The Holly and the Ivy

Hindsight here. It appears that returning, or rather attempting to return to blogging, just before the holiday season began was not my best decision.

Now, here in real time, I'm sitting amid the glow of holiday lights and scents and catching up on some blogs while my children, who are all somehow adult-sized now, have piled in to watch Elf. One of them bothered to mention that the movie is 10 years old. Good grief.

I would say that tidbit makes me feel kind of old, but the Mister and I had the immense privilege of attending a beautiful wedding this past weekend of a child I visited as a newborn in the hospital.

The reception was held in the milking room of an old dairy barn!

I thought that event might make me feel old, but as it turns out, spending time in the great company of old friends made me feel young.

Last night, I co-celebrated my birthday with an 18-year-old friend of Middle's, and that made me feel young, too. Today I'm full of good wishes, the best home-cooked Italian food I've ever had, and some mighty fine caramel cake. So, here in my stupor, I thought I'd share a few photos of Christmas decorations inside the T&C House. The pictures were all made with my iPhone with minimal effort on my part, but perhaps you'll enjoy nonetheless.  I hope so.

I've switched things around a bit, and now this dropleaf table does double duty in the entry. It's easily pulled into use to seat overflow from the dining room, if need be.

I spent a happy lunch hour gathering the rose-like cones at the base of the paperwhites. The cones are dropped from deodar cedar trees, kind of rare here in the South but fairly prevalent in the West, from what I've read. There are two on the grounds of a bank near my office, and I coerced a colleague to join me in harvesting a small bag full before they were mowed into mulch.  My boy bust was a side-of-the-road find. Driving to work one morning, I happened to see him out of the corner of my eye--he was nestled against the trash bin beside the curb.

In the family room, we have a small feather tree, with a few old family ornaments and a collection of exotic birds.

Real greens mix with faux evergreen and magnolia on this old cupboard.

Byers Carolers found a new home next to a plate that depicts a house that looks a lot like ours.
I like a little needlepoint in every room. 
Our manger scene is old and dear. The figures are almost a foot tall. 
It always seemed a bit precarious to me, arranging those old papier mache figures and greens and lights on our mantel. This fall, the clever Mister made a "mantel topper," which was essentially a piece of scrap lumber.  He attached a bit of molding, caulked, sanded and painted and voila! The faux mantel fits over our real mantel, providing about six inches more depth for arranging. After the holidays, we can store it in the garage ready for next year or anytime I want to do a "lavish" mantel display.

I've decided little plaid blankets and lap robes are fun to collect and warm up our winter decor.
I finally found a tri-color collie ornament to remember our dear old Marian.
Inspired by the film A Christmas Story, Middle made me this "leg lamp" ornament when  he was about 10. It caused quite a stir because Middle may not have actually asked his sister if her Barbie was willing to sacrifice a leg for his project!
Our Advent wreath, reminding us of the Peace, Hope, Joy, and Love brought to the world at Christmas.

We found our tree this year at Tom Sawyer's Tree Farm in Cashiers, North Carolina. If you're a fan of the classic It's a Wonderful Life, you'll remember Clarence (George Bailey's guardian angel, AS2-no wings) was reading Tom Sawyer throughout the film. 

Big made this clay manger scene when he was but a boy. It fits perfectly on the  edge of the stepback cupboard in the dining room.

More little trimmings in the dining room
More greens in the dining room. I'm kind of crazy about these birch bark "sleeves,"  that fit over your own watertight containers.

The dining room table centerpiece is always this large silver bowl with old ornaments. The little papier mache angel was my grandmother's favorite decoration.

These glass beads came from Austria with the Mister's grandmother around 1910.

Faux and real greens and lots of sticks anchor either end of the sideboard.
A little mistletoe

in the living room

Her Royal Highness in the living room, hoping for a leaf to fall so she can bark about it.

Oh, I do love plaid, not just at Christmastime either.

Boxwood and plaid. The Mister planted lots of boxwoods this past fall.

A little more needlepoint

One of my favorite nativities, on a chest in the living room. I just read that I shouldn't  have turned any lamps on for these interior shots. Rats, and um, sorry.

This little Advent calendar has been a highlight for Big, Middle, and Little since they were old enough to stick an ornament on the tree. It hangs on the pantry door in the kitchen. They literally used to race out of bed and run to see who would get to add the ornament each morning. For a while, we had to institute a rotation!  Nowadays it's mostly Little, but I did overhear them talking about who would be putting on the star tomorrow. 
Our little kitchenside sitting area

Santas and Christmas books for the kitchen desk

More faux and real greens

Yes, all those hot chocolate bars on Pinterest finally got to me, and I made one for us, too.
So far, it's been a hit with friends and family.

Boxwood and juniper wreaths in the kitchen, and a Joy detergent bottle turned into an angel by Middle decorate the window.

We like sending and receiving fresh Florida citrus, Carolina pecans, original poppyseed  cakes from our dear friend in Atlanta, and Tennessee country ham! Do you love getting food gifts at Christmastime? 

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