Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve plan!

It's New Year's Eve today, do you have any plans? As for me, I will be making a steamboat/ hot pot* dinner for our family of three to celebrate the new year!

Whether it is watching the fireworks or attending a new year party, I hope you have lots of fun ushering into the new year! Thank you for sticking around and following my blog, my fabulous readers! Let me know what your New Year's Eve plans are in the comment box below.

Happy New Year's Eve, my lovelies!

*Steamboat/ hot pot is similar to a fondue. A large pot is filled with boiling broth and raw meats and vegetables. Each person can cook whatever they choose in the broth. Meats and vegetables are usually dipped in various sauces (usually store bought sauces or homemade sauces).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Guest post- Creating a holiday-themed garden!

This post is brought to you by Sam Peters.

The holiday season is the one time of year that nearly everyone ‘gets into’ the idea of decorating. However, not everyone likes to stick with the expected and traditional ways of decorating. Some people like to experiment with new things, they enjoy being unique. A holiday-themed garden can be an out-of-the-ordinary way to indulge in both, traditional and non-traditional holiday fun.

Choosing the Spot

A holiday garden doesn’t have to be in the garden. That is, a deck, patio, or even a covered porch or carport can be turned into a holiday-themed garden. Of course, if you happen to have a beautiful evergreen tree in your yard, you may want to build the holiday garden around that.

The idea is to choose a spot that allows you to create your own version of a holiday garden. This might mean creating a winter wonderland or your personal idea of what Christmas should look like. The more creative you are with your ideas, the more unique your holiday garden will be.

Wherever you decide to create the garden, you should include a mix of both traditional and nontraditional elements. But keep in mind, you should do things your own way. For example, you could use an old door to create an ‘entryway’ to your open-air garden. The door can be propped against a tree or a fence or other stable outdoor item. Live wreaths hung on the door will add to the whimsical touch.

In fact, you could turn a typical wreath into a birth-feeding station. Making pine cone birdfeeders is easy. Just cover a few pine cones with peanut butter and roll them in bird seed. You can use holiday ribbon to tie the pine cones to the bottom of your wreaths. Allowing these to hang at various lengths will create an elegant look and you will soon have lots of feathered guests pecking at your door.

From the Ground Up

You can create flooring for your holiday garden in a variety of ways. Since a snow machine can be quite expensive you may want to improvise a snow covered ground effect. Just spread quilt batting over the area. From a distance this will look like real snow. Snowmen can be created out of large Styrofoam balls.

Decorative Touches

Garland can be hung along fences and railings. Outdoor trees can be decorated just like indoor Christmas trees. However, you should keep in mind that these decorations will be exposed to the weather. With that in mind you may want to choose only heavier decorations or those that can be tied onto the tree with wire. Handmade holiday decorations are perfect for a holiday garden.

Plants are an easy way to create a great holiday garden. You can use real plants or artificial ones. Christmas cactus and poinsettias are traditional holiday plants. But you don’t have to stop with traditional plants. Even palm trees and grapevines can be decorated with holiday-inspired adornments.

Creating a holiday-themed garden is a wonderful way to express yourself. Each year you can add new ideas to the best ones from the past. You may just find that celebrating the holidays outdoors is more fun than being inside.

Disclaimer: I have received compensation in return for publishing this article.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Guest post- Top garden DIY projects!

This post is brought to you by Edel Flood.

If you fancy trying out a little DIY, the garden is a great place to start - not least because you do not run the risk of damaging the inside of your house if things do not quite go to plan! But where should you begin? I have put together a quick list of what I think some of the most interesting and useful projects are.

Repair work

Before you get started building weird and wonderful garden furniture, it is worth starting with something a little lighter - especially if you are new to DIY. If you own a low-cost garden shed, this is a pretty good place to begin.

Sheds are such useful spaces, but nine times of ten we let them become filled up with junk and as a result, fall out of use. If that sounds familiar, it is time to reclaim your shed!

First things first, empty it completely (yes, this is necessary). Throw out anything you have not used for a few years or that has seen better days and really can not be salvaged. Next, dust and sweep the shed, checking for any potential problem areas, like damp, rot or evidence of vermin.

Do not forget to look out for roofing issues too. If you spot any damaged felt, strip it off and replace it as soon as you can. Once you have dealt with any issues you have found, you can start putting things back in - just remember to invest in some decent storage solutions so it does not get in the same state again!

Compost bins

These days, growing your own fruits and vegetables is becoming more popular, so I thought I would include a few projects that will help you improve your garden. The first of project is making a compost bin. You can fashion one of these out of four standard wooden pallets, with three making the walls and one acting as a gate, so you can easily add waste and remove your compost.

Before you start, clear your chosen spot and, if the ground is not level, even it out. The first pallet should be stood on its long edge to act as a back, and be fixed into the ground with stakes (aim to drive these around 30 cm deep). The next two pallets should be positioned at right angles to this one, making the sides of the bin. Fix these in place with both stakes and wire for stability.

Lastly, simply wire the final pallet to the right side of the bin and voila! This will act as a door and completes your project.

Raised vegetable beds

Continuing the grow-your-own theme, I have chosen raised vegetable beds as my last top DIY project. One of the simplest ways to make these is to buy and interlock four scaffolding boards.

First of all, if there is any metal banding at the edges (there most likely will be) you need to grab some pliers and remove this. Then, you need to cut the boards to size. Current wisdom says beds should not be any bigger than 2.3 m x 1.6 m, since larger ones become a bit difficult to tend.

Disclaimer: I have received compensation in return for publishing this article.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Guest post- Clear some space!

This post is brought to you by Sam Peters.

Once or twice a year, it is good to do a thorough cleaning and clearing of the home. The best time for you to do this may vary. Many like to clear up space in the house right before the holidays, in the early spring or after a garage sale. Careful planning makes the process go more smoothly and more quickly. Collect supplies, such as boxes, plastic storage bins, adhesive tape, moving containers, and labels or felt tip markers in advance.

The Interior

It is easiest to clear the home room by room; that way, if you are not finished by the end of the day, only one room will be messy, rather than the whole house. If you have several people living in your home, each could be responsible for one room or one could be responsible for packing up items and the other could be responsible for cleaning the room afterward.

Label one box as “trash” or purchase a small trash bin for items that you are going to throw away. Label another box as “charity” for items that you may donate to a charity or to friends. Label other boxes or plastic bins according to their contents – for example, “winter clothing,” “holiday decorations,” or “magazines.”

Go through all drawers, shelves and closets in the room first. When you find items that you have not used for over a year, ask yourself if you really need to hold onto it. Heirloom items, such as your grandmother’s jewelry, can be placed in a safe or a safety deposit box. Old mobile phones, a costume bracelet no one wears and many other items can be donated or recycled in other ways.

After you have tackled the small items, take a good look at the larger things, such as exercise equipment, old tools, old coats, and old toys. Consider selling or donating anything that you feel you can part with. Many people have items just collecting dust around the home. Keep items that have sentimental value or that you are sure you will use, and get rid of the rest.

If you are clearing the house in preparation for a move, get an early start. You can use moving containers and pack your household items in those as you go.

The Exterior

Keeping the landscape clear and neat makes you a better neighbor and prevents mice, snakes and other small animals from moving into the yard. If you are a gardener, keeping your garden area tidy is important for pest control and disease control. Garden pests prefer to inhabit areas where there is plant debris and other material to hide beneath. Plant diseases can proliferate wherever there is rotting organic matter.

Mow the yard and prune back all trees and bushes at this time, before you start clearing up debris, so that you do not have to double back.

Have a rake, a wheelbarrow, a shovel and a garbage bin handy in the area. For scooping up dry leaves and plant debris, a wide plastic snow shovel works well. Do a small area at a time so that it doe not feel overwhelming.

Disclaimer: I have received compensation in return for publishing this article.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

And the winners of the giveaway are ..........

I am excited to announce the winners of the recent giveaway brought to you by Nicole White Designs.

I used to draw the winners and here they are! The two lucky winners who will be receiving an item of their choice ($80 and under) from Nicole White Designs online store are

Rachael Hardison


Mary Beth Hamilton.

Congratulations to the lucky winners! I will contact both of you soon. Thanks to everyone who entered this giveaway. There will be more fantastic giveaways coming your way, so don't forget to check back regularly! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, everyone!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Guest post- How to achieve a period look in your home!

This post is brought to you by Edel Flood.

If you are not a fan of the modern minimalist look, it is well worth considering taking your interior design scheme in a wholly different direction. Should you fancy create a really homely, cozy space, turning to looks of the past can really give you some inspiration. To help you get started, I have put together a few tips on how best to achieve a period look in your home.

Pick a theme

First things first, you should try to pick an overall theme for your property, such as a particular period you like the look of. A Victorian style, for example, is good if you want to have a fairly ornate finish, while those hoping for something a little bit simpler and more practical-looking might prefer to opt for Georgian.

Choosing a broad theme like this means you can achieve a more coherent look, but remember you do not need to be overly prescriptive about this. Yes, do decide on an overall style, but feel free to include bits and bobs from different time periods, as well as add your own twist. This helps the room look as if it is developed naturally over time.

When adding small features like this, remember to keep them small - you do not want a large, modern bookcase, for example, in a room with a period dining table, because the styles would end up fighting with each other.

Choose the right accessories

Not all of us have the time, money or inclination to re-do the house from top to bottom. So, if you want to add a little period style without spending thousands - or weekend after weekend redecorating - you can just pick out some key accessories.

Wood - and polished mahogany in particular - is one of the defining features of period designs. And because it is so durable and practical, it's a great place to start.

Fortunately, there are lots of options when it comes to solid mahogany furnishings - and by that I mean you can find items for pretty much every room in the house. This is good news, because it gives you the freedom to create a more unified look throughout the home.

Of course, what you buy will depend on which period you have opted for and which rooms you are decorating, but let's look at the living room as an example. Mahogany coffee tables are a useful small accessory, while wood-framed mirrors, open bookcases and traditional chairs can all help create the right atmosphere.

Another thing to remember is that lamps were often used a lot in period properties, so maybe pick up a few to sit on any mahogany tables you buy.

Reproduction or antique?

Whenever you are making changes to your house, price is always going to be a key concern - especially when you consider how easy it is for budgets to go out the window. When creating a period look, the temptation is to go for antiques. If you are able to spend a large amount, this can be great, but there is also a lot to be said for reproduction furniture - and not just that it can save you money.

It is also often in better condition, which gives your home a more polished look, while you can also request customised pieces to fit the space you have - or any particular design quirks you have in mind.

Play with colour

As a final note, do not be afraid to play with colour. This is a really simple way to add your own personal touch to a period-style space, as well as achieving a blend of classic and modern. So, let your creative flair run wild!

If you have any handy tips on simple ways to add some period style to your home, leave us a comment and let us know!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Giveaway- Win an item of your choice ($80 and under) provided by Nicole White Designs store!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Today, I have an amazing giveaway for you, thanks to my lovely sponsor, Nicole White Designs.

Nicole White is the President/CEO of Nicole White Designs - Interiors/Events, a full-service boutique interior design and event planning company, dedicated to transforming the spaces and lives of clients. Recently, she started her own online store offering stylish furnishings and home decor to the public. In her store, you will find thousands of beautiful, unique and sophisticated home furnishings from furniture to rugs in a variety of styles and budgets. 

Nicole has decided to give away two items from her online store to two lucky winners! Yes, you heard right, there will be two winners in this giveaway. Each winner can pick anything (any one item) valued at $80 and under from her store. How fabulous is that? 

Below are some of the fantastic products (valued at $80 and under) that you can get from her store!

To enter:

You must be a resident of the United States and follow these 3 simple steps:

1 - Be a follower of Mix And Chic via Google Friend Connect.

   -Be a follower of Nicole White's blog via Google Friend Connect.  

   -'Like Nicole White Designs' on Facebook.

Leave ONE comment below letting me know you have done all the three steps above. 

For additional entries (an extra entry for each of the following) (optional):

2. 'Like' Mix And Chic on Facebook and leave a separate comment. (If you are already following, please leave a separate comment to let me know as well.)

3. 'Follow' Nicole White Designs on Twitter and leave a separate comment.

4. 'Follow' Mix And Chic on Twitter and leave a separate comment. (If you are already following, please leave a separate comment to let me know as well.)

5. 'Follow' Nicole White on Pinterest and leave a separate comment.

6. 'Follow' Mix And Chic on Pinterest and leave a separate comment. (If you are already following, please leave a separate comment to let me know as well.)

7. 'Follow' Nicole White Designs Inc on Houzz and leave a separate comment. 

8. Mention this giveaway on your Facebook status (include a link back to this post and leave a separate comment.)

9. Tweet about this giveaway (include a link back to this post and leave a separate comment.)

10. Bonus question: Let me know what item would you pick if you win this giveaway. Please include the link to the item and leave a separate comment.

The last day for entries is November 21, 2012. The winners will be chosen by and announced on Thursday, November 22, 2012. Good luck, everyone! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Guest post- Hiring An Interior Designer Versus DIY!

This article is brought to you by Karen Landsky.

The excitement of renovating a room or entire living space is undeniable. Perhaps you have a vision in your head for what you want your home to look like, but you are not sure how to bring this vision to life. Perhaps you know you want the space to look different, but you are not sure what your options are or how best to begin.

Many aspiring do-it-yourselfers often adopt an attitude of “how hard could it be!” and launch in, unaware, until they get past the first layer of primer that the answer is “…much harder than it looks.” Of course, there are components that must be factored in to deciding whether to do a project yourself or hire the experts – and there is also a happy medium that can often be reached in the presence of budget, time or availability constraints. The key to a successful home renovation lies in the planning phase. Whether you are planning to simply update your bathroom vanities and change the paint color, or you want to completely flip your home, learn how to decide whether to hire an interior designer or take the project on yourself.

Setting The Budget

The initial part of the planning phase must revolve around your budget. It is great to have big dreams and a concrete vision for what your new space could look like, but your budget is what truly determines the scope. Even if you have aspirations to conduct a do-it-yourself project, this is when you may want to consider hiring an interior designer as a consultant for the budgeting and planning phase. Often, you can get a professional to come in and consult with a flat hourly fee, and they can help you to assess what materials,as well as what the time value of your labor will cost you, per  piece of the project. If you plan to do the project yourself, you can also use the consulting fee time to pick the designer’s brain for ideas and use their expertise to help you foresee trouble spots up ahead. For instance, a designer may let you know about websites where you can find great deals on fixtures and furnishings at lower prices than what you would pay in a retail store environment.

Starting Your Project

Once your budget is set, you will have more control over how and how quickly your project progresses. If you are considering a do-it-yourself approach, this is where you should select one small piece of the project – maybe redoing your vanities and retiling the floor – to get your feet wet, so to speak, and see how you like it,in addition to how easy you find it to be. By taking on one small contained part of the project, if you discover in the midst of your efforts that it is harder than you originally thought it would be, or it is taking more time than you have, you haven’t ripped apart your whole house yet and you can still call in the pros to help.

Be Flexible

If you have done a remodel or redesign project in the past, you may come into the job with some expertise and information under your belt. But for the first time do-it-yourselfer, there is no substitute for giving it a try to know whether this approach is for you. The best approach is to simply be flexible. Be willing to keep some parts of the project for yourself, such as shopping for fixtures and installing the easier ones yourself, and then outsource other more complicated parts – such as electrical rewiring and plumbing renovations – to professionals. Usually, the best tactic to a home redesign is to split up the job, as your budget permits, doing the renovations, piece by piece, to be sure that each room gets done to your total satisfaction. Remember, this is your home and you both want, and deserve, to enjoy your beautiful new residence!

About the Author:  Karen Landsky is a California-based professional interior designer. She enjoys blogging, speaking and consulting for others who dream of a fresh new look for their home space. She suggests using to her clients. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A product review- NOVICA!

I was absolutely thrilled when I was contacted by NOVICA to do a product review recently. Having seen several of their reviews and giveaways around the blogosphere, I am quite familiar with their amazing and unique handcrafted products!

In case you have not heard about it, NOVICA is one of the leading fair trade artisan websites, working with National Geographic to give talented artisans around the world a place to express their artistic talents and provide access to the world market. You will find thousands of top fair trade corporate gifts, accessories, jewelry, apparel and home decor items on their website.

With a generous gift certificate from NOVICA, I started shopping for my favorite items for this review. Frankly, I was quite undecided with what to purchase given that they are so many beautiful items on their website. After much consideration, I picked a pretty cotton blouse and a stylish leather bracelet.

I was immediately drawn to this lovely cotton blouse for its vibrant colors and gorgeous hand embroidered details. 

The color palette on the floral embroidery is well chosen and provides a wonderful contrast to the blouse.

Check out the different color options!

This was the trendy dark brown leather bracelet I picked. I love that it is adjustable and it fits around my small wrist perfectly.

The leather bracelet comes with this charming gift box.

Overall, I am pleased with both products from NOVICA. Both products are well made and the workmanship is impeccable. The 'Tangerine Floral' cotton blouse is beautifully sewn, lightweight and the cut is flattering for all body types. The 'Double Wrap Brown' leather wristband bracelet is made of rich dark brown leather, has a modern minimalist design and looks stylish.

*I received this product to review for free but the views and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Check out other fabulous products from NOVICA!

Check out other featured Novica items below: 

Currently, NOVICA has a new program where consultants can host at-home parties that both support artisans worldwide and allow them to earn credits toward products. If you are interested in this program, please visit the FAQ page for more information. 

Do you love NOVICA products as much as I do? Which product are you most drawn to and why?