cuff links for JR

We swap names in my family for Christmas, and this year my little sister April had my husband JR. John is a bit hard to shop for but April found these vintage US Forest Service cuff links which were the perfect gift. First off, John really likes cuff links. And secondly, in college John wanted to be a forest ranger and had his own dreams of joining the Forest Service. My favorite part is how she packaged them, on their own cuffs made of folded paper.. she even drew little stitches around the cuffs. (I think attention to detail might run in our family.)


happy 2010

If you haven't been following Maira Kalman's illustrated column The Pursuit of Happiness over at The New York Times, you've really been missing out. I'm terribly sad to see Ms. Kalman's column come to an end, what a treat it has been all this year.

What is happiness?, she asks. And her answer in yesterday's column ".. I will sit and draw and eat a meringue and savor the moment." Now that's a resolution I can get behind.


santa balls

A few years back my mom started a new tradition with her grandchildren (she has 14 now). On Christmas Eve when we gather at her house, she has these sweet Santa Balls up on the mantle, one for each child three years and up. (For those grandchildren who are far away on Christmas, the balls are mailed and opened on Christmas Eve.)

The Santa Balls are full of surprises, wrapped in layers and layers of crepe paper (also known as surprise balls.. there is a great how-to here. If you can't find crepe paper sheets, which can be hard to find, my mom cuts rolls of streamers in half so they are only an inch or so wide... time consuming but it gets the job done). My mom finds all sorts of tiny toys and little trinkets to hide inside. I'm always amazed at how much stuff she can fit in each little ball. The kids have the best time unwrapping their balls, which have to be carefully unwrapped layer by layer, revealing more and more goodies. The whole thing takes a half hour or so.

Here are a few of the things inside the kids' balls this year. There was also gold chocolate coins and some other candy which was gobbled up before I could take a photo. As the children get older, my mom varies what is inside each ball... teenagers get dollar bills and coins, so the Santa Balls are loved by all.

My favorite thing is how festive they make the room look at the end of the night. The kids are covered in piles of crepe paper, and the littler ones who aren't quite old enough to get their own Santa Ball still have something to play with. Such a wonderful Christmas tradition.. just goes to show it's never too late to add something new to your family rituals.


christmas eve

I've been working on a family project for my grandmother the past few weeks and my Aunt Penny sent me these pictures from her childhood. My grandmother loves Christmas and has always made it a very special holiday for her family. They had 10 children by the time these photos were taken, which equals quite a bit of presents under the tree. I love that each one is wrapped in different paper, most likely saved from the year before (if I know my grandmother well) and each has a beautiful ribbon or some other decoration. My favorite photo is of the older children wrapping gifts, my dad is on the left, home from college and quickly put to work.

Oh, the Christmas Eve hustle and bustle, I love it so. I must admit it's still hard for me to fall asleep the night before Christmas, I'm always a little too excited to hear the kids squeal and jump out of bed and run to see if Santa has come. A magical time indeed.

Merry Christmas to you and yours...


of christmas past

This may be cheating, but I'm a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to holiday crafting. I thought you might enjoy a few posts from last year's Christmas, because if I wait to show you what I'm working on this year, you'll likely see it the first week in January.

One week 'til Christmas. Plenty of time to:

Make a patchwork stocking. OR

Make some Christmas tags with leftover fabric scraps. OR

Make some pajamas for your little ones to wear Christmas morning.

This week I'm trying to be full of Christmas cheer, instead of Christmas stress, which is not nearly as fun. It's a busy week, and I would hate to have my children remember their mom harried and snappy during Christmas time. I'm still figuring out how to get everything done and stay calm and cheerful at the same time, can you relate? If you've figured it out, will you please fill me in on your secret?


and the winners are...

Using our homemade UNO card number generator once again, the kids just picked the two lucky winners.

#545 = Emily Proudfoot who said "Ever tasteful and lovely. Thanks for offering the giveaway!"

#381 = Urska Lenart who said "I love it. It would be lovely to look at through the whole year. Thank you."

Ladies, please email me your addresses and I will get your calendars in the mail as soon as possible. And for those of you who didn't win, you can still purchase a purlsoho calendar in time for the new year. The birds shown above are for the month of December.


purl calendar giveaway

One thing you might want to add to your Christmas list is's new calendar, full of projects from their blog, the Purl Bee. I am already loving the way it looks on my inspiration board. I've been designing this calendar for the past few months, and believe me when I say it was quite a feat to pick only twelve of our favorite projects. We ended up with a nice mix of sewing and patchwork, crochet and knitting projects.

Each month features a different project, with a lovely photo on the front and the materials you need for each project on the back (along with the link to the detailed project instructions on the Purl Bee.)

And the lovely ladies over at Purlsoho have given me two calendars to giveaway! Please leave a comment to enter. The kids and I will pick a winner Tuesday 12/15, so please enter by 12/14. That should give us plenty of time to ship them to the winners before the New Year. Happy 2010! Comments are now closed!


my christmas list

Every year I have a hard time coming up with a Christmas list. My mom always asks me for a few suggestions and I can never seem to find that perfect thing I wouldn't buy for myself. This year I tried something new. I've started a new folder on my computer desktop marked "wishlist" and whenever I see something I'd really like, I take a screenshot of it and throw it into my wishlist folder. When it's time for holiday shopping, or my birthday is coming up, I can easily click through the items in my wishlist folder and make a list of things I really would be thrilled to receive.

Even better, my husband knows about my wishlist folder, and he can hop on my computer anytime to see what I might like to see under the Christmas tree. I try and have lots of items in there so it's still quite a surprise to see what he might choose. I thought I'd share a few things that are in my folder this Christmas... I'm highly doubtful that a new couch will arrive in time for Christmas, but hey, it's called a wishlist for a reason!

Top row: this beautiful font, this lovely tote bag

2nd row: these sweet bento boxes, some of this beautiful fabric

3rd row: this couch, some Japanese masking tape

Bottom row: this breadmaking book, this coloring pad for the kids, this beauty from Paul Rand

For more gift suggestions, visit the bloggers wishlist over at design*sponge, I listed a few other things I'll be giving and receiving this year.


my favorite library books

The lovely ladies over at Small magazine asked me to contribute to the Winter issue, sharing my favorite library finds over the years. I was only too happy to help as I am a big fan of everything they do over there. Check out my favorite library books here.


the week of being still

When I was in college I remember learning about a tradition they had at the Taos Indian Pueblo in Taos, New Mexico. At the end of every year, they close the pueblo to tourists and have what they call "The Time of Being Still". I love the idea of setting aside some time to just be still. And so at the start of this busy and sometimes rushed holiday season we are having our own family "Week of Being Still".

This is one of those traditions that is still being formed in my head, but so far it's been nice. We're trying not to do too many things outside the house this week. We're spending time each evening talking about Christmas and why we celebrate, and we're slowly pulling out the decorations piece by piece. First the advent calendar, then the Christmas tree, then the lights and the ornaments. We're reading about Mary and Joseph and listening to quiet carols and having dinner by candlelight (which is a big hit with the kids).

We still have to buy and wrap and mail a few gifts, and bring goodies to the neighbors, and write a long list of Christmas cards.. but we'll start all that hustle and bustle next week. This week we're being still.