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.