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!!





Perpetual Valentines for a Happy Valentines Day


I’ve been collecting Heart shaped boxes for a few years now. It’s sort of like a perpetual Valentines Day in my kitchen.

They are all hanging up, well almost all of them, on the wall in the kitchen. Today I thought I’d share a few new ones that haven’t yet made it to my wall of hearts. Sort of my way of wishing everyone a Happy Valentines Day! Enjoy and I hope you make sure to have some lovely chocolate too, or flowers are good if on a diet. But chocolates are better. Very necessary for the full enjoyment of the day.



Related posts:


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.


The Japanese Shirt that Inspired a Little Flurry of Pillow Making


The thing with shopping at garage sales is that A. you never know what you will find and B. you never know where what you find will lead you.
I like to call it creative shopping.

This summer I snapped up a lovely pillow with a Japanese theme of a pagoda and a scooter. A few months later I found this shirt, full of lovely geishas.


Now it just so happens that I have a little collection of Japanese fans, that grace the mosaic I created of Birds and Geishas, that I posted about last year.



A few years ago I’d created another Japanese themed mosaic that also resides in our bedroom. I titled it my Marriage Mosaic. Just to quickly explain, it turned out that after I had put this little tableau together, I found out that, in Japan, the pair of geese or ducks are symbolic of a long marriage. And although I am nothing like the shy little bride on my mosaic, I love the idea that this little mosaic symbolized our long marriage.


Now it also just happened that, being someone who hardly ever throws anything out, I still had a few shirts stashed from our holiday in Hawaii that I’d found at garage sales there. All with Japanese themes and all just waiting to be recycled.


All that was needed was to play with the material and come up with some pieced fabric designs. Almost  like making a mosaic but with fabric. A little trick I like to use when making pillows from old shirts is to use the button front as part of the design. Much easier to undo buttons and insert the pillow than to have to sew in a zipper.



Also a good way to recycle most of the whole shirt, buttons and all. But just a word about my kind of sewing, it’s pretty fast and loose, I cut things out by eye, not one for measuring much. In fact, I just piece things together til I like the look and then cut it all to size.

Of course, I couldn’t stop at just one. This lovely shirt with its gorgeous picture of a Japanese fishing scene just had to become part of another little pillow.


And that’s it, pillow making is over for now. All the little scraps still left over will be saved for another day and another inspiration. But there’s nothing like creating something new to look at and enjoy.


A Slow Procession of Elephants in our Foyer


We have a HUGE collection of elephant ornaments. Oh, my, what dust collectors, you might say. Oh pooh, dust is not important. I don’t care about dust that much. I care about having something to rest my gaze on that makes me appreciate beauty.

OK, once in while I clean them all off, washing them carefully, enjoying the feel of them under my fingertips, with their smooth humps along their backs and their lovely curving trunks.




And sometimes, as we rush past them with arms full of groceries, shucking off our shoes at the door, we might not notice them at all. But they are waiting for us, in their slow procession as they make their way, in a contented and yet dignified fashion, around the shelf in our entry . They are patient, they can wait for us to appreciate them.



I’ve never counted how many are in our herd. I’ve got them grouped in little clans or families. The Indian elephants, proud in their lush decoration. The silly and fun grouped together for a giggle. The browns and the blacks. The ones in glazed ceramic, (of course we have a pink elephant), the stone carved ones.

Ostensibly they are all Bill’s collection. The first elephant, the little stone one on the right below, was bought, by me, from a lady in our old Calgary neighbourhood. Her basement was perpetually set up for a monthly garage sail. The myriad of stock came from elderly people who had moved into seniors residences. It was a little service she did for them to sell their pieces of extraneous possessions that they no longer had room for. This little elephant, of carved stone, was marked in neat handwriting on a tag, only as “very old”, with a price of $6.  The large one in light wood behind it, with the little parcel/pillow on it’s back is another fave.


Since then we have both collected and added to our burgeoning collection. None is expensive, all are second hand. You may think that some are sort of sorry looking with their tusks missing, or a little gouge here or there. But it doesn’t matter much to us. Bill may replace some missing tusks with toothpicks now and then, but generally, we just enjoy them for what they are, little sculptures.



Each sculpture has been made, I always think, patiently and lovingly by an unknown artist, giving us the gift of his or her interpretation of this beautiful and graceful animal. And maybe a lot were made for the tourist trade but each is hand done, hand carved by someone on a hot and dusty day somewhere far away. Each one a little different from the last, each one with just a bit of the artist caught in its form or painted glaze. And I am grateful for their patient talent and feel just a bit guilty at the low price I have paid for their art.


Many of our elephants were gifts. Maybe for Father’s Day, or Christmas or a birthday, hardly any opportunity goes by to without adding another elephant to this very accommodating herd.

And as your eye has followed our little herd as it makes its way, you may have noticed a sort of confused looking giraffe that found itself in the wrong group. Or maybe you saw the tiniest little pig along for the trek. I don’t know why, they just seemed to want to be in the group too. The elephants didn’t seem to mind.



Oh and as for that silly superstition that elephants trunks must be up for good luck… well, all those silly things are made up by someone. No basis in fact ( or fiction). So I choose to make up my own superstitions (or stupid-stitions as I like to say) and have decreed that all elephants are lucky, no matter which way their trunks are waving.

Hope you enjoy them as much as we do…

Of course, this is not our only collection.  We’ve also got a Heart box collection.  Will this collecting ever end?  I hope not, too much fun altogether.



A Clutter of Hearts

I’m looking forward to this weekend. We’ve had quite a busy time for the last few weeks and have missed our usual garage sailing. We’re feeling the effects of withdrawal I think. So tomorrow we’ll be off and out of here, ready to roll. The weather is beautiful, sunny, with a breeze.

The last time we went out garage sailing I found this little heart box with Betty Boop on a motorcycle.



She’ll get a top spot in my collection of heart shaped boxes. Which brings me, nice little segue here, don’t you think, to collecting. Now, we have a few collections. We have collection of elephant ornaments, decorative tins, boxes and fans, just to name a few. I even have a ridiculous amount of Santa Clauses, which I lovingly unpack every year at the appropriate time and display. Then I lovingly repack them in tissue and old plastic grocery bags in about 5 or 6 boxes all marked “Santas”. But you’ll have to wait till Christmas to see those. The other collections I’m planning on sharing before too long. As I said to my sons, one day this will all be yours. Not sure if they were impressed but at least they got the humour.



Why do I have a collection of hearts? I really don’t know. They aren’t worth anything, and even as collectibles will probably never be worth much. Most are thrift shop and garage sale finds.






Like most collections you start with one thing and like a magpie you find yourself attracted to another thing and that leads to finding another thing and another and another and before you know it, you have a collection. No real reason. Just fun. Am I just an accumulator in this world where “clutter” is a dirty word? Probably. Or is it because I just enjoy something beautiful or even kitschy? Or is it because I am an artist and I can appreciate all this art on odd little things like tins and boxes. Or maybe is it because I can appreciate all the different ways you can sculpt an elephant ornament? Yup to all of those, I think.





The heart boxes are all displayed in one corner of our kitchen. Now there is a reason why they are displayed there. That corner, according to Feng Shui, when I was into Feng Shui, is the part of the house that is for the relationships, marriage and friends. It just seemed fitting to put hearts there, the time honored symbol of love. And many of these heart boxes have been given to me by people I love and who have enjoyed a bit of the thrill of collecting, just for me.

My usual chair in the kitchen is opposite this wall so I can look over my collection of hearts everyday. I never tire of it. It gives me a sense of happiness, pure joy. I love seeing the way they all relate and yet are all so different. I still enjoy studying each one. It’s like celebrating Valentine’s Day every day.  And why not?

Visitors fall into two groups when it comes to our collections. Those who think life should be lived minimally with no clutter and disapprove and those who enjoy the crazy interesting things that they can look at and enjoy. Or to put it more simply those who care about dust and those who don’t. Unfortunately, some people only see collections as dust collectors, clutter and mess. All I can say is, you don’t know what you’re missing. And as for dusting, well, I dust if I have to, but I’d rather be making art or enjoying my collections.