Ready for Advent

On Sunday Advent begins again.

When mom came to visit for her post-Harvey getaway, we spotted some lovely advent mittens at Ten Thousand Villages. We promptly decided it would be a fun craft activity for the family.

So after the Turkey feast we sat down and gathered quote books and coloring supplies. Together we lined up along the kitchen island and used quotes from our books that applied to each family member.  We also doodled and Zentangled.

Soon the boxes were filled with 21 messages, plus 3 mini bars of chocolate to sweeten the surprise.

We placed each paper in a mitten, and four of us now share a daily ritual for the month of December. The box comes with preprinted daily blessings as well, so we will be able to use those next year.

I helped mom hang hers.

When I got home I set up my Christmas Mantle.

This year I’m just using what’s on the mantle already, along with lights and a few small ornaments that were easy to reach.

I incorporated creations acquired at Chicago’s Sacred Art, and Evanston’s The Pop Up Gallery, Shaker Traditions, Secret Treasures, and Ayla’s Originals.

A few came from Wiesbaden’s Cuckoo Clock and famed German Holzschnitzereien.

Some angels are gifts from my family. They’ve come from Africa, Bali, Luxembourg and Germany.

My Photobomb Angel just turned two and I like having her hang out with these family members.

It is fun to rearrange the collection with creations by my friends, like Chai Wolfman.

After the Bucktown Holiday Fair I will set up a Christmas tree with my handmade ornaments.

Do you have an Advent Calendar?

Radvent: a breather to get Started

Today I am planning on working with Princess Lasertron’s “how to get started” prompts to get my 2012 goals fleshed out. Identifying my mission to “begin to be the person you want to be today” is a daunting task, so these 6 tips will help me move it along.

Radvent Starting by Princess Lasertron

Image re-blogged with permission from Princess Lasertron 

For Radvent 5 on Drawing I’ll direct you to my drawing class experience. Art Journaling is something I am intrigued by but I haven’t delved into it yet. My journals are still full of words rather than pictures.

Since I’ll be mulling a bit today, here are a few pics of this year’s Christmas coziness at my home (I did start early on decorating!).

Maike's Marvels' holiday fire place

My Willow Tree Nativity Scene by Susan Lordi grew as a Christmas present over several years, and this season the Wise Men round it out. 🙂

Willow Tree nativity scene

My friend made the scribble heart which I embellished with fake rubies from mom’s Goose Fest Christmas table last year. The Texas Snowman (as I call him) came from a garage sale in Phoenix. The poinsettia runner is from a German Gift store in Old Town Spring (my sister-in-law purchased a similar one at the time), along with the cute little angel serving sweets. The blue angel comes from my aunt in Germany. Both were made “im Erzgebirge” famous for wood cuttings.

believe it scene

The Weihnachtspyramide came from Germany too via mom.

Weihnachtspyramide

You’ll remember the wire ball from my challenging project. I purchased the shimmery mosaic balls and the mirror mosaic tree on post-christmas sale from Target. The wooden reading angel was 75 percent off at Pier1 a few years back. Like the scribble heart, the angel moves around the house year-round.

wire ball by Maike's Marvels

The red paper star garland is from Ten Thousand Villages, I made the silver one from a beading kit a few years back (I can’t find that kit anymore), and my sister made the sequin ball in the middle for me.

garland by Maike's Marvels

The knitted santa has been in my family for years. I believe a babysitter (who taught me how to knit a pink doll’s sweater once) may have made it for us. It used to have ribbon at its feet to pin greeting cards on.

Knitted Santa

My tree is a small rosemary tree. I was going to decorate it with small snowflakes, but I don’t want the glitter to get into my food. 🙂 I usually have a wreath for the pine-ey scent, but this year a candle will do.

I like how my advent  surroundings join memories of my whole life together. Santa represents my childhood in the Netherlands (near Alphen), the German decorations remind me of teenage-hood (near Wiesbaden), a snowman representing my time in the South (Houston and Phoenix), and new items from my new life and new friends in the Midwest. It keeps home with me even when I have celebrated on my own, and is a nice way to reflect on how far I’ve come since my early years (not just geographically, obviously). Hey, as I look at everything now it is even helping me identify ‘me’ in keeping with our Radvent challenge!

Holiday traditions are a good way to re-set for the coming year and get ready to implement those intentions Princess Lasertron encourages us to get started on today.

What is your favorite holiday and how do you celebrate its arrival?

fourth advent

I’ve lit the fourth Advent candle (our family tradition), and am reflecting on all the lasts I will have tomorrow. My last commute, last time in the office, the final goodbyes to colleagues. I’m pleased to report that the Flurries I created for my colleagues have been well-received.

It’s amazing how handwritten notes stand out these days in a business environment. I read a column by Ashton Kutcher in which he said something about letter-writing making one more vulnerable than a tweet or an e-mail or text message. I find the process of writing to one specific person on paper rather reflective and personal. While letters can be passed around, its distribution is more controlled than an e-mail forward or a shared Facebook status.

I look forward to more hand-writing between Christmas and New Year’s with the cards I’m preparing now. That’s the time where I review the past year, and share the highlights with my correspondence recipients. Who knows, I might share them on this blog as well.

It’s been a very lovely Advent for me, knowing I’ve already given myself the best Christmas present ever. I wish you a lovely Christmas week, with the effortless completion of any preparations for this holiday, and if you don’t celebrate it, just a restful time on these public holidays.

Safe travels if you’re visiting somewhere!