Sunday, December 29, 2013


Time  was at hand for creating a winter door decoration for Mom's entry door.  I wanted to use the porch balusters that I purchased in New Hampshire from a salvage yard back in 2003.  Ten years later, these vintage balusters have been stored away waiting for the right inspiration.  These decorative wood balusters were used on front porches with gingerbread accents.  See below picture.

In the background, notice the flat sawn porch balusters on the railing of the porch.

Even today, you can buy the very same patterns for the balusters on the Internet.  This pattern can be purchased through a company called Touchstone Woodworks.

I recall Mom telling us stories of visiting her aunt in Iowa when she was young.  This particular aunt lived on a farm.  Mom would wake up in the morning, go into the kitchen and find her Aunt Margaret already had baked pies sitting on the window sill cooling. I could just imagine her aunt having a front porch with balusters like this.

Once the baluster was cleaned thoroughly, it would become the base of the porch door decoration.
I found the faux boughs and glittered branches at Michael's.  The boughs are very realistic and I was really drawn to the pine cones attached to the branch.

Because I wanted to have hints of glittered branches interspersed amongst the bough, I pulled them apart creating smaller sprigs.

I attached the sprigs to the bough with the glue gun.  The next picture shows the back of the bough.  Notice the glob  of dried glue.  I promise that it won't show in the finished product.
With just the added glittered sprigs, the boughs have more dimension.
 Using a hammer, I flattened the end of the bough and drove a nail through it to attach it to the baluster post.

The transformation of the baluster post is coming along.  It is missing something.

To cover the unsightly nail, I wanted to add something that would compliment the shabbiness of the wood.
I had some off white satin fabric in my bin. A cummerbund came to mind.  I would create my own. 
Initially, I cut a piece of the satin into a 9 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches.

Using both the iron and sewing machine, I created my own miniature cummerbund.

Using a staple gun, I attached the cummerbund over the nail.  The satin fabric adds a bit of style to the vintage post.

And the front gives the post a bit of style.         

I needed to create a hanger for the post.  Taking about 7 inches of fabric, I sewed a seam and inverted the fabric.

Using a staple gun, I attached the two ends of the fabric to the back of the post

Hanging the hanger from the vintage mirror reflects the sparkle.

I hope the post gives Mom the Christmas cheer to welcome all to her home

I hope the baluster post will give Mom fond memories of visiting her aunt in Iowa.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Working with the glittered garlands on the mantle this year introduced me to a  different Christmas look for this season.  I had one extra garland, so I put it to good use with my blue and white porcelain Nativity scene.  The gentle rise of the garland in the distance gives the effect of actually looking at the manger scene in the hills of Bethlehem.  Also, the gathering of the grey blue table runner gives more dimension to the scene.
The crystal candle surround was purchased at Home Goods.  I like the sparkle that is given off even
when the candle is not lit.

Nestled in the midst of the glittered garland adds texture.

The Holy Family

To give more importance to the birth, a vintage glass plant dome is placed over the Family.

The entire manger scene is laid out on the cascading table runner.

The dining room tree reflects in the distance. 

The great room Christmas tree reflects in the mirror.
 .  Let us keep the Christ child in our foremost thoughts this Christmas.


                             MERRY CHRISTMAS                     


Saturday, December 21, 2013


After retrieving all the decorations from the attic, I began removing the treasured ornaments from their boxes and laying them out on the floor. My girls have always hung the ornaments.  Because of school projects and studying for mid terms, they were not available this year.  Since they would not  be involved, I decided that it was time for a change.   I assembled all my silver and crystal ornaments and put all of my other ones back in their boxes.  Over the years I have accumulated many of these glittery ornaments to add sparkle to our tree.

I asked the family if it was all right with them to give a new look to our holiday tree.  With their permission, I got to work.  I began layering all the crystal ornaments first.  I   found a new type of crystal sprays at the end of season sale for the past two years.  Once inserting them into the tree, it reminded me of the fireworks normally attributed to the fourth of July.  This tree was really coming together.

With all the glittered snowflakes and stars added, even more light was thrown around the room.  I was amazed that I had completely filled the tree with these glittered ornaments.

Now the challenge was to take pictures of the completed project.  Seeing the tree reflect the white lights in the hung silver plate trays brought a smile to my face. It was all coming together.

 Mr. Thrifty was there to the rescue to attach the camera to the tripod to get better pictures.  What do you think?

The peaceful and tranquil tree leaves such a peaceful glow to the room.  I think I will be keeping the lights on more often during the day to enjoy this bright spectacle especially with all of our dreary cold, rainy days.

Because I have collected shades of silver and white wrapping paper for years, it was an easy choice to get them out and wrap some presents. I was really motivated to finish this scene.


 The wrapped presents compliment the tree so well.  I am going to enjoy my view of the tree from my kitchen sink every day until the 25th arrives.

There is still a lot to do.  Cookies and candy need to be started.  A room full of wrapping paper, tape, scissors and Christmas picks ready for the flurry of finishing up the rest of the gifts is at hand.

I also need to take a breath and remember what this season is really about. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I love wrapping presents.  Anyone can make an ordinary present look spectacular using clearance Christmas trims, stickers and ribbons.  In the next picture, I bought a stack of 100 vintage circular doilies at an estate sale in the 80's for $.50.  I still use these doilies to accent presents.

I only buy silver or light blue wrapping paper in the clearance bin.  The most beautiful foil papers turn a box into something regal.

I also use ornaments as a fob tied in the Christmas ribbon.

I never tire of this wintry look.

Once placed under the tree, the cast of the sparkles thrown off by the Christmas tree lights is mesmerizing.

It is more of a challenge to use a theme even in wrapping your packages, but it is exciting to keep with the theme.
Try your hand at using a color theme this Christmas.
When cleaning up the trimmings from the Christmas gift, I always recycle them for the next year.  I have such a stock of silver wrapping paper that the easy adornments can be added in combination the following year.
When one of my older sisters Sharon sewed a tree skirt for me years ago, I loved it and  used it every year.  It was made with the beautiful reds and greens of the holiday spirit.  I wanted to try my own hand at making a skirt last year.
  No pattern necessary.  I bought two cream fabrics: one a plush soft and the other a damask.  Put the right sides together and sew the seams.  Flip inside out and attach the lace.
Now, I have two different looks using my two tree skirts.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Decorating a 4 foot tree in our dining room with the beautiful stained glass-like mosaic ornaments created by Rolan Johnson is a sight to behold. This is where the story begins.  This is Rolan Johnson, the famed artist who made these creations.

Here are some of the 19  ornaments in the Rolan Johnson collection.

Let me give you some history about  this annual ornament.

The following information is taken from the Heading Avenue Franciscans newsletter.

The Rolan A. Johnson Company, Inc. in Peoria, Illinois, has been in existence for over sixty years fulfilling the screen printing needs of the community. For forty years, during the Christmas season, Rolan Johnson used his artistic talents to the fullest by creating unique, original, screen-printed greeting cards that he designed and mailed out to over two thousand family members, friends, and business associates. More than just a card, the Christmas prints were large enough to be framed and are considered to be collectibles by many.

These mosaic prints had either a stone or stained glass look and were Rolan's "labor of love." Rolan spent hundreds of design and production hours on each card. After selecting the perfect Christmas picture, he then sketched and added other components until the final full-scale design was complete. Each individual tile of the mosaic pattern was drawn and colored in by hand. Many times the tiles were rearranged and re-colored to get the perfect effect. Each card consisted of up to twelve to fourteen colors which had to be printed separately in order to obtain the mosaic look. Not stopping there, Rolan also designed and printed a special mailing carton and a Christmas greeting for each card that expressed his feelings and the joy of the season. Created and sent for the sheer joy of doing so, Rolan's special creations were truly his "labor of love," and those who received them felt lucky indeed.

In 1995, Rolan Johnson gave the Heading Avenue Franciscans exclusive permission to use the designs from his unique Christmas-card prints for an ornament fund-raiser. The tradition of the Rolan Johnson cards came to an end with Rolan's death on September 23, 2000. However, the Johnson family graciously allowed the sisters to continue the collectible ornament series in their father's memory.

Rolan was a very humble person and was amazed at the attention that his cards received. He had boxes of notes and letters from people all over the world who were thrilled with each new design. Many sent pictures of how they displayed his collection of works in their homes or offices.

Considered one of the best screen print artists in the world, he has received many awards both nationally and internationally. He was honored by the Silk Printing International Conference, the Printing Industries of America, and the Graphic Screen Printing Association International. His work has also been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institute. Through his loving creations, Rolan shared the true meaning of Christmas with people around the world. As long as people continue to enjoy his work, the spirit of this true philanthropist will live on.

My Mom would collect these annual prints at Christmas time through her work.  My Dad, who just happened to do woodworking as a hobby, would then build and assemble a frame to hold each print.  At Christmas time, Dad would hang these beautiful prints on the wall going up the stairway in our home.
Now, back to some more background of the annual benefit drive for the Franciscans.

Since 1995, Peoria artist Rolan Johnson gave the sisters the right to use his unique Christmas card designs to create a collectible ornament series. His family has continued the tradition since his death.
The Heading Avenue Franciscans have served the Peoria area for 119 years in the areas of education and healing. They serve the Diocese of Peoria and Springfield in ministries that include prayer, care of the elderly, campus ministry, adult literacy, pre-k and elementary education, child care, pastoral care, spirituality, religious education, internal ministry, and the diaconate program.
Proceeds from the sales of the ornament and the collection benefit the sisters' retirement fund.
Read more:

I have collected these ornaments since 1995.  Mr. Thrifty has made sure that I have one wrapped under the Christmas tree each year.  I believe it to be a good cause to help the dear Franciscans in their later years for all that they have done and still do to help educate and heal the people in the Peoria area.

The tree is something to behold.  I placed all 18(right now) ornaments on a 4 foot tree and embellished the branches with various glittered golden snowflakes.  Notice that at the top of the ornament, the year is imprinted in the gold banner.  Also, I find the gold decorative frames vary from year to year.

Wrapped around the base of the tree is an old gold mantle scarf that I used in my home in the 80's.

 The tassels in the ends of the scarf mimic the tassels tied around the gorgeous  art glass vase created by Orif Nefesh, an Israeli artist.  This beautiful vase was given to us as a wedding present.  This piece of art glass is set upon the bottom shelf of this vintage carved table.

And how could I forget the  simple gold star perched at the top of the tree, guiding the Wise Men to their destination. 

 Every year, I place the tree in a different room.  This year, the tree is situated in the dining room.  We will be able to enjoy this beautiful sight throughout our Christmas Day dinner.

I think its a beautiful thing that Rolan Johnsons' family keeps on giving to the Heading Avenue Franciscans retirement fund for the nuns.  This is one fund that we will continue to support during future Christmas seasons.

 The setting up of this tree is one of my most favorite Christmas traditions. I wonder where it will be next holiday season?