Posts Tagged ‘Seasonal decorating’


A friend is coming over to my house to gather some pine branches from the trees in the yard; an easy decoration to share when your garden thrives on random acts of pruning, and the occasional dose of neglect. We will probably have a cup of tea, I will bake something yummy, and, if it stays this cold, I will definitely warm the house up with the wood stove.

When I read this back, it sounds very idyllic, when really, neither of our lives are, but we are easily pleased, and we like spending time outside. She said, it’s more fun doing it together, and she is right; even if it is below freezing, and the pine trees are much less than perfect, it will be a happy few hours.

I never understood seasonal decorating until I came to New Jersey, and I realize now, that aside from it being a way to celebrate the holidays, it is a way of cheering us up when the days get really gray. Nothing grows, and by January, the color green feels like a distant memory that may, or may not have ever been true.

So, we decorate the outside, and we smile at the sparkly lights and the giant candy canes. We wait for the inflatable snowmen to pop up, and we find ourselves watching for the next burst of color down the street; perhaps judging just a little, but being secretly grateful for the distraction.
I am always amazed at how much work goes on to getting it just right; seemingly ordinary people spending weeks creating the most extravagant of displays, and coordinating lights in a way that would prevent me from ever flipping the on-switch. (I suspect there may be some math and technical skill involved, which could be why the whole process eludes me).

I love to see these homes, but my favorites are the more subdued displays; porches filled with red plaid, a wreath on the door, and oversized presents piled into an old sleigh. It feels like home to me (not that we ever had a sleigh on our front porch) but it looks comforting and warm, and when the day is so cold and gray, it makes you feel that you would always be welcome to stop in.

Decorating in the Winter isn’t about whether you choose to have a dancing Santa Claus on your roof, knit a scarf for your tree, or hang a wreath on your front door, it’s about adding a bit of color to the outside world, and putting smiles on the people driving by.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com

The gorgeous Knitted Tree photograph is from: www.superforest.org

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Okay, so technically this isn’t about design, but it is about life, organization and happiness…

I know we have a month or so until Christmas, but why does everyone seem so busy and worried? Maybe it’s because of all that has happened over the last month, or maybe it is just that normal insanity that seems to take over at this time of year. We want to buy the newest, favorite thing, and we have to try and create the perfect memory (again). We all know that it won’t be perfect – we’ll stand on line for the one thing we can’t find, the dog will throw up from eating something he shouldn’t have, and the children will be so exhausted they’ll just play with the wrapping paper.

And, that is what the Holidays should be about (mistakes always make for a better story). So, while we strive to get it all done, I thought I could suggest some easy ways to cheat during the Holidays, and perhaps let you enjoy a little bit of peace and joy in-between.

Make a great, (semi) homemade dessert: Buy good quality cookie dough and vanilla ice cream from the supermarket. Bake the cookies (takes about 15 minutes). Sprinkle some sugar, chocolate chips, crushed candy canes or edible glitter on the top before baking. When ready for dessert, assemble the most delicious ice cream sandwiches.

Plan at least one occasion that includes all the people you like: We all know that this is a time of obligation, but don’t forget to spend time with your friends and family that you really cherish. Knowing you have this to look forward to, will help you get through the other stuff. Plan a time, and invite them asap.

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Wendy E. Wrzos  http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

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I know I was watching, but it still feels as though Summer ended when I wasn’t looking in the right direction….

Recently, I was a guest blogger for a friend, Sue West (an Organizer and Life Coach) I talked about the changing seasons, and what they meant to me…

Growing up in a warmer climate, I never understood what seasonal decorating was. We didn’t even own coats, so to change our surroundings to suit the weather, was not something I could relate to. Now, I live in a four season world, and as well as the constant excuse to go shopping, I look forward to the surprises that each month can bring.

Soon, it will be Fall, and after the brutally hot Summer we have had, I find myself craving the cold nights and the warmer colors. A quick look outside will tell you that Mother Nature is starting to adjust her settings; the lush greens of Spring are giving way to fallen leaves, and the flowers are taller, their colors more saturated and bold. Always a good teacher, I take my cue from her, and I start to go through my own transformation.
  •  I tidy up the garden, and bring in plants that I want to nurture through till next year. I stop at farm markets to buy pumpkins and gourds; arranging them onto my front step, and piling them into the gaps of my faded windowbox.
  • Inside my home, I start to look through my linen closet for blankets to toss on the sofa and chairs. I am already anticipating the first cold night, and the mis-matched textures make me feel warmer already. A bowl of seashells is put away, and I bring out a large collection of buttons instead – collected over many years, they make me think of late night sewing and heavy, woolen coats that need to be repaired.
  • I also put away some decorative glass pieces, and replace them with accessories that feel less harsh, and more organic. A wooden bowl is filled with pinecones, a bunch of twigs is arranged on the table and a favorite photograph (sans frame) leans against a pile of books.

Whenever you want to decorate, think of the four seasons as a wonderful game of opposites. If it is cold outside, make your home warm by using soft edges, organic elements and saturated colors. Conversely, when it is hot, cool down with simple shapes, lighter colors and fewer layers.

Thanks to Vicki Horton for the gorgeous Volkswagen bug photograph. If you read my other work, you will know that I have ridiculously overused this photograph, but I just couldn’t help myself – I love it so! And, I may even use it again sometime…
For more information on Sue West, go to: http://organizenh.com/

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It’s two weeks before Christmas and we are starting to get our freezing cold, windy, nasty weather. The type of days that make you just want to hide under the covers with a book and an endless supply of hot chocolate. It’s so cold that the dog just looks at me when I open the door. He backs away from me, wagging his tail; determined to please, but positive that there is nothing outside that really needs his attention. He waits until I am not looking before he jumps onto the blanket-laden sofa. It is the perfect place for him; he looks at the Christmas tree, trying to decide which gingerbread cookie he will steal next as he lazily watches the world go by.

The blanket he sleeps on is old. Knitted by an Auntie many years ago, it is heavy and warm, the colors bright and clashing. It is a Winter blanket. Living in a house that is about as insulated as a paper lantern, I have begun to realize that when the days turn colder I need to adjust my house as well as my wardrobe. It seems so obvious, but we respond differently to textures and color depending on the weather and the circumstances. I truly believe, for me, that I need to surround myself with warm, rich colors (and textures) to make myself feel warmer! A pale blue, cotton blanket, while wonderful in the Summer, will often feel (and look) cold in the Winter, whereas a dark blue, wool blanket will bring me warmth and comfort on an icy afternoon when the sun goes down.

My love/hate relationship with Winter is always better when I accept these changes, when I put on the woolly sweaters and fill my home with strong, deep shades. Cool-colored throws are hidden away until the Spring, and I add lots of plaid and homemade blankets wherever I can. Uncoordinated as they may seem, this is exactly what brings them together; they are bold and imperfect, they are meant to be curled up on (or under). Be indulgent in your design ideas, think cozy and organic, with a dash of whimsy. Wrap a pillow in an old fluffy sweater. Use a gigantic glass bowl to hold your gloves and scarves, or an assortment of twigs and pine cones that you found somewhere outside (or in the supermarket!). 

More than any other season, Winter is about spending time in our homes, so why not have some fun and decorate it with things that make you want to curl up and stay…..

Wendy E. Wrzos  http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/                       With thanks to House Beautiful UK, for the photograph.

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Don’t turn the heat up and the television on! Just because the days are cooling down, and the leaves are turning orange,  doesn’t mean we can’t play outside for a wee bit longer.

Plan a late Summer BBQ, or celebrate the cold weather with your very own, homemade Fall Festival. Make it easy and fun; decorate your garden with everything seasonal – pumpkins, hay bales, chrysanthemums and of course, piles of apples. Hang some of the apples from a tree (later on, turn it into a game; try to bite them, with your hands behind your back, of course).

Bring board games outside, bob for apples, go on a scavenger hunt, carve and decorate pumpkins. Toast marshmallows over a small fire pit, make s’mores and sit on blankets with hot cider and farm fresh apple donuts.

Why not explore some of the oversized garden games that are available. Consider making your own (eg. for Checkers use a plastic tablecloth and outdoor plastic paint to draw the squares – wooden discs or different colored stones could be used as playing pieces).

 I have one that I found online years ago ( left).  I love the unexpectedness of it as you turn a corner in my garden. When we aren’t playing with it, I have a large wrought iron ant that stands, poised to make the next move!

To buy garden games, or for ideas on making your own, go to:   http://www.lettucemakethyme.com/giant.htm

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