Previous month:
November 2008
Next month:
January 2009

December 2008

A Gift of Winter White Roses


A sudden urge to offer a gift of winter white roses led to an exercise I thought might make an interesting post. I hoped to create a pretty pouf or dome of roses, with a bit of glitz. At first, things went smoothly . . .


The stems were already nicely cleaned. I simply re-cut them under water. Later, I’d cut the rose stems short and remove all the leaves.

Since my garden is in the depths of winter, I knew my only rose source would be Safeway, and I’d better get there early. At 7 a. m. on 12/23, I was happy to find at least 10 bunches of white roses, standing in the floral fridge. Thankfully, shoppers wanted red roses – those were sold out. I purchased two-dozen of the white and a nice bunch of greens.


The prepped roses went into a bucket and were sheltered outside, until the next day. 

Here the roses look pretty glamorous and would make a nice gift, or look great in a room just the way they are, but I stuck to my plan.


A wire, with bugle bead gold leaves, forms the base of the crown. Silver leaves and flowers were added.

Beaded leaves and flowers, from several items in one of my treasure boxes, actually inspired the gift idea. I wanted to make a crown and lay it on a base of fir boughs, to circle the roses.


The fir boughs offered many nice laterals for edging the vase.


The vase is a glass cylinder with a six-inch diameter. The fir pieces were cut long enough to cross at the center, and form a web for inserting the roses.

While adding the second dozen roses, I thought – oh no – this is not going to work – I don’t have enough roses! (I should have had three dozen.) Flower arranger’s panic kicked in and I started searching for what else I might add. I grabbed a small lime cedar tree that was on our dining table and began clipping its branches. They were a nice addition, but definitely not enough.

Then my rainy garden beckoned as if saying, “I’ll save you.” I donned my slicker, grabbed a basket and went out and gathered variegated pittosporum, and these sweet, but few, roses: ‘Paquerette’, ‘Marie Pavie’, ‘Heritage’, ‘Honor’, and R. multiflora. Blushing pink, they saved the bouquet.


When the story line changed, I forgot to photograph the sparse floristy creation I concocted. Sorry. However, I did manage to capture the charming mess I made.


My original idea was to trim the vase with a band of white velvet. Again, that didn’t quite work. A bow finally finished the piece. Rescued by my garden, and a velvet bow, the gift turned out better than I originally hoped for. The glitz was subtle, but just right.

Living Christmas Tree – 2008


For about twenty years, we’ve enjoyed living Christmas trees in our family. One of our potted trees actually lasted for ten years. By year ten, an overabundance of ornaments masked the tree’s spindly lankiness. I felt guilty disposing of the tree, until someone told me, “For ten years you saved a tree.”


Waiting for pick-up, and on the dolly.

This little topiary fir is my favorite so far. This is its third Christmas, and it seems to be especially healthy. Lots of new growth resulted from one dose of fertilizer in the spring.


Poised for my advance.

The finished tree looks so simple – it’s hard to believe it took me about three hours to dress it up. The star is wired to a bamboo skewer propped amongst the branches. The glittery deer were a last minute touch that came as nice surprise. Some small trees are difficult to load on the jewelry. This tree easily accommodates my glitzy wishes.


Merry Christmas

Christmas Ornaments / Treasures


At the elementary school, across the street from our home, I recently helped make ornaments for a big children’s Christmas party. One of my glitter mates was a lovely 15-year old girl named Radha. She was visiting from Australia, and thought ornaments an unusual word for the baubles we were making.

“What do you call them in Australia?” I asked.

Radha’s answer, “Treasures.”

How very charming I thought –– that’s exactly how I think of them.


Ornament shopping, for me, is like buying the world’s jewels for mere pennies. Each year, I add a handful to my collection. The glorious frog above, a treasure from Pottery Barn, is so fine I’m going to keep it on display year round. The elephants sauntered into our collection, because my husband likes the Hindu god Ganesh .


We actually purchased
these Indian hand-painted pieces at a hotel gift shop, in India. I especially like the green bell. It reminds me of the time I had to miss my kindergarten Christmas party, due to a cold. A kind person, who was at the party, brought me cookies and a bell ornament made of green construction paper. Five-year old me treasured the simple little bell more than words can say –– I saved it and carefully hung it on our tree for many years.


I often like to give ornaments as gifts, as a little collection, or in the middle of a bow on a package. I was taken by surprise one year when my husband handed me a half carton of eggs that were actually the ornaments shown here. He often finds himself at Smith&Hawken looking for a gift for his wife, the rose gardener. Buying the ornaments was a little ‘out of the box’ for him. So I treasure them for their beauty and thoughts of Leroy.


I had to include this special pair. They were a Christmas bazaar purchase from more than thirty years ago. Long before hot glue and all the other ‘wonder’ glues on the market –– these were hand-stitched. Even the little pink cheeks are stitched felt circles. You can feel the love from these two.


Speaking of bazaars, for a few years our family held a Christmas bazaar for the neighborhood, in our living room. My clever daughters made fabulous things to sell. One year Anna embroidered a gazillion little hearts.


Oneita made wonderfully unusual lavender sachets. This one I particularly treasure. Oneita is a costume designer in Los Angeles. I must tell the story about the year she was hired to decorate a tree for the school, across the street. I was somewhat mortified, because I never let my children hang ornaments on the tree. I know –– we won’t go there. Anyway, my thoughts of her not knowing what to do vanished as she confidently went about her task.


Anna also needlepoints. She made these gorgeous little 4-inch pillows for our family. I like to rest them on a welcoming fir bough.


A little whimsy –– the wagon represents my husband Leroy’s childhood. He was an Oklahoma farm boy who joyously received a new red wagon each year until he reached a certain age. The year he opened a gift of underwear, he knew the red wagon days were over. Leroy is a blues guitarist –– who could resist these tiny axes. My husband is also an artist with a pretty cool website.


This is my first ornament purchase. I bought it on sale at the drug store in Lake Oswego, Oregon, when I was eighteen.

I know this is a shamefully sentimental post, but I guess, sometimes, that’s what blogs are for. I’m not going to wax too poetic about what ornaments really mean to me. Let me just say they are an inexpensive way to express myself, once a year. Each year, I try to do something different with our tree. Like vases, and roses, you can never have too many “treasures.” 

PS You might wonder how the frog  is an ornament. It originally had a little brass ring on its back, which I removed.