January 31, 2018:

Hola!

Today is the Super Duper Blue Red Full Eclipse Partial Eclipse Moon, depending on where you may be viewing from.

Three years ago this day was my last day of working and I retired after 46 years of full-time work. I've enjoyed every single moment of my retirement since then - three years and hoping for twenty more, we'll see how things go...

February and March can be cruel months in southeastern Wisconsin where I live. January itself was nutso here weather-wise, with two separate thaws. I don't ever remember getting two January thaws before, and many years none happened at all.

Before I know it I'll be headed to Las Vegas to visit my friends and celebrate some sunshine and warm weather, and see a show (I always try to squeeze one in). Meanwhile, I am continuing, slowly, to make this smaller retirement ranch into a home that makes me smile in every room. I still have lots to do, including major painting projects. I keep putting them off. Seems at 66 I'm not so keen on painting as I was at 36. Gee, I wonder why...

Jan

Monday, December 11, 2017

Revised Mantle

Hola!

After three tries, I settled upon a Christmas arrangement for the mantle.  I'm still not as happy with it as I'd like to be, but I like it better than what came before.

You'll recall this is what I started with:


The balance was off; I felt that the clock didn't balance the "bulk" and height of the three candle holders on the other end of the mantle.

I added a second string of lights, and I added the third deer that had been hiding out admiring the Christmas Star from underneath the Norfolk pine on the coffee table.  I tried switching around the tall candle holders, then I added a lantern that I have on the built-in bookshelf.  It's a burnished bronze color.  The clock was removed.  While the lantern looked okay, I thought I still needed some more heft and height on that side of the mantle.

I came up with this as Option 3.  Option 2 didn't last long, and I didn't take any photos of it.  I put the tall candle holders back where they were originally and added a larger lantern on the other end of the mantle, along with the third deer.


So, decorating for 2017 is officially done.  Whew!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Christmas 2017 Tree and Mantle

It's finished!

Hola!  Finished at last (yesterday).  I need to shovel - we got 2 inches of fresh snow overnight:
Looking out from the front door.
Here's the mantle!  You can see the snow blowing outside the window and one of
two pine trees along the driveway.  I am going to add another string of LED lights, and maybe
some ribbon; it's just looking a little bare to me right now.  Maybe I'll remove the clock and
put something else there, too.  The balance is off.  The candles and votives are all lit at night.
The deer are looking up toward the Shining Star.  There's another one hiding underneath
the Norfolk pine on the coffee table, also looking up at the star (not shown).

This was taken the day before yesterday, before I decorated the mantle.
Here's the same shot angle taken this morning, the now decorated
mantle is in the background.  I also added a few extra gold pine cones
here and there and tweaked the French ribbon a bit although it doesn't look like it.
I kept it simple again this year (but not as simple as last year).  I used the French ribbon and decorations I haven't used in several years, along with a collection of hand-blown crystal ornaments purchased at the "Egyptian" store at Southridge Mall on Christmas Eve day in 2008.  Inexpensive gold pine cones, a dozen white frosted "tear drops" (from Oriental Trading Company online), and a dozen silver glitter snowflakes were also used to fill in some gaps (all purchased in past years). The topper is a concoction of five beaded picks, two ancient feather sprays at least forty years old, one each gold glittered "wheat" and "floral" picks and two gold painted pinecones on long picks, purchased in years past from Pick 'n Save supermarket's floral department.

I took my time decorating over two days and tweaked yesterday, enjoying the process while listening to jazzy Christmas classics on Radio Tunes online.

You can probably tell that my "theme" was gold and silver in the living room.  The kitchen and dinette, pictured in previous posts, were done in red, black, gold and green, to accompany my beloved two-foot tall countertop tree decorated with cardinals and my collected cardinal decor.

The rest of the photos are close-ups of the tree.  Warning: I'm not a good photographer and my 5 pixel camera is now 12 years old :)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Christmas 2017 Kitchen and Dining Area Pics

Still have not attempted to lug the tree up those 11 go on forever basement steps, but I have targeted tomorrow to do it, as soon as it's light enough outside.  I had to be out and about today, in balmy temperatures (I believe it got up to 60 degrees F) but also near gale-force winds, whew!  I was tuckered out by the time I got back home.  Lost my ambition to tackle the tree today :)

Here are the second set of pics that I was having trouble posting yesterday - I never figure out what I'm doing wrong, or if blogger just doesn't like me very much at times.  C'est la vie.

A close-up of my favorite cardinal plate, another TJ Maxx find from several years ago.

Cardinal greeting card collage on one side of the patio door.
There's a cardinal sitting on one corner of the back of the
bench in the bottom scene - see him - a little red smear.

A close-up of the cardinal tree.

That's the pretty pine-scented candle in its lovely plaid glass container at TJ Maxx.  Will
light it as it gets closer to Christmas.

One of two framed cardinal greeting cards on the other side of the patio door.
Another cardinal greeting card.  Can you tell I have a thing for cardinals?
Here's the back door (side door opens to driveway) decoration.  One
of my handy-dandy creations.  Yeah, the bottom ribbon sucks, but
I'm proud of my effort, har :)  The platter is metal purchased at
my neighborhood Pick 'n Save some years ago.  The pretty bow on top was added this
year, I found it stashed in one of the boxes from the basement loaded
with Christmas decorations, I have no idea where it came from.
This is the wreath that I used to hang on the back door here, but it got
squished every year and wasn't showing well.  So this year I removed a clock
and put it up overlooking the dining table.  I added the cardinals.
Another cardinal plate, also a TJ Maxx purchase before I retired in 2015.
You can also see my year-round cardinal perched up on the window sill.
This current Maison Newton was built in 1956 and has typical 1950's
features, including three rounded shelves at the end of the cabinet runs
on either side of the corner windows above the angled-in-the-corner
sink (which I hate, it's impossible to reach the windows to open them
unless I'm on a ladder).  My mini-collection of squirrels, including
the winter-dressed squirrel with acorn on the second shelf.  The top
shelf, not shown, has a furry critter with a red wool scarf around his neck.
I will post pics of the tree when it's done.  It always takes way longer to decorate it than to undress it!  But first I have to get it up those stairs and dragged into place and then upright.  I should have Popeye muscles by the time I'm finished.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Wait - Where Did Summer Go? Where Did Autumn Go? Holy Hathor!

Hola everyone!  I am in some kind of time-warp evidently, whew!  Here it is, December 3.  No - I didn't die, I'm still here, TA DA!

So far behind on everything - but I have been busy.  Still, somehow summer seemed to not want to end and then it got COLD all at once, hardly any autumn at all.  The trees were caught totally surprised - most of them here had not even begun to turn color yet.  I don't remember an autumn like this, it was truly strange and rather scary.  We got a series of hard freezes and even a nasty storm of sleet/snow one day with 40-50 mph winds:


That's my backyard.  Fortunately, I did catch a few breaks in the weather before this storm hit to get everything out back put away for the winter.  Wowsers.  This storm happened toward the beginning of November.

So, I turned my sights inward - specifically, toward Christmas decorating.  One of the ways I manage to survive the stretch of the march of ever-shortening days toward the Winter Solstice (December 21 this year) is to surround myself with candles galore and lots of fires in my gel-fuel fireplace.  That has been such a great investment.  It burns absolutely clean, no air pollution and no need to vent it outside.  When I use 3 cans of gel fuel to make a fire (I usually only use 1 or 2), it generates 4500 BTUs of heat.  I do that during the coldest days of the year, when even with the heat on and the furnace seeming to kick in every 20 minutes I still feel COLD inside the house.  And I do that as it gets closer to Christmas.

So, this year, instead of moving the sofa into the only spot that logically makes sense to put it (with its back toward the entry way into the dinette, looking toward the large picture window where the tree will be centered, I decided to try a different arrangement.  It took me a good week to decide it was okay enough to leave it.  A few shots of the new arrangement for Christmas season:




I'll have to scootch the wing chair over and angle it closer to the fireplace, which will be just fine with moi, to make enough room for the tree in front of the picture window.

This year, I also took down all my previous curtain arrangements and put up those 92" long sheers that are budget-saving Ikea.  They used to hang as backdrop curtains in my bedroom, where I have two long narrow "ranch" windows that meet in a corner of the room.  I replaced them earlier this year with inexpensive sheets from Ikea that I added a hem to to thread the curtain rod through.  Easy peasy with iron-on hemming tape.  They added a little more opaqueness behind the front layer of curtains, also from Ikea. 

Those sheers now in the living room let in a ton of light and it has made a tremendous different in the light level in the house.  I am loving it.  I only put one curtain on either side of the fireplace because the window is narrow and tall and people cannot see much of the room when passing by that side of the house other than the upper walls and ceiling.  I also like the poofy effect of the excess material on the floor (which you can't see in any of the photos, drat).

The picture window, however, is ginormous and for me, privacy is a problem and a must-have.  One can see the entire living room all the way back through the patio doors into the back yard from the front sidewalk.  I could probably add a few more panels for some extra privacy from the eyes of passers-by, but I don't light up the room at night with lamps, only candles and the occasional fire, and sometimes I have the TV on.  I've done the privacy test from the outside and you really can't see a whole lot.  It's not like I run around naked anyway, har :)  During Christmas season, once the tree is up and decorated the curtains will be drawn back but the tree blocks the view into the room, creating plenty of privacy. 

This new temporary furniture arrangement focuses on the fireplace:



It gives me plenty of cozying up in a wing chair with a good book when I have a fire going while still enjoying the tree, and the sofa to stretch out on (it is used only for my naps when I am not entertaining).  So, the living room is ready - to be decorated.  The sofa table normally sits in front of the picture window behind the sofa, which is centered on the picture window wall when it's not Christmas. 

What's that you say?  Oh yeah, no tree yet.  I am working up to dragging it up from the basement.  Eleven steep, narrow steps.  Eleven steps that seem to stretch from China to here.  Every year for the past 3 years, it seems to get a bit harder to get the heavy tree up those stairs.  Hmmmm, wonder why that is.  The tree hasn't grown any larger ...

That said, I DO have the kitchen and dinette done!  Last year I did pretty minimalist decorating and did not even put out my beloved cardinal tree.  This year, I decorated in the dinette and even the kitchen more than ever, and I didn't even pull up the rich red and black traditional wool rug and hang the teal and red floral curtains on the patio door this year!  I felt it looked great just as it was. 

Pics:  Lots of cardinals everywhere.

 


Looking toward the back hall.  I open that door up when the Sun is shining to let in the
light and lots of solar gain.  That's the beginnings of a Christmas card tree on the far wall.
You can see a wreath complemented with a few cardinals, and also a cardinal camping out
(year round) inside the built-in display case.  The wreath replaced a pendulum clock.

Cardinal tapestry runner - a steal from Family Dollar a few years ago.  The deer are
composite finished to look like burnished wood, purchased at Walgreens on clearance
a few years ago.  They came with janky wreaths around their necks which I cut off.
The candlesticks are at least 30 years old, brass, I don't remember where I got them from,
I suspect it may have been Home Interiors.  The candles are battery-operated.

Okay, Blogger is acting all sort of wonky on me right now, so I'll try to put the rest of the pics in another post and see how that works.