our christmas “explosion”

My daughter’s favorite description of what our home looks like right now is that “Christmas exploded!”  We literally can’t walk an inch without brushing up against a tree branch, heavily laden with ornaments, or having our eyes come to rest upon any surface not awash in Christmas.

Because we didn’t need to make our usual holiday trek to our daughter’s home for Thanksgiving this year, I found the energy to begin the gargantuan task of decorating for the holidays. I figured if I started ahead of time, unlike last year, I’d be okay removing it all some time in January. Last year’s decor didn’t get taken down until April, about 7 months ago. In fact, when we began the ritual of bringing bins in from the garage, my husband said “Didn’t we just put these away?”

I incorporate Christmas in with my everyday furnishings, antiques, and vintage collections, so it’s a monstrous task piecing together what is literally a household puzzle. Every item finds a new home, somewhere. My brain is agog with a choreography of minutiae. Somehow everything comes together for the holidays. And I try not to repeat the same scenario from year to year. In recent years I’ve used 5 or 6 artificial trees of varying widths, heights, shapes, and styles. Their adornments are changed each Christmas, because I couldn’t possibly remember their exact configuration, even if I wanted.

Holiday vignettes are everywhere, adorning the tops of an antique dresser and an immigrant’s chest, several painted cupboards and a pie safe, lining the shelves of a green bookcase, and an assortment of tables. Open shelving which frames the kitchen window showcase my santa collection, the overflow keeping my husband company in his office. Meanwhile the snowmen are gathered together in a cozy corner of my daughter’s bedroom. Vintage toys rest along the mantle, and before the fireplace. While Christmas stockings line the staircase bannister leading to the front door

I’ve always transformed our home into a magical place for the holidays, whether it’s Easter, Halloween or Christmas. And it was always for my daughter’s benefit. The delight in her eyes, the smile that lit up her face, the love she shared in thanking us, made the time and energy it took, so worth it. No matter that she’s now 24, I still work my magic, and she continues to be delighted, and gratefully loving. Its still so worth it!

sending you hugs for a holiday full of hope, and love…hugmmamma.

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an uplifting “destination”

I’m certain we all have somewhere that lifts our spirits, whether it’s a physical location, or one that exists within our minds, hearts, or souls. Ever since moving to the Pacific Northwest, my “destination” has always been Molbak’s. When I enter its doors into what is a wonderland of sights and smells, a smile spreads across my lips, and seemingly finds its way down to the very tips of my toes.

Molbak’s is a large nursery where plants, shrubs and trees, notable for their beautiful blooms or lovely foliage, share an equally sizeable, neighboring space with items, including gifts, for the home and garden. Nestled in a cozy corner is a cafe that serves up the most delicious sandwiches, soups, salads and cookies.  Homemade, everything is as delicious as it looks and smells, the tomato basil soup, the smoked turkey with provolone and cranberry-avocado dressing on focaccia, and the caesar with grilled salmon salad, among other yummy menu items. As I sit awaiting the delivery of my order, I always sample dessert, my scrumptious peanut butter cookie. Never as great as my mom’s, it’ll do in a pinch. I savor every morsel. Usually downing it with a glass of water, I sometimes treat myself to a latte, or an Italian raspberry soda blended with cream. Sinful, but oh, so divine.

Overhead sprawls a canopy of limbs from a huge tree growing in the center of the dining area. The branches press up against the nursery’s ceiling. Growing plants and a fountain flank the base of the tree, creating a small, lush forest with “bird of paradise,” anthuriums, and torch gingers, peeking from beneath green fronds, here and there. More plants line the periphery of the cafe, creating a comforting, environment where even a solitary diner can while away the time in peaceful serenity.

Gazing beyond the cafe environs, my senses are aesthetically heightened by the colors, textures, and juxtapositions of real plants and silk arrangements, decorative furnishings and yes, artificial trees festooned with Christmas baubles, ribbons, sprays of berries, crystal twigs, and more, so much more. Leaving behind remnants of my lunch, I wander through the gift shop, admiring everything!

 As an amateur decorator, I’m always aware of store displays, appreciative of those that wow me. Molbak’s displays are like magnets whose “pull” I’m incapable of resisting, especially during the holidays. Every Christmas tree has a theme to its decor, be its focal point a color, like copper, or holiday treats, like cupcakes and wrapped candies, Of course, the surrounding shelves are filled to overflowing with the items displayed upon the trees. Making my way from tree to tree, it’s difficult to decide which is more captivating. Luckily I’m able to refrain from purchasing most of what I see in front of me, because my garage is already overloaded with bins full of Christmas decor. I do not need more, in fact, I need to rid myself of some. The question is always “With what can I part?” Not only regarding holiday stuff, but all my stuff. I’m an antique dealer, you see, and a collector, with all manner of collections.

Of course I couldn’t resist a “small” purchase, artificial evergreen sprays sporting small, red bells scattered intermittently along its length. They’ll hang nicely on the painted, green door nailed to the wall by the front door of our house. Other than its appeal as an architectural piece, the green door is always a handy backdrop for holiday decor, or random items that catch my fancy.

Before exiting Molbak’s, I perused the small, designated area of Halloween items. I love their vintage selection, offerings reminiscent of the Victorian era. Ghoulish, without being garish. My eyes fell upon a black, artificial, 4-foot tree, lit with small, yellowish-white lights. If not for Halloween being within sight, I might have carted that tree home to make it the centerpiece of an elaborate, ghostly scene, in my dining room, or living room. Perhaps if it’s “on sale” after the holiday?

No matter the season, a visit to Molbak’s always warms my heart, and calms my spirit. It’s “comfort food” for my soul.

hoping you’ve “somewhere” that uplifts…hugmamma.