Sunday Dinner: Merry Christmas !

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-040

~

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-032

~

“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind.

To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy,

is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

.

Calvin Coolidge

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-013

~

“Are you willing to stoop down and consider

the needs and desires of little children;

to remember the weaknesses and loneliness

of people who are growing old;

to stop asking how much your friends love you,

and to ask yourself if you love them enough;

to bear in mind the things that other people

have to bear on their hearts;

to trim your lamp so that it will give more light

and less smoke, and to carry it in front

so that your shadow will fall behind you;

to make a grave for your ugly thoughts

and a garden for your kindly feelings,

with the gate open?

Are you willing to do these things for a day?

Then you are ready to keep Christmas!”

.

Henry Van Dyke

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-012

~

“Christmas, my child, is love in action.”

.

Dale Evans Rogers

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-020

~

“Learn to light a candle

in the darkest moments of someone’s life.

Be the light that helps others see;

it is what gives life its deepest significance.”

.

Roy T. Bennett

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-002

~

“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell,

but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them.

Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer

hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old,

the bell still rings for me,

as it does for all who truly believe.”

.

Chris Van Allsburg

~

~

“The Warrior of the Light is a believer.

Because he believes in miracles,

miracles begin to happen.

Because he is sure that his thoughts

can change his life, his life begins to change.

Because he is certain that he will find love,

love appears.”

.

Paulo Coelho

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-039

~

“I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit

in jars and open a jar of it every month.”

.

Harlan Miller

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-041

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-033

Advertisements

Where the Paths May Lead

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-067

~

The last few days of December find  us nostalgic for other times and places. 

As the little ones among us look ahead to Christmas Day and the promises of wishes made real; many look back across the years to joyful moments passed.

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-065

~

We remember loved ones no longer with us.  We look back along the winding pathways which led us to this particular moment.

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-072

~

It is a time to take out stored memories, like the treasured ornaments we place on the Yule tree each December.  Normally wrapped up and put away, we allow them to breathe and shimmer for a short time each year.

As our collection grows it takes on a certain luster of age, a patina wrought of familiarity.

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-026

~

Some recollections bring us an echo of joy across the wide space of years; others fresh waves of sadness or regret.

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-024

~

It is part of being human, I believe, and a hallmark of a lifetime’s journey.  For our paths aren’t always straight and clear.  They meander through fate and circumstance, opportunity, and those choices we claim and those  we reject.

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-001

~

Sometimes we can see paths which parallel our own, but can’t find the gate to access them.  Sometimes our paths wind in spirals or loops which feel closed off from further progress along the way.

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-015

~

Other paths feel inevitable, wide, clear and straight.  We travel them with groups of loved ones and friends who share the same destination we hold before us.

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-081

~

But always, at this time of year, we finally look ahead; considering where to journey next.  Whether to continue on our present path or to seek a new one.

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-071

~

What goals do we hold out for ourselves in the months ahead?  What changes do we need to make?  What special wishes will we hold in our hearts at this magical time of Winter Solstice?

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-036

~

Are we seeking fresh challenge or warmth and comfort?  Is there a cause calling to us, or is it time to enjoy a span of  peacefulness and rest?

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-031

~

Is the way ahead clear, or are there obstructions we must  move before we continue on our way?

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-029

~

In the quiet space we find in late December, we have an opportunity to ponder our life’s path.  Time away from work and the normal routine invites us to ponder where we have been and where we are going in our lives.

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-080

~

We can enjoy the peace this season brings us to look both behind us and ahead of us.

And perhaps there is a bit of child-like wonder in our hearts, yet.

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-050

~

As we articulate our wishes to the Universe, we can almost hear sleigh bells in the distance; and once again believe in the magic this season holds.

~

All photos taken at Colonial Williamsburg, December 23, 2016.

All photos taken at Colonial Williamsburg, December 23, 2016.

~

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Path

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-074

~

In loving memory of those we loved and lost in 2016. 

May they continue along their eternal pathways

in light and in peace.

~

december-23-2016-cw-wreathes-055

Sunday Dinner: Abundance

December 13, 2015 CW 129

~

“Plant seeds of happiness, hope, success, and love;

it will all come back to you in abundance.

This is the law of nature.”

.

Steve Maraboli

~

December 13, 2015 CW 106

~

“Honor your desire for a new life.

Say yes to the small inklings of interest and curiosity

that present themselves each day.”

.

Lynn A. Robinson

~

December 13, 2015 CW 026

~

“Love opens all channels,

while Fear closes them down.

Love facilitates sharing,

while Fear demands selfishness.

Love allows us to be exposed,

while Fear insists we be covered.

Love provides unconditional acceptance,

while fear stipulates requirements.

Love enables abundance.

Fear chases abundance away.”

.

Donald L. Hicks

~

December 13, 2015 CW 100

~

“Making a dream into reality begins with what you have,

not with what you are waiting on.”

.

T.F. Hodge

~

December 13, 2015 CW 101

~

“Gratitude is the key for the door of abundance.”
.

Debasish Mridha

~

December 13, 2015 CW 141

~

“Herein lies the paradox:

If you want more of whatever it is you desire,

you have to first prove to the universe

that you are capable of having it

by developing a consciousness

that affirms there is no shortage of it.

The only way to do this

is by creating a vacuum or space for it to be received,

and the only way you can create a space for it to be received,

is by letting go of what you do have,

trusting that the universe knows what it is doing.

That’s the law of circulation in action.”

.

Dennis Merritt Jones

~

December 13, 2015 CW 083

~

“You are heir to a heavenly fortune,

the sole beneficiary of an infinite spiritual trust fund,

a proverbial goldmine of sacred abundance

beyond all common measure or human comprehension.

But until you assert your rightful inheritance

of this blessed gift,

it will remain unclaimed

and forever beyond your reach.”

.

Anthon St. Maarten

~

December 13, 2015 CW 082

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

~

December 13, 2015 CW 165~

All photos taken at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

~

December 13, 2015 CW 138

Apples, Pine Cones and Artichokes: Ornamenting the Wreath

December 13, 2015 CW 213

~

What is beautiful?  What is not?

Our answer is often a Rorschach test of our own personality.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 126

~

Wreathes, a most ancient symbol of eternity and eternal life, come to us from deep antiquity.

We find traces of them in the earliest evidence of civilization we can find.  Whether made from precious metals and ornamented with gemstones, carved in stone, or woven from olive branches; wreathes remain symbols of celebration and commemoration.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 176

~

Wreathes woven from evergreen branches mark the winter solstice holidays.  They symbolically promise that despite the ever shortening days and cold weather, life goes on and the sun will soon return.  And we decorate these evergreen wreathes with the seeds of new life.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 194

~

Fruits, cones, berries, cotton puffs, nuts and seed pods, our favorite ornaments for our wreathes, all bear seeds inside them.  They contain the promise of next season’s fertility.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 019

~

The early Virginia colonists likely brought branches of evergreen trees into their homes to mark the  Christmas holiday.  But the certainly didn’t construct the beautiful fruit laden wreathes we admire around ‘Colonial Williamsburg’ today.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 166~

To quote Theobald and Oliver, writing on the official Colonial Williamsburg website in an article called, ‘Deck the Doors,’  :

“Never mind that no one in the eighteenth century would have been caught dead with real fruit tacked to his front door.  Anyone hanging fresh fruit outdoors in the middle of winter to rot or be devoured by squirrels would have been thought, at best, highly eccentric by his neighbors. “

~

December 13, 2015 CW 168

~

The unique handmade wreathes, swags. sprays and baskets, constructed of only natural materials and lacking ribbons and bows, were first created in the late 1930’s; after the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation opened up for business and wanted to attract a crowd in all seasons.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 088

~

They were greatly admired and photographed.  Soon a contest for the most beautiful wreathes in this style evolved, and the ‘Della robbia’ or ‘fruit covered’ wreath style of Colonial Williamsburg was launched.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 086

~

In some ways it makes sense that these beautiful wreathes, constructed of ‘found’ materials, caught on at the end of the Great Depression years in America.  Wreathes in this style may be constructed very inexpensively with whatever may be at hand.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 087

~

They are also a reaction, at least in part, against the commercialization of Christmas.  They feed our romantic notion of what life could have been like ‘back in the day’ before silver tinsel trees and Christmas ornaments imported from Asian factories became the norm.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 118

~

But the truth is, even though wealthy residents of 18th century Williamsburg might have eaten pineapples and citrus fruits imported from the Caribbean colonies, they didn’t fashion outdoor decorations from them.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 120

~

And the Colonial Williamsburg wreathes today ask us to broaden our thinking about what is appropriate as a Christmas decoration.  Dried okra pods?  Skeins of yarn?  Artichokes?  Why not?

~

December 13, 2015 CW 027

~

Beauty often transcends the materials and shines through the design, the geometry, the harmony, and the  colors used.

The making of these wreathes is a 20th Century phenomenon; not an 18th Century fashion.  But they blend so beautifully into this reconstruction and reinterpretation of a Colonial Virginia town.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 091

~

If you find them beautiful, please try your hand at making a della Robbia wreath of your own.  Begin with a wire, straw or grapevine base.  Gather some evergreen branches or Magnolia leaves.  Bay leaves and citrus leaves work well, too, if you have them.

Then gather things you find beautiful and meaningful:  fruit, cones, shells, pods, dried flowers, vegetables, nuts and berries.  Use wire, hot glue and floral picks to build your design.

You might even make an ‘edible’ wreath of fruits to serve at a party.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 171

~

The trick is to express yourself and create a wreath which has meaning for you.  Create something beautiful to ornament your own home at the holidays.

The materials don’t matter, so long as they bring you joy.

~

Can you see the face? All of the ornaments on this house follow a 'Star Wars' theme.....

Can you see the face? All of the ornaments on this house follow a ‘Star Wars’ theme…..

~

All photos were taken in Colonial Williamsburg this December

~

'Light Sabers...."

‘Light Sabers….”

~

Woodland Gnome 2015

~

December 13, 2015 CW 121

“A Forest Garden 2016” gardening calendar,  featuring some of our favorite photos from 2015, is  available now.  Write to me at woodlandgnome@zoho.com for details.

Shells in Christmas Decorations

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

~

Sea shells may not seem like a traditional Christmas decoration, but they certainly can be lovely ones.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 153

~

Shells are commonplace for those of us who live near the coast; especially those shells left from a meal of oysters, clams, or scallops.  These wreathes on display now in Colonial Williamsburg feature shells as an important part of their design.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 151

~

We’ve probably all seen scallop shells transformed into angelic tree ornaments and white starfish hung from ribbons.  The della robbia wreathes at Colonial Williamsburg incorporate many surprising and commonplace materials, including shells, dried flowers, fruits, vegetables, vines, cotton, seed pods, nuts, cones and berries, as well as evergreen stems and leaves.

~

This wreath hangs at Chowning's Tavern, in Colonial Williamsburg.

This wreath hangs at Chowning’s Tavern, in Colonial Williamsburg.

~

These are unusual and playful decorations for the Christmas season.

~

December 15, 2015 vase 001

~

I used shells and pearls in  decorations for a ladies’ luncheon earlier today.

My ‘vase’ held branches pruned from our Mountain Laurel shrubs, dusted with gold; ‘flowers’ made from Lotus pods; white seashells; and sprays of fresh Magnolia.

~

December 15, 2015 vase 004

~

Carved wooden birds perched in the branches of the arrangement.  Several of the small Christmas trees on the tables were made entirely from shells and pearls.

~

December 15, 2015 vase 006

~

Christmas decorating is far more fun when we can take a light and playful attitude. It is fine to change things out a bit year to year, trying out new ideas and revising old ones.

~

Another Colonial Williamsburg wreath.

Another Colonial Williamsburg wreath.

~

This is especially true in the fabulous wreathes which come from the  CW workshops each year.   Walking the old city streets each December is an adventure, as new and creative designs manifest year after year.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 017

~

Woodland Gnome 2015

A Colonial Winter Garden

December 13, 2015 CW 034

~

Those fierce souls who founded our nation knew the importance of taking care of business.  And their business always included raising food for their own family’s table.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 055

~

Our country was founded by serious gardeners.  Even  luminaries such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington maintained gardens, tended orchards, had fields of crops to use and sell, and raised those animals needed to keep meat on the table.  Although they, and others of their class kept slaves in those days; they still took a very active hands-on interest in their garden.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 041

~

Colonial Williamsburg maintains many gardens, but this remains my favorite.  It is a very well maintained colonial vegetable garden tended in the 18th Century style.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 067

~

It looks even more lush this December than usual.  But that is likely due to our fair weather these last few months.  It is a pleasing mix of herbs, flowers and vegetables.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 039

~

Fruit trees may be found around the edges.  There are vegetables growing from tiny seedling up to ready to harvest cabbages and collards.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 070

~

These vegetables are used in the CW kitchens.  They are lovingly tended up to the moment they are authentically prepared and gratefully consumed.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 046

~

We strolled down Duke of Gloucester Street on Sunday to enjoy the ingenious Christmas wreathes.  But as you might guess, I was distracted for quite a while by the garden.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 043~

It was  a grey day, completely overcast and damp.  A few drops spritzled as we were leaving.  But it was warm and comfortable; a great day to enjoy the wreathes and seasonal decorations on every building.

I’ll share a few with you each day for the next few days.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 042

~

I’ve not yet made any wreathes myself,  this year. 

~

December 13, 2015 CW 047~

But there is still time before Christmas Eve, and a dear friend gifted me with a bucket of Magnolia branches later Sunday afternoon.  We used some of the Magnolia while decorating for a community luncheon we’re hosting tomorrow.

And yes, there is a vase.  I just haven’t photographed it, yet!

~

December 13, 2015 CW 035

~

Evergreen Magnolia is one of my favorite native plants.  They grow wild here in Virginia, and my friend has a wild seedling grown large in her garden.

You’ll see lots of Magnolia used at Colonial Williamsburg in their holiday decorations.  It has wonderful color and holds up for the several weeks of our festivities.  One can’t eat it, but it decorates many holiday dinner tables and sideboards.  We spread it liberally around our buffet table and the beverage tables for tomorrow’s gathering.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 142

~

Which in a round about way brings us back to my neglect of wreathes this season.  Our  front doors are graced with old ones from ‘the wreath collection’ which hangs in our garage at the moment.  They are fine from a distance, with red silk roses and moss on a grapevine base.

And I just may recycle the Magnolia leaves off the buffet table into a stunning garland to hang round the front doors this year.  Southern Living Magazine has any number of fine projects featuring Magnolia leaves this December.

If you are a Virginia neighbor, you might have been admiring the December issue right along with me.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 217

~

It still all comes down to ‘taking care of business’ for our family and our community.

As modern as our lives might feel at times, our foundation remains in hearth and home;  friendship and family; good food and hands-on self sufficiency.    It is part of our heritage not just as Virginians or Americans;  it is part of our human heritage and a fundamental value around the world.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 095

~

May you take time for those things which bring you real joy this holiday season.  And may you take care of business such that you assure yourself and your loved ones of a very Happy New Year, too.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 048~

Woodland Gnome 2015

Photos from Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

“A Forest Garden 2016” gardening calendar is now available, featuring some of our favorite photos from 2015.  Write to me at woodlandgnome@zoho.com for details.

Sunday Dinner: Hope

December 13, 2015 CW 012

~

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.

That myth is more potent than history.

That dreams are more powerful than facts.

That hope always triumphs over experience.

That laughter is the only cure for grief.

And I believe that love is stronger than death.”

.

Robert Fulghum

~

December 13, 2015 CW 020

~

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child.  Listen to the don’ts.

Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.

Listen to the never haves,

then listen close to me…   Anything can happen, child.

Anything can be.”

.

Shel Silverstein

~

December 13, 2015 CW 015

~

“The world is indeed full of peril,

and in it there are many dark places;

but still there is much that is fair,

and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief,

it grows perhaps the greater.”

.

J.R.R. Tolkien

~

December 13, 2015 CW 219

~

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”

.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

~

December 13, 2015 CW 207~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

December scenes captured at Colonial Williamsburg

~

December 13, 2015 CW 014

~

“A Forest Garden 2016” gardening calendar is now available, featuring some of our favorite photos from 2015.  Write to me at woodlandgnome@zoho.com for details.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 005

 

 

WPC: Boundaries

September 30, 2015 Parkway 045

~

This week’s photo challenge topic is “Boundaries.” 

I’ve been thinking, today,about the many different sorts of boundaries which tailor our lives, and realized that while some of them might be as obvious as a fence, most exist mainly in our mind.  What stands between us and touching this bird, beyond our perception of boundaries?

~

September 30, 2015 Parkway 039

~

A lot of what passes for education and ‘home training’ is mostly about teaching us which boundaries to respect and how to comfortably live within them.

How often did you hear, growing up, “We just don’t do that,” or “Nice people just don’t say those things”?

~

September 30, 2015 Parkway 061

~

And so as surely as we learn to color within the lines of a coloring book, we learn to live our lives within the agreed upon boundaries of what is polite and proper; and ‘legal’.

~

October 3, 2015 wet day 040

~

And of course, many of our mental boundaries are there to keep us safe in some way.    Untold dangers might lurk where we step across the boundaries into new experiences and new ways of living in our world.

~

October 3, 2015 wet day 041

~

Just as our education is about learning to stay within certain boundaries, maturation is about learning how our lives change as we move beyond them.

We figure out which boundaries we need to respect and which we can survive when we cross.

~

October 3, 2015 wet day 020

~

How have your own boundaries shifted, and enlarged, through the decades of your life?  What once firm  boundaries have we transcended with the creative application of technology?

~

October 3, 2015 wet day 058

~

Creative spirits often see boundaries as permeable challenges.  How can we move beyond the seeming limitations of our lives?  What gizmo will allow us to explore places and experiences which once seemed ‘Out of Bounds”?

~

October 3, 2015 wet day 051

~

Sometimes boundaries prove temporary.    Just as the high tide line moves up and down the beach with the season and the weather, so, too may our personal boundaries shift.

~

September 30, 2015 Parkway 068

~

Sometimes we want to harden the protective boundaries we put around ourselves, to keep others at a distance.

And then there are those magical moments when the boundaries shift, when we find we have made a bridge between our life, and another’s.

~

October 3, 2015 wet day 068

~

I like that boundaries begin to fall away with age.

We have less fear, and more confidence to move beyond some of those boundaries which once locked us into a narrow way of being and thinking.

~

September 30, 2015 Parkway 065

~

As our fears evaporate, our path widens.  We understand how everything is connected together.  We begin to perceive a wider world where the boundaries blur and fade.

~

October 3, 2015 wet day 006

~

Woodland Gnome 2015

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries

~

October 3, 2015 wet day 022

 

WPC: Warmth

December 26, 2014 Warmth 019.

Boxing Day dawned warm and bright, sunlight flooding through the windows. 

.

December 26, 2014 Warmth 033

.

We have a respite before wintery wet weather returns on Sunday.

.

.

May your home be warm and bright, bathed in love and happiness this Christmas weekend.

.

Begonia

Begonia

.

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge:  Warmth

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

.

December 26, 2014 Warmth 017

A Circle Unbroken

December 17, 2014 wreath 001

.

It is evening of the seventeenth of December.  Those of us who celebrate Christmas have entered “crunch time.”

The preparations feel endless sometimes.  Our shopping lists and “to do” lists telescope.  After the second visit this week with our friends at the main Williamsburg post office,  I am breathing a bit easier that “Christmas” is in the mail to loved ones who live far away.

.

The final wreath I plan to make this year is complete, and in place on the dining room table.  It is an old grapevine wreath I made years ago from "found" vines.  I added reingeer moss and oyster shells.

The final wreath I plan to make this year is complete, and in place on the dining room table. It is an old grapevine wreath I made years ago from “found” vines. This year I’ve added reindeer moss and oyster shells.

.

It is, perhaps, the repetition, year to year, of those small family rituals of the Christmas season which make this such a special time.  Every December we are drawn back to the music, the aromas, the tastes, and the much loved Christmas decorations we have enjoyed so much in years passed.

Saturday’s task was making fruitcake for my parents.  They love our recipe, passed on from Grandmother,  based on an applesauce spice cake she loved to make when my mother was a child.   We add many different fruits and nuts, jam, cherries, and pineapple to this basic cake recipe.

I found my notes from the epic batches I used to make in the 1980’s.  That recipe called for two dozen eggs.  The other ingredients were measured in pounds.  It took an entire day of effort, and yielded at least a dozen cakes.

I only doubled the basic recipe this year, a modest effort.  Yet from cooking down the apples for applesauce to wrapping the finished cakes felt like a day’s work.

.

Moss fern will thrive here in bright, indirect light.  It is in a "semi-terrarium;" partly, but not fully grown in glass.

Moss fern will thrive here in bright, indirect light, in the center of the wreath.  It is in a “semi-terrarium;” partly, but not fully grown in glass.

.

Fruitcake is one of the flavors of Christmas in our family.  Tomorrow I’ll make another batch of blond fruit cakes, which Mother calls “Dundee Cake.”  It will be rich in cherries, walnuts, pecans, and dates; perfumed with a little fresh orange zest.

We’ll  have this cake ready to serve friends who stop in and to enjoy ourselves with a cup of chai.

Wreathes speak of this repetition; the unbroken circle of the year turning back to Christmas once again.

Every December I go out early in the month to cut fragrant Cedar and collect pine cones.  I cut herbs, and sometimes roses, for the year’s Christmas wreathes.  Cedar is one of the aromas of Christmas which speaks to me most poignantly.

We always went out to cut a cedar tree from a friend’s field when I was a child, and then brought it home on the roof of the car, and set it up in the living room where it filled the house with its fresh spicy green aroma.  We knew it was finally “Christmas” once our tree was lit and decorated in the living room.

.

We always had an Advent Wreath on the kitchen table when I was growing up, and lit the candles each night at dinner. We lit an additional candle each week as we counted the days until Christmas. This is a gesture towards remembering that beautiful Advent wreath my mother always made for us.

We always had an Advent Wreath on the kitchen table when I was growing up, and lit the candles each night at dinner. We lit an additional candle each week as we counted the days until Christmas. This is a gesture towards remembering that beautiful Advent wreath my mother always made for us.

.

Every family has its own cherished customs.  Our expressions of Christmas are as unique as our thumbprint. 

And in the spirit of sharing our unique expressions, I offered a Holiday Wreath Challenge this year for anyone willing to share photos or a post about the wreathes and decorations you have created this year.

One of the first responses came from Jenny, who hosts the One Word Photo Challenge on her photography blog.  Jenny created a beautiful wreath from the clay she uses to construct her amazing miniature scenes.

Jenny's beautiful wreath, handmade from clay.

Jenny’s beautiful wreath, handmade from clay.

.

Please visit Jenny’s post to see how she constructed her wreath, step by step.

Then a dear friend and neighbor shared photos of the wreath she made around Thanksgiving time for her front door.

.

Wreath by Farrokh

Wreath by Farrokh

.

The berries came on a vine she found in the New Town area while shopping one day in mid-November.  She was amazed to find them lying on the sidewalk under a tree.

.

wreath F1

.

I’ve since found the same vine in the same area, but don’t know its name.  It makes for such a beautiful wreath of multicolored berries  mixed with cones.  An unexpected gift from nature; so beautifully used!

.

wreath F3

.

It was several weeks more before Eliza Waters shared photos of her Christmas wreathes.

.

Eliza

.

Eliza lives in Massachusetts, and has already enjoyed snow.  In fact, snow over Thanksgiving weekend brought down some large branches of Balsam Fir which she salvaged to use in a whole series of gorgeous Christmas decorations, along with pine and pine cones.  Please visit her post to see them all. 

Next, Barbara Scott, who lives in Amelia County, Virginia shared photos of her elegant Christmas decorations.  Barbara and her husband have breathed new life into a grand Virginia country home.  She has used Blue Spruce, sent by a friend along with Magnolia and other evergreen materials in her garden to craft several stunning arrangements indoors and out.

.

Barbara

.

These are pure eye candy, so please take time to enjoy Barbara’s posts.

Speaking of “eye candy,” you may also enjoy seeing photos Chris VanCleave, The Redneck Rosarian, posted of some stunning Christmas arrangements featuring red roses and red poinsettias.  Gwennie, at Gwennie’s Garden has also pulled together some elegant and lovely Christmas decorations.  She and I share a love for luminous blue glass, which she has used  so beautifully here.

It always fascinates me to see how friends and loved ones celebrate Christmas, and what is important to their joy each year.

I love exploring trees full of antique ornaments, and seeing the keepsakes friends bring out to enjoy each December.

I like tasting cherished family recipes and trying new concoctions with chocolate, nuts, and fruit.

And I’m always fascinated with the wreathes, door decorations, and light displays which brighten up the neighborhood in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

.

December 17, 2014 wreath 004

.

It brings us full circle. 

We close the year by re-visiting those things which bring us joy and comfort. 

We reach out to those people we hold dear. 

And we celebrate all things bright and beautiful in this season of light.

*

Woodland Gnome 2014

 With love and appreciation to everyone who contributed to this post.

*

My front door this December, decorated with bits from our garden and wooden birds.

Our  front door this December, decorated with bits from our garden and wooden birds.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 655 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest