Sunday, November 30, 2008

Decorating for Christmas!

We got our tree on Friday and got it set up and decorated today. Since it's in the ken (kitchen den), the decorations are minimal in keeping with the small space: white lights, Moravian stars, clip-on lanterns, and candy canes. I have my giant wreath hanging in the window. It's a grapevine wreath covered in vintage ornaments and cheap hobby store picks. Each year I add to it. I love looking at it; every inch of it holds a surprise.
This year we went with a live wreath on the front door, adorned with a simple bow.
A pair of small, girl's skates are draped over the back of a chair.
My all-time favorite Christmas movie is White Christmas. Last year I got this 11x17" poster as a Christmas gift and framed it this year in a simple white frame which I decorated with a red and white glittery rope.
And dear boy Gideon got a Tiffany blue neck scarf for the Christmas season.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

We Are Blessed

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you reading this now!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

And how much did you say it cost to frame a picture??

Good gosh, the cost to have a picture custom framed!!!!! I seriously stood there at the counter, that contemplative look on my face ala Carrie on her computer typing up her sex column — head cocked to the side, eyes upward and half closed, biting a lip — trying to remember which organs I have two of so that I could sell one and still have the other to keep me alive and functioning.

It blew me away. Luckily I had a 50% off coupon, but the framing cost still totaled like a grocery store receipt for a family of 15. Needless to say, this will be Harleigh's big gift this year. I actually bought her the print last Christmas. As she's a huge fan of movies and dress from the 1940's and early 1950's, this print just reminded me of her. She picked out the frame, a rather ornate, gold one, that works so well with the French Provincial furniture pieces she has in her room. I told her that it was a good investment, a picture that she'll hang in her first apartment, her first home.

And yes, I still have both my kidneys.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lovely Linens

Found this vintage Simtex tablecloth at St. Vincent de Paul and it was 50 cents. I'm not a big fan of this look — a bit more 50's — but I couldn't resist it for 50 cents. And besides, I really do like the colors.

Then at another thrift store I snagged this Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic pillow for $1. (NOTE: When buying anything fabric at a thrift store, ALWAYS give it a good whiff. There's nothing worse than bringing something into your home that smells of cigarette smoke. Sometimes even washing the item will not take out the smell.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Unboundary Feast

The design firm where I work holds an annual Thanksgiving Feast the week before Thanksgiving. It has become one of the most beloved company events that we do. And I have the honor of organizing it every year (two things that I love: organizing and entertaining!). The shindig is pretty much a cookie cutter event, duplicating things we have done successfully over the past 7+ years that we've been having The Feast.

It's a pot luck meal, with employees covering all the standard Thanksgiving fare. And the company buys the ham and turkey. We have favorites that make their appearance year after year, and as new employees join our ranks, new dishes are introduced and added to the annual list of must-haves. In addition to the table as a place to congregate, we've also made a fake fireplace out of foamcore — complete with light-bulb-lit fireplace logs — surrounded by our big leather club chairs. I bring in granny square and colorful ripple afghans from home to throw over the chairs, adding a warm, homey feel to our office space.

My favorite part of the whole thing is that I get to design the table decor. We rent long banquet tables. We have an abundance of these white chairs from Ikea. Our office space is spectacular (a converted train roundhouse) and its sheer size lends itself to doing a long family table. The tablecloths are painter drop cloths which we purchased, cut and sewed to size (same drop cloths I used to make my bedroom curtains). In the past I've done tablescapes using fall themes, but this year I was feeling a connection to home and family. I decided to put to use my own collection of vintage floral tins and go with flowers in all white. Courtney Garvin, one of our designers, has a green thumb, a natural talent for floral design, and access to a wholesale florist. She handles all floral arranging at every Feast. (And as you can see in the one picture, she has also, as of late, been hooked on the PBS series Windsor Castle, where the staff measures the space between table and chair so that everything lines up perfectly.) We usually get a turkey breast, but this year we went with a 20-pound turkey (and you can see we even made the leg frills!) . . . another nod to making the event feel more homey and family.

The tins evoke a sense of going to grandma's. There were lots of comments like "oh I like this one best," that made me think of going to my own Nana's, and my sister and I fighting over which juice glass we'd get or which washcloth was ours for bathtime. The colors of the tins work so beautifully with the white flowers. A very serene feel, perfect for a relaxing meal filled with an overabundance of good food, good company and good conversation. We are blessed.

[Photos courtesy of co-worker and photographer extraordinaire David Naugle]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This Evening

I stayed home from work today, a little punkish and definitely feeling the results of getting up at 4:30 four days out of the work week. Decided to rest today, what with all the festivities coming up at work . . . The Feast this Thursday, and then the cookie swap and gift exchange both following not too far behind. I've got to be on my game. I ended the evening with a roaring fire, a sleepy dog and a chair in the study with my name on it. Christmas music playing and paperwork to catch up on. I'll be good to go tomorrow.

Birthday Gift for Melanie

For my niece Melanie's birthday, I got her a tshirt with a vintage library card silkscreened on it, as well as a pretty olive green scarf. She loves music — is quite the pianist — and so I decided to wrap her gift in pages from a vintage music book (they're easy to find and relatively inexpensive). I then chanced upon this old 45 record, a recording of Happy Birthday by Toni Waiman & the 4 Cricketones (???). Thought it would make the perfect gift tag. I took some puffy paint (which doesn't show up super well here; had I had a gold metallic pen, that would have worked better) and wrote the TO and FROM directly on the record. Think it makes for a cute package.

Christmas Gift for Melanie

My niece, Melanie, works at a library and loves literature. She is smart, beautiful, and is passionate about the things she likes. I purchased many old library check-out cards on etsy — thinking of her —and have not known what to do with them. I saw this jewelry box at Michael's and it sorta reminded me of an old library card catalog. So I plan on doing a project with this and the cards as one of her Christmas presents. Pix to come upon completion!

Humbling Purchase

Last Saturday I stopped in the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store. As I was getting ready to pay for my items, a woman stepped up to the counter, with no merchandise in her hands. The cashier saw her first even though I was first in line, and offered her help. The woman pointed to me and said "no, she was first," to which I replied "no, you go ahead, I'm in no hurry." The woman then proceeded to explain that she, her husband and four children were out in the car and were in need of food. The cashier told her that the St. Vincent caseworker was due at the thrift store soon, but was currently at a local church if the woman wanted to drive over to the church for assistance. The woman explained that they really didn't have enough gas to make the drive to the church, and that she'd wait at the thrift store for the caseworker to arrive.

I then paid for my few items, tossing in a few extra dollars, knowing that St. Vincent de Paul would put the money to good use to help families like these. Why is it though, that I couldn't bring myself to give the woman money right there on the spot? A part of me thought it might be a scam; I've certainly been on the receiving line of those before and felt rather foolish. Why did I consciously look out to see what they were driving and then assess the situation? Why did I question why the husband wasn't out delivering pizzas or doing whatever it took to feed his family? Why did I not feel compassion?

I purchased this little dish and these two religious charms. Perhaps there is a reason that I was there, in that store, that day, buying these items. Reminders of being humble and reaching out to those in need.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Is there really silver holly and pink poinsettias with gold centers?

I gotta admit that I'm a big fan of glitter and glitz at holiday time. There's something about it that takes me back to the days of aluminum Christmas trees. I still love silver icicles on my tree, lots of 'em. So every year I've got to find one thing that speaks to me. I'm sure that what I find, Martha Stewart could make classy, but I choose to just let what is tacky remain true to what it is.

Dollar Tree Candles

Pretty as can be (but boy do they smell like bad perfume; I'll burn them outdoors come summer time). Can I just tell you how other dollar stores pale in comparison to Dollar Tree?????

Are there some things you just can't seem to part with?

I've had this little stool FOR-E-VER. I covered it and added the eyelet trim, all this when my decor was even more girly than it is now. It was one of the very first "projects" I ever undertook. It involved nothing but a glue gun, about all I could tackle back in the old days. The stool is rather wobbly despite tightening the screws every time I pick it up to give it a once over, debating whether it should go into the donation pile. But for some reason I can't seem to part with it. And so I tucked it under the foyer table. It's a broken hip waiting to happen if you sit on it, but I like it as a reminder of one of my early projects.

Please pass the mashed taters

At our house at Thanksgiving we don't pass the food, we pass the plates, which always resulted in lots of "whose plate do I have?" and "do you want gravy on your stuffing?" And so several years ago I made menu cards which now travel with each plate. It's made things easier, but more importantly, gives us something to laugh and talk about. Laughter and chat at the Thanksgiving table . . . for that, we are always thankful. (And thanks to Gretchen at Bird Nest Cottage for the napkins!!). Click on the image to see the card close up.

You'll notice the wording on the question about gravy . . . "Do you wish for gravy on your _______?" Sort of an Old World charm to it. And there's even a space for Special Requests (in my case, to keep the gravy away from the cranberry salad).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Love Lucy

Anyone who knows me well knows that I adore Lucille Ball and the I Love Lucy show. Back in the early days when I was furnishing my "home" (at the time a modest apartment), I was drawn to any piece of vintage furniture that would have lived happily in Lucy's country house in Westport Connecticut. I found this maple cart and knew I had to have it; I'm sure that Betty Ramsey would approve. I now use it as a sofa table behind my living room sofa. And I'm sure it will have many other uses in years to come.

Tissue Paper Finds

I'm such a sucker for those tissue paper items that you buy flat and then open up into 3-dimensional decorations. Back in the old days, that was pretty fancy decoration for a party or a shower. And so when I saw these (that included a turkey and a cornucopia), I couldn't resist. They just take me back to the simple times and make me feel like I was in elementary school again.

Cleaning and Christmas Music

Today was my big day to do housecleaning. Having a big hairy dog brings housework to a whole new level . . . sort of a mini home renovation every time I go to clean. It took me 4 hours and all I got to was the living room, foyer and study. But I did make a big pot of homemade soup and get lots of laundry done while cleaning. Not to mention that the Christmas CDs came out of the attic and the stereo was crankin' holiday cheer all day while I dusted and sang in my doo rag.

Gideon was off to the groomer today for a bath and trim. And Harleigh was gone all day helping a girlfriend get ready for her birthday party this evening . . . an outdoor, bonfire shindig, perfect for this crisp Fall evening. So I had the house all to myself.

I moved my found bird nest to a wash bowl on my coffee table.

I had bought this Old English Sheepdog ceramic statue at Goodwill way before we got Gideon. He's sorta been hidden away. So I brought him out, dusted him off, and now he sits next to the sofa. I've seen this exact ceramic dog in Becky's apartment on Full House before she marries Jesse. Fun, eh?

I fluffed up the blankets in our living room basket blanket. (For the life of me I can't figure out why my sister didn't want this basket anymore and gave it to me. Where the heck do you find baskets this big???)

And here is what I accomplished today . . . a clean dog and a clean, well, 30% of the house.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Some of my favorites

I will be showcasing some of my favorite Christmas pins. I purchased a set of these Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer pins many, many moons ago. Of course, Rudolph and Clarice have to be worn together. Which has me singing "There's Always Tomorrow" throughout the day, and saying "I'm cute, I'm cute!" with a stuffed-up-nose voice.

Evenings Lately . . .

. . . have been working on designing four Advent banners for the children at church to create out of felt. So I've been nestled in my chair in the ken, with my trusty colored pencils (neatly tucked into a flocked Kleenex box — with the lid cut off. I blogged about how much I love these boxes, and have made sure to repurpose them around the house to hold things.)

This is the sweet face that watches me work, who patiently waits for me to finish so that we can migrate to the living room where I turn on TV to watch the news, sit down in my big comfy chair with the ottoman pulled up close, so that he can snuggle with his head resting on my thigh, and fall asleep. I rub his head and croon "what a good boy," and the busy, hectic day ends in peace.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Advent Calendar

Harleigh could care less about an Advent Calendar any more, but I like them. Found this one at Target last night. Makes mornings leading up to Christmas all that much more fun!

ADDED NOTE: This is not a chocolate advent calendar, just one with pictures behind the windows. Wouldn't want anyone to make a special trip to Target and be disappointed.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sheepie Day at the Park

Today was Atlanta's Sheepie Day at the Park, and it was held here in our hometown, just a few minutes from our house. Bruce and Lynda, owners of Brodie and Zoe, came from Chattanooga to be a part of this Old English Sheepdog celebration. Brodie is one of Gideon's litter mates, and they've not seen each other since they were babies. So that was a real treat for the two boys to meet up again, a family reunion of sorts! (Here they are, Gideon on the right.)We started the afternoon with a picnic one of the park's pavillions. Here the dogs had to be on leashes. We snatched a group shot, shown here as a whole and in bits and pieces.

We then migrated to the dog park, joined by even more Sheepies, where the "kids" went nuts. Except for Gideon who just sorta stands around, sniffs the occasional butt, and gives us a look like "is it time to go home yet?" He likes the other dogs, especially the littler ones, but has no real interest in rough play. I suppose living in a house with two girls might have made him a little on the effeminate side?!?!?! So after about an hour of begging with no luck "Gideon, come on and play with the other children!," we headed for home where he snuggled up to sleep at Harleigh's feet, twitching with dreams of other Sheepies romping in the cool Autumn sun.

Here is a picture that sums it all up: Gideon walking toward us, the Mama's boy that he is, always just a few feet away from our side, tongue like lunch meat hanging out of his mouth, ready to go home.

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