Home Sweet Home: Celebrating With a Garden Party

July 1st, 2015

IMG_6648By Cathy Osoria

Summer is all about soaking up the sun outdoors while creating fun memories with family and friends. This year makes a get together extra special by choosing a party theme and running with it. Garden party is a colorful, fun creative theme that all ages can enjoy.

  • It can be used for a baby shower with the invitation saying: Welcome BEE-utiful baby (using more bees than butterflies in the decorations).
  • It’s perfect for a  bridal shower, mother’s day, lady’s birthday or even tweaked a bit to focus more on vegetables and grilling for men.
  • A whimsical garden party (using gummy worms and crushed oreos for dirt) can be fun and creative for a children’s birthday party or graduation.
  • Using crystal stemware and china, this can be transformed to a dressier ladies’ luncheon. It does not matter if the gathering is formal or informal. There are plenty of adorable ready-made invitations that pair with a garden theme.

IMG_6688 - CopyTo begin decorating for this garden party, think large.  It is better to have fewer larger decorations that make a dramatic statement for guests than lots of little things that seem cluttered and jumbled. The main centerpiece can be a colorful, blooming pot plant. Inexpensive flowering plants are a great way to stretch your decorating budget and can be enjoyed  long after the party has ended.

Painted clay pots or watering cans in bright colors with multicolored blooming flowers can be scattered on the tables and throughout the party space. These potted flowers or herbs also make great party favors.

Serving utensils can be actual potting tools.  Salad can be served with potting rakes and a trowel can be utilized as a large pie server or spoon.  Clay pots in various sizes  lined  with wax paper are great for serving food or sorting the forks, knives and  spoons. A wheel barrel makes a great drink server. Just add ice and waters or sodas and roll outside to make another drink station.

IMG_6606Simple white cafe lights strung in the trees work to create either a casual or dressy setting. Sheet moss is sold at craft stores in flat rolls and can be cut into shapes and used for table runners, placemats, trivets for hot food or to keep the drink tub sweat contained.

Cupcakes, cookies or cake balls can be created to resemble flowers, bees or bugs. Craft stores also sell packages of realistic looking butterflies and bees.

photoUsing removable glue dots, those insects can be placed all around the party area, on cabinets or chairs or on serving dishes. Lay brown craft paper across a table with chalk for a casual look, giving guests a creative outlet for writing and drawing that cleans up fast and easy. Sheet moss can be hot glued to a flat large piece of plywood or thick foam core and flowers added to create a photo backdrop for guests to take memorable  pictures. All the photo props can be garden related — watering can, frame covered in flowers, gardening hat or large bugs or butterflies.

In a cute basket, be sure to  put sunscreen and insect spray for guests if insects or sun is a party issue. Be creative and have fun decorating. Guests will appreciate all the extra effort that was taken to make the party so special.

Home Sweet Home: What is trending in 2015

January 5th, 2015

sinkDECORATING CAN BE DAUNTING. With so many options available and so many decisions to make, it is almost impossible not to feel overwhelmed.

By Cathy Osoria

De-cluttering and simplifying are good places to start. Getting rid of home accessory hand me downs and worn out furniture can breathe new life into the space you want to enjoy and appreciate daily.  Redecorating in the New Year can be a good jumpstart for a fresh new space.  Some of the trends in interior design believed to be a hit in 2015 are:

Ethnic and Floral Prints
The ethnic prints from far off lands add a fresh pizazz to your home and break up some of the beige that has been popular for several years. These prints look as if they have been collected from travels and can be good conversation pieces. Floral prints have been popular in fashion for years and have overlapped into interior design. Florals will be popping up in upholstery and fabrics and will have staying power.

It’s all about creating mood. Think about creating daring and courageous design statements. Use interesting metallic accessories and bold contrasting colors.

Hair on Hide
Hides don’t have to stay on the floor. Hides in 2015 are used more in upholstery, on consoles, tables, pillows and cushions. Using real hide can be controversial, but faux hides are also available and will give a similar appearance.

Lighter Colored Wood
The use of rich, deep toned woods has been popular for years and maybe the catalyst for the trend of lighter woods being used.  Honey toned woods are light and fresh looking.

Brass can look luxurious or tacky. When done right, brass can be classy. It is timeless, and it is also a trend that has been gathering steam over the past year. Brass in kitchens, bathtubs and ornamental pieces is increasing in popularity.

Corduroy isn’t just for pants any longer. Many designers are using this fabric as a velvet alternative creating bold statements in upholstery.

Merging indoors and out
There are more manufacturers creating more designs for inside the home that one would think generally be seen outdoors. Examples are carpet that resembles natural grass and ottomans that fool the eye by looking like giant boulders.

blueSea of Blues
Blue is without a doubt a major trend. It’s all about blue. Don’t be shy about mixing many different shades. Azure, beryl, teal, cobalt, sapphire, navy and turquoise can blend beautifully together. Navy is a calming shade which commands authority without appearing overly bold, and it is easy and pleasant on the eye. Turquoise is another shade gaining popularity. Turquoise is seen everywhere, and it screams life and personality into a room.

Window sheers
This window treatment can be fresh, bright and add light into a room. They are an easy way to create mood while not sacrificing privacy or light.

Softer black and white
Black and white have been staples in interior design for many years. Now the trend is toward a softer version of the standard black and white palate. Charcoal gray and off white can be colors chosen to create a new look. The softer tones are easier on the eye and reduce some of the color contrast. They are comfy and relaxing but still keep the glamorous edge.

Believe it or not, it’s back — not necessarily the macramé plant hangers but macramé art. It is hand crafted and can be used in place of art and can incorporate many colors and textures.

Home Sweet Home: Clever Christmas storage solutions

December 1st, 2014

ornamentHoliday decorating can go from fun to frustrating in no time flat. Here are some time and money saving holiday storage solutions.  

design2Christmas lights

Cut cardboard a size that fits easily into a storage tub.  Cut a slit at one end of cardboard and slide the end of the light cord in the slit.  Now the lights can be wrapped around the board without getting tangled. The location where the lights are displayed can be written on the board so the next year decorating is simpler. Lights can also be wrapped around a clothes hanger. Secure one end of the light string to the tab that is normally lifted to secure pants and start wrapping around the hanger. Wrapping lights around paper towel tubes or cylindrical cans will prevent tangling of lights and will result in less frustration the following year.

Remembering from year to year

Before taking down the decorations, take pictures of the different arrangements and their locations with your phone or camera so the next year it takes less time to display again.


There is less likelihood that ornaments will get broken if containers with dividers are used.  Ornament storage containers can be purchased or liquor boxes with dividers work well as long as the ornaments are wrapped in tissue or bubble wrap first.  Small ornaments, extra bulbs and fuses and ornament hooks can be stored in egg cartons.  Used wrapping paper can be run through a shredder which will produce a soft protective material in which to pack breakables. Used tissue paper can also be used as filler when packing decorations.

design3Odd Shapes

Wreaths take up too much space in bins. Wreaths can be zip tied or tie wrapped to a hanger, and a dry cleaning bag or zippered garment bag may be used to cover the wreath.  Now the wreath can be hung in attic or closet and will remain dust free.

Storage bins

Storage bins should be labeled on the outside with duct tape or masking tape so decorations can be easily located and placed in the correct area. Separating and storing all mantle garlands from stairwell garlands will help when unpacking the following year. There will be less confusion in determining where each type of garland belongs.  Using clear plastic bins with colored lids aids in visibility – seeing the decorations without opening the containers. Orange lids could designate Halloween décor and red lids Christmas. Write a note and place it in a bin if it is noted that more lights need to be purchased or that worn wreaths / ribbons need to be replaced. This will result in an organized list of the items you need for the next year.


Bows can get easily mashed.  If they are stored in a hanging position, it will take less time to fluff them the following year. Bows can be attached with clothes pins to wire hangers and then covered with dry cleaning bags.  If bows are stored in a bin, stuff the loops with tissue paper to prevent crushing. Ribbon that has a wired edge makes the bows last longer from year to year because the wire helps retain the shape.
These inexpensive time saving tips can help simplify decorating so that the “happy” can remain in Happy Holidays.

Bay Area Houston Magazine