Christmas starts here…

With this…


And this…

When I was a child, my family celebrated every aspect of Christmas, beginning with the Advent Wreath.  During Advent, we’d gather together in the living room after the dinner dishes were done, dim the lights and get on our knees for prayer.

Mom usually read the prayers from a sheet she got from the church.  Dad would lead the rosary, and the littlest one of us (with help) would light the candle of the week.

That little candle, and the ones that followed, brought light to the dark room, and a sense of connection and warmth to all of us.  Each week, the anticipation would build, until Christmas Eve finally arrived.

It’s been 30 years since I lived at home, but the warmth, joy and love of this season speaks to me even more loudly than it did then.

And it always started with a candle laden wreath.  Mom and Dad’s was always made of fresh fir branches Dad gathered.   Mine will not be.

To start, I used a defunct, wired, wrought iron “chandelier” light fixture that had been stored in the basement by the previous tenants.

I dismantled it totally, removed the wiring and gave it a good cleaning.

Then, the creative fun started.  I wanted this piece to be able to sit flat on a table, so I played with the pieces until I got a configuration that would work sitting on a tabletop or hung by ribbon.

I scavenged greenery from the Salvation Army wreath I purchased last year.

Using florists wire, I secured the greenery to  the chandelier.  A few ribbons and candles, and my Advent Wreath is ready!

chandelier top

At the moment, I’m keeping it on the table that will house the 3 ft tree I’ve got stashed somewhere.  It may migrate as I work on more decorating.  For now, though, it’s a touch of my family, my childhood and Christmas – front and center in the living room.

Advent Wreath


I’d really love to see your comments on the projects I do and the ideas I have.  I learn more from critiques than praise, but, honestly, I adore praise (and who doesn’t?).

Thanks for stopping by.

Guest Blogger- In Roxane’s Garden (Part 2)

I’m thrilled to be able to introduce you to my friend, creative mentor and gardening guru, Roxane.  She’s helping me out by being a guest blogger while I’m recovering. 

Some things you need to know about Roxane.  She’s absolutely one of the most vibrantly creative people I know.  She’s a Master Seamstress (and makes her living manipulating fabric and thread), a generous hostess and a whiz with her camera.  Her websites are Creative Clothing by Roxane, and Sewing the Titanic.  Please take the time to visit.

Roxane has one of the most exuberant, welcoming gardens I have ever seen.  Have a visit, why don’t you?

Part One of “In Roxane’s Garden”


My flower beds are not neat, well-aligned French or Italian style gardens. My style is more correctly described as *English Country*. That is a polite way of describing the rather intuitive and haphazard way I plant things. I don’t really plan in rows and I really like TALL plants, not the little tiny low things most people have in their beds. I prefer to put things where they are most likely to grow if there is a bare spot. And I try to make a pleasant arrangement within the confines of their needs. If they make it to next year and the next, it makes me happy. Sometimes they will grow well but not flower… so I make a mental note to move them to an opposite sun-level place for the next season.

 I like to think that I don’t put that much energy in my garden but I guess I do in the spring. Once everything has started growing though, I let it do as best it can with occasional watering only. Some years I can weed the extras out more often but other years there is less time for that if my *real* workload becomes heavier.

 The bishop’s sleeves languished for 3 years before*taking* and now I am pulling it out constantly. It’s a tedious job as it runs underground at about a 3 cm depth and unless you pull the whole runner it grows back within about 3 days. Both the all-green and variegated types grow well anywhere… They produce tiny umbrella-shaped bunches of flowers with no scent on the ends of long stalks that tower over the plant by at least a foot. Rather a good display when there is a continuous border of them or a large clump. Not as pretty if there is just one here and there!

 The thyme has had some difficulty but I still have a patch or two that enchant me when I brush my hand over it to release its smell! I have many other plants that smell really nice when brushed: the cranesbill geranium is one. Then there is Artemisia in two forms. Both grow silvery grey-green: they are in the Dusty Miller family and are very feathery and delicate! I make fall wreaths with them to scent the entrance hallway. Another very pleasantly perfumed and eager grower is mint. I have 4 kinds: peppermint, spearmint, penny royal and *another* one! Mint is not grown for its flowers: they are minute and not very pretty I must say! I harvest it in the fall and dry it upside down in the darkest corner of my mud room: it gets used to cook with over the winter and also *naturally* freshens the air for many months.

 I also harvest oregano for the same reasons. It gets hung in another corner of the same room. As I grow many herbs, I cut and save many of them. It smells good in the kitchen when I first bring in all these bunches. And there is good cooking had as we use the drying leaves over the winter. I grow celeriac, basil, dill, coriander, parsley, chives and sage. This year I added garlic, courtesy of a very good friend who gave me several bulbs to plant in early spring. I discovered that oregano is a perennial, as well as parsley and chives! They now spot the entire grounds with their offspring! Both at the front and the back of the house! Its cool to have edible plants in amongst the flowering decorative ones! I taught my children very young which were safe to eat and which to avoid… They never got sick!! I guess I was lucky! 

 I never used ginger much in my cooking: only at Christmas, but Justin (my husband) gets fresh ginger and uses it in many of the meals he prepares. One day I noticed a root we got had a germinating bud on it and so,, of course, I planted it. That was 4 years ago! We have eaten some of the ginger I now grow and I keep two tubers every year to grow. They are not fancy plants and have a funny little flower, but I enjoy that I am able to grow them!!

I like the idea of growing unusual plants, or difficult plants. I also really like it when I manage to make tropical plants flower… That is only usually achieved in greenhouses. But I have brought my old Dracaena, several Asparagus ferns, Hoya and a Coffee plant to flower in my living room and that is so cool!

 Coffee beans.

The garden has a wild and overgrown appearance at first. I have often called it *hairy*. It was especially so in the first years of trying to grow things in there. But it is finally coming together in a smoother kind of way. Especially since we put the pond in! We dug a pond in the front yard 5 years ago. I keep Koi and Goldfish in it.

 I have planted 5 water lilies and several decorative grasses in and around it. I worry and fret about its water level which tends to give me a lot of grief when I first start the pond again in spring. I have built and rebuilt the falls more times than I can remember now.

 This year’s version of the rebuilt falls.

 But I digress.

 My garden grows every year… not just the plants that are already there, but the space it takes. I should have said expands! I recently have started cutting up the ground on the other side of our driveway as it is always in the sun. That patch now has Cana lilies, Dahlias, a Linden Tree, oregano and gladiolas in it. The Cana, Dahlias and Glads require removal in the fall… a little work. I also added some tulips there. This year I will be pulling most of the tulip bulbs out form everywhere they are, as they require a *rest* and cleaning and replanting because I observed that they didn’t flower much this spring. I ordinarily have dozens of them up and happy but they didn’t do that this year.

 Last fall I had to prune my relatively young wild rose bushes. I decided to see if I could get the trimmings to grow and planted 3-4 *sticks* in each of 10 holes along the front edge of the yard. It was exciting to see at least one of each group had sprouted leaves and was growing this spring! I gave many to my neighbour… They haven’t fared as well, sad to say.

Several years ago I had to move many of my walkway peonies to a new location as we were repaving the walkway… I planted them closer to the house. They struggled for 4 years or more. Last year I decided to move them to the back garden, where they would be in the sun all day long and I am very happy to say they are about to flower too!! They surround two new rhododendron bushes I got last spring. Today I photographed their flowers too. This is exciting because I have read it is difficult to overwinter those in our climate. We protected them with simple *sandwich boards* or tents. We took those off in March when we had a heat wave… quickly followed by the usual weather for April and I thought I had lost my rhodos… But they bounced back and will do nicely!!

  Rhododendron this year!

I get a few annuals every year to have constant colour on our deck and in a few spots in the front garden. The rest of the garden flowers in sporadic phases from spring tulips and daffodils to the fall mums and asters. I would like to enumerate all the flowers and plants I have now… but I don’t know the names of everything I’ve collected!

It always surprises me to see the abundance in my garden. It is so ugly just after the thaw. It’s a muddy area, with rocks strewn across it. They mark more or less where I have some special things. I watch how slowly at first, a few little brown or reddish points appear… always delighted to welcome an old favourite and sometimes disappointed that a particular one didn’t make it. After a couple of weeks there is a sudden surge of green everywhere at once!

 View of the pond from the inside. Next: View of the front path from inside.


Liz here…  Walking down that little path to Roxane’s front door is always an adventure.  No matter how swiftly I move on the pavement, I just have to slow down when I hit the path, just to experience all of the beauty there.  When it’s in full bloom, the surrounding growth is higher than my waist and the scents are enchanting.

More of “In Roxane’s Garden” tomorrow!

I’d really love to see your comments on the projects I do and the ideas I have.  I learn more from critiques than praise, but, honestly, I adore praise (and who doesn’t?).

Thanks for stopping by.