Posts Tagged ‘Holiday’


I really don’t like malls.  They’re all the same stores, same basic layout, same corporate look.  But every now and then (yes, especially this time of year), I’ll drop in.  When I go, my favorite in this area is Tyson’s Corner/Tyson’s Galleria – mainly because they have the best Apple store in the area AND Anthropologie.

But, much as I love both those stores, there’s still a bit of that corporate-ness to them (this shop window, is just an example of what I’m saying).

And then I found Free People:


Firstly, I just love these spectacular doors.  And it’s the details that make this for me:  the gravel “pavement” with the cute bike parked outside, the bronze doors that look like it’s a pavilion plucked from the Tuilleries Gardens in Paris.


And then you walk in to hardwood floors (no big surprise, or exception there), charming clothes and accessories, and – here’s the part I love – handmade holiday decorations!  Yes, the staff at Free People made this adorable pom poms them selves, and set up this charming display.


And I’m always a sucker for incorporating natural elements in displays of any kind.


And don’t they just plain look fun to make? IMG_3818

These pretty cones are a nice complement (not sure if they made these, too).


I was surprised to find this level of personality in a corporate store.  Kudos Free People.

Happy Holiday shopping to you!

Thanks for reading,


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What better to put you in the Christmas spirit than a December snow? And we’re already on our second one here in Buckeystown, Maryland! I’ve lived in this area all my life (eg. a very long time . . .) and cannot recall a December with two early snows, especially over 6″ (the mid-Maryland definition of a decent snow).

So how am I celebrating this natural phenomenon? Sipping french vanilla coffee, in pajamas and slippers, ensconced in my down-cushioned sofa, watching the snow fall outside our wall of windows. Ahh, contentment . . .


What I awoke to this morning:


And a few images from Sunday’s snow:







I think the 14′ Christmas tree, which I struggled all month to decorate (and keep upright!), looks spectacular the way Nature has trimmed it.  The ultimate flocking!

If you got some snow, I’d love to see pictures of it!

Thanks for reading,



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Let’s start with the most basic of mantle decorating designs:  candlesticks flanking a clock or mirror.  There is nothing wrong with this design.  Yet, take a look at it.  Does it really draw you in?  Does it turn your head or engage your interest?  Not really.


Step 1:  Add greens.  A base of natural greens – found in your own yard or clipped from the Christmas tree – is best.


Step 2:  Create asymmetry.  Change the height of one of your candlesticks to add flow to the display.  Here I use books – my favorite decorating go-to for giving an element the height it needs.


Go further with the asymmetrical design by moving the candlesticks together, and pulling the clock to an off-center position.

It’s getting better, isn’t it?


Step 3:  Employ vertical elements.  I’m removing the round clock so that I can add some additional height.


I’ve found just the thing in this vertically hung, vintage mirror.  Mirrors have the added benefit of their reflective nature and room-opening power.


Step 4:  Intertwine layers of garland.  Intertwining the wired, glittered garland with the natural greens gives shape and interest.  When using store-bought greens, always work with them to give them the lively shape that you want them to have.  Never leave them flat as they come from the store.

Here, interweaving them with the natural greens gives liveliness to the display.


Note how this base of greenery has tied the major, vertical elements together.


Step 5:  Add texture.  These paper garlands add whimsy and texture.


Step 6:  Include a theme.  They mantle already looks great, but we can take it to the next level with a theme – in this case I’m doing Woodland.


Step 7:  (Woodland theme)  I’ve added both a natural and a tinsel tree, combining the glittery with the earthy, as we’ve done with the garland base.


Step 8:  Add figures.  These felted deer provide a sculptural element, and serve the design function of linking the white, carved frame to the trees and garland below.


Step 9:  Maintain visual balance.  The ‘weight’ of the deer needs to be balanced on the opposite side.  In this case 2 large pine cones – one natural and one dusted with German glass glitter – work perfectly.


Step 10:  Tuck ornaments and tiny items amongst the greenery.  Small owl and squirrel ornaments complete the Woodland theme, as they add that extra level of interest – that little something you see as you come nearer to the mantle.

Compare this photo to the first one.  Quite a difference.  And we had so much fun doing it!


Step 6:  (Vintage Toyland theme) Let’s remove the formal candlesticks (which provided that shot of red for the Woodland theme) in favor of a vintage toy store sign.


While the elements are completely different (silver candlesticks vs. graphic sign), design-wise they serve the same purpose, which is to balance the trees and mirror.


Step 7:  Add whimsy.   Love the playfulness added with this candy cane.  It also draws together the base to the full height of the mirror.


Step 8:  Embrace scale.  If I had room on the mantle, I’d love to use this vintage toy horse in the display.  Alas, it just won’t fit.


Step 9:  Add little details.  Tuck vintage ornaments among the greenery.


Step 10:  Use graphics.  Add to the graphics of the toy store sign.  I’ve used the blocks to spell out N I P, as well as a little red and white bike license plate.


And here’s the final product.  I love the richness and detail of this display.


Note the little toy truck poking out from under the ‘toy ‘n joy’ sign.




Step 11:  Don’t forget the fireplace itself.  If you’re not burning a fire, use this space to display beautiful items that integrate with your mantle.  In this case the blue child’s skis, candy cane, and oversized letters do the trick.




Hope you found this inspiring and useful.  Let me know if you have any questions!

Thanks for reading!


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I just love wrapping presents.  I wrap them, stack them, beribbon them.  It just plain makes me happy.  Here’s a little of what I’ve done this year.

The silk duponi ribbon makes this stack of golden packages shine.

The silk duponi ribbon makes this stack of golden packages shine.


I combined metallic silver mesh ribbon with sheer red for the bow on this one.


The tone-on-tone of this one was a little more masculine (this stack is for Chip).


I actually leave this nativity scene out year round.  It’s beautiful in its own right.


Don’t fear using a big bow or ribbon on a tiny package.  This little box is no more than about 2″x4″, and the bow takes it way up in the “I’ve gotta open this one!” contest.


Always finish off your packages with an extraordinary gift tag.  Think of the tag as the jewelry that completes the outfit.  Whether simple or over-the-top extravagant, the tag makes the package.  Remember – it’s the first thing the recipient looks at.


Mix up the wrapping, and pull your presents together with a coordinated bow.  If you don’t have a gift tag that’ll work, tuck a beautiful card in.


Here’s the riot of packages under our tree right now.  In years past, I’ve used all the same paper and one or two complementary ribbons.  This year the only similarity is the red and gold color scheme.  There are 3 different papers, and countless different ribbons.  I really like this effect.  And it was such fun making each present unique.



Try interspersing your greenery and holiday bling through all of your holiday displays.


The pretty glass angel is a gift I just received this year from my aunt.  She tucked into my holiday greenery so nicely.


I don’t know about you, but I’m very picky about the faces on my statues.  This little Christ Child is just beautiful.  I was so tickled to find him.


Always bring as many candles to your dining table as you can fit.  The light is bewitching, and they’re so festive.  The red ones are a great new find from Bella Villa.   It’s a candle and super-ornate candlestick all created from wax – the entire thing burns.  So cool.


If you love your displays from one season, just tweak it for the next one.  I just loved my sideboard display from fall, so I simply traded out the amber light branches for the frosted white ones.  Then I tucked greenery and glittering silver sprays for a dramatic Christmas effect.

I hope you’re having a warm and peaceful Holiday Season.  It’s actually snowing here today, and we’re having a truly whiter Christmas.  I’m so looking forward to heading out to Christmas Eve Mass in the snow, and walking through the streets of downtown Frederick as it becomes covered in its winter blanket.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Thanks for reading,


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