Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Dessert at Mary Our Queen

The women's club at my mom's church is the bomb. It's a large and fun group to begin with, but couple that with all of the activities and events they have . . . it makes me want to start a women's club at my own church (which I'm seriously considering pitching). Every Christmas season my mom has talked about their advent dessert, an affair where 12 women (or a team) each get a table-for-eight to decorate. The club members then gather for a sit-down dessert and coffee.

This year mom decided to sign up to decorate a table and asked moi to help. Hullo!!! Wouldn't turn this opp down for a million bucks. She started with ceramic figurines of the three wise men (inherited from her late mother), and from there we went crazy. We brainstormed and crafted, went to church days before and staged our table like any pro would do. And here's where we netted out.

The white tablecloths and chair covers were supplied by the church. Mom made the green overcloth, complete with gold trim and tassels, as well as the napkins and the chair drapes. The chargers, dishes and gold utensils are all her own. She found the gold (I'm thinking they're carnival glass) glasses at an antique shop, perfect for the theme.

The palm trees are from her Fontanini nativity set. The candleholders are ones I got at Goodwill ages ago (used them at Jenn's Moroccan wedding shower). She got the wooden chest at Michaels and then stained it. We filled it with costume jewelry from my craft room stash.

We were told to have a coffee carafe at our table, but none that either of us had seemed to fit into the theme, so I took a plain white one I had, cut up a gold paper doily, and Mod Podged it on. Poifect!
For favors we did ornaments and notepads (each with a scripture).

For our dessert, mom got this beautiful raspberry filled white cake at Publix which we put on a cake stand decorated with trim and a "jewel" worthy of the theme.
Once the lights were dimmed in the fellowship hall, and candles were lit at each table, it was all magical. The Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi made the evening meaningful with their angelic harmonious singing, readings and prayers. Here is a video of one of the songs they sang as part of their Christmas Lingerings Advent performance.

Needless to say, Mom and I are thinking ahead to next year's table!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Let the decorating begin!

The girlie headed back to college today, but not before we peppered the weekend with decorating for the holiday. The tree was bought and put up (am I the only one who smiles the whole drive back home knowing I have a Fraser fir tied to the top of my car?). And like last year when we pulled no tree ornaments from the attic, but rather decorated our tree with what we had on hand, we did the same this year. Harleigh took the lead and made a paper chain from vintage sheet music from the paper stash in the craft room. We had these curly gold thingies from Hobby Lobby that got tucked into the branches, sticking out in a whimsical fashion, and then we added candy canes. I love that the tree has an old-fashioned, simple, handmade quality to it. (Someday when I have grandchildren, the attic treasures will come out in full force, but in the meantime, this decorating solution fits our busy lifestyle, and, most importantly, we don't feel slighted. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the chain making, coupled with my crafting on my Secret Santa gift for the office swap, made for a great mother-daughter afternoon.)

When we find our tree, the hand-clapping and eeking about finding just the right one has to do with whether our tree looks like it came straight out of the forest (you know what I mean, like with singing birds flighting about draping it with berry garland, bunnies placing gifts under it, and the Winter Warlock towering over it, his heart melting with the gift of a choo choo) . Which is why when we get it home, whatever leaves are hidden within the branches stay, and the one quirky branch (in the case of this year, the top of the tree) remains intact. Here, a leaf reminds us that birds once made their homes here, snow and rain fell onto her branches, and now this beautiful tree is here at Chateau Gahan, a part of our celebration of the baby Jesus.
Another handmade chain now graces the mantle.

My grandmother left us a lovely little collection of Annalee Christmas figurines. I don't know that I would ever buy one of these, but now that I have a handful of them, I'm smitten. Here is a little mousey.
And, of course, one of my little chairs has to get a little Christmas touch.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gideon as Symbolic of this Thanksgiving Day

My parents are up in Maryland this holiday with my sister and her family, which left me and Harleigh here. We debated going up as well, but circumstances arose that were complicating the trip up, and to be honest, she and I started liking the idea of what we could make of the day.

Up by 9:00 to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, then on to the National Dog Show (which is always a favorite of Gideon's), we lunched on turkey and some random thrown-together sides, Harleigh went for a run followed by a shower, then we crafted with Christmas music on (at this point a shower was not part of my plan and so I crafted with extremely dirty hair), topped off with watching White Christmas and Snowden on Ice, two of our favorite holiday movies.

And so here is Gideon showing the world what a lazy day it was at Chateau Gahan. The theme of his day was "roving nap." The last picture shows Harleigh ankle deep in the Christmas chain she's making for our tree. Ala last year, we're dressing our tree this year in decor that can be thrown away or recycled. The paper chain she's making is using vintage sheet music sent to us by my Dad a couple of years ago. So very pretty. We're brainstorming what other "dressings" we'll be making for our stately everygreen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Feast 2010 — The Pix

Back a few posts I uploaded a video of this year's Unboundary Feast along with some explanation of how I came up with and executed the theme. Here are some pictures (thank you very much, David Naugle!).

Here we are stringing and hanging all of the "thankfuls."

The finished venue. With thankfuls above the dining, hors d'oeuvre and dessert tables.
At the entrance to the space we have a lone thankful . . . The Feast.
I really wanted all of the focus to be on the thankfuls, so I kept the table simple. A white butcher paper runner over our dropcloth tablecloths and candles in clear and frosted glass holders.

Simple paper napkins wrapped around the bamboo utensils, then tied with the organic yarn used to hang the thankfuls. The utensils are super cool, found at Party City of all places. Very pilgrim-y and colonial. The spoon is like a miniature version of a wooden mixing spoon. And the knife cut very well. No splinter injuries reported.

A great Feast was had by all.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Harleigh in the HOUSE!!!!!

So, my girl came home on Friday, stopping by my office on the way to surprise me. So very good to see her is an understatement. We spent the weekend shopping (Decatur for vintage clothing stores and the mall for newer duds), watching movies (Beezus and Ramona, The Last Song, Elf, 500 Days of Summer, 10 Things I Hate About You), church, lunch with one of her dear guy friends from Camp All American . . . and she still holds my hand when we walk through the mall. Life is good.

We have our Christmas wreaths on the grills of our cars (thanks Dad!) and are ready for some holiday decorating! Bring it on!

Some images from the weekend.

Here is Mr. Gideon in the on-back-wanting-a-belly-rub position, showing off his new Christmas collar, complete with jingle bell.
Found these wooden disk charms/key rings at Kudzu in Decatur. Harleigh got a couple for gifts for girlfriends (and I got her one since they are so stinkin' cute). Each one has a different saying on the back.

The Indian Summer weather we've been having is divine. Here's the living room of Chateau Gahan. The clerestory windows with plantation shutters make this lovely pattern on the ceiling when the sun shines at just the right angle. Makes the living room feel like a greenhouse.
The front door was propped open all weekend to let the sun shine in.
Even doing laundry left me with a sunny dispostion.
I'm in the midst of cleaning out all my recipes. I've got accordian folders, spiral-bound notebooks into which I've taped recipes, index cards loose, index cards in boxes, ripped pages out of magazines. Must must must make sense of this jumbled disorganization. I came across this recipe from middle school; probably from a home ec class (I remember how much fun those were back in the old days). Didn't everything get a smiley face back in middle school?!?!?
All this lovely weather romping outside (coupled with the damp ground from last week's rain storms) makes for some muddy paws. At a thrift store ages ago I had found all these rag rugs for $1 a piece; I keep them near the back door under this cart so that I can throw one in the wash and replace it with another when Mr. Gideon comes in with dirty feet.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Christmas TLC

I inherited some Christmas decorations from my late grandmother's vast holiday collection. These were right up there near the top of the tacky meter, but come on, who can resist a Santa channeling Liberace? Or a Mr. and Mrs. Claus with big smiles on their faces but worry lines in their foreheads that aren't just there as indentations on their little plastic heads, but made focal points by being painted with dark paint?

These dearies need some TLC. A makeover is in order. AFTER pictures to come.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Feast 2010

I will share still pix once they've been downloaded, but here is a peek into our Feast this year (thank you thank you, David Naugle, for always capturing my events with such heart). For many many years I've wanted to do a simple theme of "thankfuls," things we love about Unboundary. But until this year, I really hadn't come up with a way to showcase the thankfuls. And so here she is, The Feast 2010, where close to 200 thankfuls were submitted by everyone here and hung from the light strips.

Once I collected everyone's thankfuls, I had them typeset, printed out two sets of each, glued them back to back, leaving a white border which I cut with decorative scissors, giving them the look of old photographs. Hole punched each using a 1/8" hole punch so the holes would be subtle. I hung them (or rather a group of us did on a Friday night, laughing and chatting, drinking wine, and listening to Christmas music) from the light strips using an organic yarn. The tables were set with our usual painter dropcloth tablecloths, a simple paper runner, a ton of tealights in glass holders, natural paper plates, paper napkins tied with the same hanging yarn, into which I nestled the dang cutest bamboo utensils I found at Party City. You'll see close-ups of those when I post the still pix. The theme proved to be just what I intended it to be, focused on the thankfuls yet visually dramatic.

Everyone loved reading all the thankfuls, our president was most appreciative of all that we embrace here at Unboundary, and The Feast was, as always, an abundance of all our homemade foods, lots of wine, and being family.

Enjoy the video and make sure your sound is up because the music makes it all that much more warm and fuzzy. (If you can't see the video below, here is the link to it (just copy and paste it into your browser URL bar):

We are blessed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What a Glorious Weekend

My Saturday consisted of a church council half-day meeting which is always pretty intense, but I do love being a part of the church leadership. My mom and I met up to stage the table we're decorating for her church's women's advent tea and dessert. Pix to come! Then after lots of errands, I came home to base camp and had a good hour session of leaf blowing. Like a free therapy session; something cleansing about it.

On Sunday after church, I hosted our new members' lunch, and got to meet some lovely people joining our church family. Then off to Sheepie Day in the Park: Fall Edition. See this picture below. Now imagine the three sheepies here X 20. A sea of grey and white fluff running around. Except Gideon, who started playing and then came to sit down next to me and watch and ponder. You'd think he was 16, not 3. After Sheepie Day we came home to prepare for Monday's Feast at my office. It's the big Thanksgiving meal that we do annually, and it's a big deal!! Pix to come of that too.
For the Feast I made stuffing and my Nana's cranberry salad which is the bomb!! Then a big batch of white chile for when Harleigh comes home this Friday (woot woot!!!).

And this, a tole trash can, is here simply because I love love love it, and am thinking about how I can use it for something other than a trash can.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesdays with Harleigh

Harleigh calls me at 9:00PM and we watch Modern Family together over the phone. I love that we can be stupid with each other.

UPDATE: No Modern Family tonite because of the CMA Awards. Aw shucks.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Afternoon at Chateau Gahan

This crisp Autumn weather makes me happy and full of the urge to nest. After all of my church stuff this morning, came home to a house warmed with sunshine and a puppy dog eager to run outside in the leaves then come in for a rest (which involves, as you can see, migrating from sofa to chair to back door . . . the life).

Christmas music on and I'm camped out in the study to work on this year's office Feast. This theme is a heartfelt one; I hope that it's as visually pleasing as what I picture in my head!?!?!?

Found this biscuit tin at the Women's League thrift store. It found a home on top of a stack of vintage plates underneath the cloche.I wouldn't normally buy a secondhand rug, but with a big dog, rugs can get dirty quickly. And I don't mean just the kind of dirty that's easily remedied with a sweep of the vacuum. The ken rug had seen better days and so I started shopping discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls, but still didn't want to drop $100. Out this weekend to Best Thrift (one of my favorites in town), this set arrived the day before and I snatched it up. $30 for the two. Both in excellent condition with no smell, looped construction, perfect for the ken and the kitchen. The bottom line is that I've now got too many colors going on in these two rooms, but it gives it a carefree, haphazardly homey put-together English countryside feel.

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