A Country Christmas

There is just something special about the Christmas season!

  There is also something so busy about it!

We try and fill the 31 days of December with all things festive – baking, decorating, entertaining, shopping, concerts, school and church musicals, parties, correspondence, wrapping, connecting, and the list goes on – all in 31 days!

Add on top of all of the above – our busy work schedules – with the pressures as great in this day and age as they ever have been!  How to balance it all and still come out of this month with the joy that this time of year is meant to celebrate!

 I love this season – it is a beautiful time of year with the gorgeous lights, and greens, and the excitement of getting together and eating great food and laughing with family and friends.  I would not change it for the world!

Maybe this is why I love the country Christmas theme so much – in my mind I see Christmas as a time of year where we can slow down, and enjoy the simple things in life – like family, friends, music, good food and the beauty of nature.  I suppose so much of this is in my imagination – to create this open door, candle lit, snow covered picture requires planning, and lots of hustle and bustle and work!

How do we balance all of these expectations in 31 days?  The age old question that many people are asking I am sure.  Maybe there is no answer other than to realize that Christmas is about creating memories – and there is no simple way around that.  It requires planning and shopping, and decorating and it is tiring!

But at the end of the day – what better way to be rewarded than to see the joy on children’s faces on Christmas morning, or the laughter that spills out from the turkey laden dining table, or the comfort that family and friends feel when they nestle into a cozy living room with a twinkling tree, glowing candles, and drink hot apple cider and nibble on the home baked goods that you thought you would never get baked.

Christmas memories are forever – and there is no season that perhaps requires as much work as Christmas – but it is a magical time of year that brings great joy to so many – even if they have no idea how much work is required to create a laid back and relaxed country Christmas!

I find my joy in creating joy for others – creating memories – in seeing the beauty of the season in the faces of those who appreciate the creativity required to make these memories special!  It is worth all of the hustle and bustle and work!

After all, anything of great worth and beauty was not created without work – think of the great music and art compositions that we enjoy – or the books that are written that take our  souls to another place – all enjoyed with little effort – but  created with great effort!  Creating a Christmas celebration can be a work of art – a memory that touches the very core of who we are as families, and as communities of friends.

If you put the work into the creation you will be rewarded – the beauty of creating the memories and the traditions that touch the heart and soul of who we are is worth every effort!

I realize that as I write this post that this time of year is difficult for many people- those who have no families, those who have no home – those who are suffering in different ways emotionally, and physically.  This can be a lonely and desolate time of year – especially with so much emphasis on belonging.  I am reminded that the very one whose birthday we celebrate came in poverty – with no pomp or circumstance.  And I am reminded that we are called to care for those who are hurting, to feed those who are hungry and to give of ourselves in love.  I am reminded that we must open our hearts and our homes and give of ourselves and our resources to care for the weak and the poor.  May this work of art – this tradition that we create each year – may its beauty reach those who need it most – and may the love and joy that we have in our hearts overflow to others – not just in our families – or our communities – but those in our cities, our countries and all over the world.

This comes at the end of this post not to be a P.S. – but to be the final word  – the benediction so to speak to all of our Christmas thoughts – our Christmas plans.  May our hearts be open to sharing our wealth – our love – and our joy!

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Christmas Dreamin…

It is hard to believe it is time to start thinking about Christmas!  How can it possible be that another year is here – bring it on – let’s deck the halls, string the lights and hang the ornament – bring on the Christmas spirit!  Do I sound a bit enthusiastic?  Well – I know it is a lot of work – but there is just something magical about this time of year – the twinkling lights, the bows and ribbons, and the excitement that goes along with it all!

For the past couple of years I have been so busy with work and other life responsibility that I have not been able to give the Christmas decorating the whole hearted focus that I love to give it.  This year  – it’s going to get my attention – because here is the deal – decorating is a creative process – and as I have been saying – creativity needs to be feed – needs to be nourished!  Creatiivity is the air I breathe – it brings life to my spirit – it brings joy  – great joy!

So here is to a feast of creativity – bring on the inspiration!

Where to start?  I like to start outside first – and work my way inside.  I need some inspiration – and here is just a little bit to get the creative juices flowing.

Nothing like the red and green theme to keep tradition alive!

I’m dreaming of Christmas!

Good Bones

This week my niece Laura and her husband Eric closed on their new home.  New to them that is.  The home is actually several years old – and has been owned by two other families previously.  The most recent owners  – an older couple with a grown family lived there for 40 years.  The grown children were selling the home following the passing of both parents this  past year.

Having been through this with my own parents I know just how tough it is to sell the family home – even if in our case one parent is still with us but no longer able to live in the house.  And although for us it was the family home – it was not our growing up home – I never lived in this home.  But still – there were many family celebrations there – many Christmas dinners, and Thanksgiving dinners and birthdays – and it contained all of the “home” furniture and fixins that make a family house a home. In our case there were many family homes – as we moved more than once when we were children- but each home became the family home so easily – because home is where you nest – where you build your life – and this can be done almost anywhere.  All it takes is a bit of nesting attitude and a few familiar things.

For Laura and Eric their new home has great bones – it has a great structure and a good layout – beautiful original hardwood floors, spacious rooms and the potential for updates and upgrades that will make this a great family home for years to come if they wish to make it so.  It is amazing what a bit of paint, a bit of carpet, and new wood trim will do to spruce this place up and not only clean it up but give it their own specific style.  And so before they move in at the end of this month there will be much cleaning, and painting and fixin up.

And so over we went yesterday with our diet coke, pizza, jube jubes and peanut M&M’s and had a fixin up party.  Wood trim was pulled off in preparation for new trim, wallpaper was stripped and walls cleaned and prepped for painting.  Even grandpa worked with Laura removing light switch plates and pulling down old wall paper – just like the good ole days when he and Laura would have many work parties at his place where Laura learned all the tricks to doing these kinds of tasks with perfection.

Laura and Eric were surprised with a beautiful bouquet of flowers left from the previous owners  with a card that blessed them and wished them as many happy memories in this home as they had in the previous 40 years.   What a wonderful way to pass a home on to new owners and new traditions!

It was a great day – a day to celebrate new beginnings.  This house has good bones – all that is necessary to make this house a nest – a special home for Laura and Eric.

 It was a beautiful day!

Country Garden

Have I mentioned how much I like my new back yard patio?  Its like being in an oasis – and I am so thankful for this gift in my life.  Morning coffee has never tasted better than when sitting listening to the water bubbling over the rocks and hearing the birds chirping and waking up.

I have to say I love walking around and pulling out the weeds – making sure that they don’t take over the garden beds.  Watching the buds come in  on the hydrangea and coming to full bloom gives great joy.  I love the garden!

The next step is to invest in some outdoor furniture – and more than likely that can wait until next year.  I like to sit in a room and see what it needs before making any decisions – to feel what would be best there – to sense how the room will function and what kinds of pieces will not only function well – but give it a special aura of “home” – and of course a personal touch of style.

And so I will wait probably until next year – just continuing to use my two plastic adirondack chairs for now.  As I sit and drink my coffee or read  or just enjoy the sunshine I will dream about what it might need.  Should I get 4 chairs to put in a circle – an umbrella – long lounge chairs so that I can stretch out  – should I have a table with chairs surrounding so that I can host dinner parties – should I have some of the above or all of the above?  Questions I don’t have the answers to yet – I need time to “feel” it.  That is part of the fun of the whole experience as well!

This garden patio from the blog ” A Country Farmhouse” is just beautiful.  The country table was built and stained a light grey blue colour.  It is  lovely.  I love the idea of an unconventional outdoor table.  I would like to have something similar however, I’m not sure I could easily move and store it in the winter.  These are the functional issues I would have to consider when making a decision regarding a table.

The wicker chairs are wonderful, inexpensive and stackable  Very functional!

Please visit the blog “A Country Farmhouse”. (link on the sidebar)  You will just love the beautiful farm house in this blog!

Things I Love

I have written a couple of blog posts called “Things I Love”  – the list is long and diverse.  If you were to ask me for this list I suppose I would have to stop and think for a minute and then just let my mouth rattle off whatever comes to mind  – because you see – the things I love are not neatly put into an alphabetic ordered list – or even something that I can say yes these are the top.  Although saying that,I do have a list of important things I love that would include the love I have for my God, my family, and close connections that I have with certain people  – and I would be so pleased to talk about those because they are truly close to my heart.

The general list of things I love are things that just bring me joy – and ignite a sense of warmth in me – they are things that are beautiful – although not always perfect – but do bring a smile to my face.  Maybe it is just like the song in the “Sound of Music” that says whenever I am feeling down I simply remember my favourite things and then I don’t feel so sad.  Thats the list I am talking about – raindrops on roses and brown paper packages tied up with bows – only my list is slightly different – and it grows and changes as everyday I find new things to love.

On my list today – anything that is an animal print!

I love this coffee table bench – love the fabric – I have a special love for zebra print.  I remember the first time I saw a zebra in Africa – I was so amazed at the stripes and the definition between the white and the black – it was just so beautiful and so well created !

The bench above is from the design portfolio of Windsor Smith – who I adore .  I was in her home in California and I just love her and her work!  The bench below is from her home.

And then there are the animal skin rugs – love them!  I love them mixed with elegance and country  – as is shown in this beautiful and unique room by Darryl Carter – another very interesting and amazing designer.

And another version above – not sure who designed this room.

Look at this master bathroom – wow – love the rug!

This bathroom was designed by the author of the blog called “For the Love of a House” which I just discovered a couple of weeks ago.  I have her blog listed on the sidebar and you really should visit.

The author Joan and her husband moved from Dallas to New Hampshire three years ago and are creating the home of their dreams – and it really is amazing.  I will post more pictures of this amazing master bath shortly – but don’t you just love the rug?

Beautiful!

Things I Love …

These rooms inspire me!

You can tell what your style is by the rooms that you are drawn to – rooms that inspire you.

The following rooms I love !

House Beautiful

House Beautiful

House Beautiful

I love the creamy white with the blue – so fresh and beach like.  And I love the look of comfort and country –

not too formal –

but still really beautiful to look at.

House Beautiful

House Beautiful

House Beautiful

Pink and brown – I love it!

House Beautiful

House Beautiful

Mellow Yellow

Yellow is a colour that is just like sunshine!

I have a lot of yellow on the walls in my house – with most of my first floor painted or wall papered in yellow!  Let the sunshine in!

My front hall has striped wall paper that my dad helped me put up a – we have done a lot of painting and papering in past days!

White daisies and yellow – beautiful

The bathroom pictured below is fantastic in yellow – white and yellow together are just so fresh! Take a close look at the wallpaper – the same used in the laundry room below as well!

 

Do you recognize this Farrow & Ball wallpaper?  I used the same paper in my power room in the apricot shade.

From entry halls…..

To furniture…..

 

Yellow can brighten up any space.

Think wallpaper….

Think paint….

Use yellow to bring in the sunlight to your life – even a small amount can make a huge impact!

And perhaps one of the most well know yellow rooms is this one……

The Obamas meet with the Crown Prince and Princess of the Netherlands in 2009 (White House - Samantha Appleton)

 

The first lady with Queen Rania of Jordan in 2009 (White House - Samantha Appleton)

 

The Yellow Oval Room in 2008 (C-SPAN)

Happy April!

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