Friday, December 31, 2010

Tea for a Winter Afternoon

I spent a wonderful afternoon tasting teas at my favourite tea shop in town, The World of Tea. What an antidote to the busyness of the holiday season. Crossing the threshold of The World of Tea, is like travelling to the Orient. L. and I were seated at the "Tea Ocean", a large table made from a tree, and served cup after cup of Asian teas.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Christmas Gift

Most Christmases I seem to end up decorating the Christmas tree by myself, but this year my sons decided that they would tackle the job together. We have lots of decorations to choose from and they decided on a blue and silver theme, selecting many of my vintage ornaments. My disco ball ornament isn't vintage but the memories it conjures certainly are! They also spent a great deal of time patiently stringing popcorn to drape as garlands. Best of all, they did this while I was out so that I came home to the wonderful surprise. This was definitely one of the more meaningful gifts I received this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Gift of Reading

One of the most treasured Christmas moments this year was undoubtedly the half hour or so one evening when my teenager sat and read a Dr. Seuss book to me. I was reading in the living room and he settled in a nearby chair to read the Dr. Seuss book he had come across after cleaning out his bookshelves. He started to read to himself, but then something made him chuckle and in the next instant he was reading aloud to me and turning the book to show me the illustrations every now and then. It was a lovely interlude, bringing back memories of so many evenings when sharing a book together was the only way to end the day.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas at 50% Off

These whimsical felt Christmas ornaments made in Nepal from New Zealand wool were found in a great little shop in Ottawa called Heavens to Betsy, bringing together three continents. I don't go in for the Boxing Day sale blowouts too much, but after Christmas I went back to buy them at half price. They are my favourites of all I came across this year. I feel inspired by them to try and create some of my own for next year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas

Christmas Day walk in the woods, led us to a special gift sighting.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Hope you are all having a Happy Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Evergreen Kissing Ball

Another project that I thought I would try, in order to use up some of the leftover boughs that I had cut for swags, was this evergreen kissing ball. Surprisingly simple to make, it started with a block of florist's oasis (a styrofoam ball would work too). After shaping the block into a round shape, I stuck spruce boughs into the foam all the way round. After it was covered, I glued some pinecones and orange coloured pods between the boughs at intervals. Last, I added a hook to tie a ribbon through and there it was, ready to hang!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Evergreen Garland

After my swag event, I was left with a small pile of cut boughs so I thought I would try making a garland with some of them. I overlapped each bough and tied it with some jute, then decorated the length with an assortment of dried natural materials, such as twig balls, pinecones and orange-coloured pods and berries. I also used some of the teapot cookies I made back in September when I was taking a course on Asian teas. I poked a hole in each cookie with a skewer, then threaded each cookie with some jute to tie it to the garland. I think the garland looks terrific hanging vertically, but would look just as nice hung horizontally over a window or door fram or from a mantle. I think I will offer this other version of a swag to my guests at next year's swag-making event.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Tip #2

Hate when the needles from your Christmas tree are all over the house, mashed into your carpet and sticking to the bottom of your socks? While there's no way to avoid them all together, you can reduce the number clogging up your vacuum. Most needles drop as you bring a real evergreen tree into the house and when you take it back out again. Before you bring your Chrismas tree into the house, wrap it in an old sheet, shower curtain or table cloth. As you bring it through the doors and wrestle it into place, you won't leave a trail of needles as you go, keeping clean-up to a minimum. The same goes for taking it out after Christmas, more so, since the drier the tree the more the needles will drop.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Even More Swagging...

I was delighted to receive these photos showing how the swag D. made at my swag-making afternoon looks on her door. The fresh boughs are the perfect embellishment to her charming log home, once a one-room school house. Aren't they the perfect pair? I'd like to think that perhaps a hundred years ago, a schoolteacher cut a few evergreen boughs and hung them in a similar manner to celebrate the season. Thanks for sending the photos and for your permission to put them here, D.!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gift Wrapping Has Begun

Finally getting some of my wrapping done. These gifts are all destined for the same friend so variations on a theme were used. I began by choosing the wrapping paper. Once that was decided, I pulled out my collection of ribbons and strings, all sorted by colour, so that I could see what would work with the paper. This time, I also made use of some natural and green-coloured jute. As an added touch, I decided to use the mini pinecones because they worked well with the natural feel of the paper. Instead of using tape, I glued the paper down making the package look a lot neater at the seams. To keep the gifts all together, I re-used a paper bag, covering up the store's name with a rectangle of my wrapping paper. Before glueing it on, I punched two holes and threaded a length of the green jute through to secure the pinecones. You could also use some dried flowers, a small branch, holly or other berries. A small ornament would work too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Winter Slog

The Winter Slog is officially here. Slogging is exactly what we were doing going to work this morning. Heads down to avoid the blowing snow, feet slogging through the snow piled up along the sidewalk. Commuters at the bus stop looking like people from Jean-Paul Lemieux paintings, not engaging with each other, wearing slightly shell-shocked expressions. Winter coats have appeared, tuques, hoods pulled up, scarves wrapped round, hands in pockets for those without gloves or mitts. Yes, unmistakably, the Winter Slog is with us.

Monday, December 13, 2010

More Swagging...

My swag-making event continued yesterday when M. and L. came over to make three swags. The top is one of theirs. I love the jaunty red bow placed to one side like that! I had lots of boughs left over from Saturday's event, so I was glad to have them put to use, and delighted to have M. and L. over to share what was a horrible weather day. I decided to make one with the blue spruce boughs keeping to a blue, grey, silver colour theme. I hung it on my blue fence, and if you are a regular reader then you know which blue fence I'm talking about!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Second Annual Swag-making Afternoon

Yesterday I played host to a swag-making afternoon. This is the second year I've invited friends over to make holiday swags for their doorways, so I can now say it's an annual event. I had gathered together all sorts of ribbon, ornaments and dried plant material in anticipation and there was more than enough to go round, so I made one for a friend who was away and then hung it at her doorway so that it will waiting to welcome and surprise her upon her return (top photo). The swag looks right at home against the softly worn bricks and her beautiful old wooden door. The middle swag is the one I made for my shed door, and the bottom one is the lovely creation of L. who just happens to live across the street from me. Delighted to see her swag up this morning, I ran over to take a snap of it in all its golden elegance. These swags stay fresh all winter, long after the holidays have faded away, and add a little visual interest to your front entrance, or wherever you choose to hang them.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pots of Fun

I love creating little vignettes and changing them regularly. I find it fun to play with objects that are already around the house, pulling them together in various ways. This grouping was inspired by the wee painting.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cha Yi Teahouse

Tea tasting at Cha Yi Teahouse is a treat for the senses: the aroma and taste of premium Asian teas, the heat of a cup of seeped tea in your hand, the sound of soothing music in the background and the sight of all the beautiful wares that stock the shelves.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Tip #1

Judging from the sheer number of holiday themed mugs for sale at the thrift shop, it's a safe bet to say that there aren't many people who want to find one under the tree. If you're going to give someone a mug this Christmas, perhaps you could consider giving one that doesn't have a seasonal design, that way the receiver can use it all year long. Who really wants something that is only used a couple of times a year taking up valuable cupboard space?