Tag Archives: decorating

Cut First; Apologize if Needed


Two of the best days of the year are the first Saturday in December – wreath making day- and the day before – greenery cutting day.

For the past twenty years, my dear friend and I have jumped in a car with an assortment of clippers and bags and headed out of town to the woods.  Since neither of us owns any woods, we borrow other people’s woods.  Vacant lots, abandoned homesteads, old graveyards not “attached” to a church; we spend the year looking for the best spots possible.  We cut first, prepared to apologize to an owner if needed.  And we have had to apologize a couple of times.  At least we haven’t been shot for trespassing, yet.

For the past few years, we’ve hit the jackpot in a 150 acre spot close to my house that’s up for sale.  Road cut thru 1

Pine and overgrown English boxwood are right there for the cutting.  This year we also stopped by a local business that has closed, leaving some very nice cedar and juniper in need of one of our trims.

We cut greenery, pick up pine cones and discuss all the important issues of the day (which could be as deep as what we will eat the next day at lunch).  We jam the car with filled bags until it looks like the Grinch’s sled leaving Whoville.  I love to breathe in the fragrance of cedar and pine as we head back to her house.  Then everything is unloaded and laid out in an unorganized fashion on her patio awaiting Saturday.  Prep on the patio 1

When I arrive the next morning, I unload boxes and bags of “stuff” – forms, wire, clippers and all kinds of things to add to the greenery.  My supply goes next to her supply in the family room. There are natural additions, like dried hydrangea.  Last year I had dried okra pods and cotton I had picked on the way home from the beach.  There are also fake additions, sparkly and colorful items that add a little glitz.  We have a tendency to go over the top.  Maybe that’s a southern thing, like big hair.

Fresh coffee is poured and the creativity begins to flow.  We have two requirements:  share advice and materials freely and praise all efforts.  We are very big on admiring our own work.

My friend is a Pinterest addict, so we now have her Ipad close at hand, in case we need inspiration.  This year, the wreath I made for my office was a “use what I had on hand” version of something she found and emailed to me.  office wreath

Hours later, as the sun begins to go down, we clean up the incredible mess we’ve made.  No matter how hard we try to clean as we go, that approach is usually abandoned early on.  We talk about our fabulous creative skills and praise ourselves for another successful start to the Christmas season.  We split up what’s left to be used in the coming days.

I carry those same bags and boxes back to my car.  Then I carefully load my completed projects and head for home.

The first thing I do when I get there is hang the wreath on the front door.  wreath w bronze and silver

My husband knows to give his full attention to this process and then GUSH about great it looks.  (This is what 20 years of training has accomplished.)  Then he suggests we go out to eat or at least get take out because he knows I am way too tired to cook.

What a great two days!  I can’t imagine starting the holiday season any other way.

What do you do to jump start your holidays and with whom do you do it?

The Sunny Side of Darkness


Halloween has taken such a beating it’s barely recognizable these days.

I have great childhood memories of Halloween.  I was one of four children and mom helped us make our costumes every year.  We were ghosts, cats, superman, whatever we could dream up and put together with a minimal amount of sewing.  One year my brother begged and begged to go as a gorilla.  Of course, he wanted to use mom’s fur coat as his costume.  That didn’t happen.

As teenagers, he and I rigged up a great scare experience for trick-or-treaters.  We lived in a two story house.  My parents’ bathroom window was right over the front porch steps.  There was a small roof ledge there.  So we made a ghost and tied a rope around its neck, long enough for the ghost to hang almost to the top of the front steps.  Then we brought the portable record player into the bathroom.  We hooked up a small speaker and put that on the roof ledge just outside the window.  Mom had a great Halloween sound effects album – creaking door noises, moans, screams, etc.

With the lights out, record player on, and the window open we waited for our prey.  As little children would come up the front walkway, we’d put the needle on the album, turn up the volume and then, just as they got to the first step, we’d throw the ghost out the window and it would land right in front of them.  They’d scream and turn and run back to their parents waiting at the curb (nursing their mixed drinks).  We had a blast!  I think we had candy left in the bowl that year.

I have a co-worker who loves Halloween and she has gone all out this year decorating her office.  As she explained to me when I asked her, “Why?” – her home is in the woods and she has a long dark driveway.  Her children are grown and out of the house and no one comes for trick or treating anymore.  So she is celebrating at work.

There are spiders, 18 skulls of various shapes and sizes, gravestones, bats, ravens, a hanging lady, webbing, and scary people pictures on the walls.  Best of all, there are 3 cauldrons of candy – one with candy corn, one with mints and one with mini candy bars.  Staff love it!  They have brought their children and grandchildren by to see the decorations.  Coworkers who never poked their heads in her doorway come by to say “hello’ and get a piece of candy.  It has been a much needed morale booster.

Do you do something fun or crazy for Halloween?  Share!  We still have time left for fun before November 1.