Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Weekend in Williamsburg: Wreaths

And I've finally found time to post my last set of photos from our Thanksgiving weekend!  There are only a few of them, and they're all wreaths used to decorate various buildings around the colonial section of town.  

While we were there, we heard that back when the whole Colonial Williamsburg foundation was first starting up, they only owned a handful of buildings, and all the rest were privately owned.  Some of the owners weren't real keen on adhering to the spirit of the Colonial era and wanted to put up modern Christmas decorations.  Someone very smart came up with the idea of having a contest to see who could display the best wreath using only natural materials found back in that era, and soon all the houses were decorating with lovely, old-fashioned wreaths and greenery.  Even though now only one of the houses in that part of town is privately owned, they still keep up the tradition of displaying interesting wreaths.  

So anyway, I'll begin with the wreath on the door of the court house and jail, which is decorated with pomegranates:

And here are a few one some of the private residences.  Although the Williamsburg Foundation owns these houses, many of them are the homes of people who work for the foundation.  And they're reportedly Very Expensive to rent, as you might imagine.

This is a wreath on one of the houses you can rent for just a night or two and stay in to get a taste of colonial furnishings and so on:

I thought this wreath from inside Shield's Tavern was cool, with its rope-wrapped upper half and then... are those artichokes in amongst the flowers and greenery?

Check out how the wreath outside Chowning's Tavern uses oyster and scallop shells, with sponges to look like foam coming out of tin beer mugs:

And this is the hat outside the Mary Dickinson shop, where we bought the girls hats:

Finally, they had the lamp posts decorated too, as you can see here:

 Although I find the wreaths beautiful, I think I prefer the greenery garlands like above the doors and windows of the Cheese Shop.  I'm trying to figure out a way to get this look to work by our front door now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cleaning My House as an Advent Exercise

I hate cleaning.  It feels so pointless, because everything gets dirty again in about twenty minutes anyway.  I sweep the floor, and it needs to be swept again.  I wash the dishes, and we use them again and need to wash them again.  Someone scatters toys on the floor as soon as I've left the room.

But it needs to be done, because otherwise we'd be living in chaos and filth.  So I sweep the floors, unload and reload the dishwasher, wipe off the table and counters, sort and wash and dry and fold the laundry.  Because if I don't, we won't be able to find anything, eat anything, wear anything, do anything.

This year, thanks to the family reunion in Williamsburg over Thanksgiving, my house is making me quote the fish in The Cat in the Hat a lot:  "This mess is so big and so deep and so tall, we cannot clean it up, there is no way at all."  I've barely got any Christmas decorations up yet because first I have to clean the places where they go!  In fact, everything is such a disaster that I have been inspired to weed out a lot of our things, to sort them into boxes for giving to the thrift store or selling at our next yard sale.  I've started packing away toys and books the kids have outgrown too.

What does this have to do with Advent?  Well, Advent is that season in the church year when we Christians anticipate celebrating Christ's birth at Christmas and also look forward to his Second Coming, when the world will end and we'll go to our heavenly home to live with him forever.  It's a good time for personal reflection, for looking at our lives and hearts and seeing what changes need to be made.  What needs cleaning up?  Have we been lax about spending personal time in the Word every day (guilty!) or about praying without ceasing (guilty!).  Have we been impatient (guilty!) or unkind (guilty!) or focused on prep work for Christmas instead of the miracle we'll be celebrating (guilty!)?  We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but as redeemed, loved children of God, we get to do our very best to live our lives to his glory out of gratitude for his mercy and love toward him and our fellow people.

Tir Asleen hasn't been 100% clean since we moved in here three years ago.  I will never be a perfect person.  But I can clean my house as best I can, and I can focus on God's love and mercy, on the reason for the season.  If I clear some of the clutter out of my home and out of my heart, doing both of those will be a lot easier.

I'm linking up today with the Advent Link-Up Party on Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife.  Click here to find lots of other great posts about Advent!

Monday, December 08, 2014

A Weekend in Williamsburg: Gardens

You know from my posts this spring and summer that I like to garden.  But right now you're shaking your head at me and saying, "Um, Hamlette... it's the wrong season for gardening.  It's pretty much winter.  I know you live in Virginia, but...."  And you're right, it's not exactly prime gardening season.  But remember that over Thanksgiving weekend, it got up into the 60s in Williamsburg, so the gardens were still interesting!  As you can see.

First some shots of the garden beside the gunsmith:

A ginormous rosemary bush

How ginormous?  That's Sam, my 7-year-old.
Cabbages, IIRC

A butterfly landed on the broccoli blooms.
I'd never seen a broccoli going to seed before -- their flowers are so dainty!
Um... no idea what this is.  My brain says "bachelor's buttons," but I think it's making that up.
Next are just a couple shots from the Colonial Garden along Duke of Gloucester Street where you can buy gardening supplies, produce, seeds, and so on.  I bought a big straw gardening hat there once.  And when Sam was really little, he got to help water plants there.

I love wattle fences like that.  And look, mini green houses over some of the plants!
These are from some gardens behind the weaving and spinning shop, I think:

I kind of have a thing for white picket fences and gates, so here are just a few other shots I grabbed at random:

One post left, the one devoted to Christmas wreaths :-D  Soon!

Friday, December 05, 2014

A Weekend in Williamsburg: The Governor's Palace

Finally!  I've got time to share more pictures from our Colonial Williamsburg adventures.  Today, I'm focusing on the Governor's Palace.  This was where the royal governor lived, the guy appointed by the British king to rule the richest and most populated American colony, Virginia.  The original building burned down, was rebuilt, and burned down again -- in fact, this restoration has stood longer than both of the original buildings combined.  It's based on detailed floor plans drawn up by Thomas Jefferson, plans that included exact dimensions, where furniture was placed, and so on.  Very thoughtful of him to make those, huh?  

Anyway, I feel like this place is as close to the homes of rich people in English novels as I'm likely to get, at least for a long, long time.  It makes me imagine a little of what Pemberley might have been like inside.

As you can see, they were decorating inside and out for Christmas while we were there.  These are the front gates:

Those white statues on the pillars are of a lion and a unicorn.
Our guide told us what they symbolized, but I've forgotten.
Because it was Christmas time, they gave us a slightly different tour than usual.  We only got to see one bedroom instead of several, though it was very nice.  It belonged to the governor's daughters an the 1760s.  I managed to snap a shot of their bed:

Then we went on through to a room used by the governor's wife to receive guests.  The walls were covered in a deep red fabric, though it looks pink here:

And during the era they were portraying, the family had a fairly new baby, which the governor's wife would put in this display crib to show off to visitors:

That was all we saw of the family's private quarters because they wanted us to see what a someone would have seen if they were invited to Christmas festivities there.  So we spent lots of time in the ball room:

I can't remember if that's a harpsichord or a piano-forte.  Don't you love the carpet and the wall color?

One of the cut-glass chandeliers in the ball room.
Then we progressed to the Supper Room, which was adjacent to the ball room.  This is where they would have served various refreshments to their party guests throughout the evening and into the night.

Again with the bright carpet and walls!

Detail of the molding on the chair rail and around the door.

The Christmas decorations were very simple, mostly just greenery draped over the doorways and windows.
Some of it had pine cones, and some didn't.  Christmas trees weren't a thing yet.

A special coal-burning stove to keep the supper room warm.
The ball room would have been plenty warm from all the dancing bodies and didn't need heating.

Some of the display food they had set out in the supper room.
Don't you love the molding around the window?
From the supper room, we exited out into the gardens.  They had formal gardens directly behind the house, surrounded by a brick wall with several gates.

The rear of the house as seen from the gardens.

A nifty tree.

An arbor walkway ran down each side of the gardens.

Outside an arbor, looking back toward the palace.

Gates at the end of the formal garden leading out into other parts of the grounds.

Part of the wall.

Looking back at the palace from outside the wall.

Isn't that an alluring gate, standing half open and leading into the mysterious woods?

A bench under a very Christmasy holly tree :-)
I grabbed a few more shots of the grounds as I walked back around the palace to the front entrance again.

A mounting block to help people mount horses.

Walkway to a little side garden area.

The little garden to one side of the house.

And I grabbed a couple shots of the "servants" while were inside, just for fun :-)

That's all for today, folks!  Hope you enjoyed your tiny tour :-)