Posts Tagged 'Christmas'

Advent Calendar – Day 21

Interior photo of a two story train station with a barrel roof with hexagon decorations. There is a lit Christmas tree on right side of picture.
Photograph of Christmas Tree in Union Station, Washington, DC.

If you look closely, you can see strings of American flag banners going up the tree. Not sure what year this photo was taken, but it is pre-2020. I’m hopeful to be able to enjoy visiting DC in the future, once the pandemic is over. It’s a lovely city, especially when Metro is running well enough to ease traffic.

Advent Calendar – Day 20

Photo of a glass bird, glass balls, and metal icicles on the branches of a fir tree.
Photo of a tree from yesteryear.

It’s a weird year. The stand on the corner where we’ve always gotten a tree didn’t open this year, due to the pandemic. Maybe the owners had a mix of justifiable fear that there would be no social distancing and that there were no employees willing to be breathed on by the people in the city.

Even though we already decided not to risk going to buy a tree, it’s depressing. Luckily I have lots of photos to enjoy. Raphael* already notarizes boxes and wants to play with willow twigs. I hate to think what his reaction would be to a whole tree.

*He isn’t a woodchuck or a wild creature, just a weird little cat.

Holiday Knitting

ornamentandcardObviously I can’t show pics of finished items, although I might put some pics up on Ravelry before too long. I’ve been knitting a cotton and linen sampler neck wrap for a family member who gets cold under air conditioning. Lovely linen tape from a shop in Philadelphia called Hidden River Yarns, btw. I will try to get photos up soon, even if it’s just a closeup so you can see the stitch definition. I’ve been using stitches from the 365 Knitting Stitches a Year perpetual calendar, and it’s a fun project to test drive stitches for larger things. (Bramble stitch is great.)

In October, I knit a hat out of doubled laceweight yarn…. And I think it will fit a cousin. And then for the rest, it’s books or entertainment (for the kids), baked treats, or gift cards.

I found a kit I bought last summer for quilted Christmas stockings, and I think I need to put it away and just do the plain sewing projects I planned for November (the month is almost gone) in December.

So… how about you? Are you crafting this Christmas to avoid the lines and the mall and feeling like things are too commercial? Are you crafting to relieve stress after doing shopping and holiday prep? Or have you Cyber Mondayed everything (or decided not to do Christmas/Hannukah etc. or exchange presents)? It’s all legit.

Caroling, caroling

‘Tis the season, even if the weather argues that it’s almost time for Spring Break.

We’re having a heatwave (it’s likely to hit 70 degrees F [24 degrees C] on Christmas Day, so it’s time to find clothing that suits the weather while also suiting the season.  At least I like the color red, so I have a festive light blouse to wear caroling, as well as a cotton Christmas sweater. Not sure if people outside the States have these (sort of legendary these days, with whole sites dedicated to showing the worst examples). I kind of like mine, and I’m pleased that it is warm enough for me to wear it.

To get in the spirit, I’ve been listening to music from Natalie Cole’s Holly and Ivy album. Here’s one that relates to the title of this post (link here). And I’ve also decided to stop baking cookies — it’s too hot in the kitchen. One set of cookies and fruitcake is enough…

So, are you looking forward to a brown, rainy Christmas like those of us on the east coast? Or are you already buried in snow? Or planning a sunny beachside celebration while roasting things on the barbeque?

And, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Jingling all the way

I’m sliding into the Christmas season with very few presents bought and no cookies waiting to be sent off to family and friends. However, the two concerts are behind me and I’ve attended one high school orchestra program (best suited to the relatives and adults interested in the happiness of specific teens, honestly…). My only singing engagement is some caroling later on in the month.

I know that soon I’ll be on holiday, with some time to handle the errands, and maybe even time to bake the saffron julbrot (here’s one recipe online, in German and English)  and roll out some more cookies. But I’m still scratching my head about what to get people, and hope I’ll find time to unearth the Christmas stationery tomorrow.

Happy holidays! If I’m not back by the weekend, I’ll be back after the holidays to talk about the latest book on my shelf.

Getting ready for the season

There are 2 concerts this weekend (tuxedo and formal shirt is over at the cleaner’s). I’ve got the ingredients for Moravian Christmas cookies on the kitchen counter and refrigerator (still not sure if I will just punt to the easier gingerbread). There are a lot of store bought kinds of “Moravian cookies” you can get from high-end stores. No, I’m not sure I get that. It’s an old recipe, and it makes about a gazillion.  If you get the ones from Winston Salem, stick to the ginger spice ones — that’s the closest to what the family recipe is. Sort of.

I was clever this time, and bought the molasses at the grocery during Thanksgiving shopping, when no one is thinking about it for their pantries (it’s gone today), and I think I picked up the last dark brown sugar the store has.

I’m fairly sure the store will stock shelves again.

But, I can’t be sure.

It took them since Thanksgiving to get unsalted butter back in the case.

There’s the normal mad crush of work prior to the Christmas week, when lots of people take off for the holidays. And I’m not sure when I’ll find time to actually Christmas shop. But… I have a stockpile of projects that I did earlier in the year for specific people. Hopefully on Saturday the weather will stay fine so I can have a blocking party prior to the concert.

So, I assume everyone else has their list sorted, and is settled in to the cozy part of things. If you’re not, and you’re like me… hail friend well met! This is the first year in years that I’ll have kitten help with giftwrapping. 🙂

After driving back over the rivers and through the woods

treeornament2014The Jersey Pinelands are technically woods, and we did see a bit of the Poconos … Christmas Eve, we decorated M and D’s tree. Then we drove over to church to enjoy a lovely service and listen to M in the choir. Christmas Day, Julekake was eaten at breakfast, complete with geitost on top and strong coffee to drink. Christmas gifts were unwrapped, with the miracle of two pairs of identical gloves being given to M (everyone laughed). There was the “new to me” event of putting someone’s laptop on the table during Christmas dinner, so a family member could dial in an be present on video. Boxing day, after all the excitement, was so much more relaxed.

As usual, after a family get-together, I’m given either some needleworking tool that was used by someone in the 1950s, or a piece of needlework no one knows what to do with. This year, I scored one size 13 Boye crochet hook (not the USA size at all), as well as several others of unmarked size with needle covers. As a result, while happily searching around for information on the internet, I found this lovely site about crochet, filled with pictures of crochet as well as data on crochet hooks.

Yesterday was spent making Lucia bread in my own kitchen (very late for the season, but oh so good). And today, now that the rains have stopped, I think we will finally get a walk outdoors after all the time cooped up in houses or in a car to get to places. Although the Gardener did get to plant some rescued plants from the family garden (her version of crochet hooks of antiquity, perhaps).

I hope your holidays, whatever they might be, were filled with happiness and visits with family and friends. More about recent knitting once the project is done (although, why is the second sock always smaller, and should I just go up a size when I start the second one?).

Taking a time out for Christmas

I’m going to take a brief blogging break, while I focus on Christmas, family, and enjoying the fire in the fireplace.


Peace, and happiest of days to you.

(Picture is taken from a Nativity Scene by an unknown Italian artist, circa: 1650 to 1675. In this scene, God overlooks the scene off on the right, a bit like Zeus, actually. He got cropped out by my camera. Picture is in the Baltimore Museum of Art).

Scary ghost stories for Christmas reading by the fire

You can’t go wrong with Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol. But have you read The Chimes, or any of his other short stories? They’re worth a try.

Wilkie Collins’ Woman in White is spooky, but long enough for reading by the fire throughout January.

For something set in the hills of the North Carolina/Tennessee mountains, try Norah Bonesteel’s Christmas Past by Sharyn McCrumb. It’s gentle, and just spooky enough to be a Christmas cozy.

And, if you want something funny to listen to while addressing last-minute Christmas cards, check out the BBC’s Good Omens. Deliciously funny, and worth going to their radio site to find the archived recordings.



6 jars of jelly


5 presents wrapped

4 last-minute robocalls (yes, I already gave…)

3 curious cats (they’ve seen the tree)

2 cookie batches (sugar cookies, Moravian Christmas Cookies… and Jul Konfekt, which is chocolate, but not a cookie)

And one heck of a Christmas tree.

I’m wishing you and yours a beautiful Christmas Eve, a happy Christmas day, and a happy and a healthy New Year! We’re going to celebrate, now that the work is over.