wrestling over wreaths: fresh, DIY or etsy?

We haven’t even consumed all of our Thanksgiving leftovers, and I’m already feeling like we’re behind in our holiday decorating. I think the first order of business is to find a wreath for our front door (which happens to be pale blue, fyi). I’m torn between buying a fresh one — there are a ton at Home Depot — or going a more crafty route. Someday, I’ll make my own wreath — I’ve seen a ton of great how-tos online — but this year I’m short on time. Etsy is calling my name.

Here are some that have caught my eye.
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Maine wreath, $60. Covered in moss with a tiny moose. Reminds me of our summer vacation.

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This is the one our nearly-4-year old wants. Quelle surprise. It’s made of peppermint sticks and lollipops. $70

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Modern Felt Mistletoe, $80, is elegant.

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Fresh Eucalyptus and noble, would look great on door. Would it smell nice? For $90, I’d hope so.

Do you have a wreath on your door? Any advice when buying a fresh one? Or hanging a crafty number? — Angela M.

test drive: singer heavy duty sewing machine

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I learned how to sew on a Singer when I was seven or eight. Not just any Singer though — a before there was electricity Singer treadle machine — that my mother wisely purchased, thinking that I was too impatient for her Bernina. (She was right, of course, but that’s a whole other post.) When I finally graduated to sewing on her Bernina, I was forever spoiled. So spoiled, that until last month, I never purchased my own sewing machine, fearing that a cheap machine would just be more trouble than it was worth. With Halloween looming and my grandmother’s old machine (not that old, this one is electric) wheezing and snapping threads every couple of inches or so, I decided to look for an interim machine. (I still have my grandmother’s but repair will be slow and costly). Enter the Singer 4423 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine. Listed for $132 on Amazon, it boasted a speed of 1,100 stitches a minute. Perfect for the impatient sewer. After sewing two vampire dresses out of slippery, shiny material and making various minor repairs on pillows, curtains and such, I’m sold. The stitch range is basic. No fancy embroidery package. And it’s not the sexiest thing ever but oh is it fast. The one annoyance? The release lever for the foot that I kept knocking into the first day, causing the foot to fall off. But for the intermittent or beginner sewer, it’ll do everything you ask of it and will handle glittery polyesters and satins with the greatest of ease. Although with any luck, I won’t have to deal with any of those until this time next year. — Sarah L.

post off: what’s your costume plan for halloween?

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Have we told how excited we are for Halloween this year? Our three-old daughter is combating the princess storm by dressing as the ONLY female Disney character with a job: Mary Poppins! It’s all about the accessories: hat, umbrella, carpet bag. Not easy, but the payoff will be worth it. Her dad and I will dress as obligatory chimney sweeps and allow her to steal the spotlight. After showing off our duds in the neighborhood parade, we’ll lure trick-or-treaters into a makeshift porchside photo studio to capture their portraits. Last year, Batman fell into our lair. Can’t wait to see who will stumble by this year. What will you be dressed as? — Angela M.

Photo by Chad Hunt

More Halloween costume posts:

What was your favorite costume, ever?

What was your best homemade costume?

halloween crafts! a pricey d.i.y wreath + free (almost) window decals

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When I saw the glowing eyeball wreath in this month’s “Country Living,” my heart skipped a beat. Then I did the math — eight dozen glowing eye balls at $7.99/dozen — and my heart did something else. Since I made Martha’s slithering wreath last year, I couldn’t justify the cost of making a new one, but I did file away the idea. Luckily, there were a lot of other great ideas, including creepy crow window decals, in this month’s Country Living. You can download the illustrations free from the magazine’s site. Then all you need is an inkjet printer and window decal sheets. I found them on Amazon for $7.49/pack. There are three sheets included, so I flipped the image horizontally after I printed the first two sheets. Total cost? Eighty-three cents a decal. Unfortunately, making the decals was a lot easier than getting a decent picture. You’ll find better images on the magazine’s website, along with a lot more fun ideas. — Sarah L.

help! suggestions for a shag rug alternative?

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Our cheap Ikea shag rug met its demise a few weeks ago (the tale is too sad to share, but lets just say it involved an incredibly sick kitty), and I am determined to replace it before the weather gets a chill a in the air. Perhaps it’s time for an upgrade and something a little different. Shag rugs seem so…. 2004. I’d love to find an alternative, but one that is still soft under the feet and relatively easy to clean up spills. There are a couple at West Elm I am eying (the pebble rug or the sweater rug) but I’d like to visit them in person before ordering. Why don’t catalogs offer rug swatches? Does anyone else have suggestions? Remember we have a toddler in the house and — shhhh — there’s talk of a puppy in our future. Thanks for your help! — Angela M.