Family Pictures....

Katie's Plaid Christmas Party! (Above)...
She told me everyone thought she looked like the American Girl doll...Samantha.
I thought that was so funny because she had (still has :) Samantha when she was little!

Daddy, Rosie and Momma (me)!



I especially love this little tin...these smaller sizes are holding tee-shirts for Rosie (rolled up, then wrapped with tissue paper)...the vintage, mother of pearl pin at the top is from our collection of vintage jewelry....

...a closer view of the tin...such pretty colors...

This is another view of one of our oldest tins...

This octagonal tin is one of Rosie's favorites...

...as is this one..with another vintage brooch pinned to the top of the bow! Have you noticed my love of tulle ?? Years ago, I bought rolls and rolls of it for a song, and I have been using it ever since. It is so easy to recycle, as it's quite sturdy and holds up well from year to year...and the shape bounces back beautifully. As well...it adds an ethereal quality to everything! In Victorian times they called it "Illusion"!! What a great name for it...and so it is.


Holiday Reusables Article!


Leanne Italie of the Associated Press (AP) wrote a great article regarding
holiday re-usables.
Of, course, we were very happy (and honored) to be included in this very useful collection of ideas on how to reuse ribbons and other holiday packaging from year to year. They sent a photographer to our house to illustrate how we implement re-usables in our own holiday packaging!

The smallest gift is a vintage English biscuit tin (from our collection)...the box is a gift tucked inside a vintage pillow case that's been in our family for as long as I can remember (I always thought it was pretty, so I kept it from childhood)...the hat boxes in the back are a dozen years old...when I bought them to present gifts to Rosie and Katie when they were very young...all of these (plus many more) are used from year to year as unique gift boxes.
Much more to come on this subject! I have a ton of detailed pictures...I loaded them onto a post last night. Sadly, it was somehow lost. If time permits today...I 'll try to reload and post them. Otherwise they may be dribbled out through the week in smaller posts (due to the holiday).

We send our wishes for...
A happy Christmas and blessed Holiday to all.
Love and good thoughts from...
Tracey and Family.


Simple Tree of Earthly Delights and Good Tidings...



"Choose wisely then, each ornament.... for branches that have worn jewels of gleaming mountain rain."
--Elizabeth Ellan-Long

A Tree of Earthly Delights...

I am feeling very muted this season...
thinking in tune with nature...the sea...northern lights...stars & angels...ancient myths and mists. Thus...starfish...gilded pomegranates...tiny herbal wreaths...white berries...
garden vials... Heavenly Hosts announcing... old things made new.

...woody garlands with muted berries...gilded tiny pitchers (vintage gold luster-ware)...ivory colored cherubs from one of our earliest Christmas's....

...pressed tin tea pots mingle with a second, tiny gold pitcher...pearly garlands...silver-plated miniature baskets garnered from a wedding-favor supplier (at a mere $1 each)... nothing here is new...all collected over time.

...gold Cherubim are quite comfy alongside the white bisque angels...gilded pears...more berries...and tiny colored lights...

...Angel gift...encased in a cellophane gift bag (with gold stars) --tied at the top with an ethereal tulle bow-- set among the branches... awaiting giving time...

...another Angel gift hidden among the branches...

...if you look closely...you may find a half-dozen or more white and gold porcelain cups
tucked among the boughs..."my cup runneth over with joy..."

...look closely...see the dragonfly resting atop the branches...

...our home-spun gold spoons nestled inside the branches...
Rumpelstiltskin's Delight ...


Born With a Home-Spun Silver Spoon: How to Repurpose Silver-plated Flatware

A table full of tree ornaments...to peruse as we adorn the tree.

I made these ornamental spoons using recycled silver-plate.
Because much of the silver had worn away I sprayed them with gold paint...
drilled a tiny hole at the top of the handle...
threaded ribbon through the hole ...
...then I applied a tiny floral decal to the concave spoon centers.

Hello Dear Souls...I know... everyone else seems to have been done weeks ago...but I so enjoy savoring these seasonal tasks...and working within my own time frame...I suppose you could say I find pleasure in marching to my own drum ;)...
as well as the Charming Imperfections (tm) that go hand-in-hand with this relaxed attitude.
Sending you all an abundance of blessings and good thoughts.


WINTER'S CONTRARY REIGN: Enjoying Cool Green Fires.


Went outside and snipped some fresh Rosemary from our wild and tiny front garden...

...looked around and up at the Pine tree next to our driveway...

...and spied a few generous looking Pine Cones within my reach.
With a quiet sigh of thanks...
I plucked them and brought them inside to
ornament our Winter Mantle.

Keeping the twinkle lights and some of the candles from our Autumn mantle... I added my vintage green planters...growing winter bulbs... along with a bit of sparkle and ornament in honor of the holidays... after tucking in the fresh Rosemary and Pine cones.

A pretty vintage pitcher...made of Mexican silver and Abalone...
is just the right size for our fireplace matches...
the small cache pot holds smaller matches.

I appreciate the green of these vintage pottery pieces...
I keep them up year round...along with the neo-classical candlesticks.

Not a great photograph...but here's the view from our upstairs hallway.
Nature is my theme this year...and the tree motif was done in a fit of whimsy.
I'll replace the vintage stained glass mirror once Christmas has passed...
look for it to pop up here and there throughout the seasons.

When I took the mantle photos (a few weeks ago) Zoe was in the thick of our doings... so many changes... so many things to jump onto... and to chase... and to take pleasure in! Perhaps we should take a little lesson from her joy in the simple things...especially during this hectic season!
P.S. I have a little work deadline to meet this week...
so may not be posting much for a few days...but I will check in.


Edible Transformations tm: See What We're Doing on Frugal Luxuries: Food blog!!

See the Simple Steps for Transforming this....

Award Season Has Arrived.
My friend Marie from Of Books and Writing has graciously awarded me the LEMONADE AWARD. The concept behind this is that the blog creators have shown an uncanny knack for silver linings and making the best of bad situations (i.e., lemonade from lemons). It has charming logo/widget that you may see here one day (once I unravel the mysteries of bringing it over). The rules are simply to name ten sites that reflect this silver lining philosophy. For those who are getting yet another award ...here are three things to remember before you get annoyed at me...
1. I don't have that many friends :) (i.e., feel sorry for me please)...
2. You fit the category perfectly with your lovely attitudes...
3. No need to do it until after the holidays...at your convenience!! I will understand completely.

Charmaine at Beautiful Things to Share http://beautifulthingstoshare.blogspot.com
Brenda at Coffee Tea Books and Me http://coffeeteabooksandme.blogspot.com
Mary Ellen at Mary's Meanderings http://megardengal.blogspot.com
Clarice at Storybook Woods http://storybookwoods.typepad.com
Manuela at Pleasures of Homemaking http://thepleasuresofhomemaking.blogspot.com
Cabbage Heart at Green Lettuce Soup http://greenlettucesoup.blogspot.com
Suzanne at Lavendar and Roses http://suzann_marie.blogspot.com
Natalie at Entertaining at Home With Natalie http://nataliemeester.blogspot.com
flmom at The Narrow Path http://a-skip-in-my-step.blogspot.com
Caroline at The Simple Things http://caroline-thesimplethings.blogspot.com

....reminder...at your convenience dear souls...

Dear Cabbage Heart at Green Lettuce Soup has honored me with a
BOOKWORM AWARD and I am Honored to Receive it.

I am a lover of books of all kinds and will pass it on to other bloggers if they so wish to accept...now or at a later date...or... feel free to pass if you have already participated.

Rules are to list 6 things that I value most and tag 6 others with it.

1. My Faith
2. My Health
3. My Family
4. My Positive Attitude...I've tried the negative path, but it wasn't nearly as pleasant
5. My Ability to Read and to Write...such pleasures I've gained from these.
6. My Embarrassingly large collection of books...they are my friends...and I'm loyal to them.

Once again...participation is optional...I know this is a busy time...play if it sounds fun...as always...at your convenience!

I am off now, my dear kindred souls, to vacuum my bedroom and finish decorating my tree! I'm hoping to post pictures of my mantle later today.



Frugal Luxuries' Random Soul Searching...Musings...and Bad But Interesting Photographs

Soul Searching and Memory Musings
Lovely Mary Ellen at http://megardengal.blogspot.com tagged me last week for this little soul-searching exercise and I'm finally getting to it. Well, I did have a bit of a time thinking up things...and finding pictures to go with the things I did think of...but here is what I've come up with...such as they are.

Summer 1988...VICTORIA magazine...their second issue was my first...
the address label is still partially intact!

The blue and white china over the fireplace won me over immediately.

The Vanity is a romantic's dream...just add a triple mirror!

I have a dress very much like this...I still wear it sometimes...
with gray tights and ballet flats (different shirt)!

Toile is timeless...as is the vintage jet bead necklace...so romantic.

2.. I am a morning person. I get up nearly every morning at about 4 A.M. This habit began when Rosie was still a baby. I was trying to write my first book and the only time available to write for two or three hours uninterrupted was in the very early hours of the morning. I would go to bed with the children (about 8 or 8:30 P.M.) and then wake at 3 A.M. to write.
Once the first book was finished, the early morning habit remained.


3. When I was in early grade school I lived in Japan with my family.
I spent a lot of time with our Japanese babysitter/nanny named Mika
(we called her Mika-
san...the word san is an expression of respect...a sort of title).
I have very good memories of that time in my life and those experiences have influenced me in many ways. For example, my home decor is primarily country Swedish/French in flavor...paradoxically... I am attached to a few Japanese, and Japanese-inspired, pieces that I've worked in. I am telling myself they act as a visual anchor within my paler palette :). The first picture is of a seventeenth century print by the Japanese artist, Toyokuni. I found it at an estate sale for about ten dollars. I had no idea it was so ancient--or the artist so respected. The second photo is of an English china cabinet, finished in black lacquer and embellished with Japanese style motifs. It houses some of my prettier vintage books.

A Toyokuni print bought for a song at an estate sale.

My photography's still a little fuzzy but I'm sure you get the picture ;)
Notice the blue and white teacups growing bulbs!


4. Several years ago, on a (dare I say foolish) whim, I changed my dark hair to blond. This didn't last long...as it's NOT frugal...and way too much time & work to maintain. Here is a picture with dark hair (before) and light hair (after).

Rosie and Momma (me).

JUST A SIDE NOTE HERE: I'm not sure if you can see them very well, but I wanted to point out the bulbs on the window sill. I was starting them to use as holiday gifts (see last post). The small white cups are saki cups (the perfect size for a narcissus bulb). I also had them starting in the taller stemware
(all the glasses were found at thrift shops or yard sales)

Katie and Momma (me)!

5. I think Disneyland is a frugal luxury. As you may know, we've lived in southern California for many years. That being said, we have found that an annual pass to Disneyland is nearly the same price as two, one-time, visits (slightly more) and includes access to California Adventure as well. This fact, in our book, made it an affordable luxury. Why? Possessing such a pass allowed us nearly unlimited access to the park... for one flat fee. Thus, once the passes were purchased we could still have some very special family fun--even when money was tight. For example: We'd drive over for a special family dinner...spend the day at the park as a birthday celebration...surprise the kids and pick them up after school for just a few rides and a treat...go for a coffee/cocoa and watch the Christmas parade...do a little window shopping on Main Street U.S.A. or just enjoy the ambiance. Over the years, as the kids were growing up, we have bought several annual passes to the park...and taken full advantage of them! Annual passes to Disneyland were quite often every one's "big" gift at Christmas. We couldn't afford them every year...so each Christmas the kids would wonder if this was the year they'd get their annual passes again! Now that the children are pretty much grown, we have wonderful memories of those times.
Below is a picture of Mike and Clancy going down Splash Mountain...notice how they tried to look bored...they had to go a few times to achieve this picture of calm!


6. Several years ago I converted a warehouse into...
Frugal Luxuries: Alchemy WorkshopTM
Each weekend we opened up to the public and had a tag sale of sorts.
Wednesday evenings we held knitting classes...
taught by an amazing British lady named Pauline...and we would sometime hold craft classes as well as host some amazing tea parties!!
(Currently, I'm compiling the ideas and projects from that experience...
so look for them popping up on our blogs). The workshop is no more, but we were very blessed to have made some amazing friends...
and met an abundance of kindred spirits.

Below are some photos of our knitting classes, and the workshop.

Clancy, Rosie and I painted the faux bricks onto a concrete floor...
using a car wash sponge and 50-cent per can mistake paint from Home Depot.


This is such a busy time of year that I want those I tag to feel free to do this after the holidays.

DaisyMum7 at Daisy Mountain http://daisymountain.blogspot.com ...
Manuela at Pleasures of Home http://thepleasuresofhomemaking.blogspot.com ...
Cindy at My Romantic Home http://romantichome.blogspot.com ...

You are tagged...at your convenience!


Simple Gifts from Transformed Treasures: Repurposed Tea Cups Nurture Flowering Bulbs; Vintage Crystal Coasters Become Candle Holders.

The original "FRUGAL LUXURIES" ~ Based on the books by Tracey McBride ~ Established 1993

A warm Thank You to all kind souls and kindred spirits who generously take the time to leave a comment...your encouragement, trust and support are deeply appreciated...please know that we read each and every message and will respond as time allows.


Frugal Luxuries
is a registered trademark.


"FRUGAL LUXURIES: Simple Pleasures to Enhance Your Life and Comfort Your Soul" was written by Tracey McBride and published by Bantam Books, NY, in 1997. It was the first of its genre to synergize the elements of simplicity, frugality and gracious living.

After more than a decade, FRUGAL LUXURIES has never been out of print and is now more relevant than ever.

"It's our hope that a new generation, faced with a teetering economy, will also find this information helpful and enlightening."

Sending Good Thought to Our Special Band of Kind and Kindred Souls!

Frugal Luxuries Book I

Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons Book II

    follow me on Twitter

    Blog Archive

    Site Counter