02 January 2013

HAPPY HAPPY

 

Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy New Years!!!  I hope everyone had a wonderful and rested holiday.  I know we did!!! 

 

I realize everybody is probably overdosed on Christmas right now, and I wish this first post of 2013 was about something else, but I started writing this over a week ago and well….I hate to just toss it away because of the date.  I found some beautiful pictures of this year’s White House Christmas decorations and while doing the research, it hit me that something seems off with our national decorations.   While the White House Christmas is surely beautiful, where are the Nutcrackers and Santa, the candy canes and peppermints, the snow and icicles, the toys and the North Pole?   The Obamas’ Christmas themes and decorations seem so bland and homogenized, so politically correct, it’s as if all the religion and joy of the holiday has been removed!!!   I hope I don’t sound like Bill O’Reilly, but isn’t Christmas for the children too?  I understand that the sanctity of the holiday doesn’t apply to all Americans, but can’t we as a nation keep its symbols intact?   Is Santa Claus a religious figure?  Are nutcrackers or candy canes?  Or reindeer and snow?   Can’t we have a real Christmas in the White House – after all we have a real Hanukah there!

I don’t want to start a huge political war, I never really thought about it until I saw the decorations.  It hasn’t been that long since the fun of the season was removed from the White House.  It’s only been the past four years!!!  First Lady Laura Bush hosted the most gorgeous, snowy and wintry Christmas decorations – complete with candy canes and nutcrackers and no one complained.   I wish we could go back to that. 

Look at the decorations and see if you agree.   I’ll show this year and compare them to George and Laura Bush’s years.   Choose if you like the more adult themed Christmas of these past years, or the more wintry wonderland of the past!!

Either one, the decorations are something to see and experience.  I would love to go one day in person.  Until then, these pictures are all I have.

Enjoy!!!

 

 

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The White House season starts with a Christmas card.  This year, the card was painted by artist Larassa Kabel from a White House-provided photograph.   Kabel won the competition – the scarf was a detail she added. 

 

 

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If you are truly lucky, you receive this!  An invitation to a Christmas party at the White House.  About 14,000 people attended the 24 White House dinners and receptions, and approximately 77,000 visitors toured the mansion in December.

 

Next comes the arrival of the tree.  While maybe this event once really meant something when there was only one tree in the White House, today – there are 54 trees!!!  Still, each year, there is a large press photocall when the 18 ft. tree, which goes in the oval Blue Room, is delivered by a horse drawn buggy.  Bo always attends.

 

So, you are lucky enough to come to the White House for a party.  You drive through the front gates….

 

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And have your chauffeur drop you off at the front door of the North Portico.  Well – that’s the fantasy.   By the way, isn’t it about time we got a nicer front door?????

 

Actually, you enter at the East Wing wall through the East Garden Corridor to the Visitors Foyer on the Ground Floor, where you then visit the Library before you take the grand stairs to the main First Floor.  Maps courtesy of America blog HERE.

 

When Jacqueline Kennedy became First Lady, she instituted a “theme” for the Christmas decorations – her first was the Nutcracker ballet.  Each year since, First Ladies have had the White House decorated around a seasonal theme.  This year that theme is “Joy To All.”     People from around the country volunteer to decorate the large White House – a feat that happens rather quickly, despite the huge undertaking. 

 

 

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The first stop on the tour is the Library where holiday cards from past presidents are on display.  There are over 2,700 books in the library today – but before a 1935 renovation, this room was a laundry and a men’s washroom.

 

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The library is one of my favorite rooms because of the red and cream striped curtains and the red painted chandelier.  They are such a surprise!    

 

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Another pretty aspect of the room is that the shelves are painted red.  Still, these Christmas decorations aren’t much – I wish they would use a red and cream theme in this room to highlight the décor.   And wouldn’t it look better if a smaller tree was placed on the center table with wrapped presents underneath instead of one stuck in the corner?  

 

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Google has a rather cool app – a tour of the White House and a catalogue of all its art and furniture.   Here is what the library usually looks like without the decorations.  Not much of a change, really. 

 

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The red painted chandelier dates from 1800.  I love this one!!!

 

 

After the Library, you take the stairs up to the main floor where you reach the North Portico Entrance Hall.  You walk down the Cross Hall to the State Dining Room, through to the enfilade of the Red Room, the oval Blue Room, the Green Room, and finally the East Room. 

 

The North Portico has two large Christmas trees flanking the doorway.   The checker board pink and white marble floor is so beautiful and always seems to be another surprise décor element.    And here is where the current White House design starts – with red and gold curtains.  This bright shade of gold is found in every room.   Not sure who installed these curtains – but maybe it’s time for a total redecorating?  It scares me though – remember the Clinton’s redecorating?  Terrible!   Who would the Obama’s hire?  Michael Smith?   Who would be someone who could tackle the White House and make it more elegant and sophisticated without all the garish colors?   Any ideas?  My mind keeps going to Charlotte Moss.  She has such a great knowledge of antiques and she has a good historical perspective.   Who would be your first choice to redecorate?

 

 

Remember this?  This famous dance between Princess Diana and John Travolta took place in the North Portico Entrance Hall.   I love how President Reagan, though dancing, is looking back at his wife who is talking to Prince Charles!  So sweet!!!    Reagan was so devoted to his First Lady Nancy – I particularly admire that in a president.  

 

 

 

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The Cross Hall connects to the Entrance Hall and the Grand Staircase.  Directly centered on the front door – across the hall - is the oval Blue Room.  For this year’s decorations, there are four Christmas trees in this main area – each represents the various First Ladies of the past 50 years who have followed Mrs. Kennedy and decorated with a theme.  The ornaments on these four trees showcase their various decorative schemes.   At the end of the Cross Hall is the East Room (seen here) and at the opposite end is the State Dining Room where the tour continues. 

 

 

 

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A close up of one of the 1775 chandeliers in the Cross Hall.   So pretty!!

 

 

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The view from the front door – directly into the oval Blue Room, flanked by two trees and garland.  This tree – the 18’ tall fir – is the main tree that is delivered by carriage.

 

 

 

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Here is how the Entrance Hall usually looks without the Christmas decorations.  In the middle is the Blue Room with the Green Room at the left and the Red Room at the right.  The East Room is next to the Green Room and the State Dining Room is next to the Red Room.  Now that’s what I call a RED CARPET!!!   The chandelier is so gorgeous in this room.   What do you think of the red and gold carpet and all the red and gold fabric?  This rug design seems to have been used as far back as the Carters.   And, it appears a red rug was placed down by the Trumans in the 40s.   Does it go with the pink and white marble floor?  Who chose this?   Could someone else do better?  Or is this the best choice, bright red?

 

 

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In 1882, Louis Tiffany installed this screen in the front entrance to keep out drafts.  He also redecorated the main rooms, adding his distinctive touch to the walls and ceilings and floors.   This Tiffany décor didn’t last long.  In 1902 Theodore Roosevelt hired architects McKim, Mead, & White to dismantle all the Victorian design elements and to restore an 18th century classical design to the White House. 

 

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Without the Christmas decorations, the Halls are a study in red and gold.   The Steinway grand piano was gifted in 1938.

 

 

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A closer look at the marble baseboards and the iron stair rail.

 

 

 

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Before the grand stairway was completely refigured, it used to open up here in the Cross Hall.  Now, there is just a landing.   And, there was another grand staircase at the other end of the hall which was removed in 1902 to make the State Dining Room larger. 

 

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama descend the Grand Staircase to greet guests at a holiday reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 15, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)<br /><br />This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House. 

 A rare view of the staircase looking out towards the Cross Hall.  2011

 

 

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The Cross Hall measures 18 x 80.  The two Adam-style cut-glass chandeliers were made in London in 1775.   It truly is an elegant hall, especially when compared to how it was back at the turn of the century:

 

 

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With the Tiffany Screen on the left and the large gas lights, the hall doesn’t look nearly as elegant!  It looks so cluttered with all the potted palms. 

 

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One element I wish they would have kept is the beautiful transom above the doors to the East Room!

 

 

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Next on the tour is the State Dining Room, another personal favorite.  I love the rug and the curtains in here and the fireplace and moldings.  So pretty!!  This is one room where the bright garish colors are missing.   Here two trees flank the fireplace under Abe’s portrait.   While the trees are pretty, it’s hard to figure out a theme and they just seem so jammed packed with ornaments – as if there was no real design to them.   Same with the fireplace decorations.  This vignette could be so stunning – it seems like a missed opportunity. 

 

 

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You can really see the beautiful rug here.  This is the room where the children are invited – usually their parents are in the Armed Forces.  Bo always attends.  In fact, Bo has now taken the place of Santa Claus!

 

 

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And this is where the gingerbread house is.  This year the house was constructed in a different way than it’s been done the past years – more on that later!  Gorgeous mirror and candlesticks.   To the left of the house is a replica of Mrs. O’s vegetable garden.

 

 

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Closeup of the house and the mirror – so beautiful!

 

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The First Lady’s vegetable garden – too cute!!

 

Here is how the food is set up for a Christmas party – the tablecloth is gold damask. 

 

And here is a concept board used by the volunteers to show how it is to be decorated.  This board for the State Dining Room shows pinecones, hydrangeas, and ornaments. 

 

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Closeup of the curtains.  In this window is the work of Chicago artist David Lee Csicsko who designed these ornaments and the flower boxes.  His work is found in other rooms and even outside the White House.

 

 

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Here you can see the side tables set up for eating with gold damask cloths.  And here are more of the whimsical decorations by Csicsko.  These are the few decorations that are somewhat geared towards children, but they seem more like Easter colors.

 

 

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Look how pretty this room looked under the Bushes!  All soft pinks and green.  Elegant.

 

 

 

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Here’s how the State Dining Room looks without the decorations.  The moldings in this room are beautiful. 

 

 

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And looking the other direction.  This room was decorated under the Clintons and was one room they did that was soft and pretty with the needlepoint rug and curtains.  In real life, the walls are more white than this cream.   Still, the room is so much more prettier than the other rooms and it appeals more to me than the bright golds and reds. 

 

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And looking the other direction.    This console is where the Gingerbread house is displayed.   The Family Dining Room is through the right door and the pantry is through the left door.   The doors and moldings are just so beautiful.  This room could definitely need an updating!

 

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Looking at the enfilade from the State Dining Room to the Red Room to the Blue Oval Room to the Green Room all the way through to the East Room – so European!!!!!

 

 

 

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The Red Room is next on the tour.  This room used to be bright yellow until 1845 when it became this shade of red and was renamed The Red Room.  Typically it is decorated with cranberries for Christmas.   Pops of yellows are used also.  Why oh why is that electrical cord not changed out to a more invisible one?   Something should be done about the all the cords around the White House – do they have to be dark brown????

 

 

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This room is in need of a updating – something more sophisticated and elegant.  Don’t you think?  And bring that painting down to eye level!   I don’t understand all the bright gold everywhere.  This room has basically looked liked this since at least back to the Reagans with exception of the curtains and the settee fabric which were updated in the 90s.

 

 

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The simpler times of Jackie Kennedy – without a lot of the bright gold.    Just, curtains without a lot of fuss.  Love the mirror between the windows.  Is the bright gold really necessary?

 

 

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Next on the tour is the oval Blue Room.   The double wood doors open onto the Cross Hall and face the front doors of the North Portico.

 

 

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The tree is 18 1/2 ft. tall. 

 

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This year the tree is dedicated to the military families – its ornaments were decorated by their children.

 

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The tree is filled with blues and spots of red.  I hate to say this – but it kind of looks a mess to me – it’s not balanced looking.   It just looks like a bunch of ornaments stuck up on there without any thought to the design at all – it takes away from the beauty of the tree.   Isn’t less always more?

 

  

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The blue room without decorations.  Notice the chandelier.  Wouldn’t the curtains be prettier if they were blue and cream instead of gold?

 

 

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Nothing is prettier than Jackie Kennedy’s blue room – notice how the cornices blend into the wallpaper.  The blue is soft, not garish.  The paintings are properly hung – eye level.    A pretty skirted table feels right in the room.  Today, there is an oval rug – which is probably better than this one.  The chandelier is beautiful and is less frou frou than the one that is there now.    Can’t we go back to this look?  Softer colors, less clutter?

 

 

 

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The Green Room had been recently updated by the Bushes.   The touches of deep coral do look pretty.  The rug was added at that time.

 

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The decorations, with the trees in the windows are pretty – I love those trees with the long branches that extend out.    

 

A pretty nighttime view of the trees in the windows – but shouldn’t they have hidden the spotlights??

 

 

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Here is a great view on the enfilade – from the Green Room to the East Room, which is next on the tour!

 

 

After the redecoration, Peter Vitale took this beautiful picture.  The chandelier!

 

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Close up of the 19th century French chandelier in the Green Room – gorgeous.



 

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The double sized East Room has 4 fireplaces and three chandeliers.  Notice those beautiful candelabras. 

 

 

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And how the fireplaces were decorated with large wreaths and red ribbons.  Not how it all relates though – the big trees to the small trees in the windows to the red and dark green of the fireplace. 

 

 

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The trees in the windows.

 

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One of three chandeliers – once gas, now electrified. 

 

 

 

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The Crèche is set up in the East Room between two of the larger trees.    The Creche is one of the only religious symbols of the White House Christmas.  At least there is at least one!!!

 

 

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One of the four fireplaces in the East Room. 

 

 

Dinner is set on red striped tablecloths. 

 

 

 

Desserts on polka dotted red tablecloths.  

 

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They cover the rugs for the parties – to preserve them.   Notice the moldings – over the doors especially!

 

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And here  you can see how it usually looks – two of the fireplaces at the far end.  There are three rugs in the room, along with three chandeliers.

 

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  The room was renovated during Roosevelt’s time in 1902. 

 

 

After the tour of the main floor, you go back down the staircase to the Map Room, then the Diplomatic Reception room where you take a picture with the President and First Lady.  Next is the China Room. 

 

 

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The hall below the main floor in the White Houses has decorated arches.

 

 

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The oval Diplomatic Room below the Blue Room is where the President and First Lady take pictures with each and every guest at the Christmas party.   Must be so tiring!!!   The painted wall paper is the most beautiful part of the room.  The Zuber paper was installed by Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961 (of course she installed it)  and shows Views of North America.  The Federal Style furniture covered in yellow has been a constant in the room since 1960.  This room used to be the broiler room which was removed in the Truman renovation.  This is also where Franklin Roosevelt held his famous fireside chats. 

 

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Next, the China Room is decorated with a table set with china from the Trumans.   This room used to be where the fireman slept who watched over the furnace that was housed in the oval Diplomatic room next door.  Today it holds china from each president.  The Lincoln’s have one of the prettiest sets – creamware – that is visible on the top shelf, third section from the left.    The cabinets are lined in red velvet and the windows are covered in silk taffeta. 

 

  

 

The room is remarkable for its beautiful portrait of Mrs. Calvin Coolidge by Howard Chandler Christy, 1924. 

 

 

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Next is the Vermeil Room which holds the collection of vermeil donated to the White House by Margaret Thompson Biddle in 1958.     This room at least has wrapped presents under the tree. 

 

 

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Here you can see part of the vermeil collection.  This is such a pretty room, so feminine, and it is filled with portraits of First Ladies.    The trees seem less cluttered and prettier here.  

 

 

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Here is how the room looks without the Christmas decorations, all soft yellows and greens.  The Turkish Hereke rug is from 1860.  Lady Bird Johnson looks down over the incredible mantel. 

 

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The original 1815 Duncan Phyfe sofa sits under a portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy painted by Aaron Shikler in her NYC apartment in 1970.

 

Shikler also painted the official portrait of Nancy Reagan. 

 

 

 

 

 

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After the picture with the First Couple is taken, guest can return upstairs to eat and mingle.   When leaving, you exit back through the East Garden Room where a life size figure of Bo is set up – all tangled up in Christmas lights, as if Bo is mischievous and not well behaved!!  That would NEVER happen.  He is one of the best trained dogs I've ever seen!!!

 

 

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  The real Bo, dressed in a Santa hat came to visit the faux Bo.  Last  year, the theme of Christmas was Bo – each room was decorated with faux Bos.

 

 

 

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This year the East  Garden Room was set up as a children’s wonderland with a tree filled with pastel colored frosted balls.    This room with the faux Bo is one of the only places dedicated to children. 

 

 

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And, the final leg of the journey is the long hall way that leads from the East Garden Room to the East Wing.   The wreaths in the window are alternated with faux wreaths designed by the artist Csicsko.  For more information on his work for the White House, go HERE.

 

 

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Outside the East  Corridor Hallway are the trees Csicsko created for the First Lady’s Garden.

 

The gingerbread house is a huge part of the Christmas decorations, but it wasn’t always this way,  First Lady Patricia Nixon was the first one to request the cake.

 

This year, the White House Gingerbread House is somewhat different than the previous years.  Pastry Chef  Bill Yosses created the 300 pound house with a North Portico view.  There are rooms filled with chocolate furniture, photographs in the windows, working electric lights, Santa and reindeer on the roof and Christmas trees made out of blown sugar globes.  The house is made out of traditional gingerbread, but it is overlaid with a gray bread recipe to duplicate the original color of the stone and there are white chocolate columns. 

 

 

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The house took six weeks to build and the difference this year is in the rye, buckwheat and whole wheat flour used to create the walls.  This recipe replicates the sandstone from Virginia that was used to build the original White House.   The color accurately depicts the way the house looked before it was painted white in 1798 to protect the stone.    Another difference is the North Portico view – a first for the Obamas.   The previous 3 Obama gingerbread houses were white chocolate covered and showed the South side of the White House.   The gingerbread is made in September, giving it time to go stale – and harden.

 

 

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This year’s gingerbread White House with the vegetable garden to the left.   This is the most elaborate garden recreated to date.

 

image Here you can see how the inside is lit up and notice the second story and basement windows with the photographs inside the frame.  Notice the difference in color from past years?    For recipes and more information, go HERE.


 

2011:

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Here is Yosses' 2011 gingerbread house with the South Portico view.    This house weighed 400 pounds and featured four fully furnished rooms to resemble a doll house.   Which view do you prefer – North like this year or South like last year?  The South view seems prettier and more romantic with its double balcony. 

 

2010:

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In 2010, the house was solid white chocolate over gingerbread with the South Portico view.  Only two rooms were open – the East Room and State Dining Room.  Bo was there, of course!

 

 

 

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In 2009, the house was also solid white chocolate over gingerbread, with a South Portico view.  The dining room was open, there were electrical lights, a smaller Bo and a much tinier garden.  I like the green wreaths in the windows.  

 

 

  Here is a closeup of the dining room, completely made out of chocolate!

 

 

2008:

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In 2008, for the Bushes last year, the theme was a Red, White and Blue Christmas.

 

2007:

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This South Portico house from the Bush Christmas 2007 shows American animals – the theme that year was Holiday in the National Parks.   This was the first white chocolate covered gingerbread house made. 

 

 

  2006:

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2006 – a more typical gingerbread house.  Looks kind of messy though.

 

  2005:

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Pastry chef Thaddeus DuBois created this in 2005 – much neater looking.

 

 

2004:

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This is cute – 2004.  It’s amazing how much different the gingerbread cake is today.   Each pastry chef has his own style which is so obvious from the way they look.   The White House 2004 holiday theme was, 'A Season of Merriment and Melody' which you can see how all the people are singing.  Back during the Bush years, the themes wove through all the decorations – including the gingerbread house.

 

2003:

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2003 – cute, but it looks kind of messy again.   Still it does appeal to the children.  The theme that year was reading and literacy – and you can see all the books highlighted in the yard. 

 

 

 

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  Wow- this one is totally different.   The walls were exposed to show three rooms. 

 

In 1994 – the chefs made a replica of Hillary Clinton’s childhood home.

 

 

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In 1993, the White House was built, this is a really pretty one!

 

 

 

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Mrs. Reagan had an A-frame gingerbread house – made by the pastry chef.   This was the only style ever made for several different administrations when this chef worked there.  Darling puppy! 

 

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The Carters with an A-frame gingerbread house. 

 

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1972.   The gracious Patricia Nixon started the tradition of the gingerbread house in the White House!   I wonder what she would think of today’s version.  It certainly is an incredible feat compared to this gingerbread house.   Which do you prefer – the simpler version or the more accurate image of the White House gingerbread?

 

 

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Now, this is my idea of a great gingerbread house!  This isn’t from the White House, but from a catering company HERE that sells these White House gingerbreads.  Isn’t this adorable!!!  I love the candy cane columns and the peppermints.  To me, this is what a gingerbread house should look like – so appealing to the children!

 

 

 

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The White House is always kind to also observe Hanukah.  This year was a special celebration when the menorah came from Temple Israel which destroyed on Long Island by Hurricane Sandy.  The Obama’s also host a Passover dinner each year.  Did you know that Michelle’s first cousin is a Rabbi?

 

 

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Rabbi David S. Bauman of Temple Israel, who led the Hanukah service, is a reserve chaplain in the Marine Corps.  The menorah is 7 ft tall – and was on the second floor when it survived a 10 foot storm surge that destroyed all the prayer books, the library and the six Torahs of Temple Israel.    Choosing a significant menorah for the White House ceremony is typical.  In 2010, the President's guests lit candles on a menorah borrowed from a New Orleans temple, reclaimed after Congregation Beth Israel was ravaged by Katrina.

 

As I said at the start, looking at the White House decorations of the past few years, it seems like something is missing.  The decorations don’t seem very religious.  They also don’t seem very child friendly.  I know that Christmas is a religious holiday, but it’s also such an wonderful part of a child’s experience – it is also about candy canes and nutcrackers, wrapped presents and Santa Claus, reindeer and elves – and all this seems missing from the recent decorations.    And one other thing – it doesn’t seem like winter wonderland.   Snow and the North Pole are associated with Santa Claus and many of us wake up to a Christmas morning filled with snow, just like this year.  

 

Now, in half the world, Christmas is celebrated in the summer!  In Australia – look how Anna Spiro celebrated her Christmas:

 

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In Australia, it is summer during Christmas and Anna Spiro set up this table for the Christmas brunch, outside in her yard!  Beautiful!   And so hard to believe that this is Christmas for them – summertime! 

 

But for us North Americans – Christmas means snow and many this year were lucky to have a White Christmas this year. 

Doesn’t the theme of a White Christmas seem missing from the White House decorations?  They just seem so bland – maybe trying too hard to be all things to all people, politically correct?????

 Are the other, older decorations more classically Christmas????

The answer is YES!!!!

I didn’t have to look far to find a classic Christmas décor in the White House – George and Laura Bush’s decorations were so fabulous!! Just look at the difference between this year and the years of the Bushes!!!

 

 

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2004.  Now, THIS is a winter wonderland Christmas!!  All white snow and gold balls and leaves – this is what I think of when I think of Christmas decorations.  Whomever was designing the decorations for Laura Bush was so talented.

 

 

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In 2004, Mrs. Bush’s theme was  the “Season of Merriment and Melody” and showcased icicle trees.  Wow – this is really a winter wonderland and so magical, just what Christmas should be!!!  This must have been spectacular!!!  I can’t even imagine have wonderful this was in person!!!!!!

 

 

 

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And more – snow and gold, that’s all you need.

 

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Wow!  Just wow!

 

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More of 2004’s “Season of Merriment and Melody” brought another children’s singing favorite - Frosty the Snowman. 

 

 

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That Christmas – caroling dolls were placed on the dining tables, all dressed in white.  Imagine how the children must have loved this so much!!  I bet they still remember this – even in their adulthood.

 

 

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In 2008, her last year as a First Lady, the theme was A Red, White and Blue Christmas – yet there was still plenty of snow capped trees.   Mrs. Bush must have liked the snowy trees!  So do I!!

 

 

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Another look at the Red, White and Blue Christmas.

 

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 Huge nutcrackers for the children – not easily ever forgotten.

 

 

 

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And a Union Jack nutcracker greeted the children of all ages outside.

 

 

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  Even the main Blue Room trees still looked wintry – like this one had snow and icicles spread throughout.  This tree looks more thought-out and designed instead of just putting on ornaments every which way.

 

 

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In 2001, the theme was Home for the Holidays, which I just love.   Models of houses of the First Families were displayed around the White House.    She thought of this theme in honor of her twin girls who would be coming home from college for Christmas. 

 

 

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Here is President Lyndon B. Johnson’s ranch house in Texas – under Mamie Eisenhower’s official portrait.

 

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Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello sat underneath George H.W. Bush’s portrait.

 

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John Q. Adams’ Massachusetts house was placed in the Green Room, with it’s previous décor before Laura Bush redecorated this room.

 

 

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Sagamore Hill, home of Theodore Roosevelt was placed in the East Room, which he had redecorated –  where all the Tiffany renovations were removed in favor of the more 18th century classical décor.

 

 

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A close up of Bush’s snowy and icicle trees.  She always dressed in red when presenting the Holiday decorations.

 

 

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Here the Nutcracker was preformed alongside a tree filled with candy canes and peppermints – again, so Christmas!!

 

 

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This year there were red and silver balls and snow in the State Dining Room.

 

 

 

 

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In 2002, “All Creatures Great and Small” was the theme which was done in reds and gold.  Mrs. Bush honored all the White House pets, including the Johnson’s beagles, shown here.  What a cute theme for the children.  Another year, she chose the theme to honor our national parks. 

 

 

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“Season of Stories” was the theme for 2003, which honored reading and books.  She used archived ornaments from her mother in law, Mrs. George H.W. Bush in honor of her devotion to literacy.  Here, Alice in Wonderland was featured in the State Dining Room.  Another great theme for the children. 

 

 

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Mrs. Bush wasn’t the only First Lady that loved snowy white trees.  These are from the Clinton’s in 1987. 

 

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And the Carters had a young child living in the White House – here they chose a Victorian styled Christmas with toys and a doll house, just for their daughter Amy.  Boy, that garland is soooo dead!!!   Compared with the Christmas decorations of today, this is almost skimpy looking, but it is heartfelt and sweet.

 

Maybe next year the Obamas will make the decorations less artistic.  Every year they seem to pick artists to showcase who bring a contemporary touch to the décor, but is that what people really want?   Don’t you love all the candy canes and peppermints and snow and icicles and toys and nutcrackers????  Or am I the only one?????

 

Here’s a quick look at my Christmas this year!

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We are lucky to spend our annual Christmas with Ben’s family at his brother and sister in law’s ranch in Chappell Hill, Texas – a quick hour drive away.  Remember last year I showed you Shannon’s newly constructed closet?

 

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She collects all kinds of Mexicana and has a nice assortment of Mexican Dia De Los Muertos dolls.   You can see some of them on her island in her closet where she displays them.  Well, this year Shannon decided to have a Mexican themed Christmas:

 

 

 

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Sorry about the bad photos – they are from my iphone.   Shannon moved all her ceramic dolls to the mantel in the living room.  Behind them she hung a painting of an agave to further the theme.

 

 

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  Her main tree was filled with Mexican ornaments – and included large bright paper flowers.  Next to it she placed her life sized Dia De Los Muertos doll.  It scared me to death each time I walked into the room!!

 

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Even the gingerbread area had a Mexican theme with a serape clad mariachi figure.  It’s fun to switch things around and totally unexpected!!!

 

 

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Here is how we wrapped our presents this year.   I bought the ivory and silver paper from Ballard Designs along with burlap ribbon and balls in the blue and ivory to match.   The cards matched too.  Matchy-matchy.   The entire collection is from Suzanne Kasler and they came out cute I think!!  I was so excited to be all coordinated.

 

 

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For the gifts that needed a bag – we bought some matte silver ones with silver/blue paper from Craftex in Houston – it matched perfectly.  

 

After we left Chappell Hill, we came home and rested through New Years Day.  WONDERFUL!!!

 

And how was your Christmas!!!!!????  New Years??? 

 

236 comments:

  1. Thank God you're back. I missed your usual Christmas Eve/Day post but am glad that you've had a good break and have hopefully recharged your batteries, you are my favourite blogger. Happy New Year.

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  2. Incredible post. I will have to revisit multiple times to take it all in. I could not agree more about the White House decorations.
    It seems that so many of the trees, wreaths and swags had decorations in non-traditional colors like orange, lime green, burgandy. If
    I recall correctly from a program I watched several weeks ago, this decoration is put up by volunteers supervised by the White House. It
    was all very redundant and boring after a while. Seeing these magnificent pictures of the White House, however, was the next best thing to
    being there. Thanks for your great research.

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  3. Wow - what a post, you really do put in a lot of time and effort with each entry. Keep up the great work throughout 2013!

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  4. Joni,
    I wish you a Happy, Healthy and Succesful New Year! I am sure even this year you will spoil us with the most beautiful blogposts as this one of today is!! Incredible!!! I enjoyed all the pictures!! Thank you Joni!
    Warm hugs,
    Greet

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  5. Great post! And yes, lets put the fun and excitement for the children back into the White House celebration. :) Happy New Year and thank you for all the beautiful posts throughout the year.

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  6. Joni, I totally agree! I began watching the tv special about decorating the White House, thought it was awful!!! Go ahead and be Bill O'Reilly, we need people to say what they honestly think! and why don't the shelter magazines show Christmas decor anymore, thank goodness for Traditional Home. sorry, had to sound off. So glad you're back and enjoyed your Christmas pics from Texas. Happy New Year! sonya in Fl.

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  7. Joni - I think you might have been a detective in another lifetime - you compile the most thorough and AMAZING posts - so enjoy all your insights and I can only imagine that it takes hours to round up all the photos - love that yoiu hand drew on the WHite House Map to help orient your readers!!! The Suzanne Kasler Ribbons and papers and tiny mercury balls just look adorable - YOU MAKE US PROUD!

    Happy New Year - Want to come and meet you this year!
    Fondly - Jill Sharp Brinson

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  8. You are so entertaining! I finished my entire morning's coffee while reading your post. But how funny and true is it about the front door? With today's technology, couldn't someone design a door that is security conscious AND design conscious???? I SO look forward to your posts in 2013. You really tell it like it is!

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  9. Joni, wishing you a fabulous 2013! Be Merry and Bright...

    ReplyDelete
  10. We live in DC and attend a WH party every year, since my husband is a Secret Service agent on the president's detail. Email me if you'd like to see my (rather poor quality iphone) pictures from this year's party. Happy 2013!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are secret service agents (or their wives) supposed to announce who they are? I thought they were supposed to be somewhat discreet.
      Also, secret service would not be upper case.

      Delete
    2. Perhaps you should have a discussion with your Secret Service agent husband about what is and what is NOT appropriate behavior for people entrusted with the security of the President of the United States.

      Delete
  11. And I was shocked not to see one train under a Christmas tree at the white house! Traditionally families will put a train around the tree, especially with our history and contributions as a nation to the locomotive industry!!! Really shocking! I was also surprised by the lack of order in the tree decorating. Laura Bush's trees were so elegant. They are a lovely family. We wrote to Jeb regarding his dad's recent hospitalization, and he wrote back...during the busy holidays!

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  12. Definitely prefer the Bush's decorations hands down to the obamas.

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  13. Wow you really did your homework on this one. Call me boring, but I don't care much for themes or red decor. I prefer a white Christmas. I agree that less is more. And, I wish I had your eye for detail -- it's incredible.

    Did you drink margaritas for your Mexican Christmas?

    Happy New Year!

    Maureen

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  14. What a great post! I loved the tour you gave us. Thank you for calling attention to the lack of religious symbols, Santa, most anything childlike, etc. Your blog is powerful, and I bet that that your blog reaches just the right people and we see a change in the next 4 years. What the Obamas apparently don't get is that the White House belongs to all of us and it needs to be decorated as the average American views Christmas and Hanukkah. Also, if they are going for some "paired down" business b/c of the bad economy, beauty and decoration have nothing to do with honoring the religious importance or child centeredness of the holidays.

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  15. Bunny Williams! My nomination to update the White House decor. Her gracious style would be warm and welcoming. Thank you for the abundance of detail. Most of all, I would dearly love to have Shannon as an in-law! Her creativity is fearless and boundless. She clearly represents a woman whose energy and spirit is about making herself happy! On my "2013 Bucket List" -----> meet Shannon.

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  16. Well, you finally did it - after swooning over blog after blog on your site, you lost me on this one. "Less is more??" At Christmas? And the tree is "kind of messy" with all the ornaments made by children? Christmas is the time, in our tradition, to unabashedly display absolutely everything with a memory attached. Sometimes the result is messy: popsicle stick ornaments and little handprints on wads of clay. But walking through the house takes everyone down memory lane, and makes the holiday fun and special. And critique of red and gold - really? The most traditional holiday colors that exist? I think they are perfect here! Just goes to illustrate different strokes, different folks. Isn't America grand?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The red and gold she was critiquing was not the holiday decor but rather the permanent decor of the room. I don't think they change out the carpet, drapes and furniture for Christmas.

      Delete
    2. You are so right MJ...my favorite decorations EVER were those made by my kids, globs of glue and all. Sadly they were lost in a move years ago. It is one thing to express an opinion or preference, but to criticize something as personal as Christmas decor is just going too far. How on earth is a First Lady supposed to please all the people all the time? (Abraham Lincoln certainly knew it was not possible!) I think Mrs. Obama, as all past First Ladies, has done a fabulous job of bringing joy and a bit of her own style to the White House. Frankly, I loved them all in their own way. God, what a hard job! Darned if you do, darned if you don't. Also, if I might say so, in response to someone who thought she is pretentious---she wears clothes from J. Crew for heaven sake! Put them on the map! I love her and her darling family. Love seeing those girls grow up. That is one of the joys of having a "family" in the White House.

      Hey, also, maybe I am that "poor, misguided, biased and left wing nut job" that you referred to, Anonymous 6:32pm. By allowing comments and replies on this blog, Joni must be willing to hear them. Perhaps so should you! Viva America!!!

      Tomasdinero...you are so right about your "Dia de los Muertos" comment. And dang that closet was a dog's dinner.

      Delete
    3. like i said, i voted TWICE for the O's. I'm a democrat. I thought everyone knew that. But I don't know - it just wasn't as pretty to me as the Bushes!!! that's all - it's just missing that element of wonder, IMO.

      and i know people have trees with their kid's ornaments - this isn't about that. at all. this is about watering down the wonder of the holiday, the classic elements.

      Delete
    4. Rock on and keep it real!

      Delete
  17. I think you were a detective in a past life! Its amazing how much research you put into your posts. I also think the WH decorating is lacking and agree with Anon 8:52 that belongs to the American people and should reflect us. Even with all the economic distress, I think having a traditional Christmas is important, instilling normalcy and hope to not just the American people but the world. The Bush family has so much more class and I love that picture of Ronnie looking at Nancy, now there was a true gentlemen.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Joni:going crazy my pics are not uploading for this important post. I am on the actual site and not on my emailed one. Is it just me or is any one else having problems. I have so much to say but none of it is nice concerning the way the WH is looking these days. Suffice it to say I agree with everything you have said Joni though I thought you held back discreetly. Very lady like. Help me get my pics going and I will add more comments later.
    Cheers,
    Melinda Bennett

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. maybe try moving closer to your modem? I don't know what to say! it happened to my mom one day but my dad's computer in the next room worked fine

      Delete
  19. Perhaps the Obamas wanted to tone down the opulence this year. Certainly would be appropriate, given the current economy.
    What about Mrs. Howard to update the WH?

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    Replies
    1. I LOVE Phoebe- but i don't think she is as versed in historical antiques as other decorators. but she has wonderful taste!

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    2. Please not Phoebe. The WH would look like Sarasota.

      Delete
  20. With all the poverty, kids going to bed hungry, people losing their jobs, etc. THIS is what you complain about? Not enough decorations at the White House? Who do you think is paying for all that? Santa and his elves? Don't you think that money would be better spent on food, jobs, and medical care for the sick and hungry? Or don't they exist in your world? Seriously....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Look at the Federal Budget and you will understand with certainty how much is being spent on food, job training, medical care and housing for the "so called" poor in this country. I deliberately use the term "so called" because by our standard of poor, these people would be rich in much of the world. The bill that just passed congress avoiding the "fiscal cliff" has in its 150 pages appropriations for NASCAR and Hollywood not to mention more boondoggle green energy companies on the verge of bankruptcy. That is what you should be upset about, not that someone has an opinion on how the White House is decorated in 2012 compared to years in the past. This is a great post and I agree with Joni, the softer rooms in the WH are so much more elegant and refined than the garish red and gold ones. I will make one exception, however. I really love the Bush green room.

      Delete
    2. Thank you Anon 10:13, the truth is the truth.

      Delete
    3. Cheryl your anger is misapplied. This year the Obama's spent more then any other Presidential couple on decoration and trees for the White House, not including millions of dollars on personal vacation that are endless. Maybe you should write them.

      Delete
    4. Where do you get your information? Faux news? George W. took far more vacation days during his first term...at a ranch that was extensively remodeled to accomodate his requirements, but belonged to him. Go to fact check...decorations at the white house are paid for by donations--both seasonal and permanent.

      Delete
    5. The property in Crawford, Tx was being developed at the time Bush was elected in 2000. If you will bother to research your information, you will find that the Bush family spent most of their vacations in Texas, not in Spain, Mexico, Europe, or Hawaii. Yes it does cost a lot of money for any President to move about the country or the world for that matter. When both the Obamas and Clintons vacationed in Martha's Vineyard, the government/taxpayers had to shell out a lot of money to make the homes they rented (Obamas was reported to be $50,000 per week. I do not have the numbers on the Clintons), secure and acceptable. If the government did this for George Bush, they did it only once as he chose not to move around and rent vacation homes.

      Delete
    6. I meant to say, the Obamas rent was $50,000 per week. The costs of the apparatus of secret service security would be an even higher number.

      Delete
    7. Tomasdinera, the National Park Service pays for the WH decorations in addition to the donations. I have to chuckle that you said the decorations are "paid for by donations" as donations are not meant to come with strings attached! As ANON 10:13 pointed out there is alot of boondoggling going on with special interest groups and bailing out companies that will just file bankruptcy in the end. Is it unique to the Obama administration, no. I don't think Joni said anything politically inflammatory in her narratives, it was a well researched post and she simply pointed out that she prefers the more traditional Christmas decorating. I will say one thing in favor of former President Bush, he has never spoken out, not even to defend himself, when Mr. Obama has said some pretty ugly things and blamed him for the country's woes. That to me speaks volumes as to what type of person he is. I also preferred previous years decorations because I think Christmas is for children and those who believe in the spirit and magic of it and to me that means nutcrackers, candy canes, ballerinas etc.

      Delete
    8. yikes! I hate to politicize...but maybe someone else started it, but Mr. Bush and his hawk cronies DID start it! They got us into this mess, NOT President Obama. Oh and yeah...Christmas is all about candy canes and nutcrackers and snow and ballerinas (seriously???) and ...oh lord, I think I'm going to die laughing. Who are you people?

      Delete
    9. The Crawford property was extensively improved to accomodate the President's visits...from extensive perimeter protection to housing construction for secret service and communication personal and offices , a helicopter landing pad...chef's kitchen, parking and garage facilities---on and on. Oh, and also that special "bush wacking" equipment and bicycles for Bushie's photo shoots....I can' believe you or Jonie considers fake snow and icycle trees or giant nutcrackers to be more traisditional than a tree decorated with children's handmade ornaments.Busy? yes. Traditional? you bet. As a matter of fact, I considered most of the decor to be very much on the traditional side....thank goodness, no white trees with silver, and blue or turquoise balls The Jewish religion was beautifully represented as well as the Christian. Anything more than the lovely creche would surely have been critisized as "too much Christian symbolism" on display. I just find it very strange that all the democrats were found lack-
      ing other than Jackie O, and even Jonie dared not go there! Jonie's relative on the other hand, certinly had a "theme" going! Wow,I've spent Christmas in San Miguel de Allende, and the response to that display would have been, politely, "must be an American"
      And as far as Jonie's packaging...please tell me what is traditional Christmas about that? and why does every tree have to be dressed with presents obviously not going to anyone?
      "
      Chuckle away Anonymous, but answer the question "how many days of vacation did George W. enjoy compared to President Obama?

      Delete
    10. Let me help. Here's a fact check for you:
      In the first year and a half, Bush took 96 vacation days, Obama, 36. End of discussion.

      Delete
    11. you caught me ! i want all children to starve while we eat cake!!!! yes!!!!! i confess.

      what a stupid thing for you to say.

      Delete
    12. tomasdinera - i am chuckling!! like i said, i voted twice for O and have never voted republican. I got that from my parents. it was just our thing and i've never changed. at all. never.
      this has nothing to do with politics per se - just how politically correct it all seemed to me. it just wasn't as pretty - and it was just my opinion.

      i am jewish - i don't even celebrate christmas! so - i guess i like to get that wonder from other people's decor - like the white house and shannon, my mother in law, etc.

      i just miss all the more traditional symbols of what i think of when i think of Christmas. That's all.

      And truthfully - i think all presidents have a right to travel- it all evens out in the end. can't imagine being in the office for 8 years never being expected to leave d.c.

      Delete
    13. Anon 10:03, if you are going to quote Fact Checker, quote it accurately. You left out some important facts that skew your numbers, lib as you are.



      Q: Has President Obama taken more vacation time than his predecessors?

      A: According to one count, Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush spent more time on "vacation" during their first year than President Obama did. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton spent less time on "vacation."

      FULL ANSWER

      President Obama has spent all or part of 26 days "on vacation" during his first year as president, according to CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller.

      Knoller, who has covered every president since Gerald Ford and is known for keeping detailed records on presidential travel, counts the following among President Obama’s "vacations" in 2009:

      * A four-day holiday weekend in Chicago in February where the president played some basketball and treated First Lady Michelle Obama to a Valentine’s Day dinner date.
      * An eight-day stay with his family at a rented house on Martha’s Vineyard in August.
      * A trip out west to the U.S. states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona that combined both business and pleasure. The president held town hall meetings on health care during the trip. And he went fly fishing and took trips to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon with his wife and two daughters.
      * An 11-day stay in Hawaii where the president and his family celebrated Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

      Some of the president’s recent predecessors, however, have spent more days — either entirely or partially — away from the White House "on vacation" during their first year in office.

      President Reagan, in 1981, spent all or part of 42 days away from the White House "on vacation" at his home in Santa Barbara, Calif, according to Knoller. President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, also spent three or four days around New Year’s Day each year in Palm Springs, Calif., at the home of philanthropist Walter Annenberg. (In 1993 the late Mr. Annenberg founded the nonpartisan Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, which is FactCheck.org’s parent organization.)

      President George W. Bush spent even more time away from the presidential mansion in the nation’s capital than Reagan. Of the 77 total "vacation" trips the former president made to his Texas ranch while in office, nine of them — all or part of 69 days — came during his first year as president in 2001, according to Knoller.

      The numbers you should be comparing are total days for total time served. In other words, compare each of their first terms. I think you should think before you speak the next time.

      Delete
  21. I enjoyed this post very much. However, the labels on the maps were odd: the "residence" is the private apartment on the 2nd and 3rd floors where the President and his family live. What you were showing were the public rooms of the White House. The whole WH isn't the "residence."

    I particularly liked the table settings.

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    Replies
    1. those maps are from the White House museum. - i didn't do those. just copied them.

      Delete
  22. I visit your blog to see beauty. This entry did not disappoint, visually, however, the energy of the script I found to be a bit too divisive, and I'm not speaking of politics but globally divisive by imparting a feeling of separateness. The undertones of criticism over things that do not matter in the big picture is sad to me. I prefer to start the new year being more tolerant, accepting. Nothing is perfect and nothing stays the same. As human beings, we would all be happier if we became conscious of judging, policing others. Beauty is subjective.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "the energy of the script I found to be a bit too divisive"

      Wow, I just got a call from the Dalai Lama and he loved this post. Peace out!!!

      Delete
    2. Thanks for your articulate response. I completely agree with your comments about the "energy of the script". Should we really be worried that the red carpeting does not go well with the pink and white marble floors? That the brown electrical cords should be switched out to clear ones?

      All around us we can see that many embrace a creative and non-traditional palette for the holidays, even your neutral tones for gift wrapping. Our tastes evolve as time passes and it can be refreshing to see the spirit of the holidays reinterpreted in new ways while maintaining many of the traditions.

      I think it's a smart idea to keep politics and decorating separate.

      Delete
    3. "I think it's a smart idea to keep politics and decorating separate".

      The post was clearly about holiday decorating at the highest levels - clearly nothing political whatsoever in Joni's narrative. It was a beautifully researched and presented post. As a designer and with the eagle eye we all know Joni to have, it is not surprising that she sees small things like electrical cords and the most glaring like the bright red runners. Should she have ignored them so that you would not be offended? I hope not. Actually, if the WH has brown cords, I don't feel too badly about mine showing.

      Delete
    4. Why is it less tolerant and not accepting to have a different opinion. Yours seems to be of the nature of oppressing others, if it doesn't line up with yours.

      Delete
    5. actually - i didn't start out to right that post. the first draft was about the beauty of it all, but the more i studied it, i was like hmm. what's missing. it seems so not christmas. and then i looked at other christmases - and just couldn't in my right mind write something i didn't really believe in. i took a week to write this and research it. with a lot of naps inbetween!!! but- it wasn't my initial intent to go where i went in the end.

      Delete
    6. I couldn't agree more with the original comment about the tone (energy) of this post (script). Beauty IS subjective and if an alien visitor were to swoop in from another, tastefully decorated planet, he/she/it could easily think Christmas decorations are the most garish, jarring and clashing display of excess ever seen. Green and Red are horrible together, Santa Clause could be seen as scary (he sure terrified me as a child), and visually it's just one big jumbled, "messy", mess. All these comments reinforce the point that people become locked into their ideas of tradition and don't like change, or more disheartening, can't see things from someone else's perspective, or feel compelled to argue about something completely inconsequential. Me personally, every single white house Christmas was on the overdone side, but hey, that's what it's about so I can enjoy them all for what they are. A chaotic & madcap visual display.

      Sadly, I wanted to forward this post to my daughters, because it was fascinating from a historical perspective, but the tone was just too depressing (and surprisingly so, since I normally love everything Cote de Texas). I wrestled with the idea of telling them to ignore the script, but that wouldn't really work, and seriously, why bring them down unnecessarily? It won't harm them to miss this post, but it might have enriched them if the negative commentary had been absent. I'm all for freedom of speech, but it does come with consequences.

      Oh, and just an aside to the person who 'spoke with the DL': as a student of H.H. The Dalai Lama, I can say with certainty that he would NEVER endorse any of the commentary here. If anything, he'd ask that people be kind to one another.

      In that vein, I wish everyone has a wonderful new year, regardless of your views on decor!

      Delete
  23. I like the more child-oriented decorations of the Bush years (those nutcrackers are adorable). It's a more folksy look, though, and I'm not a fan of the snowy trees. The past administrations look more opulent, in general, and I'm not sure that over-abundant look would be appropriate at this time in our country. I imagine that decorating the White House during a downturn is tricky. Someone somewhere is bound to be displeased. More importantly, can we get rid of some of that year round garish gold? Jackie Kennedy's WH was gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. actually there were much less costly ornaments before, just a bunch of fake snow which is so cheap!! i liked the snowy trees. it looked so pretty to me.

      Delete
  24. I enjoyed your post and feel the same. I always looked forward to seeing the decorations in the white house at Christmas, but this was disapointing. Money was surely spent on the Obama's vacation in Hawaii, Santa and his elves are not paying for that. It's an all about them theme going on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Presidents pay for their personal vacations.

      Delete
  25. I enjoyed both the Obamas (who aren't my favorite people) decorations and the Bushes (whom I love). The snowy trees are really pretty. One of the things I do actually like about Mrs. Obama is how she strives to honor our military families. I agree completely about all the bright gold. I find it garish. Someone said Mrs. Howard would be a good choice to redecorate and I agree. For those who are being so critical, get real folks this is an interior design blog that we enjoy to escape all the depressing things out there with the economy. Rock on Joni!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Dear Joni,
    I have missed you and have been looking forward to a Christmas Post. My, aren't you a provocateur!!! Well, I have always loved your strong point of view and your willingness to say what you think but I do disagree about the Christmas decorations at the White House. I think they look beautiful every year regardless of the administration or whether it is my style or not --I just like how they reflect the choices of the First Lady and her staff and appreciate the effort of all of the volunteers.
    I loved seeing your sister-in-law's Mexican-themed take on Christmas, thanks for sharing!
    Happy New Year!!
    xo, AnneHH

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    Replies
    1. thank you!!! like i said, i didn't start out to right something critical. it just grew from there. truthfully, i thought EVERYONE would agree! hahah!!! so naive, i know!

      Delete
  27. I love the Obama Christmas decorations, and agree with other posters that 1) in these economic times perhaps gross opulence is not the best model and 2) every family has different traditions. As I read the comments, I noted that my family never had trains in the house, much less under the tree; nutcrackers are a German tradition and my Irish family never had a nutcracker; we also live in the South and have never had a white Christmas so snowy decor looks a little out of place. I put a vintage sled out on our porch this year (with greenery and a big red bow) but eventually took it down---it looked so ridiculous in 75 degree weather. To each her own! As for the religiosity of the decor I think once you have 54 Christmas trees throughout the house, political correctness is pretty much out the window. Agree totally on the garish gold. JK's interiors were gorgeous! Thanks for all the great blogs of 2012. Looking forward to 2013.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gross opulence, did you know that the most money spent ever on the Christmas White House was this year under Michelle Obama. So much in fact she wouldn't release the figures.

      Delete
    2. To Anon 2:07 PM: LOL! LOL! So, Mrs. Obama spent "the most money spent ever on the Christmas White House" this year, and yet the figures have not been released!! Don't tell me, let me guess... you're clairvoyant!

      Delete
    3. Hahahahahahahahah! Touche!

      Delete
  28. Joni, Happy New Year! Thanks so much for the comprehensive tour! I have never been inside the White House and now I feel like I was just an important guest. I love the chandeliers and rugs and moldings...and the more muted tones (like Jackie K's style). Very fun. Hope you had some home-made tamales with your Mexican Christmas...kind of traditional here in California.

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  29. You are the best. Who but you would have the patience to put all this together. I admire you so much. And I enjoy the things you choose to do. Blessings upon you for the New Year.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Do you hear that plaintive cry? It's Jackie Kennedy weeping from the grave. I'm weeping, too. Just seeing the juxtaposition of rooms makes it clear that the White House--poofed for Xmas or not--has suffered a slipping down kind of design. Now it resembles a shitty 1960s office. Jackie's tasteful, timeless Red and Blue Rooms have become overloaded with gilt. Truly a case study of Design Gone Wrong. Michelle isn't the New Jackie by a long shot. God, what a mess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. but she hasn't changed a single thing in the state floor. except for the treaty room. i should show those. !!! Jackie O just had wonderful taste. and I do like Laura's and Nancy's taste too. Nancy's white house decor was very pretty also.

      Delete
  31. Happy New Year, Joni! Thanks for the tour and my favorite are the ice trees. I agree with some of the comments. In this bad economy with the so many people struggling I would have liked to see the White House decorated more modestly. I can't help but wonder how much of our tax dollars were spent on this opulent decorating. xx, Sherry

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    1. it's decorated with donations not your tax dollars!

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    2. donations are part of it but it is also paid for out of the national parks budget so it is correct to say tax payer dollars are spent

      Delete
    3. And did you have a problem with it when tax dollars were spent by the Bushes for Christmas decorating? Or the Reagans? You don't even have to respond because we all know the answer to that one.

      Delete
    4. I didn't and I don't have a problem with any upkeep to the WH being paid out of the Park Service budget or it funding the Christmas decorating under Obama, Bush, Reagan, Kennedy, Clinton etc, I was merely pointing a fact that Tomasdinera repeatedly ignores. You however chose to make it a political statment by making reference to past Republican presidents only. I find it amusing Obama supporters are the most vociferous in making this a political blog post....I have re-read it and I didn't take it as a political bashing of Obama, Joni just pointed out in a very thorough and visually gorgeous post the differences over the years and that the usual suspects: Santa, candy canes, Rudolph, nutcrackers etc are missing. As a matter of fact Joni was very complimentary of Michelle Obama during her post. What is very impressive to me is the fact that Jill Sharp Brinson reads and comments on Joni's blog!

      Delete
    5. haha! i love jill!!!!!!!! but who knows, they probably have google alert at the office and ballard design popped up on their computer. sadly, i think this was the case. ha!! :(

      Delete
  32. Santa Claus is definitely religious. Nutcrackers aren't, but those monstrous ones the Bushes had are pretty scary! I'm also not really a fan of the fake snow. I do agree that the theme a little stretched, but I think that every year. I would love for the White House to get rid of the themes and just do what they think is pretty. Like the Alice in Wonderland display you showed - that story definitely isn't about Christmas, but it's fun. And the tree with the soldiers' children's ornaments is messy, but it's also sweet that the centerpiece tree is all about children and families.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Santa Claus religious.......???????????

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    2. When did Santa Claus become a religious thing? I think not!!!

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    3. No kidding. When was the last time anyone explained Santa Claus to their children in religious terms? Give me a break.

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    4. um..."Saint Nicholas of Myra is the primary inspiration for the Christian figure of Sinterklaas. He was a 4th century Greek Christian bishop of Myra (now Demre) in Lycia, a province of the Byzantine Anatolia, now in Turkey. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor..." --Wikipedia

      Delete
  33. To Anonymous who posted January 2, 2013 at 11:42 a.m.: I daresay that the present occupants of the White House have more class, regardless of how they have decorated, than someone who spells Christmas as "Xmas" and who uses the word "shi**y" in a public posting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The most important thing is for the occupants of the White House and all of us to pray for "peace on earth good will towards all."

      Delete
    2. i confess. I do have a potty mouth at times. You think Michelle or the President never let a swear word out? maybe. Xmas - i just do that so i can type faster. no biggie, sorry to offend though. I hate thinking i have offended people. not my thing.

      Delete
  34. You know what? I'm just hopping mad after reading this post. Honestly---what a downer! I'm glad I didn't read this very negative post with my Christmas breakfast…I'd have probably had to go back to bed. It is so obvious your political leanings, even after declaring a separation of politics and design. You chose every opportunity, room by room, to criticize what the Obamas have done. If they had done all the updating to which you refer time and time again, you'd be criticizing them for spending the taxpayers money needlessly. Had they not followed a politically correct path, you'd have criticized them for that. You are a bowl full of sour grapes, Joni, and I am sorry I have followed your very righteous and judgmental blog for as long as I have. And excuse me? A "Union Jack" nutcracker? Huh? You probably think Obama is a Muslim. Excuse me now while I go unsubscribe from your blog.

    Feel free to "moderate" my response if you must. Just had to get it off my chest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so rude. You want to leave an angry bias response and not let Joni have her own calm opinion. I hope for her sake and ours your really did unsubscribe. I hope you come to realize the Freedom you have to express your anger could only be found in America.

      Delete
    2. OK...this is my last post: First of all, I have the guts to respond under my own name instead of hiding behind "anonymous." Secondly, It is my opinion that it was Joni whose comments were rude and filled with obvious bias. I am an American, and I am entitled to express my opinion, as is she...as are you. Her blog allows comments and opinions, and I was expressing mine. My opinion is that at a time of the year when we should all be feeling and expressing love, compassion, kindness, generosity, hopefulness and charity, her post could surely have taken a more positive view. Wouldn't it have left us all feeling better had the post been full of joyful expressions and free of disparaging ones? I think so. Perhaps you don't. I have felt several times in the past that Joni's comments have veered into somewhat uncharitable territory, so...I am exercising my right to disengage from the sometimes-negative tone. I agree with many of you that she is very often insightful and informative, always well-researched, and yet, at times I feel she is degrading of others' style and talent. I happen to love Joni's personal style as reflected in her own interiors, but I also think that tact and kindness go a long way when critiquing others. I read other blogs to be inspired and uplifted, and I am no longer inspired by this one. Believe me...I know full well that my unsubscribing will not impact anyone, but, it will keep me true to myself. I am a nice person and not generally prone to rudeness. Joni is a big girl, and I know she will understand.

      Delete
    3. I agree with you, beckymex.

      Delete
    4. beckymex, I believe you are trying to create a tempest in a teapot. First of all, there is not one word to be found by anyone in the narrative Joni wrote that reflects a modicum of political viewpoints. As a citizen of this country, and most importantly as a taxpayer, she has every right to opine on the WH decor. Don't you think Jackie Kennedy opined when she stepped into the Eisenhower WH and inspired so many generous donors to help restore it to a period in time that reflected its history? You seem to overlook all the positive comments Joni made about the rooms in the WH that she loved as well as the decorations. If there is anyone politicizing this post beckymex, it's you. I doubt you will be missed.

      Delete
    5. the lady dreams of france but she's 100% texas after all. i'm done with this silly blog. yeehaw joni!

      Delete
    6. I've always liked Joni's blog and will probably still read occasionally, but I do agree with beckymex.

      Delete
    7. Anon 5:40, what an idiotic statement. You may love French design and French design blogs, but you are a
      100% trailer park idiot. High five, Joni.

      Delete
    8. OMG!!! You are so right!!! "Union Jack"???? That flag was not a Union Jack! It was the first official flag flown by the new United States...sewn by none other than Betsy Ross!!! Dang! You missed the boat on that one, Joni.

      Delete
    9. What exactly IS the union Jack???? i just thought that meant an older flag. See?????? sillliness. i'll try to write to becky personally and let her know we are on the same side.

      Delete
    10. well Beckymex - you don't have an email address attached. Just wanted to let you know that I happen to adore the obamas and voted for them twice. i thought most readers knew this. Sorry if you didn't. you know, if the obama's were republican I probably would have kept my big mouth shut because i would have been accused of being biased.

      Like I said, I started out writing a very positive story - the first draft was like that - all oohs and ahhs. but the more i looked at it and studied it, and i just wasn't feeling it = and then i saw the other decorations and well ----- this happened. and i wondered where were all those traditional symbols we all grew up with? it was like I sat down to skewer the O. Far from it. Shoot, i'd vote for him for a third term i could!

      Delete
    11. Union Jack is the flag of Great Britain.

      Delete
  35. I was surprised they even had a creche at all.
    I don't see Santa anywhere.
    And that decor by the artist in the Easter colors is just awful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The so called easter colors were based on the rug and curtains that Joni raved about. Was the pink and green supposed to be suitable? Hardly...neither for the textiles, nor the season.

      Delete
    2. You're surprised that our Christian first family "even had a creche at all?" Right, I forgot, he must be a Muslim because, of course, he was born in Kenya. (rolls eyes)

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    3. Yes, actually many of us are surprised. We were wondering where the prayer rug was laying (rolls eyes). It must have been under the tree in the private residence with bowls of couscous and tabouli set out for Sheik Claus

      Delete
  36. On a positive note...your sis-in-law rocks! What a FUN place!! And, your packages made me want to know what's inside! I did the craft paper/brown satin ribbon thing this year. After getting to spend 7 Christmas receptions at the White House (years ago...the Nixon's lavish..the Carter's not so much) one just is overwhelmed every time. I do agree, an "overhaul" is due!! Come on folks, this is the White House! Are you up for the challenge to "find a decorator contest?!?" :) franki

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  37. I could not agree more. I don't understand why as First Lady, Mrs. Obama couldn't wish people 'Merry Christmas' at the end of The HGTV Christmas White House Special. I am glad your not afraid to voice an opinion, isn't that why we are living in America. I am sorry you received such angry responses, they wish to have theirs, but they don't want you to have yours. In any case, I loved all the research you did to find all those White House photos. Beautiful. I hope this New Year brings Peace, and that America comes back to its Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech, even if it differs from their own. Keep up the hard work of having a blog worth reading. T

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  38. I thought the Obama White House Christmas decorations were rather attractive. Here in Canada, we don't seem to bother with that sort of thing, except in the stores, which are decorated for Christmas a few hours after the Halloween decorations have been put away. As a matter of fact, we're not even allowed to use the "C" word (Christmas) any more. Everything is "Happy Holidays". So it's refreshing to see the White House so beautifully decorated and so obviously filled with Christmas (oh no, not the "C" word) joy.

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  39. Well, you certainly left no doubt about your politics. The Obama's decorations were fine...there was plenty of child related themes going on...The main tree was very sweet and accomplished it's goal to honor our military. Why do you think Christmas is all about establishing a THEME?I thought the Bush's overloaded fake snow and icicle trees were ridiculous as well as those huge nutcracker figures....rather like a department store window if only they had the space. The public rooms may seem bright and formal but they are public rooms in a historic house and are decorated true to their period...this is not Houston. You left out so much of the good things that happened under the Clinton's and Carter's years....remember the honoring of American folk artists?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Truthfully - i could hardly find any pictures from them or the Reagans that were big enough to show. i wish they would hire aphotographer to take pictures for an archive. i did show the Carter's Victorian christmas which I thought was very sweet.

      Delete
  40. I think YOU should decorate the White House next year!!!!
    You have such terrific taste, and you know what people like......truly.

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    Replies
    1. Oh yeah. Let's see how the White House looks all dressed in white and burlap and zebra skin. That seems to be the perpetual style pervading this little girl's blog. You lost me on this one Joni-baloney!

      Delete
    2. It would look better than those outdated swags, miles of tassels, gold damask and B&F document fabrics that the Clintons put in. Indeed, the WH needs a sense of stateliness and grandeur, but it also needs a bit of "today" to make it more elegant and current. There is a way to bridge the two with the right design firm.

      Delete
    3. "...a sense of stateliness and grandeur," ...with... "a bit of "today" is exactly what Michael S. Smith brought to the table. They even brought historic, former furnishings up from the basement to use rather than buying more. A reasonable, forward-thinking gesture, I think!!!!

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    4. Joni baloney? Havent heard that since grade school!!!!

      yep, all white slips and seagrass for the white house!! - and zebras! who would you really like to see redecorate it ? MIchael Smith? who else? just curious.

      Delete
  41. I agree with 'beckymex'. And, the comment you made about a certain Christmas tree in the White House being 'messy' was a bit harsh, Joni. It was decorated by children, for goodness sakes! What did you expect?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. no, it wasn't decorated by children! children created some of the ornaments that were used on that tree. that's all - they did that last year too, which is great. love that. but - I can't help it - I liked those designer kind of trees more. It's just personal taste. Like matching balls and fabric, etc. Less than more.

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  42. And all these years I thought I was reading a decorating blog, not a political blog. Imagine that. If I wanted Obama-bashing, I would watch Fox News. Shame on you, Joni, for getting your blog off to a rotten (for some of us) start for the New Year. I actually thought you were better than that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obama bashing? Could we have a few examples.

      Delete
    2. just reread her blog....it was woven throughout...."the Bush's taste was impeccable"???versus constant put down of the entire white house under Obama....Nancy was impeccable--Hilary a yokel...come on..She even has had very bad things to say about Michael Smith who decorated the office for Obama...one of America's most respected designers. I'm curious to learn who she thinks would be up to redecorating the public ro oms of the White House? and yes Jackie did put up the Zuber wallpaper,also some found in storage for the family dining room--removed by the Nixons, then reinstalled by the Carter's Georgia decorator. Her political bias was definetly there altho if you're a republican you may refuse to see it.

      Delete
    3. Dear Lord, tomasdinera. Put some salve on your poor blistering wounds and come back down to earth. Joni never said the Bush's taste was impeccable. She merely said she loved the theme for the Christmas trees. She never indicated that Hillary was a yokel. I think it's time you take a remedial reading course and aspire to read more accurately what people have written. There is nothing political in this post, whatsoever. It's about holiday decorating, pure and simple. You are the one interjecting politics because you cannot be objective based on your political leanings. Yes Michael Smith did decorate the President's office and do you remember how the conversation about the error in the quote by Martin Luther King that graces the Oval Office rug went down? Apparently, you missed that post. This was a disaster in my opinion for the reputation of his design firm. My suspicion is, based on remarks made in earlier post, that Joni is a Democrat. I truly hope you and your poor, misguided, biased and left wing nut job who have politicized this post today will somehow manage to get a grip or at least seek medication for what ails you.

      Delete
    4. HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES:

      "The Obamas’ Christmas themes and decorations seem so bland and homogenized, so politically correct, it’s as if all the religion and joy of the holiday has been removed!!!  I hope I don’t sound like Bill O’Reilly…" - BINGO! That's exactly who you sound like, and I think you know it.

      "It hasn’t been that long since the fun of the season was removed from the White House.  It’s only been the past four years!!!  First Lady Laura Bush…blah…blah…blah…" - 'Nuf said.

      "It scares me though – remember the Clinton’s redecorating?  Terrible!   Who would the Obama’s hire?  Michael Smith?" - right. Michael Smith. Just one of America's most preeminent designers living today, human mistakes aside.

      "Reagan was so devoted to his First Lady Nancy – I particularly admire that in a president." - I've not seen someone so devoted to his wife and family as President Obama in eons!

      "This room at least has wrapped presents under the tree." - Yeah, that's what is making our country so great...its devotion to presents and gifts and the notion of more, more, more. Let's be sure to emphasize that at Christmas. PRESENTS, kids...PRESENTS!!!

      "The decorations don’t seem very religious." - did it ever occur to you that there are more religions in the US than Christianity and Judaism? It is a principle our country is founded on---freedom of religion. That is why people say "Happy Holidays" now instead of a blanket "Merry Christmas." It is not to remove God from our celebration, but to include and not offend those whose beliefs might be different than our own.

      "... it is also about candy canes and nutcrackers, wrapped presents and Santa Claus, reindeer and elves – and all this seems missing from the recent decorations." - How shallow can you get that to you Christmas is all about candy canes and presents? Shouldn't the season be about good values?

      "Doesn’t the theme of a White Christmas seem missing from the White House decorations?  They just seem so bland – maybe trying too hard to be all things to all people, politically correct????? Are the other, older decorations more classically Christmas???? The answer is YES!!!!" - Well, it must be wonderful to be able to speak for all of us. I personally never experienced a white Christmas---EVER---so, I cannot relate, as I assume millions of others cannot. What is classic now wasn't classic at the turn of the century (i.e. the Louis Tiffany /Victorian version of good interior design), but I daresay, it was all the rage then.

      In short---oh, sorry, too late hee hee---WHY do your posts always have to demean someone? Only after reading all these posts and replies and updates have I gone back and re-read every word of this post, and frankly I have to agree with some earlier replies that this post was far from appropriate for the season! I could have sited many more examples. I think I'll sign off and unsubscribe, too. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you and all your readers. May you find peace---and lot of goodwill---in 2013.

      Sally Carson
      That's my name...just have to post as Anonymous, as I don't have a gmail account.



      Delete
    5. Sally here is my reply:

      "The Obamas’ Christmas themes and decorations seem so bland and homogenized, so politically correct, it’s as if all the religion and joy of the holiday has been removed!!! I hope I don’t sound like Bill O’Reilly…" - BINGO! That's exactly who you sound like, and I think you know it.

      Actually, i am so NOT a Bill o fan, that is why i stated honestly - I hope i don't sound like him.

      "It hasn’t been that long since the fun of the season was removed from the White House. It’s only been the past four years!!! First Lady Laura Bush…blah…blah…blah…" - 'Nuf said.

      Well - i like her decorations better. What can I say? I never said I liked her politics more!!!


      "It scares me though – remember the Clinton’s redecorating? Terrible! Who would the Obama’s hire? Michael Smith?" - right. Michael Smith. Just one of America's most preeminent designers living today, human mistakes aside.

      As someone who named Michael Smith to their Top 10 Decorators -- I would dare say I like him and he would probably be qualified. That's why i asked = Michael? sorry, but i HATED what the Clinton's designer did to the white house. horrid.

      "Reagan was so devoted to his First Lady Nancy – I particularly admire that in a president." - I've not seen someone so devoted to his wife and family as President Obama in eons!

      Yep. Agreed. Thats one thing I like so much about Obama. Look at past posts - google O and cote de texas and you will see I've said that before. I thought that picture was sweet of Reagan. i found another one just like that too. If I had found one of those for Obama I would have used it too. Carter was devoted. So was Bush I. Clinton's infidelities bothered me about him, but I still admired him as a president.e

      "This room at least has wrapped presents under the tree." - Yeah, that's what is making our country so great...its devotion to presents and gifts and the notion of more, more, more. Let's be sure to emphasize that at Christmas. PRESENTS, kids...PRESENTS!!!

      ok, point taken. too much gift giving. It just looks pretty. This is a design blog, so I'm a conscious of things like that.

      "The decorations don’t seem very religious." - did it ever occur to you that there are more religions in the US than Christianity and Judaism? It is a principle our country is founded on---freedom of religion. That is why people say "Happy Holidays" now instead of a blanket "Merry Christmas." It is not to remove God from our celebration, but to include and not offend those whose beliefs might be different than our own.

      Of course. I realize that. But, it's Christmas. Why pretend it's not, or it's something else. I missed the traditional trappings. That's all. Nothing more. I just think we have tried to make it less than what it is. It IS a slippery slope though and no one understands that more than I do, being Jewish and always feeling left out of the holiday celebrations.


      "... it is also about candy canes and nutcrackers, wrapped presents and Santa Claus, reindeer and elves – and all this seems missing from the recent decorations." - How shallow can you get that to you Christmas is all about candy canes and presents? Shouldn't the season be about good values?

      Again- this was only from a design angle. Of course Christmas is about giving and sharing, and family and friends, and praying and going to church, etc. I was just talking about missing the more traditional design elements of the holiday!!!



      Delete
    6. and more to finish - this was too long:

      "Doesn’t the theme of a White Christmas seem missing from the White House decorations? They just seem so bland – maybe trying too hard to be all things to all people, politically correct????? Are the other, older decorations more classically Christmas???? The answer is YES!!!!" - Well, it must be wonderful to be able to speak for all of us. I personally never experienced a white Christmas---EVER---so, I cannot relate, as I assume millions of others cannot. What is classic now wasn't classic at the turn of the century (i.e. the Louis Tiffany /Victorian version of good interior design), but I daresay, it was all the rage then.

      yes, times change. I am from Houston Texsa where it never snows and sticks. So, I don't personally know from a white christmas. I just like the sentiment.

      In short---oh, sorry, too late hee hee---WHY do your posts always have to demean someone? Only after reading all these posts and replies and updates have I gone back and re-read every word of this post, and frankly I have to agree with some earlier replies that this post was far from appropriate for the season! I could have sited many more examples. I think I'll sign off and unsubscribe, too. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you and all your readers. May you find peace---and lot of goodwill---in 2013.

      Sally Carson
      That's my name...just have to post as Anonymous, as I don't have a gmail account.

      Not sure what you mean about hee hee???? too late?????
      HOpe you had a wonderful holiday too.
      Joni


      Delete
  43. Joni, on another note, ribbon is on sale at Ballard and I am already developing my scheme for next year. Your beautiful gift wrapping was an inspiration. Did the mercury balls come from Ballard as well. I have used the satin ribbon before by SK and absolutely love it. It makes gorgeous bows and is a very high quality product. I have reordered it in several colors along with the burlap. Call me a copycat.

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    Replies
    1. yes! the balls match the paper - small and large sizes - I bought them both. you can see the smaller size on the bags.

      Delete
  44. Joni, thank you for the intimate and personal view of the White House. I have always wanted to attend Christmas there and this was a wonderful treat. I am so happy the menorah was saved from Temple Israel making it such a special Hanukah celebration. Peace in America and Peace for Israel! Laurie'

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  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  46. [repost to correct a typo]

    I loved the decorations. I hate visual "themes." The theme is Christmas and "Joy to the World." I agree with a previous comment that the Bush decor was too much like a department store. And I also hate fake snow. Ugh!

    Those Nutcracker statues, etc., were awful and frightening. The Obama decorations liked like someone's home, not "done." That's what I enjoy about Michelle Obama. She is unpretentious.

    I lived the garlands and the lights. And especially the rainbow tree.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, she is very unpretentious. She also has a more contemporary flair - the art work they have chosen for the treaty room is very striking. i need to show the picture of it. obviously, i am not alone in my opinion and neither are you. I'm sure most found it gorgeous. It was pretty , I just missed the old timey elements.

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  47. I see a major visual treat in today's post- I don't care if it's 'after Christmas'...I love seeing and reading about the variations of Christmas and how each First Lady may have influenced the decor for the season. Yes, some years were much more traditional and 'friendly' but they are all interesting to see, especially when combined into a single read! The compilation of all these photos and writing is amazing, Joni. I always answer your written questions in my head, but at the end of the post I can hardly remember what I was saying! lol Thank you for your time, and your dedication to the blog readers - you provide as always, great information and get us thinking (whether all agree with you or not)!!!. Happy New Year to you and yours - May 2013 be the best ever for you!
    Much love~
    Elaine
    P.S. I found a huge folder with lots and lots of photos - some are during the remodel (especially when the kitchen was worked on)... :)

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    Replies
    1. Great comment! You read this post as it was intended to be read - about Christmas decorations at the White House, nothing more, nothing less. It's such a shame some readers can't get their political affiliations off their back long enough to enjoy all the work that went into this post.

      Delete

  48. [3rd time is the charm?]
    I loved the decorations. I hate visual "themes." the theme is Christmas and "Joy to the World." I agree with a previous comment that the Bush decor was too much like a department store. And I also hate fake snow. Ugh!

    Those Nutcracker statues, etc., were awful and frightening. The Obama decorations liked like someone's home, not "done." That' what I enjoy about Michelle Obama. She is so unpretentious.

    I loved the garlands and the lights. And especially the rainbow tree.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michelle is unpretentious? Really?

      Did you see the $45,000 bracelet on loan to her by a New York jewelry designer that she wore to a fundraiser in The City?

      Pretentious - of course not, not in the least. How dare you suggest such a thing.

      Delete
  49. Hmmm.... Could you be Republican? And Bushes from Texas as well?
    Oh, well. Still agreed the decor for the Bushes era far superior.
    Thanks for sharing

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    Replies
    1. nope. I'm a democrat. and yes, the bushes are from Texas, but they are originally from Connecticut. GHWB came to Texas for the oil business.

      Delete
  50. Joe Ruggiero, designer, when asked his favorite color combination, responded "red & gold." The post's title "HAPPY HAPPY" drew us in, but it was never intended to bring happiness. I am grateful for this post because it has reminded me material possessions do not make one happy and obsession with acquisition is but a fleeting joy.

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  51. I like to see the different themes that are done each year in the White House and I'm glad they are not always the same. However, I'm not as big a fan of this year's decorations. I agree that the WH year-round decorating could indeed use some updating and softening. However, I'm really drawn to the green room just as it is! Thanks for showing the different years of Christmas decorating. It's great to see them in one post. And for the differences in the WH decor. The Victorian changes were interesting, but obviously not timeless. Yes indeed, someone can and should design an attractive front door and still keep the security level intact. I appreciate all the effort and research it took to compile this post. I found your comments a matter of taste and style only, and not political at all. And I'm not a republican, just someone who is interested in decorating.

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  52. Great Post. thank you for all the work you do putting these together!

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  53. I thought the Obamas tree was lovely as well as the smaller tree adorned with decorations made by children of the military. I honestly don't understand why you'd trash the childrens tree as being too messy, (it was for the children, made by the children) or the main tree as not being religious enough, or lacking Christmas type decor? Not everyone likes religous decor or Christmas candy decor on their tree & they should not be admonished for using decorations they prefer to use. As for the tree in the State dining room you say had no theme, how could you not figure out the theme was Christmas stockings, with so many stockings & stocking ornaments used on the tree, wall garlands, and mantel garland?
    I'm assuming you favor the Bushes for some reason, as you found the soft pink and green decor that they used acceptable as Christmas decor, yet the pale colors were more suited for a spring garden party.
    And, just as you found the 2004 "snowy" trees apealing and more suitable for Christmas, I found them unattractive as they looked as though someone had ripped chunks of quilt batting and thrown them where ever on the branches without giving a thought to the finished appearance of a tree that will be seen by many, in such a grand house. That being said, I believe every Christmas tree is beautiful in it's own way. It doesn't matter if it is laden with religious symbols, candy canes & bright Christmas decor, or no religious symbols, no candy canes & no bright Christmas decor. The fact someone took the time to decorate a Christmas tree for others to enjoy, should be all that matters.

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  54. I love your blog Joni, but I think your complaints are out of touch this time. Complaining about redecoration needed at The White House at a time when our economy is struggling. IF the Obamas had decided to redecorate, how would that have been received?


    Also, I think the Obama White House was lovely. You might even say understated. I think it was appropriate.

    I especially like the tree with decorations made by servicemen/women's children. You called it messy. Ok, that may be true, but it was meaningful to me.

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  55. Joni, I loved your research and the beautiful pictures of the White House. As always you are spot on with your research. But, what were you thinking? Stirring up political differences "by design" is doing nothing to heal our political divide. We are all in this together and the last thing we need is more negativity. Obama- Bad. Bush - Good. Come on, We are better than this. Someone should make Christmas decorations above reproach because they are personal! Still love you, just a difference of opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  56. I am amused that you say, "less is more" about the Obama decorations yet you wax rhapsodic about the Bush's elegant fake snow trees and enormous nutcrackers! I think the decor is reflective of the White house residents: the Obama WH is personal and unpretentious and the Bush WH was "decorated" and overdone. I think that your political flag is flying all through post despite your denial. (Examples: the "terrible" Clinton decorating, the "devotion" of the Reagans) Maybe you've been watching too much Fox news! I do agree on Jacqueline Kennedy's exquisite taste and masterful redecoration of the White House. But don't get me started on that hot mess of a closet! And, what's so Christmasy about all the dia di los mertos stuff?
    My name is Sarah by the way, I don't have a google account to post this under so I published under Anonymous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Boy you nailed that one Sarah. That closet would make me crazy altho I must admit mine is just as chaotic, hahahaha! Jackie was awesome.

      Delete
  57. Joni, loved your post and tour of the White House Christmas decorations! So interesting and so enjoyed reading about some of the history that goes along with the decorations! Sorry some folks have to make a political issue of out EVERYTHING!! My gosh!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apparently, you missed these remarks made by Joni:

      "I hope I don’t sound like Bill O’Reilly," BUT...
      and
      "I don't want to start a huge political war," BUT ...

      Not to mention the outright insults such as "All the joy of the holiday has been removed" from the White House by the Obamas for "the past four years!!!" (Her exclamation points, not mine.)

      Delete
  58. Of course, this is your blog, Joni, and you can get political if you want to, but you do invite comments, so I'm going to put in my two cents' worth. Keeping in mind that well over 50 percent of American voters voted for President Obama, you run the risk of alienating roughly 50 percent of your readers when you make such snarky comments about our First Family just because their Christmas decorating was not exactly the same as the Bushes. I mean, really, the accusation that the Obamas have taken "all the joy" out of Christmas for four years (with three exclamation points, no less!!!) is going way too far. Seriously? The Obama White House decorations were lovely, and I would rather see a tree such as the one decorated by children honoring our military families than to see one covered in fake snow because it has much more meaning. But even when fake snow was used, all the previous White House decorations were lovely regardless of the party affiliation of the president at the time. Frankly, your derogatory remarks about the Obamas come across as camouflaged anger over the election. Sorry to see this blog devolve into that. I didn't think that was what we come here for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. once again - it wasn't about the election. i couldn't more thrilled about what happened in November. I just don't liek their Christmas decor!!! that's all - I missed all the classic elements. I do use exclamation points too much, i know that!!!!!!!!!!!!! aha!

      I just couldn't say I loved something when i didn't. it's just that simple.

      Delete
  59. As a foreigner to your country, I enjoyed this tour immensely Joni so thank you! As for some of the comments; one much question if this is what Political Correctness has done to your society when one who is expressing their honest opinion on their own Blog is so vehemently criticized. With that said, for those of you who took Joni's statements so personally why not just do yourself the favour and move on as 'an invitation' to leave a comment doesn't authorize or excuse rudeness.
    In closing ...... Bonne Année chacun! (Happy New Year everyone!) -Brenda-

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uhhh...excuse me Brenda, but inviting comments does allow one to express opinions, good, bad, different or indifferent. Why does a differing opinion have to be construed as rude? I think the issue here was that a subject as personal as decorating for Christmas was, whether you like it or not, turned political in the opinion of several of us who read this blog regularly. I for one found that disappointing. My prerogative. If I remember correctly, a couple of dissenters have elected to move on! Good for them, I say. They are exercising their rights of free speech. Happy New Year to you, too.

      Delete
    2. Yes, mrsben, it is quite sad what political correctness has done to our country.

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    4. @Anon 10:33 PM -- If you read my comment, I said "as for SOME of the comments". Secondly, it is unfortunte that you misconstrued my point all together as I totally agree with you regarding the exercise of freedom of speech and expression of opinion, however if you examine your own comment to me for example; it appears to be all about 'you'. ie: "I", "Us" "I", "My", "I", etc.

      In summary, opinions and freedom of speech is a two-way street my dear. As this is Joni's Blog which 'she' has put a lot of time and work into; 'she' too I would hope is entitled to state 'her' own personal opinion without risk of being viciously attacked with a bombardment of condescending remarks, accusations of Political favour and threatening undertones. As for my remark re rudeness, as a Commentor we are invited guests on her Blog are we not and therefore when exercising our 'Freedom of Choice' perhaps should extend and show some good old fashioned respect for her efforts rather than using Freedom of Speech as an opportunity or an excuse for abusive and/or ill mannered behaviour. -Brenda-

      Delete
  60. This post makes me sick to my stomach. How dare you. You come across so mean-spirited and simple minded. I always assumed that you were a light weight mentally and this confirms it. You really should get out of your sweats and turn off the Starbucks addition and see a therapist. You need serious help girl friend and I will NEVER visit any of your sponsors in the future.

    ReplyDelete
  61. I'm assuming that some of you have only been reading this blog less than 4 years.... go back to her post of November 13, 2008....read it for yourselves. I find it amusing that just because she hails from Texas, she's labeled a Bush Republican. The above poster, Mrsben says it so eloquently that we've become a nation obsessed with political correctness, to the fault of not being able to even give our honest opinions. Joni, as usual, a very entertaining post. And PS..I didn't find it necessary to stop reading your blog after the 2008 election, purely because I'm Republican :) Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree totally, Angeldog!

      Delete
    2. Oh no!!!! What did i write in November?????????????? 2008. I am scared to death to read it!!! I have conveniently forgotten. thanks for reminding everyone, now I"ll lose even more readers!!! no!!!!!!!!!

      Delete
    3. Actually, it's your post about Ben sending flowers after the 2008 election, congratulating you on Obama's win! He was a good sport, even though he had voted Republican. My comment was just a way to let the angry commenters know that you were not showing a political bias in this post...just a blog about your preferences of White House Christmases throughout the years. Goodness gracious.....I'm amazed at how much anger can come through a keyboard......This nation is split 50/50 so be prepared for half of your readers to not like anything that resembles politics! Haha! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and Happy New Year from a republican-conservative reader!

      Delete
  62. Joni dear...since you are an admitted Fox watcher (shocker), you might want to temper your comments re: your politics. I'm sure you would hate to lose readers and sponsors who may see you, not as a leader of design, but as someone easily influenced by the propoganda spewers at Fox. You very effectively hit most all of Fox's anti-Obama talking points. (Religion, vacations, overspending, etc. etc) I am just surprised you couldn't have worked Benghazi into your critique somehow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joni said that her husband watches Fox, not that she watches it! Go back and re-read the blog post on her family room.

      Michelle

      Delete
    2. Anon - where did i mention vacations overspending?

      ok - people. this was about not having decorations that look more christmas-y! that's it!!!

      again, I am a democrat and I am jewish. So.... factor all that into what I wrote. I just missed seeing the typical decorations that I think of when I think of Christmas. i just wish it was more geared to the kids - that's all.

      Delete
    3. So glad to see a libber bring up Benghazi here. Are you really afraid to find out who gave the "stand down" orders that left four
      Americans to die by the hands of the Libyans? I suppose MSNBC and the rabid dogs they have anchoring there is more to your liking. One of the funniest lines to ever be uttered from that network was during the Obamas first trip abroad when Andrea Mitchell said Michelle was so comfortable around royalty. Bahahahahah! We know, of course, there was just so much royalty in South Chicago where she got her training.

      Delete
  63. Please Joni, have someone do a quick edit of your writing in the future. The grammar and syntax in this post is particularly jarring, even by your usual standards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. really? help me!!! please!! I'm not a professional writer! help me!

      Delete
  64. I am almost speechless.. But let me give it a try. Joni obviously puts an enormous amount of work into all her blogs but this one had to take her an especially
    long time to create. I throughly enjoyed it. Any observations Joni made about elements of the decorations or other aspects of the White House she would change
    are "what she does!" Joni is a decorator and looks at these things through a decorator's eyes. I don't think for one minute she was trying to make this political.
    I feel terribly sorry for her, after all her efforts, that several of you made such harsh remarks. BTW, I am a card-carrying, almost rabid Democrat and Joni
    didn't offend me one bit! Chill out folks and try to be less judgmental. Joni, I wish you a lovely 2013 and look forward to future blogs.

    ReplyDelete
  65. If you want only conservatives to read your blog, Joni, you don't have to insult the rest of us by insulting our First Family. I'm astounded to hear you say that they have "removed" all the religion and joy from the White House for the past four years. You know that is not true. But, if that's where you want to go, all you have to do is ask nicely, and we will be glad to disappear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ok, i might have been overly dramatic. I get that. it kind of sounds that way hearing it over and over again.

      Delete
    2. Anon. do you remember the Mao ornament that was hanging on one of the trees the first Christmas the Obamas were in the WH? That offended a lot of people also. This is the Christmas holiday and Merry Christmas is a greeting which I say to everyone and it frankly does not and will not ever bother me to say that to people who may not celebrate it. Most intelligent people actually understand.

      Delete
  66. thanks my favorite anonymous...glad I'm not the only apparentl"left wing nut" responding to this very disapointing post...

    ReplyDelete
  67. wow. lots of comments!!! let me read them, i had no idea so many replied. ok. almost scared to read them.

    omg - just saw a few comments - first let me say - i voted for OBAMA - TWICE. I am a DEMOCRAT. ok????????
    This has NOTHING with rep/dem - just political correctness. that's all.

    ok????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not going to try to tell you how you think or feel...but, for the past 4 years I have seen so much prejudice & so much disdain for our beloved President and his family that it is scary! So, it was with great sadness that I sensed an intense tone of disparagement for the Obamas versus gooey sentiment for the Bush family. Texas pride maybe? I don't know. But I for one was pretty offended by your post. It grieves me that racism is so brutally alive and well in America. I guess I have become ultra-sensitive to that (I am caucasian, BTW.) If I mis-read your underlying message at all then I am sorry. But...I am still offended and dismayed. What an opportunity you had to ring in the New Year with joy and charity and decency and love. Pooh. And goodbye.

      Delete
    2. uh...excuse me...but where was the political correctness? Do y'all think that saying Merry Christmas to everyone you meet is politically correct? what about those who are Buddhists or Hindus or Muslims or Jews? having a creche and a menorah hardly cover all Americans. So why bash Mrs. Obama because her colors didn't suit you or you favor a different theme? Whole post was one big bashing. Hard to believe you voted Dem.

      Delete
    3. "Wow," is what I kept telling myself as I read so many nasty comments. I hope you have tough enough skin to continue! I love your honesty and vulnerability, but most of all your wonderful sense of style!

      Delete
    4. first anon - did you not read what i wrote? i voted for Obama twice. Why would you call me a racist?

      Delete
    5. no, no, no...so sorry. I didn't mean to imply you are a racist. Just that there has been so much of what I perceive as racism out there surrounding the Obamas that I have become maybe overly sensitive on the subject. Not calling you a racist AT ALL. SO sorry.

      Delete
  68. Most of David Lee Csicsko's work left me cold; it seemed totally out of sync with Christmas. Most of the decorations just seemed thrown together, as does a good deal of the decorating. The pictures are hung with the attitude of "just find someplace to put it." The one thing I really disagreed with you about was the tree decorated by the children of our armed forces. At least it looked genuine. As for the rest of the WH, I don't think we should spend one cent to redecorate. Much of it isn't to my liking, either, that frivolous spending is a slap in the face of those who choose or are forced to live frugally.

    ReplyDelete
  69. I especially enjoyed seeing the progression of the gingerbread houses! How they have evolved from simple A-frames to elaborate and detailed replicas of the White House! It was a fun blog to read and I always am entertained by pictures of our White House. I realized that you were looking at the pictures through the eyes of a decorator -- no more and no less. So glad your Christmas was merry and best wishes for a Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  70. Joni,

    I always enjoy watching the HGTV specials on decorating the White House. The level of preparation, organization, and exhaustion of the staff and volunteers is extensive. From time to time, I'm underwhelmed with how some of the themes materialize but never by the devotion of the people who do this to make "The People's House" beautiful for the Christmas Holidays. I remember watching Laura Bush's White House Christmas specials and wondering how difficult it must be to create new themes every year. I did not like the cotton stuck in the trees, but I adored the other white flocked trees. I remember thinking about the cotton puffs in the trees "I wish that were more elegant." But as the HGTV special provides detail on who made the ornaments (artist from each state or military children) I realize that while the entire tree may not be elegant, each part is so special. I'm sure many story boards are presented to First Ladies. I think of these women as leaders, democrat and republican alike, so I feel confident that the First Ladies encourage and appreciate rather than "design". Joni, my thoughts this year as I watched the special was disapointment too. A very similar based theme was used last year. I was a little disappointed. But I was also disappointed by the lack of creativity of some of the NYC window designers too this year. There was something missing. After seeing your pictures, I too agree, that the White House needs a remodel, but not right now, in this economy. I don't know who would want to take on that design job though after reading a few of the comments in your post. I just want to read your post, I'm so sorry I saw the comment section, talk about poor taste! I will post next about Santa Claus



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If we can give $70 million to NASCAR and $400 million to Hollywood, we can update the White House. It's about crony capitalism, anon.

      Delete
  71. Saint Nicholas - a brief history

    St. Nicholas was born in 280 AD, in Patara, a city of Lycia, in Asia Minor. He became the gift giver of Myra. His gifts were given late at night, so that the gift giver's identity would remain a secret. St Nicholas was eventually named the patron saint of children, sailors, Russia and Greece.

    St. Nicholas was a Christian priest, who later became a bishop. He was a rich person, and traveled the country helping people, giving gifts of money and other presents. St. Nicholas did not like to be seen when he gave away presents, so the children of the day were told to go to sleep quickly or he would not come! Nothing has changed and Santa Claus will not arrive this Christmas unless the children go to sleep early.

    A famous story about St. Nicholas, is about a poor man who had no money to give to his three daughters on their wedding day. St Nick dropped bags of gold into the stockings which the girls had left to dry by the fire. The sisters found the gold and ever since, children have hung up stockings on Christmas Eve hoping that they will be filled with presents by Christmas morning.

    Despite being quite young Nicholas had earned a reputation for kindliness and wisdom. In the year 303, the Roman emperor Diocletian commanded all the citizens of the Roman Empire, which included Asia Minor, to worship him as a god.

    Christians believed in one god and one god alone, so their conscience would not allow them to obey the Emperor's order. Angered by their stubbornness, Diocletian warnd the Christians that they would be imprisoned. The Emperor carried out the threat and St Nicholas who resisted too was also imprisoned. For more than five years, St Nicholas was confined to a small cell. He suffered from cold, hunger, and thirst, but he never wavered in his beliefs. In 313, when Diocletian resigned, and Constantine came to power Nicholas was released, and he returned to his post as Bishop of Myra. He continued his good works and became even wiser and more understanding by the time of his death on December 6, 343.

    In the eyes of the Catholics, a saint is someone who has lived such a holy life that, after dying and going to heaven, he or she is still able to help people on earth. They often become patron to different groups of people - one such was children and many legends sprang up to explain his presence.

    By 450, churches in Asia Minor and Greece were being named in honor of him. By 800, he was officially recognized as the a saint by the Eastern Catholic Church.

    In the 1200s, December sixth began to be celebrated as Bishop Nicholas Day in France.

    By end of the 1400s, St Nicholas was the third most beloved religious figure, after Jesus and Mary. There were more than 2000 chapels and monasteries named after him.

    In the 1500s people in England stopped worshipping St Nicholas and favored more another gift giving figure Father Christmas. Over the centuries, St. Nicholas' popularity grew, and many people in Europe made up new stories that showed his concern for children. The name Santa Claus was derived from the Dutch Sinter Klass pronunciation of St. Nicholas. Early Dutch settlers in New York (once called New Amsterdam) brought their traditions of St Nicholas. As children from other countries tried to pronounce Sinter Klass, this soon became Santa Klass, which was settled as Santa Claus. The old bishop's cloak with mitre, jewelled gloves and crozier were soon replaced with his red suit and clothing seen in other modern images.

    I don't have have a username or url to log in to show my identity but I don't have a problem sharing it.

    Eileen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. all true and all well and good. But, how many people today teach that story to their children when discussing Santa Claus? Not many I suspect. Santa Claus has just become a symbol of presents for little kids...if you're good. Period. Sad but true.

      Delete
    2. thank you so much for posting this!!! i never knew all this. that's amazing! I never thought about him being a saint, but of course he is St Nicholas.

      thank you again.

      Delete
  72. Great post! I voted for Obama - but as for the White House Christmas decor, the year I remember and love the most was Laura Bush - all the
    beautiful snowy trees with the white lights. I thought that scheme was cohesive and elegant. This year the the Christmas scheme seemed fragmented and kind of messy in some rooms. Still love the Obama's though!!! I am just so amazed at how beautiful the room that Jackie Kennedy did (the old pic - room changed now)and how that room would totally still work today - the design was a relaxed elegance - so classy. I thought about the red carpet runners everywhere - red is a very stately color. I can think of other beautiful colors to go with the soft pink marble...but none more suitable than red for the White House. Most of the rooms are pretty - a lot of the curtains are bad, I think. But some are quite good, too. I think of Bunny Williams to redo some of the rooms, she is old school, worked for Sister Parrish, knows the ropes. But, part of me would like to see Kelly Wearstler (sp?) - what would she do? It might be outstanding but she would have to restrain herself a bit!

    ReplyDelete
  73. Oh, one more thing - I certainly admire and appreciate the hard work of all the White House staff and volunteers (that would be so much fun!) - what a huge job decorating the White House for Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
  74. Saint Nicholas - a brief history

    St. Nicholas was born in 280 AD, in Patara, a city of Lycia, in Asia Minor. He became the gift giver of Myra. His gifts were given late at night, so that the gift giver's identity would remain a secret. St Nicholas was eventually named the patron saint of children, sailors, Russia and Greece.

    St. Nicholas was a Christian priest, who later became a bishop. He was a rich person, and traveled the country helping people, giving gifts of money and other presents. St. Nicholas did not like to be seen when he gave away presents, so the children of the day were told to go to sleep quickly or he would not come! Nothing has changed and Santa Claus will not arrive this Christmas unless the children go to sleep early.

    A famous story about St. Nicholas, is about a poor man who had no money to give to his three daughters on their wedding day. St Nick dropped bags of gold into the stockings which the girls had left to dry by the fire. The sisters found the gold and ever since, children have hung up stockings on Christmas Eve hoping that they will be filled with presents by Christmas morning.

    Despite being quite young Nicholas had earned a reputation for kindliness and wisdom. In the year 303, the Roman emperor Diocletian commanded all the citizens of the Roman Empire, which included Asia Minor, to worship him as a god.

    Christians believed in one god and one god alone, so their conscience would not allow them to obey the Emperor's order. Angered by their stubbornness, Diocletian warnd the Christians that they would be imprisoned. The Emperor carried out the threat and St Nicholas who resisted too was also imprisoned. For more than five years, St Nicholas was confined to a small cell. He suffered from cold, hunger, and thirst, but he never wavered in his beliefs. In 313, when Diocletian resigned, and Constantine came to power Nicholas was released, and he returned to his post as Bishop of Myra. He continued his good works and became even wiser and more understanding by the time of his death on December 6, 343.

    In the eyes of the Catholics, a saint is someone who has lived such a holy life that, after dying and going to heaven, he or she is still able to help people on earth. They often become patron to different groups of people - one such was children and many legends sprang up to explain his presence.

    By 450, churches in Asia Minor and Greece were being named in honor of him. By 800, he was officially recognized as the a saint by the Eastern Catholic Church.

    In the 1200s, December sixth began to be celebrated as Bishop Nicholas Day in France.

    By end of the 1400s, St Nicholas was the third most beloved religious figure, after Jesus and Mary. There were more than 2000 chapels and monasteries named after him.

    In the 1500s people in England stopped worshipping St Nicholas and favored more another gift giving figure Father Christmas. Over the centuries, St. Nicholas' popularity grew, and many people in Europe made up new stories that showed his concern for children. The name Santa Claus was derived from the Dutch Sinter Klass pronunciation of St. Nicholas. Early Dutch settlers in New York (once called New Amsterdam) brought their traditions of St Nicholas. As children from other countries tried to pronounce Sinter Klass, this soon became Santa Klass, which was settled as Santa Claus. The old bishop's cloak with mitre, jewelled gloves and crozier were soon replaced with his red suit and clothing seen in other modern images.

    I don't have have a username or url to log in to show my identity but I don't have a problem sharing it.

    Eileen

    ReplyDelete
  75. Get a grip, people. Cote de Texas is a decorating blog and this post is about decorating the White House for Christmas. Just because Joni likes/dislikes the decorations of Democratic/Republican administrations doesn't mean that she's going to vote/not vote for them. Why must some people turn everything into a political discussion? Sheesh!

    Btw, I love Joni's gift wrap choices. After so much holiday glitz, it was nice to end on this elegant and serene note.

    ReplyDelete
  76. Hi there-I have never left a comment before on your lovely blog.I have to admit I am a very traditional girl and just prefer a lot more color than you,I do have the white slipcovered sofas however.That being said
    I enjoy a lot of your posts.This is one that really hits home for me as an American.I agree with you totally on the White House Decorations!I feel I can afford to be highly critical here because I am a professional Christmas decor designer!I worked for the largest manufacturer of Christmas decorations,ornaments and collectibles for a very long in sales and product design and development.
    They have taken all the fun,joy and happiness,wonderment and religion out of Christmas!The candy cane is an ancient representation of the Shepard's staff,that is widely known.These are just some of the symbols that they have removed and though no one would notice.
    I am not sure if Michelle Obama is being PC or if they just really do not celebrate Christmas.This bothers me not only for the American people but also for their daughters growing up our White House.Christmas in the
    White House should be magical for two adorable little girls.
    I never liked her taste in clothes(even though people rave about her taste)so no surprise that I do not like her taste in any kind of decor.Oh,well four more years!I am sure we will see less and less Christmas at the White House.
    Thanks for the beautiful post though,love seeing pictures of The White House Past!I have a lot of friends who have helped design White House pasts.

    ReplyDelete
  77. Joni, I would no longer try to defend your position on this blog post. It is obvious to any rational mind what your intent was and the time and scope of your work speaks for itself. Those of us who have never visited the WH at Christmas time have enjoyed seeing these incredible pictures you have posted and reading the back story about each of the administrations.

    Unfortunately, there are some people who see an agenda in everything. You cannot help that nor can you predict it when working on a post. If you begin to try to accommodate these people, you will be doing exactly what the White House did this Christmas. You will be producing a lackluster, meaningless and uninspiring blog. Don't change!

    I totally agree with you about the Christmas decor this year at the WH. While it may be my monitor, the colors and the decorations look dull and cheap. In addition, every room looked the same. Perhaps professionals should be doing this and not volunteers.

    This is the people's house after all, so I think you have every right to voice your opinion. You made valid observations and ones that millions of other Americans who either saw the televised special, toured the WH, or saw these pictures in print would make. You need not apologize to anyone for this post. If you lose readers over it, then they are here for the wrong reason anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Reading the comments made me remember Rodney King, "People, I just want to say, can we all get along? Can we get along?"

    ReplyDelete
  79. I thought this was a fantastic post Joni and am saddened for all of us that this devolved into such mean spirited and ignorant political diatribes. It's sadly the level of discourse across the country. Must we all see agendas in everything we read?? Must we walk like sheep behind the politicians we agree with and raise pitchforks against those we don't? I did not vote for Mr. Obama, but it doesn't mean I don't think Mrs. O isn't a stylish woman and a wonderful first lady. I too agree that the Christmas decor lacks the thematic focus of those overseen by Mrs. Bush, but I personally don't think it's as much about political correctness as just different tastes. Some hated the oversize nutcrackers used during the Bush years, I loved them. But it's just a matter of personal preference. I do love the Obama's gingerbread White Houses's though, and the garden is adorable. Joni - I had my Mom read your post and she was just blown away by your level of research. And, btw, who knew Mrs. Coolidge was so fabulous and stylish?

    ReplyDelete
  80. Linda, so glad you mentioned Mrs. Coolidge. One would never look at this painting and place her in that era. She was quite the beauty.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Hi Joni-

    So glad you're back! I missed your posts! I completely agree with this one and know that it was not political in the least. Please stop apologizing as people either get it or don't. Your intentions (which were to review, compare and critique various White House Christmas decorations) was very clear!

    As for the thin skinned people taking offense-lighten up! Not liking how someone decorates is not a personal attack on their character! I love my mother dearly but wouldn't let her decorate my house for all the tea in China! :-)

    I think the current Christmas decorations in the White House reflect a pc attitude that has become pervasive in our culture. You can't say anything for fear of offending. Not just that but any criticism at all whether legitimate or not is attacked as "racist", "sexist", "ageist" or some other "ist". We all need to take a deep breath I think and just treat one another respectfully. Most people don't have ulterior motives for crying out loud. Most of the time if they're talking about Christmas decorations and whether they like them or not, that REALLY IS what they're talking about.

    Love your blog Joni. I don't always agree with your opinion but I always enjoy hearing it. :-)

    Happy New Year.

    Sally B.

    ReplyDelete
  82. I'm just going to sit back and visualize "Whirled Peas". I agreed with you on some of your comments, and disagreed with others, but not going to go into detail. Personally I'm sick of Christmas period. I read approximately 90 blogs and for over a month every post on each one had something to do with Christmas. I don't buy December issues of shelter mags because I don't care about the decorations. I do what I like and don't worry about anyone else. I'm sick of Hobby Lobby putting out Christmas decorations in August. Frankly, I'd like to get back to the origin of Christmas - Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men - cause I'm seeing little of it on here in these comments.

    And while I agree with you that the White House needs some updating, I am DEVASTATED about those Tiffany panels. Wonder what happened to them after they were removed? Stored in a facility somewhere? Tiffany was a genius American artist. It would have been fitting for his work to be in the White House.
    Oh - and I LOVE that portrait of Mrs. Calvin Coolidge! What I would give to have a portrait like that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i was wondering about that too. on antique roadshow there was this very small tiffany inkwell that was worth a fortune. imagine who much this screen would be? i bet they still have it, i don't think they ever throw anything out. they should sell it and just those funds to redo the current decor! and yes, mrs. Coolidge - that's been my favorite FL portrait since I was a little girl. beautiful~!

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  83. Thanks for all the work you put into this post, Joni. Thought your wrapping was lovely. Personally, I didn't like every one of the trees this year, but in general I thought there was a fresh appeal. I didn't like Laura Bush's snow trees that looked gloppy with batting. It's a sad commentary that this devolved into a political snowball fight in the comments. It's too bad that people use Christmas decorations as a forum for ugly political comments - the total opposite of the spirit of the season. And I appreciate that you did express your political leanings in the comments, despite the furor that might engender, and that your political persuasion has nothing to do with how you view the decorations at Christmas. It's all rather ironic, isn't it? Peace and joy to you in 2013.

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  84. Dearest Joni, I loved your post as I read it today. I, too, thought the tour of the White House ,this year, was not as well decorated as in years past. I thought your comments were legitimate. I did not feel they were attacking Mrs. Obama in any way. I can not believe the comments I have read. Has it come to the point that even in design you cannot give a heartfelt opinion. You make comments all the time about decor, is the White House off limits? Bad decorating is bad decorating, and vice versa, no matter what the political leaning.
    Judith Presgrove

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  85. Amen to anon 9:09 and to Linda Merrill! As to the nasty commentators since Jonis' opinions in her blog are so repugnant to them, why do they subject themselves to it? As to the post, I am planning to print it out so that I can study it further.You are a fabulous researcher. Wouldn't the movie studios love to have you on their staff? To my eye, many of the white house furnishings look garish. I detest the green rug in the green room and that cherry red on the walls in the red room makes me a bit nauseous. While I adore these amazingly well researched missives, they don't all have to be that way. i just don't want you to set the bar so high that you find it impossible to continue.Sometimes I agree with your opinions, very occasionally, I don't but I devour each and every post because your voice is amusing and amazing.I became a bit frantic when you didn't post. Oh,did you increase the font size on the blog? It was much easier to read. Thank you. Margaret
    p.s. that tree IS messy looking and I don't do theme trees.

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  86. it's been 18 font, but sometimes it posts smaller. i love the big letters - you can see it so easily!!

    thanks for your kind words!!

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  87. I love the cote de texas blog and I look forward to seeing everyones creative and wonderful designs , but come on, don't we have something better to do than to discuss the white house christmas decorations.
    This is the exact same reason why nothing can get done in congress, everyone has an opinion. It should have been done this way...not that way. Why was that chosen? Why would they do it that way. They did it that way because while everyone was in there comfortable homes thinking about how they should decorate their homes, a mass of volunteers came to the white house to donate their precious time to decorate the white house.
    I love the way that it looks and I can appreciate the time and the effort that has went into the celebration of christmas. I always enjoy the creative efforts that go into the decorating ot the white house.

    What colors should it have been executed in? .......White and grey....white and sisal......white and white,,,,or would that have been too much color? HMMMMMM!...

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    1. Ohhhhh, such an angry design enthusiast. Drink a few shots and call us in the morning.

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  88. Anon 6:04 honey, you got on the wrong bus. This is a design blog which I am pretty sure has nothing to do with why " nothing can get done in congress." Whether I agree or not, it's Joni's opinions I read CDT for. There are many places to simply look at pretty pictures. There are plenty political blogs around both right and left wing where I believe these comments would be enjoyed. Not here please.

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  89. While Joni may not have found material on the Johnson years, it is worthy to note that during their tenure in office their daughter Linda Bird had a White House wedding.

    Lady Bird was a wonderful first lady. I never travel an Interstate highway with medians blooming in profusion with wildflowers that I don't think of her and the wonderful contribution she made to the beautification of the American landscape.

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  90. For all the readers who posted negative comments on this post, most particularly the ones who attempted to interject
    politics into the intent, please give us your list of blog authors who spend the amount of time doing research, writing and posting the
    pictures that Joni does to bring us the kind of content that we are privileged to have on this blog. Please name one.

    You can't and you know it. My advice is to shut up and write your own blog or don't bother to comment. It's one thing to disagree with
    an observation on a design scheme. Joni will understand that. To decide that a post is political bashing is quite another. Grow up people
    or don't comment here.

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  91. The White House decor this year for Christmas was AWFUL!! What a disappointment. I always look forward to watching the White House Christmas each year on HGTV. I actually turned it off this year...snooze! Here's to hoping that Christmas and all it's grandeur will come back to the White House in 2013!

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