Wednesday, December 29, 2010

LAST of the Christmas Decoration Photos for 2010!! About time!!!!!

Yes, for those brave souls out there who've managed to wade through all these photos, thoughts and random observances with me, this post has photos I've taken either recently that I forgot to include, or those photos taken in the past that I've thought were particularly special for one reason or another. So here they are:

These are 5 ceramic cocoa mugs that my aunt, Pat McCay, made when I was growing up. One each for my two brothers and me, as well as one for Mom and Dad. We thought it was so neat to have cups of our own, and especially since we knew no one else in the world had anything quite like them!

One of the most peaceful views I've ever taken (2009), I could look at this photo for hours on end. It's just so peaceful, you can almost hear the quiet hush in the room. Simply magical!!

This photo, from 2008, is a picture of a traditional English Christmas Cake, baked for me each year by my father-in-law, Maurice Sparks, using his mother's recipe which dates back to the early part of the 20th century (ca. 1920's?) It's like a dense fruitcake, covered in royal icing. The royal icing hardens and protects the cake inside for months on end. On the top of the cake are two miniature vintage bottle brush trees, two vintage chalk ware snowmen, two plastic reindeer, and plastic sprigs of Mistletoe. On this particular occasion, it also included a very sweet little red breasted robin, belonging to Valerie (Nigel's Mom). It's a lovely gift, which requires a LOT of hard work and great preparation, which I look forward to each Christmas!

The Return of the Natural Gingerbread House!!  I somehow managed to recreate this one before our 11th Annual Christmas party last night!  I'd have left it for later, but Nigel really wanted to show it to someone, so I put it together as fast as I could.  I still may go back and add some windows to the back of the house, and perhaps another small bird or two.  Oh well, you know me.  I LOVE to embellish - EVERYTHING!!!

The German Nutcrackers!!  Nigel loves these and it's a wonder we got out of Germany with only this many in tow!  Personally, I'm not that wild about them.  But . . .they're in his den so it's okay!  And if truth be known, I did buy a couple of them for Nigel, so I can't complain too much!!

Isn't this lovely?  It's St. Francis of Assisi, by Jim Shore.  It stands about two feet tall and was a Christmas present last year from a dear friend, Rita Bolduc.  I left it out all this past year; I can't imagine where she found it but it's one of my favorite Jim Shore pieces.

Okay, I admit it - I couldn't help but have fun with Precious the Lady Pirate last night at the Christmas party!  She's quite the looker, with a cleavage that's ........well, shall we say "substantial"?  While I was making one of the first of multiple trips outside to show our guests the two pirates and the studio Nigel made for me, I saw this apron (in the studio) and thought how appropriate it would be to cover her up.  After all, it was VERY COLD outside last night!!  So while Nigel was preoccupied, a friend's 11-year-old daughter, Aleia (sp?), helped me get her all warmed up!  Wasn't that sweet of us?

Well, this finally concludes the Christmas decoration photos.  Unfortunately, Nigel will soon start asking me when I'll be taking them all down!!  But that's not for another couple of days yet so I'll enjoy them while I can, and also make note of things I want to change or try new next year!!

I hope everyone is having a lovely Christmas and New Year Holiday Season.  Please continue to be safe and remember the reason for the season - the birth of our most precious Savior, Jesus Christ!!

May God Bless! Jan 

Mommy (Laura) and Isabel!!

And you were expecting what? Something besides Christmas decoration photos? Silly you!!

So here they are!!

This is a tree with paper ma'che animals. They're five little animals that Nigel's Mom, Valerie, found inside a drawer of a piece of furniture she'd purchased for her antique shop.  She didn't realize they were there until she got the piece home and started to inspect it.  She gave the animals to my girls, who didn't appreciate their significance or age (mostly because the animals didn't "do" anything!  They were very "low tech" - thank Heaven!!).  Anyway, I loved them and eventually decided to honor them by creating an "old fashioned" tree with real candles and little gold twig stars on which to display them.  To add the candles, I put a drop of hot glue onto the end of the limb, then I held a birthday candle in the hot glue till the glue melted, along with the end of the candle.  Once cooled, the candle stayed in place!!

Close-Up of the little animals!  Lovely!!

The Jewelry Tree!!  One of my all time favorites!  I created this years ago, and actually started with a small green-limbed tree.  However, a few years after that, I saw this heavily glittered silver tree and changed it out.  On this tree resides vintage jewelry from three very important ladies in my life - my Grandma Hoffman (Dad's Mom), my Gran (Mom's Mom) and my Great Aunt Arlie (my Dad's Aunt).  Nothing else is allowed!  I LOVE this tree and it's always a BIG favorite of women who come to our annual Christmas party! So many lovely memories, it includes not only "fancy" jewelry, but also a couple of old watches and a few plain rings.  In other words, it holds what I call their "everyday" jewelry, which I remember them wearing all the time!

Another favorite - I created what I call my Nostalgia Tree some time in the summer of last year.  It's similar to the Jewelry Tree, but also includes items from other people, or just vintage items that remind me of days gone by.  I got the idea from a book called "Vintage Christmas Crafts" by Sara Toliver (a beautiful Christmas book chock FULL of great ideas and beautiful imagery I highly recommend!).  A few close-ups follow.

The topper is a vintage corsage that I've known about for years.  I asked Gran once where it was from, but I don't think she could remember.  She thought it was probably from one of her 3 girls' proms or something special like that.  I always loved it despite it's "less than perfect" condition.  When Gran passed, I asked for it without any idea what to do with it.  I just knew it would be a part of something special one day.  And here it is!!  The thin, faded cloth tape measure belonged to Gran, as did the thimble.  The pearl necklace was my Mom's, given to her by a dear family friend at her high school graduation.

Another thimble, and Gran's pair of embroidery scissors with the gold bird motif.  The little flower was also Gran's; it's missing one of its petals, but Gran had saved it nevertheless.  Obviously it was meant for this tree, which doesn't consider what others would call the obvious flaws of a piece, but rather at its beauty overall.  The vintage card of buttons was a thrift store find.

This photo includes Gran's crochet needles (far left, but rather difficult to see), as well as a small perfume bottle she'd found somewhere (probably a thrift shop).  Gran always loved little bits and pieces; it's a lovely gift she's passed on to me.  By the way, the tree was once pale green, but I wanted a creamy vintage look, so I spray painted it.  Not bad for a first try!

One last close-up; this photo includes a flower "broach" that I bought from one of Gran's rummage sales when I was in my early teens.  Gran LOVED having rummage sales.  She'd buy items from other rummage sales that were affordable and which appealed to her.  After awhile, if she grew tired of anything, she'd sell them in her own rummage sale.  A great and inexpensive way to have things you love around you.  I innocently thought the piece was real ivory, but I think it was a piece of Bakelite.  Regardless, it was one of those things Gran bought from someone else's sale.  I've had it ever since then and wore it for a number of years (after adding a pin back to it).  Now it finally rests on this very special tree.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of Lucy the Camel, from Afghanistan!  Laura sent it home to Isabel (knowing her daughter - like her mother - would LOVE anything PINK!!).  When Isabel was trying to name it, she asked what my middle name was.  I told her it was Lucille, and suggested calling the camel Lucy for short.  And Lucy it was!

The Margaritaville Tree!!  After Nigel built a gazebo (his own design, no plan or anything like that) for his new hot tub/spa, he wanted to have a funny decorating scheme inside!  No problem there!  So we bought funny parrot signs, wacky fish wall art, etc.  So for Christmas, it was a "no brainer"!  Hence the Margaritaville Christmas Tree!  However, we were so behind, I didn't decorate it this year.  But at least I pulled the tree out so everyone could see how silly it was!  LOTS of fun this one was!!

When is the last time you saw a pink flamingo in blue tennis shoes and a green bikini, out shopping and eating an ice cream cone?  I thought not! So naturally I just had to include her on this tree!!

What can I say?  It makes for a great conversation piece!! Ha Ha

Nigel's Military Tree!!  Yet another favorite, made with all my love and respect for Nigel's military career and as a bow to his love for this great country of ours, the United States of America!!  On this tree is everything from his 20-year career, from medals he earned to the sewing kit he used in the first Gulf War (Desert Storm).  It includes patches from the various units he's served in, a fully operational P38 (no good soldier is ever caught without one!), his ear protection case, and even a large shell casing!!  To add to the fun, I bought toy plastic soldiers and tanks, as well as many planes (Army and also Air Force ones, since both girls joined the Air Force!)  This was another fun one to create! 

The large patch in the top center is one Nigel has had for as long as I've known him.  It's a replica of a patch from Britain, circa 1918 (World War I).  Notice his "dog tags" toward the top left?

This is what I call my "Accident Tree".  One year, I had the bright idea of washing all my vintage, circa 1940s and 1950s glass Christmas balls, so I ran a sink of nice hot soapy water and put in quite a few without thinking anything might go wrong.  That is until I picked up one to hand wash and I realized the various colors had all come off!!!  Fortunately, I didn't have nearly as large a collection at that time as I do now!!  You've never seen anyone work so fast to get those little darlings out of that water!  But too late!  So.......not one to be easily stumped by minor disturbances, I created this theme tree of my "accident", to include chandelier crystals I'd bought at one of my many thrift store visits! 

Just when you think I can't have any more trees, here you find another!!  This is what I call my Nature Tree!!  It's kept on the outside screened-in front porch and only those ornaments with a "natural" or "nature" theme can reside here!

A favorite ornament that Hallmark put out one year, by Marjolein Bastin!  I love her beautiful watercolor paintings and ornaments and I have quite a few of them!

Another Marjolein Bastin ornament; so beautiful!! And I found the little house years ago, but can't even remember where now.

This last close-up includes one of the dozen or so birds I've added in the past couple of years, as well as a good shot of the red berry garlands I've added.  On the far left is what looks like a white ball of fluff; this is an actual bowl of cotton I got off the side of the road here in Madison, beside a field that had been picked earlier that morning.  When Nigel's cousin Marian and her family came for their first visit to the United States some years back, they were AMAZED to see a field of cotton growing! They'd never seen how it actually grew!! The next Christmas, we sent them an angel ornament, made out of an actual bowl of cotton!!  But this one above is in it's "all naturale" state!!

Yes, Even MORE Christmas Photos!! Good Grief!!

Do you ever continue doing something, whether it makes sense or not, just because you want to see it through? Well, welcome to my world! I just have this idea that it will be nice to have all my photos of Christmas together, in one place, so that I can refer back to them when I'm too old to do this any more!  Okay, so I'm weird.  What else is new??!!  Anyway, I'm determined to get this finished so here goes!! Hope you enjoy them! 

Front entrance! The snow flake on the mirror was crocheted by my aunt, Von Carson. Isn't it lovely? That's something I never learned to do, crochet. Or knit. And that means it's something I definitely want to learn how to do! The Mr. and Mrs. Claus figures are new this year! I love them! They remind me of Nigel and myself! Well, maybe us in a few more years! But they look like they have fun being together and that's my goal with Nigel - to live a happy, fruitful, peaceful, long life together! Don't want much, do I? Oh well, if you're going to want something, I say want something BIG!!

Going up the stairs - lots of red and green! I've also interspersed it with golden birds and butterflies that Nigel bought me a couple of years ago. I'd bought four of them on sale, then a day or so later I decided I wanted more, but I had to go to work. Nigel was off for a change and said he was going out in that general direction so he'd see if they had any more. When I got home, I discovered he'd bought them out! My kind of guy!!!
Going upstairs - on the right side. On this garland hangs some lovely chipboard angels we found in Rottenburg, West Germany, when we were stationed there (in West Germany). Yes, when we were there, it was called "West" Germany; the two countries had not united yet. Anyway, if you ever want to see a fantastic city, visit Rottenburg! It's amazing! It's a small walled city dating back to the Middle Ages that is known for it's amazing, handcrafted Christmas decorations, ornaments, etc. Just when you think you've seen it all, you'll be surprised to find even more! It's definitely unique and the whole city is very picturesque!

Close-Up of one of the German angels and one of the butterflies Nigel bought "en mass".

Master Bedroom Decorations! Just a note about the little stuffed hedgehog in the chair. It was in MY stocking and of all the wonderful items Isabel got for Christmas, I think she's spent more time running around with that hedgehog than anything else! Go figure!! Typical kids!!

I like to put greenery over all the paintings throughout the house. It makes it look so festive!! And over the years I've managed to collect some great looking greenery - at excellent prices - by getting it at after Christmas sales. The funny story for this year - I bought several very real looking garlands at Michael's a week ago (about 60% off), then got home and realized I'd already bought the same garlands at Michael's, at the same discount, last year after Christmas! Oh well, now I have plenty of garlands!!

The oak linen press in our bedroom. I've learned to leave the regular greenery I have throughout the year in place if possible, then just add to it with Christmas garlands! Makes everything much easier!

The littlest tree in the house, in the littlest room in the house - our "master" bathroom! Isn't it cute? Got it this year at T. J. Maxx and I just love it! Yes, I can still find Christmas items that delight me!  Funny thing was that I'd overheard my Mom telling someone that I had Christmas trees in every room, even the bathrooms.  That got me to thinking.  No, I did NOT have one in our "master" bathroom!  Goodness!!  Well, no problem really because the next time I went to T. J. Maxx for something (Heaven alone knows what!), I saw this little cutie!! And it was little!!  Problem solved!!

Close-Up of the Littlest Tree!

Upstairs guest bathroom. These three candle stands were originally black, but I spray painted them this lovely bronze color a couple of years ago. The tassels were an after Christmas find, at only $1.00 each!! And the greenery around the candle bases was a surprise find at a dollar store in Atlanta! I love bargains!

This is the Cat Tree, complete with a little red bird on the top, just out of reach!! Okay, so I've got a twisted sense of humor! But I thought it was a cute idea!  As you can see, the Fursdon Family LOVES cats!!

 This ornament is named after a cat we had named Maxwell Smart! And he was about as nutty and clumsy as the "real" Maxwell Smart character. He was an adorable, lovable cat, but he was ALWAYS getting into mischief! When I saw this ornament, and it even looked like Max, I had to get it! Sweet memories!!

Close-Up of the various cats "in the tree".

  More greenery! It's everywhere! It's everywhere!!

Upstairs Bathroom. I had a plain twig wreath here that just looked so homely I couldn't stand it. So last year I decided to spruce it up. I added leaves, buds and fruit, as well as a bird (not easily seen though). Much better this way. What do you think?  Below is a close-up!

Looks good enough to eat!! YUM!!!