Friday, December 19, 2008

20 Things I Love About Christmas

Well, I'm all snowed in with the first real blizzard of the year, enjoying a quiet cup of coffee, waiting for the kids to get up so I can start the mixer & bake all day! Yum!

I figured it's a great time to get my list of 20 things together to join in the fun over at The Inspired Room.

In no particular order:

1. Twinkle lights. Hung merrily on trees, laced through garlands, looped among mantle decorations, gathered in glassware.

2. Harry Connick Jr. All 3 cd's full of Holiday tunes, & even better, live & in person this year! What a treat!

3. Christmas lists. Not so much the shopping, but thinking of wonderful surprises. To tuck in stockings, or wrap in packages, to bring a smile on Christmas morning. It really IS the thought that counts.

4. Hot chocolate. With tiny marshmallows. In the special "only to be used for hot chocolate" mug.

5. Fresh fallen snow that sparkles like diamonds in the moonlight.

6. Cookies. Special Holiday cookies. Made once a year from recipes handed down from a great-grandma whose name I don't even know. That somehow managed to cross the ocean with Grandma (who died before I was born) back at the turn of the century. From a tiny village up in the Trentian Mountains in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.

7. Candy Canes. The chocolate mint ones.

8. Piling everyone in the car to drive around for hours looking at all the gorgeous light displays.

9. Making sure the tree is up for our Christmas baby. Her brother remarked, "It's just not her birthday without the tree!!"

10. Christmas cactus. A new tradition. A "must have" for when the college son returns from the desert.

11. Wassail. Here we come a wassailing. The smell of the spices filling the air.

12. Merry greetings from friends far & away.

13. The Muppet Christmas Carol. At least twice.

14. Sitting in front of the tree on Christmas Eve. All the other house lights off. The kids tucked snuggly with visions of sugar plums. Remembering Christmas past.

15. The Nutcracker, preferably the Baryshnikov version.

16. Taking the time to stop & do something kind for a stranger in all the hustle & bustle. Making someone smile.

17. Tamales. They just taste better this time of year!

18. The Christmas Waltz. My very favorite song.

19. The magic of Christmas morning.

20. Family. All of them. Nuts & all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Faerie Crown

Since I had the jewelry stuff out due to the snow day & a little time on my hands, I decided to make a crown for the Christmas Faerie. She looked a little bare with just the berries & ornaments. Especially after her festive Fall array.

So, I set about with wire & rhinestones & a few freshwater pearls. I twisted & twined, baubled & bent; and eventually had a crown fit for a Queen.

A Faerie Queen, that is!

And since we've had nothing but snow for a couple weeks now, I decided to move the Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas/etc tree down to the hearth for the season. Gone are the orange lights, & the red & white fits nicely into the rest of the scheme!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Snow Day & Crystal Icicles

Well, we are officially in the midst of our first Winter Storm. We've had some good snowfalls already this season, but this one is a doozy! It started with freezing rain that coated the roads, & now we have 6-10 inches of heavy snow.

I didn't even consider attempting the drive to work.

Instead, I stayed warm & snug, twinkle lights lit & Christmas music playing. I have been toying with the idea of making some crystal icicles for the tree, given our new theme this year. I know somewhere in the jewelry jumble there is a stash of unused Czech crystal in just the right hue.

I poured another cup of coffee, popped in a new CD & got to work.

I used stretch cord instead of wire so that nothing interfered with the sparkle.

I tied a double knot in the end, & set to stringing.

I looped the stretch cord back through the last big aqua bead & knotted it firmly. (Sorry, the photo turned out very, very blurry. Maybe I shouldn't have had that extra coffee!)

As soon as the roads are clear, I need to get some Super Glue to dab on all the knots to secure them. I don't want beads all over the house if the big kitten gets hold of them!

Don't forget to stop by The Inspired Room to see everyone's great ideas!

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'll Have a Blue Christmas...

With the bold new look we gave the Great Room, our old traditional decorations didn't blend so well. So, I hit Michael's again (& now my husband knows what I am up to when I go visit "Mike" so often!)

I stripped the old garlands & added blue & sliver & lots of sparkle!

I decked the halls & sang along with Harry as I did. (Harry Connick Jr is maybe my favorite Christmas music.)

And the results:

We like it so much we may forgo the memory ornament collection this year & redo the tree as well!

Don't forget to stop by The Inspired Room

I've also just joined the fun over at Smiling Sally's Blue Monday

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Waiting for Ole St. Nick

I'm a little ahead of the game this year.

Usually, I am rummaging around in the closet, boxes falling on my head, in a last minute attempt to get the stockings hung with care in time for St. Nick to arrive.

But not this year.

I attribute it to all the wonderful ideas I have been coming across in blogland.

First, the mantle:

And the faerie got something different to ponder:

The stockings were hung...

With a wreath to light up the evenings in front of the fire:

And a certain kitten was quite excited this morning!

Advent Wreath

I added a little jingle to the Advent Wreath this year as I was revamping the main floor decorations.

Just a silver ball here and there...

And it dressed it up nicely.


For more holiday ideas, visit all the great links at The Inspired Room

Monday, December 1, 2008

North Pole Memories

I haven't thought of it in forever.

My favorite Christmas decoration as a kid.

It was this tableletop scene of the North Pole. Or as least my vision of it.

It was ancient. I was the last of 6 kids with an 18 year span, & it was probably purchased in my parents early years.

It was also very likely an extreme fire hazard. (Most of my mom's house still is.)

It was the first box I would go for every year when the decorating go-ahead was given. All alone, I would struggle to get this beat up cardboard box, too big for a kid my size, out of the coal cellar (no, we didn't use coal anymore, it was the all purpose "throw it in the coal cellar" storage area) & up the steep flight of slippery stairs. I slipped all the way down one year, but kept my precious box intact.

I would place that box on the floor next to the end table where it was traditionally displayed. Then I would pile up the magazines, odd bits of paper, school photos (Depression era people, my parents never threw anything out. Anything!) and dust off the place of honor. (My mom never dusted either.)

I would carefully pull back the tattered flaps of the box and just sit & look at it for a while. I would gently reach in & touch the different pieces of the scene, as if to make sure they all survived the year in the dank recesses of the basement.

Then, I would carefully place both hands under the base, stand up, & raise my prize out of its box and set it on its table.

Then, I would just sit back on my heels and admire every inch.

First, the forest of "snow" encrusted pine trees. Various sizes, all covered in a prickly white substance that was a bit yellow with age.

Then, the path the wound through the display to the North Pole. Like the lamp post in Narnia. Buried in its forest of pine. Complete with the glitter sprinkled globe on top.

And lastly, the reindeer standing at the base of the pole, looking up in wonder. He had to be Rudolph. At least to me he was. The plastic antlers were a bit the worse for wear, a prong or two missing, & his fuzzy coat a bit worn in spots. The reindeer of my era looked vaguely like the white tailed deer in my back yard, & not the proper caribou appearance of today.

I had to touch each element, as if making sure they were all really still there.
Only then, would I risk life & limb, reach down, & plug in the power cord. There was always a little spark when it slid into the outlet. (See, I have a history of making sparks for the Holidays.) The ritual continued as I jiggled the glitter globe to make the light turn on...and spin.

That was the magic of it all.

The entire piece hummed & whirred in an effort to turn the globe & flash is beacon of red light about a small corner of the room. I would just sit, mesmerized, drawn in.

Some small memory seems to remember a song playing as the light spun. That part is a bit hazy.
One year, my mom simply could not stand the piece anymore. I was ordered to box it up & take it back to the dark little corner it came from. I don't think it has been moved from the spot since, except maybe to be pushed further back into the memories of childhood.

A lot of my growing up is like that.

Part of me wants to go rescue my North Pole & see if it still works.

But I think the memory is better served as is.

The magic will always be there.

For more holiday happenings, visit Melissa at The Inspired Room