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My Sunday Holiday Shenanigans & Winter Pots

By 11/17/2013July 25th, 201823 Comments


{Click on images for source}

I am seriously, easily entertained. As many of you know, I live one hour and 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver in–gasp–Yarrow but it’s considered Chilliwack.

Recently, I read The Happiness Project, an awesome book about. . . surprise, Happiness, I read it twice, back-to-back. I have NEVER done that in my life. I LOVED it.

When Terreeia saw that I had bought it, she said “I want to read that after you, I spoke to someone recently who said it pulled her out of depression”.

Gretchen Rubin is the author, and she wrote twelve commandments to happiness and every month she practiced one of them. In January of the year of her Happiness Project, she practiced ‘Being Gretchen’.

She said she wasn’t someone that had to be out in all the latest restaurants or plays (I fall asleep at most of them) in the city and she’s quite happy being at home with her kids and her husband, etc.

I am the same. Give me a 5:30 am visit for coffee with my Mom who happily, now lives only 2 minutes away, back for breakfast with Terreeia, the love of my life, at 8:00 am, back to my Sister’s place at 9:30 am to play trains with my nephews, and, I’m a happy camper!

Here’s why The Happiness Project is such a great book.

Gretchen studied happiness and read all the books, did all the research so it’s all here. She talked about a book she bought by Faber and Mazlish called How to Talk so Kids will Listen’.

One of the lessons was Acknowledge the Reality of People’s Feelings.

Then she wrote a list of strategies that she could use to help show her children that she was acknowledging their feelings.

Here are two of my favourites:

Wave my magic wand.

“If I had a magic wand, I’d make it warm outside so we didn’t have to wear coats”. “If I were Ozma, I’d make a box of Cheerios appear right now”. This shows that I understand what my kids want and would accommodate them if I could.

Admit that a task is difficult.

Studies show that people tend to persevere longer with problems they’ve been told are difficult as opposed to easy. I’d been doing the opposite with Eleanor [her daughter]. Thinking I was being encouraging, I’d say, “It’s not tough to pull off your socks, just give it a try.” I switched it to saying things such as “Socks can be tough to get off. Sometimes it helps to push down the back part over your ankle, instead of pulling on the toe.

I had the chance to practice this lesson when I babysat my nephews a few weeks ago. Markus is 4 and William is 6 but William (even though he’s older} always has a harder time when his parents are out.

He’s way whinier and harder to deal with than Markus.

Toys in the Tub

So Markus is splashing away in the tub before bed, and William is sitting on the toilet because he’s not going to get into the tub. Half crying and whining “I miss mummy and daddy, when will they be here?”. And I said “I know you miss them, I know you’re sad, but they’ll be here before you know it. And we can have fun and read some of your favourite books, yaay!

In the past, I would sit there, mystified on how to respond, thinking in my head ‘You’re too old to be acting like this’.

And, it worked. He perked up and ran off to find some books to read before bedtime!

Anyway, here’s what I did this weekend.

After all my travelling in the past two weeks I came home to find orange pumpkins and lanterns still sitting on my portico from Halloween.

These need to go, ASAP. I thought to myself.

So, this weekend, Elizabeth, my nephews and I drove out to a Nursery and bought some sticks and balls for pot filler.

Elizabeth was excited! ‘We are having our staff party at our house and a Christmas party one week later so I have a holiday decorating budget’.

Winter pots

Photo by Maria Killam

This morning, we decorated the first one. More to come when we finish them next weekend. Apparently we were one week early to get clippings like Magnolia leaves for example.

Elizabeth confided “My husband hates my Gnome, that’s why he’s sitting outside!”

Well, he’s perfect to sit beside your barrel, all festive for the holidays! I said.

This area is Elizabeth’s outdoor patio, and it’s her view from the kitchen window.

Much better now, haha.

Holiday Filler

We found the holly branches from this shrub in her backyard!

Then we went to the Chilliwack craft fair on the way to a big box store to buy a pair of urns to flank her front door.

My sister Lea

My sister Lea (above) and my mom, met us there. Markus grabbed my hand at one point and said “Let’s go find Lea”.


Obviously, Lea is around them more than me since I’m chopped liver. It’s so true with kids, love equals time. And it’s the reason I moved out here to be close to them!

I bought him some popcorn when we arrived at the craft fair and he immediately said,

‘I only like the yellow (buttered) ones’

Are you cherry picking the popcorn?.’ I asked.

‘No, I’m popcorn picking’ he said.

Then we went and found some urns for Elizabeth’s front door.

Black Urn


These are the ones we bought. They had plastic ones for $39.99 and the cast iron (already rusty) ones were $59.99. We bought the plastic ones, they will sit underneath a covered area so we thought they would be okay, but I’m curious, should we have bought the rusty, cast iron ones?

2 black urns


Here’s an idea of how they will look (above). Elizabeth and I got most of the clippings we needed from my yard and hers. Oh, and we helped trim the cedar trees in the park.

And here are some more of my favourite ideas for wintery/festive pots:

Holiday urn

Red & Green Vignette

Fresh Holiday Pots

Creative Winter Pots

Lighted Winter pot

I loved this modern, lighted urn for winter!

You’ll see ours next weekend! Hopefully this gives you some fun ideas for your outdoor pots!

Which one is your favourite?

Related posts:

A Window of Happiness

Happiness is. . . Being Uncomfortable

Happiness is. . . Flower Drama

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk up to the front door, become a client. On-line or In-person.

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert. 


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  • Erin says:

    I love doing winter containers! So easy and affordable … run to a field and snag some dogwood twigs, trim a few evergreens and jam it all in a pot! You must follow Deborah Silver’s blog. She is the queen of containers, but she especially shines in her designs around the holidays. Some of your examples may actually be hers.

  • Kathy says:

    Love the one with the red berries and birds!

  • lovelylaura says:

    I have the happiness project on my book shelf right now waiting to be read. Glad to hear you give it two thumbs up!

  • Jill McDougall says:

    Oh, I love the Happiness Project! I bought that at the airport in NYC a couple of years ago and my husband and I read it on the plane ride home together. Glad you found it! I should re-read it….!


  • Lynne says:

    You have reminded me! I have been meaning to pick up a copy of The Happiness Project for a couple of years now after hearing so many good things about it 🙂

  • Lesli says:

    Maria, This is awesome and I almost want to go wake the kids up to try it on them…seriously, I am the worst about saying…”aw, this is easy!!!”
    …and I love the pots!

    Thank you too for stopping by MY blog!

  • Thea says:

    Love the one with the red birds, too! It looks as though you could use a wreath laying flat for the greenery layer and then build it up from there!

    PS – I have the same “plastic” containers. I LOVE them! Had the “real” ones and they ALL eventually rust, and make stains on my porch – NOT FUN! The plastic ones are easy to transport and maintenance free!! Thanks for the inspiring photos!!

  • Hi Maria – My sister read that book and she said it changed her life… longer does she feel she HAS to go to zumba if she enjoys yoga instead (small differences making a big change).

    Question: Which big box store did you get the urns from? I’m searching my local nurseries and haven’t found anything.

  • Suzan says:

    I was wondering what to do with the deck off the family room now that all the plants are done for the season. Now I know! Now how to get electricity out there. AND YES, BUY THE LESS EXPENSIVE PLASTIC. Save the $120. Saving is important. Dress them up with some mud, or wipe some paint on them with your hand or leave them alone. Saving that $120 was brilliant.

  • Lorri Terkelsen says:

    Good Morning from the great state of Texas Maria!

    How to talk to kids so they will Listen and listen so they will talk was a life changer for my kids. It lead me to Siblings Without Rivalry by the same author.

    I will check out the Happiness Project! I will check it out.

    When the student is ready the teacher appears!


  • franki says:

    Beautiful displays!! Gets the creative juices flowing…you know, I’ve had my “rusty urns” for years and they don’t tip over or blow away…course, we’re on the “windy side” of the lake… franki

  • Fran says:

    Love the the first display — with the greenery and berries in the urns and the wreath on the door. Classic! I’m now going to to order The Happiness Project. Looking forward to reading it!

  • Sharon says:

    How about turning the garden gnomes hat into a Santa hat by adding white around the brim and a white pompom on the tip.


  • Brooke says:

    I adore happy Maria! I am going to order the book right now. I think the plastic are fine and they won’t stain the surface they are place on. Love the arrangements! Coffee with your mom at 5:30 AM, so sweet but that is really early! xo

  • Katey says:

    Hmmm I love Leas outfit ! The orange and blue have inspired me to go shopping:)
    I also Love any decor I can do for free, thanks for the idea Maria!

  • Roz Kavander says:

    Hi Maria
    So great to see you and meet Terreela at CMG. It was a busy few days but I got a lot out of it. The happiness project is one of my all time favourites. Read it when it first came out. You have inspired me to get rid of the fall Mums and get on with the winter pots. Thanks Roz

  • virleen says:

    I told my daughter, “I’m reading a really good book.”
    She said, “I am, too.”

    Well, you guessed it, it was “The Happiness Project.” We both finished it and still talk about it a couple years later.

  • SandyCGC says:

    Love the pot of green balls (I would) and love the red birds. Have the perfect courtyard in front with two short, fat pillars just begging for something creative. And thanks, Erin, for the “referral” to Deborah Silver for container plant ideas. My courtyard is nude now except for some lavender lantana, and no water supply after two recent breaks in the 30-ish year old pipes which feed into my courtyard – HOA pays to water lush green lawn and greenbelt in the Arizona desert but what happens in my courtyard is my responsibility – so pots that I water myself and can easily replace when necessary are the way to go for me. The “how to”s are easy to come by; now I’ve got a source for creativity. And perfect time of year to start.

  • Melissa says:

    Thank You for the book recommendations. After a particularly hard weekend with my 5 year old, i just placed my order for both The Happiness Project and How to talk so kids will listen. Just what I needed today. Many thanks!
    Looking forward to making my urns fab for the holidays!

  • Mary says:

    Love all the pots you showed. I don’t like to make my Christmas pots until after (our) Thanksgiving. I need to get as much mileage out of my pumpkins & mums as I can. But I need to be careful with what I put in them. And everything needs to be secured because they are subjected to a lot of wind.
    I enjoyed your conversation with your nephews at bath time. Kids don’t come with manuals but acknowledging their feelings go a long ways.

  • Karen says:

    Always love a recommendation of a good book, I will have to pick that one up. I also enjoyed the bath time stories with Markus and William. Amazing how we put things how it changes the dynamics. I think it’s wonderful you moved here to be closer to them Maria. Wonderful auntie’s you both are. Love the pots and as for the Christmas decorated ones, I love them all. lol

  • Joanne G W says:

    I have the Happiness book next in line to read!

    Those pots inspire me. I need to paint my golden urns black. When we bought them, I purposely chose the plastic, because we move our houseplants in and out of the house according to the seasons. They spend half the year outdoors on the deck and the other half indoors during freezing weather. When the soil and plants are added, they’re nearly at the weight limit of what my husband and I can move about. The cast iron would be too heavy. I like “real” materials and authenticity as much as the next person, but there are times when compromises must be made for functional purposes.

  • I wish I had space for two urns beside my front door. I think it looks better when they’re balanced.

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