time to start decking the halls!

This year I was going for a simpler, almost nostalgic look. Above is my dining room chandelier. Originally, it was given to me by my late father many years ago and it lived in storage units and attics until we bought the house we now live in. Here it was the perfect chandelier for our dining room. (The chandelier originally in the dining room was repurposed and now hangs in our front hall. It’s a small chandelier and it is the perfect scale for the front hall.)

This year my chandeliers were completely inspired by a childhood memory. When we were little and lived in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia one of the things we did at Christmas time was attend the St. Lucia Festival at Old Swedes in Philadelphia.

This is such a beautiful tradition and it is still hands-down one of my favorite things about Christmas in Philadelphia.

Lucia Fest is actually this coming weekend in Philadelphia at Old Swedes:

Friday, December 6th – 6:00 & 8:00

Saturday, December 7th – 2:00, 3:30 & 5:00

Sunday, December 8th – 2:00, 3:30 & 5:00

The Lucia Fest weaves together a number of Swedish holiday traditions into a colorful musical pageant. The heart of the celebration is the Lucia procession, in which a young woman is joined by other female members of the household in taking hot coffee and a warm Lucia bun to all the residents of the home. She comes crowned with candles, dressed in white, singing her traditional song, “Sankta Lucia.” In Sweden, her day is celebrated in homes before dawn on the 13th of December, which, at one stage of life with the Julian calendar, marked the winter solstice – the point at which the hours of darkness begin to diminish and the daylight hours begin to lengthen.

At Gloria Dei Church the celebration is held within the walls constructed by Swedish settlers in 1699-1700, in the beauty of candlelight, with a large entourage of young girls joining her in song and procession. For many people, participation in the Lucia Fest is a unique way of marking the beginning of the holiday season.

If you have never been, I actually encourage you to go. There are many Lucia festivals across the country. PLEASE NOTE that to attend at Old Swedes in Philadelphia you need tickets!  that is not the way it was when I was growing up, but even then it was a mad crush of people so I think it is smart of the church to do that, plus the tickets are moderately priced and proceeds go to the church. This church is one of the most historicly important in Philadelphia.

In the Lucia procession, young girls wear crowns of seasonal greens with candles. I doubt very much anymore in most places that the candles are live, but they were when I was a little girl. 

Anyway the Scandinavian simplicity and beauty of this festival was my inspiration for my chandeliers as silly as it sounds. And I’m very pleased with the results.

I did not use real garlands, because they would not last the Christmas season inside. On Wayfair and Etsy I found felt garland and that’s what I purchased to create my Lucia inspired chandeliers. The Company Store and places like Pottery Barn also sell the felt garland, but their prices are much higher than what I found between Wayfair (and the felt pine garland I found on Wayfair is already sold out) and Etsy. There are also some options on Amazon and elsewhere, but you have to hunt through the garlands.

The garland I purchased was both wired and not wired. You can also use other artificial garland for this purpose I just liked the almost childlike simplicity of the felt garland. It has whimsy.

The garland is placed simply enough on the chandelier and I had a half dozen white felt birds that I tucked in here and there. But the best part of the garland is it is the perfect foil for my great grandparents’ German kugel which my mother gave me a few years ago. It is my favorite Christmas ornament. It is not a giant kugel as I have seen displayed, but it is super lovely.

There are also three beaded tassels in a lovely cranberry color. I have absolutely no idea what store they were from originally, but I bought them on a whim from the Smithfield Barn and put them away until I had a use.

The table is dressed with a festive tartan cloth (also from the Smithfield Barn!) In the center of the table, keeping with the simplicity of the chandelier above, are my glass candlesticks with cheerfully festive candy cane striped candles. They are all sitting in a copper tray.

I am not anywhere near finished decorating and there will be a lot less of it this year and it will be slow going because of my knee. But I think it’s actually a good thing that I had to change my routine up this year because I am liking the results so far!

Fa la la la la!

more thanksgiving prep: laying it all out

Thanksgiving in our house is going to be smaller and much simpler than years past. I didn’t get to all the little ceramic turkeys to put on the table this year so the table just has the simple candlesticks and some greens in a vase. I still think it’ll look pretty.

My order arrived today from Harman’s Cheese in New Hampshire. I love my imported cheese, but for Thanksgiving especially it’s American made cheeses. Tomorrow for nibbles before our little feast, I will put out Harman’s cheddar with crackers with a Balsamic Onion Jam. The rest of the cheese will take us through the holiday season and well into the winter.

The table is mostly vintage. Pewter napkin rings I got years ago. No one likes pewter much anymore so I literally picked these up super inexpensively.

The napkins came from The Smithfield Barn. They are of a newer vintage from Ralph Lauren.

The plates are Steubenville Adam Antique from the 1930s. I bought them for our first Thanksgiving in this house. They came from Frazer Antiques. I remember they were on sale. I have looked for years since at these plates here and there, and never been able to even come close to the deal I got that day.

The placemats are vintage Pimpernal. They belonged to one of my dearest friend’s mothers.

We are having a simple menu. Yams, green salad with a simple vinaigrette, stuffing done outside the bird, homemade cranberry sauce, and the turkey. The turkey is from Loag’s Corner Turkey Farm in Elverson and was delivered by Doorstep Dairy. Doorstep Dairy is our milk delivery service and more. We have been a customer for a few years. They are terrific!

If you are local, Loag’s turkeys can also be purchased through local butcher shops like Worrell’s Butcher Shop in Malvern Borough. We also are big fans of Worrell’s!

I didn’t mention dessert. That I am actually not baking. Someone gave us a cheesecake. Not our normal Thanksgiving dessert, but my husband loves cheesecake!

My last piece of the puzzle is a vintage turkey platter. Also from the Smithfield Barn a few years ago. American made, true vintage, and I love it.

Holidays are about traditions. Thanksgiving is about the classics: turkey, friends, family.

Here is a poem from Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

Thanksgiving

We walk on starry fields of white
   And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
   We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
   To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
   Of pleasures sweet and tender.

Our cares are bold and push their way
   Upon our thought and feeling.
They hand about us all the day,
   Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
   We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives,
   And conquers if we let it.

There’s not a day in all the year
   But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
   To brim the past’s wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold,
   Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
   While living hearts can hear us.

Full many a blessing wears the guise
   Of worry or of trouble;
Far-seeing is the soul, and wise,
   Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
   To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
   To gladden every morrow.

We ought to make the moments notes
   Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
   Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
   As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
   A grand Thanksgiving chorus.

I don’t know if I will write again between now and Thursday, so Happy Thanksgiving!

pickles and pine cones

I have a vintage ornament problem. As in I love them.  Among my favorites are pinecones.

I have in my ornaments that I have collected mercury glass pinecones that are Ukrainian, Russian, German, Czechoslovakian, and from the United States. I even have some mid century Japan-made pinecones.

I buy them for how they look to me and their color and often their size. I like to have a range of sizes because if you look in nature pinecones on a tree come in a range of sizes.

Above are three vintage ones I bought recently. Below are some others I acquired recently along with acorns and other shapes:

Pine cones are something my late father always put on the Christmas tree along with mercury glass birds. As I have written before, he always did silver and gold Christmas trees so his most hung mercury glass pinecones were in those colors.

After my father died when my mother gave me some of the ornaments she actually gave me a box of blue mercury glass pinecones both large and small. I love the bright aqua color, and they now go on my tree every year along with his other pine cones. And they look brand new because he never used them!

On my own I have collected mercury glass pine cones of every color except white. I have been on the hunt lately for the green mercury glass pine cones but I find them hard to come by. As a matter of fact, it seems like vintage pinecone ornaments have become quite collectible in general because when I do find them I often pass them over because I think they are just too expensive.

What else goes on my tree besides glass birds and pine cones? A couple of mercury glass pickles among other things!

Hanging the glass pickle ornament on a Christmas tree is a custom that some say stems from people hiding one one their tree on Christmas Eve and the child who found the pickle first got an extra present or getting to open the first present. Others attribute hanging a glass pickle on your Christmas tree as being a symbol of good luck. 

People attribute hanging the Christmas pickle on your tree as being a German tradition. Except article after article I have read says they’re actually isn’t such a tradition in Germany and a lot of people think it was an age old marketing ploy when glass German ornaments started being imported into this country!

And F.W. Woolworth was credited with being the American retailer who started importing German glass ornaments around 1880. And people continue to write about German-made pickle ornaments being created for the export market, not necessarily the Christmas trees of native Germans.

So sadly it seems the tales of Weihnachtsgurke is just a 19th century advertising ploy that took off. But I don’t care. I love my Christmas pickles anyway! I have German, American, and Ukrainian mercury glass Christmas pickle ornaments.

I recently purchased a new old mercury glass pickle. Made in the Ukraine. Mid-century is what I was told as far as the age goes. I also purchased two more for a friend of mine who liked my new old pickle.

What ornaments will you be hanging on your Christmas tree this year?

vintage and handmade ornaments are the best!

Most of the Christmas ornaments I have are varying degrees of vintage. I even have some that belonged to my great grandparents who lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

I told all of you about the wonderful vintage Christmas market at the Smithfield Barn. It’s happening today and tomorrow. I realized I never showed you what I bought!

I was actually pretty restrained for me. I tend to go crazy over the ornaments my friend Kristin finds! This year was no exception as she had some vintage ones that were made in the Ukraine. The Ukrainian ornaments are different from the German ornaments and the glass feels different in your hands. And they are so lovely just like old German ornaments!

I am pretty sappy when it comes to Christmas. It literally makes me so happy to decorate and cook for friends and family. And I have always loved vintage ornaments.

My late father loved silver and gold. And somewhere my mother still has boxes of now vintage silver and gold glass ornaments. But I like color in my tree and decorations. I am however primarily a red and green person.

I also love Santas, elves, and nutcrackers. I love handmade and hand carved Christmas decorations as well! I have a whole bunch of folk art Santas and it makes me grin when every one of them comes out of the storage bin where they live the rest of the year.

I also like ornaments that remind me of the nature that is all around me. I have a lot of mercury glass birds both old and new. It’s hard to get really amazing vintage glass birds because people hang onto them. And the vintage ones I have are from my father. A lot of the glass birds are the ones that I see in my own garden. And I even have a glass fox or two.

Also with the nature theme? Mercury glass pinecones. They are among my favorite Christmas tree ornaments and I found some new ones this year at the Smithfield Barn!

The thing you’ll find about shopping at the Christmas market for the Smithfield Barn is they don’t rake you over the coals in price. Things are priced fairly and definitely a lot of the time below other dealers elsewhere. Way below. Part of what makes the Smithfield Barn so special is the way things are paid forward.

And yes, I will also admit I am a not so closet Hallmark Christmas movie watcher. There’s so much ugliness and unpleasantness in the world, the Christmas and decorating for the holidays it’s just a beautiful and warm respite from all of that.

Thanks for stopping by.



vintage christmas wonderland

The Smithfield Barn opens it’s big barn doors November 8th – 10th for their Vintage Holiday Market in Downingtown.

Me and my cane got a look see this evening (NOT open to the public.)

I love Christmas and I love vintage Christmas and Kristin has outdone herself with the spectacular ornaments and lovely Christmas things.

There is some new mixed in with the old because for example there is this amazing wood carver who has some things in the barn.

There are also some fabulous vintage Christmas ornaments from the Ukraine. They’re very different and beautiful.

Yes, I literally have a torn meniscus and I had to brace my knee up and bring a cane just so I could take a look because I don’t know when (given the state of my leg) I will be out again. One of my best friends was nice enough to drive me.

This was just what the doctor ordered and it makes me so happy to see a little Christmas in a big old Chester County barn. This is literally a big old barn and this is not a store so you can’t just show up whenever.

Smithfield Barn 425 Little Conestoga Road Downingtown, Pennsylvania 19335.

new old things

It started with a vintage sampler in a crumbling frame at an estate sale of what I felt was a very sad house.

The sampler was pretty but the lady who had stitched it had not framed it right. It was also stained under the frame. I started by removing the frame. Underneath, the masking tape to keep the fringes from unraveling while stitching had never been removed. When I removed it, the sampler was sticky.

So I soaked the sampler in Restoration fabric restorer for 24 hours. It came completely clean and the sticky residue was gone!

I blocked and air dried and then ironed the sampler and gave it a bit of starch. I did not iron directly on the embroidered sampler, I put a clean towel on top of the sampler and ironed it that way.

Then I measured out an ultrasuede remnant I had and pinned out my sampler on it’s reverse. I stitched it by hand on three sides and stuffed it with a bag of poly-fil stuffing, and stitched the top closed.

I ordered some fringe trim, but the first batch wasn’t right so that will get used on another project. I have another kind of trim on the way, a close out remnant which hopefully be perfect.

This was an experiment for me because years ago I made a pillow from an embroidered sampler I had stitched and really liked it so I wanted to try it again with a vintage sampler that was lovely but I did not want to reframe it.

Now mind you, I would never do this with an antique sampler, but a found vintage sampler is a different story.

This is not a pillow that suits everyone’s taste but it’s an adaptive reuse of a vintage item that would save someone’s handiwork from ending up in the trash somewhere.

It’s really easy to put a vintage sampler pillow together because the hard part, the embroidering, has already been done for you.

I will also tell you I do love crewel and regular embroidery. I have made a few pillows in my day.

In the photo below, the top left was stitched by me when I was either 10 or 11. To the right is a pillow where I drew the design and embroidered it. The lower right is a pillow I stitched with colors I preferred versus what the old crewel kit came with. That pillow actually has an identical reverse because I found two of the same crewel embroidery kits one time at a church rummage sale and I decided to put them together.

Rainy day stitching is fun and I am glad I had time for my pillow this afternoon. Being creative is like gardening- it’s good for you! Next I will tackle a couple of vintage quilts I am restoring.

Thanks for stopping by.

pixies and elves

Collecting Christmas….yes I know…not even Halloween but I love Christmas.

The green leaf dish was purchased at the Glenmoore Deli this summer when Smithfield Barn did a pop-up. But the pixies or elves? I hunted them down recently.

Aren’t they cute???

I already have a bunch of green ones and I have some white ones but I didn’t have any red. And I love these elves they’re only a few inches big if that and some I also have are only a couple inches big.

I stuff them into little hiding places in bookshelves, peeking out from behind lamps, scattered on tables and so on.

All of the ones I have are from the 1950s and 1960s and I just love them. You have to hunt for them though because they can be really expensive and they’re not worth over paying for in my humble opinion so I look until I find reasonably priced ones. I hadn’t found any for a couple of years until this year.

These came from sellers on Etsy. VintageCurlyGirl and StarrRoadRetro.

Collecting Christmas is fun and I love vintage decorations!