Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas in California

Today, Camille's twin girls asked if they could spend next Christmas in Albuquerque.  When I asked why, they said, "Because we want to make a snowman!"  Here is the front of Camille's house...
 Evergreens in baskets on the gate contrast with the blooming camellias on the left!

And while we don't always have snow for Christmas, this year the snow is lingering on the north slopes around our house, so the twins could have made a snowman.  Instead we are all taking walks in shirt sleeves in sunny California.  

Camille has little touches of Christmas all around her house, but my favorite of her decorations is this nicho (niche in English) at her front entrance.

It is lovely at night, although my cell phone camera would not cooperate well enough to take an effective photo.  The twins also made "putz" or glitter houses. And I made 18 of them for the St. Mark's Celebrity luncheon centerpieces.   As my husband said, "The Glitter Fairy bombed the house!"  Indeed, I imagine I will be vacuuming up glitter for some time to come. 

Glitter houses by Caroline and Sara.

One of my centerpieces...

 And if that were not enough glitter, here are the ornaments the children at St. Mark's and I made for the tree in the Sanctuary.

The excitement is high here on Christmas Eve.  Yesterday, we made tamales for this evening's dinner. We are going out to put up the luminarias this afternoon if the forecast rains lighten up.  Enchiladas and pecan pie are on the chore list for this morning.    

Max, the Elf on a Shelf was particularly naughty on his last day with the twins. While playing soccer with his friends, he knocked over all the collection of Santas that my sister had collected through the years...

 And, he made a banana split.  However he did not eat it as he had mistaken shaving cream for whipping cream.

Friday, December 12, 2014

To Tree or Not to Tree

As life changes, so too do the holiday traditions.  For the last 30+ years, we have hosted the family Christmas celebrations which included my older relatives, my husband's parents, most of our siblings and their spouses, our children and their children. 
Last year's small tree

Now we are the oldest members of the family and our daughters and son-in-laws are wanting to establish their own family traditions.  For the second year, we are traveling to another location to spend Christmas with one of our  daughters.  Hope we can keep track of whose turn it is!

Last year, as was our custom, we cut a tree and decorated it.  A few dinners with friends were lit by the lights on the tree and the house sitter probably enjoyed it over Christmas.  This year, as many of the trees on our property are dying from drought, we are loath to cut a healthy one for the two weeks we might enjoy it.  We are hosting a few dinners, however, so I feel a little something festive is in order.    Hating artificial trees, I cast about for an alternative.  This metal obelisk supports a tomato plant on my front porch in the summer, but it is about the right size and shape for a tree-like support for my Christmas now I am searching for the lights and ornaments for my very modern spare "tree."  I will probably add greens to my chandeliers for the lovely pinion scent the tree usually provides.

Last year after Christmas I went to an estate sale.  In a box of rather tatty Christmas things like chipped plastic Santas was a treasure.  Beautifully beaded felt ornaments that must have taken three to four hours each to create.  They were being sold for fifty cents a piece.  How could I pass them up?  So they will grace my very unconventional tree this year.

Here is one of he three Wise Men whose elaborate beading are done on both sides so that you can hang them facing either direction.

This peacock confirms my hunch that these were created in the 1950's because my friend Kathy B's Mom made quite a number of them for her tree when she was a child. 

Butterflies, doves, an angel and two camels were available.  Sadly there was no Holy Family with this collection.  Perhaps family members kept only those ornaments.  Although not much of a seamstress, perhaps I can find a pattern and make Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus at some point.

When we lived in another house which was a southwest style with bancos, I decorated a tree with turquoise, pink and purple leather and feather ornaments that I made.  Not sure what I did with those, but I still have the purchased ball ornaments that went with that tree and they go very well with these vintage (although new to me) ornaments.

Not as pretty as a real tree, but good for the environment! And, as I said to my friend Jane over at the Small But Charming Blog there will be no pine needles to vacuum up for the next three months.  Sati, our cat, found this new kind of tree intriguing but so far has refrained from using it as a jungle gymnasium, perhaps her first experience many years ago with riding a 12 ft. tree to the ground as it toppled with her weight (smashing rather a lot of vintage and beloved ornaments!) has deterred her.  However, any round sparkly thing sitting in a vignette is still fair game!  I am linking to Jane's "Christmas Tree in the House" party so pop on over to see more trees by some other blogging friends.