A trip to High Line Park

Taking photos of the flora and fauna with the sun at my back makes for interesting shadows at the High Line.

A visit to the New York City and the High Line.

We just returned from New York City. Visiting the Big Apple during the Christmas season was on our bucket list, and this year we made it happen. Bill and I went to Manhattan in February 2008 with Bill’s youngest sister, Maria, and her husband, Curt. I also went as a high schooler when I was seventeen.

A beautiful view of the Hudson River and stark trees against a blue sky on the High Line.
A beautiful view of the Hudson River and stark trees against a blue sky on the High Line.

Last week, we went back to New York with our traveling companions and what fun we had! Part of our visit had to be a trip to High Line Park, located thirty feet above the busy streets near Chelsea Market and the Meatpacking District. Although it was early winter, our visit was still extraordinary. Last summer, I did a lot of research on the High Line for a project, and it was magical to see the abandoned railway and gardens come alive beneath my feet. Continue reading “A trip to High Line Park”

Christmas decor, a tale of two minds

Merry Christmas Shiny Brite

When it comes to decorating for Advent and Christmas, I’m of two minds. On the one hand, I live in a log cabin, which just begs for natural decorations and flowers forced inside. I’m also a garden writer, so, in winter, I surround myself with green and growing plants.

Otherwise, I might lose my ever-loving mind.

Our mantel decorations are a mix of the natural and shiny. Silver works so nicely with natural evergreens and bottlebrush trees.
Our mantel decorations are a mix of the natural and shiny. Silver works so nicely with natural evergreens and bottlebrush trees.

This year my mantel sports bottlebrush trees and silver platters along with small silver bowls and a simple green wreath. I’m also growing paperwhites and amaryllis. I planted white and green amaryllis to extend them after the holiday and into the new year.

Paperwhites and amaryllis make great Christmas decor, and they go on after the holidays are over.
Paperwhites and amaryllis make great Christmas decor, and they go on after the holidays are over.

On the other hand, I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s so I’m a fanatic for all things shiny and glittery. I even like those aluminum trees, but they don’t fit my house. If I had a mid-century modern home, you could bet I’d have one in one of the rooms.

Shiny Brite ornaments and bottlebrush trees in silver bowls.
Shiny Brite ornaments and bottlebrush trees in silver bowls.

I favor over-the-top Christmas decor, like vintage Shiny Brite ornaments, tinsel and sequined poinsettia branches placed on the limbs of the tree. White lights give it all a warm and cozy glow.

The Christmas tree in the great room is done except for the tinsel. I'm still trying to decide if I want to mess with it this year.
The Christmas tree in the great room is decorated except for the tinsel. I’m still trying to decide if I want to mess with it this year.

About that tinsel–my kids hate tinsel. They say it’s messy.

I say, “And, your point is?” After all, I’m the one who cleans it up.

Red and white Christmas throw and poinsettia.
My bff, Aimee, gave me this throw today. I love the red and white color. She gets me, which is one reason we’ve been friends for almost nineteen years.

What’s a red dirt girl with schizophrenic Christmas tastes to do? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I mix my natural decor with the glittery bits. I find inspiration for natural Christmas decorating from Scandinavian, Norwegian and Dutch Pinterest boards and blogs. Several of my own boards, including Christmas Flowers, Christmas TablescapesWhite Christmas and Log Cabin Christmas, reflect their style. My other Christmas boards are more sparkly.

Shiny Brites with new silver pinecone ornaments in a silver bowl.
Shiny Brites with new silver pinecone ornaments in a silver bowl grace the dining room table. I’ll add candles before we feast.

Some of my favorite blogs that embrace my natural side are Garden Flow, Claus Dalby and Viebeke Design. Luckily, my glass ornaments work well with Polish and German blown glass ornaments. This year, my favorite blogs’ influences show in the red and white color scheme I have. I told my daughter, Megan, that I’m channeling Swedish and Norwegian Christmases. She said, “But, we’re not Swedish.”

Again, I ask, and her point is?

Santa Claus tea set my mother gave me one year.
Santa Claus tea set my mother gave me one year. Yes, I make tea in it at least once. I think you should use beautiful things.

These same adult children told me yesterday they wouldn’t have Santa Claus for their children because he isn’t “real.” At that point, Bill looked them in the eye and said that Santa still visits Grandpa’s house, so they can get gifts from him here. The girls then laughed because none of our children even have children yet. The funny things your adult children say.

One of our nativity scenes. We have three. One is a set of bells a friend gave me a couple of years ago.
One of our nativity scenes. We have three. One is a set of silver bells a friend gave me a couple of years ago.

Isn’t Christmas about dreams and great love? The coming of the Christ Child certainly is. Surely a little dreaming and extravagance is also called for when celebrating such an overwhelming gift. That’s what I ponder as I hang another glass ornament on the tree. No, my tree isn’t Nordic–they are very simple and beautiful in their simplicity–but it is very, very pretty and makes me smile. Since I work from home, this is a very good thing.

Polish teapot Christmas ornament.
Polish teapot Christmas ornament.

I collect vintage Shiny Brite ornaments that I mix with other family favorites. My husband teases me saying I have a Shiny Brite addiction. Now that my kids are mostly grown, I can indulge my Christmas decorating fantasies. Little fingers and glass ornaments do not mix. Some years I do red and gold ornaments, but other Christmases, I might do something more 1960s. This year, as I wrote above, I’m focusing on Nordic style, and I’m enjoying it the most. I pull out old items from the attic and the bedrooms, and I take a long time to decorate, partly because we also celebrate Advent. I wait awhile to pull out the tree, and then keep it up until Epiphany unless I can’t stand the clutter. Most of the decor is red and white including the wrapping paper. The 1960s side of me added a bit of blue and hot pink to the mix too.

We wrap each person's gifts in a different paper. Much easier than putting on all those tags. I only tag one present per person in case I forget whose paper belongs to whom.
We wrap each person’s gifts in a different paper. Much easier than putting on all those tags. I only tag one present per person in case I forget whose paper belongs to whom. When they were little, I could also quickly count gifts to make sure things were fair.

Red looks great in a log cabin, and since we already have some red accents in the great room, it was easy to add to more for Christmas.

Nativity scene made of silver bells is a newer heirloom.
Nativity scene made of silver bells is a newer-to-me heirloom.

I pulled out old silver platters for our fireplace mantel along with bottle trees in green, white and pink. To keep the bottle trees from getting smashed in their boxes, I wrap them in tissue paper each year. Since two of our kids have moved out, I have room in one of the bedroom closets for our more delicate things. That way, the heat of the attic doesn’t melt them.

Part of the mantel decorated for Christmas. The Blessed Mother and Jesus are on a Christmas card Aimee sent me many years ago. It always sits on the mantel at Christmas.
Part of the mantel decorated for Christmas. The Blessed Mother and Jesus are on a Christmas card Aimee sent me many years ago. It always sits on the mantel at Christmas.

Once Christmas is over, I’ll pull down most of the red and decorate the mantel with green, silver and white. I’ll add my hyacinths and paperwhites, and things will be clean for the new year. I know it’s a bit over the top, but I love Christmas.

One of our Oklahoma ornaments. Bill's parents began giving us these themed ornaments over twenty years ago. I love them.
One of our Oklahoma ornaments. Bill’s parents began giving us these themed ornaments over twenty years ago. I love them. This one is the shield of the Osage Tribe.

What decorations are precious to you and your family? How do you celebrate the holidays?