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.



The summer we married, my husband was in graduate school, and I was employed as a teacher. We took a portion of our savings that summer and purchased a sailboat. We christened our Catalina 22, “Hyacinths For The Soul” after Saadi’s poem. Our "Hyacinths" provided years of pleasure.


  1. Well you've been a busy one! How exciting to help decorate at the Governor's mansion! Everything is beautifully done. The Georgetown Heritage district tour must have been fun! I have never heard of tours in my community- probably because we're usually snow covered here! Thanks for the tour!

  2. Sarah,
    This was a treat for me, as I too am a Texan.
    I enjoyed this opportunity to view how our First Lady incorporated her hispanic heritage so beautifully into decorating the conservatory, as well as all of the other Christmas beauties.
    Austin is such a delightful city.
    We have good friends who live in the little town of Wimberley and are able to enjoy small city living and the culture of Austin.

    Have a lovely week,

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful post. We've recently moved to Texas and it was lovely being able to see the decorations at the Governor's mansion. By your photos we must put the Georgetown Heritage district on our "to visit list."
    Merry Christmas!

  4. Sarah, what beautiful images! How exciting to be a part of decorating the Governor's mansion. I live in my capital city and didn't even think about visiting our grounds. What a wonderful treat to visit with your sister, too. The home tours are full of eye candy, and I'm so glad you captured the tablescapes - love those! Cheers to more adventures with TT.

  5. This is such a fun post, Sarah! I would love to go to the Governor's Mansion. I don't think I told you that my husband and Greg Abbott were friends growing up. They haven't spoken in 30 years though. I love all of your pictures and just might have to look into getting one of those gorgeous totes.

  6. Wow Sarah, you've certainly been staying busy - and how lovely your sister was able to visit and the two of you had a great time together by looks of it. Loved all the decorations at the mansion - which is certainly a gorgeous house - but especially loved the houses in the historic district with the lovely dining rooms and kitchens all ready to serve Christmas meals at those gorgeous decorated tables etc.

    You look fabulous Sarah - and that sweetie pie Miss Sadie is looking like she's in a holiday mood already with her beautiful tartan throw.

    Happy week my dear - enjoy each day.
    Hugs - Mary

  7. I think that Austin must be a wonderful place at Christmas time! Such a lot to do and see - and what a lovely opportunity that was, to participate in decorating the Governor's House. It was grand to see you, Sarah - you look beautiful!

  8. Wow..so much to see:) Your check jacket and bag are a perfect duo:)So lucky to have spent some time w/ your sister too!
    Our home tour is in June..I think a Christmas one sounds wonderful.

  9. So many beautiful homes Sarah! I love putting it out - it's the taking down that gets a little long! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Wow - beautiful photos of your latest adventures - I have to scroll back and see them all again and really take it all in. It must have been so exciting to be invited to be a part of decorating the mansion. One thing I love about blogging is to hear about what goes on in other parts of the country and to read about local traditions. So happy you were able to enjoy this with your sister, too. Sadie seems to enjoy posing for the holidays! The home tour also looked like a fun event - and those table settings are lovely. Happy you are enjoying this holiday season! Wishing you a bright new year!!

  11. Sarah, I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I too live in the capitol city of our state and have been in our Governor's Mansion many times but we have never been allowed to take photos while there. What an honor to have decorated your Governor's Mansion for Christmas, I particularly like the decorations in the conservatory. Your home tour, what an added bonus. I enjoyed your post so much I want to plan a trip to your fair city.

    Merry Christmas to you, your family and of course, Sadie.


  12. Lovely!

    I appreciate the grandeur of these scenes, especially the clean kitchen. Cute Christmas tree bulb there in the bowl! ;-)

  13. Thank you so much Sarah for the fabulous tour!

    Big Texas Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

  14. For a while I was bringing my own bag(s) but seem to have gotten out of that-gonna make a change! It looks like you've been enjoying the season Sarah-Merry Christmastime:@)

  15. Sarah,
    Miss Merrie Mac travels to the best places. The Governor's Mansion tour was fantastic. I love Christmas tour of homes in real life (as well as on blogland). The historic houses in Georgetown are just the kind of tour I enjoy... love seeing old architectural details.

    Merry Christmas and Joyeux Noël,


  16. How wonderful for you two girls to make time together, it's always a treasure in life. The Mansion is gorgeous and my such stunning images of Christmas décor. Everything is such an inspiration I think I will pin this great post.
    Love that black and white CH's tote bag.
    Thank you for dropping by with such sweet comment on our new sweet bundle of joy.
    Merry Christmas my friend.

  17. Sarah I really appreciated a peek into the Governor's grand historic home. Wow. What a fun time you must have had. And I loved seeing your beautiful photo too. It looks like you and Sadie (what a cutie) have been enjoying your December...

  18. Hi Sarah, that mansion is absolutely gorgeous, as is that chandelier!! And those high ceilings, oh I wish I lived in a house like that! The Capital is pretty too, and the other homes you showed are nice too. Sweet little dog you have there! :)
    Have a wonderful week,

  19. Thanks so much for the tour Sarah! I always enjoy seeing historic homes dressed in their holiday finery, I can only imagine how merry and bright they are in person! Hope you had a wonderful visit with your sister and you and Miss Sadie are relaxing by the glow of the lights of your tree. ♥

  20. Sarah, there are so many wonderfully festive photos in this post! I hope you bought the black clutch with the reindeer on it :-) I hope Miss Merri Mac enjoyed toting the wine yesterday. She is a wonderful companion! Have a wonderful week with Miss Sadie and the chef.

  21. I loved touring along with you and Miss Merri Mac, Sarah. I have never been to The Governor's Mansion, even though I've lived in Texas for 29 years, so it was nice to see what it's like. I love the vibrant color of dark aqua in the DR, and seeing all the special Christmas decor. I also love taking a peek into homes, and you satisfied that with the historical homes. Miss Sadie made an adorable ending to your post!

  22. Thank you Sarah and Miss Merri Mac for such a grand tour! I'm sure this was such fun for you to help decorate such a beautiful historic mansion! Beautiful decorations and house! So nice for you to enjoy the mansion and grounds tour with your sister. The heritage homes are also beautifully restored and decorated. Look forward to seeing what you and Sadie have been doing……

  23. Wow! That mansion is so beautifully decorated. It was fun seeing your traveling tote!

  24. wow wow wow!!! You got to help decorate. How wonderful. I love this post. Were I closer, I'd love to see the mansion at Christmas.. Merry Christmas to you and yours. Wishing you a blessed year ahead. xo Marlis

  25. What a beautiful tour! That coffered ceiling and tree! Wow!! Phenomenal!

  26. Just beautiful! I love going to the Governor's mansion here in GA and seeing it all decorated for Christmas. How awesome to get to help decorate it. You and your traveling tote are getting to some pretty great places.

  27. So much fun and pretty to see, I love the grand scale of the trees!! Looks like you have been enjoying all that the season has to offer!

  28. I love your tote and her fab name! The governor's mansion is so gorgeous and I'm so glad you took us along on the tour with you!

  29. Dearest Sarah,
    What a beautiful post with lovely rooms and decorations.
    Happy time together with your sister; very special!
    Of all the rooms, my favorite is the huge Conservatory.
    Love all the huge windows and light coming into those rooms.
    Enjoy your Sadie girl and the upcoming Christmas season with your loved ones.
    Hug and blessings,

  30. I enjoyed every single photo in this post, Sarah...what a wonderful holiday experience! Such gorgeous & thoughtful decorations!!!
    Thank you so much for sharing this glimpse into how TX does Christmas.
    You look marvelous, Darlink!!

  31. Oh what gorgeous photos. Although not from Texas I have been to Austin many times as my son and daughter-in-law used to dance with Ballet Austin. I have seen the outside of the Govenor's mansion. I have also been to Georgetown and loved the town. What lovely and beautiful places. Have a Merry Christmas.

  32. I do so love your photos! The tour of these special places is wonderful and the bag is just my style! Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Will look forward to your next adventure! Lynn

  33. Sarah, you and Miss Merrie Mac have been very busy. What an honor to get to help decorate that gorgeous home! Loved the tour and looking forward to seeing your lovely decorated home! Merry Christmas and thanks for sharing with SYC.

  34. Sarah, such a beautiful post, full of lovely photos. Love your adventures. The mansion is gorgeous! Thank you for taking us along on your special tour. Merry Christmas.

  35. Hi Sarah, what a beautiful post sharing the wonderful photos from the mansion in Austen. This all takes me back to my times at the White House. What an honor to help decorate and be apart of this special time. Your photos are incredible. Love the MC bag too. Wishing you a wonderful holiday. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  36. Glad to see that you and Miss Merri Mac are enjoying the holiday season, it all looks so cheerful and festive.

  37. Thanks so much for this lovely post. As a misplaced Texan, it warmed my heart to see the beautiful Governor's Mansion in it's Christmas finery!

  38. I enjoyed the tour of the Governor's Mansion. I must say that the conservatory is my favorite room….love the color. It's so cheerful! I would love to tag along with you and Miss Merri Mac one day! ;P

    Merry Christmas!


  39. Oh my the Governor's mansion! It is on my list to see....next year. Be merry and bright!

  40. What a fabulous Christmas season you are having. And such an honor to help decorate the Governor's mansion, it's simply amazing! Thanks for sharing it all and Merry Christmas!

  41. Sadie is so cute. What fun to decorate the governor's mansion. I love the Lady of Guadalupe ornament. I also love how your bag looks like it is a base of a tree in one of the photos. Merry Christmas. xoxo Su

  42. Happy Pink Saturday....such a lovely Christmassy share from you this week!! Looks like you've been up to a whole lot of fun!!


  43. What a fantastic post, Sarah, from the adventures of Miss Merry Mac to the tour you gave us of the Governor's Mansion. What an honor to be part of the decorating! Austin sounds like a wonderful city.

    I really enjoyed seeing so many lovely pictures of you, a face to the written words, and a great picture of you and your sis.

    Merry Christmas to you, Sarah!

    Jane x

  44. I love historic house tours! These are beautiful! Looks like such a great time!

  45. What a wonderful time of year to visit the Governor's mansion! I lived in Texas for many years and always loved to spend time in Austin! Merry Christmas sweet lady! Holiday hugs, Diane

  46. Hi Sarah,

    You and your sister sure know how to have fun. I like the tour of the Governor's Mansion, especially the blue room. Thanks for sharing today.

    Have a Beautiful Blue Monday and a very Merry Christmas!

  47. Thanks for visiting. Sister time is the best. Seasons Best Wishes.

  48. Wow....so much to see...I love these decorations and old houses...and your tote has certainly been traveling...lots of miles on that bag! Happy Holidays.

  49. That place looks amazing!!! It would be wonderful to decorate a building like that!

  50. Wow, what beautiful work - all of them. My favorite is the decor of the mantel with the painting above it - absolutely stunning! Have a merry Christmas now the work is done:):)

  51. Gorgeous Sarah! Merry Christmas! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

  52. Sarah!!
    I LOVED this post!! It was so interresting and full of so much eye candy!! Thanks so much for sharing with us!!
    Thanks too for stopping by!!
    Merry Christmas!!


  53. That was fun! Sadie is adorable!
    Merry Christmas and thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY!

  54. Loved the tours, and your tote is fabulous too

  55. The Governor's mansion is breath taking.
    Merry Christmas.

  56. Beautiful, Beautiful Texas....well represented in your lovely pictures! I have been in the Governor's Mansion before, but not at Christmas. Thank you sooooo much for sharing!!
    Blessings to you and Merry Christmas,

  57. Oh my goodness! Where to start...LOL What wonderful photos and such lovely homes. Thank you for the mini vacation. And I just love your tote! Have a very Merry Christmas! :) Kit

  58. Such a delightful tour! I Love to visit our governor's mansion, it is a beautiful place as well. It was beautiful to see your tour and I want to wish you and yours a perfectly wonderful CHRISTmas Day. Take care and thank you for sharing.

  59. What an honor and how fun to participate in Christmas decorating at the Governor's Mansion! All of the décor is absolutely stunning. Miss Merri Mac and Sadie make great additions to this beautiful post.

  60. Hi ¡, i love your blog ,, you have a new follower firmó chile

  61. The mansion looks beautiful! Great work!


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