Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I do believe it's the Christmas season. Around these parts, we've squirreled away the last trappings of autumnal orange,

the dried leaves and chestnuts, the dead dragonfly and butterfly bodies, the antlers and acorns, the owls and same old corn dollies that have been slowly losing bits of husk for a few years now.

As a sure sign of the season, we spent most of Saturday at the kids' school's Make-A-Craft Fair (which C refers to as the "Make-Some-Crap fair," due to the abundance of craft foam, and which I like to think of as the Take-A-Crap fair for no other reason than it rhymes and I'm totally immature). In years past, I've run a table for making Wee Felt Folk, which has been a big hit, but a lot of work, both for me ahead of time (bending all those pipe cleaners and cutting out all those tiny, tiny shirts and pants) and for the kids to do all that sewing, so this year I had them make gnomes instead (wooden bodies, glued clothes, sewn hat)--still some sewing, still subversively not plastic. I had, according to the final ticket count, 33 customers, and they all loved it. I love to see the kids get so into sewing, even though most of them have never sewn before. I love especially when the boys do it (I would say there was an even split between boys and girls). I forgot my camera, so I just have this lousy phone picture of two very intent boys and my dwindling supplies of gnome clothes.

The rest of Saturday, we spend decorating. Our poor tree has the problem of too few branches (being wild-caught and all) and too many ornaments, so those branches droop, but it is loved.

My favorite part, as always is our Winter Village (which I've mentioned before here, here and here), which seems to grow every year. On the windowsill behind it are three paper houses my mother-in-law made a few years ago and some sparkly Putz houses that I bought at an antique store last year, as well as E and Z's gnomes from the fair (E's never got a hat) and three trees I made by winding wool roving around yarn cones. That's the only Christmas decorating craft I'll be doing this year, but what a satisfying craft it is--super fast and easy and I love the results. I'd make a million if I had more yarn cones.

 Gnomes and Tomten patrol our other windowsills,

Along with three of our favorite Christmas villains, a Troll, Krampus and the Grinch.

This year I wrapped up the books for our Book Advent (more on that here and here) in the fabric gift bags I made last year, which made the whole wrapping process so much faster and easier than usual, and most of the gift bags will be back in circulation by the time I need them for gifts (more on our favorite holiday books here, here, here and here. I recently saw that Jan Brett has a new Christmas book out that we might need to get our hands on, even though we have more than plenty for the 24 days of Advent). E and Z are still game to read picture books, and sometimes M sticks around to listen (fortunately, we finished reading Harry Potter Book 5 just in time to start in on the Christmas books, and goodness I must say I'm grateful for the break!)

Things are a bit topsy-turvy this year (even more than usual), with holiday traveling plans ahead of us. We normally fit our holiday traditions in on the weekends closest to the celebration in question, but this year we'll be gone on Solstice and Hanukkah, so we're just celebrating any old time. Sunday E, Z and I played dreidel, using walnuts rather than coins (which lowered the stress level a good deal, as did not playing with M, I do believe--last year it ended in tears). 

And we made and hung birdseed ornaments on our tree outside (which we normally do on Solstice).

I was going to make spekulatias cookies over the weekend for St. Nicholas day, but we were out of eggs, and, frankly, I didn't really feel like making cookies. Instead, E, Z and I made them tonight after dinner, while M was at his guitar lesson, which actually worked out well (I had the dough made ahead of time). I gave the boys half the dough to roll, cut, mold at will (with the occasional admonitions to please just make a few cookies) while I used the other half to mold into spekulatias. Rather than six hours like last year, it took us about one hour. Yea. Who knows how or when we'll get around to latkes or Lucia buns, but it will all be fine however it turns out.

On Sunday I got out a tiny stacking house toy for setting up a wooden nativity scene (yes, we're heathen/pagan/atheists around here, but who doesn't love to set up tiny scenes with tiny people?) and it inspired all three boys to play with all these stacking Waldorfy toys that they almost never touch.

I loved what they came up with. Later E came back to it all and made little caves for little wooden animals. Maybe just clearing all the junk out of the living room was all they needed to settle down and play with a simple toy.

 Last summer, after we arrived home from a camping trip to find that the blackberries had gone by, C remarked that some day he'd like to stay home for an entire summer and work in the garden. Now to me, that sounds like my personal version of hell (yes I'd like the whole summer off, but I'd jump in the car and hit the road, not sit around watching the garden grow). On the other hand, I'd love to have the whole month of December off and spend every day baking and making crafts and decorating. That's unlikely to happen anytime soon, but in the meantime, I'll squeeze it in where I can.

How are your Decemberings going?

Oh, and P.S., my needle-felted Emmet Otter got a shout-out on the blog Geek Crafts. Check out her to-die-for crocheted Emmet O.


  1. Hurray for the felted otter! Last year's post prompted me to hunt down the book at the library, and read it to my kids. Happy holidays to you and your family. Your home looks so festive!

  2. We have that same xmas tree every year! I love them because you can actually see and enjoy the ornaments.

    Thanks for reminding me of the Xmas village. I nearly forgot we have one - my dad made it over several years. Each Xmas he'd give us one or more new pieces of the village. He passed five years ago and setting up the village always brings back wonderful memories.

    And I would gladly sit w/ C watching the garden grow! :)

    "If I had wings and I could fly I know where I would go
    But right now I'll just sit here so contentedly
    And watch the garden grow."
    (with apologies to


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