Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

2016, December 30

Six reasons to smile in December

This month, I couldn’t help but notice a trend: Winter weather has definitely settled in to stay in this little corner of the world, ever since mid-October actually when the weather changed drastically, and many of the things which made me smile every day are off of my Cozy List for Sweater Weather. And then there was Christmas, too, and being off from work, getting the chance to finally rest for a bit sure made it easier to smile.

I wonder if I should continue posting these six reasons to smile blog posts next year as well? They were fun to write up and share the pics, yet I’m not sure if I want to continue…

Here are the reasons I smiled in December:

six-reasons-december

Did you smile a lot this month? What were your reasons? In case you’ve also captured them on camera, I’d love to see!

2016, December 23

Christmas: Then vs Now

Recently I read an article, where it said “As you grow older, you begin to experience the “Christmas spirit” in a different way. Instead of counting down the days until Christmas starting Dec. 1, you are caught off guard when someone says that Christmas is only a week away. Your older self doesn’t necessarily become the Grinch, but the excitement that takes over your every thought slowly dims.”
How true! I wanted to come up with my own blog post on the subject. So, keep on reading.

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What was the holiday season like way back when I was a kid?
~ What is the holiday season now that I am pushing 30?

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Starting with Advent, we would listen to Christmas carols all day, every day, and sing along.
~ Now, I mostly forget to play carols or Christmas-themed songs, because I don’t listen to music much anymore.

The night before Christmas I would stay up late because I was too excited to go to sleep.
~ Now, I stay up late because at 10PM there are still a million things I need to get done.

On the 24th, I would wake up very early and all excited. The excitement level would only go up as the evening approached. (The custom is to receive presents on Christmas Eve, not on Christmas Day here in Romania.)
~ Now, I try to snooze the alarm clock five times before getting out of bed to skip breakfast and finish everything that didn’t get done the night before. The stress level only goes up as the evening approaches.

On Christmas Eve, my mom, grandparents and I used to go to church, and I was always in the Christmas play the kids at church would act out in front of more than 300 people.
~ Now, I don’t go to church anymore. (My mom and I go listen to my former high school’s choir concert, but that’s a a week or two before the holidays.)

During the play, one of my grandparents or my uncle would go to my mom’s house to decorate our Christmas tree and place presents under the tree – because I would’ve noticed if my mom wasn’t in the front row singing along carols with us kids. My grandparents decorated their tree and placed the presents under it before they left. My uncle did the same at my great-grandmother’s house.
~ Now, I decorate our apartment, my mom’s and my grandparent’s houses and their Christmas trees. Aside from helping with cooking and baking, and my own cooking and baking. I kinda like the being-surprised-by-a-Christmas-tree-materializing-out-of-nowhere idea better, but that most likely won’t happen ever again.

After the play, on our way out, all of the children at church would receive a small present.
~ Now, I am the one assembling presents for children (both my boyfriend’s and my firm take presents to ShoeBox Romania). An extra present for myself comes from Secret Santa at work.

First we’d go to my mom’s to find that Santa brought us a Christmas tree and presents. Then to my great-grandmother’s, and then to my grandparent’s for the same.
~ My boyfriend goes to his brother’s and they go over to his grandma’s. At home, I skip lunch to finish everything that didn’t get done the night before or in the morning. Then we go over to my mom’s and grandparent’s.

My Christmas wishlist would be a mile long. Yet everything was still a surprise when some of the items off my wishlist made it into the presents, because we couldn’t afford much.
~ Now, my wishlist is still long, but three quarters of it I ignore, and what I really need/want I buy for myself instead of flat-out asking for them. Presents aren’t surprises much anymore, because usually mom asks me if it’s OK to buy me “x”, and I correct her that “y” would be better as I haven’t used up the current “x” yet. Or, she’d call me three times in a row while my phone’s on silent, then immediately text saying “call me urgently!!!” to ask what color PJs I’d like, because she knows I needed to sew mine twice in one month.

We’d have dinner at my grandparent’s.
~ We have dinner at mom’s.

At the end of the night, my mom and I would go back to mom’s house. During school holidays I stayed with her, not with my grandparents as was my living situation during school time.
~ Now, my boyfriend and I go home to our cat to spoil the little fluffball rotten some more while watching a Christmas movie and maybe having a cup of hot chocolate.

On Christmas Day we would all go to church and have lunch at my mom’s place.
~ On Christmas Day, I try as much as I can to get out of the church part, but given I can’t, we all go to church together and have lunch at mom’s place.

~~~

I still like the holidays, and I do get excited. However, I do find this season stressful now, and sometimes I really wish I was a kid again and just enjoy it rather than be the one to do the work…
What do you think? What are your holiday preparations and holidays like? Do you find it more or less stressful now than twenty years ago?

Luckily, twinkle lights and hot chocolate help keep my spirits up!

Here’s wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!!!

2015, December 15

Going on an adventure

The assignment for last week in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly was to go on an adventure. Truth be told, I couldn’t go on just any adventure, because I stayed home in bed with a cold for four out of five days of the week, but on Saturday, I went to a Christmas Concert.

I went over to my mom’s place and helped her with some cleaning, took some lovely #25DayBookmas photos (since 99% of my books live there), we had lunch together, and then headed downtown. Somehow I haven’t seen Union Square in the evening yet as it’s all lit up, so we went by there and had a leisurely stroll through the Santa’s Village handmade fair looking at all the cute presents on display. From there, we headed to church for the Christmas Concert.

I’ve mentioned this concert before in a travel article I wrote about Christmastime here in my city. Each year I try to attend my old high school’s Christmas concert. The concert is held at the Downtown Reformed Church about a week before Christmas.

The church has recently been renovated, so the whole experience and concert was even more magical than in previous years. It was packed, just as always, and my mom and I managed to squeeze into a seat (both of us in the same seat, yes). After about twenty minutes though, we gave our seat to an older woman and remained standing for the rest of the concert.
It was on the longer side, they had a short performance by the middle school choir, the main performance by the high school choir, and a short performance by the former alumni choir who also performed a few carols together with the high school choir.

It was such a wonderful evening! A true, magical adventure. I took some pics and videos, go see on Instagram, as they’re currently at the top of my feed.

The assignment for Week 50 is to Love the One You’re With. I have to share what j says about this, as it’s something that drives me nuts, too.
“True confessions: It makes me crazy when people I’m with interrupt our conversation to engage with their cell phones. One of the reasons that I don’t have a smart phone is because I think it might turn me into someone who does that. Honestly, I don’t want to be that plugged in. I don’t want to make anyone else feel the way I’ve felt sitting across from someone in the wake of their decision that whatever is happening on their phone is more important than… well… me.
Because, don’t kid yourself. That’s the decision you’ve made when you answer your phone, or text, or check your email-Twitter-Facebook-stock-stats while someone sits across from you, waiting for you to get back to them.
This week, if it’s not an emergency, don’t do it. Pay attention to the people in your real, physical world. Watch. Listen. Choose, consciously, to love the one you’re with. They’ve showed up, after all. The least you can do is show up too.”

How was your week? Did you go on an adventure? Do you usually follow your heart and go out on your own for adventures? Or do you need a little push from family or friends to get out of your comfort zone or your daily routine?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2014, December 20

Simple holiday decor ideas that will survive a kitty attack

xmas kitten proof 3

When I first started thinking about holiday decorating at home and at my boyfriend’s, I was a bit concerned about the latter.

As you may have seen from my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts, we have a really cute, but at-times-beyond-hyper kitty, Pixel. Almost nothing is out of reach unless shut behind a cabinet door, and everything is easily turned into a toy. A toy which usually gets destroyed in five minutes or less if we don’t notice in time. And we usually don’t.

I started searching for ideas of Christmas decorating when one has pets around. The tips I found were good, but not fully applicable for our case. We live in an open plan apartment, which means that Pixel can get into and onto anything and everything.

There are no tips out there for leaving a kitty alone with all the holiday decorations up while the owners are at work and out of the house for 10 plus hours.

This whole thing got me thinking. We’d just have to be creative when it came to holiday decorating this year. And I’m sharing below just how we achieved it.

xmas kitten proof 1

Simple holiday decor ideas that will survive a kitty attack:

Keep it simple. And I do mean Simple with a capital “S”!
Go for an easy yet effective design which will still be festive, but won’t grab your cat’s attention too much.
We’re going for the “Hmm, a new thing’s placed there, let’s see what it is. It doesn’t sparkle. I can’t make it move around much. Doesn’t smell interesting. Okay, I’ll go sleep now.” reaction from your cat.

Go with a small fake tree, and place it out of the cat’s reach.
Also, if you have a real pine center piece, only leave it on tables or nightstands when you’re at home, and place them out of reach before leaving the house.
You wouldn’t want your cat nibbling on real pine while you’re at work all day long (it’s toxic if ingested in larger amounts).

For the Christmas tree avoid using tinsel, glittery and breakable ornaments.
I found that using simple clothespin ornaments, plastic or metal balls, or securing the ornaments to the branches with a ribbon works perfectly. You can also use homemade decorations like salt dough ones, dried fruit and cinnamon sticks, nuts and pine cones – these usually won’t get a second glance (especially dried fruit, kitties dislike citrus-y aromas) and even if they do, they’re not expensive to replace.
Add bells, if your cat is afraid of the sound they make; or use them as a precaution so they’ll alert you if the tree is being tampered with.

Place decoration out of reach.
Decorate mantels, shelves, window sills and other areas your cat doesn’t get to. You can safely display holiday photos and Christmas cards you receive, Christmas stockings, and breakable decorations this way.
Hang wintery and Christmas-themed paintings, wreaths and simple garlands on the walls and doors.
Plants on window sills will get a festive feel from some bows over the pots, Christmas themed planters and plant stakes.
Secure Christmas lights by lining the window frame with them for a both indoor and outdoor decoration. Use the “all lights ON” setting instead of letting them twinkle on their own.

Make some jar ornaments, which you can leave even at your cat’s reach.
You can create very cute decorations with jars, using even your favorite glass ornaments, since your cat won’t be able to touch them after you place the lid on. You can even add tea lights to light inside them and place the lid back on once burnt, or go with battery-powered tea lights. If you have snow spray, go ahead and add a few puffs of it into the jars.
Just make sure they’re not someplace they can get knocked off from too easily.

Decorate with throw pillows and blankets.
Fun, Christmas and winter themed pillows and blankets are all around us in stores especially during winter and right before Christmas, and other than give your home a holiday feel, they’re also quite comfy, warm and snuggly.
You can even make your own sweater pillow cases.
The worst your cat will do with these is get all comfy and have a good long sleep on top of them.
Choose some Christmas themed table cloths for the dining area, dishtowels, oven mitts, aprons and refrigerator magnets for the kitchen, towels and fun-shaped soap for the bathroom.

Have pine cones and fruit on tables and counters using Christmas themed bowls and plates for them. Same goes for the cookies! Don’t leave them out overnight or when you leave for work though, if your cat might knock them to the ground. (We’ve fished apples out from under the kitchen cabinet before.)
Christmas themed dishware in general will give a more festive feel to your meal time. If you feel like it, buy a new bowl for your cat, too, to use during the holidays.

Light scented candles, or use aromatherapy oils. There are tons of candles out there you can buy! Scents like cinnamon, pine, apple, oranges, cloves, peppermint and vanilla are all great! You can even make your own natural room scents.
Also, cats usually won’t go near lit candles.

Place Christmas themed books on shelves and on coffee tables.
You surely have a couple of Christmas novels or anthologies laying around, and also craft or cookbooks. The colorful covers will decorate all on their own when placed on shelves with the front cover showing or all the Christmas themed ones placed together, stacked up on coffee tables, and in baskets.

xmas kitten proof 2

Do you guys have pets? How do you decorate so that they don’t destroy everything? Or have they already grown out of that habit?

Hope you enjoyed my tips! ;-)

2013, December 25

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

It’s not always the gifts that are wrapped
which are the best,
but simply those that are shared.
Gifts of time, love, and laughter…
Happy memories that warm the heart
at Christmas time and always.”

page greeting photo

Let the beauty of the season fill your holidays with happiness.

Merry Christmas!

 

2013, December 22

Writer’s & Book Lover’s Christmas Tree – #12DaysOfDIY

12 days of xmas blogging-1 2013 is close to an end, and I am reading more (have already completed my reading challenge), especially seasonal books. Not sure why I haven’t had as many on hand in past years, but this year I’m going all out!

At the moment, I am reading “A Cup Of Cozy”, a collection of short Christmas mysteries and holiday recipes, and I’m loving every piece of fiction – not to mention the recipes – in it! It is currently free for Kindle (at the time of writing this, 22.12.2013). The price doesn’t even begin to give it value, so I highly recommend you download a copy ASAP!

Speaking of reading and of books…

I think I saw my very first book Christmas tree three years ago (I know that I have shared one in my X-Mas greeting blog post in 2010). Needless to say, I have wanted one of my own ever since!

Today I took a little while and gave it a try. Now finished, I am absolutely in love with my little book Christmas tree and how personalized it is to me! <3

Let me know if you’ve ever built one, and do share pictures if you have any!

book christmas tree-1

Writer’s & Book Lover’s Christmas Tree

As many books as you can find
A string of lights and any other decorations you desire
Your patience; but it’s worth it!

Start by sorting your books depending on size. I found that it helps a lot to know where to look, when needing to even out surfaces.

Then, start stacking your books by creating a larger base and working your way up to its top.

Not sure what other advice to give you except to just start stacking the books and you’ll see as you go how it shapes up, where you might need to re-stack, and what books to add next – our libraries are vastly different.

When you’re happy with how your book tree looks, decorate with lights, tinsel, garlands and any other decoration you desire.

(I topped mine off with a little snowman I received from a friend, and my “Know where you’re @” bookmark.)

Happy book-tree building! ;)

2013, December 21

Upcycled Christmas Tree Ornaments –part 2- #12DaysOfDIY

12 days of xmas blogging-1Like I said yesterday, when bringing into your home the huge boxes marked “X-Mas” after a year and awaiting them to again become the center of attention, you might be surprised by your findings.

Some of your ornaments might need a fresh look.

Below are the ornaments I upcycled today. They look beyond cute!
I finished eight yesterday, and had four more ornaments to upcycle this morning.
To my luck, I also found some Lace to “dress” a couple of them and after finishing those, wondered what to do with the last two ornaments.

I wanted something interesting, something fitting for a writer!

Thought I’d give decoupage a try this time and made a few writerly ornaments with some calligraphy on them.
What do you think? Every writer’s dream? ;)

decoupage christmas ornament

Writerly Christmas Tree Ornaments

old Christmas ornaments
decoupage paper, rice paper or napkins
scissors
ribbon
other decoration if needed

As a base, cover the whole surface of the ornament with dull hobby paint (or glue) in a few layers.
Cut the desired pattern as accurately as possible.
Separate the calligraphy patterned napkin, only the top layer will be needed the pattern part, the rest of the napkin can be disposed of.
After the primer dull paint coat has dried, brush a coat of adhesive varnish on the entire surface.

Then gently place the cut napkin pattern and smooth out any wrinkles. It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth, it gives a more antique look if it’s a bit wrinkly.
Coat the entire surface once more when you are done, so the napkin will be completely covered with adhesive paint.

Happy crafting! ;)

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