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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Everything & please leave your calling card!

I hope this holiday greeting finds each of you healthy, happy and surrounded by those you love.  Dan and I, and the girls, are all of the above plus grateful beyond measure (I will explain why in a second.) The girls are amazing, sweet, wonderful, precious, adorable, funny, joyous, happy, excited, calm, silly, and soooo full of love.  The joke around the house is that you can't get anything done because there is always some little precious face (or three) looking at you waiting to get some love!  They are the best sisters to each other and love one another so much.  Please consider the below image our Christmas card to you...
Ella. Magnolia. Louise.

Please take note of the wreath on the barn.... the $15,0000 wreath.
Let me say first off....  that Dan is alright.  You see, after Dan hung the wreath I noticed some blank spots in the wreath and lights that needed re-positioning and he brought the ladder back and went up to fix them.  I was standing back to direct and just as he reached the top of the ladder all of a sudden the footing of the ladder started sliding out and the top of the ladder slid down the face of the barn.  Dan rode the ladder down a few feet then fell 8 feet to the ground landing on his hip on a slightly exposed rock under the bushes.  His head landed on a pile of extension cord which probably saved him.  To say it was a horrible thing to witness is the understatement of the year.  But, in true Dan fashion as he is lying there on his back trying to assess the damage and catch his breath he looks up at the wreath and says "The lights look fine!"  A trip to the Emergency Room and x-rays and cat scans later proved that he had fractured his pelvis.  Lucky, blessed, grateful are but a few words that we use around the house these days.  He is on crutches and in some pain, but he is here, and getting better every day.  I tell you this story in hopes that it will remind you (and you will remind your loved ones) to BE CAREFUL.  Did you know that 30,000 people die each year from accidental falls around the home?  And, that it accounts for more than 3 million ER visits a year.  I was shocked, but since Dan's accident many people have related stories of falls that didn't end as favorable as Dan's.  So, so grateful.   Dan is usually extremely careful with safety, but he was in a hurry since he was supposed to leave for a trip the next day and he was trying to beat the setting sun to get the wreath hung.
 So many really bad accidents happen from a simple two-step ladder, believe it or not, so always be diligent about safety regardless of what you perceive the risk factor. 
(yes, the ladder is still as it fell; several kind neighbors have offered to move it for me)

On a cheerier note lets go inside and see a bit of Christmas around the farmhouse!
The living room mantel done in simple greenery, clear lights and little white pearl lights, white Christmas balls, a white orchid, three vintage silver doves, and dusty miller from the garden.

We don't put up a tree, but did light the large hydrangea branch in the reading room with the tiniest of LED lights on wire.

The reading room from the outside in.

   Closeup of the mantel

Such crazy weather this winter!  Like so many of you we have had an extremely unusual warm winter so far.  We have not had even one inch of snow!  I just heard last night on the news that places in California that usually have sunny, warm weather this time of year are bracing for frost.  Crazy.
This is the entrance from the road.

The farmhouse at dusk.

It seems a bit un-Christmasy without the snow, but its been a relief since Dan is our plow-guy and he isn't approved for tractor work;)

Antique urn at the front door

Some daylight photos from around the house

no snow...

I've loved how soft and white the mantel looks even during the day when the lights aren't on.

Real boxwood Christmas "tree" from dear friends/design clients.

The hooligans: Magnolia, Louise and Ella!  A mere six months ago Louise and Magnolia didn't have red mufflers or antique 17th and 18th century tapestry cushions to sit on, poor babies :)  They have taken to the good life quite easily and well!

We had dear friends over for dinner a couple of weeks ago.  We sat in the kitchen as the seats were much softer for Dan than the dining room chairs;)  For six it was a tight fit, but it was also fun being so close together!

Forks were hiding under the napkins due to the tight fit. Antique French absinthe glasses for water glasses and Waterford for wine. Antique ironstone bowls and mother-of-pearl knives with sterling mounts.  On the menu was Roasted Eggplant Crostinis, Boeuf Bourguignon and Buttermilk Pie and Butternut Brownie Pie (aka Luby's Pie from Luby's Cafeteria in the south) - pies neither of which my New Englander guests had ever had!  I made a sample plate and gave everyone two forks so they could taste the pies and let me know which one they wanted.  Everyone wanted slices of both!!  

The girls donning their holiday mufflers waiting for our guests to arrive!

It was a fun and casual evening in the kitchen, with after dinner wine and coffee in the barn room with a big fire.

One more random pic of the living room which I snapped one night from the front porch.  I love what looks like little magic fairy lights on the wall under the window and the floor, and I love seeing little Louise's head on the bottom right!  This sofa is one of Louise's favorite spots.

     As you might recall from Christmas' past, this antique Victorian brass tray is a favorite of mine that I like to bring out this time of year.  It was originally silver-plated, but now only hints of silver remain on the solid brass tray.

  It is marked...  .
Mary and Nannie

Over the years I have spent hours wondering who was MA?, who were Mary and Nannie?, what was their Christmas like the year this beautiful tray was given as a gift?, where did they live?, and on and on...
Just as I wonder about these three people whose names are engraved on an antique tray that has a presence in my home, I also wonder about you, who also have a presence here. 
Some of you I know, as you leave me dear comments or send emails....but others of you remain a mystery. On my site meter I get repeat visits from places that are near and dear to us, and places that are far away and magical. Dan and I often talk about and wonder who all of you are!

One year I mentioned that I would notice a regular visitor from a tiny town in Oregon and that we would love to know who that person was, as Dan's father (who died when he was two) is buried in a cemetery in this small town.
 Several days after Christmas that year I received an email from the woman.  I cried as I read it to Dan.  She wrote that she lived within walking distance of the cemetery where Dan's father is buried, that her son learned to ride his bike there, and that she and her husband often take walks in the cemetery.  To know that someone across the country just happened to find my blog, and now visits our home, and to know that that person lives so close to Dan's father's resting place, and that this all happened because we share a love of houses is a sweet and dear connection that makes the world seem that much smaller. 
You just never know the connections that we all have to one another... . 

It was the custom in the period of this Victorian tray, that guests would leave their printed "calling cards" in trays at the homes they visited. 
It has become a Christmas tradition on the blog to put out the tray and invite you to leave your "calling card" and tell us who you are, where you live, and/or anything else about yourself that you wish to share.
 We would love to hear from each and every one of you- those who visit regularly, and those of you who usually come and go quietly!!

Please leave your calling card in the tray!

From our home to yours.... 
Merry Christmas---- Merry Everything!!
Joan and Dan
Ella, Louise and Magnolia