Deck the halls!

Snow turning to sleet and freezing rain with fog and mist?  Perfect.  I decorated for Christmas yesterday, so all I needed was a dusting of snow to put the finishing touch on the look — how nice of Mother Nature to oblige!  Time to light some candles, turn on the Christmas music and curl up with a good gothic vampire novel — Sunday afternoon has never been so cozy!

But before I get too engrossed in the novel, let’s talk about the Christmas decor.  I’m not going away for the holidays this year, so I decided to decorate “for reals.”  Only I wasn’t in the mood for a tree.  Trees are big, and my living room is small; plus, trees have the unfortunate habit of dropping dried needles everywhere.  And I always feel kind of bad chopping down an entire tree just so it can bring me Christmas cheer for a few short weeks.  On the other hand, I still wanted lights and greens and that wonderful piney smell.

So I put on my thinking cap and came up with some fun, treeless decorating ideas.  Then, between my box of Christmas decor and a few supplemental trips to the store (or, rather, stores plural — I hit up the Merrifield Garden Center, Home Depot, Michael’s, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate & Barrel, and the Harris Teeter grocery store), I was able to bring my ideas to life.

I started with the balcony because I knew it would be the least practical and, therefore, the most fun.  Except for a few hardy perennials that will withstand with winter chill, my pots are empty and bare — I had a clean slate!  I started by running a 25-foot garland of white pine boughs along the balcony railing and filling the pots with pine cones to cover the bare dirt.  Then I dressed up the wreath and the spruce with some nature-inspired ornaments — bright butterflies and miniature cardinals — as well as some traditional glass balls and a giant velvet bow.  Finally, my favorite:  two little lanterns with pillar candles inside to give a warm and homey glow after the sun goes down.  A perfect finishing touch!

Turns out the only pine cones available for sale are
cinnamon-scented.  So with five bags of pine cones, my balcony
is more fragrant with cinnamon than ever I’d expected!

Living Room
Moving into the living room, I focused on decorations that were both minimal and yet high-impact.  Over the sliding glass door, an artificial garland with little white lights, red beads, three mercury-glass ornaments, and the stocking that Lady made for me when I was little.  


On the couch and chair, I changed out my Turkish pillow covers for more festive red and white covers.  The red ones are knit, so they feel like a sweater; and the white ones are a basic off-white linen that matches perfectly the oh-so-soft faux sheepskin throw that Heather sent as a “hug” a few years ago.


Lastly, on the end table, I placed an arrangement of clipped boxwood, a Danish soldier that was a gift from my Granny, and an aromatic oil diffuser (it’s the “snow currant” fragrance from Pottery Barn, and I absolutely love it).

I love how at dusk you can see the balcony and the glowing lanterns from the living room.
The Bathroom
When things are busy at work (and when are things not busy at work?) the bulk of my waking time at home is spent in the bathroom — getting ready for work in the morning, and for bed at night.  So when it comes to decorating, the bathroom was no place to skimp!
I switched out my usual blue and white patterned towels and put out the red and white set that I’d gotten when I first moved in.  In place of fresh cut flowers, I got a little potted poinsettia.
Then for a touch of complementary color, I added a fresh boxwood wreath on the back of the door to the bedroom closet.  Not only is it pretty, but the rich boxwood smell reminds me of my grandmother’s house — she had a little boxwood hedge running along the front porch, so I associate the scent with our visits to her house (this is a different grandmother from the one with the eucalyptus — I have very strong aromatic associations with my grandmothers; fortunately they had the good sense to stick with their own brand!)
To match the towels, I hung my red and white embroidered shower curtain.  Because normally all that white is too bland for my taste, I hung sparkly snowflake ornaments across the top.

Over the WC, I added a bow to Mr. Rhinoceros and a potted cyclamen.  The flowers remind me of visiting the Bellagio in Las Vegas with my parents.

Front Hallway
Last but not least, I hung a fresh wreath of noble fir (“noble” being the type of fir tree, not a description of its character) and juniper on the back of the front door.  That way when I enter the apartment I am greeted by the most delicious, fresh pine scent.  I may or may not have gone in and out a few times just to smell it.  (Also, when it dries and the needles fall, they’ll go on the tile of the entryway and not all over my living room carpet…)

That’s all for now.  I’m still waiting for another garland that I’ve ordered for the bedroom, so once that comes I may update with photos of that room, too (assuming I can figure out how to photograph that room in a more or less flattering way — I tell you the lighting and angles in that room give me fits).

I hope you had as much fun decorating your place for the holidays as I’ve had decorating mine!


  1. We have yet to decorate. I always end up getting sucked into community and church events, and this year was a doozy. So it will be next weekend.

    But, if you want, I can send you some non-cinnamon pine cones next year. I have 5 ponderosa pines in my yard and they drop perfect pine cones all year long.

    And, my friend Bob Putnam mentioned you spoke in sac mtg today, before they sent you all home. It's such a small world!


  2. Ooh, I'll take your pine cones!

    Yes, I spoke in church yesterday. Afterwards I made the connection with Bob that we both knew you.


  3. Perfectly lovely. I wish I had that much style/spirit to decorate my house like that. I did get my (fake) tree up and my nativity out. I have big plans for next year, though. It might involve some actual pine!


  4. Anonymous · · Reply

    Revisited this post today. (sigh…)So lovely. Makes me miss the Christmas season with it's colors, lights, fragrances and warmth even more… Lady


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