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…

Welcoming 2017

I officially completed Christmas decorating today, finishing up in my studio. I’ve realized this year that I always finish here for a reason. As I decorate in my creative space I also use that time as an opportunity to clear away stuff I no longer need. 

The energy begins to shift in the room, as I gear up for the rapidly approaching new year. Releasing things and tossing out clutter creates room for new items, new endeavors, fresh opportunities. 


New to my studio is a chair I purchased at the 2 Friends & Junk show held in Joplin recently. And above it hangs an Edison bulb light fixture, bought at the same show. This is my creativity corner, my spot to think and dream and read and draw. I love that the light of inspiration shines above me, figuratively and literally illuminating me. 


Christmas came into this room too. 

I like grouping a bunch of objects in the same color family. I found the framed ring while cleaning out Greg’s parents’ home. I wish I knew its story. 




Absolem is perfectly at home, perched on his mushroom, next to a pine tree, on my writing table. 




After I completed the studio, I lit candles and sat in my creativity chair, beneath the light of  inspiration. Christmas music played on my ipod. The space around me felt peaceful and joyful, with a tingling undercurrent of anticipation. 

The last room decorated is the first to welcome in a new year, bright with promise. I am ready. 



Getting My Christmas On

After a busier than anticipated weekend, I returned to decorating the house for Christmas this afternoon. Eight hours later, the house looks less disheveled, but I’m not nearly finished. That’s ok. One reason decorating takes me so long is that I don’t like to exactly duplicate vignettes and décor every year. Instead, I like to freshen things up by mixing things up. 

The vintage suitcase gets a bit of a new look, with the addition of a silver and white snowman and a silver snowflake candle holder. 

The old oil lamp from the Moores’ house in AR cleaned up well and pairs wonderfully with the suitcase. Silver and gold candle holder and sign from Kirkland’s. 

Decorating becomes a very creative and inspiration guided process. 

I’m realizing that for me, creativity is messy. I get a flash of an idea and then I play with it, hunting for the correct pieces to pull the vision I have together. It’s similar to working a jigsaw puzzle, using the box top as a visual   guide…except my visual is in my head, and the pieces are scattered throughout the house! And I totally destroy each room while I’m playing, before it all comes together. 

As messy as the process sometimes is, it is always fun for me…challenging, time consuming, yes…and ultimately rewarding and extremely satisfying. 

Great Aunt Roxy’s red footstool, flipped upside down, becomes the perfect receptacle for fabric trees and mason jars. 

The plaid fabric placemats from Target set off this little table beautifully. The three santas ceramic candle holder is one of my favorite pieces. I paid a dollar for it at a thrift store several years ago. 

The fresh Christmas tree is still bare, but it smells wonderful! It is patiently awaiting lights and ornaments. The santa mug collection is still boxed up. And snowmen are scattered everywhere, milling about as if at a snowman convention where no one is quite sure where he is supposed to be. 

I love this little eclectic, electric tree! It came home with me last year from my Aunt Annie’s house. It had never been out of its box. I’m not sure how old it is, but I love the contemporary look. 

I found my grandson’s first Christmas photo shoot. He’s 17 years old now. Trying out the white tree. I’ll let it rest there a couple of days, and see how I feel about it. 

Tomorrow I’ll get those snowmen where they belong. And the mugs will get unpacked. The tree may have to wait until Wednesday. Tonight I’m sitting in a darkened house, with a couple of small trees lit up and a dozen or so candles flickering. It looks beautiful. 

I’m in the flow, creatively, and the decorating will get done exactly on time. I am enjoying the process of getting my Christmas on. 

Journey 337: Christmas in a Red Box

When my cousins allowed me to bring home the old wooden box I found in my aunt’s shed, I was delighted. With its simple design and chippy red paint I knew I would use this box throughout the year, creating vignettes that I could change with the seasons. 

The red wooden box found a home on my front deck. I filled it with terra cotta pots, in varying sizes, all from my aunt’s shed as well. Fall mums and pansies created a simple and beautiful autumn vignette. 

 
Tonight, I had the pleasure of transitioning the box from fall to Christmas. I have been looking forward to Christmas in this red box since I brought this dear keepsake home. 

 

I used fresh sprigs of Fraser Fir that I brought home for free from Lowe’s Christmas Tree Center. I purchased my fresh tree from there as well. They have a big wire bin full of branches trimmed from the trees. I added pinecones that I already had on hand. And two different rustic picks. One has red berries and rusty stars, and the other, rusty jingle bells. These I purchased at the 2 Friends & Junk Show in Springfield. 

 

At the other end of the red box I nestled three white frosted lanterns with a different design etched on each: a Christmas tree, a snowflake, and a star. I bought these on sale recently at Kirkland’s. More rustic picks were added, another red berries one with stars and a long pick with rusty stars on it. I dropped tea lights into the lanterns and lit them. 

 

I placed a larger lantern nearby with a votive candle inside, for more light. This too came from Kirkland’s. 

I love the Christmas season, and enjoy decorating my home for the holidays. As with last year, I am moving slowly through the house, bringing Christmas into each room, using a eclectic mix of vintage, newer, and collectibles. 

The red wooden box connects me to my Aunt Annie, who passed earlier this year. She was an avid gardner, creative, full of joy and life. I think she would be pleased with this box of hers, and the new life it is experiencing, and the pleasure it brings to me. Merry Christmas, Aunt Annie! I’m thinking of you tonight. 

  
 
  

Day 334: Fresh Christmas Wreath

wreath

Today’s first was a simple one, and very much a spontaneous moment. The weather was perfect early in the day, reaching the mid 60’s before a cold front moved through, sending the temps plummeting. I decided to go get a Christmas tree while it was still warm. I won’t be decorating the tree for a couple of days, but at least it was pleasant selecting it at Lowe’s Garden Center.

Greg graciously accompanied me with his truck to load the tree in the back. Last year I bought a small Fraser Fir Pine tree and LOVED it. I’ve purchased fresh Douglas Firs for years, usually 6  – 7 feet tall. But last year, wanting to change up the tree decorations a bit, and to conserve space, which is limited in my living room, I bought a shorter, smaller,  Fraser Fir and enjoyed it so much. I embraced my new tradition today and immediately found the perfect tree. As we were headed to the check out, Greg asked me, “Do you want a fresh wreath?” I’ve never had one before. I’d been admiring them at the front of the garden center. I love a fresh Christmas tree because of the way it makes my whole house smell wonderfully woodsy. I have nothing against artificial trees….I just prefer a fresh one for my own enjoyment.

The wreaths smelled just as wonderful. They were crafted from several types of evergreens, including fir trees, and have pinecones and little blue berries on them. When Greg offered to buy one for me, I said yes! I selected a wreath and brought it home. I switched out the fall wreath hanging on the front door for the Christmas one. Every time I enter the house, I inhale the scent and sigh, happily. What a perfectly simple and beautiful first.

Before the weather turned cold, I cleared the front porch of the fall items. That covered area is now ready to be decorated for Christmas. Inside the house, I packed away some of the fall décor and began cleaning. Greg climbed a ladder and handed down boxes of Christmas decorations.

This week I intend to move slowly, from room to room, cleaning, fluffing, and decorating. I don’t want to purchase any new items, but use what I have, in different ways. This year I’ve enjoyed keeping pieces out and moving them to a new location or combining them with different items for a fresh look, as I’ve decorated for each season. So some of the spring items, rather than all going back into storage, transitioned into fall. And those will now appear in my Christmas décor. The bird cages and birds especially will feature in my decorating.

I love this time of year. Partly it is because of Christmas and the way my home looks….so many candles flicker in my house that it raises the temperature on the thermostat! I look forward to time spent with family and friends. I spend time in silent meditation, grateful for the reason for the season and my spiritual journey. Also, December is a transitional month for me and I use this time to reflect on the past year, and release it. And I begin to think about next year and all that will unfold. It is a quiet, refreshing, magical time. I will have much to reflect on, as I finish up this incredible year of firsts. And, I am so excited about the upcoming year. My word, theme and symbol are all coming together, seeking me out, drawing forward into the next adventure. All will be revealed….soon!

Day 328: Christmas Jars

Christmas jars

Today’s first was a simple, fun project. When I was debating what to do this afternoon, among several possibilities, this first was the one that took hold in my mind. I know…it’s not quite Thanksgiving. No, that doesn’t matter to me! I love fall colors and decorating. And, I really love that it transitions to the holidays. I enjoy my Christmas décor so much. The autumn items, rust and gold candles, and pumpkins give way to reds, greens, silvers and touches of blue. My Santa and snowman mug collection comes out. The 60 year old nativity set is placed carefully on a shelf. Lots of candles, mostly creams and whites, replace the spicy scented ones. And my snowmen, miniature trees, and assorted other items get unpacked.

I love the way my house looks during this precious time of year. Every room transforms. And yet, the décor is simple, whimsical. This year, I especially want it to remain simple. I look forward to creating Christmas vignettes in the same vintage pieces I’ve been creating in all year….the old suitcase, the round wooden sieve, Pop’s army trunk. I have plenty of items to decorate with. I don’t intend to buy more stuff, rather I intend to artfully use what I already have, perhaps in new ways. Although I take pictures of the holiday décor each year, in case the following year I pick up an item and think, “Where did I place THIS last year?”, the fun for me is to mix things up, display different pieces together, create something fresh.

Christmas jars dark tree

My project today was one I’ve wanted to do before. Using mason jars, which I keep on hand, I created simple yet pretty Christmas jars. Two of the jars, a large one and a small one, hold plain white votive candles nestled in Epsom salts. The salts are so inexpensive and have fine slightly glittery grains that perfectly imitate snow. Some jars hold tiny Christmas trees with little flecks of fake snow or glitter on them. I found these in the dollhouse section at Hobby Lobby, and they and the little dark tree with the star on top were the only items I purchased, spending less than $6.00. I repurposed a rectangular clear glass vase by adding Epsom Salts and two trees.

Christmas jars grouping

I love my little grouping. When I went shopping for the miniature trees, I had intended to purchase only the green trees. Then I spied the lone dark glittery tree, topped with a star, among pink and purples trees. I felt drawn to the small dark tree. It was 50% off, so I bought it. I really like the way that one looks in the jar.  I wrapped the top of each jar with natural and rust colored raffia and added silver and black jingle bells.

In less than an hour, my project was finished. I lit the candles briefly, to appreciate the effect. Beautiful. Over the next few days, the transformation will begin. I look forward to slowly, thoughtfully, moving through the house, cleaning and decorating, with an emphasis this season on repurposing. I’ll enjoy every moment, and surely find some firsts to share!

Christmas jars candles lit