Today, I’m going to write a story about a bench.
Oh, and also about a wagon. And a sled. And a pair of skates.
Actually, the story is about a bunch of stuff I’ve collected that is helping me feel a little more cozy and warm during these short, dark, cold days of winter.

The story actually starts last spring. That’s when I sort of re-launched a photography business. I’ve taken family photos for people off and on for years. During the last few years, I’ve mostly said “no” to requests because I realized it takes so much of my time to edit the photos. But with our oldest son in his senior year, many of his friends were asking me to take their senior photos.
I ended up loving all of the time I spent doing photography. Throughout the summer and fall, most of my weekends were booked. When the weather turned cold, I was feeling sad about pressing pause on my outdoor photo shoots.
That’s when I had the idea for the bench.
If my husband could just build me a bench, I could set up a vintage winter scene in my backyard. Now that we took down our fence, we have a great photo backdrop. People could stop by for 30-minute sessions to take photos for their Christmas cards.

I proposed this idea to my husband, and within days, the bench was underway. He actually loves it when I give him a project like this. It gives him an excuse to spend hours in the garage, cutting, measuring and figuring out how to construct my request. Remember when he built that coffee bar that I love so much? Or those shelves? Or that massive string art project?

While he was working on the bench, we also went shopping at some resale shops for some cute vintage props. We found an old wagon, a sled and some skates. He literally finished the bench in a week, and then it was up to me to stain it and add polyurethane.
This was the weekend before Thanksgiving, so I knew we really needed to hurry if I was going to book any photo sessions. That’s also when I found out that because I would be using the bench outdoors, not only would it need stain, but three coats of poly on all sides. Top. Bottom. In between the slats of the bench. The bottom of the feet.
The poly took about 12 hours to dry between each coat and then needed to be sanded before the next coat.
For more than a week, the bench sat in our entryway in various rotations depending on which part was getting poly. We inhaled toxic fumes for days on end. We froze with our windows open and fans running in unusually cold weather.
By the time we finally finished the bench, I realized I couldn’t possibly book any photo sessions. We had relatives visiting Thanksgiving weekend. We had my daughter’s birthday this weekend, and a gymnastics meet the next.

So, we carried the bench out to the backyard. Before taking our Christmas tree inside, we set it up for a photo shoot, along with the other items I had found. We took some cute family photos, and then I added the wagon, the sled and the skates to my Christmas decor.



Oh well. It was a great idea. And I love that bench. It’s one of many items we have collected that my husband and I have worked on together.

A few years ago, he cut and sanded a board that I could use to stain and add this photograph I took of an old barn on a snowy day.

Last year, he helped me make this countdown to Christmas sign that I painted.


He cut wood slices so I could make ornaments.


And more wood slices and pieces of wood for me to stain, paint or use in my decorating.


So, this year, we’re having very vintage-inspired Christmas around our house.

And we have a nice new bench for our front porch… and photo shoots.

I love being surrounded by all of these things that remind me of moments in our lives and the projects we’ve done together.

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So, how about you? Do you have any Christmas decorations with a story? Do you like to decorate for Christmas? Have you done any fun projects lately? Leave me a comment! I would love to hear about it!

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