Seasons Greetings

DSCN6099

Today is really sunny and I’m sure lot’s of Melburnians will be outside for their Christmas Holiday celebrations. December has been both very wet and warm this year in Melbourne and our garden has benefited. Everything is green.

Due to all the rain the Christmas Lilies came early and suffered a bit from the humidity but the Japanese Irises have gone berserk. Here are some photos.

DSCN6089DSCN6073DSCN6076DSCN6085

We did not put any presents under our tree for obvious reasons.

Version 2Version 2Version 2Version 2

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday where ever you may be.

Kat and Ellie

Advertisements

Memories Versus Minimalism

Version 2

Recently I read an article on a local paper that had suggestions about how to decorate your home for Christmas with minimal decorations. Although I like to reduce clutter, I think this is a step too far. Wiping out all the reminders of past celebrations, especially if it helps you to remember people who are not around anymore, is a little bit harsh.

While Ellie and I have some simple modern decorations in our family room, we still like to have a corner of the house devoted to tradition and to remember the good times and those who made them special. Many of the items that we use as decorations were gifts or  inherited from relatives or friends, such as the objects in the winter scene I created on an old china tray in our front living room. I had fun with dachshunds chasing a hare under an “ice” tree and happy Christmas geese who’d managed to dodge the pot.

Version 2Version 2

Hanging on a faux stag horn candlestick are some Santa balls that are reminders of a happy celebration with our mother. These were among the baubles on a large cut Christmas tree (a Monterey Pine) we decorated for a family party. I think we used every decoration we owned on that tree, plus some inexpensive papier maché ones we bought at a two-dollar shop. We dressed up in costumes from the 1890s that Ellie sewed or were put together from charity shop finds of blouses with mutton-chop sleeves. All our guests came in costume, including an uncle looking very dapper with a fake moustache, straw boater hat and striped blazer.

Version 2

Pillar candles and bowls of evergreen plants, like ivy, from our garden, decorated two tables, with an ivy swag running along the stair banisters. Ivy swags were also draped around the fireplace, with bowls of Cyprus pine on the mantelpiece. Below this hung colourful woolen Christmas stockings. As it was summer pillar candles filled the fireplace. We did not turn on the electric lights and used candles and old oil lamps as lighting. The only concession to modernity was a hidden stereo playing classic Christmas carols.

Ellie and I made the Christmas crackers (bonbons) from gold, silver and Florentine paper. Inside we included homemade crepe paper hats, small inexpensive gifts, like little wooden scoops, sets of dice or decorative bottle stoppers and some really terrible jokes. We had the traditional roast dinner followed by plum pudding and there was lots of merriment. It was one of the most enjoyable Christmas parties we have ever had.

DSCN6058

The candy cane also hanging on the candlestick is an old family decoration that came from our grandparents and brings to mind childhood celebrations with our father. I also made the large red heart from salt dough during a craft session with a friend. So many good times to remember.

Maybe I’m being sentimental but I don’t want to eliminate all of the past just to embrace the latest trend, which seems rather cold and the opposite of the festive spirit. Keeping some old decorations means you can still hang onto your special memories while you make new ones.

I hope everyone has a wonderful festive season.

Kat

I love schmaltzy Christmas songs and here’s a medley that includes a great version of Brenda Lee’s Rocking Around the Christmas Tree performed by Michael Bublé and Carly Rae Jepsen.

A “New” Recycled Christmas Tree

Version 2

At this time of the year I always like to cheer up our home with some Christmas decorations and try to be a bit creative by reusing old ones in a new way. I wanted a change from the music stand tree we have had for the last few years but buying a new one was the last thing on my mind, as recently Ellie and I have had a lot of expenses after dealing with our mother’s funeral costs. So what to do for a change without spending any money, as well as sticking to a recycling ethic?

I remembered that several years ago a small potted camellia tree had died because the roots had become pot bound and we left it too late to replant. It was a lovely shape so I cut off the dead roots and leaves and put it in the studio for a while to display some bird nests that had fallen in the garden. When I became tired of the clutter I put it in the roof because I did not want to throw it out. After some careful maneuvering I managed to get it out of the roof in one piece. Once the spider webs were removed I could see that it would make an interesting Christmas tree. If you have any trees with dead branches that need pruning these would work as well.

All I needed was a container to stand it in and found that it looked good in a white indoor plant container that we already had. Anything reasonably large would do like a ceramic pot, a vintage milk can or a huge glass jar or vase. I decided that as the planter had a wide opening I would put a narrower container in this to hold the tree in place. What to use that was the right size? I came up with a unique solution using an old WWI brass mortar shell case. Not something that everyone has kicking around but a tall jar would also do the trick. I put marbles around the tree trunk to stop it from wobbling in the shell case (you could also use small pebbles or sand) and packed newsprint paper around the container to stop it from falling over in the planter. A layer of white polyester stuffing for toys etc., that came from our craft supplies was used to cover the paper and hide the shell case. It simulates snow. Anything fluffy and white could be used, like cotton wool or you could use sand or pebbles, depending on your theme.

DSCN5934DSCN5929

Now it was time for the fun of decorating the tree. I used the same decorations that had been on the previous tree, but added a mass of aluminum butterflies that were in storage. All of these were bought on sale. Because I try to stick to a colour scheme of silver, white with a touch of gold, it is easy to add or make more matching decorations. We also have some large silver glass balls, but with dogs this is risky because they will go for any baubles of this shape. I don’t want to have these crashing to the floor and smashing into tiny smithereens so left them off the tree.

With stars, angels, tiny Santas and musical instruments, the silver fir trees and butterflies, a peace dove and a white horse, the tree looks really great. We don’t have any suitable Christmas lights, but at night the silver decorations really reflect any light in the room and the tree glows. These also reflect the bright sunshine of a summer’s day.

DSCN5970DSCN5971

In the front hall I did something similar by hanging a star and some embroidered butterflies on a single branch sitting in an ultramarine blue glass vase. Gold and white glass ornaments were placed on mum’s vintage aqua glass platter. The decorations look lovely with green and aqua vintage glass vases and a colourful Italian hand painted platter. These were found at op shops or were gifts. Again I just used what we had already.

Version 2

On the front door I hung a wreath made from a plaited straw circlet that had once been part of a Swedish Christmas mobile. I decorated this with some green and cream ribbon that came from a florist’s arrangement. It looks summery and cost nothing.

Reusing old stuff is a fun and inexpensive way to make the festive season brighter. Nature is also a great supplier of tree materials and decorations, from dead branches to evergreen leaves. If these can be found in your own garden so much the better. You can also put any vegetable matter back into your garden as compost or mulch.

Just because you don’t have a lot of money does not mean you can’t have a beautiful and fun celebration. Never forget that your creativity is beyond price.

Kat

One of the best Christmas songs is How to Make Gravy by Australia’s Paul Kelly. It is happy, sad and touching all at the same time. Here’s a live version.