Tag Archives: holidays

Our Home for the Holidays

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Photo by Amy Watson Smith, December 2013)

Whew! I have finally gotten my home decorated for Christmas. It has been a long process this year, for a number of reasons, but at least this part of the preparations is finished. I wasn’t too bothered by the delay since we will be at home for the holidays. Yaay!

This box sat in my entry hall for almost a week.

Box of Christmas Decorations (Photo by Amy Watson Smith, December 2013)

A “display” of Christmas decorations waiting to be placed.

I love vintage-style ornaments and decorations.

Tiny Ornaments

Tinsel

Little Tree Decorated Several of my favorite ornaments survived from my childhood like this Santa. I guess it actually is vintage.

Does that mean that I’m vintage?

Childhood Santa Ornament

Air Stream Christmas Pillow I love the idea of air stream trailers but I’m not sure living in one in the snow would be quite as cozy as this pillow suggests.

My real passion is tartan (and not just for Christmas decorations). I suppose it has something to do with my Scottish ancestry but, whatever the reason, I am mad for plaid as is evidenced here.

Tartan Bagpiper Nutcracker

Springer Spaniel with Tartan Boxes

Kilt Figurine

Tartan and Greens

Tartan Santa with Sheep

My new favorite Christmas decoration is the “Joy” banner my friend Elisabeth Hunter made for me–tartan fabric, of course. She is one of the few people who truly gets my obsession for all things tartan.

Mantle with Greens, Candles and Joys

Mantle with greens, candles and tartan joy

Joy Upclose

Joy up close

You will notice in the creche below that the baby Jesus is not included. He won’t make his debut until Christmas morning. We also don’t place the three wise men at the manger until Epiphany on January 6th. We move them around the house to symbolize their journey to the Christ child. I included them in this photo because it looked too sparse without them.

Nativity

Bowl full of ornaments

One of our most treasured items for Christmas is the Advent stockings I made for my daughter when she was two years old.

Handmade Advent stockings hanging

Handmade Advent stockings hanging

Handmade Advent stockings up close

Small additions and repairs have been made over the years.

Throughout the year I find little things to put in each stocking. I also include a Bible verse. Even at 17, my daughter still loves the tradition of opening one stocking each morning for the 24 days leading up to Christmas.

Handmade Advent stocking

Somehow I even managed to decorate the front porch this year.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Photo by Amy Watson Smith, December 2013)

Wellies with Greens Pine Cones in Galvanized Tub

Santa Please Stop Here

“Santa please stop at my house”

This wreath is made from preserved boxwood. I bought mine locally for Christmas 2012 and it is still just as lovely. Click here if you want to learn how to preserve boxwood.

Boxwood Wreath and Tartan Bow

Now that the decorating is done, I have to finish my shopping, start baking and wrap all of my presents . . . .

Oh, and maybe I will make some time for this as well.

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

What are your favorite decorations and traditions for Christmas?

Wishing you a joyous and peaceful Christmas!

Angels we have heard on high

G L O R I A

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas decorations?

How to Let Go of Perfectionism This Christmas

I have always been somewhat of a perfectionist. And I suppose that Christmas has always been my showcase. Every year I try to out do myself attempting to balance tradition and creativity.

I have never been over-the-top with decorations or gifts. That’s just not my style. But I always have an idea of what I think Christmas should be like and each year I spend a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to surpass my own standards.

This year has been no different…well, except for the fact that nothing is going as planned!

This what my living room looks like right this very moment.

Ceiling repair

This is not exactly what I had in mind for this year’s Christmas decorations.

I had to let go of perfectionism this Christmas.

The work we had planned to have done on our ceiling earlier this fall was delayed. And delayed. And delayed.

Last week as soon as we bought our Christmas tree and put it in the stand, our contractor called to say he could fit in our repair. We decided to hold off on decorating the tree or putting up any other decorations in the living room until the job was complete–three days at most we were told. We moved all of our decorative objects into the dining room for safety.

Another call. Another delay.

My teenage daughter complains that it doesn’t feel like Christmas without any decorations. I agree.

Finally yesterday work began on fixing the two holes cut in our ceiling when the hot water heater exploded several months ago (that story is for another day). It isn’t a very big job–just sheet rock and painting.

This is what my ceiling looks like now.

ceiling

I am so excited! I am hopeful that it will be finished in a few days and then we can finally decorate.

But in the meantime I will just have to be satisfied with a carload of Christmas decorations waiting to be unloaded. Where else was I going to put them?

Car decorations 1

At least my car is decorated!

Car decorations 2

 

How to Prepare for Christmas

How is it possible that even though it is only December 3rd, I am already behind on Christmas? Okay, so that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I certainly feel that way.

Joy tartan banner by Elisabeth Hunter $15

Just to be clear, this is the only decoration I have up yet!

Maybe it’s because Christmas decorations began arriving in stores before Halloween. Maybe it has something to do with my favorite radio station playing only Christmas songs by the second week in November. Maybe it’s because half of my neighborhood had Christmas decorations up by Thanksgiving day.

Whatever the cause, I am beginning to panic.

December is a big month for my family as my daughter and husband both have birthdays on either side of Jesus’. It’s hard to compete with that…

In my sane moments, I try to remind myself that we aren’t actually even in the Christmas season. This is Advent. The time for preparation: preparing our hearts for the birth of our Savior.

If I allow myself to slow down, breath and think about this–Advent–the panic fades and peace returns.

This pre-Christmas season is not really about decorating my house like never before or buying presents I can’t really afford or going to as many parties as possible. When I focus on these things, that is when I feel overwhelmed, anxious and, frankly, sad.

I can never, on my own, create (or recreate) what I imagine to be the perfect Christmas.

Will I, this year, be able to resist the urge to scurry and buy and do and make merry? Will I be able to slow down long enough to prepare my heart for Jesus? I pray this for myself and I pray this for you, my friend.

Blessings and peace to you during this season of Advent.

Handmade Advent stockings up close

Handmade Advent stockings made for my daughter c. 1998

Handmade Advent stockings hanging

Handmade Advent stockings hanging Christmas 2012. I have not gotten them up yet this year!

 

Halloween for Scaredy Cats

Vintage black cat

I have never been a huge fan of Halloween. I’m not saying I didn’t participate in the festivities. I loved the costumes and the candy but I was never very big on the actual “trick or treat” aspect of the event. I have always had a pretty vivid imagination so I was able to completely freak myself out walking in the dark on Halloween night passing all of the other children in costume. Unfortunately I think I passed these feelings on to my own child.

Driving through my neighborhood last night after dark, I realized that at least half of the houses on my street had extensive Halloween decorations: spiderwebs, skeletons, pumpkins, ghosts…the works. It seems to me that people are decorating for Halloween as much as they are for Christmas. That just seems strange to me.

Cute vintage pumpkin child

I suppose that if Halloween decorations were more like this cute vintage pumpkin child, then maybe I would enjoy it more. But that does not seem to be the trend. Just going into a party store in the month of October is terrifying. Gone are the days of Little Bo Peep and cowboys.

Vintage Halloween costumes photo

So tonight I will celebrate Halloween as usual–with some reservation–welcoming the little ones in the neighborhood early then turning out the porch light at the first sign of the older kids. My daughter and I will be counting down the minutes to November 1st when Halloween has passed and the “good holidays” are ahead of us!

 

All images are from The Graphics Fairy.

 

My Favorite Ways to Celebrate Summer Holidays Southern-style

Summer-time. Long days…relaxing weekends…fresh produce…family and friends….

The Fourth of July holiday combines all of these great things.

Flags Flying Freely

Flags Flying Freely / Photo by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

This year we celebrated July 4th the way we have for years. We enjoyed a great meal with a dear friend whose wife and three children were away. Afterwards we took a few pitchers of frozen drinks to our next door neighbor’s house and enjoyed fireworks and conversation with neighbors.

Fourth of July Dinner, blackberry peach cobbler

Fourth of July Dinner / Photo by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

We cooked New York strips on the grill–this was the first day that it had not rained in almost a week.

Hydrangeas and flags

Hydrangeas and flags / Photo by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

Despite my poorly timed pruning this past fall, my hydrangea bushes produced enough flowers for our centerpiece.

vintage American flag

Dr. Billy’s flag / Photo by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

This flag once belonged to my stepfather and was flown for many years from the porch of his Charleston house. Given the age of the flag, we prefer to display it inside these days.

Garden & Gun, Charleston Magazine, Local Palete

Keeping current / Photo by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

With the fourth falling on a Thursday this year, we were able to stretch out the weekend which allowed me time to peruse three of my favorite magazines: Garden & Gun, Charleston Magazine and Palate.

Edisto tomato pie

Tomato pie / Photo by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

With a counter-top full of ripe, home-grown tomatoes, I could not resist making a tomato pie. If you want my recipe, click here.

Boiled peanuts, South Carolina, southern

Boiled peanuts / Photo by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

No Southern, summer gathering is complete without freshly boiled peanuts. I picked these up at Ruke’s Vegetable Stand on Mathis Ferry Road in Mt. Pleasant.

Watermelon

Watermelon / Photo by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

Watermelon. What else can I say?

Blackberry Peach Cobbler, recipe, Gourmet

Blackberry Peach Cobbler / Photo by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

We finished everything off with a delicious Blackberry Peach Cobbler using the fresh fruit I picked up at Boone Hall Farms vegetable stand. Below is the recipe I used.

Blackberry Peach Cobbler

Gourmet | September 2005
yield:Makes 12 servings
active time:25 min
total time:1 1/2 hr (includes cooling)

ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 lb blackberries (5 cups)
  • 2 lb peaches (6 medium), peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons whole milk

preparation

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Butter a 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish (3-quart capacity).

Whisk together cornstarch and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a large bowl, then add blackberries and peaches and toss to combine well. Transfer to baking dish and bake until just bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes.

While fruit bakes, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in another large bowl, then blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk and stir just until a dough forms.

Drop dough onto hot fruit mixture in 12 mounds (about 1/3 cup each), then sprinkle dough with remaining teaspoon sugar. Bake cobbler until top is golden, 25 to 35 minutes. Serve warm.

Cooks’ note: Cobbler can be baked 6 hours ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Before serving, let stand at room temperature 1 hour, then reheat in a preheated 350°F oven until warm, about 20 minutes.