Thursday, December 11, 2008

Free Christmas Decorations and other news

I love decorating for Christmas. To me, it creates a festive mood and reminds me what Christmas is all about. Now, most of you probably whip out the same things every year like I do. Well stored and taken care of, these things can last for generations. One thing that my mother taught me is to decorate with evergreen clippings from the yard. If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where things such as pine trees, hollies and boxwood's grow -- PRESTO, you have free lovely Christmas decorations! Boxwood's and hollies in particular need to be trimmed from time to time, so wait until December to give them a "haircut".
Gather several different pieces of greens and tie them together with ribbon. Then, tie the ribbon around light fixtures (being careful to stay away from the light bulbs of course). Anytime I receive a gift with ribbon, I horde them and save them for decorations and presents. I put the "decor ribbons" back in my Christmas storage boxes and reuse over and over again. Some of the ribbons pictured here are over 15 years old!
Take some greens and put them into a vase with a ribbon around it.

Someone gave me this sleigh one year. So, every year I wheel it out and use it in some way. This year I decided to put some greens into it. In the background is a plate I made in school in 1974 (yes, I'm dating myself). The funniest thing about the picture is that if you look closely you'll see that Santa's mustache is actually above his nose! Judging from the picture you would never have guessed that I'd go on to be an art major -- would you?

This is a shot of the greens I tied to the light fixture in our 1/2 bathroom downstairs. As an aside, you can see that the walls of our bathroom are lined with pictures. Most of the pictures are framed collage Christmas cards that I've made over the years. So, it shows our family over the years. I love to look at them and so do our guests. One place we all have to visit is the "washroom".

We have a sliding glass door in the back of our house. It looks out to our backyard which is mostly woods. I filled this little planter with evergreens and threw a bow on it. Now when we look out of our window, we see a little bit of Christmas.

For all of you mom's with young children out there -- I just have to tell you about this great little learning tool I purchased from Up With Learning for Ripley's birthday. Although it's an exercise in vinyl and plastic, as a learning tool, it's terrific.
First, Ripley pics a card that has pictures and corresponding words written underneath them. Then, he pics out the vowels (red blocks) and consonants (blue blocks) to spell the word. Finally, he writes out the word for himself. What a great invention. You could certainly try to create your own version with word cards, scrabble pieces and good ole' lined paper. It is from Learning Resources and is called a Phonics Activity Set.

Thanks to Rhonda from Down to Earth for posting the recipe for this Orange Coconut Cake. The frosting (not pictured) didn't come out like hers, I messed it up somehow, but the cake was fabulous. So moist!! Get the recipe HERE.
I'll leave you with this funny story. For our date night yesterday (an expense and investment I hope we will be able to continue to afford during these trying times) Victor and I decided to fly by the seat of our pants (rather than sticking to our old stand-bys) and head up "to the hill" or rather Federal Hill which is the Italian district here in Providence. Like Boston there is a main drag of restaurants that offer everything from Jamaican to Chinese to nouveau Italian to your traditional Italian cuisine. Mostly it's the later two that fill the main street, Atwells Ave. We were feeling indecisive because usually, I do a little research and know right where we are going. Finally, Victor pulled the car over and parked on a side street. Let me add here that it was pouring down rain. I, in my cute little date night outfit, begrudgingly schlepped (without umbrella) over to Atwells. We walked up and down a few times (with a quick stop at the Providence Oyster Bar for a glass of wine and a few oysters to think things over) and finally landed on one of the very traditional Italian restaurants. A relatively small restaurant, it was like walking into a gathering spot for the local mafia and their families. It was authentic. It was colorful. It was fabulous. You would never know that there was a recession going on and that Rhode Island is tied with Michigan for the highest unemployment rate in the country. The restaurants were jammed. We ended up sitting at the bar rather than wait for a table. Our bartender was this colorful, rather full bodied Italian woman with dark black dyed hair. Her persona borderlined on Seinfeld's Soup Nazi, but if you charmed her in just the right way she was like putty in your hands. The woman sitting next to us with her boyfriend reminded me of Reese Witherspoon and was at least as thin. Our waitress commented when "Reese" pushed aside the large bowl of dressing that came with her Cesar salad and requested olive oil, that it was no wonder she was so thin. (That's all that Reese ordered, by the way.) I, sized 2 woman that I am, ordered a braised Rabe appetizer with garlic, black olives and roasted red peppers AND the lasagna which turned out to be the size of most plates. Our bartendress commented that it was fabulous -- like you made it at home. And it was. I managed to eat all but a one square inch piece. Our ample bartendress commented "Wow! You ate all that?" Um, yes. It was incredible. Thank you. (blush)


rhonda jean said...

your cake looks wonderful! I'm not sure what happened with the icing, but you can use any frosting you like on it. Loved the cowboy photos too. :- )

Kristi said...

Beautiful Christmas Decorations, and free at that! I bet the best part is there will be no trash to throw away or stuff to store.

The Domestic Goddess said...

Hey, you were in my 'hood! It's my dream to eat at every restaurant on Atwells Ave before I die (or move away)