• Daily Life

    Christmas and Winter Questionnaire Day Two: Decorations

    I borrowed questions and ideas from: herehere, and here.

    ~Real or fake tree
    We have almost always had a fake tree. My dad doesn’t like the bother of a real tree. When I have my own family I want a real tree. Actually, I’d like to have a tiny tree in my room, but that hasn’t ever worked out yet.

    ~When do you decorate?
    Usually shortly after Thanksgiving. This year I think it was a week after.

    ~Who decorates?
    It used to be everyone, but now it is mostly Mom and the little girls. Certain of them have very specific tastes/styles/ideas.

    ~Do you decorate your room?
    My room is usually in a state of disorder as far as design and organization goes, so most Christmas decorations either would not match or would be lost in the busyness, but I do have one neat half bookcase that I’ve decorated this year plus a adorable little bell wreath hanging on the doorknob outside my door.

    ~When do you take the tree down?
    Usually shortly after Christmas.

    ~White or multi-colored lights
    White all the way, definitely more elegant.

    ~Outside lights
    We don’t have any, but I love a some white lights with candles in the windows and wreaths and garlands.


    If you want to participate:
    ~Real or fake tree
    ~When do you decorate?
    ~Who decorates?
    ~Do you decorate your room?
    ~When do you take the tree down?
    ~White or multi-colored lights
    ~Outside lights

  • Daily Life

    Christmas and Winter Questionnaire Day One: Beginning Christmas

    I borrowed questions and ideas from: here, here, and here. I divided my list into 6 days.

    ~Do you send Christmas cards?
    Sometimes, the pretty ones that come in sets, not the ones with family photos. I like getting those from friends who we’ve not seen in awhile, but I like sending the elegant artistic ones.
    ~When does Christmas start?
    Well, my family starts with Hallmark right after Halloween. This year I didn’t start watching until after Thanksgiving. I’d prefer it to start in December and then end on the 12th day of Christmas January 6th. I think we have plenty of autumn holidays and few of winter, so there is no need to rush into and then rush out of Christmas.

    ~Do you have an advent calendar?
    I outgrew our family one. The three youngest still attached the stuffed decorations on the fabric tree. I kind of did a Christmas activity countdown this year, but its a mix of that and a fun list, so I haven’t followed it exactly. I’d like to find or make one I can make into a tradition.
    ~What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year?
    All of them.
    ~What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
    I’m not sure I’d really ever prefer to travel on a holiday, but perhaps after or before when people still have the decorations up. Some traditional village or city with lovely decorations maybe?
    ~What is your most memorable holiday moment?
    Right now, I cannot really think of a moment. We had two memorable Christmases recently, once when my brother got engaged, three years ago, and then when he got married a few days before Christmas two years ago.
    ~What makes the holidays special for you?
    Family, traditions, the sensory experience, Hallmark, gifts, I love the entire experience!!!!!
    ~How did you grow up thinking about Santa?
    My dad is the Grinch, Scrooge, and the Christmas Corrector, and I don’t think Mom loved the Santa myth. We weren’t taught to believe in Santa, we just enjoyed the various Christmas stories. I never cared overmuch for Santa himself, I just loved all the stories about Christmas.
    ~Can you name all his reindeer?
    Nope. Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blizen, Rudolph. Are there 13 with Rudolph or 11? I should look that up.
    ~Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

    There is nothing wrong with “Happy Holidays,” except it is incredibly generic and boring. “Merry Christmas” is fun to say plus far more specific. And “merry” is quite expressive of Christmas specifically.


    Questions for day one if you want to participate:
    Beginning Christmas
    ~Do you send Christmas cards?
    ~When does Christmas start?
    ~Do you have an advent calendar?
    ~What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year?
    ~What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
    ~What is your most memorable holiday moment?
    ~What makes the holidays special for you?
    ~How did you grow up thinking about Santa?
    ~Can you name all his reindeer?

  • Reading

    A Literary Christmas Link-Up

    I am linking up here for A Literary Christmas.

    My books are:

    ~Annika’s Secret Wish by Beverly Lewis
    ~Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. Tolkein
    ~A Merry Christmas, and Other Christmas Stories by Louisa May Alcott
    ~Stories Behind the Best-loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins
    ~Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: a Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

    And anything else I’m inspired to read from everyone else’s lists.

  • Daily Life

    Christmas Bucket List Completion

    ~Gingerbread house. I showed photos earlier. It was super cute and tasty even though it wasn’t durable.
    ~Christmas Cookie exchange. I made these Peppermint Meltaway Cookies.
    ~Watch Christmas singalong. We watched the two from our childhood.
    ~Try a Couple hot chocolate variations. Nope, I just put extract in mine but didn’t try any of my pinned recipes. I can put this on my winter bucket list though.
    ~Bake a fruitcake for Mamau and Papau. Yes, but I would’ve preferred to have rum to use to make it more flavorful and authentic.
    ~Make truffles for Christmas Eve. Didn’t have the chocolate or the time.
    ~Bake some Christmasy goodies. Didn’t have much time or inclination for more.
    ~Make shimmery snowflakes for room. Not yet. I’m going to move this to my January bucket list.
    ~12 Days of Christmas blogging. I’m going to give myself credit. I blogged quite a bit about Christmas; I think this may have been too restrictive.
    ~Buy, make, and wrap all gifts by the 21st. This didn’t happen. I wrapped a Christmas Eve gift on Christmas Eve and a Christmas gift on Christmas (although we celebrated it Monday).
    ~Read Christmas stories. I read Christmas with Anne and one story from the third collection of Christmas from the Heart.
    ~Watch a couple of old Christmas movies. White Christmas and Its a Wonderful Life.
    ~Watch tons of Hallmark. Of course although I think I may take a break if possible next year.

  • Daily Life

    Christmas Gifts

    I got two pretty bowls from the $5 exchange and “I Love This Yarn” (I exchanged the acrylic for cotton; she thought the brand was all cotton, I think. I love that Hobby Lobby carries this nice feeling cotton with tons of colors) from Mom on Christmas Eve. This was on my list.

    On Christmas Day from my parents I received Ghirardelli dark chocolate and caramel bar, two oranges, gloves, leggings, fuzzy socks (with aloe inside), a purse (the lady from church who made it said she could exchange, because she forgot I liked the bottom of the purse unpinched, so I will be getting a different purse later), a sweatshirt, and a nice seam ripper that can be sharpened or have the head replaced as needed.

    My future BIL drew my name and got me 2 Piano Guys C.D.s (E gave him my list).

    Mamau and Papau bought me a copy of The Book Thief, a sewing book, a necklace and earrings set, and a left-handed calligraphy set with five nibs and four colors of ink. All but the jewelry was from my list! I LOVE the pens; that slant makes a HUGE difference in my ability to make the proper strokes.

    Wow, I love gift lists. I got a nice mix of gifts from my list and other. I think that everyone liked what I gave them too although I don’t know what E’s boy thinks; he’s hard to read, all things considered, I think I did a good job.

  • Handicrafts

    Christmas Knitting

    I forgot to take a photo of the $1 gift; it was a cream version of the twist headband in this post. The beret is this pattern, and I love it as it looks like a real beret instead of a beanie when worn. I’m going to use it as a base for all other berets I make because it is the only true beret I’ve done. Also, I blocked it with the opening on the bottom of the plate and drew it up tighter with yarn stitched around, and this may have helped with the shape a bit. I think that mine looked better than the photos on the pattern page, so don’t be worried to try it.

    The pink shawl is my third Holden, and my first attempt at knitting with beads (I improvising the number and placement). The photos do not do the crystals justice. This was for my grandmother.

    The L’Enveloppe was for my sister, and I didn’t do the decreases correct (I think the seed stitch version instructions were confusing, if not wrong in keeping the pattern, so I improvised it to my detriment), so it is far longer than the pattern. Now, because of the asymmetrical nature, I don’t think it looks wrong, but I thought I would note this for anyone who might try the pattern.






  • Culture and Entertainment

    Christmas Movies and Books

    In addition to watching Hallmark movies (more on that later), we re-watched a lot of childhood favorites plus some old classics. I’ve seen all of these before (although A Charlie Brown Christmas only once and didn’t remember it well) except Polar Express. I had few more new to us movies from the library but couldn’t motivate anyone to watch them with me before they were due back.

    Christmas Sing Along. I hardly paid attention once I realized it wasn’t the one I thought.

    Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Sing Along. I enjoyed this; its quite short to an adult. I thought it lasted forever as a child.

    Polar Express. We didn’t even finish this as we were so bored. It was both weird and boring. I’m not ever sure I’ve been that bored.

    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

    A Charlie Brown Christmas

    Frosty. As cute as always.

    Its a Wonderful Life. I liked it better this time around, but I still don’t greatly enjoy it, especially as a Christmas movie since it has SO much angst.

    White Christmas. Still waiting on Holiday Inn from the library. I’m thinking I will still prefer White Christmas.

    Hallmark was rather a disappointment this year. We only had the second channel temporarily, so we didn’t get to see to many old favorites (they’ve seemingly moved most of them over to that channel). And most of the movies didn’t get a super high rating from us except A Perfect Christmas. A Nutcracker Christmas, Christmas Cookies, and Finding Father Christmas were cute in my opinion (the latter is on the second channel) but nothing like our favorites.

    I didn’t do much Christmas reading because I ordered so late. I read Christmas with Anne, marking down food references: turkey, plum pudding, and mince pie featured in almost all the stories, and nuts, candies, taffy, and fruitcake made a couple appearances and raisin pudding at least one appearances. This seems so 19th century and British and Canadian. Only fruitcake is familiar to me (in name, we don’t usually have it). We have turkey at Thanksgiving and ham or beef at Christmas and Christmas Eve.

    I read one prosy, sententious story from Christmas from the Heart three. I haven’t been inspired to read more. I have Letters from Father Christmas from the library now, but I might just wait until next year.

  • Daily Life

    Blogmas Winter Tag

    DAY 16 { WINTER TAG }

    ❄ Top 2 Winter Beauty Essentials
    Lotion and lotion stick (I use lip balm year round).  My hands literally drink up regular lotion in a few minutes, so I try to use a couple rounds. I carry a lotion stick which is really thick balm that I can put on the top of my hands without getting my fingertips and palms sticky.

    ❄ Top 2 Winter Fashion Essentials
    Winter is hard fashion-wise for me. Tights and coats.  

    ❄ Favorite Winter Accessory
    Shawls worn as scarves 

    ❄ Favorite Winter Nail Polish
    Nail polish doesn’t last between my hand-washing and dish washing and hand-crafts.  

    ❄ Hot Cocoa or Apple Cider?
    Hot Cocoa with tons of marshmallows. We had multi-pack of different flavors of Swiss Miss chocolate, and I loved the French Vanilla and white chocolate for a change.

    ❄ Favorite Winter Candle?
    I’m not a candle person (that requires more presence of mind) . . . or really a scent person (sensory overload happens quickly for me with sound and scent), but I do like a whiff of vanilla or cinnamon now and then.

    ❄ Snowboarding or Skiing?
    I’ve tried neither. I’m scared of ski-lifts and am sure I would tear a muscle or tendon or impale myself on skis. I might try skis or snowboarding (seems less dangerous and more interesting but my sister said it is much harder).

    ❄ Have you ever gone Ice Skating? Are you any good or do you FAIL miserably?
    Yes, and I enjoy it. I would like to take lessons like my sisters did for fun.

    ❄ Does it snow where you live?
    Yes, but the most snow occurs in January and February. We usually have a light snow and green Christmas at the end of the year and big snow and ice-storms at the beginning of the year. 

    ❄ Have you ever made a snowman?
    Yes, but we seem to get a lot of sandy snow, so its usually not very easy. Also, most of us are not super interesting in that at our age.

  • Daily Life

    Girls Gifting

    I spoke a bit about my “gifting philosophy” on the guys gifting post. Many of my gifts this year are knitted. I don’t make huge or complicated knitted gifts for people who could care less, but I do like saving money, so I have been trying to save money and stash bust on smaller gifts. My larger gifts will be appreciated. As I’ve yet to finish the Christmas gifts, I will save those for another post.

    My pride and joy gift is the photobook from Mixbook that I made for my Mom. I just received it today (12/9) which was earlier than anticipated. I picked the matte hardcover in the largest landscape size (11 by 14 inches), and I added a couple of pages, but with all the discounts I paid just under $50 (and I think the girls will agree to help pay), and its SO professional looking. Mom will cry. I’m so pleased. I’m definitely going to make me one for our trip . . . and any other trip I go on.

    Here are some photos of the photobook
    One of the example books featured a faded, softened photo of the Grand Canyon, and I loved that, so I shamelessly copied it. I cut off the top because it shows our last name.
    I matched the faded look for the back
    Grand Canyon
    Mission Beach, San Diego
    Zion and Arches National Parks
    After I looked at all the photos as I edited them and after the girls looked at the book, several of us decided we are ready to go back. I loved just watching the landscape change through the windows, and standing in the waves, letting them knock me about.
    I bought from these from annual art festival I attend. I bought one for each of my sisters.

    More Gift Ideas for Women and Girls

    Etsy is a treasure trove for gifts; I’ve bought so many nerdy gifts on there, and I bought a locket from TheBloomingThread for part of my sister’s graduation gift (I think I want to get us all a locket one year; I was thinking about it for this year). One year I bought a pearl cage Cinderella carriage necklace. I bought Princess Elsa earrings for myself from this shop; I don’t think they still have them, but they are lovely (you can probably view them under sales), and you could always see if you could request them.

    And of course there exist all sorts of options for bookish people. The Modern Mrs. Darcy has a list, and Ginny Shellar has a list.

    I love these mini nail polish kits; I’ve bookmarked this one, and I bought this one for my sister’s birthday (and now I want one), and I only paid about $4 because we had a ton of $5 and $10 off (the percentages off didn’t work for this brand).

  • Daily Life

    Gifting for Guys

    My family thinks that I’m good at gifting. I think that I’m good at buying for them. My style works with knowing people well and having a good frame of reference. Also, I can do “tough love” or “tough luck” gifting with close family. With extended family and friends, overthinking hasn’t always worked. Some people are just easier to buy for, too. And the less you know the person and the less you want to give a gift, the worse it becomes. I dislike buying gifts as a customary action; I need to want to give it (isn’t that really the point anyway?).

    My brother gets a lot of clothes which is boring, and he doesn’t need us to get them, so for his birthday, I thought I would get him a few gifts that would let him branch out a bit but that were still related to his interests. We’ve joked about his “culture points” (we meant high culture) and mourned a bit about his lack of reading (he will read history and some other non-fiction though, which really is better anyway!), and I wanted him to branch out a bit from chain restaurants. So, I bought him Target Tokyo because it was listed as a Pulitzer history runner up, a model kit that could double as decoration, and a gift card to a local restaurant. All of it was a hit, and he hoped that I would draw his name for Christmas (I didn’t).

    I drew my sister’s fiancé for our immediate family drawing and bought him a Groupon to a local restaurant. I also bought him Boy and Going Solo by Roald Dahl (I read the latter and greatly enjoyed it this year) because my sister (the one engaged to him) has said he liked reading but not really the hardcore history books that I’m getting for the other men of the family and he likes middlegrade like all of us girls. Dad likes reading about WWII and Papau likes many areas of history, so Dad is getting To Hell and Back (along with a coupon for all of us girls to watch The Martian with him) and Papau is getting Five Presidents (along with fruitcake).

    I have come across a couple articles and videos that mention that guys like different genres; I know that sounds obvious, but I’m not talking about merely action versus romance, but fiction versus nonfiction. I knew that in my family they did, but I didn’t give it much thought. I like looking at history book award lists like the Pulitzer Prize for History (don’t overlook the runners up), the Francis Parkman Prize list, and the Bancroft Prize list. Dr. Moehler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has a good book list here.

    I think that nonfiction, models (or even Legos, I almost got my brother some), activities (from movies to rock-climbing), knives and tools, board games (I’ll buy video games when pigs fly), and food are great basic ideas for guys, the ones in our family anyway. A lot of these categories appear on gift lists, but you have to personalize them, not just grab something if it is recommended, but if it is a category the gift receiver will like.

  • Daily Life

    Blogmas: Decorating, Christmas Cards, Celebrating and Advent Calendar

    I’m going to combine a couple Blogmas days as a Q and A

    How do you decorate? Real Tree or Artificial Tree?

    The three younger girls are the main decorating committee and they’ve got a nice little pattern. For the family room they decorate the tree with a light hand (we use to have an excessive amount of ornaments) and the stair railing, and we have new stockings this year (so cute). For the dinining room they put a smaller tree in the corner, put lights on the sideboard, and hang ball ornaments from the chandlier. We also have Christmas china on the table. 

    We have artifical trees. We’ve had real a couple years. I plan on having real at my own home (and real branches for decorating), both because I prefer genuine and to cut down on storage space. I’ve wanted to get a little tree for my room, but I’ve got so much stuff the decorations would get lost. I am thinking of hanging snowflakes from the ceiling and window where they will be more noticeable.

    Quiet Christmas or Family Filled Loud Party Christmas?

    I think we are pretty moderate. We can get loud, but we aren’t really “party” people.

    Christmas Cards (do you send them, show us your favorites this year, or tells your favorite cards to send whether vintage, or bright and colorful)?

    I collect pretty ones, I want to keep one of each of my favorites. I don’t always send them, but they are nice to have on hand. We used one in a package we sent. I think I will send one to my grandparents for fun and maybe as a thank-you to friends for our gingerbread house decorating party.

    Advent Calendar?

    We have this little kiddy one from our childhood that the three little girls use now. I’d love to have a wooden one; I’m considering asking a family friend, the one who made our cedar chests, if he could make me one because I would like it to be solid and specific (long rather than square or tall). I would also like to have a chocolate advent calendar  one year.

  • Daily Life

    Blogmas Day 11: Stocking Stuff Ideas Link Post

    I have collected several gift posts including a few on stocking stuffers

    Here is one from nourishing minimalism Gift cards, food, seeds, candy, hats, gloves, scarves, socks, etc. are good minimalist gifts.

    Here is one from A Modern Mrs. Darcy I particularly love the bookish, letter writing, and artsy ideas, particularly the washi tape and pens. Stamps, stickers, paper punches, a lot of small art journal items like that are lovely.

    Mom is giving seed packets to her friends, but I love the stocking stuffer idea.

    Mom always gives us fruit (I LOVE when we each get our own pomegranate) and chocolate. I think we’ve gotten Tic Tacs before too.

    The coupon idea doesn’t always have to be for kids; I made one from all of us girls for Dad to watch a movie he keeps mentioning with him.

    Activities are always a good idea; Mom bought the little girls ice skating necklaces and lessons one year.

    Beauty items like nail polish, barrettes, and headbands are always appreciated.

    A lot of these items are good for our $1 family stocking and the $5 gift exchange.

    The gifts I bought my little sisters before we decided to draw names will go in their stockings (they are adorable; I will do a post of the gifts I’m giving later).

    I personally would like a couple balls of “I Love This Yarn.”