Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Shifting Gears

I often go careening around the corner from Thanksgiving into December/Christmas/Winter. But it feels different this time. I'm sure that having an early celebration has something to do with it, since we had a traditional dinner last Sunday. But we have negotiated many early celebrations before. So maybe I just made deeper tracks this time.

I thought I might set up a tree beforehand, but just a hint of decoration served when time ran short. (As it often does.) But all the important things were done in plenty of time. I found a make ahead gravy recipe that a friend posted on FB that turned out great! Here's the link. The head cook made the mashed potatoes the day before. And I made the pies day before too. (No brainer. Everybody does that!) We kept the menu simple, and roasted the bird unstuffed so it cooks faster. But I think having a smallish crowd of ten helped keep things calmer.

We also found another fun new thing for us on Amazon Prime. They have a bunch of nature themed videos for free with membership. Some of them are pretty funky, but 'Winter's Solitude' has beautiful snow scenes with low key Christmas music. Or you can just keep the sound off and have pretty pictures instead of a big black screen (or worse) in the middle of everything.

And, since fall things are sort of all finished the minute Thanksgiving is done, I thought I would sneak in a peek at this lap quilt I am always planning to post and never do. It was the first one I ever made back in the early 80's. I was all into these colors, handwork, and Country Living in those days. Since I am someone else now, I have actually bleached this twice to tone down the fire, but nothing at all happened to dull the bright color.

I rarely show this quilt anymore now, but I am saving it for posterity. And speaking of dull, I like remembering a comment that a helpful neighbor, a PHD in Child Psychology, made when she saw that I had fashioned a crib dust ruffle, quilt, and crib bumper for my new little girl out of the brown fabric shown here. I found the calico adorable with eyelet lace trim all around. (She is my only daughter, and we loved Holly Hobbie so much then!) But turns out that brown makes your baby dumber than primary colors! To think the genius she might have been! Haha!

Things also got shifted around a bit as they can when you are making room for merriment. This antique hall tree which has lived for a time in the dining room was on its way out the front door when it asked for a reprieve to stay in this entryway corner. Probably should have been here the whole time.

It has shown up on the blog from time to time like it does here on the left in this photo. (A lattice screen has taken its place.)

Now the rack just peeks out over the shoulder of that adobe wall behind the big screen.

A few comfy chairs also got schlepped in from other places for our guests. This chair is usually covered in crochet lace in a bedroom out of the way. But I found myself glad to see it in here again.

I gave a thought to passing on the high chair too, but she just doesn't want to go yet! And a friend saw this barrel in the last photo of my last post and asked how I planned to use it. What a crazy question! I never have any idea of course! But it became a handy place to stow my pitcher and bowls so I could use the window bench for dinner. It can stay as long as it wants.

An extra card table, and my Queensware china, and before you knew it, it was all over! (Buffet style only at this narrow table for a crowd like this.)

Today was spent reverse engineering everything. But it was a pleasure hand washing all the family heirlooms, monograms, and special possessions once again.

Things have to stay ready for the next month or so of comings and goings. And there will be more gravy and pies in a day or so somewhere else. There will be time later still for a tree or two.

For now, I see a little time spent right here. Like a Sunday driver in the slow lane. . . .

Even that brown chair gets to hang around in here for a while longer!
 Feels really smart to me!

Hygge hugs to you!
And a Happy Thanksgiving!

See you on the other side!


Friday, November 17, 2017

The Thanksgiving Hutch

The holiday season often starts with a refresh of our dining room hutch. It tends to get loaded down over time because it can hold so much. That is both the up and the down side!
 So a tidying up tends to be more about what is taken off of it rather than much new added.

I knew I wanted an evergreen crown for it this year though. And so far I am sticking to a Thanksgiving theme for the most part until a little bit later.

Much of it should look familiar, since I tend to stick to the same things. I was happy to find that Tricia Foley has a big lidless tureen high up on a shelf in her kitchen similar the one I keep, so I am feeling validated. I could never manage to be as minimal as she is, but her recent book "Life/Style-Elegant Simplicity at Home" has been a huge inspiration for me. Her love of white has certainly been a big influence on me too.

This might be the most pared down version of the hutch I have ever done though. I wonder if you can see the difference? I have just a sampling represented from all the things I love to collect rather than trying to keep so many dishes in one place.

A few favorites like this little bunny tureen always seem to get pride of place. It will hold a bit of cranberry sauce.

The chickens get a feature this time, as do the pottery beakers from Guy Wolff Pottery up top. We will love toasting the season a time or two from them in an old timey way this year.

I love the sparkle of a bit of silver peeking out here and there too.

I thought I would do more transferware than this, but my white plates won out again. The new farm theme plates balance the terracotta beakers out nicely so they will get a turn to shine for awhile.

I have several more marmalade jars, but I find that using only a few really works better to keep the balance with so much variety. I really do try to keep things from looking too busy.

I wouldn't want to live without a dresser and hutch ever again! 

A fresh runner on the sideboard and we're good to go.

That ironstone piece at center is something I found at a fleamarket years ago, and appears to have fit on the top of a coffee pot, as it has a grid of holes on bottom. It has no other practical use for me than to look old fashioned and pretty.

The only thing new here is a big silver soup ladle I found last summer.

The candlesticks are actually pewter that got diverted on their way to the shop. I'm afraid that happens a lot!

Another favorite are these ironstone pudding bowls with faces on them that hardly turn up in markets for me. I have only a few, but they transport me to another time. 

Now I have to stow away all the stuff that didn't make the cut! (And it was a lot.) Getting the table ready is the next order of business! 

Busy weekend ahead!
 I hope it's a nice one for you!


Monday, November 13, 2017

Elegant Little Gifts

We get an early start to Thanksgiving with a dinner for ten on Sunday, so this week has me busy preparing and cleaning up my act! It's a good chance to count napkins and forks and such while making sure everything is clean and ready.

It's also a big time of reflection for me. Touching again items that have been gifted or bequeathed to me. Remembering certain possessions that a particular family member admires. Thinking about Christmas ahead. And, of course, musing on those now absent from our celebrations.

My thoughts are often full as I stand at the ironing board pressing fresh linens. This time I am thinking "my daughter would love this," and "my sister would love that," and other such related considerations.

It got me thinking of stories I love, like "The Gift of the Magi" by O'Henry. It's the one where a newly married couple with little money want to buy gifts for each other. On Christmas Eve the husband sells his watch to buy his wife combs for her beautiful long hair, while she cuts her hair off and sells it to buy a watch fob for his precious watch. A lovely old story of meaningful gift-giving.

It seems that our times call for a return to simple gifts. Where even the sharing of a sentimental story can be a memorable offering. Hearing stories has always been a key part of my love of Christmas.

But little elegant gifts are going to be included in my gifting this year too. The kind that have no on or off switch, or that are strictly practical. It will be my bit of old-fashioned storybook gift giving.

This sweet and creamy net lace table square is the sort of thing I am talking about.

Or these adorable floral teaspoons from Holland that came from my mother in law, now gone. I could gift them as a set, or give one tiny spoon to my granddaughters to remind them of our tea parties together. 

(The larger spoon is for sugar.)

I also enjoy dressing up pretty vintage frames with nice papers or special photos.
Even a handwritten quote or message.

A single serving utensil of any kind can make a sweet present.

Especially paired with a pretty linen towel.

I also present treats and food gifts on the small bits of china or silver that I am ready to pass along. These are the sorts of things that I collect for very little money all year long.

And then it will be so much fun wrapping elegant little packages to match!

I think that I have shared before how this early part of the season is what I enjoy the most. Before too many carols and commercials. While there's still time to see all the movies and read those stories, and fit in all the parts of what makes Christmas special. I hope it happens for you too!

Wishing you an enjoyable week ahead!