Posts belonging to Category Holidays



‘TIS THE SEASON

Recently, I wrote about the giving of gifts, and my fascination with the Japanese scroll.

The Japanese scroll, as you may recall, reveals itself just like a gift when removed from the custom box it has been stored in.

A home can reveal itself in very much the same way.

If you think about it, just the act of entering someone’s home can feel like a ceremony.

As you move from room to room the house will continue to reveal itself.

There could be a pleasant surprise around any corner, maybe even the kind that takes your breath away.

“Oh, what a beautiful room!” we’ve all been known to say at one time or another.

This is one reason why both designers and architects will typically hold back with their design.

We don’t want to overpower your senses all at once.

We want you to take things in a little bit at a time, and take a moment to savor the design before revealing the next surprise.

So take a moment to to ask yourself  – what is the first impression visitors have when they enter your home?

Let’s start with the Entry.

The main entrance to your abode should always say something about the person who lives there, i.e. YOU, so the question is – what do you want your entry to say about you?

You can emphasize either your decorating style, or your personal interests, thus setting the tone for the rest of your home.

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GIFTS OF THE SEASON

Driving into the city this morning, I was greeted by a most spectacular sight – the snow-capped Olympic mountains in full view, rising majestically against a clear blue sky.  

It took my breath away, but also filled me with delight.

“What a gift!” I thought  to myself.

Apparently, the ritual of shopping for, and wrapping gifts was on my mind. ‘Tis the season after all.

In the whirlwind of holiday activity, it’s nice to slow done once in awhile and appreciated the simple beauty of nature, or the familiarity and warmth behind our annual traditions.

In a few days, families across the country will be gathered beneath the Christmas tree, enjoying the end result after weeks of shopping and holiday preparation – including, of course,  the unwrapping of presents.

Have you ever noticed that there are various ways to unwrap a gift?

For example, some of us might tear into the package with gusto, leaving a pile of shredded paper and ribbon on the floor. Others are known to unwrap a present ever so carefully, with the intent of saving the paper and bows to be used again next year.

On a recent excursion to a museum, I was introduced to the ceremonious creation of a Japanese scroll painting.

Compact and lightweight, a Japanese scroll hangs effortlessly on a wall. Yet it is preceded by a complex process.

This unique work of art – carefully rolled up and tucked inside a custom made box – is subsequently removed from its’ box in a ceremony steeped in tradition, very much like the unwrapping of a present.

It might surprise you to know the effort that goes into producing this exquisite art form.

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GREENING THE HOLIDAYS, 2011

This past week, my goal was to create my very first Video blog.

Unfortunately, this didn’t go exactly as planned.

In its place, I offer you these timely tips for celebrating the holidays with an eco-friendly twist, based on personal experience and advice I’ve collected over the years.

And if you’re really lucky, the video will still appear sometime this week.

 

TREES & DECORATION

The prevailing wisdom still dictates that a live tree is preferable to an artificial one, since the latter is made almost entirely from plastics, non-renewable petroleum by-products that can’t be recycled.

The bottom line is that while it can seem wasteful to have a living tree from one year to the next, it is actually more beneficial to the environment, especially if you support what is grown or manufactured locally

Another alternative is to plant a living tree, one that grows in a pot and can be re-planted later – a great idea, but one that requires a lot of acreage (or ingenuity) for the re-planting phase.

Especially if you still have many more Christmases to look forward to.

I literally cringed when I read that I should avoid using tinsel, because it can’t be recycled. In my family, tinsel on the Christmas tree is a tradition that goes as far back as I can remember. When it came to decorating the tree it was always my father’s crowning achievement. He would add the tinsel at the very end, ever so carefully and always very meticulously.

Other ways to invite the outdoors into your home, is by collecting pine cones and branches of holly berries, or whatever else you might find that suits your holiday decor.

If you have children, old standbys like strings of cranberries and popcorn continue to entertain; when the holidays are over these can easily go in your yard waste.

 

LIGHTS

Did you know that LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are at least 90% more energy efficient than regular incandescent bulbs? Cool to the touch, they also pose less of a fire hazard, and will last for thousands of hours longer than incandescent bulbs.

LEDs are widely available in many different colors, and shapes, and can be found at your local retailer. By switching to LED’s you will save electricity and enjoy a lower electrical bill!

Be sure you don’t throw away your old lights; check your local listings to find out how they can be recycled.

 

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HOW TO HANDLE ADVERSITY WITH FLAIR

My son recently told me this story about his paternal grandfather, who was returning home to England after a short trip.

Seems the elderly gentleman had a bag of pomegranates in hand when he passed through Security at London’s Heathrow Airport.

“You can’t bring fruit into the country” he was told.

He couldn’t bear the thought of having to part with his beloved fruit, but knew he didn’t have a choice. He felt defeated.

Then suddenly he had an idea.

“I want to eat them”, he said, “Is there a place where I could sit?”

The security officer directed him to a chair. The grandfather sat down and proceeded to eat the pomegranates.

This struck me as particularly funny because he had a total of 20 pomegranates!

Plus, he is a man of very slight build, who gives the impression that a gust of wind might blow him over.

Yet, he sat there and ate the pomegranates.

All twenty of them.

I had to admire his tenacity.

It seems that when faced with adversity there are two basic personality types. There are those that simply give up and throw in the towel.

Then there are those who get creative.

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NEW BEGINNINGS

I read the other day that the holiday festivities don’t officially end until January 2.                       

Well, that might work in most families, but in mine we have a string of January birthdays that begin, more or less, when the holidays are suppose to end.

We’re not officially done celebrating until the following week, which makes for an interesting time of year.

Some family members have been known to complain, because – let’s face it – by the time New Years Day rolls around, we’re feeling the effects of too much good food, and definitely too much sugar.

(For a post-holiday Food Lover’s Cleanse, click here).

January 1 is meant to be the official end to that week – or month – of celebration.

Right?

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TURKEY TALK

My mother use to tell the story of the time she cooked her first Thanksgiving turkey.                                   

She was so excited at the prospect, that she spent the better part of the day talking about and envisioning the marvelous meal that she and my father would partake in that evening.

Her mouth was watering, just thinking of that delicious bird. She could hardly wait to take the first bite.

There was just one problem.

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GIFTS OF THE SEASON – CONTINUED

ENTRY

Last week, I wrote about the giving of gifts, and my fascination with the Japanese scroll, which reveals itself just like a gift when removed from the custom box it has been stored in.

A home can reveal itself in very much the same way. If you think about it, just the act of entering someone’s home can feel like a ceremony.

As you move from room to room the house will continue to reveal itself. There could be a pleasant surprise around any corner, maybe even the kind that takes your breath away.

“Oh, what a beautiful room!” we’ve all been known to say at one time or another.

This is one reason why both designers and architects will typically hold back with their design. We don’t want to overpower your senses all at once.

We want you to take things in a little bit at a time, and take a moment to savor the design before revealing the next surprise.

So take a moment to to ask yourself  – what is the first impression visitors have when they enter your home?

Let’s begin with the entry.

The main entrance to your abode should always say something about the person who lives there, i.e. YOU, so the question is – what do you want your entry to say about you?

You can emphasize either your decorating style, or your personal interests, thus setting the tone for the rest of your home.

Do you collect antiques? Perhaps an antique chest, or table, would be the perfect accent for the entry. Are you passionate about Asian art and design? Then maybe that antique chest should be a blend of East meets West.

Maybe your lifestyle is more casual, in which case you might prefer a simple bench where visitors could rest their belongings.

There is nothing right or wrong here. It’s simply a matter of letting your home speak for you.

And don’t stop with the entry. In every room of your house, you have probably decorated according to your families’ tastes and budget.

Think about what you can add to any of these rooms to freshen the look for the New Year. Will it be a set of decorative throw pillows in a stunning color? New window treatments? A sleek new sofa for the family room?

Think about that awesome Brochure I recommended in my recent post Dream Big for the Holidays.

Think to yourself:   what will people experience when they enter my home. How will it unfold?

What will be the subtle ‘surprise’?

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

GiftCakedscn0087 (2)

From HARMONY DESIGN STUDIO

JAPANESE 'WASHI' TAPE

I’m raving about my latest find for wrapping gifts, elevating the task at hand to a whole new level.   WashiTape I’m talking about Japanese masking tape, made from washi paper, which is a great alternative to   traditional ribbon and bows.

Well, OK, you can still add a bow if you want.

So what is this stuff I’m recommending? It’s tape, pure and simple, sticky on one side. All you  do is wrap it around the gift, getting as  creative as you like.

This tape is very cool, and very fun, limited only by your imagination. Even better, if you don’t like your creation, you can remove the tape and try something else!

I experimented with this myself. After wrapping a gift with bright yellow and red tape, I decided it looked a bit garish, considering my holiday decor of silver and gold. So I removed the tape in one fell swoop, and replaced it with something a bit more sedate.

I found the masking tape at Design Within Reach so if you’re lucky enough to have a showroom near you, you might be able to snag some in time for the holidays. If not, rest assured that this gift wrap idea can be used any time of year – you are in no way limited by the holiday season!

Enjoy your new-found creativity!

GIFTS OF THE SEASON

Driving into the city this morning, I was greeted by a most spectacular sight – the snow-capped Olympic mountains in full view, rising majestically against a clear blue sky.                                                                             MtBaringDSCN0663(1) (2)

It took my breath away, but also filled me with delight.

“What a gift!” I thought  to myself.

Apparently, the ritual of shopping for, and wrapping gifts was on my mind. ‘Tis the season after all.

In the whirlwind of holiday activity, it’s nice to slow down once in awhile and appreciated the simple beauty of nature, or the familiarity and warmth behind our annual traditions.

In another week, families across the country will be gathered beneath the Christmas tree, enjoying the end result of weeks of shopping and holiday preparation, which includes the unwrapping of presents.

Have you ever noticed that there are various ways to unwrap a gift? For example, some of us might tear into the package with gusto, leaving a pile of shredded paper and ribbon on the floor. Others are known to unwrap a present ever so carefully, with the intent of saving the paper and bows to be used again next year.

On a recent excursion to a museum, I was introduced to the ceremonious creation of a Japanese scroll painting.

Compact and lightweight, a Japanese scroll hangs effortlessly on a wall. Yet it is preceded by a complex process.

This unique work of art – carefully rolled up and tucked inside a custom made box – is subsequently removed from its’ box in a ceremony steeped in tradition, very much like the unwrapping of a present.

It might surprise you to know the effort that goes into producing this exquisite art form.

  • To begin with, a highly skilled and respected artist creates the painting, typically applying black or colored ink, onto a paper ground –  the equivalent of a Western canvas.
  • Upon completion, the painting is taken to a master craftsman, whose one and only task is to expertly mount the masterpiece onto exactly the right patterned silk background, thereby creating a scroll.
  • Next, the painting – now officially a scroll – is entrusted to another artisan, whose expertise is crafting custom boxes.  This box maker will create a perfectly sized box into which the rolled up scroll will be stored.

You might think this is the end of the process, but it isn’t.                                                ScrolliStock_000008011669XSmall

  • The box still needs to be inscribed. This is yet again, a separate artisan who is master of his craft.

When looked at in this way, the entire process is quite humbling. I can think of nothing in Western art that comes even close.

What is particularly intriguing to me about this entire process is the final ceremony of how a scroll is carefully taken from its’ box and just as carefully unfolded to reveal the masterpiece inside.

Exactly like a treasured gift.