Where The Lone Star State Meets The Puget Sound
A Fine Mesh Of Two Great Styles

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Joy To The World!

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

Friday, December 23, 2011

Some of Blogland's Best Christmas

Whenever I have indulged in feelings of adroitness with regard to my decorating efforts, I seem to wander into blog wonderland; lovely spaces created by women much more talented than I.  The amount of creative genius circulating about the blogoshpere is honestly staggering.

Usually blog posts are self-focused snippets of our domestic journals in concert with a series of snapshots by which we hold our reader's attention.

Having been thoroughly humbled this season by a countless number of  incredibly gifted blog artisans, I decided that today was a day to redirect my focus by showcasing a few of my most enchanted discoveries.  There is no one idea that surpasses another among the photos I am about to share. I have highlighted them in no particular order.  In fact I could spend countless days simply re-posting loveliness and lamenting the fact that the ideas were not mine .

Thank you for browsing along.  I hope you are as inspired by these photos as I have been over the past several weeks.

Canadian Cottage  shared her reworked stairwell.  And this tree skirt~


This master bedroom, created by Down To Earth Style,  is enviable.  Gorgeous in any season.

Courtney,  at French Country Cottage,  has lavishly bedecked even her bathrooms! Oooh la love!

You know I have burlap love.  I especially like the way Dear Lillie  accented this stocking with a petite boxwood wreath!

Thistlewood Farm stole my heart with her use of so many textural elements in her Christmas decor.
These trees are only one example~

Lastly, though I could easily keep going, a feature from The Old Painted Cottage

Picture: Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Idea Issue

Love, love,  love the use of naturals and the combination of the white table and the black chairs! No wonder BH & G spotlighted this amazing cottage.

Well I feel a need to stop here. My head is swimming with new ideas for next year. I hope you enjoyed this little cross section of great style. Perhaps next year when you begin to think once again about decking your halls, you will find these blogs and others to be a valuable resource.

Time to finish last minute Christmas gift details, so I'll just say, "It's a wrap".

Blessings on your day~


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sewing Seeds of Joy~

The Bishop Threesome loves Christmas stockings. We have many sets; so many in fact that I can't ever put them all out at the same time. Filling them all is a challenge for any Santa. Luckily for him there a few timeless favorites (such as peanut M & M's and chocolate covered cherries). It wouldn't be Christmas morning without a little candy.

Here is a set of three made by me when we were on a road trip in our motor home. I took my sewing machines and all of its accoutrements and sat up late one night-- stitching into the wee hours~

These are hanging on our china cabinet. No room on the mantel!

The fun is in the details! I used anything I could find at Dollar Tree, with the addition of a few trims I had the good sense to take with me.

Of course, Mrs. Claus needs a stocking too. I had a little scrap of remaining fleece and some trim. Here's a feminine adaptation~

Uh oh! There's not much room in here. 

From tip to toe, I hope your Christmas is perfect!

Join me at Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage. You'll find lots of grand ideas for your own nest and there is plenty of Christmas cheer to go 'round.

Joyeux Noel~

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our Charlie Brown Tree

I've told you before that we like a little rustic in our Christmas decor. We started a new tradition last year by bringing in a branch or two from the pine trees (which have become void of needles). I like to loosely wrap the twigs with a bronze organza-like fabric.

We hang only very special ornaments on this tree. Most of them have come from my dad. Each year for many years he bought me a little something special.

I have also been treating myself to one antique piece each Christmas. I like older ornaments from Germany and Austria.

Occasionally a non-vintage ornament is thrown in the mix. Here is a glass replica of our sweet little dog, Dallas.

I love my new mercury glass treasure. It is most likely from the 1940's.

Our Charlie Brown tree towers above this generously proportioned Christmas-green leather chair. There's not a Santa alive who wouldn't love to rest here. Speaking of Santa, I hope he remembers to leave a new camera under our tree. I mean really. No aspiring blogger should be handicapped by old technology, right?

Run on over to Handy Man, Crafty Woman and take a leisurely stroll through all the wonderful ideas featured there.

And for another Christmas box full of inspiration, check out Wow Us Wednesday, hosted by the gracious Kim of Savvy Southern Style. 

May you find love and joy beneath your tree~


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Out of the Box~

Oh yeah.  When it comes to Christmas my tastes are more than a little eclectic; maybe even all the way to quirky.  I like traditional, refined rustic, folk art and even a little retro.

 "Put it together and what've you got..."

A whole lot of Christmas! 

Last night, while Larry struggled with installing a new-to-us wood burning fireplace insert (for which he's been on an incessant prowl), I decorated one of our Christmas trees.  This tree is out of the box~ literally.  And I love it.  She's a slimline, 6 foot aluminum beauty!

I was just getting started, as you can see.

When I was a preteen in the mid 60's, my next door neighbor and friend Diana had one of the first ever aluminum trees.  I really thought her family was cool.  They even had the multi-colored light wheel to go with it.  Do you remember any of this?  Are there Baby Boomers among us?

We, on the other hand, had either a green tree off the local lot or a green tree that was heavily flocked white to resemble snow.  I grew up in Southern California and a flocked Christmas tree was the closest thing we had to a white Christmas.  I loved the night my dad finally announced that we could go tree shopping. There was a tree lot on a nearby corner and we would peruse each aisle. My dad would pull tree after tree out for our inspection.  I was the impatient one in the family. I would have bought any of them. But my dad was discerning and we would shop until we found the perfect tree~ perfect height, full and fragrant, perfect price.  Then we would take it home and he would cut a few inches off of the trunk, stick it in a pail of wet sand and then send me off to do homework.

Oh how I hated waiting 24 hours to decorate our tree.  I would beg him to let us set it in the house that very night.  But my dad has own little ritual and he didn't deviate from it.

Our Christmas trees were lovely.  When I was a very young girl we used the large colored lights and an array of glass ornaments.  Nothing needed to match; its beauty was steeped in tradition.  On the night we decorated the tree, my dad would set out our reel to reel tape recorder~ a beastly, boxy piece of equipment~ and he would play the only Christmas tape we owned; a collection of traditional carols sung by a large choir of rich voices.  As I recall the tape began and ended with a gorgeous rendition of Carol of the Bells.  Occasionally the tape would break but that didn't matter.  My dad just taped it back together. Oh how I loved that tape~ and how I felt as I listened.  I will never forget the intense feelings of joy that seemed to be unique to the Christmas season.  It's a feeling that I believe all adults long to recapture. 

As I got older my mom's taste changed.  Our trees were more dressy; usually white with small white lights and all gold balls.  They too were beautiful.  My family loved Christmas~ family, food, friends and stockings hung above the fireplace.  I have such a reservoir of warm memories.

My aluminum tree represents these memories.  The sixties-ness of it speaks to me of my upbringing--my nest--a simple life free of worry.  Mine was a life wrapped in the loving arms of my dad and my mom. 

I have my own assortment of vintage ornaments to hang upon my 6 feet of tin foil.  None of them came from my family so I've had to buy them as I can find them.  Now that older ornaments are becoming popular once again, the prices are creeping up.  I'm sorry that I don't have any heirloom ornaments but that doesn't really matter.  Their vintage evokes all the warmth of Christmases past.

I love the boxed sets I've had the good fortune to stumble upon.  Some still have original price tags from stores such as Woolworth's and Montgomery Ward.  One of the price tags says .05! 

This box lid is precious.

Well here she is, resplendent with ornamentation.  I love her shape. It seems perfectly designed for the corner of our sun room~

Folk art snow men gallantly stationed aboard our retro pink ladder,
guard the growing inventory of gifts.

This guy is under a lot of stress!

I totally gave myself over to nostalgia last night as I trimmed the tree.  And then, while I listened to Johnny Mathis singing "Oh Holy Night" (as only Johnny Mathis can), I began to wonder if our son looks fondly back on the Christmases of his childhood.  Or at 29 is he still too busy looking forward?  I wonder too if Larry and I have created enough tradition.  And did we provide the stuff of which precious memories are made? Or did we just provide 'stuff"?  Perhaps as a young, single man he has yet to think about these things.

I'm not going to ask him though.  Not just yet.  One of these days he'll have his own family and as he goes about the business of establishing new family traditions maybe his own good memories will occupy his thoughts for a time.  I like to think so anyway.

May your hearts be filled with profound joy!  And may all your Christmases right.

Thank you so much for dropping by~


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Sparkle

All that glitters is not gold.

Everyone has a task on their 'to do' list which they consistently push to the bottom.  On my list it's polishing silver.  I love silver and I want it to shine.  But for some reason I resist committing time to such a monotonous task.  But as we've all heard it said, "No pain, no gain".  So yesterday I undertook what has become in recent years a semi-annual chore.

Here is part of my inventory~

Look at this Deed Box! Vintage Pottery Barn showing its age.

These pieces are daunting and yet there's more! I have had all of this PB silver for almost 20 years. I can't believe how fast the years fly by. At Christmas I think the passage of time becomes the most evident, as we seem to mark time with holiday memories.

"Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow..." 
This lyric always makes me cry.

Well, more on point, I worked and I worked and I'm here to tell you that my home is positively sparkling!

How about a little preview?

My set of PB reindeer, a gift from my mom and dad, have been Christmas fixtures upon the mantle for nearly two decades.

Stocking holders all in a row.

Look at the Deed Box now! And, check out my silver plated mirrored coffee table! I found it at a model home sale for about $20. What was I thinking? Now I have a table to polish too!

Another view~

Wow! Suddenly I'm feeling a Christmas glow! I hope you are too!

Until we meet again~


Tired of the holiday bustle? Use a little down time to browse all the creative ideas at A Glimpse Inside

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Small Space Living

When we made the decision to move to Fidalgo Island about a decade ago we realized that in order to have the lifestyle we were seeking we would have to downsize. We went from relatively large Midwest housing to small cottage life with a large view.

No, the above is not my house. But sometimes it feels like it.

We only have one child, but as my mom has pointed out, Larry and I have as much stuff as a family of 6.

I like my things. I am decor-driven. But a 1500 square foot cottage won't hold everything and we were forced to pick and choose.

This little loveseat survived the cut. It came from my folks and it has worn many outfits during its 30 year history with my family. It has been upholstered twice and slip covered twice. It's cute and classy and I like having it in our home. But finding a spot for it was a struggle until I had what I consider to be a great idea. I decided to use it in our sun room/dining room as a banquette of sorts.

I moved it by myself one day recently when I was in the house alone. There is truth to the expression, "where there's a will there's a way". Once I made up my mind to have it in the sun room there was no stopping me. I then maneuvered the table, another Bishop heirloom, in front of the love seat. The look is just right.

The pass through from the kitchen was created by removing the old window from this once exterior wall. I am going to brag about Larry now and tell you that he added the sun room onto the back of our house almost entirely by himself. I really like the way he trimmed out the pass through.

We had some friends over for dinner on Friday evening so the table is set festively.

I found this old silver candelabra among my mother in law's things years ago. It has such a comfortable vintage quality.

Though sometimes it seems like we live in a box, I have found that forcing myself to think outside of it, that is, to rethink traditional, has yielded a few creative and pleasing results. There are many quality books written about living large in small spaces. Even retailers such as Pottery Barn have begun to feature ideas for smaller footprints. After all, if home is truly where we hang our hearts then life is less about square feet and more about loving where we live.

Thank you for stopping by. Whether you live in a castle or a cottage, may it be filled with the warmth and coziness of friends and family as you celebrate the beautiful traditions of the Thanksgiving holiday.

May blessings abound~


Post Script: For some really great idea-browsing, visit Masterpiece Monday at Boogie Board Cottage and Tabletop Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

When Sadness Takes Up Residence

I have been away from my blog for some time now; I was derailed by swift and unexpected grief.

At the end of September my beloved dog Beanie succumbed to old age. Anyone who has allowed themselves to give their heart away completely to a pet understands the depth of my sadness.

And then tragically, in the wake of Beanie's departure, my dad, for whom I can not even begin to adequately express my love and devotion, slipped into a coma and subsequently left our midst. My sense of loss is profound and the pain is deep.

Recently a very old friend penned these words to me~

Just when I thought I was doing better, some reminder came along and knocked me flat on my back. It was painful. And I never get over missing my parents...it doesn't go away. I just get used to it.

Grief is tricky business. Just when I think I am beginning to brighten, a little thing will trigger tears.

I'm sure that tears will eventually ebb and I will be warmed by the countless good memories of my relationship with my dad. There is such rich history with him and I will never tire of recounting all the ways he impacted me and all of the reasons I valued him.

But for now I am somewhat shackled by emotion.

My dad loved to know that I was writing and he encouraged me to pursue writing as a past time. Now and again I would write a short-short story and share it with him. Or I would deviate from the topics of house and garden to blog about something of a slightly more complex nature; mostly because I thought he wanted me to. He was my father, my friend and my biggest fan. And I can only hope he knows how much I miss him.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Before And A {Happy} After

After two straight months of bone dry weather, I awoke to a simple gift~ a rainy day. I so love rainy days. This typical fall weather-wet and windy- put me in the 'get it done' frame of mind. I was happy to stay indoors and tackle something large. I decided that today was a perfect day to cross a 'dread' project off of my list.

We have a very straightforward 1950's cottage with a few vestiges of mid-century still in evidence. The Roman {skinny} brick chimney and fireplace broadcast our home's vintage. I had at one time painted it white, as you can see below. It wasn't horrible but it was glaring in my present decor.

But below is a picture that will surely incite a reaction~ I rarely show this picture to anyone. Please try not to laugh too loudly.

Here is a picture of the fireplace just before we moved in. What do you think? Or a better question, "what was I thinking?" All I can figure out is that we were so transfixed by the panoramic water view that we saw little else.

Yes, I awaken to this vista each morning.

As I mentioned, this paint-over was atop my dread list. But I'm happy to be able to tell you that the project didn't take nearly as much time as I was expecting. I think painting over painted brick was much easier than painting 'naked' brick the first time.

The newly repainted brick~ Laura Ashley Taupe {to match the walls}. I really prefer the brick in retreat. The white brick was just too much of a focal point. The change is subtle but truly effective.

Do you like the after? No more terra cotta red brick nor boring carpet.

Here are a few fall touches on the mantle and on the hearth~

A subtle autumn scented potpourri in a hurricane.

Fall leaves collected in a far away place many years ago.

This generously proportioned green leather chair was a gift to us by my parent's neighbors. 
It presides over the living room and attracts all male visitors. It seems to be a perfect spot of a first cup of coffee on a cold morning.

I enjoy the matching ottoman which is currently doubling as a coffee table.

We have pumpkins growing in our garden which haven't quite reached their peak. As soon as they turn fully orange I will proudly add one to my mantlescape. 

I'm linking to Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style . I hope you'll visit Kim and all the fabulous links featured there today.
Wishing you pleasant rainy day thoughts~


PS: A technical flaw of which I was unaware~ I accidentally hit "Publish" prematurely. Now an unfinished copy of this post appears in Google Reader. For those of you that use Reader, I hope you will take a moment to read the entire post at my website. Arrgh! Technology!