Friday, December 23, 2011


Yesterday, I introduced you to the "porch" and front door of the Xavier House. Hold your breath.... today you get to go inside!!!
We have a fairly small and narrow entryway. I have small table that was my nana's in the entryway. The mirror that hangs over the table was my nana's too. I always hang both Mr. Math's and my stockings that we used when growing up on the mirror.
This year I added a small four foot tree to the table. I hung the favors daughter number 5 and I made as favors for the Holiday Tea I was hosting. I like having the tree on the table and I think I will continue this next year. It looks like there are still a few favors hanging on the tree.... I wonder who forgot to take one.
Our living room is where we have our main Christmas Tree. I don't use a color theme, I hang all the ornaments that the girls have made, ones that friends have given us and the vintage ornaments that my parents had. I love opening the boxes and remembering who gave them to us and the funny stories that go with the ornaments the girls made. I also LOVE the vintage shinny brights that belonged to my folks.
The Christmas Tree in the livingroom.
Oops,that little pooch Chloe, is in this pictue!!
Well, that gets you into the Xavier House and into the livingroom.

It's a good thing I'm in charge, it's a half day for my group at work!!

More later....


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas at Our House

In the next couple of days, I am planning to "show off" how we decorate for Christmas at our house. I'm going to start with the front porch and work my way in. We live in the Santa Clara Valley in California. We have a regular old house, built in the early 60's. We don't have a porch, something I would love to have. Not sure if it ever will happen, but it's fun to dream!!
The snowman on the right is the one my Dad bought for the house I grew up in. I just love it. It's a little worn and has a few cracks, but I put it out every year!
And the porch at night. I have to say I do love looking at our "porch" at night. It looks so festive.
Our front door with our wreath. I use a wreath that I bought from Michaels a few years ago. I have collected vintage picks and pixies to put on this wreath. This year I borrowed an idea from a post that Deb from A Garage Sale Gal put up about her visit to the Bachman Idea House this year. She showed a picture of a wreath with a tea pot front and center.
I thought it was such a great idea, and would be a fun addition to my wreath, especially since I was hosting my ladies group annual Holiday Tea.
Well, this post gets you to the front door of the Xavier House!!

To Be Continued.....


Wednesday, December 21, 2011


This is the fourth year in a row that daughter number 3 has hosted a gingerbread house making party. We provide the houses and the guests bring the candy. She is a nanny for two families, and those six children join us. We also invite the children of two girls that my girls grew up with. This year we had seven children. It was the first year for one of the children, this year he was old enough to sit on his mom's lap and help build his house. Next year, he's all on his own!

Daughters 3 and 5 spent eight hours making the houses, and I put them together with royal icing the next day. I try to be very careful when "building" the houses... in years past I have not been very successful when "building". If my frosting is not strong enough, the houses just fall apart. We let them dry overnight, so when the kids show up the houses are good and dry.
I love having the kids come over and decorate their houses. It's a lot of work putting the houses together, but it is worth it!!


Crafting Gene?

When I talk to other crafters, most of them talk about what they have learned from their mothers, grandmothers, aunts or other female role models. I believe I have inherited my crafting skills, (as simple as they may be), from my Dad. He was always making something. During the Christmas holidays, we'd drive over to the Baylands, the marsh areas around the San Francisco Bay, and pick cattails to add to our front door wreath. He'd spray paint them gold or silver depending on what spray paint he had on hand. We would gather tumble weeds and spray paint them white and that was the snowman for our front yard.
The one thing he crafted for our family, (it was just my Mom, Dad and I), was a nativity set or a creche. I was six years old when he made it, and he worked on it for months. He used my Barbie and Ken dolls as models. He used styrofoam as their bodies, and gold foil wrapping paper as their clothes. He refurbished the set about twenty years ago, using the same type of gold foil wrapping paper. We carefully wrap this set up every year.
I have set up all of our nativity sets on the sideboard in our living room. The nativity sets have a special place in our home.

Especially the one that my Dad made for our family!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tag Swap and Secret Santa!!

Sue at a It's a Very Cherry World, hosted a Christmas Tag Swap. I could not pass up joining, I love the tag swaps! My partner was Tammy Nodland. Tammy doesn't have a blog, so I'll show both what tags she sent to me and what I sent to her.

Tammy sent me a wonderful box of goodies. She included lots of vintage paper gems for tag making. I have added them to my collection and will think of her when creating with what she sent.
Tammy sent wonderful vintage cards, postcards and little gift tags that I can use in my crafting.
I just realized that I forgot to take a picture of the lovely tag Tammy made for me. I hung it on my "tag tree" and you know what they say.... out of sight out of mind. I'll take a picture tonight when I get home and post later.
Tammy was way ahead of the game, I received my package from her Thanksgiving weekend. What a wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit!! The first tag on my "tag tree".
Tammy and I had a great time getting to know each other through emails. I now have a blog pal in Minnesota!!
A quick picture of the tag and few extras I sent to Tammy.

Of course I don't know who my Secret Santa is, but, I'm guessing from Florida, because of a cute pink Flamingo pin I received in my package.
I came home from work on Monday and opened a brown wrapped package to find this darling box.
When I opened it up, it was full of great Christmas treats.
Just a really quick post today. I am behind on my posting, I've had problems with my camera and uploading pictures. I had to bring my laptop into work today to have one the computer experts help me download my pictures. I did learn something new today, but it's very frustrating when I try and post and it just doesn't work!! Thank goodness for my friends at work. After eleven years at the same place we are like family.

Back soon with a post about the Christmas Tea I'm hosting this weekend!!

Cross your fingers it all comes together!!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ladies and their Tea

This past Saturday, six members of the Ladies Tea Group gathered for the annual Christmas Tea sponsored by the City of Campbell's Historical Museum. The Campbell Historical Museum maintains a local landmark, The Ainsley House. The tea itself is held in the Ainsley Carriage House, and a tour of the house follows the tea. The Ainsley House is an English Tudor, complete with English gardens. The house was built in 1925 for J.C. Ainsley, one of Santa Clara County's canning pioneers. The Santa Clara Valley is known for it's fine cherries, apricots, and prunes. Mr. Ainsley developed a method of canning that perserved the fruit well enough to be shipped by boat back to his native England, where his brother marketed the fruit. Mr. Ainsley was considered an innovator in the canning industry. Santa Clara Valley is currently home to many innovative companies. Apple Computer, Ebay, Facebook and Yahoo! all reside in the Santa Clara Valley.

When Mr. Ainsley built his home, he insisted on a thatched roof to remind him of his home in England. When the house was moved to from it's original location to downtown Campbell, the roof was redone with cedar shingles. The shingles were soaked in water so they could be "molded" into shape. This gives the house the appearance of a thatched roof. The house is decorated every year by local interior designers and businesses.
I took quite a few pictures, but some came out blurry. I am reminded on a regular basis that I have a lot to learn about photography!! I do have a few pictures to share with you though.

The front of the Ainsley House
The decorated bathrooms always seem to get my attention. Like many of you, I like to decorate all of the rooms in my house if I can. One year I used an idea from the Ainsley house, and displayed my Christmas Village in the bathtub. I put a board over the tub, covered it with snow and then build the village. Of course it's a tub no one uses!! Last year I put a four foot tree in the tub and wrapped empty boxes to be placed around and under the tree.
The den in the Ainsley House
A few pictures of the ladies inside the Ainsley House
Ladies ready for the house tour.

The ladies had a great time at our annual tea at the Ainsley House. We will be hosting our own Christmas Tea in a week. This year the Christmas Tea is at my home, so I need to get going on finishing up my decorating. Thank goodness daughter number 5 just got home from college!! She doesn't know it yet, but, she has a lot on her plate!!


Monday, December 5, 2011

To Market, To Market, To Buy a .......

Basket full of Christmas!! The Flea Market Friends headed first to the De Anza Flea Market in Cupertino on Saturday. It's very close to our homes, so we didn't have to leave too early to get there by 7:15am. There were only two of us on Saturday, the third Flea Market Friend would be joining us on Sunday. And we shopped and searched like no tomorrow. You would have thought we NEEDED more Christmas to fill our homes. I think the find of the day was a vintage scrapbook filled with vintage cards. A real steal for eight dollars!! The Flea Market Friends have an understanding... if more than one of us likes it, the finder has first right of refusal. I didn't find this one, but I know she'll share!! I picked up quite a few vintage paper items, stickers and such for tag making.
Our favorite vendor at De Anza's booth.

Sunday was the big day... we headed off to the Alameda Point Flea Market. We meet at 6:15am and made it Alameda by 7:30am. Parking is free at the Alameda Flea Market, but they charge an entrance fee. If you're there before 7:30am the charge is $15.00, after 7:30am it's $10.00. We always head to the back and work our way to the front. Not sure that's the best way, but it's our way!
Two of the Flea Market Friends ready to shop!!
We had great weather. A crystal clear morning made for a cold start.. ok... cold for us Califorians, 48 degrees when we started off. You could see the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline.
A little hard to see the skyline and the bridge, but they're there.... I made a comment this evening to my daughter that I should get a camera that had a "zoom" button it. She said mom, you already do! I guess you really do learn something new everyday!!
You could even buy a Nash Automobile if you want!!
The Alameda Flea Market has more than 800 vendors and 10,000 shoppers!!
I think the find of the day at Alameda was a place setting for four of Johnson Brothers Christmas dinner plates and bread plates for $30.00. You have to be a careful shopper at Alameda. The prices are what you might say a little on the high side.. for the Flea Market Friends a lot on the high side. We saw 12 dinner plates with a Turkey design...yours for the taking for a mere $50.00 PER PLATE. I think the three of us just about fell over!! They were gorgeous, but really?? I'm betting she had to pack those up and take them home!!
The booths always have just the right touch to them. We always seem to come home with new ideas. Or see something we already have that we can repurpose.

As we were walking around we saw these two darling girls carrying reindeer, and their aunt carrying Santa and the sleigh. I couldn't pass up a picture of these two with their purchase!

We headed home around 1:00pm, this year we walked the whole Flea Market! We only go to the Alameda Flea Market once a year at Christmas time. It's a little far and it is really a little too expensive for us to shop there on a regular basis. But you do see things you don't see at the smaller markets. Nothing new at this one, only vintage.

Trying to finish up the Christmas decorating by Thursday. If it's not done by then, it's not happening!!!

Happy Monday!!!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Family, Friends and Giving Back

I'm sure everyone has gone through at least one insane holiday season. Several years ago I decided after rushing around, from event to event and putting the house together, and buying gifts, Oh, and working, that enough was enough.

I thought a lot about the season and came to the conclusion that I needed to create a different type of holiday season for myself and my family.

I thought about what I wanted to keep on the list of things to do.. the activities that happen outside my home that were important to me... the first was the holiday tea at that the local historical society, it's the first weekend in December. And, The Flea Market Friends always go to the local junior college flea market the first Saturday of the month. The Christmas finds are alway wonderful!!

And then the biggie... the Flea Market Friends travel about an hour away from our homes in Santa Clara Valley, to Alameda, California, where the Alameda Point Flea Market is held on the first Sunday of the month. It's a great location, on the tarmac of the retired Alameda Naval station, right on the San Francisco Bay. On a clear day you can see right across the bay to the skyline of San Francisco. The view is amazing.

Another important event I decided to keep in my holiday life was the Christmas Tea that I host with one of the Flea Market Friends. We have done this many, many, Christmas seasons. For the Christmas Tea we include our daughters. We usually have about 30 to 35 people for the Christmas Tea. It's at my house this year.

And something that is right at the top of my list of activities to keep is helping decorate our church for the holiday season. I will also help prepare the food baskets for the families in our community that our church's so important to give back!!

The other change we made was with the girls. They are all "grown up" for the most, I still have two in college. They range in age from 32 to 21. And the oldest is married. We now exchange names and we have a secret Santa. And Mr. Math and I do one gift for each of the girls and stocking stuffers. This has cut down on the expense of course, and everyone seems to get more meaningful gifts. We also do matching PJ's for the girls and my son-in-law gets his own pair. He has accepted this tradition with grace!!

So the first weekend in December is a big one for me. After the that, the rest of the month is downhill.

Once I thought about what was really important to me and scaled down my activities, the holiday season came together for me.

Hoping your Holiday Season is whatever you want it to be!!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Over the River and Through the Woods.....

To cut our tree we go.

Well, we don't really go over the river, but we do head over the hill to the Santa Cruz Mountains to cut our tree. We went the day after Thanksgiving, early. I hate crowds and I hate driving down the winding hill with a Christmas tree tied to the roof of my car. The Christmas Tree Farm that we go to is about 20 minutes from our home. Daughters number four and five went with me. If we see a tree we think might work for us we flag it with a branch so we can come back to it just in case it's the one. This year it didn't take us long. It usually doesn't, we aren't too fussy. We don't have a big livingroom, so I always try and have a tree that is taller and narrow. Nothing too wide.
Daughter number four cutting the tree
Daughet number five taking her turn
The two young men who helped us with our tree

I had some more pictures to add to this post, but I can't seem to download them. Oh well, next time.

It's a tradition in our house to get our tree Thanksgiving weekend. This even though there were only three of us on our trek through the woods, we had a great time. Great weather and a "perfect" tree for our livingroom all equals a good time!!

We got the tree in and the lights on... Mr. Math usually handles that, but with him in Atlanta we had to manage without him. We have most of the decorating done. Pictures soon to follow.