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Posts Tagged ‘romantic holiday decorating’

A Cuppa Cozy: Cocoa-and-Cookie Station

Hello Dear Friends!

I’ve been away but am back just in time to share the holiday season with you! Thanks for your emails and comments checking in on me. It has been a very busy year and I’ve already been immersed in holiday decorating, albeit for fundraising for breast cancer research, as you can see from this recent photo in a local newspaper! Some days, you just never know where you’ll end up. lol  I’ve really missed my friends in blog land. So, let’s get to it! The kettle’s already on and I hope you can stay for awhile…

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IMG_1414In nod to the season, simple gestures of sweet holiday homemaking are starting to emerge at our house.

When it’s cold outside, I like to warm my toes and insides with a casual and convenient cocoa-and-cookie station.  It’s easy to do and a lovely little way to bring some big-hearted hospitality to the holidays.  I thought I’d share some photos of my hot chocolate bar from last season…IMG_1244A kitchen island, countertop, sideboard/dresser, or a tabletop tucked into a corner are all perfect places for a hot chocolate bar.IMG_1251The  hot chocolate bar in our house is set out on an antique table with a marble top and white cast iron pedestal base – it came from a favourite downtown cafe that was located within a well-loved gift shop.  When the owner decided to close the doors, she called me and asked  if I would like one of her tables – I ended up with two! YAY!  IMG_1238I start by gathering all the Christmassy “essentials”.  A large oval basket, or sometimes a tray or even a wooden crate, is used to neatly house all the things for the bar:  homemade marshmallows, peppermint stir sticks, cinnamon sugar, cookies under a glass cloche, linen napkins, spoons, candles and special cups.IMG_1324Pretty cups and mugs always make a beautiful statement. This one’s a favourite. It came from a cute design shop, By Sharpe Design, in the heart of the city.IMG_1242The toy soldier cookies were made by my friend Maria at Petite Sweet.IMG_1274

IMG_1288The pretty homemade marshmallows came from Sugar Mama’s bakery just around the corner.IMG_1249And, of course, don’t forget delicious cocoa mix and a bottle of fresh milk….IMG_1320Candles and greens add to the warm, comforting ambience.
IMG_1318Little people and big people love festive Oreo cookies dipped in white chocolate with crushed candy cane sprinkles!

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IMG_1276The glass cloche helps to keep the freshness in, although cookies never last long anyway.IMG_1275“Son of a Nutcracker!” That looks cute!IMG_1236When I’m hosting a hot chocolate bar for an open house or a brunch, I like to have bowls of mini marshmallows, chocolate curls and whipped cream at the ready.  A bottle of Baileys or Frangelico is available for those who like a curious kick to their hot chocolate.IMG_1259A touch of black anywhere always boosts things up a notch, don’t you think!IMG_1260Cozy pillows, a mix of heirloom needlepoint and with a touch of sparkle, on the chairs bring even more warmth to the vignette.IMG_1261A cup of cocoa is like a giant hug!
IMG_1262Napkins sewn from red-and-white ticking and a cozy rug under foot = a warm heart!  I also like to top jars with holiday stickers that say, “Welcome. You’re special!” It’s a sweet touch.IMG_1285I do love this time of year, although the damp cold that we often get, being on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, does get deep in the bones and I enjoy a hot cup of something to warm me up after a day out and about.

My goal this year is to bring it outside! On the porch or deck is a great spot to welcome family and friends home from outdoor activities, and you can add to the romantic holiday theme with a vintage sled, skates, buckets of apples, planters filled greens…you get the picture. If you have snow, build a for-real snowman nearby and gussie him up with mittens and a mug hanging from his twig arm! To further boost the spirits, pile up warm blankets on a bench and play Christmas music on the ghetto blaster!  Stay tuned…

Inspired.  Simple.  Beautiful.

Wishing you a warm and joyful holiday season,

Linda at Beautiful Ideas

IMG_1362Thank you to my Pink Days In Bloom garden fairy “Invincibelle” whose mom, Ann Marie, made this gorgeous cross-stitched heart for me last Christmas!IMG_1273PRAYERS FOR PEACE AND LOVE TO ALL

For those of you who live near, I hope you will join us for the next Pink Days In Bloom coming up…

0001kFJoining the party at:  Make It Pretty, Amaze Me Monday, Teatime Tuesday, Tweak It Tuesday, Inspire Me TuesdayHome Sweet Home, Feathered Nest Friday, Show and Tell, Simple and Sweet Fridays, WhatToDo Weekends, Share Your Cup Thursday, Creative Mondays, The Scoop, Wake Up Wednesday, Share Your Cup Thursday, A Return to Loveliness

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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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

‘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 Littlest Angels

Be an angel to someone else whenever you can, as a way of thanking God for the help your angel has given you.  ~Quoted in The Angels’ Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

Dear Friends,

I hope this season of beauty is filled with joy, contentment, and good health as you delight in the company of  family and friends, and in keeping alive the traditions of hope you hold near and dear.

As we are all hustling and bustling about these days, I thought I’d keep this post brief in sharing with you two darling harbingers of this spiritual season of love and giving.

The ‘Littlest Angels’ are new this year to my collection of Christmas treasures.  Every year I declare that I am never buying another holiday decoration!  Have you ever told yourself this?!  But, honestly, who could resist these sweet winged creatures?!  They just bring a smile to your face, don’t they?! Their perch this season is on a half wall in my kitchen near my pantry cupboards.  All the sprigs of pine, cedar and fir, as well as the hydrangea, are faux!  Can you tell?!  You’ll have to look closer. You can click on any of the photos to see more detail, if you like…

The tallest white ironstone pitcher was given to me by my  husband’s mother many years ago.  It had belonged to her mother-in-law; and even though its lip is chipped, she knew I’d love it.  And, when it’s filled with flowers or greenery (which it most always is), you can’t even notice the imperfection. I think it just adds tons of character.

I am dressing up my kitchen a little more than usual this year, preparing our home for a special holiday fundraiser  – A Christmas Tea for Lucas in support of my dear friend Carolyn Aiken’s grandson and family.  Many of you already know Carolyn from her blog about life on glorious Prince Edward Island, but for those of you who haven’t met her yet, I hope you will visit her here.  I promise you will enjoy it.

The Tea my husband and I are hosting features merry carol singing on the front lawn!  Yay! The carollers are from our Memorial University School of Music  here in Newfoundland. They are a wonderful volunteer group of students carolling to raise money for cancer research, a cause close to my heart.  And, of course, a holiday house tour is included, as well as lots of prizes and surprises.  It’s hard to believe that it will all be happening in just a little over a week on December 11th. Carolyn herself is hosting a Homes for the Holiday Tour in support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association on her Island the day before the Tea, on the 10th. You might say from an Island to an Island… There are so many things yet to do, aren’t there Carolyn?!

Enjoy your holiday preparations!  And, I know you’re all busy as bees, so thanks for taking precious time out of your day to stop by for a visit.  Have a lovely weekend!

Warmly, Linda

I am joining Tiaras and Bowties for their 25 Days of Christmas party.

Pay attention to your dreams – God’s angels often speak directly to our hearts when we are asleep.  ~Quoted in The Angels’ Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

Today I am joining Romantic Home for Show and Tell…and French Country Cottage for Feathered Nest Friday!

You’ve touched my life like an angel…Thanks for being there for me!  Anonymous

 

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