all ingredients. Simmer several hours in a crock pot or on the stove.Enjoy!

Better Safe Than Sorry
I want to talk a little about keeping your home safe as well as cozy this winter. If you are travelling, follow all those tips you've been hearing for years: have someone pick up your mail and newspapers, leave your animals at home and have someone come in to feed and exercise them, leaving on assorted lamps and lights each time they visit. If there's a car in the driveway, ask them to move it from time to time. Be sure that motion activated lights outside are working properly. Notify your security company and your credit card company that you will be travelling.  And lastly, I know it's fun to post great pictures of your trip on social media, but DON'T. At least not until you have returned home. Travel knowing that you, your pets, and your home are safe.

Stay safe, warm, and cozy this winter. If you make chili, or follow any of our decorating ideas, we'd love to see and hear about it.  Post your pics on Facebook or Instagram and tag us so that we can admire your creativity!

How Much Does It Cost?
Shiplap---what is it and how did it become so popular? Simply put, shiplap is wide wood planks installed on the wall horizontally, slightly overlapped, and painted white.  Shiplap became all the rage thanks to HGTV's "Fixer Upper," a home design show hosted by Chip and Joanna Gaines. The Texas-based couple have used it in many of the homes they renovated, and the look caught on from there. Shiplap adds subtle texture to walls without going overboard, giving a clean-but-not-boring backdrop to a room. And this simplicity makes shiplap versatile and able to complement a number of styles:  coastal, shabby chic, farmhouse, modern, and industrial. We do install shiplap for our clients; the cost ranges from around $800 to $1200 per wall.

I Was FLOORED By Enhance
Elsa in Marietta shared this review:  "Had carpet installed by Enhance the week before Thanksgiving. We had almost the whole first floor done and they completed the job in one day. We also bought the carpet from Enhance and we love it plus carpet and installation was a great price. Hardworking crew, careful and respectful especially of our newly painted walls. Would recommend to anyone and will use them again."Thank you Elsa---enjoy the holidays (and your new carpet!) with your family.  We sincerely appreciate your patronage.