So! It’s been a looooooooooooooooooooong time since I wrote a blog post.
Why? I still don’t actually enjoy blogging very much, I’ve been too busy, and I kind of forgot how to do this html stuff. Also, we completely lost our internet connection for over two months during the summer, due to our crappy provider changing their towers.
Lately, however, I’ve had a whole host of health problems keeping me at home and fairly inactive. It’s been enough to prevent me from being able to decorate for Christmas so far, and somehow it just doesn’t feel like Christmas is only two weeks away when the house looks like normal!
There’s also only so much sitting around one can do, and while the Internet has a seemingly endless supply of “stuff” for me to read, I just don’t want to stare at a computer screen all day.
One thing that has held my interest are all of the blogger Christmas Home Tours being published. I love seeing how other people decorate their homes, even if their personal taste doesn’t mesh with mine. I think it’s awesome how God made us all unique, and we should celebrate those differences!
So here’s my little contribution to the blogosphere, featuring my home as it was decorated last year. I hope you like it!
Okay, full disclosure: this outdoor stuff was actually from 2012. That’s the beauty of a virtual home tour though! I didn’t feel like making a separate post of this, so I’m combining it with my indoor decor from 2014.
If memory serves, we had a gangly spruce that we were planning to cut down in our yard, and I thought, “Why not use all of those evergreen branches for Christmas decor?” So that’s exactly what we did! I used silver florists wire (on a spool) to secure the boughs to our address sign, and added in some red-twig dogwood branches (also from our yard), a large pinecone, and a big silver-grey velvet ribbon bow.
Come on down the driveway!
Here is our front walkway, covered in snow. I removed all of the annuals from my summer planters flanking the front door, left the dwarf alberta spruces, and filled in the empty dirt space with pinecones. I also gathered some more red-twig dogwood branches and placed them in an antique galvanized steel can from my Mom.
I made a small bundle of spruce boughs to hang from each lantern, and added a large pinecone and simple bow. The ribbon was an incredibly cheap find at Fabricland, and I got several spools!
This is a close-up of my large wooden barrel planter, to the right of my front door. As you can see, I did not pull out the dusty miller that grew in it over the summer, and it freezes beautifully! Ever since this first successful experiment, I plan one good foliage plant for winter interest in my containers each year. If you want to do this, my top picks are dusty miller, silver licorice vine, and ornamental grasses of all types.
I found the giant pinecones at Superstore. They’re attached to long sticks that you can easily insert into the (not frozen) dirt of your container, and I buy a couple more each year. They usually sell out quickly, but I managed to find five last year for only $1 each after Christmas!
The spruce boughs, red-twig dogwood, and birch logs are from our yard.
Lucky me, my watering can is red! Perfect for adding to a little Christmas vignette. I thought the left side of my front door needed a little something more, so I added some wild rose hips. I love that I live in the country and can collect all of these things from my own yard! God is so good.
Here’s a bit of cuteness before we head inside. My daughter A still gives me goofy smiles for photos, and the handsome (but stupid and neurotic) dog was named Charlie. We don’t have him anymore, but he looks good in pictures! He’s sporting a jingle bells collar and leash set I made.
I wish I could walk you through my house as if you’d just come in the front door, but my mudroom is an ugly, hideous mess that we haven’t gotten around to renovating since we bought this house. So let’s just jump right to the Christmas tree in my living room!
(Our old incandescent lights burnt out, and we ended up having to use our outdoor icicle lights on the tree, so just try to ignore the white wires everywhere).
In previous years, I’ve had a red/gold/silver/brown colour scheme, but I gradually noticed that dark brown didn’t look very nice with our wood walls and ceiling, and I’ve always favoured silver over gold. Not only that, but I’ve really grown to love our rustic country house and location. No longer do I feel the need to have chic, modern, urban decor. I still love that style, but I think it looks out of place here.
This new Nordic-Rustic look is much more appropriate to our pseudo-log-cabin abode, and it was so fun to put together!
The only decor items I already had for this new look were the silver and red glass ball ornaments. We were on a tight budget, so I looked for inexpensive decorations and DIY ideas.
I got the idea for the cinnamon stick stars from my friend and neighbour, The DIY Mommy. You can read her tutorial here, though obviously I didn’t do the glitter like she did. I made two sizes; smaller ones with no name cinnamon sticks, and larger ones with nice 6″ sticks from a local health food store. They smell great!
I decided that red and silver wasn’t a rich enough colour scheme on its own, and added white. I bought two small packages of white glass balls at Michaels for less than half price, and turned some of them into snowball ornaments with Mod Podge and clear microbeads (found in the clearance section, so they may not be available anymore).
The antler ornament in the photo above is one of the two I made for my deer costume. I did buy some bottlebrush animals from Chapters, but only six or seven, and I got them at clearance prices two days before Christmas.
The above mercury glass pinecone ornaments are my FAVOURITES!! Another major bargain at Chapters, I totally love their vintage style. I got a few before Christmas (so I could actually hang them on the tree), and then several more during Boxing Week.
All told, I spent less than $100 on new ornaments for my tree. And as much as I love everything I bought at Chapters, the decorations I made myself ended up being the most meaningful to me. As a child, I always felt like the Christmas crafts I made at school and church were kind of junky, and I thought only poor people had to make their own ornaments (horrible attitude, I know!). Now that I’m older, I know why my Mom kept them all!
Under the tree, I placed my faux fur throw as a tree skirt. I think it only spent a few days there though, because I missed being able to wrap myself in it! I’ve just never been able to find a tree skirt I love, or the right fabric to make my own.
In keeping with the rustic theme, I decided to wrap all of the gifts in plain brown craft paper. If you want to do this, here’s a bit of information for you: I tried two different brands; the stuff they sell at Canada Post offices, and the Scotch brand I found at Michaels. The Canada Post stuff is better quality (thicker, less prone to tearing), but Scotch is about $1 cheaper per roll and slightly easier to work with (fold) because it is thinner.
It only look me two rolls to wrap all of our presents; and instead of ribbon, I tied them with white, red, and black yarn that I had. What’s more Nordic than yarn, right? I tried to use a few different styles of yarn wrapping for interest (not that you can tell in these photos!).
Each package was further embellished with either pinecones (secured with floral wire), tree clippings, or some faux red berry sprigs.
I’d never done fancy gift tags before, but this time I felt inspired! I got some plain craft paper tags at Michaels, stamped “To:” on one side and “From:” on the other, and then glued on pictures of the person the gift was to and from. The marvellous family photos were taken by my cousin Alex for Christmas 2013, and I never get tired of looking at them! I was SO happy with how the tags turned out, and I can’t wait to use them again this year.
An unforeseen benefit to using photo tags was that my little A could figure out whose present was whose, even though she can’t read. Parents of preschoolers take note!
I scored these adorable red knitted stockings for just $2 each during boxing week of a previous year. We used to use some grey felt ones with sequinned branches stitched onto them, but I always thought the grey just receded into the background, and I don’t really go for sequins much.
I’ve always loved cable knit and pom-poms though, and no one could ever say that red isn’t noticeable!
The stockings are decorated with flocked faux fir branches, some real fir tree clippings, and pairs of “snow”-tipped pinecones (Mod Podge and microbeads again). They hang on a birch pole from our forest, which I further dressed up with a string of lights, silver ball ornaments, and burlap ribbon.
I saw all kinds of adorable snowy forest scenes on Pinterest, so that’s what I decided to do on my coffee table. I used every single cloche in my collection (mostly from Michaels and Winners).
Epsom salt was the snow, and I “borrowed” my kids’ Schleich animal figures.
The trees were all from Michaels (at 50% off!). I tried bleaching and dyeing them, because I didn’t like the bluish green and clumpy “snow” they came with, but somehow the green I chose ended up very close to the original. Oh well! I didn’t get around to putting new “snow” on, so maybe I can try re-dyeing this year.
I mixed in three little houses and a few loose trees with the cloches, and I really like how the scenes turned out!
(I don’t really recommend doing one of these scenes on a stand or plate like this without a lip. The epsom salt kept on escaping!)
This was just a large basket full of tree trimmings, antlers, and glass ball ornaments in my three colours. Very easy to put together! In fact, this is the only way I can display my crackled glass balls (from Canadian Tire), because they are so heavy that a fir tree can’t support them.
This is a really great galvanized beverage bucket that I scored for half price at Chapters the previous summer. I’d been wanting one for years, but they always sold out before the clearance sales started! I simply packed it full of fir boughs that we trimmed from our tree, and as you can see, it looks pretty good! It also smelled wonderful.
If you want to have lots of extra tree trimmings for decorating your house, I recommend buying two trees. One will be your perfect, healthy specimen Christmas tree, and the other can be smaller and less perfect. Just prune away and spread those boughs around your house in any containers you have. If you get the second tree just a few days before Christmas, you should be able to find one VERY cheaply, and you won’t even have to add water to your containers. The branches will last about a week this way.
I enjoy dressing up my living room light fixture for special occasions, and when I saw these long-needle pine garlands with frosty tips at Michaels, I fell in love. They were something like $35 each though, so I waited. . . and got the last four at 70% off during Boxing Week. Wohoo!
This is actually two garlands for a nice full look (Go Big or Go Home!), and I used a bit more of that burlap ribbon with red velvet as well.
This is just a little side table vignette. Remember: use odd numbers. Groups of three, five, seven, etc.
Again, very easy to put together. Tree trimmings and pine cones in a nice container, a tree from my collection (another Boxing Week steal), and our tree branch coasters with a little metal bird sculpture on top. Always remember to use a bit of black in your decorating!
Our kitchen peninsula is the closest thing we have to a dining table, so I like to put some kind of centrepiece on it. Whatever I do has to be easy to move though, because that huge section of countertop is my primary work zone!
The vase of faux red berries, fir twigs, and pine cones are all resting on a piece of wood that I can easily slide out of the way. I loved the carved look of the Reindeer so much that I almost paid full price for it. . . but when I went back to Canadian Tire to get it, it was on sale! None of the standing ones were left though, which makes me sad.
In the master bedroom, I decorated my nightstand with a few faux pine branches (Canadian Tire) in a white pitcher (IKEA), and a picture of my Handsome Hubby.
I was pretty happy, because for the first time ever, we were able to get red flannel Christmas sheets! I ADORE flannel sheets for winter time, and not only will these sheets last us many years (being used exclusively during the month of December), but they don’t take up much storage space (something I always have to consider). Flannel sheets tend to be cheaper than regular cotton sheets, and I found my set at Bed Bath & Beyond.
If you’re still reading, Thank You for sticking with me! I’m almost finished, I promise. . .
Up the stairs, you will find my bookshelf and photo gallery wall! Again, these are the family photos taken in 2013 by my cousin Alex, who is a phenomenal photographer. I LOVE how they turned out!
I used the silver and wood frames I already owned, and included a pretty Christmas card and a watercolour print by the mega-talented Lucy of Craftberry Bush into the mix. No matter how I tried to arrange them, I was left with an awkward empty space in the middle of all the photos, so I decided to hang a pinecone there on a bit of red yarn. It worked perfectly!
The majority of my Christmas Tree collection graced the top of the bookshelf, with the gaps filled in by the other two pine garlands (twisted together for fullness). Every year, I scour Boxing Week sales for more trees to add. My favourites are the mercury glass ones (quite inexpensive when on sale at Chapters), and the more realistic white glittered one that I found at The Bay. I’m thinking of putting them on my coffee table this year.
Last, but not least, make sure you save Christmas cards that you find to be exceptionally beautiful. It’s the cheapest art you can get! This card was given to us by friends, and it honestly could not be more perfect for this particular frame. I’m not sure if you can tell in the photo, but the white parts are embossed with glitter.
“Peace” is such a simple word, but such a powerful one, especially this year. I will not deny that I haven’t yet been in the Christmas spirit this time, and a good part of that is due to the horrors going on in the eastern parts of the world: the situation in Syria. My heart breaks for the refugees, and my soul is troubled within me. I know “there is nothing new under the sun,” but it feels like the world needs a Prince of Peace now, more than ever.
I pray that “Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”
– Luke 1:78-79 (NLT)