Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Un-Trimming the Tree

It's always bittersweet when I have to un-trim the Christmas tree.
I always enjoy the coziness that Christmas brings to our home. The soft glow of the lights, the smell of a fresh tree, the wreaths and garlands and bits of greenery tucked here and there. It's so warm and inviting.
But then, once Christmas has ended, there's always the desire to welcome the New Year in a fresh, clean way.
And so yesterday, Willen and I spent the afternoon packing away our Christmas decorations.
I had seen somewhere on Pinterest a clever way of storing decorations. Simply place each decoration in a disposable cup and store away. It's much easier than individually wrapping each one.
Ps. Willen and I discovered this lovely little side table in the attic of a local antique market this past weekend. It's a beautiful piece that I will share more about later.

All of our less delicate ones are stored in an old crate.

I placed all of my cups in a shallow bin on wheels. It's designed to go under a bed, but they fit perfectly in the storage space in our knee walls upstairs.
The whole process was quite easy. I was also pleasantly surprised with the lack of needles that dropped! We had our tree up for nearly a month and I had one small dustpan full.
I'm now off to finish cleaning our house before getting ready for our New Year's Eve celebrations. We're having a relatively quiet evening in with just a few friends, some games, delicious snacks and the little ones.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Very Merry Christmas

We've been enjoying such a wonderful Christmas holiday.
Our presents have all been opened, family has been visited, and the bustle of preparing for Christmas  has calmed to a slow, restful pace.
All that's left to do is to spend the remainder of our time off as a family quietly relaxing and enjoying each other's company.
This year, with my parents in the middle of moving, I hosted Christmas morning. My sisters all come with their gifts for brunch. Then we head to Ryan's parents for Christmas dinner.
It's makes for a day full of eating, and laughing, and exchanging gifts, and more eating.
The beginning of last week brought lots of freezing rain, and then unusually warn temperatures, which caused all of our beautiful snow to melt. However, after a surprising snowfall in the most wonderful fashion, we still enjoyed a white Christmas.
This morning, while eating breakfast, it continued snowing in a flurry of huge snowflakes. We decided that what we needed was a lovely walk out in our back woods and maybe even a little bit of sledding.
So we all donned our snowsuits and out we went, tromping through the freshly fallen snow. I couldn't think of a better way to spend a morning together.



A very Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Living Room and Vintage Wool Shawls

The rest of the living room is finished and ready for Christmas.
I didn't do too much in the rest of this room. This area of our living room is opposite to our tree. Actually, we have a very poorly designed living room. It's very long and narrow, with our front entrance and staircase right between. Originally, this part of the living room was actually a small bedroom. The house was quite tiny at that point because right now we really have no proper dining room (we use the sunroom off the kitchen which is an addition), the kitchen isn't nearly big enough for an eat in kitchen, and at that time, the upstairs was still attic and not yet converted into two bedrooms and a bath. So the living room would have been more of a small sitting room.
Luckily for us, that's not the case anymore. And though it took me a very long time to find the most efficient use of space for maximum seating, I've found it. We also have a family room in our basement, so this really is more of our formal living space.

I moved one of my alabaster lamps from our bedroom in here for now. We do a lot more entertaining at night this time of year, and the extra light helps. I also think the aged marble is complimented by the couches and throw pillows. 

A simple white Poinsettia and some pine cones are just festive enough. After all, from here you can see the Christmas tree so I didn't feel the need to go crazy. I would still like to find a large white Poinsettia for in a large basket beside my arm chair, but white ones are very scarce this time of year.
Back in the summer, while browsing an antique mall a little ways away, I came across these two vintage wool shawls. They're a beautiful oatmeal colour and 100% wool. They're gorgeous, and very soft. They're also in nearly perfect condition. I set them out on my arm chairs as light throws.

They were a steal at only $15 each!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Garland and Greenery

My mom graciously dropped me off a box full of greenery, and over the past two weeks I've slowly been making garland and small wreaths for around the house. Adding bits of greenery is a simple and natural way of making a room ready for Christmas. 

I think a room feels so much more festive with small garlands draped over picture frames, and bits of pine and cedar tucked into vases. And the natural greenery is so fragrant and fresh.

The small garlands are made from Pine, Cedar and Spruce cuttings. I have them on my flourished mirror at our front door, and on my frame above our couch.

I also made small Cedar wreathes for on my brass candlesticks.

The largest garland is on our banister. I actually use fake garland as a base and then I wire my greenery to that. It's a cheaper way of adding fullness and structure. It also helps the garland keep it's shape when I've bent it around the railing. 

This is another little bit of Christmas that I've had for a while. It's an old postcard I bought at an antique store years ago. I think that the picture is so quaint. I tuck it into my flower frog, which I usually use to hold my recipe cards.

I also tucked some cuttings into a vase with some faux Magnolia flowers. Obviously I would prefer fresh flowers, but these are pretty, and they last forever.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Shelves

Before a very busy weekend full of cookie exchanges, Christmas parties and birthday celebrations, I was finally able to put away my brown transferware for another year, and take out my collection of red.

My collection of red transferware is quite a bit larger than my collection of brown. It includes place settings for six, as well as an assortment of serving pieces, small pitchers and various platters. I simply can't fit it all on my shelves.

So I just pick out my favourite pieces for a nice mix of patterns.

They look so beautiful against off white walls, especially with bits of greenery tucked here and there. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tea for Four

Every November, Jess and I would go for afternoon tea at The Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara on the Lake. We have for years now.

Instead of simply not going this year, I decided to take her mom (my Aunt Jeanette) instead. Without much thought, I realized it might be fun to go with my mother and sister-in law as well. After all, she was just as much a part of their lives as well.

So we all went to tea, and it was lovely. 

Though it was hard at times, we reminisced, told funny stories about her and giggled all afternoon. Then we walked through town and even stopped at a small antique market on the way home.

I'm so happy I didn't skip it this year.

And who knows, maybe this will become a new tradition for us girls. One scarcely needs an excuse to go for tea.

Our selection of delicious little pastries and tea sandwiches.

And their most amazing scones. I have never had a scone that rivals these. They are scones with jasmine-infused raisins, served warm with clotted cream and local preserves.

The tea room was decorated for Christmas, as well as everywhere else around town.

Aunt Jeanette (Jess' Mom), my sister-in-law Rachelle and my mother-in-law Jackie.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pomegranates and A New Book

As each season changes, there is always a fruit that I look forward to seeing in our local grocery store. Late Spring brings pints of locally picked strawberries. Fall brings bushels of crisp apples and pears. But in the Winter I look forward to seeing the giant bin of bright, ruby red pomegranates.

It's only in the last year or so that I've actually learned how to properly (or at least, most effectively in my case) remove all of the delicious little seeds from inside the fruit.

It involves whacking the pomegranate with a wooden spoon over a large bowl. The seeds literally just fall out. It makes Willen laugh every time I do it, which is quite often, because they have become one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast.

Aside from by the spoonful, I really enjoy them over my Greek yogurt with granola. They add this burst of tart freshness that makes something fairly simple seem so much more special.

I make my own very simple granola. I just toast whatever sort of things I have on hand, drizzle them with honey or maple syrup and bake for a while longer. It's quite easy. This morning's granola had oats, coconut, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, golden flax seeds and pecans.

I'm also very excited about a new book I received as an early Christmas gift from a friend of mine. Her and her husband lead our small group. We both love Ann Voskamp, who wrote the hugely popular book One Thousand Gifts, and blogs at A Holy Experience.

This book, The Greatest Gift, is a daily reading for each day of Advent.

"I don't want a Christmas you can buy.
I don't want a Christmas you can make.
What I want is a Christmas you can hold.
A Christmas that holds me.
Remakes me, Revives me.
I want a Christmas that whispers, Jesus."
Ann Voskamp

I am enjoying it immensely. It's a beautiful way to slow down what is usually a crazy, hectic time of year and really just prepare my heart for Christmas.

I've also discovered a new favorite space in our home... Right beside our tree.

I didn't by any means intend for this chair to stay here, but it works. It's the coziest little nook. Even the boys love curling up and reading beside the tree.