A Good Home, Advent Traditions, Canadian life, Christmas Arrangements, Christmas Decorations, Christmas Greenery, Christmas Traditions, Cut flowers, Domestic Divas, Family Moments, Gardens, Home Decor, Homes

The Un-Domestic Diva Strikes Again!

Okay, alright, enough already.

I know that I am seriously challenged in some things.

Like cooking. Or baking. Or sewing. Or floral arranging. Or…. you get the drift.

Blog Photo - flowers with alium closer

Last year, I tried to make Christmas arrangements. The best I can say for them? They made people laugh.

Indoor Arrangement

But every saint has a past and every sinner has a future, and since this is the Advent season, I am full of hope for my own redemption.

So I’ve been trying to make Christmas arrangements again. A solitary, mindful activity that suits my Advent mood well.

First off: I had no budget. So all, or almost all, the ingredients had to come from my own garden, or from inside my house somewhere.

Blog Photo - Evergreen Tree with snow

The first result is a bit uneven.

Blog Photo - Planter Box 1

I used:

  • Red dogwood twigs
  • Evergreen spruce
  • Dried hydrangea flowers
  • Pine cones
  • A couple of grapevine balls
  • A few Christmas ornaments.

The second one, with much the same ingredients — plus an old fake bird and a single dried rose still on its long stem — showed more promise. Maybe it was just shaped better.

Blog Photo - Planter Box 2

That encouraged me to try a different, larger design. I used mainly spruce branches, dried hydrangea, dried astilbe and a reddish branch of something.

But this one was not quite right – I’m still not sure why.

Blog Photo - Large Winter Arrangement

Maybe the blue Everlasting flower from an indoor arrangement doesn’t fit? (Yes, I kept the dried-up flowers from arrangements sent us when my husband was ill.)

Finally, I felt bold enough to confront the long plant stand. You may remember that arrangement from last year – it was an inelegant mess.

Christmas Greenery
Christmas Greenery

Could I do better this year?

Totally intimidated at first, I cheated.

I bought some discounted southern magnolia branches  – 3 bunches at 5 bucks a bunch… a major steal.  At least, I think that’s magnolia – those leaves that are shiny-green-on-one-side, rust-coloured-on-the-other.

And here is the arrangement:

Blog Photo - Winter arrangement wide shot

Blog photo - Winter arrangement CU2

Blog photo - Winter arrsangement cu 3

My mother used to say: “Self praise is no recommendation.” So I shall make no editorial comment.

Instead, I shall sit back and await your accolades.

Blog Photo - Winter arrangement CU

Don’t let me down, now.

Fishing for compliments is exhausting.

Photos by Hamlin Grange
Photos by Hamlin Grange

**

Dedicated to my sister Pat and all domestic divas, including many in my blogging network (you know who you are).

A Good Home, Advent Traditions, Christmas, Christmas Arrangements, Christmas Decorations, Christmas Greenery, Christmas Traditions, Christmas Tree Trimming, Family, Farm, Home Decor, Interior Design, Nature

THE (IM)PERFECT TREE

You think my Christmas arrangement was bad?

You should see our Christmas tree this year.

Last year,  I chose the tree myself– and suffered a thousand criticisms because it was so small. No-one would admit what I knew: this tree was tiny but perfect.

Tiny Perfect Christmas Tree

This year, my husband and younger daughter were sure they’d do better. They drove to a tree farm, hopped onto the farmer’s tractor-pulled wagon…

On the Wagon… and cut a tree. They declared it “perfect”.

Cutting the Tree

Until they brought it home. Neither could explain how their perfect tree turned into a strange creature with few branches on one side, even  fewer on the other – and a bare backside, to boot.

Truth is, our family has a really bad record when it comes to picking Christmas trees: too tall or too short, too thin or too fat, too sparse.

Lopsided Tree

The first winter we spent at my husband’s family farmhouse years ago, getting the tree was a no-brainer. We’d simply walk down the hill of the 100-acre farm to where the spruce trees grew, and cut one.

It was particularly snowy that year. We slipped and slid down the long hill, Barclay the dog beside us.  But we cut the “perfect tree” and tied a rope around it. Then came the long journey uphill. We slipped and slid again and our knees nearly buckled in the deep snow.

We eyed Barclay, now grown and strong, wondering if we could tether the rope to him and have him do the work, but abandoned that idea swiftly. He was having a lot of fun eating the snow or digging himself out of it.

“What use are you?” we teased him. “We sure could use your help right now.”

By the time we reached the top of the hill, the branches on the tree’s bottom side were battered and broken. To hide the damage, we positioned the tree’s flat side against one wall of the large dining room, but what a sad thing it was.

Photo by H. Grange

“It’s a Charlie Brown tree,” I told everyone that year. “It’s got a charm all its own.”

“A tree only our family could love,” my husband muttered, shaking his head in disappointment.

This year, despite all the ornaments,  our daughter was shaking her head in disappointment, while her father  kept claiming that the tree “has character”.

But that tree gave me a chance to feel like a domestic diva. As you know, that’s a rare thing.

Blog Photo - Christmas Tree 13

Photo by H. Grange

I fetched the branches that my husband had cut from the bottom of the tree, and some peacock feathers, and tried to fool the eye into thinking the tree wasn’t as bad as it was.

Selfie Ornament

Or maybe the only eye that got fooled was mine. Oh, well….

From the home of imperfect Christmas arrangements and trees – I wish you peace, love and joy.

Cynthia.

ALL PHOTOS BY H. GRANGE

A Good Home, Advent Traditions, Christmas, Christmas Decorations, Christmas Traditions, Christmas Tree Trimming, Nisser, Scandinavian Christmas

The Nicer Nisser

Inge had a way of always putting the best forward.  A Danish-American living in California, she always found a positive way to view a challenging situation.

She fell off a ladder once. Broke her arm and sustained multiple bruises. The fact that she fell from a ladder while decorating her house for Christmas might have made the situation extra challenging. Who wants to go through Christmas battered and bruised?  But it didn’t stop Inge from being cheerful.  Her daughter is my good friend, and it was one of the things we marveled about: both our mothers’ capacity for seeing the positives. Both women had been through tough times, but came out the other end of it with joyfulness.

Inge also collected Nisser – the tiny elf-people that visit people’s homes. Not surprisingly, she collected the kind, cheerful Nisser, the ones you may see in Scandinavian homes at Christmas.

The Nicer Nisser - 1
The Nice Nisser – 1

Inge died a few years ago, and her daughter has inherited some of the Nisser.  So they will be visiting her own home this Advent and Christmas, a fact which makes my friend very happy.

(Yes, I know the ones in these photos are dolls. The real Nisser are usually invisible.)

But my friend warns that the “drille Nisser” – like the one who made my family’s appliances break down recently — could still come out on Christmas Eve!  We are advised to leave out a bowl of sweet porridge for them the night before – preferably with lots of cinnamon.

Nicer Nisser 2
Nice Nisser 2

This post is dedicated to the memory of Inge, and to all who take joy in Christmas.