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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Passing Down the Christmas Spirit: Part 2

In Part 1, I told you a little bit about how the Christmas spirit was passed down to me from my maternal grandmother. Today, I want to tell you about my Dad's mother.

I'll be really honest, I don't have many memories of Christmas shared with my paternal grandparents. You see, when I was very young, they became "snowbirds" and would spend winters in Florida. And eventually they moved there year-round. Most of my memories of them when I was very young are summertime memories of when they would come north and spend weeks with us at a time. Or when we would spend time in their summer cottage on Lake Erie in Canada.

A picture I took of my Grandparents, my parents, and my sister on a visit to Florida. About 1980.


Since I was so young, I'm pretty sure most of the Christmas memories I do have are in my mind because of photographs I've seen and stories that have been told.....like the one about the Christmas when my sister ate too much of Grandma's Christmas fudge and, well....you can just imagine how badly THAT turned out.

And so when I found these photos from Christmas at their house, I was delighted. What treasures!

Me and my sister at Grandma and Grandpa's house on Christmas. I'm the short one.
 

Me and my Grandpa.


Nevertheless, my Grandmother still managed to instill some Christmas spirit and memories into me, my sister, and our cousins.  She did this through the special Christmas ornaments she hand-made for all of us.

I have memories during visits to our house, of her sitting in front of her "program" (General Hospital) and constantly working with her hands. She loved sewing and crafting and was always trying new things. One of the results was the collection of ornaments she made for us.

On my tree I have snowmen,



Christmas houses,



beaded bells,



and all the cousin's favorites....the felt chickens!



Last Christmas, one of us (I can't remember who) posted a picture of one of Grandma's chickens on their tree on Facebook. What unfolded was so sweet. We began talking about our ornaments and memories of Grandma making them. One cousin even shared how they always have a "Grandma tree" at their house.....a small tree that holds only those special ornaments made by her. Isn't that great?

The whole Facebook conversation made me think about how blessed I am to have had the influence of Grandparents in my life and what a heritage they have given us. I sit here with tears in my eyes writing about it.

So, my Grandma also passed down her Christmas spirit to me. Maybe not in the memories of Christmases spent together, but when I place those ornaments on the tree each year, I'm reminded of how important her family was to her and how much she loved each one of us. That is a true blessing indeed.


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Monday, December 15, 2014

2014 Christmas Home Tour: In The Kitchen

Happy Monday! As promised, I'm bringing you the second part of my Christmas home tour today.

C'mon in to the kitchen!


 
 
The table is set for Christmas breakfast.....which is really kind of funny. We have never sat down as a family for a big Christmas breakfast....ever! With celebrating our own family Christmas at home and then preparing to make the rounds to both Grandparents', we usually wind up having a quick Christmas cookie or maybe something leftover from our Christmas Eve gathering. But I wanted to set a pretty table for you today.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Over the last couple years I have fallen in love with these Better Homes & Gardens Christmas dishes from WalMart. Each year I've collected a few more pieces. This is the first year that, mixed in with my other china, I have enough to set a whole table. There are several different Christmas-y scenes on the salad plates.
 


 
 
 
 


I have a secret about my "tablecloth." I actually used rolls of Christmas wrapping paper to create my own tablecloth. Who has the money for those pricey ones that you only use once a year? It was a simple project.....well, except for having to wield an unruly roll of paper....and that whole "measure twice, cut once" thing. But really, I just rolled the paper out, taped it down in a couple spots to hold it secure while I traced around the oval shape of my table, and then cut it out. I even made a runner for my table. I loved the script paper I found in the Target Spot.


 
 
For my centerpiece, I used these fun red house lanterns that I got for 80% off at Target after Christmas last year. I surrounded them with some faux greenery and pinecones. Cute!
 
 




 The shelf above our table doesn't look that much different than last year. But a new addition is the platter that is part of the BH&G dishes.





My kitchen cart even got a quick little holiday makeover!


 

 
 
And it's all against the background of our December calendar on the chalkboard wall.
 

 
 
Over on the other side of the kitchen there are some Christmas touches as well....fresh and faux greenery mixed with some ironstone and pretty dishes.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I hope you enjoyed my little tour today. If you missed it, you can also check out Part 1 of this year's Christmas home tour. And last year's home tour is HERE.
 
Thanks for stopping by and Merry Christmas!





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Friday, December 12, 2014

A Quick Christmas Wreath Re-Do

Last year I posted about how one of our traditions is to put up Christmas lights inside and outside the house. Well, I'm just going to be honest here folks.....unfortunately it ain't happening this year. <sad face>  With the combination of a late Thanksgiving, lots of family birthdays, a wedding, and sick kids home from school, the time has gotten away from me.

I did manage to get a Christmas wreath put up on the door. I love this frosted berry wreath. I've had it for a few years and with the lighted garland and mini trees that I usually put out on the porch it looks fine. But all by itself it looks a little lonely and said, don't you think?

 

 
 
The other day when I was supposed to be Christmas shopping at Target, I found this cute Christmas sign. I knew I could do something with it, so I brought it home. This was the perfect project.
 
 
 
 
I gathered together my wreath, the sign, and some burlap ribbon I already had at home.
 
 
 
 
Ten minutes later, my wreath was transformed into this.....
 
 
 
 
A wreath that can stand alone on the door.




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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2014 Christmas Home Tour: The Mudroom And Living Room

Greetings and welcome to the first part of my Christmas home tour!  I took so many photos that I decided to divide up my tour. Today we'll look at the mudroom and living room and next week I'll show you the kitchen.

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If you're here for the first time...welcome!

I'm so excited to be joining Jennifer Rizzo's Holiday House Walk link party. Did you see all the amazing homes in last week's House Walk? Oh my! Such inspiration! Make sure to take a look at all the other amazing home tours that are being linked up this week.

Now normally I would off you a hot beverage when you arrive. And today....everyone gets a squirt of hand sanitizer on the way out as well. Ha! Yep, I have sick kiddos at home this week. Fever, stuffy noses, coughing.....blech! Seems that there is a bug going around their whole school district. Having the kids home made my little Christmas photo shoot a bit of a challenge as well. I'm quite sure you didn't want to see kids bundled up on the couch or thermometers and medication taking up room on the kitchen counter. But I did my best!

So let's start with our mudroom!

 
 
I love these little trees that I purchased at Target a couple years ago. I use them differently each year. This time I "planted" one in an old galvanized bucket and dressed it up with some burlap and ribbon. You'll see another one in my kitchen in the second part of my tour.
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 
Let's move into the living room. I love tradition and I use most of my decorations from year to year in different ways, with maybe something new thrown in. This year I used a lot of the ironstone that I've accumulated over the last few months.
 
I also generously used fresh greens from our back yard. I MAY have gone a little overboard....NAH!
 
As much as I enjoy seeing other homes decorated with non-traditional colors or neutrals, I love to decorate with the traditional colors. I always find myself drawn to some black and white with pops of red, real or faux greenery, and a little bit of sparkle as well.
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 



 
 
Our mantel and hearth are pretty much the same as last year. I did add a couple little ironstone syrup pitchers with some pine.
 
 

 
 

 
 
I also added these little chalkboard tags with our names to our stockings. You may remember seeing them on my Thanksgiving table as name cards. After Thanksgiving they quickly made their way over to the stockings. I didn't even have to rewrite our names!
 


 
 
 
Some more pine and ironstone.
 

 



 
 

 
 
And our tree....covered with ornaments that mean so much to us because of the memories they hold.
 

 
 

 
 
So that's it for this part of the tour. Join me next week for a peek at my Christmas kitchen.
 
You can click HERE for a look at my Christmas tour from last year too.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Passing Down The Christmas Spirit - Part 1

I think we've pretty much established that I love to decorate our home for Christmas. Some people look at it as a chore, some look at it as an expectation, and others choose not to do anything it at all. For me, it is a joy. (Not to say that I wasn't exhausted the other day when I was all done.) but I love doing it, I really do.

I also love to Christmas shop (although I am VERY behind this year.) I love to buy thoughtful gifts for people. I try really hard not to buy something for someone just for the sake of giving them a gift. I love to give gifts that are thought out based on what I know somebody really wants or needs.

I've said before that my parents always made Christmas special for us. From the tree to the decorations to the gifts to special times together with family and friends....as a kid, it was a magical time. I have wonderful memories of Christmases past. 

Over the years I've also realized that a lot of how I feel about the celebration of Christmas was passed down to me from my Gramma. (Yes, I know that's not how you spell it, but that's what she was. Not Grandma or Grandmaw....just my Gramma.)

She loved Christmas! It would actually all begin on Thanksgiving day. By then she had received the Sears and J.C. Penney Christmas catalogs in the mail. It was a given that we would write out a wish list for her to shop from. So my sister and I would pour over the catalogs and make our lists.....dog-earing pages, circling toys we hoped for, writing down sizes. Then we would have to explain our list to Gramma, so she knew EXACTLY what she was looking for when she went to the store. We didn't have extravagant Christmases. We didn't get everything on the list. But what we received from our grandparents came directly from those lists we made because Gramma knew it was our hearts desire (at least for that year anyways) and she loved to make us feel special.



(I'm sure my mom has lots of pictures of Christmases past with Gramma, but this is the only one I could find that I had. It made me laugh though because this was so typical. Gramma was down on the floor, making sure all the grandchildren's gifts were passed out.)

And the house would be decorated too. Usually it was the same decorations that were pulled out, including the many ceramic figures that Gramma had painted. There was a Santa that played "Jingle Bells," and a set of carolers, amongst others. Every year she would buy a new ornament or two to add to the tree. Part of the tradition was that when we arrived at their house we had search the tree to find the new ornaments for that year.
 
She also did a lot of baking and  bought lots of candy for Christmas. It was also tradition that on Christmas Day, it was my and my sisters job to arrange all the cookies and candy in special Christmas dishes that she had also painted in ceramics class. Maybe that is why I love Christmas dishes so much.

We would have a big Christmas meal and the main dish was roast beef. Always. (And I've discovered over the years, that is not common.)  Gramma would send Grampa to the meat market (not the big chain grocery store) ....where they knew the butchers by name....to buy the roast for Christmas.

We had a lot of traditions and it was always very special. Gramma put her heart into  every detail. She passed down her spirit of Christmas to everyone in our family. I miss her often, but never so much as at Christmastime.




And so I do what I do at Christmas, not to try to impress anyone or because I feel like I have to. I do it because I love my family. I was given a great gift from my parents and grandparents and I hope that someday my children will realize that I passed the Christmas spirit on to them as well.
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