Friday, November 30, 2018

My French Country Christmas

Happy December and Welcome to my French Country Christmas!

This year, I'm keeping it simple and natural with a touch of ethereal. 
Very French Country. 

Welcome my friends to our Colorado Christmas!

Outside, the front porch feels festive with black metal lanterns from the patio 
filled with bulbs and greenery and topped with red ribbons.

In the foyer I created a simple vignette with a painted table
and a white ironstone pitcher. A touch of boxwood is very French. 

Leaning against the foyer wall is a rustic wreath found at a thrift store.
This beautiful wreath adds natural texture to the space. 

Please come on into our living room.

This is our second year without an actual Christmas tree
and we've decided we don't miss it.
It feels good to pare down on the decorations and keep it simple.

However, I couldn't pass up this artificial tree under two feet tall from Michaels.
I added a few twinkly lights and some miniature bulbs.

Arranged on a stack of old books to give it some height, 
the tree was then placed atop a table draped with a vintage linen.
I love the natural look of the burlap and plaid ribbon.

I used our old string of twinkly lights to fashion
a "tree of lights" framing the tiny Christmas tree in our front window . 

I placed a French market basket under the tree stuffed with teddy bears, worn books, 
lavender and a vintage embroidered cloth. A simple French Country vignette. 

The tree is next to our fireplace.
I've always wanted a long cedar garland for the mantel. 
I'm in love with the natural look of the garland, 
dotted with some candles, antlers and pine cones. 

Twinkly lights are reflected in the large mirror above the mantel
creating an dreamy ethereal ambiance.

A flickering fire makes for a cozy room
and natural woods bring that French Country feel home.

So glad you stopped by for a holiday visit.
Hope to see you next week when I share my
French Country Christmas dining room and kitchen.

From the road to our mountain cabin, we wish you all a wonderful holiday season.


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Friday, November 16, 2018

A Simple Thanksgiving Story - Homeward Bound

This is one of my most popular posts.
 It's a simple story about Thanksgiving that's worth reading again.

You wouldn't think the muddy banks of the Ohio River would be a likely place for
a Thanksgiving story but it's a place I always think of this time of year.

It's easy to remember the wide brown river since it was essentially in our back yard. 
The river was on one side of our house; railroad tracks clacked from the other side.
 I grew up watching slow-moving barges travel up and down the river in the summer 
and floods creeping towards our house in the spring,
while hoping to get out of school as the river's muddy waters quietly filled our basement.

We watched fireworks from our little boat drifting in the river's dark depths 
and we helped Dad plant a little garden on its banks. 
The soil was rich and the water supply was close by but we never reaped much from it. 
It was almost as if the vegetables disappeared before they could make it to our supper table. 
And in a way, they did.

Dad said it was a hobo garden. 
He planted it for the men who rode the boxcars through the Ohio Valley looking for work.

I never knew what the word "hobo" actually meant until years later when I'd moved away. 
I learned it's an abbreviation of "homeward bound." 
That phrase seems to put a whole different meaning to the word. 
Hobos weren't homeless. They were riding the rails, building little campfires at night to take the
chill from the damp air, and looking for work until they could make their way back home.

A hobo was different from a "tramp" who worked only if he absolutely had to 
or a "bum" who usually stayed in one place and didn't ever work.
A hobo, on the other hand, was a traveling laborer. 
Hobos' numbers soared during the Great Depression era of the 1930s. 
With no work or prospects at home, many took to the rails
looking for whatever work they could find.

Some famous hobos included Jack Dempsey, Woody Guthrie,
Jack London, Carl Sandberg and Louis L'Amour.

Photo by Arthur Rothstein, 1939

I remember my father telling stories about his riding the boxcars as a young man
during the Depression, picking up odd jobs along the way in exchange for food,
always thinking about going home. 

Perhaps that's why he had a soft spot for his garden hobos.
If Dad saw a hobo in his riverbank garden grabbing tomatoes or pulling up carrots, 
he didn't chase them away from his hard-earned crop.

No, my Dad invited them to come home with him for supper! 
We didn't have a lot but Mom always fixed a little extra because she never knew 
when Dad would bring someone home to have supper with us.

After a home-cooked meal, Dad would take the hobos up to the edge of the Georges Run Station
rail yards in Mingo Junction so they could catch the next train out. 
Then he'd quietly give them a few dollars before they took off, homeward bound once again.

I know these men were thankful for a good meal and a little help on their journeys.
I hope, when they finally made it home,
they fondly remembered my parents on Thanksgiving as I always do each year.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Friday, November 9, 2018

Beauty and the Bench

When we moved the console table that was behind the couch to its new home
in the cabin we created an empty space that never looked quite finished. 
It needed a little pizzazz.
Something to shuzz it up. 

In such a small space, I didn't want another console table or cupboard there.
Then I remembered I had a bench Ron made for me that had a beautiful
blue/gray patina from being outside the last couple of years.

Yes, a bench would be perfect. 
Not too tall, not too wide. Just right. 

But it looked a little bare. 
Hey, that's never a problem; I had lots of treasures yearning to be on display.
I could almost hear them shouting, "Put me in Coach!"

I love the look of books in a room and knew I wanted a stack of books on the bench.
It could also look cozy just with books lined up all the way across it. 

Next, I topped the books with a vintage silver pitcher and some faux flowers. 

Then I added some candles. 

Still looked unfinished. 
So I tried a nice old demijohn, some more candles and a small trophy. 

And voila!
Beauty and the Bench. 

I like that the bench is light and airy and doesn't take up a lot of space. 

Looks like Roxy approves. 
No doubt she thinks there's food on the bench!
Actually, it would also work great for party snacks and drinks. 

I am already imagining what I will do with this bench for the holidays.

So, stay tuned.


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Friday, November 2, 2018

Decorating in the Dark and Great News

Have you ever decorated in the dark?
It can be quite challenging. 
Since we've boarded up the windows of our cabin for the winter, 
the inside of the cabin is very dark, getting only a shaft of light from the skylight.

Here's a photo (with flash) of the cabin bedroom.
Note the windows are covered up with plywood.

This is what it actually looked like without a flash.
The light on the chest of drawers is reflected from the skylight in the other room. 

The rest of the cabin wasn't much lighter since we have no electricity.
However, it did perk up when Ron removed a board from the front window, 
letting in some sunlight. 

But let me back up a bit. 

I hadn't been to the cabin in almost a month and was itching to visit it.
Now that Ron has a Jeep we felt confident we could tackle any snowy roads. 
The main road was clear but the mountain range rimming
the South Park plateau was snow-covered -- a beautiful site. 

We stopped to stretch our legs on the dirt road to our cabin
and saw this gorgeous pond. 
We couldn't see it from the car so we were happy we'd stopped.

We arrived at the cabin and a glorious view.

Once inside where it was a dark 35 degrees, Ron lit the propane heater
and I puttered around a bit in a ski hat and warm jacket. 

I'd found a few old tins at estate sales and displayed them on top of our kitchen cabinets.
Still looking for a few more. 

We've also been shopping for coffee mugs that feature wildlife.

There was enough light from the skylight overhead plus a flash
to do a little decorating in the main room.
I'd brought up a galvanized pitcher filled with some dried grasses
that looked pretty against the long white drapes. 
Lots of battery candles (not turned on) top the long table and cast a soft glow at night. 

We had a neighbor stop by with tales of wildlife sighting in our gulch -- 
a bear, a moose family and lots of elk. 

It never did warm up very much inside the cabin.
We took turns huddling next to the propane heater. 

I tried to convince myself the big wood stove was producing heat.
We didn't want to light it since we were only going to be there for a few hours.
We are very careful about escaping sparks in our absence.

So, 'til next time.
Stay warm my friends!

P.S.!!! Great News.
The sheriff's department caught the person who had been vandalizing
our cabin neighborhood including us.
He was caught in connection with another break-in
and confessed to the burglaries in our area.
Yea!!! We feel so much safer now.
Great work Sheriff's Department.
Thank you!!!


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