Is It Real or Is It…

9 04 2010

I have become rather an aficionado of tag searches for posts on decorating.  Not that I myself write much on the subject.  But I’m quite fond of running through a stream of 15 or 20 posts on what people are trying in their own homes or finding on the internet.

Maybe it’s because there’s a lot of pictures and not so much text.  (Am I really so shallow?)

In any case, the thing I’ve noticed is that, without reading a single thing, I can always immediately discern whether I’m looking at a photograph of someone’s home, or of something generated by professionals.  And that has surprised me a bit.

I know a lot of people have a good eye, a wonderful artistic sense, plenty of cash.  Why can they not produce something in their own home that looks like it came from the pages of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine?

Part of it might relate to the fact that you’ll never walk into a model home and confuse it with the real thing.  Certain things are lacking–like televisions and trash cans and piles of papers that we believe to be too important to throw in those trash cans (or, ahem, recycle bins.)

Part of it might be the photography.  Professionals have just the right lighting and very expensive cameras and related accessories.

In any case, I guess the armies of interior designers can rest easy that there is still a place for them.

One cute tip I found on a blog and am giving a whirl at my house.  Dump your Scrabble tiles on a plate or in a bowl and use them to create short, timely messages.  (My niece’s first child, a daughter, is due in May and she’s coming to visit us tomorrow.)  We have two sets of tiles because my husband and I each came into our marriage with our own childhood set.

And speaking of Scrabble, did you hear they’re changing the rules to allow proper nouns?  It created a big fiasco among Scrabble purists when the news first came out, but apparently it doesn’t apply to American Scrabble, only European Scrabble.   So don’t throw out your dictionaries yet.   Beyonce isn’t going to cut it on this side of the Atlantic.

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E-I-E-I-O

7 04 2010

Assorted folks from my husband’s side of the family are converging on Northern Virginia this weekend and it’s our turn to be hosts.  So we’re doing a lunch on Saturday.  One of the attendees will be a niece who’s expecting her first baby in May.  We haven’t seen her since last summer due to a couple of ill-timed snowstorms.  (She lives in India.)

I was thinking it would be nice to have a little theme thing going on, in honor of the soon-to-be new arrival.  I decided my best bet was the old standard, tried-and-true, all things barnyard.

So I headed down into the basement to see what I could scrounge up.  These animals (they nest) were a present at my younger son’s first birthday party.  (I can’t believe I can remember that so clearly when I can’t remember what we gave him for Christmas three months ago.)

And everybody remembers the Fisher Price barnyard set.  When you open the barn door you hear a “Moo!”  Kudos to me for not losing any of those pieces, though I see the sheep has a  broken ear.

I found a pertinent puzzle.  Four pieces, just my speed.

And a few books.  The big one is by Richard Scarry.  He was one of my favorite author/illustrators from the kids’ growing up years.  (Anybody remember Goldbug, a little fellow that was hiding on pages filled with a myriad of  cute little sketches?  Sort of a Where’s Waldo for the preschool set.)

I was even able to come up with these farm-themed socks.  I know we also had a pair of gardening gloves that some industrious crafter had spiffed up by attaching a farm animal on each finger.  My digging hasn’t unearthed those gems yet.My husband gave me this cookie jar early on in our marriage.  If it has a battery, you hear an “oink” sound when you take the top off.  Diet motivator.

And finally, this cow.  I got it ages ago at the Pfaltzgraff outlet store.  A man in line with me scoffed at my selection, suggesting good-naturedly that it was a silly purchase.  Ordinarily I’d agree with him, but this cow and I have a thing going on.  It was love at first sight, and I’m still crazy about her.  You should see her wearing her Christmas bow.

I guess I really should stop this foolishness and start thinking about what I might serve these people.





Better Luck Next Year

18 01 2010

Darkness has descended once again on my street.

About a third of our residents either don’t celebrate Christmas or don’t decorate for the occasion.

Another third do, but opt for the less is more, traditional holiday decorating schemes.  Heavy on greenery, candles, even fruit. You know, tasteful.

Another third, my husband included, are more interested in wattage.  Lots of lights.  He even mixes his colors and his whites.  (No wonder I don’t let him near the laundry.)  I used to try to get him to commit to one or the other, but my first rule of a happy marriage is “Pick your battles.”  I finally listened to my own advice.  (His preferred decorating scheme is juvenile.  The only modification he’s made since reaching adulthood is to add one of those huge electric-fan-driven blowup Santas.)

So anyway last November as lawns went into winter hiatus, as foliage no longer pleased us with gorgeous autumn color but just looked, well, dead, when the only colors to be seen were those gosh awful winter cabbages that only the true botanical buff plants, we were on the verge of falling into depression.  Then Advent arrived and, when one turned the car onto our street, he was cheered by an assortment of brightly lit houses.

But after the last present was opened and the last champagne bottle was uncorked, people rapidly took the glowing strands down.  And neighbors would have fallen into winter doldrums were it not for OUR HOUSE.

Because we have a tradition that we don’t take the outdoor lights down until the Dallas Cowboys’ season is over.  Some Many years this means nothing; we take them down with everyone else.  On at least one occasion we’ve had them up into February.  This year, we had them up until yesterday.

But they’re packed away now, waiting for next year, just like Tony Romo.

We can also put our Roger Staubach (Cowboys quarterback, 1969-79) ornament, which has been standing watch on the top of the television, back in storage.

Sayonara, ‘Boys.





Snowbound, Part II

23 12 2009

Being snowbound the last weekend before Christmas may have impacted my shopping, but I loathe going to the mall anyway.  And it gave me more time to focus on holiday gift wrapping.  Such as:

Won’t the recipients be surprised when they discover the packaging is a lot more impressive than the actual contents of the packages?

Being trapped at home also provided more time for sprucing up the holiday decor:

I even gave the cat something to look at during meal time:

And, most of my Christmas cards are out now.  This year I created a design based on a delightful co-mingling of two art forms: ancient Japanese origami (Santa Claus) and the decidedly less highbrow twisty paper stuff that I found at the Restore (his sack.)  The result:

The sentiment inside says “Great news!  We heard Santa took you off his Naughty List this year.”