Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Past

Every year, when thinking about the fast approaching Christmas season, I try to remember to keep it simple. Since I am such a tinkering soul, and fussing and arranging and propping are a huge part of my nature, this can truly be a challenge for me...

...and as I get older, it is my intent to just add a bit of stuff to what is already out there!
What I intend to do this year is just embellish with Nature's bounty, adding some fresh  greenery and a few flowers.
Paired with white tulips and some greens it worked perfectly with old silver last Christmas.

Last year, I found a beautiful garden rose, called Super Green, if you can believe it!  As you can see above, it is more deserving than that. I would rename it Petit Chou Vert...little green cabbage.

As well as decor, food is a large part of my thought process. Being Italian, it is and will always be
front and center for the holidays.
Here you can see, my sister Micki's beautifully wrapped Maria Bruno cookies.
They are an old family recipe from my Mom's.
Baking parchment is a beautiful alternative for wrapping cookies and other food gifts, and can be embellished with simple ribbons or hand made tags.
It has a pure and clean look to it.

They are wonderful hostess gifts, and are too delicious for words!

Shortbread stars, dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with gold dragees waiting to be wrapped as gifts and savoured by a lucky recipient.

I have embraced so many wonderful and timeless recipes as well as my own traditional ones.

These are a favourite in our family.

Here, you can see ricotta cookies, which are iced with white chocolate and silver dragees. They are
my personal favourite, and just melt in your mouth!

Back to decor....I have found that my love of books works well into the scheme of things. Last year I found a beautifully illustrated, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, published by Blue Heron Books, and the exquisite illustrations by Robert Ingpen totally captivated me.
I randomly left it open during the season, here and there, and was able to enjoy it so much more.

I have started a collection of books which I hope someday to read to my grandchildren.  The collection is growing, even though neither of my sons are married. It still is fun to imagine!

I am hoping that again, just by adding some fragrant greens, and pulling out some favourite pieces,
the house will take on a festive look. Linens and silver always come into play, and even if the linens don't get ironed I still use them as is..a la shabby chic. I have found a trick, that by spritzing them with a fine mist and laying them out to dry, they look just as great.

Last years table setting on Christmas Eve.....I decided I would make angels for everyone's place setting. The cookie cutters were rather large and I had to lift them off the cookie sheet with two spatulas, a little tricky... but my decorating soul was satisfied by all the gold embellishing and fussing I did to make them shine!

A silver leaf stag on my fireplace mantel, purchased from Home Goods... I love any deer or stag motif, possibly because I have caught glimpses of them in our woods over the years.
They are regal, beautiful creatures.

My busy, twenty year old decor, which I always try to work with. I think it is more about making what we have, work and beautiful for our families. It is more satisfying and certainly more challenging!

I do succumb to adding a few enticing things every year, like these gorgeous mercury and glass bells
found in Fredricksburg, Texas. I hung them from some champagne coloured, organdy ribbon from
Midori, one of the best sources for ribbons and trims. All that was needed to dress up a fresh green wreath and hall mirror.

....more of Petite Chou Vert....wonder what the grower would think!!!

....but most of all, I try to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, when I get a little overwhelmed with it all. Yes the food is important and the flowers and the tree and the treats, but I hope to try to imagine how a little child views it all...the wonder and innocence and magic that it really is.

I shall try to remember.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Do you remember going out for a shopping outing, in anticipation, with your heart fluttering at the prospect of what you might find?
Well I think those days are pretty well gone, with the harsh reality of big box stores and the giant discount retailers making it some what a thing of the past. Here in Jordan village, what gets my heart fluttering is a shop called Stitch.

The brain child of Jocelyn Chamberlain, a woman as lovely and gentle as the needle arts she promotes and champions, Stitch is presented as a sanctuary and reprieve for the needle art enthusiast and knitter.
Housed in a quaint and charming cottage it embodies everything that is required for experiencing these crafts up front and personal.

Jocelyn's passion for what she does is clearly evident everywhere you look.

The finest yarns in up to the minute colors and weights beckon to be fashioned into
whatever your imagination holds. Books and kits so beguiling, that if you are a fabric or textile junky like myself, make you want to create!!!

The fabrics and notions are artistically presented in the same colour ways making it easier to envision a finished project.  All the cabinets and cupboards are vintage, and no detail is spared in the presentation.

Whimsy abounds in the vignettes, here Jocelyn's take on the Princess and the Pea!

....and the Twelve Days of Christmas.

 A Christmas kit from French General, available for the holidays.

Jocelyn has created a soft and inviting atmosphere for browsing and creating to your hearts content.
You feel as if you have stepped back in time.  You will not hear loud music blaring. You will see only worn finishes, experience
soft, low lighting, her carefully edited and chosen vintage pieces which enhance every space and
her helpful and expert advice when asked for.

Jocelyn also sells vintage fabric which is my downfall!!!

Beautiful chenille threads and buttons and bobs to embellish every project....

...displayed in vintage, well weathered receptacles, which give them even more allure!!

My weakness!!!

Two evenings a week, Jocelyn invites you to knit or stitch. The fireplace is going, splooshy linen covered sofas invite you to rest and create and get away from it all.  Hot mugs of steaming tea are offered and usually a lovely home made cookie or sweet. Even her vintage china is beautifully displayed and shared with kindred spirits and new comers alike.

Special classes with world renowned needle artists, often include lunch as well. They are as memorable as the class itself, served on lovely heirloom dishes and linens.

What I love the most about Stitch is the fairytale atmosphere which Jocelyn has created for her customers.  Everywhere, whimsy abounds, which I have tried to capture but can never truly replicate here.
Notice the tiny fabric mouse on the apron, on this vintage dress form.  Truly delightful!

Peace and serenity envelop you as you work your way around the eye catching displays and vignettes.
Truly a sanctuary for the needle artist and knitter.
An escape from the frenetic pace of today's world.

Jocelyn has acquired her goal beautifully. Her customers are beckoned by the simple beauty and serenity of her store. Her products and classes are very sought after, and popular among local and distant enthusiasts alike.  I am especially happy to have her right around the corner!

She has restored my faith in the unique shopping experience.

Wouldn't you just love to knit or stitch?

Stitch is located at 3799 Main Street in Jordan Village, Ontario, Canada.


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Friday, November 11, 2011

Vintage Christmas

Every year around this time, I start to think about decorating the house for Christmas, thinking only....

I can hardly believe I have only six short weeks, it seems, to pull it all together!

But every year I think this year is going to be different, and I will be ready, organized and rested???

Yesterday I began pulling out some boxes and some of the first things to be unwrapped were my Father Christmas figures, which I have collected for years. Obviously, since they were on top, they must have been the last things to be wrapped up and put away.

I know they may seem a little dated to some, but there is something about them that just tugs at my heart strings every year.

I have tried to keep my collection somewhat colour co ordinated, creamy whites or pastels,
and always looked for those which have vintage fabric in the construction.

The faces have to speak to me, no waxy, blank stares allowed!

This sweet little Christmas angel, was made from snippets of my wedding veil.  She always holds a special place on my mantel.

The toys she is holding are totally handmade and her hair is unbleached sheep's wool.

Her halo is moss from the garden.

Since I have two boys, this one is very special to me, and I usually set it in the front foyer.

I added the tiny heart, covered in vintage mother of pearl buttons, which you can see in the crook of his arm.

All of the materials which were used are old, wool blankets, lovely lace, pearl buttons and natural fabrics.

A little elf sits on a snowball ornament I found at Homesense.

These stockings were made from wool blankets, which I recycled and embellished with

mostly anything I had stashed in my sewing box. 

A little glitter from a vintage brooch and some mica crystals goes a long way
for adding sparkle!

Vintage pearls, spun gold buillion, faded velvet flowers and string, tell of a magpie personality!

I made several for gifts, and kept two which worked well into my own Christmas decor.

This pretty pink one, my Mom helped me make.  I embellished it with a vintage mother of pearl pin.

I am always on the hunt for these pins, made at sea by sailors, for their mothers or sweethearts.

They are difficult to find.

This little elf, sitting in a fresh cedar wreath moves around for the holidays.

I always look to change up my decorations every year, just a little, but the vintage Father Christmas figures remain center stage and forefront in my home.
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