O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree……

Believe it or not we have been here in the states for just over 12 months.  This year has gone by so quickly and I cannot comprehend all that we have managed to do and see in this first year alone.  I was looking back last night over my blog, reminiscing about ‘this time last year’.  Oddly this time last year we were deer’s in the headlights, we were not yet in our home, we were not yet settled and we were not yet sure how this whole move and first year would turn out……and just for the record, it turned out splendidly.

I love living in the South.  Its the riotous culture, its where the accents and iced tea’s are sweet, its the southern food, the conversations, the yes ma’am’s, the true southern hospitality, the uniquely brilliant southern sayings and its where everyone’s heart is being blessed.  Honestly, the south had me at mac and cheese and hush puppies!

This time last year I also blogged about the Christmas lights and the experience of Christmas here in the States and have no fear, the festive cheer is in overdrive once again.  And I will very happily admit to loving it.  The air is cold, there is frost about (good snow in other parts of the country) and I survived Halloween and Thanksgiving (wow, you can do so much with left over turkey!).  It is a season of eggnog, radio stations devoted 24 hours to entirely playing only Christmas carols, snowmen, hot chocolate, ugly Christmas sweaters, comfort and joy, gingerbread, hope, Christmas lights, stockings hung by the chimney with care, Christmas trees strapped to car roofs, tradition and Charlie Brown Christmas Specials.  You cannot ignore it, you cannot change it and you certainly cannot rename this time of the year because it is what it is……. Christmas.  And what I also love about this season, that has remained unchanged, is the Christmas tree.  And I don’t every believe your tree can be too big or too small, too ugly or too perfect when decorated, too tinseled or too untinseled.  If you love it, then it is just right.

We have one.  Christmas tree that is.  A live, freshly cut beautiful Christmas tree.  And she, (her name is Eileen), stands very proudly in the corner of our living room.  And yes, this lovely 7 foot Fraser Fir has a lean to it making it the perfect, in an imperfect kind of way, tree for me.  Finding a tree is fun and it is good to have a bit of help although it is not a complicated process.  My ‘tree expert’ said the trick was all in the eye – ‘y’all need a real good eye to get the best tree’.  Now, that afternoon his ‘eye’ may have been slightly off but very happily I have Eileen home for the holidays.

20141210_165529     20141210_165535

My tree had already been cut meaning it was not still in the ground held down by its roots but the base needed re-cutting in order for the trunk to be able to take up water.  And yes, you need a proper base to hold your tree which will in turn hold water…….lots of water.  They are very thirsty trees.  That done my tree was taken to my car and loaded into the back.  Seats down and Eileen took up an awful lot of room!  Once home I wrestled my tree into position like a seasoned lumberjack.  Of course Gus and Zoe were on ‘paw’ to help and once secured into the holding pot the netting came off.  You need to let your tree ‘stand’ for more than 24 hours before decorating.  This gives the tree time to unfurl.

20141210_175402     20141210_225111

Then the best part begins……

Eileen is decorated with 400 fairy lights.  That is her real beauty and fairy lights are so cheap over here.  I bought strands of 100 lights which all clip together to make a super stand for $2.89 a strand at Wal-Mart……oh, and do shop at Wal-Mart before Christmas.  You will be richly rewarded for the people watching alone. The decorations are silver and sea foam/aqua with a little bit of lime green thrown in for good measure and a lovely snow flake (because I love snow and snow flakes) decorates the top of the tree.

004   028

20141213_133055

021   022

003

Then I thought….as Christmas comes but once a year why not make a matching front door wreath as well

This was a wonderful and fun experience.  Next year I am thinking of cutting my own tree and perhaps going slightly bigger.  Actually, lets be honest with that statement!  I am not so much thinking about it as planning it!

In the cold of our December evenings, our home is warmly lit by Eileen.  Zoe loves her (albeit her ornaments) and Steve is still coming to terms with how the hell we happen to have a Christmas tree in our house.  And me, well butter my butt and call me a biscuit ’cause I’m just plum happy about the whole thing.

 024

‘O Eileen, O Eileen, You’ll ever be unchanging’

P.S…….Merry Christmas all and yes, that is snow falling on my blog site xx

20141218_205510

Update Friday 18th December – My dear Canadian friend Maggie made this beautiful snow flake ornament for me from crystal beads.   This is one of those ornaments you treasure.  The one that becomes that special family heirloom because of the sentiment attached to it.  This lovely little one off work of art has been made and given with love and I will always treasure the memories connected to it.  A very lucky girl am I xx

20141218_205922

Seasons greetings from America

642bf7d1431ca912b3f52dab858f9c3a[2]

‘Merry Christmas everyone’

This really is one of the best times to be in America.  The festive cheer is just so infectious and I can’t believe Christmas is so close…..only a couple of days away now.  Having said that, I am dealing with it quite adequately.  I’m eating lots of American Christmas food (sugar, fat and cinnamon laden – these Americans really know how to celebrate) and I am washing it all down with a little Christmas ‘cheer’ and eggnog.  I will admit I’m still acquiring a taste for eggnog though.  Who ever thought to put cream, sugar, whipped eggs, nutmeg and alcohol together!  Probably the same person who came up with the marshmallow loaded baked potato recipe.

I hope everyone reading this latest blog can look back on the past year and reflect on something really lovely or special that has happened for them, think of those less fortunate – especially those of the animal world, think of those no longer with us and look forward to a wonderful brand new year ahead.  And of course to everyone back in Australia (and other parts of the world) please accept my ‘wishing you a wonderful and very safe and happy Christmas’………….via a blog post.  Okay, its a cheap way to get out of sending cards and making phone calls but hey, its the thought that counts.

And yes Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus as my Christmas wish came true.  Gus and Zoe (our two much loved and much missed cats) have arrived safely in America, albeit a little thinner than when last seen just over a month ago.  Thank you Jetpets for such a great job and a huge thank you to everyone else involved in their safe delivery.  Gus and Zoe are still adjusting to the changes of the past month which could not have been easy for them.  I mean it was certainly no picnic for us so I just can’t imagine how they must have felt during the whole process.   And no doubt jetlag has played enormous havoc with their little feline systems too but given all that, we are just so happy to have them with us again……and just quietly, I think they are very happy to be with us again too.  Their arrival in America has been the best present ever.  Except for that one present………oh, never mind!  This really is the best gift ever.

Now, as you will see from the following photos, nobody does Christmas quite like the Americans.  Several hundreds of thousands of lights have given their lives for some of the most wonderful and often inexplicable offerings of Christmas joy.  Some of the Christmas displays around here are quite elaborate and very beautiful, some are rich in kitch, some show great imagination and some are just down right tacky but who cares, it’s Christmas.  Plus in America they have ‘ugly Christmas sweater (sweater is the American equivalent to an Australian jumper) parties’.  Secretly, its my favourite part  of the American Christmas tradition so far.  Have I convinced you yet that no one does Christmas like the Yanks!

collage1[1]

Just about to put my order in for next year.  I love Amazon.com !!!

b7311abc-c5b4-4e2b-9864-6e6c7d3970d2_huge[1]

imagesTRIKS0JE

44f0b535b6e042f07ef9596ba52fea87[1]

No sheep (nothing here is made from wool) or cheap synthetic Christmas trees were harmed in the making of these party jumpers

There are obviously some people out there with incredibly imaginative and creative minds and their holiday spirit shows this to the hilt.  Almost every home here has a display of some kind be it big, small or enormous.  The absolute heart and soul which people put into these displays is amazing.  I mean, have you ever done something so wonderful that you have actually stood back and admired it and thought to yourself ‘wow, I think this is what I am really meant to do on this earth.  I have finally found my calling’.  Well I haven’t, but I have witnessed some pretty unbelievable displays although it does beg the question:  is this what they are truly meant to do or do they just have too much time (and beer) on their hands??  But what does it matter because I’m LOVING it and its Christmas.

Enjoy the light show.

1[1]

9C33_Picture_1[1]

247205467015736405_lIm4MX5N_c[1]

Holy Holidays Batman!!

CFMW_Picture_2[1]

d61774c4-35a2-471b-947d-6ce130ac279d_980x551[1]

When too many lights just aren’t enough

images9B2C8A7O

mr_4993d71b25703d[1]

outdoor_christmas_decoration_2[1]

There is a house underneath…….somewhere

outdoor-christmas-lights-23[1]

rombeiro2L[1]

outdoor-decorating-ideas-2[1]

I saved the very best display until last.  I like to call it ‘the less is more look’……..

ChristmasLightApology_A[1]

Christmas day will raise my glass in a silent toast to all but for now………Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night xxx

vintage_santa_claus_reindeer_christmas_greeting_card-r2700a05276184bf281ca74dbda4b506d_xvuak_8byvr_512[1]