Posted tagged ‘Decorating’

Christmas Books Worth Reading

December 6, 2012

Christmas books are my extreme passion. When I find one that makes my heart sing, I add it to my collection.

During the year, I keep the books in a cozy place on one of our many bookshelves. When the Christmas Season arrives in our house — the day after Thanksgiving — I display the books around the house in places where they can be picked up and enjoyed. Christmas books in the bathroom. Christmas books in the bedrooms. Christmas books in the kitchen. Christmas books in the family room. Pick one up and read it.

I can’t tell you which book is my favorite because they’re all my favorites!

One I particularly enjoy is The Reader’s Digest Book of Christmas. It was the first book I added to my collection after I got married. It has everything in it, including an additional booklet called Reader’s Digest Christmas Decorating Ideas. The ideas are dated, but they provide a hint of nostalgia.


The book itself is filled with gorgeous pictures and covers topics such as The Birth of Christ, The History of Christmas, The Literature of Christmas (my favorite), and Christmas Around the World. There are sidebars on various pages that include pictures, artifacts, quotes from well-known people, lyrics from songs, prayers, and superstitions.

It was in this book I found a traditional prayer to be said when the Yule Log is lighted. This prayer is one of our family traditions when we light our Yule Log each year.

May the fire of this log warm the cold; may the hungry be fed; may the weary find rest, and may all enjoy Heaven’s peace.

Like the other books in my collection, this book is a good friend. It’s always there to share its secrets and keep me company.

To Hull and Back

April 3, 2012

Last week I went to Hull, and I must say, I had a Hull of a good time! My husband and I took the Harbor Express Ferry from Boston to Hull, MA to visit my good friend, MaryBeth.

Boston Harbor Express

My mother and MaryBeth’s mother grew up together. They went to the same grade school and the same high school. Our fathers were friends in school, and her father was best man in my mother and father’s wedding. Even though our lives have taken us to different places, our parents planted the seeds of our friendship when we were young, and it has continued to blossom over the years.

MaryBeth and her husband, John, have a beautiful home on Hull Bay with views of downtown Boston. The two have worked meticulously to create a warm and inviting environment. We arrived in the late afternoon for an overnight stay. MaryBeth settled us into what they call The Nautilus Room. Comfy luxury enveloped us. The room was perfectly appointed with views of the bay. Sail away, sail away, sail away!

We then took a tour of the house to see the changes since our last visit. Their home has an eclectic combination of accessories and furniture, and the architectural details are amazing.

Extra cubby in our room

Nautical details

MaryBeth has a flair for decorating. She even added nautical rope molding in the bathroom! She admits she loves to hunt for just the right items to enhance the look of the rooms.

From May through October, they open their home as a bed and breakfast – Drop Anchor Inn. There are three charming rooms from which to choose. The care and attention to detail in the rooms and common areas are evident.



After the tour, we joined MaryBeth and John in the country kitchen that includes a hearth area where the two of them relax, read, and watch television.

The heart of the home

We were offered a glass of wine while MaryBeth checked on preparations for dinner and finished filling a plate with a variety of cheeses, crackers, and grapes. We then moved to the living room where a cheery fire crackled in the fireplace.


Soft music, tasty hors d’oeuvres, the warmth of the fire, and conversation with good friends primed us for a delicious, gourmet dinner prepared by our hosts. In the oversized dining room, MaryBeth had set a cozy table next to a window, overlooking the bay.


Even though the day was overcast and dreary, we were treated to an unexpected sunset. For the rest of the evening, we ate, talked, and enjoyed one another’s company.

If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, Drop Anchor Inn is the place to go. Besides the lovely themed rooms and inviting common areas, there is also an enormous wrap-around porch with tables and chairs at which you can relax and enjoy the beautiful gardens and fantastic views. In the morning the dining room is set up for breakfast. There is coffee, tea, juice, cereal, pastries, breads, and a hot dish. Drop Anchor Inn is a delightful place, overflowing with ambiance. MaryBeth and John are gracious hosts who will make you feel at home. What more could you ask for?

That’s why I went to Hull and back. You should too!

Everything Christmas

December 6, 2011

I love Christmas. I love everything about it – the smell, the touch, the taste, the sounds, the pageantry. On Thanksgiving evening, the outside Christmas lights at our house are switched on, and the Christmas season begins. Inside, we unpack the artificial tree and begin the process of transforming our house into everything Christmas. Yes, we have an artificial tree. In fact, we have several artificial trees, but we always have a real one, too. It’s the smell. There’s nothing like the smell of a live tree! A real tree is a must have no matter how big or how small.

After dishes were done on Thanksgiving, my daughter snapped into a Christmas decorating taskmaster. All I wanted to do was sit and relax, but she had us on our feet, putting up Christmas.  Before we began to decorate, there were things that had to be removed in order to make room. This little ritual drives my husband crazy. A few years ago when Christmas storage became tight, I promised him I wouldn’t add one more thing to our Christmas boxes. I stayed true to my promise until we sold my parents’ house this year. Some nostalgic Christmas pieces magically appeared in our collection.

It’s always a challenge to remember where to place our Christmas treasures each year. My very creative daughter solved the problem by giving me the best birthday present ever! Last Christmas she took pictures of the entire house – upstairs, downstairs, bedrooms, bathrooms, and even the doll house we decorate! With the help of Kodak Gallery and her pictures, she put together a book called, How the Ho Ho HOgrens Do Christmas. This year when we couldn’t remember where to put something, the answer book was right at hand!

As of last Sunday, the house was fully decorated. Okay, I did move a few things around. It’s my nature. Get that camera out! Now it’s on to shopping, baking, and writing Christmas cards. Thank goodness Christmas comes only once a year!

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” ─ Roy L. Smith

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