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The Holiday issue of our e-magazine is now on-line. It’s a beautiful issue filled with tons of imagery, stories, keeper recipes, and “Holly Jolly” decorating tips.

The “Holly Jolly” part of the decorating imagery came out of a time when spirits could not get much lower. You see, the story goes…barely a week after tragedy struck our town of Newtown; I had photography scheduled for the dining room – A Christmas Eve dinner – with one of my favorite photographers. We could have postponed it, but with our busy schedules…not so easy to re-schedule.

So that Saturday morning, my photographer arrived, and there I was in the middle of an unadorned dining room (including the tree!) with nothing done (including the tree!) No matter how hard I tried, there was no Christmas spirit to be found at Connecticut Country House – only sadness. I knew in my heart that this truly was a waste of time for everyone involved.

I decided to go through a few motions to prove that there was just no spark of creativity present on my part, so I unfolded a traditional white tablecloth onto the old farmhouse table and stepped back to critique.  My imagination had now officially hit an all time low.  I quickly pulled it off, rolled it into a big ball, and threw it onto a side chair that was stacked with a hodge-podge of vintage wooly tartan throws.

There was something about that stack of throws that caught my eye – maybe it was the rich colors, or maybe it was the vision of me cocooned in the whole pile that made me feel just a little comforted.  For “ha-ha’s” (as I like to say) I grabbed two blankets from the top of the stack and on a diagonal – overlapped them onto the old pine farmhouse table. I couldn’t believe it…there was something to it. My “ha-ha’s” moment instantly (or rather magically) turned into an “aha” moment!

Hallelujah. A breakthrough! Maybe the straw mats I found at HomeGoods a couple of weeks earlier (that I thought would be perfect for a summertime meal) would add a beautiful, and unexpected, layer to this table setting. It did. The bargain red roses from the grocery store were planned for a main centerpiece – but with the straw mats now butting in the center – it was time for plan B.

One step sparked the next step, and the next. When all was said and done, (and working with what I had), the most warm and inviting space I could have imagined  was created.

The following day, my dear friend Aida stopped by.  The room was left exactly as I had completed it, and was the very first thing she laid her eyes on when she entered the house. She stopped and looked at the room, and with tears in her eyes looked at me. She told me that the sight of that room instantly spoke to her heart and made her feel so good, so comforted for the very first time in a week.

A beautiful little reminder of why I do what I do. Thanks Aida.

Here’s what Aida saw: https://noramurphycountryhouse.com/magazine/holiday-2013/a-country-house-christmas/#.UqNt3Sjnsdc

Wishing you a beautiful weekend.

Love, Nora


  1. Deb on December 7, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    That Christmas was so hard for so many. Sometimes our sad days are spent in a chair wrapped in a throw. How wonderful to see yours on the table, ready to move on.. & somehow we always do…. lovely post, thank you .

  2. Carol Poole on March 9, 2022 at 9:26 pm

    Nora Murphy must be a kindred spirit because her home design is me to a tee 👍Thank you for your gift of beautiful designs. It brings me joy every time I look at the pages of her books 😄

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