December 21, 2014

Hola darlings! As abnormally cold as November was, December is turning out to be abnormally warm! No White Christmas this year at Maison Newton, but I'll take 40 degrees F and rain any day over 3o below zero and a foot of snow! I noticed yesterday I turned on the tree lights and and the rest of the Christmas decorations by 4 p.m., Holy Hathor! I am in full holiday mode, but not cooking like I was in 2013. Maybe it was just a strange phase of the Moon??? I decided I hate my front porch. Something has to be done with it. Don't know what, there's no budget, as I'm planning on taking a (3 years) early retirement as early as I can realize my strategic plans in 2015. I'll figure something out (so she bravely writes...) Happy Holidays and a wonderful and blessing-filled New Year to everyone!

Jan

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Trees with a Twist

Hola!

Love this idea!  I found this one at Urban Outfitters' blog:


U.O. put pinned or taped their lights and decorations directly to the wall.  For renters, though, this might not work so well.  What I'm thinking is that it would be easy enough to draw a tree on a large sheet of paper or tape several sheets of paper together and then decorate the seams, or cut a tree shape from corrugated cardboard and maybe cover in cloth -- something that could be taped to the wall and taken down with no damage to or holes (no matter how tiny) put in the wall.  Up it goes, and decorate away.

I found this Christmas made out of pillows at World Inside Pictures blog (22 Unusual Clever DIY Christmas Tree Ideas).  Unfortunately, it linked to a website written in French, but not to the specific post at the website, and I was not able to find it -- so, cite with caution, because I found the same image at several different websites, none of which appear to be the original source and all in different foreign languages:


As a book fanatic, LOVE this bookshelf tree from Swiss Miss -- so clever:


I found another clever use of books or thick catalogs (are there still such things -- I grew up ooohing and aaahing every year over fat catalogs from Sears, Spiegel and J.C. Penney!) at Lush Home, along with several interesting ideas for creating Christmas "trees:"


I found this tree at Organized Clutter blog via Pinterest.  With all the unsolicited junk mail I receive, I'd have enough to make a very BIG tree in practically no time at all, and wouldn't have to commit the ultimate sacrilege of tearing a book apart:

Bed Curtains Are Up!

I was able to get the bed curtains ironed and installed on December 6, as I knew Gayle's granddaughters would love them!

Are those curtains on your bed, Josie asked.  Yes, they're tie-on curtains that I used to drape the bed.  I got the idea from a picture I found online, I said.  Both girls then demanded to see the picture.  I produced it for them.

Mimi O'Connell design, picture from Cote de Texas blog (previously posted).
This looks different, Josie said, and Sophia nodded.  Yes, they are different.  But in this small room, I didn't want to put up curtains that would take up too much space.  [I didn't mention there was no way I could ever afford to hang what appear to be custom-made silk shatung or similar tie-on draperies spilling lavishly to the floor and held in place by gigantic gold tassels.]  Both girls nodded sagely.




I'm thinking about doubling up the curtains on those two corners, as I have a second pair.  Right now my thinking is that having four corner curtains would be too much for the space, even though these curtains are sheer voile.  They are very nice curtains, by the way, am so glad I found them at Amazon.com.  They are machine wash/dry and iron like a dream.  I had a harder time balancing on the mattress to get the curtains up than getting the ties more or less the same distance from the bedframe "rod" to which they're tied.  Once I got the hang of it the curtains went up quickly.  They are 95" long and 59" wide -- and they don't make it all the way down to the floor.  To add a little Christmas bling, I hung a satin and glitter champagne ornament to each tie to hold the curtains in place.

It's almost finished!  The last chore remaining to get my mistress bedroom in shape is to finish the mini gallery wall.  Well, also to start saving for some new area rugs.  I had thought faux sheepskin, but haven't seen anything that's rung my chimes.  I like the real thing -- the thought of my feet sinking into such a rug every morning or evening as I get in and out of bed is very tempting; but then I saw some beautiful grey and white oriental-styles that made me salivate.  We'll see.

And Yet More Christmas Reveals Around Maison Newton

Hola everyone!

I'm home today because overnight we got rain that turned to sleet and then to sheer ice covering the sidewalks.  I made it as far as the end of my driveway, slipping a few times, and knew there was no way I could safely walk the half mile to the bus stop to get to work.  A gal my age has to keep herself safe, first and foremost.  Taking a spill on the ice at 63 isn't something I take lightly.  If I went down and seriously injured myself -- don't even want to think about it.

Anyway, it's dank, dark and dreary out there; the ice is slowly melting but still not 100% gone.


Soon I'll be looking for cardinals online and printing out some vertical prints to replace the autumn-toned prints in the frames flanking the patio door. In this photo is the centerpeice of live greens with a scented candle that I've purchased the past few years from the Boy Scouts.  Candy is held in a glass dish in the shape of a Christmas tree (but the overflowing candy obscures the small dish's shape), framed cardinal greeting card in the background; the copper framed cardinal greeting card has since been replaced with my red, white and black Northwood Cottage cardinal plate; a cardinal snow globe in the shape of a lantern, and my first greeting card of the season.  Resting atop one the largest wood cannister in the background is a little votive holder, Mama snowman and little boy snowman, peering into the "fire."  I tried to get a close-up of it but none of them turned out (too blurry and shaky).






Love this cardinal plate, found at TJ Maxx some years ago.



Squirrels and birds abound in this household.



Another framed cardinal greeting card -- do you see the pair -- one on the park bench, one on the snow next to it?





The main floor bathroom received some Christmas cheer, too:




Sunday, December 7, 2014

More Christmas "Reveals" at Maison Newton III

Hola!

I fluffed up the new 4 foot tall artificial trees with lights (in urns, woo woo! -- you caught a glimpse of them hiding out in a corner of my dinette --)


destined for the front porch, and got them looking all spiffy.  Hauled them out to the front stoop, unwrapped the outdoor power cord I bought yesterday at Walgreens, plugged everything in and - voila - NOTHING.

Oh poop.

I was racing against sundown, which comes before 4:30 p.m. in these parts these days, geez.  CAN'T WAIT FOR SOLSTICE when the days will start to get longer, a few minutes each day.  In 30 days of December 21, we'll have gained an hour and a bit more sunlight, thank Goddess!

Didn't work. Not a fricking flicker.  ARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!  The trees are so cute and would look pretty lit up!  I really wanted them to light up this evening and introduce the new neighborhood to Maison Newton style, ahem.  I tried several different things and nothing worked.  I may just resort to battery-operated lights.

Although the big Christmas tree reveal is past, here are  photos of how I decorated the rest of Maison Newton III.  There may be a tweak or two upcoming but, basically, this is it.

P.S.  Decided it's ridiculous to keep referring to the "FORMER" Maison Newton, as if it had died and gone to House Heaven.  So now it's Maison Newton I (first house bought in 1986, sold in 1989), Maison Newton II (second house, stick built and moved into in August 1990, closed on sale June 30, 2014), and Maison Newton III (1956 one story rancher with a smaller lot and much smaller footprint, my retirement home, closed on buy June 30, 2014).

Here come the photos!


Above:  The new gel-fuel fireplace/mantel, decked out for the holidays, and the old coffee table with its minimalistic decorations -- gold pine cone pics amidst the Norfolk pine and the silver-colored ceramic deer I bought last year at Walgreens.



Photo above, the bookcase niche decorated for Christmas with votives, flameless candles, and a few other Christmas trinkets.



A closer look at one of the bookcase niche shelves:  mercury glass votive, a Christmas trinket box holding station underneath Xena Warrior Princess' horse, and an ornament/music box.  The trinket box and the ornament/music box were both gifts from investment club members in prior years.



Above, left side of the mantel.  I took Coz Roxanne's advice and removed the porcelain church and added a low dish of ornaments; I introduced height and rhythm with the tall mercury glass votives.  I bought them at Kirkland's online a few years ago and they were such a deal; I believe I paid $19.99 on sale for the set of three.  Hanging just beneath the mantel are some jingle-bells I picked up at The FamilyDollar last weekend.  The light blue and silvery colors go well in the living room.



The mantel from the right side.  I did not want to put too much on the mantel -- it's smaller than the one I had at Maison Newton II and not as deep.  This mercury glass candle stand is a favorite find from TJ Maxx a few years ago.  It anchors the space with a flameless candle atop but doesn't crowd the t.v., balancing out the trio of tall votive holders on the other side.



A lot of wow for little effort!  There's not much simpler than piling some ornaments in a pretty glass dish, and this worked so well in the space.  They are mini-ornaments in satin white, shiny silver, one satin gold and one shiny gold.  Some of the ornaments have white curling ribbon strung through them -- adds a little frou-frou.  The mini-size ornaments I used to fill the glass dish are just right, I think; 2" diameter ornaments may have been a bit too large for the space and I wouldn't have been able to pile as many of them in the dish.



The tree and the counter, view from patio door (see opening paragraphs, above).

The lantern on the left was purchased at TJ Maxx a few years ago, it was $20.

The deer duo in the center are faux wood and were $9.99 each at Walgreen's.  In design, they are similar to beautiful gilded deer I've seen at Gumps online for $128 for a pair.  Holy Hathor! Soooo glad I added them to my Christmas decor.  I first saw them last Christmas but by the time I made up my mind to spend $10 for each one, they were all gone.  I think the deer look organic with their "wood" finish and work fine on wood countertop, while giving a nod to continuity with some contrast to the little silver-colored ceramic deer trio I bought last year at Walgreen's for my 2013 mantel.  It's hard to make out, but in-between the deer duo is an elegant brass ornament holder and a beautiful blown-glass rainbow-colored finial ornament.  It was a gift from one of our investment club gift swaps a few years ago.

The tall brass candlestick on the right with the glass hurricane cover were purchased more than 25 years ago at the former Gimbels downtown store.  How I miss Gimbels!  The candle is a vanilla-scented pillar -- it's not going to last until Christmas, LOL! It smells so good when lit, but it is burning down quickly as it is lit every night.  Can you believe it started life at 8 inches tall?



The view from the living room into the kitchen.  The former owner, Mrs. "Seller," installed the vinyl print saying above the pass-through:  "In all things of nature, there is something of the MARVELOUS -- Aristotle."  I couldn't agree more.  This view is one of my favorite views in the house. It overlooks the dining table (minus computer and stacks of papers for this day) straight out into my back yard and beyond.  It faces east, so I get good light, especially in the summer.

Below, a photo of the show-stopping tree topper I fretted over and came up with a solution late Saturday evening December 6 by adding the bling -- three gold colored picks from prior years I discovered in a box marked "tree topper stuff."  LOL!  I'm not showing you the tree topper in this photo because I'm crazy about it but this photo shows the bird sitting on top of the bookcase (china) hutch in the background to the right.  She's the Queen of Heaven in her dove form, crowned in gold, and she sits upon the highest perch in the room, surveying all below.  



She sparkles -- tried to get a close up without getting on a ladder -- ssttrreettcchh:



Not such a good photo, it's not all sparkly like she is!



I'm living with the wall color on the living room "accent wall" until spring 2015, then it's sooooo gone...  Oops, I see I caught my reflection in the mirror back of the hutch, geez!  You'd think by now I'd know better.  I look rather like a Peruvian mummy in that reflection, hmmm...

More to come, but not tonight -- it's 9 p.m. and one of my t.v. favorites, Revenge, is coming on.

Christmas Tree Finished In Time! Christmas Tree Reveal

Whew!  Hola everyone.

The 2014 version of our investment club's Christmas get-together came and went successfully!  I'm happy to say that, despite my anxiety over being able to bring a decent-looking tree together yesterday, the Christmas tree was a big hit with young and young at heart.  We had a wonderful breakfast out and then our gift exchange back at my place, seated around the tree.

Gayle's granddaughters got a tour of this new Maison Newton and gave me their seal of approval.  Ahhhhh, vindication!  The older granddaughter, Josie, pronounced "I like it" in a very decided fashion.  I said well, it's not as big as my former house, but it's okay for me.  Josie said "It's bigger than my house."  That took me aback for a second, I have to tell you.  Yes, things must be tight in a 3-bedroom rancher that is less than 1,000 square feet for a family of four with two growing girls.  Dad must feel way outnumbered, too.  I've got an abundance of space by comparison with my 1,073 square feet plus the wreck room and all the extra storage in the garage and covered storage behind the garage, and truly, the former Maison Newton with its two stories and huge yard was getting to be more than I wanted to handle at this stage of my life.  A few years from now, maybe I wouldn't be able to handle it at all!  So, I said to myself, "Self, stop bitching and moaning about your lack of space here, and just deal with it."  Message to Self received.

Without further ado - the GREAT CHRISTMAS TREE REVEAL!   Lots of pictures. I'm not the best photographer, and my camera is "old" (2005) - probably considered an antique by now; I've never learned how to use it properly despite reading the directions many times, and my hands shake sometimes, too.

THE TREE - TA DA!

View of the tree from the dinette/dining area.



Another view of the tree from the dinette area, near the patio door.


One Christmas several years ago (I don't even remember when, me bad!), Mr. Don surprised me with a trinket he'd found on the street near his Montreal apartment.  It was a silouette in stamped metal of the beautiful Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. Nefertiti is still considered one of the most beautiful women to ever have lived, and if you've ever seen a portrait of her bust excavated from the dry sands of Egypt, you'd understand why.  She is a Helen of Troy a thousand years before Helen of Troy was even a gleam in her daddy's eye.  Thousands of people flock each year to the museum in Germany that holds the original sculpture/bust of Nefertiti.  When Mr. Don presented me with this little treasure (he'd even cleaned it up!), I was so touched! He didn't have to say it, I knew then that I was the most beautiful woman in the world to him.

Another Christmas, Mr. Don presented me with a tartan pin that his twin sister bought for him as a souvenir at Castle Duart in Scotland, the ancestral home of the McLeans.  I had done their family tree for them and was able to trace their McLean ancestry back to the 1700s, but no further.  He wanted me to have the tartan pin as a keepsake.  It's been treasured ever since.  

Ach, getting all sentimental here.  Anyway, Nefertiti has been on the tree every year since she was given to me, and when Mr. Don gave me the McLean tartan pin, it was a natural pairing, with a glass heart in between. I really am sentimental :)  It's a little hard to see her in the photo, above, but Nefertiti (me) is there, in front of the sparkly silver snowflake, the heart is center, to the right of "me", and Mr. Don, represented by his tartan pin, is upper right of the glass heart.  I miss you, Mr. Don.  He passed away in his sleep, unexpectedly, on October 12, 2012.

I don't relay this information to be a downer, hope you don't think that, anyone who read this.  He was such a special person in my life for over 13 years, and there's not a day goes by I don't miss him and my heart aches.  But life goes on, and life can be a powerful force for good.  When I see those little trinkets on my tree, I always smile, because our good times were very good.  They're front and center on the tree this year so I am constantly seeing them.

Some close-ups of the rest of the tree:






A close-up of one of the feathered and glittered birds I bought from Gump's on clearance a few years ago.  The faux-filagreed snowflake ornament near the center of the photo is one of four on the tree (one is placed on the "side" of the tree facing each direction) that were hung from the mantel in 2012 and 2013 at Maison Newton II. I bought them during a sale at Boston Store (half off plus another 40% off with coupon) and love, love, love them!  

This year I went all out and put both the feather boas and the long faux partridge feathers on the tree at the same time -- like I said in Saturday night's post -- Sputnik!  But I knew it would work once I was able to get the top of the tree together.  

I knew I wanted to keep the tree "simpler" this year - ha! - and I am proud to tell you that I actually stashed a number of boxes of unused ornaments back down in the basement storage area - miracle! I'm so happy with how it turned out.  Originally I was thinking I'd go more of a "natural/rustic" direction this year - birds, feathers, pinecones, snowflakes.  Not sure this tree qualifies as a natural/rustic look, but it works for me :) and, as I noted way at the beginning, it was a big hit with my guests!  So happy!

Here's the blinged-up tree topper, once I discovered the box that had some gold sprays I used on one (or more) prior year's trees:



I was up really late on December 6, into the early morning hours, trying to pull this all together for the December 7 get-together (which was originally scheduled for December 14!), and very happy with how the tree turned out, especially the topper :)

If you would like to see more of my Christmas decor for Maison Newton III, please check out the next post. (Hint: I explain about the white dove perched on the china hutch/bookcase in the photo above -- you can just make her out in the background).

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Crazy Christmas Tree!

Hola darlings!

I am in a mad-dash countdown to tomorrow morning when the investment club ladies and two special young lady visitors will be here to celebrate our club gift exchange and talk about our Christmas plans.  My house must be ready!

It seemed like a good idea at the time...  Sputnik "natural" feathered tree,
waiting for ornaments (don't think they'll help much).
I would like to say that I've been working like a whirlwind every night after work for a week to whip this house into holiday company shape, but that would not be the truth.  The truth is, these days when I get home from the office I'm so pooped out it is sometimes all I can do to stay up until 10 p.m., and not a whole lot gets done.

However, I have been making little pushes here and there since last weekend.  And I've made progress.  Except for the mini gallery wall in my bedroom (I will tackle that tonight while the Wisconsin Badgers football game is on) and figuring out how to tie up and drape the bed curtains that I ironed and hung up this morning (they are sheer voile tie-ons, and very pretty), the mistress bedroom is almost ready!

I do love the look of those long faux feathers and the glitzy boas.
Probably not together, though.  Oh well. 
And the den/library has furniture in place, too!  I got up at 5:20 a.m. every day through yesterday this week and heaved and shoved the pieces around until I was more or less satisfied.  (Today I slept in until 6:30 a.m.)  There's too much furniture in too little of a space but the one item I'd like to remove (the cedar chest) is too heavy for me to carry down to the wreck room on my own.  There is also a little file cabinet in a pale "alder" finish that doesn't go with the rest of the furniture.  I can handle removing that to free up a few square feet of space.  The room is otherwise a mess, with boxes half-unpacked and stuff scattered all over the place.  I'll have to stash things in the wreck room for the time being; no time for more unboxing today.

Oh my!  Those "feather" branches look so -- hmmm.  But they're making me smile.
If I had trees in my backyard like I used to have at the former Maison Newton,
I'd be raiding the yard right now for branches, doing some emergency
spray-painting and adding some au naturel touches
I've got Christmas touches ready to go into the bathroom -- just need to do it's weekly cleaning first.

The kitchen and dinette area are also wrecks!  I'll tackle these spaces last. Where did I put my cardinal prints?  I found my cardinal plates!  And my cardinal snow globe!  And my cardinal Christmas tree!  The "winter" curtains are up.  I need to iron the red table cloth, clear all the clutter, vacuum and mop the floor and arrange the Christmas accessories.  Must stop blogging and start moving again!

No ornaments on the tree yet.  Come on, Jan, old gal, you can do this!
Most of the boxes of Christmas ornaments and decorations hauled up from the basement storage area are marching back down the stairs, as I'm keeping the decorations on the tree to as little as I can get away so it looks "clothed" and not bare naked.  And where on earth is my white curling ribbon hiding?  I've been looking for it off and on since 8:30 a.m. and can't find it anywhere.  I want to try and use it to tie up/anchor the bed curtains.  And wondering if I should pull out the red satin pillow covers for a Christmas-y touch in the mistress bedroom...

The living room and, most importantly, the Christmas tree, still need to be finished!  While I was keeping one eye on "Grimm" on t.v. last night, I was working on the tree.  Well, it looks more like Sputnik (you know -- the original Russian satellite that started the space race between the former Soviet Union and the United States in 1958)  than the beautiful feathered  glitzy and yet rustic creation I'd envisioned.  I think my decorating vision is developing cataracts.  But I don't have the time or energy to change it now, so I'm just going to have to work with what it is.

The ornaments go on today, ready or not!  For a few quiet moments this morning, while I was sipping my coffee before sunrise, I thought about not putting any ornaments on the tree at all, just leaving it as it is.  Ummmm, no.  Back to work here...