Category Archives: Gifting

DIY Fall Accents That Wow!

Fill your home with fall to last all season with these quick and easy nature-inspired decorating ideas.

Color Blocking

Arrange branches of fall leaves by hue to establish a color-blocking effect. Place one color of leaves so they land on one side of the vase and another color so that they fall to the other side of the vase.

Luxe Pumpkins

Bring a little sparkle to natural fall decor. Coat light-color pumpkins with iridescent spray paint, and while the paint is wet, sprinkle iridescent glitter over the pumpkin.

Nut Wreath

Branch out from the standard round wreath and try a different shape on your front door. Hot-glue unshelled nuts to a picture frame, leaving a spot at the top for a ribbon. Wrap a coordinating ribbon around the top in a loop to create the wreath hanger.

Fall Display

Capture fall inside a bell jar set atop a shallow terra-cotta bulb dish. Line the dish with moss, add a few small gourds and branches of leaves, and top with a bell jar. You can also use a terrarium or even a glass cake cover to create this look. For added effect, arrange a few objects around the base of the dish.

Filled Up

Layering and incorporating various elements are key to an eye-catching fall display. To create this look, fill vases partway with nuts. Cut a piece of scrapbook paper to fit inside the vase and arrange shocks of wheat or other branches in the vase.

Go Wild

For an organic look straight out of nature, be a little eclectic in your fall display and arrangements. Gather a variety of flowers, stems, fillers, and twigs and arrange at random. Use a rustic or vintage-looking vessel, such as a galvanized bucket, to complete the look.

Creative Fall Vases

Turn gourds into interesting vases and display them on a mantel. Hollow out hard-shell gourds to create vases you can use again and again. Cut off the tops and clean out the insides, then fill with flowers. Dress them up by painting a border around the base. Pair the vases with exotic flowers for an unexpected twist.

Pumpkin Delight

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Get crafty with your extra pumpkins and embellish them with leaves for a colorful addition to your fall decorating. Or skip pumpkin carving altogether, and decorate your pumpkins with paper designs. Cut out leaves using colored paper that complements the hue of your pumpkin. Use decoupage to attach the paper to the pumpkins.

Miniature Design

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Enjoy the fleeting days of fall long after the final leaves have fallen and the ground has frozen with autumn-inspired terrariums. Fill glass apothecary jars with tiny gourds and plant life to create a mini ecosystem. Place the terrarium in a spot that gets natural sunlight. For the best results, remove gourds and plants from jars at the end of your gathering and add water.

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Today’s house design photos are those of Archival Designs‘ luxury mansion, Mayerilla.

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Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 to 14,814 sf, and Newport classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 sf.  Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs offered.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one could be just for you!

Decorating Ideas for Fall

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Today’s house plan photos are those of Archival DesignsLuxury House Plan, Monclay.

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Fall Elegance

Showcase miniature pumpkins in an elegant fashion with a bell jar or cloche. The pumpkins create the homey, fall look, but a sleek glass dome adds a touch of class and formality. Add colorful details around the dome, such as leaves, flowers, or other fall favorites, to complete the arrangement.

Autumn Bouquet

Rather than a bouquet of flowers, go for a bouquet of autumn leaves. The bright and ever-changing colors bring a burst of vibrance to the room. Plus, this look couldn’t be simpler. Snip some small branches off a tree in your yard, or for a longer-lasting look, purchase faux leaves at a local crafts store.

Modern Cornucopia

Expand beyond the traditional cornucopia with a more modern, colorful look. Use tulle netting as the cornucopia. Fold a square of the material to create a cone and secure with adhesive. Fill the cornucopia with produce like apples, pears, berries, nuts, and more. Complete the look by adding a thick ribbon around the arrangement and curling the ends.

Gourd and Pumpkin Lights

Jack-o-lanterns add a spark to your autumn-inspired decor, but this time, the faces and fancy carvings aren’t necessary. Simply cut a hole in the top of a pumpkin, scoop out the insides, and place a candle inside the cavity to create a warm fall light. Try different sizes of pumpkins and surround them with gourds and other pumpkins to complete the arrangement.

Seasonal Color Palette

Autumn is a season full of colors — but not just the reds, oranges, and yellows of the leaves. Deep colors, like purple, green, or navy work, as well. This palette of green and purple uses nature’s treasures to accentuate the colors. Arrange artichokes, heads of lettuce, and lotus pods in similar colored vases, or use dry split peas as a vase filler.

Enchanting Nature

Subtly add a little depth and shine to a traditional harvest wreath with metallic spray paint. Warm metallics such as gold, copper, and brass keep the fall look but add a bit of subtle glamour. Divide dried wheat into bunches, lightly mist them with the paint, and tuck them in layers into a wreath form.

Pumpkin on a Pedestal

Don’t put your empty planters away just because it’s fall. Turn a planter into a pedestal for a pumpkin to create a simple fall display outside.

Combo Arrangement

Creating a fall arrangement is as simple as getting the right materials and tossing them together. The combination fruits, pinecones, leaves, gourds, and more provides a variety of colors, shapes, and textures that instantly makes the arrangement look complete. Be sure to get an array of materials in a variety of textures to mix and match for the best arrangement.

Acorn Napkin Rings

Take a nature walk to gather acorns to make these napkin rings, perfect for a fall table setting. For each ring, drill tiny holes through the sides of nine or 10 acorns. Wire the acorns together, alternating the acorns top to bottom so they nestle together tightly. Twist the ends of the wire together and trim off the excess.

Harvest Corn

Tie a grouping of Indian corn ears together and hang from a cabinet door. Display jars filled with dried corn and seeds behind glass-front cabinet doors.

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Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 to 14,814 sf, and Newport classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 sf. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs offered.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one could be just for you!

History of Valentine’s Day

Saint Valentine’s Day, commonly known as Valentine’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is observed on February 14 each year. It is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it remains a working day in most of them.

St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. The most popular martyrology associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire; during his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. Legend states that before his execution he wrote “from your Valentine” as a farewell to her. Today, Saint Valentine’s Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates Saint Valentine’s Day, albeit on July 6th and July 30th, the former date in honor of the Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and the latter date in honor of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni).

The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines“). Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

In 1797, a British publisher issued The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, which contained scores of suggested sentimental verses for the young lover unable to compose his own. Printers had already begun producing a limited number of cards with verses and sketches, called “mechanical valentines,” and a reduction in postal rates in the next century ushered in the less personal but easier practice of mailing Valentines. That, in turn, made it possible for the first time to exchange cards anonymously, which is taken as the reason for the sudden appearance of racy verse in an era otherwise prudishly Victorian.

Paper Valentines became so popular in England in the early 19th century that they were assembled in factories. Fancy Valentines were made with real lace and ribbons, with paper lace introduced in the mid-19th century. The reinvention of Saint Valentine’s Day in the 1840s has been traced by Leigh Eric Schmidt. As a writer in Graham’s American Monthlyobserved in 1849, “Saint Valentine’s Day… is becoming, nay it has become, a national holyday.” In the United States, the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland (1828–1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts.

Her father operated a large book and stationery store, but Howland took her inspiration from an English Valentine she had received from a business associate of her father. Intrigued with the idea of making similar Valentines, Howland began her business by importing paper lace and floral decorations from England. The English practice of sending Valentine’s cards was established enough to feature as a plot device in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mr. Harrison’s Confessions(1851): “I burst in with my explanations: ‘”The valentine I know nothing about.” ‘”It is in your handwriting”, said he coldly. Since 2001, the Greeting Card Association has been giving an annual “Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary.”

Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. In the UK, just under half of the population spend money on their Valentines and around 1.3 billion pounds are spent yearly on cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts, with an estimated 25 million cards being sent. The mid-19th century Valentine’s Day trade was a harbinger of further commercialized holidays in the United States to follow.

In the second half of the 20th century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manner of gifts. Such gifts typically include roses and chocolates packed in a red satin, heart-shaped box. In the 1980s, the diamond industry began to promote Valentine’s Day as an occasion for giving jewelry.

The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately 190 million valentines are sent each year in the US. Half of those valentines are given to family members other than husband or wife, usually to children. When you include the valentine-exchange cards made in school activities the figure goes up to 1 billion, and teachers become the people receiving the most valentines.

The rise of Internet popularity at the turn of the millennium is creating new traditions. Millions of people use, every year, digital means of creating and sending Valentine’s Day greeting messages such as e-cards, love coupons or printable greeting cards. An estimated 15 million e-valentines were sent in 2010. Valentine’s Day is considered by some to be a Hallmark holiday due to its commercialization.

Today’s photos are those of Archival Designs’ Luxury House Plan, Brohamheart.

Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 14,814 sf.  Our Newport Classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 square feet.  Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world. Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer. Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one plan could be just for you!

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

With five days left for Christmas shopping, if  you haven’t finished your shopping yet, here are some ideas.

1. Your Time

I know that this really isn’t a “gift”, but if you still haven’t found that special gift for your parent, sibling, or significant other, plan an entire day with them. Get a nice card and put the itinerary in the card with what you’ll be doing that day such as going out to lunch, catching a movie, going to their favorite museum/attraction, and other fun stuff around town. If your best friends just had a baby, buy them a gift card to one of their favorite restaurants and give them a coupon for a free night of babysitting.

2. Sporting Event

This goes along the same lines as giving your time, but it works great for dads, husbands, or boyfriends. If you live in a big city or near a big city, find out if your NBA, NHL, or NFL team is playing in the next couple of weeks and get tickets for them to the game.

3. A Charitable Donation

If the person you are shopping for has it all or only wants items that are too far out of your price range, buy them a voucher give to one of their local charities. They’ll love the idea of giving back on the holidays and it will prompt them to give some of their own money. Most people want to give back to their community on the holidays but they don’t know where to start or they don’t have time to do it.

4. Their Favorite TV Series on DVD

Even though I do still buy certain DVD’s from time to time, I think it’s so silly to have a huge collection of DVD movies that you’ll never watch more than once or twice. However, I do like the idea of owning your favorite TV series, especially sitcoms, because the episodes are always funny no matter how many times you watch them. Whatever you do, don’t buy someone a bunch of random DVD’s from the bargain bin! That’s not a good last minute gift!

5. Pictures Done Right

If you have a really good photo of you and that person still on your list, blow it up to a 4″ x 6″ and get a nice frame with white matting to put in it. Pictures never get old, and you can guarantee that he or she will display it somewhere in their house.

Of course, you could always get them a house plan coupon from Archival Designs. Today’s photos are those of our “Little Stonepond”,  SALEM. JoAnne Loftus is a very generous soul, and this time of year you could get a good deal!  So happy shopping, if you still have shopping to do, and I’ll see you back here on Christmas Eve.

Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 14,814 sf.  Our Newport classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 square feet.  Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one plan could be just for you!