Monday, December 31, 2012

Picture of New Growth (and) Last Union of 2012

My dear cousin married her beau the weekend before Christmas. It was a gorgeous ceremony and a family and friend embraced event. There was a fresh layer of snow on the ground. How perfect for a winter wedding with Christmas tree decorations. 

Kate is several years younger than I, but we've grown to be pretty good friends over the years. Both of us are adventurers at heart. While most of my adventures have been confined to the Midwest, Kate upped the ante. She spent several years in Kenya teaching at a school in Nairobi. A year and a half ago we had a sleepover and watched countless "Friends" episodes cuddled under comforters, hair knotted up in buns. We talked about boys that night, about my adventures and misadventures and her lack thereof. We talked about marriage like it was the distant future. And now- she's a Mrs.

For their gift, I stemmed from the Bible verse engraved inside their wedding rings. A beautiful thought. We love because God first loved us. I sketched for a while and decided to make the script of the verse the foliage of a tree. 

My least favorite part of any embroidery project is transferring a design from paper to fabric. I came up with a pretty good solution to this challenge. A milk crate, an old window pane, and a desk lamp made for a functional light box. Quick work at transferring. I'll have to remember to do this again.

The tree needed some little fascinations so I added in some leaves, a bird, and a flower.  I'd seen the couple's names etched on the trunk before, it's no new idea. But it is sweet and quaint.

I'm too cheap to get a thing framed professionally. I bought a frame with a matte that was cut a little small for the design. I learned that cutting mattes on an angle, as they are supposed to be, is really hard. So this matte doesn't have an angle. But it is watercolor painted a robin's egg blue to help make the picture pop. 

It's a new year tomorrow. Certainly, it's been a big and eventful year. I'd love to take a moment to think over the senses again as I did last year. Maybe I'll celebrate my new year at the end of January when life slows down a bit. 

Until then, have a great one! Every day is a blessing. Truly.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Sure is Beautiful

I will have plenty of crafty things to post about after Christmas gifts have been doled. Right now, I should be making and wrapping gifts. But I felt super guilty and negligent for not updating in weeks. So, while you wait to see pictures of the things I've been slaving over, here are some memories that have been lingering on my mind. 

Christmas is such a beautiful time of year. A time to be grateful, a time to take count of blessings and loved ones, a time to sit and breathe and find contentment in all the good that is in life. It's especially wonderful when you get to watch a child enjoy the beauties of the season. Catching snowflakes on the tongue, saucer eyes at twinkle lights. The heavy warmth of a tired child resting on your chest after a long day of playing in the cold.

I've collected a few pictures of some of the other Christmas memories I am remembering to cherish so much this month. Take a gander if you like.

Impromptu dance parties are a staple when Aunt Sarah's in the house.

None of these "kids" are very little anymore...

A fun Huff tradition is taking the kiddos out to a dollar store to do Christmas shopping. They draw names of family members out of a hat and then have a dollar budget for each gift.  

It's hard to imagine a Christmas when there was only one walking nephew. 
But they did happen, once upon a time.

We always spent the day after Christmas with my mother's parents and then made a trip across state to see my father's parents. Now that I'm grown and working, these trips are harder to make. But they are even more important to prioritize.

Before you can open presents, you have to read the Christmas story from the Bible.

Everything is new to children. 
It makes me enjoy things more to watch them discover them for the first time.

It's crazy to flip through these pictures and see how much my sister's kids have grown. But it's equally startling to see how much I have grown as well. Only a few short years ago, I was still sitting at the kid's table at dinner at my grandparents (albeit I elected this position) and now my sister is a mother of four and I have my own apartment, job, and somewhat grown-up life. Whodathunkit?

Looking through pictures makes me also realize that I do a poor job of collecting snapshots during Christmas. I must improve at this task this year.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bittersweet Xmas & a Pretty Red Bow

I love the happy, warm feelings of this time of year. The settling simmer of peppermint schnapps in my hot cocoa while I watch the lights twinkle. The childish grins bursting from excitement as they wait for a moment yet to come. But the songs that really get to me (now and any time of year) are those heartbreaking, bittersweet ones about longing.

There's the ones I've always loved. Like, my ultimate favorite.

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" :: 
Judy Garland (from Meet Me In Saint Louis)

Also, aversion of one of my favorite older Christmas Hymns. It's got some cheesy synth in it, but his take on this song is beautiful. I love the arrangement. James Taylor's music always holds a special place in my heart since it's one of my dad's favorites. I grew up listening to him from a very early age.
"In the Bleak Midwinter" :: James Taylor 

And there's always something about a group of people singing Auld Lang Syne ala It's a Wonderful Life. I like to tinkle this out on the piano at a glacier pace (because I'm not very quick on the keys) and it makes me a little bit sad and happy all at once. (But Judy's version will definitely only make you cry.) 

"Auld Lang Syne" :: Cast of It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

New to the sad song list this Christmas is a tune from a localish band (Cincinnati). The whole album is great, and they've made two Christmas collections.

"All I Ever Get for Christmas Is Blue" :: Over the Rhine

Bright-colored holiday decor is necessary to balance out some of the wonderfully bittersweet dreariness, I think. Here's something I made last year for my decor bin. A bendable bow to embellish a grand old mirror I refinished. (I found it in a friend's old barn a couple years ago and he gave it to me to clear up space - isn't it gorgeous?!) 

The bow is simply doubled-up pipe-cleaner with yarn twisted tight around it. I doubled it up to give it more strength, but it still doesn't hold much shape. Maybe triple it if you're considering trying to write a word with it or something. I know. Super easy, right? Not much of a tutorial. That's the best kind of project. And I think it turned out pretty super cute. I'll be using it for years to come.

Got any favorite sad Holiday songs you'd care to share? I'm always open to learn new loves.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Assembling Christmas & Oh, That Feeling

This time of December, pictures of Christmas trees take over social media. Normally, it's pictures of tasty looking foods, babies, or kittens in cups. But for now, it's holiday decor that inundates the senses. I, for one, am totally okay with that! I, in fact, am happily hopping on that band wagon. If you hate Christmas - skip this post. (And maybe the next couple to come, as well. Because this is pretty much my favorite time of year.)
I spent last Saturday with my parents again, picking out and cutting down my Christmas tree.  I think this is my new favorite holiday tradition as an adult. It's great to include my parents in my new traditions. I know that they appreciate being a part of the excitement. There's something lost when the kiddos aren't around for the Christmas season. I guess I'm still a "kiddo" to them. (Who am I kidding? I'm still a kiddo, period.)

This year I transported, trimmed, and erected the tree entirely on my own. Stan was around to help me hang the ornaments, though. We had fun unpacking the box of tissue-wrapped memories. Each had a story, some longer than others. Above, in the circles, are a few of my favorite ornaments. 
  • A couple came from my grandparents' tree: the glittery (DISCO!) Santa, and the mod, glass kitty. 
  • The glass Santa has been broken since the day I picked it as my choice of a gift from my grandparents and squeezed just a little too hard. The edges of glass look as though they've burnt but it's just time's wear on the glass. 
  • The little doll is half of a pair, my sister has the little boy. (I think I'm the girl because I probably threw a fit.) 
  • The last one is the clip on name badge I was given when I checked in as a visitor at the hospital the day my niece, Lily, was born.

A Christmas tree full of memories. Now for some great Holiday tunes, a mug of cocoa with peppermint schnapps. Dim the lights. Cuddle up. Ahhh. There's that feeling I've looked forward to all year. 

Also- I think you ought to get a closer look at disco Santa.

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