Natural Decorating

I love decorating our home for Christmas. One of my favorite styles is keeping it “Country Living”. I utilize nature as much as possible.

In the past I have used fallen branches as a part of our decor. Hanging them from under the skylight or adorning our main entryway. Using natural branches also means that every year the decorating changes.

I have even made tealight holders from the thicker branches. I finished them off with some red burlap string and modpodge glue in order to keep their sheen.

This year my wife suggested we use some holly branches. She loves the look of the red holly berries against the vibrant greenery. Holly, just like pine trees, keep their colours for quite some time. But once the season is over- they become brittle and dry.

I’m loving that each year we modify our decorating just a little bit and that I use nature to do it.

What do you make at Christmas?

The Family Saturday

Today was a long day filled with some quality family time. Quality time is something that I treasure whenever we can get it.

It started with early morning speed skating training, followed by a free movie at the theater. It was Community Day so we took in a classic film- “A Christmas Story” to start our season right. By far one of my most favorite films. Seeing it in the theater added a new ambiance to the film and legitimate out loud laughs by the audience.

The film was over around lunch. We came straight home, did a quick tidy/clean before settling in to a favorite family activity. It’s the first Saturday after my wife’s birthday, so that meant decorations for our trees were to go up!

Loads of fun, dancing, singing and smiles were had. It helped that my wife and I had cookies and Firenog as well. Today is a day that our oldest loves to be a part of and willingly gets her picture taken with a smile!

We have three trees, so the kids rotate which topper they put up. It’s the first year I haven’t lifted anyone up to do it. It’s also the first year that my wife did this:

She broke an ornament! It’s not Christmas until at least one ornament explodes.

More Painted Wood

About a month ago I Painted Wood with some winterscape images. I was happy with my first go around that I had to make some more.

What I liked with this one is the rainbow of colours in the sky. I enjoyed blending the colours to create the illusion of an early morning with a slight reflection below.

The other piece I did was of a pathway curving off with a couple of mountains in the faded background. The single tree stood silently with a hint of snow speckled throughout. I liked that I remembered the rule of lightning and the moon’s glow cast a faint shadow from the tree.

The thing about my paintings is that when painting snow, I wanted to portray a semblance of realism- that snow isn’t brilliant white. Snow has a tendency to reflect the light and colours of it’s surroundings. Hints of blue or grey, yellows and pinks make snow a tad more magical.

Using carvings from trees has added a natural wood frame around my paintings. These frames limit what I can paint, but also help the finalized landscapes come to life. I have a few more to finish up and share.

Now the question remains- do I keep them, sell them or give them away? A labour of love and a new found hobby has brought forth something from inside of me. I don’t want it to become commercial, so selling these isn’t likely.

Painted Wood

This afternoon I decided to get back into painting again. I wasn’t overly happy with how my Black Canvas turned out this past summer. It wasn’t nearly as good as my Cherry Blossom Painting from last September. But today, instead of a canvas, I painted some winter scenes on wood.

The first one I completed rather quickly and was happy with the results. So I lacquered up the edges of the natural wood frame and began on another.

I’m really happy with how both pieces turned out. They are rather generic winter themes so they will work no matter where I put them. It has made me love the idea of painting again. Time to scour the wood shed and hope to find some more pieces like this.

The pieces even look good hung up on our walls as well. It’s going to be tough to take them down once spring arrives.

It’s Halloween Time!

Oh my goodness Halloween has arrived! And it feels like it got here a day early. I don’t think I’m ready for it. There’s still things to do!

  • Carve the pumpkin
  • MORE DECORATIONS!
  • Get candy
  • Unfortunately those three things will not happen this year. My last week just flew by. I did buy a pumpkin, but I don’t have the hours remaining in order to carve a good image like I have in the past. Last Year’s Pumpkins took about eight hours to complete. Having no time left is okay with me. I was able to work on my son’s costume and my costume this month instead. Read about his costume here and my costume here.

    Only a few hours remain until we venture out into the evening with friends. I’m looking forward to seeing the costumes that people come up with.

    So have a safe Halloween out there! Make sure you watch for kids on the roads who may be getting excited and forget to be smart as they go from house to house. Oh and give out the good candy- none of those raisins! Let me know which house is giving full size bars as well!

    Happy Halloween!

    Staycation With a To Do List

    I just began a week and a bit of vacation away from work. No travel plans unfortunately. In the past we usually get to Disneyland this time of year, but with the kids in high school and other commitments, no such luck. But I still had a week of time off from work to take, so here I am. Alone.

    I have made myself a To Do List of activities that I want to get accomplished while the kids are in school and my wife works. I’m pretty sure I’ll get most of them done.

    1. Finish my costume.
    2. Fix the tile and tap in shower.
    3. Fix the sauna heater.
    4. Get the Honda Element serviced.
    5. Decorate for Halloween.
    6. Do some baking on Saturday.
    7. Make turkey dinner on Sunday.

    Most of my list won’t cost much. Which is really a good thing since we have a few expenses coming up. Our children and their activities are nickel and diming us this year. Although it’s more in the hundreds of dollars just spread out over the next few months.

    Since I am at home and have some availability, I’m hoping to meet up with friends periodically to get a break from being in my house the entire time. So feel free to hit me up during the daytime hours over the next week if I haven’t reached out.

    Going To Work Is The Break From Life

    I know it sounds crazy, but I’m happy to be back at work for the next few days. I need a break from being in my house. No, it’s not because of my family and there’s nothing negative going on. It’s just my costume for Halloween is taking over my life!

    I’ve actually been losing sleep over the logistics of my costume. I have some high aspirations for this year. I’m not really wanting to share any pictures until I have it completed. Just in case I don’t complete it. Being ambitious is one thing. Not finishing is another.

    Next week I am on a staycation. But I have some home improvements and maintenance that needs to be addressed first and foremost. That means what I’ve gotten done on my costume is all that I’ll be doing for the next while. I’m glad I started working on it at least.

    But we are also six days into October and I haven’t decorated for Halloween yet! That’s unlike me. Usually October 1st and it’s spooky time. Maybe after work I can rustle up some decorations and have the kids help set them up.

    Are you ready for Halloween?

    Do you make your own costume?

    Let me know if you are like me and am starting to freak out over nothing.

    Is It Autumn Yet?

    The daylight is getting shorter. The leaves on the trees are starting to change colour. It’s foggy in the mornings. We must be on the cusp of autumn.

    So I decorated our front stoop accordingly!

    We had an old wooden chair in our barn that I set up out front. I had bought a couple of metal buckets from the dollar store last year and filled them with firewood. I gathered some leaves that had fallen and placed them around. Finally, our crone gargoyle sits patiently waiting for Halloween.

    On the other side of the door I put an unfinished “living edge” table (also from our barn). I set up our collection of British Columbia Beer Growlers from our road trips over the past few years. I surrounded everything with some leaves, dried seeds and bark.

    I’m happy with the results and have a few other decorative ideas to add to our home before Halloween takes over. I finally found my glue gun at 11pm last night, but won’t be starting a project until later in the day.

    What do you do to decorate for the seasons?

    Do you like fall as much as I do?

    Let me know in the comments section!

    Yule Be Wiggling

    When I was younger, one of my favorite things about Christmas was decorating the tree. The tree in my childhood home was shiny. Lots of glittery ornaments, multi coloured lights, and an excessive amount of tinsel! The green plastic tree was almost silver by the end.

    However, around the age of twelve, my sister and father decided to decorate the Christmas tree without me. I’m not gonna lie, that kinda stung me in the heart. Even though I told my family that what they did sucked, they did it a couple more times during my teenage years as well.

    Fast forward to the family I have created. My wife and I always make sure that the kids are around on the day we decorate the trees. We’ve even created a tradition for it that we repeat each and every year.

    We do all the normal things that families do. Such as put on a fire in the fireplace and drink eggnog while we put out decorations on our Christmas trees. (Yes, TREES- plural.) We have two trees that we decorate as our “Fun” trees and one as our “Elegant” tree.

    During the decorating of our Fun trees, we like to have fun- obviously. Our tree decorating has an odd tradition. We have to watch Yule Be Wiggling by The Wiggles! Back in the early 2000’s our children loved watching The Wiggles. As a way of keeping them youthful- we added a viewing of this film while the ornaments get hung up as a part of our Christmas traditions.

    And our children continue to love it. All of the songs are memorized. I even have the songs on a cd that gets requested to be played in the car during December! As much as our oldest tries to fight it, this tradition still brought a smile to her face last night as we decorated the Fun trees.

    Later this weekend, we will decorate our Elegant tree. This tree has all of our fragile glass and keepsake ornaments. We decorate this one as a family as well. But no bouncing around watching “The Wiggles” for this. It’s the classic Rudolph that will be playing on our tv.

    Do you have any out of the ordinary Christmas or Holiday traditions? Let me know in the comments below!

    Pumpkins 2018

    This year I bought 4 pumpkins for the kids and me to carve. My son decided he didn’t want to do one, so my wife offered to do it. I did my pumpkin yesterday and I’m really happy with the results.

    I wanted to do something that reminded me of my youth. So I chose to carve “The Dark Crystal” title. It took me about 3 hours.

    Today, our sixteen year old carved her pumpkin. She always does one based on her fandoms. This year’s pumpkin was from “Supernatural” and took her about 3 hours to carve.

    My wife wanted to carve out “Aggretsuko” until she saw my daughter and I spending so much time doing our pumpkins. So it fell on me to carve it out. I worked on it while our daughter did hers. Aggretsuko took me about 2.5 hours since most of it was shading.

    All that we have left before Halloween is for our younger daughter to carve out hers. Today she is wanting to finish her homework first, so we may do it on Monday or Tuesday instead. I think she is also still deciding what to carve.

    If you want to see some of my previous designs, click Here.

    Or check out last year’s pumpkins Here. This year’s are far more impressive mind you. I really enjoy making them.

    Halloween Decorations

    Now that we are back home from our latest vacation, it is time to decorate for Halloween. The kids seem to enjoy this. Our son gets right into it and wants to put out everything we have. He even tries to add things that aren’t quite Halloween, but that he thinks would look good.

    We have a bunch of things from when the kids were younger. So lots of plastic decor and more not-so-scary items. We don’t put those out as much. We also have a lot of Nightmare Before Christmas knickknacks that stay out all year. For me, decorating each year is about making it different from the last. I try not to have too much store bought items, but rather use what we have around that is old and battered.

    Our garden piano for example has begun to crumble and really take the shape of what I wanted. Place a pink rope light behind the keys, a couple fake skulls, and a blue flood light and it creates a near perfect scene.

    A few more finishing touches and our home will be perfectly spooky. Today I am putting up our large banners that cover our windows and create quite the visual outside. In a week or two, we will carve the pumpkins!

    What are some of your favorite decorations to put up? When do you start?

    Start of An Autumn Home

    Usually I only decorate for Halloween and Christmas. This year I decided to add some warmth to our home and bring in more of an Autumn feel.

    Our house is starting to become a country home. Pine cones, candles, a fire in the background- it makes for a cozy feel. With the interior decorations well under way, it was time to make a country dinner.

    Skillet with sautéed beef and egg noodles made our home aromatic. Time to sit down and enjoy the comforts of our home as a family.

    Lights!  Lights!  And More Lights!

    I love the night time.  I always have.  It’s part of the reason I am ok working the nighshift.  There’s something beautiful about the artificial lighting that we put on to see.  When we do road trips, I’m the one who does the late night driving as well.  Something soothing and calming about city lights on the horizon as they close in.

    Neon lights are also some of my favorite things.  I used to want my name written in a neon light- Joe that’d be cool.  Or maybe some old arcade neon like Atari.  But I do own a couple neon lamps that were once in my man cave, but are now stored away.  I should bring them out again sometime.  But now there are Christmas lights out.  Everywhere.

    Remember glass bulbs?


    When I was a child, I used to lay in my bed and stare at the Christmas lights outside my window.  Sometimes I’d leave my NHL hockey team curtains open to watch as I fell asleep.  I have no idea why I had NHL curtains and matching bedding.  I was never into sports.

    In the time of glass bulbs and frigid days, sometimes there’d be a light or two that twinkled at random from the eaves.  Out on the streets, at every home you looked upon, there’d also be a bulb burnt out at some point.  In the frigid temperatures of Edmonton, Alberta- people would be in too much of a hurry after work to get into the warmth of their home than bother changing a bulb.  It was also neat to see the paint peel off of a bulb as the season went on.

    Over the past decade or so, LED lights are everywhere.  Brighter colours, longer lasting, and no need to change a single bulb anymore.  And cheaper to run!  One of our first electrical bills after putting up old bulbs was nearly four times higher than our regular bill.

    I put our outside lights up a month ago in order to avoid the rain and cold that Vancouver has to offer before winter arrives.  

    Decorations set up.


    This week, I have put up the garland and lights inside our home.  Everything is getting festive.  Our four trees (yes four full sized artificial trees) are set up with lights and ready to be adorned with ornaments this weekend.  Decorating in stages.  By next Wednesday, everything should be ready to rock until mid January.


    The first few years of being with my wife, she would send me out on Christmas Eve with her brothers to drive around and look at the Christmas displays.  Mind you, these were full grown adults who just wanted to get out of the house for a cigarette and make fun of my driving.  A couple threats of “You better treat our sister really good- or else”.  I think this was in jest at the time, but I’m a tad afraid to leave my wife- even sixteen years after meeting her.  My wife and I kept the tradition up of taking our kids out to see people’s displays.

    This season, we are planning on heading out again to see the lights.  Every year, people are getting more and more creative.  I love it.  It’s always fun.  Here’s a classic video of one of the first homes to set music to their lights- thus dawning the next generation of Griswolds.

    Trans Siberian Orchestra 2009

    Preparing to be FESTIVE pt.1

    We are getting all Christmasy up in here!  Our home is taking on a transformation of Martha Stewart proportions!  All created by me.  My children and wife have been helping out with the setting up, but it’s essentially been my ideas.

    Pats-self-on-the-back

    I love how our home looks over the holidays.  Here is a small glimpse of the decorations that we have up so far.  Please enjoy.

    More to come in the next couple of days.  We even have Christmas Dishes that come out of the cupboard tonight.  I’m just giddy with excitement.

    Sunday Funday

    Today was a day of family, food and friends.  Along with Christmas decorating and video games.  

    Next level Gingerbread house.


    We started our day by celebrating my father in law’s 84th birthday.  Eleven of us went out to a brunch at the local golf and country club.  We pigged out.  I started with the omelette station and lots of bacon.  Followed by roast beef and the fixings.  Some seafood and appetizers entered my belly as well.  Then I grabbed a plate full of desserts- disappointing desserts.  Things that looked like chocolate, but ended up not being chocolate.   Eww. 

    Tacky trees. More upsetting than not having a tree.


    While we were there, we checked out the Christmas Trees that lined the halls.  Many of them tacky trees paid for and decorated by corporations and businesses.  It really took away from what the spirit should be.  So when we left, we decided to come home and start bringing our home into the spirit of the season.

    The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.


    Boxes filled with garlands, lights, nut crackers, wicker sleighs, hats, candles, trains,  glassware and stockings.  Everything very traditional looking and warm.  I played Christmas music through our home as we cleaned and opened boxes.  The whole family was involved this year.  Usually it’s just me doing the decorating, but now that the kids are older, they are really helpful and enjoy it.


    We are ending our evening with another night of Mario Kart with some friends.  Junk food and laughter with a few curse words thrown in.  I enjoy opening our home up to our friends.  We often have people over around the holidays to enjoy some rich foods and relaxation.  As the winter solstice approaches, we hope to entertain more often throughout the season.