Category Archives: Decorating

Our Tiffany’s Inspired Christmas Tree

Tiffany's Christmas Tree

This is our third Christmas in England (read about last Christmas here) and third year we have gone with my Tiffany’s inspired Christmas tree.  I had used this once before back when we were living in Hawaii.  Sadly as a person of high mobility I know the experience of losing things through out the years as you move. We lost a whole box of our Christmas decorations somewhere from Hawaii to England. So much of what I have on the tree we have acquired since living in the UK.  With a smaller budget and less Christmas holiday resources (lets be honest the USA really goes big when it comes to any holiday) I have been able to keep up the theme.

Tiffanys Inspired Christmas Tree

Aside from some of the token blue ornaments that did arrive I also had a few of the plastic diamonds that I had bought at a chain craft store in the US.  It originally was a huge tub of these plastic clear diamonds in three different sizes with holes perfect for ornament hooks.  I also had my Tiffany’s boxes, pouches, and bags that I have also graced my tree with this year. For hanging up the original boxes I pierced the box with a hand sewing needle twice and then threaded through a piece of white thread to make a loop from which I could hang it like an ornament. The two inch wide ribbon you see on the top of the tree has wire on either side which makes it easy to curl.  I suggest either using the roll of wrapping paper or for a looser curl a one pint size beer can. The mask at the top was a prop I had used on a photo shoot in Hawaii which I have used to put a little bit of my years growing up in Italia into our holiday.

Tiffanys Inspired Christmas Tree Tiffanys Inspired Christmas Tree

We have bought the rest of our ornaments at various pound shops (think dollar store).  Pound shops are great places to find Christmas decorations!  We have three different types of garlands on our tree and I found a matching tinsel garland this year which is across our tree on our mirror.  The big foam snowflakes, the silver ornaments, the silver bell ornaments, and the silver gift tags (yes they work great as ornaments) also came from the pound shop.

Get Creative!  I wanted to really punch the theme so I found those little white boxes in a wedding section of the store that you would use for reception gifts for guests.  I put them together, taped them up, covered them in the blue coloured tissue paper, and added white ribbon to get little Tiffanys inspired boxes for the tree.  I put in the ornament hook at the corner of the box so that it hangs at an appealing angle on the tree.

Tiffanys Inspired Christmas Tree

Tiffanys Inspired Christmas Tree

Tiffany's Christmas Tree

Tiffany's Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree

Tiffany's Christmas Tree

Tiffany's Christmas Tree

We also have a small (near enough to) three foot tall tree.  It was our main tree our first year here in England before a client at the salon gave me her big tree before moving out of the country.  The boys are using this one as their ‘free for all’ decorating.  I grew up with a mum who did similar.  We had a main tree that was decorated to a colour scheme and a smaller one we could decorate with all the other ornaments you collect through the years as a child. It is a beloved tradition we have carried on with our family and my boys had fun decorating their tree last night. It included our egg blown ornaments we made this week as a family as seen on Amanda’s blog in Making Your Own Christmas Egg Ornaments.  I decorate mine with a map on the bottom half (a keepsake from Wales) and a night sky on top.  The boys and my husband use tissue paper to collage their eggs with glue and I ended up joining in and making one more too. It is a fun idea for making DIY ornaments at home.

Tiffanys Inspired Christmas TreeTiffanys Inspired Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree

This year my kids opted to not use the star or angel on the top but our golden snitch ornament that we made with my sister, their Zia Zoe, last Christmas.  Want your own Harry Potter Snitch for your tree? Find an ornament in a gold shade and grab some paper, scissors, and glue.  I picked up our ornament for not very much at a charity shop and had my sister make the wings for the boys.  It is our favourite (non blue/silver) ornament for sure! Anyone else have a Harry Potter inspired ornament on their tree? I would love to hear about it!
HP Snitch Ornament HP Snitch Ornament Q: If you put up a tree this year, what was your theme if you had one? Or tell me what your tree looks like! 


Looking for Travel Tuesday?  As it is Christmas Eve we have taken a week off to celebrate with family.  Check back next week on New Years Eve for the next edition of #TravelTuesday!

* Photography belongs to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved |


Room For Improvement £50 Challenge

DIY Map Art

I was asked to participate in the Room for Improvement challenge by MoneySupermarket.  I had the weekend to improve one room in my house with a mini makeover with a budget provided of £50.  I thought it was a great challenge to see what I could do on a small budget so that I could show my readers that its not just about money, but creativity and ingenuity.

The Room for Improvement: Living Room.  I chose this room as we spend a lot of time together in this room.  We work, read, play games, watch films, and do homework.

Previous Design Choices: Prior to this challenge we swapped out our three tall bookcases for just one and two of the 2 by 2 cube IKEA shelves from my sons’ room.  We flanked the one tall bookshelf by the fireplace and the put the two square shelves in the nook by the window.  Our newly acquired sofa (we went months without a proper place to sit) can only fit against the one wall.


  • Renting.  Since we do not own this property we can not do any painting of the walls, changing of the carpets or flooring, and limited by not being any new holes (ie by nails) into the walls.  
  • Wallpaper. Our walls are all wallpapered and as we are renting we are pretty much stuck with whatever colour and pattern that exists currently. 
  • Carpet. As we have to work around the carpet it limits me by its blue colour and its slightly busy pattern   It is quite old with what I can tell is set in chemical stains from previous tenants.  If we owned the place I would have replaced it already with wood flooring. 
  • Room layout.  There really is only so many places I can put the sofa and our tv stand given the dimensions of the walls and placements of the doors, the heater, window, fireplace, and window.  
Having never lived in one place for longer than three years at a time and sometimes for only a few months, I am quite accustomed to having to work with a new space. I am also used to being creative when it comes to redecorating and improving a room in a place that you rent.  Had we owned this property this would probably be a DIY of painting the walls, pulling up the carpet, and fixing the floor with reclaimed wood.  Since that is not the case I would like to share with you how you can improve your room with £50 or less.  As some of my room improvement tricks work well with what you already own.  Let me show you what the room looked like in the beginning.
T H E   B E F O R E   P H O T O S : 
Here you can see all my sons’ legos have taken over almost every surface in the room. We do live and play in this room quite a lot and it has become more of the lego room than anything else at this point.
A blanket thrown over the couch, mismatched toy tables for lego and another token IKEA chair. Not much of a vision really going on at this point. 
Here you can see signs of the birthday party a couple weeks past with the bunting and birthday cards. Oh did you see that in the corner? More legos in large containers hide up on the bottom shelf. 
1. Clear out what is unusable, not needed, outdated, and not working in the space.  This is the perfect time to pick up all the orphans from other rooms that have found their way into cluttering the space.  For me this was clearing up from a birthday party with the displayed decorations and birthday cards.  There were also a huge amount of my sons’ Legos out from the last two weeks worth of Lego builds.  

2. Search your house for furniture and items that may work well in the new space. 
Our coffee table was not purposeful for lego play and had been previously swapped out with smaller mismatched tables.  I decided to move those out and bring in the coffee table. I also brought in a small half circle glass table which has made its rounds through out my house and now has found a home in this space. I brought in a chair for reading that had been in another room.  

3. Move furniture around the room to give a more desirable affect of space.  While I would love to move the sofa it is perfect where it is now.  Our television stand had been cocked at an angle to round out a corner or the room and make it easier to view from the sofa.  However our XBox has since stopped working and since we do not get cable television, the telly has become more of a piece of wall art.  I decided to move the tv stand back into the wall until it was flushed against the side of the fireplace.  

4. Change or rotate items to give a different dimension to the space. We have a mirror that was hung horizontally above the fireplace.  It no long hangs from the hook and rests right on top of the mantel. Due to this we can see an unslightly nail. I decided to rotate the mirror so that it stand vertically and above the fireplace it gives a nice tall line.  This can also be achieved by hanging your curtains taller than the window and getting longer curtains that touch the floor for an elongating effect. Since we have book cases in the window nook this would not work with our space. 

5. Change out the light fixtures. We have one light fixture in our living room and was a blue shade that matched the carpets. It was nice enough but since the ceiling is white it became more of an eye sore up in the middle.  I replaced it with a matching white shade for better lighting and a more seamless look with the white ceiling. 

6. Use what you have. Working with the decor items you have on hand go through and fix the placement of items in the space.  Try a few different looks and if something does not look right, take it out of the room.  I reorganized our displayed photographs and added touches of horses to match the western flair.  I brought in travel items for decor, like a small globe, the eiffel tower, and pieces from our travels.  To fit the travel theme I also showcased a few travel books.  I have acquired a scarf that has the world map on it and have decided to repurpose it with shielding our tall bookshelf.  what I like about it is that it is slightly transparent so that you can see the books from behind it while still recognizing the continents and countries displayed on the fabric.  
7. DIY projects. With the ease of Pinterest there are so many DIY projects you can do at home to upgrade and improve your room.  I took three blank canvases and an outdated travel book from Hawaii to make pieces of wall art to hang on the blank wall behind our sofa.  I used big hearts for the two places on the island where we rented and where we owned a home. I cut out little hearts for meaningful places on the island like the hospital where my son was born, our favourite beach, and the base where my husband was stationed with the military.  It has provided us with simple and clean art on our wall that means so much to our family.  The added bonus was realizing afterwards how the colorization in the map blends well with the colour of the wallpaper. I was able to hang them up by using a wall friendly adhesive strip that work like velcro without making any holes in the wall.
8. Bring in new items.  As I was given £50 to spend on the room for improvement I went into town planning to only buy used items from charity shops. On top of finding great deals for previously owned items the money goes to charity.  However that did not go to play this time around.  I was planning on buying items I found, instead of going in with a plan of what I wanted and it can be a hit or miss at the charity shops.  With being on foot and having to carry everything home I changed my game plan after attempts in two shops.  A T.K.Maxx just opened in Bath, England and they have a pretty nice selection of home wares   Sure enough in about twenty minutes I was ready to check out after spending close to the £50.  
 T H E   A F T E R   P H O T O S : 

Also to note I used one of my fashion photographs from Hawaii under the glass table top and recovered the IKEA reading chair with our Thai bed spread and matching pillow we brought back from Thailand.

 I love the travel accents because it not only fits our family but becomes a great conversational starter.
 I do plan to eventually use the fabric over the couch to make additional couch pillows.  I found the fabric earlier on in the year at a farm shop in the vintage second hand section and fell in love with the pattern.

On top of the bookshelf is my Eiffel Tower figure, a ceramic paint painted with a scene of the Bay of Naples, where I grew up as a child, and a smaller globe that had previously been in my sons’ room when they had an Indiana Jones themed bedroom. 
 The photos on the shelf are mostly of my family during those silly western styled shoots.  The two that are not fit in with the theme.  One is my oldest at two months old when I dressed him up in his Build-A-Bear cowboy outfit and the other is of my dad, mum, and my husband when they got their photo with Woody at Disneyland.  My dad is in half of the photos and since he has passed away, they are my favourite ones to display.   There is also a hores shoe turned hook and the symbolic gift of a girl horseback riding my husband gave me as a place holder for a new riding helmet.

Though this little table will have to move when I need to dry laundry, we really wanted to make use of the wasted space the space heater takes up.  We decided to use the table that matches it in colour to keep it friendly to the eyes.  Would like to eventually get a table that half the normal table size in width to go over the space heater and give us a place to set our drinks and decanter. 
This is close up of the fabrics included in this room for improvement challenge.

What I Purchased:

A Globe. As we sort of had a few travel items already I chose a nice focus item to help solidfy the theme of the room.  It was £24 and at half my budget it was a risk I was willing to take after finding everything else I needed for such low prices.  I normally never would buy something like this for myself and it was lovely to be able to improve my room with such a great accent piece. 
Black Place Mat. This item that I found in the kitchen area has a faux leather appearance.  I liked that it matched the globe  and knew it would tie in well with other black pieces in the room. Since our coffee table has grid like holes in it, having a nice flat surface would be a great improvement when it came to having a place to set our drinks.  It was only £2.99.
Two glases and a Dish.  Setting out to find some texture and detail to put in the space I found these two glasses and matching dish.  I though this would be perfect for my husband and I who like to enjoy a drink together after the kids go to bed.  The dish would be perfect for a snack item, like the olives pictured in the after photos. Remember just because an item has one intended purpose, does not mean it can not be used for something else. This was true with these three items which were sold to be used in a bathroom. However they fit nicely in our living room and are pictured as vases here. 
Glass Container with metal stamped lid. I was originally looking for a large vase I could display items in. Something that I could easily interchange for seashells at summer or christmas bobbles in the winter.  I found this lovely piece for only £5.99 and decorated it with silk flowers I had in storage. 

White Paper Lantern. When I saw the price for this at a hardware shop, I could not leave without purchasing it.  It was a simple, easy, and cheap way to improve the room. I just wonder why I had not done this sooner. This cost £3.

The Breakdown:
Globe – £24.99
Glass Container – £5.99
Two Glasses – 7.98
Dish – £2.99
Placemat – £2.99
Light Fixture – £3.00
Total: £47.94 

After the room was all ready and the photos had been taken I called my husband in from outside.  He was improving our backgarden, where the grass has been growing like wildfire.  What better way to refresh from the hot sun then a nice glass of white wine and some olives to snack on too. 
So this was how I tackled the Room for Improvement Challenge in a rented house with just £50.  
Q: What do you think?  Any thoughts or suggestions?

Birthday Cake

Birthdays are always a great celebration and last week we got to celebrate one here at the house.  The boys’ grandfather had his 60 something birthday.  The boys love to be in the kitchen so we talked about making something special.  So on the big day the boys and I spent our science period making a very chocolate cake with coconut oil.  It was very yummy and super rich.  But a nice special treat for someone celebrating a big birthday.  The boys were excited to pick out cards and get balloons and presents.  It was a fun evening. 
The chocolate cake.
Ronan signing the card he picked out. 
Watching the cake come out with candles on it. 
The boys decorated pumpkins for a grocery store competition.  They made 3D affects for spookiness!
Ronan was all smiles in home education this week. 
Instagram: thebonnierose

Decorating Pumpkins and the Pork & Apple Festival

Can you believe it is now October and Halloween is just weeks away?  I know we cannot, even though we have been getting our decorating groove on.  I have included first pictures from the decorating process of our pumpkins and squash, an update from last week’s blog post of the Pumpkin patch.  We also spent the weekend in Clinton, IL for a Pork & Apple festival.  It was a beautiful sunny day out for the festival and we had a lot of fun eating pork, ham, and apples!  We also enjoyed a live rockabilly band, the Swamp Tigers, which I highly recommend.  We made rope, saw vintage farm equipment, and watched how different crafts are made.  All in all it has been a great week and perfect start to Fall! Enjoy the photos.

Our pumpkins and Squash for Halloween (L to R: Mummy/Vampire, Jack, Ooogie Boogie, and Boo)
The boys and I started by choosing our first ‘victim’ and taking their ‘Before’ shot.
My son, Maddox, made a Mummy Vampire with felt facial pieces and white crepe streamers for the bandages. 
My son, Ronan, loves Nintendo and wanted to make Boo. More importantly King Boo. Not pictured is his crown, which he is now wearing.  We started by priming him in white and then painting over with a pearly white paint so that his white teeth would stand out in the main white.  Of course Boo is sporting his tongue hanging out of his mouth.
We love Tim Burton at my house so it was only natural we do Ooogie Boogie with this great big Squash from the pumpkin patch. I started first by painting him in two coats of green.  I used various shades of green to outline in his limbs and for contouring after using black for his facial features.  I also gave him his seams, with one gapping seam that has bugs oozing out of him. The final touches were two dice, one in each hand. Now he really is a gambling man—er squash!
Last year we didn’t do pumpkins because we live in England and Halloween is not as big of a holiday as it is in the USA.  But the year before I made a Jack Pumpkin with a white pumpkin. He was great bug since we carved him, he did not last very long.  This year I got an off white pumpkin and added white paint first, then painted on his face with a quote from The Nightmare Before Christmas on the back. 
This is my Jack, from 2010, that I carved out of a white pumpkin for Halloween. 
Here is a final look at our main pumpkins and squash for this year. Looking good!
We have some smaller pumpkins and squashes left and here is one that I am working on now.  I took a few pages of my September Vogue magazine and used it to collage over it using Hodge Podge.  I do not feel it is finished yet, so I may update you with a final piece in an upcoming blog post for October. 
For our really small pumpkins and squashes I used this chrome spray paint to coat them.  I really liked the final look.  However I have also taken a few and used orange glitter to give them some varying accents.  I used an ‘A’ on one of them for a monogram of our surname. 
We went to Clinton, IL for the 44th annual Pork & Apple Festival for food, fun, and music. Maddox is pictured here making his own rope. 
Close up of the tools and simple machine needed to make a rope. 
Ronan and Maddox showing off their ropes at the Pork & Apple Festival in Clinton, IL
The Swamp Tigers
The Swamp Tigers
Vintage farm equipment and apples for sale. Of course we had to buy some to eat too. 
Showing how the corn is processed and vintage license plates on display inside the barn. 
How glass beads are made and a vintage washing machine.
Watching different tradesman in how they make their crafts of both wood and metal. 
Last but not least the boys have some fun before bedtime with their ‘parachuting man’.  See you next week!
Instagram: thebonnierose

Popart Superhero Birthday Party

Maddox as Batman for his 5th Birthday party at the bowling alley.  He chose the theme of Justice League and I tied in a little Pop Art to give it an added PUNCH! (No pun intended)
Older brother, Ronan, went as Green Lantern.
Batman & Green Lantern before the party commences. 
Batman, Superman, and Green Lantern. 
11 boys (plus two younger ones not pictured) all together.  England is not so big on dressing up for things. We had2 boys that were Justice League themed, one marvel superhero, one Indiana Jones (um, might have gotten confused from Ronan’s party invite back in January?),  one police officer, and four in plain street clothes.  I think in hindsight I should have just had Maddox dress up and made capes for all the other kids for better themed photo.  Or try it again in the USA. 
This was our party host who orchestrated the whole bowling party.  She was amazing.  Keeping 11 boys under the age of 9 in line while dealing with heavy bowling balls is not an easy feat. 
Maddox and boys lining up to start bowling. 
Maddox bowling at his birthday party. 
The birthday banner I made from Flash comics with Maddox’s name on it. We used it to decorate the party table. 
The party bags that I made with the Pop Art comic book theme. I bought a bag of confetti and glued each dot on, one at a time. 
The table center piece  with the pop art dots and an M (for Maddox) and a 5 (for his age) which I collaged in Flash and DC comics. 
Each boy got a photo frame/thank you card that I collaged individually in comics. 
Another look at the photo frame/thank you cards. 
Since the cake pops fell through, I decorated lollipops with masks and capes.  Using a two tier cake stand, I decorated it with the cup cake toppers I made. 
Another look at the center piece. 
Wonder Woman and Batman gift tags. 
I believe all the photo frame/thank you cards were Flash themed.  
Maddox telling his dad, Superman, how much fun he is having at his party. 
Holy Cupcakes Batman it is time for food! (Sadly with the cake pops not turning out, we ended up leaving the back up cake at home. So no singing at this party.  Thats okay because they don’t eat birthday cake at the kid parties in England. 
As the kids were getting ready to leave, we quickly rounded up a few of them for a very quick photo with the felt masks I sewed and put in each of the goodie bags.

Photography by Bonnie Rose © Bonnie Rose Photography 2012 All Rights Reserved. 

‘Fairy’ Cake Wars

The boys really love watching the television show Cupcake Wars.  So with it being a rainy wet day outside, we did our own version and called it Fairy cake wars.  (Cupcakes are called Fairy cakes in England) The boys really enjoyed decorating their cakes and they each made a special one for their daddy. 
Wondering what to do with the boys with it raining outside.

Fairy cake wars with my boys and these are my four decorated fairy cakes. 

The boys with their finished fairy cakes. 

Played fairy cake wars with my boys. These are mine with melted chocolate icing and decorations.

Christingle at Church

The Boys got to be a part of the Christingle at Church this Sunday.  Same church as the one for their school, but this time they got to choose their outfit.  Maddox really wanted to be a sheep and I found the most cute costume at Sainsbury’s that looked like a character from Wallas & Grommit.  Ronan had his heart set on being an Angel, once he knew that Angels could be boys.   I love that he is shy of 7 years old because he wore this beautiful vintage lace dress I own as part of his costume without saying a word. He looked so handsome and a perfect Angel.  Afterwards the boys helped make the candle holders for the special Christmas service.