Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pitch-Perfect Anniversary Ambiance

Our anniversary was December 23rd, and even though my to-do list was still long, my husband and I ventured off for two days to a gentrified country inn on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It was perfect for a holiday get-away.
The Inn at Perry Cabin charms guests with varied roof heights, dormer windows, and columned porticos. Enshrouded in the mist of winter, the clapboard hotel seems to float above the Miles River which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay.

A variety of outbuildings and garden follies add to the property's quaintness.

The interiors, decorated in English country style, are cozy and inviting.

Decked for the holidays, the hotel is an ideal place to celebrate Christmas.

The inn is located in the Victorian town of St, Michaels, Maryland which is replete with antique shops and bookstores. At this time of year, the village churches were especially festive.

If next Christmas you are looking to splurge on a big anniversary or if it is your year to share your family with the in-laws, I'd highly recommend The Inn at Perry Cabin. It's wonderful at any time of year, but especially uplifting for a winter holiday get-away.

p.s. We have been married over 40 years, and I am still learning how to be a better wife. Let me share two insights from our trip last week. I should have put aside the pressing Christmas card list, and just enjoyed face-time with my best friend. On a positive note, we did take time to pray together. As the old expression goes: "The family who prays together stays together". On our trip I analyzed why that is true and concluded that when you express your thanksgiving, your wishes, and your hurts to God in the presence of your spouse, they learn a lot about what makes you tick and vice versa. Besides, when your "better angel" talks to the Almighty, it is endearing to the one listening in on the conversation.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

No-Fuss Decorations with Memories

Little by little, I have been getting the house dressed for Christmas. As I age, I increasingly try to simplify my decorations, aiming for arrangements that won't have to be redone multiple times between December 1 and January 1. Even with simplifying, it is a lot of work to deck the halls. That said, I enjoy it because it reminds me of happy memories from Christmases past.

These silver trees have been used on table tops around the house. I purchased them at Wannamakers in Philadelphia on a shopping trip with my sister. That department store closed years ago, but when I put out these trees I can almost hear the pipe organ swells reverberating off the marble floors of that grand old store, and I think of the fun that sister and I have had over the years. This year the still- glistening trees found a place on our library mantel. I'm loving the simplicity.
 In the short hallway between the living room and library is a door to the lower level. Every year it seems to be the perfect spot for a wreath I made when we were first married. I smile when I remember how creative I had to be to decorate our small bungalow on my meager salary when my husband was in grad school. What we didn't have in the way of discretionary spending, we made up for in love.
The freeze-dried boxwood balls fill this bowl year around, but I added some small shiny glass ornaments in honor of the season. You can't get any simpler than that.

The tiny nativity set on our living room coffee table has special significance. Our first baby lived only a few hours. Shortly after he died, my husband and I took a trip to the Outer Banks. We walked the beach and cried together. On that trip, we visited the amazing Christmas shop on the southern end of the island and purchased this Mary, Joseph, and Christ child. Now every year as I put it out, I remember our little boy who looked so much like my husband, and I whisper a prayer thanking my heavenly Father for sending his Son to purchase eternal life so we have hope of seeing our son again.
Across the room, from the nativity are three angels made from antique lace and linen by a kind neighbor. These remind me of the three "angels" God gave us after our first baby's death. (My adult children will smirk at this.)
Over the years, we have collected quite a huge choir of carolers. We purchased the first family when we lived in Haiti. Our resident school teacher went home in the summers and worked at the factory where these are made. I gave "Miss Chris" money to buy some for us. She kindly added a pooch to the family to represent our little cock-a-poo. Over the years our choir has grown much as our family has.
Our Christmas tree is a vagabond. Yearly, it changes locations. This year we placed it between the kitchen and the sunroom. Happily, in this spot I can see it as I prepare meals! My sweet sister gave me the angel that sits atop the branches.
When our kids were younger, I bought the June McKenna nativity because children could handle it without breakage. The initial pieces to this set were purchased at The Charm House in Leola, PA, and additional angels and wise men came from Donekars, a family department store in Ephrata. Neither store is still in business. However, I sure do have happy memories of shopping at both places! :)
Three of the buildings of our Dickens village on the dining room sideboard were an anniversary gift from my husband's parents. When I set them out each year, I recognize their wisdom in affirming our marriage. My wise in-laws were simply following the Proverb, "A wise woman builds her house, a foolish woman tears it down."
On my dining room table is the simplest table arrangement I could think of--glass balls heaped in a large bowl. This does not wilt nor need to be watered!
 And what could be easier than placing some poinsettias in a footed brass cooler?
 A final touch of Christmas hangs in the kitchen from the oven door. (I keep easy-to-launder ones on the lower oven door.) I bought a red embroidered towel like this to give a friend one Christmas. However, the design stuck with me,  so I went back and purchased a couple more for myself. Now these cheerful towels remind me of that friend and my own folly. :)

There you have it, in no particular order. I hope you enjoyed a stroll down memory lane and a few ideas for no-fuss decorating.