Aqua Ball Jars

My Mom came for a visit over the Christmas weekend and gifted me with these gorgeous vintage Aqua Ball jars. I remember seeing them in her kitchen collecting dust on a top shelf and asked if I might put them to some use.

I personally think they are lovely enough to be displayed independently. Though, I had an over-flow of flowers this weekend and needed another vessel (beside a drinking glass) to accommodate these Lily stems.

I find the color just striking. Here is a bit of information about these jars via The Empty Nest. It appears that one of the jars I have is from the 1910- 1923. Incidentally my Mom cannot recollect as to where she picked them up. These are truly something special. I am delighted.

Peonies

Right after Dahlias, Peonies have to be one of my favorite flowers. I can’t quite explain why this particular flower is so enchanting (to many). Perhaps it is the pleasure in watching them begin as a very tiny bud and just continue to open and open, their petals like soft feathers on a bird. There are numerous and beautiful varieties of peonies,  and it is really hard to say which one is more mesmerizing than the other. Incidentally, I’ve never met a single person who didn’t like Peonies and most people seem to ADORE them. They are something special indeed.


Peonies, Ilex berry with hot cocoa and marshmallows: life’s simple pleasures.

I splurged last week and bought this 3 stem bunch of Pink Peonies, along with some Ilex berry. It worked decidedly well together in my green vase. I was even thrilled when an old friend of mine (and famed Pastry Chef ) sent me this image (below) to me in a text.

It’s news to me (because I don’t have an Iphone) that there is a very cool phone application called Flipboard that appears to pull information from social networks you subscribe to and catalog them in what looks like a cute little magazine. Correct me if I’m wrong. Anyhow, I posted the original image of the peonies and ilex berry on my twitter account and it ended up on said Flipboard. Very neat and slightly amusing as my name is listed first (and before another famed Pastry Chef David Lebovitz ).

A few days after the peonies began to open, I casually picked some beautiful leaves from a tree and added them to the existing arrangement.

Completely takes on a fresh new feel.
And these leaves by the way are just incredible. The weather has been very flip floppy, so the leaves on many trees are still changing colors. I am particularly fond of these and what ever tree they derived from.

I decided to display a few of them this way.

I was also out of cheese…

Appreciation

“Dating back centuries before Christ, cultures brought evergreen trees, plants, and leaves into their homes upon the arrival of the winter solstice, which occurs in the northern hemisphere between December 21st and 22nd. Although the specific practices were different in each country and culture, the symbolization was generally the same: to celebrate the return of life at the beginning of winter’s decline.”-  read more about the History of the Christmas Tree .

In lieu of purchasing an evergreen tree, either big, medium or small, I decided to out source ‘my tree’ by walking a short distance to the side of my house. I picked up the Ilex berry at the store and added a few snipping of the wild red berries I picked down the street. The greens are random as they come and are quite hearty. It was not only until after that I realized I had just selected my holiday ‘tree’. I initially was just gathering greens to fill my vase and then it became quite a serendipitous moment.

As much as I love the smell of evergreen, I don’t love the shedding..but that really isn’t the reason I didn’t go out and purchase a ‘traditional’ Christmas tree this year. I tend to lean toward the more non-traditional ways of celebrating (the season) and alternative ways to bring fresh greens indoors while still maintaining the symbolism behind said greens.

A few weeks ago my step-sister and her husband, invited me over to her house to partake in quite a festive night of decorating their very large Christmas tree with my two young nephews. It was an absolute joy and delight to help them unpack their special Christmas ornaments and watch them be boosted up to hang these precious decorations. After the tree was decked we sat down, enjoyed cups of eggnog and watched a Charlie Brown Christmas. It was the first time I had watched this iconic special in quite some time. It was so refreshing to be reminded about the true spirit of Christmas, as at times it can be easy to forget. Amazing that a Charlie Brown Christmas aired in 1965, and even way back then the premise was about “the over-commercialization of Christmas” and well, the enlightenment of Charlie Brown, so to speak. Or rather, how Charlie Brown discovered the true meaning of Christmas.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.'”

“…And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

It is truly an animated classic worth watching again each year. Preferably enjoyed in the company of family, and friends with a warm cup of kindness and cheer. It is also a time of reflection and appreciation. Appreciate and give thanks.

Happy Holidays!

Changing of the leaves

There is a saying  in Texas: “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute and it’ll change.”

It is not uncommon for it to be in the high 80’s one day and a few days later it might snow. True story.

It is December, and last week we had some ‘winter’ weather. If you consider 30’s at night and high 50’s during the day, winter weather. Honestly, after living in the Bay for a few years it felt like just another day. Around these parts it means people immediately go shopping for sweaters, or pull out their winter clothes from storage. Yes, I have been wearing a scarf, it has been slightly chilly before 6 a.m. But today, what do you know, it is 79 degrees and I’m wearing shorts.

With the weather being so indecisive, we are still enjoying produce like tomatoes and spinach this late in the year. The trees are also changing colors. It looks like Fall. It is just beautiful.

I literally stopped (my bike) in my tracks when I saw this incredible tree today. Its leaves dripping with yellow, beckoning me to stop and clip some trimmings from it. Lucky for me it exists in yet another vacant lot, so I casually took a few branches that were hanging low to the ground. Casually.

There are tiny clusters at the end of the branches that look very much like Tallow berry but grey instead of white.
I arranged the branches in my white vase and set it in the kitchen. Works well against the yellow walls and matches perfectly with the squash.

Yellow in December. Why not?

Red, Green and December

Nothing like a rescued pine cone and some red and green to make it feel all warm and holiday like.

You know me, always looking on the ground for some new and exciting specimen to collect. Did I ever mention that as a kid I spent hours and hours digging in the ground looking for rocks and fossils? Sure did. That was when I wanted to be an Archaeologist (logic) and an Astronaut (reason). Alas I am currently flower foraging (=Math) and loving it.

I discovered this tangled vine of beautiful red berries on the same fence, in the same vacant lot as that wonderful pink Coral Vine. It quickly went into 1 of my 3 vases.

Mysterious foliage

It’s always important to look up. You never know what might be falling….

As I strolled through Buffalo Bayou the other day, I caught myself -looking up-into the sky. What caught my attention was quite a lovely tree. From its branches were iridescent pockets of petals which gleamed like sea shells in the ocean. Had the ocean been in the sky.

 

So I proceeded to climb the tree. Just kidding.

But, as gravity would have it, some of these striking branches had fallen from the tree. To my luck. What a find this is. I only wish I had more.

I paired it with a few stems of some existing tallow berry and cotton. The more I admire this dried arrangement the more I’m thinking how nice this would look as a wreath or as a table arrangement.

It has a nice seasonal December feel about it without screaming ‘red’ and ‘green’. Back to the Bayou then…

and p.s., I have no idea what it is.

A Frame of florals: for keys

When I was at my Mom’s house last month, I happened upon an empty frame lying around. I thought I might surprise her but tearing a lovely photo of flowers from an old Martha Stewart Living (circa 10 years ago) and place it in the frame. I did just that and hung it on the wall for her. When she came to my place recently for a visit, guess what she surprised me with? The same frame but with an addition. She screwed tiny hooks into the bottom of the frame, for keys to hang on. To say I was impressed is a understatement.

I have no problem that she re-gifted a gift and I’m really delighted she came up with a clever way for me to hang my keys. I would have not thought of this. I’m glad she did.

And certainly works better than throwing them in a bowl by the door…

Leaf watch

As I make my way around the yard….thought I’d share this week’s happy victim. Super long-lasting leaf cut from the front. But moments from replacing it with a new specimen, as I might be allergic to it..