Most years by this time we’ve had at least one snowfall here in Southern Ontario.  We don’t always have snow for Christmas, which surprises anyone outside of Canada, but it’s usually at least cold out.

It’s not cold out.

How not cold?  I’m not sure that I’ve worn a winter jacket more than twice and I’m growing radishes.  Outside.  In the garden.  And they’re actually growing. This doesn’t mean winter is going easy on us, it just means Old Man Winter is recovering from a bit of a bender and won’t be making an appearance until January at which point he’ll vomit enough cold and snow on us to last until April.

So the photos of the outside of my house at Christmas look as though they could have been taken at a Jamaican all inclusive resort this year.  The only things  missing are the drinks with umbrellas and the beach.  And bikinis.  And lounge chairs and lots of food and a misshapen man wandering around in a most unfortunate thong bathing suit.

Actually now that I look at the photos, really the only thing missing is snow.



Flanking the bottom of the photo are my two huge rosemary bushes which I’m hoping I can get to live through the winter outdoors somehow.  I’m just 1 zone shy of them being hardy.  Just above the rosemary you can see the beautifully distressed porch floor I’ve done.  You’d almost think it was actually a mangled, peeling, porch instead of what it really is, which is obviously artistic genius.



The wreath was the cheapest, biggest natural wreath I could find (I think it was $19) which I dressed with a red velvet bow I made from Dollar Store ribbon and tails of gold ribbon added behind.  I wanted classic Christmas.


If you have any old winter sports equipment now is the time to drag it out. Now is also the time to go to second hand stores or flea markets to find this stuff.  The sled you may remember was hanging on the living room wall for Christmas last year.  Now it’s on the porch with my birch logs, a pyramid of styrofoam balls I glued together to look like snowballs and some extra greenery tied with the same ribbon that’s on the wreath.  An antique sled like this is normally around $150 but I found this one for way cheaper at a flea market. I can’t remember how much it was but I bet if you read my post from last year I remembered how much it was then.


Yeah, a broom, cause it’s December and I’m still sweeping my porch.



No snow doesn’t mean no fires.  A roaring fire and making chocolate chip cookies is my #1 wintertime hobby.  Just ask my local fire department.



You can see the potting shed from my kitchen window so I like to put a few Christmasy things out there for me to stare at while I lean on the counter and wait for the dishes to do themselves.  Last year I had some of my wood stacked there with fresh greenery on it. That’s all I needed because everything was covered in snow and it looked beautiful last year.

This year I added some skis. I bought the set of skis at my local thrift store for around $6.  I was going to paint them white but when I propped them against the potting shed they looked so great with the red bow that I just left them red.  Maybe I’ll paint them next year.  Or maybe I’ll have a live moose in my backyard next year instead. Who knows. At this rate I might be installing a pool with swim up bar at this time next year.

Other sports things you can pick up at flea markets or second hand stores for decorating outside are snowshoes (expensive though), old white figure skates, which would look GREAT hanging from a hook on a garage or front door or any wood sled.  Oh! If you’re going to put the skates out make sure they have some kind of blade protectors on them.  You don’t want to slide through a jugular while walking past them.

 Those are the things I’d recommend you go and buy if you think your outdoor decorating is missing something.  A sled, old figure skates, or snowshoes.

If you can’t find any of those things for a good price you can set a chalkboard outside and literally draw a pair of skates or a sled on it.  Chances are if you don’t have enough money to pay for $6 used skis it’s because you’re a creative artistic type who doesn’t get paid your worth,  so you’ll have no problem with the chalk drawing.


  1. Rosemary Burrows says:

    Lovely vignettes, thank you so much. I brought back home a baby sled that I had refinished for my grandson 8 years ago; have some old dairy cream cans; an old galvanized watering can; some old copper wash boilers; some old brass containers and an old large granitewear pressure cooker that I want to use in a winter vignette. The only problem here on the we(s)t coast is all our rain will dAmage some of this stuff. So I’ll have to put it under cover closer to the house in order to give it some protection. It won’t be all that visible from the street unfortunately but can’t be helped. Have to go and find some winter greens and logs. I’m kicking myself for selling my old maple tobaggan when we downsized! At least I think we still have some old ice-skates around. Your photos have inspired me and I’m excited to do this!

  2. Very lovely, but unfortunately it was difficult to enjoy with so many ads everywhere, especially the pop-up type that appeared at the bottom of your pictures.

  3. Amie M says:

    We must have followed the same tutorials for how to DIY an artistic, well-worn, paint peeling front porch.

    The decor looks lovely! Now, how does it all look with the white stuff?

  4. Feral Turtle says:

    I loved your tour Karen. Wanted to pop by and wish you and your family a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!! Hope this season is full of family and friends and a great New Year to you too! Cheers.

  5. Jill says:

    Does anyone still have the link for the free printable Christmas tags (wildlife)?

  6. Robyn says:

    Hmm…maybe that is a regional thing. I know a lot of it comes from Pennsylvania. It is a stone paver much like yours. Mine gets all wonky with the freeze / thaw which means I probably need to pull them all up and improve the base that they rest on. Kinda makes me want to cry. Yours looks great all level & even. You’ve got that going for you so enjoy!

  7. Robyn says:

    Looks like classic Christmas….I love it! We are hoping to ski in Canada after Christmas but looks like we might need to come up with plan B. It has been very mild here in Ohio too but we did see a few flakes today. Hey, is that a bluestone patio? If so, yours looks better than mine.

  8. tiffany says:

    don’t worry Karen, if the snow squall warning in effect for Southern Ontario doesn’t get you this weekend it soon will and you will have to shovel, or use the sled or the skis to get out to the chickens. Have a great Christmas. and to all your readers too. I just love all the comments, and don’t mention beavers or poutine or I will crack up all over again!

  9. Janelle says:

    Your exterior looks beautiful! It is snowing on Vancouver Island, where I live, so now’s the time to feel smug if you’re inclined to such indulgences…but not as smug as me because I am presently in Maui…just choking on all the smugness over here.

  10. Janice says:

    Hush your mouth about the snow young lady. We are packing up and moving to a tropical location to beat the snow and frigid air. You suckers can stay here and “pretend” to be such good Canadians and live the delusion without us. I use to love the snow but then, one year, I just didn’t want to do it again. Not just snow but Christmas. Maybe it is because we have 5 kids and it has just become a marketing ploy. We try to tell the kids that it is not about what you get but what you give but to be perfectly honest, media tries to make you feel like a failure of a parent if the tree is not packed to the star with gifts. Depressing. Look out Panama….we are coming, and I look awful in a two piece. The pieces dont cover the right places.

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      Hey Janice (I’m one too, don’t meet many these days) are you just vacationing IN or actually moving TO Panama?
      Two piece? Hell, girl, get a bikini!! On vacay in the DR, many years ago when I was expressing concerns over my exposed flesh, my dear sweet husband looked at me and said, “Honey, you may not have the best body on the beach but you sure as hell don’t have the worst!” I realized then that the young and older European women there didn’t give a rat’s ass about a perfect body. It was only the North Americans who cared. So now, I own 3 and enjoy my husband’s reaction!! LOL
      Hope your Christmas is everything you want it to be!

    • Karen says:

      “The pieces dont cover the right places.” HA! ~ karen!

  11. Mary Colleen says:

    No snow in Nova Scotia either! I really feel a moose is exactly what you need to finish the look. Although, if you are going to have a swim up bar I think flamingos might be more true to theme.

  12. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Ok…First of all…your place looks very nice all of the time…second….I don’t want any damn snow…our last two Winters have been a freezing snowy nightmare…I am enjoying this weather thank you very have my permission to keep any snow on your side of the border..and lastly…and I may have said this before..I don’t want any damn snow…SNOW=LITTLE OLD CHUBBY LADIES FALL DOWN…a lot…What I’m really trying to say is Good Job Karen…

  13. Linda says:

    Gorgeous, Karen, but you know full well you will fall straight through your artistic genius if you don’t check for rotting wood and paint your porch. Ask one who knows all about wood rot, termites, etc.

  14. Carolyn Boyd says:

    Love the front porch. We have birch logs and greenery on ours as well. Also have an antique sled, but last winter was a little hard on it, we had so much snow here in Nova Scotia, so it’s still in the garage this year. I pot up my huge, 10-year old rosemary plant every fall and bring it into the garage. It lives on a south facing window, then in the spring it goes back outside in a big garden pot.

  15. Lavada says:

    On your rosemary, would it help maybe to get a water jug (like for a water cooler), cut of the top, drill a hole to two in the bottom and place over the plants (kind of a mini greenhouse effect)? ? ? I live in Kentucky and did that for mine last year and they actually survived!
    Also, a question on your greenery spray on the porch (above the fauxballs), what is on the wooded end (left) of that? It kind of looks like wooden whisks.
    Anyway, lovely, as always.

  16. amy watson says:

    I can’t believe l am looking at the outside if your house, decorated beautifully and NO SNOW but then again, l have a wreath on my doir and it was 90 here yesterday, but come on my Canadian friend, l live the snow life vicariously thru you….MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!

  17. Karol says:

    Really really pretty, Karen. Just curious – are you happy or sad that you don’t have snow. Being from a place that never has snow, I wonder how people feel about it that live where it snows every winter. I imagine that it’s a welcome sight at the beginning of winter, but not so much in April.
    I can’t imagine how you deal with it. I complain here all the time about having an 85° Christmas day, but truthfully, I wouldn’t want to live where it snows.

    • nancy says:

      Being from Louisiana, I obviously did not grow up with snow. A dear friend lives in Minnesota and I have visited her in all seasons. Snow is OK to visit. The worst is the melting time, that never ending drip…drip…drip. Not just one drip like a failing faucet, it’s many drips that you can’t shut off. My inner Stephen King comes to the surface and wants to be a woman with a hatchet that hacks on everything, even if it’s people.

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      Happiness or sadness related to snow is very subjective. When I was gainfully employed and HAD to be at work in the morning come hell or high water or snow, in this case, getting up in what felt like the middle of the night to rev up the snow blower or shovel out the driveway is something I will never miss! Now, I can just laugh at it and climb back under the duvet and enjoy the beauty of it. That said, about mid-March when it’s dirty and sloppy? meh . . . not so much.

  18. Kay says:

    I love your distressed porch flooring – it means that you have had family who are friends and friends who are family stopping by! Does your Rosemary completely die off or does it go dormant?

  19. Lesley says:

    Omg, I have so many used skis. Even the Re-use at the dump doesn’t want our old-school skis.

    Beautiful decorating job Karen; I wish we had snow too…so I could use my new skis, lol.

  20. Ellen says:

    Definitely the highlight of the morning thus far! I like the planter with the firewood and the curly willow-nice!
    I think I’d prefer a bit of snow as this dreary grey wet month is seriously lacking in sunshine!

  21. Mary W says:

    Being raised in Wisconsin, I just love and long for a shed like yours to look at from my window. Since it’s Florida and my grandkids have never seen snow, they would look at the snow balls and ask why I glued styrofoam balls into a pyramid and what the pretty painted sticks were leaning on the shed. So I would have to settle for a flamingo with a red stocking cap by the back yard shed and twinkle lights and a candle in its window. Your sled is wonderful! My favorite of your decorations is always the shed. Thanks for this beautiful card from your house to mine. Merry Christmas!

  22. Melissa says:

    Always inspirational to see what you’re up to — your decorations look great. Now, if it would only snow. Oh, and if you figure out the rosemary thing, let me know. We’ve debated building frames for ours and insulating them to see if they can winter over. Might not look super suave, but knowing you and if you undertook such a project, the frames would be artistic in themselves, or have something artistic perched atop!

    Cheers and Merry Christmas to you!!!

  23. Luanne says:

    Looks great! This gives a lot of great ideas.

    (And I’m sorry – I think we got all your snow here in Winnipeg.)

  24. NinaMargoJune says:

    Karen, so happy to have somehow discovered your great blog! Love your creativity and sense of humor and looking forward to delving into that treasure trove of past articles. Sure beats the hell out of teasing dust kittens out from under the bed or trying to teach the dog to walk backwards…

  25. Eileen says:

    lovely, with or without snow!
    I’m a relative newbie to the blog and don’t know if this is answered elsewhere: where did you get your white mailbox? Looking for something like that for my redone front steps.

    • Karen says:

      I got it at a local store Eileen, but it’s a fairly popular mailbox, I’ve seen it many places. I wish I knew the make of it for you but I’m afraid I don’t. I bought the same one in black for my sister for Christmas. She *might* know the name of the brand. I’ll ask. But I bet if you check Amazon, you’ll be able to find it there. Just search white metal mailbox. ~ karen!

  26. Gretchen Sexton says:

    Love your style! Love your house! (Still want to live there…)
    So glad you put the link in for last year. I liked your style then too. Even with the snow.

  27. Michelle says:

    Love the decorations and your house. I love snow but like Tucsonpatty live in AZ. We are quite cold for once! I wore furry boots and did not feel a fool! Anyway hoping you get some Christmas snow and share it with us sad and snowless people who look dumb in furry duck boots in the desert. Sigh still envy your fridge. Lol

  28. Chris says:

    I’m wondering what those cool wavy branches are. Something you grow, or from a craft store?

  29. Pauline Cornick says:

    Love it! Can you please share how you get your Rosemary bush to grow that big….and how you are planning to save it from a winter death! Mine always die. Happy Holidays Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Hey Pauline. I bought 2 fairly large rosemary plants to begin with but these really got huge. I think all I’m going to do is put up a windbreak around them. Wind is just as bad as cold temperatures so hopefully that’ll be enough to save them. ~ karen!

      • Dale says:

        For the rosemary, cut back as much as reasonable. Dry the leaves for future use. Wrap the bushes with chicken wire 2-3 feet diameter and fill with tree leaves or straw to reduce the freezing of the root zone. This is worth a try. Besides El Nino may give us all a warmer winter.
        I have showy milkweed rhizomes planted in my flower garden waiting for the spring and the first Monarchs to stop by for a little nectar. Good luck and a Merry Christmas!

        • Karen says:

          Hi Dale. Thanks. Maybe that’s what I’ll tackle today. I was just going to windbreak but maybe I’ll add the straw in for extra insulation. If it would stinking SNOW I’d have the world’s best insulation but … no snow. ~ karen!

  30. jillian says:

    So warm and homey. I feel like you aren’t real and live in a Martha Stewart magazine. lol Thank you for sharing your holiday cheer!
    Happy holidays back to you.

  31. marilyn says:

    your tiny niece despise me too but at least she doesnt really know me!

    • Karen says:

      And at least you don’t buy her presents!! She’s warming up to me. It’s the cooking lessons. ~ karen!

      • Jan in Waterdown says:

        If she’s really really lucky, maybe one day she’ll grow up to be just like her despised Aunty, or is it already too late to mould her into a little mini-me-Karen!?

        • Karen says:

          She’s already pretty similar to me. She’s very serious about cooking, baking and gardening. And she’s … like … 5. ~ karen!

  32. Kelly says:

    Looks lovely, but it definitely has more impact with snow, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, here on the prairies, we’ve just had snow the last couple of weeks. It’s been very warm. But now everything’s been covered with hoarfrost for a week or more and it’s just magical (and I never use that word). My decorations sure look better. AND the Christmas music even sounds better with the white stuff……go figure!

  33. Karen Too says:

    This all looks fantastic and reminds me so much of my grandma’s house in Sarnia, ON way back in the ’60’s. Now I know what to do w. those old skis of my husband’s and old skates of my father in laws that have been cluttering up the garage. Unfortunately most stuff blows away around here unless it’s nailed down every time a Chinook rolls through.

  34. Looks great! Love the sled. I am keeping my eyes peeled for something similar

  35. Kiwikat says:

    It’s supposed to be summer here in New Zealand and I am currently freezing, as a cold front has come in. (Which means our temperatures are similar to yours at the moment, which is ridiculous!). Tomorrow I’ll be putting up my decorations. It was going to happen last weekend, but family dramas intervened. Fingers crossed this weekend is calmer!

  36. Lynn says:

    I do love your ski’s an I would not paint them white . If you had snow they would vanish . 6$ for skis really Karen , Can tell you are not from western Canada. Know way do we see prices like that in the west:( . The sled is to die for , we have snow an cold -24c tonight . No golfing here abouts or shorts :(. It still does not feel like winter been way to mild .

  37. TucsonPatty says:

    It is all beautiful, and since I do not love snow, it looks even better to me!
    I checked, and you paid $48 for the sled. I do like the looks of all that.
    It is so flipping cold here – I have had thick ice on the top of my rain barrel and we have had to cover the citrus trees and other delicate-ish plants. It has been below freezing for several nights – they call it a hard freeze. I don’t own a coat, I just layer, and I’ve never had quite so many layers on my body or my bed! I tell my family in the midwest – “Can’t you hear the word “NO” in snow”?

  38. Elaine says:

    It all looks so natural and very pretty, Karen, nothing really “staged” looking (even though the snowballs are glued together!) If you hadn’t told us, we would never have guessed. Love the red skis and the sled.

    Very Canadian woodsy look …. minus the snow … well, except for the snowballs!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Elaine. Yes, the unstaged staged look is hard to achieve, lol. This still looks a bit staged, but meh … it’s Christmas. :) ~ karen!

  39. Jennie Lee says:

    It looks great, Karen! But I’ve beat you in the “too warm for Christmas” contest. You may not be familiar with West Virginia weather, but get this: my forsythia bush has been blooming for months, and still is. This is NOT normal. I didn’t really notice exactly when it started. It bloomed in the spring, and then stopped. And then started again. And hasn’t stopped.

  40. Kim says:

    Snort laughing. You’re awesome.

  41. Very nice Karen, keeping it classy as usual! Have you thought about turning your Styrofoam ball pile into some a little more special, like in this tutorial? I picked up a bag of fake snow at Dollarama this week.

    • Karen says:

      ACKKKK. I love those Agnes! Thanks! ~ karen!

    • Deb J. says:

      I did some of those. The snow from dollarama is great. But I only did the ones you see close up. The pile of ‘snowballs’ that I have in my birdbath are just slightly sparkly styrofoam balls – just like Karen’s. They look really goofy surrounded by green grass and bushes:) I’m in Ottawa and we are not really used to snowless Christmases. We need some to make my ‘snowballs, look less weird.

  42. Kat says:

    Stunning Karen just stunning. I like this so much better than a million lights stung all willy nilly over a house. Hey isn’t it about this time of year or at least coming up soon you get entered into the best blogger of the year (you always forget that)?

  43. MissChrisSA says:

    Looks stunning!!!!

  44. Elly says:

    Rustically beautiful! By the way Karen… did you complete the Christmas pledge on time?

  45. Edith says:

    Everything looks so nice Karen. I really like your shed since you painted it. The weather is really crazy here in Texas too. I’m still watering the Begonias on my Patio and my Roses and Mums are still blooming in the yard. I even have two blooms on my Magnolia tree…’s really a crazy year.

    • Karen says:

      I can’t believe it took me so long to do the shed Edith, I should have done it YEARS ago. Begonias at Christmas. Who’d have thunk it? Certainly not the poinsettia people. ~ karen!

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