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Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas Tree Vintage Styling

For the past few years I have been having has a sense of longing for the Christmas trees and ornaments in the 1950's and 60’s. I do not know where the ornaments went that were at our house while we were growing up. I always remember the shimmering aluminum tree my aunt and uncle had. I believe it came with a revolving color wheel that splashed light on the tree. It seemed so stylish at the time.

Well, a visit to an antique store day before yesterday, November 28, provided me with a small group of vintage ornaments -- plus one lone crystal prism.

Many are not in the best shape, but they serve to evoke the nostalgia for Christmases past.

The lot also included a few Santa ornaments. A couple of them resemble bread dough. One cute little Santa is in an unopened package from Grant, a store which went out of business years ago.

At the Family Dollar store I found a $2.50 tree topper in the style of the fifties.

Then yesterday, Nov. 29, at T.J. Maxx I found a container of 16 silvery and soft gilt pinecone-shaped ornaments for $3.99.

Earlier, at Home Depot I had found a 2.7 ft. silver tinsel tree for $14.99.

This is how it looks so far with the ornaments and topper on:

Actually, I am scared to use the topper on the tree, since it has a warning to not use it on a tree with any metal. To take the pictures, I got the camera ready, then switched on the lights and snapped quickly, and unplugged the tree and the topper immediately. I took this without the lights and the ornaments seem to combine well with the tinsel tree.

Now, I must locate a suitable tree skirt, and also a few small angel ornaments to try to fill out the decorations. I must also select a nativity scene, since each tree at Oak Rise Cottage must have a creche underneath.

I decided to put this tabletop tree in the Living Room since I have not put up the 6 ½ foot tree in there since about 2002:

That big tree is in a box in the Garage. It is very realistic looking and I have missed putting it up each Christmas and filling it with angel ornaments. However, it takes quite a lot of effort to set up the pole in the tree stand, put on the branches, and string on all the lights. Then, it’s time to add all the glass balls and angels.

Maybe I’ll invest in one of those pre-lit, easy-to-assemble trees. In the meantime, it’s fun setting up the much smaller trees. My next project is the 4 ½ foot tree for the Dining Room. That one will have glass balls and nativity ornaments.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Twelve Questions of Christmas Meme

Hootin' Anni has made a new meme The Twelve Questions of Christmas. If you participate, please let her know by commenting on her blog. Here are my answers.

1. Christmas is _______________. [fill in the blank with ONE WORD]
Emmanuel [“God with Us”].
2. In memories, what was the best part of your Christmases past?
Being with family members – the conversations, the food and just the feelings of comfort and joy.
3. Was Santa ever good to you? [describe how and what
Yes, every year, but one special year I got much needed cash.
4. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or both?
On Christmas morning, right after breakfast.
5. Is there something you make each and every year? [craft or recipe]
Devising new arrangements of favorite holiday decorations. But most of all, focussing on Christ’s nativity and sharing this with others.

6. What is your favorite five[5] Christmas songs/hymns?
O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Mary, Did You Know? Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, O Little Town of Bethlehem, O Holy Night
7. Is there a new tradition for Christmas since your childhood days?
Having desserts at one of our homes on Christmas day afternoon or evening, and each one opening one gift held over until then.
8. Describe one of your Christmas trips. [whether it's across town or across country]
Travelling from New York to California in 1980. We went by air to LAX Los Angeles International Airport where my sister and brother-in-law met us and took us to their house. We had about one week of great food and fun, including a trip to Disneyland and shopping at a fine estate sale.
9. Do you have a special Christmas outfit to wear for the day?
Just something festive but comfortable, often red.
10. Have YOU or any of your family members sat on Santa's lap?
My nieces and nephews have.
11. What is/or will be on your Christmas tree this year?
At least five trees: (1) Tree with nativity ornaments (this was in 2002);

(2) tiny tree with tiny vintage glass ornaments and mini Hallmark angels; (3) tiny tree with mini Hallmark nativity ornaments; (4) tree with ivory china angels with musical instruments, ivory china nativity figures, small glass balls; (5) tree with glass and other musical instrument ornaments, pearl bead garland.
12. Do you/or have you decorated your yard for Christmas?
No, just a wreath on the front door, garlands and ribbons on the front step railings, and a garland and bow on the mailbox.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thrift Store Holiday Items

Taking a brief break the day before Thanksgiving, I stopped at the community service center thrift store. Approaching the store, I could see that both windows were full of holiday wares. I had been waiting for the thrift shops to put out their holiday things. Now I could look for items to add to various Christmas collectibles at Oak Rise Cottage. I was not disappointed, finding numerous items that would fit my collections. My bill came to $15.50 + tax.

The nativity collection is my main collection and I am always on the lookout for things. I did find a stable and two figures. I also have a collection of tree-shaped items to go with the Spode Christmas tree dishes in the Kitchen.
Another collection consists of Santa items to go with my collection of editions of The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore.
They are packed away all year, but at Christmas time I take out the dolls and bears for their own celebration with a tree, tea party setting, and gifts. Dolls include feminine heroines Madeline and Linnea. The very newest collection is of snowman items. I’ll tell the why in another post.

Here is a list of the items I got -

A wood round table – one of those accent tables used with a table skirt. It should come in handy to hold a tabletop tree.
3 Christmas trees
1 tree-shaped ceramic dish
pair of plastic salt and pepper shakers
1 wood frame mirror with picture of cottage amid trees

5 Santa items
3 Snowman items

a terra cotta candle house
1 small brown transferware dish
covered glass container (just like one I got at another thrift store)
Frames – 1 wood painted white, 1 natural wood with floral picture, 1 painted wood with snowman, 1 ceramic with ginger bread men. [During the holidays I put out photos in holiday frames of my 7 nephews and 3 nieces, my grand-niece and 2 grand-nephews.]

mini display items – 2 rocking horse, 1 wood train engine
cardboard reproduction of Victorian boy
a green beanie babies bear with winter scarf

pottery angel in contemporary style
Two books:
The Step-by-Step Guide to Growing and Displaying Roses
The Christmas Story by Jane Werner (A Little Golden Book)
4 Nativity items (+ 1 book)
Tin with Wise Man on Camel
Vintage plaster angel
Vintage shepherd

Stable. It is rather shabby, but it is big.

Here is the stable with the three main figures from my French Santon nativity. I finally found a stable tall enough for these dressed terra cotta figures.

So now with Thangsgiving past, I am concentrating on taking out the various collections, artificial trees and all the trimmings for holiday decorating. It is so much fun! I find great delight in placing things, and though the process is tiring, I am smiling a lot.

I trust you are also enjoying your preparations for the Christmastide.

Graphic from antiqueclipart.com

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving Week 2007

"Be thankful to Him,
and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations." Psalm 100:4-5.

Here we are at the very week of Thanksgiving Day. Then comes the so-called "Black Friday" a very big bargain shopping day, and then, finally, the start of the holiday season. In December comes Christmas Day, Hanukah, Kwanza, and lots of concerts, parties at school, parties at work, parties at home, parties at homes of friends and relatives. So there will be cheer and merriment all over.

Below is just a peek at one of the fall harvest decorations at Oak Rise Cottage. This one is just up the stairs from the front entrance.

There is a large tin container holding dried and silk fall flowers. Next to it is a squirrel which is really a lawn sprinkler. The small leaf covers the spout for the spray.

On the wall are two vintage Syroco plaques depicting a Pilgrim Man and Woman.

On the floor, in a container resembling a cornucopia are small branches of leaves, and a pumpkin-shaped plant container full of acorns from outside. Nearby on the floor, but not pictured, is a ceramic pumpkin container.

It’s hard to believe, but happily true, that in just a few days the wonderful Thanksgiving Day will be here. I wish you all a great celebration with your loved ones, and may this day renew in our hearts the rich joy that accompanies thankful living.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Collectible Calendars

With just a month and a half before the New Year, this is the time to look for 2008 Calendars. I was in the Hallmark store yesterday, and did they ever have a huge selection of 2008 calendars. There were calendars with horses, cats, dogs, landscapes, seascapes, and on and on. With a calendar in most rooms, I need about six. I usually try to have at least one floral calendar, one inspirational calendar, one tea calendar, and then free calendars from various businesses. Tea is one of the subjects for collectible calendars. This is one you do not just toss out or cut up at the end of the year.
In 1993 I bought the Tea-Time Calendar, published by DaySpring, and really enjoyed the facts about tea and scripture quotes.

However, from 1997 I have been buying The Collectible Teapot & Tea Calendar. Written by Joni Miller and photographed by Martin Brigdale, it is published by Workman Publishing. With the word "collectible" in the product name, it is understandable that it is lavishly illustrated and well designed.
Here is the 2007 calendar. It came with a folded sheet of ‘collectible’ postcards using the 12 photos from the calendar. The teapot for November is the "Donut," introduced in 1938 by the Hall China Co. in Ohio.

Each month’s two-page spread includes
a richly designed photo showcasing one teapot amid an alluring meal setting
descriptive text which evokes the mood of the photograph
tidbits on the history of tea, or on a teapot manufacturer, or a special pattern or type of teapot or tea accessories
a charming or witty quotation about tea or tea drinking
There are novelty and whimsical teapots for children as well as adults. The green flatiron teapot is from Rising Hawk Studio in the 1950’s. The teddy bear teapot is from the 1980s from Price and Kensington Potteries Ltd.

Of course, there are many very elegant designed pots, teacups, table appointments and foods. These calendar covers show this very well.

I have wondered… are any of the photos re-used over the years? However, I do not have time to check to see if my hunch is correct.
These calendars, of course, have good examples of blue and white china pots. Here is a 20th century design from T.G. Green & Co. Ltd. of Derbyshire, England. It is an example of Cornish Ware, with the blue stripes denoting the sky and the white the waves along a beach in Cornwall. [Designer Mary Gilliat inspired the pattern of my teapot from Churchill.]

I just received my 2008 copy from Amazon.com yesterday.

What subjects do you choose for the calendars you buy? It would be interesting to hear what motifs or themes other bloggers choose for their calendars.


I just read Prairie Dreams blog and found out that Anita has tagged me to tell seven things you might not know about me. Reading about other people being tagged, I should have prepared for this. Any way, here goes …
1. I lived and worked and studied in Texas in the 1970’s. First, in the Rio Grande Valley, then in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area.
2. Before that, I did graduate work in California. I really didn’t want to leave, but when a job offer came to go to Texas I felt that was where God wanted me to be. I was able to grow and to learn so much in my work. When I did leave Texas for Massachusetts it was hard to leave all that I had grown to love in the six years I was there.
3. Having graduated with majors in English and Spanish and a minor in Library Science, I taught English the first year in Texas, then both English and Spanish the following year. Wealthy ranchers’ daughters from just over the border came to study English, so they were all four placed in my English and Spanish classes. Sometimes I actually had to have class time with them after school hours, since it was often problematic to try to teach English-speaking students, while trying to involve the language learners.
4. I am from a family of seven children. I was third born, and the first daughter. So two brothers before me, one more brother after me – and then three sisters in a row, each two years apart.
5. While working full-time at a college in Massachusetts, I took classes in interior design, since it is a subject that interested me since I was about 15. I took three years of coursework, but as a full-time worker could not find enough free time to do the required interior design fieldwork.
6. My interest in tea and gracious entertaining had an outlet at work, when I set up a Poetry Lecture Series. The fall semester’s the after-lecture reception was Sunday Brunch, and in the Spring it was a mid-week Afternoon Tea. It so happened that the honoree for the lecture series owned a collection of tea cups – most of them English bone china. Each was a different pattern and each was a delight to behold. Best of all, we were able to use them for the Afternoon Tea each spring. To make up the needed number, I would supplement with some of my own teacups and saucers.
7. Due to severe back ailment and accompanying complications, my life took a drastic change right at the turn of the century. No longer employed full-time, I opened a small boutique and gallery called Carola Cachet Design. It was located on the lower level of my raised ranch house. But after about two years, I had to discontinue due to health reasons.

Well, I hope these details gave you a better idea who Carrie is. Thanks for reading.
[Clipart from antiqueclipart.com]

Monday, November 12, 2007

Further Thrifting

This post is just a brief update on my thrifting ventures. Last week I returned to the thrift store where I found a nice $1.00 wood spoon rack and a lovely $2.00 lamp shade for the $3.00 lamp I had bought there a couple weeks ago.

The white fabric shade is very shapely. As it turned out it is too small for the lam,; so I must look some more. I also got two Corning ware casserole dishes, two crystal votive candleholders and a Nantucket style basket with glass votive liner.

For my $1.00 bag of books I found three cookbooks, a gardening book, and a children’s art book to send for my grandniece and grandnephews.
Julia and Jacques: Cooking at Home by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin
Great Taste Low Fat Vegetables
Mary Engelbreit’s Recipe for Happiness (An Antioch Gourmet Gift Book)
Better Homes & Gardens Shrubs (The Gardener’s Collection)
Leonardo’s ABC: Sharing Leonardo da Vinci With Children by Carolyn C. DeCristofano

Two more books on Diana for my collection:
Diana The Last Year by Donald Spotto
Requiem: Diana Princess of Wales 1967-1987 edited by Brian McArthur

One book, Living, Loving & Learning by Leo Buscaglia, 4 crafting booklets, and a new 2008 calendar.

Three more books bring the total to 15 books at about 7 cents apiece.
The Human Sexes by Desmond Morris
My Life: The Early Years by Bill Clinton
Self Matters: Creating Your Life from the Inside Out by Dr. Phil McGraw

My total thrift finds cost just over $6. I'll try to return to the store tomorrow to look for another lamp shade -- and more books.

I hope you're having a nice day.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thankfulness for God’s Sustaining Love

Thanksgiving Day is a favorite holiday for many families across the United States. The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, as thousands make their way to homes of relatives or friends.

While for many it is nicknamed “Turkey Day” in reference to the main entrée served across the land, and while for many the holiday conjures up the thought of a delectable feast spread out on groaning tables, others consider it a time to reflect on all the blessings we enjoy.

The most evident blessing is, of course, the fall harvest with its bounty of foods, which may be put away for the coming winter months. In this we hearken back to the original Thanksgiving Day celebrated by the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors.

In a broader sense, though, our blessings include even the comfort one finds in times of crisis and loss. Through pain and suffering, we find our way to acceptance and hope.

For example in November 11, 2005 was the day my father was buried. A couple weeks later we gathered at the home of one of his daughters who was facing breast cancer surgery in just a few weeks. Here is a photo of the simple table setting we sisters prepared. The plates were stacked on the buffet with the tasty spread.

While saddened and grieving, we drew together for encouragement and reminders to trust in Jesus Christ, our Savior.

In November 2006 we gathered at another daughter’s home, where she and I worked on having an attractive setting for the meal in her dining room -- for which she had just made new window dressings.

This time we had made it through not only our sister’s surgery in January 2006, but sudden surgery on our eldest brother to remove a brain tumor in March, and then his death just a month later. There had been many trips by air and overland as every family member traveled from up and down the east coast to hospitals in Maryland and then Pennsylvania.

These turn of events had a profound effect on our mother. While she had been a strong independent woman in her own senior citizen apartment, these family crises made her lose all ability to take care of herself. She became dependent, having to live with one of her five remaining children. During 2007, though we have been grateful for great improvements in her sense of well-being.

These two family Thanksgiving celebrations are examples of the resilience of the human spirit. Conscious that we live in a world of opposing forces – God’s good and Satan’s evil – we hold out in faith in God’s goodness, His sustaining power, and His love for each of us.

As Americans we are truly privileged for the heritage that Thanksgiving Day represents and for the enrichment this annual pause brings into our busy lives.

[Clipart from hellasmultimedia.com and from antiqueclipart.com.]