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Archive for December, 2012

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While most people spend their Christmas among crazy chaos and lots of people, we go the opposite route.  Part of it is that it’s not feasible to go back home again to CT, we both have VERY small families and my parents go to Florida while my sister stays in CT and celebrates with her husband’s side of the family.  So it’s just us and the pups.  Staying at home sometimes makes me a little sad and so this year with David off from work, we decided to go away for Christmas.  It was also a make-up trip from our 10 year wedding anniversary in May (a trip that we kept having to reschedule) so it had been a full year and a half since David and I vacationed and very much needed.

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DSC_0641We chose to go to a familiar, quiet place where we know our dogs are welcome and we could cozy up near a fireplace: the Estes Park YMCA at Rocky Mountain National Park.  Every year we go we are amazed at how big this complex is getting; it’s not your typical camp – it’s a booming conference center with hundreds of cabins and lodging rooms and has a skating rink, sled runs, horse stables, indoor swimming and tons of activities.  But even with all the options, we chose to hold up in our cabin and celebrate the holidays quietly…playing rounds of Monopoly, Words with Friends and Uno…reading books aloud to each other…challenging our brains with puzzle books and taking lots of frigid walks with our pups (some days the windchill was below zero!).

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We spent some time in town as well on the charming main street visiting little shops, stopping at our favorite independent coffee shop and grabbing some local food.  And of course there is Rocky Mountain National Park (though most of it is closed, the couple miles that you can go in are still beautiful).  Good all around.  Very low key, very relaxing (when our anxious pups weren’t misbehaving), very much our style.

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And while I often wish I had this big gregarious family to go home to for the holidays, complete with cousins, aunts, uncles, lots of siblings and nieces and nephews and all the nostalgic visions that the holiday movies portray, the reality is that neither of us have that, so we have to make our own holiday tradition.  So tranquil holidays come in as a great second choice.

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Whether yours were crazy or calm, hope your holidays were enjoyable. ♥

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Wow, I’m doing awful with blogging this month, eh?  Sorry, haven’t been particularly chatty, was trying to keep up with the busy-ness of 3 online retail shops during the holiday rush (yay, thank you customers!!), developing a new line and 4th shop (yes, I’m a glutton for punishment!) and with the tragedy in CT (where I’m from) it didn’t feel right to talk about holiday decorating with such a heavy loss in all our hearts.

But now it’s Christmas eve – yikes, where did the time go?  And so I figured it time I wrapped this topic up and show off our, um, unique tree this year…

But first, some decorating in our bedroom…

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I was able to top our dresser with lots of leftover items from my booth (too tired to list them in my shop this year!), so I took advantage of the extra decorative goods I had on hand…

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Including more thrift store baking tins painted white, old iron finials painted white, unloved picture frames also painted white and distressed.  I have quite a few vintage ornaments and a pair of lovely vintage ice skates that I picked up for $12 and coated with snow glitter and topped with my good ol’ peonies that make it into all my decorations (they have certainly had their fare share of reuse this year!):

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(Sorry for the double-watermarking…I was too tired to realize I did it and we’re heading out shortly so too pressed for time to fix it!).  As for our tree, well, we have a fake tree.  I hate to admit it but it was a necessity when I worked in college administration (oh, 12 years ago) and my job required me to live on campus but we weren’t allowed to have real trees for fire hazard reasons.  Even though I was an adult professional living on campus, I was required to live by the same rules as the students.  So, it was either fake tree or no tree.  And that’s exactly what we did.  And getting only a  year or two of use seemed very un-eco-friendly so we’ve used it the last 12 years.

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But this year, we had a change of heart.  We are hoping to put our house on the market for a myriad of reasons (if it’s even feasible) and because it could be our last Christmas in this house and because this is what our backyard looks like, we felt that we should cut down a tree in our yard (this is our view, but we only have an acre of it for our yard).  As you can see above, the middle clearing is primarily our lot, so finding a tree that wasn’t 30 feet tall was tricky, but alas, we did!

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And yes, I picked up more pine cones…can never have enough in my opinion *wink*  And so, this is what our tree looked like barely dressed (now remember, this is not your average plush Christmas tree lot tree – this is mama nature all the way).

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I made a simple, quick topper with paper cones from library discarded books…

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And some burlap ribbon and even some very old carpenter’s measuring tape to give that rustic, country, eco-feel to our tree…

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And of course, a mix of personalized/personal ornaments and crackly, vintage bulbs…

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It’s very simple this year (not to mention we forgot how soft branches can barely hold onto ornaments, so we only hung 1/2 of the ornaments we usually do!) but we love it.  It feels very personal to have a tree from our own backyard to commemorate what could possibly be our last year here.

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Well, we’re heading out to one of our favorite places where we will have lots of free time, so I hope to post some picturesque posts in the next couple days.  Hope you are all enjoying a warm holiday with friends and loved ones!! xo

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So holiday decorating is in full swing and this week I finished decorating our great room (it’s not that big, it’s just one room that holds our kitchen/dining room/living room) and bedroom (where we’ve decided to put the tree this year).  It might be a little silly to decorate as we don’t have any visitors for the holidays, don’t have kids and a random neighbor might stop by once every 6 months.  It can feel a little isolated here so decorating for the seasons really lifts my spirits.

You’ll see a lot of familiar items in my decorating.  I’m big on re-using items in your home in different ways for different seasons.  It’s easier on the wallet and environment.  I’m also big on eco-crafting and upcycling old/unused items into new things and of course, vintage elements which are natural eco-friendly (as they’ve passed many hands and have been used over and over and in many different ways).  I’ll explain as we go…

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If you’ve been following me for a little while, you know I love to dress up our mantel (and yes, it has an unsightly TV above it, but we only have one living area, so the TV’s staying!).

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In this photo, I used my trusty water can o’peonies (I use these in all my decorating regardless of time of year!), the vintage glass bottles I decorated earlier this year for my booth (these are angel/cherub specific so work well for this time of year) and my favorite bird house of all (I usually keep this on top of my kitchen cabinets, but took down for decorating.  The piece itself is made of reclaimed barn wood, a vintage doorknob, recycled aluminum “flashing” and an iron final from an old gate.  Love.

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I have more vintage apothecary bottles here (will be selling in my shop in the future but just didn’t get around to it this year), my vintage kitchen scale topped with discarded library books that have had covers removed and tied up with ribbon and a vintage skeleton key.  The big star used to be our tree topper but it was always too heavy and bent the top branch, so I decided to use it as a decoration this year.  The print is of one of my first angels, Lovely Angel, which I popped into an old frame I used to have and was going to donate, but then I painted white, distressed and voila, now I like it again!

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On our mantel, I also have lots and lots of pinecones (they are everywhere around here and add to the wintry feel) and I added a familial element by transferring some of my grandmother’s white vintage buttons into a mason-like jar.  Adds a personal touch and is a lovely connection to my white Christmas theme.  Have I mentioned I love blue and white for the holidays? *wink*  As if that wasn’t already evident!

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On our endtable, I added some more goodies including this tin of vintage ornaments (mind you, during the rest of the year, our mantel and table tops are not nearly this cluttered but it’s the holidays…why not go all out!).

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In between our picture window and the doors to our deck, there is a small area of shelves that I like to have photos on; I switched it up for the holidays and since I have a bunch of holiday art, I figured I might as well as put some of it up and mix it in with rusty and chippy paint vintage elements we have on hand.

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We live in a log home, so pardon the cracked wood.  Notice all the old doorknobs?  I have a weird obsession with vintage hardware!

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These are just rolled up book pages, which are ready to be made into a vintage book paper wreath (more on that later this week).  The circle piece in the back is architectural salvage that you might see on the trim of a door in an old house.  I bought a couple of these at an antique store (and move them around my house every month or so as a decorative element).

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Over our dining table (which is now my paint area, so it’s not very photogenic at the moment!) we have a simple candelabra (instead of a light fixture) filled with candles and pine cones and from it I hung some vintage spoons that have been stamped with words like “joy” “love” and “peace.”

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At the wall near our entrance is a wreath I made last year after buying up a bunch of marked down ornaments the day after Christmas.  Yes, I know this isn’t eco-friendly, but I couldn’t bring myself to use delicate vintage ornaments on this (not to mention this wreath took about 75 ornaments to make).  I did however use up some jingle bells that I had fallen out of love with (and other blue ornaments that I was going to donate) but then utilized in this project.  Now I’ll be honest, it was a bit time intensive and if using regular priced ornaments, would be quite expensive (hence the reason why most of these sell for $50 and up on Etsy).  Since I made it last year, I can’t quite remember the exact tutorial I used but here’s a good one as well as this one.

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At our entrance, we have have a “sofa table” that we use to put our keys/wallets/phones/mail when we walk in the door (and has bins underneath to hold our shoes).  Usually I have a photo of us and some light decorative element on it, so I also jazzed it up for the holidays…

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Look, more pinecones!  In this shot you’ll see an old clock in the background (a $2 thrift store find that was black, but I painted white and distressed for a shabby chic look).  I did the same with that heart baking tin (I always find a ton of these at thrift stores for under a dollar).

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And look, another scale (another weird obsession I have – you may also recognize this and the tall tin from previous displays)!.  The paper cones are from a deconstructed giant paper wreath that I made last year (my first one and not so well made, so it started falling apart).  Then I have another birdhouse also made with reused/recycled materials.

So, there it is…holiday decorating which incorporates a lot of vintage/used/recycled elements (and shopping your home for items that you can use in new ways).  I still have Part 2 to share which includes our bedroom and tree…to come later this week.  Here’s a sneak peek:

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Season’s Greetings!!

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Christmastime is here

Gosh, I’ve been gone a while!  After I got back from spending the week at my sister’s for Thanksgiving and into the first week back, I had over 50 orders to make/pack and get out the door, so I’ve been a bit tuckered out but happy to catch the wave of Holiday sales.  Things have started to slow down quite a bit so now I’m getting time to do some holiday decorating and even paint!

I’ll share some holiday decorating posts over the course of the week, but meanwhile, I’ll leave you with these two pieces inspired by Charlie Brown’s Christmas special, my favorite one of all for the holidays!

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Don’t forget to check back on my holiday decorating posts including some linked tutorials on things like paper wreaths, ornament wreaths, vintage button garlands, etc.  See you soon!

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