Happy Holidays!

Ivy chandelier

The holidays are almost upon us and I discovered, on the news, that there is a whole new trend, “Thriftmas”. Which means that more and more people are starting to realize that you can do all your Holiday shopping at the thrift store. I must say, we’ve been way ahead of that trend for many years. And I like it! I hope even more people get into the the Thriftmas spirit. It’s way cheaper, you find all sorts of great decorations, and even lots of gift ideas. I remember posting about this back in 2011 in Helen’s 10 Recycled Earth Friendly Ways to avoid the Mall.

This year has been another Thrifty Holiday for us as well. The Chandelier was found years ago, at the side of the road, brought home and forgotten until this year. This year Will brightened it up with some read paint, English Ivy from our garden and some lovely natural carved gourds that were a lucky find this year at the Thrift store. Even the ribbons are from the thrift store! We like it! Would you believe I even found some outdoor battery operated little lights that will be just perfect on our Wreath on the front door. That’ll be our next post….


How Our Family is Doing a Remote COVID Christmas

Paper Lanterns for Christmas summerhouseart.com

We live on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada and like everyone else we’ve been dealing with the Pandemic. We’ve stayed home, ordered our groceries online, been super careful going out to shop, or to the library, making sure we use a mask, sanitize our hands a LOT. And it’s been OK. Really. We’ve managed and more importantly, we’re still healthy. We’re so thankful for all the health care workers, all the people who are still working to keep us in food and everything we need. We’re especially happy that our provincial government has taken the Pandemic seriously and taken care of us.

Luckily we’re both artists, busy in our studios, or doing art research, or gardening, so we haven’t been bored. We have each other so we haven’t been lonely. We don’t take any of that for granted, especially now. We have a family that is all grown up now. We’ve kept in touch with the ones that live in another city by Skype for years. In fact, our grandson really enjoys calling up and asking. “Want to visit? We’ll fire up the Skype!” It’s been a huge help over the years, in staying close, just having that visual connection, a boon in a Pandemic. With the family in town, we’ve kept in touch by phone and by keeping our distance when we do see them. And again, it’s been fine, not a big deal.

Paper Lanterns for Christmas summerhouseart.com

But now, well, Christmas is almost here. We do love the baking and the getting together with a big turkey, lots of goodies and crazy presents. But this year, we’re all agreed, it has to be different, so we’re going to do a COVID Christmas! And it’s going to be remote! All of us together but via Skype.

Plus, it’s going to be just Will and I, at home, just the two of us on the day. So we’ve actually made some adjustments. Kind of toned it all down. We’re still baking, but a bit less than usual, just the most favourite goodies and we’ll be dropping off some of those to our local family, very carefully, of course. Usually we do lots of local shopping for Christmas at thrift stores, finding vintage and used treasures. Our usual recycled gifts. But not this year, just a bit of online for the family out of province. We’re still having a turkey, but this year it’ll be a little turkey breast with all the trimmings just for two. Indulging in a few treats for ourselves as well.

Paper Lanterns for Christmas summerhouseart.com

We’re reminding ourselves, it’s only for this year, this Christmas. NOT forever. We’ve decided we’re going to make the best of it and still make it special.

Paper Lanterns for Christmas summerhouseart.com

As for all the lanterns in this post… well, they’re another way we’re scaling down a bit. Not dragging out ALL the lights, just enough. These actually have been languishing in the greenhouse, found at a free box at a garage sale years ago. They were a bit torn and worn, but we did some artistic repair with glue and coloured tissue this week. Looks pretty cheerful too. My favourite is the green one above. The tears become lovely little lines in the random abstract composition. As for the rest of the decorations, most of them are staying packed since we’re planning a natural décor with greenery from the garden arranged in wreaths and vases. Looking forward to it, too. A nice relaxing Christmas. Hope you have a lovely Remote COVID Christmas too. Take care but keep having fun.

Paper Lanterns for Christmas summerhouseart.com

Yuletide Greetings

This was another year for playing with an alternative to a tree.  Instead we set up this lovely duo of Bird cages, filled them with lights, set them off with a few beads and let the birds free to sit on top.  Looks lovely and bright in the early evenings.  And with that we send our wishes too.

2016 Christmas bird cages, summerhouseart.com

( BTW, if you’d like to comment just click on the title and it will take to the post with a comment section.  We love comments)




A Little Composition in Christmas Colours

In the midst of getting ready for the holiday, I couldn’t resist playing with some stained glass shards in various shades of greens and reds.   We decided to use it for the splash page to our website, to set a colourful tone….

Stained Glass composition, Helen Bushell, summerhouseart.com

( BTW, if you’d like to comment just click on the title and it will take to the post with a comment section.  We love comments)







Not Another Christmas Tree! No, Something Much More Fun!

Christmas Chandelier, summerhouseart.com

Last year, as an alternative to the ubiquitous tree, we decorated a bamboo birdcage with rather nice results. And this year, we again pondered whether or not to get the tree out… or do something else. And once again,we unanimously decided not to do another tree for Christmas.

We like to do something different now and then, for instance, this year, we didn’t even unpack our collection of over 100 Santas.

I’d been seeing the occasional decorated chandelier on Pinterest and it brought to mind a chandelier that we’d picked up in a free box at a garage sale a few years ago.

Christmas Chandelier, summerhouseart.com

It had been languishing in large basket in the greenhouse ever since. It didn’t work, since it needed rewiring, but I could see it dripping with little lights and way too many decorations.

Christmas Chandelier, closeup, summerhouseart.com

Not to mention a rather nice collection of crystals that I’d been collecting. Of course, they took a bit of searching for, but eventually I found one batch in a drawer in the kitchen and found more in a dish in the studio.

Christmas Chandelier, summerhouseart.com

Then loads of colorful beads. And jewel colored baubles.

Almost everything has been found at thrift stores or garage sales. But, amazingly, I found I needed even more beads! Thank goodness, just in time, I got an email announcing that all the Christmas decor was on sale for 50% off at the Thrift Store. We wasted no time getting there and found a wonderful long string of LED lights for the entry way for $5 as well as more bags of beads for only $4.  As I’m always saying, the world is an abundant place, especially if you like 2nd hand.

The  chandelier is definitely over-the-top, just the way I like it!  And it looks lovely to us in the day time…

Christmas Chandelier, summerhouseart.com

as well as the night…

Christmas Chandelier, daytime, summerhouseart.com
We had such a good time taking photos of it, that I just had to share.

Christmas Chandelier, summerhouseart.com


Christmas Chandelier, summerhouseart.com

One thing we did notice, when we were trying to take photos, is that it takes a while to stop swaying, once disturbed. So, probably, just as well, that we no longer have a cat. Can you imagine how much temptation this would be for a cat? Oh, I don’t even want to think about it!
Christmas Chandelier, summerhouseart.com

Hope you are having just as much fun decorating your place for the Holidays!




Christmas Pared Down Just a Little Bit

Every year I try to have some fun with the Christmas décor. Make a few little changes, tweaks, and sometimes something entirely different. This year we’re going for the latter. Usually, about a week before Christmas we go down to the basement and bring up the tree and all the decorations and pretty well put up every single piece of décor we’ve got, somewhere.  And we do have a lot of decor.  As I’ve written before about our Abundant Christmases, you can collect a lot if everything is secondhand!  This year we decided to pare it down just a little bit.

Christmas Bird Cage

This year I happened to have a tall bamboo birdcage out in the corner of the living room. When the season rolled around enough people had suggested we decorate it that we decided, why not?


We dropped some lights inside it and decorated with lots of tiny and mid size vintage glass balls. With some birds on top and a bit of mistletoe for greenery it looks quite festive.


And of course, this year I did put out my Santa collection, but that too ended up just a bit pared down. Couldn’t leave out the Grumpy Santas

grumpieswmOr the Gumby ones and a few other odd but happy ones.


So there it is. Almost all the decorating is done. Ok, the mistletoe may be replaced with some other greenery on top of the new “tree”. It will probably be put in the doorway, still needing some greenery, in order to catch a quick kiss from those coming in the door.

Now to do Baking! But even there, for once, I think I’ll cut back too. The mince tarts for sure and maybe some cookies, but all in all maybe I’ll spend more time in my studio than the kitchen this year.

And the ChrisMoose, a hand made gift many years ago from Will’s mum, will always be up for Christmas, just to remember her by.

 We hope everyone has the Best Christmas Ever!!





We have a new online shop!

new-prancer-tileWe’ve just opened up a shop of our designs on Zazzle, which is a great service out of California. They offer really good quality products and we’re kind of excited to get our work out there.




Posted now are just a few Christmas items, with our original designs on cards and ornaments.  We’re planning to add more items to our gallery as we go along.  So if you’re looking for something fun and a bit unusual, you might find it here.  We’d also love to hear your comments.  BTW our watermark won’t show on our cards, that’s just so you’ll be able to find us on Pinterest and anywhere else these images end up online.


Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year!

Anyone who knows me also knows that I’m not a big fan of snow.  But there it was, snow on our Windmill Palm this week.  Thankfully, it’s one of the tougher palm trees and can usually make it through our winters if they don’t get too severe.  I blame it all on those folks who want and wish for a White Christmas.  As you can see the birdbath we finished in the summer is well frozen over.  We love a green rainy Christmas ourselves.  A walk on the beach is what we look forward to on Christmas Day.

Right now I’m busy getting ready for the big day and baking a lot.  If you are interested in some ideas for avoiding the Mall this year and finding greener, less expensive presents, I have posted a few of my ideas on that subject here .

Will and I would like to share our little wish for the holidays to anyone reading my little blog.  I’m looking forward to the New year and lots of new posts.  And I’d also like to add many, many thanks to all those who have left comments and pinned from this blog last year.




How we Created our own unique collage Christmas Cards or E-cards

xmas-holidaywmEvery year we look for Christmas cards but rarely find exactly what we like. We’ve also looked at e-cards. Not that there isn’t some wonderful artwork out there. But this year we wanted to do something unique to us. And we want to be green about it all too. So what to do?

I used to look for Christmas cards at Thrift stores. Believe it or not they do exist there and you can buy a real selection that way instead of a box of all the same card. It’s a good idea, you’re recycling but takes a lot of time.

Bill and I happen to really like to create collages from old magazines. This is what I call fun with Glue sticks and Scissors. Why not create collage Christmas cards? Some will become paper cards and all the images will be used for e-cards too.

This year I just happened to have found in my reorganization of old mags and papers saved for collaging, quite a few Christmas editions of decor mags. Voila, lots of relevant stuff to create our own Christmas cards. And I also kept some of that glossy junk mail that comes to our mailbox to use as more collage fodder. If you’ve saved old Christmas cards you may want to look at them with a new eye, as fodder for Xmas collage.

So with the table strewn with mags and busy cutting out colors and textures we soon had more than enough to start with. The idea is to look through all the mags cutting out bits with an eye to color and texture not necessarily literal depiction’s of trees, santas etc. We try to go for the “feel” of Christmas. And with a sense of abstraction as well. And this is what we came up with…… a few abstract art cards in the Christmas theme

Deck the Halls with lots of color


An abstract take on Rudolf?


A psychedelic take on Giving Joy


Sometimes you only need one word….Merry


Another collage using almost the same elements, the snowflake and the colors


Another idea we had last year was to create our own e-card in Photoshop. So in a way, just another collage but of a favourite Santa ornament and some decor arranged into a jolly looking card. Now you may not be a fan of e-cards. They are hard to display for one. But we think of the paper and resources saved too. I also like to take the time to send a little personal message to everyone with each email.


Ok some people on our list still get the real card. We just happened to have a lot of old stock greeting cards from a former business and we just scan our images into the printer and create a new image and tape that onto old cards. You can do the same by just taping an image onto card stock cut to fit any envelopes you have. So there you are, a DIY way to create your own unique take on the Christmas card. Have fun. We did.

Oh, here’s a little bonus thought, in case you didn’t get your cards bought and sent in time.  Why not create something great with some family photos and collage and create an e-card you can send out at the last minute? Cheating? maybe, but why not? It’s still personal, you get a chance to be creative and send something unique to your friends and rellies.


My Santa collection revisited or should I say recycled?

christmas-daywmWe are all about recycling, and living the recycling lifestyle has also given us an abundant lifestyle especially at Christmas. And especially where collecting Santas is concerned.  What started as a little collection to add some color on the sideboard at Christmas grew to over 100 Santa ornaments in no time.  How do you create such an abundant display of Santas?  Well, it’s almost all secondhand thrift shop finds and a few are gifts from friends who knew I’d been collecting.  In the spirit of Christmas and the spirit of recycling I’ve decided to recycle some of my old posts about Christmas.  Three years ago I spent some time for every day for the 25 Days before Christmas making up little vignettes of my huge Santa ornament collection.  Today, to make it much easier to view, I’ve decided to replace and recyle those posts and put all the collection on one post. Starting with my  fave Grumpy Santas and ending with my other faves, the Gumby Santas.  Enjoy….

Introducing my faves, The Grouchy Santas


The Globe and Moon Santas


The Wine Taster Santa


Collector Santas


Candle light Santas


Skinny Legged Santas


Odd Santas


Santas from around the World posed on an Atlas of course


Tropical Santas


Santas Waving


Tiny Santas


Softy Santas


Scary looking Santas


Salt and Pepper Santas


Night Santa all lit up


Santa in an Evergreen Sleigh


Santa in a Chili Pepper Sleigh


Big Thoughtful Santa and Two rather Surprised Santas


More Santas in Sleighs and a handsome Reindeer


Santa on a Sledge


Racing Santa


Santas thinking of Tropical nights


Santas bringing, what else, gifts


Troubadour Santas


And ending with my all time faves, Gumby Santas


Of course, by now I probably have more, but I haven’t unpacked them yet.  There’s like about 5 boxes of them in the basement!  But hopefully, you’ve enjoyed my much quicker look at this runaway collection.  I swear, I’m NOT collecting any more.  Really, positively, no ….. more.