Creating our holiday traditions

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I don’t know about you, but every holiday season seems to whiz by in a tornado of full calendar days, overplayed Christmas music, too much sugar, and good intentions.  As my daughter gets older, we are trying to be more intentional about our holiday traditions.  It takes thought and planning to create your family’s unique traditions.  Each partner brings their own experiences and expectations to the table. One key to having a satisfying and meaningful holiday is to share what’s important to you both and decide what to carry on in your own family.

Last year it all went by so fast, and I felt like something was missing. So this year we’re trying to be more intentional and plan a few key things into the month.  A couple of weeks ago, the wife and I sat down and brainstormed up a list of holiday must-dos.  Things that help us feel the gratitude, splendor, and sugar rushes of this time of year.

There’s more on this list than we’ll ever get to in a month.  But it feels so good knowing all these ideas are in one place!  I know I’m probably not going to be facilitating making homemade play-doh after a busy day at work.  It’s okay!  Being realistic and keeping expectations flexible is key.

I thought I’d share some of our family activities in case you’re looking for inspiration:

Go pick out a tree together.  Decorate tree.  Write our letters to Santa.  Make cookies.  Go to zoo lights (or other local festivity).  Go to dinosaur show (or local choir, theatre, or other performance).  Go Xmas shopping with Mommy.  Go Xmas shopping with Mama.  Watch a holiday movie.  Wrap presents.  Make candies for neighbors.  Practice Christmas songs (Silent night, jingle bells).  Make hot cocoa with marshmallows.  Drive around to see Christmas lights.  Make festive play doh (glitter, scented).  Read seasonal books daily.  Shop for and prepare food bank donation together.  Call grandparents and sing a Christmas song. Make gingerbread house.  Put up Christmas decor/lights.  Eat dinner under the Christmas tree.  Go for a walk around the neighborhood to see lights.  Family game night!  Make/decorate ornaments.  Make or decorate our Christmas cards.  Play Christmas bingo.  Do holiday mad libs.  Put out treats for Santa and the reindeer.

Here’s a link to my holiday inspiration board on Pinterest for more ideas!

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So far the calendar has helped us structure our weekends to make sure we’re making time for the things we really want (and need) to do.  The weekdays have been filled in with simple pleasures that can mostly be accomplished any time that day.  Or the next day.  I even left some days blank so we can plan to be spontaneous!  Flexibility is key here, otherwise you may end up feeling like you’re failing and that’s not good!

That’s great, you say.  But how’s it really working out?

We invested in a beautiful handmade advent calendar from this shop.  There’s a pocket for each day with room for a small treat: chocolate, a sticker or toy, and a slip of paper with an activity.  I also made a master calendar of the month’s events, just to keep me feeling on top of things.

To give you an idea of how it’s working so far: it’s working beautifully, even when we forget about it completely.  G never forgets about the treat, and when there’s an activity she’s excited about, she won’t let us forget about it.  It’s good to see what activities float to the top as being important or exciting for each of us.  My idea of a great holiday isn’t the same as my wife’s or daughter’s.  I’m accepting that and letting go of what I thought might be fun but is not really important to me.

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{photos by miss G}

Last year I bought a gingerbread house kit and we never got around to using it.  I tossed it, along with a heavy dose of self-induced guilt, sometime in the summer.  Still regretting that, I had “scheduled” in Decorate a Gingerbread House for Sunday of this past weekend.  Had I not put it down on the calendar, we probably would have skipped it.  We were tired, and lazing around in pajamas sounded like a better use of time.  But once we got started and I saw the excitement and joy in my daughter’s eyes, I remembered why I wanted to do this in the first place.  Encouraging her to decorate the house however she liked (and eat all the candy she wanted) delighted all of us.

I want the whole holiday season to be a time we connect in extra ways.  A time of magic and joy, playfulness and togetherness.  We’re all busy; this season of life and this month will go by so quickly.  Taking some time to feel organized and thoughtful seems to be helping us find more meaningful moments together.

What activities are special to your family this time of year?

Fairy Party Favors

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PB’s birthday falls just a few days into the new year, an inevitably busy, post-holiday blitzed out time of year.  And each year, I’ve felt like a celebration was an afterthought, something thrown together at the last-minute, just as the Christmas tree was starting to get crispy.  Oh yes, it’s birthday time.

This has resulted in over-inviting, over indulging, and generally overdoing it.  I would usually feel like the point of the day was being overlooked in a rush to make things just-so, and the day would end with any number of babies or adults in tears.  This year we chose to keep it small and simple (thank you, Trader Joe’s), and it was a relaxing day.  With the exception of the party favors…

I had so much fun going over the top with these!

We had a very loosely themed Fairy Party where guests were encouraged to dress up. Then at the end of the party, each kiddo got to choose a wand and a vial of glittery pixie dust. Not to worry: I glued the lids on!

I spent a lot more time on these than I thought I would, but once you start it’s hard to stop. And I have to admit: it was fun to get so immersed in a creative project that wasn’t knitting. It’s good to mix things up once in a while.

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Flower Fairy Wand Materials:

  • 1/4 inch wooden dowel, cut to 18 inches long
  • green glitter paint
  • styrofoam ball
  • bouquets of silk flowers, leaves, butterflies
  • ribbons
  • hot glue
  1. Paint the dowels with green glitter paint and let dry.
  2. Separate flower heads and leaves from bouquets.  I had a pile of larger flowers, one of smaller flowers, and a pile of leaves and add ons like butterflies and more elongated pieces.
  3. Put a dab of hot glue on each flower before pressing it into the styrofoam ball until it is covered (there was some styrofoam showing if you looked closely).
  4. When the dowels are dry, put a dab of glue on one end and attach a 6-10 inch length of ribbon.  I put 3 ribbons of varying lengths on each wand.
  5. Press the dowel about halfway into the ball, remove it, and fill the hole with hot glue. Then put the dowel back in and press firmly until glue sets.
  6. Put in a pretty jar or vase to let dry and display!

We also had a craft area for the little ones to decorate cardboard crowns.  I put out some glitter glue, foam stickers, markers and crayons and they were entertained for quite some time.  It’s pretty exciting to be out of the imminent choking-hazard age and into the age of semi-independent crafting!

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PB loved it, and charged herself with decorating all of the extra crowns, and now we’re all royalty.

All in all it was a very fun little celebration. I’m thankful I was able to make time to create something interactive that I knew PB would enjoy.  In a busy season, and a busy life, taking time to create with PB is one of the things that truly helps fill my bliss-cup.

My only problem now: what to do with all those naked bouquets of flowers.

Inspired to Start Fresh

Ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut, trudging along in the same worn out habits day after day, dreaming of what your life/job/diet/body/home/etc could be?  No mater how organized or happy we are, there are moments where we all catch ourselves thinking about making changes, large or small, in our lives.  I’m a dreamer and love looking forward to the next adventures coming up in my life.

To that end, I wanted to share a couple of gorgeous online workshops I’m participating in this winter.

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A Lovely Venture by Julie Wray of Olivine’s Charm School

This is an online workshop geared toward creative women who have or are thinking about starting their own businesses.  There’s a lot of frank sharing and prompts for self-reflection and list-making so far, which I think would have really helped me out when I was first forming my ideas and strategies for Stash.  This is a go-at-your-own-pace course, with a Facebook Group for sharing and networking among participants.  I’m hoping to get inspired and learn some new tricks for vamping up the creativity and efficiency of my business.

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Whole Foods Workshop by Heather of Beauty that Moves

I first participated in Heather’s 30 Day Vegan Diet last spring, and found it to be a wonderful experience.  A bit radical, cutting all animal products out of one’s diet for a month, but it was just the challenge I needed.  At the time I had been thinking a lot about changing the way I ate and was seriously considering eliminating meat from my daily diet.  After this experience, with the help of recipes, thoughtful blog posts, and the comments of other participants, I felt I had the tools and knowledge to venture out into the world of vegetarianism.  I’ve had my temptations (the smell of a sizzling steak still makes my mouth water, and I’ve had the occasional bite of bacon or seafood), but for the most part I haven’t looked back.

Since going back to work this fall, our family meals have really taken a nosedive.  We used to eat about 90% of our food made from scratch, and would enjoy eating restaurant food about twice a week.  Lately there has been a lot more convenience foods and takeout, and I think we’re all feeling the effects.  I’m looking forward to the inspiration, challenge, and changes that learning more about whole foods cooking may ignite.  And I hope we all start feeling brighter and more energetic, too!

What’s new for you this year?  What changes or challenges are you looking forward to making?

First Chills & Thrills

Where we live in Oregon it is just beginning to feel like fall is over and early winter is settling in.  We’ve gotten the first couple of frosts, turning damp piles of leaves into crisp, glittering mounds.  The grass glows like frosted emeralds, and there is usually a fog that hovers near the ground all morning.  Yesterday we decided to venture out in the chilly, frosty morning and have an adventure with PB’s new trike.  She is loving the speed and repeatedly asks us to “go faster” and to “do more zooming.” She also likes to hop off unexpectedly to gather rocks and walking sticks. It’s pretty great.

I knit PB and her friend OP not-so-matchy matching handwarmers.  Using leftover bits of green, purple and white yarn, I knit up simple ribbed tubes with a button/thumb hole.  Easy peasy, and so fun!  Now I need a pair as I can’t seem to find any of the mitts I’ve knit in years past… What’s your favorite glove/mitten/handwarmer pattern right now?

Autumn Fairies

While eating breakfast this morning (a banner batch of this granola), I noticed a little fairy watching over us from atop a picture frame.  These are something I made in October for a seasonal Waldorf-inspired swap that I was late to complete and even later to blog, but that’s not what’s important here.  What is important? How sweet, simple, and charming these little sprites are! I had a lot of fun staying up late one night creating different combinations of hair and clothing.

Working late

I followed the basic ideas in this tutorial, opting out of wrapping the pipe cleaners and drawing on faces. I embellished my gals with bits of felt and silk flowers I had in the craft stash.  Leftover sock yarn makes stunning hair, don’t you think? (looking back at that tutorial just now I realized I forgot to give my fairies wings. Oops!)

We’ve been trying to soak up the last days of autumn, observing all the shades of scorched orange, golden yellow, and rusty red leaves on trees. Today there was a bit of blue in the sky, and we ran out to enjoy the fair weather and collect some leaves.  I had been wanting to make a leaf place mat or garland, but PB had other plans, dumping our cache back onto the ground on our way home.  Oh, well.  We got to enjoy those luminous leaves and sunny weather, and that’s what I wanted all along.

How are you enjoying these late fall days?

Sweet Treats

 

Halloween morning found me wielding a glue gun on the floor of my office, quickly putting together PB’s Halloween costume.  I knew for a while that I wanted to utilize one of her granny-gifted tutu’s and make a butterfly costume, but had yet to implement my design ideas.  Funny how we wait for inspiration to strike, and then all of a sudden it’s a race to the finish!  I embellished this thrifted set of glittery pink butterfly wings with felt and rick-a-rack, then made some yarn- wrapped pipe cleaners for antennae.  I think it came together okay, and PB certainly looked sweet.

Turns out she really liked trick-or-treating around town, and had to pause to eat each piece of candy as it was collected.  Seeing as how she never really eats candy, we let her have her moments (and the resulting highs and lows).  A fun and sweet Halloween.

Family Day

Yesterday was a new holiday for us, a day affectionately titled Family Day. A day where we chuck it all and go do something fun together all day. Things have been a little busy this autumn, with family rhythms a bit out of whack. In an attempt to reset priorities (and increase ice cream consumption), we took a day off. Sweetie arranged to be absent from work, I vowed not to check work email, and we taught PB all about playing hookie from preschool.

Hot beverages and knitting in hand, we set off in the car toward the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, OR. I respect the innovation of flight and think airplanes are amazing, but never thought I’d be spending voluntary time doing something like this. Even I was blown away by the sheer size and chutzpah of the Spruce Goose (or the Flying Boat, as Howard Hughes preferred to call it). That thing is massive! And you can go inside the cargo hold, which is pretty neat. There was plenty of room to roam, activities for little ones and, perhaps most exciting for a future trip, an indoor water park where you can slide out of a real airplane on the roof of the building.

"Plane" was one of her first words...

After the museum we went downtown for lunch and had an amazing view of  Mt. Hood and the stunning fall colors. And after that, I got to see the amazing view of PB devouring a cup of ice cream. It was a real treat for us all!

I’m already looking forward to out next Family Day.

This Week

This is the week! The much-anticipated, long dreamed of week that my new yarn shop opens for business! Deep breath…

I’m feeling a lot of excitement, a little bit of anxiety when I look at that seemingly endless list of to-do’s, some vulnerability about putting my dream out there for public consumption, and a whole lot of gratitude that I get to live that dream.

Last week I hosted a sneak-preview stitch night for some of the Ravelry knitters in the area. It was a great turnout, full of the friendly faces and excited yarn shoppers. This was the first time Stash had been open to non-family members or close friends, and it was exciting and humbling to receive such an enthusiastic response.

This blog is going to remain a chronicle of my personal knitting life, though I’m sure some business talk will creep in now and then. To stay in the loop about the happenings at Stash, check out the new shop blog, website, Ravelry group, and Facebook Page.

Have a great week!  I’m hoping to be back here on Wednesday for Yarn Along.  I have some knitting (a very little bit) and lots of reading to share.

Yarn Everywhere and Not a Thing to Knit!

As some of you wisely pointed out to me recently, during times of change, busy-ness or stress, something has to give.  And yes, housework has been low on the list of priorities to be sure.  Blogging, cooking, crafting, and knitting have also fallen low, which makes me a little bit sad.  I reassure myself that this is a temporary state, and try to enjoy these things as time allows.

Over the weekend I made a trip to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival to pick up some orders for Stash.  It was a lovely day of meeting with the dyers and artisans that will be making up a large part of the shop.  It’s so exciting to see these lovelies in person after all the planning and ordering.  Finally, there is yarn in the shop!

There are so many pretty skeins and a ton of great patterns, and yet I find myself paralyzed when it comes to choosing my first project from the shop’s stash.  Not a bad problem to have, I know!  But seriously, one of my concerns about opening a yarn shop was that it would take the shine off my cherished knitting, make me lose interest.  I’m not saying that’s what is happening, but I do need to remember this as I go forward:

Make Time For the Thing You Love Doing.

A good reminder, no?

This week I’m going to focus on my personal knitting, and will decide on a sample knit for the shop. What do you need to make more time for?