Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

The happiest of wishes from me to you and yours on Christmas. May you be filled with the spirit and joy of the season!

nearly present o'clock

(And I hope you got something you wished for ;) ).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

dark nights, bright days

While it may seem that I've disappeared, I'm well and around. Just not in London.

Last week I hopped on a plane and flew for the best part of a day to end up (delays, drama, and a near-miss on the 2nd flight later) in New Orleans. Where I got to meet Miss Cecilia. I totally fell in love.

cecilia ann

She is perfect. And so tiny. But with the most monkey-like little toes and the most Gerber Baby mouth I've ever seen.

I spent a couple days with my sister (and my mom, who spent a few weeks there helping out the new mother). We baked cookies and had fun decorating them:


We went to see beautiful Christmas lights:

a mom, a baby, an aunt.

Then Mom and I drove the long drive from New Orleans to Wisconsin. We were a bit silly and did a very short day followed by a verrrrry long day. (On the way I got my US crap food kicks with stops at Sonic and such). But it was worth it to be home. My flat in London with The Scot is *our* home, but it's still not the same as *coming home.*

My brother is home too. And that's always great as I see so very little of him. There has been shopping, tree-trimming, and movie-watching (go see The Muppets if you've not yet been. It's grand!). Cups of hot apple cider, fun with a nutcracker, popcorn and general relaxation have been had.

Tonight, some of my favorite family members joined us for dinner and my 2 little cousins, E and S, helped to build a gingerbread house and decorate gingerbread cookies. My mom's gingerbread is delicious, and her home baked houses are always a joy to put together. Having 2 little ones (7 and 3) around to help out made it all the more fun.

cookies and cousins
(really, when was the last time you were so excited about decorating a cookie that you began clapping?)

So even though these days are dark, and the light in the sky only gives us little peeks, my days feel absolutely bright with the spirit of the season. I can't wait to get a nice photo of the absolutely astonishing tree my dad picked out that I had the fun job of helping to decorate earlier in the week. Family, traditions, little festive joys - to me, they make everything a little better. I'll very likely be a bit quiet while I'm here in Wisconsin (I return to London in a week), but wherever you are, whoever you're spending your Christmas with, I hope it's a merry one.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How-to: Cloved Orange Pomander

cloved orange pomander (1)

This week I've found myself stuck at home. Even though I'll be away from our flat for much of the Christmas season, I do like making it feel as festive as it can be. So yesterday I grabbed some oranges, some seasonal-ish yarn (I was lacking green or red ribbon), and a big pack of cloves and got to work on making some lovely cloved orange pomanders to hang in our doorways.

I haven't made one of these in a long time, but once I got going it was a cinch. If you've never made one, the steps are quite simple:

cloved orange pomander (2)

1 - Tie your ribbon (or, in my case, yarn) around your orange. Top to bottom, then bottom to top. Make sure to secure it at the top with a tight knot so that the orange doesn't slip out of the strings when you hang it later.

2 - With a sharp object (a darning needle or a pushpin would work), begin to poke some holes and push in your whole cloves. I chose to start with a small circle at top, securing around the yarn and then moved alongside each of the strings. This not only helps to give a design, but also secures things. Do be careful as the cloves can be quite sharp. (I've read some people like using thimbles, but I just took my time with the cloves).

cloved orange pomander (3)

3 - After you've pushed the cloves in around the 4 "straps" continue as you like with the cloves in between. I chose to go with simple stripes on this one but went for swirls on my 2nd pomander. Or, if you want a bit less scent and aren't planning on keeping your pomander very long, you could leave it at that.

4 - Hang it and love the smell!

cloved orange pomander (4)

The cloves help to dry cure the orange, so if done well your pomander will last far past the Christmas season and could stick around sharing its spicy scent for a year or more! (I plan to keep mine up til January or so - but we'll see if I change my mind). Hang your pomander where it will get a nice bit of air flow to help it spread its delicious scent throughout your home. You could also make more simple designs without any ribbons and fill a bowl on your coffee table, etc. These can also be made with apples or other fruit. The sky's the limit as to combinations and designs. Have fun with it!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Of Beer, Baking, and Beards

Tonight I'm making beer cupcakes. I bought some of the super sexistly marketed Animée beer last week because it was on sale. And mild lemon beer seemed like it might be ok. It's that. Ok. Generally, I don't really like beer. So I adapted a beer cupcake recipe I'd been holding onto and used a bottle. They're good. More citrus-y than beer-y, but they smell quite like the pub. Still cooling and waiting for "froth" frosting. Pics later.

Before I made cupcakes with beer, I cooked a gammon ham in Coke and orange juice this evening. It was awesome. I recommend. I'll probably do it again, take photos, and share the recipe (as usual, it was a mish-mash of a few I'd found). We ate dinner while watching The Two Towers. We watched The Fellowship of the Ring last night. All of the boy's Skyrim playing made me yearn for some Middle Earth adventures.

In other news, The Scot had a beard for the latter bit of October through November. Just because he felt like trying it out. I liked the look. But when he decided to shave it off the other day, it had to be documented. So, as the debeardification progressed I took photos. And later we came up with titles. I hope you enjoy:


Oh, and we also put our tree up. I don't generally like fake trees. I'm all about real trees, with the real smell, the real sap, and the real needles. But it's not very feasible here. So our tree is about as fake as it gets. And I love it! (But it's needs a skirt).

I decked the halls

The Christmas spirit is really starting to fill our little flat. Even though we'll be spending the holiday apart (me in Wisconsin and he in Scotland), we'll be back together for New Year's and that's just splendid.

Happy Sunday all!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Gathering of (Dolly) Friends

Today, I was lucky enough to attend another London Blythe meet. We met up at the Victoria and Albert museum and enjoyed tea and cakes and fun. We even had a visit from 2 people working on a new BJD prototype.

dolly ring!
a ring of delightful dollies

georgia's girls
georgia's girls

she really wanted to come home with me
shelley's lovely

Enormous festive globes!
(photo via danielle)

Blythe London meet
makie labs prototypes
(photo via claudia)

I always enjoy meeting up with doll friends old and new. Can't wait til the next one!