Monday, December 27, 2010

The Christmas Scoop

Well, I just finished washing and hanging the girls velvet holiday dresses which won't fit them next year, recycling the Christmas gift wrap, putting the advent calendars away (the rest of the Christmas decor will be around for a bit yet)

...and reflecting on the magic at our home.

The Christmas Eve present is always pajamas (gotta look cute in Christmas pics) - and, always, it seems we should just stop there. Our girls loved their near-matching PJs...and, in fact, we've had trouble getting them to take them off since.

Just a few notes and highlights...
  • Christmas Eve candelight service. Historically my favorite thing about Christmas because of its peacefulness. This year's service was one hour of pure anxiety.  I was certain we might burn (thanks to Baby R's adventures) down our church which was celebrating its 209th (yes 209th!) Christmas Eve service.
  • The favorite gift of my eldest? Her ladybug Pillow Pet. Gag. How could that be? 
  • Her second favorite gift? Ice skates and the mini backyard rink.
  • Her third? The cupcake maker from her Tutu (my Mom). I am, of course, envious beyond words. I wanted an easy bake oven more than you can imagine. I never got one. She basi
  • Are you wondering where the doorway puppet theatre I agonized over falls in the rank? No where. But, there was genuine excitement about it when it was opened. Baby R thinks it's a peek-a-boo station. By noon on Christmas Day one production was under way and I suddenly wondered if I'd made a grave mistake. 
  • Baby R now comes down the stairs every morning going "ohhhh...." as she turns the corner where those full stockings were hung. She moves on quickly, fortunately.
  • Most played with toys? The tissue packs and band-aids from the girls' stockings.
  • Cutest gift? The apron Tutu made for Baby R. Looked especially cute over her velvet holiday dress.
  • My favorite moment? When I opened up the gift my daughter picked out at her "holiday fair" (the PTA holds a holiday fair full of yard sale type items - and kids come in from their classrooms and buy a gift for each member of their family for 25 cents. It is brilliant.) especially for me. A ceramic napkin holder. The proud smile on her face? Priceless.
  • Loved "elfing" on Christmas Eve day. We delivered goodie bags and real bayberry candles (a New England tradition). I even wore a Santa hat. My daughters refused to wear the antlers. Bah-humbug.
  • Will definitely elf again.
  • Breakage update. All snowglobes have been broken - as well as many Christmas ornaments. My husband reminds me each time we hear the "crash" followed by the "uh-oh" that it is not intentional, but rather, healthy exploration. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from Maine

{photo via here}

Let the magic begin.

Wherever you are, Merry Christmas from Maine.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Doorway Puppet Theatre Finished

I have some creative bones. But, as referenced earlier this week, I question whether I have sewing ability within. I do not. Confirmed. I even tried channeling my mom and my nana (whose machine I was using). No success. But, with much determination, I finished the girls' doorway puppet theatre. It passes the laugh test. Barely. There will be no up-close inspections allowed. Ever. My husband says its gorgeous and the girls will love it. That's one of the reasons I married him. No more sewing for me. Ever. Okay, well, maybe not ever. But, not until I get some lessons.

Told You So

As predicted, our snow globe met its demise, thanks to Baby R's fascination.

(I know, I know, I REALLY shouldn't have let her "play" with it. I didn't per se -- just had it within eye reach.)

I was disappointed (not about it breaking -- but, about losing the opportunity to watch her in awe.). She was really sad, as evidenced by the whimpering, "uhoh" (as opposed to her usual hit and run behavior).

But, in my heart I'm holding onto these images forever.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Free Gift Tags to Go Nuts About

 {photo via Whisker Graphics Blog}

Okay, you've heard it here before...I love Whisker Graphics. And, now she's really done it - absolutely adorable,  FREE downloadable holiday gift tags for. Check 'em out. While you are there, be sure to order some Divine Twine. I'm loving mine this holiday season....the uses are endless around my home.

Happy Solstice

Welcome, winter - we're happy to have you here.

What will you do today to welcome the solstice? We'll be having a quiet candle lit family evening, hopefully while snow is falling...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Update from the Field: Lessons Learned

Okay, I don't have a doorway puppet theatre to show you YET.

But, I do have some lessons learned to share:

  • One hour is not enough time to sew a puppet theatre.
  • I really don't know how to sew.
  • Satin sucks. I mean, sure, it'll look glam as a theatre curtain - but how do you sew that stuff.
  • Felt isn't perfect. (I know, that's a HUGE statement coming from me.)
  • My Nana's sewing machine rocks.
  • I have no idea how to thread my Nana's sewing machine. Or, for that matter, the bobbin. So, I used the thread already there....white. 
  • White thread (especially when not sewn perfectly) looks lousy on purple.
  • One really should have a plan or a pattern before they start cutting fabric. Or, ribbon. 
  • One really shouldn't stake their Christmas plans on a sewing project if they don't know how to sew.
Stay tuned.

Look What I'm Giving the Girls For Christmas

What? You don't recognize this?


I had great plans of making a doorway puppet theatre for my girls for Christmas. They love to give puppet shows....and who doesn't want to encourage that?

Here it is,  the 20th of December, and I haven't started it. I have exactly one hour (one hour that isn't committed to work or kids) to make it. Right now. The thing is....I don't really know what I'm doing or how to sew.

Can I do it? Stay tuned.... (man, I just really put the pressure on myself, didn't I?).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Too threatening? Too Subtle?

Not sure what exactly inspired me to do spell this out on my blocks...perhaps a subtitle threat, I mean, reminder? Tell me, it is too threatening, or too subtle?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Life is Good on the Candy Cane Train

Sickness has been visiting here and it has had a hard time finding the door. And, in addition to feeling sorry for all of us, I'm a little annoyed at how it is wreaking havoc on my December Planner.

Though I wasn't sure it was going to happen, we were able to climb aboard The Candy Cane Train this past weekend for our annual pilgrimmage.

Have you been? It's a magical ride. Carolers. Hot cocoa and homemade cookies served by elves. Storytelling. A festively decorated train. A coastal Maine vista. And, of course, a visit with Santa. The best part? The rides (which sell out every year) are a fundraiser for Tri-County Literacy. What's not to love?

So, add this to your bucket list, and for now, climb aboard!

Have some cocoa and cookies.

Sing a little.

Enjoy the view.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wine Wednesday: Wine for a Cause

LoveVermont has a regular Wednesday feature -- Wine Wednesdays. It's one of my favorite reads...and, this week I'm borrowing the theme just so I have an excuse to tell you about a great wine-related gift idea that my very hip friend Tony told me about. 

Wine for a cause.

OneHope donates a portion of each bottle (totaling fifty percent of its profits!) to charity. Each variety supports a different cause - autism, breast cancer, our troops, AIDS, children's hospitals and more.

Now, that's a gift you can feel good about! :)

OneHope was started by eight friends who worked out of their living rooms, selling wine out of their trunks, trying to help support a friend in her fight against cancer. Now an enterprise, the company has sold over 20,000 cases of wine - and donated $350,000 to charity, since its inception in June 2007. Pretty cool, huh?

There's a few wine lovers in my life I need to get shopping for.

Christmas Tree Gettin' Maine Style

No, not everyone cuts their own tree here in Maine.

But, I insist on it.

It's the perfect Christmas tradition. Everyone gets bundled up. We sing carols on the way to our tree hunting grounds. We merrily pick out the perfect tree. We sip hot cocoa afterwards. Perfection. Just the way we did it when I was a kid.

At least that's the way I remembered it.

But, this year, I had flashbacks to some not so perfect aspects of that perfect Christmas tradition. The trigger of these flashbacks? My crying toddler who really wanted to be napping. My husband's hurried-I'm-doing-this-for-you-attitude and my nearly seven year old's I'm-going-to-be-as-defiant-and-contrary-as-possible-mantra.

I almost left the scene.

But, in a moment of desperation I turned around and said (cried? yelled?), "this is one of my favorite things about Christmas, don't ruin it".

And, on we went. Happy memories being created, damn it!

I climbed under the tree to take the first whack at cutting it. I almost stayed there forever. The snow on my back, the fresh pine smell, it was heaven.

Eager for everyone to have this experience...and eager for a little sawing re-enforcement, everyone took a turn.

Fresh cut tree in tow, we headed home.

Our tree stands now in our antique bay window ready for adornment.

  I can't wait to see what this next Christmas tradition adventure brings...

Magic Discovered

Oh, how sweet the holiday magic is in our home this year.

And, as a side note, I predict this snow globe will not survive 2010. The desire for "Tanta" and more "Snow" is grand.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Merry Stitchmas? Holiday Wishes From Our Local Yarn Store

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Halcyon Yarn 2010 from Halcyon Yarn on Vimeo.

Okay, this is so absolutely adorable and so sums up the wonderfulness of our local (yet internationally acclaimed) fiber store.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Serious Inspiration

This is the next must-have. A silk sky scarve. Read on....

Thanks to the tip from LoveVermont, I discovered Cup of Jo (This IS the way of the blogosphere, isn't? One thing leads to another and, then, hours later you find yourself immersed in something and can't remember how you got there!) whose post today was about THE most unique and fabulous scarves.

Seriously amazing.

Maine artist Maria Alexandra Vettese photographed afternoon skies in Cushing, Maine in October and had the photographs printed directly onto silk. These scarves (in a very limited production) are sure to chase those winter blues away, don't you think?

Check out the full collection.

If you don't already know about Maria Alexandra Vettesse (Mav), she is also the co-author of 3191 Miles Apart, a daily visual blog between two friends living 3191 miles apart.

Ten Gift Ideas Teachers Will Really Love

December is well underway--how are you holding up during this holiday crunch? Found the perfect gift for everyone on your list?

How about all those teachers and/or caregivers? I personally struggle with this --not because I don't want to give a gift - but because I want to give a gift that they'll really love. So this year I've polled a bunch of teacher friends and family and compiled what I think is a pretty interesting list.
  • A special card or note made by your child. Nothing makes a teacher more appreciated than hearing from one of their students directly!
  • Homemade edibles. Homemade jam and a jam knife (perhaps even a funky vintage one picked up at a yard sale or thrift store). A pottery bowl full of homemade granola. A loaf of bread.
  • Movie tickets for teacher and friend/spouse. I picked up some plastic move-style popcorn boxes in the dollar section at Target -- thinking it will make a cute package with some popped corn as filler; tickets and maybe even some Good N Plenty or other movie style candy.
  • Anything handmade. A knit scarf. Mittens. Earrings. Whatever your craft is!
  • A new plant for the classroom. Let's face it, January can be tough -- a lovely new plant might just help!
  • A customized SIGG water bottle. One teacher friend said she loved getting one of these which included words selected by her class.
  • A gift certificate. Give your teacher a treat. Pool resources with other parents and splurge on a gift certificate for a massage or dinner out.
  • A magazine subscription. A year-long subscription to a magazine that features something your teacher loves -- gardening? crafting? running? Or, perhaps a subscription to a magazine that will benefit the classroom.
  • A donation to a charity in your teacher's name. Is there a cause that is super important to your teacher?
  • Parent coupons. Promises from you. Offer to help plan a classroom party. Lunch delivered for a week. A homemade ready-to-take-home dinner delivered at the end of the day. A commitment to help organize the room or help with a project. Be creative!

One of my favorite ideas came from my sister. Her school's PTA is creating (has created?) giving trees -- each teacher has put wishes (ranging from pencils to pillows for the reading corner) on the tree and parents are encouraged to purchase items off the list. In some ways this might not seem like a gift to the teacher -- but so many teachers spend lots and lots of their own money buying basic supplies like tissues, pencils, etc. that I believe the idea of not doing this would indeed be a gift!

Any other ideas out there? Please share!

Friday, December 3, 2010

December: A Planner

December is one of my favorite months. Especially in Maine. Maine is just SO Christmas-y. Even my husband, a die-hard western mountains guy, will agree. Even though we're always trying to simplify and scale back, our December is busy. Really busy. Here are just some of the things we have planned:
  • Cutting winterberry so I can make wreaths, fill baskets, etc. My husband hates this tradition as it involves making him trudge (usually when he's not prepared) into marshy areas to snip many, many branches. For extra fun, I make him hold the winterberry as I make wreaths.
  • Heading to Wolfe's Neck Farm for their annual Night Tree Event. It's a wonderful event that includes hanging out in a barn listening to a reading of Eve Bunting's Night Tree, making animal-friendly ornaments and then taking a short hike into the woods to hang the ornaments and enjoy cocoa and cookies around a bonfire. Good old fashioned fun, if you ask me. Last year I missed this event - a real favorite - and, instead, we organized one of our own. It was a dreamy evening in the snowy woods, decorating ornaments for the animals, standing around a fire eating nuts, date rolls and homemade bread.
  • Cutting our own Christmas tree. If you have never cut your own, try it. It's a great tradition. This site will help you find Christmas Tree Farms in Maine (and I'm certain other states offer similar resources) if you don't have your patch of evergreens to peruse.
  • Christmas Carolling on The Bath Trolley. Yup. It's true, in this little town of ours, you can go carolling on the trolley (our public transportation). Every Friday night between now and Christmas.
  • Planting Paperwhite and Amarylis bulbs so I'll have something to enjoy come January. How-to in days to come!
  • Shopping. I don't have a huge list because we have scaled back giving -- and sought out alternatives to gift giving - in recent years. But, still there is shopping to be done. I hope to include an Old Port Portland shopping trip in the mix -- and maybe even use my daughters as an excuse to ride the horse drawn carriages around the holiday lit streets.
  • Decorating. Greens. Winterberry. Candles. Cranberries. Simple and festive.
  • Riding the Candy Cane Train. A benefit for Tri-County Literacy, this train ride from Bath to Wiscasset is about as charming as can be. Carolers. Santa. Storytelling. Hot cocoa and cookies. And, a view to boot. 
  • Making cinnamon ornaments with my girls. How-to will follow in the days to come.
  • Sing! One of our favorite events in Bath, Sing! is a free community sing at the Chocolate Church for Performing Arts.
  • Baking cookies. Oh, how I'd hoped (could I still pull it off?) to host a cookie exchange with girlfriends.
  • Addressing holiday cards.
  • Celebrating the Solistice. Not sure how yet. But, I'm thinking of creating a new tradition for my family.
  • Making cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. I love the King Arthur Flour dough mix. And, it is super cute to make it one of their paper forms.
  • Creating simple Christmas magic.
  • Spending lots of time with friends and family.
  • Drinking prosecco with pomagranate seeds and juice. That was oddly (?) placed after spending time with friends and family.
What do you have planned!?!

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    Signs of Christmas Maine Style

    This time of year in Maine (am I being narrow minded here -- does this tradition happen elsewhere?) one finds evergreen wreaths placed in many unexpected places. And, I'm so glad. It is such a wonderful thing to be caught off-guard by an unexpected evergreen wreath--it instills an instant sense of joy and wonder. Truly.

    Today, I saw this one and just had to share. Now, this is "so Maine".

    By now, many (but certainly not all!) lobstermen and women have pulled their boats (and traps) out of the harbors until warmer days when flocks of tourists come back to this great state. It's a familiar scene to see boats jacked up, resting. Peaceful, yet a tad bit sad. Well, not the Westside (the name of this lobster boat) -- she looks mighty cheery and in-season.

    Keep me posted on evergreen wreaths you find in mysterious locations.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    December- John Updike's Take

    In keeping with tradition here at Maine-ly Home, here is John Updike's poem "December". If you haven't already purchased a copy of this book, I highly recommend A Child's Calendar. The book is filled with lovely illustrations and a John Updike Poem for every month of the year.


    First snow! The flakes,
    So few, so light,
    Remake the world
    In solid white.

    All bundled up,
    We feel as if
    We were fat penguins,
    Warm and stiff.

    The toy-packed shops
    Half split their sides,
    And Mother brings home
    Things she hides.

    Old carols peal.
    The dusk is dense.
    There is a mood
    Of sweet suspense.

    The shepherds wait,
    The kings, the tree--
    All wait for something
    Yet to be,

    Some miracle.
    And then it's here,
    Wrapped up in hope--
    Another year!