Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Another Look at The Nutcracker at the Paine

It's been pretty chilly here and we've had quite a few unexpected visitors, like Mother Nature who showed up in full force weilding the Polar Vortex! Naturally, this led to some other visitors like our friendly and very competent plumber, a conscientious electrician and the furnace repairman. So, for a much needed break from reality, I decided to make the best of the situation and get to work on a post where I could finally use all those photos I took at last year's local Christmas extravaganza. 

For the past ten years The Paine Art Center and Gardens in our town has decorated their 1920's mansion using the Nutcracker for inspiration. Each room highlights a specific scene and the story unfolds throughout. Specially commissioned illustrations of certain aspects of the story depict the actual room itself and it's furnishing. Here in the Library, the left hand page shows Clara asleep on the settee in front of the fireplace with the shadow of the seven-headed Rat King looming over her. On the right is the Nutcracker doing battle with him while swinging from the chandelier overhead. 

These cute mice figurines are everywhere.
They echo the themes and give a sly wink at the opulence, too!

There are three trees in the library, all decorated similarly but this is the most spectacular. The clock is set at midnight because that's when Clara woke up and saw the attack of the Rat King begin.

Across the grand hallway from the Library is the Dining Room.
You can probably guess which part of the tale inspired these masterpieces.  

The array of treats on the table and sideboard changes from year to year.

It's hard to imagine how they could possibly top this sugar coated opulence!
Some photos from 2014 can be seen here. Those cakes looked fantastic, too.

Next door is the Breakfast Room. The all white scheme makes it definitely wintry. Burrrr....!

Off the Great Hall the sitting room is laid out for tea. It's done up in pinks and lavender florals.

Due to it's relatively diminutive size (by comparison to the grand areas, yet it's still bigger than my living room!) only three trees adorn this space. Two of them are the upside-down design and feature motorized glass teardrops and flowers that resemble Angel's Trumpet. They sparkle as they rotate! 

On the second floor, just outside of the Gothic Gallery, the nutcracker maker has set up a workshop. It's all pretty standard military stuff, I think a little diversity is in order, 

Good to see the mice population is thriving and happy to help out with painting and lighting. I hope you have enjoyed this little trip through The Nutcracker tale, I can't wait to see how it looks this year! 

A few steps from the workshop is the magical finale. Taking a walk through the enchanted forest of golden trees in the Gothic Gallery is the perfect way to end our visit on the longest night of the year. 

Happy Winter Solstice!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Gloomiest Snowfall of All!

Winter surprised us by showing up on Sunday. It's not like it wasn't inevitable, in fact it's actually a little late. Luckily, the white stuff didn't arrive in any great quantity, just enough to cover up any signs of dormancy. The heavy cloud cover cast an interesting, if slightly eerie light on the snowy street. 

It definitely put an end to the growing season.
Good thing I picked the final crop of the tomatoes last week.
Who says climate change is a hoax?

In honor of the first snow fall, His Madness decided to put up the Christmas lights.
With a nice coating of ice, a few inches of snow and a steeply pitched roof, what could go wrong?
We could use a wreath on the front door and a little sunshine would be welcome too.

The Oak trees always look wonderful with a touch of fresh snow.

I can't say the same for the pansies.

There was a scattering of roses on the arbor until just a few days ago. Having roses blooming in December was a first for my garden but then so was being able to pick tomatoes in November!

The fairies look a little out of place, not to mention inappropriately dressed for the weather!

Several projects kept me busy over the summer and I completely neglected my garden. So Mother Nature decided to step in and take charge. She got a little carried away and I may have to take a machete to the path before I can shovel off the snow. Next summer I'll try to pay closer attention.

Back inside Burt and Kibitz have started decorating for the holidays by putting up the tree and adding the lights. Even if we're not quite in the spirit of the season yet, the tree makes the house smell great!

Meanwhile, Spenser just can't understand why he's not allowed to climb it!

Thanks for stopping by! What gets you into the holiday spirit?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Some Last Day of November Nonsense

 Last summer His Madness suggested a road trip to a nearby town's historical museum to take our minds of the heat and humidity and it was closed! So we ended up visiting their jailhouse instead. My first impression was that this was a pretty fancy place to keep criminals, unless they had a dungeon! For 75 years it was the home of the sheriff and his family as well as possibly up to eight county prisoners, that's why it's actually called a jailhouse, like in the song, "Jailhouse Rock", who knew? 

On the first floor, across from the family's main living room, was the Sheriff's Office.

It was the place all the prisoners were processed . . . 

. . . while the children watched cartoons across the hall. Really.

The prison cells were in the back . . .

. . . on the other side of the wall from where the Sheriff slept!

As for that dungeon, well the family dining room . . .

. . . kitchen

 . . . and laundry were in the basement instead. How cool is that pink washer?
Sadly, there was no matching dryer, maybe they hadn't been invented yet.

The children slept upstairs, where the only bathroom was located.

It seems like it would've been pretty hard to break out of this jail, but just in case . . . 

it looks like someone decided to stash a get-away car camouflaged as a tea cosy at the back door.
It was a pretty odd place for a visit and now I can't get Jailhouse Rock out of my head!

So where is the strangest place you've ever visited? Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving with a Look Back at Autumn and Pie

It seems the holidays, along with the changing of the seasons have come along in a faster succession than usual this year. Then we tossed in a week of wedding celebrations, halfway across the country, so it's been one big non-stop party for us. Apart from the horrible outcome of the election, anyway.    

These photos of the fall foliage on the way to Mosquito Hill are from last month. I was having too much fun with Halloween to get around to posting them. It's all bare limbs and grey skies now! 


Any sort of Thanksgiving decorations are a bit hard to come by, so I was happy to find this trio of candles in an antique store. My Mom had some exactly like them that she put in her kitchen windows right after Halloween each year. Their eyes and mouths were worn off but that never really mattered.

Of all the gifts from nature we have to be thankful for, fall foliage has to be up there at the top of the list. Isn't it great that trees put on such a wonderful display each autumn? We had a White Mulberry tree in our backyard that stayed green until there was a hard freeze, then it just dropped all it's leaves at once. It was kind of shocking to wake up and see it go from summer to winter just overnight.  

Burt and Ivy have been charged with the task of camouflaging the black hole of the fireplace. I keep meaning to find an interesting screen or put together a basket of dried flowers to make up for the lack of having a fire during the festivities. It's all fine from a visual standpoint but adding a few extra BTUs to a house full of people after running the stove all day just results in a lot of open windows! 

In these parts, every autumn looks different. Sometimes the trees turn color all at once and it's over in the blink of an eye then the following year it's a slow, lingering process. The intensity varies too, the forest can be ablaze in red and yellow one year and drab and brown the next. Here's one end of Mosquito Hill with a little bit of the prairie meadow. This fall was pretty good, at least an 8 out of 10.

I wish I had learned that advance preparation is the key to making a dinner for guests easier, much earlier in life. I am thankful for all those simple recipes that can be made a couple days ahead of time!

His Madness is thankful that his new knee enables him to walk up the hill much faster.

I've had this metallic green-gold runner for awhile and decided to try it out since I was a little tired of setting the same table year after year. Of course, it was a complete disaster, it clashed with the dishes and flowers and ended up looking pretty boring as well as leaving no place for the food! I took this photo before I dismantled the whole thing and went back to my usual scheme of a bouquet of flowers that gets removed right before the turkey comes out and a pair of candles that likely add a few more degrees to an overheated room and probably just make everyone nervous! So much for ambience.

Golden leaves and long shadows on top of Mosquito Hill.

It's hard to stick to just one motif when decorating a pie.

A Jackson Pollackesque view of some maples.

It wouldn't be a formal dining experience without But's impersonation of Mr. Carson. Only he knows how much space is proper to leave between the wine glass and dinner plate. At least Ivy's amused. 

On the road for one last look at the autumn leaves.
A belated Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate!

So how was your Autumn? 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Wedding Pictures!

On October 29th our son Andy and his sweetheart Kristin were married! We don't have the professional photos yet but hopefully this collection of snapshots at least covers the highlights.

There were no pre-wedding jitters for the groom and his best man, Nathan.

At 7:36 am on the day of their wedding the bride sent this Facebook message to the groom:
"Hey, what are you up to today? Wanna get married?"
At 7:37am he replied: "Think I'm mostly free in the afternoon."

I'm thinking they're probably going to get along just fine.

The happy event took place in the picturesque village of Cohasset, south of Boston. Not that it's relevant but some of the scenes from the movie, The Witches of Eastwick were filmed here. 

Andy was pretty excited about his first limo ride. This was actually the first time His Madness and I had been in one, too. We arrived at our wedding reception in a yellow VW beetle.

His Madness did a great job greating the guests and wondering what to do next.

It's not a proper wedding reception without the Best Man's speech! 

Kristin's lovely sister, Laurie served as bridesmaid and confidante. 

The Halloween wedding cake was awesome, Kristin gave it a 10!

Next, there was the father and daughter dance . . .

then I got to take a turn with my handsome son . . .

. . . and finally everyone got into the act!

We all had a great time, the aunts and uncles . . .  

cousins and old friends,


along with the members of the band Silent Wild (who Andy is lucky enough to play guitar with)

and their lovely dates, whose names I have (very unfortunately)  . . .

managed to completely lose track of . . .

and finally, some old pals from high school, complete with fangs!

It was a wonderful wedding and now they're off to Hawaii!