Ready for Christmas? Or NOT.

In the spirit of Christmas, I’m going to tell the truth. This is not my current state of home decor. This was my village five years ago  (I wrote about it here), but I’m not sure we’ve set it up since then. It’s a lot of intricate work, but beautiful when it’s complete.

GotMyReservations Dickens Village

The village is at its prettiest when the sun is going down and the lights begin to illuminate the figures.

I’m almost there, though. We’ve hung the wreath and hooked up the electricity.

Maybe almost is not quite the right word.

We’ve cleared off the shelf so that we can put out all the serving pieces. It’s really easy when friends and family visit; I just tell them to grab something off the shelf to serve their food contributions. Right now we only have the first piece out — new this year is the Nora Fleming square baking dish. I blame my friend Michele for getting me started on these; the Santa hat is just too darn cute, and my rationale is that the dish is the perfect size for the empty nest and can be used all year with different trim pieces.

I also switched out the mug shelf. I went back through my archives to see if I ever talked about my mugs, and I did, but somehow the photo is gone.  Suffice to say, I have a dozen cute mugs and we use them for everything during the holidays, including for soup and as silverware caddies.

So out there in blogland, everyone is showing their completed holiday decor. They’ve been showing it since before Thanksgiving in some cases.

Aren’t you glad to know that there is someone like you out there? Just keeping it real, friends.

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It’s Time for a Holiday Photo Op!

We’ve been really busy around here with holiday decorating, entertaining, and house guests. All that exciting activity meant that I didn’t have a whole lot of time for blogging, but I have a few photos to share as we go careening into 2015.

Got My Reservations -- Christmas Pudding

We enjoyed a traditional British Christmas pudding.

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A Visit to Our Dickens Village

Got My Reservations 25 Days of Christmas 2013 Medium ButtonNine days until Christmas! I’m hustling and bustling now that I’ve got my wheels back after my surgery. What about you?

We started collecting Dickens Village houses and accessories many years ago. My mom had a village and my sister-in-law had a village. It was a perfect gift that went on giving year after year — until we all ran out of room. We got each other themed houses based on our jobs and hobbies. We were not slaves to Department 56, and supplemented our collections with resin figures rather than the porcelain ones that break. Over the years in different houses and different communities, it wasn’t Christmas until our Dickens Village went up. Continue reading!


13 Days of Christmas! My friend from high school posted on Facebook that working to prepare for Christmas isn’t really work, it’s love, and the concept resonated with me. I LOVE to get ready for Christmas!

Got My Reservations 25 Days of Christmas 2013 Medium Button

Do you have the ubiquitous giant mirror over your sideboard? I see large mirrors used over and over again in home decor, and they are usually over the sideboard, over the couch, or over the fireplace. We have one over the sideboard and one over the piano, and at Christmas time they need to be decorated.

I have not been happy with the lighting situation on my grapevine wreath that hangs in front of the mirror over my sideboard, and I haven’t been too thrilled with the decor I’ve slapped on over the years. I decided this year to be more intentional about creating a vignette with the mirror and wreath.

Where does one go to get inspiration? Why Google images, of course, and then on to Pinterest. At first I thought I’d do something traditional with the party at the bottom, like this.

Click into photo to see the Pinterest entry

Click into photo to see the Pinterest entry

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Naturally Art Nouveau Tablescape

Got My Reservations 25 Days of Christmas 2013 Medium Button14 Days until Christmas finds me back at the table creating a new tablescape. This week, we’re linking up to Cuisine Kathleen for a tablescaping challenge.

The Challenge from Cuisine Kathleen: You must show us your inspiration picture from a magazine or internet, and then show us how you copied it.

The Inspiration: from Veranda magazine (November-December 2013) — wait for it.

Veranda magazine cover November-December 2013

Veranda magazine cover November-December 2013

No, this is not the inspiration, although I absolutely love the centerpiece with the amaryllis blossoms.

This is my inspiration — statuary with natural elements, back-grounded by wintry snow and recreated on my table as the Naturally Art Nouveau Tablescape.

Photo of statuary decorated for Christmas from Veranda magazine, November-December 2013.

Photo of statuary decorated for Christmas from Veranda magazine, November-December 2013.

When I first saw this photo, I knew that I had elements of this look to create a beautiful tablescape for Kathleen’s challenge. The inspiration photo screamed Art Nouveau, and I had just the pieces to bring the naturalistic style to life. Art Nouveau is an international philosophy of design that was very popular from 1890 to 1910. It was inspired by natural forms and structures, not only in flowers and plants, but also in curved lines. Designers created art that was intended to  harmonize with the natural environment. Continue reading


Got My Reservations 25 Days of Christmas 2013 Medium Button20 Days til Christmas — but who’s counting? Well, that would be me and many of you, I’m guessing.

Sometimes the most surprising items give us the most inspiration when planning tablescapes, and that happened to me this year. While going through the last of my mother’s things, I ran across a scarf that she treasured and wore during the Christmas season. Its Victorian motifs were the springboards for today’s Over the River and Through the Wood tablescape.

GotMyReservations-Over the River and Through the Wood Scarf

Growing up, my family often sang in the car, and I remember rousing choruses of Over the River and Through the Wood during the Thanksgiving season. Of course, we always said woods — who knew that it was singular? First published in 1844, the actual title is The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day,  written by Lydia Maria Child and celebrates visiting her grandfather on Thanksgiving Day. Continue reading

A Revisit to My Advent Calendar Renovation

23 Days of Christmas! Today I hung our Advent calendar on the wall; it’s in a new place that doesn’t require climbing on furniture to hang the ornaments — an important consideration during the Christmas season of knee replacement recovery.

Got My Reservations 25 Days of Christmas 2013 Medium ButtonLet’s revisit last year’s post about fixing up my Advent calendar — with footnotes

One of the things that I wanted to do in retirement was to get out all my Christmas stuff and reorganize it. I also wanted to move it from its storage spot in the basement crawlspace to the garage (1) where I could access it on my timetable rather than waiting for Music Man to drag it out for me. I used to think that I had more stuff than most people, but recently several different friends posted photos on Facebook of their stacks of Christmas storage boxes. One friend said she brought 22 boxes from her storage unit, which took several trips in her car. I don’t feel so bad now. Apparently I’m not a Christmas hoarder, even if my basement says otherwise.

When I got out our Advent calendar this year, I took a quick photo with my phone of it hanging in my bathroom on the first day of December. In recent years, this seems to be the most convenient and obvious place for it, as I am reminded every morning to change the ornament on it. At my advanced age, I need every reminder I can get.

My sister-in-law made Advent calendars for family members many years ago — maybe as many as 30 years and I treasure her generous spirit and the family tradition honored by the calendar. I’ve been getting out that Advent calendar every year and doing the countdown with my kids, but I always wanted to change one little thing about it. It was designed to use very thin gold cording to hold the ornaments on the nails, but over the years they got tangled and it wasn’t easy to pop those little puppies off and on the nails.

So—- I decided to do a little project that I’ve been contemplating for “several” years, and by “several” I probably mean ten years.

I  felt that the calendar would work better with rings to replace the cords so that the ornaments dangle cleanly and are easy to take on and off. I’ve purchased those rings at least three times over the past few years, but never did the repairs. THIS YEAR, my first year of retirement, it was time to actually do this instead of talking about it.

Yet, things can never be easy, can they?

When I went to find my duffel bag full of jewelry findings and tools, it was nowhere to be seen. I had decided to use a split ring and needed my special split-ring pliers, so I ended up buying another tool. I think that’s probably my third set of those particular pliers, but who’s counting? Then while I was standing in line, I saw these beautiful red rings that would set off the red trim on the calendar. Just had to have them, so into the bag they went.

When I got home, I found that the little holes in the ornaments were too small for the red rings. I begged Music Man to pull out the drill for me and he also found a small piece of wood that I could drill against. I made each hole a little bigger, threaded the red ring through it, and then realized I didn’t need the split-ring pliers at all since I was putting the whole thing together with simple needle-nose pliers.

Am I boring you yet?

If you’re not a crafter, these stupid little details can’t be very interesting, but for those of us who are crafters, it’s important to know in advance what one needs to do the job. Obviously, I didn’t think this through very well.

The project turned out well, and although it can’t quite be termed a metamorphosis, I did finish a planned project. Now I think I need to decorate it some more — maybe a thin inner border of beads or something. I’ll have to see what’s on sale at the store. 🙂 (2)

Yet the story remains a continuing saga of stupid actions.

Somehow, I lost the chuck for the drill. (3) The one that is designed to fit perfectly into the handle. We’ve looked everywhere and cannot find it. I can sense Music Man’s annoyance under his helpful searching for the tool, but it’s just nowhere to be found.

Perhaps it’s in my missing jewelry duffel bag and I’m being punished by my Elf on the Shelf. (4)


(1) Although we got a lot done this year in the garage clean-out job, my Christmas stuff is unlikely to go the garage just yet. Insert sad face here.

(2) Maybe I’ll trim it up and maybe I won’t. It’s hard to go to the craft store when I’m not allowed to drive yet.

(3) The chuck for the drill was still missing when I used it somewhat recently. But I think it’s found again.

(4) The duffel bag is definitely found, but still has a cute red necklace in it that I really should finish putting together sooner than later so that I can wear it for Christmas events. And I cannot bring myself to buy an Elf on the Shelf.

I hope that you will follow along on our journey as Music Man and I prepare for Christmas in the Empty Nest. We’re glad you decided to visit with us today!

Got my bags, got my reservations,
Spent each dime I could afford.
Like a child in wild anticipation,
I long to hear that, “All aboard!”

Music and lyrics by Bud Green, Les Brown and Ben Homer (1944)

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National Wildlife Federation Catalog Walk

Welcome to Monday and Catalog Walk at Got My Reservations!

As tablescapers, we are dedicated to using inherited beauties from our grandmothers and rescuing cast-off lovelies from thrift stores. Sometimes, however, we can do a good thing for the universe while also creating a beautiful table.

Today I’ve featured tableware from the National Wildlife Federation‘s winter catalog. Click into the photo caption to connect to the online catalog.

“National Wildlife Federation’s mission is to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. National Wildlife Federation (NWF) works with over 4 million members, partners, and supporters to actively educate, inspire, and promote achievable solutions to everyday Americans in communities from coast-to-coast.Our conservation work focuses on three major areas that will have the biggest impact on the future of America’s wildlife:

1.  Confront global warming, the single most urgent threat to wildlife.
2.  Protect and restore wildlife habitat, to ensure a wildlife legacy for our children.
3.  Connect with nature by fostering profound and personal connections between people and nature.”

Let’s take a walk through the NWF’s 2013 Christmas catalog.

Grouped together or sprinkled throughout the tablescape, these jar candles are stunning for your Christmas decor. Oil candles are filled with faux berries and greenery, with clean-burning oil and fiberglass wick that does not need to be replaced. Glass is 40% recycled.

These birchbark votives add a woodland touch to a tablescape and are a good value at $19.99 for a set of three.

These beautiful embossed pine cone stoneware bowls could be used in a variety of places on the table, including as a vase for a centerpiece.

You can’t go wrong with April Cornell linens in any season.

The Holly Berry plaid napkin and napkin ring are the perfect counterpoint for the rest of the pieces.

In the tablescaping world, EVERYONE needs a set of Christmas dishes. These don’t scream Santa…

Are you ready for something new for your table? I hope that I have whetted your appetite for some natural elements in your home.


I’ve promoted National Wildlife Federation products here, but am not under any sponsorship connection with them.

Got my bags, got my reservations,
Spent each dime I could afford.
Like a child in wild anticipation,
I long to hear that, “All aboard!”

Music and lyrics by Bud Green, Les Brown and Ben Homer (1944)






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