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

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!!





A Couple of Over-the-Top, Yet Green and Recycled, Christmas Displays

We used to have the whole Santa collection on the sideboard in the living room.  Then as you may have guessed, the collection grew and grew until it didn’t fit anymore and had to be moved to the front door entry way. Of course that meant we had to move quite a few elephant ornaments out once a year but it was all worth it.

Now suddenly I had a whole new space to play with. So the first year I decided to do just a little angel ornament display. Just a few white angels, I thought, and then that idea just went completely berserk and the next thing I knew I was in my studio, fishing out anything that was white. The display became a sort of an over-the-top, (just the way I like it) crazy,  exuberant display that had angels, Buddhas, geese, geisha ornaments,white swans, white grapes and even quite a few white rabbits! All of it recycled finds for my mosaics.

White ornament Christmas display, summerhouseart.com

It was great! Friends came over and carried on with the outrageous creation and we added gold accents, the antique gold framed mirror, white doves and even a glass tray in the background in the shape of a snowflake ( a great 25 cent garage sale find by the way ) and golden Christmas globe ornaments.

This year I decided to use all the sparkly fruit I collected at thrift stores and garage sales a few years ago when I did the entire tree in sparkly fruits. I’d spent the whole summer before collecting it all and had a whole box full of every kind of glitter encrusted fruit from grapes and apples to pomegranates. Kind of obvious I’ve got Christmas on the brain way before December eh?

Last week Will and I went out to our favourite stroll, The Gorge Walkway, and collected lots of evergreen windfall.


This was all saved in buckets in the back porch until we had time. Then yesterday, the start was made. Will created the beautiful lush and lavish wreath integrating all the fruit and evergreens. Of course I couldn’t resist putting in my two bits worth here and there.


And I created the extravagant display on the top of the sideboard. It was supposed to have candles in repurposed globes from a junk find chandelier but that just didn’t work and finally we settled on the two matching lamps shown here.

Evergreen Christmas display, summerhouseart.com

It’s a bit more traditional looking than I would usually have done, but if you look carefully you’ll see the old glove stretchers poking up on the left. To me these displays are all about a exuberant sense of Abundance. Well, you must admit both displays are definitely a feast for the eyes!