Friday, December 14, 2012

Oh, Christmas Branch!

Ooh, the holidays. There is so very, very much that exudes wonderfulness about this time of year and it is a moment to let your creativity spark then shine. But somehow both Remi and I were feeling the itch to do something simpler, more scaled down. Especially for the tree. Remi had been repeating that, "We are talking about a live tree that has grown for years and years, then we cut it down to enjoy it for a few weeks only to throw it into the garbage after. I don't know..." I listened to him even if my initial reaction had been something akin to shock after having growing up in a family where the bigger the tree the better. Last year, we had brought home one that scraped even our very high yee olde ceilings. But while I was in the States, I thought about it. And no matter what, I had to appreciate that he had that initiative. So when I came back, we set about exploring our other options. Well, after I had declared that, "Alright, we can have a fake tree but only if it is a super fake tree...I want a..." "White one," Remi finished my phrase as he has a wont to do. "Exactly."

But now, will someone explain to me why PVC Christmas trees are not only so crazily unfantabulous but also ridiculously expensive? Anything that was even vaguely worth considering was in the 150€ Euro range and folks, we do not have that kind of money to spend on a Christmas tree, most especially as we do not have room to store one for use, year after year, anywhere. We did go take a good looksee though and while in Truffaut, France's largest garden store chain, Remi picked up a branch that was  taller than he is and we joked that it could be an option. It was closing time and he was feeling off with a toothache so we left. 

But by the following Wednesday, it was Tree Day. Either I was going to go by myself and pick out a live one from our sweet vendor from years past or not. My Flower Guy had recently reminded me that he only bought trees that were grown responsibly for the purpose, I tried to justify that France is a rare country with a tree surplus but still, I brought up the branch again. We went back to get it that afternoon and yesterday I broke out the Diana Krall Christmas album and went to town. 

Just my vintage abandoned chandelier parts, white lights and some sparkly pine cones... the one ornament that Remi had chosen, akin to a baby bird or an aspiring Muppet.

The result is utterly féerique or fairy-like but even with multiple tries, I admit defeat in photographing it. Sigh. Some things don't share well. 

Tired of not having a real fire, we put a little thought into our candle-lit fireplaces. I had a little click with a memory of the beautiful Sheesh-Mahals in the palaces of Rajasthan so Remi put down some glimmering tile. It is a work in progress...

Just a few pine cones on the lustre... branches around Marie in the hall and a tiny angel in the alcove.

For the first time ever, I have succumbed to the kitsch of spray snow on the windows! Bah, it made me happy. What I wouldn't give for the real thing...

And so with our little branch and our wee doodads, we have piffed and poofed up our bit of Christmas happiness for this year. And it has done its magic. As my friend Nancy Kate so charmingly has reminded me in her post at Bread is Pain, it is all about creating then spreading the joy.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!! Try to make sure that you enjoy this season and don't let it enjoy you!

Just after I hit publish, I read of the terrible shooting in Connecticut. I am horrified and will be sending prayers for peace and strength for this horrific act and that in Portland.


Dash said...

Well I think your home looks fabulous Heather and despite what you say you have captured the fairy-like quality of your branch perfectly and I love Remi's ornament, it made me smile.

Sorry I have not been about, have been really busy trying to organise stuff plus Crusoe had a major health scare which then turned out to be nothing serious thank God.


david terry said...

Oh, Heather? quote you: "no real fire"...."Admit defeat in photographing it", "just my vintage abandoned chandelier parts, white lights and some sparkly pine cones..."

"Just"? Hardly.....not in a household such as you keep.

It's lovely....and what a lovely account of your and Remi's starting your Christmas season.

You (and, I expect, all of us) need to watch this clip (which I "just" joyfully discovered is, indeed, on everything seems to be these days).

I bet it makes you cry a little bit (we're about the same age, and you'll recall when seeing this on the television was once-a-year, BIG-treat).

I thought this was one of the loveliest (only word for it) postings you've written.

go to:

quite sincerely,

David Terry

Lost in Provence said...

Oh my, I am so sorry to hear that you had a scare with Crusoe but am very grateful that it wasn't too serious. Our puppers! Missing you.

Lost in Provence said...

Wow. Really? Thank you so much my wonderful Dr./Professor/Brilliant Artist/friend David. Yes, you guessed correctly. Many happy tears did flow. There is nothing, ever, ever, that has encapsulated the season and the reason more than Linus' speech. Mille fois merci et plein bisous...I haven't seen that in years. Am about to go watch it again.

Laura said...

Your home looks so lovely and ready for the
holidays. I had a branch Christmas tree last year and it was great. Something about lights and baubles on bare branches that is so appealing. I really love the way you have designed your interiors, thoughtfully collected and carefully edited.

david terry said...

Oh,Heather..... I read your posting and, knowing fairly well of your and Remi's day-to-day lives over the past two years, immediately thought of that scene.

I was utterly surprised to find that I could google it, find it, and send it to you and Remi.

and, just for the record?....I'm fifty years old, already well-aware that this will be the first christmas in my life that I'll be spending alone (don't worry....there are necessary reasons for this, and every member of my immediate family has made a point of visiting in the past six weeks), and I'm determined to bear in mind what's actually important.

so, yes....I ran across that video on youtube, and this middle-aged man cried a little bit, too, at 4 in the afternoon. I don't at all mind publicly admitting that.

You and Mister Britches should be getting a package from me sometime within the next ten days...unless your postal workers, christmas bells, and everyone else goes on a sudden strike (not unlikely in France, as you'll know).

you do write awfully well, by the way and in case no one's recently told you so.

---david terry

Maywyn said...

Beautiful decorations!

Last year's tree here was white branches. Some are in a vase year round with a branch of tiny flowers from a birthday bouquet.
I love the memory romance of a fresh evergreen indoors.
However, celebrating the birth of Christ with a tree on life support doesn't feel right to me.

Linda said...

Heather - your home looks great (love the aspiring muppets - made me laugh!). And think of it this way - you don't have to pick up pine needles all over the place - and then haul the huge thing out to the curb and let it sit there til pick up (I hate that look! So sad!).

I have the faux kind and although I hated them in the beginning - they are growing on me! It's still lovely when you turn off all the lights and put the tree lights on. Looks real to me then!

I brought in some free evergreen branches to put around the house this year - for the aroma (I miss that!!). It works and it's free!


david terry said...

"a tree on life support"......?????????

I'm afraid that I'll never-ever be able to forget that memorable (obviously)phrase.... a longtime friend of mine once told me (in reference to some all-too-true-but-ugly thing some ex-boyfried had said to her) "The brain is like the gas-tank in your car....there are some things that, if you put them in?..... well, they just get STUCK can't flush it out...."

I don't think that, having read your comment, I'll ever be able to look at an indoor-christmas-tree in quite the same, neutral way as I've ever done previously (which would be since sometime during the Kennedy adminstration)....

----david terry

----david terry

helen tilston said...

Hello Heather

I love your Christmas Branch. It is original and artistic. I love the landing on your staircase too. Love your fireplace. We have a fireplace but often it is not cold enough in Florida at Christmas to warrant a fire.

For the past ten years, we decided to not have a tree from the point of view that Remi expressed, I decorate the mantle, the landing and the hallway of our house with garlands, lights and baubles.

Enjoy your bautiful home
Helen xx

sanda said...

Heather, I love your Christmas decorations. What a lovely idea, the white branch. I like it so much I may be a copycat next Christmas. Love white and silver decorations; so magical and ethereal! And what a lovely space you, Remi and Ben occupy. Tell Ben that Valerie and Kris send their Christmas wishes!


Rowan said...

Heather, Spreading the joy...I love your light-as-air tree, with its fairy, nature-like decorations! A couple of years ago, I wanted a change of style and decided to decorate our living room with some white painted tortured Willow braches, which I then decorated with some Scandinavian, naive style decorations. I thought it looked wonderful, but this year by 20 year old daughter put her foot down and said "we're not having some ratty old sticks! This year we're having a real tree again!" I must say, I love the smell of pine when you open the front door, and there's something about bringing nature inside, that lifts your spirit. However, I do feel sad seeing all the brown trees lying forlornly in the Australian heat on the nature strip waiting to be removed after Christmas is over. So whether its some "sticks", or a real living tree that helps spread the joy, perhaps that's the important part. Thanks for your sensitive post! I always look forward to reading them when I see that one has arrived in my in box! Wishing you a content and peaceful Christmas with your two loves! Ben counts, doesn't he? Deborah from Melbourne

Rowan said...

typo - tortured Willow branches...

Amelia said...

"Oh Christmas branch, oh Christmas branch, how lovely are your decorations...:)" Well done Heather. I'm thinking maybe next year, I'll do a tree branch instead of live trees. Love the decorations you have on the branches. Look very art deco. You have Ben's approval. He's laying down keeping watch over the tree. Love the white pine cones, look perfect hanging from the chandelier. I know, I know, I know...we've talked about it before, but I'm just saying, we need smell-a-vision monitors so I can enjoy the scents from your candles. Your house looks lovely!



IT is so pathetic its GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!JOB WELL DONE!Was the branch FREE?HAPPY HOLIDAYS to YOU MARIE!Is she outside by the frontdoor?Your candles always look good!MERRY MERRY................xoxo

Karen Albert said...

Heather your home is so warm inviting, and I love your white branch!
I am keeping it very simple this year. White lights, Candles, wreaths, pinecones, special pieces I forgot that I had.

Come and visit when you have time!

2012 Artists Series

Amelia said...

Heather, I can't imagine the sorrows and heartaches in the hearts of those who lost their children and loved ones today in Connecticut. This song came to mind while I sit here thinking of what to say. Sung by Al Green, it's one of my favorite song:


I can think of younger days when living for my life
Was everything a man could want to do.
I could never see tomorrow, but I was never told about the sorrow.
And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend a this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again.
I can still feel the breeze that rustles through the trees
And misty memories of days gone by
We could never see tomorrow, no one said a word about the sorrow.
And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again.


meredith said...

I love your Christmas branch.

Lost in Provence said...

Thank you so much, Laura! Coming from a professional like yourself, that means even more! Remi and I started our lives together with nothing and had the good fortune to travel a ton for work in those first years so we were able to make our home exactly in the way that felt right to us.

Lost in Provence said...

I think that a lot of the sentiments expressed in that video run deep in both Remi and I. And that goes beyond Christmas. Don't forget Remi was drawn to Ben because he was the puppy set a part from the others with a bandage around his tummy. Do you know that story?
Will listen for the buzzer of the mail delivery with impatience!
And thank you as always for the compliment, David. You always surprise me with the bits you like.

Lost in Provence said...

Thanks Linda--your home looks beautiful!!! Wow. True, I won't have needles to deal with but something tells me I will be cleaning up glitter (the branches leaves are covered in them) for months to come. I do miss the smell like you do but I think that I am rather sold on the whole fake tree idea. We'll see next year!

Lost in Provence said...

Thank you so much, lovely Helen. And yes, I can see how this makes sense on many levels.
Sending you wishes of Christmas Joy to Florida.

Lost in Provence said...

I will pass them on to him once he wakes up, Sanda! Right now he is curled up next to me on the couch making it hard to type. Our wonderful Goldens...and thank you for the kind compliments too!

Lost in Provence said...

Most certainly he counts, Deborah. Ben is my Buddy. And your response made me laugh out loud! Much appreciated this morning as I am still reeling from yesterday. I think another great option is to get a pine that you could replant--save that probably wouldn't go over too well in Melbourne. If I could have afforded it I would have bought an olive tree to replant--love that possibility too.
Yes, lets hope for a Peaceful Christmas--wishing you the same!

Lost in Provence said...

This is exactly what I needed to read this morning. Thank you for sharing it wonderful, wonderful Amelia. Did you know that Al Green is a Reverend too? My Mom and Leonard went to see him sing last year and said he was absolutely amazing. I know these sentiments are unfortunately too appropriate.
Sending you a warm hug,

Gustia said...

I think the Holiday Buddha is a nice touch. Last year in Canada I made an arrangement with my light up Santa that I bought at Zellers in the 90's. Fun, funky and fabulous! I think your home looks like a lovely place to cocoon for the holidays and eat shortbread, curled up on the sofa with a book.

Lost in Provence said...

Thank you la belle Contessa! Marie is opposite our front door. She is so beautiful but it is a very, very heavy piece and so we would have to build a bracket metal shelf to support her, something we don't have the space/right to do as renters here. So she makes me happy coming and going.

Lost in Provence said...

Thank you, Karena! I will stop by later today to get caught up, off to the market with Ben now before they close!

Lost in Provence said...

Merci, Meredith--and thank you for adding me to your blogroll too! Much appreciated!!!

Lost in Provence said...

I was waiting for someone to bring up our Buddha. Of course nothing gets past your eagle eye. We are a home of plenty of beliefs, what can I say? And as for the cocooning on the sofa with a book, that is my PRECISE plan for today after the market. That is if I can convince Ben to share it with me. Sigh.
When are we going to see each other again?

Greet Lefèvre said...

Your Christmas branch is wonderful!! Love the simplicity of your decoration and as me I can see that you love white candles!! I always love to see a glimpse of your home that looks so inviting!

Happy weekend!

SALLY said...

LOVE your Christmas decorations AND your apartment. Loaded with charm....

Judith A. Ross said...

Heather, I needed this glimpse into peaceful Arles today. Your white and sparkly decorations are just beautiful.

david terry said...

Hey, Miss and your readers need to hear this. "Years", by Beth Nielson Chapman.

Do, please, close your tiny eyes and ignore the Thomas Kincaid (what?!) graphics. For some reason or another that I've never been able to quite parse-out, Beth is quite beloved by Evangelical Christians (of a very recognizable stripe) in America. All I have to say is their dollars are as green as anyone else's, and I'm awfully glad to see how successful she's become. I just wish these folks would let Thomas Kincaid (and half-ass, cloyingly awful graphics) GO......

I also wish (please, Santa?....) that photographers would simply give up on trying to make her look somehow glamorous. It's simply not necessary....anymore than it was with Jennifer Warnes twenty years ago.

The song is utterly lovely, as is most of what she writes and sings. I think you'll particularly love it, given your recent trip back home.

---Adivsedly yours as ever,

Uncle David

david terry said...

Oh....silly me...I forgot to add the link. Go to:

mademoisella coquine. said...

I LOVE chez vous! I really admire your style and your chic take on Christmas decorations (especially the tree!). Well done, you.

I find that Christmas trees here in general are a bit overpriced. We have a little Charlie Brown tree that was more expensive than it should have been. I guess one time a year is okay but I'd like to explore other options next year.

Happy Holidays! We're 9 days

Jackie and Joel Smith said...

Heather, Once again a post that touches the souls of your readers - your photos and words are such a warm welcoming combination - a welcome mat to your world. We've been so surrounded by Christmas in the Southwest that I'd almost decided upon our return home (hopefully later today if the snowy roads don't keep us in mid-route) that I would go out and buy a big tree for the first time in ages. You've convinced me to search my yard for a branch and send what I would have spent to charity. Seems much more in the warmth of the Christmas spirit! Thanks

Ann Mah said...

Well, I think your sapin de noël photographed beautifully! And it's so chic and pretty -- I love it! Happy holidays, Heather!

Lost in Provence said...

That brought up happy tears. Thank you so much Jackie.

Loree said...

Your home looks so warm and inviting. I love your whimsical branch. Our tree is totally fake but very few people here bother with a living tree. It is too expensive and pine trees are not exactly easy to come by on this little rock.

Amelia said...

Your Mom and Leonard are cool people. Yes, I knew about Al Green being a Reverend. He's gone from being a Soul Man to saving souls for God...:) If you haven't heard him sings "Silent Night", give it a try. Very soulful and beautiful.


Wyn Vogel said...

Cheers Heather - here is to a good one for you and Remi - and all your extended fam's - incld. the hound dog!! Trust it is a good one - and thanks for all your blogs over the year they have brightened and enlightened my days!! Wonderful - take care and may you have a really special Christmas and here's to the New Year while I am at it!!

robin said...

Oh, Sister, how lovely! By "Christmas branch", I thought you meant a little bit of a pine branch, spray-painted white, and I thought that sounded a little odd - this is MUCH nicer and so beautiful! I showed David, and we reminisced a little about our visit there in July! Your house looks beautiful, so ready for Christmas! And, yes, horrifically sad, what happened in CT - President Obama spoke tonight at a gathering there, and when he mentioned the first names of the children, we both cried. So so sad, but hopefully the enormity of this will finally cause some change. Love you, Sister!

Sara Louise said...

I think your Christmas branch looks wonderful, and perfectly festive. It's the most perfect Christmas branch there ever was :)

Little Pieces of Light said...

Hello! I just discovered your blog through Ella Coquine. Your interior photos are so romantic! I love that Christmas branch. :)

Joyeux Noël et bonne fin d'année à toi !



Looking Glass said...

I LOVE it, Heather! We decided on a white tree this year too and also complained about the prices & quality of them when we went shopping. We eventually tracked a well priced one down on ebay and I couldn't be happier with it!! I agree with Remi about cutting down real ones.

~ Clare x