Friday, December 1, 2023

Dazzling Decorations, A Snoozy Kitty, and Some Artsy Shots

Welcome back, my friends! The week is all a bit of a blur, and it took me several days, but now my Christmas decorations are all up. I'm an erratic decorator - I hadn't unpacked my full collection in 10-15 years, then put up EVERYTHING in 2020 during the pandemic (if you're game, refill your tea, and start here in November 2020, then click "Newer Post" and scroll down, day-by-day - we had a lot of time on our hands that year!). 

I still had time in 2021 to indulge in a full decorating binge (here, a quick dash through). I didn't put up anything in 2022. 

This year I went through everything with a very critical eye, and chose to either let go or archive some of my less-than-favourite pieces. I remembered the ornaments I'd saved up for, vs. the ones I'd just picked up or collected just because I was around them all the time. And, much like my wardrobe, my tastes change over time - and there's no need to hang onto things that don't appeal to me, speak to me, or bring me joy. Things I still have a sentimental attachment to got archived (boxed up and put in a corner of the hall closet) - I know they're there if I want them. 

Christmas and all its trappings is a tradition I grew up with; as a child I went to church, but religion was never a huge part of the season for me, and my 11 years working in a year-round Christmas store in my twenties shifted my fondness for the season to more of an appreciation of beauty in this specific art form. Decorating can be as much an art as creating outfits is! 

Now, in my 50s, the holiday season is a time to draw near to friends and family, show love and appreciation, and make new memories as we celebrate the old ones...and to be surrounded by beauty and things that I love. Even if you're not into the season for whatever reason, that's a good goal for any time of the year. 

Anyway, enough nattering, let's get to the pictures. Unlike past years, instead of discouraging Vizzini from getting up close and personal with the trees, I made sure to keep areas clear for him to curl up and have a nap under them.  
"Such a good idea."

My concrete gargoyle Smaug is wearing the Mom-made Santa hat that used to grace the "Tired Shoppers (and Husbands)" chair in my old store. 

I opened one shopping bag at a time, and laid out my ornaments on the coffee table. I hung purple and cobalt blue balls in the Space tree. 
"You're getting dangerously close to Chomping Range."

Once I had the stepladder out and started putting pins in the walls and ceiling, he skedaddled and hid under the bedcovers for the day. 

Here's most of the ornaments unpacked and a few more things put into the living room. I hung large lightweight ornaments from the ceiling in the corner, as well as a garland of Czech blown glass fruit. 
I had music on while I puttered around, as well as the "Holiday Fireplace" TV channel. So cozy! 

Looking the other way, towards the dining room (aka Cat Play Area). Most of this section is all decorated already. 
"Are you not done yet? It's dinner time!"

I had to take frequent rests, tea-breaks and not rush things. 

Vizzini explored, and chewed on a few branches before I gently shooed him away. He's been known to break the lights. 
"What's this comfy bed I spy back here?"

I blocked the back corner with a snuggly blanket under Mom's tree skirt, intentionally making a little hiding spot for him. 

Here's a tour with a bit of detail, so you can enjoy searching the pics for all the different ornaments. 
Batman, Catwoman and the Incredible Hulk are scaling the Stormtrooper, which now has the other Santa hat. I secured the decorations with straight-pins pushed into the corrugated cardboard and then gave the 'Trooper a good shake to make sure they won't fall off. 

The top of the main tree. I use a gold spiky star instead of a tree-topper decoration - there's another one pushed into the tree further down (I have 3 of them total). The spikes all pull off and they pack flat. 
I tend to group ornaments by "story" or theme. In this section is The Nutcracker at the top, then a kitted sweater/cozy theme.

This section has the nautical decorations, plus assorted fruit and vegetables. 
I also love animal decorations - the tree is covered with them. 

More fruit, animals and birds.
My garlands, balls and spirals are all jewel colours. 

It won't shock you to know that bright colors are a huge part of my collection. 
Less breakable stuff down at the bottom of the tree (in case Vizz pulls anything off). The quilted tree skirt is incredibly gorgeous - I've had it for 25-ish years, a gift from Mom in the early days of our marriage. She also made L and I matching stockings.

A few of my favourite figurines on/near L's CD shelving. 
Polar Bear, Hippo and this exquisitely-detailed Santa Clause figure. 

A roly-poly snowman. 
The glass belonged to Grandma J, and the silver mug is L's (he broke the cobalt glass liner). 

I added the two little elves sledding to the Tolkien shelf. 
And moved the gold wooden candlesticks to the top of the stereo receiver with this Father Christmas. 

A touch of whimsy - a sprig of holly on the glass skull (a former vodka bottle). 
And a twisted garland over our Vampire Anniversary portrait. 

The wooden Sidecar Santa figure sits with a beaded heart box. 
My two German nutcrackers pose with a satin top hat. A paper-doll Santa is available for playing with. 

Here's the Space tree, so called because it's covered in Star Wars, Star Trek and other space-planet-star-themed decorations. 
I also put some blue wizards on there because science AND magic? 

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke

So, it's basically all the same. 

Front view. 
I took these pics in the morning when the sun was out. 

I suspended the third spiky star from some white thread and a clear thumbtack in the ceiling, so it's free-hanging above the tree. It spins slightly.
I like the mix of silver, gold, cobalt blue and purple on this tree. 

Larry the Llama (a free item from a box of stuff on the side of the road) joins my collection for the first time. He's beaded in purple, orange and black with a stuffed body and rigid legs. 
I pinned the golden sun on the wall behind Larry and the Lava-Lamp. We use this table for some of our boardgames, so I can't put any kind of permanent display here. My coworker Emily made me the "Be Merry" garland, which has to be unhooked to access the library. 

The top of the pie-safe has the "old-timey" Christmas decorations. I left out my black roses and my amber glass pieces. 
I culled a lot of the more cutesy ornaments, keeping only the ones I really love. I didn't put out the mice decorations (these ones here) - they're currently in the archives. 

I am fond of slightly terrifying things like this jester. 
He goes well with the black roses. 

When I had my decorating "renaissance" in 2020, I enjoyed grouping ornaments specific to me and L. This year, I deployed the pine garlands on each side of the Bar for those, plus I used the small tree on the bottom right to hold all of our decorations that were given to us or collected on our travels.
This piece of furniture is called a Baker's Rack, but it's always been our Scotch Bar; we use the bottom wine rack section for storing our favourite games. I did not put up my village this year, but you can enjoy a fun romp through it here (scroll down to the bottom).

The top shelf. 
A Funko Pop Cthulhu, a wooden Santa sleigh being pulled by animals, and a framed picture of First Kitty Othello from c. 1997. 

L's ornaments are on this side, from Bruins jersey to Dan Marino, plus KISS decorations, and John Wayne (from Nick and Karen). 
My second cup of coffee awaits! 

I left up the gargoyles - they're practically family. 
The rock & roll snowman and Santa are next to my First Christmas decoration, the green and gold glitter butterfly. 

The tree with some of our shared ornaments. I spy a bagpiper from Scotland, and Grand Central Station and the Guggenheim from NYC. 
The Texas decoration was sent to me by a former customer. 

On this side of the bar are the "Sheila" decorations, mostly shopping-themed. People like to give them to me - I've never bought myself one!
I also have Nightmare Before Christmas decorations and Betty Boop (reminds me of my Grandma J). 

A Carolina Panthers glass hoodie and ball are also tucked in there. 
And a few of the cutesy decorations that still appealed to me - they fit in well with the shopping theme. 

I like the chaotic "Creative Shot" function on my camera, last used to take some interesting pictures during our last music festival outings, so I thought I'd try a few on my Christmas decorations. 
I think this is my next Christmas card, ha ha! How would you caption it? 

The Nutcracker Suite. 
Including glitter glass crowns, a sugar plum...and a leaping cow. 

Black and white. 
A sweater, a wooden cat and a mouse with a meerschaum pipe. 

A carousel...rhino! 
One of my favourite decorations, period. Pink sparkles! 

The overexposed look of this one captures the "WHOA" reaction most people have when they see my stuff in the flesh. I know it's a lot. 
I numbered all the nautical items here: 
  1. A goldfish made of dyed straw
  2. The Nina
  3. A golden seahorse (cast from actual seahorses)
  4. The Pinta
  5. An acrylic goldfish
  6. Another golden seahorse
  7. The Santa Maria (all issued in 1992 for the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage)
  8. A wooden lobster
  9. Another straw goldfish
  10. An acrylic seahorse
  11. An antique globe ("here there be monsters")
  12. A brass and glass antique lantern

A hand-carved wooden elephant looks over the "Noah's Life Raft."
I let go of some of the Noah's Ark decorations I had - I don't have any interest in the story, but I do still like some of the actual decorations I have. I only kept the 3 or 4 best ones. 

I adore this grouping of wintery things. The massive teal glass lightbulb is another of my very favourites. 
I love the colours in these stockings, sweater and polar bear. 

Polar bear with a pink filter. 
These were a collection I gasped over when I first saw them - I still love the details, patterns and colours. 

Over on the Space tree...
Ben Kenobi is about to face Darth Vader. 

Winter on the ice planet of Hoth - crisp moons, a snowflake and an AT-AT marching while a snowspeeder buzzes its ankles. 
And someone playing "Superman!"

It's the Iron Giant (a favourite movie of mine). 
The late Her Maj approves, I'm sure. 

Some fuzzed-out warmth. 
Fancy a cuppa with the velvet bear or the scary jester? 

A sepia filter brings out the lights. 
The frightening elf is part of the same collection, as is the Santa tree on the far left and the bear near the clock. 

And there you have it! I was exhausted when I was finished, and laid like a slug on the couch for several hours afterwards. Speaking of slugs...
"Get my best angle, Woman."

He's enjoying the hot air coming from the baseboard heater under the window. 

What's your best angle, Vizzini? 
"The upside-down head one."

Of course! How handsome and cute he looks! 

I'm feeling better, but still very lethargic and tired - thank you all again for your good cheer and well wishes, Gentle Readers. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, however you spend it. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

An Actual Outfit, Plus Vizzini's New Spot

Hello, my friends! Thank you all so much for your kind wishes and sending of good vibes to me while I wrestle with rotten ol' Covid.

Today would have been my back-to-work day post-vacation, but since I'm still sick, that didn't happen. I did need to change my out-of-office message and take care of a few minor things, so L dropped me off at work and I did what was needed before everyone arrived. 

I got dressed in an actual outfit! It's not much - but I haven't worn "real" clothes in a week, so let's celebrate that, ha ha! 
This new-to-me sweater has an uneven hemline, I discovered. It is very snuggly - I might wear it around the house today. 

  • Sweater - Religion, thrifted; purchased here for $11.95
  • Sparkly turtleneck - Jacob, thrifted; last seen here earlier this month with mixed metals
  • Jeans - Smashed Lemon; last worn here as part of the suit in July for the Philips' Backyard Weekender Part 2
  • Shoes - Groovy Huysmans, Fluevog; last seen here in September on a Mom-Day Adventure at Dallas Road

I have a belt on to hold the jeans up, plus some bear-patterned socks. My hair is still wet(!) and I have no make-up or jewelry on, and I'm wearing my "house" glasses. 
These shoes were only worn for an hour. 

  • Grommet belt (not shown) - gift from Ruth

I didn't even wear a coat - I walked out of the office and onto a bus straight home.

I thought you might appreciate Vizzini's newest sleeping spot. 
"Go back to bed, Woman."

Hee, he's decided that the batting under the small tree is his. 
"Why else would it be here?"

As you can see, I haven't gotten to the actual decorating yet. Maybe tomorrow...or Friday...
"So I can still sleep here?"

Like I could stop you, bud! 
"If you put any ornaments near me, I'll eat them."

Sending you all good vibes and gratitude. And now...back to bed. 

Monday, November 27, 2023

The Best Laid Plans...

So much for "I will be posting here and there" - I've been completely and 100% absent! I apologize for worrying any of you (thank you so much for the email, Ann!). Long story short - L and I both had/have Covid. 

L tested positive last week, right before our vacation time, which necessitated us having to cancel our usual US Thanksgiving All Day Football Celebrations with Nick and Casey.

"Not a gift you want to pass along?"

Definitely not! We were able to do a secure Chili Pick-Up so that my guys would be able to enjoy the chorizo bison chili I'd made earlier in the week, but we missed seeing them and hanging out yelling at our teams on the television. 

I felt fine for the first 3-4 days, but L was pretty wiped out, so we watched a lot of movies, napped, read and played board games when he had the energy.
"I'll show you energy! Look at my muscles!" 

I had to cancel two separate brunch/lunch dates with colleagues/friends, plus shopping expeditions planned for my Friday off and Saturday afternoon (this is what I thought I'd be posting about). Very disappointing, but I wanted to keep my friends safe. 
"And what about me?"

Vizzini's loved having us home - there have been lots of long naps on the couch. 

I woke up on Sunday not feeling 100% - it's finally my turn to get Covid (prior to this, neither L nor I have had it). However, catching it just over a week from my booster jab means I've got a much lesser case - I feel like I have a bad sinus cold, and I'm very tired. 

I took Monday-Tuesday off work specifically so that I could do my Christmas decorating at a leisurely pace, so today/Monday - screw that Covid! - I got started. I pulled a couple dozen bags of decorations out of the hall closet and lined them up in the dining area. Oh, that's a lot. 
It often feels overwhelming, which is why I didn't decorate last year (I last put my trees up here in November 2021). This year, I decided to not put up the village (it takes a long time), to scale back some of my decorations. My 4.5' tree is in the skinny box on the rug, and a 2' tree is in the bag on the right. 

And my 7.5' slender artificial tree is in that box. 
Plus Kleenex for my drippy nose. 

I lit the main tree and secured it with thick wire around the centre post between the two deck case "someone" decides to pull on it. 
I alternated white and coloured strings of lights. 

L had asked me to incorporate our little-used Stormtrooper cardboard cut-out into the d├ęcor this year. 
"Stop! These aren't the decorations you're looking for!"

The Santa figure in the foreground is one of my favourite of all my Christmas pieces. In case you forgot/didn't know, I worked in a year-round Christmas store between 1986 and 1997 - I have a MASSIVE collection of beautiful things that I bought from my store during that period. 

I added lit pine garlands to the top of the pie safe (on the left), and trailed lights up and over the kitchen doorway to the Scotch Bar (no outlets on that wall). 
I'm not sure what I'll put in these areas yet - I like to decorate differently every time. Heck, I never wear the same outfit twice, so why should my decorating always be the same? 

The 4.5' tree got lit next. I rested in between all the lighting. 
The sun was going down, making everything golden. That white thing is my stepladder. 

Once all the lights were was I. Vizzini came out from hiding on the bed to inspect it all. 
"Ah, yes, the tasty branches."

He's always been fond of chewing on the trees, little monster. I am sure he does it just to get attention.
"Why else?"

I'm off tomorrow/Tuesday...and likely the rest of the week, even though I'm already starting to feel better (fingers crossed). I may tackle the actual ornaments if I'm up to it. If not...
"There's always time for cuddles."

Exactly! Taking it easy and letting my body get better is the priority! 

So, there you have it, my friends! The best laid plans...I am hoping to be back in regular shape by the weekend, so send me good vibes! 

I hope you're all safe, healthy and happy, and I thank you so much for visiting. And now, back to riding that couch...