Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Autumn Leaf Colors Shorter days and cooler air send signals to leaves to change their colors. As their veins constrict, leaves gradually loose their dominant green coloration, unmasking inherent yellow and orange pigments. Reds and purples, newly produced at the end of summer, make their appearance. But no matter what their color, these leaves ultimately fall slowly to the ground. Autumn is a season of change, revelation, and closure. And so it is with the autumn of our lives.

#1 – Art That Moves
soap, Oil and Ink by Ruslan Khasanov Time, color, and movement are key components of Russian artist Ruslan Khasanov’s work. Like a scientist, he experiments with the properties of soap, oil, and inks, but like an artist, he plays with their colors, shapes, and movement.

#2 – Fabulous Pumpkin Treats

12 Pimped Out Pumpkin Treats

Chocolate Pumpkin Pecan Cupcakes

During this time of the year, a title that reads, “12 Pimped Out Pumpkin Treats You Have To Try” cannot be ignored. If the title doesn’t lure you to click on the links, the mouth-watering photos will!

#3 – Setting The Table
Whether you’re having an informal or formal gathering this Thanksgiving, you might want to review this table setting guideline:

Thanksgiving: Formal vs. Informal Table Setting

#4 – More Christmas Ideas
27 Christmas Decor Ideas In last week’s Friday’s Fresh Five!, I featured a link to 25 DIY Christmas Ornament Ideas. To top that, this week I’m presenting 27 Christmas Decor Ideas. Unsurprisingly, my favorite project is the one using photographs. So many cute ideas, but so little time!

#5 – I Meant to Do My Work Today

I meant to do my work today–
but a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
and a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

And the wind went sighing over the land
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand–
So what could I do but laugh and go?

Richard Le Gallienne

Now Go and Spread Joy!

This post is dedicated to the memories of Yvonne Hall and Andy Mar.

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kids in Santa hats
Eleven years ago my husband and I took our kids for their annual holiday portrait. Getting them attired for this event was never an easy task, especially the older they got. As we sat and waited for our turn at the photo studio, my family watched other portraits being taken. By the time the photographer called our names, my kids were more than ready to go home. The photographer must have read “Photography Poses 101” or something like that, because he put my kids through the normal repertoire of poses and then uttered, “Okay, you’re done.” That’s when my oldest son said, “Can we get in that?” For an hour he’d been watching little kids being photographed with all sorts of props, but one prop, in particular, caught his imagination – a large plastic pair of Santa pants. The photographer paused to think about the question for a minute. I could tell he thought this prop was only for little kids, but he finally said “Okay.” My three kids voluntarily donned Santa hats and giggled as they crammed into the pants. The boys laughed while they pulled Santa’s suspenders over their shoulders. Everyone in the studio stopped to look at them and we all laughed at the silly sight. What a joyful moment it was and I remember it like it happened yesterday.

#1 – 82 Blessings
Children embody hope, unconditional love, and wonderment. Because children are gifts to be cherished and they are our gifts to the world, we need to nourish them and care for them physically and emotionally.  From the blog Finding Joy comes a list of 82 Blessings for Kids. Read the entire list for the children in your life and for the child in you.

#2 – Looking for Butterflies
butterfly In an article titled Finding Joy, author Karen Kleiman, MSW, LCSW, based her essay on the saying, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over . . . it became a butterfly.” Although she writes articles on healing postpartum depression, her words and the saying apply to anyone coping with issues. She writes about looking for the “butterflies” in life: What is a butterfly? It’s a moment of pure joy. It’s an instant in time when everything feels right. It’s a thing or a look or a feeling, a sense or an energy that grabs us from behind, often when we are not looking. Most of the time, it is fleeting. Sometimes, it rests right in front of us. We cannot see it if we do not look for it. If we aren’t mindful, we will miss it; it will be gone. If we find it, it’s exquisite.

#3 – Finding Joy In My Kitchen
white chocolate popcorn White Chocolate Popcorn, anyone? This and other tasty edible gifts can be found via links from the blog Finding Joy In My Kitchen.

#4 – Enjoy the Moment and the Music
No hip hop dancing was performed during this flash mob in Sabadell, Spain. More than 100 members of symphonies and choirs participated in this event which has been called by some people, “The most beautiful they have ever seen.”

#5 – Be Joyful
“Now and then it is good to pause in our pursuit of Joy and just be Joyful.”

Have a joyous holiday!

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Laundry piles appear like colorful stalagmites strewn across floors, remains from indulgent holiday meals teeter on top of each other in the refrigerator, and unsent Christmas greetings are now destined to be new year’s greetings. Christmas has come and gone in its usual blur of activities. Have you ever noticed that during this time of the year there is never enough time? Einstein had his own theory on relativity, but here are a few of my perspectives on holiday time.

One thought is that the days are shorter. The winter solstice brings the shortest day – December 21st – and the longest night of the year. Plain and simple, there are just fewer daylight hours to get things accomplished.

But upon reflection, it seems to me this frustration with lack of time has more to do with gender. Every holiday season, in an attempt to gain control over holiday preparations, I delegate duties to my hubby. Two people can accomplish twice as much as one, right? Not so! As hard as my husband tries, he can only do about one-tenth of what I usually do. Plus, he needs direct supervision and constant reminding of his little holiday “to do” list. In all fairness, I just move faster, think ahead, don’t sleep, and most importantly, don’t watch sports on the television. I think, in general, men just don’t sweat the holiday details like women do. An example of this, my husband was in charge of putting up our exterior Christmas lights. This year only two little tiny bushes got lit and instead of searching for where he stored last year’s lights, he went out and bought new lights. This happens every year! I’m sure after he and I pass away, our kids are going to find nests of Christmas lights all over the house and in the garage! And while I’m on the subject of delegating chores out to men, why is it they always have to ask, “What needs to be done?” Can’t they just look around at the chaos and make an educated guess?

Along the same thought line, I think women tend to be the keeper of their family’s holiday spirit. That’s a lot of pressure. They set the images that will be remembered for a lifetime. They decorate the house, brainstorm for thoughtful presents, reach out to friends in correspondence and at gatherings, plan menus, and try to give back to the community. When my kids look back on the Christmases of their youth, they better have sparkles in their eyes!

Admittedly, I am a holiday overachiever. The holidays are a difficult season for me because I can easily get carried away with creative ideas. Over the years I’ve worked on becoming a more “go with the flow” holiday person. My decorations this year reflected a minimalist’s attitude and there were no visions of sugarplums dancing in my head. Next year, I vow to start my holiday preparations earlier, prioritize my creative projects, and delegate twice as much to my husband, but be more willing to accept the fact that his standard is different than mine. I have a rubber stamp that reads, “Once upon a time . . . there was more time.” That sentiment may be true, but next year I will again strive to balance my time and let myself enjoy all the wonders of the holidays.

Hope yours were merry.

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As I roamed through store after store one year searching for a Christmas tree skirt that was proportional to my large tree and that matched my decor, I became frustrated because all I could find were dinky little tree skirts at exorbitant prices. Then a thought occurred to me, “What about using a round tablecloth as a tree skirt?”

Tablecloths can be found in a variety of diameters, fabrics, and colors and you’re more likely to find a tablecloth that matches your home’s decor than a tree skirt! Consider purchasing a round tablecloth at stores like T.J. Maxx, Ross, Marshall’s or Tuesday Morning.

Here’s how I convert tablecloths into tree skirts:
1. Fold the tablecloth in half, then in quarters, and finally in eighths.
2. With a pair of fabric scissors or very sharp scissors, cut the point off the top of the folded fabric following the curve of the hemmed edge to create the hole for the tree trunk. Depending on the diameter of your tree trunk you’ll want to cut about one to two inches from the point, because when you finally open up the fabric, you’ll have a two to four inch hole.
3. Next while the fabric is still folded in eighths, cut a fold from the bottom of the hem all the way up to the cut you just made. This provides an opening in the tablecloth that enables you to drape it around the tree.
4. Using Mighty Mendit, a product advertised on television, you can glue some type of braiding or trim around the raw edge of the center hole and the two cut edges of the side opening. An alternative to this is folding the raw edges under a half-inch and hemming them on your sewing machine. A third option is to just leave the edges raw and tuck them under every year so that no one notices them. As you can probably guess, this is the option I’ve always chosen!

Note: The photo shows a 70″ round tablecloth around the base of a 9′ tree.

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Andy Williams is crooning, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go . . . .” Well, not quite everywhere, but at least at the store where I work. Hanging from a little pop-up Christmas tree in the middle of the store are three-dimensional metal and crystal-embellished ornaments. Rich jewel-toned silky tops, shimmering sweaters, and sequined jackets hang from racks waiting for the holiday spirit to snatch them up. No offense to Pilgrim fans out there, but other than placing a fall wreath on my front door, I did not decorate my home for Thanksgiving. Although I enjoy Thanksgiving because of the obvious three F’s: fall, food, and family, for this holiday crafter there is so much to do with so little time. Like the retail stores, I’ve moved on to Christmas!

With only 12 planned posts before Christmas, I’m offering you my Twelve Posts of Christmas. The contents of these posts won’t stray too far from my original intent, but there will be an emphasis on recipes for entertaining, crafty gifts to make and take, and many other holiday ideas.

Here’s my first holiday idea for you. How about refreshing your front door Christmas wreath? Even if your wreath has seen better days, there’s no need to toss it out. As long as it still has good “bones,” it is salvageable! One of my friends always gets vouchers from me for her birthday. Last year I promised to rework one of her broken necklaces and when I was finished she had a totally different necklace plus two pairs of matching earrings. This year she received a voucher from me to refresh her two front door Christmas wreaths.

It was easy. First I removed faded flower stems by either carefully pulling them off or by cutting them off as close to the glue source as possible. Next, using wire cutters, I removed the bows. Because I wanted to reuse as many original parts of the wreaths as possible, I left the cream-colored berries, pine cones, and leaves on, but took off an overabundance of disintegrating tiny plastic berries and replaced them with more realistic ones. I also removed anything else that was on the verge of falling off.

At my local craft store I selected new ribbon. In my friend’s case, I wanted to get away from the faded, wide, red ribbon that the wreaths were sporting before, because between the poinsettias and the berries there was too much red. I opted for a wide cream brocade ribbon. I thought the light color would look attractive against her black doors and would match the cream-colored berries. I paired up a thinner, gold-edged, transparent, red ribbon with the cream ribbon to tie in the gold of the existing leaves. While at the craft store I also picked up new poinsettias, keeping the same diameter as the old ones, along with the new more realistic berries.

The flowers, berries, and loose items were all hot-glued into place. Pretty new bows were made and instead of placing them at the bottom where they used to be, I positioned the bows at about ten o’clock for the left wreath and two o’clock for the right one. I felt this made each wreath more unique, while still being part of a pair.

Overall, the project took me a couple of hours, but that’s because I was watching a Christmas movie at the same time!

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