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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas decorating’

Reflections of A Romantic Christmas

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! Can you believe it’s 2015 already? Where did 2014 go! It seems the older I get, the faster it goes. Do you feel that, too? I hope you have time to stay and savour a cuppa with me and have a little tour. Many of you have already dismantled your Christmas décor and packed it away for another year.  At our house, though, the decorations will linger a little longer.  That’s probably no surprise to many of you who know how much I LOVE Christmas!

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The decorations went up hurriedly and very late at our place this year and, at this moment, it seems to be just a tremendous effort to take them all down. I think I have a little “after Christmas” fog setting in.  Like so many of you who enjoy your homes, particularly at Christmastime, I think the sparkle just seems to bring ours to life and makes it shine, making more cozy and inviting. The house itself seems to ‘smile’ and be happy. Magical! So, I want to enjoy just a little more…

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It makes me a little sad at the thought of not seeing all the festive trims again until next year. Although the year seems to pass so fast, I’m sure before we can blink an eye, it’ll be ‘that time’ again. Why don’t we just leave it up all year! Before I manage to get up the gumption for “the task” of putting it all away, I thought I would share some photos of a few sweet vignettes around the living room. I hope you don’t mind. I know it’s late.

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Meet ‘Queenie’. I have no clue about this carved wooden bust. I imagine it as having once been a prop in a Laura Secord candy shop. It’s probably not the case but can you see a resemblance at all? I dressed her up to the nines with a mask, some feathers, a piece of festive ribbon, a sparkly star and a sweet ornament studded with sequins . Her crown is actually a tree topper. It wouldn’t fit properly on her head at first, so I got out my handy wire cutters and snipped out the spiral piece that normally fits down over the top tree branch, and what do you know! Despite hubby’s warning that the entire crown would surely fall apart, it worked like a charm! Whoever this lady is, there is new life for her and she is having fun. I think she looks very mysterious which only adds to the question of her lineage.

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A little French inspiration is always welcome, n’est-ce pas!P1140119

This was ‘Queenie’ before her crowning glory and a little gold spray paint touch-up.P1140372

This Royal Doulton gal is called, “Happy Birthday 2010”. My husband gave her to me for my birthday that year.  She is a limited edition and was retired in December of that same year.

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“Girl reading” was found at a local antiques shop about 25 years ago.

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My husband did some research on her as I was preparing this post.  She is a chalkware figure probably cast in the 1930’s. The original was possibly created by Cristoforo Vicari, an Italian sculptor born in the 1800’s. It was after I had inserted the photo into this post that I saw her eyes for the first time!

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She is in great condition with only a few minor chips but that is what gives her such character.  I have loved her ever since I first saw her.  The statue is quite heavy.

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She has moved around the house quite a bit over the years. Another cuppa anyone?

C.S. Lewis — ‘You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.’

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Venetian masks are not just for Mardi Gras! Authentic Venetian masks are perched in wreaths, swags and trees around our home during the festive season.

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Can you spot the Venetian mask nestled in the treetop?

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I found this sweet ‘sisters’ photo in an antique shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan a couple of years ago.

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I have no idea as to the identify of these bow-topped girls. I just really loved the picture! And, don’t they look lovely for the holidays?

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Love the iced boughs in the trees and on the mantel…Since I couldn’t find any of the sprays anywhere this year, I bought the only garland I could find, pulled it apart and used the stems in swags and on tables for a coordinated look in the room.

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A little touch of glam on the table at the base of the ‘sisters’ photo, which is perched on an easel and displayed slightly above the table. I like elements with varying heights for interest.IMG_1112

There’s no need to secret pretty glassware away in a cupboard. Bring it out and celebrate it! An iced wreath sits at the base of a glass urn.

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Old crystal glasses are re-purposed as votive holders. Why not!

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Since I don’t often get to use my crystal glasses, I think this is a perfect new purpose for them.

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The glass urn holds some special ornaments, a small Santa and epsom salts for a snowy effect.

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Isn’t he so sweet?

P1140636I like to use mirrors as trays for glasses and also as the base for my vignettes. It ‘doubles’ the effect.
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Prized ornaments can also be found nesting in special glasses. This trio of ornaments would be lost on the tree, so I like to keep them separate where I can enjoy them to the fullest.

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Miniature framed photos of my dad who is no longer with us peek out from the tree branches every year since his passing.

IMG_0758They are photos of my dad in his youth. I like the ones with the cars. I think they are really cool. Lol
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Strands of chandelier glass hug the tree at the top, middle and bottom. I have these pieces for years and yeas and find new ways to use them every Christmas. I’ve even used them to decorate a wedding cake table. You can see how at The Gift of a Wedding.

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Glass ornaments hand crafted in Poland were purchased with gift cards from the Bombay Company that I had been given for Christmas. I was able to use them for the after Christmas sales when the ornaments were marked way down. Thank you to all!

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This beauty was a new after Christmas purchase this year. I pulled it out of a box tucked behind a piece of furniture in the shop and was so glad to find it.IMG_0963

I am loving the silver-gold combination this year in our living room this year.

 

IMG_0939And, of course, one can never have too many pillows!  Pillows are a wonderful to add texture to a space and make it cozy.

IMG_0958 I like that I can look at our tree and know that many of the ornaments were thoughtfully gifted by my spouse, family, friends, neighbours and co-workers!IMG_0957

Almost every ornament tells a story.IMG_0956This pretty was also an after-Christmas sale purchase.
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This ornament was, too! Don’t you love the lace on this baby? You can see a post about The Littlest Angels that I used here.  I sent my friend Carolyn on Prince Edward Island a pair of these sweeties a few years ago, so we have a set alike as a gesture of friendship.

IMG_0953You must have at least one bird in the tree! It’s tradition. There’s a nest in there, too…somewhere deep within the branches.
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The ornaments are just piled on in thick layers this year as we didn’t have a large tree in this room. I like the glass ornaments that allow the tree lights to shine through and cast a warm glow.IMG_0587Santa peeps out from a bell cloche in front of the fireplace.
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Some silver reindeer, a wee child and small glittery trees, too, set the scene.IMG_0761

Chicadees in the trees…The frosted snowy white bulb in the garland draped at the back is a favourite. A gorgeous wintry nod to the season…IMG_0605

More Santas and some sparkly stars that are showing signs of wear. “Never let anyone dull your sparkle!” Whoever said that had real insight.

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LOVE these! The little radio is similar to my husband’s radio that had belonged to his dad.

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A few more…

IMG_0777I so admire the people who craft these gorgeous ornaments. To tour a factory in Poland or Austria or Germany where they are so expertly made would be a dream come true! Have you ever been to such a place?

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I found these bulbs with the ‘Three Kings’ at Michaels early in the season! I had given a box of them to my beloved mom-in-law many years ago and she cherished them. She has since passed and they have gone to someone else in the family who also treasures them, which makes me very happy, indeed. When I saw these on the store shelf this year, I wanted to have them on my own tree as a reminder of my Ethel and her faith.

IMG_0766My friend Joan hand painted this heart for me. It is precious. Did you know that I hang it on my tree every year, Joan, next to my dad’s photo?
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A new ornament this year! Love a peace dove in the tree…

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The iced boughs and glass prisms tucked into the tree here and there gives a wintry feel to the tree and is a lovely contrast with the natural pinecones.

IMG_1072Reflection of the Christmas tree lights in a large framed print that hangs over the sofa…

IMG_1075What to do when you can’t find a full-size tree? I couldn’t find a full-size tree that I liked this year (you can see last year’s tree at The Snow Tree) , so we went with two smaller trees in urns that we previously used in other rooms.  I do miss my Snow Tree and will continue my search for a full-size flocked tree for next Christmas.

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This is actually two smaller tabletop trees of the same size, both in footed urns, that were used previously in other rooms. Can you see the Venetian masks in the tops of each tree?

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The trees are in footed urns and placed at graduating heights in the room. (This window is awaiting new curtains.)

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One of the footed urns is set on atop a wooden crate off the floor for some added height.

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The second tree is placed on the top shelf of a glass and iron wine rack that I dragged inside from out our patio deck. It had been out there all summer and fall and I was planning on bringing it into the house for the winter anyway. I draped a garland over the top and down the side of the rack to the floor and then decorated it similarly to the two trees. Since I didn’t have a single big tree this year, I had plenty of ornaments to go around.IMG_0762

This vignette is at the base of the tree on top of the wine rack. I think my favourite thing this year was the silver and gold striped ribbons! I am a ribbon addict. Here are some close ups of the vignette at the base of the tree.

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IMG_0597Can you see the wine bottles still in the rack below the tree?

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I thought I would leave the bottles in the rack. Hmmm…maybe I’ll have a small glass!IMG_0813

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Some more favourites…IMG_0961
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IMG_1082 An angel sits at the base of the trees.

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The teeny angel came from a Christmas shop in Banff many years ago when visiting my husband’s sister for an early Christmas. I always bring home a Christmas ornament or figure from my travels. Do you do that, too?IMG_0796

Some views of the fireplace mantel in the Living Room
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Chandelier strands and crystal prisms, gilded honecombs and natural pinecones, glittery ferns and iced boughs, illuminated mercury glass, shimmery ribbon, cedar sprays and pearly capiz shells together create a romantic scene and cast beautiful patterns on the walls.IMG_0507

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Crystal candlesticks normally reserved for tablescapes hold prized ornaments.IMG_0497

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I hope you enjoyed the “after-Christmas tour”, late as it was. Some would say better late than never.

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You can catch a wee glimpse through the living room door to the kitchen and dining nook. If you would like to see it decked out before all traces of the holidays are gone, please come back and visit before too long, that is if you can stand it and haven’t had your fill already. Lol  I won’t delay posting too long as I know it’s a bit late after all.  We are still doing some after-Christmas entertaining and so I will be sharing it with some friends over the next week.

That’s it for the living room until next year. Thank you for indulging me and for coming by and spending your precious time.  I hope you are enjoying a fabulous winter so far.

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Linda

I am thrilled to be joining  Amaze Me MondayTeatime Tuesday, A Return to Loveliness and Friends Sharing Tea, The Scoop, Tuesdays With A Twist, Tuesdays At Our HomeWordless Wednesday, Wake Up Wednesday, What’s It Wednesday, WoW Us Wednesday, Wholehearted Wednesday, Home and Garden Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, The Homemaking PartyThursday’s Favourite Things, Home Sweet HomeShabbilicious Friday and Simple and Sweet Fridays, Feathered Nest Friday, Pink Saturday!

Christmas is coming!

IMG_0087Welcome, Friends!

You’re just in time for a cuppa tea!  I think you’ll agree that there is perhaps no other time of year as highly anticipated as the Christmas season. Like many of you,  I have begun making holiday plans and to get our home ready for Christmas.  I like to start early so I have plenty of time to enjoy the house in all its sparkle and glamour for as long as possible.  I think this is when the house looks its best.  I thought I would decorate first and clean after because I expect there will be glitter from one end of the house to the other by the time everything is finished!

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For a change, this year, I started in the kitchen with an old dresser repurposed as a sideboard.  (I normally start “Christmas at the End of the Hall” but change is good. A tin-framed mirror hangs above the dresser. I thought it would look nice with a generous pine and cedar wreath layered over it and then added a few glittery sprigs and delicate ornaments. The wreath looks very real.  What do you think?

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And, I began playing with a new camera that my husband bought for me! These images are of a few little nooks and crannies in our kitchen and are the very first photos I took using it.  I am really liking the way they turned out for a first try and I feel like a grown-up, finally! Lol  Now, I’ll have to look into that photography course that I’ve been wanting to do.  Maybe Santa will drop a gift certificate in my Christmas stocking…Hint.

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I’ve shared photos of my amber glassware before, but I thought you might enjoy seeing it again since these images are more detailed.  This pretty jug and juice glasses have been used to serve family and friends on many happy occasions throughout the years.  I remember finding it in an antiques barn by the side of the road when my husband and I were vacationing in beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. That was when we were first married and so many years ago that I’ve lost count.  Where does the time go?

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I love the daisy pattern and swirls.  It looks rather ‘snowy’, don’t you think.

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The sweet miniature reindeer is actually a place card holder. You can see the little slit in his back that holds the card.

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The carnival glass jug is a special treasure and quite old. It belonged to my great-grandmother.

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My prized egg nog bowl, circa 1950’s, has served up many holiday drinks topped with peaks of delicious whipped cream! I can’t wait for egg nog!

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The pedestal crystal plate that the bowl sits on belonged to my father’s mother.

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Aren’t the eggnog cups cute?  They fit nicely in the palm of your hand and the eggnog tastes even yummier in such a pretty cup!

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Sometimes I find unexpected places for precious ornaments.  You never know where you’ll find one around here!

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I like to tuck in family photos amongst the Christmas decorations here and there throughout the house.

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This photo is of my mom when she was in her twenties.  My mother lives in a seniors’ residence now.  You’re welcome to have a peek at her room that I decorated for her here: “A Room With A View!”

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I like to mix gold and silver when decorating for the holidays to allow more possibilities, rather than using all of one or the other.  These glasses with the bubble pattern are used for champagne.

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I love mixing in natural pinecones in our holiday decor.

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A few special ornaments are displayed on the stacked cake plates in the centre of the kitchen table.

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All the greenery is artificial but the natural pinecones help it to look fresh! With the addition of the pinecones, sometimes its very hard to tell whether the greens are natural or not.

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I don’t use all of our ornaments for the trees.  Here are some ornaments atop the Lazy Susan.  Others can be found in bowls, peeping out of stockings, dresser drawers, hanging from mirrors, on cake plates, under cloches…just about anywhere you can think of that could use a little surprise of glamour!  These green sprigs are faux, too!

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I like using cookies in the same way – in places where you’d least expect to find them!  These sugar cookies in the shape of snowflakes are part of the centerpiece for the table.  My friend Maria made them for me last year and I froze them so I could re-use them this year. When they are fresh, they are delicious.  I save these, though, purely for decoration and are not to be eaten!

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Aren’t they adorable!

IMG_0080 They are such a sweet touch!

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I am in love with these little reindeer place card holders!

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Pedestal plates can be used for much more than pretty desserts!

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The caribou look more like “cow-a-boo!”

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This is one of my favourite things! Gingerbread under a cloche!

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Last year, I hung these same cookies from an evergreen garland over the kitchen sink. Can you see the ‘straw holes’ where the ribbons were slipped through.  Gingerbread keeps well.

IMG_0062 Angels are a must throughout the house.  Don’t you love the ethereal look?

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I nestled a sprig of faux greenery and a teeny bird in her between her hands.

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I hope you have fun dreaming of your Christmas plans…I’d love to hear about them!

SECOND ANNUAL “CHRISTMAS WREATHS FOR THE CURE!”

For those of you who live in our area, please remember to get your holiday wreaths from The Wreath Maker as part of a fundraiser for breast cancer research and community programs. The Wreath Maker’s creations make wonderful Christmas gifts for friends, neighbours and clients, too! Why not give a wreath earlier in the season so the recipient can enjoy the magic leading up to Christmas! When you order a fresh holiday wreath by ‘The Wreath Maker’ this Christmas season and (mention Pink Days In Bloom), a portion of your wreath purchase will be donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – Atlantic.

Wreaths come in various sizes listed below; all fit a standard size door. These wreaths are expertly constructed of fresh balsam fir, decorated with berries and pinecones, finished off with a weatherproof red bow!
Small – 14” ($25), Medium – 18” ($35), Large – 24” ($45) and Extra Large – 30” ($60)
I LOVE the look of an evergreen symbol of the season and circle of life on my front door or gate, especially during the holidays! I have been buying wreaths from The Wreath Maker for over 25 years. It is a beloved Christmas tradition for our family! Now, you can, too! AND, while you’re at it, create a future without breast cancer…Until next time!
Thanks for stopping by!
Wishing you a beautiful day,

Linda

Christmas Wreaths for the Cure!

 

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I am thrilled to be joining the party at Home Sweet Home, What to do Weekends, Feathered Nest Friday, Saturday Show Off,  Pink Saturday, Simple and Sweet FridayShow and Tell, Shabbilicious Friday and Christmas, Fridays Unfolded, Show Off Friday , Much A Do About MondayAmaze Me Monday, Creative Monday, Tuesdays At Our Home, Tea Time Tuesday, A Return to Loveliness, Show and Share, Inspire Me Tuesday, The Scoop, Teacup Tuesday, Friends Sharing Tea, Tweak it Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday, What We Accomplished Wednesday , Wake Up Wednesday, The Homemaking Party, WoW Us Wednesday, What’s It Wednesday, Home and Garden Thursday, Thursday Favourite ThingsShare Your Cup Thursday, Shabbilicious Christmas! YAY!

Christmas at the End of the Hall

Happy Holidays, Dear Friends!P1060749

Welcome!

The tea is just about ready to be poured. I’m excited that you here.  I have something special to share with you.

P1050976Firstly, many thanks to these lovely ladies for sharing my recent post “The Festive Table” at their wonderful blog parties:

– Deborah,  Green Willow Pond (What we Accomplished Wednesday)
– Deb, Lavender cottage (Cottage Style Party)
– Sherry, The Charm of Home (Home Sweet Home)
– Liz, Rose Vignettes (Fresh Cut Friday)
These are the ones that I know of, so if I missed anyone, my apologies.  I hope you will let me know if I have…
P1060713Additionally, thank you to Jeanne for re-blogging my post “Beautiful Christmas Green” on her own blog Nola Girl at Heart, as well as author Janice Wells for her huge shout-out in a local newspaper, The Telegram, last weekend. Janice published four large full-colour pics from  “Beautiful Christmas Green”  that covered nearly an entire page of the paper!  You can read her column titled, “Channeling My Christmas Martha” here.  Only one photo is shown in the on-line version of the article, whereas the print copy features four large full-colour photos from my blog.
P1060745I am thrilled that so many of you featured these latests posts!  I am truly honoured to have you visit and that you want to share “Beautiful Ideas” 🙂 So, thanks to all of you!

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Today I’m decorating the house some more, using faux greens (don’t they look like the real thing), along with some special ornaments that hold memories for my husband and me. I like to decorate all through the house at Christmastime, introducing little unexpected treasures around each corner…

I haven’t quite decided what to do yet with one particular space in our house; and at this rate, I should finish by Boxing Day! Lol This is usually where Christmas appears first in our home, oftentimes, even as early as the first of November, but this year I just can’t seem to decide on a holiday vignette at the end of the hall…The rest of the year, it’s a pretty uninteresting place but I like to bring it to life at Christmastime. Whatever I use here will help set the tone for the rest of the rooms off the hallway…

P1060699A new friend has come to join the legion of Santa’s in our home and, so, I thought he would sit here on the gateleg table. I was thrilled to discover him at Lord and Taylor on the final morning of our visit to New York City last November.  I had almost given up the hunt and had resigned myself that I would not find a ‘special man’ that called my name to bring home with me! Lol  I seem to gather a Santa or two every time I travel. And, so, our ‘Jolly ‘Gent’ collection has continued to grow over the years.

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I judiciously packaged him in bubble wrap and safely tucked him inside my carry-on luggage where he was quite content.  I toted him all the way from NYC to Washington, D.C. and on to Virginia Beach and Williamsburg, and finally back home to Newfoundland, Canada!  This Santa got around the world in a tote bag – and is no worse for it!  He is extremely breakable but I was bound and determined that he would arrive home safely.

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P1060643His tag reads:  “Uber 100 Jahre werden von unserer Familie nach alter Tradition von handgearbeitete Sammler-artikel aus Papier-mache hergestellt.”

English translation:  “For over 100 years, our family has been creating papier-mache collectibles. Traditionally handcrafted by the “Ino Schaller” family in Bavaria.”

(I have dreamed of a trip to the European Christmas markets for a very long time, since I was a young girl; maybe one day we’ll go and I’ll bring home a Santa from there in my totebag …Sigh.)

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After a full week in New York City, we travelled to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia for the town’s Grand Illumination (you can read about it here). There are some amazing shops in the Town Square and, of course, I could not resist the temptation to pick up another Christmas tchotchke.

This figurine is by Bethany Lowe.  Just looking at it warms my heart and brings to life childhood memories of playing in the snow. Bethany was scheduled to be in the shop to sign her pieces but we missed her by a day or two, I think.

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P1050947“Reindeer Games”. is hand-painted resin and the little one’s reindeer jumpsuit is softly flocked.  The figure measures about 7/12 inches at the tallest point.  I can always spot Bethany’s designs.   They have that vintage appeal that I love.

Also on this same trip, I found an awesome Santa at Macy’s in Virginia Beach, when visiting my cousin there, but I’ll save him for another day as he is deserving of a separate post…

P1050945I’m not certain just yet how Christmas at the end of the hall will look this year.  I don’t have a plan and the look has changed a couple times already. Our cat, Monza, seems to have taken a liking to the table as his new perch lately, and Santa is quite delicate, so we’ll see…Part of the fun in designing vignettes is creating as you go along and seeing the surprise result at the end, don’t you think.  I hope you enjoy the photos!

Thank you for your visit and for leaving your sweet footprint in the snow!  We are expecting a severe winter storm here beginning tomorrow and being stuck indoors will give me more time to finish decking the hall!  Happy decorating!

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Linda

Joining with bells on:  Inspiration Monday, Metamorphosis Monday, Make It Pretty Monday, Tea Time Tuesday, A Return to Loveliness, Inspire Me Tuesday, The Scoop, Friends Sharing Tea, What We Accomplished Wednesday, WoW Us Wednesday, Sandi’s Home for the HolidaysCottage Style PartyTime Travel Thursday, The Homemaking Party, Home and Garden Thursday, Christmas Countdown-Thursday Favourites, Feathered Nest FridayBe Inspired, What To Do WeekendsShow and Tell Friday, Home Sweet Home, Frugal Friday, Shabbilicious Friday, Simple and Sweet Friday Pink Saturday, Seasonal Sunday, and Open House.

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Beautiful Christmas Green!

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Dear Friends,

Happy first day of a brand new week! Let’s get this week off to a festive, fun and inspiring start, shall we! It is already starting to look alot like Christmas at our home! Big Elf (a.k.a. husband) helped me yesterday on a record-breaking day for cold (-10.7 Celsius) to festively festoon our front door with fresh foliage! I know! That’s a mouthful!

Despite the bitter cold, we felt energized by the job! We spent the entire afternoon decking the outside of the house and the hours just flew by! I love this time of year, readying for the approaching holidays.

The tea’s ready! (hope you like Earl Grey). Clasp your hands around your cuppa to keep warm and let’s go outside to see the progress so far, shall we…

P1130720I started with our never-ending garden planters and window boxes last weekend, trying to cram in all the cedar and fir and ivy clippings I could gather before we got a solid frost to save me from having to run back and forth the house with a steaming kettle, like a mad woman, pouring hot water over the soil in attempts to soften it up just enough to stick in a few branches and fashion them into something that resembles a ‘design’. Luckily, I pretty much had them completed before the freezing weather came upon us.

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I just LOVE the welcoming planters that dot our front walkway and deck in nod to the season!  In fact, I’ve decided they please me as much as when they’re filled with summertime blooms!

Contents include a wonderful aromatic mix of cedar, pine, fir, magnolia and berried juniper purchased from garden centres and grocery stores, combined with homegrown clippings of boxwood, perennial ivy, euonymous, ornamental cabbage, seedpods, twigs and bare branches and, of course, pinecones large and small. Oh, and a few birdhouses and abandoned nests, obelisks, fresh pineapple and apples and even some garden statuary thrown in for good measure! The possibilities are, indeed, endless! I am limited merely by lack of time and shortened hours of daylight! Sigh.

P1130681Seasonal garden planters bring an incredible note of warmth and welcoming to an otherwise ordinary front entry, don’t you think!  

P1130744And, remember to put your garden accessories to work in the off season! Why not!  Birdbaths, birdhouses and birdcages, benches and wagons, vintage lanterns, snowshoes, skates, sleds and even horse hames (I’ve used them all through the years) help create joyful vignettes that will delight young and old alike.

IMG_0543I’m thrilled you took time out of your busy day to stop by and share.  Come back soon and I’ll share how I turned my garden obelisk into a Christmas tree!

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Linda

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“Bloom Boxes” on my upper deck look great year round planted with easy everlastings: mini cedar trees, mini boxwood and perennial English ivy (translation: no deadheading ever — "The Gin and Tonic Gardener "style- a reference to a Canadian best seller by Janice Wells). I simply push into the soil a few sprigs of pine, fir and cedar at Christmastime. Easy peasy!

“Bloom Boxes” on my upper deck look great year round planted with easy everlastings: mini cedar trees, mini boxwood and perennial English ivy (translation: no deadheading ever — “The Gin and Tonic Gardener “style- a reference to a Canadian best seller by Janice Wells). I simply push into the soil a few sprigs of pine, fir and cedar at Christmastime. Easy peasy!

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I’m thrilled to be joining the party at Inspiration Monday, Make It Pretty Monday, Metamorphosis Monday, Tea Time TuesdayThe ScoopWhat We Accomplished Wednesday  Wordless Wednesday, What’s It Wednesday, Cottage Style PartyFriends Sharing Tea, Home and Garden Thursday, Open House Thursday, Show and Tell FridayFeathered Nest Friday, Home Sweet Home, What To Do Weekends, The Homemaking Party, Christmas Extravaganza, Saturday Show Off Pink Saturday, Be Inspired and Seasonal Sunday.

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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

It’s Christmas, naturally!

A freshly made "pineapple fan" above our door is an annual tradition inspired by Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.  The crown will last for several weeks.

A freshly made “pineapple fan” above our door is an annual tradition inspired by Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. The crown will last for several weeks. Photo: December 2013

Dear Friends,

As you are busying about with all your holiday preparations, I thought I would share a little inspiration with you…My husband and I recently returned from a long-awaited vacation to historic Williamsburg, Virginia, a restored 18th-century colonial capital of 300 plus acres.

It had been 25 years since we were last there, and the thing I remembered most about the place was the abundance of natural and imaginative decorations on doors and door crowns, windows and windowsills, lanterns, mantels and tabletops, just about everywhere throughout the town, all masterfully designed from fresh elements.

I was not disappointed on this trip.  Winter foliage finery at its very best still graces the historic town’s exhibition buildings, restaurants, shops, offices and private homes and have inspired people for centuries, especially at Christmastime.

Evergreens, a symbol of eternal life, were remarkably commonly used by the resourceful citizens of 18th century Williamsburg to decorate their homes at the bleakest time of year.

Today, the area draws admirers from around the world.  It takes days and days and days and the talents of an entire design crew, in addition to a legion of private homeowners, to make the magic happen at Colonial Williamsburg.

P1040985Truckloads of evergreens of every variety imaginable, cases upon cases of fruits and vegetables, nuts, berries, wheat, grapevines, twigs, seed pods, pinecones and dried flowers are used on everything from sprays and wreaths to garlands and centerpieces. Musical instruments, carved wooden ornaments, iron elements, balls of cotton, wool, flannel and felt are often incorporated in the designs – even leather shoes and soup tureens are used in their outstanding creations!  

P1050006Decorations go up in time to celebrate Thanksgiving and remain throughout the holidays until Old Christmas Day on January 6th.  A team of dedicated employees are responsible for freshening up any that might need it.  Where fruits are inserted on florist picks, it makes them easy to remove and replace with new.

Actors dressed in period costume and carollers stroll the pretty streets. The sound of fifes and drums, interesting outdoor markets, hot cider aplenty, the lighting of hundreds of candles in windows at dusk, fireworks and flaming cressets (fire baskets that are hand forged by community artisans are hung on tall posts, filled with kindling and lit) along streets and walkways all lend to the fascination of the annual “Grand Illumination” of the town held annually the first weekend in December.  It is just oh-so-pretty at night, like a beautiful dream…We LOVED it!

Every year since our first visit to Williamsburg 25 years ago, my husband and I have been making a door crown in the traditional Williamsburg style to hang over the front door of our own home. It is fashioned primarily from a fresh pineapple (the symbol of welcome), apples and cedar. A few pinecones or nuts are sometimes incorporated depending on what I happen to have on hand. Citrus fruits can be used, too, but I am partial to the gloss of the Red Delicious apples once Big Elf (a.k.a. husband) polishes them with a soft cloth until they’re gleaming. I make the ‘Pineapple Fan’; Big Elf hangs it. That’s the deal. But he always insists on polishing the apples first! It has become a Christmas tradition for us.  Our long-awaited return visit to Williamsburg was the icing on the cake, rekindling the spirit in which our tradition first began.

The photo below was taken in December 2011.  We’ve had a lot of snow in the past week, I’ve been down with the flu and we haven’t managed to hang the door crown yet, but this weekend it will go up at long last.  Hey, how did that dent in the door get there!

I’m excited to be sharing this archived post today on Oh The Places I’ve Been!

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I am dedicating this post to my dear friend Carolyn Aiken whose home is Prince Edward Island and who I know would love Williamsburg, too. With every snap of the camera, I thought of her. I gathered a small sampler of photos of the multitude of Williamsburg wreaths and swags to share with you.  I hope you enjoy them and that you’ll be inspired to personalize your own welcome wreath for the holidays.  Do you have a favourite?

Thank you for dropping by to visit at such a busy time.  I hope you are able to wrap up your To-Do list soon.

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Linda

NOTE:  If, after you’ve finished browsing the photos of Williamsburg below, you’d like to see some 2013 photos of our front door decorating, click here “Beautiful Christmas Green.  These photos were taken on The Duke of Gloucester Street., the town’s main road.
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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.

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas…


Christmas is not in tinsel and lights and outward show. The secret lies in an inner glow. It’s lighting a fire inside the heart. Good will and joy a vital part. It’s higher thought and a greater plan. It’s glorious dream in the soul of man.  
Wilfred A. PetersonThe Art of Living

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.
~Author Unknown

Dear Friends,

Happy Christmas Eve!  Won’t you share ‘A CUP OF CHRISTMAS’ with me?  In celebration, I’d be happy to brew some Twinings Christmas Tea in my holiday teapot.  I keep it on the mantle along with a beautiful ‘Brown Betty’ that once belonged to my dear mother-in-law (we miss you Ethel especially at Christmastime...)

On this special night, as my gift to you, gentle readers, I am sharing a little Christmas ‘story’ and Smilebox slideshow of past Christmases in our home (the living room looks much different now as you can see in the previous post “A Christmas Tea for Lucas“). So, let’s all put on our Christmas jammies, curl up for a bit and “Dream a wee dream of Christmas”…

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!  Sweet dreams…

Warmly,
Linda
 
 

I am joining The Charm of Home for Sherri’s Home Sweet Home Party.  My post “A Christmas Tea for Lucas” was featured there for last week’s party!  I am new to the blog parties and was so surprised to see my first linked post featured there!  Thank You so much, Sherry!  I appreciate that you felt mine was worthy to be featured on your beautiful blog!

I am also re-joining Honey at 2805 for her Potpourri Friday party.  It’s a lot of fun! Thanks Honey!  I’m joining up, too, at My Romantic Home for Show and Tell , French Country Cottage for Feathered Nest Friday, Southern Lovely for Show and Share, Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday, and Be Colorful for Motivated Monday!  Thank you to all the wonderful hosts of these fun parties for bringing  so much inspiration to our fingertips.  It is especially a wonderful opportunity for a new blogger like me.  Thank you lots for visiting today…

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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 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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