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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Kitchen Leftovers That Sparkle!

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Dear Friends,

Because I promised, I am sharing the last of the photos of my holiday decor this past Christmas in our kitchen. I know, I know.  It’s February already! You’re probably saying, “Give me a break!” But I did promise to share them and a blogger friend reminded me of that, so here they are. And, I suppose it’s better late than never.  If you love Christmas like I do, and you do happen to find some little bits of inspiration here for your own decorating, well, you can file it away until Christmastime rolls around again.
I think my friend Madelief, author of a beautiful blog by the same name, will be surprised to know that the Christmas card she sent me all the way from Rotterdam in the Netherlands a few years ago, has had a place of honour on my tree every year since.  I just love the fairy image and romantic Dutch language, too.
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 It’s like hanging a miniature work of art on the tree!
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What do you think, Madelief? Dutch translation, please!
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The vibrant orange and amber hues of the tree are quite cheerful in this tiny corner of our kitchen room and Madelief’s precious card is a perfect complement.
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Honestly, I feel a bit sheepish about sharing these photos at this late date.  I hope they don’t keep you up all night with nightmares that  it’s Christmas again already! My last post, Be My Valentine, was a little shot of spring, but I’m afraid this post will bring you back to reality! If you are trying to escape winter, perhaps, then you might want to exit now. Lol  (I have to admit, though, I do love seeing again the reflection of our little kitchen tree in the mirror from this angle.)
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Here is the kitchen dresser when it was decked out with the most amazing gingerbread creations. If you want to see more photos of this amazing gingerbread house, you can check it out here at Gingerbread Dreams.  Do you like tin framed-mirrors?  I picked up this one at a lovely shop, Tin Roof Mercantile, in Nova Scotia a few years back. They were kind enough to ship it to me and it arrived safely. Thank goodness! It’s tremendously heavy.

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I just can’t get over these cute little footprints leading to the front door of the gingerbread house! Great job, Jindra! You are the gingerbread master!IMG_0725

All the gingerbread is edible but looked too pretty to eat. It did taste divine, though!IMG_0723

It made for such a sweet display.  The Portmeirion “The Holly and the Ivy” teapot was a gift from my husband years ago. The lush antique artistry is inspired by the 17th century English carol.IMG_0971

The little holiday tree sits in an urn on a table near the patio door and is trimmed with lovely baubles and sparkly twigs.  A mischievous elf peeps out from behind the tree!  Can you see him?IMG_0980

A winged creature up close… I love decorating with birds at Christmas.IMG_0979

 A little black always helps ground a room, even if it’s a Christmas ornament!

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A bountiful garland twines around a multi-tired shelf/wine rack in a corner of the room.IMG_0656

This luxe stocking came from a shop at Blomidon Inn’s House of Gifts in Nova Scotia. I’m always thinking Christmas, even on vacation! So, many holiday things seem to find their way into my suitcase or carry-on when I’m travelling.IMG_0653

“What is Christmas?  It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.”  Ahnes M. PharoIMG_0631

More bird motifs…IMG_0695

A spray of glittered branches at the top of the tree gives it oomph and extra height!IMG_0694

Elf is happily decorating the tree!IMG_0689 Don’t you love this old-fashioned ornament with the wreath in the centre!  It reminds me of the ones that hung on my parents’ tree when I was a little girl.

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This cute Bethany Lowe snowman always puts a smile on my face.  I think I brought him back in my suitcase from Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia when hubby and I visited there in 2012 for the Grand Illumination in December that year.  You can see photos of the town of Williamsburg decorated in its holiday finery here at It’s Christmas Naturally.
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He is adorable, isn’t he!

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“Mr. Lady Killer” on the wall is my favourite thing in the kitchen!  My mom jokes that when she sees him, she craves an egg! Lol  Oh, well!IMG_1001

Pretty porcelain for a Christmas tea…IMG_0999

I enjoy the soft glow of lamplight from this corner of the room, especially late at night when the house is quiet, and I can sip leisurely on a glass of eggnog (non alcohol) before bed.  Thank goodness eggnog can’t be found on the store shelves here after Christmas! All those yummy calories!

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Eggnog cups…

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Festive fairy!

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Each of these amber glass jugs has a story.  You can see more of this collection at Christmas is Coming.

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Wintry window…More view of the kitchen window can be seen at Celebrating The Twelfth Day of Christmas.IMG_1049

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I gave my mom-in-law Ethel this sweet figurine many years ago. she adored sheep and I adored Ethel.  Hours before she passed away, she gave it back to me so I could love it in my own collection. IMG_1009

I have a ‘thing’ for fairies…IMG_0996

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A hot chocolate bar in a basket sits on a marble bistro table in a corner of the kitchen near the pantry cupboards.  It came from our favourite downtown cafe when it closed its doors years ago. We sat at this table many times over great meals and memories.IMG_1267

Homemade marshmallows, toy soldier sugar cookies, and Oreo cookies dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy cane – what more could you want?IMG_1266

Peppermint stir sticks and hot chocolate!IMG_1267

Sit Long, Talk Much…IMG_1265

Fantasy under glass…Does this little fellow come to life when everyone’s sleeping?IMG_0733

Mason’s Pink Vista transferware is yet another favourite pattern! I love collecting these vintage pieces.

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Vintage love…the black is pretty, too!IMG_1057

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The inscription on the teapot reads:  “A cup of tea for you, a cup of tea for me, to enjoy around the Christmas tree.” The needlepoint heart was a gift this year from one of my Pink Days In Bloom garden fairies. Thank you Ann Marie, mom of ‘Invincibelle’ (a.k.a Kierstyn). I treasure it! A true ‘work of heart’.IMG_1423

This is a musical Santa.  He revolves to Silent Night and has been part of our Christmas decor for over 25 years, when we brought him back from the Williamsburg Pottery, Richmond, Virginia. Apart from a little chip of Santa’s finger, it has certainly withstood the test of time.  He is a Christmas tradition at our home.IMG_1422

Romantic candle glow and snowflake sugar cookies…They were so good! Thank you, Maria! You are the sugar cookie queen!IMG_1418

A cuppa Christmas…IMG_1412

The toy soldier cookies AND snowflake cookies were made by my friend Maria. Aren’t they sweet!IMG_1324

Since I’ve gone this far with the Christmas pictures, I thought I’d go all the way and share this beautiful carol with you – Angels We Have Heard on High by The Piano Guys, Peter Hollens and David Archuleta.  The video is lovely also.  I love hearing a beautiful piece of music at any time of year. I hope you enjoy it, too. If you have a listen, maybe you’ll forgive me for all the Christmassy photos…

Whatever you’re doing and wherever you are, I hope you are cozy and warm, of good health and spirit. Thank you for all the lovely footprints you left behind on my recent posts.  Thank you so much to Jann at Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson for featuring “Be My Valentine” at Share Your Cup Thursday!

“Let Every Day Be Christmas”
by Norman Wesley Brooks

Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself.

Celebrating the Twelfth Day of Christmas!

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 On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

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I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month. ~Harlan Miller

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Dear Friends,

Happy New Year to you all! My wish for you is good health, peace, friendship, love and many joy-filled moments in the coming year.

IMG_1038It’s early Monday and it is a quiet, Christmas card kind of morning with the snow falling and twirling to the ground like teeny feathers from heaven. Peaceful.

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For those living on many parts of our island, it’s a snow day for the children as schools are closed, or at least for the morning. Not here, though.  This beautiful scene won’t last long as the temperature is expected to climb to an unseasonable 11 degrees Celsius with rain, so all this fluffy snow will soon be washed away.  (I love this Bethany Lowe figure. Isn’t it precious?)

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Although I miss my garden at this time of year, the view is still beautiful, even from the kitchen sink!

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Who says rabbits are just for Easter?

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I’ve just made the bed (I like to dress the beds for Christmas) and am about to brew a hot cuppa.

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The house is so warm and welcoming at this time of year, so I am still enjoying. You can never have too many cozy pillows!

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A collection of hand painted Santas still sit on the dresser in the master bedroom.

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I am still listening to holiday music and sipping tea by the glow of the tree lights. I am loving this quiet hour. Hubby has left for work already and I am on vacation today (back to work tomorrow).

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I thought I would use the day to dismantle some of the decorations but on, second thought, I think I will enjoy them for the rest of this week and instead read some favourite magazines, be inspired and take some photos, something I haven’t had a chance to do all season.

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Maybe I’ll call up an old friend and invite her for tea. Pink transferware is wonderful at any time of year but especially during the holidays.

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I really like the Christmassy colours of this pattern.

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I know that many of you share a love for it.

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This is a nook in our petite kitchen/dining room. I love the sparkle! The house seems to say, “I’m happy!” and I want to share that. I hope it’s not too late.

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Well, Old Christmas Day is tomorrow, so I won’t leave it too long before I post some more images. Where did 2014 go?!

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I think I’ll start in the living room…

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The reflection of the lights of the Christmas trees in a framed print gives a magical feel to the room. Here are a few sneak peeks…

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The top of a Christmas tree…
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At the base of the tree…
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Special ornaments and a vignette under glass…
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Many thanks to Kerryanne for featuring my last post, Gingerbread Dreams, on her fun blog party Shabbilicous Friday! It was very sweet of you!  By the way, you might be interested to know that I gave that gingerbread house away but Santa brought me my very own gingerbread house! YES!
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The buffet/dresser in a kitchen nook is home to a fabulous smelling gingerbread display! (I tipped a little too far to the right when I snapped this one! Lol) Can you see the teeny footprints leading up to the front door of the gingerbread house. My friend Jindra is just amazing! APPLAUSE!
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I can’t thank her enough.  I’ve always wanted one for my own and she has made me a very happy girl, indeed! I get so much pleasure from looking at her creation.
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Look at that front door with the chevron wood-like pattern and pretty little wreath! You have to just admire her skill at detail! LOVE!
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It just makes my heart and feet dance together at the sight!  I hope it makes you happy  to see it, too.  I will probably be looking at this in my kitchen for a long time yet. I am very reluctant to put it away for another year. There are no ‘rules’ when to take down your holiday decor and if it makes you happy, then why not leave it for awhile longer! Celebrate Christmas every day, if you want – at least in your heart, that’s what matters. I love the spirit of the season and don’t mind one bit if it lingers awhile more.
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Oh, here comes the rain already! I’m glad I got those photos from the kitchen window when I did! This is the only snowman here today, on the kitchen table…
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I hope you’ll visit again soon! Thank you all for the very lovely comments last time.  I am always so excited to see your kind notes in my mailbox.
Wishing you a beautiful start to a brand new week,
Linda 

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Gingerbread Dreams

IMG_0156Dear Friends,
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE  me some cedar at Christmastime alll through the house. Branches snipped from the garden and some brought home from the garden centres seem to appear here and there and everywhere throughout our home at this time of year.  Mostly what I use inside to deck the chandeliers over tables, on tables and sideboards – near wherever food is served – is from the nursery or florist, just because I want to be sure there are no little bugs dropping from the branches especially onto food tables.
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This is my favourite tree this year!  It’s fashioned from gingerbread stars in graduating sizes and sits on a wooden base.
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I also love the aromatic scent of sweet gingerbread mixed with the smell of fresh winter greens.   I thought today I would share some photos of a petite gingerbread house surrounded by bits of cedar clippings that was sitting on my sideboard (an old pine dresser repurposed) in the kitchen for a few days before I gave the house away as a gift.
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The teeny house was custom-built for me to spec and pinterest inspired. A lovely new friend, Jindra, who is from Czech Republic made it for me using the old-style European recipe for gingerbread made up molasses, honey and flour.  The house sits on a 7″ diameter gingerbread cookie!
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 It smells soooo goood and is entirely edible but will keep for years if looked after properly…
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 Isn’t it adorable how the door to the house opens?  And, the tree outside and the starburst on the tiled rooftop?  And the detail surrounding the windows!  There are so many things about this creation that I admire.

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Aren’t the cookies beautiful? The detail is just amazing on these tasty treats. I particularly love the gingerbread spheres.  They have tiny ribbons attached so you can hang them on the tree. Just precious!
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The stars are beautiful, too.
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And, the snowflakes!  There’s my little reindeer place marker.  He makes me smile! Lol
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 I used some rustic looking bird nests dusted with sparkly snow and some lace trimmed ornaments on the dresser. Somehow, they just looked ‘right’ to me alongside the gingerbread shapes.IMG_0200I nestled a teeny silver reindeer place marker inside each of the nests.
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 The ‘hot toddy’ mugs are waiting…Or, would you prefer some pretty pomegranate tea in nod to the season?
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 The ‘White Wheat’ ironstone pattern is a favourite.  I have had this jug for many years.  It has a timeless appeal.
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Darling doves are displayed on my mother’s cookie plate which belonged to her mother and is probably over a century old.
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When I last posted, I showed this dresser with a totally different look using amber glassware.  You can see it here. This is how it looked before fitted out with my vintage amber glassware…
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And, this is the after…
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 There is a beautiful decorative sparkle to the gingerbread when the light shines on it.
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Sweet message…
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 The “Holly and Ivy” Portmeirion teapot was a gift to me from my husband about 10 years ago. Ivory bottlebrush trees are also a weakness of mine. Lol
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 I often stack cake plates to add height and interest to a tablescape. Do you do this, too?  There are so many ways you can use them.
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Behind the ceramic tray, I hid a teeny photo of me sitting on Santa’s lap.  It was taken 2 years ago when hubby and I visited New York City for a week plus a day.  I spotted this wonderful Santa at The Plaza Hotel.  The last time before that I had my photo taken with Santa was 50 years earlier!  Lol  It was a special moment for me – even at my age, all these years later! Lol
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There is something very special about the inside of this gingerbread house.  Can you guess what it is?
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SURPRISE!  The house has its own teeny gingerbread tree with teeny gingerbread presents underneath it! The love is definitely in the details! Jindra has such an amazing talent! XO
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Hubby and I went to dinner recently hosted by our dear friends, Brendan and Marie, in their beautiful home.  It was a fabulous evening on all counts. We always look forward to our visits with them. I brought along the tiny gingerbread house as a hostess/Christmas gift. Our friends were thrilled.  I’m sure their grandchildren will be, too!  I was delighted to see the same look on my friend Marie’s face when I gave her the house. I surely must have had the same look on mine when Jindra first presented this sweet ‘work of heart’ to me!
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As soon as I arrived at my friend’s home, I asked for one of her many pedestal cake plates (she used to have a tea room) and went about arranging feathery bits of cedar around the perimeter of the plate and then sprinkling icing sugar over the stems to resemble newly fallen snow.  I used glass yogourt cups to hold battery-operated votives and then filled the glasses with salt, popped a few pinecones in place on the side of the plate and voila! A beautiful presentation.
IMG_0257 The gift tag was given to me a couple of years ago.  A thoughtful friend had an entire box of them custom made for me! The same friend who gave me this beautiful china and glassware you can see here at The Festive Table! There must have been a dozen or more tags in the box and so I use them for very special gifts.
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When I was sprinkling confectioners’ sugar over the cedar, some of the sugar fell on my friend’s Baby Grand piano. She really liked the look of it and so she decided to leave it just as it was…
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My friend served dinners and tea in this room for nearly 10 years up until last year.  When she closed the tea room to spend more time with her grandchildren, she converted the dining room to a cozy sitting room.
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I love the old gramaphone…Can you hear Christmas music?
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I love how this vignette turned out.  It reminds me of a beautiful Christmas card…
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Since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of having my very own gingerbread house. I just love this petite little house so much that I asked Santa to bring me one for Christmas.  Lol  We’ll see…
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I can’t wait to snap some photos of this year’s decorations on the outside of ‘the bungalow’.  I’ve plopped pineapples in most of my urns again this year.  The pineapple, after all, is the symbol of welcome so is especially appropriate during the holidays. I’m having fun with a few garden benches and birdbaths this year, too, setting up little cheerful vignettes. This is what our front door looked like last year.
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You can see more photos here at Beautiful Christmas Green.
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I’m hoping for a wee sifting of fresh snow so my photos will look Christmassy.  Last year this time, we were knee-deep in snow and had been for weeks. Although I am wanting a little snow for photos, I am more than happy that we are having such great weather.  Right now, though, it looks as though we will have a green Christmas this year, so the exterior photos can wait a few days.
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I’d like to thank Kathy at A Delightsome Life and Sherry at The Charm of Home for featuring my last post Christmas is Coming on their amazing blogs!
Thank you for stopping by, particularly at this time of year when we have so much to keep us busy with holiday preparations! I hope Santa’s good to you! Sweet wishes for a beautiful Christmas filled with peace, love, joy and a multitude of blessings…XO
Linda  

Something special in the air…

IMG_1078Happy Fall, Y’all!

The glowing, delicious days of autumn are here!  I just love this time of year when the air is fresh and invigorating, and the countryside is awash with vibrant reds and golds. Doesn’t it just put that extra zing in your step! And, of course, I love fall walks, crisp apples, apple crisps and EVERYTHING pumpkin!

In the garden, I swap out the ‘bloom boxes’ for ‘pumpkin pots’, filling urns and window boxes with gourds of all kinds and pumpkins big and small. It’s easy to do and is such an inviting look for fall. Hope is in the air everywhere!

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Thanks to the many supportive garden nurseries and friends, it was a fantastic Pink Days In Bloom season, with more to come… And, so, in the spirit of breast cancer awareness, I thought I would share some nice news with you today. The pages below are from a newsletter that I recently shared on Pink Days In Bloom’s facebook page.  You can click on any of the photos in this post to enlarge them. October may be Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but locally we’re streeetching it by a couple days to November 2nd!

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Bring a friend, or two, or three and make plans for lunch/brunch in the café and then head on up to the third floor Rocket Room to check out the fair.  I think you will be pleased with what the vendors have in store for you. Many of them have already begun working on one-of-a-kind items for this wonderful sale.0001YK0001vo

Did you know that each vendor at “The Little Christmas Fair” makes a $100 charitable donation in support of CBCF-Atlantic in lieu of their table space at the fair? (Some of the vendors don’t normally participate in fairs but they do this one because they have a real connection to the cause and they want to help.) Admission is charged on the door and then there are generally a few holiday-themed raffles. It’s a fun way to raise monies for breast cancer research and community programs.  And, of course, we depend on you and your family and friends to all come out in support and have a good time while together we are working toward a future without breast cancer!

I hope you will help spread the word so that we can make this year’s “The Little Christmas Fair” the best yet for our generous vendors who put their hearts and talents into supporting the cause, and for CBCF-Atlantic to help them continue to do their good work in creating a future without breast cancer.  Whenever you see something on the Pink Days In Bloom Facebook touting “The Little Christmas Fair”, it would be a really huge help if you would share it on your own page.  That will go a long way in helping to get the word out about the fair and bringing more people to the venue.

Of course, greeters and ticket sellers are needed again this year.  So, if you’d like to volunteer for a couple hours during the day of the fair (pretteee pleeease), let me know and I’ll put your sweet face on the schedule!  Doors open at 11:00 AM and close at 5:00 PM.  Volunteer shifts are generally 2-hour shifts with 3 persons working each shift. The shift times are 11AM – 1PM, 1PM – 3PM and 3PM –  5PM.  Email me at linda.pinkdaysinbloom@gmail and let me know which shift you’d prefer.  Even volunteers have a great time at the fair and many stay long after their shift is over to take it all in!  You’ll be contributing to something good! It’s a great feeling that will surely get you into the holiday spirit!
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WANT TO KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING NEXT? DISCOVER PINK DAYS IN BLOOM ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.          Don’t miss a thing!  ‘Like’ Pink Days In Bloom on Facebook!  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pink-Days-in-Bloom/382061855145657    Follow on Twitter https://twitter.com/LindaPDIB

Thank you for your support and for dropping in for a visit today!  Cheers to a beautiful fall season! If you happen to be in St. John’s on November 2nd, I hope you will check out “The Little Christmas Fair!” See you here again soon!

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Linda

 

THANK YOU to the many wonderful bloggers who are sharing on their blogs this month about breast cancer awareness!  I am blessed to be able to share with Tuesday Cuppa Tea, Tea Time TuesdayWhat We Accomplished WednesdayWow Us Wednesday, Cottage Style PartyWake Up WednesdayWhat’s It Wednesday, The Homemaking PartyShare Your Cup ThursdayHome and Garden Thursday, Thursday Favourite ThingsFeathered Nest FridayRomantic Home, What to do Weekends, Home Sweet Home, Saturday Show Off and Pink Saturday. Love your blogs!

 

The Festive Table

P1130328Dear Friends,

How lovely it is that you are here just in time to share some time and tea together!  Have you started thinking about the gatherings you’ll host in the coming weeks? On my “To Do” list this year is to create a welcoming holiday table.

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More than any other time of year, I like to put in a little extra effort in pulling together a look for our table that says to guests, “You are special and we’re glad you’re here! This is a table in your honour.” 

P1130251I plan to use items collected from rooms throughout our home and give them a new, albeit temporary, purpose at the dining table; things that bring a touch of glitz, elevate the occasion and even add an element of sweet surprise! The fun is in using ‘found’ things I already have in unexpected ways and seeing my guests’ faces light up when they enter the room! I thought I would experiment first on a smaller scale, a practice run. I gathered some tree trimmings to see how they might look…

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This tablescape was fashioned using some gorgeous, very unexpected gifts from a dear and generous friend!  Popular local designer Eric White, also known as “Mr. Christmas”, gave his tenth and final legendary annual “White Before Christmas” at our local Arts and Culture Centre last fall. Every year for a decade, it was a much-anticipated sold-out event in the months leading up to Christmas with a long wait list every time. 

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During his grand finale event to benefit the library, Eric caught me quite by surprise and presented me with a sled load of spectacular gifts, among them this porcelain gold-rimmed dinnerware (enough for 6 place settings) and coordinating glassware, gold charger plates, table linens, together with ten tiny presents all beautifully boxed and wrapped in the most glorious papers and bows and tags imaginable!

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I remember I was feeling exhausted that evening. My husband had been in hospital all that week following heart surgery. I was working full days and heading to the hospital immediately after work.  He had just been released from the hospital hours only before the show. As Eric spoke my name, the words were not, at first, registering with me. My co-worker Joan who was sitting in the row behind me finally poked me in the shoulder and whispered at the back of my head, “He’s talking to you!” Lol  When I looked at Eric, he was looking directly at me and asking “Well, my dear, are you coming up?” Lol  
 
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 I immediately popped up in my seat, somewhat dazed! I had earlier settled myself into my chair and had kicked off my shoes. I quickly walked to the stage feeling very flat-footed, much shorter and unsure what was happening in that moment! Lol  To say the least, I was very humbled as it was obvious to me that Eric had put much thought into this menagerie of gifts with which he presented me. For instance, he had known for some time that I had been swooning over some holiday tags made by a friend of his. I must have mentioned those tags a dozen or more times! A stack of tags personalized with my name on them had been tucked into a perfect, prettily wrapped box! 
 
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 At the end of the night, with the help of Eric and his staff, my girlfriend’s car was loaded up with the treasures that he had gifted me, and they filled the trunk and back seat of her car to take to my home! I was speechless, dazed and amazed by the whole thing, my gratitude beyond words. 
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 I thought I would have a little fun seeing how my tabletop might be inspired this year and wanted to share it with you, as I know many of you are searching out ideas for your own holiday tables.  I love to elevate things in varying heights, for added interest.  Glittery tree ornaments gently placed represent a special take-away gift for each guest who will be seated at the table.
 
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An angel has come in from the garden to watch over my table…
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I love to drape garlands around my tables!  Don’t they really add a sumptuous feel to the occasion?  This is a faux cedar garland.  It is very soft and pliable, so easy to shape.  Of course, you can use the real thing when the time comes.  I am keeping my fresh garlands in the trunk of my car at the moment where they will keep cool.  My husband and I are going to be festooning our front doorway today and I think I might have a roping of greens left over to use in the kitchen, maybe to use at the table!P1130240Candlelight lends an intimate, glowing feel to the meal.   Tall candle tapers are certainly spectacular but I admit I am a little nervous of using them and cannot relax while they are lit. If you’re shy of real candles, the battery operated ones are lovely, too.

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P1130117“Eating is so intimate.  It’s very sensual.  When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you’re inviting a person into your life.”  Maya Angelou

P1130314I  am dreaming of new ways to use old things, like this garden angel who has come in from outside.  She has been cleaned up to look her best for company! I like combining the new with the old, for a less contrived and more relaxed, romantic atmosphere.  I’m off to think about all the things I can find that can be converted with a holiday theme and relocated somewhere else in the house for a little “Christmas vacation”.  We can all certainly use a little change sometimes! I hope you enjoyed the photos and can feel the love at my table today! XO I am so glad you came by! I finally finished all my exterior planters, so I hope you will join me for another cuppa soon! Happy decorating!

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Linda

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If you would like to see a tea set that my friend Eric presented to me at a fundraising tea for breast cancer research, click on the link below and you’ll find a photo at the end of the post.

https://beautifulideas.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/a-walk-in-the-park/

I am happy to be joining Inspiration Monday, Make it Pretty MondayTeatime Tuesday, The ScoopFriends Sharing Tea, Cottage Style PartyA Return to LovelinessWhat’s It Wednesday, What We Accomplished WednesdayThe Homemaking Party, Tablescape Thursday, Open House Thursday , Home and Garden Thursday, Home Sweet Home, Time Travel ThursdayFresh-cut Friday, Let’s DishFeathered Nest FridayShow and Tell Friday, What To Do Weekends, Pink SaturdaySaturday Show Off, Be Inspired and Seasonal Sunday!

The Snow Tree

Hello Friends,

I am so glad that you’ve come to visit.  The teapot’s on and it won’t be but a minute brewing.  While we’re waiting for a cuppa, tell me, how did you enjoy your Christmas?

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Do you happen to have a favourite holiday decoration? For me, the Christmas tree is perhaps my most favourite thing of the holidays.  I can go without wreaths and garlands, sweets, presents, even turkey – but not without a tree!  I just love to sit and gaze (or maybe I should say, “glaze”)  at it, sometimes for hours, and soak up the beautiful light that it gives!  With a glass of bubbly by the fireside, it’s a slice of heaven on earth…  I hope that when I am too old and feeble to set up my own tree with a star on top that some kind Samaritan will do it for me, so I can still be surrounded by a little beauty during the Yuletide. It’s  just one of those things that makes my heart sing and keeps me going!

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I love our snowy tree, a romantic, glistening wintry wonderland.   Shiny ornaments and sheer, luxe twirling ribbons. Glass birds and feathered birds.  Crystal garlands and reflective prisms.  Glittery branches, sparkly twigs and ivies.  Velvety fantasy flowers and twinkling fairy lights. Teeny mirrors and miniature framed photos of my dad and my husband’s parents who are no longer with us…There’s alot of bling on our tree, out of necessity, you’ll soon see! Lol

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On a crisp, clear evening, my husband and I purchased our tree from a holiday window display in a downtown shop at the last-minute before closing on 23rd December 25 years ago.  It wasn’t on sale and it was an expensive tree, and still would be in today’s currency.  It was a major purchase for us back then.  We thought about it as an investment in our future together…Lol  I remember squealing with excitement on the drive home with our new treasure tucked into the trunk.  I could hardly stand to wait until we brought it inside and set it up in our tiny apartment.  We had only been married a few years, and our Christmas was full of anticipation that year as we were hosting family and friends for our first-ever holiday buffet.  The tree was the star! Someone even asked, “How do you keep the snow from melting off the tree!”  None of us had never seen anything like it before!  Lots of photos of young and old alike were taken in front of the tree that year, and there have been lots in the years since.  We  have continued the tradition of gathering friends and relatives at our home during the season; and although I’ve gotten somewhat lazy in recent years, I still manage to host an open house or a tea, just not necessarily on New Year’s Day.  And, people to this day, even though the tree is starting to show its age, still remark about  ‘The Snow Tree’ in our living room!

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In its heyday, this tree was a natural beauty, even more beautiful without a stick of bling,  just the fairy lights peeping out from underneath the snow-laden boughs.  A dreamy, welcoming sight on a winter’s eve…The tree’s flocking is nearly all worn off now. Every year there is a bigger pile of snow at its feet and mine! Some of its limbs are bent and broken, tied up with wire to keep them from flopping to the floor.  Nowadays, it drips in a frosting of shimmery trims, piled on thick and deep and sweet, a camouflage to keep from seeing through to its bare arms and spindly core.  And, every year we add more bling as the holes in the tree grow bigger and bigger…

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I have been hanging on to this old tree for many years, more than I care to admit, hesitant to let it go because it has been a large part of our Christmas tradition for such a long time. It is only a ‘thing’ after all, but things are what stir memories inside us and help us to remember places we’ve been, our experiences together, the people we love…  I look at our tree every day and see cherubs created by my friend Jean in her basement workshop, passionately painting into the wee hours of the morning; wooden hearts custom painted by my friend’s sister Joan, frosted roses plucked from my mother-in-law, Ethel’s, tree; and authentic Venetian masks brought from a European holiday with my childhood friend Gail (the ones she brought me from her Christmas in New Orleans one year are there, too); and bells and balls that are treasures gifted to me by co-workers and family through the years.  A Christmas tree can evoke a multitude of feelings and memories of  times past.  Is yours like that, too?

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On the practical side, I haven’t been able to find a single specimen to replace our tree that even comes close to its quality, or at least that suits me.  They just don’t make things like they used to, even flocked trees!  Sadly, when our tree comes down this year,  it will be final, a time to say ‘goodbye’ to ‘The Snow Tree’.  Sigh.  I will be forced to get a new tree next season.  I will view our parting as an opportunity for change and a chance to create a new and even more beautiful tradition.  Maybe I’ll try a real one.  I love all the images of natural Christmas trees on Pinterest, don’t you… I don’t know what form our tree will take next Yuletide, or where all the pinky ornaments will find a new home…Decidedly, I will look forward to a new tree.  One thing is for certain,  like so many of your own trees, there will be an angel and a star at the top to represent the host of angels and Bethlehem star over the nativity, yet it will be a tree that is one-of-a-kind rich with our own memories.

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Oh, my! Where has the time gone?  It’s dark outside already.  Time to turn on the tree lights inside.  I hope you are enjoying seeing all the details of the tree in the slideshow at the bottom of this post.  Thanks for keeping me company tonight!  I always love spending time with you, dear ones.

Wishing you all a beautiful New Year filled with beautiful new traditions and wonderful memories!

“Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree.  In the eyes of children, they are all 30-feet tall.”  Lary Wilde

Linda

It’s Tibb’s Eve!

IMG_1446 IMG_1448Welcome Lovelies!  It’s Tibb’s Eve!

And, I am like a Whirling Dervish putting the finishing touches on my decorating (indoors AND out), still shopping, wrapping, delivering and baking!  Yes, I have ambitious plans, indeed.  Fingers, toes and eyes crossed that I will be able to check it all off my list before the light of dawn.  Am I dreaming?! I have never before been this late doing Christmas!  A dream vacay  to New York City during the first of the month, and having been down with flu for this entire week, has really put me behind in all things Christmas at our home this year.

As far as I know, Tibb’s Eve, the 23rd of December, originated on the south coast of Newfoundland some fifty plus moons ago.  In some island communities, it is also known as Tipp’s Eve, or Tipsy Eve.   So, now, I think you might know where this is going…Once upon a time, it was thought to be acceptable to have the first few festive ‘tipples’ (translation:  alcoholic drinks) before Christmas on Tibb’s Eve, a time reserved for visiting neighbours and friends, dropping off gifts and having a few swallies (translation:  ales) while making the rounds from house to house throughout the outport (translation:  village).

In keeping with tradition, I invite you to join me in a nook in my kitchen for a festive cuppa, perhaps a steaming spiced toddy to warm you.  Perfect for a damp, cold night like this.  It has been raining all day and much of our snow has disappeared, so it could very well be a green Christmas after all.  I, however, will stick to my holiday tea as I will need my total wits about me to complete all that is on my To-Do list tonight…

And, since this will be my last post before Christmas, I want to wish you all, dear friends, a joyous time filled to the brim with cozy memories and to thank you for visiting me.  (Oh, darn, I forgot to remove the price sticker from the bottom of that candle before I wrapped it) Sigh. It’s going to be a lonnng night….Lol

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Hugs, Linda

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A Christmas candle is a lovely thing;It makes no noise at all,But softly gives itself away.~Eva Logue

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Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white’.
Bing Cosby

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May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope;The spirit of Christmas which is peace;The heart of Christmas which is love.~Ada V. Hendricks

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There are no strangers on Christmas Eve.  ~Mildred Cram and Adele Comandini

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Christmas… is not an external event at all, but a piece of one’s home that one carries in one’s heart. Freya Stark

IMG_1401 IMG_1403 IMG_1409 IMG_1410IMG_1355 IMG_1642 IMG_1346 IMG_1646Tonight I am joining Open House, Treasure Hunt ThursdayFeathered Nest Friday, Home Sweet Home, Vintage Inspiration, Inspiration Friday

The Gift of Christmas! Sanselig Jul…

Sanselig Jul:  A Christmas For All The Senses

by Franciska Munck-Johansen

Dearest Friends,

Something very special sits on my desk this evening. A glorious feast – for the eyes! An exquisite holiday idea book has arrived all the way from Norway.  A true ‘Work of Heart’ by talented Norwegian Franciska Munck-Johansen – author/stylist/photographer!  Bubbling with excitement, like a child on Christmas morning, I can barely contain myself as I turn each smooth, glossy perfect page.

My cup of amber tea has long gone cold.  My husband took it away to pour me another.  🙂 I barely noticed…I am happily preoccupied. Mesmerized. My eyes pour over each and every lustrous sheet of gorgeous photos.  I am wearing a big grin on my face.  Searching for something which is very thrilling to me.   Photos of  the exterior of our own home dressed for the holidays  in simple, natural cedar garlands and balsam fir wreaths.  Pages 44-45.  I can hardly believe my eyes!

Isn’t this an outstanding cover photo (below) that Franciska has chosen for her new book? (My friend Jean made the Santa – isn’t he handsome in his Nordic style ski wear?)

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Franciska’s book is written in Norwegian, but a picture does speaks a thousand words and the language of photos is certainly universal.  Beautiful and inspiring!  The photo on the left is of our garden gate (although it is not red anymore) and here is what the caption under it reads:

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
It’s almost so you can hear Christmas carols and expect to see Rudolph and
the rest of the gang behind this garden gate. Canadian Linda Ryan, author of  the blog “Beautiful Ideas”, loves Christmas and has photographed these lovely images in her garden. She uses evergreens to decorate around the garden in flower boxes, on doors, around the outside lights… The front door of her home is a wonderful portal decorated with fresh cedar and long ribbons. 
https://beautifulideas.wordpress.com
 

It does not surprise me that my dear friend Carolyn from the enchanting ‘Island of Anne’ is in the book, too. Carolyn is amassing a library of publications featuring her stunning home and gardens.  Here she writes about being featured in Franciska’s “Sanselig Jul”:  Aiken Home and Garden

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A third North American featured in the book is Sandy Foster, author of the blog ‘My Shabby Streamside Studio’.  Sandy lives in New York (my husband and I are not long home from eight glorious days in NYC, something that has been on my bucket list for a very long time – more about that soon)….You’ll love Sandy’s dreamy, marshmallowy photos.  Sandy has been a guest on the Nate Berkus Show and is included in his newest book.  You can visit Sandy at her blog here:  My Shabby Streamside Studio.  Here are some pictures of Sandy’s feature in Sanselig Jul.

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Franciska’s book is a magical Christmas treasury.    The stuff  of dreams.  I am thrilled to have it in my special collection of beautiful holiday books.  Even more so to be included in it!  Surreal.  Franciska  is a beauty  – inside and out.  Her first-class work is featured in many interiors magazines in Europe and beyond. Swoonworthy, indeed.  Her passion for all that she does shines through in her every one of  her photos.  Her warmth and charm of personality emanates from the pages of “Sanselig Jul”.  Here is beautiful photo of Franciska.

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You can purchase Francsika’s book (here) .

My first ‘meeting’ with Franciska was in summer 2011.  She shared my blog post (Waiting for Springtime) on her own blog .  It touched her heart and made me glad that she felt my story  was worth sharing, that it might inspire others to do something nice for someone in need.   We all can use a supportive ‘hug’ sometimes, can’t we…

Last year, Franciska sent me as a gift a copy of her first book, “Sanselig Sommer”, which translated into English means “Summer for All the Senses”.  It, too, is jam-packed with wonderful photos and ideas that can be easily adapted for the home, garden and inspired living. It’s such quality that I am honoured to be included in anything that Franciska does!

Can I tell you a secret? I have always dreamed of writing my own Christmas book one day.  Shhh….But I never dreamed for a single moment, that I would be included in a book by such a recognized European artist as Franciska!   How life sometimes presents the unexpected!  Blogland has been a portal to so many opportunities this past year that would not have been possible otherwise.

Each year, in the month leading up to Christmas, I gather up all my holiday books in a basket and look through one or two every day for inspiration. It’s exciting to think that Sanselig Jul, in which our own home is featured, will become part of that collection and tradition!  My deepest gratitude, Franciska, for your warm embrace.   It is an incredible honour for me…What a wonderful Gift of Christmas!  Happy Holidays to you and yours, dear friend.

Thank you everyone for visiting today.  I hope you will come back soon for some holiday photos of my first adventure in New York City…

Wishing you a beautiful week ahead,

Linda

I am delighted to be joining Show and Tell Friday, Open House, Home Sweet Home, Vintage Inspiration, Teatime Tuesday, Wow Us Wednesday, Feathered Nest Friday, Holiday Home Tour, Jennifer at Traditions and Cottage Magpie.

Fill Your Socks at “The Little Christmas Fair!”

Dear Friends,

Thank you for stopping by today! As always, the kettle’s on and I am thrilled that you are here to keep me company! As many of you know, I have been MIA for awhile. Thank you for continuing to drop by while I’ve been away. While I have missed Blogland these past six months, I have been busy, busy spearheading a FUNdRaising campaign – Pink Days In Bloom – at various garden centres here on our Island of  Newfoundland this past summer.

Pink Days In Bloom is a high-spirited FUNdraiser that demonstrates support for persons living with breast cancer, their families and friends. This year, an estimated 330 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in our tiny province with a population of just over 500,000 people.  Monies raised through Pink Days In Bloom are in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) – Atlantic Region to help fund innovative breast cancer research, programs and equipment throughout our Atlantic provinces.

In July 2011, one garden centre (Pat’s Plants and Gardens was the first) hosted Pink Days In Bloom.  And, in 2012, Pat’s Plants and Gardens hosted their 2nd Annual Pink Days In Bloom and seven garden centres signed on! ‘The dream’ is that Pink Days In Bloom will, one day soon, become an Island-wide happening, and we’re well on our way!  I am thrilled to say that CBCF-Atlantic  recently adopted Pink Days In Bloom as its signature summer FUNdRaiser, promoting it in Atlantic Canada based on the Newfoundland success as a model! The Canadian Nursery Landscape Association  (CNLA) has also committed to promote Pink Days In Bloom to its membership across the country!  And, Pink Days In Bloom has ‘blossomed’ beyond garden centres to corporate Pink Jeans Days and BBQ’s, retail events, and even a ‘Pink Softball Tournament of Hope’ hosted by friends at Shand Nurseries (on the weekend following their Pink Days In Bloom event).  The season concluded with ‘A Beautfiul Summer Evening of Pink’, a champagne dinner at a local restaurant, The Tea Garden.

In one year, well over $25,000 (probably closer to $30,000 by the end of December) has been raised under the Pink Days In Bloom banner thanks to an awesome team of sponsors and volunteers working together. I have been working full-time besides all the while, so I am sure you can understand that it hasn’t left much time for blogging.  It’s good to be back!

“The Little Christmas Fair”

Treats offered in rockin’ Rocket’s Coffee and Bakery Bar during “The Little Christmas Fair” on Sunday, November 9th

As recently as last weekend, “The Little Christmas Fair,” also in support of CBCF-Atlantic, was held at our local Rocket Bakery, a favourite haunt here for many.  The building was built in 1852 and is a beautiful venue with old wood floors and exposed brick. walls.  The smells from the croissants and other goodies baking in the ovens as we were setting up the vendor tables at 6:30 AM was tantalizing!

“The Little Christmas Fair” was a joyous success, made possible by dedicated volunteers, generous sponsors & the kind patronage of fair-goers! Many of the vendors were preparing in the weeks leading up to the fair, and patrons were invited to shop for those special gifts to get a head start on the holidays. Visitors discovered an array of wonderful treasures, many of them one-of-a-kind, to fill those Christmas socks for everyone on their ‘Good List’. Fair-goers were able to enjoy refreshments in the Rocket Bakery café & wrap themselves in the warm ambience, uplifting spirit and genuine camaraderie of “The Little Christmas Fair” and what it represents to so many…

The spirit of Christmas was palpable in the air at “The Little Christmas Fair!” There were carollers with the voices of angels from our Memorial University’s School of Music and members of local community choirs, a delightful harpist, artful face painting, a zany holiday photo booth (complete with props like reindeer antlers, huge glasses, Santa hats…), St. Nicholas Silent Auction and Cheery Chance Auction, Comfort and Joy Christmas Raffle, coffee and bakery bar, a visit from Santa himself and, of course, garden faeries! No Pink Days In Bloom event would be without ‘Hope’ and ‘Invincibelle’, the ‘official’ Pink Days In Bloom garden faeries dressed in their Christmas garb!

Much gratitude to sponsors, vendors, volunteers, fair shoppers, the media and Facebook friends and all who helped get the word out – to everyone involved in any way, big or small.

Here are some images from that wonderful event. The Pink Days In Bloom Facebook link is also below, if you’d like to have a good ol’ poke around on there and see what I’ve been up to all this time! 🙂 http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pink-Days-in-Bloom/382061855145657

 I don’t know where the time went these past six months – it flew by so quickly! Isn’t it hard to imagine it will soon be time to decorate for Christmas? Indeed, I have already started! It wasn’t too hard since I have been in Christmas mode for many weeks preparing for “The Little Christmas Fair” FUNdRaiser.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmastime and am looking forward to sharing some photos of our ‘Home for the Holidays’ with you very soon. I hope you are enjoying your ‘cuppa’ while you browse through the pics. Thank you once again, for taking time out of your day to visit! I promise it won’t be six months before I write another post! You all are very kind to keep coming back! I am so glad to share your company once again. Would you like another cuppa? XO

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Linda

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pink-Days-in-Bloom/382061855145657

 

A CHRISTMAS TEA, TOUR AND MORE…

No one has ever become poor by giving. – Ann Frank

CAUTION:  There’s alot of Christmas spirit in this post!  Take a few moments to yourself away from all the hustle and bustle, settle into your favourite armchair with a cuppa, put up your feet, and just breathe…

A Christmas “Togetherness Tea Party” at our home was actually a fabulous fundraiser.  Holiday teas were poured from beautiful teapots. There were sweet treats, hugs and lots of fun!  At long last, it seemed, the Christmas season had officially begun…

Welcome Kindred Christmas Spirits,

It is such a pleasure  to relate to you something wonderful that happened just over a week ago! Last Sunday afternoon (December 11th), my husband and I hosted the most beautiful Holiday Tea that we have ever held in our home.  It was an open house: a buffet tea and tour of our home decked out in all the season’s finery. The event was actually a fundraiser named: “A Christmas Tea for Lucas”

THE SEASON OF GIVING  Over 60 persons (50 adults plus children) gathered at our home over a few joyous hours for the sound of jingling bells, twinkling lights, a rejuvenating cuppa, home-baked treats and heartwarming friendship – a time to celebrate all that is good about this time of year. Together, feeling inspired by the beauty and giving spirit of the season, we raised a grand total $1,475.00! Isn’t that AMAZING in just a few hours over tea and dessert?!  A Christmas miracle, indeed!

OVER TEA AND BLOGGING  I had been planning “A Christmas Tea for Lucas” for months – since late summer when we visited Prince Edward Island solely to meet my new friend through blogging Carolyn Aiken (you can read about it here) of the popular blog Aiken Home and Gardens. Undoubtedly, many of you already know Carolyn and are long-time fans of her gentle blog about her romantic life on glorious Prince Edward Island.

Lucas with a sock monkey named “Linda” that was made specially for the Tea and sent along in the mail from Prince Edward Island to my Island of Newfoundland. I must admit that I’ve never before had a sock monkey named after me!

On the final day of our visit with Carolyn and her husband Andrew back in August, and before leaving the Island, Carolyn and I sat together at her table in her welcoming kitchen and shared a cup of friendship.  She relayed to me that she and Andrew are blessed with 7 children and 9 grandchildren. One dear grandson, 6-year old little Lucas, had been diagnosed at the young age of just 2 years with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). It  affects only boys – as many as 1 in 3,000. I never knew that. In fact, I knew very little about DMD at all before then.

Lucas and his mom, Jen (Carolyn and Andrew’s daughter), were about to embark on a journey that would cause them to travel from their home on Prince Edward Island to a Montreal hospital each week for 52 weeks for Lucas’ participation in drug trials there.  It is hoped that these drugs will slow the progression of the disease. We are all wishing the best for sweet Lucas and his family.

As Carolyn and I were chatting on for hours, the time seemed to just fly by!  We shared  our common interests, pursuits, dreams, AND worries while sipping soothing peppermint tea and eating Carolyn’s tasty home-baked scones and pie. I promised my new friend then and there that come the holidays, I would host “A Christmas Tea for Lucas”.  It would be a way to embrace dear Lucas and his family on their journey, to let them know that someone was thinking of them, sending them positive energy; and to demonstrate, in some small measure, financial support for Carolyn’s daughter and her family during a most challenging time in their young lives. Christmas, after all, IS a time for family.  And, aren’t we ALL family? Every one of us needs a shoulder sometimes and a helping hand. The kindness of others helps to make our load a little lighter at times. People, even strangers, were so kind to me when I was going through treatments for breast cancer not so long ago; I just wanted to pay that forward somehow.  And, thus the seed was planted there on verdant Prince Edward Island at Carolyn’s hospitable kitchen table…

Singing angels (from left to right Memorial University of Music students Steven Griffin, Courtney Woodford, Chris Davis and Teri Slade) lend a neighbourly caring to the afternoon’s event. These outstanding (pardon the pun) young people volunteered their precious time to raise funds for cancer research! Carolling is a rare and precious treat nowadays in this age of cds, music dvds and satellite radio! Thank you for the beautiful gift of your voices. You were truly wonderful and just made the day for all of us! I hope you will come back and share with us again next year…

FOUR MONTHS LATER, ON ANOTHER ISLAND… Christmas carollers with the voices of angels spreading the good news of the season greeted guests as they came up the walkway to our front door on that festive afternoon, immediately elevating everyone’s mood!

Can you see the crown of fresh fruit over the door?

Smiling, happy faces. Cheery greetings. Big hugs. Waves of gratitude and giving.

All were met with a fresh pineapple welcome (notice the door crown fashioned from a whole pineapple and bunches of shiny red apples), Colonial Williamsburg style.

Hand-and-tummy warming apple cider on the stove top. Frothy vanilla egg nog served in a vintage amber glass bowl and cups. Steaming flavourful teas poured from beautiful teapots. Fresh-from-the-oven desserts and special sweets of the season in abundance to tempt the taste buds.

The merry sound of jingle bells with each opening of the door. The warmth of twinkling white faerie lights all through the house. A holiday home tour. Prizes to be won and surprises, too!

Even an astonishing pop-in visit from jolly old Saint Nick himself in the finest cherry-red suit that I have ever laid eyes upon! (How on earth did you get word to Santa, good neighbour George, that we were having a special party that day?! And, how did Santa ever find time at this busiest time of year?! Muuuaahhh!). Children and adults alike were wide-eyed with wonder at the sight of the jolly gent. And, oh, the laughter!!! What holiday fun!

Handmade season wreaths plentifully fashioned from natural pine, fir, cedar and LOVE were for sale, contributed by a dear young friend with all proceeds going to the cause. Thank you, Brittany, for your generous heart! Every wreath sold and for a pretty price! People gave way more than we were suggesting – and, in one instance nearly ten time more! WOW!

THE BEST GIFT  Kindness. Caring. Generosity. Sharing. Wide-open hearts. There was a real camaraderie, a connection of some kind in the air that is hard to describe with mere words. The sheer excitement was almost palpable. It was true Christmas spirit like I’ve never experienced! And, to top it all off, snow started falling softly outside the windows, as if we were inside a ‘living’ Christmas card…What a perfectly lovely day!

This door crown (also shown in the photo above) was created in mere minutes while waiting for a wickedly yummy carrot cake to come out of the oven the night before the party (rather, in the wee hours the morning of the party). I have been using the same wooden cut-out in the shape of a semi-circle for this annual project for over 20 years! The fresh fruits are pushed downward over top of long galvanized nail spikes. Cedar branches are hot glued to fill in the gaps between the apples.  Using a large picture hanger attached to the back of the piece, hang atop your door for a Colonial Williamsburg-style welcome and your done. A resplendent door crown! 1-2-3 Easy.

It was an oh-so special Tea Party in celebration of this magical time of beauty and wonder, and giving from the heart. One and all opened their hearts and their wallets in good old-fashioned Christmas spirit and rejoiced in the gift of giving. A THOUSAND THANK YOU’s EVERYONE!  It means the world that you gave so freely and in so many ways. I was able to send the gift of a Moneygram and all your best wishes off to Lucas and his family soon after the Tea. The much-appreciated gift will be used to purchase a special new bed and mattress for Lucas.  Doesn’t it feel good knowing that you were able to help in this way?! 🙂

The sweets table…I was up until 2AM and again at 6 AM baking up a storm before the Tea so everything would be fresh.  The gorgeous window pane and chocolate dipped cookies in the centre were compliments of Sugar Mama’s Bakery!  Thank you Lainie. It was very sweet of you!

The best gift of the season for me was knowing that everyone who came enjoyed themselves to the fullest, and that we were able to join together in sharing a little goodwill at this magical time of the year in effort to help our fellow man.

On that day, our home was filled  to the rafters with the love that is the very essence of this beautiful season…It is something we will never forget.

A handsome guest remarked, “NOW it feels like Christmas…” It was the first time he had been to our home, and he had brought with him his lovely family in support of little Lucas and his dear family.  It  was such a beautiful compliment that they, and all who came to be with us that day, had taken precious time out of their own hectic Christmas preparations – the shopping, baking, decorating, stringing outdoor lights and getting the tree – to join in offering their friendship and strength of support to strangers. Lucas and his family are truly, truly appreciative and can’t thank you every one enough. YOU left a smile on their hearts, as well as ours, and we will always be grateful for  your kindness and generous, caring collective spirit…TRUE Christmas spirit!

Perhaps a NEW Christmas tradition has already begun in our home, one to anchor the coming holiday seasons. Hmm, next year, maybe I’ll host “The True Spirit of Christmas” Tea…

I ran out of greens just before fashioning this urn, so I used other elements from the garden to fatten it up: a garden cherub sits on the edge of the urn with his feet dangling over the edge, an iron obelisk and a shiny red gazing ball inside it are strategically placed in the centre, large pinecones, tall twigs, a garden sign on a stake, almost anything I could find…

LOVE IS IN THE DETAILS  Those of you who have ever hosted a large at-home party and enjoy entertaining can probably relate that in the weeks leading up to the Tea, I spent many blissful hours immersed in my favourite Christmas books and hundreds of magazine clippings from past years, still kept in a special holiday file, making endless notes that I would later tuck into my purse to have with me when running errands.

While perusing my favourite holiday recipes collected, too, over time and planning the once-a-year and first-time-ever fancy desserts I would make, I compiled ingredients lists and contemplated the special serving dishes to be brought out of the cupboards.

Pouring over seasonal decorating magazine issues both current and saved from Christmases past, while sipping spiced tea and daydreaming about how the house would look all decked out, and  the holiday trims I would attempt to make; I spent days and days (time here and there) cleaning and readying the rooms, imparting little inspirational touches of the season into each one, creating Christmas all through the house…

My husband did a wonderful job of orchestrating the adornments on our home’s exterior. The walkway, front door, garden gate and benches, planters and window boxes, statuary and obelisks, and, yes, even the shed and deck were festooned with fresh greens of all kinds in a spur-of-the-moment – yet surprisingly artful – arrangements! In contrast, he did not spend a goodly portion of his time thinking all these things through. He just went for it and all turned out beautifully!  There is something to be said for that! But then, the anticipation is part of the pure enjoyment of the entire process for me….:-)

‘The Christmas Shed’…Didn’t my hubby do a great job filling this planter box?!

Won’t you come with me and have a little look around?!  I promise you’ll find some ideas to dress up every room in your home during the holidays: draping greens over the beds, hanging stockings of every kind from everywhere imaginable (I’ve hung them from knobs on dressers, chairbacks, doorknobs, cupboards, bed posts, footboards, headboards…I looove Christmas stockings), creating lighting ambience with candles and chandeliers, pretty paper wrappings, ways with ribbons, even gift ideas and more…

I don’t think you ever stop giving. I really don’t. I think it’s an on-going process. And it’s not just about being able to write a check. It’s being able to touch somebody’s life. – Oprah Winfrey

First, before we begin our home tour, please bear with me while I’ll announce the winners of the many lovely Christmas-themed prizes. All the gifts have been delivered, but some of you have been curious, so here goes:

AUCTION PRIZES

Six-year old Natalie Moss won “A Child’s Christmas” package including: Lucas’ Sock Monkey, Christmas storybooks “The Gift” and “House of The Wooden Santas”, along with holiday DVDs “A Christmas Carol” with Jim Carey and the newer version of “Miracle on 34th Street”.  Lucky Natalie! Congratulations and enjoy!

Charlene Peckham won “A Christmas Tea”: A precious holiday basket filled with biscuit mix and strawberry-and-champagne preserves both from the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company (I brought them home with me from my vacation in PEI with exactly this in mind even then), Belgian chocolates, pretty beverage napkins, royal-themed teas, and a special Christmas tea book all beautifully presented for giftgivingt…

Harold Hayward won “Movie Night”: “The Bells of St. Mary’s” DVD, a gorgeous pair of red crackled-glass poured candles with tassels, and yummy holiday chocolates…I looove this movie!

Julie Bennet won “The Baker’s Gift”: Large bottles of cinnamon and vanilla, Paderno measuring spoons, Pier 1 measuring cups, festive recipe cards, and snowflake cookie cutter all gathered in a gorgeous red bucket planter!

Linda Harnett won: the ‘Hostess Gift”: McSteven’s delicious hot chocolate in a beautiful Santa tin, coordinating Jim Shore ‘Santa’ dinner and cocktail napkins in a sweet basket…

Terry Richardson won “Holiday Glam”: nail polishes, hand cream and hair product thanks to Signature Salon! It was so very nice of you!

 

TICKET PRIZE:

Gina Reid won the “Christmastime” package (I wish I had gotten a pic so you could see this beautiful haul):  
  • Costco 9-piece set hand decorated red glass Christmas ornaments
  • Punch Studio Victorian gift wrap (Winners/HomeSense has gorgeous papers, tags etc.)
  • Victorian gift bags
  • Red foil gift wrap
  • Victorian christmas tags
  • 2 rolls of sparkly gold ribbon
  • 1 roll of cording in red/green/gold/blue
  • Multi-colour tissue paper
  • Box of Christmas greeting cards
  • Red mercury globe/pedestal candle holder (Thank you O’Neills Gardenland)
  • Coordinating red mercury glass votive holders, candles…

DOOR PRIZES:

  • Lauren Hayward:  McStevens hot chocolate, Punch Studio dinner and beverage napkins
  • Courtney Woodford:  Red mercury glass filled candle, sweets
  • Joanne Bennett, Lauren Hayward, Courtney Woodford:  Swarovski crystal dangling hearts earrings created by Gail Perry, Beadazzler.  Thanks, Gail!

 Special Thank You’s:  

Alderberry Blum, Brittany Brinston, Gail Perry, George Dunne, Joanne Bennett, O’Neills Gardenland, Memorial University School of Music carollers Teri Slade, Courtney Woodford, Chris Davis and Steven Griffin, Pat Puddester, Ruth Wheeler’s card class, Signature Salon, Sugar Mama’s, Eric White, Connie Hayward, Marie and Brendan Hunt.  And, Thank You to Carolyn’s friend Heather who sent an original artwork of hers – Heather painted Carolyn skating with her grandchildren on the duck pond at the back of her house while Andrew builds a fire nearby.  It is so beautiful that my husband and I bought the painting. I’ll show it to you soon in another post…
 

THANK YOU TO ALL WHO JOINED US FOR  “A Christmas Tea for Lucas”!  And, THANK YOU to those who could not be here but sent along contributions.  And, too, to those who heard about our Tea for Lucas and sent along donations with friends – it was very kind of you!!! Now, on with the tour…

Although it hadn’t snowed yet, there was a real chill in the air. Our neighbour Joanne ran across the steet to her own home to grab caps and mittens for our carollers.  They later came inside and serenaded us the entire afternoon.  It was so beautiful…

Our very kind and caring friend Brittany made these gorgeous wreaths for sale with all proceeds going to Lucas and his family…I displayed them on my flower cart!

‘A Pineapple Welcome’  DID YOU KNOW? The pineapple, once the food of Kings, has, through the ages, been a symbol of welcome, good cheer, human warmth and family inherent to gracious home gatherings?!  How do you like my door crown fashioned from fresh fruit?  It will last a couple of weeks.

The Christmas Shed!  My husband did a great job of outlining the shed door with a gentle cedar garland and filling a plant cage that hung on the shed door. Can you see the mirror and the statuary tucked among the lushness of the natural greens? The cage normally has an ivy twining through it during the garden season.

This garden furniture’s home is usually on the decking off the shed.  Hubby moved it up onto the deck off the kitchen.  He laid a plain wreath atop the table to encircle a set of glass cylinders that hold cedar and cranberries frozen in ice.  I can’t wait to insert a tea light in the canister in the evening hours. It will look so pretty…

Hubby  also strung white lights in the tree branches off the deck, filled the flower boxes as well as a trough near the barrel fountain on the lower deck portion.  Can you see the heart-shaped wreath hung on the deck post? It will have a wide red-satin ribbon soon. Even the rooster seems happy enough among the ‘winter decor’…

I love the ‘waffle look’ left by the snow on this iron bench on the deck. As it was starting to snow, I removed the bright red-and-black plaid Christmas blanket and ice skates saved from school days that previously rested on this seat.  I’ll save that for another day…The ‘wreath’ is actually a cedar garland yet to be unfurled!

My Aunt Eleanor and cousin Brenda arrive amidst all the excitement.

Was that Santa who just went by?!

 CHRISTMAS ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE…

 The Front Entryway…

 

A large Santa made by my friend Jean’s heart and hand greets people as they come through the front doorway.  Hubby hung up the NOEL shutter upon the wall above Santa just hours before the party started.  In the process, he broke his toe when he dropped the hammer on his foot! Yikes! On the day of the party, a fresh pineapple appeared next to Santa atop this little chest.

Don’t you just love the donkey and the detail on this gentleman?! This Santa was my reward for setting up my friend Jean’s booth at a craft fair a long time ago.  Her display was featured on the front page of the local newspaper that year.  Ahhh, sweet memories….

 

In The Kitchen…

 

This vignette sits atop the fridge in our kitchen. DID YOU KNOW?!  In France and the Netherlands, the season officially starts on December 5th with a visit from St Nicholas and Sinterklaas?  According to the legend in France, he arrives with a little donkey carrying baskets loaded with gifts.  In Holland, he arrives by boat.  St. Nicholas’ modern counterpart in France is named Pere Noel, a much slimmer version of Santa Claus, who dresses fashionably, of course, in long red robes.

The Littlest Angels.  See this post for more pics.  Just click on the photo in the sidebar.  Remember, you can click on any pic to enlarge it if you want to see more detail…

A trio of ‘Frosty Ferns’ on the the kitchen windowsill above the sink…

 
 

Thank you to Sugar Mama’s Bakery for the gift of the Wow! cookies in the foreground. When my husband stopped by the bakery to pick up my cookie order (I was running late and ordered them up in a hurry), the owner offered them with her compliments! What a SWEET surprise! Thank you Lainie for such a thoughtful gift!

Orange-chocolate swirl loaf sits atop a half wall in the kitchen. It was a huge hit! This recipe is coming, ladies!

In The Living Room…

Wide-eyed little Grace, my co-worker Krista’s beautiful daughter,  was amazed that Santa would stop by my house! And, so was I!

This year’s staff photo! Left to right: Moi with co-workers Joan and Debbie

Santa really knows how to make us all laugh! Left to right: Bonnie, Connie and Lauren

My co-worker Sherri and me

The girls from our street who’ve we’ve watched grow through the years into the most wonderful young ladies! Standing left to right: Best friends Donna and Andrea. In the foreground: Left to right: Sisters Julie and Laura and moi.  We are so proud of you all! Laura and Julie’s mom, (and my garden faerie), Joanne, was a colossal help to me the day of the Tea.  Thank YOU, Joanne!

In The TV Room/Study

In The Bath…

In The Bedroom…

Thanks for coming by to spend some time today.  I hope I didn’t wear you out with all the photos and that you enjoyed the tour!  There’s another room or two to see yet, but I thought I would save those for a little later when you’ve had time to rest.
 
In case I don’t happen to be with  you again before Christmas, I wish you and yours a Happy, Happy Holiday and a Glad New Year!
 
Kisses,
Linda
 
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS & 
 HAPPY AND HEALTH NEW YEAR!

Sweet Holiday Wishes, Everyone!

I am joining A Delightsome Life for A Return to Loveliness and Lily-Rose Cottage for Simply Sweet (January 15, 2012) and Jennifer at Traditions and Magpie Cottage (December 2012). I hope you will visit these beautiful blogs. 🙂

I am thrilled to be joining in the fun and sharing this “Christmas Past” post today (December 1, 2013) at The Tablescaper!

http://thetablescaper.blogspot.ca/

Ornaments of Wonder…

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.  ~Burton Hillis

Dear Kindred Spirits!

I have some lovely NOEL tea steeping in my Portmeiron Holly and Ivy teapot. Every cuppa just tastes so wonderful when poured from a beautiful teapot, doesn’t it?!  Would you like some?!

It’s romantic December, time to unwrap a trove of  Christmas treasures.  Decorations are just one of the ways to bring the beauty and wonder of  the Christmas season into our homes.  And, when it comes to the time-honoured tradition of trimming the tree, I permit myself to indulge – it is one of this season’s greatest pleasures.

Collecting beautiful Christmas ornaments and treasures is a year-round pursuit. In our travels over the years, my husband and I try and visit antiques malls and Christmas shoppes. I’m continuously on the hunt for beautiful ornaments to adorn the boughs of our magical Christmas tree. My tree ornaments are among the most personal things I own.  They remind me of travel holidays, tradition and past Christmases together. Sandwiched between layers upon layers of white tissue paper, they rest in special boxes. And, it seems, the unpacking and re-packing of the decorations has become an inherent ritual of this season of comfort and joy.

Many of us have special decorations and treasures, saved from one year to the next, and passed down through the years from one generation to the next.

I have a preference for trims of glitter and frost and sparkle. We have often found glamourous ornaments to add to our collection and bring meaning to our tree.
There are perhaps no ornaments today, though, that can rival those made in the first half of the 20th Century by talented German glassblowers.  All kinds of shapes (including animals and figurines) were produced in large quantities for export to North American markets.


DID YOU KNOW?! The ornaments were first sold by Woolworth’s around 1880?

Often entire German families were involved in preparing the special Christmas ornaments for sale. The father and oldest son often did the glassblowing. The mother and younger children would decorate and laquer each glass figure before adding the hangers. The mother would carefully pack the family’s week’s work – perhaps as many as a thousand or more glass figures – and deliver them to the wholesaler.

Because the ornaments were so fragile, few survive today. A rare treasure can sometimes be found at antiques markets or on e-bay and sell for $200 plus.

Queen Victoria and her beloved German Prince Albert introduced Christmas trees with the intricate ornaments to England in 1840. Glass ornaments, decorative beads, paper baskets with sugared almonds and hot air balloons adorned the trees.

Germany dominated glass ornament production until 1939. The Second World War caused the closure of glassblowing factories around the country.  By the time Europe finally recovered from the war, American manufacturers had already captured the domestic market with the production of cheaper ornaments with new technologies.

Post-war America demonstrated a preference for uniform, single-colour balls over the unique and more interesting, and often irregular hand-blown German-made ornaments.

In recent years, demand seems to be again growing for many of the molds and the old  techniques once used by German glassblowers as collectors long for historically accurate Christmas ornaments.

DID YOU KNOW?  Early Christmas trees were typically trimmed with real candles, wafers, gingerbread cookies, fruit, candy, as well as paper flowers and tinsels fashioned from tin and silver.

A glassblower in Lauscha decided to create a unique collection of small glass balls to hang on his family’s tree. And, within only a matter of years, glassblowers in Lauscha (a district long recognized for the quality of its glass) became a hub for making tree ornaments, and they were filling orders for glass balls by the thousands, and also for hollow glass ornaments either molded or free-blown into the shapes of pinecones, fruit, flowers, animals and birds.

I hope you enjoy the photos of some of the ornaments that hang from our  tree in our living room. It looks a little different this season.  In a previous post, photos showed the room painted a cozy shade of brown. It’s now a warm winter white…

I’ve decorated four trees this year (two full size and two about 4 1/2 feet high  in urns on tabletops).  The photos below are of the tree in our living room glammed up with pink, gold and silver themed ornaments…

Thanks for dropping in.  I know you’re all busy  as bees with your Christmas preparations.  I hope, though, you will manage to find a moment to come back later this week when I will be sharing some photos of the house tour and tea that we hosted yesterday.  Until then…

Merry wishes,

Linda

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”~ Bob Hope, American film actor and comedian.

The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect!”
~ Charles N. Barnard, American author, travel writer

Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve. Yuletide excitement is a potent caffeine, no matter your age. ~Carrie Latet

I love my pink-themed tree.  Hmmm…I just may leave it up until Valentine’s Day!

I am joining 504 Main for Tickled Pink and How Sweet the Sound for Pink Saturday! Brew yourself a cuppa cause you’re going to be browsing awhile…

The Jolliest Man, A Glad Gathering

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.  ~Norman Vincent Peale

Dearest Friends!

The teapot’s at the ready offering a brew of orange spiced tea. Hmmm…I do hope that you will join me in a cuppa.  Let’s share a little of heart and hearth, shall we?

Since Christmas is the season for giving, is it any wonder that I chose to trim our mantle in the TV room in tribute to the most merry and generous gift giver of all – Santa himself?!  I thought I’d indulge in a little holiday bliss and share with you some photos of the end result.  

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.  ~Roy L. Smith

As some of you may know, I will be hosting “A Christmas Tea for Lucas” on December 11th, so there are some treasured teapots in honour of the occasion among my collection of merry men.  

As promised in an earlier post, I thought I’d show you the  new addition to this legion of charming fellows. He is called a ‘Possible Dreams’ Santa. Riding in his magic sleigh, he has been christened ‘World Traveller’ and is made of something called ‘clothtique’ and is a mixture of cloth and resin. 

Aren’t these fun and festive fellows so handsome all dressed up in their holiday best?! It’s no wonder that Santa’s robes are brilliant red – it is the most glamorous colour against the white snows of December.  His cheery red robes just seem to evoke instant grins…

Do you have a treasured collection of festive fellows that conjure up childhood memories of laying awake, wide-eyed well into the wee hours of  the night before Christmas, excitedly anticipating the arrival of Santa?!  I was once convinced that I could hear the reindeer on the roof and would keep jumping out of bed and running to the window to have a look…

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.  ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Twinkling white lights, loops of exquisite sparkly ribbons (I tend to use those that are sheer to let the light shine through), shiny ornaments, and strings of shimmering beads evoke the magic of the Yuletide season and capture the imagination…Varying heights add interest – I use a wooden box wrapped in a taffeta runner that serves as a perch for this season’s focal Santa – the World Traveller. He travels with his map, compass and blanket on his lap while he navigates through the skies using his magical telescope.  

The gift giver in all his forms, dressed in rich ruby robes, lend lush texture to the manteltop.  

I am enjoying the mantel this evening. Its happy colour energizes the room and lends a cozy feeling throughout  – some real comfort and joy…

Wishing you a little holiday cheer and happy decorating!  Thanks so much for dropping in and I hope to see you again very soon…

Linda

I’m joining The Shabby Creek Cottage for Transformation Thursday where there is lots of inspiration!

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.  ~Peg Bracken

I am joining these wonderful blog parties for the very first time 🙂

French Country Cottage for Feathered Nest Friday

A Thoughtful Place for Christmas Cheer Link Party

Sally Lee by the Sea for 24 Days of a Coastal Christmas

No Minimalist Here for Open House Linky Party

Sue Loves Cherries for Rednesday

Shabby Art Boutique for Simply Christmas Inspiration Party

Very Merry Vintage Style for Share The Love Wednesday

Tiaras and Bowties for 25 Days of Christmas

I hope you will visit there and join the holiday fun. 🙂

The Santa Lady of Farm Road

The giftgiver in this photo was a gift from my husband along with the Portmeirion holly and ivy pattern teapot.

Greetings, Dear Friends!

I hope you will join me for a cuppa steaming Twinings orange  tea (it’s a delicious tasting black tea infused with the aroma of sweet oranges). It’s fitting for a day like today. Fall is here and there’s a real bite in the air outside.

It IS a little early to be talking about Santa, but the Christmas fairs are about to begin here – the largest five-day fair (Christmas at the Glacier) starts on October 19th – and many crafters are busy gearing up.  If there’s a fall fair happening where you are, you’re sure to see legions, as well as many interpretations, of the merry man in the photo at the left. I love this jolly gent in just about any form he may take.

I promised in earlier posts that I would tell you more about my friend  who creates stunning, quality Santas. And, since the stores here are already stocking their shelves with all things Christmas, there’s no time like the present!  In fact, I just could not resist picking up a new Santa earlier this week – I’ll introduce you to him in another visit…

The article in this post was actually written Christmas, 1996!  I was inspired to write it when I first met ceramic artist Jean Kelly at a local Christmas craft market in 1991. I was impressed by her spirit, her work, and her devotion to her craft.  I have been collecting Jean’s Santas since then, using them to decorate throughout our home at Christmastime.  I am so reluctant to secret away the kindly old gents after the holidays that I prolong the un-decorating of our house as long as possible before encountering strange looks from friends and neighbours. 🙂  The Santas are never too far from reach, though. My husband has an entire clothes closet that is now filled with them! And, when conversation with kindred Christmas spirits turns to Santas, I proudly reach for them and show them off!  They are truly one-of-a-kind. The story that follows was a gift to my friend Jean as a ‘Thank You’ for all her beautiful works of heart…She no longer lives on Farm Road and is no longer making quite so many of the merry men, but I treasure the ones that I do have.  All the photos below are of Jean’s creations used in our holiday decorating…I hope you enjoy them!  CLICK ON A PHOTO TO ENLARGE IT

“A passion for creating and an unwavering belief in Santa Claus inspires
Ceramic Artist Jean Kelly to keep the legend of this spirit alive and well
in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland…”
 
Nestled on Farm Road in the tiny rural community of Bay Roberts, Newfoundland, the Kelly household on the outside appears like any other.  Yet inside, something magical is being created almost every day of the year. Christmas is not just something that happens during the month of December, but all year round!  Amazingly, the ceramic artist who lives here (or ‘Santa Jean’ as she is affectionately known), with her husband, David, and their two teenagers, is busily bringing to life the gift-giver known all over the world by many different names – Pere Noel (France), Babbo Natale (Italy), Baboushka (Russia), Belsnickel (Germany) and, of course, Santa Claus (America), to name just a few… Jean recreates hundreds of images of the legendary folk hero spanning nearly every corner of the globe.
 

A love of creating and realizing a finished product spurs her on to keep producing the kindly old gentlemen.  Crafting a treasure which will, for many, become tomorrow’s family heirloom and “the pure pleasure of knowing that your work will live on”, is, for Jean, a source of great satisfaction.

What began as a hobby, and as an escape from the daily challenges of raising two teenagers along with several Sheltie dogs and a myriad of cats, has turned into a thriving home-based business. When her family experienced difficult economic times some years back, Jean was encouraged by friends to do what she does best – use her artistic talents and find a niche in the local Christmas market for quality, handcrafted Christmas figurines.  Among her host of creations are heralding angels, nativity scenes and cherubic tree ornaments.  Her Santas, particularly, were an immediate hit with the locals.

At Jean’s craft stall, market browsers are treated to a feast for the eyes – legions of Christmas men from Victorian to religious to folksy; among them, England’s wassail-toting Father Christmas, the Netherland’s Saint Nicholas garbed in bishop robes and miter, Holland’s Sinterklass dressed in fur from head to toe, twig Santas that resemble pieces of carved driftwood, and our own roly-poly Santa Claus first brought to life by Thomas Nast in 1863 based on Clement C. Moore’s “T’was the Night Before Christmas”.

“I love to meet people at the fairs and talk with them a bit about the craft.  We exchange ideas on how to incorporate the lively old men into their traditional Christmas decorating.”

“Herfollowers’,” as a close friend describes them, “stalk her at the local craft fairs, hoping to be among the first to view her newest works and add them to their collections.”

And, it seems, Santa collectors just can’t get enough of Jean’s Santas.  In fact, many who originally buy them as ‘one-of-a-kind’ gifts for special people on their Christmas list find themselves not wanting to part with the charming red-coated gents. Once you’ve seen them, you’ll clearly understand why there is an almost instant attachment to these rosy-faced fellows.

The work of creating each gift-giver is an intricate labour of love, evidenced in the final product – rich in antiquing, embellished with all the ornaments of the season: fruits and berries, vintage toys, adoring woodland creatures, evergreens and candles – each face capturing the essence of the Yuletide.

As with most ceramics, pieces are produced from a mold into which liquid clay, or slip, is poured.  It is then left to set until the shell is formed.  The excess slip is poured off and the mold is again left to harden for an additional 24 hours until it starts to break open.  The cast figure is removed and set aside to dry.  Afterwards, it is sanded and washed before it’s baked in a high temperature kiln for a minimum of six to seven hours, or more, depending on the size of the piece; they may range anywhere from three inches in height to 36 inches.   Each form then has to dry for 24 hours more before it can be painted.  Six rounds of painting start with two thorough base coats of white paint, a third layer of thick brown antiquing is applied ever-so-carefully over the entire figure – only to be removed again with a soft cloth on larger areas and a Q-tip on smaller surfaces and crevices.  The painting of flesh tones is the stage at which the figure begins to take on a personality all its own.  Jean uses a palette of vibrant colours – earthy reds and browns, festive greens and purples and metallic golds – to further express each figure’s character.  Finally, a coat of sealer is applied to give the figure its completed look.

Christmas shoppers just can’t believe the jolly old elves are ceramic.  “They look just like wood!” Jean often hears. They are, indeed, ceramic but with “A World of Difference” – true to her motto which appears on the tiny tags that identify each Santa by his proper name and country of origin.

Since each piece is lovingly painted by hand, no two figures are alike.  Seasoned Santa collectors know to study each legendary gent’s face and select the one that most appeals to their hearts.  Some smile with a mischievous twinkle.  Others have a pensive look as if contemplating the importance of the task ahead – a difficult choice at best!

Jean manages to sell every Christmas figure she creates.  If you look around her own home on Christmas Day, surprisingly, you may not see a single Santa or angel peeping from around a shelf, sitting atop a mantle or amassed on a tabletop. Chances are they’re occupying someone else’s home spreading Christmas cheer!  “After all,” Jean says, “that’s what makes it so worthwhile – putting your heart into creating something that will be loved just as much by its new owner!”

Christmas, like every other season, is spent by Jean in her workshop which she has set up in the garage attached to her home. A wooden sign that says, “I Believe” hangs on the wall.  In colder months, she moves her painting table to the downstairs family room where she works on several pieces at a time.  As the Christmas season approaches, Jean’s husband often helps with pouring the clay and sometimes even the painting and accessorizing, all under Jean’s watchful eye.  Jean is so dedicated to her craft, she often works late at night and into the wee hours of the morning to meet the demand and get her Santas ready for Christmas in the nick of time!

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked
like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes – how they twinkle!  His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, 
and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
and the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly!
 
 
CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE, Twas the Night Before Christmas
 

 Ask your children two questions this Christmas. First: “What do you want to give to others for Christmas?” Second: “What do you want for Christmas?” The first fosters generosity of heart and an outward focus. The second can breed selfishness if not tempered by the first. – Author Unknown

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Turn each page of Santa Scrapbook below to enjoy more pics of Jean’s Santa creations – there are eight pages in all.  You can enlarge the photos simply by clicking on the magnifying glass on each photo, and clicking it again to return the photo to its original size.  Turn up the volume and enjoy the music…
Thanks for visiting with me today.  Happy Thanksgiving weekend to everyone in Canada!  See you soon…
Warmly yours,
Linda
I am joining in for the first time a blogging party over at Shabby Art Boutique – Simply Christmas Inspiration! FUN. FUN. FUN.
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