Sunday, December 22, 2013

o christmas tree

I took an unintended vacation from this blog.  I don't think I realized just how busy I would be at Christmas time with my new etsy shop!  I'm definitely not complaining.  But I will say I was very happy when the last packaged up order went into the hands of a postal worker.  That was a good moment for me.  And between hosting an open house, having my parents visit, and friends dropping by, it's been a very busy holiday season.  I just finished shopping two days ago, and I haven't wrapped one solitary present.

But!  We did get the tree a couple weeks ago, and that was a pretty great day!  We found a farm about an hour away, and it was a real charmer.  There was a historic log cabin on the property that was lovingly decorated, and there were trees galore to choose from.  And most importantly, hot cocoa, cider and cookies for after your tree was felled.
 But for the kiddos, I'm pretty sure the ride in the tree sled was the best part.  They were very happy to sit back and let Papa do all the work.  Me too.
 I was happy there was a dusting of snow on the ground, it just seems wrong to chop down a tree without any snow around.
And now our little fir is proudly decorated in our family room.  Maybe I'll get around to sharing some pictures from our home all decked out for Christmas.  I'll try, anyhow!

I hope you're all having a beautiful holiday season.  Our littles are finished with school, and Brian is finished with work for a while, so I'm a happy mama.  Time to gather in close, make a few more Christmas treats, watch favorite movies, and drink cocoa by the fire.  And I hope it's the same for all of you.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmastime in Chicago

Fair warning.  I have a lot of pictures to share.  All I wanted for Christmas was to spend some December time in downtown Chicago.  And so we did it!  And it was the best Christmas present ever.  I have such good memories of going downtown to "see the windows." Which everyone in Chicagoland understands to mean the Marshall Field windows all decked out in a new theme every Christmas.  Now that Marshall Fields has been bought by Macy's, they don't do nearly the same amount of windows, and they just aren't as magical.  But they were still magical enough for our littles!
We met our friends and their kids early in the day, and spent the rest of the day having fun with them.  After the windows we went inside to see Santa!  I had never done the Marshall Field/Macy's Santaland, and I was somewhat disappointed to find it did not exactly live up to the David Sedaris Santaland Diaries.  But there was the long maze of vignettes for the littles to look at until we made it to Santa.  And Santa wasn't disappointing.  He was pretty great, actually.  And luckily my kids love Santa.
They were not shy about telling Santa that yes, they had been good, and letting him know the exact toys they hoped to find Christmas morning.  After Santa we took a look at the big Christmas tree inside the Walnut Room, the restaurant inside Marshall Field's.  It is 3 stories high, and really pretty.  I've never been disappointed in that tree!
After we had some lunch, we headed over to Millennium Park to see The Bean and to ice skate.  The Bean (officially named "Cloudgate") is one of my favorites.  It's really pretty to see the skyline reflected in it, and always fun to take pictures of ourselves.
Rowan and I sat out iceskating.  Rowan simply was scared, and Brian reminded me I was pregnant.  Ooops!  Maybe next time.  Fletcher was really wobbly, being his first time on skates, but just when he was getting the hang of it, he called it quits.
I left the camera behind after our ice skating excursion.  We went back to the hotel to relax a bit, and then went to the Christkindlemarket that night.  It's one of my favorite things to do at Christmastime, but the kids did not agree.  It was mighty cold, so I can't blame them too much.  The next day we spent most of the day at The Museum of Science and Industry.  I also didn't take my camera there, but they do about 60 large Christmas trees decked out in decorations from all over the world.  Each tree represents a different country.  The littles were more into the other fun exhibits, but I loved seeing the trees.  That night we went up to the top of The Sears Tower (now the Willis tower) to look at the city lights.  I hadn't been up to the top in years, but Brian had taken Fletcher a couple years ago.  Right when they had opened the new glass platforms.  Yikes!  But Fletcher had NO fear, even scared some others by jumping and stomping on the glass.  And by some others I mean myself.
Our last day in Chicago was spent shopping and dropping off a little mail for Santa.
And when it was time to leave, Fletcher was so sad, he sobbed.  He said he wanted to stay in Chicago forever.  And I cried a tear or two with him, and agreed.
We'll be back, Chicago.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

gold stick stars

I'm not covering new ground here, making stick stars.  But I thought I'd share how I make mine and how I made them a little different this year.  I've made these for years, using them as decorations, or using them on wrapped presents.  They're an easy craft, and the littles really loved taking part this year, too!

You'll need:
Hot glue gun
Spray paint/ craft paint in your color choice

First I gathered sticks with similar thickness, but different lengths.  I told Fletcher and Rowan we were on a "stick hunt"and so they did most of the work, ha!  Just a spoonful of sugar, right?  
 I laid out sticks to make stars then started using the hot glue gun at the joints.  I used a liberal amount at every connecting point.  This really doesn't take very long at all.
 Once the glue had set, I let the kids pick out their own stars.  Then I used my trusty gold spray paint to make mine all gold.  I let the front dry, then flipped them over to do the back.
 I accidentally sprayed half my hand gold in the process.  I pretended I was a Bond girl for a second, then got out craft paint for the little's stars.
 They loved painting the stars, and it actually took them quite a long time to get them just right.  There's nothing I love more as a mom than a project that eats up a lot of time!  Honestly?  I love Rowan and Fletcher's stars even more than mine.
But I do like the way mine look hung up over the mantle.
 I hung a few in other places, too.  Like over the window by the tree.  I think I need to make a lot more.  I see decorations for gifts for grandparents, teachers, and neighbors in our future!
I wish I had more time to make a million different things.  Some year I'd love to learn how to make the traditional straw Swedish ornaments.  Do you make crafts during the holidays?

Monday, December 2, 2013

a little shop note

Today is the last day to get 20% off any order in the shop!  This will be my last sale until after Christmas, and I'll be closing the shop sometime in the next week so that I can concentrate on getting all these ornaments and holiday orders finished.

I have to say that this little shop has been doing so well in the holiday season, I'm almost sorry to close it for a while.  But doing well means a lot of orders, and I definitely want to get these orders in on time! I appreciate all the kind words, orders, and all the shop shares on Instagram, Facebook, and your blogs. Your kindness means so much to me!!