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The Status of the Mermaids

People have been wondering about how my mermaid collection is faring in Chicago and asking if the mermaids are out of their boxes yet. All I can say is that the mermaid collection is in a state of transition. The plastic mermaids have been deacquisitioned, as it were, moved to a basket that is filled with items for the grandchildren to play with when they visit. Most of the mermaid ornaments, with the exception of some that broke during travel or installation and a few others, have found a home. We hung a curtain rod above the mirror in the bathroom off our bedroom and the mermaids that hung above the mirror in Northampton are hanging there along with a new Christmas gift. The sea scallop shell in the middle that has a mermaid cut out was “harvested, designed, and handcrafted” by Nick Nickerson,  a commercial fisherman, and sent to me by Baby Group Mom Jaye who lives on the Cape.

We hung the white shelf from the Northampton bathroom on our bedroom wall right outside the bathroom and many of the mermaids that were on the shelf as well as some that were on the counters are on the shelf now. The ornaments that hung between the shelf and the rod on the bottom are now hanging from the bottom, suspended by green Christmas tree hooks as are the ones in the bathroom. The stained glass mermaid from Nashville that hung in the bedroom window now hangs to the left of the shelf.The rest of the bedroom mermaids plus the wooden mermaid purchased in Brattleboro are now in the hall. Although you can’t see them all in this picture you can see we still have boxes and that is where the mermaid pictures are – in storage for now.

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Christmas Windows

Window decorations have always been a part of our Christmas. I was looking at the Christmas book I made for my daughters the other day and noticed that in the early years (Buffalo, Denver, and Springfield those decorations consisted of paper snowflakes that I cut out each year and glued to the living room windows. 

Then in a photo from a Christmas in Greenfield I could see some snowflakes that I made out of  a light colored jute twine from directions, if I remember correctly, in a Better Homes and Gardens. I remember asking my mother if she liked them and being her direct honest self she replied,  “No, no I don’t!” She thought they were too big and ugly, frankly. 

At some point in Northampton, the window directions got quite elaborate. I made the duck/goose curtains for the dining room and crafted different red decorations to hang above them. The living room got different, usually white, decorations. 

When we moved to the condo with a combined living/dining area, I treated all those windows the same and usually hung white, sparkly, or jewel toned decorations in them. The kitchen windows got red and white, often Scandanavian inspired decorations. I usually made the decorations out of paper but often included purchased elements as well. Here are some closeups of the recent living/dining room windows:

Here in Chicago we have no kitchen windows and a whole wall of living and dining room windows. I have decided to treat the living room windows as one area and the dining room areas as another but this year, I had had no ideas of something to make for any of the windows so I used the two different types of garland that I got for gifts last year along with silver snowflakes in the living room area and small red balls in the dining room area. 

It remains challenging to photograph the windows and we are going to take down those yellowed shade toppers soon but for now they are anchoring the garlands and the quilt ornaments that my sister in law makes every year.

Christmas Collections

Since we just moved here and figured out where at least some of our stuff is going to go, I couldn’t imagine moving it all to replace it with Christmas decorations this year. So for the most part I just put out things I could add to the already decorated shelves.

But then I realized that since the musical instruments on top of the speakers live in baskets now it wouldn’t be too hard to move them and put out my snowmen and Santas before my youngest niece came to visit.

I thought she would remember them fondly from all the Christmases she spent at our house but she looked at them with a critical eye and with a touch of scorn in her voice asked, “Do you collect Santas and snowmen?”  A tougher question than you might think. I certainly have a few and I display them together so they look like a collection but they are not something I actively search out in the way I search for kitchen ornaments, say. 

I was excited to find that little ladle at the end while Christmas shopping this year. Or gnomes and dala horses. I found the dala horse at World Market this year and the little gnome while shopping for Christmas presents in Lincoln Square.

The authentic Swedish dala horse that my youngest daughter gave me a few years ago and a small dala horse with a rider as well as another favorite gnome reside on the shelf above.

Putting Things Where They Belong

Decorating our new condo has been challenging as we try to figure out where our things belong in this new place with it’s very different spaces. We have to figure out if some of our decor was “site specific”. For example, we had a large upstairs bathroom in our old condo and once we started putting mermaids in there we amassed a huge collection. Our downstairs bathroom also had a distinctive theme and the walls were painted turquoise. The new condo has two small bathrooms that both have green tiles and counters – perfect for a few mermaids but not for hundreds and not for the folk art suns that hung in the downstairs bathroom. 

Another challenge is that it is much more difficult to hang things in the new place due to the composition of the walls. It isn’t a matter of just banging in a nail, everything requires careful consideration and differing hanging materials. And there is no room for mistakes or do overs!

All this made Christmas decorating interesting this year. First we had to figure out where things went here and then we had to figure out how to attach things that were only going to be hanging temporarily. Luckily we thought of removable Command hooks. First we used them to hang the cross stich reindeer over the china cabinet and then we realized we could use them to hang the kitchen ornaments. In our old condo these hung on thumb tacks under the kitchen cabinets (I wonder if the new owner of the condo has discovered them yet). There was no way thumb tacks would work here and although we tried scotch tape we knew it wouldn’t really be strong enough. But tiny Command hooks seem perfect and it really seems like Christmas in our kitchen now. 

Those small jars are the only Christmas crafting I did this year. Deers, mushrooms, and pine trees sit in snow (salt) and can be barely glimpsed through the sides of the faceted jars. Magical! 

Fall in Chicago

Well you can tell I’m not a professional blogger since I haven’t even posted my Fall and Halloween decorations and they are already starting to showing their houses decked out for Christmas. Since we just moved to Chicago and didn’t even have furniture until two weeks ago, Fall decorating was a challenge but definitely not impossible. I was so excited this year to find small affordable velvet pumpkins and I had fun tracking a bunch down and then taking pictures of them in our otherwise empty apartment. Our wide windowsills were the perfect place to display them and I hoped to get a good picture of them and the view but it is so bright it is kind of hard to see them.

I couldn’t imagine finding and hanging a branch this year so the windows that didn’t get pumpkins got these little trees from Target and I used a few of my Halloween and Day of the Dead ornaments to decorate them.

This year’s treat was dried bat wings (actually Raisinets) with a cool apothecary label I made with images from The Graphics Fairy.

More is Definitely More

“More is more, less is a bore” says interior designer Thomas Burak in the latest Traditional Home, a sentiment I certainly espouse but when packing to move one might question the wisdom of that philosophy. Today I packed the third and final box of mermaids and I’m not even sure there is a place for them all in the condo we are moving to in Chicago! 

Wild Thing

This year I wanted to make a fox valentine in honor of my Fox granddaughter.  I wasn’t sure what to write but I did some searching on Pinterest and found some fox ones with the Wild Thing quote. Since I’m a huge fan of songwriter Chip Taylor, it was perfect. 

And from 2013 with my Owl granddaughter on the way “Owl you need is love” was a tribute to her and her parents who are all about “All you need is love and Love is all you need.”

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