Monday, December 31, 2012

Great Things at New Years

First, I'd like to tell you about the Great Reads series hosted by Rambling Renovators.
Jen was kind enough to include me as one of her great reads along with
several other blogs that may be totally new to you.  Two rounds of "great reads"
are already posted and I should be showing up sometime today.

And if you don't know Jen's blog, you'll certainly enjoy seeing her home renovation.
Her project gallery is filled with amazing before and after posts.
Be sure to check out her laundry room renovation.  It's incredible!

We had our first measurable snow Saturday through Sunday.  Since we had almost
no snow or rain all last winter, it's a great thing.  And it makes even the
scrappiest garden look like a winter wonderland.

This is the trouble with boxwoods in our area.  A little snow and they splay right out.

A rose bush.

The upstairs Christmas tree waiting to be picked up for recycling.

Across the street.

But inside, I'm looking ahead to spring.  I'm planting a new round of "yellow paperwhites" (seems like an oxymoron) which are said to have no scent.  I think they're just daffodils.

A few hyacinths, conifer and hops off the tree are ready for New Year's brunch
and fill the dining room with an aroma of spring.  They promise great things to come.

And may your New Year be filled with great things!

Happy 2013!

Stop by Jane's last Flowers in the House party of 2012.
You might see an old friend or make a new one.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

Many of you noticed I won the Christmas tree contest on Scot Meacham Wood's blog.  There was a panel of judges whose work I really respect so taking home my second award was really quite an honor.  But I'm actually quite surprised I won because it wasn't the tree I planned on entering. 
I just didn't have the time to get it done in time.

My initial thought was to have a tree centered under the Moravian star pendant
in the guest bedroom.  Since you weren't able to make it for Christmas this year, 
I would clean out the guest bedroom and set the tree up in the center of the room.

The stars being a guide for sailors, I thought a tree decorated with marine signal flags
would be the perfect theme and I would want them all basically the same so they would look
like a sea of stars on the tree.

I would use hang tags to make the ornaments and trim them
into the basic marine flag shapes...

...and use silver glitter to give them a little bling.

The tags would also be perfect to write a few 
prayers, dreams, wishes or messages to the universe.

I would add a little Love and Joy.

I've never had a tree centered in the room before; it would be a little unconventional.
But it would be a wonderful place to sit and enjoy the sea of stars.

May love and joy come to you.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Boston Solstice

I prefer the long days of summer but at this time of year, I love the twinking holiday lights.  I thought it would be fun to give you quick tour Boston using the holiday lights as our guide.
I skipped work a little early and dashed over to Quincy Market just in time
to catch the cobalt blue sky of twilight.

The Christmas tree at Quincy Market.

Looking back toward Faneuil Hall seen faintly on the right,
the twilight last just about 15 minutes.

One of the Downtown Crossing stars.

The Boston Common Frog Pond is turned into a skating rink in winter.

It was nice to see so many people enjoying the night.

A view from the Boston Common toward Back Bay.

A beautiful Beacon Hill doorway.  Notice the apples and pinapple above the door!

The bridge across the pond in the Public Garden.

The trees that line the grassy mall down Commonwealth Avenue.

A peek inside a Beacon Hill townhouse.

It's fun to take a stroll down historic Charles Street in the dark
and see the shops all lit up.



Goods on Charles Street has vintage and unique items for the home.
It's always worth checking out.

Perhaps I need a present for myself!

Finally back home to enjoy the lights of the Christmas tree
and the high-definition Yule Log on cable.
The best thing about Winter Solstice is there's always brighter day ahead!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Tree 2012

The Christmas tree is up and decorated although it's hard to be joyful.

This tree was inspired by last year's tree in the dining room.  I wanted to see
if I could achieve a nature inspired tree that evoked the feeling
of a walk in the woods...well, a woods decorated for Christmas.

Let me show you some of the details.

As I revealed in my earlier post, I cut two Boston ferns and have used them as decorations.  In the end, it wasn't at all necessary to wire the ends.  I didn't like the look of them hanging as ornaments.  If you're going to use them, I would recommend adding them last, and it's really easy to stick the fronds in to the needles and just let them hang.  

Below the bird's nest are hops.  I don't know if they're naturally green or whether they're dyed.  I think they look like little caterpillars or bumble bees or something and I love their droopy nature.

I've also added pine cone garland, a few gold hydrangea, pine cones and vintage ornaments.

Even though I have a collection of vintage ornaments, I wanted a restrained palette of colors that fit the theme.  Spacious skies, amber waves of grain, green green grass of home, from sea to shining sea.  It was difficult not to use some of my favorite ornaments.

I made several of these bird ornaments just like the ones we made when we were kids.
I spray painted clothespins in a dark green paint (Montana's "Toad") and glued a nest and a partridge on each one.  The "eggs" are rose hips I cut out of the garden but you can use two or three beads.  Pearls always look nice.

In places where the clothespins were visible, I just stuck a little moss underneath.

My brother makes really beautiful rustic birdhouses and sells them.
He whipped up the cute little birdhouse ornaments are few years ago.

I was going to make a grapevine star and fill it with moss for the top but
I came up with this "birdcage" in a moment of pure genius.

You may remember my gothic light pendant from an earlier post.  I thought it make
a great crown for the top of the tree but I couldn't figure out how to attach it.

When I turned it upside down, I thought it looked like a chinoiserie birdhouse.  So I
took it apart, stuffed it with moss and added a sweet little bluebird.

The tree at dusk with a blue reflection from the mirror in the front hall.

Yes, the tree skirt is leopard.  I guess it's a little element of humor but it also kind
of looks like a speckled egg print. 

Yes?  No?

A night shot.

So there it is.  Not as inventive as last years but it's much more elegant.
And I enjoyed doing it.  

I still haven't figured out the secret to taking a great photo of a lit tree.
I did this one with two lamps on in the room.   Just automatic setting.
No flash, no extended shutter speed.  Have any secrets?

I also shot this at twilight when the camera picks up the sky color
as a beautiful blue that I think looks great.

I still have a few things to do around the house so I'll show you
when it's all done.  Are you ready?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Peace on Earth?

The tree is decorated but it seemed wrong to post photos without acknowledging
the lives lost in Connecticut yesterday.  Such a horrific act is unimaginable to me.
I spent last evening and this morning hypnotized and numbed by the unending coverage. 

I can turn it off.

My thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies are with the
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26
families who can't turn it off.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tree Shopping and Decoration Preview

Re-enactment photo.  It was REALLY pouring
On Saturday I went to the garden center to look at the wreaths and garlands and to pick out my tree.  It was pouring rain but I was well prepared with the proper shoes, coat and umbrella.
I walked around in the rain and examined every tree looking for the perfectly "imperfect" tree.  I picked one--a little crooked and thin in places--flagged down the Tree Dude who grabbed a "Sold" ticket and wrote my name on it.  I went to the checkout to pay for the tree and met Tree Dude back my car to load it up.  I drove home, put on my gardening gloves and dragged the tree into the house. 
Why are trees always so much bigger when you get them into the house? 
I had to cut almost a foot off of it!
I put in it in the stand, filled it with water, cut away the netting to release its branches
and went to take off the tags. 
I have the Reagens tree and I just cut a foot off it!  It's a very full, nearly perfect tree.
I wonder which tree the Reagens got?
* * * * *

Last year when I was looking for the perfect woodland themed decorations for my weeping spruce, I found these pricey--I guess you Brits or Aussies would call it spendy--grapevine orb lights.  In my defense, I only needed one strand and I think they were a much more reaonable $36.
Anyway, I realized the error of my ways when I got to see them in person.

So this year, I found these grapevine spheres on Amazon.
I'm sure they have them at craft stores everywhere as well.
These were less than $5 a bag.

All you have to do is put the lights on your tree and pop the spheres over the lights
wherever you want them on the tree.  So much cheaper.
Here's a few other things I'm putting on the tree.

I bought two Boston ferns at Home Depot around Halloween.  $5 each.
I did a few cutting samples and the fronds stay green for about
three to four weeks before they start looking funky.

I wrapped the ends in floral wire so they'll curve into little hooks.

I also trimmed what was left of my Limelight hydrangea
and gave them a few highlights with gold spray paint.
As you can see, I'm doing very nature inspired decorations.
It'll probably be Saturday before I can take good pictures of the final tree.
I'm sure the Reagens will be very happy with how I decorated their tree!