Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ending With A Buy

What better way to end the year than with a thrift store makeover?
If you don't know by now, there are certain groups of items that I have a hard time resisting when I thrift store shop. I love white plates and vases, bowls, old glassware, clocks, metalware, and baskets. So when I saw this little item it caught my eye.
How could I pass up such an interesting metal basket? Look at those little details on the corners! I'm not sure what they were meant for, but I immediately had an idea for what I would do.As much as I loved the original galvanized metal finish, there were spots of rust that didn't look very pretty. So out came the black spray paint. Yes, I still manage to do a little spraying even with snow outside!
Next, I took a trip to a shop that sells chemistry supplies (another fun place to shop!) and I purchased some test tubes for fifty cents a piece. I was so excited when I found out they fit perfectly into those corner pockets.
Now I have an unusual, yet very pretty way to serve dishes at my holiday buffet!
I wish you all

Thank you SO MUCH for your friendship!
Happy New Year!

A Very Happy New Year - may 2009 be a prosperous and joyous year for you all!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Little New Year Decor

Almost every year I like to decorate
a small New Year's tree.

It's a fun little tradition to help celebrate the new year.
I make it as glitzy and sparkly as possible
with silver and mirrored ornaments and foil streamers.
A few years ago I found some ornaments
that look like champagne bottles
(we prefer to think they're non-alcoholic)
with "Happy New Year" written on them.
I bought little glitter "cheers" words for 70% off.
I top the tree with a metal horn, and add more horns
on the branches and tucked at the base.
Won't this look great as the centerpiece
for the holiday buffet?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Let The Realtor Beware!

Real estate agents really have to be careful nowadays, particularly with regards overly friendly homeowners. One homeowner in West Hartford, Connecticut, became very friendly with a 28-year-old real estate agent, when he went to her house to discuss selling it. She was trying to be nice to him, by giving him gingerbread to eat. That’s when her problems began.

The lady forgot to tell the agent that the gingerbread was “special”. It had lots of ingredients, including one ingredient that made the real estate agent feel ill. She made the gingerbread with marijuana. She didn’t tell the realtor what he was about to eat, and the poor guy got sick. Watch the news clip below.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Greatest Christmas Gift Ever Given

"Never has anyone offered so much to so many
in so few words as when
Jesus said, 'Here am I, send me.' "
---Neal Maxwell

Wishing You a Very
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

And to all a good night...

After a day spent cooking (seafood chowder, mulligatawny soup, sweet and sour meatballs...sound familiar?) yesterday, and delivering a few cards and small gifts to friends, I am spent. I want to sleep in, wrap the four remaining gifts that I keep stubbing my toe on as I attempt to climb into bed, and tune out some of the noise coming from my least long enough to drink my morning cup of tea. Instead, I will probably fret and rush around the house tidying in preparation for our Christmas Eve guests, and remind my children/the boys to spruce themselves up a bit and then try to make myself look presentable. I will then pour myself a glass of my wine and enjoy the hustle and bustle that is simultaneously going on in millions of homes everywhere. We will enjoy the day, the food, the company and later, I will fall into bed, overtired, like all mothers...and toss and turn all night in anticipation, as I have for as many years as I can remember.

May you all have a very, merry Christmas, and enjoy it for all that it means to you. I wish everyone health and happiness, and for those struggling through difficult times, I wish you peace, strength, and comfort.

Happy Holidays!!

It Takes A Village

The living room tree is known as "mom's tree" because, traditionally, I really enjoy decorating it by myself. I turn on Christmas music and wax nostalgic as I hang the real glass ornaments. Many remind me of the ones from my childhood. Usually I break at least one ornament every year, and if I don't, then our cat or a son does. I chalk it up as part of the Christmas tradition. Fortunately, most ornaments were purchased on clearance or at the thrift store, so I don't make a fuss. This year the tradition changed a bit. I was blessed to have my newly married daughter and son-in-law help decorate the tree. It's so fun to have them here visiting. And, I enjoyed EVERY minute of their help.
After the tree is decorated, the real fun begins. The village gets placed underneath the tree (which is why our tree is on stilts). It's a tradition to have my boys set up the train track before the houses get placed. If you look very closely (click the picture to enlarge) you'll notice lego men on the train track. That's a tradition too! Right after everything is finished, my boys have each enjoyed giving their toys train rides. . .or train crashes.My kids have all grown up with the village as part of our Christmas tradition. We like to lie on our tummies and tell stories about all of the village people. Every year there are certain villagers who have to go in the exact same place.
Santa and the elves are always high on the "mountain" so they can look to see who's been naughty or nice.The kissing couple, my daughter's favorite, always go in the gazebo. The "rich lady" is always leaving her large home to go on a trip for the holidays. The dog always chases the boy on the bike. . .except for the year that my third son decided he needed that little dog and would take it to his room to play. The family is always place by the nativity scene at the church as a reminder of our Christmas Eve tradition of going as a family to see the lights of the city and hear the story of the birth of Christ.I hand painted some of the villagers many years ago. None of the houses cost very much. Super glue is used to repair something almost every year. Our village isn't all that special, but the traditions and the memories associated with it are very, very special and dear to our family.

Monday, December 22, 2008

For Real....

Taking a cue from Kimba and her take on showing what really goes on behind the scenes of carefully snapped photos, I thought I'd show you the photos of my perfect-Martha Stewart-inspired cookie-decorating moment. Remember I said I was going to try my hand at these?
You probably had your doubts, didn't you? Because, you know, I am not a baking/cooking blog am I? Sure, I throw out the odd recipe here and there. But known for my attention to culinary detail, I am not.

Who says I'm not?

After all, this is how mine turned out:
Can't tell the difference, can you?

I can explain:

Here are some behind the scenes photos of our cookie-decorating:

Baking them was the easy part...

Especially when your husband takes over once boredom (mine) sets in...

Sophie and a friend helped me decorate them. Of course, Royal icing and I are not friends, so it got too stiff too soon, and the complaints started...

Then I had the great idea of heating the bottles up for seven seconds to soften the icing. Sounds good in theory, except when you hit the three button along with the seven button...

That is what happens when the top of the bottle blows off and the icing starts spewing out of the bottle, decorating the inside of my micro-wave... (I promise I didn't swear, out loud, in front of the girls). Of course, the icing hardened immediately, and I had to chip it off the walls of the micro-wave. Charming...

Did I tell you how much I hate Royal icing? Now I know a few of you are clucking your tongues, thinking that hate is not a very nice word. No, it isn't, but surely it's okay to hate an inanimate object?

Anyway, I decorated six cookies in total. They looked like this:

If you squint, they look really nice!! Squint extra hard when looking at the angel!

**Someone needs to tell Martha Stewart that decorating four dozen cookies all fancy-like, is a really dumb idea. I should march right over to her blog and tell her myself. Only I won't, because it's Christmas after all...and I think leaving mean comments on people's blogs is really nasty!

So, for all of you with secrets to share, cough them up!!

How Does Your Tree Stand?

The kitchen tree stands proudly in an old crock.It's decorated with fake gingerbread cookies,
cookie cutters,
glass candy ornaments
and vintage pieces from a child's kitchen set.
The tree in our stairwell sits in a burlap sack
with it's red ornaments and red bead garland.
The tree in my daughter's/guest room
stands a top a pretty plant stand.
It's decorated with all things girly and pastel.The orphan tree in the bathroom window
sits humbly in an old tin can.
The family room tree is in a rusty metal garden urn. It's decorated with ornaments
made or
given to us by family and friends,
as well as the cute toy kind.
The tree in the computer room has been
plopped in a big basket.
It's decorated with stuffed Christmas bears,
felt stockings & mittens and red wooden bead garland.
The living room tree, the largest in our home,
stands on a stilt-like box.
This helps it look taller and
also serves another purpose.
BUT. . . .
you'll have to come back tomorrow to see.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Where am I??

I just got back from a visit to my husband's family home. One turkey dinner down, two more to go.

It's a tough job...

The talented and sweet Tanya of Sunday Baker invited me to be a guest blogger for her holiday series. Now you all know I didn't offer up any baking tips, but if you want to see what I did do with some candy, head on over!!

Merry Christmas To You All!

We would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. It has been an amazing year and we've seen our little business continue to grow throughout the months; which has meant it has also been a very busy year - so now is the perfect time to say a huge 'thank you' to everyone who has made a purchase from our shop, and to everyone who has spared their time to email or leave a comment here on the Vintage Home blog. We are currently working on many new ideas for the website which we will revealed early next year - and of course we will be adding lots and lots of ever more beautiful vintage treasures. In the meantime, we will be entertaining friends and family over the Christmas holidays; we have a full-house on Christmas day so I will be busy in the kitchen, but I am hoping to relax in the evening with a glass or two of something warming! The cottage is festively dressed for Christmas so I thought I would share the photos with you...

...logs stacked in the inglenook, the woodburner warming the room, and the pretty garland decorating the beam...

...lots of twinkling lights and greenery on the main beam...

...Much-loved decorations adding charm and prettiness...

...the tree in all its glory...

...all that's missing are the presents - yet to be wrapped!

As well as photos of our festive cottage, I'd like to share a tale of Christmas past...

Wartime Christmas

Amongst my collection of portrait paintings is this utterly charming oil painting of a young lady. Inscribed on the reverse is the date it was painted; Christmas Eve 1941 and every time I look at it, my mind conjures up a very special Christmas scene. I imagine a typical 1940s parlour with home-made decorations of paper chains, streamers and lanterns. A fire crackles in the hearth and a clock ticks softly on the mantelpiece above. A small table sits under the window, which is hung with heavy black-out curtains. The table is draped with an embroidered tablecloth and upon this sits a selection of small gifts, wrapped in brown paper and tied with coloured ribbons. The gifts are very unlike today's luxurious and glamorous trinkets, but each has been chosen or made lovingly for the person in mind. Perhaps some nuts, an orange, a knitted scarf or gloves. A wooden plane or boat for the young boy, a ragdoll for the little girl; all very simple by today's standards but so very special all those years ago in war-torn England.
By the gentle glow of the fire, a young lady sits patiently as her image is painted by the artist.

They may have sat there listening to the sound of enemy aircraft overhead and heard the distant wail of the air-raid warning rise up into the night sky. As the hours of Christmas Eve ticked by and the artist and his model exchanged laughter and soft words, her smiling image and a moment in time were captured on canvas. Who was that artist? Perhaps a sister or brother, creating a wonderful present for their parents. Perhaps a young beau, keeping the painting hidden until finished, and then unveiling it for his young lady on Christmas morning.
There is no way to know who painted this wonderful portrait, or the circumstances in which it was painted, but I can't help thinking that the young lady looks so happy and positive, looking towards a good future, despite the uncertain era she was living in.

That's what Christmas and New Year is about, it is a time to reflect on the past year and to look forward to the coming year with fresh hopes and aspirations.

Have a wonderful and Very Merry Christmas everyone! Clare & Mike xx

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dining Delights

I apologize for being so sporadic with my posts these last few weeks. While most people were Christmas decorating and shopping, I decided to make-over my daughter's room. Yes, I know I'm crazy, but look at it this way, I'll have posts to share during the long, cold days of January.I finally finished tweaking the decorations in the dining room. I hung little wreaths on the china cabinet, this time I used beads instead of ribbon. Actually the wreaths are hanging on those little stick-on hangers and the bead string is just taped to the backside of the door. In the kitchen, the wreaths are actually hanging by the ribbon that's tacked on the back of the cabinet.I placed some mirrors on the long shelf/mantle (I've been gathering mirrors to hang a wall of mirrors in the stairwell). I pulled together a bunch of apothecary jars and vases and placed them on the shelf. I poured "snow" into the jars, which is actually Epsom salt from the dollar store. I added strings of white lights along the shelf and trailing in and out of the jars and vases. Then I piled in vintage ornaments and strings of silver beads.
I love the finished look.
It's even more beautiful at night.