Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

My Christmas Decoration

Astute readers will have noticed that the title of this post is singular -- as in one Christmas decoration. I seldom haul my Christmas decorations out to clutter up the house nowadays. Nigel and I prefer a simple, quiet Christmas celebration, with a good hearty meal on the day. As adults, there is really nothing special that we need or want Santa to bring, so we usually buy an expensive something at some point during the year, and say "That's my Christmas present." Mine was a brand new freezer back in August, which I needed to store and preserve my garden produce.

But even though I'm a minimalist with regard to Christmas decorations,  I'll never say no to an invitation to a Christmas party! Especially one where the party favor is a handmade glass Christmas ornament.

Last week I went to Barbara Sanderson's Glass Gardens Northwest Christmas party at her studio in Mukilteo, where each of the guests was given the opportunity to make a glass ornament. I attended this party two years ago, and wrote about it here.

What fun! One of the party-goers this year was Karen Chapman, one of the co-authors of one of my favorite books, Fine Foliage. I managed to capture some pictures of her and her daughter making glass baubles. Karen and her co-author Christina Salwitz write a blog called Fine Foliage as well, which you can find here.

Karen Chapman, right, and Barb's assistant Kate (whose nickname is Kate the Great)

Karen uses tongs to shape the ornament as Kate rolls the tube

Kate reheats the glass

Now it's Karen's daughter's turn

Kate on the right and Karen's daughter in the glow of the glass furnace

Karen blows air into the hot glass while her daughter shapes it, and Kate rolls the tube

On my way to the glass blowing studio, I had stopped off at Molbak's Nursery, which is on the way. While I was there, I noticed a display of wood-turned ornaments from Stumpdust, which is serendipitously a company owned by Karen's husband.

The Stumpdust display at Molbak's

These ornaments are created from wood salvaged from fallen limbs

When my own turn came to have an ornament made, I decided to let Barb and Kate make it for me.  We were given a choice of several different colors, and I chose red and white. I had to go back a few days later and pick it up. The first thing I did when I got it home was to hang it on various limbs out in the garden to see how it looked.

My red and white bauble looks very much at home on the branch of a red twig dogwood.

It also looks good nestled into the branches of my dwarf blue atlas cedar.

Merry Christmas!

Have you been to any fabulous Christmas parties? Do you go all-out in decorating and celebrating, or do you prefer a more quiet holiday, like me?

Whatever your merry-making entails, I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas.


  1. Quiet for me, please. Merry Christmas.
    I admire the uniqueness of the hand-crafted items you showed.

  2. The red and white glass is stunning in blue cedar. The wood turnings are fabulous.

    It's quiet here. We are keeping our old freezer alive with shots of freon until the new one gets here next week. I have 2 new ornaments from Vermont of a vastly different material than yours. He-Who got the idea to hang a string of colored lights around the porch eaves so we look festive from the road.

    My new craze is jigsaw puzzles online at The New Yorker, a nice solitary activity indoors.

  3. Merry Christmas Alison, love the ornament in the blue atlas cedar branches.

  4. Love your choice of colors on your pretty little orb. So nice to share creative ideas and skills with friends :) and it will be a reminder of good times shared. Best wishes for the coming New Year ahead.

  5. We tend to have a quite christmas here too Alison. We are not a big family and I am just home from my brothers were we exchanged gifts and ate our meal.
    I haven't bother with decorating the house since my son was a teenager but have recently learned that I am to be a Grandma for the first time, so next year will be quite different!
    A Very Merry Christmas to you and yours Alison x
    Oops, almost forgot to comment re your bauble - very nice and the colours are ideal for Christmas time.

  6. The problem with beautiful ornaments is that, even collected at the rate of one per year, they begin to add up and they're too pretty to keep in a box forever! I've downsized, but not eliminated, my household Christmas decorations. Maybe next year, I'll decorate the outdoor trees and shrubbery instead. Best wishes for a merry Christmas, Alison, and thanks for the links provided here! (I didn't know the authors of "Fine Foliage" had a blog.)

  7. Your ornament is beautiful and it sounds like you had a grand time at Barbara's party! The turned wood pieces are great! Thanks for the links! Hope you're having a wonderful and laid back day! No fabulous parties for us - too busy with the jobs. However, the church choir is coming here for a 12th night party in January (better get some cleaning and tidying done!) We go to my sister's place for the meal but otherwise quiet here for us.

  8. It varies over here... This year, the house looks like it was hit by a tornado, as we're in the middle of a BIG PURGE and didn't get done on time. The boxes of ornaments have been pulled out, but remain unopened. I like to bring them out, and sometimes get a tree, but this year we skipped it altogether. I just got overwhelming, so we unanimously opted for the no-stress situation. In fact, I relaxed so much that I didn't order any of my intended gifts until today. So what if they arrive a bit late - I imagine that would be extending the Merry.... right? Love your new bauble - it looks great with both dogwood and conifer! :)

  9. That ornament is beau-it-ful. One ornament like that makes a big statement.

    I'm a grinch about Christmas but DH always gets a live tree and then often I help him decorate it. I like it once it's up and hate to see it go down after the new year.

  10. I hope your Christmas was just what you wanted, Alison. Very best wishes for the rest of the holiday season!

  11. Oh how fun and a pretty ornament! Hope your Christmas Day was wonderful and wishing you the best for the rest of the season :)

  12. We are quiet here too, as we were away at our daughter's for Christmas this year, I didn't decorate the house, I only do that when we have visitors coming. Love your red and white Christmas bauble. Wishing you Happy Gardening for 2015!

  13. The red and white glass ball is gorgeous, I was really into them 20 some-odd years ago after Mt. St. Helens erupted so lots of the balls incorporated ash. I have them hanging all year for decorations. I did drag out the artificial Christmas tree and turn on the outside lights, but my grandkids live nearby and we generally go over there for the holiday meals and festivities, though we have houseguests now. I buy stuff I need and label it various things like Christmas, anniversary, birthday, and Mother's Day presents.:-) I got a new bathroom vanity downstairs for our anniversary present, and now it looks nice for company. I got a new camera for hopefully better blog photos for my birthday.

  14. We like a quiet holiday Alison and wow what a fabulous ornament...gorgeous!


Gardening is a solitary activity. But blogging about it is a social phenomenon! I don't make money from my blog by advertising, or use it to drive customers to a business. If you liked my post, or my writing or photography, or even just one picture or turn of phrase, I'd love to hear from you. That's how I get paid.