Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Night Before Christmas and All Through the House

It's the night before Christmas

and the twinkle of the tiny white lights on our tree

set the mood for quiet, simple times

here at Hyacinths for the Soul

The stockings are hung with care,

but no chestnuts roasting on our cozy fire.

Though Chickadees scamper about the mantel among 

the pine cones and golden pears.

Each dressed for this special 

night in their finest attire.

Waiting patiently for our jolly

St. Nick to appear!

Bunnies in red tartan bows

know something special is on its way.

This sassy lady in her verdigris coat

is from the Bunny Williams Collection 

based on a copper antique from Williams' own garden

and a treasured Christmas present from a friend last year.

The German nutcracker was given to me

many years ago by my mother,

and the plump tartan velvet pumpkin 

was a recent gift from a friend.

Vignettes in the kitchen welcome

more Santa figures.

To give our home a gentle touch of holiday scent,

I filled a MacKenzie-Chids vase with

fresh Christmas greens and red berries.

The gift packages under our tree

have all been delivered to friends and family.

Our tree is small and not fancy, 

 but it is decorated with lots of love.

Ornaments that have been added through the years,

many special gifts from dear friends, hang from red satin, 

tartan, or ribbons of black and white check.

There is definitely a MacKenzie-Childs Courtly Check 

theme woven through the branches.  

A few new ornaments were 

added this year.

A crowing rooster amongst curls of 

burlap ribbon roosts on the top.

The shelves of our bamboo bookcase next to our tree

are filled with special holiday touches.

Bottom shelves hold Christmas books ready

to enjoy with an evening cup of tea,

 or  to share with little ones who may stop by to visit.

More Christmas books are on the lower shelf of a

green wicker table at the side door entry.

As an elementary teacher, children's literature

is a passion not easily abandoned.

 One of Nancy Thomas' New York Santa figures

helps hold up favorite Christmas books.

Rudolph is snuggled into 

greens and pinecones near by.

I added something new to the tabletop this year.

It's been a long time since I've used

this metal tree in my Christmas decorations,

but when I spotted these cute black and white color block

gift toppers at Target, I knew just what I'd use them on.

They are by Sugar Paper and were sold in packages of four.

These darling ceramic balls are 

much like the Kate Spade color block ornaments

I've seen this year, but for a fraction of the price.

They add a little contemporary vibe to our sun porch

and are a great compliment to our Courtly Check inspired

Christmas tree.  Preserved boxwood balls by were also a

Target purchase.  They came three to a package.

This jolly man has a big open sack 

perfect for holding candy treats

or possibly some pretty flowers for the right occasion.

More Santa figures and tartan

touches await on the pine table nearby.

The bronze rooster was a souvenir from

my trip to Paris in 2014.  

I gave him a festive touch for Christmas,

and added a petite Barbara Olsen framed

watercolor to his tray.

Another Barbara Olsen petite Christmas

painting sits below the lamp on top of the same chest.

I've enjoyed the two little Olsen painting since the 1990s.

Joyuex Noel, to all!

Thank you for joining me this Christmas Eve.

I'd like to thank all my readers and blogging friends

who visit and leave thoughtful comments.

I appreciate each of you, and am grateful that many

of you have become dear friends through the years.

Merry Christmas to all,
and to all a good night!


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tales of the Traveling Totes #5 ~ Miss Merri Mac Prepares for the Holidays

Welcome to Tales of the Traveling Totes #5

Miss Merri Mac and I have been busy 

preparing for the holidays.

The Annual Junior League of Austin Christmas Affair

kicks off the holiday shopping season in November of each year.

Miss Merri Mac is the perfect shopping companion 

because most Austinites have adopted the 

European custom of carrying one's own shopping bag.

Merchants from far and wide join local merchants

to offer shoppers a variety of merchandise.  

There is something for everyone.

Even a local favorite ~ Tiny Pies.

The first week in December signaled 

the start of decorating in our homes around Austin.

Miss Merri Mac and I were thrilled and honored to receive 

an invitation to help decorate a historic home.

Not just any historic home,

but the beautiful Greek Revival-style mansion

that has been home to Texas Governors since 1856.  

~ The Texas Governor's Mansion ~ 

The most historic home in Texas. 

The Texas Governor's Mansion was built in 1856 

and is the oldest continually 

occupied executive residence west of the Mississippi.

This beautiful home is both a Texas and 

a National Historic Landmark.

You can read more about it here.  
To take a virtual tour, click here.

The First Lady of Texas decides on the theme

of the decorations for each room and a group of

volunteers arrive ready to deck the halls with holiday magic.

Last week while my sister was in town for a visit,

we spent some time touring our 

state's Capitol and Governor's Mansion.

Welcome to the Texas Governor's Mansion.

Let's go in and take a peek at this 

grande dame dressed for the holidays.

First Lady Cecelia Abbott chose a Texas theme

for the Mansion Christmas tree this year.

The large tree and the decorations in the 

living room and adjoining parlor

 feature the colors of the Texas flag along 

with golden stars and balls.

Beautiful Texas flag glass ornaments 

are prominent on the tree.

The library is just across the main hall.  The fireplace mantel is

decorated with large glass ornaments of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Large orbs of russet, gold, copper, and bronze rest among

the green garland infused with springs of golden berries.

The dining room, decorated in traditional Christmas colors,

features swags of Christmas greens with vibrant red poinsettias.  

The day we visited, the table was set for an evening dinner party. 

The sterling silver flatware is by 

Reed and Barton in Pointed Antique 

and bears the seal of the State of Texas on each piece.

The conservatory, in the back of the house, 

is filled with natural light.  

Mrs. Abbott, with a nod to her Hispanic heritage,

chose to decorate this room with bright vibrant colors. 

Papel picado, traditional Mexican folk art 

in which intricate designs are chiseled out 

 of layers of tissue paper to create flags and banners, along with 

paper flowers and corn husk flowers create a color filled garland 

that decorates the beautiful antique breakfront on the east wall.

A smaller tree decorated in the same paper items sits 

in the southwest corner of the room.

Mrs. Abbott is the first Hispanic First Lady of Texas.

Another beautiful Christmas tree can 

be seen at the Texas State Capitol. 

The 26 foot Virginia pine sits in the Capitol House Chamber.

It is decorated in ornaments that represent 

the uniqueness of each district.

Spouses of House Members decorate the tree. 

Click here to see a video of the 

fun process of decorating this enormous tree.

There are numerous holiday activities to take in this time of year,

and Miss Merri Mac and I want to share one more of our favorites, 

 Georgetown Heritage Home Tour.

Georgetown, Texas is a thriving community just north of Austin.

The homes on the annual heritage tour this year

were all built by Belford Lumber Company between 1901 - 1925.

The tour featured four homes 

and a former hotel, now an office space.

Each of these beautiful heritage 

homes reflected the contemporary lifestyle of

vibrant young families while 

retaining the period integrity of the original home.

Home owners had their homes exquisitely 

dressed for the holiday season, 

and all tables were styled with gorgeous

tablescapes ready for holiday entertaining.

Kudos to these talented young families!

All photos by Michael Walton, Georgetown Heritage Society

and used with permission.

Click here to see the complete album on Facebook.

Sadie and I'll be back soon to share holiday

decor here at Hyacinths for the Soul.

A very Merry Christmas to all!

Lots of adventures this time of year,

so be certain to visit each of the Traveling Totes.

Don't miss the fun!

Leave a comment on Pandora's Box for a chance to win a MacKenzie_Childs Flower Market soap dish, Balsam scented soap from the Adirondacks, and a mini soap from Cape Cod, all items purchased on Miss Kenzie's recent travels.