Holiday Hibernation

It’s funny how you think you have loads of time to do things after the holiday shows, but then a week of holiday prep just flies by and your aspirational to-do list still sits there. Meanwhile the books you picked up from the library are tempting…

Then I slowed down for a minute, and now the to-do list isn’t as urgent…

My friend brought a mini tree and a present that I enjoyed looking at in anticipation of Christmas Eve.

We had a lovely white Christmas here in Evanston, and I enjoyed watching the snow fall.

Soon I was eager to go outside and explore the winter wonderland.

It was fun to re-walk the streets after an earlier evening of Christmas lights exploring.

On Christmas Day the windows started frosting over.

So I took a cue from Hygge and read.

I also indulged in holiday movies, and binge watched Zumbo’s Just Desserts, which led to some sweet snacking,

Half of my Holiday Cards are now written, though my native language is getting rustier each year. I will get to the last few by New Year’s.

Now it is getting even colder out, so apart from a few pre-planned outings I plan to stay in for the week.

Next week I will do a writer-hibernation staycation, and am excited to get started on that. But for now, I will take the rest my brain and body crave, and marinate in the holiday for a little longer.

The time between Christmas and New Year’s is perfect for reflecting and taking stock of what life has brought, along with hope for what it has yet to bring.

It’s fun to live in my own Narnia, and to enjoy being where I am at without wishing for anything to be different.

In spite of all the shifts that have happened over the past year and the drama that came along with some of it, I am glad to be here in the present, and quite excited about what the future holds.

A pause before entering 2017

Well here we are, it is 2017!

I meant to blog a bunch of things this past week, but instead I needed to relax, spend time with friends, and reset my brain.

I had a lovely Art Institute visit where I learned about the annual Creche.

Versatile artist László Moholy-Nagy gained a new fan

There was a fun Gift Exchange party at which my Ugly Rainbow Sweater Frosty found a new owner.

 My hair was overdue for a bit of head-pampering.

I took a winter stroll after garaging the car (same snowman, 1 week later).

Then I dove into the loot I picked up at Evanston Public Library.

Now I feel the pressure of setting resolutions and goals and doing all the self-improvement things.

But part of me says that I can hold off another week on all that, especially since I spent a day reviving my computer on the day I meant to do all the writing.

I am starting to close out my 2016 finances and inventory sheets, checking out the calendar, and considering where I want to spend my time next year.

Here’s to a fantastic new year filled with opportunities, joy and community!

Christmas Bells and Angels

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,

and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;

“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I love the rendition by Jars of Clay.

Wishing you a peaceful, comforting and joyous holiday.

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!

Chillin’ and Grillin’

Some scenes from my Fourth of July Weekend:

IndiaFourth

Chilling in the park.

 PostCusterSunning

Wandering around on Independence Day.

FourthinPark

Discovering the City has reconfigured rocks to make sitting on them less inviting.

brokenrocks

This used to be a large slab you could picnic on, but no more, it now seats one.

Finding a sitting spot anyway (shhh, don’t tell anyone).

journaling

Enjoying friends’ barbecue and company (there’s one on the tenth as well-join us!).

Grilling

Watching the fireworks.

Fireworks

Finding some love in my peppers the following day.

PepperLove

Doing laundry.

Laundry

Watching neighbors enjoy a warm beach day.

BeachDay

FriBeachy

BeachView

Observing waterfowl.

Geese

Gulls

Discovering the tot lot makes for a very quiet reading spot after 6 p.m.

 TotLotFri

Perusing the Fountain Square Art Fair.

FNTSquare

Adding to the butterfly collection after a lovely conversation about wire-wrapping.

earrings

The conversation starter was this set.

Collarset

Enjoying some custard.

 Custard

Getting lost in a book with wine and cheese.

PsycheCheeseWine

I hope your Independence Day was relaxing too.

Patriotic

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