Lucky for me I have a many jewish BFFs. Even though I am lowly Goy, this year I got to celebrate Hanukkah, or should I say, got to receive Hanukkah gifts. It is the festival of lights now isn't it? This lamp came from June of the world famous Betty & June. She won't reveal her source but I have my suspicions . . . .
at press time the lamp, sadly, is not working. I have purchased a re-wiring kit and it will be my first attempt at such a project. If I fail I know just where to take to have a professional do the job. Working or not it might just be the most fabulous thing I own. L'chei-im!
I don't like to consider myself a "collector". I'd be hard pressed to say I collect anything, until now. The time has come to admit that I collect Vintage, Mid-century Christmas decorations. There will come a time very soon when I need to stop myself, or buy a new house.
The first step in my transformation to a Mid-century Christmas was to convert to C-7 lights a couple of years ago. I honestly feel like starting a club for C7 enthusiasts, the few the proud. I am so terribly hooked. When I plugged in the first set this year to begin stringing the tree I actually got teary. C-7's are becoming harder to come by (I score loads of them at the recycling center) but in my opinion they are quintessential, Christmas in a nutshell, Iconic if you will, big fat in your face shiny, Christmas. I am a convert for life!
Next came my undying love of chalkware (sometimes called Nabco or Ardco if you feel like searching - they are really inexpensive and plentiful on Ebay & Etsy - see here is one still at $5). Started with the wisemen scored at an estate sale last spring:
They were joined by a set of carolers found at Brimfield this summer:
The little vintage gold tinsel tree and the gold merri-craft balls came from the Salvation Army thrift shop last summer, greenery is the scraggly clipped branches from the tree. I have one more set of dreamy colorful Nabco Angels that are supposed to be a gift . . . if they get pried out of my scroogy hands and into their gift bag . . .
My friend Kerrie scored these wisemen for me at an Estate sale, they were my Christmas gift. Oh my:
These carolers were a gift from Kerrie (my vintage Christmas partner in crime) last year.
Stuffed some berry sprigs in Mr Owls head to give him some holiday flair, the vintage tray, candle holder and tree came from the recycling center. It's my dumpster diving center piece . . . .
Who says plastic light 'em up santa needs to be outside. This jolly ole guy and the little tree also came from the recycling center, complete with working light) this summer. I was dragging home so much Christmas stuff this summer I thought Big Daddy would nearly kill me (again) - I think it all paid off. He was trying to give it all away as party favors at our last party ..... He did not succeed.
I haven't even gotten to the smokers yet. My friend Miss Anna turned me on to smokers a couple of years ago. They are my biggest Christmas splurge, though even I have limits. I search Ebay and Etsy for them all year and only buy when I can get them for less than $30. Do you know these guys? They are incense smokers. Their bodies come apart, you put and incense stick in, light it and put their bodies back on - the incense smoke comes out of their mouths. They might be my favorite, favorite. My boys can't believe the glory.
the tray is from the recycling center, the framed post card also from Kerrie. Most of the Christmas stuff I like is vintage Japan. The smokers and many ornaments are Vintage Steinbach (if you are interested in a search) This smoker was found on Etsy.
Best tips for searching on Etsy and Ebay for Vintage Christmas? Use those tags (vintage Christmas) plus, Japan, German and let yourself go wild. It's just paypal money and that is not real right?
Ok - well, I am not done but should be. Other favorite vintage goodies adorn my Christmas cottage, but I think I should save that for later. There is much still to be done. Though I will say this. This year I suspect I will cry when it all has to come down and I suspect my house will look boring and drab come January. How many more days? I plan to wallow in it.
We threw a little party for some friends with a new and very delicious little baby. The party was a "sip and see". Historically I believe a "sip and see" is intended to be a tea party. Guests come to sip tea and see a new baby. We gave it a bit of a grown-up holiday twist. Ours was to sip cocktails, the baby part remained the same.
Theme was red, pink and white candy, desserts and cocktails. The best part was having a divine little snuggley baby in a bucket in my house. The second was the party favor....
Desert was a candy bar, all were pink, white, red and chocolate. The cake is my new favorite discovery tipped off by BFF Annmarie. Make a simple one or two layer cake and cover with granche.
Decorations were simple, pink roses and of course we served a pink holiday punch. Quick, simple, stunning if I don't say so myself. Welcome baby Cora!
There is very good reason for my lack in posting...I learned to knit. Well that is one. I learned to knit, I have thrown two parties, all of my christmas shopping is done and the gifts are wrapped. If I were a good little blogger I would be keeping you updated of all the fabulousness. But, instead I have allowed it all to get the best of me.
Party posts will come soon, as it has all been dreamy. Shopping, might be too late, but oh my did I burn up the search engine on ETSY and find some wonderful goodies. In the end the real issue has been my knitting.
I have ALWAYS wanted to learn how to knit. I am pretty good with my hands and it has been a on-going frustration that I have been unable to pick it up. I recently got my haircut, and my master-hair-cutter is also a master knitter. She, in total frustration with my continued whining about not being able to knit said: Just got to Learntoknit.com. So I did and now I knit.
I had some yarn and needles in the house from prior, failed attempts. It took about a week for me to "get it" and to be able to knit without any massive mistakes. Last week I decided I was ready to knit something real.
Big Daddy is getting himself a scarf (or a pot holder, whatever time allows). I have been knitting my face off. I am calling the pattern:
"I just learned to knit and decided 10 rows in that the needles I was using weren't big enough so I switched and I am using the odds and ends yarn I have in the house....color-block scarf."
It's going to be divine-esque.
So what's the Twilight part? I have been watching all of the Twilight movies while I knit. Talk about cathartic. Edward and I are in love again. I am afraid (but not really 'cause they are perfect for my journey) I am going to have to watch them all again as I am now out of content. The joy is, since that vermin died in our family room ceiling, Big Daddy still thinks it smells like death in there. He will not enter. I smell nothing, so I get to be there immersed in Twilight, Edward and yarn and knit the night away in all my alone-ness. Life is good! Very darn good. Knit, purl, knit, purl, knit, knit, knit!
Not in my lifetime. I am crafting creative ways to kill myself with my cookie press. That contraption is from hell. Today was my 3rd, that's right THIRD attempt to make spritzer cookies with the very un-intimidating cookie press. The 3rd time was not a charm.
First two batches of dough (from a variety of sources) made earlier this week would not squeeze through the press, actually nearly broke the press. Today's batch of dough would squeeze through, but alas would not release onto the cookie sheet. I am not sure words can express my frustration.
Last night with a 6 year old at my side as chief mixer controller, I was mimicking the text on the box of said cookie press.
Finesse of a chef, I'll show you f***ing Finesse, I'll tell you Mr. William Sonoma what to do with your Finesse, Finesse of a chef my a**, chef who, chef where, chef can kiss my a**. Interestingly enough the only word my son needed defined was "finesse". He got his definition and a little bit more.
I attempted these devil spawn cookies again this morning. Using a new (3rd) recipe, I finally got the dough to a consistency that it would actually squirt out of the end of the cookie press. Today's issue was getting it to release onto the cookie sheet. It released about 1 out of 96 tries. I GIVE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The cookies would be perfectly formed and stuck to the bottom of said press. The only way to release them was to destroy them, again and again and again. I read countless forums for ideas on how to rectify the situation: spray disks with pam, didn't work. Chill cookie sheet, didn't work. Chill spritzer disks, didn't work. I managed to squirt out a few marginal cookies . . .
And then, just to use the dough and be done with it I rolled little balls of dough and smashed them by hand with a disk . . . dough still stuck . . .
Why do I do this to myself? It conjures up the hell I created for myself at Easter attempting to make Bakerella's Easter Chick cake pops. Swore I'd never do that again - though guess what I have all the supplies to make for Christmas eve party favors? Like a pig to the trough. Fools never learn. Ho Ho HO!
Long ago and far away we unsuspectingly hired a clinically insane contractor to renovate our home. Water under the bridge now, our wounds have been thoroughly licked and nearly healed. What is left is a very unfinished (understatement) master bathroom. Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to complete it...  ... All I want for Christmas if for someone to complete it for me.
For 3 years how this unfinished thorn has been painfully attached to the side my house. While it has made for very plentiful storage (and a great hiding place for the kids Christmas gifts) the time has come. 1.5 bath no more - we moving on to the big time!
Problem: I can easily make decisions for others . . . it's myself that is the problem. And, while I fancy myself a master dumpster diver and vintage resurrect-or, I am a disaster when it comes to buying new. Let's face it there is so much, too much, to choose from. When I scour my favorite haunts for vintage my choices are limited, I either like it or I don't and besides if I spend $6 on something and end up not liking it, no big deal.
I am thinking tile to fill this baby:
- is going to more than my normal spending capacity and I am terrified of my own inability to decide. Should it be Modern? Classic? White? Beige? Colorful? Eclectic? Unexpected? Common? All would thrill me, there is so much I love (do you look at design blogs? I am tortured constantly), but this little project unlike all the others I take on is far more permanent. Permanent scares the **ahem** out of me. Scare-dy cat no more, it is time to force myself out of a 3 year stall.
I have been to 4 tile places. I have completely changed my mind 6 times, back and forth back and forth. Wanna hear the real funny part? I already own all of the fixtures, lights and facets. All I need is the flooring and tile. Paralyzation.
There are photos and clipping taped all over the walls, folders upon folders of photos and bookmarks of online inspiration on my desktop, pictures on the bulletin board, binders full of clippings. I still can't cant call it.
There have been countless occasions in my 7.75 years of parenting boys that I have been told "they're going to get hurt". I am most usually given this warning in retail environments and public parks. Perfect strangers who do not know me or my children CONSTANTLY inform me that my children are on the verge of getting hurt.
It's funny I guess, though it doesn't make me laugh, it makes me seethe.
Today at the Home Depot my 6 year old and I were getting supplies to make a sword. In a Kindergarten creative writing assignment last week he had written instructions on how to make a sword. Today he wanted to put his knowledge to the test. We had the plan in hand and went to the Home Depot to get the wood we would need for him to build it.
I told the man at the sawing station that we were making a sword, I wondered if he could make the reverse "V" shape on the end of the sword. This is where the questions and subsequent lecture began.
"Is is a model ma'am or are you going to let him play with it? He's going to get hurt. (I did not respond) "He's going to get hurt ma'am. You should use rubber or plastic. Does he have siblings? He'll hurt his siblings. You should buy a plastic sword. I have boys too, I took wooden swords away from them, I made them play with plastic swords."
I gave this man no response, didn't care too. I wanted him to just shut up and cut the piece of wood and we could be on our way. He made the one cut we required (not the "V" shape point on the end - I had to do that myself at the hand saw station) and we walked away with him saying to my back "Plasic and Rubber Ma'am, Plastic and Rubber" I am certain he was shaking his head.
Where shall I begin?
I think a considerable demise is coming to our population for the very reasons this imbecile was pestering me. Maybe my sons will get hurt playing with the sword, maybe they wont. I am rather confident they won't die in the process. What they will do is something creative. My 6 year old wants to make something out of wood. This in itself makes me sing hallelujah. I could have turned around and told this man of all of the damage I think video games, computers and TV are doing to kids. Yes, these screens keep the children physically safe - but as we say in our house - "TV rots your brain". Should I go into the parking lot and chastise all the people with DVD's in their cars, I don't think that is good for kids, but that is none of my business. People do what is right for their own kids. I know mine, you know yours.
I can't imagine the emptiness I would feel if I didn't know how to make things let alone know how to take risks, get hurt, make mistakes, mess up, fall down, trust my judgement, test my limits...
I will continue to endure the sneers of passersby. It is the cross I bear. My boys are constantly energetic and lively and I have just never understood why strangers care if my boys get hurt, will that inconvenience them in some way? Why do they think they are more knowledgeable about my kids abilities than I am. I am the one who knows them. I am the one who will have to deal with an injury. It's my time in the ER (where we have never been on account of injury) not theirs. Forgive as I have digressed, a little boy with sandpaper and a hammer (a real one) is itching to get started. We have much to do.
Now, I know I mentioned yesterday that I am not quite finished shopping for all of my Christmas gifts . . . actually all of my ETSY shopping is done, that's the fun stuff . . . but alas there are some brick and mortar retailers I must visit. When I finally check everything off the list the wrapping will begin.
This year, oh this year I finally did what I have always wanted to do. Be ready wrap. I love wrapping gifts and giving gifts and most of all giving well, inspired, beautifully wrapped gifts. In years past it's been a struggle, a last minute over-spending "whoops I forgot about that part" issue. Not this year.
This year I took on wrapping first. Knowing myself all too well, and having learned from years past, I decided it was best to have a wrapping "theme". It does look better under the tree if everything goes, now doesn't it. It also makes wrapping easy, no need to decide who gets what wrap.
On top of having the supplies is the potentially most important part, having it organized and accessible so that when the opportunity or emergency strikes I am ready to . . . . need I say again, wrap. Yes, it's true I set up a wrapping station, vintage themed of course.
1 case of Kraft handle bags, the gift-y size (should be set for gifts bags for the next two years) At this quantity they cost less than 10 cents each. I ordered a gross of white tissue paper and a commercial roll of Kraft paper. These items all came from ULINE. Of important note, you can burn and or recycle kraft so it's actually better than all of that printed stuff. Truth be told I am splitting the cost and the loot with a couple of friends who have, under pressure, decided to adopt the same theme.
kraft gift tags, bakers string from cutetape (not the cheapest place to get it - but she had others things I wanted so I saved on shipping and got it all with her), vintage gift tags from ETSY and some random things from Christmas' past. Fresh yummy green silky ribbon (100 ft roll) from Schriff Ribbon. A 100 foot roll costs about the same as 2 small retail rolls where you get a total of about 5 yards.
There is no need to panic people. Time is still on our side. Each morning as the children tear off a window of the advent calendar my heart seems to step it up a bit. Honestly, I feel like I have this season under moderate control, historically and generally speaking. In years past I've found myself too far behind, too late for recovery and mad for not being able to do what I intended.
I love Christmas, I love a Christmas when I can actually enjoy the hustle. I rather like to hustle, when the hustle was my own to create, not imposed upon me by poor planning and over committing and, well, paralyzing ADD.
Let's see where we stand on this the 7th of December:
Christmas card photo taken, cards ordered & received: Check
Christmas cards stamped, addressed and mailed: no sign of a check
Indoor Christmas Decor: 7/8th's of a check
Outdoor Christmas Decor: 3/4th's of a check (Big daddy has requested some changes . .)
All timers illuminating in synchronization: Impossible notion, no check, ever.
Christmas shopping: 12/15th's of a check
Wrapping & mailing: damn, not a check in sight.
Holiday baking: 1/2 of a check (dough is made and frozen . . . high five)
Preparation for next weeks party: 1/20th of a check. whoops.
Preparation for Christmas Eve party: 0/100's of a check, plenty of time, plenty of time.
Children's festive wardrobe: check!
My festive wardrobe: yeah, right
Water tree daily, so it's not dead by the 10th: 4 days in, Check.
hmm, doesn't look so good after all, but I remind myself no panic until we hit the double digits. 3 more days, then panic.