Christmas House Tour 2014.
The Outside.

Have a look here for my Christmas House Tour Inside.

Christmas is a time for giving.  We all know that.  It’s also, of course,  a time for receiving.  I myself have already received 2 burns, multiple scratches and a paper cut that is completely unimpressive for the amount of pain it is giving me.  At least with a real gash or compound fracture you have something to show off. HEY look at this.  Look at the bone sticking through my skin.  It really hurts!  That’s the kind of thing that gets you sympathy, or if you’re really lucky gagging from whoever you’re showing it off too.

At best a paper cut gets a sideways glance and maybe a nodding of the head in acknowledgement.

Here is a list of the injuries and/or indignities I endured while putting up my outdoor Christmas decorations this year.

1.  Cut the tip of my finger in a cedar pruning miscalculation.

2.  Smashed my knee on a cast iron planter jumping down from the table my pizza oven sits on.  It was the kind of pain where you immediately throw up in your throat then run inside to roll around on the ground.

3.  My tripod fell apart in my hands.  My brand new $300 tripod.  Yup.  The leg fell right off of it.

4.  Decided to change all my outdoor lights from multi coloured to white.  Decided since all the lights worked that would be a waste of money and I’d wait until a year they started acting up.  Hung all the outdoor lights.  They all acted up. Spent gross amount of time hanging out of windows and standing on railings wiggling bulb after bulb.

5.  Cursed out loud at the lights acting up while a small child walked past.  Small child looked at me alarmed.  Pretended it was my hydrangea bush that was swearing.  Stupid bush. Hydrangeas are well known for their short tempers.

6.  Jumped off of porch railing after fixing lights in super-cool style only to land partly on porch swing and half wiping out and half keep myself upright.  Because I’m super-cool. As all the neighbours observed.

Like with the inside, I simplified the outside.  Fewer lights, fewer accessories and more cedar.

Please enjoy the efforts of my embarrassment.







Yes. That is indeed me in the middle of a blinding snowstorm (a few flurries) taking pictures outside. That was another thing I endured.  Frozen hands. Which are nearly as annoying as the song.








The best accessory for anyone around Christmastime is snow.  And piles and piles of wood.










Having an enormous amount of wood I took a bunch of pieces and fitted them into my square planters.  All I had to do was add a few boughs of cedar and the planters look holiday perfect.  Once I set them on fire they’ll be even more eye grabbing.





I tried to coax the chickens out for a shot but they refused.  I’m being polite. They did more than refuse, they squatted down, did a big poo, and then laughed at my paper cut.

Have a great weekend.



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  1. MelissaM says:

    I love the way you are able to make your place look totally solitary, like a cozy farm miles from civilization (at least from the back yard.) Plus, where did you get all that snow, and how do I get some to enhance my holidays???

  2. Stephbo says:

    Who needs the mafia when you can take out your own kneecaps? Lol! All of your mishaps were worth it because your house is stunning! Mine? If you consider mud and copious amounts of dog poop decorative, then mine is highly decorated as well.

  3. Mindy says:

    Laughed out loud enough times to make my husband look over to see what in the hell I was reading.

  4. Connie S. says:

    Karen, Your house looks gorgeous and festive and so welcoming! Makes you want to leave it all up until March at least;)
    For me , my house (inside and out) always looks so barren when i take it all down . I Luv decorating for the holidays. It’s alot of work but i think it is so worth it! so i’ll keep doing it as long as i can. It just wouldn’t be christmas without it. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas Karen . Luv your blog and looking forward to seeing it and the changes in the New Year. Happy 2015!!!
    I too cut my fingertip cutting greenery last year. It was late at night (and i was tired and rushing as usual) and didn’t want to spend hours in ER to get it stitched up.( probably only need 1-2 stiches) So i cleaned it really well and used NUskin, which is like a medical superglue you can by OTC. Hubby put of couple of drops of glue on it and i pressed it together , it held together and worked like a charm! Hope your’s heals well too :)

  5. Dea says:

    Beautiful… just beautiful! Here in Houston, the only snow we see is in a cone and colored purple. I take that back, three or four years ago we had three snowflakes fall inside the city limits and drivers all over Houston went absolutely crazy. Tire stores actually sold out of chains! I really like the cedar decorations, and don’t you just love the scent of freshly cut cedar? We have to travel about 100 miles north of here to get cedar in the field; you can buy it at the garden stores, but it’s not very fresh. I don’t wish to live with snow, but it would be nice to visit once in a while. Unless I had to shovel it. Definitely not into shoveling! But if you had ordered the snow on purpose for decorating at Christmastime, you couldn’t have done better. Merry Christmas!

  6. judy says:

    Strangely what really tugged at my heart was the view of your neighbors house from your lovely porch. It made me think of all the great old house in lovely tree lined neighborhoods, sometime with wide streets and even medians with plants and flowers. Before everything became about money and efficiency and not esthetics. At least some of it is being preserved. We are in our late seventies so hark back to another age and time. Love the look of the snow-not living with it.. Icy dangerous driving. I’m the grey haired woman you pass at 15 miles over the speed limit clutching the steering wheel and hoping to get home in one piece. Don’t hate me-you too will be old one day.

  7. chris says:

    Funny. I pictured you as a die-hard old timey big bulb Christmas light gal. My hubs came home with a massively expensive 12′ pre-lit artificial tree (I despise fake, but our toddler from hell made it necessary) and the Light Keeper Pro. It’s this nifty little gunish thing that tests your bulbs when they’re acting hinky (and get this) can send a little zap of electricity through the offender and fix it. After hubs put the tree together, of course there was a whole section of unlit lights (cuz when they say “strand stays lit even with a bad bulb” they really mean it). In less time than it took baby satan to climb up the ladder behind Dada, he had identified the culprit and shocked it into submission. Bear in mind that he had already bought, assembled, disassembled, wrestled back into ridiculously too small box and returned another tree for the same exact reason. I hate that tree, but I really love that little gun.

  8. Deb says:

    I LOVE IT! I stopped decorating with a tree and tree baubles after my kids grew up and moved out and had their own kids and decided to do all of that…and I gave them all of the tree, hearth, table, etc, etc, decorations for the past 20+ years (and the ones from when I was a kid–I’m now, ahem, 60). I loved passing them on and I love looking at them from various respective houses. I still love decorating for Christmas, though. Simple touches, a wreath I’ve made, pine cones hung on red burlap on the front door, small white lights in an amazing vase with bare branches from the yard, couch pillows recovered with old cableknit sweaters. I need to go out and cut cedar boughs. Unfortunately, I did that last year and the tree got a tad bit lopsided. The snow/rain storm we had (here in Western Oregon) decided to lay the cedar tree flat on the ground. ::::sigh::::

    Regarding the paper cut, that’s pretty funny. My little brother’s phobia is a paper cut to the eye (who knew). That’s how we would retaliate against him, grab a sheet of plain copy paper and chase him around the house. (ok, so we are an odd, peculiar family).

  9. Jody says:

    Just lovely. Do you ever bundle up and sit on your front porch and watch the world go by with a cup of hot buttered rum?

  10. Sheryl says:

    That big beautiful empty urn you have by the huge wood piles? I found THREE at my local Goodwill which is probably even better than dollarama but I’m just guessing. Anyway, they were $5 each and guess what? I am a complete idiot and only bought ONE. Couldn’t think of a use for them except repotting my ficus tree. Well now that Christmas is here I am drooling over what I could have done with those other two urns. Filled with Christmas balls, pine cones, evergreen sprays, etc. etc. NEVER pass up a good thing even if you have NO use for it. This is why we are moving to a bigger house, Ha.

  11. Suzanne says:

    I thought I was the only one on the planet that hated that song/movie! I’m glad I’m not alone! I can come out of hiding!
    Beautiful decorations! I can actually smell the cedar just by looking at your photos.

  12. Christine says:

    My hubby cringes at the site of dry wood that is not tarped/covered. Our wood stacks are wrapped up tight like a Christmas present however yours looks more festive.

    • Karen says:

      OH! Well, you may or may not want to tell your husband that completely tarping wood actually isn’t the best thing as far as keeping it dry. I’m sure he won’t like the sound of that. Because any moisture that gets in there or already *is* in there from the wood can’t dry out. It’s the same reason behind why stacked wood should be tight enough not to fall over but still have little air pockets between the logs. So air can circulate and keep the wood dry. Technically the best thing to do is lightly tarp the top so rain doesn’t get on the top pieces. But even if it does get wet, seasoned wood is already cured so the water doesn’t sink in. All it needs is a few hours inside to dry out again. If your husband is like most husbands you probably just want to keep that information to yourself though. No need to send him into a firewood meltdown at the holidays. ~ karen!

  13. Lynn says:

    Outside draws you in , inside blows you away . Great great great job Karen . Paper cuts, nipped fingers, frozen fingers and toes we might not give more than a nod to, but all appreciate the results . The easier it looks the more hard work and thought has gone into job . I take my hat and mittens off to you Karen beautifully done.

  14. Rondina says:

    Everything looks beautiful. I don’t know if you were showing off the decorations or the snow though. A covering of snow makes everything look beautiful.

    Where do you get all the cedar? It’s everywhere around here, but on private property. No cuttings for me. It would be cheaper for me to buy a Christmas tree and cut it up to get that much greenery.

  15. Ellen says:

    Thanks for sharing your mishaps. My legendary clumsiness is a trial and an embarrassment to me, so I love to hear someone else takes big ugly spills. Our snow should not get here until the first of the year, but yours fills me with dread.

  16. Stefanie Barrett says:

    Do the chickens have their home decorated as well? Maybe a tiny tree hung strung with a garland of popcorn and meal worms and topped with a cheddar cheese star? Would love to see it.

  17. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Beautiful, I love the simplified version. You could do nothing and your place would look festive with all that glorious snow! I grew up in Michigan and spent years in New England…I miss snow at Christmas.

    My husband recently cut his finger on some cardboard. You know how men are when they get hurt. Thanks for taking all the risks and injuries for us! Merry Christmas. Can’t wait to see what you are going to have for us in 2015!

  18. Teresa says:

    How lovely! Loving the wood in planters…brilliant! And yes, snow is the most wonderful decoration. Too bad we only see a few flakes of it every ten years or so here in Hot Alabama! The loss of finger-tip was totally worth it IMHO because the cedar accents are perfect! Merry Christmas and thanks for inspiring!

  19. Sandy says:

    Your home is beautiful, Karen. Merry Christmas!

  20. Lavada says:

    I, personally, winced in sympathy pain for your paper cut. I was a secretary for 25 years, so I do know of wence I speak. Order of most painful: paper, envelope, file folder. OUCH!!!

    As always, you’re home is lovely.

  21. Mary Werner says:

    The pictures of your backdoor are amazing. I would want to stand there and take in all the atmosphere and memories of snow that would come flooding back. The wreaths are so beautiful – simple and beautiful. Do you sit in your front porch swing under the lights at night and feel proud of your home and feeling a bit like Chevy Chase? That looks inviting also. I can only imagine that #5 broken leg is the worst pain of all. Did I mention I loved your back door and wreath?

  22. Jack Ledger says:

    If I didn’t know better I would have guessed, with the amount of wood stacked around your home, that you had no access to oil, propane, natural gas, electricity or a ticket to the Caribbean. With me that really struck a “cord”. Also I might suggest that you invest in a ladder or, if you happen to already have one, perhaps consider bringing it out of the shed. This is just one small “step” to avoid being “rung” up as a Christmas casualty. I had no idea there were so few word plays for a ladder…….Hmmmm, maybe I shouldn’t have started this.

  23. Cred says:

    The outdoor decorating looks lovely. Exactly my taste for Xmas decorating. Love the greens and wood- very classic.
    Is the tree next to your front door just propped up in the pail or is it a potted tree?

  24. maggie van sickle says:

    Nice and simple, my kind of decorating. Good job Karen and by the way you have smart chickens. They stay in on nasty days.

  25. Ella says:


  26. Tigersmom says:

    I’m jealous of all your snow. That’s pure ignorance on my part as I have never lived anywhere where the snow stayed around longer than 3 days.

    Your scaling back has left you with a surprisingly similar amount of holiday decorating as mine has. It is nice to have company in the nut house and in the ER as I, too, take risks for beauty.

    And everything looks beautiful as always.

  27. Ev Wilcox says:

    What? Fish! You have fish? Why did I not know this? Do they have names? Do you feed them at all in the winter. Are they Koi? Are they coy? (Hee hee) So cool that you have fish! I have two outdoor cats that are pampered and loved. They have heated water and a heat pad in their very cleverly made cat house on our deck–safe from rain and snow (northeast Ohio gets its fair share), & the occasional roaming dog. So, no fish. As to paper cuts–I always have fake skin stuff on hand. Burns like hell for a couple of minutes, but does the job. Thanks for the great photos, as always. Merry Christmas Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks EV! And, I have Koi and Shubunkin. They don’t get fed in the winter. They sort of hibernate once the water gets below 50 degrees or so. ~ karen!

  28. Karol says:

    Paper cuts suck! One of my jobs is cutting mats for an artist and I frequently get matboard cuts which make me want to vomit from the pain. Mine bleed, because the beveled edge goes in deep, and I truly HATE them. Especially the ones that get in my cuticles. OUCH. And Merry Christmas!… your house is beautiful inside and out.

  29. Debbie D says:

    Your house looks beautiful in and out, just like you. Happy holidays! (Still can’t figure out why anyone would want to live where it snows…….shaking her head in disbelief….)

    • Cred says:

      It’s just what you’re used to… mostly, as there as many Canadians who flee winter at their first chance. I can’t imagine Christmas without snow. I love it and am missing it this year. We had a heap in November for about a month but after a big melt, I’m still waiting for a white Christmas.
      Where I live, in Ontario, we experience 4 distinct seasons and I wouldn’t want it any other way. The love the beauty of all the seasons….and the wardrobe change- by the end of summer, I look forward to cozy sweaters and tall boots.
      Bring on the snow!

    • Karen says:

      Ha! I can’t imagine living anywhere where it doesn’t. I love having 4 very different and distinct seasons. :) ~ karen!

      • Holly says:

        Your home is decorated beautifully! I somehow never noticed the porch swing before! One of my favorite pics. I live in AZ and we do not get 4 seasons. I was an air force brat and lived in many places with 4 seasons and, even though I have lived here for 30 plus years, I have never adjusted to plain old hot or beautiful, mild autumn and spring. Not complaining, but very hard to get used to no autumn leaves and snow. I guess that is why I always decorate bunches to get in the spirit! Upside, no car rust, no slippery driving, no huge gas bills. But then we have 115 degree summers that hit the electric bill. lol. I loved your newsletter. The bra strap comment was the best!

        Merry Christmas! Have a great, relaxing time off.

        • Karen says:

          Thanks Holly! I like writing the newsletter I just don’t ever seem to have time to do it. Maybe I’ll simplify it. No pics, no links, no real focus, just me blabbering sort of incomprehensibly, lol. I like 115 degrees but ONLY when you have somewhere to escape to. Like one of our famous Canadian igloos. ;) ~ karen!

        • Holly says:

          Yup, hear you. I help maintain a website for retail store and we don’t even have time to do our newsletter, with maintenance, changes, optimizations, new products, price comparisons, e-mail marketing and customers. It is soooo time consuming. I personally would love your blabbering sort of incomprehensibly. I do it all the time, especially at the end of the day. BTW, if you ever have another ‘tell me your grossest bug story, etc., I have one for you that I unfortunately experienced yesterday with our AZ bugs..a scorpion. The worst ever..nightmare, gag, holy sh**sters. lol.

          Merry Christmas, and wishing you and all the readers a safe, peaceful New Year!

  30. Linda Weber says:

    LOVE the chopped wood in the urn. BRILLIANT!

  31. Joslynne says:

    OMG! I have been reading your blog for this long…and I never knew you had a pond!! I’m shocked that I didn’t know that…poor me! I feel so left out…I’ll have to check all the archives!

    Merry Christmas anyway and love the house – inside and out!
    Thanks always!

  32. Kim C. says:

    So peaceful looking. Has a very cozy, inviting feel to it. Your chickens were smart not wanting to venture out of their safe house, what with all your falling and swearing and paper cutting goings on.

  33. Feral Turtle says:

    Awe I totally feel sorry for your paper cut…..poor girl…awe…..can I get you a cold cloth? Your neighbors still think you are cool, especially with all of your awesome decorating! I can see big contests in the neighborhood now.

  34. Louise says:

    Karen, I don’t know if you really appreciate how much JOY your photos and blog bring us! Your photos are absolutely beautiful! Breathtaking! And your stories make me laugh and are a treat for me each day they come out. I relate to you in so many ways (your creativity, independence, etc.) yet am in awe of you! You really are remarkable!

    OK, now that I’ve gushed all over you (but you really DO make my day!), I must tell you one of the reasons these particular photos bring me joy, aside from their beauty. It’s that I don’t have to put up with snow here in Southern California! It’s beautiful, yes, but I can’t imagine having to put on scarves and coats and boots and mittens just to get the mail. Or having to shovel it. Or driving in it – YIKES! OK, yes, we do have white stuff drifting across the road here in January, but it’s cherry blossoms!

    • Karen says:

      Ha! Cherry blossoms. Yes, there are those who love it and those who hate it. You acclimatize to it and I usually don’t put my coat and boots and mittens on to get the mail, lol. And I actually really like shovelling snow. Just not for 3 or 4 snowstorms in a row. And it’s not the snow on the driveway or sidewalks that’s a pain it’s when the huge snowplow goes by and plows your driveway in. That’s an ass pain like no other. ~ karen!

  35. Amber Elliott says:

    Oh Karen, how your stories of bumps and bruises soothes me somehow. It’s nice to know that there is someone else out there with dented shins and elbows from decor stunts. Especially the vomit and roll one – that’s a classic Me! It does not mean that we are clumsy. No Sir. We take risks in the name of beauty.
    Another decor triumph for your home! I enjoyed the pictures, thank you so much for sharing! :)

  36. Rhonda Davis says:

    Terrific outdoors display. Don’t tell me you found all that snow at your local Dollarama? Really? It’s natural, huh, not store-bought-fake-snow-in-a-spray-can snow? Well, I’ll be darned. You mean you actually live with this amount of snow on the ground, the roads, your roof tops for several months in a row every year? Why don’t you move? There are vast amounts of land where this kind of nuisance is minimal or non-existent. Regardless, this is a real Reindeer-poop-burning-in-the-smoldering-fire-place-embers kind of downer ‘cuz that means you CHEATED and I have to take all the compliments, all the oohs and ahhs, all the admiration I was about to assail upon your broad little crafty shoulders and go find some old lady named Martha or something and heap the praise on her…rats! So sorry, but them are the rules. Catch ya next year!

  37. Catherine says:

    So pretty! We so rarely get snow here in the South of England that I’m really envious. I’m sure it’s a bind but to me it just looks beautiful. House looks lovely.

  38. Grammy says:

    Beautiful, the stacks of wood with cedar trim and snow frosting. Seriously beautiful. I don’t like to be anywhere near snow, but your home makes it look so appealing.

    And a good tripod is a thing of glory.

  39. Cathy Reeves says:

    First off, you have snow for Christmas. (But then you probably have it for Easter as well). And snow always sets the mood (unless you’re the Easter Bunny). You Papercut isn’t a surgical problem so I can’t help. Dermabond sounds like it would work.
    Wow your house looks terrific, always tasteful and understated. I’m jealous because I have a bum left-hand a bum foot ( the right one ) so no decorations and no snow.

  40. Agnes says:

    How on earth can a tripod cost $300?? And then it even has the nerve to fall apart.

    • Karen says:

      I know. (I had no idea a tripod was that much either and to be honest I bought one of the cheaper ones) Worth every penny. Aside from the whole falling apart thing, lol. I fixed it. It’s heavy, sturdy, goes twice as high as my other one, has levels on every leg and dial adjusters so you don’t have to guess at whether your shots are straight (which is important when you’re shooting straight on) and it has an arm that pops out horizontally to take overhead shots of food, etc. Kay I’m pretty sure you didn’t care that much about tripods, heh. ~ karen!

  41. Shauna says:

    I’ve always marveled at how much paper cuts hurt, so your post prompted me to turn to Google. Apparently I’m not alone, because I only got as far as typing, “Why do paper…” before Google autofilled, “… cuts hurt so much?” and a zillion explanations popped up. So here ya go:
    “Fingertips and hands have significantly more nociceptors (nerve fibers) per square millimeter than most of the rest of your body. This ends up making cuts on your fingertips feel significantly more painful than cuts elsewhere. Also, the edges of paper are very dull and flexible, so when the paper cuts your flesh, it does a lot of microscopic damage as it rips through your skin. This damage is also very shallow on the skin, which will further increase the pain because some of the most sensitive nerves in your skin, which have very low thresholds to trigger, are near the surface. Lastly, the paper cut, being a very shallow wound, will also tend to hurt longer because they won’t bleed much and sometimes not at all. This leaves the nerves open to the air and other irritants, so they will continue to be in an activated state for much longer than more significant cuts.
    Recommended treatments are to put pressure on it so you’ll feel the pressure instead of the pain, or to seal the wound with something like a liquid band-aid, super glue, honey, Vaseline or the like.”

  42. Valerie says:

    Interesting addition to wood piles:
    Choose a really cold night. Fill various coloured balloons with water. Tie tops tightly. Gently place water filled balloons on various wood piles.
    Large christmas balls for the yard that last until the first thaw.

  43. Leal says:

    There’s a song called Frozen Hands??

    Your home looks wonderful, inside and out.

  44. Tracie says:

    So beautiful, Karen. I really, really, want to cuddle up on your porch swing with that blankie, and a hot, buttered rum. And a good book. That’s Christmas right there.

  45. Martin says:

    Looks really nice having snow at Christmas. In Australia Christmas is swimming pools and wildfires but we still sing jingle bells and sit around with snow globes and pine trees covered in fake snow!
    I hope the paper cut heals soon!!

  46. Auntiepatch says:

    But…..what about your fish??? Do they freeze? Do they become fish sticks?

    • Karen says:

      They’re fine. :) Fish go into a weird sort of semi-hibernation thing. As long as they have unfrozen water and oxygen (keep a hole on the top of the pond when it ices up) They’re good to go next spring. ~ karen!

  47. Valerie says:

    Fix for your paper cut:
    Wash then dry area well. Paint paper cut with clear nail polish. No more pain when the polish dries. (May hurt a titch when you first apply the polish.) By the time the nail polish sloughs off a few days later your cut is healed.

    • nancy says:

      People come the ER for paper cuts. We gather around, pointing and laughing for a while. Then we apply Derma Bond which is pretty much expensive super glue.

      Oh yeah, your house, it’s LOVELY. I wish I could get some ideas for improving the sight of wet, decaying leaves such as the PNW offers, in my yard anyway.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Valerie, but I’d rather complain about it. ~ karen!

  48. Paula says:

    Your home looks so festive! I love the natural style of decorating. Well done.

  49. Adrienne in Atlanta says:

    Your place looks charming.

    I’ll have none of that weather this year or 2015, thank you.

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