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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thank You, God, for little things that often come my way~

The unexpected little joys that brighten up my day~

And, God, no words are great enough to thank You just for living

And making each and every day a day for real Thanksgiving.

~Helen Steiner Rice

For those in need of a little humor:

The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven by Jack Prelutsky

The turkey shot out of the oven and rocketed into the air,

It knocked every plate off the table and partly demolished a chair.

It ricocheted into a corner and burst with a deafening boom,

Then splattered all over the kitchen, completely obscuring the room.

It stuck to the walls and the windows, it totally coated the floor,

There was turkey attached to the ceiling, where there'd never been turkey before.

It blanketed every appliance, It smeared every saucer and bowl,

There wasn't a way I could stop it, that turkey was out of control.

I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure, and thought with chagrin as I mopped,

That I'd never again stuff a turkey, with popcorn that hadn't been popped.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How will you celebrate?

How will you celebrate Thanksgiving? Will it look something like this?

I was raised celebrating Thanksgiving day fairly traditionally. We would begin the day watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, followed by football. As the last of eight kids, our 20 ft table practically groaned from the weight of the turkey and all the trimmings.

"Freedom From Want" by Norman Rockwell

I've even been to Plymouth Rock and of course heard the story of the first Thanksgiving many, many times.

"The First Thanksgiving" by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris
So why on earth would I suggest to Mr. Decor that our family go to a Dude Ranch for the Thanksgiving holiday?
Over the years our family has lived in other countries where of course Thanksgiving was just another Thursday. We began a tradition of celebrating a bit differently because we had to. Once we arrived back in the states, we still lived far from family and so we continued to celebrate Thanksgiving in what many would consider an unorthodox manner. Last year had us sitting on a beach in Mexico enjoying the shrimp harvest.
But, if you think about it, a dude ranch is not so far fetched...
I bet several of the participants of the first Thanksgiving arrived on horseback.
The pilgrims and native Americans definitely ate their meal outside amongst plenty of strangers.
So, yes! My family is indeed celebrating a truly traditional Thanksgiving. I am so looking forward to it and ever so thankful for the many blessings in my life.
Have a wonderfully blessed day!

Monday, November 24, 2008


Have you decided how you are going to set your Thanksgiving table? The elements for a naturally beautiful table might just be found in your own backyard.

I love this simple centerpiece that starts with a wire basket. Begin with a bit of florist foam and cover it with moss, make sure to dampen it, but not saturate it. Add a few roses, bittersweet and sunflowers then fill in the spaces with artichokes and gourds.

Bittersweet can be found rather inexpensively at the florist if you don't come across it growing naturally. It also makes a delightful napkin ring.

A perfect way to involve the kids (and get them out from underfoot) is a pine cone hunt. Perhaps have a prize ready for the person that collects the most. While out searching they can also collect a few leaves. You can add names onto the leaves with a gold pen for another type of place card. The possibilities are endless.

Aren't these fun centerpieces? Although real pumpkins are used in this photo, you can purchase floral foam that is round. Cover it with the flower of your choice and add a stem or twig. A raffia bow would also add a special touch.

I also love using mini pumpkins as sweet votive holders.

Another great way to add candlelight is to surround a dish of candles or small clear glass votive with a natural element such as birdseed, dried corn or the bean of your choice.

I adore acorns. There is just something so sweet about their little caps. This is a simple but elegant way to dress up your napkin. Don't worry if one is missing a nut, you can just hot glue in a pearl or other pretty bead.

So take a walk and see what you can find. If you smile and ask nicely you might even get a neighbor to share the bounty in their yard.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What is your current color palette? Friday Freebie

I am currently loving a seafoam, creme and brown color palette. It has now made its way into a few crafts that I have been working on for Christmas. Having signed up for a few vintage swaps and also wanting to heartfully give this season I have created a few journals. Each is a little different from the next.

I began with a 50 cent black and white hardbound college journal purchased in the school supplies section at Target.

I do scrapbook and save bits of paper leftover from pages I have created. After deciding on a color palette, I begin laying out a collage until it clicks "that's it".

The first layer of paper is glued onto the journal with plain white glue. I then stack a few phonebooks on top and let it dry for a few hours.

Then the fun begins by layering on the bits and bobs. I tie a ribbon around the first page of the book and personalize it with an initial.

The back is done in a similar fashion, but I keep it one dimensional.

I have also made up some tags to tie onto other gifts.

I just adore this darling girls sweet face.

Not in the same color palette, but still fun, are these scraps of fabric I have sewn into lavender sachets. They are topped with vintage seam binding and old jewelry bits. They also work well as pin cushions.

Onto Friday Freebie: Leave me a comment and on Monday I will select a winner to receive some lovely tags and a notebook.
Good luck!
UPDATE: The random number generator selected Priscila from Casa Bella Chic. Priscila has put alot of effort into creating the Vintage Christmas Swap and I am happy to pass this freebie on to thank her.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Arts & Crafts Interiors

The Arts and Crafts movement began in the late 19th century. It was brought about by the thoughts of John Ruskin and William Crane who supported social reform. They believed that good design was linked to a good society.
Their thinking influenced designer William Morris. An exterior photo of his home The Red House, was shown in last Monday's post. Below are a few photo's of homes interior.

Everything in the home was handcrafted. A beautiful wooden settle (bench) sits in the main hall. Lovely artwork is painted across the top by Edward Burne~ Jones. Burne~Jones also helped Morris in the creation of several stained glass pieces throughout the home.

The flooring was red tile and Morris favored built in cupboards in every room. Morris believed that the hearth is truly the heart of the home and that is why you often find fireplaces in almost every room of an Arts & Crafts styled home.

All the furniture in The Red House was beautifully handcrafted of wood. Upholstery was either made of leather or featured tapestry inspired patterns designed by Morris. Here are a few examples:

What makes The Gamble House in Pasadena such a masterpiece is that it was built and furnished completely in the Arts and Crafts Style, and never again updated. Although central heat and air were later added, the decor and style of the home never changed. Talk about built to last!

This is the main staircase near the front entry. All woodwork in the home was done by the Hall brothers, Peter and John.

Even the original lighting exists. It was never updated and provides a lovely warm glow throughout the home.

In the main dining room you see the Arts and Crafts influence in the built in cupboards, the hearth, beautiful stained glass and a Morris inspired carpet.

Here is a close up of the built in buffet and stained glass windows.

The kitchen was lovely in its simplicity. To the rear left was a small sun room where the household staff would take their meals.

On of my favorite rooms was that of maiden Aunt Julia. Her room was awash in natural light and attached to a sleeping porch.

While much of the furniture in the Gamble home was crafted by the Hall brothers, other pieces were purchased from Gustav Stickley. Stickley made furniture of native oak that featured exposed joinery and clean lines. It came to be known as Mission Styled Furniture. Stickley also published The Craftsman, a monthly periodical which covered elements of the English and American Arts and Crafts movement. Stickley furniture is still made today and antique pieces such as the Morris chair below can run several thousand dollars.

Also in the Gamble home were several Tiffany lamps. Louis Comfort Tiffany came from the famous silver making family. While traveling to Europe he became friends with Emile Galle. Upon his return to the states he turned his focus to creating his now famous handmade stained glass lamps. His father, Charles Lewis Tiffany of course continued making silver. Tiffany lamps became synonymous with Arts & Crafts style. I absolutely love his blue dragonfly lamp.

May you be inspired to create something lovely!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Gamble House Exterior/Arts & Crafts

The Gamble House was built in 1908 by brothers Charles S. Green and Henry M. Greene. It has been recognized as a true showcase representing the best of the Arts and Crafts movement in America.

The founder of the Arts and Crafts movement was William Morris. Morris, born in England in 1834, created the Arts & Crafts movement in response to his dissatisfaction with mass produced goods so prevalent in the Victorian Era. A true Renaissance man, he was a painter, poet, architect, as well as a furniture and textile designer.

William Morris by George Frederic Watts, 1870

Many of Morris' theories about how one should live were brought to fruition when he created The Red House, built by Philip Webb in 1859. The home showcased paintings, wall-hangings, furniture and stained glass all of which would come to be associated as the Arts and Crafts style. Everything was created by hand. His work, and those associated with Morris, was showcased in 1862 at the International Exhibition. Within a few years, the style flourished.

Henry Mather Greene went on his honeymoon to England, Scotland and Europe in 1899 and was greatly influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement. Fully embracing the style, he returned to Pasadena and Greene and Greene began to offer integrated design services for their clients. Meaning, they provided design and construction of the house and all of its interior appointments which included furniture and artwork.
While they designed many homes, the Gamble House remains their chief masterpiece.

The home is located at 4 Westmoreland Place, a private road which runs parallel with Orange Grove Blvd. There are gates placed on either end of the road.

The house is an infusion of styles which include the Swiss Chalet as well as having a traditional Japanese influence.

It has wide terraces and open sleeping porches. Broad overhanging eaves and cross ventilation keep the house quite cool.

Here is a close up of the wooden split shakes that cover the exterior of the house as well as one of the many identical cement pots created specifically for the outdoor plantings.

The front door is a symphony of wood and stained glass.

No mere tiles or brass numbers provide the address for this grand home. An exterior lantern features a wonderful number "4".

The backyard features a vast green lawn and a lovely pond filled with koi.

Lanterns dot the landscape throughout the property.

To the right of the home is a man's dream. A separate garage that features a massive built in work bench, bathroom and rear offices.

For those who love movie trivia, the garage scenes in "Back to the Future" were filmed here.

The Arts & Crafts bungalow style became popular throughout America when Sears and Roebuck as well as Radford offered Craftsman bungalow plans through the mail.

Bungalows themselves came in several styles: California, Craftman, Tudor, Mission, Prairie, Foursquare and many others. A great website for further research is American Bungalow.

Hallmarks of the style include:
~ A low-pitched, gabled roof
~Wide overhanging eaves
~Exposed rafters
~Tapered or square columns supporting roof or porch
~Hand-crafted stone or woodwork (materials were often mixed throughout structure)

Wednesday's post will look at how the Arts and Crafts movement influenced the interiors and furnishings of homes.