Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas at Leaning Oak

We had hoped to be in our house, hosting a family reunion, for Christmas 2015.  It did not happen.  It all worked out, anyway.  That being said, 2016 is our first Christmas, and I'll admit, rushing to get decorated for the 2015 Christmas would have been painful.  I am glad this is our first Christmas at Leaning Oak.

What we realized is that this house could not use all the decorations from our previous house.  What does one do with stairway garland when there are no stairs?  How do we arrange our Dicken's Village miniatures?  What should the outside lighting be?  Will our existing ornaments and lights work well on a tree which is 50% taller?  The answer to the above questions?  AART -- Adapt, Add, Replace, Toss (as in, "toss in the trash).  The fine art of AART, at least for us, can be summarized, though not exhaustively, in the following:

Add: icicles lights along the roofline of the house, lighted swags to the coach-style security lights on the garages, potted and lighted evergreen trees for the lanai, deco-jars/lanterns for the inside fireplace, clustered ornaments for the new tree (Pam created the clusters by tying 4-6 red and gold plastic ornaments together), which has a surface area 2.3 times greater than our old tree.  The clusters act as focal points, and by adding normal ornaments around them, it is easier to appreciate the normal-sized ornaments, otherwise, they get lost in the huge surface area of the tree.

Adapt: stairway garland to mantle and table garland, which meant making shorter sections and removing lights, and morphing an eclectic collection of gold-colored trees, ornaments, and angels into a centerpiece for the kitchen island.

Replace: the Christmas tree, as we bought the new one after Christmas in 2014 in anticipation of the 2015 Christmas.  Buying the Balsam Hill tree after Christmas 2014 saved us about 40% in costs.   We converted all of our lighting to LED, replacing all incandescent Christmas lighting.  Our wire-frame outdoor nativity scene needed its incandescent rope lights replaced, which I did with new LED "strip lighting".  The strip lighting is adhesive on one side, intended as an under-the-cabinet accent light.  The adhesive side was ignored by me, as it would not endure the outdoor conditions nor stick well to the round steel of the nativity.  I strapped the lighting to the nativity using white zip ties (after repainting the nativity with a high-gloss white paint to restore the nativity and give it more reflectance).  The LED strip lighting was much more flexible than the incandescent rope light, and much easier to attach.  It it also much brighter than the old rope lights ever were.

Toss: we tossed several storage boxes of incandescent miniature string lights and net lights, a few boxes of generic ornaments we'll not need, the old tree, a couple of outdoor artificial lighted deciduous trees which really did not work for us anymore.

The pictures below give you an idea of what our first Christmas here will look like:

The tree is over 12 feet tall (3.7+ m)
and adorned with 2000 LED lights.

The tree at night, and the reddish
decorations which are visible are
the cluster ornaments, consisting
of red and gold normal-sized ornaments
tied together as one.

The Nativity as seen from the house.  I placed it in the natural grove we have preserved in the front of the property.  The
branches of the live oak and the grasses lend to the look of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus being in an ancient stable.

The Great Room is ready for Christmas.  We adapted a stairway garland for the
mantle, and placed our Dickens' Village in the shelves to the right of the
fireplace -- a forethought in our design of this room.

This is a close-up of our indoor nativity and Dickens' Village miniatures.  We
did add "street lights" so that there is not a dark hole around the skating pond area

This is the centerpiece for the kitchen island (a.k.a, the kitchen 'continent'),
surrounded by angel hair and gold garland.  There is still plenty of room to
prepare a meal, and this picture also highlights the flow from the kitchen to
the Great Room, and yes, the far side of the island allows for bar seating.

We added these small evergreens to accent the lanai area.  The lights
are on timers and are set to be on for six hours and off for 18 hours.
This is the lanai in daylight, with the trees from the previous photo at the left
of the fireplace,  We added "NOEL" pillows and a seasonal centerpiece.

We have rockers and a table on either side of the front door, and so in your
mind, mirror image this picture and you can "see" how the front porch looks.
NOEL pillows adorn the chairs, and artificial trees accent the front door.

The entrance to our house just seemed to beg for icicle lights, and I complied,
with pleasure.  The whole roofline celebrated with me.  I have been wanting to
do this since we drew-up the facade in the architectural design phase. 
As one can see, the icicle lights completely illuminate the front of the house,
and turning on the porch lights is unnecessary.  We had electrical outlets
installed in the soffits to facilitate Christmas lighting.

Silent Night.  Merry Christmas from our family to yours...