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

Friday, November 23, 2012

Goodbye to Autumn...Hello Christmas!

Hola everyone!

It is sooooo wonderful to have a four-day weekend -- no trip to the office today after Thanksgiving, and still Saturday and Sunday to get things done around here, woo woo! 

I decided a week or so ago that this year I want to try a gold/silver theme and forego the burgundy and wine-colored touches I have incorporated into the Christmas livng room decorations since 2001 or so when I bought my current living room set, which is upholstered in a camel/forest green/burgundy medallion pattern.  This decision was primarily because while shopping online at Kirkland's earlier this month I found a set of mercury-glass candle holders on sale for under $20 and fell in love.  They are silver-colored -- I posted about them on November 17, here is a picture after I de-boxed them and set them out on a side table in my living room to warm up to room temperature after sitting out on my porch all day while I was at work:




I wasn't sure if I would use them on my mantle/mantel or on my coffee table, but I knew they would be featured prominently because they are so pretty! 

I'm generally a gold and glitz kind of gal, although with my goddess-bent I also love the glow of moonlight and have snapped countless photos through my front window and on the front porch of the Moom rising above Lake Michigan in the east; but I usually associate the Moon with pearls, not the cool tones of silver.  Of course, pearls come in a rainbow of both warm and cool shades naturally, and can also be dyed...

Here is what my autumnal mantle/mantel looked like -- with some last minute tweaks that I did Wednesday night (I took the photograph on Thanksgiving Day):




Yes.  As you can see, I removed Dad's plant from the mantle/mantel to the kitchen counter, at least temporarily.  That was a VERY BIG DEAL for me. Removing Dad's plant opened up a large space on the right side of the mantle/mantel that I filled in by adding another candle holder in suitably autumnal colors and skootching the owls over.  Alas, I had this new arrangement only on Wednesday night and Thanksgiving Day.  Today, I dismantled it (har har!  A pun!)

After thinking about this for the past several days and sitting down earlier today to get some Christmas mantle/mantel inspiration:


Isn't this gorgeous?  From High Heels and Hammer, Christmas 2010, "Simple Christmas Mantel"
It starts with an absolutely fabulous mirror, and builds from there.  Geez Louise, my mantle/mantel could look like this!


All of the following images are from a 2008 post at Digs Digs blog, 33 Mantel Christmas Decoration Ideas.  I kept the images small because when I enlarged them they lost their clarity:
 



 








Well, I think you can see some common themes in all of these images.  I looked at lots of mantles/mantels and my eyes kept focusing on designs like those pictured above.  After examining these images for a while, I was able to pick out many things they shared in common:

  • A mirror (usually circular) right in the center of the wall above the mantle/mantel was featured in several arrangements 
  • Many of the arrangements featured a green wreath centered above the mantle/mantel
  • Many of the arrangements had greenery garlands draped across and over the mantles/mantels.  The garlands were often lighted and/or decorated with lots of bright ornaments and Christmas-y faux-flowers
  • There were lots of candles and candlelight everywhere, often massed in the fireboxes of the fireplace, but also massed on the mantles/mantels too
  • There was a lot of brass, gold, and silver that glittered and sparkled in the candlelight/firelight
  • Many of the mantles/mantels had stockings hung on them
  • Glorious bows/ribbons played a prominent role in some of the designs
  • Usually, there was symmetry of design
  • The designs I chose would generally be classed as "traditional"

I moved very much out of my comfort zone in removing Dad's plant, even if only temporarily, to the countertop on the kitchen peninsula.  I also decided it was time to totally rethink the design in the wallspace above and surrounding the mantle/mantel -- a space I had totally redone earlier this year.  So, earlier today I took EVERYTHING down. Yikes! 

See -- YOU have inspired me so much with all of your wonderful blogs and photographs!  Until this year, I NEVAH decorated the mantle/mantel for anything except for Christmas, when I sometimes put my Christmas cards on it and sometimes taped them along the edge and added a few candlesticks, LOL!  Look what you've done to me, People! 

Here is where I'm at now with the Christmas mantle/mantel 2012:




(1)  The TV is staying.  This is a working room in the winter because I blog here at my desk while the fireplace is going and the TV is on.  There is no other place to put it where I can see it from my desk, or indeed, where it can be so conveniently seen elsewhere from the sofa and loveseat.  So, I cannot have a symmetrical arrangement on my mantle/mantel like any of those I picked out (images above).

(2)  My original idea was to put up the gold and silver ornament wreath I made last year. I putzed and putzed with it, putting ornaments back on that had popped off their hookies, rearranging them, futzing with the bow(s), etc., and hung it up -- alas, it just was NOT working.  It was too small to hold the space, and because of its bulk, I couldn't get it to lay right against the wall from a nailed-in hook.  Last year, as you'll recall, I suspended the wreath on the staircase wall on a long ribbon that was tied to one of the bannisters above!  I suppose I could have tried that same approach above my mantle/mantel, but my rickety ladder only lets me go so high and I didn't have a proper hanger and - well, I'm not very good at making bows and glorious arrangements out of ribbons in any event.  I just wasn't up to the challenge, and neither was my ornament wreath.  Maybe next year, but not this year!

(3)  So, I nixed the idea of using my ornament wreath as a centerpiece above the mantle/mantel, and focused instead on the lighted (battery operated, woo woo!) artificial greenery wreath that I scored last year a week or so before Christmas last year at Boston Store, one of my favorite places to shop.  I think I paid $9.99 for it, on clearance.  Now, however, I do not have a wreath to hang on my front door.  So, I'll be on the lookout for another SCORE!  I like how it holds the space.  The silver glitter ornament is the same one I added to the wreath on the front door last year.  The only drawback is that I must stand on a chair to click the battery pack off at night.  Oh well.  Not sure if I should try and add ornamentation to it.  Although you can't really see it in this photograph, there are some artificial holly berries on the wreath.  I thought briefly about adding some of my gold bead garland.  I may try that tomorrow and see what it looks like.

(4)  Some weeks ago, I ordered a life greenery centerpiece from one of the local boyscouts, and it was delivered last Saturday.  Despite watering it regularly and keeping it away from any heating vents, the greenery is already shedding.  Idon't know that it will make it to Christmas, let alone a couple of weeks beyond!  But I moved it from the peninsula counter in the kitchen to the mantle/mantel.  I swapped out the red candle it came with for a gold one in my stash and added a flameless tea light votive in the hollow that was melted out last season when I briefly burned the candle.  It fits just about right.  I added some gold bead garland for a little sparkle.  Alas, I have a feeling I'm going to be recreating this centerpiece with faux greenery before long.  A trip to the dollar store may be in order...

(5)  I moved my venerable Norfolk pine from the kitchen peninsula to the mantle/mantel in exchange for Dad's plant.  Just like me, it has a rather quirky shape and a personality all its own :)  To protect the wood mantle/mantel, I placed the pot inside a gold-rimmed milk glass dish.  One cannot really see the gold-rim unless standing quite near the mantle, but it's the thought that counts :)  Milk glass was featured in Christmas mantle/mantel photo 7 (above).  I used the ribbons from last year's ornament wreath to decorate the pot.

(6)  The brass plate with the cut-out star border was moved from above the table just to the right of the mantle/mantel, you cannot see it in my photos.  That table will soon have an arrangement of framed cardinal greeting cards around it to go with a Christmas cardinal plate I bought last year at TJ Maxx.  I'm not sure it's going to stay where it is right now on the mantle/mantel, but I wanted something there to fill in some of the negative space.

(7)  Tall candle holder on the far left of the mantle/mantel, partially hidden by the t.v.  When seated on the sofa one can see it.  It holds a taller version of the same gold swirl candle that is in the mantle/mantel centerpiece. 

As photographed above, it's pretty bare bones.  I wanted to get some photographs while I still had some daylight outside, and all of this took me much longer than I ever thought it would.  And I'm not done!  But notice -- the mirrors and the brass "Indian" woven basket are all gone on the wall above the mantle/mantel!  It looks a lot different than what it did last night!

Overall, I think I'm on the right track.  After I snapped the photograph of the mantle/mantel in its then current state (above), I added my Kirland's mercury glass candle holders and put in flameless candles and/or tea lights.  So pretty!  I will work on the design more tomorrow.  I'm sure you've already noticed how much my design resembles so many of the elements from the inspiration photos -- except for the t.v. :)

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