A Christmas Album, and Random Decorating Notes

Ho ho ho

Like every one of you

I’ve been so so so

Busy that I know

You haven’t missed me and yet

I have missed you.

With the traveling, the birthday-ing, the Christmas-ing, and the fa-la-la, I swore I wasn’t even going to decorate this year, let alone entertain.

New York apt at Christmas
New York apt at Christmas

But I did. I just can’t help it. One dinner at the ranch before I left and two small ones in New York. Small. And very relaxed.

I also experimented with special effects on the Big Picture app. I think I like the one called “Clarify” the best.

I wish I had a Clarify button for my head, especially about now…

For a dinner for four, all the stuff piled on the smaller table has to be piled on the larger table…

Christmas NYC apt
I don't know where all these books come from. I swear I don't. They multiply like rabbits.

So I can set the smaller table…

Christmas NYC apt
An antique wine-tasting table set for a simple dinner for four.
Christmas NYC apt
Christmas dinner for four. The china is Lynn Chase's Winter Gamer Birds.

And then a few days later I pile everything back on the smaller table…

Christmas NYC apt
Christmas NYC apartment

…and set the bigger table for 8 and do not remember to photograph it until after dinner.

The party's over - Christmas NYC apartment
The party's over...

With four and a half rooms you have to be creative. And actually four and a half rooms in New York is considered generous.

By putting the dining table(s) in the living room, I am able to have a sitting room off the kitchen.

Sitting room, Frances Schultz NYC apt
Sitting room, NYC apartment.

I have been having a zebra moment for about the last two years, and when I found this hooked wool zebra rug I genuflected for Albert Hadley and did a cartwheel.

At least in my heart I did a cartwheel. The last time I did a real cartwheel I pulled something and could not walk for three days. That is its own special kind of Clarify button.

I’ve recently hung this Paul Balmer painting of the New York skyline. I will show it to you in full another time, but I love it even as backdrop for the Christmas tree.

Christmas NYC apt, painting by Paul Balmer
Christmas NYC apt, painting of New York skyline by Paul Balmer

Did I mention it was my birthday?

Roses in sitting room, New York apartment
These are the roses my brother-in-law Rex sent me for my birthday. I snipped a few to put on the table for dinner. Shhh.

It was the 16th. We went to Martha Stewart’s Christmas party at her house in Bedford. Even in the cold gray drizzle it is pretty dang fabulous, and the weather made the inside all the cozier.

A Christmas tree at Martha Stewart's, December 2012
Glowing and golden, a Christmas tree at Martha Stewart's
Cookies and confections at Martha Stewart's Christmas party
Cookies and confections at Martha Stewart's Christmas party

This is a cute picture of His Grace (aka my husband for new readers) and Martha. They are longtime friends from his Chicago days.

Tom Dittmer and Martha Stewart
His Grace and Martha Stewart

But the thing is we visited so much at the party that we never got around to eating and were starving on the way back to the city and had to stop at …

Burger King in Bedford
Burger King in Bedford

Seriously. Talk about a let-down.

... where kids are king
Where kids are king is not exactly where I I had in mind for my birthday lunch.

But I have to say in all it has been a pretty swell Christmas season, and I’ll leave you with this little – okay not at all little – huge-fantastic-I-couldn’t-believe-it-with-my-own-eyes Christmas light show put on by another friend of ours. He and his family have a party for their pals, but this show he puts on for the whole community, and anyone who wants to drive by and doesn’t mind a little wait, is welcome. Here you go: Christmas light show in Connecticut. 

Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Paul Jones Christmas LIght Show
Christmas Light Show, photo via Twitter.com/@strauzer


  1. Frances- love your crown! My daughter calls all fast food joints “McJuniors”. Maybe from now on, we’ll call them “McMarthas” as we drive by : – ).

    Merry Christmas to all!

  2. I love this post! Your NY apartment is lovely. It does not need much decoration to convey the beauty of the season I especially love the portrait of you. As a portrait artist, my eye immediately went to it. I hope you and His Grace have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    1. Thank you dear Diane – actually the portrait is of my mother, by Robert Bruce Williams… But I consider it a compliment, especially fro a portraitist as talented as you. Warmly, Frances

  3. That picture of you is the funniest ever! Your deadpan expression is a mix of Lucille Ball & Carol Burnett. Happy Birthday & so can not believe you go to MS’s partay & do not eat…

  4. Getting ready to leave for Christmas Eve dinner, check my emails and there’s your new post, yay! What a lovely Christmas present! I’m sitting here reading it and laughing. Being at Martha Stewart’s and winding up at Burger King, too funny! You and my Momma share the same birthday month, hers was December 12. Your joie de vivre reminds me so very much of her. Loved the beautiful photos, your homes are elegant, cozy and welcoming. Wishing you and yours a very Merry (Magnifico!) Joyous Christmas and a Fabulous 2013!

  5. Merry Christmas!! You are the only person alive that can get Martha and BK in the same paragraph. Your apartment is beautiful like everything with your touch. I on the other hand am having a bit of a moment here on this blessed day as most of my ADD (attention deficit decorating) begins with power tools. Oh my! Happy Birthday!! and BTW you spent it in my home town! Next time let me recommend a better lunch venue! Wishing you and yours a peaceful, warm, glorious merry Christmas. xo Pete PS we miss you indeed!

  6. Lovely pictures of your NYC apartment. Just the right mix of traditional formal and whimsy. And the colors resonanate with me because I use them myself in my 1727 Antique Cape here on the South Shore of Massachusets. Thanks for your nice posts and Happy Christmas to you and His Grace.

  7. Your home looks beautiful! merry Christmas and happy belated birthday wishes! Martha too? You are so cool!

  8. Merry, Merry to bride and groom…happy Christmas in New York! With snow?
    Took Will and Megan”s son years back to McDonalds and learned he had never been there. That little New Yorker ordered a salami..He got the works at our encouragement as we felt him deprived..

    love and cheer
    The Ziglars
    Loved the card with photographs of wedding..thank you, L.

    1. Pete, Ruth, Leslie and Lynn, thank you all so much for writing. Hope you have had a wonderful day. RuthI would love to see pictures of your 1727 Cape. Lynn, your McDonalds story is hilarious. He IS deprived for sure… Hug to you ALL – Frances

  9. My recent birthday—on the 23rd—included two trips to WalMart and one to Sonic, so I can relate. I did have a vanilla Coke, so, you know, it wasn’t all bad! 🙂 Happy new year!

  10. Merry,merry and belated happy, happy to you Frances! We went to Tarboro for dinner today. There was a degree of sadness because we lost ”Benny”( my husband, Sam’s father) on the 16th and you probably remember the first Christmas after losing your Mom and Uncle Bill. However, as you know, it is always wonderful to be in Tarboro, no matter. Your name came up at dinner, you Rock Star you! I was telling nephew , Charlie , about your wonderful blog and how uplifting and enjoyable it is.He lives in LA and writes for ”SUBURGATORY” I hope you two meet one day but in the meantime I am sending him your blog info. Leaving was hard but , Voila, here was your beautiful Christmas edition to pick up my spirits! It was as enjoyable as ever! Thank you!Looking forward to the next edition, CC

    1. Thank you for writing Cathryn, and I have been thinking of you and your family with Ben’s passing. Gosh our families go back a long way together, and yes I remember not only the first Christmas but every Christmas without them now has a bittersweetness it did not before – but how blessed we were to have had them. You tell Charlie if he needs anything he has another “auntie” just up the road from LA… I will tune in to Subergatory and look for his credit. Love to you all, Frances

  11. Frances, you crack me up! From Martha Stewart’s to Burger King? That’s some birthday! Happy Belated – I’m a month ahead of you, and not telling your age. I remember so fondly the wonderful birthday parties at your house in Tarboro. Those were the days! Merry Christmas and much love!!!

    1. Hey Sally! Lord yes I do remember those birthday parties and how it seemed scandalously early to put our tree up on the 16th so it would be up for the birthday. Now they put them up before Halloween… Belated Happy Birthday to you too, “older woman” that you are ;)…

  12. Merry Christmas and happy belated birthday Frances. Always look forward to reading your blog but especially enjoyed todays. Maybe because your Burger King pic sooo reminds me of Ruth and I don’t think it’s just the crown! Much love.

  13. Merry Christmas and happy belated birthday Frances! Even though you may not think so, I did miss getting your blog for a while! Seeing you in Burger King with a crown started my day with a chuckle Thaks! Love, Jackie

  14. After a year in celebrations perhaps a little BK birthday lunch is just a rest, a reprieve, a quiet spot from all the gracious glamour. But not for long….

    1. Dearest Adele, thank you for writing and I am always so happy to hear from you. You are right, by the way, we can all use a taste of Whopper every now and then. xo f

  15. Thank you so much for sharing your Christmas with us. Your apartment looks so beautiful and comfortable. Love your use of flowers in your decorating. All the great food Martha had, I could not resist. Have a blessed New year with your new husband and life on the ranch. You are truly blessed.

    1. Thank you, dear Maude, for your kind words and good wishes. Blessings to you and your family as well, and may 2013 be extra good to you.

  16. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas with Tom, Rex and Duvall. Loved sharing your last few blogs with mom. She has the Winter Game Bird china too! Happy New Year and love to all in Atlanta.

  17. Oh my!! Thank you for having us “over” for the holidays!!! Love your NYC home. So much fun to see where you create everything to share with us. And, FOR SURE, thats the only time I’ll get to a party at Martha’s house!!! You December birthdays get the short end of the stick many times..My son and husband have birthdays on 17 & 18 so I know what it’s like to try at this hectic time to make them feel special on their day. We”ll add you to the celebrations too!!!Happy Late Birthday, special Holiday wishes and Happy New 2013. I know it will be the best ever for you and his grace. Sweet dreams!!! Eliz

    1. And to you, too Elizabeth! Thank you so much and so happy to have you with me and with us sailing into 2013. PS I happen to love my December birthday because everyone seemed to make a special effort about it — and I let them! 😉 Plus we get to be Sagg’es!

  18. Happy late birthday!!! some wonderful people were born in Dec.(mine is on the 8th) thank you for sharing a bit of Martha and your apartment in NYC; love it; please share more later! Have a blessed New Year!

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