Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hooked on Downton Abbey

Whew!! I just finished watching the Season 3 finale of Downton Abbey. I actually watched the entire three seasons this past month!

I know, I know I am a little behind the rest of the world. I never started watching the show from the beginning but kept hearing about it. I tried getting it from the library but all they had was Season 3 and that was a mistake trying to jump in there!

My friend Irene lent me her thumb drive with season one and two on it and I watched it all, wondering what all the anger was about on how it ended. After all, Mary and Matthew were finally getting married!

Then I saw an interview on Good Morning America and how Matthew's character was killed off in the finale. I didn't even know that I hadn't watched the finale!

There is nothing like a good, clean soap opera. And one that is so well done. It is like reading a good book where you get involved in the characters lives and get to know them, even if they talk funny and use words like "daft".

So I am hooked and waiting for January 5th when the new season starts. It follows another good, clean soap opera on Sunday nights that I have watched from the beginning....Once Upon a Time. 

Sorry, guys (to my husband and son), I have the TV Sunday nights from 8 -10 p.m.!  I won't be doing any Etsy promoting or selling or blog hopping or listing new vintage finds in those two hours. I also won't be doing the Downton workout just yet either!

If you haven't jumped on board the Downton Abbey train yet, you still have 10 days to catch up on all three seasons before the new season begins! Also you might want to brush up on your ability to follow and understand the English accent of the early 1900's!
In the northeast we need SOMETHING to get involved in over the long winter ahead!
AnnMarie :)
I am linking up with these great blog parties this week!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Mantel for Christmas

I am so excited to be linking up with Pamela at From My Front Porch to Yours for her 3rd Annual Christmas Mantel Party.

I am so happy to have a home with a mantel and I love to decorate it with the seasons. Every Christmas I do something a little different and this year I wanted a more rustic, woodland, vintage-y mantel even though the room is a Victorian Parlor!

The color on the walls is Cranberry Cocktail and mixes well with muted reds and of course white. The idea for a woodland mantel came about when I saw the all white pine cone wreath on one of the many blogs I visit each week. I had to make it this year for my woodland mantel. I just happened to have the rusty metal snowflake garland to put around it.

I had a lot of the items from years past and then found some new treasures to make it all come together. My snowflake ribbon was a great find at a great country store in a nearby town. The JOY banner was lovingly handmade by an Etsy seller, as was the wonderful muslin tree on the end. The Yule Log was bought at a local church bazaar, made by their youth group.


My metal reindeer, iridescent garland and glass candle holder go on the mantel every year no matter the theme. The pine cone candleholders add just the right touch. The "snow" is a piece of quilt batting cut to size and scalloped on the outer edge.

The parlor is not a large room but it is right in the middle of a long, narrow house so we walk through it to get to every other room. The mantel is the focal point of the room and Christmas is my favorite time to decorate it.

Hmmm......what should my theme be next year?

AnnMarie xoxo

The links for some of  the great items on my mantel can be found in this post.

I am linking up with:

3rd Annual Christmas Mantel Party

Sunday, December 8, 2013

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree.....

 O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
How are thy leaves so verdant!
Not only in the summertime,
But even in winter is thy prime.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How are thy leaves so verdant!

 O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Much pleasure dost thou bring me!
For ev’ry year the Christmas tree,
Brings to us all both joy and glee.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Much pleasure dost thou bring me!

 O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are thy branches!
Not only green when summer's here
But in the coldest time of year.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are thy branches!

 O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How sturdy God hath made thee!
Thou bidds't us all place faithfully
Our trust in God, unchangingly!
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How sturdy God hath made thee!

 O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Thy candles shine out brightly!
Each bough doth hold its tiny light,
That makes each toy to sparkle bright.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Thy candles shine out brightly!

Treasure Hunt Thursday
Open House Party
Freedom Fridays with All My Bloggy Friends
Let's Connect
Flashback Friday

Friday, December 6, 2013

Let the Decorating Begin!

It's Five on Friday time!

This is a fun blog party to link up to every Friday. The hosts are Darci, AprilChristina and Natasha. Just write 5 things on your mind today and post at the party! Then go read what others have been doing all week on their Five on Friday posts!

1.What has been on my mind this week and I am sure most of us in the blog world is decorating for Christmas! I finally started and finished this week, except for one tiny detail....the tree! We went to get it last Saturday and it took us all of 15 minutes from start to finish. My husband doesn't want to cut our own anymore so we go to a nice tree farm nearby that have really nice pre-cut trees. The second one we looked at was ours. It has been up since then and we are still waiting for the branches to relax a little. It is a Frasier fir and smells heavenly.

2.You can still see the blue underside of the branches, so while I am waiting for it to fall a little I decided to try and make the tree topper I saw on Priscillas blog. Mine came out a little big after three trys but I put it up there anyways to live with it and see how I like it....I figured I had at least a week!We are decorating the tree tomorrow and I still haven't decided. Is it too big?

3. I have been baking this week whenever I could. The gingerbread is chilling in the fridge as I write this. I usually start in November and bake the whole month and freeze them so I don't have anything to do in December but enjoy the festivities. Well, with my Etsy shop and blogging weekly I fell a little behind. I usually make about 12 different kinds of cookies plus assorted chocolate bark and candies. I do have a good start on it though....see?

My freezer is a little frozen over....a project my husband
and I are working on!
4. As of today I think the decorating is done. I have so many boxes of things collected over the years to decorate with but this year I really wanted to have a more vintage look so I have been collecting new things to decorate with. Here is a sneak peak of what I have been up to.....

5. Between packaging orders, running to the post office, managing my shop, decorating, cleaning, and baking, my storage area in the basement has gotten out of hand. I actually took some time to straighten and somewhat organize it....yes, this is a lot better than it was! With 400+ items in my shop I am running out of room to store them all. Of course I have no plans to stop picking and thrifting for vintage stuff to help fix the problem! Can you visit my shop and take some of these things off my hands...please? :-)
Happy decorating and baking!

I am linking up with these great blog hops:
Five on Friday
Be Inspired
Pink Saturday
diy Sunday Showcase

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gathering Christmas Joy for Decorating

Although I have been very good about NOT decorating for Christmas till after Thanksgiving, I have been storing up some new goodies all along the way!

Danielle at Delightful Mom posted this pinecone wreath earlier this Fall and I fell in love. I finally made it, a little bigger to fill the wall above my mantel. I love it's simplicity and pure whiteness! I have pinecones in baskets around my house year round as there is just something about them, so this wreath spoke to me loud and clear..."You need to make me and hang me above the mantel in the parlor!" Since one of my passions is wreaths and making them I had to oblige!

I am going for a more rustic, vintage look this year in my Christmas decorating. I have stored up a lot of decorations over the years to fill up every room in my house but I always find myself wanting to do something a little different every year.

This idea to decorate vintage and rustic started when I saw this 1950's elf at efinegifts on Etsy. There are pages and pages of delightful vintage items and wonderful Christmas decorating items in this shop.

I had been wanting a pixie elf of my own as it sparks a kind of childhood memory in me. The Elf on the Shelf was not a tradition in our house when I was growing up and I had not heard of it when my girls were little so I missed out on that whole thing! I just love the way he looks perched on my kitchen cupboard.

I found this beautiful French inspired, rustic farmhouse tree, handmade by Amy, at ProvencalMarket on Etsy. It goes well in my Victorian pink and cranberry parlor and in my rustic, farmhouse dining room.

I just may have to leave it up year round!

Dru at The NestinSLT on Etsy makes these beautiful banners and I just had to have one for my parlor mantel. I chose JOY.
There won't be any Christmas decorating pictures just yet.....that will be in a future post. I am still gathering new things and planning my vignettes in my head!
There is a wonderful country store in Chesire, a small town near Canandaigua Lake in the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York. I have to visit every Fall to see what is new and I was not disappointed.
I saw this candle holder and was holding it in awe, going through my mind how I was going to afford it and pay for it when my husband saw the look on my face. "You want that?" he asked. I said something like "how can you tell?" and he said "give it to me" and went and paid for it! I was speechless and did not protest! It has been hanging out on top of my wooden truck in the dining room waiting to be placed, probably on the mantel below the pinecone wreath with the JOY banner underneath. That tree to the left is a new find also, a small retro silver tree that I have the perfect vintage silver and ivory ornaments for.

Good Old Days Country Store is another wonderful country store in Pultneyville, NY and on a recent visit I found two things I just had to have since they sparked that vintage, rustic feel I am going for.

I found an embroidered snowman runner for my kitchen table. It was more than half off because of a few spots on it which I think add to it's character. And a woven snowflake garland that I just had to have. Still thinking on where I will use it.

And then there are the things I have been picking and thrifting for to sell in my Etsy shop NaNa's Things. I made a little vignette out of some of them for the basket listing and I liked it so much I am leaving it there till it sells or I just have to keep it all for my decorating!

The basket is a suitcase style wicker basket so perfect for a display like this. The kitties are made from c.1800's quilts, the tray is an Avon item from 1983, the tree is a vintage ceramic tree with the green and red speckled and drippy glaze and the Santa head is a chalkware bank. All can be found in my shop.

Tomorrow we go to get our live tree and a wreath for the front door. That is when the official Christmas decorating begins!

Have you started yet?

Or are you all done?!

AnnMarie xoxo

I am linking up with these great blog hops:

Freedom Fridays with all My Bloggy Friends
Be Inspired
Treasure Hunt Thursday
Pink Saturday
A Bouquet of Talent Linky Party
diy Sunday Showcase
Marvelous Mondays
Inspiration Monday
Make It Pretty Monday
Amaze Me Monday
Talking Tuesday

Thursday, November 21, 2013

DIY Advent Calendars - A Tradition

I am not sure when it all started but one of the Christmas traditions at my home every year is the Advent Calendar. The festivities start December 1st.

I think when I found my advent calendar on sale for half price and had to have it, I instituted the tradition........meaning that I suggested to my husband to fill it for me so that I could have a treat every day of December!

A beautiful display piece with the doors closed

Don't worry....I made both my husband and son their own advent calendars and each year I fill them up with treats for every day in December too.

An Advent Calendar is a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. One window is opened every day leading up to Christmas. The calendar windows open to reveal an image, a poem or a portion of a story, such as the story of the Nativity. A small gift, such as a toy or a chocolate item can be put inside.

I will explain how I made my version of an advent calendar for my husband and son and, if you are a sewer, it should be fairly easy to make one of your own. I apologize that this is not exactly a tutorial. These calendars are already made and I don't have any step by step pictures.

I made these for my husband and son. You can choose any fabric and colors to suit whoever you are making it for or to match your décor. You can scale it down also to fit a special spot.

My husband Frank's calendar had to be Spiderman, a superhero favorite of his since childhood....

My son Michael's had to be a Gecko theme since he has a real Gecko in a cage in his room named Geck's. I actually found material with Gecko's on it.....

Materials Needed:
fabric of choice for the front (the screen print spiderman measures 34" x 44")
fabric of choice for the backing (same size as the front)
felt for the pockets - about a yard
black marker
number stencil
36" dowel - 1/2" thick
1 yard cording or twine for the hanger
 A large enough spot to hang it!

For the Spiderman I used the screened by the yard prints that are found at any fabric store. That determined the size it was going to be and the amount of fabric I needed for the back. I used black felt by the yard for the black.
For the pockets I cut out 24  4" x 4" squares from red felt and used a number stencil and a black marker for the numbers, 1-24. If you have a steady hand you could free hand the numbers. For the gecko calendar I used a product called Scribbles in Iridescent Charcoal Grey for the numbers. It is 3D paint which dries to a hard finish. I penciled the numbers on and then traced with the paint.
Next pin the pockets evenly on the front fabric in random order. It's more fun to have to hunt for the number and the treat than to have them all in order! Sew them on three sides on the machine leaving the top open.
Once that is done sew the back fabric on.With right sides together, I sewed all four sides with a 5/8" seam, minus about 6" to turn it inside out through. Once turned blind stitch the opening closed. On the outside I sewed a finishing seam along the black border that was already there. If there is not a border sew a 1/4" seam all the way around the edge.
For the dowel pocket turn over the top 1 1/2" and sew down. If you have a border at the top of your front fabric that would ruin the design by turning it over, leave the top open when sewing the front to the back and add a 2" wide piece of the back fabric after you turn the whole thing right side out. Turn that down 1 1/2" and and sew it down.

 On the gecko calendar I didn't have a border so I just turned the top over 1 1/2" and sewed it down.

Knot your cord or twine on both ends of the dowel. You can add any other embellishments you want, like I did with the gecko with the Santa hat on. I just drew him and cut it out of felt and glued it all on.

Need ideas what to fill the pockets with? I have filled them with small toys, small candies, socks and razors. A fun thing to do for an item that is too large for the pocket is to write a note with a clue on where it is hidden and put the note in the pocket. I have done this many times with bottles of favorite beverages that are hidden in the back of the fridge.

Another great idea is to write out notes of holiday inspired things to do to fill each pocket. For example...."fill the bird feeder today with dried cranberries" or "bake some cookies for your neighbor" or "take a drive tonight through the neighborhood to see the lights"....

Be creative! It is fun for the one who fills and for the one who receives!

One last thing for those of you who love the idea of an Advent Calendar but don't want to sew. There is a wonderful website out of England that I subscribe to year round for greeting cards to send online. Every Christmas they offer advent calendars to download onto your computer that you can go and check every day starting December 1st. They are done with beautiful graphics and lots of activities. I send one to each of my granddaughters as a treat for them leading up to Christmas.

Here is the website:

AnnMarie  xoxo

I am linking up with these great blog parties:

What's It Wednesday Link Party
Adorned From Above Blog Hop
Open House Blog Party
Treasure Hunt Thursday
Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop
Anything Blue Friday
The Pin Junkie Friday Link Party
DIY Sunday Showcase
A Bouquet of Talent
Sweet & Savoury Sundays
Marvelous Mondays
Inspiration Monday
Make It Pretty Monday