spending time.

You know, it’s funny, but when I initially was thinking about putting together a year end recap blog post I felt like I hadn’t really done that much in 2022 and it would be hard to come up with something that wasn’t lame.  After all, what did I spend my time on last year?  Now that I’m retired from the day job, I have to admit that I feel a little bit like I’m spending too much of my time doing unimportant things like reading a book, taking a nap or watching YouTube.

Then I started looking back at my blog posts for 2022 and I realized I did do some things.  For one thing, I traveled quite a bit.  I visited some old favorites like my mom’s place near Vegas, Disney World and Puerto Vallarta.  Plus I saw some new places like Sedona …

and Charleston.

I also did a lot more gardening last year than I have in the past, and that led me to start a weekly ‘Sunday mornings in the garden’ blog post.

I also did plenty of thrifted item makeovers.

And garage sale item makeovers.

And even some makeovers of my own stuff.

Of course, there were countless toolbox makeovers!

And lock box makeovers.

And tackle box makeovers.

Speaking of tackling, I also tackled a project I’d been putting off for a couple of years, turning the photo cottage back into a potting shed.

I learned a new technique in 2022 with the I.O.D. paint inlays.

I also got my first paid magazine feature in 2022.

And my first paid blog post sponsorship (Dixie Belle Paint Co does not pay me, but they do provide me with free product, fyi).

Looking back over all of these things, I realize that I did a lot more in 2022 than just nap, read and binge watch YouTube.

I guess I tend to focus on furniture makeovers when trying to decide whether or not I’ve accomplished something, and 2022 was definitely not my best year in terms of productivity or profit when it comes to furniture.

However, I did create some really cool pieces like the fritz kohnen armoire.

And the raw wood experiment dresser.

The botanical cupboard was one of my favorite pieces in 2022.

And the splitsville nightstands created from a dressing table were a fun project to work on too.

My motivation for working on furniture stalled a bit over the last year because my stuff just hasn’t been selling as quickly as it used to.

At this point I can’t promise that I’ll be ramping back up when it comes to furniture makeovers, but I hope to have plenty of projects of all kinds to share with you guys along with a smattering of gardening and travel posts (we’re going back to Norway!) in 2023.  So I hope you’ll all stick with me for another year.

Happy New Year!

 

getting crafty with gift baskets.

Those of you who have been following me for a while may have noticed that I didn’t create my own Christmas gift wrap/packaging this year.  Over the past several years, I’ve come up with some sort of handmade gift wrap each year.

Last year was the stenciled packages.

And the year before I used some I.O.D. stamps to decorate my packages.

One of my favorites was in 2018 when I was inspired by Venetian velvet.

But this year I just didn’t come up with any super creative ideas for wrapping all of my packages.

However, I did put together a couple of gift baskets that I thought would be fun to share.  Neither of them have a predominantly Christmas look to them, so I figured it would be OK to share them even though Christmas is over.

Here’s what I started out with.

Did you know that they have these cute little cardboard pots at Hobby Lobby?

I did not.  Until I saw them there that is.  And if you shop when the paper goods are half off, they only cost $1.  That’s cheaper than a gift bag.

Plus there is the added bonus of being able to get crafty and decorate it however you want to.

I went fairly simple with mine.  I first painted it in Dixie Belle’s Silk paint in Anchor, and then I added one of I.O.D.’s Traditional Pots transfers.

This made the perfect container for a gardening themed gift.  I just tucked in some garden gloves and gift card to our local nursery.

I added a star shaped tag that I purchased ages ago on Etsy.

I wish I had kept track of who the Etsy vendor was so that I could share that with you (and so that I could order more myself, this was my last one), but unfortunately I did not.

Next up is this fall themed metal basket that I found at the thrift store.

I don’t know where this came from originally, but my guess is Hobby Lobby, or somewhere similar.  Have you noticed that items like this from Hobby Lobby often look like they were created by someone for whom English is a 2nd language?  Is it just me?  Do you know anyone who calls it a “pumpkins patch”?

Well, regardless, the graphic itself was a little cheap looking anyway.  So I sanded it down and then painted the bucket using Dixie Belle’s Anchor.  I then added one of the JRV mini stencils to the front of the bucket.

My neighbor asked me to help her put together a gift basket for her boss.  She provided the fillings.

I decided to work with the gorgeous amber color of the bourbon by adding some brown tissue paper.

I dressed it up a little using the I.O.D. Crockery stamp and some VersaFine Clair ink in Pinecone.

There were a few gift cards and smaller items to be included so I decided to tuck those into a drawstring burlap bag.  My friend Sue had given me a stack of these bags knowing that I could dress them up.

I used a few of the 6″ x 6″ stencils that I’d purchased for the kid sized shovel that I shared a week or so ago.  They ended up being the perfect size for these bags too.

With the addition of a cheese serving plate and a book with tips on pairing wines and cheeses, the gift basket was complete.

I always enjoy pulling gift baskets like this together, how about you?

I hope I’ve given you an idea or two for your next gift basket!

embracing the dark side.

Phew!  I don’t know about you, but I am so done with Christmas projects.  Part of my problem is that I have to start really early (usually in September) in order to get everything done by November.  Well, at least for projects that I am planning to sell.  I always feel like I need to have everything ready to go by the first week in November or I’ve missed the boat.

So by the time Christmas actually gets here, I’m more than ready to move on.  I know many of you probably leave your decorations up through the New Year, but I tend to start taking them down right away.  I’m always champing at the bit to get everything cleared away.

So, while I’m working on that, I thought I’d share my latest lock box makeover.

This one started out pretty rusty and crusty.

I gave it the usual prep; a good sanding to remove any chippy bits and smooth out the rusty spots followed by cleaning with a grease cutting detergent.  Once it was thoroughly dry, I coated it inside and out with Dixie Belle’s B.O.S.S. to block any future bleed thru of rust or dark stains.

Next I painted it inside and out in Dixie Belle’s Silk paint in Anchor.  The Silk line of their paint has a built in primer and top coat, so although I usually prefer to use their chalk style paint on metal, I thought I’d give the Silk paint a go this time.

I have to admit that I was planning to go in a totally different direction with the embellishments on this one.  I was going to use the I.O.D. Rose Chintz paint inlay on the top.  But first I pulled out a left over scrap of gold lettering from the re.design with prima Flower Collector transfer and added it around the bottom of the box.

I have to admit that initially I didn’t like the look at all.  I was even considering just sanding it down and starting over.  I definitely felt like I was stepping outside my comfort zone of Dixie Belle Drop Cloth and black typography.  But then I decided to just keep going and see what happened, and I’m glad I did.

The first thing I did was add a coat of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat over the gold lettering.  That went a long way towards toning down that halo around the letters that always shows up so much more distinctly over dark colors.

Next, I changed my mind about the Rose Chintz inlay.  I felt like it just wouldn’t work with the gold lettering.  I needed something a little darker, a little moodier.  Maybe a little less sweet.

After going through all of my floral transfers, I decided that I.O.D.’s Floral Anthology was the best option.

The florals in this transfer are outlined and shaded with fine black lines and cross hatching which makes it work perfectly over black paint.

After adding another coat of the Dixie Bell flat clear coat to the exterior for protection, I decided that I needed to add a pop of color to the interior rather than leaving it black.  So I painted it in a custom mix of Dixie Belle’s Silk paint.

I mixed this paint up quite a while ago.  At the time I was trying to come close to Annie Sloan’s Scandinavian Pink.

I’d seen Scandinavian Pink on a dresser at a shop out in Henderson, NV while visiting my mom and I thought it was so pretty.  I think I came fairly close with my custom mix of Dixie Belle Silk paint.  I didn’t measure, I just kept adding a little of this and a little of that until it felt right.  I started with mainly their Desert Rose, but it had a slightly cooler/bluer undertone.  So I added some of their Mojave to warm it up.  Then I added a little Drop Cloth to lighten it up just slightly.

I was planning to use the color on the interior of a cabinet that I painted back in February, but I ended up going with an olive green on that instead.  So I pulled out my faux Scandinavian Pink for the lock box.

Since I’d used Silk paint with its built-in top coat on the inside, I didn’t feel that I needed to add an additional top coat.  However, I did end up top coating the exterior because of the addition of the transfers, so I could just as well have used the chalk style paint for the outside.

I staged this as a sewing box.  It would be a convenient place to store your extra buttons, needles and thread, and other sewing paraphernalia.

In the end, I’m glad I decided to go ahead and embrace the dark side.

It’s always good to try something different and just see where it takes you.

That being said, I’ve already gone back to using Drop Cloth. as well at that Rose Chintz paint inlay, on the next toolbox I’m working on.  I’m sure I’ll be sharing that one soon, so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, this lock box is for sale.  Be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale’ if you are interested.

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint and top coat used on this lockbox makeover.

a beautiful white Christmas.

Merry Christmas dear readers!

Since Christmas just happens to fall on a Sunday this year, I thought I would take advantage and bring you a holiday greeting from the garden.  Once again, not technically my garden, but a garden.

The Sunken Garden in the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park does a different holiday display every year.  This year they went all white.

Well, white and green anyway.

Of course there were lots of white poinsettias, plus other flowers that I think of as typical Christmas plants like paperwhites …

and amaryllis.

They also used plants that I think of as typical summer annuals in our area like euphorbia and dusty miller.

Plus, there were plants that I think of as potted plants like the little lemon cypress trees, and white kalanchoe.

I find an all white color scheme very serene and peaceful.

I’ve often thought about adding a white garden to my yard.  White flowers really pop in a shady area, or in the moonlight at night.  Some options for white flowers in a shade garden include impatiens (of course), white bleeding heart, lily of the valley, astilbe, snow drops, bloodroot, sweet woodruff, foam flower and anemones.  There are so many to choose from!

But if you’re not a lover of the all white look, you might enjoy last year’s red, orange and yellow theme at the conservatory a bit more …

What do you think?  Are you a fan of the serene all-white look, or do you prefer a lot more color?

Leave a comment and let me know.  But in the meantime, happy holidays to you and yours.  I hope you are enjoying a serene and peaceful holiday season, or possibly a vibrant, colorful one … whichever one works best for you!

my walk-in fridge.

Have I ever mentioned my huge walk-in fridge/freezer here on the blog?  Yep, I’ve got one.  Every winter.  It’s super handy for Thanksgiving leftovers.

OK, it’s really my front three-season porch.

There are three seasons when you can enjoy the porch as a porch, and in the 4th season it makes the perfect place to keep leftovers.  Or on days like today, when the wind chill is supposed to be in the -20°F range, we can even make ice cubes out there.

I’m always surprised at how cold it gets on the porch despite being attached to the house, and filled with sunlight on a sunny day.  It does face northwest though, so I suppose it would be slightly warmer on sunny days if it faced south.  It also probably has zero insulation.  It was never meant to actually be occupied in the winter.

I have to admit that in years past I’ve treated the entire space like cold storage in the winter.  After putting up all of my Christmas decorations, I would leave the empty bins out on the porch.  I’d also put newly thrifted items waiting to be painted out there.  By spring it would be a big mess with piles of stuff to sort through.

But now that I have a little more time on my hands, I decided that I would put things away properly rather than shoving them out on the porch, and then I could decorate my walk-in fridge, a.k.a. the porch, for Christmas.

Part of the reason I made this decision was because I thought my silver tree and vintage ornament non-collection would look pretty out there with all of its pinks and aquas.

Over that past couple of years I’ve been paring down my vintage ornaments and keeping just the ones I really love, mainly in shades of silver, pink and aqua.

I have to admit that sometimes I feel a tiny twinge of regret for selling the gold ones.

Hmmmm.  What was I thinking?

Well, water under the bridge now.

In addition to the tree, I also hung my ornament wreath on the cabinet out there.

I made that years ago.  I started with a foam wreath form and just started attaching ornaments with hot glue.  If you want to try this yourself, be forewarned, it takes A LOT of ornaments.  I counted for you, there are about 75 of them.  So make sure you have a big stash before you dive in.

I added a pop of pink to the chaise with a pretty Christmas package.

Some of you may remember the year I painted cardboard boxes with Fusion’s English Rose paint and then added graphics using their transfer gel.

I gave all of the boxes away except for one.

There are just a handful of other little touches of Christmas on the porch.  I have a pair of old Ball jars filled with aqua and white light bulbs in the cupboard …

my Christmas tree truck filled with little ornaments …

and I added some evergreens to my French flower bucket.

I suppose it seems a bit excessive to decorate a space that isn’t even used in the winter (except as a walk in fridge), but you can see into the porch from our living room so it’s not a total waste.

Plus I do actually go out there a lot.  I have a small table at the other end of the porch where I stage all of my close up photos in the winter.

The lighting is fantastic.  Sometimes I throw on an extra sweater before heading out there, but I usually don’t.  I have learned over the years that it’s wise to at least put shoes on first though.  I tend to just snap my photos quickly and return to the warmth of my desk, which is handily situated right next to a radiator.

In the end, I really just enjoyed the process of decorating out there, even if no one will see it but me.  I suspect I may not enjoy taking the decorations back down nearly as much though.

How about you?  Do you have any spaces that you decorate for Christmas just for your own enjoyment?  Leave a comment and let me know.

sometimes size matters.

I hate to say it, but sometimes size really does matter.  Especially when it comes to using stencils.

I do most (all?) of my stenciling on vintage items, like this kid sized shovel …

or old wooden boxes.

Old doctor’s bags …

or vintage suitcases.

One of the things I often struggle with is finding the right size stencil to fit on my item.

This is especially a problem with the sleds.

Trying to find a stencil where the typography fits onto those narrow slats can be a real challenge.

My solution is to use bits and pieces of wording from various stencils for those.

I also often mask off stencils and use a smaller section of the stencil on something, like I did on this toy truck.

One of the reasons I really like wallcutz stencils is that you can order them in different sizes to fit your item.  I especially appreciate the larger sizes which work really well for turning headboards or foot boards into signs.

But I couldn’t find just the right thing from wallcutz to fit onto a vintage kid’s snow shovel that my friend Sue found for me.  I only had about 7″ square to work with.

I also looked through all of the stencils I already owned and none of them were quite right.  I debated using one of my mini stencils from JRV Stencils.  I really like the Kroger stencil, and that would have fit nicely.

But the theme wasn’t right for a snow shovel.

So I decided to head to Amazon and see what I could find that would fit.  There were lots of options for really small stencils that would fit a 3″ x 3″ wooden ornament, and I found a few stencils that I liked that were 8″ square, or 10″ square.  After a bit of time searching, I ended up finding a packet of 6″ x 6″ stencils that included one that said ‘let it snow’.

I did a little prep work on my shovel before stenciling.  I cleaned it well and then added a couple of coats of spray sealer to the blade.  It was pretty rusty and since I planned to use this as outside décor, I wanted to protect the remaining green paint.

I stenciled the design using Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.  Once it was done, I decided it needed just a little oomph of something to give it more depth so I added some shading free-hand using DB’s Putty.

I haven’t actually done it yet, but I plan to add a couple of coats of flat sealer to protect the stenciling too.

When I shared the first kid sized shovel I painted back in November, I mentioned that I had this second shovel that I planned to keep for myself.

For now I’ve staged it out on the deck, but I plan to find a spot where I can hang it from the handle … maybe on the potting shed.  Since this is more of a winter decoration, rather than strictly a Christmas decoration, I can certainly display it for several more months.  I think I’ll hang it in place of the Christmas themed sled that is currently hanging on the door.

What do you think?

winter interest in the garden.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the movie A Christmas Story.  You know that scene where Ralphie wakes up on Christmas Day and looks out the window to find it has snowed over night to create a magical winter wonderland?  I always feel that same sense of magic when I wake up to find that it snowed overnight, as I did last Wednesday night (and Thursday night, and Friday night).

This was the view from our bedroom window when I got up on Thursday.

I’m not sure my photo does it justice, it really was magical.  It got even better on Friday.

So I thought this might be a great time to bring you a Sunday morning in the garden post, winter version.

Most of the garden vloggers that I watch on YouTube have been talking about adding winter interest to the garden lately.  I have to admit that I’ve never really given ‘winter interest’ much thought in the summer when I’m planting.

So most of my winter interest plants are totally coincidental.  The many hydrangeas that I’ve planted for their fabulous flowers, also look quite pretty after a snowfall.

Even my dismal failure of a lilac hedge adds some decent winter interest.

Otherwise, most of the ‘interest’ in my winter garden comes from the trees.

Or the garden ornaments.

Things like statues, trellises, and obelisks are a quick and easy way to add interest to the winter garden, although not necessarily the cheapest way.

Another recommendation for adding winter interest is to leave attractive seed heads on plants like echinacea (coneflower), astilbe and bee balm.  I have those perennials, but in our climate they pretty much first get battered by a heavy snow, and then buried in it.  They work better for autumn interest rather than winter interest here.

We need to rely on sturdier options in Minnesota like evergreens, or shrubs with winter color like winterberries or red twig dogwood.  They can stand up to a couple feet of snow.  And the red of the winterberries and dogwood look especially amazing in the snow.

But until I get some red things planted, I will have to just admire how the red paint job on the carriage house really pops in a snowy landscape.

How about you?  Do you have any recommendations for adding winter interest to a garden?  Or perhaps you enjoy living in a perpetually green climate.  Leave a comment and let us know!

which way is up?

You may remember that back in August I shared a metal roller skate case that I painted up.

The case was originally black, so I’d simply given it a fresh coat of black to clean it up a bit, and followed that up with one of the German Grain Sack stencils from ellen j goods.

Unfortunately, the case didn’t sell.  So I brought it back home from the shop a few weeks ago to try giving it a different look.

I sanded down the stencil, added a fresh coat of black and then followed that up with the I.O.D. Rose Chintz paint inlay.  I love the way this inlay looks over black paint, gorgeous.

But I didn’t leave well enough alone.  I had this idea that the white Seeds transfer would be perfect over the floral.

Ummmm.  Yeah.  That didn’t really work out so well.

You know, sometimes you just have to try something to find out whether or not it will work.  However, it can be a real bummer when you’ve used up product that wasn’t exactly inexpensive.  Hopefully I can save you from that by sharing my fails here on the blog.

So it was back to the drawing board for idea no. 3.  I sanded it all back down again and gave it another base coat of black paint (in this case, Dixie Belle’s Silk paint in Anchor).

You know, one of the problems with a case like this is that you have to decide which way is up.  If the case will be sitting upright with the handle on the top, the wording will go one way.  But if the case is sitting flat with the handle on the front (like shown above) the wording needs to go in the other direction.

I struggle with the question of which way is up with suitcases (or in this case, a skate case) every time I do one.

I tend to opt for the upright position the most.  This is a much easier decision when the suitcase has angled sides since they don’t sit flat if you put them on their side. so it’s unlikely to be displayed that way.

I often do the non-angled versions this way too.

I figure the majority of people are going to display them like that.

But with the smaller cases, like this roller skate case, you never know.  One might want to stack it on top of larger cases instead of sitting it upright.

While considering what I wanted to try for makeover attempt no. 3, I decided to go with something that would look right either way.  That meant no wording, or designs that have a distinct top or bottom to them.

The swiss cross seemed like a great solution.  It can go either way.

I did leave the bit of writing from the Seeds transfer by the handle though.

I love the idea of stacking this case on top of a couple of other vintage cases.

You could store any number of things inside it, including the old photos that I shared the first time around.

But I thought it would be more appropriate to the season to stage it as an ice skate case this time around.

I purchased these skates at the thrift store (or was it a garage sale?) and they came with some sparkly gold laces.

The sparkle wasn’t quite doing it for me though, so I swapped out the gold laces for some alphabet ribbon that was in my stash.

Now they are the perfect companions for my swiss cross case.

Whether or not the case will sell better with this design remains to be seen, but I’m going to give it a shot.  If any of you locals are interested, both the case and the ice skates are listed on my ‘available for local sale‘ page.

As for the rest of you, what do you think?  Are you a fan of the swiss cross look, or would you have preferred the rose chintz?  Leave a comment and let me know.

some weekend antiquing.

This past Saturday I helped my sister with her Christmas baking.  That is, if your definition of helping includes watching her do most of the work while test tasting all of the cookies.

Although I will say, for those of you who have followed me for years, I am still responsible for all of the ball rolling.

But she has cut way back on the amount of baking she does at Christmas, which left her Sunday completely free.  So I suggested we check out some of the antique shops in Stillwater, MN.

It has been a while since I’ve visited antique shops around Christmas.  I used to go all the time in order to add to my non-collection of vintage ornaments and tree toppers.

While I was away in Mexico, Mr. Q accidentally broke one of the toppers in my toolbox (the one on the far right), so I decided that was a good excuse to look for a replacement.

So on Sunday afternoon Debbie and I headed out for a little lunch and shopping.  We visited a few different places, but eventually ended up at Staples Mill Antiques.

I hadn’t been inside this place in ages.  In fact, I’m betting it has been at least a decade if not more.  The thing is, I no longer really enjoy the traditional antique shop with piles and piles of dusty things crammed onto shelves or locked inside glass cases, with small areas for each vendor where you can barely squeeze yourself inside without knocking over an old easy bake oven or some carnival glass.

But I was willing to give it a shot to see if I could find a replacement topper for my toolbox.

Spoiler alert, I did not find one.  But I did find out that Staples Mill has a pair of refreshing new vendors, Jeff and Mike.

I literally walked into their space and said out loud to my sister “now this is more like it!”

You can see everything, it’s displayed in such a way as to give you a feel for how the items could look in your home, you can walk around without knocking stuff over, and it’s well lit by a couple of stunning chandeliers.

But mostly what I was admiring was the expertly curated selection of fabulous items, like this painted set of green lockers.

The price on this was $275, by the way, which I thought was very reasonable.

This black cabinet was awesome as well.  I love the row of black and white penguins on top, perfect for a unique Christmas display.

And just check out this chippy beauty that was filled with vintage silver.

I love the contrast between the formal silver with the rustic chippy painted cabinet, and isn’t that wreath pretty?

Isn’t this sled/coffee table awesome?

This collection of bottle brush trees in old door knobs that totally filled a pine cupboard really caught my eye.

There’s definitely something to be said about strength in numbers, right?

I have a couple of these myself, but not a big collection like this.  But I’m definitely inspired for next year.  I’m adding ‘old door knobs’ to my garage sale shopping list.  I see them all the time, and I already have half a dozen or so in my stash.  I just need about 25 to 30 more!

As I was wandering around snapping photos with my phone, a voice floated down from the staircase above saying “are you going to give us some free publicity?”  Yep, I was caught red-handed.  But either Jeff or Mike (dang if I don’t remember which one he said he was) just happened to be there.  So I admitted that I was going to share the photos on my blog, and he was happy to hear it.  Sometimes you run into shop owners who don’t want people to share photos of their space, and I’ve never really understood that mentality.  I mean, really?  Who doesn’t love a little free publicity?

Anyway, these guys definitely have a flair for both display and for finding uniquely fantastic items like these golden horses.

I also thought their prices were quite reasonable (and for a cheapskate like me, that is saying something).  In addition, they are willing negotiate, so I was able get about 30% off the price on the tag for the rusty metal reindeer that I purchased and brought home for my garden.

FYI, I had a heck of a time trying to get a decent photo of a mostly see-thru metal deer.  I promise, he looks better in person.

I’m definitely going to make a point to go back more often to check out their stuff.  In fact, I may even go back for this guy …

Wouldn’t he be perfect in the garden?

If you want to see some photos of their space set up for Christmas before it was mostly picked over, check out this post on Facebook.

If you’re local, be sure to check out their space at Staples Mill Antiques.  If you aren’t local, I hope you still got an idea or two from today’s post.

Do you have any fabulous antique spots near you?  Leave a comment and let me know.

a tropical garden for Christmas.

Welcome back to Sunday mornings in the garden.  Once again, this post is not coming from my own garden which is currently buried under a couple of inches of snow.  Instead, this one is coming to you from Puerto Vallarta!

As I’ve mentioned, my neighbor’s family invited me along on their family vacation to Mexico.  Yep, I’m very lucky when it comes to neighbors.  I think I won the good neighbor lottery.

So I spent a week at Velas Vallarta with my neighbor Karen and her parents.  The resort was gorgeous, and so was the weather.

  We had 7 days in a row of mid-80’s and sunshine, not a drop of rain or a cloud in the sky.  Perfection.

We basically spent the bulk of our time looking at this view while a very nice waiter named Edwin delivered pina coladas and nachos.

Most of the time it felt like we practically had the place to ourselves because the resort was only about 50% occupied.  The week immediately following Thanksgiving week is not very popular apparently.

We did venture out to the beach a couple of times.

And we also ventured out to the marina to do some shopping.

But I said this was going to be a garden post, and that’s because the grounds at Velas Vallarta were just beautiful.

Not only that, but many of the plants had markers so it was a lot like being in a botanical garden.

I enjoyed finding out what the various plants were called, like the Washingtonia Robusta or Mexico Fan Palm.

And the Musa X Paradisiaca or the Banana!

There were two flowering plants that stood out as my favorites.  First up, the bougainvillea.  This is one of my mom’s favorite flowers, and she would have loved how they were spilling out of a multitude of planters on the balconies at this place.

But I think I liked the Blue Sky Vine even more.

They had long pergolas around the several swimming pools that were covered in this vine and provided perfect spots for shady lounging.  There was one small problem in that they really attracted the bees, and Karen got stung twice in the pool.  Ouch!

I have to admit, I find it difficult to feel properly Christmas-y in the tropics.  But the resort was doing their best to add some holiday vibes.  One morning I woke up to find that they had planted poinsettias in the garden the previous day.

They’d also put up a huge tree in the lobby.

It was decorated with these beautiful silver lanterns.

Still, it took coming home for me to get back into a holiday mood.

As much as I enjoyed that gorgeous warm, sunny weather in Mexico, I need a little snow on the ground to feel like Christmas.  How about you?  Do you enjoy a tropical Christmas?  Leave a comment and let me know!