open house 2016 ~ part two

See part one of the open house tour in this post: open house 2016 ~ part one

We will take up the tour in the kitchen. It’s the center of holiday activity! The doorway on the left side of the picture leads into the front hall. The kitchen was an enclosed back porch at one time. The window back and to the left looks into the dining room. During the party, it helps the kitchen elves keep an eye on the cookie table for reloading cookie trays. Just prior to the party…the cookies are stacked and ready to go!

Open House 2016

The windows of the kitchen face east and south. Lots of great light in this room! A garland and my collection of snowflakes and icicles decorate the windows. The ceiling is 12′ high, so we hang large snowflakes from the ceiling using clear Command hooks and mirrored garlands.

Open House 2016

Open House 2016

The shelves over the kitchen table were made for us by a friend. They are one of my favorite things in the kitchen. DH made the “days until” chalkboard for me several years ago.

Open House 2016

Did you get a Christmas mouse at the open house?

Open House 2016

A friend brought this Grinch tree over on Saturday. So cute! We placed it on the dresser in the kitchen and put a Whoville-ish Putz house under it.

Open House 2016

To the right of the above picture is the door to the room we call the “music room.” So called because our piano is in that room. Otherwise, the room acts as a hallway. It has a door in each wall and two windows! A door to the kitchen, a door to the addition, a door to the library, and a door to the front hall.

On the desk in the music room, we put a slender tree with some of the ornaments from my nativity collection. Also on the desk are the the three wise men and their gift boxes.

Open House 2016

And in this case, a cat named Clark…

Open House 2016

The door by the desk leads to the library and the door on the right leads to the front hall. On the wall above the piano, shelves display some of my Christmas china.

Open House 2016

Pictures of the kids at Christmas decorate the top of the piano. Many of these pictures were used in our Christmas cards over the years.

Open House 2016

The chiffarobe was moved to this room when I was using it as a craft space. Now that I am back upstairs in my own craft room, the chiffarobe is used to store kitchen items that aren’t needed every day, but are handy to have nearby. The tree on top the chiffarobe holds a small collection of vintage ornaments my mother-in-law gave to me.

Open House 2016

The round table in the middle of the room has a small aluminum tree decorated with vintage ornaments. This picture was taken right before the open house, before my pile of devices was moved.

Open House 2016

Open House 2016

The favorite decoration in the music room has to be the chalkboard. DH painted the green chalkboard on the wall in 2011. This is our fifth year to decorate it with a chalk tree. To find pictures to use, I google the theme I’ve decided on and “coloring pages.” The designs have to be modified a little. I take out extra details we don’t need and size the picture to fit the space. Genny does the chalking. I plan to share some of the process in another blog post.

Open House 2016

Open House 2016

From the music room, we move into the library. The buffet was added to the house in 1922 when it underwent a renovation. We took out the drawers and installed shelves below to hold the grands’ toys. Our dear friend Gary made the beautiful stained glass windows to fit the doors above.

Open House 2016

The nativity on the buffet is one Oldest Daughter brought back from Liberia several years ago when she spent three months there working in an orphanage.

Open House 2016

To the left of the buffet are the wonderful shelves we found in this room when we bought the house in 1996.

Open House 2016

This black rocking chair belonged to DH’s great-great grandmother.

Open House 2016

And this rocking chair came from DH’s mother’s family.

Open House 2016

During the open house, I sat at the desk in the library to greet guests. A tray of cookies and a bowl of Candy Jumble gave them a place to refresh their cookie plates. During the open house, the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” played on the television.

Open House 2016

We had some extra special visitors. My father drove down with one of my brothers and one of my sisters. My paternal aunt and uncle drove over two hours to get here. One of my paternal cousins came with her grand-daughter and guest. My maternal aunt and uncle arrived, with two of their daughters and their son-in-law. Here I am talking with my cousin and her husband. It was wonderful to see so many family members at the open house.

Open House 2016

The main attraction in the library is the “glass tree.” All the ornaments on the tree are made of glass. There are more than 250 prisms on the tree.

Open House 2016

Glass Tree

The west door in the music room leads to the addition. This was added as one large room by the previous owner. When we renovated the house before moving in, we divided it into a large bedroom, the hallway, a laundry room and a bathroom. We’ll visit the addition in the next open house tour post.

Open House 2016

I hope you enjoyed this part of the tour!

~~Rhonda

open house 2016 ~ part one

Our annual Christmas open house was a lot of fun! We had a wonderful time, with some surprise visitors dropping in! Some drove for several hours to get here. Thank you to everyone who helped make the day a success…those who pitched in to help and those who came to visit. We are thankful for each of you!

With all the wonderful help, we had the best record for getting things done that we’ve ever achieved. Believe me, in years past we were sometimes up till after midnight, but on Saturday evening, I went to bed at 10:00. Sunday wasn’t rushed and we were ready an hour ahead of time! Thanks, again, dear helpers! You know who you are!

It seems our outdoor kitty Tiger-Tee was the official front porch greeter. He is extremely sweet and friendly. Rose Red and a new friend spent some time giving Tiger-Tee some love.

Open House 2016

The front door is decorated with snowflakes, cut to fit the windows that frame the door.

Open House 2016

Open House 2016

Open House 2016

The front hall gives a good view of the banister and its garland. We always hang our Christmas stockings from the banister. The little tree on the washstand is decorated with chocolate ornaments and small candy canes for our smaller Christmas guests…though, I’m sure some of our larger guests enjoyed them, as well!

Open House 2016

The guest book is kept on the washstand and guests signed in as they arrived.

Open House 2016

The newel post…

Open House 2016

To the left, in the front hall is a beautiful church pew someone gave us many years ago. We have its twin in the upstairs hall. The doorway to the left goes into the living room. The white door to the right is the kitchen door.

Open House 2016

From the other end of the hall, looking toward the front door…

Open House 2016

Standing in the front hall is the Christmas-at-Our-House Tree. In the past, we had a tree in the upstairs hall with pictures of our children at Christmas. We added our sons wives and the grands as they joined the family. Somehow those pictures went missing. This year, because we weren’t decorating upstairs, we brought the tree downstairs and I made new ornaments for it. I chose family pictures, but also pictures of Christmas events and also of the decorations we put up. I made 25 ornaments. I plan to make a tutorial at some point. I need to make about 25 more ornaments to fill out the tree.

Open House 2016

Open House 2016

In the living room, the old box grand piano displays our nativity.

Open House 2016

Open House 2016

The fireplace mantel is decorated with framed Christmas cards that chronicle Christ’s birth.

Open House 2016

Open House 2016

To the right of the fireplace, is the Christmas tree that holds our family ornaments. It’s a nine feet tall tree that sits on a two feet tall box.

Open House 2016

A few of our guests…

Open House 2016

Open House 2016

Looking from the living room into the dining room.

Open House 2016

Please excuse the odd angles in this photo. I took it with my phone. The trees are totally standing straight! This is the “Snow Tree.” The snow is cotton fluff that has been put down by hand on every branch.

Open House 2016

The old cupboard in the corner of the dining room belonged to DH’s paternal grandparents. The little tree on top is also covered with cotton fluff snow.

Open House 2016

Cookies and punch for our guests.

Open House 2016

The framed papers on the cookie table told which goodies were gluten free and the truffle flavors.

Open House 2016

The coffee station was set up on the buffet. Freshly ground coffee and two kinds of biscotti…wonderful on a chilly, rainy day.

Open House 2016

In the next post, we’ll take up the tour in the kitchen, where my sister Genny and dear daughter-in-law kept the cookie trays filled and the punch flowing!

Open House 2016

~~Rhonda

almost party time

We are as ready as we can be, other than for a few tweaks we need to take care of Sunday morning. Saturday, I started out by sorting the sugar cookies by shapes to make the decorating faster to finish. I frosted the cookies and Genny put the sprinkles on, which saved me a couple of hours. It usually takes 3-4 hours to decorate all the sugar cookies. Today we finished in two hours.

sorting sugar cookies

When the sugar cookies were finished, I moved on to my last cookie to bake. Butterscotch Chip Gingerbread cookies. I would have baked them sooner, but the freezer was stuffed. No room in the inn! These are about the plainest cookie I make for the open house, but they have a ton of flavor. So good!

Butterscotch Chip Gingerbread

The Eggnog Cookies had been baked a few days ago, but I frosted them today. This is a new recipe for this year, so I am wondering how they will go over.

eggnog cookies

Finished cookies!
Front row: Gingerbread cookies, Date Balls, and Macadamia Nut Short Bread.
Stack of three in the back to the left: Elfin Bites, Candy Jumble and Daniel’s Cookie Bar Bites.
Stack of three in the back, to the right: Petits Four, Oatmeal Crisps, Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, and two kinds of Biscotti.

cookies

Front row, left to right…other cookies: Nutmeg Logs, Macadamia Nut Craisin Bark, Sugarplums, Orange Cranberry Cookies.

cookies

On the top of the cart: Oreo Truffles and Candied Pecans.
Middle of cart: Cream Cheese Mint Truffles, Raspberry Truffles, Mocha Truffles.
Cream Cheese Mint Truffles, Peanut Butter Truffles, Almond Truffles.
Cherry Fudge Truffles, Chocolate Creams.

Truffles

Chocolate Mint Shortbread

Chocolate Mint Shortbread

Top two trays: Eggnog Cookies
Third tray: Peppermint Meltaways.
Bottom six trays: Sugar Cookies.

sugar cookies, minty cookies, and eggnog cookies

The links to most of these cookies can be found in this post: Open House Cookies and Candies

Again, all my helping hands took care of the rest of the house, while I took care of the kitchen. Tomorrow is the party! We hope you will be able to come!

~~Rhonda

the day before the day before the party

We had a very busy day Friday. Lots of helping hands. I spent the day in the kitchen, dipping truffles and making a few other goodies. I started with the Raspberry Truffles. Ran out of almond bark and had to send DH to the store for more.

Raspberry Truffles

When those were done, I moved on to Almond Truffles.

Almond Truffles

Then I made 80 Christmas Mice.

Christmas mice

So cute!

Christmas mice

DH and I recovered the seat of this desk chair. Looks so much better now!

recovered the seat

Our dear daughter-in-law stenciled the lower windows with snowflkes. Older Son pitched in to do the upper windows. They used a chalk pen with a stencil and it worked beautifully!

stenciling snowflakes on the dining room windows

The sugarplums were rolled in gold sanding sugar.

Sugarplums

Middle Daughter tweaked the Putz tree for me. It is looking very good!

Putz tree

Putz tree

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, I was making Spiced Pecans and Macadamia Nut Craisin Bark. And all this time, Older Son, our dear Daughter-in-Law and two friends were working away, taking care of all the cleaning. They did a marvelous job! DH took the week off work, as he does every year for the Open House and he has been busy as well. We’re checking things off and it’s coming together!

…I wrote the above Friday night and didn’t finish it in time to post. Today (Saturday) I have been SO busy that I have not had time till now…late evening. But we have worked hard, both Friday and Saturday, and we’re almost ready to go. Just a little kitchen clean-up tomorrow morning, a few tweaks here and there and we’ll be done. I’ll quit here and write another post to share a few things from today.

Hope to see you at the Open House! ~~Rhonda

working our way through the list

When we are preparing for our annual Christmas Open House, there is always a long list of tasks that need to be done. We keep a running list on Google Docs, shared with those who come over to help. They can check that list to see what needs to be done. We can add to the list as the week goes by. Easy and so helpful! The list is organized by rooms. Most items on the list are not cleaning chores but other things that need to be done. Add bows to the banister garland, wash the cabinet fronts in the kitchen, hang wreaths on porch windows, etc. It seems that every time I go through a room, I see something else that needs to be done!

Older Son and his family came back on Saturday to help with party prep. Rose Red and Snow White were our busy, little elves. Running errands, setting up nativities, placing poinsettias, and washing windows. They were ready to jump in to help whenever we called their names. And if they got to climb up on something that is usually off limits, all the better!

elf help

Rose Red filled the Three Kings gift boxes. She had red, green, and silver foiled candy Kisses. She decided the silver ones were for the gift of gold, the green ones for the gift of myrrh, and the red ones for the gift of frankincense. If you are here for the Open House, you can check to see if there are any left!

Three Kings gifts

Genny came back to help on Saturday and Sunday. We worked on the Putz tree. I ordered a new white tree this year. The other one was looking worn out. The new tree is taller and looks great! What it doesn’t look is that pink! My phone camera would not adjust for the LED lights. There is a pink faint gleam to it, but nothing like this picture.

Putz tree

We added Putz houses and churches from my Etsy stockpile.

Putz house

Putz house

Putz house

Putz church

Putz house

On Monday, I finished seven new shadow boxes for the local gift shop Breath of Eden.

Christmas card shadow boxes

And I finished this Christmas Tree Lot Putz. Fun to make! It is listed in my Etsy shop – ChristmasNotebook.

Christmas Tree Lot Putz

On Tuesday, DH added garland to the top of the kitchen shelves.

garland over the kitchen shelves

I made enough Chex Mix to fill four one-gallon Ziploc bags.

stirring the Chex Mix

I made Oreo Cherry Truffles.

Oreo Cherry Truffles

The paperwhites are shooting up. A sweet reminder that spring will come again!

paperwhites

I made new ornaments for one of the trees. It used to hold pictures of our children and grands. I changed the theme to “Christmas at our house.” I used foam core board and pictures I printed to make the ornaments. After the Open House is over, I plan to post a tutorial. I got the idea at Making Lemonade.

Christmas ornaments

ornaments

ornaments

ornaments

On Wednesday DH finished cleaning all the light fixtures. Clark helped change the burned out lightbulb.

changing light bulbs

I put ornaments on this little aluminum tree. Winston and Amy supervised.

aluminum tree

Winston even offered to help decorate.

Winston "helping."

Afterwards, he sat in the basket and admired the tree with its vintage ornaments.

aluminum tree

My sister found all the vintage ornaments in thrift stores a few years ago.

vintage ornaments

I straightened the beads on this little tree. They stay on the tree when it is stored and had somehow become tangled a bit. Not hard to fix. Amy watched from the chair and Ski made a close inspection. To attach the beads, I bend the very end of the branch back and over the bead string. Holds them in place very well. I do the same thing on the blue and silver tree in the downstairs bedroom.

Jesse tree

DH hung the snowflakes from the kitchen ceiling. Now it feels like Christmas!

hanging snowflakes

My usual routine for open house prep is to spend Thursday, Friday and Saturday (before the open house on Sunday) in the kitchen. Today, I made a big pot of chicken tortellini soup which we can lunch on this weekend. And I dipped truffles and cookie bar bites.

Daniel’s Cookie Bar Bites

Cookie Bar Bites

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

Peanut Butter Truffle

Mocha Truffles

Mocha Truffles

And Chocolate Creams

Chocolate Cream Truffles

Today our daughter-in-law and older grand came over to help. They will be here until after the party. They are making great headway on the list. Tomorrow friend Laurie is coming to help and tomorrow evening my sister Genny will arrive to stay until after the party on Sunday. Also, our son and two younger grands will arrive tomorrow evening to spend the rest of the weekend. Lots of helping hands. I am very grateful!

I think we are doing very well with our schedule and the list of things that need to be done. Tomorrow, while everyone else takes care of the rest of the house, I will be dipping more truffles, making last minute cookies and candies, and cheering on all my helpers! My thanks to all of you!

~~Rhonda

happy thanksgiving!

We had a fun Thanksgiving. Older Son and his family were here. All three girls were also here, but Oldest Daughter had to leave at noon. We were very glad she was able to come over for the morning. Younger Son called in the evening. We are looking forward to seeing them at Christmas.

We had Thanksgiving dessert Wednesday night, when we could really enjoy it! Older Son made an apple pie and a pecan pie. And we started with dessert for brunch Thursday morning. Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cheesecake which has become a Thanksgiving tradition at our house.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cheesecake

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cheesecake

Our daughter-in-law took care of most of the feast. She makes a delicious turkey, oyster stuffing, and all the goodies. The menu was as follows:

Turkey (Baked with fresh herbs, carrots and celery.)
Oyster Stuffing and Plain Stuffing (Made with DH’s homemade bread croutons.)
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Sweet Potato Casserole
Corn Casserole
Green Beans with Mushroom Sauce
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Garlic
Baked Mushrooms
Cranberry Jello Salad
Fresh Cranberry Relish
Homemade Rolls

Rose Red and Snow White made place cards for everyone. They were placed at each table setting. Pa’s card had a picture of a turkey thinking about being Thansgiving dinner.

Thankgiving place cards.

The twins also made candy turkeys for each place setting.

Making candy turkeys.

Snow White said, “This is a great Thanksgiving tradition!”

Candy turkeys

Our daughter-in-law carved the real turkey. SO moist and delicious!

DDIL

Rose Red eats no meat except bacon. No bacon for Thanksgiving. She looked at the feast and said, “Can I go to the kitchen and find something to eat?” She came back with a bowl of Cheerios!

Cheerios for Thanksgiving dinner.

It was a fun day. We started prep for dinner around 10:30 and took our time. Middle Daughter had brought home six different kinds of delicious cheeses and some good crackers. DH brought a jar of fig jam up from the basement. We snacked on those while we worked on dinner. I always enjoy working in the kitchen with our son and his wife. It’s one of my favorite activities. We were ready to eat around 4:30. I’m thankful Older Son and his wife live close enough that we can visit as often as we do. And there is no substitute for the joy of having grands nearby!

Just look at this face. And patient Winston. He’s so good. I would hate to miss moments like this!

Winston is so patient.

Thankful for all of God’s wonderful blessings.

~~Rhonda

less than two weeks till the open house

At the end of last week, I worked on making twelve boxes for Chistmas card shadow boxes.

making Christmas card shadow boxes

I managed to embellish one of those before setting the project aside for the weekend.

Christmas card shadow box

I know size is hard to figure out in pictures. This box is about 5″ wide by 3″ tall (not counting the hanger), and 1″ deep.

Christmas card shadow box

If you are interested in making Christmas card shadow boxes, here’s the link to my tutorial. Feel free to ask if you have any questions about the process. I’m happy to help.

Making shadow boxes from Christmas cards.

Genny came down for the weekend and we picked up with decorating again. I washed the prisms for the glass tree. All the ornaments on this tree are made of glass, mostly clear glass. I like spun glass ornaments the best, but I also have lampwork ornaments, molded glass ornemants, and more that 150 chandelier prisms, as well as chandelier chains as the garland on the tree.

prisms

We finished the glass tree (my favorite!) with DH’s help on the high part. The tree sits on a two foot high wooden box and the box has an eight inch high “box” on it to give the tree a little more lift. It’s a 7.5′ tree, but the ceilings are 12′ tall, so we put it on the box to give it more oomph.

glass tree

Genny and I put stars up on the arch over the bay where the glass tree sits. These gold stars were on the Three Kings Tree but, since we didn’t put that one up this year, we are using the stars on the arch. Check out that 150 year old, walnut woodwork. We have lived here for twenty years, but this house continues to amaze me.

stars on the garland

This is the Three Kings Tree, as we used to set it up. This year, because we aren’t decorating the upstairs, we didn’t put up this tree. We put the “Glass” tree where the Nativity used to be (in the bay). We used a smaller tree for nativity ornaments on the desk in the music room. And the Bubble Light Tree that is usually on that desk is set up in in the front window in the library (where the glass tree also is). Got that??

three kings tree

Where the Three Kings tree used to be, we put the green cupboard that houses our games and puzzles. We had to move it there when we put the Bubble Light Tree in the front window.

Anyhoo…DH did another high job for me. He put lights around the 12′ ceiling in the music room. We are so thankful for our Little Giant ladder! It is wonderfully secure while reaching high places. That’s unsolicited praise! No affiliation with Little Giant. It’s just a great, great ladder!

haning lights

While Genny put vintage ornaments on the laundry room tree, I wrapped my “favorite gifts.”

baby pictures wrapped as gifts

Genny also put Frosty and his laundry on the dryer door.

Frosty's doing his laundry.

Some of my friends in other parts of the country had their first snows of the season this week. Thankfully, we are still enjoying fall here!

kitchen window

Friday we even opened the windows for a bit. Ski, Winston and Clark enjoyed that! Ski continued to chill in front of the open window, but Winston and Clark watched intently as DH adjusted my TV in the craft room for me.

Ski, Winston and Clark

You can see five of my ten boxes of Christmas cards in the above picture. And boxes of embellishments sorted by color. I’m always looking for more cards, if anyone has some to give away!

I’ve made 25 kinds of cookies and candies in the past few months. All in the freezer waiting for the party! I have two more cookie recipes to bake. Then I have seven goodies left to make, but they are things that have to wait until closer to the party. We have ten trees decorated and four to go. Well down from the twenty-two trees we usually have. But not decorating the upstairs is the best option for us this year, so that has cut our tree decorating down quite a bit!

Back to work! I’ll check in again soon!

~~Rhonda

green putz with copper embellishments

I finished this little house today. I like the color combination. The embellishments are copper colored. The base is 5 1/4″ wide and 3 3/4″ deep. The Putz measures 5 1/2″ tall, from the bottom of the base to the top of the foliage.

green and brown Putz house with copper embellishments

green and brown Putz house with copper embellishments

A tiny brown, glass bead serves as a door knob. The corrugated fence has two fence posts at the entrance. Both are topped with a copper colored pearl.

green and brown Putz house with copper embellishments

~~Rhonda

custom order putz village

My first custom order. I made it for a local friend. She wanted gray and yellow and no green to match a particular room in her home.

custom order Putz

It was the biggest Putz project I have undertaken. Here is a close-up of the first little house.

custom order Putz

And the church.

custom order Putz

And the other little house.

custom order Putz

Top view. The cut-out in the base is to fit the village under a particular tabletop tree.

custom order Putz

From the back…

custom order Putz

The embellishments are clear plastic beads wired into leaves and flowers, bottle brush trees, pearl beads, and artificial foilage in champagne and white. My friend gave me some plastic round beads that were wired into sprays. I used those to make “trees” for the background. The ivory bottle brush trees were perfect with the gray and yellow.

custom order Putz

custom order Putz

Two little white glittered deer can be found in the front yard.

custom order Putz

custom order Putz

custom order Putz

custom order Putz

custom order Putz

I hope she will enjoy it for years to come! ~~Rhonda

putz country church

I finished this little white and blue church today. I had put it on the base and added the fence a few weeks ago, but had set it aside. It slipped my mind until I saw it today while clearing space on the craft counter. Decided to finish it.

Putz country church

The foliage is pink and a sort of blue/green. Not really teal.

Putz country church

The two small bottle brush trees are decorated with pink beads.

Putz country church

I’ll post it to my Etsy shop, ChristmasNotebook, tomorrow.

Putz country church

Besides the Putz church, I have this little brown and green house ready for embellishments. I have added the snow to the roof…just didn’t get a picture of that. I’ll try to get the house done in the next day or two.

green and brown putz house

A week or so ago, I had finished a custom order. The customer had given me a few things to add to it, so I completed that today. I love the way this turned out.

custom order

I also baked Peppermint Meltaways today. They are ready for the freezer. I packed a box with four kinds of cookies and a few other goodies for DD. DH mailed it for me.

Tomorrow, a friend is coming to help me decorate the “glass” tree (all spun glass and molded glass ornaments) and my dear daughter-in-law is coming to help with Christmas prep, as well. It should be a good day!

A big event tomorrow (Wednesday) is the opening of Breath of Eden Country Store. Among their wares are some of my Putz houses and Christmas ornaments that I have made. If you’re local, I hope you will stop by for their grand opening!

~~Rhonda