This post goes off in many tangents and probably makes no sense, but I am exhausted and probably suffering a form of chocolate overdose. We had a wonderful Christmas, but I am glad it’s over and ready to pack it all away and begin the New Year. I love Christmas, but each year it seems to get more hectic for me even though I try to keep it simple. It’s hard work raising two kids, and to add all the decorating, cooking, shopping, and cards, there simply isn’t enough time.
When I am in the midst of the chaos, I think of this Martha Stewart article where she recommends a “thorough cleaning of your kitchen before the holidays," including instructions on how to clean light switch plates. I barely have time to keep our floor clean enough to keep from sticking to it. So, if you are in our home, I can guarantee that our light switch covers are dirty. This is where Christmas gets nutty and women think that if they do not bake x amount of cookies, or see this light display, or hand craft everyone’s presents, they are a failure. My mom told me once that “it’s only one day, and you can bet that someone will be sick, so it’s best to look at it as a season, you can celebrate anywhere and at anytime.”I think what she said was true, but I still over do it and end up crashing in the end.
Christmas has evolved for me throughout the years. After my parents died, Christmas became very sad and even though I tried to put up the decorations and do the things they did, it wasn’t the same. My brother and sister and I tried to bring back what we had, but gave up. When my children were born, this all changed and now I look forward to making Christmas special for them. I want them to feel the joy that I felt as a child during the holidays.
We had to abandon some plans because of all the illness of the house, but it was good because it forced us to slow down. Since my husband’s fall, he had some trouble with Vertigo, and I know this is a serious problem for some, but if the man asks me one more time to check if his eyes are swirling, I am going to scream. The vertigo is almost gone, so this is not going to be a permanent problem for him.
I was happy that I managed to finish the robots , and I think they really liked them. I told them they are special because they are filled with love. I did not finish my son’s scarf, but there is still plenty of time left.
What I love most about the holidays is watching the children’s anticipation, their belief in something magical. When they put out the milk and cookies for Santa, they also put out carrots for the reindeer, and their little gesture is so sweet and kind, that it makes all the late nights I spent in preparation, worth it. The gifts our children give to us do not come in packages, but from the joy in their eyes and the pureness of their soul. I hope your holidays were magical.
I had every intention of posting this weekend, but there was so much to finish, and then we had illness in the house. My son had the croup, which required a trip to the doctor for some medicine and staying up all night for Mama. The same night Papa has the stomach flu, which was equivalent to having 5 sick children. They are all doing well, but it feels like this is the first time I have sat down in 80 hours. We had a wonderful Christmas, and I will share some photos this week. I hope you had a lovely holiday and had time to enjoy your friends and family. Merry Christmas!
I've been trying to catch up with all the last minute holiday preparations, so this post will be short, but full of pictures of what my kids call the Cha, Cha, Cha room. It's all about glitter and tacky, and they love it.
Yes, that's Godzilla with a Santa hat attacking glitter town.
The creatures of the sea love Christmas too...a mechanical lighted dolphin.
A few streets away from us, the neighbors all have various Disney characters in their yard. Perhaps it's a little much, but the kids really like the displays and at night they are all lighted and rather festive. Each home has a theme; Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Robin Hood, etc. This is the 101 Dalmatian house and I was surprised to see that someone else has the exact same decorations here.
I will let you decide if an inflatable nativity is a good thing or not.
I feel weird taking pictures of people's decorations, and I am always afraid someone will call the police on me, and I will have to explain myself. It's all in good fun; I enjoy seeing different ways people celebrate the holidays and I hope you do too.
I wanted to share some of our decorations at home and around the neighborhood, but I don't want to bore you with too many pictures, so today will be the tree.
I bought these fabric coronets this year - I usually put paper ones on the tree on Christmas Eve. The fabric on this one is making me crazy, if anyone knows where I can find it, I will be forever grateful:
This picture has nothing to do with the tree; it's a cookie my son made for grandma. I sure hope she likes sprinkles! I've been trying to be more laid back with the kids this year and allowing them to explore the holidays more with their hands. So, I let them decorate their own cookies without any suggestions, handle decorations, and I have put things on the walls at their eye level. Yes, some things have been broken and there was some sort of altercation between an angel and a wise man in the nativity, but I think it's good for them to feel like they are a part of the celebration and not constantly hear, "don't touch."
Today I received a surprise "angel" package from our swap coordinator for the Advent Swap on Swap-Bot. She knew that I had not received a package yet, so she created a new package for me with 25 mini gifts (all wrapped) and gifts for the boys. I wasn't expecting this, so when I opened the package I felt like a child on Christmas morning. Thank you for being so kind, you are an angel. The picture above shows two of the handmade items I recieved, she has an Etsy Shop where there are some lovely stuffed creatures and soft embroidered baby blocks. When things like this happen, it's proof that there is a lot of kindness in the world.
Here are some snow and ice photographs for those who are in the warmer climates, and want to see some white for Christmas:
Family traditions are what make the holiday season special, especially if you only do them once a year. When I was growing up, every Christmas Eve, even if the weather was bad, my Dad would drive into the city to buy a Sochertorte and a Black Forest cake from this German bakery. There were many years that he had to navigate the car through snow and ice, but I think he enjoyed his task and coming home to a house filled with cooking smells and excited kids. My mom would prepare a Scandinavian smorgasbord for Christmas Eve with fish, Swedish meatballs, and other finger foods. It was low key, but very festive and I have good memories from those parties.
In the morning, there would be presents and stockings stuffed with toys and candy, and in the toe of each stocking an orange or tangerine. My Mom put an orange in each stocking because years ago, it was a nice gift to receive since they were hard to find; not found in every store like today.
When my Dad was young, his Mom decorated their tree on Christmas Eve. So in the morning not only were there presents, but a beautiful lighted tree. I can imagine how exciting this must have been for a child to see not only presents, but the tree for the first time.
This picture is from a vintage Danish Christmas book, which I cannot read, but I love the cover. The Mom looks so cheery with her apron on and platter of fruit, but it also has quite a few traditional Danish decorations in it.
I have continued most of my family's traditions and added some of my own, so I am always looking for new ideas. I put an orange in each stocking and sometimes the best gifts are stuffed inside. Last year we celebrated Winter Solstice by making bird seed ornaments by coating pine cones with peanut butter and rolling them in bird seed. We waited until it was dark and hung them on the tree and had cookies by candlelight. We have some religious traditions and light a candle for each week of Advent. We spend Christmas Eve with my in-laws and read The Night Before Christmas to our children before bed and hang our stockings. In the morning I make Æbleskiver, which are Danish pancakes and I have a much needed Mimosa.
What traditions does your family celebrate? I know there was a family traditions swap going around, but I missed the cutoff. I'm very interested to hear what unique activities you do or special foods you make.
Here is another cover from my vintage book collection that I cannot read-maybe you would like to be this trendy, let your child carry the axe, while you smoke a pipe, or look dazed in your fancy white coat?
I have some snow and ice pictures I will try to post this week. We seem to be in a weather pattern of freezing rain, snow, sleet, snow, sleet, snow, and now cold.
Fiddler on the Roof song "tradition" for your enjoyment - I know there is a way to put this directly on the page, but I am too lazy for that. Sorry.
I was tagged by Lina to post random things of the Christmas variety, so here it is;
This is my favorite ornament. My Mom made it for me when I was young out of paper mache. Here is the other side:
I think this ornament is a perfect example of how handmade items will always be cherished and they do not have to be perfect or elaborate to be loved. This is my second favorite ornament, also made by my Mother. Eeyore is my favorite Winnie the Pooh character, I feel sorry for him or maybe I just understand his humor.
Every year my Mom would make my Dad gingerbread men, because it reminded him of Christmas as a child. No one in our family, including my Dad, liked gingerbread, but we had them every year. It was sweet to hear my Dad tease my Mom and ask when she was going to make his special cookies.
I have always had a real tree, and I cannot imagine Christmas without one. We usually buy a Frazier Fir, because it's the "Cadillac of Christmas trees," and we wouldn't want the "Pinto of Christmas trees." One year my parents bought one that apparently was located near a forest fire, because it made our house smell like fire, not quite the Cadillac experience.
I can't seem to decide how I want to decorate our house for the holidays; I like the clean look of Scandinavian decorating, but I also have a lot of vintage and tacky decorations that I love. These are some of my vintage ornaments that I bought on Ebay:
This ornament is from a fairy tale, but it looks like she is taking her weird looking dog for a walk and carrying a paper towel to pick up the dog poop.
I also like the look of using white and neutral fabrics I see in the Japanese craft magazines - I will just decorate with a little bit of everything.
One year my mom, probably due to holiday frenzy, accidentally wrapped her wedding dress and put it under the tree. I don't remember how they explained why Santa would give us her wedding dress, but we laughed about this for years.
I am not done shopping or decorating, and I'm feeling a little stressed. The kids are both sick with fevers and feel miserable. I am trying to be patient with the whining, but it is nice when all they want to do is cuddle. I hope they feel better soon, and I can finish some things and post more here. I noticed a neighbor has a lighted dolphin in their yard, that I must photograph and share with you.
Molly shared this clip about people paying for strangers in line behind them at Starbucks, which Miss Eliza did as her good deed for the contest. Maybe she started a trend?
I wanted to post this earlier in the week, in case you wanted to have a St. Lucia celebration, but I am so far behind with everything this is the first time I have been able to get on the computer. St. Lucia day is one of the most traditional Scandinavian festivities celebrated in Sweden and Norway. The festival of light involves processions of girls and boys dressed in white (the boys wear cone shaped hats with stars) and one girl is the "Lucia Queen", they sing traditional carols and deliver sweets to hospitals, schools, and churches. In most homes the eldest daughter wakes each member of the family, wearing a white gown and a crown of candles, and brings them coffee and saffron bread (recipe). You can read more about the celebration here and I found this photo on Flikr. I made these dolls from this this pattern on Rosy Little Things; she sold kits this year, but I missed buying one, so I made my own. I haven't finished the little boy-he still needs his cone hat, which I will post when he is finished. I also made these tiny painted dolls;
Yes, they have no arms and the boy has an unusually large head, but they are not done yet. If you do not want to make saffron bread, here is a recipe for Swedish apple cake, that is very good I believe the recipe is from All Buttoned Up:
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
Cut into the mixture, 1/2 cup butter. It will look like crumbly pastry dough
Beast one egg and spread over mixture stirring it up lightly.
Separately, mix together:
2 apples, peeled and grated
3 Tablespoons sugar
1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon (more if you like)
Spread half of the dough out in a greased 8" round cake tin. Pat into place gently (there will be a few holes). Spread apples out on top. Spoon remaining dough over top of that evenly (there will be holes).
Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes. Let cool in the pan and gently turn out. Served with drizzled icing:
1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2-4 tablespoons water
Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix until smooth and desired consistency. Drizzle over cake.
If you want to celebrate with your kids today, you can make Lucia crowns out of poster board and green tissue paper and make cones with stars/glitter for the boys-maybe deliver coffee and apple cake to someone?
This is one of my favorite Christmas decorations. It belonged to my mom and it reminds me of when I left candles burning on the other one we had, and set her head on fire. I don't leave the candles burning unattended on this one. Happy St. Lucia Day! Wishing you hope and light.
I saw these in an old issue of Martha Stewart and I wanted to make them, but I did not have a dough-nut pan until now. Most stores don't carry these, so I ended up ordering one out of a catalog. Have you noticed that Martha Stewart has these wonderful decorations, but you can only make them by doing intensive Internet searches or finding an art specialty store 100 miles from your home? Last year I was running around looking for the special paper that can withstand outside elements to make her hanging snowflakes. I found the paper and spent hours cutting out snowflakes, but they wouldn't stay anchored to the porch railing and spent most of the winter sitting in the gutter. Have you had trouble finding items to make a Martha Stewart craft?
To make ice wreaths:
Run around from store to store, and have specialty cooking stores tell you there is no such thing as a dough-nut pan, and then order one from here. If you know a way of doing this without a dough-nut plan, please share it with the rest of us. I cut up some greens that I bought in a bunch from the nursery and randomly placed them in each ring. If you wait until the water starts to freeze, you may be able to keep them from floating to the top, but I have no patience for that.
When they are frozen, put the bottom of the pan in warm water to loosen the ring and loop ribbon through each one. They start melting fast, so I would do one at a time and keep the others in the freezer on a plate.
We are waiting for the ice storm - tomorrow should be interesting.