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Let There Be Light: Christmas 2016

I shot this after the first big snow. Decorations not complete yet. The snow on the trees really caught the area lights.

I shot this after the first big snow December 4th. Decorations not complete yet. The snow on the trees really caught the area lights.

 

Ever since I was a child, Christmas lights have cast a magical spell over me. Mood, color, ambiance– combined to create a winter fantasy.

This year Michael and I decided to scale back on the interior decorating and focus primarily on the exterior of the house– since that is what the most people see.

With the unseasonable warm weather we had this year, I was able to work on outdoor projects longer– like repairing and painting stairs and porches, all the way in to November. The trees held their leaves much longer this year, postponing yard clean up as well. So, I didn’t really start decorating until the week after Thanksgiving.

The majority of the decorating took approximately 60 hours over two and a half weeks. I used over 900 feet of garland, 10 artificial trees, 65 bows, thousands of LED lights, 24 egg strobes and 10 laser projectors to complete the effect outside. Every year it’s a little different, depending on time, resources and whatever mood strikes me.

Inside, I didn’t put up any traditional, full-size trees but did decorate 12 ‘stick’ and tabletop trees (3 ft. to 9 ft. tall) along with some mantle and stair garland. In the windows I used 27 LED snowflakes, 28 sets of icicle lights and 36 battery operated candles. I experimented with LED ‘curtain lights’ in 6 windows in place of Christmas trees I’d used in the past.

 

321 Division St. on a beautiful sunny morning after a good snow.

321 Division St. on a beautiful sunny morning after a good snow.

 

Garland and bows decorate the fence around 321 Division Street.

Garland and bows decorate the fence around 321 Division Street.

 

The house before dusk.

The house before dusk.

 

321 Division Street just before sunset.

321 Division Street just before sunset.

 

Looking across the front yard at our spiral tree with the church in the background.

Looking across the front yard at our spiral tree with the church in the background.

 

Trees line both sides of the front driveway.

Trees line both sides of the front driveway.

 

On the hill behind our house.

On the hill behind our house.

 

One of two light & bead trees I created from scratch.

One of two light & bead trees I created from scratch.

 

321 Division from the street.

321 Division from the street.

 

Christmas at home.

Christmas at home.

 

Front porch fully decorated.

Front porch fully decorated.

 

The statue of Liberty on the front center porch.

The statue of Liberty on the front center porch.

 

The front parlor at 321 Division St.

The front parlor at 321 Division St.

 

In the dining room.

In the dining room.

 

The side of the house.

The side of the house.

 

The lights will be on display through at least New Years’ weekend.

Christmas At Home: Pictures

Merry Christmas Everyone! Here are some pictures of our house decorated for the holidays. 321 Division Street is all lit up. A total of 34 trees lit this year, inside and out.

Our house shot from across the street.

Our house shot from across the street.

Daytime shot of the front porch.

Daytime shot of the front porch.

 

Our 'A Christmas Story' Leg Lamp in the window.

Our ‘A Christmas Story’ Leg Lamp in the window.

 

The Front Parlor.

The Front Parlor.

Tree in the Foyer.

Tree in the Foyer.

 

Our tree in the front yard with the church in the background.

Our tree in the front yard with the church in the background.

 

Front Porch at night.

Front Porch at night.

 

Dudley looking like the Grinch.

Dudley looking like the Grinch.

 

Christmas Snowflakes.

Christmas Snowflakes.

 

Cash, my old man.

Cash, my old man.

 

321 Division Street, Christmas 2015.

321 Division Street, Christmas 2015.

Belle- Wondering why she couldn't be Santa.

Belle- Wondering why she couldn’t be Santa.

 

Dudley and Cash were not amused by the head gear.

Dudley and Cash were not amused by the head gear.

 

The Christmas Day Full Cold Moon. First one since 1977.

The Christmas Day Full Cold Moon. First one since 1977.

merrychristmas

Wishing everyone the happiest of holidays and an extra special, peaceful New Year!

Beautiful Christmas: 321 Division Street – A Peek Inside

As promised, here are a few Christmas pictures inside our house. We’re currently celebrating the house’s 125th Anniversary.

I finally finished my Department 56 Christmas in the City village yesterday even though it was the first thing I started back in November. There are approximately 80 houses and 200 accessories.

I tried to include a variety of pictures featuring some of our 12 indoor trees.

A view of the man cave.

A view of the basement man cave.

A corner of our kitchen.

A corner of our kitchen.

The Foyer from the front door.

The Foyer from the front door.

The Department 56, Christmas in the City village.

The Department 56, Christmas in the City village.

Looking up at the Foyer Christmas Tree.

Looking up at the Foyer Christmas Tree.

The Foyer Christmas tree from the second floor.

The Foyer Christmas tree from the second floor.

The dining room, originally the second or family parlor.

The dining room, originally the second or family parlor.

The front parlor.

The front parlor.

The front parlor during the day.

The front parlor during the day.

Front Parlor- Night view.

Front Parlor- Night view.

Smaller Foyer tree by the front door.

Smaller Foyer tree by the front door.

Mercury Glass Ornaments in the front Parlor.

Mercury Glass Ornaments in the front Parlor.

Cherubs on the Foyer tree.

Cherubs on the Foyer tree.

Mantle decor.

Mantle decor.

 

Beautiful Christmas: 321 Division Street – A Look Outside

 

The front gate at 321 Division Street, December 2014.

The front gate at 321 Division Street, December 2014.

It’s the 125th Christmas here at 321 Division Street and no snow… yet. With Christmas only a few days away, I wanted to post some pictures to help you get in the holiday spirit.

Here’s what the house looks like on the outside, tomorrow I’ll share some pictures from the inside.

 

Just before sunset.

Just before sunset.

Front entrance before sunset.

Front entrance before sunset.

321 Division Street, from the front corner.

321 Division Street, from the front corner.

Christmas at 321 Division Street.

Christmas at 321 Division Street.

Wreath above the main entrance.

Wreath above the main entrance.

Garland and red bow drape the wrought iron fence surrounding the house.

Garland and red bow drape the wrought iron fence surrounding the house.

Colorful star in the side yard.

Colorful star in the side yard.

The porte cochere from the back.

The porte cochere from the back.

Trees in the yard form the front porch.

Trees in the yard from the front porch.

A view of the house from across the street.

A view of the house from across the street.

Color changing lollipops line the front walk.

Color changing lollipops line the front walk.

Trumpeting Angel.

Trumpeting Angel.

Window view.

Window view.

Large LED snowflake in the side window.

Large LED snowflake in the dining room window.

Glimpse inside from the porch.

Glimpse inside from the porch.

Front porch from the side.

Front porch from the side.

Beautiful Christmas: Twenty One Trees- Decorating Outside

Some of the 21 trees I put up, waiting to be fluffed and lit.

Some of the 21 trees I put up, waiting to be fluffed and lit.

Twenty-one trees. No big deal. (Ha-ha!)

We had a bit of a warm up two weekends ago, so I took advantage of it and got my trees and stakes in the ground.  Then we froze again. I’m glad I started early so I wasn’t forced to work on them in the low teens.

This past weekend I was able to finish fluffing the branches, running the power and lighting the trees. The temperature was in the 40s so it wasn’t too painful. Now we’re back in the low 20s again.

Depending where you live, the weather can play a huge factor in your plans to decorate outside.

Fluffed and lit. Here are some of my 21 trees at dawn.

Fluffed and lit. Here are some of my 21 trees at dawn.

I had told myself I was going to keep it simple (like that EVER happens) and decorate the same as last year, but—- I never seem to be able to do that.

First off, I got some new lights on clearance, last year after Christmas, that I wanted to use. (I got some of those expensive synchronizing lights at 80% off!) The next thing I knew, I was making additional changes here and there. Most of those new lights are on the front porch but one thing affects another.

I decided to spread out the trees instead of the big circle I did last year. I have three groups, two of six and one of nine trees. They are all set away from the house, creating more depth in the yard and making it more fun to walk around.

You might wonder why I put out artificial trees instead of decorating the landscape itself– simple answer: squirrels! Anytime I’ve tried decorating my live trees, the squirrels chew the cords. It’s not only annoying– it’s expensive. (I’m using all LED lights.) Aside from hiding their scavenged treats in them once in a while, the squirrels tend to leave the fake trees alone.

Some of the trees I use are more than 15 years old, dropping needles pretty bad and no longer suitable to use inside. A dozen of them I got at Home Depot after Christmas for $4 each one year. It might look expensive, but it was a whole lot cheaper than what a lot of people spend for a much smaller display.

I’m not quite done with my windows yet and they play a big part in the exterior display. My house is too tall and the porches create another obstacle (as well as visual highlight) to decorating; making it difficult to decorate the upper extremes. The icicle lights and snowflakes in the windows, not to mention the trees; contribute to the overall finished exterior look.

Front porch entrance, almost complete.

Front porch entrance, almost complete.

The windows also create the challenge of coordinating the exterior look with the interior look. This is mostly affected by color. One thing I realized this year: I’m probably never going to have an exterior display that looks expertly designed. Simple looks better from a distance, but all the extras are so much more fun and atmospheric to walk around and through.

Last year I used blue and white lights on the porch and windows, with only a couple color accents on visible trees in featured windows. This year, I’m using a little more color, though my base colors are still blue and white.

I finally found inexpensive bows for my fence. I’m used to getting them for $1 each and this year my previous sources have all gone up to $1.50. Not a big deal– except I need close to 100 bows and they don’t last more than a season due to fading. I finally found a two for $1 sale at a local store chain but none of the retail stores had the quantity I need in stock. So, they are being shipped, due to arrive any day now.

I’ll share more pictures when the windows are complete. It’s been a bit more challenging this year with the weather and our two puppies requiring more time and attention. I still have three weeks, right?

Twenty-One trees done.

Oh, I guess I didn’t mention the eleven full size trees indoors, plus four tabletop trees I need to finish.

I better get on the ball!

 

Of Puppies, Snowflakes and Fallen Angels

Yesterday started out simply enough: I woke up, made coffee and got my early morning grocery shopping out of the way.

The next thing I knew, it became just one of THOSE days

62980094759159055_WjOIPgVa_bI had to wait for a train on the way home and hit every traffic light. There was no one else on the road. Michael woke up late and was rushing around getting ready, while also trying to get the dogs fed and settled– when I walked in the door.

I put the groceries away and turned around to discover Belle had learned a new trick. She had figured out how to jump up on the basement table–and she was eating the cat’s food. She had just had her own breakfast.

Yes, one of those days.

It’s too cold, too early in November with a wind chill of ten below.

Belle and Cash did not want to be outside. Dudley didn’t really seem to care. Whenever I tried to get the bigger two to go out, they’d just stare through me like I wasn’t there. Dudley really has no choice, his little bulldog puppy legs are too short to maneuver the stairs so he gets picked up and carried.

I was trying to bring Christmas decorations in from the garage, beating myself up for not putting them up sooner, while it was warm. This is what I get for trying to be a considerate neighbor by not putting them up too early.

It snowed a really fine snow, off and on, all through day with only a little accumulation. If it wasn’t cold enough already, the fierce wind made it brutal.

I’m decorating the exterior of the house, pretty much the same way I did last year, with a few minor changes here and there. I’d hung the large snowflakes on the porch over the weekend– but I hadn’t secured them and they were rocking and spinning with the wind. I was sure they were going to fly away with the real snowflakes. This prompted me to feel like I had to secure them today, despite the cold.

I rounded the corner of the house to find that not only were my snowflakes trying to take off– my two trumpeting angels had taken nose dives from the front porch, down the stairs. I’d already weighted them down with bricks– but not secured them to the railing. Apparently, the wind was strong enough to not only send the angels crashing to the ground; it also catapulted one of the bricks (as the angels went over) down to the sidewalk. Seeing the angels lying there, made me think of that horrible, current Life Alert commercial with the moaning woman and spilled clothes basket. This almost made me laugh.

Almost.

I put the angels back together, fastened them down, then secured the snowflakes before checking again on the babies.

originalI went in to warm up and see if I could get them to go out… no deal. So I kept working. Every time I’d go in to check, Belle and Cash were either curled up together on the rug, or Cash was by the door (waiting for me) and Belle was asleep on a big pillow in the chair. (Dudley was sleeping soundly in his crate during all this.)

I brought some more decorations in and finally convinced the dogs to go out– that is, I bribed them with treats. They did their business, only lasting a few minutes before they wanted to go back in.

Now, I know I should have taken their lead and just stayed inside myself and snuggled with them– but I really wanted to get some of these things done so I didn’t feel like I was getting behind.

When I finally did decide to stay inside, things didn’t get much better. Belle decided to climb up on the bed, get Cash’s stuffed toy and pull as much stuffing out as possible, spreading all over the top of the stairs. Two of the window snowflakes I hung, didn’t light up after I’d run the cords and had to come down and be replaced. Dudley decided the only way he wanted to play was to chew on me;  chopping down on my hand, making it bleed. And– I was making a big mess of the dining room with the decorations.

It wasn’t completely bad though…

All this time, aside from not wanting to go out– Cash was my buddy. He helps me. He stayed nearby, stayed out of trouble– watching me; content to get an occasional rub or scratch behind the ears. Always listening to me while I worked, responding to my mumbling, by cocking his head and panting.

Altering my plan, I was able to get quite a few of my lights up– Even though Belle was doing her best to distract me with her mischief. Though sometimes a handful, it’s hard to get mad at those cute puppy faces. And Cash, well, he’s my proud old man.

I didn’t even bother to try to start cooking before Michael came home and he graciously offered to do it, while Belle and Dudley wrestled around on the floor. I kept working, we ate, then Michael took the puppies back down to play while Cash and I finished up what we could on the first floor. Translation: I was up and down the ladder and he snored away on the couch.

It was after eight before I finally sat down to finish my blog post… the next thing I knew, it was time for bed.

I was working on this post this morning when everyone got up… Annnnnd……

The day ignited with crashing pet gates, Belle trying to eat everyone’s food and Dudley chewing my toes through my socks….

Suffice it to say, it’s pretty crazy around here every day. If it’s not snowing and angels are falling to earth– then there’s some new unexpected adventure in the works.

It’s just another amazing day.

Christmas at 321 Division Street: Photo Essay

Happy Holidays Everyone! I just wanted to share some photos in and around the house decorated for the holidays. Our house was built in 1889 by John Newman and is frequently referred to as the Butterman Mansion. I hope you enjoy!

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