The Storytelling Tree

Ornaments are special.  They tell stories and relive memories on the glistening tree.


This year when we went on our family vacation and visited the North Pole I picked up an ornament that held nine names.  It helped seal the moment.  We will look back at that ornament and relive the fun we had riding the train and petting the reindeer.


A glass doll named Sarah that my grandmother gave me when I was very young.  Ornaments from my other grandmother’s tree.  Doug’s first ornament (he grew up Jewish) and our granddaughter’s first ornament mingle on evergreen limbs.  Decades of tales whisper among branches.


From our trip to Las Vegas with the children in 2004.


Ornaments that were given to me by my students in the dance company I had brighten my day. That was a special time.


A gift from Rodney and Pat some years back. We all dream of getting our own adobes.

The tree is filled with memories of our trip to Las Vegas.  Of our honeymoon cruise.  It tells of Bronco fever and the children in elementary school.  Ornaments that were given as gifts.  Quite a few from New Mexico.  Next weekend we will pick up another.  Everywhere we go, we get an ornament.


My Andrew at seven years old.


Shyanne at seven years old and Maryjane’s hand print Santa.


A very sweet five year old Emily.

When we look at our tree, it clears its throat and begins its sweet reminisce and dreams up ideas for the future.  Future names written on the tree, travels yet to be, but the comfort of home and hearth will always be the theme of our humble Yule tree.

What are your favorite ornaments?

Simple Country Christmas Decorating (and the surprise gift)



This is our simple abode, our little honeymoon apartment while we wait for farm doors to open.  It is charming and cozy.  Using simple additions such as greenery, lights, and candles, plus things that mean something from Christmases past, one can create a lovely place to dwell in the candlelight of Yule.

A trip outdoors found fresh air, deer resting in the snow covered grasses, and fresh tips of trees that joined the celebration.


Lights are strung across the ceiling, across the door and window, and the candles and greenery are set.

But the sweetest gift of the season thus far was from my daughter, Shyanne.  I woke up a few nights ago with a sudden devastated thought that all of the kids’ Santa pictures were gone.  Holding them in my hands the other day at her home was an amazing blessing.  While I was busy having a nervous breakdown, figuring out where we going to live, and trying to get out of the home we were in quickly, Shyanne was calmly filling her car with boxes and things and taking them to her apartment.  She gave me back the box of ornaments and I nearly wept for joy.  These little things do mean so much to us.

May this season of holidays bring you all peace.  May they be filled with laughter and family and joy.  And surprise gifts of happiness and love.


Maryjane Rose wasn’t sure about this Santa! I love him though! Merry Christmas!



Easy, Whimsical Christmas decorating


Our favorite time of year is upon us.  Our family welcomes it with open arms and enjoys every minute of it.  Decorating and preparing a festive house is one of the joys of being a Farmgirl.


When the kids were little, our house may have looked like the dollar store version of the North Pole blowing up.  We had every little tchotchke we could find with a Christmas motif, the walls covered in art projects from the children, faux greenery everywhere (not the pretty, expensive kind…more the spindly, cheap kind), and lights anywhere they would hang.  With Christmas music blaring all day, it was a respite from the outside world.  One that smelled like cookies and pine candles.


Sometimes I wanted more grown up, sophisticated looking décor.  A couple with a large house hosted a party after the kids’ choir concert one year.  We oohed and ahhed as we entered the foyer to the house with huge vaulted ceilings, and an enormous faux tree.  I went and sat by the tree with my punch to admire the decorations.  The tree had been decorated by a professional, our host told me.  Each ornament was exactly alike and in perfect symmetry to the next.  There was one child’s ornament tucked out of sight in the back.  It was dreadful.  I appreciated our current decorating style a bit more.


Our tree is covered in funky ornaments the children made over the years.  Doug and I purchase an ornament everywhere we travel.  Our tree is covered in memories of the Caribbean, Taos, and Glenwood Springs.  Each of us have ornaments with our names on them.  We have ornaments for the kitties that all passed away at the same time one year.  We have ornaments from friends.  I still have my ornaments from when I was a child.  When Doug and I were married, being Jewish, he obviously had never celebrated Christmas, never cast his eyes on a tall, lit tree with childlike wonder, never hung an ornament on the tree.  Never had an ornament!  I had to catch him up, so for several years he received an ornament.  He has plenty of his own now.  This year Maryjane received her first ornament to put on the tree.


One good thing about closing our shop is that I now have two Christmas trees.  There are no laws saying you may only have one tree.  I wonder if I could fit a third…


Most of the trinkets and small items were given away over the years.  The house resembles more Pottery Barn meets a farm then the blown up version of the North Pole.  But it still isn’t pristine or perfect (why is that cat on the table?).  We have baby items everywhere, last night’s coffee cups on the coffee table, and a few dishes undone.  A house should be livable, comfortable.  But, it is easy to create a beautiful landscape within your home with only a few touches.  Beautiful garlands laid over antiques, the television armoire, the bookcase, makes furniture instantly festive while keeping a stylish appearance.  Place a wreath in the center of the table and put a candle in the middle.  Red or white candles scattered around the house create the perfect ambience to counteract the earlier dusk outdoors.


A wreath on the door to greet visitors is a must!  The one thing you can do to create holiday cheer.


A holiday collection is fun to behold and bring out around the holidays.  A grouping of old Santas, or sleighs, or even photographs are fun to look at.  I always wanted to collect these Christmas houses, but they are a bit pricey.  Once Doug and I figured out that if we had collected even one a year, we would have had a nice display by now, so we began purchasing one a year.  Our piano is now full and overflowing onto other pieces, so we didn’t get one this year.  Our tiny village is complete for now.


Little woodland creatures peek around greenery.  Owls, and reindeer, polar bears, and squirrels quietly make known their presence.


A bit of whimsy is always in order and our collection of wooden animals don their best during this season.  This is Juniper.  My first bear that Doug gave me for Christmas many years ago.


A Nativity scene is fun for the kids to rearrange (ours is a bear nativity), a countdown calendar to know when Santa is coming, and pine candles complete the festive air.  Even though the kids are older, they still love the season, and I intend for Grammie and Papa’s house to always be a stress free and magical place to visit.


Other ideas:

Poinsettias or amaryllises (my poinsettia lives year round in the south facing kitchen window)

Decorate a tree in the yard with inexpensive ornaments

Keep cookies in the cookie jar

Christmas inspired throw pillows and finger tip towels

Wrap a fake present or just put a real present on bedside table or coffee table

As always, lots of candles and oil lamps!