Friday, December 28, 2012

Waiting for Winter

Sebastian Meschenmoser's Waiting for Winter is just the type of warm, silly fun that is perfect for this cold, sometimes stark season. The hasty, frenzied looking pencil sketched squirrel, hedgehog and bear look just as you would imagine animals avoiding hibernation would and their quest for the first snowflake of winter provides lots of laughs (especially for young readers well aware that the droopy white sock discovered is definitely not snow!).

These lively, curious creatures provide not only fun, but are part of the cozy, satisfying ending- taking in their first snowfall ever. Meschenmoser's tale is short on text , but full of expression and emotion through his quirky and impressive illustration. A wonderful addition to fireside bedtime stories...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Have a lovely and peaceful holiday, dear readers.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mulling Spices and Pomanders

Photo from LivingInWilliamsburg photo blog

A favorite Christmas tradition in my family (though perhaps not for my younger brother) was a trip to Colonial Williamsburg. They have beautiful natural decorations there and sell cider and have bonfires in the square. It's about as cozy as it gets, and everything smells wonderful. I think it's where the Demeter fragrance team must go to bottle up their Fireplace perfume.

This year, some friends and I decided to make our own old-fashioned Christmas decorations. We strung cranberries and popcorn and made orange pomanders. Secrets to pomanders: use a rubber band to establish lines and buy your cloves at a Latino or Asian supermarket (or even the Latino aisle in your own market) where they're about 1/6 the cost.

We also made cider sachets—mulling spices wrapped in cheesecloth. I got the recipe from Real Simple, which also had cute printable labels. A bonus activity was getting to pretend you're a WWII nurse assembling bandages while cutting all that cheesecloth.


Last two photos by Elena Rue

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

snowglobe cards

Over the past couple of days we have been working on snowglobe cards. I cut the globe forms and circles out from cardstock or construction paper and the kids grabbed white paint and markers to create the wintry scenes. Years ago I saw these on a teacher's bulletin board and I always remember them when the first snow falls.
We are using our snowglobe cards as holiday greetings and Christmas thank yous- they are versatile little suckers!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

want, need, wear, read, and make

At not even one and a half, this is only Sweet Pea's second Christmas and I know I could give him nothing this year and he'd still be as happy as a clam (well, that is true as long as I let him play with the TV remote). However, I worry about the future and getting caught up in wanting to smother him in stuff that he won't necessarily want, need, or play with more than the time it took to unwrap (this book has been an eye opener for me in many ways that I'll share with you in another post). Anyway, I sure am glad to have stumbled upon The Four Gift Rule. It makes gift giving seem easy and it also makes a ton of sense to me (although I think I would add one additional category: 1 Thing They Make - for art supplies, crafts, etc.). Stockings, on the other hand, are a total free-for-all...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

miniature boxwood tree

Whether you are looking for the perfect holiday table centerpiece or for the Christmas highlight of a smaller living space, a tiny boxwood tree is ideal. You put the whole thing together yourself, so the size, colors, decorations.... all up to you!
This tutorial at Ladies' Home Journal will walk you through the process.

Monday, December 10, 2012

merry and bright

After years of wanting to try this project, Vivi and I finally rolled our own honeycomb tapers for holiday gifts. My favorite part was covering the matchboxes in holiday prints and finding the perfect tags/ribbon/wrap to coordinate with them.
This project just requires some honeycomb wax sheets and then whatever you have to make these candles your own. We found fantastic papers and ribbons at the local craft stores and the blogging community provides an amazing array of free printable holiday tags. I would definitely try this project again- the results are very merry (and the company could not be beat!).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

old reliable

For every cookie swap I have ever been to, I make the Baker's Chocolate Sugar Cookies (although this year I plan to try something new...) and they are always much loved. It is a simple recipe to make in large batches and I have never heard any complaints. I mean this is something made of primarily sugar and chocolate, so really how could there be discontent?
If you have to bring a baked good somewhere this holiday season.....


2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
4 squares BAKER'S Unsweetened Chocolate
1 cup butter or margarine
1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla


MIX flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add 1 cup sugar, egg and vanilla; mix well. Stir in flour mixture until well blended. Refrigerate 15 min. or until dough is easy to handle.
HEAT oven to 375°F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in remaining sugar. Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets.
BAKE 8 to 10 min. or until centers are set. Cool on baking sheets 1 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Tomten

In 1961, Astrid Lindgren, widely recognized as the author of Pippi Longstocking, wrote one of best winter picture books to ever be published- The Tomten.
The tale, based on a Swedish poem, manages to be both cozy and mysterious, telling the story of a troll-like creature who lives on and watches over a remote farm, but only at night and without being seen does he care for this home. His presence is reassuring and magical.
It has to be said that a large part of the success of this story is because of the impressive illustration of Harald Wiberg. He captures the personality of night that is at once still and filled with life, eerie and comforting, and filled with the chill of winter and the warmth of love. A perfect bedtime story for those cold nights ahead....

Thursday, November 29, 2012

musical parody

Four minutes of musical parody is nothing to sneeze at....

video: youtube

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

kissing ball

Off of the porches and in the yards around here I noticed people hang kissing balls for the holiday season.
Much like mistletoe, the kissing ball has a rich history as a nostalgic symbol of holiday goodwill and romance. With origins in the Middle Ages, evergreen kissing balls were hung in passageways and doorways to bring good fortune and blessings to all who passed beneath them. Centuries later, these evergreens evolved into bundles of holly sprigs and sweet herbs to symbolize various well-wishes. The kissing ball we know now is joined by flowers and foliage for a fragrant ornament, still symbolizing kindness and love .- shopterrain
They have been around for centuries, these balls of mistletoe, holly, evergreen , or whatever suits your holiday decor and if you pick them up at the local nursery, they can be quite expensive. So I searched for some DIY tutorials and came up with a couple....
One from Southern Living on how to make a mistletoe ball like the images above...
And one from The Gathering Place Design, that is applied to make a variety of kissing balls. The one pictured above is my favorite.

Monday, November 26, 2012

child's own studio

A friend of mine told me about Child's Own Studio , where talented artisan Wendy Tsao takes children's drawings and brings them to life in softie form. Unfortunately, she is not taking new orders right now, but it is actually the shop's flickr photostream that inspired me to post about it. The pictures of all the childrens' designs and Ms. Tsao's creations based on the art are guaranteed to bring you cheer! (hopefully she will take new orders again soon...)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cora and her hats

There is nothing about Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern) from Downton Abbey that I don't love....her elegance, beauty, and general savvy. I have a special appreciation for her hat collection, however, it makes me wish we still wore elaborate chapeaus today.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Denmark: Land of Lovely Chairs

I recently had the good fortune to travel to Copenhagen for work and was impressed by how prevalent beautiful design is there. It's as though all of Denmark--perhaps all of Scandinavia--lives by Ikea's mission statement, better everyday life through good, functional design. The airport lounges looked space-age, every bathroom was a model of minimalism, and store windows were full of gorgeous furniture and speakers. I left Copenhagen with a taste for pegs (hooks are so...excessive) and very expensive chairs.

So, dear readers, here I share with you my dreams of chairs, Danish and otherwise. Unfortunately my wallet doesn't yet accommodate most. (And speaking of my wallet, why is it so bulky and awkward?)

A few snapshots from store windows:

Design Within Reach has the best selection of chairs, in my opinion, offering many of the same choices as Scandinavian design house Illums Bolighus and actually giving prices, unlike House of Denmark. And, until Design Within Reach is actually within my reach, there's always Ikea. Sigh.

From Design Within Reach:

P. S. I was given a hint from a friendly Dane that is a sort of Scandinavian ebay with great selection. Worth checking out if your enthusiasm for shopping encompasses shipping.


Related Posts with Thumbnails