Today is my birthday. I made myself a flourless chocolate cake from my new cookbook that I got from my parent-in-laws for Christmas. It is called Tiny But Intense Chocolate Cake. I will be enjoying it this evening with a glass of bubbly after the little one is tucked in her bed.
This morning I woke to the most shrill bang crash of a rumble. It sounded like a semi-truck had fallen off the hill behind our house. It really was that outlandish. Turns out it was thunder. I have never heard thunder like that in my entire life. I have only ever heard thunder one time in Los Angeles and it was seven years ago. Ryan was already up for the day and I yelled to him:
Was that thunder?
and he said:
Yes, I got you a thunderstorm for your birthday!
It only lasted for a short minute. It was . . . Tiny But Intense.
Brevity aside, it was hands down my favorite present.
Yes, the festivies have begun. Last night we gathered with our family next to the tree and the twinkling lights for food, fun, singing, prezzies and good cheer. And the next few days are bursting with the promise of more . . .
From our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!
Peace + Love,
The Scott Family: Ryan, Liz, Rylie & Zipper
My friend Kalli makes a sampler of rare and obscure seasonal tunes each year for all of her friends and loved ones. We put them on in the car when we are running here and there in preparation for all of the lovely days ahead. At some point this season, Rylie has become completely enamored with the song Pretty Paper as sung by Roy Orbison. She asks for it on demand and wants it repeated throughout the duration of our car ride. And I don't object because her other favorite, as she so affectionately calls: Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells! Jingle All The Way! tends to jangle my nerves a bit, especially when I am operating at a pace somewhere between breakneck and harried. With both sides of our family in different states, we have to get most of our gifts in the mail at least the week before Christmas each year. And each year I swear up and down that it will be different. But, really and truly, I am putting it down in typing that next year, oh yes, next year, I am going to make it a priority to have my packages mailed by December 1. Wouldn't that be dreamy? Everything becomes lighter once they are on their way.
I actually did get an early start this year, and the majority of the gifts we are giving are handmade (by me, or other artisans.) It's just the wrapping up, packing in and shipping off part that seems to be put aside until the very last second. I have grand ambitions of making the most beautiful packages imaginable and I get a little overwhelmed with all of the wonderful ideas out there on the internets - it tends to paralyze me a bit. I simplified things by making a few fabric gift bags. I would love to make a bunch of these in different sizes for all season gift giving. I also used the same basic method on all of the gifts that needed to be wrapped: dotty paper, speckled twine, and a handmade gift tag. And I even got Rylie in on the action by asking her to make the paper for her gifts.
As I dropped the last of my packages and cards at the crowded, slightly hostile PO last night, I couldn't help but dance a little step. I had to fight the urge to tell the nearest stranger standing in the 25 person line that I would not be returning to the PO this year. I had to exercise restraint to not exclaim with glee that I was done, that it was over, that my hands had been washed from boxes and tape, no more would I need to think about bubble wrap and postage. No more would I need to strap the toddler to my chest in her baby carrier because her stroller was piled high with parcels. No, I am done, done, done. Now it is time to get power knitting if I am to finish that dress . . .
Posted on December 14, 2012 | Permalink
Yesterday afternoon Rylie and I hosted a holly jolly gumdrop-wreath-making and holiday-toddler-dance party all in one! Whew! It was a flurry of activity and a visual feast. From little Nordic sweaters to arty kid book gifts. From the big bright Christmas tree in the corner to the inimitable How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And at the end of it all we had gumrop wreaths (and a gumdrop tree) to show for our efforts. Our space is small, but that made it all the more cozy amongst dancing toddler toes and chocolate gingerbread cookies.
This group of friends has been coming over each Thursday afternoon for a little bit of toddler art and mama knitting/crafting. I mentioned it here, but I realize that I owe you a proper post dedicated to our group. We have done so many fun and interesting projects over the last few months, I can't wait to share that here. Coming soon, I promise. Anyhow, yesterday's holiday edition was admittedly a little more of a mama-focused craft. Oh, don't get me wrong, the littles definitely helped out and got involved. Only their participation was more on the sporadic side than the intense attention that us ladies were exhibiting. We made a lot of comments about how fun it was to kind of destress a bit from the holiday hustle in this way. This relatively mechanical and repititive task is the best kind of handbusying activity that facilitates mind-wandering, stream-of-concious conversation to emerge. So relaxing, so fun and so special to spend a few of these precious holiday hours with a great group of gals (and kids.) And while we plugged our little gumdrops into styrofoam, there was abundant dancing, pillowfighting, Charlie Brown watching, high pitched screaming, cookie snatching and your garden variety toddler tomfoolery happening.
If you are looking for something fun and easy to make yet in the next 10 days or so, I can not recommend the gumdrop wreath enough. Get a 12-inch foam ring at Michael's (although they may be sold out at this point, so call first) alternatively, you could check a less commercial source, like a local floral shop, they may have more selection than the supermega Michael's. The crafter's literally come out of the woodwork this time of year. So get a wreath, wrap masking tape around the spot where you will wrap a wire or whatever you coose to use for a hanger (I used heavy duty twine for the yesterday's wreaths) break a lot of toothpicks in half, I used scissors to cut them in two, and then buy like 4 to 5 pounds of gumdrops/spice drops. You can get them offbrand and pretty cheap in the candy aisle of your grocery or drugstore. You could also look at a store with bulk bins. Put the blunt end of the toothpick in the bottom of the gumdrop and stick the pointy end into the wreath. Repeat, repeat, repeat. When you are finished placing the gumdrops, pick out the perfect ribbon and tie a bow at the top. Put on a Christmas movie and settle in for some last minute, mediative crafting . . . the very best kind, I dare say.
Well, it has been quite the flurry of hoilday goodness around here. I pulled Rylie's Advent activities together on December 1, because there is nothing like waiting until the last minute. During the entire month of November, I was contemplating if I wanted to attempt it or not, it wasn't until December 1 that I got a clear idea of what I wanted to do. Largely inspired by this post, I thought that fun activities both big and small would be a great way to fill our days leading up to Christmas. That way we are not filling our already brimming space with more stuff, and we get the fun of working on projects together. Here is what we've done so far and what we are planning to do in the next few weeks. I play parent perogative if I need to do a last minute switcheroo based on the rhythm of the particular day. I figure I have a few years yet until Rylie fully catches on to the concept :
December 1 - Make hot chocolate with all the fixins
December 2 - Get Christmas tree and decorate
December 3 - Make cookies
December 4 - Make salt dough ornaments
December 5 - Make snowflakes
December 6 - Downtown Christmas tree lighting
December 7 - Go out for sushi
December 8 - Hanukkah begins! Latkes and applesauce for dinner
December 9 - Use puppets for a bedtime story
December 10 - Indoor picnic
Decemebr 11 - Make gifts for Grandma & Grandpa
December 12 - String popcorn
December 13 - Holiday boogie with friends
December 14 - Wrap a toy and donate to charity
December 15 - Fancy dress for dinner
December 16 - Handmade gift tags
December 17 - Ice skating after dark
December 18 - Make gingerbread houses
December 19 - Make ice cream snowmen
December 20 - Christmas movie with popcorn
December 21 - Go out for a Christmas treat
December 22 - Go see Christmas lights
December 23 - Take a bubble bath
December 24 - Christmas Eve concert with friends
In other making news, I saw this and just could not help myself. As someone who hoards fabric, yarn and anything else useful for making stuff, it was extremely satisfying to put some of my scraps to good use. I went back to the thrift store last week and walked away with a much more respectable haul of yarn, after they had brought out more of their stock from the back. I got this chunky, variegated ropey wool that worked perfectly.
And in a fit of inspiration I began knitting a Christmas dress for Rylie last week after my initial visit to the yarn stockpile. I promptly went home, downloaded this pattern and began knitting with the one skein of Blue Sky Alpaca sport weight I had on hand and ordered more straight away. For some reason I didn't read the pattern though because I didn't order enough and I will definitely need to get more as this dress is EXTREMELY full! Like 332 stitches per row!! I have been burning the midnight oil on this one, knitting stitch by stitch into the wee hours in hopes that I can finish it by Christmas Eve at the very latest. The largest size on the pattern is 9 -12 months and Rylie is 29 months, but no bother. She is petite and last week I had her in a dress that was 3-6 months! I figure that she may be able to wear at as a sweater instead of a dress if it is too short, and it is so full, it really ought to fit. Fingers crossed . . .
Oh, and those washi egg ornaments! Aren't they so pretty? My neighbor's mom, an expert washi egg maker, offered to teach me how to make one and I replied, "Yes, please!" They are delicate hollowed out eggs that you glue thin rice paper to and add a string and varnish. I felt a bit like a cartoon version of myself with massive and mostly uncoordinatd hands, but Nancy was full of grace and gentle guidance. She even sent me home with more hollowed out eggs and paper all ready to make more. And you know I will.
Oh, I do love a good spruce up, don't you? When you can scratch a pesky task that has been on your to do list far too long - that is a nice feeling. I just finished listing 1 yard cuts of each print in the Domestic Bliss line to the shop. Please do stop by and take a peek. I mentioned in my listing that I have multiple yards for most of the prints, so if you see something you like and you want to purchase more than one yard, you just let me know. I've hemmed and hawed about getting Domestic Bliss into the shop because I love it so much and it is a little bittersweet to loosen my grip, but I've come to the realization that hoarding is not only futile, but also nonsensical. I think it was the thrift store encounter that served as the catalyst for my epiphany. That, and the actual process of photographing, editing, and creating a listing for each print is a necessary, but rather banal job. All that said, it is certainly worth the somewhat lighter feeling I have now to lead me into the weekend. Have a good one, friends!
**PS** I also set the shop up to accept credit cards and Etsy gift cards.