Showing posts with label decorating. Show all posts
Showing posts with label decorating. Show all posts

January 31, 2014

Friday Flowers

Many, many moons ago, when I was a 20-something writer living in England, I used to buy myself flowers nearly every Friday. I lived in a little village that had everything you could ask for: a post office, a train station that went directly to London in 20 minutes, a small grocery store, an even smaller corner shop, the best bagels I've ever had in my life, and a flower shop. 

We used to get out of work early on Fridays -- around lunchtime. Believe me, we still worked a 40-hour-week (sometimes much longer!) but those Friday were glorious. Unless there was a crazy deadline, I was out the door early. 

I'd clean my house, get food for the weekend, water my plants, and I'd almost always go for a walk. England has the best footpaths that make you feel as though you're miles from civilization, even though you're just a block away from a main street. And even when you're in a residential area, people are serious about their flower gardens.

My actual flower garden was in a sad state. The lady who lived in the house previously had multiple green thumbs and she left an amazing bunch of flowers for me to tend to. Sadly, I didn't have a clue what to do unless the flowers were in a pot. To make matters worse, in what was meant to be a good deed, my neighbor mowed my tiny front yard for me and hacked my flowers apart in the process. (They hadn't yet bloomed... and somehow he couldn't tell the difference between flower stems and the giant grass growing around them.)

Along my walk home, I'd invariably stop to admire the buckets of flowers outside the florist's. And then, I'd almost always purchase some. Even if my outdoor flower garden wasn't up to snuff, I'd have some gorgeous blooms indoors. 

Today, after going for a walk (the temperatures were above freezing, I'm happy to report), I stopped to get some groceries on the way home. At the entrance to the store, I saw these mini yellow roses, and I realized far too many Fridays have passed since I bought myself some flowers. I think the last time may have been months ago, when I bought these carnations.

I think it might be high time to re-institute the Friday Flower tradition. 
Have a great weekend! 

December 24, 2013

Twinkle, Twinkle Simple Star

I've always been a bit of a minimalist with Christmas decorations. Perhaps it's because it often seems like I'm in transition, or because I don't have a lot of space. I've moved around a lot over the years. Storage used to be at a premium in our household. Now that we've relocated to a larger place, we do actually have storage space, but I still don't like to clutter it up with a lot of items that only get used for a few weeks out of the year. 

However, I admittedly love twinkle lights -- the plain old white kind that don't blink. 

There is something calming about them. They remind me of stars on a cold clear night. And stars to me symbolize direction. They were how seafarers of old navigated the oceans. Stars are there to remind us which hemisphere and season we're in -- even when the weather tells us otherwise. Plus, let's face it -- they're practical. They actually illuminate a room. I even keep them out through the dark nights of January and February.

My symbolic stars are the one consistent decoration I always string up for the holidays. Even when I lived on a ship off the coast of Africa, I still hung up white lights in my cozy cabin. 

I like to have a single star hanging somewhere, too. When I decorated my cabin door for Christmas one year on the ship, I made a huge star and hung it there. Now, I have a single silvery glittery ornament acquired in a Christmas clearance that hangs in a window. This year it's flanked by two snowflakes. It's unlikely that I'll see the real stuff this year where we live. 

Last year, I branched out with decorating for the holidays and I found a small tree for a whole dollar at a thrift store. I call it my Charlie Brown tree... it's only about a foot tall, and it's the perfect size for the miniature wooden ornaments I thrifted on the same day. 

The other week some friends came over for dinner, and as soon as they arrived, they commented on our IKEA shelf. The next breath, they asked us if we had a Christmas tree. 

The Charlie Brown tree was right on that same IKEA shelf. 

They had missed it. I guess I had too many twinkle lights on the shelf -- the tree kind of got lost. I think so often in the glitz and glamor of this season, we miss it too. Not the Christmas tree itself, but something a whole lot deeper. 

I missed it for years. I grew up in a church that didn't celebrate Christmas. (That, dear readers, is a long story for another time....) For years I dismissed the Christmas story itself simply because I didn't believe it actually occurred in December. But whatever time of year it happened is somewhat irrelevant to me now, because I believe it did actually occur at some point.

My father-in-law joked last week that Christmas has become man's tradition. It's true. But remember what I said earlier about stars symbolizing direction... my man-made stars and lights simply remind me of what I already believe.

Over two thousand years ago, the Magi followed a star. In this day and age of Google Maps and GPS systems, it seems so simple (and even a little crazy!) that the wise men of the day merely followed a star to find the One they knew they had to worship. A star

This holiday season, in the midst of gift-wrapping, parties and holiday cookies, remember to reflect on the greatest gift ever given. Remember that this gift is free... with no strings attached. And the next time you see a simple star in the sky, remember the Magi and the reason they set off on their journey in the first place. 

May your own journeys take you to wonderous and delightful places this season. 

Merry Christmas! 

December 11, 2013

Holiday Greetings Display

Over the years, I've lived in a number of places where sticky (or blue) tack wasn't even allowed, let alone repainting or putting a nail in the wall to hang something. I got so used to small spaces and creative decorating, that even though now we have more than enough space in our new holiday apartment to string up holiday cards, I still like to keep them in one big bowl. 

Sadly, this bowl is no longer necessary for the plants it once housed -- shortly after we moved they showed some sickly signs. (They have been re-potted into other vessels in the hopes that I can revive them.) Nevertheless, the bowl is a great sized container to hold a few extra Christmas baubles and those cards. Most years, both the bowl and baubles change. Recently, I found these pretty blue ornaments at a thrift store and decided they were this year's color.

I got the idea from a magazine years ago... I don't remember which one, but I do know people often comment on how fun it is when they see the cards all piled in there. It's nice to be able to just pick up and flip through the cards throughout the season, rather than taping them shut so they don't flap on the wall when the heating blows through the apartment. 

And it also reminds me that I'm procrastinating on sending my own holiday greetings. So if you'll excuse me... there's a stack of cards to be written. 

How about you? Do you mail out holiday greetings? If so, how do you display them?

December 5, 2013

Merry Countdown

It's beginning.

I noticed that the day after Thanksgiving, both my Bloglovin' and Instagram feeds filled up with photos and posts of Christmas decorating ideas. 

I've got plenty of time to make stuff to decorate the apartment, I thought. 
Then I looked at the calendar. 


Thanksgiving really was a little later than usual this year, huh?!

So far, this holly garland is all that's up. And as soon as I finish mailing out my Christmas cards, I just may get around to decorating some more winter decor before the end of this month. (Although it was 73 degrees here yesterday. Not really weather conducive to trimming a tree.)


November 14, 2013

Ordinary Carnations

Even though I mentioned not collecting knick-knacks in my last post, I still do have a few breakables around the apartment. Most have multiple purposes though, both for function and decor -- like old mason jars or oil and vinegar carafes. 

Some days the empty jars are pretty all on their own. 

Other days they need a few flowers.

Earlier this week, the Sailor and I had new (and newlywed!) friends over for food and fellowship. Despite the intimate size of our dinner table, I was determined to have a few flowers present. I only possess one large vase, but when I don't have enough flowers (or space on the table for that matter) I prefer to use a few smaller jars instead -- like those mason jars. 

I'm not super picky with my flowers, but I usually don't gravitate towards carnations first. I think it's because I can usually find them everywhere, so I tend to look for other more unusual flowers, first.

Carnations also seem so ordinary

This time, I bought them anyway. 

Our evening in the end proved to be anything but ordinary -- the four of us represented three countries and even more languages, as well as multiple professions. (If you're counting both the wine and entrée choice, we could have added Australia and Scotland to the mix, as well.)

We wiled away the hours swapping travel tales and only later, after we bid a fond farewell to this couple, the Sailor and I realized once again, that our life is not only truly extraordinary -- but we've made extraordinary friends along the way. 

We're not sure when we might see our friends again. They're now boarding a plane for the other side of the world, with so many uncertainties ahead. I'm pretty sure though that they'll be able to find carnations where they are going.

I think I'm beginning to change my opinion on these flowers. Carnations may be somewhat ordinary on the outside, but they also have a secret -- they are some of the heartiest and longest-lasting flowers you can buy. 

With that in mind, I'll think of the newlyweds whenever I see (supposedly) ordinary carnations -- especially red ones -- and I'll remember that special evening we shared together. And I'll raise a mason jar of carnations to the brave couple beginning their own adventure together. May it also be extraordinary and long-lasting.

January 11, 2013

Hope for Spring

Remember when I said the post-holiday winter months sometimes still need some extra sparkle?

Well apparently it's supposed to feel a little like spring here this weekend -- 
at least for a few minutes.

My sparkly snowman may already be obsolete.  

Not that I'm complaining. I could always use some extra sunshine in my life.

It's usually the favorite part of my day -- the moments when the sun streams through the windows, shadows dancing on the walls. Sometimes I'm so busy I don't even notice -- but lately I've tried to make more of an effort to stop whatever I'm doing and simply observe.

I like to think of these above-average temperature days as a little glimpse into the future. Spring may still be a long way off, but for a few fleeting moments, I can actually picture leaves on the barren trees.

Hope shining through.


December 27, 2012

Winter Decor

I love how snow seems to make everything quiet. 

(Unless of course, you're driving. In which case, yuck... it's not serene nor peaceful when your tires are squealing -- be careful out there in the coming days and weeks if you are traveling in snowy locations!)

Having it snow reminded me that winter is actually here. It doesn't just come and go on Christmas day... it usually lingers for a few months afterwards. 

A friend of mine once told me she decorates her home for winter, not just for the holidays. I like that theory, and so I've adopted it as my own. After all, let's face it, January and February can both be yucky months depending on where you live -- sometimes we need a little extra sparkle in the decor. Like glittery pine cones inside a vintage salt shaker turned vase, above.  

Or general snowflake sparkle, with or without spices:  

Red berries combined with small Christmas baubles in gold and red: 

It all looked festive for Christmas, but I still think it fits for a winter scene. So, for now, the berries stay. As do the baubles -- acquired at a thrift shop, along with the mini birdbath they are perched upon.  

I also have dishes that will see the light of day a little more often in the coming months:

(To see more of this gorgeous promotional piece of Pyrex from 1965, 
check out my post on the Pyrex Collective III site, here.