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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Music in a White Christmas


Christmas has taken on new dynamics for us since our move to Florida from Colorado. One of the reasons we wanted to make this change was to be able to spend more of the holidays with our grandchildren without having to buy a plane ticket.

Beloved and me with some of our grandchildren

That desire is being met in a big way and we are thrilled! This past weekend we drove to the home town of one family of our grands to see them in their church Christmas program.


Granddaughter #1 plays the grand piano between
show performances

I can hardly get my mind wrapped around the fact that babies born not that long ago are now being asked to participate in such helpful and awesome ways to put on professional-quality programs. I am grateful we have been able to move closer and get in on some of this before they are full-fledged adults.



It is also thrilling to see how the larger churches in the 'Bible Belt' do things at any time of year, but perhaps most especially at Christmas.


I'll just admit it, pageantry and great showmanship really impress me. 

It could be that the influence of Disney World affects the quality of special effects put into these programs, but then again, maybe it's due to the increasing ingenuity of our computer age.


In this particular Christmas display of music, my family had seven members on stage at one time. I can say I know a couple of these angels really well.


We had grandchildren in the adult and children's choirs...


And a couple who watched (or slept) from the comfort of our arms in the audience (and don't you know Beloved and I enjoyed that!!).


Over the course of the weekend, we were privileged to see the program three times (one rehearsal and two performances on Sunday).

our church in Jax

Then, because one can't get too much of Christmas music, when our weekend with the grandchildren was over, we hurried back to our own church to see a performance of its annual Christmas celebration.



There is one more very notable aspect of the weekend I must not leave out in this story: real snow fell on Friday night. When we woke up with the grandchildren on Saturday morning, snow was on the palm trees! 

snow on the palm tree
Admittedly, it was not much. (humor me and see the white stuff on the palm branches)


The children scraped up all the snow they possibly could from hard surfaces in the back yard and had a snowball fight. 

This was the area's first snowfall in 25 years. The kids were excited beyond belief.  Beloved and I thought we had left all the snow in Colorado . . . 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Progressing Through December

Christmas tree in Founders Hall during the Annual Ladies' Candle Exchange at church

Even with green grass outside and only a few leaves falling from the trees, we are loving the Christmas season in Florida. People do many of the same things here that they do in colder climes with the notable exception of shoveling snow. We won't miss driving in the white stuff, lovely as it is.

However I do need to say here in northeast Florida (also referred to as "south Georgia" by some of the locals), they look forward to a hard frost to kill off the bugs! Apparently that doesn't happen every winter, but it's most welcome. Duly noted. With that in mind, I won't complain when it gets colder here than I originally thought when we relished the thought of moving here.

Lil' Blue Bug came for an overnight visit
One of the primary reasons we moved earlier this year was to be closer to our grandchildren (and the grand puppies, to be perfectly honest). This past weekend some of them paid us a visit.


Surfer Boy took Grandson #4 to a Boy Scout camp out, so Surfer Girl and Granddaughter #5 brought the pups in the Lil' Blue Bug to spend a night with us. Granddaughter #5 enjoyed playing with the felt elves made by The Cook on Fifth Street many years ago.

shopping with the girls (and a thumb and a blankie with stroller)
Surfer Boy's company Christmas party is in a couple of weeks, so we went shopping at the mall for the perfect dress for Surfer Girl.

the worship center in our church

Since this past weekend was the beginning of Advent, we were delighted to see decorations were up on Sunday morning.

tools of the carpentry trade
Our pastor announced he will be talking about the perspective from Joseph the carpenter, the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus.

our senior pastor speaks at "The Hanging of the Green" service 
We enjoyed a beautiful service on Sunday night with the young children singing, followed by the decoration of the Crismon tree just outside of the worship center. 

I have one more thing of recent note that hasn't anything to do with Christmas. After spending the better part of two years growing my hair out, I decided my long-time goal had been achieved but I really look more like "me" with short hair. 

"before" and "after"
Out of respect for myself, I did not make this decision easily or with rash haste. A couple of times I intended to get my hair cut but then gave in to misgivings. But today was the day and I'm glad it's done. Now when I look in the mirror, I recognize who is looking back at me!

The next change will be giving in to silvery gray, like The Cook on Fifth Street. Brown-out-of-a-bottle is too much bother for me. 

Yes, the ordinary aspects of life continue in December amidst all the tinsel and lights.




Monday, December 4, 2017

Holiday Home Tour of Pretties and Things

China cabinet decor
After we got all of the outside Christmas ornamentations done, we began working on the inside of the house. 

pie safe

Since this is our first Christmas in this house, it took longer to decide where to put everything.


entry hall niche

This house does not have a fireplace, so there's no mantel to decorate.


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hall table with nativity and teeny tiny battery-powered lights
You need to see this one  up close because it's one of my favorite places this season:

Figurines from Lifeway Christian Bookstore (in 1996), trees and some of the animals
have been collected over the years from Walmart

You can't see the camels in these pictures. We now have three, which is just right for the three wise men. I like the camels. My son tells me they really aren't very nice animals (they spit). But I like the expressions on their faces. I think they're funny.

what is this the door to?

The wreath on our front door in Colorado was perfect for there, but we needed something different here, so this one ended up on ... (wait for it ...) the door to the cleaning closet. Yes! We have a gorgeous Christmas wreath on the door to the vacuum cleaner!

yet-to-be-finished

Last year, after I had wrapped all the gifts, I began working on this quilt top. Then the holiday season ended and one thing led to another, including the move to Florida, so this project is not done. But when folded just right, it still adds seasonal color to the back of a chair.  

family room tree

Most years we have a tree dedicated to angels with a nativity at the base, telling the story of Christmas. Those were the years when we had 5 or so trees (of varying sizes) scattered throughout the house. This year we've downsized to only three trees, which means we had too many ornaments.  

I decided to add my collection of Barbie doll ornaments to the angel tree and everybody seems to be satisfied with that. 

table topper

Back to the subject of quilting, this is a table topper I made some 5 years ago that is a favorite with Beloved. It landed on my lamp table this year. 

mistletoe

Mistletoe hangs on the grill above our master bed. Yes, I know mistletoe is poisonous, but this is plastic, so don't worry about us.

custom made for our last house but it works in this one, too

The kitchen nook quilt is one of my favorites. That gold cheesecloth stuff dresses up anything it's paired with. And those are our stockings with cross stitched names. We don't use these any more except for decorating.

"Porch Puppy"

Porch Puppy is our only dog these days, but don't worry. We have three granddogs, two of whom come to see us at our house from time to time. So we're good.  Anyway, Porch Puppy came indoors for Christmas so he can hide some unsightly electrical cords in the dining room. 

dining room wall quilt
This is a quilt that I pull out just for Christmas. It really livens things up. As you can see, when this picture was taken, my table scape was 'in process.' I'm hoping to get a table runner made in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, my collection of electric candles are awaiting their location assignments.

Art to Heart door knob decor
I made this little basket-thing years ago because it reminded me of May Day baskets. You can pack it with candies or other goodies.

one of the guest beds
There hasn't been time to do a lot in the guest rooms this year, so I'm hoping our guests are satisfied with a big red bow on the lamp shade and a cheery pillow.

Jim Shore Santa
Jim Shore pieces are a delight to me since he incorporates quilt designs. This one is sitting on top of the DVD cabinet in the den.

an acquisition from Michaels in 2016
"Get Your Jingle On" just brightens my mood.

the half wall above the foyer
I've said before that we have a number of rounded walls in this house. This half wall is above the foyer and don't you know that our grandchildren are fascinated with this feature!



When we have young guests, some things are tucked away to avoid unhappy mishaps.

tree in the den overlooking neighborhood light show
This is our big tree with all the cutesy, memorable ornaments that are tied to memories over the years. Beloved has his toy Santa from his childhood that he always places at the base of this tree.

I needed a new tree topper this year and couldn't find a star that was to my liking, so I opted for a giant red bow. I like it but it looks like a cartoon tree now.

sign from Michaels this year, 2017
When I came across this sign on sale at Michaels, I knew it would be perfect for our back porch with all the forest trees behind us.

another new thing this year
I don't remember where I found this guy, probably Hobby Lobby. His eyes met with mine and we both knew he needed to come home with me.

an elf-sighting 
This guy took a dive behind a living room chair just as I came into the room. 

So this is what we've done to decorate our new home this year. I look forward to seeing what my readers have done in their houses! 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

O Holy Night

Christmas plaque made by former neighbor Karren

And this will be a sign for you:
you will find a baby wrapped
in swaddling cloths 
and lying in a manger.
Luke 2:12

Comments are closed for the weekend.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Arrival of a Florida Christmas

Garden department at Lowe's
Our first Christmas in Jacksonville is looming large for us. I had to snap this picture from one of our local home improvement stores. They are selling lots of flowers in pots outdoors along with evergreens and Christmas trees. At this time of year in Colorado, the garden shops are closed up tight and selling snowblowers, shovels, and ice scrapers. In conversations we've had with a few of the locals, I'm not sure they know just exactly what a snowblower is!


After we had signed the contract on our house last April, we discovered our new neighborhood makes a statement with the Christmas decorations and everybody is expected to participate in a big way. Although we've been putting out Christmas decor for many years, our display has never been what you would call a 'showstopper' so we felt intimidated about what we had got ourselves into.

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But we are doing our best to be good sports and play along while at the same time not compromising our focus on the significance of the season.

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There is one person who makes the yard signs and then we put on the lettering ourselves for the theme of our decorations.

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The imagination goes wild around here with some pretty clever ideas.

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My nighttime photography doesn't do the show much justice so I'll simply say people have done a great job of it.

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Be sure to note the big red apple and the ice skater in this one representing New York City.

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This one with the "marvelous" Christmas has blow-up Marvel characters that stand up in the yard at night, but during daylight hours they lay limp and lifeless on the grass.


This is our sign. I am  happy to report our yard is one of four in the neighborhood that features the Nativity.
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Here are pictures of our front porch taken in the daylight and at night. Joseph casts a big shadow on our dining room windows. 

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Internet photo
This illustration from the Internet is the idea we were aiming for with our Christmas theme.


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This is what our house (on the right)  looks like at night, combined with the neighbors.


I really like these giant light bulbs!

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On the Friday night after Thanksgiving, our neighborhood had a huge party in a cul-de-sac with food, lights, a warming fire, a hayride, music, a bounce house, and even a snow machine!
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The hayride... (blurry because it was moving)


One of our neighbors let his work car be used in the display for the party.


More pictures taken during daylight hours:


Late autumn/early winter looks entirely different to us here than it did in Colorado! We decorate fully-leafed out trees here!

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There are two of these hanging Santas on our street. I love them because many of us feel like we are barely "hanging on" during this season of lengthy "to do lists"!


Truth be told, Florida weather is probably more like how it was in Bethlehem when our Savior was born.


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I will be wishing my readers a wonderful Christmas all through this season. I hope you are able to take the time to reflect on the true significance of the birth of this baby that affects all of us for eternity.