Decorating For Christmas – REPOST!

christmas-tree

I posted this last year with only 10 days until Christmas. Here it is again this year with a little more time to think about your holiday decor for 2017.  Are you doing anything different with your decorations this year?

Let the Countdown Begin

Well, here we are with ten days left until Christmas and I’m just now blogging about holiday decorations. I had every intention to post this sooner, but if I’m being honest the finishing touches to my Christmas décor are happening today.

How did Christmas 2016 get so far away from us? I know I’m not alone because so many people I’ve spoken to are also feeling as frazzled as I am.

When normally my sunroom window sills would be full of festive Christmas cards, today I only have a few dozen. They are beginning to come in more steadily, but the delay seems to support my personal feeling that Christmas crept up on us more quickly than usual this year.

So, if you are like me and a little bit behind the eight ball, maybe you still have some decorating to do. When I’m decorating for Christmas I get a lot of inspiration from the homes and places I visit.  Here’s how I’m decorating this year.

Decoration Inspiration

I have always been a big fan of white lights on the Christmas tree. I just love the look of it. But recently I’ve also fallen in love with red and white lights together. Last year, when I first tried the red and white combo I decided to try a themed Christmas tree too. We went for a rustic red and white theme.  As much as I loved it and still do, I missed all the other ornaments that didn’t fit the theme. I couldn’t bear keeping them in a box, so last year I tacked all of them onto a bulletin board.  This year, time was limited so I took the easy way out and placed all of my sweet and sentimental ornaments in a big bowl – so easy, so fun and so full of memories.

Here is my fun bowl of ornaments and a couple of other Christmas decorations that always make a statement.

Bowl of Christmas ornaments, musical snow globe, candy cane hurricane filler
Top: The ornament bowl. Bottom left: One of my ultimate favorites – musical snow globe. Sits center stage on the mantel. Bottom right: Candy cane hurricane filler – Yes, I had to unwrap each of those individually – Worth it!

 

When it Comes to Decorating for Christmas, Less is More

Something that I learned when photographing homes for publication is that certain, special things can and should stand alone. Often when decorating for Christmas, we have a tendency to go with the more is more philosophy. A minimalist at heart; I have come to truly appreciate the less is more approach, especially at the holidays.

If I have a home accent or holiday decoration that is sentimental or special in some way, I make it the focus. This is the case with this beautiful Simon Pearce glass Christmas tree that Tony fell in love with on a trip up to Vermont last year. This exquisite example of craftsmanship sits simply in our entry way atop a platform that illuminates taking the tree’s beauty to another level. It makes me happy every time I walk by it.

Simon Pearce glass Christmas tree
I love the way this Simon Pearce glass Christmas tree lights up the hall.

 

Winter Whites

Another trend I like and have incorporated into our traditional holiday trimmings is winter whites. With all of the wonderful colors Christmas decorations bring to our homes, it’s nice to find a place where neutral, but festive, décor can allow the eyes to rest a bit before moving on to the next bold and beautiful thing.

Joy Snowbird table decoration, gingerbread house, white nativity
Winter white!

 

My joyful snowbird display has become one of my new favorite Christmas decorations along with the white nativity that has been in my family for generations. Originally my Noni’s, the wooden manger was hand built by my grandfather. I even decorated an all-white gingerbread house this year to add to the theme.

Old Meets New

When it comes to decorating for Christmas I love holding up all of my family’s traditions as well as introducing some new looks and styles that may become traditions for my children in the future.

Have you tried anything new when decorating for Christmas this year? What are your favorite ways to dress up your home for the holidays?

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Holiday Books – Good for the Soul: A Guest Blog

five holiday books suggested by Karla Kittler

Hello and Happy Monday!

I am excited to present today’s guest post by my sister, Karla Kittler. Karla is an educator by trade and currently the Program Coordinator of Ohrstrom Library at St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH. When Karla first began working in what I like to call, the Library Arts, her teaching talents truly shined. She has turned her knowledge and passion for reading and books into an art form. Just look at this adorable book sculpture.

 

Snowman sculpture made of books

When she suggested I post about great holiday books, I said. “Absolutely, but let’s hear it from you!”

Karla’s Favorite Holiday Books

The Holiday frenzy is upon us. The countdown has begun and we are hustling and bustling to check everything off our to do lists. Wouldn’t it be nice to take some time to relax and enjoy the season? Did you know that reading for as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress by 60 percent, slow heartbeat, ease tension and alter your state of mind? Treat yourself to a few minutes each day with a holiday story that soothes your mind and soul. Here are five of my favorite holiday books. They are quick reads and will help you remember the true meaning of Christmas.

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg – A classic holiday tale set in small town America where good things happen to good people.

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham – In this modern day holiday story the reader is offered an entertaining look at the chaos that has become part of our holiday tradition.

The Precious Present by Spencer Johnson- If you’re stumped with what to get someone on your list, consider The Precious Present. It’s appropriate for men and women, teenagers and adults, avid and reluctant readers. I was introduced to this book by my brother in law who told me “This book really moved me and you can read it in its entirety while in the bathroom!” Unlike all the other males in our family, I choose not to read in the bathroom. That being said, this book is a very quick read and helps the reader keep their eye on the ball during the busy holiday season.

Winter Street, Winter Stroll & Winter Storm (a trilogy) by Elin Hilderbrand – For those of you familiar with the author, she often writes about her beloved Nantucket. If you’ve been lucky enough to visit the island, you will feel its charm while reading as you enter the realm of Nantucket during the holidays.

The 13th Day of Christmas by Jason F. Wright – A quick read with a powerful message. This is a story of hope and faith in the most challenging of times.

No time for a good read?

If you don’t feel like reading a book, how about listening to a book? Most of the holiday books above are available in audio format. I love listening to a book on my daily commute. It makes the time fly by and I get more reading time in.

Not a fan of holiday books?

Even if you’re not into holiday stories, pick up something, anything and read a little each day. It will do your body and mind good!

Happy Holidays!

Karla Kittler
Program Coordinator
Ohrstrom Library
St. Paul’s School
Concord, NH.

*Be sure to check out your local library for these and many other great titles.

Thank You

Thank you Karla, The Precious Present is one of my all-time favorites too and yes, the brother-in-law Karla speaks of is Tony. I look forward to picking up one of Karla’s other selections over Christmas break and I may even stop into my local book store to purchase a title or two as last minute Christmas gifts. Yes, I’m still shopping.

Have a great week everyone.

 

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Columbus Day – What to do?

Columbus Day - statue

 

Happy Columbus Day! This is the first year in a long time that my weekend has not been consumed by a soccer tournament or some other kid activity.  Not going to lie – it’s been pretty great.

Today is the official Columbus Day holiday and, of course, it got me thinking about this lovely day off. If you’re not so fortunate to have the day to yourself, I wish you the opportunity to knock off early and do something enjoyable.

So Columbus Day – the day in 1492 when Christopher Columbus “discovered” America. There’s lots to be said about the history of this day.  Here are a few sites that shed light in far more an articulate manner than I ever could…

http://www.history.com/topics/exploration/columbus-day

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/10/11/why-is-columbus-day-still-a-u-s-federal-holiday/

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/why-we-celebrate-columbus-day

http://usafederalholidays.com/columbus-day/

OK, now that we’ve brushed up on all things Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria I have to figure out what I’ m going to do this quiet Monday.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. Gardening – I really need to get outside and spruce up. A few seasonal mums and some pumpkins should do the trick. This may be a little ambitious though.
  2. How about a Hike? – This really seems a perfect thing to do after yesterday’s washout and what better time than fall to walk among the trees.
  3. Newburyport Fall Festival – I’m always up for a ride to Newburyport and today I’m even more intrigued with live music in Market Square from 1-4 pm and the 15th Annual Scarecrow Concert. http://newenglandfallevents.com/home/calendar/event/104
  4. Sales – Did someone say shopping? Check out Business Insider’s Columbus Day Sales not to miss. http://www.businessinsider.com/columbus-day-sales-deals-2016-10. Not bad!
  5. Topsfield Fair – Today’s the last day. If you’re a fan of fairs – now’s your last chance.
  6. LEGO Lovers Look Out– The Wenham Museum is featuring LEGOs at Large. http://www.wenhammuseum.org/exhibits/
  7. Boston – the Fenway Alliance presents Opening Our Doors – Boston’s largest free day of arts, cultural and educational events. Check out everything the Fenway Cultural District has to offer. For more to do in Boston, go to Boston-Discovery-Guide.com
  8. And last but never least in my agenda book: Nothing, do absolutely nothing. Just enjoy a lazy day at home and re-charge for whatever comes next in your life.

Number eight is sounding pretty good right about now! What fun things are you up to this Columbus Day?

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The Labor Day Holiday is Here – Bye Bye Summer

Happy Labor Day Graphic

Today is Labor Day. According to History.com, this holiday is….

“…observed on the first Monday in September. It pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events.”

As the unofficial end of summer, with rain in the forecast and school starting tomorrow, I am certainly feeling closure.

 

education-908512_1280

 

So here we go – right back to it, whether we like it or not. In honor of this Labor Day holiday, I’ll keep this post short and sweet. In honor of the crazy, back to school week ahead, the blog will be on break until next Monday, the 12th.

However you choose to spend it, enjoy this Labor Day Holiday, today, and the last moments of summer.

Happy Labor Day!

See you in a week.

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Happy 4th of July! How are you celebrating?

4th of July North Andover Fireworks, 7/3/2016
North Andover Fireworks, 7/3/2016

 

So far, this 4th of July weekend, the weather has been beautiful, the beaches packed and barbecues plentiful. I have enjoyed time with my family and friends and took in a beautiful fireworks display in good old North Andover.

But more than all the busy stuff, I have most enjoyed lazy mornings, catching up on yard work and evening walks with my dog, Oscar. It’s always the simple things that make the biggest impression on me. Don’t get me wrong – I love a little hype now and again, but laying low can be just as rewarding. In past years, we’ve typically traveled over the 4th of July holiday. Being at home this year gave us the welcomed opportunity to enjoy Independence Day at a different, slower pace.

Overall, it’s been a wonderful holiday weekend. In addition to the fun and festivities, we’ve had the opportunity to reflect and celebrate the freedom and goodness that our great country still has to offer. Today I pray for peace, prosperity and continued American pride.

How did you spend your 4th of July weekend?

***On an unrelated note – I’m excited to announce that I’ll be sitting in for my first radio spot tomorrow on Eagle News Radio, The Conversation Station, WCCM 1110am. I’ll be a guest on Lysa Pelletier-Gibbs’, show, Valley Girls, on air at 11:00 am. We’ll be talking about reinventing yourself after forty. I’ll hope you’ll tune in.***

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