Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas is Packed Away

I had the best weekend filled with rest and relaxation.  How about you?

The living tree is planted outside although I can't help but feel guilty everytime I see it.  It looks so sad and lonely out in the cold.  Am I transferring?

I undecorated the pruned tree today.  It took me about three days to decorate and about 15 minutes to take apart.

I don't know why it took me so many years to figure out I should just take all of the ornaments off and place them in a basket rather than wandering around the living room with ornament boxes laid out on every surface looking for the box each ornament came from.

And then I set up all the boxes on the dining room table to make quicker work of putting everything back in its place.

All the lights are neatly wound up and packed away ready for next year.

But the day wasn't without incident.

Broken item of the season.

And I was unpleasantly surprised to find a big patch of mold growing under the tree!  I'm not sure what happened.  Perhaps the tree stand leaked?  I've scrubbed it up and there's a little stain but I swear I can smell it.  I think it has to go.  Thank god I'm too poor to have nice Persian carpets.  I'd be more ill.

Everything is packed up and put away in the basement except the outside lights which I usually leave up until somewhere between the Epiphany and the date that a former neighbor left me a note in my mailbox that the lights should come down.

Hey, while I think of it, did you know you can keep paperwhites from getting too leggy by giving them a shot of gin?


Read about it at Yankee Magazine.

Although we've been really lucky with warmer than average temperatures and no snow since October, there's cold weather coming.  So we're all snuggling up and hunkering down for what we hope is a very short winter.

Still working on my damn goals for 2012.

How 'bout you?


  1. I have the same rug in my living room. My binding is coming undone and I think my dog is ruining it with her nails. We did our un-decorating today and I'm beat. I loved your tree this year it was so clever.

  2. I'm working on my stinking goals too. I hate to admitt they are the same ones I have every year..... lose weight, get organized, yada yada yada.
    My Christmas decorations are all upstairs, but NOT put away. Its a job I dread every year. I've promised myself I'll get them stored away tomorrow.
    Your blog has supplied an abundance of inspiration for me for 2012! Thanks

  3. Wow you are good already getting your Christmas decorations put away! Mine are still up and my house is an utter mess but I guess I have an excuse with my broken leg. I made some goals for 2012 as well, but I know full well that not all of them will come to fruition :) You will be surprised at how much you can accomplish in one year, though!

  4. I'm on the 'one word' bandwagon for 2012 goals (technically I guess that's just goal!). I chose 'persevere' for my 2012 word. It took that to get the Christmas put up at my house and it applies to the standard goals (weight loss, exercise more, eat well....)

    Oh, and I always slip a circle of heavy duty plastic under my tree, in case of leakage. So far, so good.

  5. My main "goal" at the moment is to stop eating so much. I am starting to make myself sick.

    I needed that paperwhite tip because mine were really leggy. I ordered some off Amazon this year - and they grew in record time, thus looking pretty sad by Christmas. I will have to try this next year.

    Happy New Year!

  6. Awww, your cats are adorable.

  7. A green star - broken! I hate that. Your lovely vintage ornaments really touched me. I bought a couple in an "antique" shop, but have decided to keep an eye open for more all year as we wonder here and there. I really like the feel of them.

    When I had a real tree I would put a piece of plastic under the skirt. That might help... Assume you have tried things like vinegar or lemon juice to get out the smell??

  8. Happy New Year Steve!!!
    omg... could that last photo be any cuter?! I'm not letting Ella see it or she will want a kitty to spoon with as she's a mighty fine spooner herself;)

    It was a very good holiday season and I'm so happy your xmas tree won the contest!!

  9. When I put up a big tree, I always toolkit down on new years eve...something about starting the new year fresh and house clean always made me feel right! Too bad about the mold, but I'm sure the rug can be salvaged...
    I wish I knew about that Gin trick a few weeks ago...I'm already on my second set of bulbs... I'll do...maybe another set in a couple of weeks...and by February...I'm all about long stemmed white tulips in a cylinder vase...and maybe some dwarf daffodils .
    Ok...back to Pawn work on my goals too...

  10. I'm glad that neighbor is a former neighbor! Happy New Year!

  11. Someone obviously gave ME a shot of gin at a formative time...

  12. I took a lazy day and didn't even take one thing off the tree like I planned on. You are right, time to snuggle up. Those cats like peas in a pod are way tooooo cute.

  13. My Christmas ornaments are packed away in their Rubbermaid container in the basement!
    Ok, yeah I never put up a tree this year so maybe I don't get any points for that fact but I did BUY a really MOD lime green shiny wreath and some cool lime green, purple and turquoise ornaments for NEXT year! and they were 50% off! Wahoo!
    ...I guess I should take my Xmas gifts out of their boxes for recycling soon though. :D

  14. Loving the color of your cats...sort of ginger. As for the 2012 goals, still working on my own.
    xo Dianne

  15. isn't that the rug that you cut and binded yourself? If so, I would be ill too. :(

    It's good to see that you've let loose a little on your obsessive tendancies and can go with the basket instead of the correct box. :) It will much more fun next year picking them out of a pretty wicker basket.

    and....will you be linking up with Deb on the broken item? :)

    Glad you're weekend was relaxing. I've been giving myself pep talks all day today to prepare for the real world come tomorrow!

    happy new year...I know there's lots of great things in store for Steve and the urban cottage in 2012

  16. I think I will use your basket-of-bling tip and gradually pack it all up. I just love the sparkle all a bit too much to take down yet. As for goals- mine are to get through lunch and dinner with this lot and not break any decorations! Bigger goals hurt the brain so soon after Christmas don't you think?

  17. God, it feels so good to have Christmas all put away. Ours is still all out - David wants it a few more days. For me, I'd put it all away on Dec.31 if I had my way.

    I am working on my goals too. I have a vibe about this year but don't know how to put it into words. I know I want to declutter and clean up my style a little. Does that make any sense. I'd like to spend less on things and put more on the mortgage. Sort of a cleaner, sleeker new year. But we shall see...

    Sorry about your mold spot. Ugh. I watered the poinsettia the other day and suddenly water poured out across my sideboard. Somehow I'd been watering it week after week and some of the water had gotten down into the foil wrapper and it suddenly ruptured. What a mess. Yes, good thing you don't have fancy rugs.

    Happy winter. xo Terri

  18. Oh, and that mirror in your foyer is TO DIE FOR.

    :D T.

  19. Broken item of the season, I love it! That's a great idea for putting away the ornaments. I have boxes spread all over the place too. I hate taking down the tree, your neighbour might send me a note. Your kitties look warm and cozy. I hope it doesn't get too cold!

  20. Someone sounds a little feisty tonight! I say take a swig of gin and spray the darn rug with water and bleach and leave it be. You really aren't smelling's all in your head. Have fun with that list if goals. I'm boycotting! I know what needs doing, and it'll get done when I'm good and ready!!

  21. Wow! i have not put anything away. It is on my to do this week. I just became your new follower, looking forward to your posts. Happy 2012!

  22. Oh sure, after years of long, leggy, flopping paper whites and assorted wire creations/shapes to hold them up with garland, ribbons, and whatnot, I find this out. :) Just kidding. Seriously, thanks soooo much! I gave up on PW's this year and they were missed, so this info is appreciated. Will have to give them another try next year...with a shot of gin!
    I've truly enjoyed your posts and accompanying photos all season long! Congratulations on the design award and Happy New Year!

  23. Wow you are quick. I am waiting until Friday, Epiphany, to undecorate. Its a 12 days of Christmas thing. I just feel obliged to leave everything up until then.
    That sure is awful about the rug. Have you tried several things to kill the mold?

  24. Same here. I suffer from the old transference thing all the time. Our tree is laying on its side out in the yard. Makes me sad.

    And everything is packed away here, but I'm still turning on the outside lights every night - I can't quite give them up yet.


  25. Steve: I'm one of those that has all the ornament boxes out matching ornament to box. You are on to something here with the basket; I may be following your lead next year! Cindy

  26. Well, you've certainly got this whole Christmas thing down to a science... and also an art!

    Your perfectly imperfect tree looks fantastic, even undecorated!
    I'll bet it'll be bittersweet to dispose of it.

    Meanwhile, don't fret about the tree living outside. As long as it's near you it'll be happy.

    Had to chuckle about the *former* neighbor!

    Happy New Year. Looking forward to another year of inspiration and illumination. Yours is one of the very best blogs out there: for its wit and wisdom, excellent photography, and always impeccable grammar and spelling (a bugaboo of mine). Carry on!

  27. Sounds like we all need to have a goal about procrastination.

    Miranda, Thank you for saying that. My real job is in a field where we produce legal transcripts so English is important. It's kind of a pet peeve of mine as well.

  28. Dahhling who doesn't revive a little with a shot of liquor? including dehhvine! ¡¡Felíz Año Nuevo!!

  29. Godt nytår.
    Gode billeder. Jeg kan rigtig godt li` dit sidste billede.
    Hvor har du dog mange smukke kugler til juletræet.
    Jeg pakker først "julen" ned til Hellig tre Konger. Gl. skik jeg har taget med fra barndomshjemmet.
    Der skal lige siges, at her bliver så først pyntet op et par dage før jul.
    Tak for kigget.

  30. Happy New Year. Good pictures. I really like `your last picture. Where have you many beautiful beads for the Christmas tree. I pack first "Christmas" down to Epiphany. Old practice I have taken from his childhood home. It must be said that here are so only decorated a few days before Christmas. Thanks for looking.

  31. It always feels good to take down the tree and put everything away. Your kitty's are adorable. Happy New Year..

  32. Gin, really?...never heard of that, but will try it next year...I'm not really a cat person, but yours look so adorable...maybe I am a cat person.

  33. happy new year steve. dang, you are organized! that pic of the cats is so cute. talk to you soon.

  34. I like my holiday things put away before the new year festivities- there is something about clearing out the old before the new that works for me.

    Goals are good for growth; however, I read zenhabits and the minimalists from time to time and they have a "no goal" take on living that's interesting as well.

    I like a list (wait, I LOVE a list) so I do one every year, but usually right before my May birthday, instead of at the new year-takes the pressure off around the holidays.

    Do you make a house list as well as a personal one?

    PS-You cats are adorable!

  35. Steve, make a paste out of baking soda and vinegar and then rub it into the moldy spot, let dry and then vacuum up. It’s actually the vinegar that takes out the musty smell. Christmas stuff usually comes down New Years Eve here but since we had guests all weekend I’m taking things down today, it’s exhausting this holiday stuff!

    Happy New Year!

  36. Dear Mr. Cottage,

    My damn goal is to get the log cabin finished. The roof will be shingled this week and that will allow the crew to work when it is raining or snowing. The size of this cabin is 24' x 60', all the logs and all the rock for the foundation has come off the property and it still to date has cost me $265,700. No windows, no doors, no electricity, no water, no septic, no bathroom or kitchen fixtures no fireplace. Tell me how those cowboys went out west and threw up a cabin in a summer that is still standing 100 years later.

    My kitchen will have 2 doors standard height, 36" wide with a full glass pane, vinyl on the outside, pine on the inside. Lowe's wanted $2756 for one of those doors. Two doors, $5512. I about fainted. Then I drove over to the Habitat Store and would you believe I found EXACTLY the doors I wanted for $60 each. Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

    Have a good New Year. Ann

  37. Ann,
    Best wishes getting your cabin done. We hope to see pictures when you're finished!

  38. Hi! I am back! Love seeing your decor.

  39. I love your blog.
    Two thoughts:
    Ornaments packed in boxes last longer than randomly in a basket
    2. Always place a garbage bag and an old mat under the tree skirt to absorb spills.
    Until next year...

  40. Yes. The basket was just to expedite the removal of the ornaments from the tree. Then I set up the boxes on my dining room table where it was much easier to pack them back up in boxes.

    Lesson learned on the mat under the tree.



  42. dude, enough about ornaments already....please,oh, please, oh, puuuhh-leeeeze do a post about that flippin' AAHHHH-mazing mirror at the bottom of your stairs!

    i kinda love it.

    umm....where do you live again? (tee-tee-hee!)

  43. Too bad about the rug. Usually, I undo my tree after Epiphany but my tree remains decorated until my children go back to NYC on Jan 9th.

    It took me five days to decorate this ten-footer and will take a lot less to undecorate, except for the branches I have to cut off so they can be brought to the transfer station and turned into mulch.

    I love the picture of your pets sleeping cozily. We humans should be so peaceful.

  44. Oh, I forgot to mention that I bought a product for removing stains from seagrass rugs. It is called Get Serious and was recommended on one of the blogs I read. You can google it for the details since I have been too lazy to try it out.

    I don't make New Year resolutions, but maybe I should...try not to be so lazy!

  45. I'm working on my goals as well and definitely hoping for a short winter :). If you lived in Vermont, you could just leave your lights up all year.

  46. I love the first picture of your tree, almost naked except for the pearly garlands!

    I've re-named your darling cats Ginger and Snap. Such an adorable photo.

    Love your style! Keep sharing!

  47. Just found your blog and, I must say, I'm smitten! Your pruned tree, all three days of it, is elegance indeed. As mentioned up there somewhere, vinegar is the easiest all-purpose deodorizer cum stain remover. Mixed with baking soda or even detergent, depending on your fibers, it helps remove wine stains, pet stains, etc, and any associated odors. By the way, my little forest of blue spruces is my homage to Christmases past. Hope your replanted tree survives, too!

  48. Top resolution: get to your post ASAP so I don't have to spend 20 minutes scrolling through your comments.

    I know ,I know, I could jump to comment form but your commentators are so funny I like to read them too.

    My tree is still up, was just mentally trying to get all the boxes down from attic....I do have a basket, hmm.

    I just came up with a resolution, 3 days into it. Oh well I'm tired.

    xo Jane

  49. I can't believe you even took the greens down from your header!! LOL!!!
    I was cleaned up on the 26th - a 1st for me. The greens are still up outside, and they will remain up until Valentine's! I just love looking at the outside greens!

    That cat photo is so sweet!

    My 2012 goals are to be healthier, happier and handier (is that even a word?)! Simple!

    Happy New Year!

  50. The baking soda and vinegar paste a commenter left is the best, I have used it before, it works!
    I didn't know gin worked too, I have always used Vodka, it also somehow makes it flower more. PW are my favorite part of the winter season!
    Your blog is amazing thanks for letting me read it.

  51. I just subscribed to your blog today - absolutely smitten with your style, your writing, your photography and your kitties! (What breed are they?) One of my goals for 2012 was to seriously prune my Google Reader feeds so the fact that I ADDED you today should be taken as the high compliment it is! Looking forward to getting to know you better as the year unfolds.

  52. I figured out the basket trick, but I never saved the original boxes for ornaments because mine were all collected individually. Some of them go back to my father's childhood tree in the 1920s, and to my parents' first Christmas tree, so everything gets swaddled in rolls of toilet tissue.

    My resolutions for the new year — simply finish all the little undone projects around the house, and that's not a short list!

  53. I've been wondering what to do for the new year. With my life. Now I know. Going to be a paperwhite, and drink lots of gin so I don't get too leggy.

    That mirror, that mirror, be still my heart, all dressed for Christmas.

  54. Who needs damn goals?

    Taking down Christmas decorations is kind of bittersweet, isn't it? Still in NM, but tomorrow evening, I plan to get after it when we arrive home.

    So, I've never seen that mirror at your entry before. Nor have I seen the wreath on top of it. They're both gorgeous. I'm kind of thinking you need a wreath of some sort on the mirror year-round.

  55. I still can not bear to take all the decorations down. It looks so bare and unfestive without them.
    So they will stay up a little longer.

    My kitties are hunkering down too. They are all rescues so whenever it gets bitter cold I tell them how lucky they are to be cozy inside and living with me.

    Resolutions? Just one, to chill out this year. I was entirely too stressed last year.

  56. I say keep the outside lights up all winter. I bet you won't get any complaints. You know I love the kitty photo.

    Happy New Year!

  57. Look at you how smart and organized you are! I bet you were playing good jazz in the background too!

    We are huge animal lovers over here. Your last pick is priceless. OMGosh how adorabale!

    Happy new year, Steve!

    oxox, Mon

    P.S I signed up as a subscriber last week - but no feeds.. Will re-sign and see what happens.

  58. Sorry to hear about the leak. I am a nut about our live tree and the newish hardwoods, I drive my husband crazy about it. Happy 2012.

  59. Sorry, but I just can't believe that someone who puts their ornaments in a nice basket BEFORE neatly placing them into their original boxes and then neatly wrapping a tangle of lights into multiple, perfect wreaths would deface an entire neighborhood by leaving their outside lights up!! Impossible :)

  60. We always put a rather cheesy-looking round, plastic tablecloth under our tree skirt (no one is the wiser). Unfortunately, we learned this lesson the hard way with a similar experience as you.

    Really? Gin with our paperwhites? I grow them every year and right now, even with being propped up with a skewer, they are toppling. Thanks for the great tip and the 2012 clean-up round-up!

  61. aw the kitty doughnut...any blanket or towel that can be wrapped around snuggly kitties. We only have one but he's treated like a king. Happy New Year!

  62. Regarding your stain - this happened to our seagrass this summer when I was gone and "someone" left a wet bathing suit in a plastic bag on the floor for close to a week. I have a picture of my husband blow drying it by holding the dryer with his feet while reading a book, to pass the time. I thought my it was ruined but it eventually faded. Maybe you can just keep drying it every so often and give it some time.

    I love your vintage ornaments. All mine are pretty much vintage now and I love it that way.

    Other note of interest - I came across this Greek Revival from upstate NY being dismantled with a price of $19,500. I wish I had a little ocean side lot to move it to!

  63. Gin and paperwhites?! That is wild! For years I've tied them up with bamboo stakes and rafia, which of course looks funky. That is a great trick and I will definitely try it! Shiree'

  64. Just wanted to tell you I posted about your mirror on my blog. Take a peek. Remember me from a year ago... Mommy of three :). I believe you mentioned the mirror came from an old store display?? Anyway, I just created my blog. You may not want to read it since I probably have grammatical errors on it ...let that be my goal for 2012: better blog posts! Happy New year!

  65. Looks as if the tree held up quite well...still so green and fresh!
    Love the way you organize your clever...but then you always have a unique and useful take on things. :) As always, thanks so much for sharing with us.
    P.S. Love your Kitties~Cuddling shot.

  66. Next year I'll try the Gin tip. My paperwhites are in total full bloom and look great except that they're almost touching the ceiling!

  67. add me to the list of those raving about your mirror. also, have you ever posted about that piece of art we see in the basket photo? (black and amber, it looks like...I love it!) too funny about the paperwhites and gin. I always move mine to an area with no sun after they shoot up. it helps deter growth until blooms come.

    wonderful post as always...donna

  68. I love your blog! I come here for to see what you've come up with next, because you have some major talent! But I also can not get enough of your kitties...they are just adorable. Good thing I don't know your addy or I would come cat nap them!!! So cute!