Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Christmas Cards Are So Last Year


This may not exactly count as a resolution, but traditionally, my last goal of the year is to get my Christmas cards mailed out by New Year's Eve.

I know. That may seem a little late. But my holiday greeting journey a process that cannot be rushed, and honestly, those on my mailing list have gotten used to my timetable.

Many times, I have mailed them in late January. Once, I mailed them in March.

My all-time record was July. Oh yes, I did send Christmas cards out in the middle of summer. Many people laughed. No one complained. I have no regrets.


But nowadays I try to hold myself to a more seasonal timeline. So I'm very happy to report that these babies are off my kitchen table and on their merry way to family and friends around the globe,

And that means I am definitely ready to ring in the new year.

Happy 2015!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cabin Fever

Let's be honest. I've been hanging out at home an awful lot lately.

Between decorating for Christmas, preparing for my two runaway daughters to come home, and setting up for my annual party, I've had plenty to keep me preoccupied.

Which isn't a bad thing.

But enough with the yoga pants, Netflix and cleaning projects.

I am definitely hungry for some new adventures.


So the other day, while running an errand in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood, I couldn't help but notice the good ol' Space Needle, and serendipitously decided to chase that fellow down.

With two of my daughters in tow, we roamed uphill and down, criss-crossing through side streets to seek out the perfect vantage point. 


And while we were at it, we got some decent shots of Elliot Bay and the late afternoon sun burning through the dramatically billowing clouds to the west. 


Mmm mmm. Lovely.

And in the few minutes that we devoted to this little escapade, I fell in love again.

With my city.
With the exhilaration of an unplanned exploration.
With the sweet satisfaction that comes from stumbling across true beauty.
With a camera roll full of new snaps of interesting sights.

Come at me, 2015. I'm ready to adventure with you.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Handmade Ornaments

I love to decorate for Christmas.

But I prefer to do it very slowly. 

The halls of most American yuletide-loving homes are fully decked by the close of Thanksgiving weekend, but that's when I'm just beginning my process. Armed with bits of paper, tree branches, fishing line, assorted garlands, and twinkle lights, I expect to spread the job out over the next few weeks.

Here, in day-to-day installments, is the story of how my house is getting ready for Christmas.

* * * * *


Say hello to my 2014 Ornament of the Year.

Each Christmas season, I make a tiny trinket to give to family and friends. I thoroughly enjoy the choosing a design, tinkering my way through the creative process, making a giant mess and in the end, creating something that pleases me. 

In all honesty, I'm shocked by how this one turned out. Because up until somewhere around December 20, I intended to make a completely different design .


But as I moved ahead with my original idea, the whole process felt 

distinctly dissatisfying, 
fairly frustrating and 
utterly unenjoyable.

In other words, wrong.

And if there is one thing I have learned in life, it's that when something feels wrong, it's time to:

Stop.
Regroup.
Figure out a new plan. 

But you know, when it's five days before Christmas and your gut is telling you to throw a perfectly reasonable idea out the window and START COMPLETELY OVER, sometimes you just want to override that critic and push on with Plan A.

Believe me, I was tempted to ignore my creative instincts.

However, it's a well-know fact that there is no satisfaction in selling yourself out.

Deep in my heart, I knew that I would only be happy if I cleared off my work table, rolled up my sleeves and made a fresh start.


So that's what I did. After a bit of soul-searching and a few hours clicking around the internet, I found a new inspiration that took off like a rocket.

And now I'm happy.


* * * * *

For more Ornament of the Year posts, check these out:

Friday, December 26, 2014

Bathroom Garlands

I love to decorate for Christmas.

But I prefer to do it very slowly. 

The halls of most American yuletide-loving homes are fully decked by the close of Thanksgiving weekend, but that's when I'm just beginning my process. Armed with bits of paper, tree branches, fishing line, assorted garlands, and twinkle lights, I expect to spread the job out over the next few weeks.

Here, in day-to-day installments, is the story of how my house is getting ready for Christmas.

* * * * *

When  it comes to the question of decorating bathrooms for Christmas, I am pretty sure that the world divides neatly into two distinct camps.

Some people are wildly pro-decoration and embrace the notion with gusto.
Others see that as completely nuts.

Guess which philosophy I embrace.

One twisted end in the middle of garland came loose, and hung down several unattractive inches. Rather than fix it, I grabbed a silver bauble off the tree and hung it on the loose end. The effect looks super Dr Seuss-ian to me, and now that's my favorite part. 

My days as a decker of the bathroom walls go back to a baby shower, held on a Saturday in December more than ten years ago, at the home of a friend of a friend. 

I don't really even remember who owned the home. But I recall perfectly that during the entire event, while my attention was supposed to be devoted to the blossoming mother and her soon-to-be-borne babe, I was distractedly obsessed with the home's decor.

Every space was a masterpiece of both the underlying design and the holiday up-dos. Before the party started, I literally went from room to room, drinking in every detail. 

And when I popped my head into the first floor bathroom, I was delighted beyond words to find multicolored lights and garlands enveloping the mirror in Christmas charm. So simple, so whimsical, so utterly unexpected, so fun. 

At that moment, I vowed to hold my bathrooms to the same adorable standard.

While I haven't hit that mark every year, I must say that when it comes to decorating a bathroom for the holidays, a little goes a long way. This year, I took two white snowflake-y garlands that I had on hand, twisted them together to make one long strand, then loop-de-looped them around at the top of the walls. 

I used the natural corners and edges of the objects in the room to support the garland wherever possible, and added in a few Command hooks on the blank stretches of wall. I made a point to be as random and irregular as possible, because haphazard is always charming. Just ask Dr Seuss.

This project cost me zero dollars and about five minutes of time, but every time I walk by this little room, I see that sparkly garland and smile to myself. This is proof positive, my friends, that bathrooms are most definitely deserving of holiday cheer. 

Christmas Morning

I love to decorate for Christmas.

But I prefer to do it very slowly. 

The halls of most American yuletide-loving homes are fully decked by the close of Thanksgiving weekend, but that's when I'm just beginning my process. Armed with bits of paper, tree branches, fishing line, assorted garlands, and twinkle lights, I expect to spread the job out over the next few weeks.

Here, in day-to-day installments, is the story of how my house is getting ready for Christmas.

* * * * *

Christmas morning is always an explosion of joy for the senses. Over the years, our family rituals have taken on a pleasantly predictable pattern, though they have shifted an changed a bit as my babies have grown up. 


^ When the girls were young, Christmas breakfast was an afterthought, a formality to be squeezed into the gift-opening rituals and never-ending rounds of candy.

Now that they are grown up, this meal taken first, so we all have a chance to wake up.


What remains the same is that our plates always feature yummy homemade baked goods. After many years of cranberry-orange scones, we transitioned to cinnamon rolls and have no regrets about the change. 


^ Gift-wrapping has always been a labor of love. As little girls, my daughters were careful and creative stylists, bringing their own special flair to the finished product.

As years have gone by, this ritual has intensified. Using just simple wrappings, random ribbons, and mostly homemade name tags, our packages have personality and panache to boot. I almost hate to rip them open. Almost.


^  My family has almost always shared our Christmas mornings with a big red dog.

For the first years, a handsome Irish lad named Casey filled our hearts.

Then this guy came along.

While both dogs have had distinct personalities, each has enjoyed the exact same holiday morning ritual. With a little help from the humans, they have discovered treats in their Christmas stocking, and enjoyed a fabulous snack.


^ Yum.


^ Thus satisfied, our sassy red dogs have shared a longstanding tradition of lying down among the wrappings for a dreamy Christmas snooze.

And though my daughters used to fight the idea of following that fine example, we have all come round to agreeing that a good solid nap is the perfect capper to a magical Christmas morning.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Paper Snowflakes

I love to decorate for Christmas.

But I prefer to do it very slowly. 

The halls of most American yuletide-loving homes are fully decked by the close of Thanksgiving weekend, but that's when I'm just beginning my process. Armed with bits of paper, tree branches, fishing line, assorted garlands, and twinkle lights, I expect to spread the job out over the next few weeks.

Here, in day-to-day installments, is the story of how my house is getting ready for Christmas.

* * * * * 


From the most humble of materials - plain printer paper and a pair of child-size scissors - a mystery of pure, delicate shapes are delivered into my hands.

Strung onto fishing line, these tiny wonders give birth to a dazzling display of light and beauty that explodes across the heavens of my living room.

When I look up at them, I hear the joy of the universe singing in my soul, and despite all the dangers and uncertainties of this mortal life we share, I am not afraid.

Glory to God in the highest.
Peace on earth; goodwill toward men.

And that's why I love paper snowflakes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tree Skirt

I love to decorate for Christmas.

But I prefer to do it very slowly. 

The halls of most American yuletide-loving homes are fully decked by the close of Thanksgiving weekend, but that's when I'm just beginning my process. Armed with bits of paper, tree branches, fishing line, assorted garlands, and twinkle lights, I expect to spread the job out over the next few weeks.

Here, in day-to-day installments, is the story of how my house is getting ready for Christmas.

* * * * *


So when I woke up this Christmas Eve morning, I realized that I had a problem.

My tree skirt, if you want to call it that, was a large black plastic trash bag. Technically, the bag served as a drop cloth underneath the water-filled tree stand, but I had nothing to cover it up. Oi. 

Now dang it, I'm not one for getting caught up in fussy non-essentials at Christmastime. But a tree skirt has two important purposes:
  • hiding the mechanical essentials of the tree stand, and
  • serving as a backdrop to the array of gifts that symbolize our love and generosity.
And you know, call me picky, but that Hefty bag was just not getting the job done.

No time for a project.
No money for a satisfactory store-bought solution.

So I shot from the hip.

I ran to the closest fabric store and bought three yards of tree-skirt-worthy fabric.

Then I ran back home, unfolded it, and swooped it into place.

I tried many times, but I could not capture the whole tree in a single frame. 

Ta-daa! Hey, it ain't fancy but the red with white polka dots are a far sight better than the black plastic.

And on Christmas Eve, that is good enough for me.

Also, Hello Kitty approves. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A String Of White Lights

I love to decorate for Christmas.

But I prefer to do it very slowly. 

The halls of most American yuletide-loving homes are fully decked by the close of Thanksgiving weekend, but that's when I'm just beginning my process. Armed with bits of paper, tree branches, fishing line, assorted garlands, and twinkle lights, I expect to spread the job out over the next few weeks.

Here, in day-to-day installments, is the story of how my house is getting ready for Christmas.

* * * * *

Look, here's the honest truth. Christmas is sneaking up on me fast, and despite all my best-laid plans, I am scrambling to get things done around here.

Oh, I'm not worried. I've been down this road many times before.

And it always works out.

Somehow or other, in these last few days before Christmas, the perfect gifts present themselves to me, and I manage to artfully wrap and label them, and add them to the growing heaps under the tree.

With a few final trips to the grocery store, my fridge will undoubtedly be filled with plenty of lovelies for our holiday meals. If I happen to forget something, well, we usually don't miss it.

And the decorations. I can never get enough festive garlands, fresh flowers, and fanciful vignettes around this place, and all the way up to bedtime on Christmas Eve, I will be fussing here and there, adding a few last touches to the bedecked halls.

Here is one of my favorite last-minute flourishes: the string of white lights.


This technique could not be any simpler. 

Take a box of one hundred miniature white lights and shove them onto a horizontal surface.


Randomly droop and drape them over the objects already in place. 

Do not make the mistake of being too methodical or precise. Just toss those suckers down. Tuck them behind some of the heavier objects to keep them from falling; gently lay them in front of some smaller objects to mix up the look.

Bonus points for adding seasonal decor. I will probably go back to these shelves and add a small collection of stand-alone Santa ornaments in among the year-round tried-and-trues. But that is optional. All by themselves, the string of lights gets the holiday job done. 


Because here's another honest truth. When the other lamps in the room are turned down, and that humble string of lights shines out in the darkness, it's guaranteed that my heart will sing with the joys of the season.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  
And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 


May all our hearts blaze with the glory of this holy season. And may all our Christmases be bright. 

Merry Christmas Eve!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Welcome Home Banner

I love to decorate for Christmas.


But I prefer to do it very slowly. 


The halls of most American yuletide-loving homes are fully decked by the close of Thanksgiving weekend, but that's when I'm just beginning my process. Armed with bits of paper, tree branches, fishing line, assorted garlands, and twinkle lights, I expect to spread the job out over the next few weeks.

Here, in day-to-day installments, is the story of how my house is getting ready for Christmas.

* * * * *

Celebrating Christmas with a houseful of growing children is a beautiful season of life.

Most of us parents cherish those years when the sweet mysteries of the holiday shine through the hurly-burly, and we can once again experience the innocent wonder of Christmas through our children's eyes.

Then, in a flash, those days are over, and our babies traipse off into the world to make lives for themselves. We parents are left breathless and confused, wondering how on earth these little ones slipped away from us so quickly. 

It's not easy to get used to living in an empty nest, and many parents mourn this phase of family life. 

I, however, have come to love it. 

Because for every bittersweet goodbye, there is a joyous and resounding welcome home.

And the best homecomings of all happen at Christmas time.


In the past week, two of my far-flung baby birds have returned to me.

My fourth-born is back from her college in the desert.. She came home at Thanksgiving time for a flash, and now we can enjoy the luxury of a long and lazy three-week break together.


And my adventure-seeking third-born has come back home after a year and a half of living in Vietnam, where she has been teaching English to adorable, chubby-cheeked Asian children. I was lucky enough to go visit her last summer, but she has not been home for a long, long time. 


In honor of these two exciting and celebration-worthy events, I made a welcome home banner. 

The pages were cut from an old phyiscs textbook as part of a different project; I've been saving them for years, certain that sooner or later, they would come in handy. 

Yup. They sure did.

And the letters were cut from paper grocery bags spray painted gold. 

Strung up in the hallway, my message could not be missed.   The girls ran smack dab into it from the instant that they stepped through the front door; my crazy tall baby had to duck to pass beneath.

I plan to leave the banner in place all season long. This arrangement may not read as a traditional Christmas decor but anyone who has grown children will certainly relate.


So, you parents of young children, enjoy this season of: 

hanging freshly painted hand-print ornaments on the tree, 
making gingerbread houses that collapse, and just eating all the candy, 
watching your little angels sing in the Sunday school pageant, 
waiting in line for pictures with Santa, and
setting out the proverbial cookies and milk. 

Have a blast. Make beautiful, hilarious memories that you will cherish forever. 

But just remember, the joys of Christmas homecomings are rich beyond compare. The best truly is yet to come.

Sweet Treats

I love to decorate for Christmas.

But I prefer to do it very slowly. 

The halls of most American yuletide-loving homes are fully decked by the close of Thanksgiving weekend, but that's when I'm just beginning my process. Armed with bits of paper, tree branches, fishing line, assorted garlands, and twinkle lights, I expect to spread the job out over the next few weeks.

Here, in day-to-day installments, is the story of how my house is getting ready for Christmas.

* * * * *


I suppose one might argue that food is not technically a form of decoration. 

But when my home begins to fill up with gorgeous edibles like this one, baked and graciously given to me by one of my math mommies, I can't help but feel that these sweet treats bring a special and delicious flavor to my holiday decor. 

Because let's be honest. Nothing says Merry Christmas better than a fresh-baked sugar cookies with sprinkles on. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Four Angels

I love to decorate for Christmas.

But I prefer to do it very slowly. 

The halls of most American yuletide-loving homes are fully decked by the close of Thanksgiving weekend, but that's when I'm just beginning my process. Armed with bits of paper, tree branches, fishing line, assorted garlands, and twinkle lights, I expect to spread the job out over the next few weeks.

Here, in day-to-day installments, is the story of how my house is getting ready for Christmas.

* * * * *


Over the years, I've created a little collection of Christmas angels.

I'm kind of a fussy collector - I'd rather have a highly selective handful of my most favorite objects than lots of so-so specimens - and in this case, my standards have been particularly high.

Because these four angels represent my four daughters.


My mom bought the salt-dough cutie on the far left for me when I was a teenager. She represents my childhood daydreams of motherhood - precious and sweet - which were made real by my sweet first-born.

The elegant harp-playing cherub came from my mother-in-law, and I believe she is a tiny reproduction of a Renaissance-era sculpture. Her poetic aesthetic reflects classic artistic beauty, and reminds me of my art-loving second-born.

Most colorful and energetic, the third angel is one that I chose for myself. Bold and vibrant, yet delicately balanced on her tiny tip-toe feet, everything about this angel captures my third-born's passion for life. 

I picked out the fourth angel too. At first glance, she seems plain and pale. But when my gaze lingers, I notice subtle details - the embroidered lace on her dress, the tiny folds of her cornhusk wings, the perfect O of her tiny red mouth. Like my fourth-born, the richness of her being emerges fully when given a bit of time. 


My dining room has gone through a bazillion changes over the past twenty years, but at Christmas time, my four angels always stand guard in this blue cupboard. It's a tradition that has stood the test of time, and Christmas wouldn't be quite the same without them.


Above their angelic heads stands a small scene that is brand new: a pair of air plants, resting on two chunks of coral which I discovered on Cham Island and hauled across the planet to my very own home. I love the sense of here-and-now that they add to this vignette.


And across the room stands a Christmas cactus, an offshoot of the enormous Mother of All Christmas Cacti that belonged to my plant-loving maternal grandmother. Right on schedule, this big beauty has begun to put out holiday blooms, just as its mother plant did through all the Decembers of my childhood. It's almost as if my grandma is reaching down from heaven. right into my dining room. to send her Merry Christmas wishes to my four angel babies and me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sprouts

I love to decorate for Christmas.

But I prefer to do it very slowly. 

The halls of most American yuletide-loving homes are fully decked by the close of Thanksgiving weekend, but that's when I'm just beginning my process. Armed with bits of paper, tree branches, fishing line, assorted garlands, and twinkle lights, I expect to spread the job out over the next few weeks.

Here, in day-to-day installments, is the story of how my house is getting ready for Christmas.

* * * * *


The most depressing day of the year is the last day of Christmas vacation.

All the excitement and exuberance of the holidays have played themselves out, and life is about to lapse back into mundane drudgery. 

No matter how long the break I've had from school or work, what once seemed an infinitely long vacation has come to a screeching halt. 

My emotions inevitably shift from gaiety and light to the bittersweet sense of time passing too quickly, of life galloping by, of opportunities lost, of the future morphing into the past at a bewildering, breakneck pace. 

I always feel inexpressibly sad.

The good news is that I've learned to expect that melancholy mood, and even implement my strategy to fight off the blues as I decorate my home for Christmas. 

My secret weapon?


Baby plants.

Forced bulbs - paperwhites, crocus, tulips - are my very favorite therapy for the January doldrums.

But any young green budding thing will do.


This year, a little collection of succulent starts will be filling the bill.

I've given them a place of honor, here in my kitchen window, though I must admit that at the moment, these tender buds are drowned out by the more festive trimmings that fill the room with their sparkle and glitz.


Come January, though, when the tinsel and trimmings have been packed away till next Christmas, these delicate shoots will take center stage, where they will remind me that for every wistful ending, life offers an exciting new beginning.

And if I will let go of my post-Christmas sorrow and embrace the fresh start of the new year, good things will most certainly sprout.


* * * * *

Some other stories about beating the January blahs:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Advent Inspirations

I love to decorate for Christmas.

But I prefer to do it very slowly. 

The halls of most American yuletide-loving homes are fully decked by the close of Thanksgiving weekend, but that's when I'm just beginning my process. Armed with bits of paper, tree branches, fishing line, assorted garlands, and twinkle lights, I expect to spread the job out over the next few weeks.

Here, in day-to-day installments, is the story of how my house is getting ready for Christmas.

* * * * *

Advent is the month-long season of preparing for Christmas.

During the changing seasons of life, that preparation may mean many different things. 

When my girls were young, we filled our Advent cupboard with ideas for making and doing things the things that children love to do at this time of year. You know, stuff like

baking Christmas cookies,
going out to see Christmas lights,
writing out our Christmas cards,
acting out the Christmas story,

and reading lots and lots of Christmas picture books.



Nowadays, my girls are young adults, and I'm not gonna lie. They are a wee bit tired of finding those same old ideas cropping up in the Advent cubbies, year after year after year.

So I decided it was high time to let go of those tired old Advent activities and consider some new ideas for preparing our hearts for the coming of the King. 


After plenty of brainstorming, I came up with this plan.

We divided up the 25 days of December among the family. 

For each assigned day, we were individually responsible for coming up with a short action that we could each complete independently, to inspire thoughts of the upcoming holiday. Those ideas were written out on individual slips of paper, and tucked into the appropriate door.

Then, on the corresponding day, each one of us, on our own schedule, may open the cubby and read the paper inside, which then prompts us to do something seasonally appropriate.


Here's a day-by-day breakdown of our Advent inspirations:

1. Read Isaiah 9:7-8.
2, Hope: "A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on." - Carl Sandberg
3. Make yourself some hot cocoa today.
4. Read the lyrics to Silent Night.
5, 

6. Read Luke 1:27-35.
7. Peace: "What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family." -Mother Teresa
8. In the spirit of the season, do something nice and unexpected for someone else.
9. Read the lyrics to Away In A Manger
10. (Busy college student still owes an idea here.)

11.Listen to Christmas music during dinner. 
12. Joy: Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God. -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
13. Google Image Search "aurora borealis."
14. "Remember, if Christmas isn't found in your heart, you won't find it under the tree." -Jennifer Carpenter
15. (Busy college student still owes an idea here.)




So far, the plan is working. 

I've noticed that we all tend to visit the Advent cupboard before dinner. While I'm putting the finishing touches on the meal, the workday warriors arrive home and each file through the kitchen, pausing at the Advent cupboard to open the little door, unfurl the heavy brown paper slip, and consider the words on the page.

While we eat, someone might comment on the quote or reading of the day. In the evening, we might share via text message our favorite photo of the Northern Lights. We might even make up a big batch of hot cocoa and drink it all together.

We may be on to a new tradition here.


But never fear. We'll still be whipping up batches of sugar cookies and strolling around the neighborhood after dark to check out the light displays. Because deep down inside, our hearts still yearn for the magic of a child's Christmas and we will never grow too old for those simple joys. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Yellow Hexagon Shelves

I love to decorate for Christmas.

But I prefer to do it very slowly. 

The halls of most American yuletide-loving homes are fully decked by the close of Thanksgiving weekend, but that's when I'm just beginning my process. Armed with bits of paper, tree branches, fishing line, assorted garlands, and twinkle lights, I expect to spread the job out over the next few weeks.


Here, in day-to-day installments, is the story of how my house is getting ready for Christmas.

* * * * *

When I'm getting my home ready for Christmas, it's a much a process of stripping down as it is layering on. 

We all know that the holidays can easily turn into a time of gluttony and excess, and I definitely struggle with that sense of overload in my surroundings. All of the trimmings and trappings around the house, lovely as they are, can send me into a tailspin by the first of January, so I make a special effort to clear away some of the ordinary household clutter and create a blank slate of order before I begin to add any seasonal touches.

Take this wall in my living room, for example. There's been a painting hanging here for the past few years, and lately it's been bugging me. Too much detail and fuss. I may sound like a princess for saying so, but the whole room feels cluttered and uncomfortable to me because of this. 

So I'm walking through Hobby Lobby yesterday on a totally unrelated errand. As I came around a corner, and suddenly took in the display table right in front of me, my eyes fell upon these beauties like an oasis in the desert.


Yellow hexagonal boxes. Trimmed in pale wood and ready for hanging. Large and small versions. 

Now, I'll be honest. I had no idea that two yellow hexagonal boxes were going to change my life.

Before the instant that I laid eyes on them, I had no clue that I even wanted such things. 


I couldn't have predicted how neat and clean they would look against my blank tan wall. 

I never guessed that their strong geometry and powerful color would make them read as objects of art in their own right.


I didn't foresee that adding just a few seasonal treasures would transform them into festive Christmas decor.


I did not expect that all of my feelings about this room would change when I hung them here, simple and sleek.

But the minute I laid eyes on their six-sided yellow glory, I knew that these shelves would bring their peaceful minimalist vibe and colorful spunk into my home not for just the holiday season, but for every new day to come.  

Silent night
Holy night
All is calm
All is bright.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Greenery Greetings

I love to decorate for Christmas.

But I prefer to do it very slowly. 

The halls of most American yuletide-loving homes are fully decked by the close of Thanksgiving weekend, but that's when I'm just beginning my process. Armed with bits of paper, tree branches, fishing line, assorted garlands, and twinkle lights, I expect to spread the job out over the next few weeks.


Here, in day-to-day installments, is the story of how my house is getting ready for Christmas.

* * * * *

Of course, I adore the look of fresh greens at Christmas time.

What could be more traditionally festive than boughs of holly, cedar, ivy and spruce, 

draped across mantels, 
swooped over windows, 
trailing up the banister and 
wrapped over the doorways? 

Evergreen trimmings are a gorgeous, classic, natural holiday convention and my heart beats fast at the thought of them.

However, a few years back, during a post-holiday clean-up, I vacuumed up perhaps the sixteen billionth dried evergreen needle of my life, and I reached my breaking point.

I'll gladly clean up after a live tree. But no more evergreen trimmings in the house. 

Instead, I hang the little darlings outside.


^ Welcome to my home. Don't mind that the swag is a bit wonky, hanging considerably longer on the right side of the door frame than the left. That just shows that we embrace imperfection. 


^ Living plants are such a festive sight at Christmastime. I planted these winterberries in my made-in-Malaysia pots to flank the front step and provide a tiny splash of good cheer. 


^ A red candle lantern, a scented pine cone, and a big fat cactus mix in among the greens to add some variety to the sights, smells, and textures.


^ Not gonna lie, I love the way the sassy cedar tips are a dead match to the color of my front door. I didn't plan it that way, but I sure enjoy the play of feathery organic branches against the strict geometry of the door panels, in almost identical shades of green.


^ Mostly, I enjoy the total effect of all these living things - the evergreen boughs, the winterberries, my ordinary pot of ivy, and even the rebellious little cactus. They create a tapestry of holiday warmth and joy that fills my heart to last all season long. And best of all, nary a single dried needle will drop onto my floors.