Monday, Dec. 10, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors Holiday Decor With Personal History

Monday, Dec. 10, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

I admit it. I’m addicted to Victoria magazine, especially the holiday issue.

But when I do my own decorating, I need it to be more personal. Creating the environment I want doesn’t have to cost a lot.

But it does need patience.

I have an entire closet of Yuletide ornaments, collected over the years. Every year, I buy one or two pieces (often during the year at a thrift shop or yard sale). Or people give me ornaments as gifts. Every ornament has a story.

As we decorate each year, we tell and re-tell the stories. We relive and remember our family (meaning friends that are chosen family) history.

Nothing is there because a decorator told us to put it there. It’s there because we want it there.

When I lived in a NYC apartment, everything only fit one way. Now that I live in a house on Cape Cod, I rearrange things as I wish.

I have accumulated collections of nutcrackers, Santas, angels, snowmen, carolers, reindeer. They move around, rarely in the same place two years in a row.

Here are some other thrifty ideas that give us lots of pleasure.

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Fabric
I’ve picked up an assortment of fabric in an assortment of lengths throughout the year. Novelty holiday prints; velvets; solid colors, glittery fabric. I mix and match them, and I use them to cover tables, end tables, coffee tables, and any other surface that needs brightening up. Organza or silk or glittery strips can be used to swag around curtains or the tops of windows or door. I change out the fabric for all the holidays; it’s amazing how much difference it makes.

Most fabric I’ve picked up on sale or as remnants.

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Ribbon
Ribbon goes on sale throughout the year, and I grab it whenever I see it. We hang lengths of red velveteen ribbon along the sides of our doors and windows, topped with ornaments or found pine cones we attach to the top with florist twine.

Along the door ribbons, we tape our cards. We can look up and enjoy the holiday cards all season.

We also put holiday ribbon on any stuffed animals that are sitting around, or any of our carved or ceramic animals.

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Natural objects
You don’t have to go to the store to buy cones and shells. I gather cones in the card, or get shells, sand dollars, etc. on the beach. I clean everything, of course. Some of it, I keep in its natural state (or maybe spray with clear varnish). Some I spray with gold or silver or copper or bronze paint, so they sparkle.

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Rather than buying a wreath made by someone else, I’ll buy a plain wreath or different greens at the garden center or the library’s green sale or on the Audubon Society’s holly walk and make my own. That way, each year’s is unique and personal.

Of course, you CAN spend a lot of money on any or all of this. But the items I tend to gravitate toward are usually the vintage, the ones I find at odd little sales, or from individual crafters. Or I find bits and pieces and put it together on my own.

To me, the process of decorating is part of the magic of the season. It makes me happy. It fulfills something in my spirit.

Whether it was the year I bought a 50 cent garland of musical instruments at Woolworth’s to hang up in my college dorm room (which I still have and use every year) or the Angel Tree Advent calendar I bought at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it all has personal meaning. And that makes it magical for me.

Published in: on December 10, 2018 at 6:33 am  Comments Off on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors Holiday Decor With Personal History  
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Tues. Nov. 28, 2017: Getting Back on Track

Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

Quite the busy holiday weekend. And yet, it feels like I got very little done.

We didn’t go to Maine for the holiday, like we usually do. Usually, the first few days of Thanksgiving week, I’m finishing my Nano word count, cooking up a storm of desserts and other things. Then, we usually drive up on Wednesday, making our favorite stops. I bring up the dinner and dessert for twelve I prepared at home, and that’s what I serve those who set up the Hall that’s always rented for Thanksgiving on Wednesday night. Thursday, I can usually get a bit of writing done in the morning, then help with the food prep at the hall (mashing vats of potatoes is my speciality), help with the clean-up, and preparing the snack for Thursday night. Because we have anywhere from 37 to 64 in the hall for the actual meal. And Friday, we head back while everyone else runs around shopping.

Not this year, because there’s too much post-op care after my mom’s surgery, and she still can’t fit into a shoe.

My mom had her doctor’s appointment on Wednesday morning. He’s worried about her accelerated heart rate and is changing her medication. I took her home, got her settled, and spent a few hours on site with a client.

Then, home, and ready to dig in for the weekend.

Thursday morning, I was up early. The turkey was stuffed and in the oven by 7:30 in the morning. I read, and got some reading done, checking on the turkey and preparing the other dishes. We ate around 3. Maple-cranberry glazed turkey, my own stuffing recipe, mashed potatoes, my own carrot-parsnip in mushroom gravy, peas. Apple pie for dessert.

My mother wasn’t feeling well, with bouts of dizziness from her medication. So, all of the cooking, the set-up, and the clean-up was on me. I put away the leftovers, took apart the turkey. I’d gotten a bit overzealous with the turkey — over 22 pounds, and just for the two of us. We’ve got a good bit of leftovers. I then boiled down the bones to make stock. Once the stock was done, I added onion, celery, carrots, herbs, garlic, etc. and some turkey meat and made turkey soup. Once that cooled, I put everything in jars and labelled it.

Basically, I was in the kitchen for about 13 hours.

But it was an outstanding meal.

Friday, I was up early. I got a few things done around the house, and I emptied the Christmas closet and stacked the boxes by category in the back room.

I had to take my mom to get her blood pressure checked at the firehouse, and then we dumped a stack of books in the book drop at the library, and picked up her new medication. Then, we headed to Country Gardens, where I got the wreath I’ll decorate for the door, a small tree for the barrel in the front yard, and a cyclamen.

Home, and got the laundry going. Then, I ironed all the holiday fabric, took off the Thanksgiving fabric from all the surfaces that were covered, and replaced them with the Christmas/Yule fabric. Stripped the mantel and the hearth, wrapped the iron candle stands in gold ribbon, set up the Advent Table. Put up the musical fabric over the fireplace, set up the garland, the gold bells, and the caroler collection on the top, and the herd of deer on the bottom. Got some of the Advent table done.

That took all damn day.

Watched a rather pointless documentary on Stonehenge and did some reading.

Saturday morning, up early, outlined the next section of the Lavinia Fontana play. Changed the beds, vaccuumed, moved things. Hauled the big tree down. Got it into the stand (worst stand ever). Put the tree together. Got the lights on. Even though I tested them before I put them on, once they were on, half the strand at the top didn’t work. Took them off. Tested them again. They worked. Put them on. Now they didn’t. Went to the store to get a replacement strand. Got them home. Tested them. Three quarters of the strand worked; one quarter didn’t. Went back to the store. Swapped them out. This strand worked. Got them on the tree, and it all worked.

Lost two hours on the damn lights.

Unpacked a lot of the ornaments. Got some of the windows decorated. Finished the Advent Table (since Sunday was the First of Advent). But didn’t get the tree done. Didn’t even get the ornaments on it.

We’re rearranging things this year, and a lot of it is trying something, deciding that’s not what we want and changing it.

Honestly, it was easier in the small apartment where everything only fit one way!

But I do enjoy the decorating process.

I was tired that night, though. Too tired to do much. I did get the Norfolk pine planted in the barrel. But the neighbors are doing yard work and I am not. I am doing the inside first.

I couldn’t find the recipe I wanted, so I invented on. Hello, chocolate espresso spice cake. It turned out well, but I think I want to tweak some of the proportions and make it better.

We had power fluctuations on Saturday. Power kept going on and off in the evening and all night. Good thing it happened AFTER the cake was done!

Sunday, I gave myself the morning off to read and play with the cats.

Then, I had to do some work for one of my clients. I was behind, and we were meeting yesterday to finalize some photos for the rough of the media kit and the brochure.

We also did a photo shoot in the cemetery for the cover of “Miss Winston Apologizes”, since everything we’ve come up with so far isn’t quite right. Hopefully, what we came up with will now work.

Didn’t sleep well Sunday night into Monday. I’m dreading when Mercury goes retrograde next week.

Managed to get some good work done yesterday morning on SERENE AND DETERMINED.

Had to help my client untangle computer issues most of the day yesterday. How much do you want to bet there will be more today? Scary when I’m the most IT-savvy person in any room! 😉

Busy week – I feel like I’m falling behind, so I’ll have to add in extra writing sessions, probably late at night.

And so it goes . . .

Published in: on November 28, 2017 at 2:32 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 28, 2017: Getting Back on Track  
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