Christmas Decorating without a Tree

Christmas focus wallI will admit that Christmas is not my favorite holiday. I don’t like spending endless amounts of money, or overeating and it seems senseless to buy decorations that sit in a box 11 months out of every year. I know you could say the same thing about Halloween, but Halloween is fun. There’s just so much guilt wrapped around Christmas. Did you spend too much? Not enough? Did you cook it right? Cook enough? Are you making it memorable? Are your kids disappointed? Spoiled? Ungrateful? The list goes on and on, mostly in my head, but it weighs so heavily on my heart as well.

I combat these feelings with making a lot of the gifts I give and the decorations we put up. For the past few years I’ve had an argument inside about the Christmas tree. I really don’t like putting them up. We had an ugly, fake one for a long time. We bought it because it was ugly. It made me feel like I was thrusting my middle finger at The Christmas Police. “You want me to have a tree? Here! Here’s your freaking tree!” A couple years ago it became too ugly, even for me. Ever since, I’ve had to figure out some way of putting up my ornaments, without buying a tree. This year’s solution is my absolute favorite because it was free and it used up four spray paint cans out of my stash.

branches painted blackI brought home five branches that I found on the ground at the park next to my house. I painted them first with black floral spray paint to make them stand out a little more since my wall is a little busy. To make it look like they had snow on them I sprayed them a few inches at a time with clear topcoat spray and while they were wet I sprinkled them with small mica flakes and then I coated them really well with more topcoat to get the flakes to stick. I had the flakes on hand from when I used to make countertops. (I didn’t want to use glitter because I was afraid my dog might eat it and get sick)

mica snowmy kind of ChristmasTo hang them I put four small eye hooks in the ceiling about 3 inches from the wall and about two feet apart.  I tied thread in two places on each branch and suspended them at different heights.

Christmas branchesOrnaments on highI love the way it really shows off our ornaments. Plus, unlike a tree, there’s no bad side, no broken lights and no need to water it. Way better than a tree, at least for me. Please don’t get me wrong, I think Christmas trees are beautiful and I love all the lights, I just hate doing it. My hats are off to all you Christmas tree decorators out there. I admire your tenacity. You’re a better man than me.

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Matilda’s Mouse Antique Show – Halloween 2013

Welcome to Matilda's MouseI am totally loving my daughter’s senior year. Every once in awhile she gets out of school at 11:19 am because she doesn’t have a 6th period class. Today that scheduled blessing was timed perfectly to coincide with Matilda’s Mouse monthly antique show………the Halloween Edition! Our favorite. (One sad note: Matilda, the dog who the show is named for, passed away last month. Make sure you sign the condolences book at the entrance)

Skeleton welcome crewLoved the welcome gate. The skeleton dude just gives you that warm fuzzy feeling.

Halloween barn entranceMatilda’s Mouse Antique Show takes place once a month in a barn on the Betty Crocker Estate in Valley Center (29200 Miller Road, Valley Center, CA 92082). It’s a three day event from Friday through Sunday. There’s a theme every month, and October is always Halloween. We love Halloween.

creepy portrait vignetteThe show has everything from crystal and china, to rusted primitives and architectural salvage. Definitely something for everybody.

3 guys and a coffinIt’s a antique home decor show…….with a twist. I wanted this coffin box bad but it’s not as fun without the three creepy dudes, and I just couldn’t swing the whole group. Their prices are very reasonable, but having just come off a big trip, I’m trying to keep the purse strings tight.
antique dress formI have a thing for crows and a couple of cool ones did make it home with me. This dress form is fantastic, even without the raven wings. The metal frame at the bottom is in perfect condition. She’d be so much fun to decorate for each season, don’t you think?

upside down furniture

The women that put this event together are so creative, and the layers are so deep. This vignette is hanging high in the rafters. You have to go slow to catch all their ingenuity.

wood carved birdcageThis highly detailed, carved wood birdcage is so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. I’ve never seen anything like it.

frightful frolicLove the witches legs. Great job with the chalkboards all around the place as well.

Halloween vignetteWe’re putting our Halloween porch together this weekend and we love going to Matilda’s to pick up a couple new things, but what we really fill up on is inspiration. How could we not?

witch vignetteIt’s an outstanding show and I can’t recommend it enough. Before the holiday season gets in full swing, take a quick Saturday drive out to Valley Center. It’s a great mother-daughter day out. I know this mother-daughter couple sure had a great time. What are you doing this weekend?

End of Days – West Texas Infinity

(This is the last post of a series that began September 27th)

Our last fun night was spent with our good friends in San Antonio. They had enough room that we were able to sleep indoors, which was nice. Then we started the long trek home.

west TexasIf you haven’t had the joy of driving through West Texas on the I-10, this is what you’re missing.

more West TexasYou’re also missing this. Those are two completely different pictures. I’m not kidding. It all looks like this. They should have mental health facilities at either end because it takes two days to drive to the border of Texas and it all looks like this. When you’re heading to California you get the added bonus of driving straight into the sunset with nothing between you and the sun. Awesome!

Arizona rocksAfter two days of that you’re thrilled to look at stuff like this in Arizona. This seems friggin’ majestic after all that desert.

The best views were actually on the inside of the RV:

sunbathingcan you find him?Percy has a questionPercy definitely kept us entertained.

The best part of any trip is always coming home……….

finally home

I’d like to take a minute to thank the rv pilot, my husband.

pilot and copilot(He’s a security buff and didn’t want me to let anyone think our home was vacant, so I had to keep the pilot’s identity a secret)

My husband kept us safe through rain, snow, humidity and mosquitoes, not to mention hours of mind-numbing desert. We didn’t have a single bad day on this trip, except for the bad fish night, but that wasn’t his fault. This was one of the most memorable trips we’ve been on and we couldn’t have done it without him.

Love you, Russ!

Day Seven – Dripping Springs, Texas

(This is the part of a series that began September 27th)

After we attended the Marburger Farm’s Antique Show on Tuesday we drove to our good friend’s home in Dripping Springs, Texas, which is West of Austin. We parked the RV in front of their horse stables and ambled down to their home for dinner, drinks and a lot of catching up. After we’d ate and drank our fill we dragged ourselves to our mobile home only to find out that now the generator wasn’t working. Whatever! Who needs electricity when you’re sleeping? We brushed our teeth and went to bed.

Thankfully our friends woke us up with fresh coffee and breakfast before we were awake enough to remember that we needed electricity to make coffee. Thank God! So again, the generator wasn’t needed. (As it turns out, the generator won’t turn on if you have less than a quarter tank of gas in the vehicle, so as soon as we filled up it was back to running smoothly)

Dianna and PattyAfter breakfast my friend Patty gave my daughter a lesson on her horse Beau. Dianna has joined an equestrian club at school and is volunteering at a rescue center, trading work hours for riding privileges. Patty is a fantastic teacher and she went over everything from grooming to tacking to basic riding. Dianna had a great time and learned a lot.

Percy is concernedPercy on the other hand was completely riveted. He has only seen one other horse and it was attached to a cart. It nearly made him poop his pants……..but he didn’t have pants. When Dianna got on Beau, he was beside himself. Again, he had no pants.

poor worn out puppyIt completely wore him out. I can understand. Watching her wore me out too.

My mother and I had horses when I was growing up, but she was a great rider with more bravery and determination than I’ve ever seen. She competed in Cross-Country Eventing shows against girls that were 40 years younger than her, and she won a fair share of ribbons. Kicking ass and taking names. What I remember most is her absolute exhilaration at the end of the jumping course. She was absolutely lit up on the inside.

my momMy mom got Dianna on horses as often as she could. I wish it had been more. Their time together was way too short. After my mom died, being around horses became really difficult for me, to say the least. My mom and I rode together nearly every day when I was in high school. Just the smell of horses makes me miss her.

trottingWhen Dianna got on Beau, I will admit, a few silent tears were shed on the side of the arena. This time it was because she looked just like my Mom on that horse. She’s so beautiful. It was pure joy to watch. Thanks, Patty. Thanks for a new memory.

Marburger Farm’s Antique Show

(this is part of a series that began September 27th)

cream and brown design schemeThanks to my cousin letting us take her car first thing, (Thanks, Cheri!) Dianna and I got our Starbucks and headed out to the Marburger Farm’s Antique Show as fast as our loaner car could take us. Not as fast as the speed limit, however, which is 80mph in some places…….crazy Texans. You can see by the very first photo that it was totally worth going. Yummmmmmmmm.

dark and lovely displayI have been to a fair share of shows, but I’ve never seen one this big or with such a high caliber of display and merchandising all in one place. I’m used to going to big shows and seeing a handful of vendors who go all out with eye catching booths. This show didn’t have one display that was boring or uninteresting.

vintage crates and boxesEven the vendors who specialized in a certain thing made an effort to grab your attention. I loved these crates. The vendor adds the handles and varnishes them to really bring out their color. Love that.

vintage books and tinsThis was the first booth we saw, in the first tent we went to . They had a little bit of everything, so we took our time. My goal was to see as much as we could but not rush. It was hot so I didn’t want us perspiring anymore than necessary.  A sweaty shopper is an unhappy shopper.

antique chandeliersThey have several old houses and shacks on the property that were shared by a small number of vendors whose stuff complimented eachother. This one had lighting, coral and metal bins. Works for me.

columns and butterfliesThis booth made me want to cry it was so beautiful. I mean, come on! If you aren’t crying right now it’s because you have no soul and you might want to do something about that.

antlers, branches and busts, oh myThe way they displayed their wares also gave me new ideas for the stuff I already have. I love how this vendor used natural materials to enhance their architectural pieces.

mmmmmmmm...egg saladNow for an intermission: The heat outside made us steer clear of the bbq stands. We settled on egg salad on homemade bread with pickles, Lays potato chips and sweet tea. Scrumtious. The egg salad was cold and yummy and fortified us for the rest of the day.

deer head artI’m just now realizing that I probably shouldn’t put this photo of deer heads so close to the lunch picture……..too late.

Taxidermy is big right now. This will make my friend, Amy G., never speak to me again, but I am going to say that I really liked this display. I’m not saying I’m going to go kill one of my own, but if someone gave me one, I would probably hang it in a similar fashion, and I’d probably name it, and put hats on it.

taxidermy artSorry again, Amy. I really loved these, and if I had $450 burning a hole in my pocket I probably would have come home with one. She also had skunks that were really cute. Dead…….but cute. That doesn’t make sense, does it? Sorry.

dreamy bed displayOkay, sorry again, Amy. They’re friggin’ everywhere. This one’s pretty creative. Who would have thought that a deer head, old film reels, metal siding and branches would make such an awesome headboard. Obviously Amy wouldn’t think it’s awesome, but some people would. Someone like me, unfortunately. (I can almost feel her deleting me from her Contacts)

glamourous birdcageThis should make everyone feel a little better; the birds in this fantastic aviary are alive. But now that I’m thinking about it, caged birds make me sad. Dang it, I was so close.

Anyway, the lengths that some of these vendors went to was awe-inspiring. These people brought live birds all the way from somewhere. Sheesh. That’s committment. Bravo. I’m going to pretend they released the doves back into the wild after the show. Come join me in Fantasyland, will you?antique basket rackThis is one of those things that I truly wish I needed because it’s so dang cool. They had it filled with upholstery trim and metal junk.  I’m sure I could find a use for it, right after I find the $2000 I would need to make it mine.

antique letteringI hate to close with another deer head, but it was pretty hard to find displays with out them. This was outside one of the tents. There was so much good stuff that they couldn’t contain it on the inside.

Although we sweated a lot and were overwhelmed by this size of the show, we had a really good time. We didn’t buy hardly anything because everything was a lot more expensive than most shows we go to. I saw a lot of designers with clients, so I think the vendors were aiming for that lot. I don’t blame them. The cost of their booth, as well as shipping costs and lodging during the show had to be astronomical. I’m still really glad we went and loved looking at all the creativity. If you’re ever in Round Top around this time of year, definitely make time to attend. It’s totally worth it.

Days Four & Five – from Gypsum to Austin

Pak-A-Sac

One of the more exciting moments on the road

(This is part of a series that started September, 27th)

I’m combining these two days because they were fairly boring days. I barely took any pictures because there just wasn’t anything worth photographing. No offense to the land between Denver and Austin. I’m sure there’s beauty there, it just wasn’t near the freeway.

After hot showers and coffee to thaw us both inside and out, we shoved off. We visited my in-laws for a few hours in Evergreen and got back on the road after lunch. We ended up in Trinidad, Colorado at nightfall and decided that rather than expose ourselves to the elements, we would get a cheap room at the La Quinta hotel. Percy got his first exposure to elevators, without batting an eye. Do you ever wonder what dogs must think? We walk into a box, the doors close, and when they open we’re in a different place. For all they know, we just got out of the glass elevator at Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. And you can’t explain it to them.

From Trinidad we kept driving south until we hit Lubbock, Texas where we stayed at the nicest RV Park we could find. All the parks we’d stayed at before had obviously been for tourists. Not so in Lubbock, Texas. I’m pretty sure that people don’t build decks and staircases for their campers if they’re just staying for the week. Or maybe I’m just lazy. It definitely had that lived-in-by-pedophiles feeling. I’m pretty sure people were looking out their creepy windows when we pulled up and thinking my daughter looked  like a Scooby Snack. Luckily, the driver is armed and no one would dare mess with Percy. He could kill you, especially if you’re hoarding bacon. Luckily the night air was mild and the creepers stayed home.

Doodle StitchingTo keep the doldrums away during the boring parts of the trip, we brought craft supplies and books. You know, all those things you bought while uttering the phrase, “Someday when I have time, this will be fun to do.” Someday had come. We spent many hours working through this book, “Doodle Stitching” by Aimee Ray. It’s a really creative book with modern motifs that are easy to follow. It also has a cd with it so you can resize the patterns to fit your project.

I’m working on a piece with a gnome, trees and mushrooms. Dianna is working on a design with two hedgehogs. It’s adorable. I think she’s better at this than me, but we’re both having fun and it helps time pass. We’re making our own souvenirs. Every time we look at them we’ll remember this trip and the time we spent together. Priceless.

We arrived at my cousin’s house, just outside Austin, the night before the Marburger Farm Antique Show opened. We had great Chinese takeout at my cousin’s house and caught up on all the family gossip. I think her dauschaund is in love with Percy. How can you blame her?

Prince Persius

Day Three – The Rockies

(this is a continuation of a series started on September 27th)

Driving from Durango, through the Rockies was one of the most memorable days of the trip. We were cruising along slowly in the morning which always puts me to sleep. I was awoken by my daughter asking, “Is that snow?” I opened my eyes to snowflakes hitting the windshield.

snow in the RockiesThe sides of the road went from having a light dusting of snow, to having several inches piling up. So exciting! The aspens had begun turning gold and the contrast between the amber leaves and the pure white snow was stunning.

It took awhile, but we found a safe place to pull off the road so we could introduce Percy to the concept of snow. Southern California dogs don’t get the chance often, so we just couldn’t ignore the opportunity, even if he’d hate us for the rest of his life.

Percy's first snowPercy doesn’t like water at all so we were going to have to be quick with the camera. I got myself ready and Dianna put Percy’s sweater on to buffer the shock. He was very curious and definitely looked like he was trying to get away from it, but at least he took a moment to catch a few snowflakes on his tongue.

snowflake catchingWhen we parked for the night in Gypsum it was 37 degrees outside. The camper has a great furnace, so we got it nice and toasty while we ate our steakhouse takeout dinner.

And then the furnace died……..

The driver spent a good hour both in and out of the vehicle trying to fix it. He’s a mechanic, so we thought it would be a quick fix. Nope. We called the rental company and they gave us a few tips, none of which worked. It was 10 o’ clock at night so there wasn’t going to be anyone able to come help. So we bundled up, put Percy’s sweater on, wrapped him in three blankets (he’s a fragile flower) and went to bed.

At 2am my daughter woke me up to inform me that her steakhouse fish n chips had decided that it would rather be in the rv septic system rather than remain in her stomach (I’m trying to be delicate). She’s telling me how sick she is and all I’m thinking is, “Jesus, it’s f*#king cold in here!” Turns out it was 30 degrees in the camper. She took some Pepto, we ran the stove for 10 minutes to take the edge off the frigidity and went back to bed.

This scene repeated again at 4am. Double Awesome!

Ouray-ColoradoTomorrow had to be better, right?