Tis the Season

It is the last day of November, and I experienced a first today. My house is completely decorated for Christmas. It is the earliest I have ever accomplished this task. I don’t know what happened!

Here is a pictorial trip through my house with some of the highlights and a peek at what’s new this year.

Aunt Annie’s red box on the porch. The metal luminary with the Joy & Cheer cutout out is new this year.

I love including vintage pieces and family treasures in my decor, like Great Aunt Roxie’s little red wooden foot rest, flipped upside down to hold fabric trees and mason jars.

Vintage poinsettia dish grouped with Dayan’s first Christmas photo shoot (he’s 18 years old now), an antique ceramic candle holder, a tiny early 1900s Christmas card that I framed, and a flea market white tree I bought several years ago. Even the ceramic polar bear is getting old, a Bath & Body promotional piece from 2009.

The Snowman Village, featuring the framed snowman artwork. Greg’s brother, Ray, who passed away 15 years ago, drew this dapper snowman as a child. I framed it last year. The wooden sieve is one of my favorite vintage pieces. It gets new vignettes throughout the year.

An eclectic mix of snowmen and light. The brightly glowing square glass box, filled with miniature lights, was given to me by my friend Beth years ago. Every Christmas I replace the string of lights within it, plug it in, and leave it shining brightly until the little bulbs burn out…about late March. It is a beacon of friendship and hope.

My grandfather’s WWII army trunk now holds vintage quilts, little Christmas trees, metal stars and a trio of mason jars with tea lights tucked inside.

The ceramic nativity set was made by Greg’s mother Leta more than 60 years ago. The wooden shoes on the shelf below were a gift to my mom from her uncle when he returned from the second world war. She was five years old. She wore them, as did my sisters and I, and my children and grandchildren.

The rustic wooden box in my bedroom gets a simple and homey redo. The ceramic bird came in from my front porch, where it perched all summer. I like to mix in everyday items with my Christmas decor as well.

Silvers and golds, with touches of blue and brown, in the old battered suitcase. When Greg’s dad and his brother sold their parents’ home after they passed, they included all the contents of the house in the sale. Prior to the completion of the sale, I asked for permission to run inside before the house was locked up, and get one item. I grabbed this suitcase from a bedroom closet. It was full of old photos.

I am really pleased with this new display. The cross-stitched silhouettes were made by my mom in the 70s. Their original frames had fallen apart. I found the stitched works of art again today, and purchased new frames for them. Look how cute they are with the tartan plaid scarf and plaid Christmas tree! The display sits atop a chest that is more than 150 years old. My mother’s great grandmother traveled by covered wagon with this chest, which Greg restored for me eight years ago.

Also newly on display, this embroidery piece that reminds me of a snowflake. I found this still in its embroidery hoop, with the needle pushed through the fabric, in a drawer at Leta Moore’s house. She never quite finished it. The fabric balls were in the same drawer.

Another fresh piece, this one a vintage card tucked into an old copper-look frame. This is the fifth vintage card I’ve turned into art. I would rather display them than forget about them, tucked into a drawer somewhere.

The last photo, posted below, is of the vintage wooden ironing board that I recently set up in my studio. It has a festive green plaid scarf thrown over it, and a couple of little vignettes displayed on its wooden surface. The antique porcelain doll, from the late 1800s, has taken up residence in my studio for the first time. She is sharing space with a fabric tree made by Leta Moore and a couple of Kirkland purchases from last year. I found the gingerbread house, trees and man at Michaels a couple of weeks ago.

I not only love this time of year, I love being creative and using a mix of old and not so old, Christmas decor and everyday items. Every piece tells a story. I enjoy walking through my house, and hearing those narratives. Love, hope, survival, and family are the themes that thread those those tales, weaving a rich and varied tapestry.

Tonight the candles are lit throughout my home for the first time this season. It won’t be the last. How homey and festive and full of cheer it looks and feels. Tis the season…

Creating a Collectibles Display

I completed the Christmas decorating today. Photo blog post will be up tomorrow. This evening, as I finished the last project, before decorating the Christmas tree, I decided to capture the steps via pics, and show how easy it is to create fun displays of collectibles.

I enjoy transforming my house during the holidays, with every tabletop and shelf holding decor. I create Christmas vignettes in old suitcases, a vintage wooden sieve and rustic wooden boxes. Using what I already have on hand makes the experience a creative…and fun…challenge.

Here is the step by step process of grouping collectibles together, using on hand objects for the display. In this case, this is my Christmas mug collection that I began in the late 70s when Greg’s mom gifted me with two mugs she made when her boys were small. From that beginning a sizable collection has grown as I add to it each year.

Start with an area large enough to hold the collectibles and one that is secure from pets or small children, if the items are breakable. For my mugs, I clear a shelf in the living room armoire that houses the tv. This shelf will continue to work for me for another year or two. Then I’ll begin using the top of the armoire as well.

The fun begins. Depth and height add interest and help to create visibility for the items. I use risers to add varying heights to the display area, so as to best showcase the mugs. I could buy risers. However, I’ve discovered an easy alternative. I use small empty cardboard boxes. The boxes for some of my Christmas items work well and the empty Christmas tree light boxes are the perfect size.

Arrange and/or stack the box risers to create varying heights. Taller items will go in the back, working toward shorter items in the front, making a tiered look.

Hide the boxes under fabric. Again, I use what I have on hand. These linens were picked up previously in yard sales or flea markets. If I find a placemat, tablecloth or napkins that can serve multiple purposes at sales or second hand shops, I pick them up. Boxes are covered. I am ready to begin placing mugs.

This is the creative play part. Try different arrangements, moving items around until the effect is pleasing. This is the part that is so fun to me. It is my display, so I am the one who decides whether I like the results or need to play with it more. Larger, taller mugs go in the back. I fill in gaps with smaller mugs as I go.

Don’t be afraid to adjust as necessary. I realized I needed to create more height in front of the back row. Books make great risers too! I chose a thicker volume, and a thinner paperback.

The books go beneath the little white tablecloth. Now I can play some more, until I am pleased with the results.

This personalized Santa mug, and the rosy cheeked snowman mug behind it, started my collection. Greg’s mom made the mugs in the late 1950s and gave them to me in 1977.

And this adorable Christmas owl mug is this year’s addition. He came from Cracker Barrel. Each of the mugs in my collection has a note tucked inside or a sticker on the bottom, with the date and place purchased written on it.

The completed display. I love my Christmas mugs. Setting them up is fun…and it allows me to remember where each mug came from. There are yard sale finds in the collection and very inexpensive mugs. Those remind me of the Christmases when my children were young and money was tight. To have more to spend on them, I spent very little on things like Christmas mugs. And yet, these are precious memories of doing for my kids and buying a little something for myself. Someday the kids will deal with a collection that is twice this size, I hope, and mutter to themselves…”Why didn’t one of us stop her?!”

That’s how easy it is to create a collectibles display. Soon I’ll add a post detailing how to create a vignette, using items already available.

Happy decorating!

O Christmas Tree

A simple gratitude post this evening, for a simple joy, bringing home this year’s Christmas tree. Today I packed up the fall decor. This evening, tabletops and shelves are empty, blank canvases awaiting creativity. Tomorrow the Christmas boxes get unpacked.

With temperatures in the 60s this afternoon, it was the perfect time to pick out my Christmas tree at Lowe’s Garden Center. No coat, hat or gloves were required. No shivering in the cold as I sorted through trees. I am grateful for such a gorgeous day and a pretty little fresh Fraser Fir.

I have always preferred a real Christmas tree. While I see the benefits of having an artificial tree, I love the earthy scent of a fresh tree and the feel of soft needles as I decorate. At one time Greg and I cut our own tree each Christmas. It is much easier and quicker to select one that has already been cut at a Christmas tree farm. Selecting a tree at Lowe’s is my yearly tradition.

The only thing that has changed over the years is the height of the tree. I used to purchase a seven foot tree. Then I downsized to one close to six feet. Now, my tree is in the five to six foot range. They are easier to handle, at this size, and easier to decorate as well. They still smell just as fragrant.

Lowe’s always has a great selection of Fraser Firs and Douglas Pines, in a variety of sizes.

I make careful considerations: Not too skimpily branched. No glaring empty spots. Nice shape. Not to big around. Greg stood trees up as I selected them so I could view them from all angles. Tree number three was perfect!

The attendant in the garden center made a fresh cut at the base and wrapped the tree in netting. They always have a bin of cuttings, free for the taking. I bring home green pine boughs, to use on the front porch.

I am full of gratitude for a mild sunny day in late November, fresh, aromatic Fraser Fir trees, Lowe’s Garden Center with its kind helpers, my friend Mike for the use of his truck, and Greg’s assistance in getting my sweet smelling tree home.

Tonight the tree is relaxing in its spot in my living room, drinking in cool water. It is as yet unadorned. However its scent wafts to me every time I walk by or enter the room.

Tomorrow, I decorate.

“O Christmas tree, O Christmas, how lovely are thy branches…”