Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Simple Christmas

  On Saturday I said my last good bye to my beloved corgi-basset mix and, what with the fireplace work and all the rain we've had, decorating the house for Christmas has been a challenge.  I decided to keep things simple and in line with the slightly rustic Country French look I have going, so here is my Christmas tree.

  I managed to pull the very sparse artificial tree (the safest! and best for me to avoid allergy problems) out of the basement and added one single string of white lights, a few miniature grape vine wreaths that were in my craft closet,  and a rustic fabric ribbon, also from the craft closet.

  Because I seem to be appreciating friends and family even more this season, I decided to print out their photos on ivory card stock, in muted colors, and simply punch a hole to hang each one on the tree, too.  It's probably the simplest tree I've ever displayed but I love it more than anything I've ever done.  A closer shot follows.

  The middle top photo is one of my sisters, Bonnie and Stephanie, sitting at their new card table at Christmas many years ago and it's flanked by photos of my grandchildren, Andrew and Christina.  Below them are photos of dogs Beau, whose spirit is still with me for Christmas this year and Flame, who is my comfort in our loss.  At the bottom are my granddaughter again and a photograph of my sister, Bonnie, brother-in-law Earl, and me at my son's wedding just a few years ago.  Other "ornaments" include photos of my mom; my grandmother; dear family friend, Scotty; my son, Chris, and daughter-in-law Andrea; and more.

  Oh and there's also this, something I found on the Internet and printed - a stitchery that says "Happiness is a place between too little and too much."  And I think that's exactly where my tree sits.

  May your Christmas be in a place between too little and too much - with plenty of love and God's blessings but not  too much distraction from enjoying both.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas - almost

  I can't believe that Christmas is nearly here.  No surprise that I'm not exactly ready.  Two weeks ago, work was begun on a mantel for my very plain fireplace wall.  Two small windows above flanked both sides of the fireplace, which was a small square hole surrounded by a single row of tiles as you can see in the photo.   Not especially exciting.  
I didn't have much money to spend, so I started thinking of something easy to do.  I knew I wanted the mantel top to go from wall to wall, a span of 12 feet.  I also knew that, as much as I like the look of shelves on either side, I didn't have an inch to spare in my tiny bungalow living room.  The mantel shelf would only be 6 inches deep and a friend suggested treating the lower half differently from the top, maybe using bead board.  That sounded like a winning idea.  Then I decided I would pay someone to do the work as the very hard lath and plaster made me pretty nervous at the thought of nailing into it.  Bead board turned into a board and batten style panelling and eventually into recessed panels.

  I was able to find a nice, straight, clean 2 x 6 for the mantel shelf, good enough to be stained rather than painted.  The design evolved as we worked on it.  The carpenter I hired, Dave, would show up each morning waiting to hear what I was going to change that day.  He and I considered each design option as it came to either one of us and then we called in the tie-breaker, my professional painter and decorator best friend across the street who would also agree to stain and varnish the mantel shelf.  After a week and a half, paying about three times what I'd hoped for, I have a wonderful look that really enlarges the room and creates a fabulous focal point.  Just in time for Christmas.  
  Someday, when I have the money and know what I want to do, I'll improve the fireplace surround.  I hope to be able to keep the original tiles without damaging them, maybe covering them and extending the treatment to the mantel.  I'll also need to do something with the plain concrete hearth.  But for  now black paint finishes off that space and all I have to do is to hang the stockings!