Monday, December 19, 2011

Favorite Christmas Stories

I've posted on my Christmas blog about some of our family's favorite Christmas stories, but I thought I'd make a list here as well of some of our favorites. My husband thought I was a little cuckoo when I wrapped up several of the Christmas books we already owned and put them under our living room tree. The idea was to open one each night and read it together. I also wrapped two brand new ones so there would be a couple mixed in that would be a fun surprise. Despite Lincoln's doubts, the kids have really enjoyed this. Here are some of the stories we have read together:

What Think Ye of Christmas by Esther Rasband

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost illustrated by Susan Jeffers

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck

The Very First Christmas by Paul L. Maier

Paul's Christmas Birthday by Carol Carrick

Moosletoe by Margie Palatini

Father Christmas and the Donkey by Elizabeth Clark

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

A Christmas Prayer by Rian Anderson

(Sorry, this is the link to the Kindle book. It is also available in hardcover.)

Cranberry Christmas by Wende and Harry Devlin

(I LOVE this writer/illustrator husband and wife team!)
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

(A classic! So funny and heartwarming. We *big heart* love this book!)

My very favorite is Christmas Day in the Morning, but all of these rank up there on our favorites list. We have tons more than this, but these are the must-reads as a family.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rustic Country Tree

If you read my last post about my mantel, you got a sneak peak at the Christmas tree. As we've done in the past, we put a big family tree down in the family room, but upstairs in the living room, I get my very own smaller tree to decorate. This makes me very happy.

I've never been great at decorating a Christmas tree, but it's fun to play around with it anyway. I always do all white lights on the tree but this year I kept it very simple. In the past I have used the regular small white lights, a string of clear C9 lights, the rattan ball lights, and some faux candle lights. This year you will only see small white lights and the rattan balls. I love the rustic, natural element the balls add.

I put the wooden, handmade ornaments that Lincoln's step-dad has made us on this tree.

These are such a treasure to us! They are absolutely stunning. I also put on the wooden bead candycanes we made last year,

as well as the vintage/antique ornaments I have collected.

There are a few pops of red here and there, and just a few other ornaments and berry picks.

For a tree skirt, I just wrapped a large piece of plaid fabric around the base of the tree. (This is the same fabric that I used on my table decor.)

I love my antique wooden crate, and with its red letters and rustic feel it is perfect for holding our collection of Christmas books under the tree. Tucked behind/on it is the little wooden sled I found at Goodwill a couple years ago. When I found it, it was 1980s country blue and I think there may have even been a goose painted on it. A new paint job, some sanding, a new jute twine pull rope, and a few pinecones have really brought it into this decade...and century!

The whole she-bang is backed by my old screen door, the perfect backdrop. And the tree is topped by my (new) old rusty star.

I LOVE it! And I love to stand in the kitchen and look over to the living room. So cozy and inviting!

I can't seem to get the pretty button below to work, but I'm linking up to the Christmas Tree Party at Thrifty Decor Chick.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rustic Country Mantel

So if you've been around here for a while, you know I don't have a mantel, but I have two fantels. I use the top of my piano upstairs in the living room, and a long ledge downstairs in the family room. In the family room, I did the same thing I did last year. My yarn wreath and trees are the stars with the old shed door as the rustic backdrop.

Upstairs was not so easy. I reworked the piano top several times. I've learned that taking pictures along the way really helps me get a vision of what it is looking like. I knew I wanted to use my willow Christmas tree that I got at the barn sale.

I also wanted to put in the candy-cane-striped candle sticks I got last year at the same sale, and I was sure I wanted to use the little bird. In keeping with the rest of the decor, I wanted to stick to reds and natural elements in a rustic country style. But I had originally used this pepper berry garland. It just wasn't right. At all. Then I remembered my barn wood frames that I made last year. They had been dropped and fallen apart, but it was a quick fix. This added the rustic look I was after, pulling in some reds and whites.

But it still had no warmth. I tried adding in something else on top. Yarn trees.

Nope. Glass dish of ornaments.

No way. Then I remembered the fluffy pinecone garland that had been placed on the TV stand without much thought. Last year it had been one of the pieces that for some reason I didn't like that much. This year it is the perfect addition to the "mantel" and I love it! Isn't that weird how that works?

Linking up at Meet Me Monday

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rustic Christmas Tablescape

If you've been following along, you know that I had vacillated a bit between Christmas decor themes. I was leaning toward rustic anyway, but when I found two spools of this beautiful gingham wired ribbon,

this adorable willow tree,
this cutie-patootie garland,
and these nostalgic glasses
at the vintage sale here in town, my mind was made up! I've done all of my decorating with rustic and/or natural elements, with a few glittery things thrown in for sparkle. Today I want to show you the tablescape I put together so I could play along with the linky party over at The Lettered Cottage.

Keeping things casual and rustic, I used a mix up of dishes for the place settings.

I got the Christmasy plates at the vintage sale as well, but they only had 4 dinner size plates. I got a little creative by mixing them with sturdy, rustic looking dishes from Ikea. But let's start at the bottom and work up. Red, woven straw mats I got on clearance one year from Walmart, I think. Next up, chargers with natural elements around the rim. These are also from Walmart (hey, it's the only place to shop in this town!), and I usually use them for Thanksgiving, but I thought they worked nicely with this theme. Then we have the plates and bowls from Ikea and the vintage sale. The goblets are a clearance item from Walmart and the glasses, as mentioned before, are from the vintage sale. The napkin rings match the chargers, from Walmart, and the napkins are cut from the same piece of fabric that the runner is from. The fabric came from a freebie pile at church. The big lantern is from Walmart a few seasons ago, the small lanterns are from Ikea. The big lantern is sitting on a white cake pedestal from Marshalls placed inside a clearance wreath from Walmart from last season. My kids gathered the pinecones for me on the walk home from school.

I used some of the ribbon from the vintage sale on the chain of my chandelier (a $7 fixture from the ReStore), and also hung from it some big mercury glass ornaments I've been collecting from Hobby Lobby whenever they are on sale.

It's hard to capture the feeling in a photo, but this is such a warm, inviting, cozy table setting! It really makes me want to settle in and enjoy a steaming plate of ham and scalloped potatoes with a hot, buttery roll on the side. Some sparkling cider would be perfect to wash it down. Some warm apple pie would finish it off nicely. Or maybe a big mug of hot cocoa and a slice of pumpkin pie.

Maybe it's a bad thing when your decorating makes you want to eat...

Not if it's your table, right?

More rustic decor to come.

The Lettered Cottage

Linking up to Funky Junk's SNS