Wednesday, December 30, 2009

gifts inspiring creativity

In addition to the many handmade gifts under our tree this year, there were plenty of gifts to encourage creativity or handmade crafts. Along with a host of other art supplies, Finn received a set of Wax-O-Glass crayons which he and Elizabeth have been enjoying.

Elizabeth received several new crochet hooks in various sizes and some yarn to accompany.

She's been busy working on scarves to keep her furry friends warm.

Books inspiring creativity also appeared under our tree. I'm very anxious to try out some of the recipes in The Complete Tassajara Cookbook. I'm always looking for inspiring new vegetarian recipes to try, and this collection is full of clean, simple food that is popular at our house.

Having long admired the elf hats that Soulemama made from this book, I was ecstatic to receive the pattern to make our own. Look for many of these hats to be under the tree next year. ;)

Last, but certainly not least, Paul, always generous to indulge my hobbies and push me into new creative territory, gifted me with a lovely spinning wheel. I have no idea how to actually spin wool, but I'm eager to learn now! I also have a lovely bag full of beautiful roving to practice my spinning.

We only just put the wheel together this evening (read: Paul put the wheel together while I sipped hot tea) so I'll keep you posted on how the spinning is coming in the future weeks.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

handmade Christmas goodies

Many of these handmade goodies have been featured on this blog before as I was working on them, but here is a taste of the handmade goodness that made it's way into our Christmas celebration.

All of the kids received mama-made hats in their stocking. Elizabeth's hat even came with a matching scarf.

In addition to their hats, they each received a handmade shirt from this shop.

Elizabeth has been enjoying snuggling under her mama-made blanket.

And she's making a fort out new silks and wooden clips. I had no intention of gifting her with more silks and clips as we already have dozens of silks in various shapes and colors, but when they appeared on her Christmas list, I made a couple of pastels to add to the collection.

Paulie was also very excited about his new knitted blanket. He's been wanting a throw blanket for his bed, so this was good timing.

Philip got the biggest gift of handmade goodness, although not made by us. He received the wooden castle from Nova Natural along with the blue and yellow knight sets sold there. In addition, he received the knights I'd previously mention during a Handmade Friday post.

This was really only a glimpse of the handmade goodness that graced our holiday. I sometimes find it hard to balance living in the moment with capturing the moment so I don't have photos of everything (and some photos weren't all that great, hence the bad lighting in some of these). Both my mother and my grandmother received a knitted scarf and our close friends' children received wooden toys made by etsians or local wood craftsmen. I think next year I'd like to take a photo of everything we gift that's handmade, by us or other artists, just to see how much we can stick to our goal of a handmade holiday.

Monday, December 28, 2009

back from Asheville

Thanks everyone for your well wishes on our trip. We had a wonderful and restful trip and are now back with the family. I'll try to get a post up in the next day or two about our handmade Christmas. For now, more shots of Asheville:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

the present of Asheville

And again, again, in the old house I feel beneath my tread
the creak of the old stair, the worn rail,
the whitewashed walls, the feel of darkness
and the house asleep...
~ Thomas Wolfe, native of Asheville, NC

My gift to Paul this Christmas was a trip to Asheville, a short drive to the west, to stay in a bed and breakfast sans kids. Asheville, with it's thriving, artsy downtown and vegetarian-accomodating B&Bs reminds Paul of his former life in the Catskills and remains one of his favorite weekend getaway destinations. I also threw in a gift card to a delightful indie bookstore to round out the gift. We've spent the better part of today hitting downtown, wading through yarn at a lovely downtown yarn shop, and eating amazing vegetarian food at one of our favorite restaurants.

Yummy vegetarian food as seen by Paul's blackberry camera...not quite as pretty as with a DSLR...but still very yummy!

And the Irish brewpub in the basement of the veg restaurant. Paul's idea of heaven might just include a vegetarian restaurant sitting on top of an Irish pub.

I hope everyone else is enjoying their presents and some post-Christmas family time.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Celebrating Finn!

Everyone knows it's not easy being that kid whose birthday falls around Christmastime, and it's even harder to be the kid whose birthday falls ON Christmas Day. Finn just happens to be that kid. (Please don't tell me again what a wonderful present that must have been...spending all day Christmas day in the hospital, eating my Christmas burrito, missing out on Christmas morning with the other kids. I'm not complaining or anything. ;) I decided this year to start a new tradition that will hopefully give Finn some special birthday time amidst the holiday celebrations.

So last night, while other moms were sneakily stuffing stockings full of goodies, I was in the kitchen making a Cinnamon Braid.

Then I got up at 5:30 this morning, before the kids could come bounding down the stairs, to bake the Cinnamon Braid (and make fruit salad).

So after the stockings were unstuffed (I also did stuff stockings last night), we lit a candle in Finn's honor and celebrated his wonderful, joyful, sweet presence in our family.

(we even let them eat in the dining room!)

I don't think he quite gets the fact that his birthday is a separate event from Christmas, but he sure was thrilled at the attention lavished over breakfast.

Despite his sour grapefruit face.

He also got a special present opening time all of his own. Just 2 little sweet presents that were perfectly matched to his interests.

It was a joyful celebration indeed.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

making merry

I've been scarce around the blogiverse this week, mostly living in the moment with my family during this holiday week. Some of the ways we're making merry right now:

::playing with cousins::

::challenging Grammy to board games::

::which led to dancing to Christmas Car-i-oke::

::enjoying the last bit of snowy fun in our rapidly melting yard::

::watching Christmas movies with old friends::

::working steadily on Finn's sweater again::

I hope your whole week is merry and full of family and friends!

Monday, December 21, 2009

the season of *light*

Winter Solstice

Hearths and hearts aglow,
Winter wonderland is nigh,
Peace and love to all.

~ Annabel Sheila

a celebratory dinner
with gingerbread and caramel sauce

Happy Solstice to all!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

winter weekend

This weekend before Christmas was full of outside play in the snow, Christmas parties, and family togetherness, but not very many photos. I did get a few though, and they were very sweet.

A teeny, tiny snowman, made by Paulie:

Several gorgeous, handmade ornaments from my ornament swap mamas:

I loved this of Elizabeth, stretching the cold out of her bones after playing in the snow:

Delicious sugar cookies that Elizabeth helped me stamp for a Christmas party:

And a beautiful sunset on the field behind our house to mark the end of an equally lovely weekend:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Snow Day!

The first snow day of the season graced us today with a world of white. The kids were released from school early and thrilled to get out in the snow, even before very much had accumulated. For an area of the country that doesn't see a whole lot of the white stuff, this storm may end up being a doozy. The local weatherman is calling for 4-8 inches and the national weather service is calling for even more than that, with gusty wind to accompany. As long as we keep our power, I'll be happy with any amount. :)

These are the faces of some thrilled kiddos! (Unfortunately, one sick little kiddo, Paulie, was stuck in the house recovering from some nasty virus that kept him from the snow play. He's hoping and praying to be better so he can make up for it tomorrow!)

You can tell when you're in the presence of a NC kid. They have no idea why powdery snow won't form into a snowball.

But they do know how to make snow angels!

After plenty of outside play, we had vegetable soup and homemade bread to warm up our insides.

After the kids waited patiently for Paul, who left on what he describes as a foolhardy mission to buy a few items at the grocery store...

we wrapped up our snow day with a family game night.