Monday, December 19, 2011

The Fire is so Delightful

Our apartment has a cute little fireplace, a great place to hang stockings and a great mantel to decorate, but it's not super practical for actual fire. For one thing, it'd be way too warm in here, for another it'd be way to tempting for little fingers. Yesterday our advent activity was to make a cozy replica.

The logs are cardboard tubes, colored by an enthusiastic almost 5yo. We tore the edges to make them look more log-y, and because tearing things on purpose is fun. The fire is metallic origami paper and vellum, both in reds and yellows, cut into flame shapes, crumpled a bit and layered. We backed it with christmas lights, but I'm going to get some flameless candles so it'll flicker. It looks fantastic, and not just in the cheesy gag way I'd expected. It really feels cozier in here with it's warm glow. Of all the cookies, gnomes, ornaments and decorations we've made, this was the thing that B was the most giddy over. You could even say it lit a fire under him. Har de har.

Today we'll be making Santa's mustache pops. Like the ones from B's birthday, but with white chocolate and sprinkled with candy cane bits!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Very Playmobil Christmas

I suppose it was inevitable, but this is the first year that my lifelong love of Playmobil extended into our holiday decorating.B and I had settled in for a cozy night and I thought we'd make some elves or little houses to fill the mantel. I had some glittery snow blanket that I'd been using with the diorama ornaments, and a few bottle brush trees so that became our blank slate.B brainstormed about who and what should live in this snowy woods, he tossed out lots of great ideas, but at the end of the night he was gung ho! for using Playmobil. He's his mother's son, what can I say?I am a little disappointed that there aren't little boy-made bits of brilliance up there, but he's so proud. Isn't that what it's all about? Besides, the rest of our house is teeming with his handiwork. And I may still get my little glittery houses...

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I've had dioramas on the brain for weeks. Months, maybe. Who doesn't love self contained miniature worlds? As a kid I would get absolutely lost in them and as it turns out my adult self isn't much different. I'm a sucker through and through. Anyway, my sister (who has also had dioramas on the brain - go figure) and I brainstormed on how we could turn our diorama fever into a force of holiday joy spreading good. Here's one of our ideas.The beginnings of it anyway. I'm still up to my elbows in bottle brush trees and deer cake toppers and I have 6 more ornaments painted, glittered and ready for inhabitants. Not to mention the glitter that has bedazzled our entire apartment. And our persons. How do you combat that? I'm a novice, a glitter virgin really, so I have no idea how to contain the outbreak. Any sage advice out there?Now for the how. I got plain, brown craft ball ornaments from Micheal's and cut windows in them with a small hacksaw, or lady-saw as Beckett calls it. The insides were not paper, much to my dismay, but hard dark plastic. It took a few coats to cover it, but it accepted the paint fairly well. I found some pre-made all paper balls online here and here, but I didn't want to wait for shipping, so I made do.

Then I painted the insides and outs. I added metallic pipe cleaners or glitter to the openings, mostly to hide my shoddy saw skills, but also because it makes them look super vintage.I found bottle trees, mini wreaths, mini snowmen, glittery foliage and other bits at Micheal's. I scored some spun cotton mushrooms, those little German birds and I made a huge haul of vintage cake toppers at a wonderful, cluttered hole in the wall called Home Cake. If you're in Seattle, check it out. If not, etsy has all kinds of great deer, mushrooms and elves. The Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs set is definitely worth a look!We're in full scale holiday mode around here. The house looks, smells and feels great and our advent calendar (a mischievous gnome who hides each morning with our activity or adventure for the day in his pocket) has filled our days with fun. I just love December.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Little Birds

You know those sweet little painted wood birds that perch on Nutcrackers and wonderful German ornaments? I have a few beat up ones that broke off of thrift store finds, and despite their chipped paint, I adore them. The other night I decided that I needed more. Lots more. To use in ornament making, and for who knows what other uses might pop up. What project wouldn't be improved by bright little wooden birds? So I scoured the internet and came up empty.

Yesterday, Calder and I were killing time while B was in school and we popped in to the Alpenland Delicatessen on Mercer Island for a pastry. It's a great little mom and pop deli with such delicious, tradition Swiss fare, and loads of imported chocolates and mustards etc. This time of year, they also have fantastic ornaments and every year I pick up a few. Never before, though, have they had these! The exact little birds I'd been searching for.I couldn't believe it. Still can't, but I can say I'm a very happy camper. They sold the small ones in little packages of 12 for $3.40. The larger birds were $3.80 for a package of 6. Amazing. Look for these to be showing up in much of my holiday playing this year. I'm sure they'll be showing up all over the house too.Man, it feels good to be blogging. I miss this, and I'm sorry that so many of our Fall adventures and projects went un-posted. It's a rich life, and it's easy to get swept up, especially with the amazing, but calendar filling, involvement with a coop preschool. But I love this, and I'd feel more fulfilled if I gave it more time.