Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Around the World and in My Humble Home

As a follower of many international blogs, I am always interested to see how different holidays differ in their traditions and celebrations.  Heading into Christmas (especially this year with a very late Thanksgiving) I noticed that my blog friends in the UK, Europe and Australia didn't feel the same tri-holiday rush that we felt here in the states.  It feels here in the states like September is Back to School.  October is all Halloween.  November is absorbed by Thanksgiving and the end of Thanksgiving (starting with Black Friday) is often the beginning of the commercial Christmas season in FULL TILT mode.  Finally, December is a 4 week rush to Christmas.  This year I really felt the concentrated pressures of all the holidays jamming into one another and wished I could spread them out a bit more.

Epiphany marks the beginning of the Mardi Gras season in Louisiana.  I went to New Orleans (no post yet) back in March of 2013.  It was a great, fun trip with just me and my hubby.  So when I noticed that Epiphany (also known as 3 Kings Day) is observed in New Orleans, I thought I'd mark the January 6th occasion to catch up with all the posts I DIDNT post BEFORE Christmas!

Here is MY holiday house - just some snippets...

Poinsettia lines the stair rail.

Stuffed animals warm themselves atop the radiator.

As do the nutcrackers...

The santa nutcracker and the little blue guy with the lantern came all the way from Germany from the family of our German daughter, Katrin (aka exchange student).

The outdoor lights and wreath went up JUST as it started an unpredicted snowfall.  That snow ended up being the traffic trickiest of the season.  Three snows and very cold weather before xmas in early December and then warm and rain for the actual day.  Snow photos are coming here to my blog over the next few days.

The window wreaths in the dining room are the first to go up.

Last year my husband made wooden trees for everyone in the family (his own design).  We all loved them!  It sits beside a hand-crafted wrought iron candle holder from Boone's Hooks, made by our friend Smyth Boone (new beeswax candle attached).

This little bottle brush tree came from a flea market when I was in college.  I now decorate it with many of the ornaments my kids made when they were little (most are nearly 20 years old).

We have little stuffed Christmas friends that accompany us up and down the stairs.

I always pick up fresh holly from Trader Joes as soon as it's offered!  I love the look of holly berries.

The tree goes up and the lights go on - it took a few more days to get it decorated.

This little snowman was enjoying the sparkly lights.

The photo cards start to arrive in the mail.  They sit on the table by my front door for everyone to see!  My own photo card is still sitting in its box, waiting to get mailed.

The poinsettia vintage apron comes out and the Decemberists tee shirt.  Then I put something HAPPY in a glass and drink and dance around the house while I prepare some holiday Merry!

In honor of the pre-Mardi Gras Epiphany, I am going to do my best to re-tell some holiday happy tales here on the blog.  I want to show the hand made projects I did for Christmas which couldn't be revealed ahead, maybe share a pattern or two.  I will try to post once per day between now and January 6th.  Maybe I'll even get Christmas cards in the mail!

Hoping that on this New Year's Eve day you are enjoying the anticipation of 2014.  

PS.  If you are a friend in the UK who was expecting a package and didn't get anything from me yet - I'm sorry!!!  I got packages in the mail December 12th and apparently they haven't made it to you yet - hang tight, hoping they will be delivered very soon.

Cheers!  Sher

Thursday, December 5, 2013

NYC Visit

Yesterday I visited NYC.  It's only about 1.5hrs from where I live but still, I don't get there much.  In fact it's been a few years since I visited.

Yesterday a girlfriend and I hopped a bus from our neighborhood and took a jaunt north to see the holiday sights and sounds of the BIG apple!  I always forget HOW much bigger it is than Philly - it's A LOT bigger, I mean MUCHO MEGA!  AND.... there are loads more people.  Especially at this time of year...so many people.  AND... the entire city really gets decked out for the holiday season.

The trip was WAY too short and I felt like I literally ran from place to place all day.  Here's what I saw, a tiny little glimpse of NY sparkle and shine, enjoy!

Horn blower near St. Patrick's Cathedral

Angles lining the walk way to the tree at Rockefeller Center.

Lego depiction of Rockefeller Center at the LEGO store.

Lots of lego sets.

The tree at Rockefeller Center.  The city was getting ready for the tree lighting ceremony later in the evening.

Windows outside Saks 5th Avenue.

Decorated tree at Bryant Park market.

Little ice rink at Bryant Park

Selfies in front of the tree decor

Seriously the BEST cappuccino.  I so love that frothy yummy thick creamy goodness in my coffee and it was practically a soup bowl full.  My friend Karen got one too... and we each treated ourselves to a pastry.

American Girl Store.  I used to love buying new outfits for my daughter's American Girl dolls every Christmas.

A brisk walk over to Herald Square.  It was nearly 50 degrees out, balmy for December.  Just right for enjoying a little outdoor chill.

The famous MACY's store from Miracle on 34th Street.

 The holiday windows were not as magical as I remember them.

Had to get the 34th street sign.

We took the escalators all the way to the 8th floor to walk through Santaland.  Last year I walked through the Dickens holiday land at the Macy's in Philly.  You can read that post here.

Santaland is very..."dated."  The coolest thing about making the trek up there to walk through was getting to ride on the original wooden escalators in Macy's.  They are awesome.  You just don't see wooden escalators anymore - I would have taken a photo but they were packed with people.

I took photos of the goofy displays in Santaland to pass the time while the line moved slowly along towards Santa himself.  We didn't continue on thru with the little kiddies to sit on Santa's lap.

I thought the tree was kinda creepy.

We stopped on the first floor of Macy's to make my ONE xmas gift purchase of the day.  Then, we headed off to Times Square.  There was quite a lot of construction going on - possibly re-doing things in time for New Years?

Most of the people who came on the bus with us had come to NYC to see the Rockettes Christmas show Radio City.  SO... since our bus was heading back to Philly a bit earlier than planned to avoid the heavy traffic from the tree lighting, we decided to catch a bite to eat near our pickup spot a few blocks from Radio City.

On the way to the restaurant, we passed by really big holiday displays outside of the different buildings.
First we saw a huge string of Christmas lights that reminded me that our decorations have not even come down from the attic, nor have the Halloween boxes made it from the upstairs hallways back TO the attic... 

Just past the big lights were a big pile of ornaments.

and soon after in the next block were a row of giant nutcrackers.

The displays were as giant as NYC itself.

Here is one of the big nutcrackers up close.

We ended the night with some really yummy and strong mojitos which helped (or maybe not) to get us back to the bus pickup, dashing through the crowds of people already lining up for the tree lighting, we boarded the bus and rode back out of town and back to Philly.

Next time I head to NYC for the holiday season, I think I'll stay over a night and give myself a chance to slow down and explore a bit more and not just rush rush rush.
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