Almost Christmas

Mon Dec 22, 2008 9:32 am
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I can’t believe Christmas is almost here. Today is December 22, and since I consider Christmas to be December 24, Christmas will be here in two days. Time passes by so quickly. Unfortunately we do not have any thick snow on the ground, it melted a couple of days ago, even if it did stay on the ground for a few days. Now when I look out of my window I see a depressing rain and snow mix and not at all a white, pillowy blanket like on the picture below which I took the other day when it was still Winter Wonderland.

snow

Some decorations are up, and the tree is up which gives a lot of atmosphere. I love the smell of the tree, and the focal point which it gives a room. This year I also made a few felt decorations as ornaments, similar to the ones on the Christmas cards.

felt

My sewing machine has also been working hard lately on Christmas presents. I have to say, a sewing machine is such a versatile tool - you can do so many things with it. It's so much fun to create new things - some of which I'm quite pleased with. Of course, I will show the various projects, that is once they are opened which won’t be long since it’s already December 22!



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White Winterland

Mon Dec 15, 2008 10:09 pm
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Today we have snow on the ground, which I think is rather nice. When I look out of my window everything is white, and that is a rare sight here. I hope the snow will stay on the ground for a couple of days - currently the temperature is in the mid twenties, so it’s certainly cold enough. Ideally in my mind the snow would stay on the ground for at least a month or two, but the prospect of that scenario is far from reasonable, considering we never get snow here in the first place.

snow

Also, Kate over at Funky, Chic and Cool Laptop Sleeves, just wrote a lovely review of the linen sleeves, check it out.



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Santa Lucia & IKEA Visit

Sun Dec 14, 2008 9:20 am
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Yesterday was December 13 which means one thing if you'relucia Swedish: Santa Lucia. On December 13 you listen to girls dressed up in white dresses, holding candles and singing special Lucia songs and you eat gingerbread cookies and saffronbread. I have been in countless Lucia "trains" (which means you're included in the party who sings and performs these songs dressed up) so this time of year has always been special. When I was young, my mother used to wake me and my sister up early so we could watch the various performances on TV with some hot chocolate with whipped cream before we went to school.

Well, in the US no one has even heard of Santa Lucia, so yesterday we left for IKEA, which is a safe Swedish haven with familiar food, Swedish words and a surprising amount of Swedish people. Unfortunately they did not really celebrate Lucia, except from some dry Saffron buns that you could find in the cafeteria. But IKEA does have a nice selection of Swedish food so I did come back with quite a few things which I can't wait to have: julmust, gingerbreads, whole fish roe, cloudberry jam, lingonberry jam, fish row caviar, Vasterbotten cheese, cookies and herring.

food

Overall I love walking around IKEA and I particularly like all their furnished rooms, they are so compact, cute and efficient. Here are a couple of shots of nice compositions.




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Classic Advent Calendars

Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:39 am
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The other day I got a package in the mail with these two gorgeous advent calendars. One traditional German calendar that features a fine image of a family with small children who are gathered around a richly decorated Christmas tree and one small postcard sized calendar with the classic angel painting.

calendar

(click to enlarge)

calendar

I particularly like the family painting; it's so detailed and rich. You can sit down and carefully examine this picture, and each time you look you discover a new detail such as another toy, a hidden present, or a unique ornament in the tree.



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First Advent & Candles

Sat Nov 29, 2008 9:04 am
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This weekend (Sunday) it’s First Advent which marks thecandleholder beginning of the holiday season in Scandinavia as well as in other countries. First advent always takes place on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day and on this day some decorations are usually put up such as electric candlesticks and stars in the windows. And on Sunday you light the first of the advent candles, you drink glögg, and might have a gingerbread cookie or two.

I always loved when first advent arrived and we could start decorating. Since in Sweden you don't usually bring a tree in until much later in December, every bit of decoration counted so much and to see the electric stars and candles in all the windows was always so special.

There are of course many different types of advent candle arrangements; however it does have to fit four candles – one to be lit each Sunday until Christmas. My mother always placed moss in a long brass holder, which is quite traditional, however you can also use a four candlestick holder or light block candles.

I also found this arrangement from Ljuvligt Hemma (a lovely blog overall, however it's in Swedish) which I think is a great alternative to a traditional candlestick.

Block candles with ribbons and number tags on a nice tray in front of a mirror. So timeless and easy to do!



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Lovely Breakfast in Bed Pictures

Wed Nov 26, 2008 8:37 am
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I have a particularly weak spot for pictures capturing a comfortable breakfast tray on a bed with fluffy pillows. Maybe it’s because I simply love to be awaken by a carefully put together breakfast meal, or more than that, I love the feeling that these types of pictures usually give. Generally in these photos, the linens are clean and crisp, the bed is gorgeous, the tray usually features a thoughtful display of coffee or tea, bread and marmalade; sometimes a candle is lit, and at other times a fresh flower is positioned on the tray. That’s enough to make me fall completely for the scene. So, here are a couple of lovely breakfast pictures to brighten up your morning.

pictures

from mille-notti.com

pictures

 

pictures
from toast.co.uk

pictures

pictures

... and here are a couple pages photographed from one of my favorite Swedish cookbooks/craftbooks/inspiration books "Vinterns Goda Ting". It's a delightful book that honours all things that the winter season has to offer such as apples, advent, Lucia, Christmas and New Year with recipes, stories and crafts to compliment each section. The one above is one of my favorite photos from the breakfast section in the book. Note the small presents, big tea/coffee cup, candle, fresh fruit and cookies for dessert!

pictures

I think all the pictures above are absolutely wonderful. Who wouldn't want to be woken in beds like those with a nice tray, or come down to a kitchen so nicely prepared. It's just what you need when it's dark and cold outside.



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The White Company Christmas Decorations

Thu Nov 20, 2008 9:11 am
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London based The White Company carries many things that I wouldn’t mind in time for Christmas. Take a look at these gorgeous glass drop decorations, glass garlands and sleek lanterns for candles! I think crystal, glass, water, snow and light. They would be perfect for the minimalist home as well as the country cottage depending on how you arrange them.

dropsdrops
drops drops

 



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Svenskt Tenn Candle Holders

Mon Nov 17, 2008 7:17 pm
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I truly adore the atmosphere that candles can bring to a room. A dull and dark setting can easily be transformed with the soft lights of flickering candles. In Sweden and Scandinavia overall, candles are liberally used throughout the fall and winter. There certainly doesn't have to be a special occasion in order to light tea lights, long thin candles, or block candles - in many homes you will find candles lit morning as well as evening. This custom does not seem to be as common in the US, perhaps it's related to the lack of daylight in northern Europe during the winter months. I have found that candles are lit very rarely in most homes in the United States, and usually only if there is a special occasion, or a blackout!

However, I feel that candles could and should be used liberally since they can really add such atmosphere. Thusly I do go through my fair share and I particularly like to light them in a group setting with brass candle holders of different heights. Of course, nice candle holders are important, and you really can't have too many... These candle arrangements from Svenskt Tenn are so simple, yet playful. I think they are quite lovely (however a little pricy) and they would fit great in most settings.

candle holder
6-branched candelabra, brass

candle holder
Brass Candlestick



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Advent Calendar Inspiration

Sat Nov 15, 2008 7:57 pm
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Since I'm thinking about advent calendars and since it's almost December, I would like to show some more great advent calendar projects from Martha Stewart. These calendars look so nice and of course the pictures are gorgeous!

calendar
Greeting-Card Advent Calendar

calendar
Baby Sock Advent Calendar

calendar
Matchbox Advent Calendar

calendar
Advent in a Box

Each project is easy to make, and there are instructions accompanying each one. I especially like the idea of the greeting card calendar, what a great way to utilize all those old cards that pile up after a while.



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The idea of the Advent Calendar (German paper calendars & gift calendars)

Fri Nov 14, 2008 8:38 am
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One thing that I have always loved come December is to collect, carefully study and open Advent Calendars. These could be German paper advent calendars with wonderful pictures, chocolate calendars with often stale chocolate, or a calendar with actual presents. I especially like the paper calendars with detailed Santa or Christmas motifs that have a dust of gold on them and that feature a lovely holiday feel that today would make you feel like a child again.

In Sweden, paper advent calendars are easy to come by; many stores carry them and they can be found with many different images and in different sizes. Here in the US however, they are not as easy to find, unless you look online. Which of course I did: here are a couple of traditional advent calendars which are detailed and feature wonderful holiday scenes:

calendarcalendar
calendar

When I was young, my mom went through the trouble each year of making real Advent Calendars for me and my sister with presents for each day of December until Christmas. Each year our personal burlap calendars came forward which had holiday motifs and our names on (embroidered by my grandmother's hand), and my mother filled them to the brim with wonderful wrapped presents. This type of calendar of course, beats all other types, since the excitement each morning is unmistakable when you have a small gift to open up.

You can make so many different types of advent calendars to brighten someone's day up; I remember one year my mother made one for her mother out of matchboxes which she glued together and wrapped in paper. Then she wrote numbers on each box, placed a carefully written note with a wise saying in each of the 24 boxes along with a piece of wrapped, dark chocolate. This became a real treat for my grandmother during that month of December, and I just love the idea of giving somebody small gifts each day up until Christmas. The advent calendar, no matter what type, I think is a lovely idea for children as well as adults...



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