New Year's Eve Mustaches at Midnight

This year we enjoyed a raclette dinner on New Year's Eve.

We watched "Frozen," and then cast some fortunes.

Dessert was chocolate fondue.
We don't have a lot of specialty cooking gear, but what we do have all seems to come out at the holidays!

Nelson and I went to bed and woke up in the morning to see that that the kids had kept themselves up to midnight by making mustache cookies. Of course!


Handmade Gifts 2014

Our family has a tradition where we each make handmade gifts for everyone. We open them on Christmas Eve.  This year Nelson completed most of his gifts by Thanksgiving. Liz finished on Christmas Eve day.  We always check in to be sure this is a happy tradition, because inevitably someone becomes stressed.  So far, everyone declares it is the one tradition we can't do without.

Here's Liz with all her gifts on Christmas Eve. I made her the crocheted polar bear hat. Nelson made her the lap desk, and Liz made her the frame for hanging instragram photos.

 Helen made me this Scrabble frame which is now hanging in our mudroom entry.

Helen made Nelson this album called "The Keepers" which has all his family recipes + our new "keepers" that we print out off the web once we've made and liked them.

Liz melted down all my old beeswax candles and made me one new one. 
It smells lovely.

I decoupaged quotes from Helen's favorite books onto clothespins and printed out photos of family for her to hang on her dorm room wall.

Liz made Nelson some bags from vinyl screening for his running gear.

I made Nelson a new lunch bag. It has pockets for his coffee thermos, etc.

Liz made Helen some mixes including "daddy's pancakes" to take back to school.

Nelson crocheted Helen an infinity scarf.

He made me this cool sconce for the porch out of pipes.

Christmas morning dawned....

and a few more hand-mades appeared--
this whale (which was finished at 7:30 a.m. on 12/25).

and these elephants.

 I think we're all done crafting for a little bit!!


Scenes from Christmas

Helen arrived home from college after driving al 11 hours herself.
Liz was so happy to see her!!

She came home to a winter wonderland.

We had decorated outside, but waited to decorate inside until she could help.

 We went to a beautiful Christmas tree farm to cut our tree and found some other ways to amuse ourselves.

Nelson's 50th birthday involved decorating the tree in the morning 
and cake that night.  

He made us gorgeous advent log this year with extra spots for votive candles. It was bright and festive.

 Christmas brought a family celebration in Portsmouth.
Here we are on our traditional walk to the fish market to get Christmas Eve treats.

And the following day brunch with our closest family friends.

There was lots of secret elving that included use of sewing machines, spray paint, saws, polyurethane, wool, pipes, glue, drills, and measuring cups.

Christmas Eve arrived and the cat settled right in amongst all the presents.

We played games and were merry.
Anomia was the favorite game this year.

Cinnamon Rolls are always first on the menu Christmas morning.

Christmas dinner was roast beef!

It seemed like the baking in our household never stops.

What a beautiful Christmas!


Keeping Traditions

St. Nicholas has always arrived at our house in early December. It is a simple tradition that requires glitter and chocolate coins. Sometimes there is a tiny something else. 

In 2009 the girls got crafty and made little elf shoes. St. Nicholas brought St. Nicholas mugs.


Over the years, the shoes have gotten bigger, but the tradition has remained pretty much the same.


With Helen off to college and due home this week, I wanted to send off a little Christmas spirit to her dorm room. What better way than via our St. Nicholas tradition? I lined a box with tomten wrapping paper, filled it with fiberfill and glittery stars, and layered in some elf slippers filled with chocolate coins and the required chocolate santa.

 I was happy to find the little pattern the girls had used tucked away in my craft cupboard.

 Helen was thrilled to receive her package.  
St. Nicholas didn't forget to fill Lizzie's slippers here at home.

Keeping traditions is tricky now. Liz wasn't so in to leaving her shoes out (in fact she forgot), but I know that they'll remember this when looking back as adults.  They will have forgotten those shoes by the fire from when they were tiny.  So, Liz rolled her eyes a bit and Helen was delighted in the tradition remaining alive. I imagine Liz will be delighted when she is at the college post office picking up her chocolate coins and I imagine their children will be leaving shoes for St. Nick too. Traditions during the teen years are worth keeping.


A Family Feast

We had the privilege of hosting Thanksgiving this year. It was actually a 3-day event due to snow and travel conditions with some of the family arriving early to beat the snow and staying late for a lingering visit.

Liz drew a welcome picture on the chalkboard.

The festivities began quietly with a puzzle.

My brothers decided to try roasting chestnuts on an open fire.
They were terrible (sorry Tom and Tim).

We had about 10" of snow fall in the night and our bar got a bit frosty.

We had fun setting the table.

Lots of fun times at dinner!

We took a long walk in between the big feast and dessert.

 There are always delicious desserts!
Pecan tart, pumpkin pie, cider cake, chocolate pie.

A family dessert photo.

The girls went with their Aunt Hilary to the yarn shop and they made arm-knitted infinity scarves at the end of the day. It was a quiet, relaxing way to end the festivities.

 It was a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Tutorial: needle-felted figures

tutorial: Balloon Lanterns

tutorial: neede-felted advent spiral

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