christmas

Joy to the World…

pine trees covered in frost and bathed in pink light from the sunset

..the Lord is come.

And what a glorious statement that is! In a world full of despair, darkness and fear, it can often seem like things truly are hopeless. And what a year we’ve just gone through, the second in a row….when will it end? We’re waiting. And as we approach Christmas, we are reminded of just how much the world waits in eager anticipation. We’re waiting…but for what?

Let earth receive her King;

Into the darkness the Light comes… through the birth of a baby in a stable thousands of years ago. The world waits, and the answer comes in an unexpected way. God leaves heaven, to come to earth; God with us, Immanuel.

Let every heart prepare him room

If you are burdened and weary this Christmas, and wondering what it is we are waiting for anyway, I invite you to turn your heart to him. In the darkest month of the year, we remember Jesus, who “came into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Him will stay in darkness”. He is the one who brings hope and salvation to our weary, groaning world.

And heaven and nature sing.

I hope and pray that you will have a wonderful Christmas this year, remembering and celebrating the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ!

Merry Christmas!

🖤 Nicole

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King;

let ev’ry heart prepare him room

and heav’n and nature sing,

and heav’n and nature sing,

and heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing.

Adding Simple & Subtle Touches of Christmas to Your Decor

a candle and evergreen bouquet on a windowsill with a lace curtain

I just love Christmas decorating! Do you? I change my decorations each year- I can never do exactly the same thing or I get bored with it. This year, while I do have lots of vintage and retro decorations such as glass ball ornaments, mercury glass pieces etc., I didn’t use most of them and instead went for much more laid back, natural and simplified look. In past years I have done a lot more decorating, but this year it just felt right to have a more subtle look for my new space.

If you want to add some festive wintery touches, without going crazy with the faux snow and garlands, here are some ways to incorporate Christmas touches into your space without it looking like Santa’s workshop.

amber bottles of berry branches on top of a shelf with a vintage painting in the background

Faux berry branches look more realistic when you pair them with real branches. You also need very few stems to create an impact. (To see how make a little Christmas tree like this one, see this post here.)

sparkly silver mini wreath on the back of a chair and a candle and bouquet sitting on a windowsill

Sometimes a tiny wreath hanging on the back of a chair, or a vase with evergreens in it is enough to add a festive touch. And of course, candles always add a warm and cozy feeling to any space, at this time of year!

wooden christmas garland

Switch out your summery artwork for wintery artwork. On my dresser mirror, I added a vintage Christmas postcard. (And a little wooden snowflake garland).

I also have two beautiful encaustic pieces by this artist; one is a summery field and blue sky scene, and this one is a beautiful snowy scene. I switch between them, depending on the season.

wintery artwork

Pinecones make great natural seasonal decor. I like to place them around in vignettes. If you have access to pine trees then they are free, and if you don’t feel like storing the pinecones, you can always go and toss them back in the bush after Christmas.

Sometimes you can add a festive touch just by making a few tiny presents to adorn your existing decor; in this case a glass hot air balloon! Or, like with this little cloche, change what you have displayed under the glass.

Also, if you don’t have a tree, you can also hang pretty ornaments in your windows from thread or fishing line, or loop some (unbreakable) ornaments over your doorknobs.

For my mom’s living room mantle, this year we kept it simple with bouquets of evergreen branches and candles of varying heights flanking both sides of the nativity.

nativity scene on a mantle with evergreen bouquets

And, again, pinecones made a great natural garland to ground the candlesticks. I made this one by wiring bunches of pinecones together onto a piece of sisal rope, which we then arranged along the mantle. Lovely golden beeswax tapers finish off the look.

garland of pinecones

Finally, my favourite piece of holiday decor, which is new this year for me, is an advent calendar. I made this one last year out of origami “masu” boxes. (not very well, I might add- I’m definitely not an origami professional. Don’t look too closely, or you’ll see how crooked it is!)

handmade advent calendar

Each box contains a scripture passage and a chocolate to countdown to Christmas; and the best thing about making your own calendar is that you can put better quality chocolates in them, instead of those waxy tasting ones!

How about you? Do you like to change up your decor each year, or stick with a tried and true formula? Do you like to DIY your seasonal decor? 

‘Tis the Season For Christmas Cards

christmas card of a starry night

‘Tis the season…to start thinking about Christmas cards! I can’t believe we are only one month away from Christmas, and that it’s time to start thinking about cards already. Do you mail out Christmas cards each year to family and friends, or do you think that it’s an antiquated holiday tradition? Personally I love to send out cards for all occasions, not just Christmas! And it’s always lovely to receive some holiday cheer in the mailbox in return, isn’t it?

This year, at the specific request of my mom, I have finally created a Christmas card design. I have added this “O Holy Night” card to my Society6 shop, and it is available in packs of 3, 5 and 10 (with the price/piece decreasing as the volume goes up). And, the best thing is that Society6 is running a sale right now, site wide, so all of my cards are currently 30% off! I believe the sale is running through this weekend, so if you have been thinking of sending out cards this year…now is definitely the time to grab them.

I’ve also added this design available as an art print, in case if you are a person who likes to change out your wall art for the season too.

Merry (early!) Christmas everyone!

Last Minute Christmas Gifts: Homemade Body Butter

body butter gift under the tree, the artyologist

Is it really only one more week until Christmas?

I read a while ago that this year has kind of been like Rip Van Winkle and, for me, I would agree. While my daily routine has definitely slowed down, time seems to be rushing by, and it all feels a bit surreal. While we’ve already passed the halfway point for December, it still feels like this year has gone by so slowly. In some ways it does seem like I’m sleeping while the world continues spinning by…

Well, in case time has gotten away from you too, and you need some last minute gifts, today I am sharing a zero-waste inspired Christmas gift you can easily make in a few hours. The great thing is that it mostly uses items you might already have around the house! This is a bit different than the topics I usually discuss here, but I kind of like branching out into new topics, and this definitely fits into the “lifestyle’ category.

I don’t know where I found this recipe- I think from a zero waste blogger or Instagrammer, but you can easily find these sorts of recipes with a quick google search of “diy natural body butter”. This is just the one I make because I bought a huge pail of shea butter several years ago, and I am trying to work my way through it (slowly!).

Easy Homemade Natural Body Butter

1 part coconut oil

1 part sweet almond oil (or light olive oil)

2 parts shea butter

Optional: essential oil of your choice

I usually make this recipe with sweet almond oil, but since I used up all of my almond oil while making soap, I couldn’t find any more! Usually I would get it at the health food store, but they didn’t have any. After a bit of research it appears that light olive oil works as a substitute, and it seems to be working just as well. I would definitely recommend light, not regular oil, so there isn’t a strong olive smell.

Also, I used lavender essential oil, but you can definitely make it unscented.

I also saw several other recipes used cocoa butter instead of shea, so you could probably try that too. Basically the most important part is that you need to have equal parts oil to butter.

Heat your oils and butter in a double boiler until it is completely melted, then place in the refrigerator to cool. I forgot to take any photos of this process, but it is pretty straightforward. Once it has solidified (several hours depending on how much you have made), then take it out and immediately whip with a blender until it is white and fluffy. It’s like magic how quickly it beats up! Then add some essential oils, 4-5 drops, if desired and mix in completely.

I am sure there is a shelf life on homemade body butters (probably a few months?) but to be honest I haven’t had any problems with it going rancid. I keep mine in my nightstand drawer, and I have had this last batch for probably 9 months, and I’ve never had any bacteria growth or funky smells or anything. This is a very moisturizing (albeit greasy) body butter, perfect for winter dryness; I use it on my feet, or as a lip balm.

Once you’ve whipped up the butter, then you are ready to decant it into jars.

I have been collecting these face lotion jars for the past few years, because I hate throwing things out, and I was sure I could find a use for them, even if for just organizing/storage. However a few months ago, I thought of an even better use- to repurpose as gifts (a zero waste win!). I used nail polish remover to take the labels off, and then sterilized the jars by running them through the dishwasher and heating the lids with boiling water.

They worked perfectly to hold about 3 tbsp of body butter- the perfect amount to try it out, without having to commit to using for the next few years! Any small jar would work great, maybe a small spice jar? Or a tiny canning jar?

I also decided to include the recipe in with the gift. I purchased this recipe card printable in the spring from local-ish artist Jenni Haikonen, as it’s so nice to give people recipes written on a pretty card, rather than any old paper, isn’t it?

I wrapped the gift up in some brown paper bags I have had for years, tied them with some recycled ribbons and twine (I always save ribbons and string whenever I get a package etc. in order to reuse them) and added some homemade Victorian Christmas tags. And there you have a lovely little gift for friends, coworkers or anyone else you want to give a gift to this season!

Well, I hope you enjoy making this recipe, if you decide to, and also hope that you have a very Merry Christmas season!

Minimalist Christmas

berry and branch christmas bouquet

There are only 8 days left until Christmas!

Does it seem like December has been going by quickly? It definitely doesn’t feel like it’s the middle of December already…

I decorated early for Christmas this year. Well, early for me, at least. For some people, “early” would mean the beginning of November. For some, it would be any time before December. For me, it means I decorated the last weekend of November. Usually I wait to decorate until the first weekend of December, but this year I was gone that weekend… so November it was!

white berries and branch bouquets in milk glass and miniature evergreens

I don’t have much room to display things and decorate in this apartment, so I went for a very minimal Christmas decor this year. I already tend towards natural, minimal holiday decor for all seasons, so I focused on natural and simple elements to decorate with. I kind of want my decor to look like it was gathered while on a walk in the woods; which a bunch of it actually was! I added evergreen bouquets, berry and branch bouquets, a garland, pinecones tucked in amongst pictures, and fairy lights to create that cozy Christmas feel in my apartment. I wasn’t able to pull out my vintage ornament collection this year, since I just don’t have any place to display them because of the way this apartment is set up.

I did pick up a few new items (the perils of working at a decorating store!) but they are items I am going to be glad to use for years to come. The red berries really added a nice pop of colour to my branch bouquet. I tried the bouquet without the red berries, and it was just a little too boring. Also you may recall, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, that I used this vase (which is actually a candle holder) last year with an evergreen bouquet in it. Well, that was a mistake. I lined the vase with a bag, then filled it with sand and was able to keep the branches watered and alive for several weeks with that. However, in January, when I went to empty it out…when I pulled out the bag, all of the silver paint came off the glass too! I was left with a clear glass vase, that looked quite terrible. Fortunately I do have some old silver glass paint I bought years ago for a project, and was able to repaint it over the summer. Thus- this year was a branch bouquet that didn’t involve any water!

miniature house in a glass cloche

I also found this tiny sparkly wreath and fell in love with it (even though it’s not “natural” in any way) so that one had to come home with me too. And, the little cloche, which I picked up a few months ago (I do have a weakness for cloches…) originally had a miniature crown under the glass, but I got it with the express idea of making a little house to display under for winter. I like that I can use it for all seasons, so it’s been quite versatile that way.

I’ve really been trying to cut down on my spending and collecting, and have been on a total minimalism kick lately. I’m nowhere near as minimalist as some people are- I still love my decorations and books and pictures and “stuff”, but I’ve really been thinking about how much decor I want to own and store, especially because I’ve moved so many times in the past couple of years (and moving is hard, when you own lots of stuff!). I’ve decided that I will only have two boxes of seasonal decor…and deciding this in the past few weeks has actually helped me a lot of avoid some really cute holiday decor impulse buys!

I would still like to find a nativity, but I haven’t found one yet that I really like. I’ve been looking in the thrift stores for the past several years hoping that someone will have decided to part with a nice, simple ceramic one like my mom has…but so far I haven’t found anything. Oh well, one day I will find a set!

wooden christmas garland

wooden slice christmas garland

I wasn’t sure at first how I was going to decorate my place for Christmas, since I don’t have a buffet, or mantle or anything like that to decorate and briefly debated whether I should decorate at all, but I’m so glad I decided to dig my boxes out and put a bit of festive decor up, because it certainly brightened things up and added some lovely holiday cheer. I honestly don’t love living in this apartment, but decorating and making things look nice can make such a big difference to the atmosphere of your home, don’t you think?

Do you like to decorate for holidays? Are you a minimalist when it comes to decor, or do you like to go all out? And what is your favourite Christmas decoration?

cloche filled with pinecones and fairy lights

evergreen christmas bouquet