Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Quiet Cozy New Year Celebration

Hurray!  We got snow!  Although we didn't have a "white" Christmas, the snow that we did get yesterday was in abundance!  It surely instills the need to nestle under the blanket in front of the fireplace and try to stay toasty warm.  The unusually warm weather that we had the last two months is gone and it is more like the winters I know (and love?) in Wisconsin.

How will you spend your New Year's Eve?  Stepping out on the town?  Attending a New Year party at family or friend's house?  Or just ringing in the New Year with a few friends with a cozy gathering at home?  

The champagne is purchased, crackers and herring are ready and waiting to be attractively arranged on a platter and a simple menu of roasted chicken, wild rice and almond green beans is planned,   For dessert, a delicate chocolate mascarpone mousse.  A night planned of relaxation and ease, especially in the meal preparation.  You might ask, how is this an easy meal?  Compared to that of a family Christmas and a neighborhood get-together, this evening preparation is one that can be done easily. 

So the table is set for New Year's Eve in silver and gold with touches of greenery. 

A silver bell on a napkin folded into a star is one of my top choices for a NewYear's tablescape. 

Or instead of a silver bell, a silver Hershey's kiss might be more appropriate for all of those New Year's hugs and kisses at midnight. 

Or my last option, but one that is more fitting for Christmas would be the napkin folded elf boot.  This was a little difficult to fold since you need a larger size napkin.  Nevertheless, I thought it made an adorable piece. 

 However you celebrate the coming of the New Year, I hope it will be one with fun-filled, memorable camaraderie.  See you all next year!

Welcoming the New Year....Sharing your Talents as a New Year Resolution

Ringing in the New Year takes on a different meaning as I grow older.  No longer are my New Year resolutions outlandish and far-reaching.  The wisdom that comes with age has now allowed me to recreate my resolutions into ones that are more realistic.  Gone are the zany resolutions of weight loss to a size two and making a six figure income by the time I reach retirement age. At the same time,  I am also inclined to be more forgiving of myself when I stumble at trying to keep the reasonable resolutions throughout the year.  Life experiences have a way of shaping your ambitions into ones that are more grounded and prioritized.

So instead of dusting off the crinkled list of on-going resolutions that I had from year to year for the last 30-40 years, I now write a new list; one with the realization that it is far more encouraging to develop a list of another kind......one of countless blessings and ways to share them with others in a variety of ways in my every day living.

If you are at all familiar with the musical, White Christmas, with Bing Crosby, as Bob, and Danny Kay, when Bing Cosby sings to Rosemary Clooney as Betty, the song, Counting My Blessings.  The following lyrics, although rather short, gives a message to think about.

When I'm worried and I can't sleep
 I count my blessings instead of sheep and I fall asleep counting my blessings
when my bankroll is getting small I think of when I had none at all
and I fall asleep counting my blessings.

I think about a nursery,
and I picture curly heads,
and one by one I count them
as they slumber in their beds.

If you're worried and you cant sleep,
just count your blessings instead of sheep
and you'll fall asleep counting your blessings.

if I'm worried an I cant sleep I count my blessings instead of sheep
and I fall asleep counting my bless-

-if your worried and you can't sleep,

Bob & Betty:
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
and you'll fall asleep counting your blessings

So what are some of the blessings and how can they be used as gifts for helping others?  Once again reality resurfaces.  If you are like me, someone who is not one of the wealthy philanthropists who donate huge sums of money to charitable causes, helping others takes on a different meaning.   When financial contributions are limited, it is time to look at sharing one of the blessings, that of one's talent.

Before the creation of the internet and when the opportunity presented itself, I was often amazed at learning of the many wonderful talents of family, friends, colleagues and new acquaintances.  Among these bright and gifted people were some whose capabilities may have been hidden for years or who may not  have even fully realized that they possessed unique creativity themselves.  With the new world of the internet and blogging, and as a blog viewer and participant,  I am absolutely elated to witness the outstanding skills  and knowledge of so many more accomplished artists/authors like you, who share your expertise through your blog articles.  I,  personally, have been enriched by your friendship and learned so much in many subject areas including your variety of passions and willingness to write about it.  This very situation has made me cognizant of the many ways that I, too, can, hopefully, give of my talents and know-how to others through my blog.   Perhaps, this thought can give light, inspiration and encouragement to your resolution list for this year too. 

So with the coming of the new year, why not join me in gratitude in remaking that resolution list to include more of sharing with others the unique gifts God has blessed us with.  It just may be one of the resolutions you may find to be the most realistic and rewarding to keep.  Best wishes, Happy New Year and hugs to you all.

 God's Blessings,
****Marsha ****


Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Countdown to Christmas--A Poinsettia Christmas Tree

The clock is ticking and the countdown to Christmas begins. Are you ready?  I can't believe how close we are getting to the holiday and presently, I am not any where close to the completion of all the preparations.  Anyone in the same boat?  I think it has been our lack of snow and warm temperatures that have kept me from accepting the fact that it is truly December in Wisconsin and we are nearing the Christmas holiday.  Although I don't much like tons of snow building up outside my windows, there is something to be said about having some fluffy white snow covering the grass and rooftops that puts me in a holiday mood and creates excitement and motivation.  Add in some Christmas music and I am off and running!

Unfortunately, my hope of finding at the stores some pretty holly garland or holly sprigs for this year's tree was not very successful.  Therefore, to maintain the holiday cheer I possessed, I now moved to my second option (Plan B) for my Christmas tree and that is to use poinsettias in place of holly.   Actually, the use of deco mesh and large poinsettias resulted in a blessing in disguise.  Adding these large items to the tree has cut down on the time I would have needed to add in a lot of smaller size ornaments, ribbon and garland.  The tree was completed in no time and without having to compromise on the wow-factor.  Much more drama for a lot less time.  I think I can catch up on the rest of my holiday preparations, including creating a Christmas e-card from pictures used in this posting (shown below).

A few quick touches on the side table, front door and plate rack provides Christmas cheer without requiring a whole lot of decorating time. 

Choosing some of my pictures from above and using them in a collage in the photo-editing application, PicMonkey, has helped me make a simple but beautiful e-card and once again saving some time during the holiday crunch time. (To explore PicMonkey, go to http://picmonkey.com. )  I am still the old-fashioned girl who likes to send out the traditional Christmas cards through the postal mail, but when you find time is limited before the holiday or someone missed the list, an e-card is always a good way to save time and save the day.

I just might have gained some time.....now on to cookie baking!  I would love to hear from you about your time-saving tips for Christmas.  I hope you all are finding enjoyment in your anticipation of the holiday!  

Monday, December 7, 2015

Pine Cones and Holly

What do you begin with to prepare for the Christmas season?  Do you begin with decorating your tree?  Do you decorate the exterior of your home with lights, greenery or figurines?   Do you select a theme for your decorating?

Now that the museum work is done, I can begin to work on setting up some Christmas decor at home. I begin the Christmas season by setting the table and everything else seems to follow.  This year's theme will be Pine Cones and Holly.

Since this year's tablesetting is absent of Santa Claus, elves, Christmas trees or snowmen, I can keep the table set a little longer through the season with just winter accents like pine cones and holly.  (I always seem to stretch the holiday festivities right into the beginning of February anyway.)

I think you would agree, choosing a Christmas theme for the tree, table or decor accents each year is some times difficult.  I love everything surrounding the holiday and love the option of having something different from year to year, therefore, making it a challenge to come up with a new look with a limited budget.  (I would be curious to know whether anyone changes out their tree each year?)  This change of themes has allowed me the chance to display everything from a soft, romantic Victorian tree,  a snow and ice tree, a rustic woodland tree and a bright, whimsical lime green and red tree.  The challenge to one's imagination and creativity is there with each kind of tree.

As you can see the following Ralph Lauren pine cones and holly tablecloth is the inspiration piece to this year's theme and has dominate colors of burgundy, olive green, brown and creams.    Perfect colors for the kind of dishes that I already have in my collection.

Lets look a little closer.

The carved reindeer statues make for a simple but beautiful centerpiece.  It does not distract from the beauty of the tablecloth.

I think only my dear blog friends can fully understand how thrilled I was when I folded my burgundy napkin into this cute little Christmas tree.  (Thank God for fellow tablescapers who lovingly support my unique passion since there are some who don't quite understand how I get so excited over dinnerware and table linens.)

The burgundy stocking hung on the back of the chairs will be filled with little gifts and goodies as we approach the Christmas holiday.

This picture might look a little more like Christmas if there was snow outside in the background.  In all honesty, I seem to be enjoying the mild Wisconsin weather with no snow, but I know it will evidently come our way.

There was a cute little posting in Facebook the other day which sums up how I and many others feel about Christmas and the opportunity to decorate to share the joy and cheer.  It is:

The magic of Christmas is part of my secret for trying to stay young at heart.   Enjoy your opportunity to decorate and make others happy.   

Hugs to all,


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Decorating the Mansion- Part 2- Christmas in the Mansion at the Rahr

I hope everyone had a wonderful and cheerful Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends.  Now that the last of the turkey is being used up as leftovers, are you beginning to feel the thrill and anticipation of Christmas? 

The opening of the Christmas in the Mansion display at the Rahr Art Museum in Manitowoc, Wisconsin kicked off the Christmas holiday season according to my schedule and for those whose schedule permitted a visit to the museum after the city parade on Wednesday, November 25, 2015.  If you happen to miss my previous article, "A Sneak Peek at Christmas in the Mansion 2015" which featured the tree and decorations in the doll room at the Rahr Art Museum before the official opening of the display, you can catch the article here:  Part 1-A Sneak Peek at Christmas in the Mansion. 

Since I promised those friends who read my article that I would also feature some of the remaining artists in this week's posting, I will keep any further writing to a minimum and let the following pictures speak for themselves.  Each year when I visit the museum when the Christmas display is opened to the public, I am always amazed at the unique twist on decorating from year to year.  Let me say that while there are several professional florists involved in the decorating of the mansion, there are also other volunteers like myself who are not.  I really enjoy getting a "heads-up" from the professional florists as to what is the yearly trend in Christmas colors and decorating.  They truly inspire the creativity in all of us. 

So grab a cup of peppermint hot chocolate,  a warm cozy blanket and enjoy the pictures that are truly enchanting as they are magical.  At the same time, let the joy and blessedness of the start of the Christmas season bring happiness and peace to your busy planning, preparations and upcoming holiday celebrations.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Sneak Peek - Christmas in the Mansion 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

As we busy ourselves with all of the preparations that go into the Thanksgiving holiday and the joyous celebration with family and friends, it is also a time for me to participate in designing and decorating of the Rahr Art Museum for their Christmas in the Mansion 2015 display.   This year's display will begin on November 25, 2015 and run through January 3, 2016 and as always it is free admission.

This year I am honored to have had the opportunity to decorate the Doll Room in cooperation with a very talented woman, Kay, who I recently met in September at a Christmas supply sale.  (I do believe God plans these chance meetings since I soon learned while we stood together in a long checkout line at the sale that she had hoped to participate in the Christmas in the Mansion display but was turned down due to the number of participants.)  As she conveyed her disappointment while our endless line moved inch by inch to the checkout, I explained to her that I was one of the participants and asked her what it was that she wanted to do at the museum.  To my surprise, she told me she designs and builds doll house rooms that are displayed in extreme detail in clear "boxes" or rooms.  Right then and there, I knew it would be a wonderful opportunity for us to work together.  I explained that I had planned on designing a Country Christmas tree for the museum and that her doll house rooms would be a perfect accent to the tree and the theme.   I took her phone number and told her I would check with the museum and if there was a chance that we could combine our talents, I would be in contact with her in November when it came time to begin the work for the display.

Presently, with the approval of the museum, Kay and I have worked diligently the last two weeks to combine our time, talents and her beautifully detailed doll house rooms into a decorated room which reflects our theme entitled  "Granny's Country Christmas."  The longer description for this room which will also be on display is as follows:

Granny's Country Christmas

Cherished childhood memories of many a Christmas past affectionately come to life as homespun holiday ornaments are nostalgically retrieved  from Granny’s farmhouse attic.

Rustic burlap and shiny, red apples lovingly adorn the tree reflecting the simple charm of rural living of yesteryear.

What were once heartwarming toys to bright and cheerful children now is all that remains from a lifetime of treasured family moments. 

Come and shed a happy tear or two as we fondly reminisce time celebrating Granny’s Country Christmas.

I hope you enjoy the following pictures as a sneak peek before the opening of the Christmas in the Mansion display.  Join me next week too when I will have more pictures of the other rooms and the beautiful artistry that goes into the Christmas tree designs.  

Please notice her sign which indicates it is Raggedy Ann's 100th birthday.  To the left of the shop is a written page on the history of Raggedy Ann and Andy.   Such incredible details in this little shop.  Absolutely adorable!


More of Kay's tiny rooms.  In each glass case are even smaller pieces.  Perhaps when I return to the museum, I could capture more close up photos of these tiny works of art.  In the breadbox is a tiny country kitchen with the old wood burning stove and a wringer washing machine.  

Granny's tea, eye glasses and cookbook.  Always a moment to plan which cookies will be in the cookie exchange.

Burlap, shiny red apples, red and white gingham bows and dried hydrangeas captures the vintage country life.

I hope you enjoyed the preview.  Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving holiday.