Category Archives: Christmas

Book Club Christmas Tea 2019

Last weekend was our annual book club Christmas tea and it was delightful, as usual. We had four kinds of sandwiches (egg salad, shrimp salad, roast beef with provolone, and cilantro chicken salad,) two kinds of scones (cranberry-orange and bacon cheddar,) Christmas cake, grape salad, and Christmas punch. I love a good tea sandwich so I ate way too many and also floated away from all the tea. Stasia brought corsages for everyone so it felt especially fancy. I think corsages are under-utilized and I’m going to demand one for every birthday from now on. We read PG Wodehouse which was enjoyable, but I read it all in a couple days so I was sort of Wodehoused out by the end. The writing is really charming though so hopefully I’ll be ready to tackle a short story here and there in the future. We always have party poppers with crowns, mustaches, and jokes. Reading the jokes and guessing the riddles is always my favorite part of the day. Three cheers for good book discussions in 2019!

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Christmas Presents

RBG gift setIt was a very good Christmas. As usual, I feel very spoiled by Naoto’s generosity. He gave me this very fun Ruth Bader Ginsburg gift set that includes cards, a notepad, a pin, a bottle opener, a sticker, a tattoo, and a hilarious gavel pencil.Greer gifts, Baum Kuchen traveler's notebook charm He also went to Greer and found another RBG notepad and he also picked out a cat notebook and the special Greer x Appointed blue notebook. It’s such a perfect shade of blue and I love Appointed notebooks…the paper is a dream to write on. And he picked out this sweet Traveler’s Notebook charm from Baum-Kuchen. JP art and needlecraft We’ve done a few craft shows with Jessica Pignotti and I just love her style. He picked out this sweet carrot necklace and this Presley-like cat pin for me. Seriously, those tiny carrot stitches are so delicate and perfect. I can’t wait to wear them both. stocking stuffersAnd finally, he stuffed my stocking with some treats he picked up while he was in Oregon in the fall. Dunkin Donuts sweatpantsNothing I gave Naoto comes close to what he gave me, but I do think these Dunkin Donuts sweatpants are pretty sweet, right?

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The Christmas Rush is Here

This was the scene on Monday morning when I got up early to take Naoto to work and had a couple of hours to sit in the dark and gaze at the Christmas tree while listening to NPR. We had our last craft show of the season last weekend and Mondayc just felt good to have nothing to do for a moment before work. Not that I really have nothing to do–there’s plenty of shopping, shopping, wrapping, card writing, and more shopping to do. But it was nice to take a few moments and appreciate the tree and the lights and Presley’s purrs. Hopefully by the time this posts, my Christmas cards will be done and my book club book will be read and at least a few of the gifts have been wrapped or at least purchased…one can hope.

How are your holiday preparations coming?

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Christmas Post Office

christmas village post office, holiday village, ceramic post officeI’ve been wanting a Christmas village post office for awhile now. I have my Putz house village, and I’ve never seen a vintage paper post office before, so I told my mom and dad to keep an eye out for some vintage or new ceramic ones. Well, they found this perfect little jewel at a thrift shop for $2.50! They found the postman Santa last year. He might not be to scale but he fits right in!

I don’t know how vintage it is, but I think it’s charming and now I want a little collection of just random post offices (serendipitously found at thrift stores because I don’t need to stalk something else on eBay!) My mini post office collection of one is living on my desk so it stays safe from Presley. (She has taken to knocking things down at 4AM to get our attention.)

Tomorrow, I need to go to the actual, non-ceramic post office to buy some stamps for the church and to mail something…wish me luck!

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November Books

November was a weird reading month, with Halloween and Christmas book-ending a Midwestern coming-of-age story.

“The Giant Wisteria” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I love “The Yellow Wallpaper” so I was excited to read this one, which is sort of a ghost story inside a feminist story. I can’t say more without major spoilers, but there is an unwed mother and a haunted wisteria involved…

Carmilla by J Sheridan Le Fanu

One of our friends was going to see a movie based on this book and when he told me about it, I ordered it from the library and put down The Sundial to make time for vampires. Carmilla predates Dracula by a quarter of a century and is one of the first novels published with lesbian love scenes. It’s provocative and really good! Put it on your list for next Halloween!

The Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter

This was our book club read, chosen because it was referenced in Not Without Laughter last month. It reminded me a lot of Anne of Green Gables (which to me, is the gold standard of old coming of age books.) Maybe that’s why I didn’t love this…the main character was too perfect. Anne is so lovable because she is flawed and has some very relateable embarrassing moments. Elnora is so perfect that she’s kind of boring, even though her adventures in the limberlost were interesting to read about. (I had no idea there used to be a lot of swampland in Indiana!) Oh and there’s a love triangle that reminds me of a Hallmark movie, which just does not work in the same way as it does on the Hallmark channel.

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck

This is a sweet Christmas short story. It’s a super quick read and it warms the heart more than a hot cup of cider.

A Kidnapped Santa Claus by L Frank Baum

This one is so weird, and I loved it. Santa gets kidnapped by some cave daemons and his virtues are tested. It’s a simple moral story but I really enjoyed it, especially the illustrations by Richard Rosenblum. I’ve never read The Wizard of Oz and now I kind of want to…

That’s all for November. So far, I haven’t read anything this month, even though I have a book of Christmas murder mysteries and our book club book to read…I’m two books away from finishing fifty books/stories this year, so I better get a move on so I can meet my goal!

 

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Spending the Yen: Christmas Stationery

I found this Christmas stationery last year at Loft and it was pretty pricey…like way more than I usually spend for stationery in Japan which has so many things for cheap. But Naoto slipped it into my basket and told me to buy it…it’s hard to argue with him in Japan. It’s really lovely washi paper with a nice texture that makes me wish I used a fountain pen more. And the tree is embossed with red and iridescent ink. I hope I can make time to send out a Christmas letter or two this season!

Have you started your Christmas (or other holiday) cards yet? I haven’t…hopefully next week after my last show of the season I can make time for some mail and other holiday cheer!

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Hallmark Christmas Movie BINGO

It’s the MOST wonderful time of the year! Hallmark Christmas Movies are running full-time, filling my tv, my home…my heart with g-rated, pure-as-snow Christmas cheer. I think I’ve mentioned before how addicting these movies are for me during the holiday months. I can’t stop watching, even though they’re all pretty formulaic and predictable and they are pretty…traditional. No one is getting tipsy at the holiday parties. (Honestly, I’m not even sure if the eggnog is spiked.) And no one is having any premarital shenanigans, no-siree. These movies are so innocent, there’s rarely a kiss before the couples are committed. All that said, I’m pretty cynical and even so, I find these movies so comforting and they’re a cozy background show to have on during decorating and holiday card writing.

It’s the tenth anniversary of Countdown to Christmas this year, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites in case anyone out there is watching or is tempted to watch. It was very hard to narrow it down, and I’m already feeling guilty for leaving Mariah Carey’s movie off the list, so maybe there will be a follow-up to this post during the season… My all-time favorite Hallmark Movie is A Very Merry Mix-Up with Alicia Witt. I think this was her first Hallmark Christmas Movie (in 2013) and she’s gone on to make one every year since. I like the story on this one: a woman goes to meet her fiancé’s family and accidentally ends up at the wrong house, but soon discovers how right the house really is. It’s basically one giant misunderstanding that leads to a cute, but predictable outcome. I like the chemistry between the leads and the chemistry with his family. This movie also has the ultimate evil boyfriend. (In case you don’t know, a typical Hallmark trope is to have a woman in a relationship with a man who clearly doesn’t value her or care about Christmas…usually he’s a businessman who only cares about money. Sometimes the roles are reversed and the woman is the cold-hearted Christmas hater…you know, for variety.) Christmas with Holly is on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel where the movies are a little more family oriented, but almost always have a love story too. Holly’s mom passed away and she has stopped talking and is being raised by her three (unprepared) uncles. One owns a coffee shop and he meets a toy shop owner and magic happens. (Not real magic…Christmas magic.) It’s sort of a modernized Three Men and a Baby, but with younger guys and a little girl. It’s a really sweet movie. The Christmas Card was kind of my first Hallmark Christmas movie. (It was made in 2006.) Faith, a woman from a small town, writes to a random solider, Cody, in Afghanistan. He is so moved by her letter and charmed by her stories of the town that he finds the town and stops to visit when he’s on leave after a tragedy in Afghanistan. They meet (randomly at a diner where they order the exact same meal involving extra crispy curly fries.) Cody ends up staying with Faith and her family–there’s an Army connection with Faith’s dad who is played by the loveable Ed Asner–and of course, they all fall in love. But the road to happiness is blocked by Faith’s boyfriend/fiancé (Skipper from Sex and the City!) who seriously couldn’t be more wrong for her. Ed Asner does his share of meddling to help Faith realize who she really should be marrying. I watch it every year. I haven’t been crazy about many of the newer Hallmark movies, but this one from 2017 was a winner for me. Holly is “Miss Christmas,” the person who chooses the Christmas tree for the “Radcliffe Center” in Chicago. Her search takes her to Claus, Wisconsin to answer a letter from a boy offering up his family’s tree. The boy happens to have a handsome single father and the family is recovering from the death of a close loved one. Who better to turn those sad hearts around than Miss Christmas? There are baking montages, ugly Christmas sweaters, a couple of misunderstandings, and lots of Christmas cheer in this one. Oh, and I really like the little boy–child actors in these movies can be…precocious–Joey is just precocious enough. And the grandpa…he’s punny. And finally, The Nine Lives of Christmas. Presley and I look forward to this one every year. What do you get when you mix a busy veterinarian student with a scarred, I’ll-always-be-a-bachelor firefighter, two cats, and an old house? A purr-fect Hallmark Christmas movie. This one has a shallow, evil girlfriend, a meddling sister, and a wise fire chief.

I am working my way through this season’s new movies. I’ll report back if there are any stand-outs in the new season.

I made a simple Hallmark Christmas Movie BINGO based on my years of watching these movies. click here if you want to play! You can print the cards or play online. (New cards can be refreshed by clicking at the top.) Let me know if I should add some more tropes…I know there are plenty I missed!

I’d love to know if you watch the Hallmark movies during the holidays. Which one is your favorite?

I’m off to decorate the tree! Everything feels so rushed this season with Thanksgiving being so late but I’m determined to be done tomorrow so we can enjoy as much of the lights and decorations as possible. Three cheers for Christmas lights (and silly movies) to get us through the darkest days of winter!

 

 

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Petite Boutique 2019

This week I’m preparing for another Petite Boutique! Prepping for this show always reminds me of how quickly the year goes…I can’t believe the holiday season is back again. This is my fourth year at Petite Boutique, which you may remember was my first ever craft show! Petite Boutique kicks off my holiday show season–I have three shows in November and one in December. If you’re local, this page has all of the information on where to find me this season.

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Middle Aged Woman in Front of Her Christmas Tree

Inspired by this online article about these fabulous middle-aged women in the 1950s and 60s, Naoto took a few pictures of me with our Christmas tree this year. I put on my new blue velvet dress and I poured myself a glass of prosecco for the picture. (This lady was my inspiration.)  I took a couple of shots of Naoto and Presley. I know her face says otherwise, but she really does like to wear her scarf. Naoto liked this one because Presley is sleeping above me on the books.

I really think this is going to become a tradition. I always try to get a good picture of our tree but I enjoyed being IN the picture, too. I love the fancy shots, but maybe next year, I’ll take a risqué shot in my pajamas like this lady! (Ok, probably not.)

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Stationery Christmas Gifts

snail mail christmas gifts, baum kuchen, greer, constellation co, office supply giftsNaoto hit it out of the ballpark for me this Christmas. He went with the always popular stationery theme. snail mail christmas gifts, greer, office supply giftsHe did a lot of shopping at Greer, THE best stationery store in Chicago. He found a couple of enamel pins, a travel eraser, and a tiny matchbook notebook. He also got a calendar, but I’ll talk about that in my annual calendar post. Japan post enamel pin, Japanese mail stampHe gave me a post box enamel pin (which I may have directed him toward.) And this very sweet Japan post rubber stamp of a girl mailing a letter. Niconeco Zakkaya is one of my favorite online places for Japanese stationery. They offer so many unique things from indie designers and small makers. He also gave me some letter socks from Constellation & Co. This makes my third pair of mail-themed socks so maybe a sock post is overdue. Baum-Kuchen, travelers notebook, superior laborAnd he gave me a cherry blossom stamp and a gorgeous Superior Labor pouch from Baum-Kuchen. Baum-Kuchen, travelers notebook, superior laborI’ve been trying to use my Travelers Notebook more for the past couple of years…there’s still work to be done to get into a good habit, but I’ve found that using nice things is a great incentive. I bought a matching pouch by Superior Labor when we were at the Traveler’s store in Japan, so I’m very excited to get everything set up for 2019. I’ll share more about Travelers and my notebook soon!

Now, I’m working on getting my desk organized so I can get back into the habit of making things again. A fresh desk for a fresh start in 2019…that’s the goal.

We are going to a New Year’s Eve party at our friends’ house tonight–same as last year. And tomorrow, hopefully I’ll have the energy to take down some Christmas decorations…I LOVE the lights during the season and I’m always sad to see them go, but I also love how fresh and bare our house looks with all of the extra stuff put away. But, even still…it’s one of the more depressing chores of the new year.

Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

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