...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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Want in on a little secret? I decorated for Christmas before Halloween this year. Cue the record scratch.

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For two days in October I pretended it was December. Well, sort of. We normally do a live garland on the mantel and a live tree but those were nowhere to be found pre-Halloween. Mr. Fig was a somewhat believable stand-in. I rummaged through red and green totes in the attic. I saved empty boxes and wrapped fake presents pressies. (My apologies for misspelling the Aussie short form in my previous post. Google can’t be trusted.) I crafted paper dot garlands from glitter paper, a circle punch, hot glue and jute string. I found the cutest little cardboard Christmas tree at JoAnn’s. I rigged two of these paper star lights and one of these in the front window along with a few cheap & easy embroidery hoops turned 90º. Hint: Use fishing line. It’s strong and nearly invisible.

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I was simultaneously working on the kids’ Halloween costumes. My kids were baffled by my Christmas in October antics.

So why all the fuss? In short, Joss & Main asked me to be a part of their holiday campaign and I said yes. Deadlines were involved.

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The long answer? I’m only one of four bloggers participating in the #HolidayHostess campaign now through the end of the year. Each week a different blogger will be featured and you can shop their look via a flash sale. You also get an inside scoop on each blogger’s holiday traditions. Today is the first day of the campaign and I happen to be this week’s hostess. If you’re interested, you can check out the sale here and read about my holiday traditions here. There are some great pieces up for grabs. Act soon! The sale ends 12/9/14.

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In other news, we’re sticking with tradition and buying a live tree again this year. But I’m nervous! How does one go about keeping cute kitties out of Christmas trees?! You all were so helpful when we adopted Cheetah a few months ago. I’d love to hear your tips for surviving the holidays with a tree and kitty intact.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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Nearly a third of the rugs in my home are vintage. I had never owned a vintage rug until last year. But once I bought my first, I was smitten. I’ve gradually acquired more since then and would love to increase their presence in my home. I just love them! Here are several reasons why I love ’em so.

1. They’re one-of-a-kind. Most vintage rugs weren’t mass-produced at the time of creation. As a result, they boast unique patterns and color palettes. These exclusive patterns and colors bring a sense of individuality to ordinary spaces. Because of this, vintage rugs work well in newer homes where some history (or a story) is needed.

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2. They’re available in non-standard sizes. I don’t know about you but not every room in my house conforms to the standard 3′ x 5′, 5′ x 7′, 8′ x 10′, 9′ x 12′ rug size options. Some spaces require a rug less rectangular in shape while other spaces call for something more linear. Too often I find brand-new rugs in my preferred width but the length is off…or vice versa. And made-to-order rugs? Well, those aren’t in the budget. In these instances, vintage rugs are ideal. It might take some leg work to find just the right size but it’s out there!

3. They feature high quality craftsmanship. Fifty-year-old (and plus!) rugs are still around because they were made well to begin with and, most likely, they were man-made not machine-made. If you fall in love with an old rug don’t worry too much about how much life it has left in it as long as it’s in good condition. It’s made it this long so who’s to say it won’t last another fifty years?! Most vintage rugs are surprisingly durable.

4. They’re already “worn in.” Vintage rugs are used and have been loved well. This takes the pressure off of new owners to treat them delicately. (You can’t say the same for brand-new rugs.) So bring on the kids! and crumbs! and spilled drinks! and dirt! There’s no need to baby vintage rugs. On the same note, some vintage rugs feature a well-deserved patina which only increases their beauty.

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5. They lend a global vibe. Depending on a rug’s place of origin and style, you have the opportunity to incorporate a design element from another country or culture into your home. This is possible for travelers and homebodies alike. If you travel, you can often times score vintage rugs for a steal from their native land. (Just remember to leave room in your suitcase.) If not, you can just as easily shop for vintage rugs online. Personally, I am not a globetrotter (wish I was!) but I love that I have rugs from Pakistan, Turkey and Persia in my Ohio home.

6. They’re eco-friendly. Buying vintage anything is better for the environment than buying brand-new. Sometimes I wonder about the pollution created by shipping internationally but then I remember that the manufacturing and importing of brand-new rugs churns out way more pollutants. When you buy a vintage rug, you also avoid the harmful off-gassing of noxious toxins (which new rugs typically emit) into your home.

7. They’re beyond the shedding phase. With vintage rugs, there’s no need for obsessive vacuuming during the first few months of ownership to keep shed fibers at bay. This was an unexpected (and wonderful!) benefit the first time I purchased a vintage rug.

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8. They can be cost-effective. With new rugs, price is directly proportionate to size (when considering rugs made of the same material). However, this isn’t always the case for vintage rugs. Many other factors – including condition, quality, age, demand, etc. – come into play. Of the three vintage rugs I own, the largest one (in my dining room) was not the most expensive. I looked at brand-new rugs for the dining room and they were all more expensive than the vintage one I ultimately bought. Also, most vintage rugs are sold by personal sellers whom are willing to negotiate on the price. You don’t have that option with new rugs and big companies.

Are you convinced of the power of vintage rugs yet?! Haha. I will definitely be adding more vintage rugs to my home. I especially like them in “hard” spaces where they can be the main textile focal point: kitchens, dining rooms and bathrooms. And I also like the look of a smaller, colorful vintage rug layered on top of a larger, chunky jute. Hmmm…maybe in my bedroom or the nursery?? As for where to buy them online, I prefer to shop reputable sellers on etsy and ebay. And if there’s ever a question about the true color or condition of the rug, I always ask. So far, I’ve had nothing but good experiences.

Would you buy a vintage rug? Maybe you already own one? I’d love to know what style you prefer and where you (would) use it.

P.S. – Click here to see who won last week’s Cook Smarts giveaway!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

A few weekends ago, on a whim, I hit up two antique malls (Heart of Ohio Antique Center and Springfield Antique Center, both off I-70) that I’ve heard a lot about but haven’t had a chance to check out in person until cabin fever spawned a “mama only” outing. It was a quick trip and I wasn’t able to mosey as much as I would have liked but I did manage to snap shots of the many items that caught my eye.

Do you have any interest in virtually shopping with me? Good. Here come all the things I would have made you stop and look at with me.

vintage candleholders

First up were these danish candlestick holders. I almost bought the set of five on the left ($75) but I let willpower get the best of me. The pair of candelabras on the right were cute ($48) but teeny. I had no idea where I would find such skinny candles to fit in them.

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There were so many unique tables to be found. They had me wishing I lived in an empty farmhouse in need of furnishings. The top table was extra long with drawers. It would be family-friendly for meals, homework, board games and crafts. I don’t recall how much the table was but I do remember that I added up the cost of the surrounding chairs (also cute!) and the total for the table + six chairs came in right under $1,000. The bottom left table ($900) was so beautiful. Walnut maybe? The x-base was killing me. The industrial coffee table ($350) with a red metal base and stone top was fun.

vintage stools

I’m a sucker for stools and ottomans these days. They are the perfect piece of accent furniture for nearly any room. The top left stool ($35) was petite but surprisingly heavy and sturdy. The bottom left ($125) was in excellent condition and I loved the woven top. I was *this close* to buying the bentwood ottoman ($16) on the bottom right. The frame was in good condition and the top needed reupholstered. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t think up a spot for it in my house so it stayed.

vintage brass

Also, I’m a sucker for brass. The number five brass stencil ($8) would have been a fun accessory for a wall or a shelf in our party of five house. I fell hard for the mid century spider coffee table ($125) with a brass top. If only I needed a coffee table! It was the bomb. Probably my favorite find of the entire trip. I noticed several of these brass trays ($40-$100). They had the most amazing patina. I love the idea of hanging one or a collection on the wall.

vintage textiles

The navy and coral color scheme of the vintage rug ($125) on the left reminded me of Mabrey’s room. It was gorgeous. If I wasn’t still toting around toddler paraphernalia, I would have snatched up the clutch ($45) with wooden handles. The colors and pattern of the woven material were right up my alley. It was such a great bag but completely impractical for me.

vintage lighting

Finding all of this mid century lighting sorta made me wish we were back in the electrical upgrade part of our renovation. Sorta. These lights are great statement pieces! I could see the pendants ($100 each) top left hung at staggered heights in a corner of a room for a cozy reading spot, hung symmetrically over a floating bathroom vanity in a nook or flanking a bed. The bottom left sconce ($90) would be amazing in a powder room. The globe chandelier was HUGE. I imagined it hanging from a vaulted entry in a modern house. I couldn’t find a price tag. The wood and acrylic chandeliers ($125 each) would make great focal points above a long, simple dining table in an open living space. I couldn’t get enough of the mid century lighting.

vintage misc

I fell in love with some random goodness, too. The ¾ lb. wood dumbbells ($9) were quirky. They’d make for some kid-friendly decor, wouldn’t they? Mabrey loves to carry around my free weights; she would love these. Lately, I’ve been thinking we need more small bowls for the kids’ snacks. I’m really into indigo at the moment so I was drawn to these blue and white patterned dishes. But at $6 a bowl, I couldn’t justify them for the kids…who would likely break them anyway. The set of red and white enamel cookware ($42 for the set) was reminiscent of camping gear. If there’s  anything I’m wishing I would have bought and didn’t, this trio of enamel pots is it. Another number five ($40).

And that about wraps things up. I was hurrying to get home in time for dinner and mommy guilt was setting in. Anything tickle your fancy? My take on the two antique malls? The Heart of Ohio Antique Center was much larger and had more desirable pieces but at generally higher prices. The Springfield Antique Center was smaller with more salvaged architectural items and generally less expensive. I didn’t go home empty-handed. I’ll be sharing the things that made it home with me in another post. Stay tuned…

Do you have a favorite place to hit up for antiques or vintage pieces? I’m thinking 2014 is the year I brave the Country Living Fair in Columbus, OH. Have you been?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking