The Spirit of Yuletide Décor

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and most Joyous Yule, my dear friends.  Our household, throughout the year, tends to honor and celebrate the oldest of traditions and beliefs, long before organized religion and that feels beautiful and real to us.  We will be celebrating Yule, but since I was raised Christian and Doug was raised Jewish, we incorporate all sorts of lovely traditions into our house and celebrate with our families.  For all the celebrations are really the same, the celebration of light, love, and hope.

20181126_171244

Decorating for the holidays should be nothing short of fun!  Incorporating ideas, palettes, and items that bring joy are the basis for holiday décor.

20181126_172424

We have collected cute stockings for a long time.  The children took some of their stockings to their own homes.  We are one short this year with the arrival of Ayla Mae, so I will find an adorable one for her.  Santa is coming to Grammie and Pa’s house Christmas Eve!  (To my great delight!)  I hung the stockings with care from the curtain rods.

20181126_172413

This was the first tree top angel I bought when I was nineteen years old in my first home.  I, of course, chose the tallest tree I could fit in my house this year so angel sits in the window welcoming loved ones.  Find these beautiful candles for a buck and some in the religious aisle of your grocery store.  They have them without the pictures on them.  They burn for a long time and they add festivity and charm to the home.

20181126_172448

Incorporating things you love is easy.  This moose was one of two that Doug got me our first Christmas together.  Her head is falling off but way up on the bookshelf she has a safe place of importance.

20181125_095305

The tree is filled with ornaments of old and new.  Photo ornaments the children made in grade school and ones from my childhood.  Ones from Grandma’s tree and many from our travels.

Yuletide décor is in the details.  Use holiday china this time of year, even for lunch!  Put oil lamps in each room.  Light plenty of candles.  Place strings of garland and twinkly lights in each room (even the bathroom!)

20181126_172706

These sweet, little cloches hold seasonal treasures.  Bird’s nests and moss covered twigs, sprigs of pine and pinecones.

20181127_165555

We opted this year to just string lights around the front porch and set them on a timer.  I love my ristras (one day I will be in New Mexico) and I leave the chairs and tables set up all winter in case of a sunny day that can be spent on the porch.  Always add pieces of yourself in the décor.  A sterile scene from a store doesn’t create the spirit of life that your own personal touches can.

47109550_2320409564640218_8500220567796842496_n

Place tea candles on sand inside lunch bags and line your front walk.  Light an oil lamp on the front porch for visitors.  Make handmade gifts this year.  Spend time enjoying the season.  And make space in your heart for light, love, and hope.

Natural Notes and Cozy Decorating

20181022_145510

I carefully arranged the candles and the oil lamps.  Fluffed the fur pillows.  I hung things on the wall, then took them back down.  I took the curtains down.  I added a tchotchke, took it out.  Peace and serenity is what I desired.  I turned the guest room into our bedroom and will turn our bedroom into guest room.  Just wanted a change of pace.  My beautiful rustic bed frame that didn’t fit in the other room greeted me.

20181022_141721

Perhaps it is the two retail shops worth of stuff crammed in my basement.  Or perhaps it is the beautiful books I have read about a Nordic lifestyle.   Maybe it is the time of year, the cool morning causing the furnace to kick on, the wood stove at the ready.  Maybe I am secretly signaling to myself that I need a break.  My other room looks like a tornado hit it.

I have too much stuff.

20181022_104932

Perhaps I will box some things up and add them to the already daunting pile downstairs.  Things I don’t necessarily want to rid myself of, but things that are contributing to the overwhelming feeling of chaos.  For the moment, I just take on one area at a time.

20181022_104926

I have a Nordic decorating mantra at the moment; Use Natural Elements

20181022_151705

Wood, candles, fur (I have opted for faux fur and will risk making polyester extinct), natural elements from the outdoors, simple, sweet, uncluttered, soft, cozy.

20181022_105005

Eight dollar plush blankets and a few throw pillows transform the couches from dog bed to lush reading spots.  Throw pillows are an inexpensive way to add theme.  The blankets can be rolled up when the farm dog comes in and takes his place on the sofa, or they can be washed and a lot wasn’t invested in them.

20181022_145609

I placed the couches back to back to create two distinct areas in the l-shaped living room.  One faces the television for movie nights and one faces the wood stove along with a few rocking chairs.  Kitties placed haphazardly about create a cozy feel.  (Oh my gosh, I have a lot of cats.)

20181022_204852

Back in my new serene bedroom with hardly anything in it, I used only twinkly lights, oil lamps, and candles to light the room.  A rocking chair creates a quiet nook.

20181022_145515

Old trunks stand in for side tables.

20181022_145543

An old heavy door leans against the wall.  I used one of those over-the-door set of hooks to hang sweaters.

20181022_151315

I don’t have any window coverings in my house so the interiors are flooded with natural light in the day and at night twinkly lights and candle light rule.  Such a blessing to have a home.

20181022_210353

Redecorating the Farmhouse, part 3-vintage item revival

Our Lady of the Goats

It has been three years since we lost everything and left our farm.  Sure feels like a lifetime ago!  We had our family and a few things and started over.  I used to love the thrill of the hunt, the search for the usable off grid item.  I had no desire to purchase items for mere decoration, they needed to be usable.  I had every homesteading item you can think of before we left, and truth be told- material items or not- it has taken awhile to fully heal from loss.

4

So, for the first time, I was able to walk through our nearby antique stores without lamenting that “I used to have that!”  I simply kept my eye open for a bargain that I could use.  A relic to make my life simpler.  Not simpler in the modern theory of flipping a switch or hitting a button, but in the beautiful space in time that hand grinding coffee beans takes, or being mesmerized by the percolator.  Or curling up beneath an oil lamp with a delicious book.  Or knowing if the power went off, we’d be none the wiser as our clocks ticked, our lights shone, and our wood stove puffed out smoke into the cool air.  The tea kettle on, a dog at my feet, a cat on my lap.  Goodness, I know no better life than one like this.  The homestead revival.

20180727_063846

Here are a few pieces to keep an eye out for that can go to work in your home.  They are pleasingly decorative in their own right, creating a lovely old fashioned coziness to the home, but are also useful and trusty.

Oil lamps are amazing, beautiful, useful, and fairly easy to come by.  You can, of course, buy all these things from a great homesteading catalog, like Lehman’s, but that takes some of the fun out of it!  Make sure the knob on the side works.  You can get wicks at Walmart.  They create the most lovely glow and help the body realize that bedtime is soon, as opposed to LED lights which awaken the body more.

20180727_063428

The coffee grinder is imperative on a homestead!  This way you can purchase five pounds of whole beans at a time at a more affordable price (organic, fair trade please!).

20180724_071011.jpg

There a few options for coffee.  I have long loved my French press.  It makes delicious coffee and you can keep it hot by placing it on a tea warmer with tea candle.  This percolator was in perfect condition at the antique store and the price couldn’t be beat.  There is something soothing about the gentle perking of coffee coming through the lid.  It could also go on a wood stove if the gas weren’t available.

20180727_063327

In this picture we have a great tea kettle that goes from stove to wood stove.  A beautiful oil lamp.  A pile of library books and musical instruments.  There are many ways to keep oneself busy without screens!

20180727_063410

I have three amazing clocks that I got from my friends, the Jensens’.  I have the lovely, old grandfather clock that shows up in many of my photos.  I have a fun cuckoo clock in the kitchen.  And I have this melodic, wind up clock.

20180727_063906

Simple baskets and reusable bags (perhaps that you make out of old clothing) are great to take to the market, or to bring in the harvest for supper, or carry books back to the library.  Try with all your heart not to buy or bring home another new thing that is plastic.

20180726_121641

Use less energy by unplugging cell phone chargers, anything that lights up, and shutting down your computer at night.  Turn off the television and go for a walk.

20180726_120833

Being outdoors hits the reset button for our lives.  A nice walk at dusk, or a hike on the weekends, helps bring life back into focus.  Finding things to do that have a lower footprint inadvertently gives you things to do that are great for mental and physical health.  We may have more health care options in this day and age but I bet our fore bearers were actually healthier and happier because they had purpose, family, and kept busy.  They had the magical satisfaction of work well done, of having purpose, and the space of mind to relax during methodical tasks.

20180726_130812

There are many ways that we can lessen our load and the one we have put on the planet.  Spend time with family, eat homegrown or local food, laugh, read, be.  And maybe read by oil lamp.

Redecorating the Farmhouse, part 2-transformation

20180724_110203I am an advocate of using what we have.  I have a beat up couch and a beat up futon and some beat up chairs and a giant puppy who likes to sleep on them.  I have hand me down furniture that can easily move from room to room to create a different look.

20180723_210345

The newly white bookshelf matches its mate now.  I set it at an angle in the corner to create a smooth appearance to my mini office space complete with vintage secretary.  This L-shaped living and dining room in my hundred year old house lends itself to separate areas for reading, or conversation, or entertaining.

20180724_103610

20180724_110218

Tomorrow I will show you what fabulous finds you can get at antique stores, garage sales, craigslist, or thrift stores that still work in this day and age and make life so peaceful and satisfying in their gentle whirrings and lack of electric usage, but there are some things I get new.  Unfortunately from Walmart, but there it is.  It would be ridiculous to use vintage quilts on our furniture. They are best left to beds.  These quilts were twenty dollars and they are surprisingly well made and hold up as farmer’s markets table cloths and chair covers.

20180724_110429

Even though the twinkly lights don’t look that great during the day time, come dusk they transform our house into an enchanted fairy land.  They are our sole light along with kerosene lamps and candles in this space.

20180724_121246

The Hoosier was hiding in the kitchen.  The Farmhouse sign was hiding in the kitchen as well.  They looks so lovely as the first things you see when you walk in our front door.

20180724_121056

The Hoosier has been outfitted as a bar.  The cupboard holds glasses.  The flour case holds bottles.  The drawer holds openers and tea candles.

20180724_121108

The side table and mirror have been outfitted as a wine stand.  The magazine rack holds food magazines.

20180724_121154

The black table lends itself to drama and simple items, like birds nests and natural items found outdoors.  Such perfect decoration and it can change with the seasons.

I moved a table that was in the living room into the kitchen and put a double rack on top to hold all of my cookbooks.  A simple solution to dissuade the puppy from eating my cookbooks and it is beautiful in its highlight of the lamp, books, and coffee grinder.

20180724_152049

Growing where planted and gratitude are important and the frugal homesteader can do a lot with paint and a little creativity.  There is no place like home!  See you tomorrow for part 3!

20180724_121310

Redecorating the Farmhouse, part 1- Painting the Furniture

20180723_141059_Burst01I had good intentions when I painted it the first time!  Instead of a lovely, muted pumpkin orange, the ten dollar table from a yard sale looked more like it was showing its football pride.  (I love Broncos as much as the next Coloradan but not in the kitchen!)  The orange paint started peeling off right away because yours truly didn’t sand the top.

20180723_142126

The lovely young woman staying with me donned an apron and helped me redecorate and restore.  She may as well be one of my children.  We sanded off the old paint, which didn’t take much, and roughed up the surface.

20180723_150042

I wanted a chalkboard top.  We looked and looked for chalkboard paint in the aisle and could only find spray paint.  Then we saw “chalk style” paint.  I thought it was a strange way to say chalkboard paint but we took it home all the same and applied it to the table.  It was watery.  And then I remembered what chalk paint is!  It is like white wash.  It adds a vintage look to furniture.

20180723_151800

20180723_153003

I painted the legs.  The table has been transformed from football to farmhouse!

20180723_204845

Now, one quart of Country White paint- which is just a touch cream- makes all the difference in the world to cast offs.  Take this brown bookshelf.  I have never loved the brown.  I always meant to paint it.

20180723_142923

20180723_142143

It is amazing how much different it looks and how comforting and country it now looks.

20180723_145318

A brown side table and vintage mirror got the same treatment.

20180724_103141

20180724_121154

I will show y’all tomorrow how these pieces, along with a little chaos and hard work, transformed my house into a beautiful farmhouse!

20180723_142903
It gets worse before it gets better, y’all!

 

The Restorative Red Bedroom (a new room with just a can of paint!)

20180327_161143

I don’t know who thought of the color combination of dingy dorm room white with pukey grey trim but ever since I moved in I have wanted to change it.  I just didn’t know what colors to paint our bedroom.  I painted the living room yellow with brown trim, and the guest room the lightest hint of pink with brown trim.  I wanted my room to have a particular feel.

20180327_132410

Romantic, not bright, but not too dark, just warm and comfortable.

20180327_154511

I decided on Autumn Red which is a dark red but has hints of rose pink in it.  The same brown trim that I used throughout the house unifies the spaces.

20180327_163737

The gorgeous red, of course, ended up matching my chili ristra in the corner, and highlighted my painting of our dream house in New Mexico.

20180327_163750.jpg

The same trim color was used to paint the door, dresser and mirror to give them a vintage appeal and they just match the cheeky buffalo head.  I painted the edge of the dresser red.  I simplified the wall hangings.

20180327_161203.jpg

The cats were climbing up the back of the headboard to see out the window while we were sleeping so by taking the mirror off of the dresser, I was able to give them a place to bird watch and let me sleep in peace!  Moving furniture around can make the space more functional.

20180327_163827.jpg

Geraniums brighten the space.

The room is beautiful.  It feels like we are inside of a heart.  It is beautifully restorative, like a cave.  And again, a simple can of paint can completely renovate, restore, and change the feel of any room.

Enchanting Christmas Decor

20171125_170001

Decorating for the holidays is one of the great joys of the season.  Transforming your home into an even more enchanting version of itself adds to the details of Yule.

#1 Adding faux fur rugs and blankets creates a warm, cozy feel.

20171125_170054

Even if the children have moved out, or if you never had children, still hang the stockings.  One for each kid, or one for each dog, it matters not.  No nails or hearth?  Hang them from the curtain rod!

#2 Decorate as if your home were filled with children.  Your inner child will thank you.

20171125_170014

Oh yes, this year we have a fence around the tree!  You can get inexpensive, folding fencing at an agricultural store like Big R.  It keeps puppies and toddlers out, but the kitten is still in the tree!  This year we opted for a faux tree.  It is decked with ornaments from our travels and beautiful creations our children made.

#3 Choose a tree.  Faux trees are easier to put up, last many years, hold onto the ornaments better, are a little sturdier, and don’t die in a few weeks.  But I don’t know if they ever decompose.  Real trees are fun to pick out, make the home smell nice, create a woodsy feel, and can be used as firewood after the holidays.  But we always get one with a crooked trunk, have to tie it to the wall and since I love putting up a tree right after Thanksgiving, it does look pretty shabby by Christmas.

20171127_070001

#4 A wreath symbolizes unity and strength, family and wholeness.  It is the universal symbol of welcome.  Make sure you put one on the door!

#5 Greenery is one of the key ingredients to a festive home.  This stuff costs five dollars at the hardware store.  Once floofed and placed around it instantly becomes Victorian style decor.  The front porch with the ristras and my old grandfather clock look festive with their draping of faux swags.

The bar is set up in festive glow ready for visitors and guests.

#6 Tuck photographs of Christmases past into mirrors around the house.

20171127_070048

20171127_065859

#7 Amaryllis bulbs tucked into potted plants burst forth with tropical Yule flair.

20171125_170134

#8 Scatter twinkly lights and tea candles everywhere.  Winter is ever lovelier with lights.  If it’s going to be dark at 4:30 the indoors ought to be inviting!

20171127_065938

#9 Have plenty of firewood on hand for chilly nights.  I do adore the glorious smell of wood smoke.

20171124_182335

#10 Make sure you get out and enjoy the holidays!  Go see the Christmas lights around town, go to the zoo and see their light show, have dinner by a roaring fire.  If you are in Pueblo make sure you see the Riverwalk, eat at The Place, see our darling zoo, and enjoy the beautiful weather.  And pop by to say hello!

Redecorating for the Season (easy tricks for a beautiful home)

20171027_071224In the winter I was experimenting with how to set up our new house.  An art and writing area, a music and reading area, and a sitting area took up separate sections of the old living room.  Then my classes started and I needed to be able to seat ten people comfortably and have a bigger conversation area.  The living room was rearranged again.  Now I am looking at having my family over for Thanksgiving dinner and entertaining for the holidays.  I will need a place for the Christmas tree (I know, I know, it’s not even Halloween…) and I wanted the seating area to surround the wood stove for cozy nights with a delicious book and a cup of hot chocolate.  Add to that I wanted to display my medicines for when customers come by, and have a place for all of my plants so I tapped into my inner Martha Stewart and spent the day redecorating!

20171026_165451
Faux fur rugs and gold toned throw pillows cozy up the velvet futon which reclines to become a double bed for guests.
20171027_071552
On the other side of the wood stove the love seat sits. A colorful sofa cover and earth toned throw pillows set a comfy space to play the guitar or have a drink. Guess what is behind the cow painting? The television! Wish I would have thought of it years ago. I am always trying to hide that thing!
20171027_071826
I knew our life transitioned into a new stage when I agreed to buy matching recliners. To me, recliners are the ugliest things ever and I swore I’d never have them in the house. (They are awfully comfortable though…)
20171026_165612
There wasn’t room for the coffee table in front of the recliners so I made it into a stand for my farmer’s market kit of medicines. Games, movies, and music are stored on the bottom shelf of the coffee table.
20171026_165557
Books are always at the ready and Maryjane’s books are easy to reach for when she comes to visit. A set of old doors creates drama, and my lovely grandfather clock adds charm. My collection of Native art and my feathers adorn the shelves.
20171026_165523
The table is closer to the front door than the kitchen now but I have more space to expand the table here. I can roll the giant aloe plant to the corner and add another table in here to accommodate more guests.
20171026_165714
My desk is an old sewing machine table and it can be rolled into the bedroom when it’s time to add a Christmas tree after Thanksgiving.

I didn’t spend a penny on this redecorating day and it only took a few hours.  The house feels cozy and the pumpkins and colors add an autumnal spirit.  Twinkly lights are always in order for a charming home.  Wishing you a beautiful season filled with warmth and family and home.

 

 

The Front Porch

ristra

Look what my friend, Alvin, brought me from New Mexico!  The porch is the welcoming committee of the home.  If it is cluttered with junk and trash, it will set the stage for what one would find in the home.  If it is plain and empty, it does not feel very welcoming.

My grandmother’s porch was the ideal porch to me.  When we would drive to her house I would look for the goose.  She had a goose planter on the railing that differentiated grandma and grandpa’s house from all the rest.  A trellis on the south side of the porch held bundles of bright trumpet vine and the porch swing tucked beneath was a sanctuary, a corner of enchantment.

ristras

This is just the beginning  of our porch.  The ristras set the stage for the home.  My great love of the southwest, the brightly colored peppers show there is life and joy in the home.  A few chairs grace the porch now, but a trellis of trumpet vine and a swing will be added this spring.  A cool place to hide away with a book or a glass of sweet tea is an important aspect of any good front porch.

The Farmgirl Bath; Before and After

This is one of those cases where paint really did save the day.  No fancy remodels.  Just paint and fresh towels.  If I could find a few vintage floral prints to hang up, that would really make the room.

To start, the bathroom was full of spiders and dirt.  Whatever kid lived here last had pizza on his fingers and left marks throughout the house.  The bathroom was dingy and plain.

bath-8

Now, I am one that would prefer to count blessings over wrinkles so I do not want bright white light with bright white walls.  A light shade of rose tones the space down and gives a glow of health and less wrinkles to anyone who peers in the mirror.

The key to making different colored rooms appear seamless is the use of a color throughout all the rooms.  In this house’s case, I am using that lush, dark brown as trim throughout.  It was also used on the bead board in the bath.  The dark brown instantly transports me to old hotels we have stayed in and makes the bathroom go from frilly pink to all grown up and slightly French.

After two weeks of packing, moving, rearranging my shop, and painting, I am ready to try out that new bath tub!