Christmas Collections

As I was decorating the tree last weekend, I was struck by the size of my ice skate ornament collection. I thought it would be fun to share it with you. They are largely from my Aunt Chery. I love all of them! As many of you know, I've had a bit of an obsession with figure skating over the years, although I never did get very good at it. I love having these ornaments on my tree because not only do they make me think of the beauty of that sport, and remind of my aunt, but they make me think of my mom and my Gram as well. Gram used to call on the weekends and tell us to hurry up and turn the channel because there was skating on. I grew to look forward to those phone calls, and the time spent with my mom after them, enjoying the magic on ice. Anyway, making this little collage of skate photos took far less time than cataloguing the 60 or so video tapes of skating performances I recorded in high school and college, that still exist somewhere in my mom's basement. (I wish I was kidding. I'm not.) 

Another collection on my tree that I love are my Scarlett O'Hara's. Yes, I suppose this is subject that is somewhat unrelated to Christmas. But, these also make me think of my family, and our shared love of the book and the movie. And, I am a bit of a girly girl. I think I would have made a fantastic southern belle.


Stringing Up the Lights

While I decked the halls inside, Greg headed out side on a beautiful warm Saturday to string up our exterior lights. We had a few more available this year since we didn't need for our tree inside anymore. We thought the color on the door and railing was a reasonable way to make a transition between the white lights on the bushes. I'm pretty picky about random strings of lights acting as extension cords between objects. I think Greg did an awesome job making it all fit perfectly. 

When he was done, he wasn't quite satisfied. Even though he has virtually no extra time these days, he headed off to buy some icicles to add along the long of our garage and above the living room window. He hung the first set on Monday night. It was a fun surprise to me when I pulled in the driveway! 

I still have to get a photo of the finished product. 


The Halls are Decked

Over Thanksgiving, I purchased a new pre-lit tree, which we of course had to set up immediately upon getting home on that Sunday. But, since I had to head back to Buffalo during the week, the real decorating had to wait until this past weekend. Bright and early Saturday morning, Greg headed into the attic to pull out my our many boxes of Christmas decor. I am so excited with the way the house came together this year. Take a look...

Here's the living room.

I bought this purple frame awhile ago thinking it was perfect for this room. But, I haven't yet found the time time fill it with an actual photo. So, as a place holder, I cut a piece of this wrapping paper I found, which is so perfect for our house, I can hardly stand it!

I also used the wrapping paper in the glass door to our cabinet. I've been experimenting with a way to make the glass translucent so we can have some hidden storage, but I haven't found something that I'm happy with yet. This is a great place holder which picks up the green from the coffee table and the teal from the walls. Last year, I bought the green picture frame below, and a can of green spray paint which I used on the mitten frame above, and the tree on the shelf below. I thought, why not try to repurpose some of our more traditionally colored accessories to match my color scheme. I happen to love when a Christmas color scheme complements the colors that are already happening in a room.

Here's the dining room.

I went a little snowflake crazy in here. All 6 pointed of course!

Every year, I love to fill a vase with bulbs. This year, I added some other items like the crystals and ribbons to bring in my green accent. 

One of the last things I did was to take more of my favorite wrapping paper (I need to get back to Target and buy another roll!) and create some place mats by laminating the paper between two layers of contact paper (on hand from the glass door experiment)

Don't they look look so fun with my new bowl and tray? (also from Target, they have a whole set of plates which I am restraining myself against...)

Just a little behind the scenes, here's how it all looked when it came out of the attic. I wonder how long it will take us to get it back into this state come January??



As promised, I wanted to show you our giant leaf pile, along with the results of some of the other yard clean up we did a dew weeks ago. I'm not sure if I mentioned, but our town offers a great service where they will vacuum up all the leaves as long as we rake them all to the curb. Everyone gets a week based on their trash pickup. Our week was the week of Thanksgiving, which was perfectly timed to allow all the leaves to finish dropping before we had to rake.

What we didn't anticipate was that there would be utility work going on in the street on the day we planned for our raking. The jack hammer sound track left a little bit to be desired.

Greg got the crew to move their tar from our curb though, so we could have a place to pile the leaves. 

Around the side of the house, in the patio area, we had to deal with the remnants from the storm. 

We made two piles of debris, one of wood we we'll be able to burn once it's dries out, and the other of the twigs and leaves to be picked up as yard waste. 

After a few hours, it looked like this.

And, by the time we left for Thanksgiving dinner, the leaves and twigs in the front of the house were all gone!



Our blinds for the bedroom arrived a few weeks ago, and I finally got them hung up! I'm loving how much control we have over light and privacy. And, I'm hoping that the fact that these are wood blinds will keep the cats from bending back the slats like they did with some of the vinyl blinds in Wilmington.

Here's another shot with the blinds closed more to get a better sense of the color. 

Next, I want to find some drapes to add more texture and color. And, I need to paint the wood block in the left window to match the trim (well, I actually need to paint ALL the trim in the house, but that's another story!) Greg put that there to support the air conditioner. If I can stand leaving it there, we've found it's quite convenient to not have to reinstall it ever year. 

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, that I installed these all by myself! Greg is not the only handy person in this family. (But it's usually just so much easier to have him do it!)


Empty Walls

I have been staring at the empty walls in our dining room for over a year now...granted, it's only been about six months since we painted them gray. The weekend before Thanksgiving, we finally had time to hang up a few things! I am so excited to finally be activating this formerly blank space.

Below, you can see two framed photos that we had in our old dining room. One is of the magnolia tree at our old place. The other is of some umbrellas hanging in a glass dome at the Venetian in Vegas. To the left of the window, are three ceramic "dot" vases that we found this summer in P-town.

On the opposite wall, that backs up to the kitchen, we hung Greg's beer labels that I framed for him as a gift for our anniversary one year. We hung them high on purpose, with the intention of adding more objects below at some point. 

Here's how things are looking from the living room. (Please pardon the half chewed chenielle blanket in the front left corner. Roy has been slowly devouring it, and I have yet to get rid of it...it's on my list, but anyway....!) We were really excited when we found those dots, for a few reasons. One, because the colors tie in with what's going on in the living room. 

And two, because the dishes we got for our wedding strongly feature dots! You can see why we couldn't resist picking up a few of these. At some point, I plan on making some flowers, either of paper or beads, to put in them. I would like to add a touch more green to the dining room, to tie in with the living room, and this seems like a perfect opportunity. 

We did pick up one piece of green art this fall that we thought we were going to put up in the dining room.  But, it seemed to have found a better home on the shelves in the living room. It will probably show up in a photo soon. 

I'm pretty happy with this way this turned out, for now. I tend to stress out a bit about silly decisions like this, so Greg just encouraged me to get it done. It's only a few holes in the wall after all. I'm sure it will evolve with time. But for now, like I said, I'm thrilled to no longer be staring at empty walls!



At the request of my brother, I tried to take some shots to track the progress of fall taking over Kingston Road. It seemed to get off to a late start here in the Boston area. We had unseasonably warm weather over Columbus Day weekend, which I am enjoying in the above photo. You can see just a hint of color on one of the trees in our back yard in the background. 

A week later, here's how things were looking...

This is the same tree you can see behind the hammock. There's a bit more red, and definitely some leaves on the ground.

But, the maples in the front showed absolutely no signs of color. 

Not much color on the side by the patio either, but apparently leaves were falling from somewhere.

On the other side of the patio, this rose bush has grown in an unsightly and uncontrolled manner. I actually got cut on one of the thorns. Those things mean business! Next year, I will have to learn how to deal better with this. I'll admit, I didn't pay any attention to it at all this year, so it sort of snuck up on me with it's size. It may go away altogether next year however, as this location is a prime option for the stairs of the deck we want build.

There was some great color in the form of the crazy vine that winds itself all over our side yard. It gives a lot of privacy when it grows on the fence. I'm not so sure it's great for the azalea here, but it was hard to tell it was even there until it turned red!

The lilacs (oh my poor lilacs...we lost so many branches in the storm...) started to turn a bit yellow.

This is a closer shot of our one colorful tree in the back.

Another week later, on 10/23, here's what was left.

It's too bad more trees hadn't dropped this much by then. The big storm that knocked down so many branches was the following weekend. 

By November 10th, the trees in the front were full blown yellow...

Three days later, most of the leaves had dropped. Seriously, it was like I blinked, and the leaves had turned, blinked again and they were gone. 

There were now all sitting in our front yard. 

By this past weekend, the azalea, seen above still green, with the red vine, had now turned completely gold. Funny. I don't remember this at all from last year. (this picture kind of sucks, due to the bright, low november sun!)

We spent a lot of time raking and cleaning up the storm damage this past weekend. I'll tell you more about that in my next post. No, it's not the most glamorous home improvement project I could share, but it is a fact of life of home ownership, and it's progress made that interferes with the fun stuff. And plus, I want you to be amazed at the size of our leaf pile!


Transforming the Office - Part One

About a month ago, my mom came to visit. I specifically requested that she come to stage an "office intervention." Our office had lost all semblance of control. Both desk surfaces were completely covered with junk. There were boxes of stuff on the floor that needed to be files. It was complete chaos, and neither one of us wanted to spend much time in there.

We use the room for a lot. Aside from office tasks, it's also where I keep most of my craft supplies. If you don't have a clean surface to work, then it doesn't inspire much use of said craft supplies. We also have our ironing board in there. I tend to fold most of the laundry in there with the company of the TV. (Yes, I'm a TV person, sue me. We don't have one in the bedroom, so the office gets the laundry sorting, aside from the fact that our cats spend a lot of time on the bed, and the last thing I want to so is dump a pile of clean clothes on top of the hair they leave behind. And since many of my clothes are housed next to the office, it's a good place to start.

Anyway, my mom arrived in the afternoon. Greg was already home, and the two of them came up with a plan which involved going to IKEA. I was a little resistant at first. (Shocker!) I'd had it in my head that we should try to make the office work with what we already had. We had two 5x3 tables that we got for a few bucks from a friend closing a business. They were very worn, white laminate. While they provided good space, they were just dirty, and worn, and almost too deep for the room. It was hard to reach something at the wall side the the table while seated.

I apologize for not having many before pictures of the true state of the mess that had taken over. Here are a few shots from what it looked like the first week we lived here. You at least get a sense for the various furniture items we are working with before they were completely taken over with stuff.

Eventually, I came around to the idea of making a small investment, especially in a new file cabinet. (Oh how I hated that rusty, gray metal cabinet!) My mom offered to pitch in as an early Christmas present as well. How could I say no to that?!

We ended up with two new desks, two new rolling drawer cabinets, three wall shelves, a file cabinet, and an open shelf to go next to the file cabinet. We also wanted to get some wall mounted cabinets, but they were out of stock. Eventually, we plan to add a couch to this room as well. (I told you we do a lot in here), to serve as additional guest space. Currently, the couch is in my mom's basement. It also functions as a twin bed when you take the cushions off the back, or folds open to be a queen on the floor. The wall cabinets will serve as storage above the couch.

It might have been a good thing that the wall cabinets were out of stock. We pretty much filled the truck, and then spent the next several hours assembling furniture. I went work on the file cabinets and rolling drawers in the living room, while Greg broke down the old tables, installed the wall shelves, and assembled the desks in place in the office. By the way, I love how easily the casters on the coffee table allowed me to move it out of the way to create a nice open work area.


We still have a lot to do in the room, like painting. I'm thinking  a green color, similar to, but lighter than the coffee table. And I really don't have a good shot to share yet of the furniture we bought in place (cause I still haven't managed to stage the room yet to get a nice one!) So, you will have to wait patiently for that! But, the room already feels a million times better, as evidenced by the fact that I am actually sitting at my desk while typing this, instead of on the couch in the living room.

Back up at the top, you can see Ziggy enjoying the new hutch shelf in front of the window. Yes, we pretty much bought this as a cat shelf, so they can have a place to look out the window, while we still have space for office supplies. You can also see the birch color of the desks we bought. We're doing a mix of white and birch, which is coming out quite nicely, and will look even better when we obliterate the yellow, which is currently way to close to the color of the birch items.

When I get around to taking more shots, you will see the white and birch mix on the new filing cabinet, which has also created yet another cat perch in front of a window. I'll tell you more about all the great features of what we got then too.

Yeah, so soon, I promise, I will clean up the room and take some nice pictures. Really.