Christmas Tables

This year I added several new members to my nutcracker family and rather than placing them around the house in different locations, I decided to group them all together as a centerpiece for my dining room table. They’ve all come from different places and I’ve even painted a few of them myself, but the oldest one of them all is a German nutcracker that my mother sent me back in the 80s when she lived in Germany. He’s missing an arm because when my kids were little he was a favorite toy, thus I have to angle him cleverly to hide the missing limb.

I couldn’t decide whether to use a plaid or a Christmas print tablecloth but I ultimately decided on this plain damask gold one that didn’t have too bright of a print on it. There’s too much going on with the center decoration and the placemats to use anything too busy.

I have another smaller dining room that we often use for breakfast. This one’s round and we only use four of the six chairs that it has. I went with the plaid tablecloth here because, well…..nothing says Christmas like plaid. It’s so festive. I wanted a sort of woodland scene with deer and snow and some pine trees. So I cut a few cypress branches from some little trees that I have in my yard up at our mountain house and used them as a base to set the deer on. They smell so good and it’s the closest thing we have here to real pines. Pine trees don’t grow in my area, but I can at least pretend that they do in my centerpiece. 

I came across the cutest napkin holders online made out of tiny jingle bells, complete with instructions on how to make them.  They looked easy-peasy (and they were) so I made six of them.

I didn’t have too many Christmas decor items left after I finished putting up garlands, baubles and stockings, so the centerpiece on the table up at our mountain house is a mish mash of left-overs and odd Christmas tree ornaments that had at some point lost their hanging hooks and were otherwise useless. I found another nutcracker on a shelf in my daughter’s room. It used to be a musical nutcracker at one time, before the pull string got stuck and it stopped working.  

A couple of snow globes that I had long forgotten about came down out of a cupboard and completed the look on a mirrored tray.  There isn’t really a “theme” to this one, but I guess it works well enough.

And of course the best part of decorating for any holiday is enjoying a cup of coffee when you’re all done. I did manage to get a mug shot.

This Year’s Christmas Trees

This year I didn’t set up the 9 ft. Monster tree.  I’ve decided to simplify my Christmas decorating and not have to spend several days climbing up and down a ladder stringing lights and hanging ornaments. Now that my kids are grown I no longer have eager little helpers handing me baubles and tinsel so I’m pretty much on my own. I miss those days when they’d excitedly help me carry boxes of ornaments in from the garage and when the opening of each box produced shrieks of delight and surprise.  These days they have other things to do and they aren’t as enthusiastic about helping out.  I suspect they believe tree trimming is seriously over-rated.  So in light of the fact that I was working alone and the very thought of that ladder made me dizzy, I decided leave the 9ft. tree in it’s box and just set up the 7ft. flocked tree that I bought last year as well as the little 4ft. vintage aluminum trees that I’ve had for several years.  I briefly entertained the idea of using a different color scheme than I did last year on the flocked tree but to be honest,  I love how soft tones and pastels look on white trees so I repeated the look this year. Perhaps next year I’ll decorate it differently. 

The 7 ft tree is in the living room of our city house

I like that it sort of matches the furniture, although I didn’t plan it that way.  

The little aluminum trees are a snap to set up. They’re vintage trees from the 1960’s.  I love them because they bring back memories of my childhood Christmases when the whole family got together at my grandmother’s house. My grandma had a 6 ft. aluminum tree for as long as I can remember  and she was so proud of it. 

This tree is in the upstairs window at our mountain house.

This next vintage aluminum tree has pom pom branch tips. I have color wheels that go with these trees which makes the aluminum change color. You’re not supposed to put lights on these because they’re metal so rotating color wheels are used instead. 

This next little silver tree is more modern. Its a snap to se up because it’s pre-lit and it doesn’t need too much stuff on it.

9 ft

This is our 9ft tree in a photo from several years ago. I miss seeing it, but I sure don’t miss having to decorate it and then taking it down again after Christmas.

I was done in no time and was soon able to relax with a cup of coffee and enjoy the light show.

Pink and Pearls Christmas Tree


This year  I bought a flocked Christmas tree. I hadn’t planned on a flocked tree and I always assumed that I didn’t like them because I had seen some pretty fake looking ones over the years. I mean, artificial Christmas trees are artificial enough without the fake snow, right? But back in October I happened to stop at the local Walmart in search of some Halloween items and surprisingly they were already setting up their Christmas displays.


Among the several trees that they had unboxed and set up, there was a lovely 7 ft, perfectly cone shaped flocked Blue Spruce at a perfect price. To my surprise it didn’t look as fake as most. If I didn’t live in a tropical country where pine trees are non-existent and it has never snowed in recorded history, this little tree could very well have fooled folks.  Well, maybe not. But I was smitten nonetheless.


After about a week or so of thinking about it, I went back to Walmart only to discover that they had sold out of flocked trees almost immediately. Not that there were too many to begin with, I had only seen about 10 or 12 boxes of them on the shelf. It turns out that that was their entire inventory.  I should have known. The problem with Walmart in Costa Rica (and other stores here as well) is that they only import a limited amount of any particular item so when it’s gone, it’s gone and there are no rainchecks.  After calling their central offices, they were kind enough to locate a tree for me (the last one in the entire  country!) at a Walmart in a different province and they were kind enough to have it shipped to the store nearest to me at no extra cost. Hurray for their customer service!


I wanted to give pastel tones a try this year. I rather like the soft toned down look of the tree. I used pearl garland rather than the ubiquitous tinsel one because I didn’t want the garland to overshadow the ornaments. Pale pink sparkly poinsettias filled up large spaces so that the branches wouldn’t look sparse.




One definite advantage of a pastel Christmas tree is that the kitties seem to leave it pretty much alone. They aren’t attracted to soft toned ornaments as much as they are to the shiny glittery mirror type ones. Other years I would wake up to find at least half a dozen balls strewn all across the floor and the kitties playing soccer with them. Not this time.tree-9-765x1024







Who knows, maybe next Christmas I’ll long for green, red and gold and I’ll return to more traditional holiday colors but for now this will do.

This week I will be joining:

Inspire Me Monday @ Create With Joy

Inspire Me Mondays @ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

Make it Pretty Monday @ The Dedicated House

Busy Monday @ A Pinch of Joy

Metamorphosis Monday @ Between Naps On The Porch

Tuesdays at our Home  @  Our Home Away From Home

LouLou Girls Linky Party  @ Lou Lou Girls

Creative Muster Party  @ Fluster Buster

Wow Us Wednesdays  @ Savvy Southern Style

Tuesdays With A Twist  @ God’s Growing Garden

Party in Your PJ’s @ The Cookie Puzzle

The Homemaking Party @ Classical Homemaking

Share Your Style Thursday Link-Up Party 

Home and Garden Thursday  @ A Delightsome Life

Sweet and Simple Fridays @ Rooted in Thyme

Feathered Nest Friday @ French Country Cottage

Friday Feature’s Link Party @ Oh My Heartsie Girl

Anything Goes Pink Saturday @ How Sweet The Sound

Best Of The Weekend Party 

Saturday Sparks Link Party @ Pieced Passtimes

Baubles á la Découpage


A few months ago I was watching some Youtube video tutorials that explained how to decoupage your own Christmas ornaments. I came across several that were actually quite stunning and very unusual because you don’t ordinarily see baubles like that in stores. Naturally I had to try my hand at making my own. It turned out to be so easy and fun that I made close to 70 or 75 of them.  I started early in about September or so and it’s a good thing I did because that allowed me to convert all of last year’s red and gold balls into soft pastel toned ornaments topped by pink satin ribbons for hanging.


Last year’s shiny red and striped balls

My first idea was to go out and buy new boxes of pink and white balls. So I hit the stores (which fortunately in my area begin to display and sell their Christmas stuff at the end of September) but I was dissapointed to discover that nobody even had any white or pink Christmas ball ornaments for sale. Those don’t seem to be popular Christmas colors at all. Even on Ebay the selection is limited. While trying to figure out what to do it ocurred to me that I could probably spray paint the balls with pink and white spray paint. And then I thought, well heck, why even buy new ones when I have boxes full of last year’s ornaments that I can recycle? So that’s exactly what I did. Here’s what I started out with.


I  had a few cans of half empty spray paint in the tool locker so each red and gold ball got a base coat of random shades of white, cream, ivory or pink.  After temporarily removing the gold or silver hanging part off each ball, I put them on a wooden skewer and sprayed them. Some of them required a couple of coats to completely cover up the original color. Then I put them out in the sun to dry.

This particular ball has a glitter design on it which you can see a bit of in this photo. It doesn't matter because after all the coats of mod podge and varnish it will be completely hidden.

This particular ball has a glitter design on it which you can see a bit of in this photo. It doesn’t matter because after all the coats of mod podge and varnish it will be completely hidden.

The next step after the spray paint has dried is to give them a coat of regular acrylic craft paint in whatever color you want the bauble to be. I used mostly white, pink and aqua. The craft paint gives the balls a smooth matte finish to work on and it is especially necessary if you plan on using a crackle medium to give them an antique crackle finish. I used three different types of crackle finish with different results. By far, my favorite was Jo Sonja’s Decor Crackle because it provided the most dramatic crackle. I also used Jo Sonja’s Crackle Medium which is a bit different than their Decor Crackle but I didn’t like that one at all because it made them look leathery. Mod Podge’s Crackle Finish was pretty good too, it results in a very fine eggshell type crackle. All of these are all applied in different manners, some go on before the basecoat and some go on top of the basecoat, so if you’re going to use crackle, you have to read the instructions carefully before applying it. Next you have to choose what kind of appliqué you want. I used napkins.


I found that Mod Podge was the easiest way of sticking the napkins on to the spheres, but you could probably just use Elmer’s glue or any white glue with pretty much the same result. After the applique dried completely I went over it with another coat of Mod Podge just to smooth everything down and make sure that nothing was unglued.  At this point you can sprinkle on a little bit of ultra-fine glitter while they are still tacky, to give them a bit of shimmer. Or you can let them dry and then apply a coat of a product called Sparkle (also from Mod Podge) which gives a really beautiful subtle shimmer once it’s dry which is spread evenly over the entire surface.


After that is dry, you can add accents with glitter glue or fabric paint. I added white pearly dots here and there and also thin streaks of gold and silver glitter randomly.


The final step is to apply two coats of regular transparent varnish. This gives them alot of shine and also protects the appliqué. I tried using water based varnish on the first couple of them but I didn’t like how that turned out because it gave them a sort of dull finish and I wanted them to be really shiny. So in the end I just used regular oil based varnish.


When they are completely dry you just re-attach the little metal or plastic hanging part and they are set to go. I  wanted mine to look a bit more romantic so I removed the little gold hanger thread that they come with and replaced it with a thin pink ribbon. On the front of the baubles I hot glued on a pink satin bow.


I also bought a package of 3 inch styrofoam hearts to decoupage in the same way.


Here they are drying on sticks during various stages of the process.





This is the crackle finish from Mod Podge’s Crackle product. It’s a very fine eggshell look.





















This week I will be Joining.

Tuesdays at our Home  @  Our Home Away From Home

LouLou Girls Linky Party  @ Lou Lou Girls

Creative Muster Party  @ Fluster Buster

Wow Us Wednesdays  @ Savvy Southern Style

Tuesdays With A Twist  @ God’s Growing Garden

Party in Your PJ’s @ The Cookie Puzzle

The Homemaking Party @ Classical Homemaking

Share Your Style Thursday Link-Up Party 

Home and Garden Thursday  @ A Delightsome Life

Sweet and Simple Fridays @ Rooted in Thyme

Feathered Nest Friday @ French Country Cottage

Friday Feature’s Link Party @ Oh My Heartsie Girl

Anything Goes Pink Saturday @ How Sweet The Sound

Best Of The Weekend Party 

Saturday Sparks Link Party @ Pieced Pastimes

Lace Hearts


I’ve been working on Christmas ornaments for the past couple of months. This year I decided I’d make my own ornaments and decorations because the colors and styles that are available in my area aren’t too varied or interesting. I think that one of the main drawbacks here is that everything has to be shatterproof due to the tile or terrazo floors that most folks have in their homes (including me).  That really limits the selection because plastic just isn’t as pretty. Everyone knows that the most beautiful ornaments are made of glass.  Also, all the stores here seem to import the same items and carry the exact same stuff in the same colors: gold, red, green, silver. I have plenty of those colors from years past but this year I’ve been on the lookout for pastel colored ornaments. I searched high and low for anything in soft pink, aqua or white but I was unable to find much in those shades. So I had no choice but to make them myself. In addition to recycling last year’s ornaments and painting over them (that’ll be the subject of a future post) I also dug deep into my bag of fabric remnants and came up with these puffy little lace hearts to hang on the tree. I used plain fabric in white and pink as the base and then sewed lace scraps over that. The hearts are lightly stuffed with quilt batting and then embellished a bit with pearls and rhinestones or whatever else I could find in my sewing box. A thin satin ribbon on top makes them “hangable” so they can be used on the tree.


I don’t know how many I made, I sort of lost track because I would sit and sew in the evenings while I relaxed and watched tv or Netflix. I ended up with so many that I gave a few of them away to friends.


I made two different sized heart templates out of newspaper. One was wide and short and the other was narrow and longer. All the hearts were made with those two templates.lace-hearts




This ivory mesh fabric that I used for these hearts is woven with real silver wire thread. It’s hand made by artisans in Egypt.








img_1874I already have more than enough to hang on the Christmas tree but I think I might just keep on making them because they’re so easy and fun to make. I can fill little baskets with them or just give them away as gifts.


Joining: Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

No-wheat Strawberry Roll

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My daughter is allergic to wheat. Not to gluten but to the wheat itself.  This has made her life miserable since she was in grade school because whenever she eats anything with wheat in it, her nose gets stuffy and runny at the same time. Not to mention the bouts of itchy eyes and scratchy throat.  Lately I have also discovered that my perpetual nausea is caused by an apparent wheat intolerance as well. If I eliminate wheat from my diet, my nausea dissapears like magic.  So naturally I am always on the look out for anything wheatless particularly if its sweet. Continue reading

It’s Holiday Decorating Time Once More

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Well, I finally got around to putting up all the Christmas trees.  I think I did quite well because I assembled and decorated 3 trees in less than 24 hours. That’s a record for me considering that it’s not something I enjoy doing. Don’t get me wrong, I love to see houses all decorated for the holiday season and I sometimes spend endless hours drooling over all the beautiful Christmas decorations that other people post pictures of in their blogs. I wish my house looked like some of those but mostly I wish I had the patience to decorate like that. Particularly when I know it’s only temporary.  Continue reading

Silver Wonderland


I finally got my aluminum Christmas trees up, well two of them at least. The two four-footers are up. One is next to the bay window of my bedroom up at the mountain house the other is here in our city house. The six foot aluminum tree will have to wait until someone volunteers to drill more holes in the wooden broomstick handle that now serves as the center pole. Unfortunately it was missing this part when I bought it on Ebay. Maybe if I’m lucky, I can get someone to do it for me before Christmas, if not, then that one will just have to be a Valentine’s day aluminum tree *snif*.   Continue reading

If you can’t beat ’em….join ’em


This year my Christmas tree isn’t a natural cone-shaped heavenly scented Norway Spruce. You know the kind that makes your house smell like an enchanted forest and inspires you to belt out a rendition of  Oh Christmas Tree every so often. It’s not even a cheap Douglas Fir.  Not even.  I would have  been content to just fake it and assemble my artificial 9 foot made in Hong Kong green plastic tree knowing full well it meant spending spend the rest of the Christmas season spraying the house with the scent of pine-in-a-can.  But even that option wasn’t available to me this year.  For some reason unbeknownst to me,  hubby decided he’d stack boxes of beer cans in my designated Christmas Tree space. You see, we own a convenience store and we live upstairs above the store.  This is handy because we can just sprint down the stairs to work and we don’t have to spend a dime on transportation or gas. However, it is also a major pain in the neck for me because my living room gets turned into a storage room quite often throughout the year. I just wasn’t expecting it to happen at Christmas time.  The minute I saw those red 12-pack beer can boxes being stacked neatly against the wall in my living room I knew they weren’t leaving there before the end of the year. In spite of hubby’s promises to remove them in time to set up the tree, I had the sinking feeling that they were there to stay.  I pleaded, whined, threatened and reminded him that he has four storage rooms where he could have put the darned boxes. He promised he’d have them moved out of my living room and  into one of the storage rooms just as soon as he cleared out some space for them. I realized that was a white lie when I saw more stock being unloaded from a truck downstairs right into the already full storage rooms.  As Christmas drew nearer I resigned myself to the fact that those boxes weren’t going anywhere soon, so I figured I’d try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  And spite hubby in the process. Ha!  With the help of my two most trusted employees I began to stack the beer boxes in a Christmas tree shape. The very bottom layer is actually octagonal in shape. The next row on top of that one is slightly smaller. Then one on top of that is just a tad smaller as well…and so on. I ended up with a nice conifer shaped 12-pack beer can Christmas tree almost nine feet in height. It was a shame to let such a perfectly shaped tree go undecorated so I strung it with lights, hung a few red bows and shiny balls on it and placed a star at the very top. Well no, not really a star. It’s actually it’s a lone beer can.  After I was done, I sprayed pine scent throughout the house and put on my favorite Christmas carol CD, then sat back with a cup of nog… feeling quite smug. I have informed hubby that he is not to touch those beer boxes til after Christmas. He was too shocked to argue. Ahh, the joys of the Holiday Season. I can have my tree and drink it too.