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.

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!

5 Ways to Make Thanksgiving Perfect

glassHere are a few ideas for Thanksgiving to help keep the spirit of gratitude, family, and love involved while also helping you make it go smoothly.

turkey

*Remember, there is always room for one more. 

I remember one particular year that I was alone and not really in a great place, I called a family member that was hosting Thanksgiving to see if I could come and was told there wasn’t any room for me.  I mean, I would have sat on the floor if necessary.  I just needed the company. So, if there are last minute people that want to come.  Borrow a folding chair!

candle

* Make sure you ask people to bring things. 

If you already have your traditional menu planned, request something from it.  Most of the my family and friends are coming down and staying Wednesday night so they can’t really make something.  But rolls, drinks, cranberry sauce, pies, that type of thing can be bought and brought over.  Sure, I could make all those things-in fact, the Martha Stewart in me insists that I do- but I know those little things can make a big difference between my cooking most of the big meal and enjoying the day or becoming overwhelmed with too many details.

girl

*Make everyone feel welcome.

Whether it be your daughter’s new boyfriend that just got out of jail or your mother-in-law who didn’t get much sleep last night.  Smile, hug, ask questions about them, really care.  We never know what any given person is going through and this is a meal to express our gratitude and be near those we love by sharing a meal.  Keep that in mind above all else.

table

*Take a deep breath and laugh.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.

I will have my puppy and two crazy grand-dogs running through the house.  The turkey may not cook right.  You might drop a pie.  The dog might eat the sweet potato casserole.  Aunt Sue might break into tears over a lost love. You may run out of whiskey.  This Thanksgiving, I want you to see everything with new eyes.  Every person there is alive this year.  Memorize the moments.  Watch people laugh.  Smell the turkey cooking.  Hear the ice clink in your glass.  Pet the dogs.  Have an extra helping.  These moments are precious.

table-2.jpg

*Decorate Simply

A huge, ornate centerpiece is going to end up in the way and you will be sad that you have to move your beautiful decorations!  Try a nice napkin with mix-matched dishes.  A votive in front of each space.  Print off papers for people to write what they are thankful for.  Most of them the guest can color.  Childish?  We should be a little more childish.  Sprinkle some leaves on the table.  Or have the kids go collect some.  Place a mini pumpkin on each plate. (I for one do not like getting up during conversation to refill my plate at a buffet.  In fact, I usually won’t.  Much easier for folks if all the food is on the table and we can just pass it around!)

Put on some nice classical or jazz music.  Something that won’t clash with the volume of laughter and conversation.

You might not be able to use your hundred year old dining room table.  I will be moving all the couches and chairs into one section of the living room so that I can line up two long folding tables.  I will be able to seat fourteen comfortably in this little house by simply rearranging a little.  Folding tables are more compact but still offer lots of room. Your house doesn’t have to look perfect.

Light tea candles all over the house.  They will burn for two hours and create an enchanting ambience.

If you are in a good mood, your guests will be too.  If you are flustered, they will be too.  It’s just a meal with loved ones.  Enjoy!

 

Home Sweet Home (decorating to create a home)

IMG_2421

An ordinary apartment.  But after being homeless for the first time in my life, the word HOME means a whole lot to me.  So this rug spoke to me.

We started with a blank space.  Cream colored walls and cream soft carpet makes the sunlight that pours in the many windows soften and glow and the aura is light and sunny.  Hand me down furniture works beautifully.  But how can you make it go from plain to wow and homey?  Just a few simple tricks can transform an ordinary place into a HOME.

Color- I didn’t realize that was the main thing missing!  Boy, the moment I hung up some paintings the whole room started to dance.  I painted these paintings (they are for sale) but any great painting or framed poster does the trick.  The special paintings came from my granddaughter, Maryjane Rose.  The first one was painted a year ago.  The new one she instructed me on how to hang it and what it is.  “It’s the Dark Side,” Emily noted.  Uh…I don’t really want a picture of the dark side and what is a two year old….  “Starwars,” Emily clarified, reading my mind.  Maryjane confirmed it was Starwars and told me which side was up.  Priceless.

Flowers- Doug snuck out at 11:00 at night after I went to sleep Valentine’s Day eve to pick me up beautiful raspberry colored tulips.  They look lively on the fireplace mantle.  Each piece infusing more life into the space.

Pillows- and creativity.  We received kind sized mattresses from a friend when she bought new ones.  Our bed that had been given to us before is a double.  I had the mattresses in the living room to dispose of.  But then Maryjane and Emily spent the night instead of driving an hour plus home one night.  They will likely do so each Friday since Emily closes and then opens Saturday morning.  So, I have a spare bed in the living room.  Not real magazine ready.  But, with Maryjane’s painting of her farm (after all, she was named after the magazine, Maryjane’s Farm) that she has claimed as her own and her Mother Earth News magazine, and piles of comfy pillows, it is now more of a respite and calling place to read or nap or lounge.  Books and my guitar nearby add to the vacation-like atmosphere and the fake moose head adds whimsy.  Board games await.  Sunlight streams in.

IMG_2415

Blankets- blankets add texture and color and invite warmth and comfort.  A few change the whole look of the living room.

Rugs- the front door rug, the rug as you enter, and the rug by the chairs by the front door hint to take your shoes off!  Whitish carpet needs slippers.

Beauty- using what pleases you, what makes your eyes open a bit more, catches your breath.  For me, this Laura Ashley-ish comforter called for me.  Paired with two side tables, one old crate, and one cat carrier with a floral curtain wrapped around it, makes a lovely place to read and end the day.

IMG_2411

Any way you decorate it, there is no place like HOME.

 

 

Farmgirl Decor

IMG_0503

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”  “I want to be a mommy, and a housewife, a teacher, a nurse, a veterinarian, a singer, a dancer, a model, a nun, a fashion designer, an interior designer, a writer, and live in the country.”  That was always my response growing up.  I would rattle off at least five starting with a mommy, a housewife, a teacher, a writer, and then one of the others.  I have never answered with just one job.  And I never will!  I guess being an herbalist kind of combined the nurse and vet.  Teaching herbalist classes and dance classes covers the teaching.  Karaoke every Saturday gives me my diva fix.  The nun thing didn’t work out though I still think it would be have been wonderful.  I paint pictures of them instead.  I am a writer.  I shared with you my fashion designing and now I’d like to share my interior designing.

IMG_0505

Home is where the heart is, someone said, and it is also the place where family gathers, we rest, we dream, we work, we refuel.  It is a direct reflection of our soul.  No matter how big or small the house may be, it speaks of you.  You can use your home to help you achieve your dreams by setting up a space where it can be a mirror of what you love and aspire to.  It can inspire and comfort.  Your emotions will be notably different in a messy place as opposed to a clean place.  Too clean of a place can make one uncomfortable.  Colors can bring out aspirations and create calm or passion.  Items can invoke good memories or clutter.

IMG_0504

This is my house.  It is not really my house.  I rent it from a lovely older couple who could no longer live here.  It is almost a hundred years old and speaks of remodels and old bones.  Of flood survivals and pioneers selling their water rights.  Of old gardens and housewives.  Of ancient chickens and attempted fruit trees.  Of laughter and hope.  It feels good here.  The color was a dirty lime in the living room.  It did nothing for my happy levels.  I painted it peach.  I sat there crying, for it was so bright in the lit up room that I couldn’t function.  It is now cinnamon.  Lush and comforting.  Not too bright when the sun bathes the room, and very romantic and secure when the candle light dances around the corners in the evenings.

IMG_0502 IMG_0506

We realized we were re painting over wall paper, which seems such a shame.  In Emily’s room we discovered a chimney that had been painted over and in a top built-in cupboard sparkled the original wallpaper.  Pink, gold swirls, elegant.  Who’s room was that?  It’s about to be home to Emily and a little one next month and so another occupant puts their imprint on the space.  Touching it with memories and dreams.

IMG_0514 IMG_0511

This is not my homestead but I have filled it as if it is.  For, even on my own homestead, my stay may be brief, or natural disaster could seize, or any number of things could happen.  So, I feel that while we are here, it is ours.  My love is New Mexico.  Deep in my soul, I belong there but may never live there.  The colors, the food, the history, the architecture all sings to me.  Lulls me.  I am saddened if I think too long on it so I have turned the living room into Santa Fe North.  Pieces I picked up in Santa Fe or from my friend, Marco, at his shop Camino Real for not many pesos.  Craig’s List finds and antique stores along with Doug’s grandma’s fabulous table that seats around sixteen fit perfectly in the space.  Nothing cost me over $200 except the piano.

IMG_0515

The living room still holds its farmhouse flair and the other rooms maintain their farmhouse dress as well.  Simplicity is now pulsing through my veins and a great many truck loads of items went to charity as more pile up in the garage in my attempts to only have what brings me supreme joy.  The paintings are all my own work and I love them for their stories they tell so that I can remain silent.  I do not love overhead lights, in fact I scream as if I were a vampire and turn the lights off throughout the house should they be on.  Twinkly lights frequent the space long after Santa is gone.  Candles and oil lamps and bright sunny windows do the rest.  Pictures of vintage farm posters.  I adore these.  I will have a farm.

IMG_0507

What do I want to be when I grow up now?  A mom, a housewife, a grandma, a college professor, a writer, and a farmer.  May we always have a home to come home to filled with love, inspiration, and laughter.