Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tour of Christmas Doors -- Winter Solstice 2014


Our "Christmas Tour of Doors" begins on the Winter Equinox, 
the shortest day (and longest night) of the year.

If you blink, you'll miss the sun as it races across the sky. Like a magical creature from Alice's Wonderland, daylight is "late for a very important date." 
And that date is December 21st, the first day of winter, when dawn takes its own sweet time, and dusk falls swiftly, like a knife cutting through warm cheese. Incidentally, if you go outside at noon, your shadow will be the longest of 2014.

The Winter Solstice isn't really a day, but a specific moment. In my neck of the Northern Hemisphere, the Solstice will occur at 5:30 P.M. CST. It's about orbit and tilt of the Earth's axis. The solstice occurs when the sun hits a not-so-sweet spot--23.5 degrees south of the equator, a literal turning point for the seasons:
you've reached the darkest moment, but everything is about to change.
Light is returning to the world.

December 22nd will have a smidgen more sunlight, and all the days that follow will be brighter-- until the Summer Solstice, June 21st, the longest astrological day of the year, when everything reverses, and we prepare for shorter days and longer nights. The great wheel of life keeps turning, just as it says in Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8.  

To calculate an exact time the Winter Equinox will occur in your area, click HERE.

On this short day, we'll enjoy a lengthy "Tour of Christmas Doors."

First, let's travel to Chicago. The gray clapboard Victorian was built in 1864, and the owners draped fresh greenery on the porch railing. This house is a grand old lady, and the simple holiday decorations are quietly elegant, allowing the architectural elements to take center stage.

In true Southern tradition, this Savannah home is dressed up to welcome friends, carolers, and tourists. Plush red poinsettias are lined up on the steps. More is more--wonderfully so.

Nestled between palm trees, a Southern coastal house drapes a bright red garland across the front porch.

A New England home heralds the season with traditional red-and-green decor--and a greeting party on the porch.

A plush wreath adorns a crisp red door. Through the glass, you can see a sparkling Christmas tree.

The halls--and doors--have been decked in cedar and pine, woven with grape vines and white lights.
Traditional Exterior by Overland Park Interior Designers & Decorators Rebekah Schaaf, Transitional Designs KC

As you pass through a secret garden, you'll find a porch that has been transformed into a merry wonderland. 

A spectacular Seattle porch is even more spectacular with the addition of natural greenery and beribboned urns.

Black-and-white gingham ribbon is woven through greenery and red velveteen.

Traditional colors add a cheery note to a white historic home.

Stately and festive, a Boston home is festooned with fragrant greenery.

Few things are more elegant than green and white Christmas decorations. 
Square boxwood wreaths are turned on the diagonal, creating a pleasing contrast to the long, rectrangular windows in a New Orleans "Shotgun" house. 
Traditional Exterior by New Orleans Architects & Building Designers Brian Gille Architects, Ltd.

Simple wreaths add a joyful note to a New York cottage.

A classic Boston brownstone is graced with a black/white/and red color scheme.

An elegant, arched door in New York City is transformed by a splash of holiday color.

Lights create a glamorous entry in this traditional brick home.
Natural decorations are stunning on a Nashville door.
The welcoming entrance to the Junior League's "Park Lane House" in San Francisco. 

Here's a peek at the front porch.
The most wonderful decoration of all--snow--adds charm to a Lake Michigan Cottage.
'Tis the season when art imitates life and vice versa. Minneapolis homeowners were fans of the late artist Thomas Kinkade, and they used their farmhouse to create an inspirational Christmas card 
Farmhouse Exterior by Freehold Architects & Building Designers Old House Guy LLC

And one more peek at my personal favorite.
This house inspired the Ranchburger's  new colors.

Happy First Day of Winter.

And Happy Birthday to Zap and Mister, twin Yorkies born on December 21, 2003.

Thanks for taking the tour!

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Top Photo via Houzz: Traditional Exterior by West Chester Furniture & Accessories FRONTGATE
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Tour of Christmas Lights

You're Cordially Invited 
to a 
Tour of Christmas Lights. 

Christmas is the most spectacular time of the year. When I was a child, it was a family tradition to drive around town and admire everyone's decorations. On those short, dark days of December, the dazzling lights seem to push back the darkness and create a cozy glow behind my eyes. I would kneel in the backseat, pressing my nose against the window, my breath fogging the glass, trying to memorize every detail. 

Here I am, an old bat, and I'm still captivated by holiday lights. 

Tomorrow on the blog: A Christmas Tour of Doors

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