Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good-by & good riddance to 2013!

As I wrote on my FB wall this morning, I have never been so glad to see the end of a year! Basically, 2013 SUCKED! It ranked as the second-worst year of my life, and I am so glad we are moving on into 2014....

I will say that many things became clear during the various crises I experienced this year. There is always good to be found in any situation if you look hard enough. I grew as a person, I was fortunate enough to be supported by many wonderful people, and I learned some difficult life lessons. So now, onward and upward in 2014!! I wish you a very Happy New Year! May it be filled with good health, good friends, and new adventures for all of us!

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. ~ Albert Camus

Friday, December 27, 2013

NYC store displays ~ ABC Carpet & Home, Christmas 2013

I've been wanting to do a post on the store windows and displays I saw while in Manhattan last month, and I am finally getting to it. I have enough photos that I'm going to do two separate posts. (Click on each image for a better/bigger view.)

Today's post is all about ABC Carpet & Home, located on Broadway  in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. ABC Carpet & Home is known for their wonderfully creative displays. Honestly, if you don't feel creatively inspired when you walk through this store, you've got to be half-dead.

I love the way they take items that we might not necessarily think of and turn them into intriguing tabletop displays, such as the religious statues. And their displays contain so many surfaces that catch the light.

I'm not positive, but I think those are geodes at the top of this table. And then there are little glass ornaments with sand inside at the bottom.

This display inspires me to get out my vintage perfume bottles to mix with glass votives for a regal dinner table.

I love the look of the matte, charcoal-gray plates with the shiny fuschia and purple ornaments.

This is an idea that could easily be duplicated. Simply take a small bunch of branches, spray them white, and add glass ornaments in jewel tones.

Did you spot the Mr. & Mrs. under the cloche? Cute idea for a wedding or bridal shower.

This was my favorite display: an old set of rusty bed springs from which they hung a number of disparate objects.

Side note: A few weeks ago, I was driving down my street and I spotted an old set of bed springs in a dumpster. I was so tempted to go to a new store we have in town, owned by a couple from Brooklyn, and tell them about these springs. They are clever enough that I think they could have turned them into a display like the one at ABC Carpet & Home. But when I returned from running my errand, the dumpster was gone.

These are not the best pictures -- I was trying to hurry since I felt pretty self-conscious about shooting in the crowded store (although I had asked for permission) -- but I hope they give you a feel for what it was like in this visual playland at Christmastime.

Stay tuned for more NYC store and window displays in my next post!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas, Cookie!

Welcome to Christmas 2013...

Above are some of the wonderful cookies my friend Patty sends me every year.

Shown below is my little pink Christmas tree. I just love it! It's decorated with a mix of new & vintage baubles.

Every year, the Three Wise Men come callin'.

This is a wood block created by my talented dad. That would have been in the 60's.

Here's a picture of me, also from the 60's. Can you see the neat wrapping my dad created out of shiny paper? See the 2 silhouettes he cut out for the packages on the floor? And my name spelled out on the bigger package. I was Bethie back then.

This is me now at the beautiful Victoria Mansion in Portland, Maine. You can't see my lapel, but I'm wearing 2 of my vintage Christmas pins. I've got about a dozen, and I love getting them out at this time of year.

I had wanted to do a post on the Christmas windows I saw while in NYC last month. Here's Macy's, still under construction apparently.

ABC Carpet and Home always has gorgeous displays! Here's a sample of their holiday decorations this year. I guess there is still time for me to do a post on displays. I'll try to get that done before the end of the year.

Well, folks, whatever you've got planned for the 25th, I hope you have a very lovely day, whether you're with family and friends or simply enjoying some quiet time. Merry Christmas to all!! 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Seaside Saturday ~ December 14, 2013

It's Seaside Saturday, and I've dipped into the archives for some shots of Portland Head Light (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) in winter. I haven't been to the light for a few weeks, but typically at this time of year, they decorate it with Christmas wreaths. There probably isn't much snow there now, but all that will change tomorrow when a big storm comes through. It is expected to dump about a foot of snow on us!

Stay cozy! And if you're ready to wrap those Christmas gifts and want some ideas for unique and fun ways to do so, stop by Emily's blog for my guest post on creative gift wrapping.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Put the holiday preparations on pause for just a moment...

[store display, ABC Carpet and Home, NYC]

This is the hectic time of year, when many of us are rushing around buying, wrapping, and shipping gifts. Such is the case for me. Today I head out to a craft fair on the East End of Portland (Maine) to look for inexpensive gifties and support my friend Jenifer who has a booth there. I still have several people on my list to buy for, and then I need to get those gifts into the mail so they can reach their destinations before December 25th. But in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, let's take just a moment to reflect on what the holiday is about and what we each have to be grateful for.

It really doesn't matter if you are religious or not: Christmas is what you make of it. You can do it up big, or you can spend quiet time walking in the woods and appreciating the gifts of Mother Nature rather than those purchased at Macy's. I do think it's a perfect time for sharing, however. The best buy I made this season was finding a big, fluffy stuffed bear for $5 at Family Dollar that I could drop off to Toys for Tots. Tuesday when I go to the Y, I'll take along a canned good to put in the donation box for the food pantry. Total money spent? Probably less than $7. And yet the feeling of sharing with others? As they say on those AmEx commercials, Priceless!

So many, many people helped me during this last difficult year... I'll be writing a lot of thank notes inside my Christmas cards this season. And now more than ever, I want to do what I can for others. And maybe I can't do much -- living on a fixed income doesn't allow for lavish spending, that's for sure -- but maybe it's not about spending money. Maybe it's just about doing small things with great joy and appreciation.

So thank you for taking the time out of your hectic holidays today to read my blog. I hope you may be inspired to make some small gesture to help another this weekend. Maybe you'll decide to shovel your neighbor's walk or pick up some chocolates for your kid's teacher, donate money or canned food to your local food pantry or donate time to a charity in your area. Whatever it is, you will feel better for it (I promise), and your holidays will be even richer for your having shared something from the heart.

Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 6, 2013

How much thought do you put into the gifts you choose?

Emily at GCDSpa.com, a Maine-based business that offers hand-crafted bath and body products in unique fragrances and flavors, has a great posting on her blog about choosing thoughtful gifts. Go here to get some ideas for your gift giving this holiday season. I've found that certain people really have a knack for consistently choosing gifts that please and delight me. Although as the years go by, I more fully appreciate the sentiment that it's the thought that counts, I think if you are going to buy (or make) a gift for someone, why not make it something the recipient will truly treasure?

I also want to let you know that Emily asked me to do a guest posting about creative gift-wrapping ideas, and that'll be coming up soon so stay tuned!