Social Week

Wow, first Advent barely registered with me, I did second Advent on a Monday, and third Advent completely slipped by. It is 9 pm as I write this post because Monday and Tuesday breezed without my writing anything. I do however want to give you one blog post this week, even though my mind is oversaturated.

My computer is too. Instead of writing my regular Tuesday blog that time was spent troubleshooting memory issues, scanning drives and Googling how to declog my mid-2012 laptop. One factor is that it is my 800th blog post today (since October 2010)!

Congratulations to me! I learned to congratulate myself on milestones at Sergio and Yanina Gomez’ Goal Setting Webinar earlier today. I recommend the replay.

I learned from my web helper that I need to change the way I set up photos, and a revamp is on the way. Meanwhile, you can ‘shop’ for my ornaments on Facebook, although shipping them in time for Christmas is nigh impossible as of this afternoon. Still Evanstonians can claim them and I will meet them at Brothers K for caffeine and a handover.

Meanwhile, Sacred Art featured my angel in their Grandma gift-giving video. The whole series is a blast to watch, so check out the rest of them.  

I had a blast at the Evanston Pop Up Gallery on Thursday and angels are steadily fluttering out of the Downtown Evanston Store.

On Friday I kicked off my Christmas ‘vacation’ at the premiere of Nutcracker on Ice, my local tradition. I love this production that showcases skaters of all ages, and had some Junior Olympian talent present this year!

On Saturday I paid a visit to Sacred Art to drop off my wine angels (and more) and did a visual inventory check. A few pendants and a keychain are available here too, so check out the plethora of gifts in this lovely Lincoln Square store.

After that I visited the Dank Haus for their Weihnachtsmarkt where many of my friends were vending that day (one borrowing a tree of mine). With my German roots tended to, I crossed the street to the Pannenkoekenhuis which I have passed for years but had never set foot in. My ham and cheese Pannenkoek was delicious!

Sunday the fun continued with an Artist Talk by Kelly Mathews and music by Heather Lynne Horton at TheNewStudio, which is a lovely intimate Evanston art venue. 

Yesterday I shipped what is likely my final Christmas package for the season.

Now I will take time to stroll the Main-Dempster Mile. It is so festive and I haven’t seen my small business friends since October!

I look forward to reflecting on the past year, organizing the home to refresh it, and then set some goals for the new year.

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?

Least Favorite Christmas Songs

Believe it or not, I incorporate lyrics of holiday tunes that grate on me, because I know they are popular.

CarolTitles

We can’t get around Feliz Navidad during the holiday season. I enjoyed it the first time I heard it, but now it seems to be everywhere.

FelizNavidadFrosty

My younger brother is an established drummer in the Netherlands, so when I made his ornament last year Little Drummer Boy was appropriate.

DrummerBoyScore

I looked for a metal version and found a score by August Burns Red.

DrummerBoyFrosty

They’re an interesting band, and I like the rendition more than other covers.

MaikesMarvelsDrummerBoyFrosties

It’s grown on me now, but Johann Sebastian Bach’s Weihnachts Oratorium was overplayed at home when I was a child.

Oratorium

Still, with early music aficionados in the family, this one became an angel as well.

WeihnachtsOratorium

When I make Christmas song ornaments the music is in my head the whole time.

carolsinmyhead

Tissue paper colors inspire me as well.

inspirationpaper

So you’ll definitely be able to tell the favorites from the less favorite tunes by the amount of ornaments I have with each carol.

carolingangels

It’s a good thing I don’t get tired of Frosty the Snowman or White Christmas.

singingfrosties

I used to buy a new holiday album every year, but I skipped it last year.

SnowyFrosties

I’ll have to see if a soundtrack or artist captivates me with their renditions.

LoveCameDown

What holiday songs do you wish we didn’t have to listen to all the time this season? (My face with the Chipmunks below).

mehfrosty

Come see my collection a See Jane Sparkle’s Pop-up Bazaar!

TeXmas

Texans know how to put the X in Christmas.

wreaths

With no snow on the ground, many homes compensate with extra sparkle and very big garden decorations.

godbless

I didn’t have my camera with me on our neighborhood Christmas light ride, but enjoyed the daytime look the next day.

penguins

Texas ‘snow’ looks like this.

TXSnow
Pickup trucks abound.

noelpickups

We savored cookies and sweets throughout the holiday week.

Plaetzchen
nibbles

Mom cooked a moveable feast which we packed in the trunk to dine at my brother’s home.

Trunkfeast

My brother took me on a Polar Express ride with the Palatine Historic Railroad.

polarexpress

We were served hot chocolate to the song of the soundtrack.

hotcocoa

Then we read along to the Polar Express book by Chris Van Allsburg and waved at Santa who awaited us at the North Pole.

north pole

Then he joined us aboard and gave each of us a bell.

santa

We can hear it ring, yay!

bell

It was a lovely train adventure that I hope to take again in daylight.

steamengine

My sister-in-law found glasses that create prismic shapes, and I had fun seeing deer (Rudolph) in headlights on the long ride home.

Rudolphglasses

Holidays with family are the best.

bridge

Christmas Holiday

Today the remaining pieces from the EXPO are coming back home, and then I am taking a holiday break.

Fireplace

While I will be tempted to write up blog posts for the remainder of the year, I am going to allow for time to reflect and not post anything until the new year.

Tree

This will help me close out the year business wise, spend time with family, and also catch up on some travel blog posts in progress that I am looking forward to sharing with you.

“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice;
it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body,
and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.
The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition
for standing back from life and seeing it whole,
for making unexpected connections and
waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration —
it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”
~ Tim Kreider

My Etsy shop is closed for the holiday as well, to eliminate the pressure of not being able to ship right away while I am visiting family. So hold your gift cards til the new year. 😉

famangels

I wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas holiday, and a festive, cozy end of 2013.

manger

See you in 2014!

White Christmas

A solo Christmas can be a bit murky at times, ranking up there with Valentine’s Day as movie after movie re-enacts the notion that within a span of 24 hours families reunite, love shows up at the front door, and financial and health problems miraculously get resolved.

snowy lake

In real life, there was jarring news that showed World Peace doesn’t magically happen on Christmas Eve. It was a period of reflection and re-setting, and getting to the heart of Christmas.

I was cheered by this video that shows we don’t have to wait for grand Hollywood gestures to occur, but that split-second random acts of kindness can have a chain effect too, connecting us all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ID0kgP9IVhs

The next morning I woke up to a White Christmas, which felt like another signal that it isn’t all so bad out there.

Christmas morning view

The blanket of snow was light enough to make travel possible, yet with enough coverage to create a crunch under one’s feet and be wrapped in the joy of a a storybook White Christmas.

snow berries

The snowflakes looked like they came from a theater set.

REAL snow flakes

I smiled as I listened to the laughter of children sledding and throwing snowballs. Parents cheered as a toddler’s first mini-snowman was built.

toddler's first snowman

The Peanuts gang popped in my head at the sight of this tree.

Charlie Brown tree

Plus another tiny snowman rivaling Pig-Pen.

Pig-Pen the snowman

The scent of fireplaces burning made me happy.

Fireplaces

Cultural integration, the true spirit of Christmas.

Culture meshing

Reflective took on a humorous meaning as I snapped photos of giant ornaments.

reflection

When I returned from my walk, my footprint heart was still intact.

not walking over love

It was an affirmation that my neighbors aren’t blind to love when it crosses their path, and these little blessings are what lift my heart and make me believe in the goodness of the world. Gotta keep on giving that love!

Radvent 2012 4: Decorate

Radvent 5 is about decorating, and for the first few days of December I wasn’t feeling it. I looked at all my clutter and knew that would have to be cleared before I could even attempt to get festive. But I did notice the cute little ‘table-top’ trees at Whole Foods, and after years of tree-lessness, I was feeling an inclination to buy one.

“Take care today.
Nobody has time to redecorate their whole house in December–
just be realistic, be gentle to yourself,
and be proud of what you’ve already done.”
~ Princess Lasertron

Usually I buy a wreath for the Christmas scent, but knowing I could carry a 3-foot tree up three storeys by myself changed the game. So when Princess Lasertron wrote about decorating one section of a room at a time, I decided to make a checklist of my entire home, and then space out in chunks which areas would be tackled over the next month.

Trying to take care of an entire home at once is just too much when you have other priorities. Yet having clutter in every area was making me restless too. So I went to Home Depot to price compare, and found a cute little tree there that was a perfect passenger in my car.

This gave me the incentive to clear my living room first. Everything that didn’t belong there got moved to its proper room, but I refrained from starting to straighten up in that other space. I literally dumped piles and went straight back to the living room, so that at least one area would be done by evening (Flylady has great tips on that, if you need them). After sweeping and dusting and organizing, I rewarded myself with getting the Holiday decorations out.

Like Princess Lasertron, my house got decorated over time, with IKEA furniture graduating to more solid, timeless pieces I saved up for. Now that my mattress has hit the 12-year mark the bedroom is on the list for a make-over, but since I want to invest in a higher-end mattress, the timing is to be determined.

“I choose the furniture and art I have in my house carefully
because I have limited space and limited money.
Building a space I love gradually is exciting
because each increment is such a simple pleasure in itself–
adding a new candle, painting a picture frame, rearranging a room.
If my space was perfect
there’d be nothing left to add, and that’s no fun.”
~ Princess Lasertron

Likewise, my Christmas decor grew over time, so imagine my surprise at the Willow Tree boxes being stowed away for a full year. I actually forgot that I have over the past few years collected the Nativity Scene by Susan Lordi after years of wishlisting it for Christmas. So it was a joy to unpack each box—just like Christmas!— and adorn my fireplace sill with the lovely scene.

The tree ornament box had been closed for years, since I only bought a wreath the past couple of years, and a rosemary tree on occasion. My large ornaments were too big for this little fir, but it was fun to go down memory lane with each whimsical wall-tree character. Here’s the Christmas tree I used to make when I rented.

It’s a different feeling to decorate a tree by yourself rather than with family, but since I am spending it solo this year after seeing my family several times in 2012, it felt right to make my home festive for the month, even if I stick only to the Living Room. Oh, and if you are also spending Christmas solo, I recommend watching Noel anytime other than December 24 and 25. It is a powerful movie, but I am glad I watched it well in advance of the actual holiday.

The rest of my home will get sorted out gradually over the coming weeks, possibly into the New Year, but I like this one room of respite and peace to relax in.

It is easy to stage things on Instagram, and I myself have photographed a room corner by corner, where piles of clutter just got moved out of the frame with each shutter click. I wish I could be more organized and have a model home, but that would mean weeding out a lot of stuff that is still dear to me, and I honestly think it might be too sterile for me.

Being surrounded by things inspires me. Each piece in my home holds meaning or a memory. While I agree with professional organizers that letting go of the thing doesn’t mean we lose the memory, there is something comforting about seeing a tangible piece of that memory.

Seen at PerficalSense Studio

Without household help, my home reflects my priorities, which have lately been outside the home or busy creating things. Since I hardly ever have company, I don’t feel bad if things haven’t been dusted for the past few weeks. Nothing smells and the garbage still gets taken out regularly. 😉

So go make yourself a happy corner, and don’t feel bad that the rest of the home is still a mess. There will always be time to clean, but saying yes to living is another matter.

There are some fabulous tips on Princess Lasertron’s blog about decorating when you get into that mindset. So pop on over to her link and see what you can take away from her words of wisdom. If you keep tabs I skipped over her Radvent 4 post. I may or may not come back to that later, so give her words on Sincerity a read as well.

“Some things we have are so beautiful
that we don’t even let ourselves enjoy them.
Let go of the fear that you will ruin something by using it.
Don’t deny yourself the pleasure!”
~ Princess Lasertron

Frohe Weihnachten!

Happy Holidays

 

shalom snowflakes holiday cards by Maike's Marvels

I wish you and yours a lovely year-end and safe travels to see your loved ones, whether around the block or a flight away.

Angel holiday cards by Maike's Marvels

Here are the cards (both mine and for clients) that are making their way to various post boxes around the world.

Gingerbread and Snowman cards by Maike's Marvels

May your last week of the year be filled with leisurely walks, warm hugs, conversations by the fireplace, joyful games, savory feasts and the gifts of gratitude and tranquility.

Evergreen Tree cards by Maike's Marvels

Radvent: (Holiday) Music

I’m sitting on a fear-busting Radvent entry but Princess Lasertron is nice enough to give me a cop-out with this Music post.

Music Radvent 17 by Princess Lasertron

Graphic re-blogged with permission from Princess Lasertron.

I actually just made a Christmas mix for my friend. It is so much quicker to do this in iTunes than it was when I grew up.

In 1984 I got my first recordable cassette tape player and my brother and I had a blast dubbing the radio and then making mixed tapes together. Before then we used his 2-way radio linked to a frequency on his transistor radio to tape our own radio shows (LOTS of squeaky feedback, it was fun!).

In 1990 we graduated to a full stereo system for Christmas. Now we could blend songs from tapes, records and CDs onto a tape. It took me days to pull playlists together and figure out the best order so the compilation would sound even. “Re-“collecting those compilations in CD/MP3 format is not as easy as it seems.

Currently my favorite Christmas songs are:

  1. Hibernation Day by Jars of Clay
  2. Baby It’s Cold Outside I have the version with Leon Redbone & Zooey Deschanel
  3. A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like a Kiss) by Glasvegas
  4. Christmas Of Love by Little Isidore & The Inquisitors
  5. Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney
  6. All Is Well by Michael W. Smith and sung by by Nathan Wadley of The Boys Choir
  7. Ave Maria by Jewel
  8. I Throw My Toys Around by No Doubt for its subversiveness
  9. You Gotta Get Up (Christmas Song) by Rich Mullins
  10. Welcome Christmas by the Whos of Whoville

My favorite full holiday albums are:

  1. Christmas Songs by Jars of Clay
  2. Christmas by Michael W. Smith
  3. Joy: A Holiday Collection by Jewel
  4. A Midwinter Night’s Dream by Loreena McKennit
  5. Elf: Music From The Motion Picture by various artists

What is your favorite Christmas song? Do you have a song that sums up your year? I shared mine last week.