Three Weeks To Go

and even though I live out of town and there aren’t exactly a lot of what you could term ‘passers-by’, I still like to let the neighbours know that silly season is fast approaching:

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Just what you’d expect to see: Santa up a gum tree

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It’s a bit of a grey old day today. A cool change and some welcome rain, after the 36C /97F that we sweated through yesterday.

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Pull up a chair, and join us for a cuppa and some shortbreads. Is Earl Grey okay for you ? English Breakfast maybe ?

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And here we have my first decorating rule of the season, which relates to the disposal of ratty or otherwise superceded Christmas trees of the genus pinus faux .

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Which is simply stated thus: if too far gone for the original purpose, a pair of wire cutters makes quick work of repurposing the greenery for outside decoration. It’s not like in Northern climes, where one can use real green stuff. It wouldn’t last more than a day or so in temperatures like we have had this week.

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with or without Santa Snow [ bloody ‘orrible stuff. Never buying that again ]

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21 days and counting


and the Christmas House Tour of 2012 rambles on …

SO here we are on day 6

and this time we’re not – strictly speaking – doing one of the rooms. Are you up for a quick sprint down the hallway?

I’ve put the A/C on just for you because it’s still ‘orrible outside [ 39C/102F earlier ] and I wouldn’t want any of my North Hemispherian friends getting dehydrated.

At one end David’s door is decorated with a bright and cheerful 3’ long decal of Santa’s sleigh


that I found at the local Chickenfeed [ cheap variety store ] for $5 .

In theory I can peel it off carefully after Christmas and re-use it in years to come. Basically, at that price, if I only get the one year out of it, it was money well spent. It’s a bit bold and a bit glitzy but it’s Dave’s room and he seems to enjoy it.

the next thing to greet the eye is a Wild Goose Chase quilt that I made in the early 90s, folded over an antique [weaver’s] loom heddle most probably from Thailand.091

Then we have a collection of mini quilts and redwork stitcheries swagged down the hall.

some stitched on preprinted panels 008 (3)

and some that I adapted from applique patterns, themselves based on vintage images of Saint Nick




and none of the photos of the miniature quilts turned out spectacularly well, new camera notwithstanding, so if you want to see them, I would refer you to this post from so many years past that it’s actually off the old blog.

another decal … this time on the Linen Press


and moving on past my Log Cabin Christmas Tree quilt from the early 90s


We’re in the spare bedroom [ okay, yes. I lied. We are doing one room ]

with a Stack & Slash quilt in red Japanese prints,

a hug of Christmas bears, 0721980s Irish Chain quilt on the blanket box 071AND … ta-da …069 the glorious ox-blood red silk kimono that I was given just yesterday by lovely Toni, the former arch-nemesis and now buddy of his Beariness. Usually there’s a child sized one over the bed  – kimono that is, not arch nemesis – but it’s on the opposite wall for now.


If I haven’t Christmassed you into drivelling submission yet, meet me back here tomorrow for the [probably] final post in this year’s Tour.

Christmas House Tour 2012 Day 5

so here we are today in the kitchen.

Hangout of several dozen snowmen and the odd moose.

So I guess the tree is as good a place to start as any. I’m assuming that you’ve already seen the very personal tree in my bedroom, and the large elegant one in the big room. The one in here is only about 3 foot tall and is decorated with an assortment of tiny wooden German/scandinavian style ornaments, mostly angels, bells,and santas. There’s a collection of miniature antique-finish kitchen paraphenalia: a sugar sifter, egg whish, cookie cutters and so on, and this year, the collection of cinnamon cookie-dough ornaments that David helped me make a few weeks back. There’s enough spice in the recipe that the faint scent of cinnamon has permeated the whole kitchen. Just wonderful.



there are candy canes for visitors, snowmen and only the sharpest of eye ever notices that the angel on top is actually a cat.

Over on the dresser are … surprise,surprise … more snowmen


the ones in stripy hats I found at a discount shop many years ago, for something like $2.50 each, so I bought … ahh … let’s just say ‘lots’ shall we and leave it at that.

The two in front at left, I knitted from Alan Dart’s wonderful ‘Snome’ pattern. Somewhere there’s a third one in pieces that will get sewn up one day.



the sleepy child and the two pixies, currently sitting on ‘Happy Christmas’ blocks painted by friend Maz, have been around about as long as I have, while the wee gnome in the pointy hat is a more recent purchase.


They were joined today by this sweetie,


a birthday pressie from my friend Karen, who knows that I have no problem at all with getting Christmas things for my natal day. Her hat is a red and white mushroom – or would that be toadstool?

Totally gratuitous cat:042

and moving on, more snowmen, on a shelf made by my father in the early 1950s


This, as I say every year, so apologies to those who’ve been here before,

is the very first Christmas card I ever received.

013I was probably only a few days old, and it is signed from my mother’s godson, Alan John, then the ripe old age of eighteen months. Just between you and me, I suspect the hand of my lovely Godmother Gwen.

Mum used to tape it up every year [ that’s the brown marks at the top ] and when years of this treatment took their toll, I had it laminated. I apologise to any collectors of ephemera currently having the vapours over my phillistine ways, but it was that, or stop using and enjoying it.

Granted I have several other copies of the Night Before Christmas, but this is the one I used to read to the kids on Christmas Eve.

Moving on, the ladder over the bench gets an extra layer of frankly fake greenery and equally faux cranberry garland, hung with an assortment of my crochet snowflakes. On the wall behind are Danish Christmas plates and a seasonal bunting made by Tara McGrath. If you’re particularly observant, you may even have noticed the plaid bows tied to the ceiling fan. I refer you back to rule 213020

Over the window: more greenery, crochet flakes, and on the window ledge, yet more snowmen, and wooden ‘candles’ [ again the handiwork of Maz, the Crazy Haberdasher ]


Teas and coffee in seasonal tins, mostly from the Op Shop [ Thrift Store ]


and yes, even more snowflakes, Christmas plates [ although these ones are up there all year round ] and just a peak at what awaits in the explosion at the North Pole rumpus room


Christmas House Tour 2012 Day 2: the big tree

Last Christmas I mentioned to my darling daughter that I rather thought 2012 might well be the last year for the main tree.

I bought this six footer at Tarshay in 1999, after decades of real trees that we would get at one of those Christmas Tree Farms where they cut them for you and charge by the foot. We’d drag ’em home, set up the bucket of wet sand, and while I revelled in the real pine scent, two of my three offspring would spend several days with streaming eyes and struggling for breath. Hence the Target tree.

Each year it has gotten a little bit more raggedy, and there have been more cat-chewed bits of fake pine on the carpet but it still looked pretty good … I thought … until it came to trying to get a decent photograph for last year’s blog, and that was when I knew its time had pretty much come.018

Although now that I look at that photo, it’s still pretty … pretty. In my mind it was a lot more raggedy than this.

So, I was planning on a bit of tree replacement for next Christmas [ not a lot in the way of post Chrissie sales round Castlemaine ] and then a couple of weeks ago, Target put their trees out on a really good reduction so I now have a lovely new seven footer.

Decorating it was interesting. like … well … it’s a foot taller. It should need more ornaments, right?

So why do I have a half a big box left over?

and the answer is …028

that the new tree has more branches with fuller foliage so it just seemed to call for a lighter hand.

I haven’t used any of the strings of beads, stars, faux pearls that have been on the big tree in previous years, and most of the plastic and glass baubles that used to form the understory just weren’t needed.

It has my favourite antique looking mercury glass  and frankly fake acrylic icicles


a few crochet snowflakes that I couldn’t find room for in the kitchen.

This is the one I’m making for myself and gifts this year.[ free pattern – and many many more – at Snowcatcher’s blog ]



and other pieces of glass

This year I added a couple of packs of tiny blue jingle bells, and I cut up 4 boxes of matching blue bead garland into short strands for draping on the ends of branches.



My cousin Katti says that this tree is very restrained. I hope it’s also elegant cos that was kinda where I was heading with it.

At least Suki approves011



Christmas House Tour 2012

Sorry about the delay in starting the house tour but having a new bubby in the family has played havoc with my ability to wax lyrical about all things Christmassy.

It’s not enough for me to have the more public parts of my house all decorated for the season. I have a profound need to surround myself with Christmas reminders, so without further ado, Bear would like to welcome you to his my room.044

As you can see decades of Christmas quilting scraps have been turned into this deep, lush strippy quilt.

016 You really can’t see it in this photo but that burgundy I’ve used for the sashing is printed with detailed delicate old gold snowflakes which lends a slightly Victorian feel to the quilt, and I used up every single inch that I had of that print.


I have my own wee tree in here all decorated in crystal, silver and glass [ and acrylic pretending to be one of the above] with vintage knitting and sewing implements as well. There are knitting needle gauges in the shape of bells, an ivory awl, a vegetable ivory needle case from Nepal, tiny vintage silver scissors, and a thimble holder made out of mother of pearl.

and here I have to apologise for the crappy quality of some of the photos. Apparently I’m jinxed.  December 1 last year, I had a bad fall that mortally wounded the then camera. It valiantly held on for nearly a year, becoming more and more idiosyncratic, and a month or so ago, I finally caved and bought myself a new Nikon Coolpix. Which suffered a cat related fall onto the carpet on … you guessed it … December 1, 2012. As said carpet is laid on a concrete slab, the camera came off second best, and such things are not covered by warranties. I just can’t have nice things.

Next year on Dec 1, will somebody remind me to lock the camera in a drawer?

Anyway, so here’s my fuzzily out of focus tree


wearing a silk angel embroidered many years ago by an elderly South African quilting friend. Sadly Peggy Howell is no longer with us, but I remember her fondly every time I look at her exquisite handwork.


In lieu of a suitable tree skirt, I have a piece of slightly shredded Victorian or Edwardian silk-and-velvet crazy quilt that I bought at the local Historical Society Yard Sale for $1.


The tree is perched on a tower of Christmas boxes which normally hold the decorations for this room [ rule 312: buy storage boxes cheap after Christmas and press them into use as decoration  ]

Most of my santas are elsewhere and you’ll get to see them later but a few of the cream Saint Nicks live in here. I made this guy from a kit …018 mmm … about six years ago

This is my great grannie’s tallboy with crystal swags, bells, a victorian angel, antique crochet wedding gloves, another small tree, my baby doll and

the mirrored peace sign

which I grant you is not precisely subtle

but it works013

Oh and then there’s this cat sculpture/ figurine / thingummy

which leads us to Rule 213 : if it sits there for more than 30 seconds, tie a Christmas bow on it



17 days 2 hours and 53 minutes

In case it has somehow escaped your attention

Today is December 1st, first official day of Summer here in the Antipodes, and therefore


it is also the equally official start of Silly Season here Chez Catsmum

Despite the fact that it WASN’T yet Summer earlier in the week, we had to endure a couple of days when the temps up here hovered around 41C [ 105F to my US friends ] and many areas further north went even higher. We’ve already had the first round of bushfires, and poor old Dave suffered through it with a really lousy cold. There is something not right about colds and flu when the thermometer is higher than human blood temperature. Equally, there’s not a lot of fun to be found when one is over nine months pregnant in that sort of weather, so I need you all to send positive vibes to miss Cookie to encourage her to get a move on for Nadie and Chris, and all the rest of us that are waiting to make her acquaintance.

Last night, you might have been forgiven for thinking that it was a herd of fully grown reindeer putting in an early appearance on my roof, but no … ‘t’was just the heavens opening in a mighty display of thunder. lightning and precipitation.
Today it rained.

First flipping day of Summer and it rained.

I played Christmas music, hung out with some of my knitting posse and got a bit further along with Christmas decorating.

 Three four trees up and decorated, four rooms and the verandah done  [ mostly ]

If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll know what’s coming. For the rest of you, my advice is to get a good night’s sleep and to stock up on plenty of eggnog, shortbreads and Christmas cake [ oh damn! THAT’s what I forgot to put out for afternoon tea today. I just knew there was something missing. Buggerit ] because you’ll need all the sustenance you can get if you’re going to make it through to the end of my Christmas House Tour 2012.


Engage panic mode. Panic mode engaged.

Merry Christmas To All And To All A Good Night

North Pole Annex part 2:

Well, we’ve made it … finally … to the other end of the house from whence we began three weeks ago [ and this year I managed to resist throwing a ‘Lo!’ into that sentence to go with the whence. I do hope you appreciate my linguistic restraint ]

Christmas is officially less than two hours away, so I made it by the skin of my teeth.

Here we are in the rumpus room with:

a quilt or two

130+ Santas

two more Christmas trees [ and please note the knitted bells. I saw someone wearing these as a brooch last Saturday night, and with a couple of slight modifications, have been in bell making mode all week. – I’ll probably make more for next year ]

There may be the odd Teddy Christmas in here too

Maybe  some seasonal cushions

and anyone suggesting that I bought the green couch [sofa] and the burgundy and green rug with an ulterior motive in mind wouldn’t be considered totally unreasonable.

Mooses? Meeces?

Kookaburras, koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, echidnas … and a wee little blue wren who was just a bit too realistic and got ‘killed’ by Sophie cat. He doesn’t have wings anymore, poor little man, but at least the cats are leaving him alone now

Okay, so that’s not everything that I could show you in that room but I figure there have to be limits. I don’t want to be responsible for you all wandering round tomorrow with glazed expressions and your brains melting out of your ears.

I hope that you’ve all enjoyed your visit. If you missed any of it, the rest of the links are in the previous post here.

Have a joyous and safe Christmas, and come back to visit soon.

1 hour and 30 minutes [ if you haven’t finished the shopping, you may now proceed to panic ]