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stitch in time

Posted by Cobi on Wednesday December 09, 2015 at 10:01 AM
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The first time I saw this Christmas tablecloth at our friend’s house, I was completely blown away.

full tablecloth from corner

Our friend Mark’s dear mom, Mary made it and when I saw it, I felt like the Grinch whose “heart grew three sizes that day”.

Mark pulled back

Every year at Christmas dinner, Mary would invite family to doodle on the tablecloth.

Santa pulled back

And then throughout the year she would embroider over the doodles in colourful thread. Mark gladly let me photograph it and we laughed about the years that she almost didn’t get her work done in time to lay it out on the table again.

pull back shot

Never have I seen so much love, talent, history, humour, sentiment, artistry and originality all wrapped up in one tactile family heirloom. She captured the years of her family’s Christmas’ in every stitch. What a treasure.

The marriages…

Deb and Mark

The babies…


The homecomings…


Special visitors…


Special family members…


other grandma

Family artists…


And budding family artists…

child drawing

Special talents…


And jokes…


What an heirloom. What a gift! What an incredible symbol of what Christmas is all about.

pull back

Dare any of us even try to duplicate the beauty in Mary’s creation?

kiss the cook

In my brave moments, I’d like to try. Is this the year to purchase a clean white linen cloth and a few bright bundles of embroidery thread? It doesn’t take any more than that and of course, a heart the size of Mary’s.

Mary Mom

Here’s to Family, Love and Inspiration and a Very Merry Christmas!


12 trees of christmas 2014

Posted by Cobi on Thursday December 18, 2014 at 01:00 PM
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I recently participated in the Gardiner Museum’s 12 Trees of Christmas event. 2014 was called The Toronto Edition and each designer was assigned a neighbourhood to reflect in our tree. Mine was Mirvish Village and so I called it Bright Lights, Big City to showcase the celebration, excitement and nightlife of that vibrant part of town.

It all started with a Santa sleigh full of supplies …

load of supplies

The trees were pre-lit 7’ tall and I added frosted, flashing coloured lights to bring home my theme…

coloured lights

The first ornaments to go on were large (8”) mirrored disco balls for reflection and glitz. I wired them deeply into the tree so they filled the holes and didn’t weigh down the branches.

disco ball ornament

Then large balloons with ribbon tails were added. The colours happened to be perfect - lime, red, turquoise and fuchsia.

green balloon

red balloon

I added glittery musical notes to continue the celebratory theme…

sparkly musical notes

And champagne glasses filled with mini disco balls…

mini disco balls

Hershey’s kisses…

Hershey's kisses

And noise makers…

noise makers

The topper is a bunch of silvery sprays…

spray topper

Around the bottom I laid a silver quilted skirt with 12 acrylic ice buckets filled with silver ornaments and tinsel and a frosty-coloured bottle in each with a battery pack of lights fed down inside so they glowed. I pushed another spray into the top of each to mimic the spray of champagne.

orange ice bucket

green ice bucket

The tree is lots of fun and I truly hope it brightens the hearts of people who find themselves at the new Peter Munk Cardiac Centre in Toronto this Christmas - the location where the generous Black Foundation chose to donate my tree.

Cobi Ladner's tree for The Gardiner

For a better look click here to see a video segment from Global News showing me ‘n my tree.

Click here to see a video clip of the trees as they appeared on the CBC (Steven & Chris). I’m glad she enjoyed the chocolate kisses!


rose-coloured christmas

Posted by Cobi on Wednesday December 10, 2014 at 11:11 AM
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Last weekend I hosted a brunch for my oldest and dearest BFF’s (well they may not want to be called the ‘oldest’ but you know what I mean).

longer view of table

I wish I’d taken more pulled-back pictures to show off the table in context of my dining room, but I was so enthralled by the rosy glow of the set table that my pics appear to all be close range.

brunch from head of table

I layered all kinds of things in crystal, silver and rosy cranberry, and it created such a pretty effect in the daylight for a ladies luncheon.

brunch close up

A few bunches of boxwood snippets from the garden in white cobistyle tea glasses gave a touch of colour relief.

brunch - glass with boxwood

The tray from my mom’s silver tea service came in handy to corral votives and ornaments in the centre of the table and add some vintage charm.

brunch silver tray

I love it when it’s my turn to host our annual brunch because the rule is that the host provides only beverages and the rest bring the food.

brunch from corner angle

I almost feel guilty having all the fun!

overhead, light streaming

Cheers to setting many more tables for old and dear friends this holiday!


gumdrops and lollipops for a cause

Posted by Cobi on Monday November 25, 2013 at 06:00 AM
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I am thrilled to participate again in Toronto’s Gardiner Museum’s 12 Trees of Christmas Charity Gala. The theme this year is “Things starting with the letter G” as the Gardiner is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. Assuming that Gold, Glitter, Giving and Grinch were all quickly spoken for, I decided to go with the visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, and chose Gumdrops and Lollipops as my theme.

The first step was to select an artificial tree. It was a stretch for me not to choose the most realistic green tree I could find, but I liked the idea of one appearing to be sugar-coated and so I looked for a flocked or glittery tree. Instead I found a pink one! I knew as soon as I saw it, it was perfect because it reminded me of candy floss!! A pink, flocked tree with pink lights ~ yum!

undecorated tree

I lucked out with ornaments too - can you imagine my delight when I found these gumdrop garlands?

gumdrop garland

And over-sized lollipops?

blue lolli

I knew from past experience that it helps to have something large on the tree (to fill in space and give it oomph). I found wonderful felt stockings in the same candy-coloured palette and ordered 12.

felt stockings

Isn’t it amazing how realistic these foam cupcakes look?


Truly scrumptious!


And I love the scale of these big glittery gingerbread boys…

gingerbread boys

And girls! The chocolate colour is a nice addition to all the syrupy pink.

gingerbread girls

We filled in the spaces with lots of perfect candy picks…

candy picks

And I couldn’t help but tie on a few real sweet treats in hopes of adding to the sugar-high of little ones viewing the tree over the holidays.

Gumdrops of course…

gumdrops in celo

And Lollipops!

lollipops in celobags

All done up in cellophane cones which I found online through an amazing Ontario company - Crystal Clear Bags Canada- a great find!

We topped the tree with lollipop fairy wings from the Party Market (apologies for the bad shot!).


And then skirted it with children’s books (sweet-themed of course) and cobistyle pillows in assorted silk-look colours of fuchsia, turquoise, lime and orange.

pillows and books

There’s no doubt this tree is suffering from sugar-overload and will crash after December 25th.

tree close up

But I’m so happy to report that very kind donors have purchased the tree (thank you Frank Bowman and Aaron Milrad!) and it will be brightening up the Princess Margaret Hospital Cancer Centre over the holidays. What a sweet treat for us all to share indeed!

final overall


‘twas the night before christmas-decorating

Posted by Cobi on Monday December 03, 2012 at 06:00 AM
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We all need a little inspiration sometimes. Enjoy!

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

blue door with Xmas wreaths

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

mouse cookies

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,


In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.

sugared fruit

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

baby it's cold outside

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash,

candy canes

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

winter windowboxes

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.

pinecones on chandelier

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

guinness dressed as reindeer

(I am so doing this for Bob!)

With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.

santa hat brownies

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Sam (I couldn’t find anything with Blitzen on it)!

christmas place setting

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

pots on porch

Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky. So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

urn with boxes

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof, The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.


A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back, And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

candy cane wrap

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

white choc cherries

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

red bow

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

wreaths on cake plate stack

He had a broad face and a little round belly, That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

bowl of cranberry

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself! A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.

christmas stockings

And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

happy christmas


the best exotic merry christmas tree

Posted by Cobi on Monday November 19, 2012 at 06:00 AM
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How do you make the best exotic merry Christmas tree?

Well, you start with one average tree.

the tree

Hire two cute elves.

two elves

Add a thousand lights (must be multi-coloured to be considered exotic).

A thousand lights

Take a tea break.

tea break

Add a hundred colourful ornaments.

the ornaments

Including bundles of gold beaded bracelets from little India.

close up of ornaments

Little beaded books (party favours really) and beautiful embellished ornaments from cobistyle.

cobistyle ornaments

Oh, and encrusted purse mirrors from cobistyle too, to add some bling.

purse mirror

So pretty!

booklets up close

Top with one turban.

Turban topper

turban close up

You’re getting there…

It's getting there...

Skirt the bottom with three sparkly sari’s.

the skirt

And finally, stack up forty gold leaf boxes (that come with the cobistyle ornaments).

The boxes

That’s what I did, anyway, when I participated in the Gardiner Museum’s 12 Trees of Christmas charity event. The theme this year was Christmas around the world. Each designer chose a country and I took India! I find the colours so rich and gorgeous - they lend themselves beautifully to a holiday tree. It was tons of fun and a great way to raise funds for charity. The trees are on display at the Gardiner until December 9th - go check them out!

finished tree


this christmas, have a ball

Posted by Cobi on Monday December 19, 2011 at 06:00 AM
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I trust you’re all busy bees, creating…


…in your home this season.

If it’s like my place, it feels more like a hurricane.


Baubles and beads are hanging everywhere.


Even from the rooftops!


I might as well serve them up for dessert!


They’re in every nook and cranny!


Even a few disco balls have gotten in on the act - “you’ve gotta move your feet when you feel the beat!”…


But wait - what about something homemade?


There’s still time to needlepoint a pillow if we work all night!


Or at the very least, make a snowman and dress him just right!


Whatever you do this Christmas, remember to smile. And don’t even THINK about escaping the Peace and Joy of Christmas.
You know you’d miss every crazy minute of it and so would I.



a cobistyle christmas

Posted by Cobi on Monday December 05, 2011 at 05:58 AM
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If you haven’t seen this issue of Reno & Decor magazine, I thought I’d show you the images from my recent cover story. We photographed the story in my own dining room back in September. With years of magazine experience under my belt, it brought back many fond memories to be dressing a room for Christmas on a warm, sunny day with the windows open.


What I’m not used to, however, is seeing my own product-line in a story (and in my house!). What fun it was to have fuchsia pink cobistyle chairs delivered from Decor-Rest. Open boxes of cobistyle throws, pillows, Christmas decorations, trays and accessories from Canfloyd. And hang beautiful chintz drapery named after my own daughter, Charlotte, from inVU.


It was really fun to integrate items that I’d conceived of for my line - like this lacquer box and Xmas balls - with my own personal decorations I use year after year.


And the colourful cobistyle table-decor with my own white dinnerware, linens and milk glass collection.


The brocade-covered Chinese take-out boxes are something of which I’m particularly proud. The idea is to use them for party favours or small gifts and the colours are so pretty - they come 4 colours to a box - and brighten up anywhere they’re displayed.


I guess I have a thing for multi-colours - these cobistyle napkin rings come 6 colours to a box. The jewel-like tones look great with crisp white linens.


I love my little Geisha girl place-card holders - are they not adorable? They also work as tree ornaments.


I know the colours are not traditional for Christmas but they look festive and bright just the same, especially when mixed with each other. The advantage too is that you don’t have to take everything down the minute Christmas is over. They look great for New Years and parties throughout the winter.


This shot doesn’t feature any cobistyle products but it does express my favourite sentiment for the season and so I guess in a way it’s still ‘Cobi-style’…


Merry Christmas!


i’m dreaming of a white christmas….

Posted by Cobi on Monday December 20, 2010 at 06:00 AM
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Hope your Holidays are Sugar coated!!










And may all your Christmases be white…. see you next year! Cobi.


collector’s christmas

Posted by Cobi on Monday December 13, 2010 at 06:00 AM
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I love the idea of incorporate collections into your Christmas decorating

If you have Creamware



Milk glass….



Mercury glass….





Green glass






Vintage Garden supplies


Simple Ironstone


Whatever your fancy, get it out, tie a bow on it and enjoy!


tartan and pearls

Posted by Cobi on Monday December 06, 2010 at 05:58 AM
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This past weekend I hosted a simply smashing dinner party, dahling. I called it ‘Tartan & Pearls’ and it was a celebration of my husband, Bob (the birthday boy) and his hero, Winston Churchill (just because).

The UK theme worked beautifully for early Christmas…all the right colours but nothing overt…have a look.

I used blank note cards for the invitation. Tartan & Pearls set the theme for guests and gave them an idea of what to wear. One smart couple came with the woman in tartan and the man in pearls. Another friend came in full kilt and gag-tam with red hair sticking out. Add in a few tartan bow ties and top hats and there were lots of laughs all round.


For loot bags I gave out little bottles of cognac, black licorice cigars, ‘keep calm’ sniffs and Scottish shortbread.



I found plain white note cards at Walmart that worked well for simple tented place cards and inside each one I wrote a Churchill quote. Bob had fun choosing quotes from his many books and speeches and deciding who should say what. When we sat down, the guests were told to look at their quote and to stand at some point during the dinner and recite it while others would chime in “hear, hear!”. I thought some people might be a bit shy but that was definitely not a problem with this group - it sounded like the British House of Commons on a busy day!


Bob couldn’t help himself from putting together a Churchill trivia quiz. It was so easy and fun. The winner got a box of Walkers Shortbread of course!


English and Scotch mints filled dishes with wintry white…


And I got out a bit of Bob’s memorabilia and displayed it around for fun…


To get things started…Churchill’s favourite champagne: Pol Roger, seen here chilling in the porch in the afternoon.


We also had a selection of British beers which you can buy singly or in small packs. Who knew Tetley made beer?
For dinner, I couldn’t go as far as steak and kidney pies, but steak and vegetable did the trick. Served with peas of course! And a hearty salad. After that we had a cheese course with English cheddar and Stilton and Carrs biscuits, then gingerbread cake, my homemade butterscotch sauce and cinnamon whip cream, yum!


Now the best part - the table - to get the theme going I bought a few yards of cotton tartan at the fabric store and cut it into two lengths so it ran from end to end. Then I pinking-sheared the remainder into napkins.


I have the perfect charger plates for this party, I bought them a number of years ago and they feature hunt scenes on each one. The white porcelain always looks great.


Down the middle of the table I stacked some of Bob’s Churchill book collection and used it for pedestals for votive candles and little crystal snowflakes my mom just gave me. It worked great and the red covers on many of the old books was perfect.


I regret I didn’t take a picture of the table just before we sat down when the candles were glowing - it was really pretty - but I was having too much fun!


There’s nothing better than the feeling you get the morning after a good party. It is most definitely our ‘finest hour’!



a colourful christmas

Posted by Cobi on Monday November 29, 2010 at 06:00 AM
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This weekend we started decorating for the holidays - ‘we’ being my daughter, Charlotte and me. My house is definitely not a ‘decorator Christmas house’. It’s a ‘family Christmas house’ through and through with homemade ornaments and bits and this-and-that from years of collecting and crafting throughout the house. While sentimental, I also like to make things pretty of course, and enjoy playing with colours and moving things around to see what works where, making a little magic whenever possible with what we have.

Our living room suits a traditional Christmas red/green colour scheme perfectly with it’s red sofa smack in the middle. But the dining room is a different story - it’s brown and watery blue scheme demands it’s own attention. What I’ve learned looks amazing with soft blues and turquoise at Christmas time is rosy cranberry red, blush pink and lots of silver. In fact, it’s become one of my favourite colour schemes and I use lots of my vintage Christmas balls for inspiration. If you have blues and browns in your house, try forgoing the usual Christmas red and green and try thinking pink … here’s some inspiration to get you going…














Over the years I have collected many boxes of ‘shiny bright’ vintage Christmas balls just like all of these, and every year I threaten that I’m going to forgo our usual sentimental tree ornaments and only decorate in my vintage ball collection. Of course I never do it. That would be too ‘decorator driven’ for our house and my kids would kill me! We talked about it again this weekend and Charlotte told me very plainly I would have to wait until she and her brother had left home to do it (at the time she was proudly hanging a large bell ornament made from an upside-down plastic plant pot, spray painted gold with a pipe-cleaner handle).

I told her that’s ok, it gives me more years to find ornaments on sale in junk stores in January when no one else wants them. I know it will be pretty the year I finally see my ornaments all out of their boxes, and the tree is laden with sparkly balls all different but of the same vintage and with just the right patina. But as life would have it, I also know that seeing my tree will mean the years will have passed and I will be looking at it with a melancholy heart and pine for the tree of proud pipe cleaners and noodle angels.


a squirrel’s christmas

Posted by Cobi on Monday November 22, 2010 at 06:00 AM
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At this time of year I always get outside to gather some free supplies that Mother Nature offers up for Christmas decorating - branches, chestnuts, pine cones, boughs - just call me the frugal decorator, aka: crazy garden robber. Pine cones are the most versatile of finds. Here are a few inspiration shots to get you in the mood for an afternoon walk with a bag tucked into your pocket - just don’t tell them I sent you.

As the Barefoot Contessa would say…”how easy is that”….


But if you want to craft your heart out…spray paint is always a blast…


These are pretty and look easy, a nice addition to a tree or window…


This is beautiful but ambitious - a glue gunner’s dream…


We’ve all seen pine cone wreaths but this is a fresh, contemporary version…


I like the idea of giving new life to a homely mirror you find at the Sally Ann and then using it instead of a tray for candles…


Shiny painted cones hold their own with shiny holiday balls…


Brown paper packages tied up with string, just add a few of my favourite things…


A simple garland looks natural and modern at the same time…


Here’s a cute substitute for a wreath this year…



And a sweet little door hanger makes a fun homemade hostess gift hung on a bottle of vino…


The sparkle of silver and snow is always a winner in winter…


Pine cones interspersed with candied fruit or simple citrus colours is a natural (literally)…


And I love this idea best, little trees made of big pine cones and placed on candle holder pedestals…


Now don’t you have somewhere to go?


get ready, get set

Posted by Cobi on Monday December 21, 2009 at 06:00 AM
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As a working mom for so many years, I’ve trained myself that the only way I can entertain is to plan and prepare ahead of time. For any relatively organized, ‘type A’ overachiever, it’s the only way to go.

With that in mind…I get my dishes out the weekend ahead of any special dinner to figure out the table and make sure everything is clean and polished - I know, it all sounds very ‘Martha’ - but, like mom, she’s often right.

Here are a few ideas for setting a special holiday table.

I bought 12 of these chargers a few years ago when I was doing a special winter dinner party for Bob’s 40th. It was a splurge at the time but I knew on the spot that I loved them. So classic and they look great at any winter dinner party but especially Christmas. I love their size ~ they catch all the mess! - and the four hunt traditional scenes. I don’t know the pattern, they just say Royal Staffordshire on the back.


I don’t have enough white plates of my regular pattern (Wedgewood Coalport Countryware) and so rather than just have a few spares of another pattern, I alternate them half and half with some lovely square white plates I bought from the Brian Gluckstein Home collection at Home Outfitters. It looks good alternating in a stack and on the table - like I’m doing it for fun rather than necessity - love that.


In memory of my Grandmother, we always serve tomato juice at Christmas dinner. I remember everyone sprinkling it with pepper and drinking it at the beginning of our dinner when I was a kid. I don’t have little crystal cornflower glasses as she did, but I do have these heavy bottomed, stemless, wine glasses I bought somewhere along the line and they work well (plus go in the dishwasher!).


Speaking of my Grandmother, I couldn’t set the table and not use some of the dishes she left me. She knew how much I loved them. It’s ambitious to use them for the whole meal because I just can’t bear to put them in the dishwasher, but I always use them for one course and I encourage you to do the same - salad, dessert, soup - 10 or 12 smaller plates or bowls are a breeze to wash up and seeing them out on the table brings back warm memories of those we love. I use her double handled soup bowls for shrimp cocktail.


My daughter Charlotte loves helping me with place-cards. I bought these cute balls at a Hallmark store a few years ago and add a clipping of boxwood from the garden. In fact, little clippings of boxwood look great added to bows on gifts too. So easy and a nice touch.


?Now I have to run and polish the silver and 99 other things on the list…. Have a wonderful holiday and no matter how much you have to do, take a moment to sit by the tree and count your many blessings and all the things that are good in your life. cobi


it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Posted by Cobi on Monday December 14, 2009 at 06:00 AM
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My place is not a show house at Christmas time. I tend to go the sentimental route rather than ‘show stopper’. It’s not that I don’t want it to be beautiful, I’m just too darned attached to things from the past and their stories, for me to move on without them. I always threaten to not open my dusty old boxes one year and instead go for drama and stylish new glam, but it never happens. And to be honest, it likely never will.

Anyway, here are a few little tidbits from my house to yours that I thought might get the juices flowing if you’re a little dry on decorating at the moment. After all, it’s the little things that count at this overblown time of year….

Some ornaments are heavy for the tree and so I like to put them in my many (too many!) glass or creamware compotes.


I found adorable myrtle topiary at the Chinese flower store in Toronto and topped the soil with cranberries. So sweet.


I tie ribbons around the necks of most of my table lamps. Just a little trick but looks festive.


I also tie bits of ribbon around any of my favourite feathered friends. They seem to like looking festive too.


Here is our Santa collection to date…kids love it.


Over the last few years I’ve bought some over sized mercury balls. They just seem to fill in the blanks so easily.


I load my best silver tray in the middle of my dining table with all things sparkly glass and silver. The felt snowflake placemats are my favourite find this year and you’ll never guess where I found them ~ Wallyworld! (that’s Walmart for short) ~ who’d a guessed it?? Two for $6.00 I think.


Merry Decorating!

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