Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The First New Year's Eve Celebration

On New Year's Eve
people gather in Times Square to watch the ball drop,
while others watch the excitement from the warmth of their own homes.
I was curious about when New Year's Eve celebrations 
like the ball drop started,
and didn't have to search very far until I found
an interesting article by Ellen Rolfes at PBS.org.
 (To see the full article, move your cursor over PBS above and click.)
The reason for the ball drop is really fascinating--and unexpected.

According to Rolfes,
the ball drop tradition in New York 
borrows from something called a "time ball,"
which began in 1829 in Portsmouth, England. 
The mariners' time ball allowed sailors to set their chronometers
by looking through a telescope
to see a ball dropping at noon everyday.

The Greenwich Time Ball:

The US Naval Observatory soon picked up on the idea for the US coastline.
So in 1908, the owner of the New York Times
decided to employ a similar dropping ball 
to mark the passage from the old to the new year,
replacing the unsafe tradition of setting off fireworks.

In the grand scheme of nature,
there really is no such thing as a new year 
between December 31st and January 1st.
The earth merely finishes another turn on its axis.
But when you think about it,
that's a pretty good reason to celebrate.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Tea Time

Come let us have some tea,
and continue to talk about happy things.

Just as there is an interlude between seasons,
the days between Christmas and the New Year
form an interval of quiet.

That stillness is something I look forward to every year.
The hustle and bustle and "to do" lists of Christmas are memories,
and a lack of urgency seems to settle over us like a fine sifting of snow.
And one way to enjoy that interval is to take a moment for tea.

Many cultures have specific rituals around the drinking of tea.
Probably because there is something soothing and deeply satisfying 
about sitting down to a cup of tea, anytime you have it.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Year's Eve Decorations

Once Christmas is over
and twinkling lights on neighborhood houses
begin to blink off one by one,
New Year's Eve celebrations become our consolation prize
for a holiday season too rapidly ending.
And while some of us will say good-bye to 2013
with a quiet toast at home,
others will pull out all the stops.
So if you're planning a big New Year's Eve celebration,
you might want to get started on the decor.

For example, here's a table setting for a New Year's Eve
celebration, replete with crystal drops from the ceiling
and fluffy sheep skins on the chairs:

I guess since some people will be swinging from the rafters
by midnight, this party space tosses some decor upwards:

Party City suggests a black and gold theme:

While Constant Contact goes with gold and silver:

This person is really expecting some revelry:

I don't think there's an official color scheme for celebrating the end of the year,
but from what I've seen on the internet, 
most are dedicated to silver, white, or gold.
Maybe those are the colors of hope.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

When Should the Christmas Lights Come Down?

Lots of people put Christmas trees, lights, and decorations up in November
and then take them all down the day after Christmas.
Other people put Christmas decorations up in December
and leave them until New Year's.

I'm always sorry to see the Christmas lights go,
so I tend to leave the big trees up until at least New Year's
and then keep lighting my small crystal tree
until January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany.

But there are some who leave the lights on until Valentine's Day, or even later.
When I lived in Wisconsin,
outdoor lights and wreaths generally stayed up until right before Spring in March.
It was a good way to chase away those dark, cold, nights.

 Christmas is over, and the long cold days and nights of  January are almost here.
Makes me think we might be turning all the lights off 
just when we need them the most.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Upside Down Christmas Trees

One of the great things about any holiday season
is that it invites people to indulge their creativity.
I particularly like that aspect of holidays; from New Year's Day
to New Year's Eve, there's always some reason to decorate.

But I was quite surprised to stumble upon a trend 
that has been going on for a couple of years now: 
the upside down Christmas tree.
Upside down Christmas trees are, by some accounts, an 11th-century custom.
Small evergreens were hung upside down from rafters
because the triangular shape was said to symbolize the Holy Trinity.
You know what they say: everything old is new again.
But today's upside down Christmas trees are likely more spectacular
than upside down trees of yore.

Some erupt from table tops:

Others stand from the floor:

Others stand on table tops, 
but look like they're hanging from the ceiling:

This one really does hang from the ceiling:


Besides to shock, I'm not sure of this recent attraction
unless it is that the upside down position makes the ornaments more visible.
It's also a good way to keep the dog from laying on the Christmas tree skirt.
But in general, an upside down tree looks to me like an evergreen tornado
is about to cut a swath across the living room. 

 I suppose that in a holiday season overdone with sentimentality and commercialism, 
people were bound to look for something new, something more wow.
Is the trend naughty or nice? 
I guess everyone will have to decide that for themselves.
From my perspective, nice enough,
but naught for me.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Joy to the World

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are filled with activities,
but what do we do on December 26th 
if we aren't going to celebrate Kwanzaa?
Here's an idea: wait until dark and then drive through the neighborhood 
to look at Christmas lights.

Most of  my neighbors put up white lights
--and I have done that in the past as well--
but white lights are a little more ho hum 
than ho ho ho as far as Christmas lights go.
That's why tonight when I explored the neighborhood,
I was glad to see lots of colored lights, lighted wreaths, and lighted reindeer.
There were even a couple of inflatable snowmen and one inflatable Santa.

But what I liked the best were lighted bright red "joy" signs
on the front lawn of a few of my neighbors' homes.
I love the white star shining over the letter "o,"
and the bright red letters shining out into the darkness.

My dad always left his decorations up until January 6th--
the feast of the Epiphany.
That's something to think about for those of you who aren't ready 
to bid farewell to the joy of Christmas just yet.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
to all of our friends and family
from the Still Waters blog.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Red and Green for Christmas

Of all the colors and themes for Christmas decor
that have taken center stage these last several days,
the red and green is still one of my favorite color combinations.
If you're curious about why red and green
are the traditional colors of Christmas,
revisit these two Still Waters blog posts from 2012:

Here are a few red and green Christmas trees that I love.
This one even has red and green wrapped gifts tucked in:

I love the way the red and green baubles "spray" from the top of the tree:

This one definitely goes big:

And this one is my red and green version.
Not as showy as the others, 
but full of memories:

And even an elf or two:

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Silver and Gold Christmas Decorations

One of the gifts of the Magi was gold,
so it's not surprising that gold is such a popular addition
to Christmas decor.
Gold is warm, it gleams and glimmers and glitters--
and it looks great with just about every other color.
The last couple of years,
I have decorated one of my white Christmas trees
all in gold, silver, copper, with a little bronze here and there.
It's one of my favorite trees.

Here are some beautiful metallic Christmas decorations:

These are some of Martha Stewart's metallic Christmas tree ornaments:

Here's a white tree decorated with silver and gold.
This just looks very warm and peaceful to me:

I love the look in the photo above, 
but I wouldn't necessarily want it to be the only tree 
that I have in the house at Christmas.

This next one is a very pretty example of a silver and gold tree,
and I do like the super-size colt on the table.
In some homes, a large piece like that looks completely chic,
but I have a feeling in other houses a large equine objet d'art
might prompt visitors to ask why you have a big horse statue on the table.
And how do you have a conversation over/around/through a decor item like that?

Here's a charming tree from "Live, Love, DIY."
I love that this gorgeous tree is decorated with inexpensive ornaments, 
some from the dollar store, some home-made by the Virginia, the blog author.
Love her creative spirit:

Now I know what I can do with all the pine cones in my back yard.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Black Christmas Decor

Black has a number of symbolic associations,
none of which has been Christmas-related.
Until now.
This black Christmas theme gives new meaning 
to finding a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking.
Of course, some  black ornaments are quite beautiful,
especially when paired with gold or silver:

Black can also convey kind of a fun, energetic feeling 
when paired with white geometric shapes:

But a black Christmas tree?
Enjoying a cup of egg nog or singing carols around a black tree
seems oddly out of place.
Morbid, even.

Don't misunderstand. I love black. It's an accent color in my home.
And since I like having more than one tree,
 I've thought about doing a white tree with black and metallic ornaments
one of these days. Maybe.
These trees have given me second thoughts:

Here a black tree is paired with white lights and purple and ivory ornaments.
Next to the glossy black grand piano and the warm almond-colored walls,
it looks very sophisticated, if a bit restrained.
It seems to say, "Joy to the world--but not too much.
Remember yourself, don't get too excited":


And here's one from Modern Homes Interior Design,
by way of the web site "Freak Chic,"
that is so understated it would surely disappoint anyone
who loves the razzle-dazzle, glitter and gleam of Christmas:

It makes me sleepy just to look at it.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Decorations in Lime Green

I like the traditional Christmas green color,
a deep rich emerald green.
But it seems that in recent years,
that color has been supplanted with a more contemporary green,
a lime-green or chartreuse color.
I do like it. It seems to act almost like a neutral with pinks, blues, violets, and reds.
 But I think I like it better in the spring than at Christmas.
Even so, it's an especially fresh, attractive color when  paired with white or silver
as it is in this photo:

christmas tree with lime green tree decorating idea.

Decorating with feathers isn't for everyone, 
but I use white feather boas to give the illusion of snow
under some silver and gold reindeer figures I have.
But this chartreuse feathered wreath is pretty stunning:


Here is a tree decorated with chartreuse and  copper-red mesh:

Certainly more palatable than a bright yellow tree or one bedecked with orange.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Orange Christmas Trees?

I've always loved orange,
but I'm not so sure it would be my first choice for my Christmas tree.
Some folks think differently.
For example, here's a Christmas tree decked out in orange and purple
Christmas Tree Gallery
www.silkgardensfl.com via pinterest.com

Not so bad. Purple and orange has got a jazzy, happy quality anyway.

And this one is orange and chartreuse:
Orange & Lime Christmas tree
www.imagesearch.yahoo.com via pinterest.com

The orange and green combination looks so great for Halloween
and Thanksgiving, but somehow, it clashes with Christmas.

But really, there are no words to describe this:

This one is more of a burnished orange, 
and I appreciate its coppery undertones:

I would say that this one, 
with its toned down orange motif, has a certain charm:

Earlier, I said there were no words 
for the orange-orange tree in front of the blue curtains (pictured above);
however, I hadn't yet seen this next photo.
But I'd like to amend my original analysis 
and say that there are truly there  no words for this instead:
orange christmas tree balls

White, blue, pink, teal, yellow, and orange Christmas trees. 
What's next? Chocolate? black? 
Well, you never know what you'll find 
when you visit the Still Waters blog this month.
It's a colorful world, after all.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Decorations in Yellow

When I started writing about the different colors
for Christmas decorations, 
I didn't really think there would be too many unusual ones.
I was so wrong.
Pink? Yes. Teal? Of Course.
Yellow? Apparently so.

Look what I found. It's a yellow Christmas tree
with green and yellow John Deere tractors.

Granted, this next photo is an M&M candy ad,
but it really demonstrates what a yellow Christmas would look like
(without John Deer tractors, that is).
If you cover up the yellow M&M in the foreground,
the tree, wreath, and stockings are almost cheerful.
yellow Christmas - I LOVE this ad!!

And finally, this one is not to be believed.
I thought I was the only one who put a tree up in every room--
but admittedly (and thankfully)
 I never thought of putting a full-size tree in the bathroom,
let alone decorate it with yellow rubber duckies:

But there you have it,
Christmas for those of you who love yellow.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I'm Dreaming of a Teal Christmas

There is an amazing number of uniquely colored decorations
that will suit just about any taste.
So far in the Still Waters blog we've looked at white Christmas,
blue Christmas, and pink Christmas. 
What about a little 1950s aqua or teal?

Silver and teal make a sophisticated combination in our first photo.
But I wonder what happens when guests come over and bring
gifts wrapped in reds and greens. 
Does the hostess allow the non-teal gifts under the tree 
or does she discretely place them elsewhere?
And really, how discrete could that be if your gifts are banished
to another part of the room, or worse,
put in the utility room until the party's over?


I love the artful use of peacock feathers in this one:

Isn't this a beautiful ornament?

This is a very pretty teal and ivory tree:

More pretties:

And these:

Teal brings the best of green and blue and marries them in a color
reminiscent of the sea.
How can you not love that?