Holiday Home Highlights...

Rosie's Birthday Table...(more photos to come)...
the greenery is from the ferns and Olive tree growing outside our front porch...
...notice the Swedish lyre back's my very favorite...
my Grandmother was from Sweden...thus my love for pale shades & blue and white...
but not Ludafisk...pickled herring is palatable (I used to eat it when I was little...then my dad told me it hadn't been truly cooked...that stopped that ;)...

...these noble gentlemen are given herbal wreaths in honor of this festive season...

...these are a few of our vintage purses...I love to use them to house Christmas gifts...
Inside are gift cards to a favorite food place :)...
oh...I made the sign several years ago using slats from a broken (vintage) shutter...I made a basket full...then used them as toppers to embellish gifts and gift baskets that year...

Here is a view from the stair landing of our little cottage... notice the cornices above the large windows (I have a little story to tell about these--with photos--in a future post)...also... notice the herbal wreaths (I made these by cutting up a garland :)...I tied them onto a strand of...what else...tulle! This is an old trick of mine (from our books) telling how I used to display the children's artwork when they were young in the same manner (using painted clothes pins to hang it :). You will find this strand with wreaths ...or ??... up in our house quite often...I don't need an excuse to embellish the ordinary day ;)...oh...I'm also planning a future post on more thing to notice...the angel wings tied (with tulle :) atop the pyramid at the center of our white, hexagonal table... I thought them sooo whimsical :).
P.S. I forgot to take a close up photo of our wooden angel tree was a gift from my Dad several years ago. I'll try to get a close up picture of it today or tomorrow! It looks very much like a Viking ship's Mast Head.


More HOLIDAY REUSABLES links and photos!!

Leanne Italie's HOLIDAY'S RESUABLE article was picked up by several news papers around the country...this one is from ABC News

We reuse our vintage tin/canister collection from year to year...
as well as pretty ribbons and vintage brooches as above... are two tins stacked atop each other...found seperately...

they hold tee-shirts for Rosie...I roll the gifts in tissue papers before placing the gifts in tins...
this makes it more fun to open...and we often reuse the tissue paper from year to year ...simply store inside the tins themselves...

another Angel Gift reminds us to ..."Follow Your Bliss"...a la Joseph Campbell...
The two tins on either side of the angel are vintage while the floral box behind it is...
a tiny shoe box made from a pair of Rosie's baby shoes...I covered it with wrapping paper from one of Katie's birthday presents using Mod Podge (tm) and snippets of ribbon...inside is shredded tissue paper... it holds a bottle of perfume....

These gifts are actually Rosie's birthday presents (which is right before Christmas)...

There is still more to come on this topic...
as well as on our frugalluxuries blog (click on ....Rosie's birthday...above to link to it.


Holiday Reusables Article!


Leanne Italie of the Associated Press (AP) wrote a great article regarding
holiday re-usables.
See story with pictures here...

and here...

Of, course, we were very happy (and honored) to be included in this very useful collection of ideas on how to reuse ribbons and other holiday packaging from year to year. They sent a photographer to our house to illustrate how we implement re-usables in our own holiday packaging!


Above is one of our apothecary jars filled with recycled ribbons and package toppers...

Here is a vintage English biscuit tin (from our collection)...this one holds holiday decorations (i.e., chandelier crystals)...the others are used from year to year as unique gift boxes.
Much more to come on this subject! I have a ton of detailed pictures...I loaded them onto a post last night. Sadly, it was somehow lost. If time permits today...I 'll try to reload and post them. Otherwise they may be dribbled out through the week in smaller posts (due to the holiday).

We send our wishes for...
A happy Christmas and blessed Holiday to all.
Love and good thoughts from...
Tracey and Family.


Re-Purposing Memories...Recycled Gift Packaging...Easy Retro Wraps...

We were honored to contribute to a great Associated Press article featuring holiday re-usables. Yesterday morning, a wonderful photographer stopped by our house and took some photos to accompany the article. It's already popping up all's a link if you want to take a peek!


As you probably know…I’ve been collecting (and re-using) ribbons and holiday gift packaging for years! In fact, I write about it in my book “Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons: Celebrate Holidays With Elegance and Simplicity--On Any Income," published by Bantam Books, NY, 2000. I also convert vintage linens, such as doilies and handkerchiefs, into special bows for packaging gifts (see earlier posts for more details). As well, I've long collected those colorful English biscuit tins and reuse them from year to year to hold gifts (they look especially pretty under the tree... also very frugal and easy).
Re-purposing memories....

We've been using these hat boxes for about a dozen or so years. They nest for easy storage...

This is a small pillow case from the 1940''s been in our family for as long as I can remember...but I'm not sure where it originated...
the fur clip is part of our (extensive) collection of vintage costume jewelry...
you will see it used generously throughout this post...

...this biscuit tin has been in the family for decades...
I rescued this and two others from the garage sale box...when my parents were moving twenty years ago...the vintage brooch is carved pretty...

...this is another of our vintage English biscuit tins.
...topped with another vintage dress clip (the mate lost long ago)...

...about five years ago, I found a fabulous deal on rolls of white tulle ribbon...
I'm still using it...I roll it up and recycle it every year...

...these heart shaped hat boxes were given to my daughters, Rosie and Katie,
about ten years ago...


More Frugal Luxury Courtesy of The Pleasures of Homemaking

"Kindred Spirits aren't so scarce as I used to think."
--Lucy Maud Montgomery

Kind Manuela at The Pleasures of Homemaking
has amazing decorating ideas on her blog!
She has very generously allowed me to
post these photos of her holiday tree...
I really love how she solved a problem using
the cranberry transfer-ware cup and the blue and white creamer!
These photos are just the tip of the iceberg...
you should see what she's doing with silver and mercury glass over at
you'll be so inspired.


This is so clever to place the tree in front of a mirror...
it is framed it will give double the light!

Notice how she blends store-bought ornaments with items from her china cabinet!



To see the project below... and other re-cycled linen projects... on HGTV's Carol Duvall can see our segment page on HGTV's website...and get more of our creative ideas for "embellishing the ordinary" using vintage and leftover linens. Click here to view....

Frugal Luxuries: Christmas Secrets...Part Four...

Below you will find an excerpt from "FRUGAL LUXURIES BY THE SEASONS";written by Tracey McBride; published by Bantam Books, NY, 2000



Now is the season in which to make use of the wondrous ribbon collection you have been gathering throughout the year. Pull from you Gift Pantry(tm) the fine organdy and wired French-style ribbons you bought on sale after last Christmas, and mingle them with the more humble ribbons you have made from vintage clothes, linens, and doilies garnered from tag sales and flea markets. I have been using ribbons made from recycled fabrics since my college years, when I used pinking sheers to make strands of red-and-white gingham ribbon from one of my father's cast-off shirts. I have also had no qualms recycling pieces of ribbon that I have received as gifts, or found at yard sales, thus my generously sized ribbon basket is filled with layer upon layer of ribbon-y treasures.

The bow shown above was composed of pinching a round doily in the center, then hot-gluing a snippet of ribbon around it to secure.
Thread a longer ribbon through it and attach to a gift
hot-glue it to a head-band or a barrette-clip and it transforms into a retro-style hair ornament for the little girl in your life (or the little girl in yourself)!
Hint: This is a great way to use those slightly damaged or imperfect doilies or linens that are just too pretty to throw out ...als0...
If you prefer a stiff look to the bow (as opposed to the floppier, natural look) simply iron it... using a heavy spray starch...allow it to cool before pinching into a bow shape. One more thing...
If you are tired of using it as a bow, simply peel off the center ribbon and use as a doily again.
I demonstrated this...and other re-cycled linen projects... on HGTV's Carol Duvall can see our segment page on HGTV's website...and get more of our creative ideas for "embellishing the ordinary" using vintage and leftover linens. Click here to view....


Frugal Luxuries: Christmas Secrets...Part Three...

Below you will find an excerpt from "FRUGAL LUXURIES BY THE SEASONS";written by Tracey McBride; published by Bantam Books, NY, 2000



I enhance my lovingly collected treasures with the blessings of nature from my garden, the produce department at the grocery store, or clippings garnered from neighboring trees and shrubs (always with permission). Occasionally I secure my most festive teacups onto garlands that surround windows and doors, by threading a sturdy attractive ribbon through the cup handles and tying them firmly onto a well-supported portion of the garland. I have yet to lose one to breakage, but several have been commandeered by friends who fell in love with a particular design. If you are reluctant to risk your good cups in this manner, consider acquiring attractive teacups of less quality or value (such as those with hairline cracks or small chips) exclusively for this purpose. You may also embellish holiday trees in a like manner, and holiday wreaths look enchanting with child-size china teacups attached to them.


Frugal Luxuries: Christmas Secrets...Part Two...

Below you will find an excerpt from "FRUGAL LUXURIES BY THE SEASONS";
written by Tracey McBride; published by Bantam Books, NY, 2000.


Enhancing a Little....
Drawing taken from Frugal Luxuries by the Season, by Tracey McBride, Bantam, 2000.
Artist:Alexis Larson Gibson: Copyright 2000, all rights reserved.

Make a small tree seem much larger by setting it atop a trunk or a table, to give it height. Drape a floor-length tablecloth over the table before situating the tree, then use the remaining area of the tabletop to set gifts upon. Surround the floor around the tree-laden table with various sizes and shapes of attractive baskets, prop open an antique trunk, vintage doll stroller, or baskets and fill with larger gifts and/or your favorite collection, or other attractive containers. One year we placed our antique wicker bassinet near the tree as part of our holiday decorating.
.....Other ideas are to use these vessels to display a stuffed bear or doll collection; to collect an overflow of gifts; and/or to hold a bounty of dried flowers, herb bundles, or pine cones. As well, a child's chair, or attractive doll furniture, placed nearby, with a doll or stuffed bear nestled in it (let your children dress them in their prettiest holiday outfits) is another whimsical touch that allows a little to seem like more.


Frugal Luxuries: Christmas Secrets...Part One...

Below you will find an excerpt from "FRUGAL LUXURIES BY THE SEASONS";
written by Tracey McBride; published by Bantam Books, NY, 2000.

The First Simple Secret to the Frugal Luxuries Holiday Decorating...On Any Income

Drawing taken from Frugal Luxuries by the Season, by Tracey McBride, Bantam, 2000.
Artist:Alexis Larson Gibson: Copyright 2000, all rights reserved.

Prisms of Light

Ever since I saw the movie "Pollyanna" years and years ago....I have been a collector of crystal chandelier prism. I often take them from dilapidated light fixtures found at yard sales and flea markets. Cleaned and sparkling, these make lovely additions to your holiday tree, imparting the look of sparkling icicles. When the light catches the crystals they cast tiny rainbows throughout the room....


Ooops! Directions for these Little Mysteries are in the Comment section.

Hello Good Souls.
If you're interested in directions for making these little cornucopias, please look in the comments section beneath the photos. Inadvertantly, I posted the pictures and captions without the directions!

Creating Token Gifts...By Way of Creative Recycling of the Ordinary.

Christmas Cornucopias Shushhhh....can you keep a secret? They are created from recycled fast-food drinking cups!


Harvest (Candy) Corn from Pumpkins & Other Edible Delights...

Harvest (Candy) Corn from Pumpkins & Other Edible Delights!
Not so in the natural world...but in the world of Frugal Luxuries anything is possible!!
See how by visiting !
See Nature's Prettiest Bowls on the same visit!



"The only thing we ever have is what we give away."
--Louis Ginsberg

A Gift Pantry (tm) from our past.
The following is excerpted from Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons,
by Tracey McBride, published by Bantam Books, 2000

The Gift Pantry may become your most valuable tool for celebrating each phase of the year in a joyous, creative, and simple fashion. For those of you not familiar with the concept, a Gift Pantry is a collection of gifts and packaging materials---homemade, home-grown, and/or purchased--kept readily available for future use. By stocking a Gift Pantry year round you may discover, as I have, that you will save time as well as money. Most important, a Gift Pantry greatly contributes to your peace of mind, allowing you to relax and enjoy the festivals of the season.
"The only gift is a portion of thyself"

Although there is no other aspect of the holiday season that creates more anxiety than selecting thoughtful gifts for family and friends, the art of gift-giving need not break your bank account or drain your time and energy. Here are a few ideas to help make your holidays artfully simple.
  • GIFT CERTIFICATES [& CARDS] Gift certificates [& cards) area always a welcome present. Who would not enjoy receiving the promise of a meal to savor at favorite restaurant? Your presentation will be even more creative when you wrap the gift certificate with a menu from the same restaurant! Simply ask for a menu when purchasing the gift certificate [or download and print one out from the Internet].
  • THE GIFT OF MEMORY A loving gift for older or grown children and grandchildren is to assemble a special book, or recipe box, with a collection of all your favorite family recipes. Don't forget to gather recipes from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on. Each year you may add new recipes as well as appropriate sayings and footnotes as to what is most remembered about that particular recipe. This thought gesture will provide a lovely gift that will grow with your children, or offer your grown children a true box of memories from their youth.
  • ADOPT A NEEDY FAMILY If you exchange gifts at your office you might want to start a new tradition. Instead of giving gifts to one another, jointly adopt a needy family. Gifts of donated money, food, clothing, or toys can be presented to the family in need.
  • PRACTICAL GIVING One Christmas, a friend of mine gave her elderly parents and in-laws an emergency kit to keep in the car. It contained a firs-aid kit, bottled water, enough canned food to last one person for two to four days, a flare, and a thin, insulated blanket bout at a camping store. Packaged in a sturdy plastic box, these are the kind of practical gifts that people seldom think to buy for themselves.
  • RECYCLED TREASURES Monogram a set of vintage stemware for a newlywed couple's first Christmas, have a child's name engraved on an antique silver baby's cup or spoon, or delight a friend who enjoys antique books with one she has long appreciated from your own collection. Gifts need not be new, or purchased, to have value. My mother knew a woman who took an antique clock from the wall and gave it as a Christmas gift to a friend who had always admired it.
Taken from Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons, by Tracey McBride, Bantam Books, NY, 2000.


...A Few More Illustrations of Nature's Bounty.

You've probably already noticed that photography isn't really in my skill set.
I was going to post a picture of the full mantle yesterday...
try as I may, I could not get a clear quality photo of the entire vignette.
Today, I gave it another try...sadly...this is the best (i.e., clearest) shot
I could come up with. I added a few close-up shots of the corner areas...
these are a little better than the one directly above...but not much!
Hopefully, I'll have a bit more knowledge of my equipment
when the time comes to photograph the Christmas mantle!




Here are the promised photos of how we implemented
the use-what-you-have philosophy
to create eco-friendly, budget friendly, double-duty holiday decor!
In these photos I've used my favorite Acorn squash;
oranges from my Dad's tree (no-one’s quite sure what variety they are as they are tiny
...a little larger than kumquats);
and a variety of seed pods gathered from the garden!
Place them in wooden or ceramic bowls and use as table centerpieces
(see article below for details & more decorating ideas).
Caution: The candle in the bowl is for LOOKS ONLY!
(Obviously, DON'T light the candle or you'll have a bonfire!!)
The apples were an afterthought...
I couldn't resist the great price...
organic apples on sale for 88-cents per lb at Frazier Farms.
The bowls took all of ten -- fifteen minutes to gather and arrange...
The mantle took about twenty-five minutes due to the twinkle lights.
Spent very little Money (almost none)
Barring the squash ($1.19 each at the farm stand) & apples.
I'll eat them once the holiday is over (cut squash in half & baked with a little butter & sea salt--yumm). The twinkle lights were from Christmas a few years ago.
After Thanksgiving I'll replace the autumn-y colors/things with Christmas ornaments
and fresh evergreens from the garden (such as Rosemary, Eucalyptus, & Pine).
The twinkle lights & candles will remain
(I'll replace the tiny oranges around the center candle with cranberries or??).
Doing this saves time, money and is very very green!