Sunday, January 4, 2015

Beat the Post-Christmas Blues!

So yesterday my husband and I dismantled Christmas in our home.  Every year, everything looks so blank and stark after the warm glow of Christmas lights and the greenery and festive garland come down.  Some people deal with this post-Christmas blah by delaying the dismantling of the decorations.  And if it was just up to me, that's probably what I'd do...leave Christmas up until around the start of April.  But for those of us who have to take down Christmas shortly after the holiday, here are some ideas for post-Christmas decor that can still look festive.

I started a pin-board on Pinterest with these and several other ideas, so go there to see even more!

It seems like the post-Christmas vignettes tend to either go in the direction of pale colors and snow, or warm woodsy colors and pine cones and deer and the like.  This wreath below rather nicely encapsulates the variety of post-Christmas items commonly used in decorating.


Another cute idea I thought for the early months of a new year was to do a vignette with different clocks.

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Many many wreaths and vignettes feature the lovely small plastic snowflakes I've seen (and bought) on sale at the Dollar Tree.

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I love the wee little white owl on this one:

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I love the freeform quality of this door vignette:

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Others prefer the warmth of bare branches and pinecones:

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Some are a combination of both types of ideas...

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Personally, some of my favorites involve wintertime vignettes....

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Thanks to my friend Barry Lytle for this picture:



Anything 'deer' in colors other than red and green will work too....

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And if you can't stand the idea of no color at all, the pop of red cardinals against the snow is just as stunning in decor as it is in winter nature.

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So good luck with your post-Christmas cheer!  Remember, there are even more ideas at the pin-board I created! 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Gardens of Christmas

It all started when my friend Dana posted a picture of a floral Christmas tree.  I was smitten, and wanted to track it down.  So starting with a keyword search in Google, I finally found its origin. 

Winterthur is a museum, gallery, and garden in Delaware.  Each year, they put on a massive spectacular at Christmastime.  The dried floral Christmas tree is a 29-year tradition and is made fresh every year from outstanding examples of blooms gathered throughout the gardens in all the summer months on the grounds.  Gorgeous flowers are preserved, carefully boxed, and saved to later put on the tree.  Therefore, each year's tree is a different creation. 

It's a beautiful idea, especially when you consider that Christmas decorations are really like our way of gardening in winter.  They are a vivid celebration of color, warmth, and joy, just as a our summer gardens bring us a similar dreamlike, drowsy, and perfumed happiness. 

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This video talks about how they make this mainstay traditional tree:


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But this gorgeous tree is not the only one at Winterthur.  Numerous other breathtaking trees are featured among its halls.  One of them is this butterfly tree I've seen on many a Pinterest board.  I did not know its origin until now!

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Another tree pays homage to Downton Abbey, with rich ornaments, small tiaras, and other Anglophile details.

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While the largest tree in the conservatory is decked out in traditional baubles and tinsel, with a tree skirt of live poinsettia.

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I think my personal favorite is the March Bank tree, featuring a celebration of the earliest spring flowers, Daffodils and Snowdrops, peeking through the icy blue snow of the tree.

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One of my favorite things about Christmas decorations both indoors and outdoors is, in continuation of the theme of gardening, how no two are alike, and yet all are so beautiful.  Some people wouldn't be caught using a single colored lightbulb, while others really love the big oversized multicolor vintage lights.  Some people use all organic materials and ornaments on their trees, while others prefer pop culture figurines.  And the best part is...no one is wrong.  Like flowers in a garden, the multitude of decorating styles are all beautiful because of their variety.

There's a line in a Christmas song that says "the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be on your own front door."  The point is that, like viewing impressive summer gardens and then going home to one's own simple flowerbeds and borders, there's a warmth that comes with creating something ourselves that cannot be replaced, no matter how beautiful the examples we may admire.  May we all be content with our individual holly on our individual front doors this year, and be thankful for the warmth that comes with a happy home.

Merry Christmas, Domythic Bliss readers! 


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hedgespoken



You may have already heard about it, but I want to make darn tootin' sure you do.  Hedgespoken is a new fundraiser campaign started by artist Rima Staines and her partner in life and creativity, Tom.  I first came to hear of Rima through her incredible, phenomenal, engrossing blog, The Hermitage.  When I first started reading her blog, she was a traveling artist living out of a converted Bedford truck, with paintings by herself and other mythic artists tacked to the walls, and views of romantic British countryside out her back door.  Her blog was (and is!) an incredible way to feel swept up in a romantic life that seems from another era.



Rima put down roots in Chagford, Devon.  (A town I really need to do a whole blog post on, and perhaps I shall)  She found a local community, a place to belong.  But she never stopped wanting to live a traveling life again.  And so Hedgespoken was born, a campaign to create a NEW housetruck, but this time with a proscenium stage built into its side to perform storytelling and puppetry, a whole mythic arts on wheels concept. 

And I adore it.



Although we've had a terrible year financially, I am trying to help Rima by spreading the word as far and wide as possible.  She has a sub-campaign to challenge people to try to raise funds through informing others of the Indiegogo page, and so I would ask that if you do decide to help fund their project, you please do so through

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Also enjoy the below fundraising video.  It well sums-up the project and the fantastical, Domythic feel of what they are trying to create!


Also, Rima just posted an incredible blog today all about what appeals to her in a traveling life.  It is truly a remarkable post, and is almost enough to convince this introverted home-addict to hit the road. 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

My Internet Home!


Yesterday I mentioned that I am not giving up on this blog.  However, you should know that your resident blogger has now created her own website (ok I can't talk in third person forever).  I made a website, since I have so many varied creative pursuits, so that anyone so inclined could have one central place to seek for updates or my latest creative endeavors.  The website template also includes a blog (chuckle) so I will be posting there when I update here, or any of my blogs, and there will also be original blog content on the site itself as well.  I will be linking to any new artwork I create, photo shoots I am involved in, stories I write, new issues of Faerie Magazine, etc. 

So please feel free to bookmark GraceNuth.com ! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Blogger Never Say Die!


 
 
Video killed the radio star, or so the song says.  Perhaps the sequel to the song should be called "Pinterest Killed the Blogging Star."  The internet is full of websites that were once the biggest fish in the pond, but now are hardly used at all.  Facebook crippled MySpace, and eventually did the same to my once-upon-a-time go-to social outlet, Live Journal.  And now it seems like Pinterest is starting to cripple blogging sites.

I've noticed over the last couple of years, but this year especially, some of my favorite Tumblrs and blog pages have a special announcement at the top of the page saying that the blogger or site creator is going to leave up their page, but will no longer be updating.  But you can find him or her on Pinterest! 

Ah, Pinterest...so very very useful and enticing for many purposes, so seductive for someone who loves aesthetically appealing visuals.  And yet there is something missing in a world that only revolves around images.  It's like a children's book with no words.  Of course wordless books exist, and can be incredibly moving and enchanting.  But there's also an irreplaceable and totally separate kind of magic that comes when visuals and long-considered words join together. 

This is the realm of the blog, of the LiveJournal entry, of long-form creative or expository writing.  And we are sadly getting further and further away from it online.  Twitter may quickly give us short jolts of information from friends and famous people with whom we want to keep in touch, and Facebook may offer us a newsfeed to scroll through for bits of the daily workings of our lives and our friends' lives, but none of that replaces a piece of writing that integrates images and thoughts into a long-form look at someone's inner thoughts or views of the world. 

All this to say, my dear readers, that although I haven't been on here as often as I used to, or as I'd like, I do not plan to abandon this blog space.  I am on Pinterest, and yes, it is seductive.  It is far easier at the end of a long day to go onto Pinterest for a little while and search keywords, falling down the rabbit hole of beautiful images linked from other beautiful images, creating themed boards meant to share beauty in an organized and thematic way.  (And yes, I do have a Domythic board...several actually!)  Searching for the images that I find beautiful and finding so very many available at one resource...it's seductive and stress-relieving.  But I cannot let this fun and useful tool replace what I've already built here.  I can't replace creating my own words-and-image creations, exposing my thoughts and enthusiasms...with rehashing already-created visuals on a variety of pin boards.  Both of them have their place, but they cannot replace each other.

By the way, there is another reason for my recent absence on this blog.  Just a reminder...I am now working as a Deputy Editor of Faerie Magazine, and although it's wonderful and satisfying work, it is also quite time-consuming, and takes up time and energy I normally would have spent on my blogs.  The last three issues of Faerie Magazine have all featured multiple articles from me, some of which are quite Domythic in subject.  I'm really proud of what we've been creating in our newest issues, with a new team, a new look, and a new purpose.  I highly recommend you get a subscription!  And at the end of this month, our Fall issue will be on the magazine racks of every Barnes & Noble store in the United States

Friday, August 22, 2014

Describing Your Home

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Lately I've been thinking about words and the power they have to transform the way you see the world around you.  Finding out an object's or person's story and background are part of the appeal, but there's also just a certain response we have to the words themselves....reading an object described in an appealing way.

I'm sitting at my library desk looking at a small vase of Black-Eyed Susan flowers a coworker brought in and set on the work table.  Lovely as they are, my eyes don't focus on them, but if I were to write a little paragraph describing their yellow arched petals and dark centers facing up toward the fluorescent light, I would somehow see them differently.  The very process of writing about something is alchemical.  It transforms the object.

I've begun incorporating this rumination into my life in different ways: I'm working on a little list of simple paragraphs describing our library's most endearing and fascinating patrons who come in daily.  For no further reason than just to celebrate their characters.  I've decided to start writing short creative fiction pieces based on the modeling shots I've taken over the last few years.  My claim with the photos I'm involved in is that I like to take shots that tell a story...now I'm going to start telling those stories (I'm working on a personal website hub that will lead to all my creative endeavors, including this blog, my modeling, and those stories among much more). 

The final way I've tried to incorporate this awareness of the power of description is by writing a short piece simply describing my own home.  And guess what?  Here's where you come in.  I started the below piece of writing just to see how writing a description of my home, as if it were for a story, would make me feel.  And the result was wonderful!  I saw and appreciated the place in a whole new way!  I only described the exterior of the building and the gardens, but everything magically transformed to be more charming, more enchanting. 

You really should try it!  And if you do, I'd LOVE to see the results, either here or on the Domythic Bliss Facebook group!


Here's mine:




                The little house known as Catty-Corner Cottage lives up to its name from the first moment you see it.  Not only is it located quite literally on the catty-corner of two streets, but it is a cozy little white Cape Cod cottage, surrounded by a frame of profuse flowers and shrubs.  The neighborhood is charmingly old-fashioned: All the neighbors, mostly older retirement-age couples, look out for each other and will even occasionally have a neighborhood picnic, bringing together pie, barbecue, and gossip.  It is simultaneously an entirely ordinary community and marvelously rare.  And right in the center of it all stands Catty-Corner Cottage. 
A well-kept sidewalk darts a direct line up to a small front stoop.  Evergreens planted in twin urns frame a wooden door painted a rich plum color.  Tucked to either side of the steps are large pots of lavender that sooths the senses.  Below both of the sets of windows that face the street, white flower boxes painted with plum-colored scrollwork overflow with petunias in a mix of purple, red, and plum colors.  Twin arborvitaes stand tall and narrow, guarding either corner of the front flower gardens.   As you walk around the side of the house, tall spires of Hollyhocks in shades of pink and red flash their ruffled blooms at you, vibrant against the white siding.  The back yard is set off from the street by a white picket fence.  An arbor arches above the side gate, covered in thickly twining bean vines dotted with small scarlet blooms. 
                Open the gate, step through into more gardens.  To your right is a patio of antique bricks with an inviting flower patterned umbrella shading an iron table and chairs.  The patio is framed by cheerful yellow daylilies on two sides, and with a tall lilac bush on the corner.  A cat gargoyle sits by the lilac, facing out to the street to welcome guests or guard against intruders, depending on your intent.  To your left, running down the length of the garden fence line, there is a very long flower bed planted with dozens and dozens of different plants.  Raspberry vines twine along the fence slats, bushes of yellow and pink flowers mix among roses and spikes of Foxglove, Snapdragon and Coneflower, Sedum, Bee Balm, and Hosta.  
In the far corner of the yard, vivid green ferns capture your eye even in the shadows of a spreading Hawthorn tree, two glass lanterns dangling in its branches like jewels.  A beautiful tree, its branches twist in a pattern like the framework of an umbrella, sheltering a variety of small birds who swoop and sing to you from its branches. 
Under the shade of the same tree, a cheerful white painted wood and iron bench sits by the back gate, inviting you to sit at the bottom of the garden and look for the faeries disguised as tiny birds hopping among the dense branches above. 
Slowly and gently, the house and its small garden work their magic on you, and you can feel your worries and stresses melting away with the sun and gentle breezes.



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Songs for Ophelia - A Review

Switching gears for a moment from domestic fantasy, I was recently lucky enough to be sent an advanced copy of Theodora Goss' new mythically inspired poetry collection, Songs for Ophelia.


I was impressed not only with the individual poems in the collection, but also how beautifully they all fit together as an overall narrative.  The poems are organized into the four seasons, and although you see the transformation of certain natural elements across the seasons, there is little to no repetition.  Some poems are canvases that capture a single moment in time, while others encompass entire lifetimes of fascinating characters.

My favorite poems in the collection all seemed to fit into the latter category, but I appreciated them all.  Poems like "The Witch" and "Shoes of Bark" beautifully explore the idea of the ages of womanhood, of motherhood and daughterhood, and how we weave magic with each other or have the ability to tear each other apart.  The poems are full of rich rich imagery, each one best experienced slowly so that it can be pondered and savored.

Theodora's technical prowess also quietly shines through...the quality of the meter and solidity of the structure of her poems is easy to forget when you get so caught up in the imagery she also provides, but it is nonetheless still there, like the sturdy spine of a dancer whose costume and movements distract us from her underlying strength.

I highly recommend this poetry collection.  Theodora Goss is one of those authors, unlike James Patterson or Nora Roberts, who takes her time to put out a truly priceless creation rather than churning out new materials for filler.  There is no filler in this collection, each poem shines like a jewel.  Pluck your own jewel today!!