Thursday, December 31, 2009

Back and Forth

New Year's Eve. A time when one quite naturally looks back on the past but also has one looking to the future at what lies ahead. Time travels backwards and forwards. Which brings me to pine cone magic. I used to think that once pine cones had opened up, that was that. But I recently learned otherwise. Dried pine cones can open and close, seemingly going back and forth in time. Don't take my word for it though. Give it a try. Take an open pine cone and place it in water. In a couple of hours it will close up tight. Out of the water it will open again after about a half a day. Magic!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Simply Elegant

Some of the loveliest and most effective decorations are the most simple. What could be simpler then some small birch logs in plain glass vase? Very elegant, uncomplicated, yet sophisticated.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Pin-ups

You might remember these painted clothespins from my March 30th and 31st posts where they made doing the laundry a little more colourful and light-hearted. Here's another idea for using painted clothespins. Along with some ribbon or coloured cord, they can be a fun way to hang up your Christmas cards. You can use the old-fashioned ones or the more modern wooden ones. I added some big buttons as decoration, but you could also embellish the painted pins with more festive choices, such as bits of holly, bows, pine cones, or small Christmas ornaments.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Characters

These two charming gentlmen were made by my mother, from paper, fabric, bits of string, wool, and modelling compound. She says they shaped themselves as she was making them, not having a clear idea of how they should look beforehand. I think they are inspired and full of character. I especially like the bundle of wood that reminds me of the line in the carol, "when a poor man came in sight, gathering winter fuel".

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ice Wonders

Boxing Day brought us freezing rain that coated everything with a thick layer of ice, reminiscent of the 1998 Ice Storm. Fortunately the electricity didn't go out as it did then.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

A few details from our tree... some vintage, some new, some homemade and some family favourites. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Deck the Halls

I shared a couple of photos of my mantlepiece decorating back when I had my swag party at the beginning of December. I added a few more things before Christmas, such as the pinecones and twig balls.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Puzzling Decor

A wee wooden vintage puzzle from Britain with a fun winter scene. Just about anything can be part of a Christmas decorating scheme. I put the puzzle pieces out on a side table and sure enough one of the boys was compelled to put it together.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Adorning the Landscape

There is beautiful dried plant material to be found in contrast to the snow and blue skies this time of year. Gardeners seem to be of two kinds. Some like to have a tidy fall garden and cut everything down to ground level, others like to wait until spring to cut everything down so that there’s some visual interest in the garden over winter. Of course in the wild, the plants are left on their own to adorn the landscape.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Shortest Day of the Year

It's winter solstice , the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year. The Scandinavians burned yule logs in the belief that it would make the sun brighter (the sun's rebirth). Lighting these candles was my way of bringing some light into the darkest day of the year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Elves That I Have Known

Back in the 60's whenever my uncle visited at Christmas he would bring elves as gifts. My mom gave a few to me and a few to my sister. I'm not sure what happened to them all, as I seem to only have three left. The elves my uncle brought to us seemed to get nicer each year. I think one of the last ones is my favorite, the red-haired green elf pictured here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thrift-shop Santas

Some more thrift-shop vintage Christmas finds. The sweet old Saint Nick with his green bag and huge brown hat is only about an inch and a half high. He has a lovely beard and a wonderful red bead nose. The trio of Santa-like creatures look rather female, despite the white beards. All three still clutch a tree branch but only the middle one still has the tinsel embellishment on the bottom of the robe

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fire and Ice

Not quite as cold today, but cold enough to freeze shut the back door of the bus I was on, so that everyone had to exit by the front. And oh when you sit down, you can feel the cold from the outside of your coat permeate all the way through to your skin.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Squeaky Snow

I knew it was cold as soon as I left home this morning, even before I checked to see the temperature: minus 19 degrees celsius, minus 29 with windchill. And how did I know how cold it was after only a few steps? It was the sound of the snow underfoot. The snow squeaked. And when it squeaks, you know it is cold! I once heard that in the days of the old radio shows, the sound of footsteps in the snow was created by pressing down on corn starch.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jute Ornaments

What do you think of these jute Christmas balls I made last night? They are easy to make so I thought I would share the instructions with you.
Styrofoam balls of various sizes
Wire or hairpins
Jute (string, cord or wool)
White glue
Knitting needle or pencil
Straight pins

1. Push a hairpin or bent wire into a styrofoam ball. You can coat the pin with glue first to keep it from coming loose over time. Hairpins are great because they already have a formed loop and can be cut down to size with scissors so they don’t protrude from the bottom of the ball.
2. With a knitting needle or pencil, poke a hole at the top of the ball underneath the wire loop. Place some glue in the hole and poke the end of the jute into the hole to hide the end from sight. Pin in place until dry.
3. Add glue to the ball and start winding the jute around and around, stopping to pin it in place every now and then. Change colours as you go, if you wish, to create different patterns.
4. Once you have reached the bottom of the ball, make another hole in the centre, add glue, cut the jute and poke the end of the jute into the hole. Once again, this hides the end of the jute from sight, creating a seamless finish.
5. Once glue is dry, take out the straight pins.
6. Thread a ribbon through the wire loop and tie into a bow. Or tie a ribbon loop in order to hang your ornament without using a metal hanger.
7. Make some more!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Quintet

Look at this lovely thrift-shop quintet. They are vintage ornaments made of spun cotton. They were in a bargain grab bag along with odds and sods: ribbons, chipped ornaments and other assorted items. But it was this fabulous five that I was after. Three snow gentlemen complete with top hats, and one handsome snow lady with a Santa-type hat and small tree. One of the gentleman seems to have misplaced his broom, but all the fellows still have their pipe-cleaner pipes clenched in their mouths. I love their cheery red noses. The wee angel on the end has a lovely sparkly pick dress and pink wings. She holds up a tree as well, but its her curly bright yellow hair and pursed lips that are so sweet.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Homespun Christmas

Despite yesterday's post about adding some glitter to your holiday decorating, I really like the homespun style of decorating for Christmas. Homemade decorations, natural materials, country style... all of these creative a warm and cozy old-fashioned feeling. That was what I liked about this hand-carved Santa.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Instant Glitter

Here's an idea you see everywhere this year. If you have some clear containers why not fill them with Christmas balls? It is a really quick way to create decorations that look festive and pack a lot of punch.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Snow Shock

Bloomin' heck! We've had our first snowstorm of the season. Started Tuesday night and continued through Wednesday. And then yesterday, look what confronted me as I made my way back to work at lunch after heading down to the shops. What a beginning! First day in the snow and already I've had enough.

Just look at that pile. Looks even more daunting in the second photo at closer range, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cranberry Hearts

Cranberries threaded onto wire make lovely homespun decorations. If left indoors, the cranberries gradually shrivel and dry up and can last a surprisingly long time. Outdoors, they freeze and remain plump, but turn to mush once they thaw out. So if you use them for outside decoration then prepare to toss them once the warmer weather arrives.