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.



Christmas Cookies, originally uploaded by ducksRfriends.

Its not that I haven’t been wanting to write, its just that I have been running around ridiculously, and not managing to take photos of any of it (and I really don’t like posting without photos, its just too boring). It seems that the holidays tend to do this. To date, I have all but two of my immediate family members presents. Wrapped and everything. The package to Seattle has even been sent already. I’m missing Mike, who still hasn’t gotten back to me, and Chris- who doesn’t really want anything, and I know too well to buy random stuff that I already know he doesn’t need/want. Makes it tough.

Next week is Chris’s family Christmas event. We’re doing a cookie exchange, so I made my traditional family cookies. We don’t have a name for them. The recipe just says “festive cookie dough”, but they’re made with creamcheese and chocolate chips, and dipped in chocolate and sprinkles. I think we managed to cook them the perfect amount, too, which is always tough because they look uncooked when you take them out of the oven, but when they cool are soft and just right. Even though I don’t think I’m going to get a little tree this year, making the cookies makes me feel like the holidays are really here.

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.