I’ve wanted to host a game night for a while but everyone’s schedules were really busy. So we freed up the whole weekend and let the gatherings happen when they could. What fun!
First of all, I wanted warmth and light. Right after Christmas is always so dreary. All the prettiness of Christmas is packed away and all that’s left is cold. So I did a little searching and gathered a bit of warmth from around the world.
First and most important, there had to be fur from Russia.
I have a large fur throw in the living room but needed something smaller for the dining room chairs. I found the perfect fur at JoAnn fabrics and made two throws from 1.5 yards of fur to drape over the backs of the chairs.
I adore knits from Scandinavia and found a beautiful heavy knit, also at JoAnn Fabrics. 1.5 yards made two more comfy throws for the chairs. I also used another yard of fur and a lovely wool throw that a friend had given me.
On one chair is a pillow I made using Floral Wood Carving Stripe fabric from Spoonflower. Roostery sells premade pillows using the wood carving fabric too. The wood buttons were fun to carve while watching Gilmore Girls. :)
I’ve never leaned on a table so soft that your elbows sink in, and there are no words to describe how comforting this is!!! If you want your guests to linger, you’ve GOT to try it!
Our table belonged to my grandparents. Decades of love and laughter have taken place around this table. The only thing I’d change is if it were a trestle table with rounded corners and center pedestal so we could fit more people around it without bumping the table legs. My father made the family trestle table and I’ve always wanted one. This trestle table is beautiful! But really, all these tables are gorgeous here.
The first two nights I used the white bedspread/tablecloth as the top layer. The last night I put the maroon spread on top. You simply must try this! Make sure you use washable throws though, in case there are crumbs and spills. From now on, I’m going to be watching for thick, washable throws that can be layered on tables. I might even make one for my desk. Yes! … um… zzzz…. maybe too much comfort for a desk… ;)
For lighting, I wired old chandelier crystals and glass icicle ornaments to the light fixture. The crystals were salvaged from a family heirloom and I cherish them so much. They add a delightful sparkle and look quite wintery.
Two corners of the dining room have lamps. The terrarium is still unfinished, tied together with cord but the plants are growing fine. They’re over a year old now. I finished all the carving but have yet to cut the wood base, glue it all together and line it with copper. The glass top of the terrarium is the old dining room light fixture that we removed when we bought this house.
I also keep white mini lights on top of the china cabinet and dining room bookcase until winter is past. To me, mini lights don’t remind me of Christmas, they mean health and well-being. The more light in winter, the better!
While visiting my daughter in Tokyo, I learned about Japanese tables that were warmed underneath. What a great concept! To mimic the comfort of a kotatsu, I put an electric blanket under the table to tuck our stocking feet into.
On the table I put a beautiful leaf plate from Arhaus. It was perfect for holding cookies – German Springerli and Viennese Chocolate Hazelnut Crescents.
Friday night was just the girls. We played Old Maid, the very cards that I used in my childhood in the 60’s. So much fun!! It had been so many years since I played with those cards. There was Fifi and her poodle, Greenthumb Gert, whose plantings were being nibbled up by rabbits as fast as she planted them, and Milkman Mo with his begging cats. Love the humor in these old cards, which probably would be deemed totally “politically incorrect” now-adays.
Saturday night, children and adults together played Clue. We did our best using English accents and Oh the mystery and laughter!
Miss Peacock, how can you be capable of such a deed! Mr Plum’s strategy was quite scientific. And Colonel Mustard actually held the pistol and knife. This view of the chandelier is only possible if you’re a game piece lying in the billiard room. haha
One of my favorite warming strategies was loading fireplace videos on tablets and displaying them in the bottom of the china cabinet. Fire where there is never any fire! I sure wish some company would create a mini fake fire device that could play a simple, looping fire video like this and fit in a small space like a china cabinet. I would buy several in a heartbeat. Fire amongst the plants in the living room? Yes! Fire on my nightstand as I go to sleep? Yes! The last time we had a fake fire was when we made a fireplace in the oven. There’s something comforting about flame, even if it’s fake.
Sunday night’s beer and poker game ended up being postponed because the flu visited. Alas. But even as I write this, I’m feeling quite toasty. The throws are still on the chairs and I feel the warmth radiating against my back. My laptop is set up on this table and my arms are leaning in on the softness as I type. A Winter Game Weekend after Christmas has definitely become a tradition in our home.
We are still eating delicious Thanksgiving leftovers so it’s fitting that the house is still decorated for fall. I’m glad we were back in time from Japan to see the maple turning red. The color was spectacular this year! Brighter than it’s ever been, even on a cloudy day.
The table was set. Even with the heavy overcast, the new windows provided splendid light.
I asked one of the guys to label the serving dishes to make filling them faster when the food was ready. He labeled the water glasses! So funny.
The turkey was small this year, barely 14 lbs. It was the perfect weight for me to lift by myself. It was nice being able to use the rosemary and thyme growing in the kitchen planter.
Not all the family was present and we missed those far away. But everyone here was in a jolly mood and we were happy to be together.
We started with a salad course. One of the guys cut the peppers into leaf shapes. We made our own house dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, cracked Tellicherry pepper, water and a bit of boiled cider. It was delicious!
Then on to Pumpkin Bisque. We tried a new recipe this year. The cardamom was prominent and very good with pumpkin.
After the salad plates and soup bowls were cleared, we placed the rest of the food on the table. Here are some of the dishes.
The turkey was taken to the kitchen island for carving. This was the first year we used a fresh turkey. It was delicious and tasted much better than a frozen turkey. It did cook faster than I thought though, so we’ll remember that next time. Look at the steam rising! Delicious.
We didn’t take any more photos. There were many wonderful moments, such as when grandson “cooked” his real food in the toy oven. But I was so thoroughly enjoying the baby and grandkids, eating pie and participating in our myriad conversations and laughter, that I completely forgot to take photos.
This morning I finally got around to washing the crystal. The glasses sparkled in the sun. As I held a glass, I wondered whose hand had held it and extended it in a toast to family. Even the grandchildren got to hold the crystal in toast this year. My beloveds were here! That’s a warm and happy thought indeed.
The latest additions to my gratitude journal are even more full of thanks. Being thankful ALL the time is truly a choice. You can’t complain one minute and be thankful the next. Choose optimism, choose joy.
This year we placed his cutting board in the center of the table. Thank you God for good meat, for good bread, for good wine. Thank you for family and friends. –I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13 — Thank you for helping us see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, here, now.
Today I made the apple pie I didn’t have time to make for Thanksgiving. Today we’re still giving thanks.
Thank you Ethan and Gabe for taking some of the photos and thank you Holly for the delicious Candied Carrots and Baked Squash. ::smile::
Today my worktable was full of flowers for the spring arrangements. The bins have been in the living room for over a week but I finally had time today. It’s always a pleasure to arrange the flowers, even though they are the same ones I’ve used for years. At the end of a season, I pull all the flowers out of the vases and sort them by color in bins, then they go to the attic. It’s good to start fresh each year so I mix and match the flowers to suit the season and mood.
I love the new arrangements! They make me happy. =)
Not in the photos: son’s twin size mattress on the floor in the living room because we have to tear out the downstairs bathroom and completely redo it due to a major leak.
Not in the photos: the flat screen tv right in front of the large dogwood arrangement in the corner.
Not in the photos: tears shed because another one of our children moved out last week and we’re all missing him and wishing him well and cheering for him in his new job in another state.
We all have a choice on what to focus on. I choose to focus on what’s good and bright and beautiful and sparkling in life. You can have brightness if you choose. Sometimes it takes a lot of work, like clearing a garden of weeds. You have to yank out bad thoughts and deliberately hack at unwanted vines. But it’s possible and totally worth it.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Ph 4:8
The easel is long gone and the drawing scroll must be somewhere in the attic. But I still have the slate chalkboard from my childhood. I’ve been wanting to put it on the wall for many years. Now that the dining room is finished there is a perfect space for it. I got the cast iron fleur-de-lis hook from Hobby Lobby. We drilled pilot holes for the wood screws and carefully screwed the brass chain to the old wood chalkboard frame.
And then came the best part – learning how to use chalk all over again. After all these years, I still love getting powdery chalk dust on my fingers and feeling the smooth cold slate against my hand as I write.
This scripture is my prayer today for one of my sons who is moving out of state today. May the Lord watch over him and direct his steps.
If you are facing something unknown, remember this verse. Fill in the blank with what you are facing, whatever it may be… The power company … The empty refrigerator… A difficult person… Illness… Impossible “To Do” lists… and trust God. He will not leave you nor forsake you. He it is that goes with you when no one else can, when no one else will. He will not forsake you.
We’ve lived in this house for over 13 years. From day one, I just accepted the house the way it was. We didn’t do any painting and even hung pictures on nails the previous owners left.
I’ve lived in various places over the years. We rented a 700 square foot home for 15 years. And that’s WITH a family of 8! My husband and I lived in a tent in various State Parks with our six kids for 7 long weeks when we were homeless. We lived in a single tiny motel room with six kids for 7 weeks… Seven!… and during that time a hurricane wiped out half our belongings that were in storage. So when we bought this house, our first home, I was completely in heaven. Every single inch of this glorious house was perfect just the way it was and didn’t need any change at all.
That was until my collapsing spine kept me home-bound more and more and I became acutely aware of how dark our house was inside. I craved light. I craved light even more than I wanted to escape the unceasing pain. So I decided to paint the kitchen, hoping to brighten the space just for crafts and photography. I gathered paint chips and left them taped to the wall for a whole year because I was paralyzed at the thought of making a mistake in color. We couldn’t afford to make a mistake so I had to pick the perfect paint the first time.
The first gallon we bought from the local home improvement store turned out to be very poor quality. It was the best the store had, at over $50 a gallon, but it didn’t cover well and pooled easily and made drips, even with great care. So after all that deliberation over color, I threw out all the paint chips and off we went to a real paint store. I settled on Benjamin Moore’s Bavarian Cream for the dining room and kitchen walls, with a semi-gloss Simply White, which is almost paper white, for the cabinets and trim. The paint went on thick and perfect and was absolutely worth the expense. I won’t paint with anything else from now on, even if I have to delay painting in order to save up for it.
To be honest, I absolutely adore very dark woods and would have loved staining the out-dated cabinets dark or painting the walls turquoise. But this remodel wasn’t about choosing color, it was ALL about lightening my space. So I made the big sacrifice of giving up colors I loved just to make my work area brighter.
The kitchen BEFORE.
Notice the sunshine in the foreground. That’s from the two new windows we put in the windowless dining room. I’ll post about the windows soon. But look at this LIGHT! It was worth the incredible physical effort it took to get this remodel done.
The difference is like moving to a new house!
The kitchen AFTER.
We brushed the paint in the grooves of the raised panels and outer edges of the cabinet doors to make a glossy surface but used a roller on the raised sections to create a non-glaring surface. I love the final texture!
I couldn’t decide which knobs to use. There are so many awesome ones to choose from and it was almost stressful having to decide on just one pattern. Also, I couldn’t find any handles to match the existing old holes in the doors. So I decided to use every knob I liked! I even used knobs on the lower cabinet doors in place of handles. I absolutely adore this look! It adds color and interest to an otherwise boring white kitchen.
I LOVE my bright new kitchen, with it’s beautiful fresh white surfaces, sunshine and funky, colorful knobs!
I’ll post photos of the dining room as soon as I find suitable “before” photos. I usually avoided photographing the dining room because it was so cluttered and dark so those photos are scarce.
We never got around to getting the chimney swept this year. Plus, the wood stove is in the basement. Not to miss out on the fireplace experience this cold icy night, we made it happen.
As the water warmed for tea, we turned on the oven and enjoyed the nice ambient glow.
There must have been something magical about the glow because the guys stayed a while.