Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas cheer

The third and fourth Advent candles have been lit. My youngest son's constant anticipation of that fourth candle was such a sweet reminder of finding joy in the little things. At this point in December with all of its activities I quite need that reminder! The third candle represents faith and the fourth stands for peace.
More cookies have been baked, cards have been sent, parties have been enjoyed, errands have been run and school book-reports and tests have been completed - phew! The delightful craft projects from my e-course will just have to wait until next year I'm afraid. But the joy of participating and enjoying the videos was a perfect splurge and I loved it. 

The big branch in the living room has been decorated with handmade angels, hearts, birds...."noel" letters a bit wrinkled after storage but festive nonetheless.
And now the tree is up – contrary to German tradition of it not appearing until Christmas Eve – and it is so very beautiful in its very imperfect way, sagging with ornaments because the little boys have not yet quite mastered the art of not hanging everything at the end of the branches. The tree has been decorated with pure love and joy and I don't want to steal the tiniest bit of that from my children's hearts. (OK I did do a few minor revisions this morning after they left for school, minimal, I promise!)
Are you also thinking about 2012 yet? I feel so energized with ideas, thoughts and plans for next year. After taking on a part time job last year I had to take a real break from scrapbooking and I miss it so much. My priority this fall was to open my etsy shop and so scrapbooking once again had to take a back seat. But I have lot of plans for my photos and albums next year and some new projects with a mixed-media twist. Just thinking about those ideas makes me happy.

Since I mention etsy I have to admit that I am already sketching up my newest ideas for an early spring collection for my shop – colorful, cheerful, happy things for babies, kids, and moms. I can hardly wait to dive into that! 

And one more thing to please note! I have started a facebook page for my shop so please do click on that to follow if you want. I would really love to see you there! 

I will be taking a little blogging break and will be back in January. Before I go though, I just want  to say thank you. I am sincerely honored that in your busy life with so many amazing places and blogs out there that you would take the time to stop by and visit my very simple little website. And if you took even more time to leave a comment, I really appreciated that (sad to say sometimes I don't manage to acknowledge them but truly I love them!) I hope there was something here for you that was uplifting.

Until then, I wish you a Christmas filled with peace and happiness. May all your dreams for the new year come true!


Friday, December 9, 2011

around the house

Little bits of Christmas showing up around the house....

In the front hallway is a heart wreath inspired from one of my Tone Finannger "Tilda" craft books. I made it a few years ago, but still love it. 

An evergreen wreath hangs on the front door. I used greens from the yard and added some pinecones and little apples with the very last glue stick from my hot glue gun, I had to poke it through with a chopstick! The replacement sticks I had ordered didn't fit of course but guess what, thanks to the chopstick I had just enough glue and a day later found a whole new box of sticks in a cupboard in my studio. I am going to need those for the projects from my artsy workshop! 

When I look it at in the photo now, I think I need to reglue the apples on, they are all kind of sideways. Handmade charm...I suppose.  Hmmmm.

Holly and pine in the front window boxes,  little decorations outside by the front door snuggled in the heather.

Love candles and books, all year round, but especially at Christmas. Just LOVE that white doily, my sweet neighbor crocheted it for me.

I put the holiday themed books in an Ikea basket. How nice see the children's eyes light up when they rediscover „old friends“. This year St. Nick brought a couple new books on the 6th, an Elmer the elephant book (love the artistic illustrations) and a Penguin story collection. We are also busy reading an Advent book together every evening that we have to tear open the page of each day to see how the story progresses.

In another Ikea basket are the Christmas CD's.
I don't know how Ikea does it but more often than not, their products fit perfectly in our very unconventional nooks of our cottagey-house. These two baskets fit perfect under the TV/stereo shelf in a niche that my husband built. 
This cowboy boot stocking is really cute. My brother and sister-in-law live in Texas and they gave it to my husband one year. Love it hanging by the stairs.

A Christmassy home needs a sleepy cat lounging around, don't you think?
And of course the scent of baking is a necessity! As quickly as cookies come out of the oven they seem to dissappear! We made some chocolate chips and coconut-cranberry...gave half away and the rest stayed here....mmmm!
( I think there is one left,  please help yourself!)

Monday, December 5, 2011


Two candles now have been lit.
The second candle on our advent wreath symbolizes hope. My older son lit them yesterday at breakfast which as you can see was blueberry muffins...mmmm! (thanking my daughter again for picking them last summer so I can just pull them out of the freezer!) We had a lovely day celebrating my mother-in-law's birthday and being together with family and listening to rain fall after our dry dry month of I love the sound of rain!

This is the time of year I love visiting Ali Edward's website to see how her December Daily is coming along, as well as the projects of many many others who are making a version of this project as well. I love how she involves the community with her project. I have a couple of her books and just adore everything about her. In November I ask myself if I want to do this project but I usually end up saying no (main reason because I don't have a quality photo printer), and then of course wish I had said yes when I start seeing the amazing albums being created! Ali's enthusiasm for this season and her creative designs in this project are simply contagious! I did make a December album a couple years ago based on this idea and I really love looking through it now. But most years, this year included, I am just going to take some notes and make a few December pages to go into my main family scrapbook. This is what works best for the words of Stacy Julian "scrapbook some of your photos some of the time and have fun"! 

I thought it would be fun to share with you a couple December pages from our album from last year. This first layout is my son lighting the first candle and it is super simple with white cardstock and just a few chipboard stickers. I wanted the photos to shine and also wanted to include authentic ephemera - a rather wrinkly page from the church program with a Christmas song that is sung every year. You see my pages sometimes are both in German and English! (Since I speak English to my kids my journaling is always in English) This pretty song is about the light at Christmastime bringing love and hope.
Every year I like to take a photo of the three children in front of the tree and usually make a scrapbook page with it. It's so fun to see how they change each year. Most of the time I get a nice photo (total challenge with 3!) last year was not one of those years. But I want my scrapbooks to be authentic so that was fine with me. I love it that our house is filled with harmony and happiness most of the time, so a photo proving that we are all human and don't always feel like smiling is in a way more precious than fake smiles. Anyway, I did some machine stitching on this, added various stickers for the title and lots of hand-journaling and i love that scalloped strip at the bottom.

Hoping your day is filled with sunshine! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

December Soup

Yesterday I made one of my all-time favorite soups for dinner and it's so good, I just have to share it with you.
It's super delicious, probably very healthy and a beautiful shade of deep red. It's also not bad for  using up those beets that we still have growing in the vegetable garden!

For years I have been making the "New York Deli Borscht" recipe from the "Joy of Cooking" which is simple and exceptional. Basically, it is just beets, carrots, garlic and lemon juice. This fall I found a new recipe and a few extra ingredients make it a bit heartier. Here's how I make it:

In a large pot, saute one sliced leek and half a celeriac (in little cubes) in a bit of olive oil.

Peel and chop a couple beets into cubes and add to the pot, then add a liter or so of vegetable broth.

Now add a few peeled potatoes chopped into small pieces and a can of chopped tomatoes. Then let it cook for 20 - 30 minutes until everything is soft.

I like to make it a day in advance or in the morning so the flavors can develop. When it's time to serve, puree the soup (I use an electric blender stick), heat it up and add salt, pepper and - this is the most important part - a dash of balsamic vinegar. The vinegar adds a tartness and pulls all the other flavors together. You can sprinkle parsley on top or even add a dollop of cream or creme fraiche, but it is really delicious however you do it!

Happy weekend!