Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas in Vermont

Welcome to Church Street.

I collected this assemblage of carved wood Santa Claus figures over the course of about 10 years. I stopped adding to it a while ago when it reached a critical mass on the mantle. 

Our collection of ornaments has a general theme that developed naturally over time: snow sports, woodland creatures and woodland creatures engaged in snow sports.
I add a few new ornaments every year and this year I received two nice additions as gifts. From my friend Cindy Hattersley, a designer in California and author of the beautiful blog Rough Luxe Lifestyle, a star for the tree top.

And from Monika who pens Splendid Willow, is the proprietress of Splendid Avenue, and knows that I love all thing Scandinavian, a set of linen ice skates from Danish company Maileg.

In a heroic feat of crafting not seen before, or ever since, Mr. H and I made three 6-foot strands of this pinecone garland during our first winter in Vermont. (That was before we had kids or gainful employment.) This is the 18th Christmas that they have graced our tree.

We eat very well in Church Street as Mr. H spent his 'gap year' in London at Le Cordon Blue culinary school. He is a renaissance man; he also plays guitar, writes poetry, and has a master's degree in creative writing.

Making s'mores is a nightly activity from the beginning of Christmas break until New Year's. There is some debate but I think the secret to the ideal s'more is getting the chocolate into the middle of the molten marshmallow so it melts.

I made these luminaries with empty wine bottles and half-gallon milk cartons. After the initial freeze I removed the wine bottles and added more water to raise the bottom level to conveniently hold a votive candle. It is my annual homage to Martha; I have been a fan since the early days. Full instructions below.

On Christmas Eve stockings are hung on a bookshelf as the fireplace cannot be spared even for a single night. In addition to candles, we go through a lot of firewood here.
Before signing off for a bit, I'd like to wish my readers all the best in 2013. I feel enormously grateful to have met so many warm, generous and funny people in the last year through the wonderful world of blogging. Thank you all for the inspiration, education, friendship and laughs. With lots of love, 

Instructions for the luminaries:

Use empty ½ gallon milk cartons, cut the tops off with a serrated knife, put an empty wine bottle in the center, arrange assorted holiday greens and branches of red berries around the bottle and fill with only a few inches of water or the greens will ‘float.’ When that level of water has frozen fill to the top and freeze again. After the second freeze let the cartons sit out for a few minutes to thaw ever so slightly and you can remove the wine bottles. I then filled the center with a few inches of water and did a third freeze to raise the core to a level convenient for me to put in a votive candle.

For the clearest ice use distilled or boiled water that has returned to room temperature.

Monday, December 10, 2012

10 Things for 2013

One of my first blog posts, 10 Things I Can't Live Without, was a list of my essentials for comfort, peace and harmony. I wanted to do an updated version for the new year, but the list is essentially unchanged so instead I have compiled a collection of things I've seen or read about in the last year that interest me, inspire me or that I just plain covet. It's part work-notes, part wish-list.

No. 1  From Tara Shaw Maison, the Swedish Corner Cabinet - ample storage in a beautiful form and finish.

No. 2  The Cannes lamp by Lisa Luby Ryan for Arteriors - a slender baluster lamp with a contemporary glass finial.

No. 3   Elizabeth Eakins' Hagga rugs - serene patterns in versatile neutral colors.

No. 4  Until reading this post by my friend Loi Thai, I had never really given much thought to antique weathervanes as decorative art. I am now fixated on the banner form such as this example from Tone on Tone.

No. 5  The Lydia chair from Verellen - a fresh take on the wing-back, updated with modern legs and nailhead trim, that would be perfect fireside.
No. 6  From textile artist Elizabeth Hamilton, beautiful hand-screened linens in great patterns and gorgeous colorways.

No. 7  From Quatrefoil Design - a collection of framed intaglios - I will never tire of neoclassical imagery and 'grand tour' souvenirs.

No. 8  Ok, I realize it looks a little like it might have emerged from the Krypton of 1978's Superman, but I saw this fixture in Charles Spada's Boston showroom last week and it is honestly pretty cool.
No. 9  The new lacquered line of furniture from Chelsea Textiles - familiar pieces with a chic contemporary finish.

No. 10  From friend and fellow blogger Carolyn Bradford's shop, Mulberry Heights Antiques, a Sonya Shin Edwards original oil painting. I respond to art on which I can impose my own imagination, so although I don't know where this was painted, it puts me in mind of a Scandinavian fishing village.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sharing Gift Ideas at The Enchanted Home Today

Please pop over to The Enchanted Home to see my gift giving ideas as well as those from some other very stylish bloggers in the latest installment of Tina's Bloggers Buzz on Holiday Gifts.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sleigh Bells Ring

A light blanket of snow fell over the village this weekend, wreaths were hung and a few hundred tiny white lights strung through the evergreens outside. Christmas decorations here are generally on the simple side, no dramatic statements, just favorite treasures and collected objects taking center stage...from Tone on Tone a marble urn filled with vintage ornaments.

I love a touch of red here and there, particularly at this time of year. In an alabaster vase found at my favorite shop in New York City - Lexington Gardens - a spray of fresh winterberry.

I go through hundreds of tealights at this time of year. I light them at about a quarter to four when the sky begins to darken and they burn until we go to bed. These votives were bought during my visit to Norway in 2004 - the trip that started it all. Read this previous post for the full story and perhaps everything you ever wanted to know about me.

Candle clips from one of my favorite haunts in Burlington, Vermont - Vintage Marketplace - a, multi-dealer shop and vintage lover's paradise inside an old warehouse on the shores of Lake Champlain.

Never is my aesthetic more influenced by Scandinavian style than at Christmas. This year I have been inspired and awed by Norwegian blogger Vibeke of Vibeke Design. She is an authentic creative talent who crafts astonishingly beautiful vignettes, art and ornaments. I was inspired to hang these petite boxwood wreaths from Splendid Avenue in the dining room windows after seeing something similar in Vibeke's own lovely house.


We bought these sleigh bells the first Christmas we spent in Church Street. I meant to put them away come January, but we all liked the sound they made when people came and went. When our Lab Gus began ringing them at about five-months-old to alert us to the fact that he needed to be let out, we realized they would always be a permanent part of the decor, just dressed up for the holidays.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Few Of My Favorite Things: Canvas Home Accessories

As we did not do Thanksgiving at home, I am looking forward to entertaining friends at Church Street during the coming weeks. Canvas has been one of my favorite resources for tableware and home accessories since I saw their booth at the New York gift show a year ago, and here are a few things available in their online shop that I currently have my eye on for the season ahead.

The matte-glazed porcelain Gold Pebble Dishes, elegant small vessels for pre-dinner nibbles.

Hand-hewn Holey Boards, cutting boards good-looking enough to double as cheese plates or serving pieces.

Made in Lithuania where traditional flax growing and linen production methods are thriving, Canvas's 100% linen Napkins and Placemats are available in neutrals and jewel tones - I would mix them.

Shimmering Syrian Glass Ornaments are mouth blown using recycled glass and look just as beautiful on the tree as they do grouped in a centerpiece.

The chic Polished Aluminum Tray organizes bar-tending supplies in style whether one is shaking or stirring.

A versatile shape, the Soto Straight Stemmed Goblet can be used to serve wine, beer or the holiday punch I like to make.

Hand-carved, soft black Soapstone Bowls. Included here because this is what I want for Christmas in case anyone bumps in Mr. H and can casually mention it.

The hand dyed linen Dog Bed with Running Stitch, a dog bed I wouldn't feel like I had to stash in the garage when we have guests.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Words To Decorate By

'I prefer buying things and figuring out where to put them later than regretting not buying them.'
- Christian Louboutin

Monday, November 12, 2012

Instant Gratification

Regardless of what I tell my children, sometimes you actually can get it.

Also, in my experience, when you least expect to find something, it usually turns up.

What might we be talking about here? Yes, my new sectional.

A few weeks ago when I was in Connecticut I took a quick turn through one of my regular stops, the Lillian August outlet (see this previous post on what makes it such a great furniture resource) and there it was: the configuration I needed and the single seat-cushion style I prefer, slip-covered in a beige linen/cotton blend, and the perfect size - the 38" depth I wanted but only 29" high so the back doesn't block the windows and it easily fit through the narrow doorways of our old house.

Wondering about my furry friend at the foot of the chaise? Remember my post on Får Fäll? Well, I am running with the Nordic themes and that is an Icelandic sheepskin I ordered from Black Sheep (White Light). People were fighting over it so now we have four.

Still no television, but the console is now positioned below the spot where a future TV would hang on the wall. I've restyled it with a small oil painting by family friend Wylene Commander and a marble covered dish from Cottage & Garden that I filled with Santa Maria Novella pot pourri - I love catching the scent when I walk through the room.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Antler Mania and the Approach of The Holidays

I am generally not an adopter of trends, I tend to stick with the classics I know and love, but this one I have been unable to resist: naturally shed antlers. Needless to say, I loved them instantly for their Nordic connotations, but admired them from afar...until recently. The first one I picked up in June at the Ekster Antiques barn sale in Virginia. It was a restrained first foray into antlers as accessories.

Of course, a short while later, that one led to another. I chose my second acquisition thoughtfully and went for something more dramatic, selecting the antler for its color and sculptural quality. This example is bleached almost white.

Then I saw this image, captured by designer Brooke Gianetti and featured on her beautiful blog Velvet and Linenand I left all moderation on the curb. I absolutely love the Alpine chalet vibe of the silver punch bowl filled with antlers - it has me reaching for the Gorsuch catalog and thinking of snowy evenings by the fire.

And here is my stash waiting to be deployed while I search for the perfect vintage hotel silver vessel (eBay, my can buy them by the pound!)

A few more images that have me planning for holiday decorating already (listen, winter is our longest season and I fully embrace it) - an antler filled garden urn arranged by Swedish stylist and author of the enchanting blog Min Lilla VerandaMarie Delice Karlsson:

From Marianne Lamberth's exquisite blog Nordic Bliss, a vignette by stylist and photographer Eva Lindh. (Visit Marianne's shop by the same name, Nordic Bliss, for a fabulous selection of home furnishings.)

And this photo by Sacramento interior designer Katie Denham featured on Scot Meacham Wood's entertaining and stylish blog, The Adventures of Tartanscot:

Like the look, but not necessarily the real thing? Pottery Barn has great looking faux antlers.

A few accessories one might need - from Columbus Architectural Salvage, a white, cast iron garden urn:

For those of you who don't have access to an abundance of pine cones, from Balsam Hill, a ready and ample supply:
From Christmas Farms, winterberry stems:

Unscented pillar candles from West Elm:

And from Wisteria, antiqued sheet music votive holders:

We had our first taste of winter today, snow flurries on and off all day, and I am so looking forward to the coming season.

Many thanks to Brooke, Marie, Marianne and Scot for kindly granting permission to have their photos used here! xo