11.30.2015

The Magic of Christmas…Decorating Part I


As the blessing of another memorable Thanksgiving with family and friends passes by, I have found myself surrounded by the magic of Christmas!


The mantel is decorated with natural elements like vintage flocked 
deer, pine cones, and sprigs of cedar. And boy do I ADORE my new Shutterfly stockings! They are the perfect size for Santa to fill with all sorts of goodies! They are made of such a nice textured linen like fabric with a soft velvet top. I love that we were able to personalize them with family photos. I just know these will become family heirlooms. How special to think that our children will bring these with them to their own homes someday. (If I ever let them leave :)


I found that the words JOY, PEACE and LOVE represent the true meaning of Christmas to our family; so it was easy for me to pick a stocking design from Shutterfly that evokes meaning.  



The cord trim offsets the velvet with such elegance.


Such memories these photos bring forth! Favorite vacations, first days
 of school, a walk on the beach, brothers and sisters…how wonderful to find the
 perfect finishing touches for the mantel.


Next I moved into the dining room where I started preparing for
cozy gatherings with family and friends, as well as for nightly family dinners.


I like to have gifts on hand for friends' impromptu visits, or to use as hostess or teacher gifts. I was able to personalize candles at Shutterfly with one of our own photos. Of course I chose a garden photo,( it's amazing what you can do when playing with white clover!)  Doesn't the photo we chose look perfect on the candle? And I love that the candles are made of soy wax and essential oils. The grapefruit blossom smells amazing! I took them out of their (sturdy) boxes and wrapped them up with cellophane and a holiday ribbon. In the meantime, they are decorating my dining room buffet!


I also couldn't resist these personalized mason jars. Shutterfly has many designs to choose from. I thought it was fun to use our town name with our state abbreviation. The jars are glass, and a nice heavy 16 oz. They will be perfect on a chilly night for a hot buttered rum or hot cocoa ( and will work well for icy cold lemonade in the summer!)


But my favorite new piece for the dining room was this personalized runner from Shutterfly. What's more fun that splashing family photos across your holiday table for dinner parties, cupcake snacks while decorating the tree, and everyday meal time?! I love that it has already become a conversation piece….allowing us to reminisce with family and friends.



Phew! That's what I have done so far! 
I'll keep you posted as I continue to fill our home with the magic and 
beauty of the holiday season. Hope you'll follow along!



I have been compensated by Shutterfly for this post; however the opinions are my own.

11.26.2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always had a rumbly tumbly feeling of excitement as Thanksgiving approaches. There is something ever so special about family and friends gathering together ‘round a table of home-cooked food, sharing stories and laughter.

Mom and Dad always hosted Thanksgiving. Way before they had a dining room set, we lined up folding tables and celebrated. Mom would let me write the nametags and set the tables. I was also in charge of the pickle trays and stuffed celery, always arranged in the sparkly glass dishes Mom had received as wedding gifts many years before.

Years have passed, but we still head back to Mom and Dad’s house for this special day. We each cook a few sides and the pieces of the puzzle mesh perfectly once we all arrive. The house smells just like it should and the chatter and excitement still fill the air.

Today will be different. Dad will not be there in his chair. Our first Thanksgiving without him. I have a lump in my throat as I write this. But I will force myself, not to wallow in sadness and loss today, but to remember the years of thanks that came before…years filled with family and football and an endless stream of pies.

Happy Thanksgiving.

11.22.2015

Grandma O'Malley


When someone is born on Christmas Day, there is something extra special about them. At least I think so. To share that blessed day must be reserved for a special few.




Grandma O'Malley was born on Christmas Day back in 1898. She had beautiful soft, pure white hair worn neatly tucked in a bun. She only wore dresses. Every day. And she made amazing cakes filled with layers of creamy chocolate or smeared with gobs of orange pulpy frosting.




She was always kind and sometimes quiet...sometimes chatty. She would always dry the dishes after Sunday dinner at Mom and Dad's house. She would stay into the evening and watch Lawrence Welk with us. She tolerated my dancing on the wood between the parlors, something I'm not so sure my four siblings wholeheartedly appreciated :)



She lived on the third floor of a black tenement. Her home smelled of Sunday roasts and had a huge farmhouse sink that I coveted even as a little girl. Only now do I realize how out of place that sink was, way up high in this triple decker home overlooking a schoolyard in the city.


She had cellophane wrapped sour balls in a glass candy dish on her kitchen table…right near the radio.




I'd sit on the prickly textured armchair and look out at the schoolyard . A drone's eye view of the world down below was silhouetted by her palest of pink Christmas cactus. 


Years later, long after her passing, Dad brought me a piece of her cactus. It's blooming now. Rubbery leaves give way to delicate blossoms filled with hot pink stamens and childhood memories.


Did I mention that Grandma O'Malley also passed on Christmas Day,  eighty some odd years after her birth on that blessed day?  Her legacy is on my windowsill, framing the life that surrounds it….children laughing….frosted cakes….and endless chatter.




11.18.2015

Walking Hand in Hand

We are stuck in between seasons here in Massachusetts.
Caught in a seasonal purgatory.






Sandwiched somewhere between the time of endless blossoms and abundant snowfall.


I don't think I am the only one who notices this strange in-between phase. 
It sneaks up on us as the last golden leaf falls…silent and unrepenting...





It is a time where embracing a neutral world becomes quite thrilling.



A time when the shoe polish colors of my childhood come to life…tan…cordovan…cognac…winter grape...




It is an interval of sorts, a path to another place...



…or another time...



…a field of yellow….a barren wood...






It is transition and solitude waking hand in hand.




11.03.2015

Returning to the Earth


Autumn in New England.







Since we turned the clocks back, I feel like I spend my time chasing the light.








The woods beyond the garden block the late afternoon sun, but I cannot be too upset, as the sunlight streaming in a dappled spotlight through the branches is awfully pretty.










Temps in the 60's in November, green grass contrasting perfectly with the changing leaves, bronze fennel bursting with life, morning glories giving their seeds to the earth....what's not to love?


11.01.2015

Slow it down….


I planted the dahlias on my Dad's birthday in May. We shared them as a favorite flower, and it was kind of my way of saying "I miss you". When none of them flowered I was a bit down. I picked the lone bud and brought it in. It is slowly opening, each day comforting me with a bit more joy. And here is where my life lesson presented itself. Perhaps I expect more than I should at times. Perhaps my expectations, especially for myself, need to be scaled back and slowed down a bit. Perhaps I need to let life just happen instead of spending so much time wishing and hoping. I'm ok if this is as far as this dahlia opens. It's beautiful. And I know my dad would think so too.

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