Humanity groans in it’s wretched state- in lonely exile and captivity, enslaved to sin and without hope.
O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night,
and turn our darkness into light.
But in the midst, God enters in, bringing Light in the form of a baby born in a stable. Immanuel, God With Us.
O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace.
And that’s not where the story ends. Through the Saviour, the King of Peace, who will bid all our sad divisions cease, there is a hope for the future.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, with the hope that the message of this song, written over 1000 years ago, will bring you hope and comfort, and a reason to rejoice, in this Christmas season.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
(I recently learned that this beautiful hymn, one of my favourites, is an 8th century antiphonal chant that was, in 1851, turned into a seven verse hymn. In Latin it was originally “Veni Veni Emmanuel”.)
While many people find winter to be the worst season of the year, I can’t despise it. Yes, the cold and dark can be dreary, and yet there is so much beauty God gives to us at this time of year, if we would see it. Last Thursday was one such day, as we woke up to a beautiful foggy, frosty day, as is common in this part of the world, but never commonplace. The world was a glistening winter wonderland, with every surface coated in thick heavy frost, while fog clouds hung low, obscuring the horizon, or at least bringing it in close. There is something unique about a heavy fog, because not only is the sightline hidden and the light diffused and dimmed, but the world becomes quiet, muffled even. Things seem to still and slow down and when you walk outside in a winter fog, you truly feel solitary.
These first photos were taken at 11:00 am when I hurried out to quickly take some photographs, wrapped in a wool coat and scarf, with the cold air nipping at my fingers.
A couple of hours later, around 1:00, the sun had started to burn through the fog, and the quality of light had changed. Again I wrapped up warmly and went out to capture those light changes, feeling an affinity with those Impressionist painters who would begin painting a scene, quickly grabbing a new canvas every time the light changed in order to capture an accurate depiction of the scene before them. While, of course, a photograph is quicker than a brush and canvas, it was interesting to see how strikingly different the world looked just a few hours later. I then continued to watch throughout the day, going out again at 4:00, 4:30 and then the next morning at 11:00. Each time I went out the qualities of light had changed, sometimes with high contrast and blue skies, sometimes with golden light and then finally a light pink glow across the sky. There was no wind, so the frost stayed on the trees for an entire 24 hour period. It was truly a beautiful day, and made me so thankful that I get to live in such a lovely part of the world.
I hope that wherever you live, you enjoy this first day of Winter (or the first day of Summer for those in the southern hemisphere) and are able to appreciate a bit of that changing quality of light and change of the seasons.
Happy Wednesday Dear Readers! It’s not Saturday, but I only had bits and pieces of things to post, and since some of the things I wanted to share are Christmas related, I didn’t feel like waiting until Social Saturday. (It kind of reminds me of The Lego Movie, where they change the name of the day from “Taco Tuesday to Freedom Friday… but still on a Tuesday!”)
Anyway, enough about Lego and onto the Christmas content.
Firstly, the baking has begun. Today, we’re making Christmas tarts, which is our family’s main seasonal tradition. Pretty much all of our traditions revolve around food. That’s pretty grand, now that I think about it. We make Cranberry Tarts, (also called Mock Cherry Pie) and Coconut Tarts. Discovering that I am sensitive to gluten was so sad, because I couldn’t eat the tarts anymore, until we found this excellent gluten free pastry recipe.
The other recipe we make every year is my mom’s excellent Mincemeat Christmas Cake. Our house is divided on this, with people either loving it or hating it. I love mincemeat, so I’m firmly in the “Love It” camp. Do you like spiced mincemeats and Christmas cakes?
New this year, we also tried making our own chocolate covered cherries. They’re still full of everything that’s bad for you, but they did turn out very good! They have more of a Creme Egg style centre, rather than a liquid centre, but apparently the longer you wait, the runnier they get. We followed this recipe, which was really easy to make, and we had everything on hand already.
In other Christmas news, we have started a new Advent tradition. We were a bit late to the party, only getting these hung up on the weekend, but we purchased the printable “Truth for The Day” Advent Cards from Home Made Lovely, and strung them across the mantle with mini clothespins. I absolutely love how they look- the illustrations are adorable- and it’s so fun to turn over the card each day as we approach Christmas.I also just love how we decorated the mantle this year! My Grandma gave my mom these silver deer candlesticks she had, and they look so great against the stone fireplace. And of course the fairy lights on top of the garland add such a nice sparkle.
Another download, a free one this time, is this adorable printable from Sincerely Marie Designs for 12 Days of Christmas ornaments. I haven’t printed them yet, since I want to see if I can transfer them onto small wood cookies. I saw a set of ornaments like that earlier this year, and I think that would be so cute.
Onto other topics, I’ve been making baby headbands again. We’ve got so many little ones on the way in my church, so I’ve been working on making these yo-yos and bows and have been listening to The Silmarillion audiobook as I stitch.I tried reading the book, but it was so dry I had to give up. Then I thought to get an audio book from the library, which is so much more enjoyable. (The copy I got is voiced by Martin Shaw).
I also made a brown felted wool flower to add to the wool beret I made a couple of years ago. I never wear this hat, because it’s too stiff to maneuver and “flop” and so it always just looked like it needed something; the felt flower is the perfect touch. I also made some felted wool mittens to match earlier this year, but I don’t think I ever posted them, so here they are now. If you want to make your own, here’s my tutorial.
I also made a few more headbands and hair clips for my Poshmark shop. That pink flower is one-of-a-kind. While I love how it turned out, I won’t make another out of that pink satin, because it was so hard to singe the edges! Once they started melting, they kept going, and I had to throw away so many petals with holes in them. It would look so pretty tucked into an updo for a formal occasion, wouldn’t it? I also added some more photography and other artwork, including some of my favourite mini art cards and paintings.
In other topics, I also recently reorganized my closet; the way I had set it up last January just wasn’t working for me anymore. Basically I had categories too spread out, with some things on shelves, some in drawers and some hanging. I have now separated it, putting all of my loungewear and working clothes (as in grungy work) out of the closet and into my dresser drawer. I took all of my sweaters and cardigans off of the shelf and hung them on padded hangers. Then I put my large purses on the top shelf above the rod, my berets on my shoe shelf, all of the winter hats on stands on my dresser, and my scarves and fur collars on the back of my door (except for one that is too big, which is hanging). It is working so much better for me to be able to clearly see at a glance all of the pieces in my winter capsule wardrobe, without being distracted by loungewear and other things that don’t go in that capsule! I have found over the years that if I don’t have things out where I can see them, I just won’t remember to wear them, so it’s working so much better to have out-of-season items stored on the side shelves in my closet, and the in-season items out in front.
Not related to closets entirely, but sort of, I enjoyed this post by Gillian Dunn, about using your special items everyday.
I also was going to share this post about Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s fashion inspiration in my last Social Saturday, and I forgot, so here it is now. I love how classic her looks are. You can obviously tell it’s the 90’s and yet it’s still elegant. (And I absolutely love her neutral palette.)
And finally, unrelated to anything, this post about the themes in A Tale of Two Cities (one of my favourite books!) is very good. I read the book back in May, but didn’t see this blog post until a while later. It’s a very good article, but DO NOT read it if you haven’t read A Tale of Two Cities, since there are major spoilers!
Well, I think that’s all that I have for today. I hope your week and your December is going well…there’s only 11 days until Christmas!
I love Christmas cards! Whether I make them myself, or buy them (usually the year before on-sale after Christmas) I love picking out a sweet design and mailing them to friends and family far away. Traditional Christmas cards seem to be a dying tradition, with many people opting for photo cards or e-cards these days, but I do still receive a few old fashioned cards in the mail.
There are some really pretty card designs, and I always hate to recycle them after the holidays, so last year I saved all of the cards I and my family received, and upcycled them into gift tags to use this year! I love wrapping gifts, and it was nice to be able to reuse the cards, coordinating the wrapping papers and ribbons to go with each tag. This was such a quick and easy DIY, it’s can’t even be called a tutorial, yet I did want to share the idea with you, in case you also hate to toss greeting cards!
I used my Creative Memories oval templates and blades to cut the tags. This is the cutting system I got a long time ago…maybe 18 years? After all these years, it’s still going strong and I love it!
Centre the template onto the artwork and cut it out.
Punch a hole in the top of the card, and then string a piece of twine or ribbon through. I used the Fiskars small holepunch. A few of the cards had writing on the back, so I cut out an oval the same size out of green paper and then glued the two ovals together to cover it up.
That’s it! As I said, not really a tutorial, but more of an inspiration for gift wrapping. I know Fiskars makes some large tag punches, so that could work if you don’t have oval/circle cutters. Or, if you don’t have any punches, you could cut the fronts of the cards off, measure a 45 degree angle across the top corners and cut them into traditional tag shapes.
I wrapped all of my gifts this year in reused kraft paper bags and wrapping paper. I also reused old pattern paper as tissue paper.
I even wrapped one gift in an old parchment paper document. And all of the ribbons were saved from previous years as well…these are very zero waste packages!
Do you like wrapping gifts? How did you wrap yours this year?
Is it too early to start wishing everyone a Merry Christmas? I don’t know why, but I’m just feeling the Christmas spirit early this year! And by early, I mean the last week of November instead of the first week of December. Growing up, we never put up our Christmas decor before December, and because we always get a real tree, you truly can’t put it up too early or it will be dry and dead by Christmas Day. However, I do now like to put up my other Christmas decor before then. And for some reason, this year I was just itching to pull out my boxes and get my room in holiday mode, so I decorated this week.
As always, I used pretty much all the same decor, but styled the pieces in different ways to keep things interesting. The only new acquisitions were the adorable mini Christmas trees, which I picked up a few weeks ago from the thrift store for $3.00. (There were also some larger bottle brush trees in the bag, but I gave those to my sister) Honestly, no one ever need buy new Christmas ornaments, trees, tablecloths and tins ever again; I’m sure there are more than enough available at the thrift stores!
I also only used about a 1/3 of the Christmas decor I have, because it would look like a decorating store exploded in my room if I used it all. I only have two storage boxes with decor, but it’s not that big of a room either.
As for those new mini Christmas trees, I arranged a couple on the top of my shoe shelf, but wasn’t sure what to do with the others since they are a different colour and style. Then I realized they fit perfectly on the picture frames in my gallery wall! It’s a subtle detail that makes this wall look so festive.
Another recent acquisition, though not holiday specific, is this wooden bowl from the thrift store. It was a salad set of 5 pieces and I only wanted one small bowl for another project, but decided to keep them all rather than split off an incomplete set. The bowls were in pretty bad shape; cracked, and in desperate need of an oiling, but for $3.00 for the set, I took a chance. I sanded them smooth, glued and clamped the cracks back together and then oiled them with linseed oil and they look gorgeous now! (I didn’t remember to take a before picture, so you’ll have to trust me!) The large bowl was the perfect place to display some dried orange slices and pinecones on top of my dresser.
I also redecorated the top of my dresser with some of my fashion books instead of a tray. I’ve been wanting to try this for a while, but I’m not sure whether this was a smart idea because I’ll have to move everything off if I want to look at my book! But it does look nice in the meantime. And again, this year my woodburned garland found it’s way to the top of my dresser mirror.
Now for the statement piece of the room: the garland over my window! I decided to try a garland across my window this year, rather than doing a bouquet with berries and branches like I’ve done in the past. We have a massive juniper thicket growing at the edge of our treed area; you can gather branches from it every year and never even notice they are gone, so it’s perfect for winter decorating! (I don’t know how I’ll decorate if we move!)
Juniper has a fairly long cut life. I’ve had bouquets last 2 months before in a vase, and even when it starts to dry, it just gets lighter in colour and crispy, but doesn’t drop needles. So, I don’t know how well this is going to last, and if it’s going to make it to Christmas Day, but I thought I’d make a garland out of live branches. They are up high so even if they do get dry and crunchy, they’re not going to get mussed around. I think if I just leave them there, and don’t touch them, they should be fine.
They did smell very strong and earthy when I first brought them in, and I wasn’t sure about the smell since it’s in my bedroom, but after an hour it dissipated as the branches warmed up.
And I love how the window turned out! The red berries are festive, but not too bright, and the tan berries really give it a nice natural feel. And of course the fairy lights add the perfect sparkly touch (and they make a great night light too!)
For the rest of the room, I added my paper crafted house and tree made out of book pages that I made last year, and some pinecones to my bookshelf.
I also hung up my favourite little winter scene by encaustic artist Donna Hanson on the wall by my closet. I always get so excited to hang this one up in Winter- I love it!
And as a final touch, I hung my mini silver wreath over my gold oval mirror, placed an evergreen bouquet on top of my shelf, and scattered a couple of beeswax candles around. I have been enjoying burning them in the evenings when I read, which just adds such a nice hygge atmosphere.
I think we’re going to decorate the rest of the house this week, which I’m looking forward to. We’ve got some renovations going on, so the areas to decorate are fewer than previous years, but it’s still nice to put out a few festive touches despite, or perhaps as an antidote to, the chaos.
Did you get your Christmas decor up early this year, or are you still planning to wait a while? Do you like to try new things each year or stick to a tried and true formula? What is your favourite Christmas decoration?