Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

Wishing all of my blog friends a Happy New Year. I'm really not a fan of New Year's. I get down when Christmas ends and the "magic" is gone and to me New Year's is always a let down - a holiday thrown in - but I can't say that I'll be sad to see 2007 go. It has been one of the most trying and difficult years for me and some of my close friends and family. 2008 is full of bright promise. I can't say all was bad in 2007 - one of the very best things that ever happened to me came about in March of 2007 - when I started blogging and met all of you. You are truly all inspirations to me and I feel a very close bond with all of you even though most of us have never met. I wish you all light, love, peace, and prosperity in 2008 and beyond and I look forward to starting the journey of the New Year with all of you.

The new "green" energy efficient Waterford ball debuting tonight in Times Square.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Twas the Days After Christmas

Hello fellow bloggers! I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday. Though things have calmed down, we are still in entertaining mode here. We are hosting a small family gathering today and a small gathering on New Year's Eve. Thankfully I have the week off from work! Santa was very good to me and it was wonderful to spend time with the family. Looking forward to visiting everyone and catching up in between parties over the next few days!
I did have an opportunity to sneak a few craft projects in right before Christmas. I wanted to try bleaching the bottlebrush trees as so many have been showing. I can't remember where this idea originated but yay to the blogger who discovered this trick! After bleaching I used some glass and silver glitters to spice things up. I also had these fun cutouts that I hadn't had a chance to use. This piece became a perfect fit for our powder room, which was lacking in holiday decor.
I used a vintage jewel to top the center tree.

As I was running around the day before Christmas Eve, my good friend called and asked if I could make a Victorian style ornament for her to give as a gift. I couldn't pass up the opportunity - good thing I had more of these cutouts! This is the piece I came up with for her. It was fun to take a break from cleaning and baking and sprucing to get one more crafty thing in!

I like to have unique place cards every year. This year, I took an idea from Kari and Kijsa and gave each dinner guest a Christmas quote tied to an angel ornament. As we started dinner, each person read their quote aloud. I tried to use quotes that spoke to the true meaning of the holiday.

This little guy was a big hit. It is a tree made entirely of cheese with parsley and tomatoes used to complete the look at topped with a yellow bell pepper star. It tasted good and made a cute presentation!

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas One and All

Wishing you a Merry Christmas
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:8-11

May you have peace, love, and happiness today and throughout the New Year.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Some Holiday Housekeeping

So I really should be doing some actual housekeeping but anyway - I was just taking a break and flipping through my favorite blogs when I came across a little gift from Jenn & Jacqui! The Fifi So Nice Award! Thanks ladies, you really made my day. I know exactly who I want to pass this to - Miss Heather Pretty Petals! Heather has a very kind, caring, and compassionate heart as well as one of the most beautiful blogs and boutiques around. She has gone above and beyond in her kindness and support and I can think of no one more deserving of this award.

I also want to thank Natasha for giving me a Rockin Girl Blogger award! This is my third one so I guess I'm a lot more rockin then I thought LOL! Thanks for all that you do as well Natasha.

I also want to let you know that Bren and Kim are hosting some wonderful giveaways. Pop over to their places to enter.

I do plan to post again before Christmas but just in case time gets away from me - Merry Christmas to all!

Holiday Cheer,

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's the Holiday Season So Whoop-de-doo

Why oh why is Blogger acting up suddenly?! It is not letting me place photos or text properly. Apologies for the jumbled posts!
This photo of Margot just about sums it up - we are frazzled around here! It seems like no matter what I do or how much pre-planning happens, I still get a little crazy the week before Christmas. I did get all of my shopping done a while back but nary a gift has been wrapped (on today's to-do list - though it has been on today's to-do for about two weeks!). I also have yet to watch Holiday Inn and White Christmas. To me, Christmas just can't happen until I've watched these two movies as well as Miracle on 34th Street. I'm very fortunate to work where I do, we will be shut down for the week between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day - so there will be plenty of movie watching time, but it just isn't the same. Gotta get these holiday movies in before the holiday - otherwise why bother? I know, I sound a little nutty! The other thing I am nutty about is Christmas music - I listen to it practically non-stop starting after Thanksgiving. I've got it playing right now. I'm beginning to feel there are only so many times one can listen to "Winter Wonderland" and "Silver Bells" before losing their mind, but gotta get those carols in during the season! Perhaps I'm going crazy?


Monday, December 17, 2007

What Makes Magical Holiday Windows? Hard Work.

Photos by Daniel Krieger

Hmmm, first I must apologize for the willy nilly placement of these photos and the blocks of text. For some reason Blogger is not letting me place them nice and neatly and is not letting me properly space text (perhaps it is frazzled with holiday stress?)
As so many of you are aware, the major department stores of NYC put together fabulous holiday window displays. These displays are yearly tourist attractions with lines upon lines just to get a view of the displays. Three of the most ornate and popular are those put forth by Macy's, Saks, and Lord & Taylor. The photos depict the Lord & Taylor magic. My newspaper recently featured an article on the man heading up the Lord & Taylor windows (what a fun job!). I found it very interesting and thought I would share with you. Article is by Samantha Critchell.
Manoel Renha, a 40ish Brazilian-turned-New Yorker with a slim build and trim dark hair, has more in common with jolly old St. Nick than appearances would suggest.

Renha thinks about the holidays all year long. He works with his own little cadre of elves, helping him make dolls look just right and adding just the right amount of glitter to each decoration. He spends long days and even many nights in a secret workshop.
Renha is the creative director for windows at Lord & Taylor's flagship store in Manhattan. The six over sized windows that face Fifth Avenue, which rise from a basement studio on the nation's only window hydraulic lift system, are Renha's gifts to the city and to all the visitors that come here to capture a little bit of holiday magic.
They never feature merchandise; they always have multiple moving parts. Lord & Taylor has done them for 80 years with Renha providing the creative juice for 21 of them.
The official theme for this year's windows is the five senses. But the windows also transport passers-by to the early part of the 20th century in faraway lands such as Paris, Copenhagen and Denmark.

"I always say my last one was my favorite but this one really is up there," Renha says. Other themes near and dear to him were "The Nutcracker" and fairy tales.
"The fun part is seeing the windows and eavesdropping on the comments. The best comments are from the kids they're so honest!" he says. "I take seriously their comments for the next year."
Renha never set out to be one of Santa Claus' helpers. He studied to be an architect but soon after school he was asked by family friends to work with them to change the image of their department-store chain. "Since then, I've been in retail," he says with a smile.
But when it comes to the holiday windows, Renha doesn't have to worry about pushing the season's "hot items." The process is more organic than that: With a few ideas swirling in his mind, he'll do loose sketches of scenes that he thinks will entertain and delight the crowds. Those produce a concept and, then, technical drawings. "That's where my architect and set designer background come in," he says.
In the summer, Renha does the same sort of inspiration boards that fashion designers use, a haphazard group of magazine clips, photographs, print swatches and color cards that set a mood. He later becomes an expert in the costumes, buildings, fabric, food and colors of the era.
It's a lot of work and expense for a project that doesn't necessarily drive traffic into the store. But Lord & Taylor's senior vice president of advertising, promotion and public relations LaVelle Olexa says the windows are about a bigger picture.
"The world who visits New York City expects fabulous windows. It's something important to the city overall. It would be a big miss not to have them," she says. "People remember coming back with their parents and now coming back with their own children or even grandchildren.
"Of course, she hopes this goodwill will turn into consumer loyalty eventually.
"Maybe they're not shopping today, but they might tomorrow or the day after," Olexa says.
Ultimately about 200 people have a hand in the creation of the windows, but Renha relies mostly on the two dozen in his own department that are there from the brainstorming sessions to the final touches.
"You can't count the yards of fabric we use for the windows. We buy everything in bulk," Renha says showing off bolts of satin and lace and boxes upon boxes of glittery garland and mini faux cranberries. A few boxes of toymaker Breyer's realistic animal figurines also are scattered about.
It's not uncommon for the garland to be cut into 1-inch pieces and all the cranberries cut off their branches. How else would one make a wreath that's scale-appropriate for a home where its residents are only 2 feet tall?
The hot glue gun is a favorite tool this time of year because everyone is in a rush to finish every last detail, from putting icing on the cakes to positioning the carving knife in Grandpa's hand.
"Everything has to be done by hand on this scale," Renha explains. "The details are what makes the difference." Each outfit is finished as if it were headed to the selling floor, with even hems and embellished trim. Shoes for each of the 80 characters are tiny pieces of leather sewn together. Renha can't use typical dolls' clothes because the size isn't quite right his figures are a little bigger. It's also difficult to find printed fabric for the garments and upholstery because the scale has to be so small.
"It's easy to find big prints, especially now in fashion, but not for these proportions," he says. Luckily, a child's tea set does work for the Parisian bakery scene this year. Glass-making isn't one of Renha's many talents.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Snow Day

Yesterday was our first major snow storm of the season. I was in work for only a few hours before they decided to shut down early for the day. Yay! Snow Day! Our neighbors are hosting an open house this weekend. Rather then bring a hostess gift for our hosts extraordinaire, I decided to make cocoa kits for their three kids. I think they will get a kick out of these.

Here are the after effects of the storm. It wasn't too bad, maybe 5 inches or so of snow. Jeff's outside snow blowing the sidewalks now.

These trees act as the fence between our backyard and our neighbors. I think they make a lovely set of Christmas trees with the new fallen snow.

Margot doesn't mind the snow. She likes to run around in it but she was a bit timid as this is the first storm of the season and I don't think she quite remembers what to do!

A little housekeeping, I have one Silver Glitter Tree Ornament left in my shop if anyone is interested. Now I must get ready for work, I really should be out the door soon! Have a wonderful day friends.

P.S. Special thanks to Karla for hosting the fabulous Holiday Home party. I was overwhelmed by all the wonderful comments I received! I think I got to visit all of you and share in your wonderful and magical worlds!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Karla's Cottage Holiday Home Party

Welcome to my Holiday Home! Special thanks to Karla Nathan for hosting this fabulous party. I have to warn you that I may have gone overboard with the photos but I couldn't bare to edit any out! We'll start with the outside - we put evergreen wreathes on all of the windows. This year I decided to go for a more natural look and leave out the bows. The window boxes are filled with faux snowballs. Project information can be found here.

As we approach the front door, you will find the wreath I blogged about here.

Please do come in, make yourself at home and pull up a chair. Can I interest you in some hot cocoa, tea, coffee?

I dressed up the dining room chandelier with some vintage glass ornaments I found while at an estate sale this past year. I only dropped one in the process of tying these on LOL!

Please come have a seat in the living room. Here is our Christmas tree. It is real - Jeff won't go for a fake one! Yes, our living room walls are a golden yellow though I've noticed they come across a lot more vibrant in photos then they are in person. These walls were an awful shade of peachy brown when we moved in - I really can't even describe the color! We went with a creamy white but I soon decided we needed more color! I've recently told Jeff that I may want to change the color yet again - he wasn't too happy!

Allow me to show you some of my favorite ornaments. This little red clock is my most favorite. This has been part of my Christmas tree since I was a child and I snagged it from my mother when I moved out. I have placed this ornament on the tree every year for as long as I can remember. I don't know why it appeals to me so much - my mother thinks I'm crazy as it is just a cheap little thing that came in a package with many ornaments but it is very kitchy don't you think?

This is one of two Italian themed ornaments my mother gave us last year. This one depicts the Trevi Fountain in Rome. We have a special love for Italy as both Jeff and I are of Italian ancestry and we honeymooned in Italy.

Another favorite - this one also came into our collection last year. I love old movies, esp. old Bing Crosby films. I love, love, love Holiday Inn - one of my all time favorites and of course love White Christmas. This ornament plays the movie version of White Christmas. Our dog Margot can't figure out why the tree is singing - it is quite funny to watch her cock her head from side to side in confusion and wonder!

Speaking of Margot - there are several ornaments with a dog theme - this one features her photo and was given to us by Jeff's grandmother.

This is a lovely addition for this year - it is from my mother-in-law and she just gave it to me last week. Cardinals are my favorite bird and we also live on a street with Cardinal in its name so we have several cardinal items throughout our home.

This is our mantle. I was just telling Karla that I am leaning towards more silvers and creams in holiday decor but you'd never know it! Most of our decorations are in the traditional red and green.

Before Jeff and I got together he used to decorate his Christmas tree in all gold. We have several boxes of gold glass ornaments that we don't really use anymore. They go up and down from the attic year to year. So this year, I decided to create some wreathes for the living room windows.

This is a Cardinal Christmas tree that is stationed by our front door.

An adorable tie on that Kari and Kijsa included with my silhouette I posted about in my last entry.

Here are the results of some of the fabulous Joli Paquets I purchased. The bell kit came from Heather...

...and this Sugar Shack kit came from Holly. She had such a run on these I was lucky to snag one!

This lovely doll is from Angelina.

This little pillow is one of the first Christmas themed items I bought when Jeff and I first moved in together.

Care for a sleigh ride? I have to say I've always wanted to go on one but haven't yet... The cone is another beauty from Holly.

My mother made me this Santa mug when I was a child.

As we make our way into the kitchen we come across a few more Santas. This tin one was given to me by my grandmother. She used to use this in her holiday decor.

This sleepy time Santa was a craft fair purchase many, many years ago. I like his slippers! This is what Santa does after a long Christmas night!

Even my aprons are ready for the holidays!

We do have a chimney but in case Santa has had too much milk and cookies or has a really big gift - say a new flat screen TV - he can use his special key from the famous and local Woodbury Pewter.

Ready or not here comes Santa Claus! I took this photo a few days ago as you can see - I think we are down to something like 13 days!
I hope you have enjoyed your tour of my Holiday Home. I'm off to visit some others now!
Wishing you and yours much peace, love, and happiness throughout the holiday season and beyond.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,

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