December 6, 2017:

Hola!

It's COLD here. Cold and windy. But the Sun has been out for the past 2 days so it's bright, and that helps me to bear the cold and the short days. Only 15 more days to Winter Solstice, and then each day, a few more minutes of daylight will magically begin to be added, and even though the cold and snow will continue, the "worst" will be over because I know we are over the hump and headed toward the Spring Equinox.

Meanwhile, I am busy decorating the tree. I dug out an old collage of photos from the former Maison Newton (above). Gosh, that was a beautiful fireplace. My current gel fuel fireplace is great, but no match for that large and lush gas fireplace in my former home. In my case, downsizing meant not only much less square footage and a single story (which IS nice), but no fireplace until I purchased my gel fuel fireplace. I love it, but there was only one wall I could put it on, and this current living room is much smaller than my former living room, so I sized the fireplace accordingly. (It was also much less expensive and did not need to be installed by professionals).

Yesterday I womaned up and muscled, huffed, puffed, cussed some, breathed heavily and heaved mightily to get my Christmas tree up the basement stairs and dragged into the living room, and then into position in front of the picture window overlooking the front of the house. Whew! Quite the work-out. But I wasn't ready this year to switch to a "single woman of a certain age" (4 foot tall) tree. Maybe next year...NAH!

Jan

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Joyeux Noelle!

I'm saying Merry Christmas today as I won't be working online tomorrow, I'll be too busy feasting and visiting with the family and I expect most of you will be, too.

I took what I think is a somewhat better pic of this year's Christmas tree:


I really do need to take those drapes down and press them!

Shades of Christmas past, here's a photo of Mr. Don at Mom's house during Christmas, 2008.  Mom's little poodle, Penny, glued herself to Don's side during the entire visit:


And here is this year's version of the Christmas tree at Kegel's, a venerable family-owned German restaurant/bar on Milwaukee's south side (they have the best filet mignon in town):


A long-time friend, Ann, and I, go to Kegel's every season to admire the Christmas tree.  The owner does a brand new themed tree every single year and they are always spectacular!  This year's tree is absolutely gorgeous in person -- it just glows!  It is silver and gold, as you can see -- I should have taken some close-ups, the floral sprays are so beautiful.  We go to Kegel's and exchange our gifts (sometimes saving opening them for later), and have a good meal.

Then we go see the neighborhood decked out along "Candy Cane Lane."  The neighbors in the area decorate their houses and Santa, along with local and sometimes national celebrities, station themselves at the main intersection in the subdivision and collect donations to fight childhood cancer.  Since 1984 the neighbors have collected $1.6 million dollars, and it all goes to the MACC (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer) Fund.  This year's displays were wonderful, and I think more houses participated this year, too (the relatively warmer weather this year and lack of snow certainly helped).

I didn't take any pictures -- Ann drives and I am not good enough to take photos from the moving car (even though we are going slow).  Below is a photo of one of the houses from this year's Wisconsin Hunger Task Force website (you can donate a canned good or cash at a special collection area):


Christmas is a time for family, sharing, community, and traditions.  We need Christmas!  I wish, like the reformed Mr. Scrooge, that people would keep it in their hearts 365 days a year.  Peace, love and harmony to you all.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Trees with a Twist

Hola!

Love this idea!  I found this one at Urban Outfitters' blog:


U.O. put pinned or taped their lights and decorations directly to the wall.  For renters, though, this might not work so well.  What I'm thinking is that it would be easy enough to draw a tree on a large sheet of paper or tape several sheets of paper together and then decorate the seams, or cut a tree shape from corrugated cardboard and maybe cover in cloth -- something that could be taped to the wall and taken down with no damage to or holes (no matter how tiny) put in the wall.  Up it goes, and decorate away.

I found this Christmas made out of pillows at World Inside Pictures blog (22 Unusual Clever DIY Christmas Tree Ideas).  Unfortunately, it linked to a website written in French, but not to the specific post at the website, and I was not able to find it -- so, cite with caution, because I found the same image at several different websites, none of which appear to be the original source and all in different foreign languages:


As a book fanatic, LOVE this bookshelf tree from Swiss Miss -- so clever:


I found another clever use of books or thick catalogs (are there still such things -- I grew up ooohing and aaahing every year over fat catalogs from Sears, Spiegel and J.C. Penney!) at Lush Home, along with several interesting ideas for creating Christmas "trees:"


I found this tree at Organized Clutter blog via Pinterest.  With all the unsolicited junk mail I receive, I'd have enough to make a very BIG tree in practically no time at all, and wouldn't have to commit the ultimate sacrilege of tearing a book apart:

Bed Curtains Are Up!

I was able to get the bed curtains ironed and installed on December 6, as I knew Gayle's granddaughters would love them!

Are those curtains on your bed, Josie asked.  Yes, they're tie-on curtains that I used to drape the bed.  I got the idea from a picture I found online, I said.  Both girls then demanded to see the picture.  I produced it for them.

Mimi O'Connell design, picture from Cote de Texas blog (previously posted).
This looks different, Josie said, and Sophia nodded.  Yes, they are different.  But in this small room, I didn't want to put up curtains that would take up too much space.  [I didn't mention there was no way I could ever afford to hang what appear to be custom-made silk shatung or similar tie-on draperies spilling lavishly to the floor and held in place by gigantic gold tassels.]  Both girls nodded sagely.




I'm thinking about doubling up the curtains on those two corners, as I have a second pair.  Right now my thinking is that having four corner curtains would be too much for the space, even though these curtains are sheer voile.  They are very nice curtains, by the way, am so glad I found them at Amazon.com.  They are machine wash/dry and iron like a dream.  I had a harder time balancing on the mattress to get the curtains up than getting the ties more or less the same distance from the bedframe "rod" to which they're tied.  Once I got the hang of it the curtains went up quickly.  They are 95" long and 59" wide -- and they don't make it all the way down to the floor.  To add a little Christmas bling, I hung a satin and glitter champagne ornament to each tie to hold the curtains in place.

It's almost finished!  The last chore remaining to get my mistress bedroom in shape is to finish the mini gallery wall.  Well, also to start saving for some new area rugs.  I had thought faux sheepskin, but haven't seen anything that's rung my chimes.  I like the real thing -- the thought of my feet sinking into such a rug every morning or evening as I get in and out of bed is very tempting; but then I saw some beautiful grey and white oriental-styles that made me salivate.  We'll see.

And Yet More Christmas Reveals Around Maison Newton

Hola everyone!

I'm home today because overnight we got rain that turned to sleet and then to sheer ice covering the sidewalks.  I made it as far as the end of my driveway, slipping a few times, and knew there was no way I could safely walk the half mile to the bus stop to get to work.  A gal my age has to keep herself safe, first and foremost.  Taking a spill on the ice at 63 isn't something I take lightly.  If I went down and seriously injured myself -- don't even want to think about it.

Anyway, it's dank, dark and dreary out there; the ice is slowly melting but still not 100% gone.


Soon I'll be looking for cardinals online and printing out some vertical prints to replace the autumn-toned prints in the frames flanking the patio door. In this photo is the centerpeice of live greens with a scented candle that I've purchased the past few years from the Boy Scouts.  Candy is held in a glass dish in the shape of a Christmas tree (but the overflowing candy obscures the small dish's shape), framed cardinal greeting card in the background; the copper framed cardinal greeting card has since been replaced with my red, white and black Northwood Cottage cardinal plate; a cardinal snow globe in the shape of a lantern, and my first greeting card of the season.  Resting atop one the largest wood cannister in the background is a little votive holder, Mama snowman and little boy snowman, peering into the "fire."  I tried to get a close-up of it but none of them turned out (too blurry and shaky).






Love this cardinal plate, found at TJ Maxx some years ago.



Squirrels and birds abound in this household.



Another framed cardinal greeting card -- do you see the pair -- one on the park bench, one on the snow next to it?





The main floor bathroom received some Christmas cheer, too:




Sunday, December 7, 2014

More Christmas "Reveals" at Maison Newton III

Hola!

I fluffed up the new 4 foot tall artificial trees with lights (in urns, woo woo! -- you caught a glimpse of them hiding out in a corner of my dinette --)


destined for the front porch, and got them looking all spiffy.  Hauled them out to the front stoop, unwrapped the outdoor power cord I bought yesterday at Walgreens, plugged everything in and - voila - NOTHING.

Oh poop.

I was racing against sundown, which comes before 4:30 p.m. in these parts these days, geez.  CAN'T WAIT FOR SOLSTICE when the days will start to get longer, a few minutes each day.  In 30 days of December 21, we'll have gained an hour and a bit more sunlight, thank Goddess!

Didn't work. Not a fricking flicker.  ARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!  The trees are so cute and would look pretty lit up!  I really wanted them to light up this evening and introduce the new neighborhood to Maison Newton style, ahem.  I tried several different things and nothing worked.  I may just resort to battery-operated lights.

Although the big Christmas tree reveal is past, here are  photos of how I decorated the rest of Maison Newton III.  There may be a tweak or two upcoming but, basically, this is it.

P.S.  Decided it's ridiculous to keep referring to the "FORMER" Maison Newton, as if it had died and gone to House Heaven.  So now it's Maison Newton I (first house bought in 1986, sold in 1989), Maison Newton II (second house, stick built and moved into in August 1990, closed on sale June 30, 2014), and Maison Newton III (1956 one story rancher with a smaller lot and much smaller footprint, my retirement home, closed on buy June 30, 2014).

Here come the photos!


Above:  The new gel-fuel fireplace/mantel, decked out for the holidays, and the old coffee table with its minimalistic decorations -- gold pine cone pics amidst the Norfolk pine and the silver-colored ceramic deer I bought last year at Walgreens.



Photo above, the bookcase niche decorated for Christmas with votives, flameless candles, and a few other Christmas trinkets.



A closer look at one of the bookcase niche shelves:  mercury glass votive, a Christmas trinket box holding station underneath Xena Warrior Princess' horse, and an ornament/music box.  The trinket box and the ornament/music box were both gifts from investment club members in prior years.



Above, left side of the mantel.  I took Coz Roxanne's advice and removed the porcelain church and added a low dish of ornaments; I introduced height and rhythm with the tall mercury glass votives.  I bought them at Kirkland's online a few years ago and they were such a deal; I believe I paid $19.99 on sale for the set of three.  Hanging just beneath the mantel are some jingle-bells I picked up at The FamilyDollar last weekend.  The light blue and silvery colors go well in the living room.



The mantel from the right side.  I did not want to put too much on the mantel -- it's smaller than the one I had at Maison Newton II and not as deep.  This mercury glass candle stand is a favorite find from TJ Maxx a few years ago.  It anchors the space with a flameless candle atop but doesn't crowd the t.v., balancing out the trio of tall votive holders on the other side.



A lot of wow for little effort!  There's not much simpler than piling some ornaments in a pretty glass dish, and this worked so well in the space.  They are mini-ornaments in satin white, shiny silver, one satin gold and one shiny gold.  Some of the ornaments have white curling ribbon strung through them -- adds a little frou-frou.  The mini-size ornaments I used to fill the glass dish are just right, I think; 2" diameter ornaments may have been a bit too large for the space and I wouldn't have been able to pile as many of them in the dish.



The tree and the counter, view from patio door (see opening paragraphs, above).

The lantern on the left was purchased at TJ Maxx a few years ago, it was $20.

The deer duo in the center are faux wood and were $9.99 each at Walgreen's.  In design, they are similar to beautiful gilded deer I've seen at Gumps online for $128 for a pair.  Holy Hathor! Soooo glad I added them to my Christmas decor.  I first saw them last Christmas but by the time I made up my mind to spend $10 for each one, they were all gone.  I think the deer look organic with their "wood" finish and work fine on wood countertop, while giving a nod to continuity with some contrast to the little silver-colored ceramic deer trio I bought last year at Walgreen's for my 2013 mantel.  It's hard to make out, but in-between the deer duo is an elegant brass ornament holder and a beautiful blown-glass rainbow-colored finial ornament.  It was a gift from one of our investment club gift swaps a few years ago.

The tall brass candlestick on the right with the glass hurricane cover were purchased more than 25 years ago at the former Gimbels downtown store.  How I miss Gimbels!  The candle is a vanilla-scented pillar -- it's not going to last until Christmas, LOL! It smells so good when lit, but it is burning down quickly as it is lit every night.  Can you believe it started life at 8 inches tall?



The view from the living room into the kitchen.  The former owner, Mrs. "Seller," installed the vinyl print saying above the pass-through:  "In all things of nature, there is something of the MARVELOUS -- Aristotle."  I couldn't agree more.  This view is one of my favorite views in the house. It overlooks the dining table (minus computer and stacks of papers for this day) straight out into my back yard and beyond.  It faces east, so I get good light, especially in the summer.

Below, a photo of the show-stopping tree topper I fretted over and came up with a solution late Saturday evening December 6 by adding the bling -- three gold colored picks from prior years I discovered in a box marked "tree topper stuff."  LOL!  I'm not showing you the tree topper in this photo because I'm crazy about it but this photo shows the bird sitting on top of the bookcase (china) hutch in the background to the right.  She's the Queen of Heaven in her dove form, crowned in gold, and she sits upon the highest perch in the room, surveying all below.  



She sparkles -- tried to get a close up without getting on a ladder -- ssttrreettcchh:



Not such a good photo, it's not all sparkly like she is!



I'm living with the wall color on the living room "accent wall" until spring 2015, then it's sooooo gone...  Oops, I see I caught my reflection in the mirror back of the hutch, geez!  You'd think by now I'd know better.  I look rather like a Peruvian mummy in that reflection, hmmm...

More to come, but not tonight -- it's 9 p.m. and one of my t.v. favorites, Revenge, is coming on.

Christmas Tree Finished In Time! Christmas Tree Reveal

Whew!  Hola everyone.

The 2014 version of our investment club's Christmas get-together came and went successfully!  I'm happy to say that, despite my anxiety over being able to bring a decent-looking tree together yesterday, the Christmas tree was a big hit with young and young at heart.  We had a wonderful breakfast out and then our gift exchange back at my place, seated around the tree.

Gayle's granddaughters got a tour of this new Maison Newton and gave me their seal of approval.  Ahhhhh, vindication!  The older granddaughter, Josie, pronounced "I like it" in a very decided fashion.  I said well, it's not as big as my former house, but it's okay for me.  Josie said "It's bigger than my house."  That took me aback for a second, I have to tell you.  Yes, things must be tight in a 3-bedroom rancher that is less than 1,000 square feet for a family of four with two growing girls.  Dad must feel way outnumbered, too.  I've got an abundance of space by comparison with my 1,073 square feet plus the wreck room and all the extra storage in the garage and covered storage behind the garage, and truly, the former Maison Newton with its two stories and huge yard was getting to be more than I wanted to handle at this stage of my life.  A few years from now, maybe I wouldn't be able to handle it at all!  So, I said to myself, "Self, stop bitching and moaning about your lack of space here, and just deal with it."  Message to Self received.

Without further ado - the GREAT CHRISTMAS TREE REVEAL!   Lots of pictures. I'm not the best photographer, and my camera is "old" (2005) - probably considered an antique by now; I've never learned how to use it properly despite reading the directions many times, and my hands shake sometimes, too.

THE TREE - TA DA!

View of the tree from the dinette/dining area.



Another view of the tree from the dinette area, near the patio door.


One Christmas several years ago (I don't even remember when, me bad!), Mr. Don surprised me with a trinket he'd found on the street near his Montreal apartment.  It was a silouette in stamped metal of the beautiful Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. Nefertiti is still considered one of the most beautiful women to ever have lived, and if you've ever seen a portrait of her bust excavated from the dry sands of Egypt, you'd understand why.  She is a Helen of Troy a thousand years before Helen of Troy was even a gleam in her daddy's eye.  Thousands of people flock each year to the museum in Germany that holds the original sculpture/bust of Nefertiti.  When Mr. Don presented me with this little treasure (he'd even cleaned it up!), I was so touched! He didn't have to say it, I knew then that I was the most beautiful woman in the world to him.

Another Christmas, Mr. Don presented me with a tartan pin that his twin sister bought for him as a souvenir at Castle Duart in Scotland, the ancestral home of the McLeans.  I had done their family tree for them and was able to trace their McLean ancestry back to the 1700s, but no further.  He wanted me to have the tartan pin as a keepsake.  It's been treasured ever since.  

Ach, getting all sentimental here.  Anyway, Nefertiti has been on the tree every year since she was given to me, and when Mr. Don gave me the McLean tartan pin, it was a natural pairing, with a glass heart in between. I really am sentimental :)  It's a little hard to see her in the photo, above, but Nefertiti (me) is there, in front of the sparkly silver snowflake, the heart is center, to the right of "me", and Mr. Don, represented by his tartan pin, is upper right of the glass heart.  I miss you, Mr. Don.  He passed away in his sleep, unexpectedly, on October 12, 2012.

I don't relay this information to be a downer, hope you don't think that, anyone who read this.  He was such a special person in my life for over 13 years, and there's not a day goes by I don't miss him and my heart aches.  But life goes on, and life can be a powerful force for good.  When I see those little trinkets on my tree, I always smile, because our good times were very good.  They're front and center on the tree this year so I am constantly seeing them.

Some close-ups of the rest of the tree:






A close-up of one of the feathered and glittered birds I bought from Gump's on clearance a few years ago.  The faux-filagreed snowflake ornament near the center of the photo is one of four on the tree (one is placed on the "side" of the tree facing each direction) that were hung from the mantel in 2012 and 2013 at Maison Newton II. I bought them during a sale at Boston Store (half off plus another 40% off with coupon) and love, love, love them!  

This year I went all out and put both the feather boas and the long faux partridge feathers on the tree at the same time -- like I said in Saturday night's post -- Sputnik!  But I knew it would work once I was able to get the top of the tree together.  

I knew I wanted to keep the tree "simpler" this year - ha! - and I am proud to tell you that I actually stashed a number of boxes of unused ornaments back down in the basement storage area - miracle! I'm so happy with how it turned out.  Originally I was thinking I'd go more of a "natural/rustic" direction this year - birds, feathers, pinecones, snowflakes.  Not sure this tree qualifies as a natural/rustic look, but it works for me :) and, as I noted way at the beginning, it was a big hit with my guests!  So happy!

Here's the blinged-up tree topper, once I discovered the box that had some gold sprays I used on one (or more) prior year's trees:



I was up really late on December 6, into the early morning hours, trying to pull this all together for the December 7 get-together (which was originally scheduled for December 14!), and very happy with how the tree turned out, especially the topper :)

If you would like to see more of my Christmas decor for Maison Newton III, please check out the next post. (Hint: I explain about the white dove perched on the china hutch/bookcase in the photo above -- you can just make her out in the background).