Friday, December 28, 2012

Blink... and it's over

I had good intentions this year....

I was going to share holiday projects... and keep organized throughout the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.... but somehow I blinked and it was all over!

The weekend before Christmas is a blur.  Since the holiday was a "mid week" kind of day, my daughter and son-in-law would just be up for the evening of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.  I wanted to be able to spend time as a family without all the last minute work that I usually have after dinner on Christmas Eve... 

So for that blur of a weekend I....

Wrapped our gifts... complete with ribbons and tags.

Spent hours in the kitchen making candies and cookies.... a triple batch of sugar cookies.  Which equates to 277 cookies to cut, bake and frost.  And yes, I counted.

Cleaned my house.

Fluffed the guest room.

Set up the "espresso making area" for Christmas morning lattes.

And by Christmas morning, those lattes were greatly appreciated!  Even in my smaller than usual vintage cups...

But it was worth it all in the end... spending time with our family for the holidays.

Now if I could just sleep until the New Year,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Giving from the heart...

Giving a gift is a special thing.  Receiving an unexpected gift in the mail?  Well that can sometimes be the best gift of all!

I was surprised and touched to receive a package in the mail last week.  It came on the "perfect" kind of day.  The kind of day where you're just a bit down over life's little things and come home to a mailbox filled with something extra special.

As you can see, the Elves over at Elizabeth & Co had sent me a little package... a package tied up with a tag and fabulous bakery twine.

And even though that twine is a string, there were certainly no strings attached to this little package.  Just the thoughtfulness and kindness of a fellow blogger and her companions.

I squealed a bit when I realized what the package held...

Five fabulous, vintage Santa paper plates!

The very plates I'd spied on the post about Elizabeth & Co's latest sale... a sale that I'd love to some day attend but it is a bit of a trip for this West Coast girl!

I've already found just the spot for my plates... tucked up with my vintage Santa pitcher and tiny mugs (please ignore the "oh so strategically placed among the Christmas decor" box of dog medicine for our lab that broke her leg).

It makes me happy every single time I see it... in a spot that I see everyday when I come in my back door!  Isn't he a jolly fellow?

And speaking of gifts and packages... another recent parcel was this wonderful sign that I won in an "oh so generous" giveaway from here.  I was a lucky girl to win and found a perfect spot for this sign...

I like how the sign is "spotlighted" behind the glass of my original front door of Red Gate Farm.

I've been a very lucky person to meet such wonderful folks through blogging... both in person and through their blogs.  In fact, another gift I forgot to mention in the flurry of wedding preparations last summer is one of my "oldest" blogging friends... in fact I credit Andrea with getting this little blog off the ground and was my very first follower (that wasn't family, that is)!  I had bemoaned that I was having a difficult time locating a Scrabble "V" tile for the wedding.  She mentioned that she had one and popped it in the mail to me... all the way from the outskirts of Toronto, Ontario!  And since my daughter and her husband spent a year living in Toronto, well this connection was even sweeter...

And I'm thrilled that the wedding photographer used the tiles just as I planned....

And like my little Santa plates, this picture makes me smile every time I see it.

Counting my blessings... and the days to Christmas,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sweet and sweeter....

My little collection of pink holiday houses and trees is very, very sweet.  I keep it up year round in my sewing room to enjoy.  One of the houses I won a couple of years ago in a giveaway from a blogger friend I was lucky enough to meet when I visited Toronto... another was purchased, by me, from the same seller on Etsy that also happens to be a blogger and finally the third was a gift from a co-worker from this fabulous Seattle store.

But this is a little bit of a bait and switch since the sweet I'm talking about is this little recipe I've been wanting to try ever since this blogger talked about it the first time and pinned the recipe on Pinterest to share a whole year ago.  I even found myself with all of the necessary ingredients, so what the heck...

I did decide to add white chocolate chips to the mix... I was going for a marbled swirly look... I also tried to cheat a bit and not melt the chips before spreading.  I thought if I sprinkled them on while it was hot from the oven, they would soften enough to spread... no such luck.  Especially with the white chocolate chips.  Not the most appealing thing that has come out of my oven.

 BUT the bit of messy and ugly doesn't affect the taste one. single. bit.  These babies are DANGEROUS!  My personal favorite of butter, brown sugar and salt (believe it or not I could skip the chocolate all together) all in one fabulous, scrumptious, bite of heaven!

I think I'll be taking some of these into work to share with my co-workers...

So here I am this week... looking at something sweet... and tasting something sweet!

Life doesn't get much better.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I'm dreaming of....

Nope... not a white Christmas.  Not that a little snow at the holidays isn't pretty but it does cause a bit of a hassle for holiday traveling... and with a Tuesday holiday it's already cut a little short.  No my dreaming is more of the self serving, selfish kind, like my Christmas wish list!

And I had just the place and item to use to create a little wish list...

I found this wicker frame in the "freebie" box at our local thrift store... I think it was at least 1 1/2 years ago.  I picked it up not knowing what I wanted to do with it.... which of course meant I couldn't FIND it when we started creating chalkboards for the wedding last August.  Since I finally got around to a bit of cleaning in my sewing room... well there it was tucked way back in the closet... buried by piles and piles of other "projects" in the "project graveyard".  When I finally pulled it free I knew just what I wanted to do with it...

I broke out my stash of ASCP samples, a piece of cardboard I cut to size and my fabulous Bistro Chalk Marker.  For this chalkboard I decided to just use cardboard... the wicker frame was very light weight and I wanted the sign to be hung easily and quickly...  think hot glue gun attachment!  To the wicker that is, not the wall... I'm not quite that desperate in my holiday decorating!  I also chose to paint the "board" with grey (Paris Grey) chalk paint instead of actual chalkboard paint... mostly because it was easier to find and dries so quickly.

I already had my image from Pinterest... it was an easy transfer onto the painted cardboard...  I used the same transfer technique as before... since the pencil tracing actually left an indent on the "chalkboard" cardboard.   I'll have to remember this for future parties or other times I want a quick and temporary chalkboard!

So here it is... my new, FREE, chalkboard is tucked away in a corner of the dining room... Surrounded by my vintage foil silver bells and a large Santa my mom made me many years ago.

And my list?  Well I still need to add my "wish-ful thinking" to it... and I'd better get busy or there may be no gifts under the tree for me this year!  Mr. Red Gate Farm kind of likes having it spelled out for him... literally.

But then again....

Perhaps I should be taking my other chalk board art to "heart"... with it's Grinch quote...

I guess we'll see come Christmas morning...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It came without ribbons!... it came without tags!... it came without packages, boxes, or bags!

Perhaps I'm dating myself just a bit here with my "Grinch" quote... but I watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on "real" tv last night... not a dvr/dvd/bluray/etc... but the real live tv where you have to be in front of said tv at 8:00 sharp to not miss anything!  Remember those days?  I can remember waiting all year to watch all the holiday specials including The Grinch That Stole Christmas (and not the Jim Carrey version, gasp!).... so I'm feeling a bit sentimental today....

Growing up in a fairly small town, there was a fairly small "downtown".  One that had department stores... the kind that sold toys, fabric, books, shoes, clothes on different floors.  The picture below reminds me of our biggest store, The Bon Marche... it's first floor looked a bit like this and held the cosmetics department, women's shoes and menswear.  It was on a corner and had two big entrances.  I remember shopping there until it closed when our new mall was built in the late 80's and of course, then The Bon was taken over by Macy's....

But I digress, this is supposed to be about wrapping not my shopping or tv memories...

One thing I don't ever remember using was the gift wrapping services offered by a store.... I've always been a little fascinated by the movies where the folks go out shopping, not always at the holidays, and everything is boxed up for them... and wrapped... I always wondered who lived like that? No plastic shopping bags?  No paper bags overflowing... but shoppers actually walking down the street of some big city with their stack of packages....

Since I can't don't have that kind of life... and box up and wrap all my own packages... well perhaps I can at least have my own gift wrapping station!

Maybe you remember this little yellow number purchased for the wedding last summer?  A vintage drop leaf table I picked up for around $35...

I had painted it using ASCP in 3 colors... trying to show off a bit of the details.

And, if I must say so myself, it did look pretty fabulous at the wedding!

Well, like many of the items I acquired for the wedding, I wanted to use it somehow afterwards... I realized with the drop leaf sides down it would tuck nicely in to a little area upstairs... AND I could pretty it up with some gift wrapping (in appropriate colors of course) to be a little gift wrapping station of my own!

Since it's now the holidays I swapped out the everyday for some Christmas wrap... and a little ceramic tree!

I can pop up one of the leaves and wrap away!  I can stand or pull up a chair when I get tired... but I won't be kneeling on the floor or cluttering up the dining room table this year!

At least that's the plan!

So how... and where do YOU all wrap your gifts?

linking up to:

Monday, December 3, 2012

Decking the halls... and everything in between

I finally managed to finish my decorating for the holidays... the trees are finished... the tweaking and fluffing is done.

This year I actually hung many of my shiny brites on my small tree in the dining room.  This little mushroom and the matching twin are my all time favorites.

And all that reflective surface really makes the lights "pop"!

Of course I did have to hold a few back to put in silver and crystal on the dining room table.  This crystal dish is full of shades of pink.  The little tinsel-net covered ones are new finds this year... from the big Christmas sale at a local thrift store.

And I did get time to finish of the star of the show... the main tree here at Red Gate Farm is kept in my enclosed front porch.

I like how the glass in the original front door of our house reflects the lights of the tree.... day or night.

This little space is done in mostly red, aqua and pale green.  I found these fun holiday records last year at a local thrift store... I had to pull some of the red ones out of the sleeves to show them off!

Another find this year was this cute little metal barn with silo.... It's a small sized barn, only about 8 or 9 inches in length.  I don't think I've ever seen one this small.  I love it tucked under the tree with a little toy tractor parked inside!

A few more vintage toys are under the tree like this Santa book and a couple of vintage children's chalkboards.

My little wrapping center is ready and waiting... something I hoping to  make use of this weekend!!

The vintage ceramic trees are spread out around the house.  This all white one with all red "pegs" is one of my favorites.

And since I took Friday off from work... well I even had time for a trip to Seattle on Saturday, for a bit of shopping with my daughter and my sister.  One of our stops was this little shop in the Northgate area... Maxine's.  A cute and funky floral/gift shop.  They have the most amazing stuff in this store... from vintage cement garden art to glitter-y little (and big) putz style houses.

One of my few purchases of the day came from Maxine's... this adorable little reindeer.  In fabulous shades of aqua and pink.

And of course, it wouldn't be complete without a bit of sparkle!

How are you doing with your holiday preparations?