December 4, 2016: Hola everyone! Winter has arrived in Milwaukee and there are snow flurries today. Despite several hard freezes remarkably my "spikes" in two of my patio planters have absolutely refused to die. The rosemary and thyme plants I nursed inside the house through last winter spent the summer in their pot outside next to the side stoop off the driveway, where they get plenty of sunshine all day long. I transplanted them into a cozy sheltered spot right next to the stoop in October and they are still green and growing, too! With the delay in getting the drywall patching done in the relatively minor "reconstruction" work I had done in my kitchen, I am way behind my time in getting the house decorated. But yesterday I got my wreath decked out with extra lights and dressed the front door of the house, and my battery-operated traditional candles were put up on the window sills all around the house Friday evening. It becomes a ritual to go around at dusk and turn the tops to the right to turn the candles "on" and at bedtime to go around and turn the tops to the left to turn the candles "off." Today I put some "glittery" throw pillow covers purchased new last month from H&M on three of my sofa pillows to glam things up a bit in the living room and add some sparkle. Later on, after I sufficiently fuel myself up with wine and snacks and probably to distract myself while I listen to the Packers game on the radio, I will huff and puff and pull my artificial tree up from storage in the basement. I will decorate it simply this year. Every year I say that, and every year I end up throwing just about everything except the kitchen sink on the tree. I am very proud of myself this year, though. I did not buy a single new ornament or Christmas doo-dad for the house (throw pillow covers don't count!!!) Happy Holidays to all, with hope and fervent prayers for 2017. I've a feeling we're all going to need a lot of help from Goddess in the coming year. Jan

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Getting Ready for the Holidays!

I haven't forgotten about this new blog of mine, but since before Thanksgiving I've been nutso busy!  It probably didn't help that I jetted off to Las Vegas to see my best friend and honorary sister, Isis ('Sis for short) and spent four wonderful days in above 70 degrees sun -- it really helped mostly knock out that nasty cold I came down with seriously the week of Thanksgiving! Wouldn't you know it.  But lots of wine, resting with my feet up in the sun, good food and good company all helped revive my wilting bod.

Mr. Don arrives on December 29th and we jet off to Spain on January 3rd!  For someone whom the Christmas spirit didn't really hit (not sure it has, yet), I've been a decorating demon.  Since decorating one's house is akin to decorating one's body with fashion and accessories -- well, okay, it's a stretch, but what the hell.

I started out looking online for Christmas decorating ideas.  Much of what I saw was just so far beyond both my expertise (I'm no crafter!) or incredibly expensive or incredibly impossible for one person to do on her absolute own; but then I found a few favorite blogs that are general "budget" decorating blogs but this time of year dedicated to the holidays.  I picked up some great ideas:


including this ornament wreath that I made myself!  It's just inexpensive ornaments strung onto a wire hanger shaped into a circle.  The ribbon hides the top that I ran out of ornaments for and filled with "junky" ornaments that otherwise would have been hidden in the middle of my tree, and for good measure I strung a few strands of gold beads around it.

This year - for the very first time since I had the fireplace installed in 2003, I made an attempt to decorate the mantle:


It's a working mantle - it's the only place to put the t.v. in this room and the t.v. is too small (only 19") to bother to wall mount.  So, I decorated around it!  I strung the gold French ribbon, added the hanging ornaments, flameless (battery operated) candles, stuck some gold decorative picks in the plant, installed the one-armed toy soldier made out of a clothespin in his place of honor in front of the t.v. (look closely and you can spot him), and my piece' de resistance' -- the decorated "branch" tree!  It's a cool idea I got from the internet.  It's just some branches cut from my thorny barberries, some still with the red berries clinging to them, with some tear drop ornaments and clear "icicles" hanging from the branches.  I liked the idea so much, I repeated it to decorate the dinette table for the Christmas get-together (held this past Sunday) with the ladies of the investment club. 

Another idea that's been around awhile but that I hadn't tried -- the ornament-filled hurricane glass on the coffee table.  It just so happened that the tall hurricane glass (already owned) fits neatly within an old iron candleabra (already owned) and it sparkles at night when I rest three tea lights on the candle-holders and light them up.  The faux topiaries on either side of the fire box are also pre-owned.  They were gifted to me years ago from Bombay Company which, unfortunately, is no longer in business.  They are dressed up with ribbons for the season.


Close-up of the decorated barberry branches.  I cut them and plopped them in a tall hurricane lamp cover. 


Corner vignette.  The only new purchase in this photo is the season-themed plate purchased from TJMaxx for $3.99.  I used an old (saved) Christmas card of a cardinal (I'm partial to them) and installed it in an old frame, and set out a Christmas card from my mom (has a cardinal on it) on the tabletop.  I added a very old red light bulb that has seen many Christmas' use in place of the regular energy-saving bulb to give a red glow to that part of the room. 

Various photos of the Christmas tree:


This photo was taken before I created the centerpiece for the mantle :)  You can't see it very well in this shot, but this year I have a proper tree-topper - two for $5 glittery stars from Walgreens wired together and maneuvered over the top branch.  This is the first year I used French ribbon to decorate the tree and it turned out better than I thought it would.



Close ups of tree with the lights on...


The French ribbon is translucent and just glows at night when I turn on the tree lights.


This year's Christmas tree in all of its glory!  Following the cardinal theme, I was inspired to print out some colored photographs of cardinals from the internet and frame them -- you can see them on the right side wall; I will likewise frame another cardinal print and hang it underneath the clock on the left wall.   I purchased that 4th frame just the other day at Walgreens for $5.  These are really nice wood (not faux wood) frames, complete with mats and the area within which the 5x7 photo or print is actually framed is set off with wood matching the frame so it really shows up against the cream mat.  The tree skirt was purchased this year from TJMaxx for $19.99.  I'm going to putz with it a bit, I want to stuff a sheet underneath it to give it some poof and also close up the opening around the tree base, then I'll see how it looks.  Before, I just crumpled up a tablecloth and formed it in a "circle" underneath the tree.  After perusing the internet, I realize now I'm not the only person who did that!  LOL! 

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