Presépio is Portuguese for "Nativity Scene". Follow along as we build this year's version of a long family tradition. Mai e Pai (Mom & Dad, in Portuguese) started this tradition with just a few figurines bought in a Paris airport, to hundreds of pieces lovingly collected or hand-crafted over the decades and across two continents.

Click here for Wikipedia's description...

21 December, 2011

Advice needed

Back by popular demand - the poll!!  Where I give you, my adoring public, and fans of Presépios everywhere, a chance to shape this year's village.
This one is about the Portugal, you will often find a church surrounded by these stately cypress trees.
My father made those you see here out of some type of grass.  For the botanists in the crowd...who can identify them for me?  They are extremely brittle, being probably over 50 years old, and I want to be able to make some replacements.  Click here for a close-up... I completely surround the church with cypress, or only line the sides?  Is it too cluttered if completely surrounded?>> Please vote above after watching:

**If you want to tour the progress made today, watch the video here.

And just for fun, here is a close-up of one of the rose standards made by Britains Ltd.  The quality is astonishing. Each rose is an individual molded gem.  Alas, many of them have been lost over the decades, but I have substituted tiny paper flowers from my mother's dollhouse days for some.
Click the picture for a close-up view.

20 December, 2011

Starry, starry night...

I will let this slideshow speak for itself.  Today, sister and fabulously sophisticated nieces came by for a mix of cover-letter-writing assistance, Presépio landscaping, and, most wonderfully, tableau creation!
I commissioned Tessie to create a Starry Night backdrop for the angel orchestra.  While we all helped a little, the overall work was Tessie's.
Best part...When I suggested including several celestial objects, like planets, galaxies, and comets, Emi & Tessie were immediately inspired to paint in an angelic version of everyone's favorite bygone yellow lab, Comet!
(Note - please disregard the construction equipment and the lack of is still a work-in-progress!)

16 December, 2011

Even after 60+ years, innovation is always possible...

I surprise myself sometimes... Far too busy/disorganized this season, but even so, inspiration is never far away.

Today it showed itself in a small way.  The waterfall, which is a simple twist of saran wrap, was always a bit unruly and hard to make stay put.  So, an equally simple trick...a length of wire, around which I twisted the saran wrap, and Presto!  It now will hold any shape.  So here is the very complicated how-to...and the result.
Well, of course, the waterfall still needs plenty of rocks, ferns, and deer cavorting, but we're still at bare bones stage.

11 December, 2011

Great progress - thanks to you-know-who...

We went from Dining Room to Village landscape in one day!
While in past years, we've started as early as October, the double whammy of hurricane Irene, and especially Snotober - the Halloween storm, provided us with an excellent excuse for the delay.

But now that our creaking backs are somewhat recovered from the week without power, followed by the month of dragging everything from tree trunks to twigs out to the street, we have begun in earnest.
Oh - and did I mention that Vóvó is here?  It is by channeling her energy and creativity that we are finally able to get moving!

Here are a few shots of this weekend's advances.  While by now you, my devoted followers, are old pros at the behind-the-scenes, we have one new twist that I think will improve the outcome...
(Vóvó's idea, naturalmente...)
To try to reproduce the impossible-to-find wrinkly kraft paper we used 40 years ago, we spritzed the smooth paper with water, twisted it, then flattened it.  You can see the results - nice anf flexible, and easy to mold around all the books and foam "tectonic plates" that form the hills and valleys,

This may prove to be quite a breakthrough!

And just for fun, a very extra-terrestrial landscape:

Tiny glass bowls protect the 65 year old lights from the shower of dirt, looking like little bio-spheres on a distant planet.
Até amanhã!!

05 December, 2011

A stormy start to the season

The top glass was shattered by this tree.
Is it unfair to blame my late start this season on Irene and Snotober? The weeks following the Halloween storm have been filled with dragging trees off the deck, repairing broken shrubs, and temporarily rebuilding the crushed shed.  Here is before and during...
The woodpile represents about 1/10 of what was covering driveway, deck, and garden!

Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it...
Hopefully I'll get lots done by the weekend - especially if I can convince Vóvó to come up for a day or two...!
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Temporary fix - doesn't look so bad from this angle...

07 January, 2011


I had every intention of posting on the big day, but alas, diligent updating of this blog has eluded me. I feel justified in having devoted my attentions to family & friends, which is, after all, what's most important about the season.

Well, the 3 kings arrived right on schedule, gifts in hand.

And we had no dearth of visitors of our own from foreign lands - Boston, NY, CT, and Switzerland via France. Even a visitor from the Jewish quarter in Prague! They provided eager assistance and ideas, which you can see in the slideshow.

Among the major advancements were bringing in new sand and shells for the beach...tiny shells collected from a beach in Kauaii decades ago provide true-to-scale realism...
The small details are filling in...the floosy chicken, the deer-plagued garden, the rabbit-haunted farm, complete with cabbages, pumpkins, and arugula...Comet, Windsor & Izzy, Marz & Venus...

And as a backdrop, the wonderful Boxing Day snow.

Here are 3 illustrating Phil's triumphant crossing sign, another with some details of my French helpers and their landscaping skills, and lastly, just a few serene shots of the day-after-Christmas snow.