Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Getting Our First New England Christmas Tree In Nine Years

Last holiday season I was excited to get our Christmas tree from the same lot in town run by the Boy Scouts that my family used to get our Christmas trees at. I'm looking forward to doing the same thing again this year, only this time we know that we can pre-order a tree at a specific height because the really tall ones aren't as common and they sell out fast, and we have a great space in our house for a nice tall tree so it would be good to get one. Anyway, I digress and will move on to the topic of this blog post, which is the pleasurable process of getting our Christmas tree last year.

John brought along his best friend Craig from Iowa on FaceTime, which we all laughed about.

Peter accidentally knocked over a few trees, which we also laughed about. (We did help pick them up!)

The Scouts tied the tree to the top of the car and we drove it home, where we found out that they hadn't tied it very well (aren't Scouts supposed to be knot experts?) but fortunately it didn't fall off the car on the drive. I'm not sure that we would have laughed about that!

We got the tree off the car, into the house, and into the tree stand. Many pine needles were shed in the process.

The next day we worked on stringing the lights, which is a somewhat arduous process that Peter has become very good at, but I ended up doing it myself because he wasn't ensuring that it would get done by the end of the weekend, and it needed to get done by the end of the weekend.

By the end of the evening, the lights were strung and the ornaments were hung, thanks in large part to the decorating efforts of myself and Sam.

And you thought it was a nice tree. Death by Christmas tree!

It was a nice tree though. Not the best we've ever had, but it was our first New England tree since 2009, when Sam was just a newborn. I was missing Iowa, but it was good to be home in Massachusetts again for Christmas!


Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Breakers

The Breakers has been my favorite Newport mansion ever since Peter took me there on a romantic date when we were in college. It was a magical place to me then, and it has remained so in the years since. I always love going back to see it again. It's ostentatious and completely over the top, especially for a "summer cottage," but I can't help it, I just love it. This was the first time I got to see it decorated for the holidays, which I think made it even more beautiful.

After we toured The Elms and Marble House, my mom, sister, and I met my sister Elizabeth and her two cute boys for a delicious lunch at a historic old restaurant in Newport called the White Horse Tavern, which has been around since 1673 and is the oldest operating restaurant in the country! I loved sitting and eating there amongst all that history. You could feel it in the air all around you. 

Then we went to our final mansion of the day, The Breakers. We saved the best for last!

I don't like how I look here but Elizabeth and the boys look good so I'll include it! (notice that I didn't enlarge it too much though 😂)

Behold the beauty of The Breakers!

This dining room/ballroom is amazing.


I liked this cozy little alcove under the stairs. It faced a fountain, which was perfect because the sound of gently running water is so relaxing. This would be such a nice place to sit and read and nap. Not in those chairs though!

This ceiling window at the top of the stairs was so pretty.

I don't think I'd ever seen a Christmas tree made out of poinsettias. It was gorgeous!

The above-mentioned cozy little nook is under those stairs.

More rooms (and Christmas trees) on the ground floor... 

I've always loved the library room at The Breakers. 

Check out the ceiling!


So pretty and feminine, and I like the pale green furniture.

Trains always remind me of Sam's big train phase in preschool. 😊 I think this display was probably paying homage to the Vanderbilt fortune coming partly from railroads. 

 I'd been hoping to go out on the back lawn after our tour and take some pictures, but looking down on it all from the upstairs terrace was as close as we got to that this time. It was dark by the time we were done. Next time!

Jennifer, Mom, and Rocco

Pretty lamp, pretty walls, pretty room!

Another lovely lady of the house. I love her dress and everything else about this painting. 

In front of our ancestral home! Ha ha. The U-Haul truck is more accurate to our family's history. 😂

It was such a fun day. I absolutely love the historic Newport mansions, and a trip there is always a special treat. (Random fact: the previous owners of our house moved to Newport!)

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Marble House

Marble House was the second of three Newport mansions we toured last December. It was stunning! 

I liked these big twisty trees out front. I wonder how long they've been there and if they were there when William and Alva Vanderbilt and their children lived there (for only a few weeks a year!) in the late 1800s-1900s.

Not to state the obvious, but Marble House has a ton of marble in it! Several tons, actually!

This wreath was massive!

One very impressive dining room!

I liked this library room tucked into the back corner of the house. I found it very cozy (unlike most of the rest of the house!).

That ceiling! 😍

Front entryway of the house. The doors (not to mention the marble interior) look like they belong in a big bank or corporate building, not a summer "cottage"!

This "religious room" as I call it was really ornate and really cool. It felt like there was a church in the house.

The ceilings in these mansions make my jaw drop!

It's fun to imagine the balls and parties that took place here and to wonder about the actual lives of the people who attended them!

 I think this was Alva's room. She was a battle-ax! 

Marble House was Alva's husband's 39th birthday gift to her. I turned 39 this past summer and there is a severe dichotomy between what Alva got and what I got! 😂

Gorgeous workmanship!

This was poor Consuelo's room. I mean, obviously not financially poor, but poor in the sense that she was a slave to her mother's overbearing, selfish desire to have her marry a duke, which she did against her wishes. She loved someone else. 💔

The Commodore, the one who started the businesses that made the Vanderbilts so much money. He was William's grandfather.

So pretty!

I spy an owl! This was in one of the son's rooms.

Back stairs for the servants (and us).

This kitchen makes me think of Mrs. Patmore from Downton Abbey.

I wonder if this is from the time period of the Vanderbilts. Imagine the cooks and kitchen staff who worked here. They made these very cuts! (Theoretically.)

I loved the cloudy weather that day. It was very atmospheric!
I also love how the ocean was right at the back of the backyard.

Ending the visit where we started, with more of those cool old twisty trees!

I'm looking forward to reading some good books about this interesting little branch of the Vanderbilt family and their very grand summer cottage!