Antique Christmas

5

November 30, 2011

Do you remember our Vintage Halloween? Well now it’s time for an antique Christmas! The Victorian whimsy shop over at D. Blumchen & Company have so many old fashioned decorations, cards and ornaments filled with vintage charm, I promise you that once you peruse their site, you’ll be looking to don your finest petticoat and drink a cup of wassail. No petticoat? Well, that’s ok. I don’t have one either. Anymore. I had one once. And yes, I’m still embarrassed. But we can still go a-wassailing -- I’ll lay my wassail recipe on you in a later post!



Santa’s Favorite Christmas Candies Deluxe Glass Chain, $145.


Merrie Santa Figurals Assortment, $14.95.


Tiny Treats – Mini Figurals (set of 6), $21.


Snowy Landscape Drops, $22.


Filigree Tinsel Comets, Silver plated, $21.50.


Christmas Past Greeting Cards, $21.95.


‘Santa Claus and His Works’, $4.50.
This nice little story for girls and boys,
is all about Santa Claus, Christmas,
and toys. So listen my children, to
what you shall hear, for I know,
to each little one, Santa is dear.”

Filigree Tinsel Icicles, Pink & Silver, $10.50 (small), $14.50 (large).


Christmas Snowflake – Aqua Angel, $25.

So which one is your favorite? For me, THE GARLAND. Oh I love it so. But not at that price. I also adore the look of the picture book -- So enchanting!

(Update: I got the picture book! By lucky chance, I found it in a toy shop the other day! It is ADORABLE, tells all about how Santa does his job. Fabulous vintagey pictures! A thin little paperback, big on charm.)




Lights In a Jar

3

November 29, 2011


I’m honestly not sure where online I first became aware of the world of awesome that is Lights in a Jar. It think it might have been from the most hilarious design blog in the universe, My Favorite and My Best. All I know is, lights-in-a-jar CHANGED MY LIFE. This is not exaggeration my friends. I’m from Hawaii. In Hawaii there is light. A lot of light. In the Pacific Northwest, there is a distinct lack of light. And it bums me out. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see these cheery, glowy lights in my kitchen! Last year I had them up until the end of February. Yessiree I did.




I’ve seen some tutorials that will tell you how to get a special drill to make a hole in your jar so as to more cleverly conceal the cord. I will never do this. I just put my jar next to a light socket and led the cord up and over the lip of the jar and into the socket. It looks just fine!


Lights in a jar baby. I will NEVER spend another holiday without them!




A Time to Keep

0

November 28, 2011


I’ve mentioned before that I love the works of Tasha Tudor WITH ALL OF MY BEING. Her work, in my opinion, is like getting on a magic carpet ride that whisks you straight back to an American era with which I am totally fascinated. Where hay rides, taffy pulls, country fairs and apple bobbing were not novelties, but normal ways of celebrating the holidays.


The first time I saw the book, ‘A Time to Keep: The Tasha Tudor Book of Holidays’ in a shop, I literally gasped. Any book that pulls an audible gasp out of me is Special with a capital S. Another book that made me gasp recently is this one, which I am trying to score on Ebay, but it’s proving tricky business. I’m hoping to get it eventually.


This haunting and breathtaking trip through the months of the year is so extraordinary! It’s a BIG book, about 12” tall. All the better to highlight the amazing art.


Now, I have to be honest – I’m WAY more into this book than Julia is. She has really enjoyed many other Tasha books, but this one doesn’t light her fire in the same way that it does for me, as it’s not a traditional story per se. I do think though, as she gets a bit older, she’ll more fully appreciate the quaint and old timey customs that are so charmingly detailed here.


The pages showing how a birthday cake is sent floating down a stream sold this book to me all by itself! I think this would be such a lovely book to give as a gift during this holiday season to anyone aged 5-9. Any fans of the ‘Little House’ books are going to adore this one!


I haven’t had the pleasure (any Tasha book is always a pleasure!) of seeing ‘Tasha Tudor’s Advent Calendar: A Wreath of Days’ in person yet, but doesn’t it look divine? It’s on my Want List for sure.


And ‘The Dolls’ Christmas’ is on my MUST GET list, as in I WILL be getting this in the next few weeks before Christmas. Dolls. A dollhouse. Christmas time. Yes, yes, a 100% yes! It’s available used at a great price!

So do you love Tasha like I do? My sister-in-law gave me ‘A is for Annabelle’ when Julia was a tiny tot, and we love that book dearly. I’ll have to do a post on that one by itself. I don’t know if anyone has a great desire to cut all ties to modern life and move to some forgotten corner of New England and bake pies all day, but her work will give you a pretty darn close equivalent experience!



(Image credits: Picture #2 via Rachelshorsesandhounds.blogspot.com. Picture #3 via ruthie822.blogspot.com)




Cool Stuff I Like

2

November 25, 2011


Christmas time, Christmas time, la la la la la! It is isn’t it? Now that we have that little speed bump I call Thanksgiving out of the way (sorry T-Day lovers), it’s CHRISTMAS TIME!!!!

Did you all have a fun day yesterday? I wasn’t going to post today, but I succumbed to the insane need to proclaim IT IS OFFICIALLY CHRISTMAS TIME. The rest of our days off from work/school are going to consist of getting out the Christmas “stuffies” – Julia’s term for stuffed animals – and trying to get out to see ‘Puss in Boots’ (really want to see ‘The Muppets’ but I think we’re going to wait until I read some reviews and weekend opening craziness abates.) Oh, and playing our new obsession, checkers. I’m going to have to do a whole post on the checkerboard because it is SO RAD and because I have never made anything SO COOL in my life (other than my kid), and I owe it all to my AWESOME neighbor. More on that later.

If you are stopping by during your holiday break, thank you! I am so very thankful for my new bloggy friends and for all those who have taken time out of their day to come visit our little corner of the internet world.


A few things on the COOL STUFF list this week, a short and sweet one:

Autumn Energy Bars.

This video is simply amazing!

Russian Vintage Books. The ART. Whoa. (via Where the Lovely Things Are)

Bumpkin Bears Holiday darlingness.

Matchbox Mice.


Cool Book of the Week: ‘The Little Christmas Elf’ by Nikki Shannon Smith. Found this at the grocery store of all places! SO precious about a small elf who struggles to finish her first toy in the Elf Workshop on time. I love any and all books about elves in Santa’s toy workshop.

Whatcha all doing this holiday weekend?? What did you eat that was particularly divine? And, let’s say it all together: IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME!!




Charmed I’m Sure

0

November 23, 2011



I was over at the Anthropologie site the other day, oohing and aahing as I so often do, when I saw their new build-it-yourself charm bracelets and necklaces. I think I literally went, “OOOH!”. Do the appeal of charm bracelets ever wane? I think not, and obviously Anthro agrees with me. Anthro ALWAYS agrees with me. I always agree with Anthro. It’s such a perfect relationship!



You know my theory, right? Wizard masterminds of cute and cozy are running Anthropologie. I want to show you some of my favorites from the collection and then I’ve got some really darling little girl charms to show you! I never had a charm bracelet when I was young so I think I’m still working out my fascination with them. . .



1) Owl Collector’s Charm, $18. 2) Turquoise Bird Collector’s Charm, $15. 3) Envelope Collector’s Charm, $18. 4) The Collector’s Bracelet, $28. 5) Gem Jar Collector’s Charm, $15. 6) Citrine Drop Collector’s Charm, $15.





7) Djeco Summer Garden Jewelry Set, $19.75. 8) Djeco Poetic Birds Jewelry, $19.75. 9) Girls Essential Charm Bracelet, $19. 10) Dumpling Dynasty Tokyo Belle Jewelry Set, $18.95.

So what do you think? Would you wear a charm bracelet as an adult? The charms in the Anthro DIY Charms Shop can also be designed to be worn as charm necklaces. I think I would want most of the little girl sets just because of the darling boxes alone!



(Top Image Credits: Anthropologie.com)




I Like You

4

November 22, 2011

Julia’s besty is the darling Ryan, who has been her main gal pal since their preschool days. Now that they are kindergarteners, I can refer to preschool as the ‘old days’. I actually still know many of my friends that I’ve known since age 5! I’ll be so curious to see if Julia and Ryan will keep in touch with each other as adults and look back on these photos, laughing at their adorableness. (Or if they’ll want to slap me on the head for talking about them. . .)

Two very different, but equally darling Thanksgiving turkey masks. Looking for something to do on T-Day to occupy the kiddos? Easiest craft ever. Paper plates. Glue. Feathers, both of the real and cut-out variety. Cuteness results. I have no idea what kind of moment was transpiring here.


But the moment turned into an I-Can-Out-Silly-You contest. Everyone’s a winner in the I-Can-Out-Silly-You contest!


‘I Like You’, by Sandol Stoddard Warburg and Jacqueline Chwast pretty much nails friendship on its head. This is my favorite part:

“I like you because if I think I am going to throw up then you are really sorry, you don’t just pretend you are busy looking at the birdies and all that. You say maybe it was something you ate. You say the same thing happened to me one time. And the same thing did.”


A real friend is someone who empathizes when you barf, looks for clovers with you, laughs at your funnies, and likes you even if they can’t remember why.

Does anyone still keep up with their preschool or kindergarten buddies? Like I said, I am still in contact with several of mine! It’s amazing to look back and realize how much time has gone by. And by amazing, I mean, horrifically scary.




A Turkey of a Tutorial

4

November 21, 2011

Ok friends, bear with me here. I called this post a turkey not just to be tongue in cheek, but because I really have no idea how to clearly articulate how we made this little turkey fellow. We’ve had him a couple of years now. Mr. Turkey was created in a toddler art class (they expected toddlers to make this??) at our local Parks & Recreation community center when Julia was 3, I believe. We looooove our turkey! He is our centerpiece as you can see.


So let’s attempt to figure out how this guy was made. I was barely paying attention the first time around; I think the art instructor pretty much made him for us. Um, I think you start with a grocery bag turned inside out. You stuff him with rolled up paper towels or newspaper. The you staple the open portion of the bag shut, thus creating his little turkey backside. Turkey booty?


(Note the helpful arrow pointing out where the turkey feathers should go.)

Then, uh, let’s see. You cut out turkey “feathers” from construction paper and glue them on his booty. That’s a fine looking booty you have there Mr. Turkey! Feel free to create a drinking game out of how many times the word booty is used in this post. No, I myself have NOT been drinking, although one would never know it judging from how far down the ‘humor’ of my writing has degenerated.


Ok this is a bit hard to see, but can you see how his head is made and inserted? You take a smaller paper bag and stuff that. Then you twist the bottom of the bag, thus creating his ‘neck’. Cut a slit inside the bigger “turkey body” bag and shove the neck in. Can you see how this was done? Does any of this make sense? Doesn’t this all seem terribly violent for poor Mr. Turkey?


The you glue feathers all over his body and get yourself some googly eyes (or just draw them on) and cut out and paste or draw a little waddle and beak on him and voila, you’ve got yo-self the most amazing turkey centerpiece in town.

And oh dear, look at that. One of the feathers on his booty is droopy. Gave ya a freebie there! Is it time for a hot toddy yet? Oh how I love this time of year!




Cinnamon Bear

5

November 18, 2011

Double posting today due to cool news! I apologize for not getting this information to you a bit sooner – my sweet friend Laura (Family feature on her and her darling kiddos coming soon!) told me about it several days ago and I am just now getting my booty in action about it.

So Cinnamon Bear! Have you heard about this? I had NEVER heard about it, I am so grateful to my friend for letting me know about this audio CD. . .


. . .which is available to buy as a 7 hour CD set ($20) or one can download the audio program series directly from your computer.

Here’s what Laura told me about it; as soon as I read what she wrote me and saw the website, I was SOLD.
"Have you ever listened to The Cinnamon Bear? It's a tradition in our family, and my kids have now adopted it as their tradition. You start listening to the "episodes" the day after Thanksgiving and if you play one episode a night (like they did back in the 30s), then it ends on Christmas Eve. I love this and can't promote it enough. We get the kids all dressed for bed and then sit around the stereo and listen as a family. It's really cute. I was just thinking that if you don't already know about it, you need to as it is right up your alley!"

Over at the Radio Archives website, a quick rundown on the storyline is given:
“Twins Judy and Jimmy Barton crawled into their attic one December day and found a passageway to a place called Maybeland. They looked in all the dusty corners for any sign of the silver star that always sat atop their Christmas tree. Their search crossed the path of little Paddy O'Cinnamon, "The Cinnamon Bear," who had shoe-button eyes and a ferocious growl. He showed them a small hole through which the Crazy Quilt dragon had absconded with their star and invited Judy and Jimmy to pursue the rascal. Paddy would function as a guide and they'd chase the dragon throughout Maybeland. Paddy magically "de-grew" the twins so they'd fit through the attic tunnel, fired up a miniature airplane powered by soda pop, and flew the Barton kids into a startling and wondrous adventure.
So begins "The Cinnamon Bear," a delightful, one-of-a-kind children's series produced in 1937 by TRANSCO, the Transcription Company of America. Intended to be heard between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the series features twenty-six fifteen-minute cliffhanger installments. The program immediately hooks children because suspenseful fun is always present as each episode concludes with yet another obstacle for Paddy and the twins to overcome. The dragon eventually joins up with the trio but remains unpredictable and mischievous. Named "Crazy Quilt," he succumbs time and time again to his obsession with the shiny silver star.”

You can read more about the program, and find out the complete history about the original radio series, as well as ordering info at:

http://www.radioarchives.com/The_Complete_Cinnamon_Bear_p/ra031.htm

I just ordered my copy! I was going to simply download it but then I thought, well gathering around the computer might not be the coziest thing ever. . .

It sounds simply enchanting and I can’t wait to get started listening to it with Julia the day after Thanksgiving! If it doesn’t arrive in time, we’ll have a few power sessions until we’re caught up enough to go to a daily schedule leading up to Christmas. So excited -- Thank you to my friend Laura!!




Cool Stuff I Like

2


How cute is this??? So appropriate for the Cozy Week we’ve been having! The artist who created this fabulous artistic porridge-making tutorial is Monica Ramos, and you can see this picture in larger detail, plus other illustrations and information about her work right here.

I don’t know if anyone really gets excited about oatmeal, but I sure do. Oatmeal has always been one of my favorite foods. Bland? No. I don’t think of it that way. Comforting, like a warm blanky for your insides, that’s how I view oatmeal! I like mine drizzled with extra brown sugar with cream lightly poured on top, with walnuts and bananas. GOOD, I tell you!

Now, some business. JILL DI PIETRO – you won my giveaway! But if I don’t hear from you by this Sunday, I have to pick another winner. So email me your contact deets girl! Also, Julia’s Bookbag made it to the Top 3 in the Red Tricycle Seattle’s Totally Awesome awards and we finished at #3! Hurray for us! I can’t believe we even made it to the finals! Thanks SO MUCH all of you who voted for us!!! XOXOXOXO

As always, the world is chock-full of COOL STUFF:


The Winter/Holiday issue of Sweet Paul is online! It is so so FABULOUS.

Clearly I have some kind of problem.

Dare I attempt these cereal box houses? So darn cute!

Fall French Toast.

Nostalgia Organics Body Products. Cutest packaging ever. (via Poppytalk)

Children’s Illustrator Nicoletta Ceccoli has a line of little suitcases! They are DIVINE.

Pancetta and Sage Stuffing Muffins.

Beautiful white advent calendar house! If you can make this, tip of my hat to you!

Have you all seen ‘The Hunger Games’ trailer yet? SO AWESOME! Andrew says it looks like a combo of ‘Battle Royale’ + ‘The Running Man’, only not as good. Utter rubbish that man speaks!


Cool Book of the Week: I told you I had a problem.


‘The Popcorn Dragon’ by two of my favorites, author Jane Thayer and Illustrator Lisa McCue. A boastful little dragon realizes that showing off does not impress his pals. Using his dragon heating talents to pop popcorn for his pals does! Really cute.

Have a wonderful weekend! I’m going to see ‘Breaking Dawn’. Andrew’s opinion after watching the trailer with me: “That looks terrible.” Oh that guy. . .That won’t stop me from enjoying every minute of it! I heard Jacob takes his top off within 15 seconds of being onscreen. That might beat his record from the last film. . .




Harvest Moon Cake

4

November 17, 2011



Made this Harvest Moon Cake last weekend and I was thrilled with the result. Can a cake be delightful? This cake was delightful. The perfect autumn cake, I’ve decided. My cake-loving mother also deemed it delightful and wants me to make it again for our Thanksgiving gathering. And the piece de resistance? My non-cake-loving husband ate more than one piece! (Probably because there were no chocolate chip cookies around.)

The recipe comes from Diana Henry’s lovely ode-to-cold-weather cookbook, ‘Roast Figs Sugar Snow: Winter Food to Warm the Soul’. I picked this book up last year and it is so darn cool! There’s stuff in here I’ve never come across anywhere else. It’s fun reading in addition to having very unique and unusual recipes. Definitely one you might want to put on your Christmas wish list or give as a gift.


‘Peasant Girls in a Mist’ ( a type of baked apple parfait affair), ‘The Dartmoor Inn’s Apple Bread’, ‘West Country Pot Roast Chicken with apples and cider’, ‘Swedish Thursday Soup’, ‘Georgian Cheese Pies’ and ‘Pecan and Pear Upside-Down Cake’ are just a few of the tasties that hail from Russia, Poland and various other Scandinavian cold-weather countries, as well as some recipe nods from our American and British friends.




You could make this cake without the frosting and just serve it as a sort of tea cake or snacking cake. (My husband Andrew thinks I made that term up, like our endless debate on the “house sweater”.) Snacking cake is real my friends! But I thought the frosting was Very Extremely Delightful and you should definitely put the frosting on, in my opinion. It seemed a tad runny when I made it, but it set up very nicely and had the perfect amount of sweetness to offset the not-overly-sweet cake.

HARVEST MOON CAKE with maple syrup and pecans

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, plus extra for greasing the pan (I used unsalted)
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 maple syrup
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (I aerate my flour with a fork and call it good)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp each baking powder, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce (either bought or homemade)
3 1/2 oz pecans, chopped

For the Frosting

1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted (again, I aerate rather than sift)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tbsp heavy cream
4 tbsp dark maple syrup

To Decorate (I skipped this step. Too crafty for moi.)

2 oz shelled pecans
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

Butter the inside of an 8-inch springform pan (I only have a 9 inch springform, so I used that. Seemed to work fine, cake was still quite fluffy.) and line the bottom with greaseproof paper. (I skipped this and just buttered/floured the inside.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. (2-3 minutes.) Add the maple syrup and egg and beat until blended.

Combine the dry ingredients (except the nuts) in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients one third at a time, alternating with the apple sauce. Stir in the pecans.

Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a fine skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (Start checking at 30 minutes. Mine was done at 34 minutes.) Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

To make the frosting, beat together the confectioners sugar and butter with an electric beater until light and fluffy. While beating on low speed, add the cream and maple syrup. Using a spatula, spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cooled cake. (I just did the top.)

To decorate, grind the pecans with the dark brown sugar and the cinnamon in a food processor using the pulse button. You want the mixture to be partially ground, partially chunky. Make a template of a maple leaf – or any kind of leaf shape that you can find easily - by drawing one on a sheet of greaseproof paper and then cutting it out, so that you are left with the intact outline of the leaf in the middle of the paper. Set this on top of the cake and gently scatter the ground pecan mixture over it. Carefully remove the paper. You will be left with a sweet, nutty leaf shape.

Serves 10.

Delightful, I tell you!




How To Be Cozy

4

November 16, 2011



Friends, I pretty much spend the great majority of my life trying to be cozy, or get cozy, or seeking out things that will make me feel cozier. I didn’t go through a nesting phase during my pregnancy because my whole life is spent nesting! I’m a total homebody and I love things that help turn my living environment into a cocoon of snug.

Also, I think if one is legitimately trying to live life in pursuit of cozification, the first thing to do is to adopt the British way of spelling the term: COSY. Now doesn’t that just look more cozy? Let’s peek at them side by side shall we?

COSY. COZY.

Cosy is cosier. The Brits got it right.

Now that we’ve got that figured out, I want to share with you a few things that I think would make everyone feel cozier during this most snuggly time of year! And feel free to consider this Melissa’s Gift Guide #1. More are coming!





1) Girls’ Coat Kitten Pajama Set, 17.99. 2) Donna Hay’s Vanilla Porridge with Honeyed Apples. 3) Candy Bar Soap in Spiced Milk & Honey, $8. 4)‘Comfort Food’ by Maxine Clark, $4. 5) Mariebelle Milk Hot Chocolate with Hazelnut, $12.



6) Flannel Sleep Pants, $39.95. 7) Winter Sips Candle, $18. 8) Alpine Fair Isle Turtleneck Sweater, $88. 9) Papaver Breakfast Mug, $12. 10) Russian Morning Kusmi Tea, $13.50. 11) ‘September’ by Rosamund Pilcher.

A note about Kusmi tea. Best tea ever. End of note.

A note about the book ‘September’. If you love all things English and autumnal, you need this book yesterday. I’ve read it about fifteen times. I basically read it every year.

A note about the little girl PJ’s from Target. Julia has them and she comes home from school and IMMEDIATELY puts them on. EVERYDAY. She looooves them!

Re Mariebelle Hot Chocolate. It will make your life. Just sayin’.

Re Anthropologie. Apparently that store is under the control of cozy masterminds.

And please oh please, if you know of a fab cozy item, you MUST share!



(Image Credit for Hot Chocolate picture: moonlightbulb’s Flikr photostream)




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