This whole black Friday/cyber Monday madness? I’m LOVING it. I have almost all the Christmas shopping one for my family and Chris’. The best part- I did it all without leaving the house. Shopping online is the best thing ever. Easy to compare prices, easy to find sales and easy to get it all done at once. The UPS guy is going to think I’m a crazy person. I also save a ton of money on a new computer monitor for the office, and a vacuum to replace the one that smelled like burning. Woohoo! I’ve got a bunch of stuff planned to buy from the farmer’s market, as the holiday gets closer, and I’m going to make some presents, so I’m keeping it local and home-grown as much as possible, too.

Belly dance costume pieces = tree ornaments!

All that holiday shopping put me in the Christmas mood. We had some time to kill this morning before the farmer’s market opened (they’ve switched to their winter time, and open at 10 now) so swung by wholefoods to pick up a little rosemary tree. It’s my favorite way to be festive. Makes the house smell awesome, useful for cooking and nice and size appropriate for a cramped South Philly row home.

The rest of the decorating was super easy. Embarrassingly, the stockings I made for us have been up since last year, as have the lights around the window. I had packed away the small light strand for the tree in a bag with the rigged left-over-costume-piece ornaments, so that part was easy too. The lights on the banister are up all year, too… a white strand paired with a set of awesome robot lights. They get turned on for parties, and pair with my tree quite nicely!

This year I had some extra ornaments. Chris has some kinda-creepy Santas that he’s had for ages… When he was a kid he was allowed to pick ornaments every year, and he picked out the Santas.

Creepy Carolers

To match the strange Santa ornaments, I have a set of snowmen carolers that I’m sure anyone else would scoff at. I don’t really know the history of them, other than I grew up with a set at my Mom’s house, and I think my cousins had some too. I think they came from some sort of sale at my Gram’s office, but I’m not sure. They look pretty home-made, so that would make sense anyway. One of the snowmen I grew up with lost his little hat at some point, and it was replaced with a crochet one. When we were going through my Grandfather’s house we found some extra snowmen in the attic. I brought them home with full intent to put them out last year, but completely forgot about them in the basement. This year… prominently displayed on the stairs above the tree. Love them!

So Festive!, originally uploaded by ducksRfriends.

costume ornaments work as tree decorations too!

I really thought I wasn’t going to get a little tree this year. After all, there’s not that much left till Christmas, so there *might* not really be a point in buying it. I have, however, been missing the festive feel even such a small tree brings to the house. Today while running errands, we stopped by Trader Joe’s…. and Chris beelined to the rosemary trees. “Do you want a tree?” What a silly question! Of course! I felt like a little kid, I kept hopping around, super excited about my little tree. Funny how such a small thing can really make the weekend. Now the house smells like clementines and rosemary, the lights are glowing and all is well.

Now we have a house full of cookies (from the trade at his family Christmas on Saturday), some fancy festive beer and a hockey game to watch. Great way to head into Sunday night.

This year was a small turnout for decorating, but led to some very interesting cookies. Best viewed from my flickr album here. Jen O. brought her lovely puppy DeeDee, and she Mom and I started the decorating. Chris R. came over later, and man is he good at decorating those cookies. Always impresses. Even did a re-creation of last year’s Christmas tree, Tony.
What a lovely Christmas it was this year! Minimal as far as gift giving, which was great. Everything that exchanged hands was appreciated and meaningful. True spirit of giving this year. It seems everyone is trying to clean house, and I was lucky enough to get some of the spoils… enough yarn to attempt my first sweater! I’m going to try to make the uber-buttony sweater Miss T made, I just need to get the right kind of needles….

I made up some little bird ornaments for a few friends… a rather quick knit, and I like how they came out…. playing with different yarn combos was fun. They’re from The Purl Bee‘s site…. same place as the lovely handwarmers that I’ve been making… I love their step-by-step photos. Really makes it easier to learn new techniques.

I like my moms better... but this photo links to DIY instructions

I like my mom's better... but this photo links to DIY instructions

My mom lived in Germany for a while, and, as I remember, thats where the golden walnuts came from. Not directly, but as I recall the story, she was inspired by the ornaments in germany, and spent a lot of time making golden painted walnut ornaments for the family. She went years thinking that everyone disliked them. Of course, I grew up with the walnuts, so to me they mean christmas in all the good ways… decorating the tree, eating cookies, the excitement of what the morning will hold. Somehow the walnuts came up a few years ago at a family event, and my mom lamented that she had spent so much time on them, and was so happy with the way they turned out…. and everyone hated them. Perhaps she was trying to throw them out, I’m not really sure how it came up. But one after another, we all told her how wrong she was! We loved the golden walnuts! I remember thinking how sad it was that she had gone all those years thinking that the family just put them up out of habit, or obligation… when really every year, opening the box that holds them lets out the christmas spirt.

This little guy made my office smell lovey and festive today

This little guy made my office smell lovey and festive today

Anyway, Ann and I were talking about Christmas traditions, and I told her the story of the walnuts. Of course, I probably have some details wrong, but thats part of the interesting bit of famly traditions and stories… no one ever has the full story. Today she brought in a cloved orange (or clementine… tiny) for me, “in the spirit of the walnuts”. It was such a lovely suprise! Lovely design with the cloves, too. Wrapped in chinese Joss paper, so festive.




Christmas stockings

Originally uploaded by ducksRfriends

So I couldn’t find the stockings I made last year.. somewhere I have stockings for both of my old roommates as well as Chris and myself. After looking in every place I could think of, I gave up and decided to make some. I used the felt I’ve had for ages (picked up at the VNA sale, back when I was using felt for needle felting wire animals… but I’ve since broken my needles, and run dry on inspirations for animals to animate). Good to finally get some use out of it. I’m not very good at embroidering, but Chris said he liked his stocking, so I guess my rudimentary skills are good enough. Now I just need to figure out what to put in them! I’ve got to find one of those chocolate oranges that you ‘whack & unwrap’, they’re delicious. Any other ideas for stocking stuffers?


Holiday cheer

Originally uploaded by ducksRfriends

I wanted to decorate another rosemary tree this year… and this time I wasn’t going to be a huge idiot and throw it away when it died. Uh, yeah, cause you can still cook with dried rosemary. (Which I realized right as I let the last tree go into the gross dumpster). The signage was bad at the store, and Chris ended up bringing a real christmas tree home. Well, I can’t cook with it, but its still something to put lights on. You can’t really see it in this photo, but the ‘star’ on top is a sparkly butterfly fairy wand from some halloween past (not sure whose though….) Yay for holiday decorating!