Sunday, November 28, 2021

A Blackwell Byers' Caroler Christmas

Several weeks ago, I featured the home of friends and neighbors, Dick and Dena Blackwell.  You can see that HERE

A couple weeks before Thanksgiving, Dick invited me back.  And the following is why.
They love to decorate for Christmas and do it early!
Remember that amazing garage with all the built-ins and closets?  That is where Christmas lives when it isn't Christmas.
The Nativity scene is in the place of honor on the dining table.

Dena started her collection years ago after receiving a caroler from her sister, who along with her husband continue to contribute to the collection. With
 almost 100 Byers' Caroler figurines, the number continues to grow even with new ones being added since these pictures were taken.
Thanksgiving Carolers were allowed to show up for Christmas.

Byers' Carolers began back in the late 60's when a young lady named Joyce, became very disappointed with the tinsel and glitter Christmas decorations on the market, and decided to make her own.

From her dining room table came what is now an international, family-run business.  The Byers' create the finest handcrafted iconic Caroler® figurines in their facility in Pennsylvania with hopes that each special character will bring warmth and the true traditions of Christmas into each home.

Dick and Dena's home testify to this.
he pedals on this bike actually turn and is Dick's favorite item in the collection.
Even the animals are not left out.
Can you not hear "Joy to the World" or "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" pealing forth from this group of faithful singers?
Along with the Carolers are many 
decorations with personal  stories because they were handmade through the years by Dena.  This was to have been a tree skirt, but she realized it would never be seen, so instead decorates the ottoman for all to enjoy.
Dena also painstakingly created each of the unique stockings for every family member, including a now deceased family cat.

Another treasure are these pictures of each of their grandchildren taken when the now almost grown grands were small.
She told me about making the advent calendar and the amazingly detailed needlework below.  Each was done meticulously and with so much love for the true meaning of Christmas.

Dena laughingly said this one was done out of desperation due to too much time on her hands while Dick was an executive with IBM and on the road a lot. 
The kitchen has a "Gingerbread " theme.  From the top of the cabinets to the counter tops, everything is related to the theme; even the carolers.

This happy Santa dates back almost 50 years when their children were small.  He still gets the chair of honor.
From the entry into the home,
to the smallest detail of the carefully placed glass ice cycles on the tree,
to the inviting sunroom,
everything in the Blackwell's Christmas home, speaks of love, memories, and the true meaning of Christmas - the coming into the world of the Christ Child, Jesus Christ.

Thank you Dick and Dena for again inviting us into your home and sharing Christmas with us.

Just for transparency sake, this is my one and only 2021 Christmas decoration.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Another Village Home With a Story

Our Houses Mirror Ourselves and Tell Our Story

Jacqui’s story begins in 1952 in Germany where she was born.  Her dad was an American soldier from Brooklyn, who had been stationed in Germany for several years before meeting his future bride.  Jacqui’s mom was from Berlin and was working in the base PX in Frankfurt.  How they met is another interesting story in itself.  The family returned to Queens, NY in 1953.

In 1973, Jacqui began working for the German Airlines, Lufthansa.  In 1977 she transferred from New York to Alaska where she continued with the company until her move to DFW in 1989.  She lived in Dallas to be near her mother while continuing her long career with Lufthansa.  She retired in 2014 and moved to The Village at Prestonwood in 2017.  She so happens to be our adjoining neighbor.

Jacqui’s home is in many ways like reading a story book because so many items in her home have history.  As she took me from room to room, there were such interesting stories to tell.  Stories make people linger and feel a connection to the story teller.

Complimentary to her sweet personality and soft-spoken demeanor, she decorated with a color palette of seaside hues, creamy neutrals and a pop of red.  The creamy yellow leather sofa and chairs introduce the color palette and the art work, the theme.

Jacqui's home is an Abby floorplan which means she has an open plan with two bedrooms and baths and a sunroom.  She said it could not be more perfect for her current lifestyle.

Jacqui's stories begin to show themselves through treasured art work and memorabilia.  Let me show you as she showed me.

In the Master Bedroom, we find an overlapping of loves, interests, and experiences.

Jacqui took advantage of this large wall to add a stencil to further tell her story of a love for birds and to bring the outside in. More on that later.

This is the resident scaredy cat who retreated the minute I arrived. 

Dear family members are never far away from her thoughts and memories.
The color palette continues into the dining area with the colors of this abstract painting, which I do love, and the palm branch pattern of the rug.
The guest room is set up for visiting friends with it's own private bath.  This room also has it's own theme - Alaska.
Jacqui loved her years spent in Anchorage and proudly displays many of her mementos that tell that part of her story.

The picture above was painted by John Van Zyle, declared "Alaska's Artist," and is a combination of Anchorage with Mt McKinley added to the background.  Jacqui explained that this mountain range exists in this location only in the mind and paintings of the artist.  Interesting!
Displayed on these shelves and on the walls are treasured items that are a constant reminder of her time in beautiful, frigid Alaska.

Continuing the Alaska theme in her artwork are two prints by Byron Birdsall, who was also an Alaskan artist. He was known as one of Alaska's most renowned watercolorists. 

Jacqui was delighted to share the story about this print.  Friends of hers were house-sitting for the artist and she was often invited over.  She loved this watercolor but was disappointed to learn it was no longer available.  Once Mr. Birdsall learned of her interest, he found one last print and gave it to her.  They both obviously share a love for Alaska as well as cats.
The sunroom carries out the theme of one of Jacqui's greatest loves - birding.
She tells the story that at the age of 60 she began enjoying the watching and learning about birds.  She has an extensive library of bird books and is so knowledgeable.  The highlight of her year is going to the "Biggest Week in American Birding" Festival held in May in Northwest Ohio, near Lake Erie.  Her 90+ year old dad lives near there so she loves combining a visit with him at the same time.

This needlepoint was done by a very close friend who is now deceased and holds a very special place in Jacqui's heart.
I told her this one reminds me of the noisy and nosey crows that love our trees and flower bed.  They are so common here in Texas, and don't seem to be bothered by us homosapiens  one bit.

Thank you Jacqui for allowing us into the story you so lovingly tell in your home.