Tag Archives: Christmas

Book Review: A Very Vintage Christmas – Nostalgic Look at Christmas Past & Present

Very Vintage ChristmasA Very Vintage Christmas

Holiday Collecting, Decorating and Celebrating

by Bob Richter – Foreword by Christopher Radko

Rowman & Littlefield
Globe Pequot

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher in connection with NetGalley in return for my review. Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

Bob Richter has always been enchanted with all things Christmas. As a very young boy his father gave him a box of vintage Christmas ornaments with the comment, “It’s time you started collecting something…and I know you like Christmas.” Little did his father know this would be the beginning of a lifelong love and devotion to all things Christmas.

Richter begins with the history of Christmas decorations. From candles to lights was an expensive leap for most Americans. The earliest lights needed their own generator. Only the wealthy could afford them. He includes fun facts like the first year the White House had an electrically lit tree and the cost of the colored lights that the president and his visitors enjoyed.

He continues with decorations both inside and outside of homes. Ornaments, trees and decorating inside and outside the home are highlighted.

Most of the early Christmas ornaments were from Germany until the mid-1920s. Ornaments back then were of two categories; either imported mercury glass ornaments, glittery die cut paper ornaments or homemade. Strings of popcorn and cranberries and hand-cut paper ornaments were popular.

Advertising for Christmas became popular in the early 1930s. Books, movies and magazines were and still are popular ways to celebrate the holiday season. Richter gives many examples, along with delightful pictures that will bring back many happy memories for readers of his book.

Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive, but can be. Richter gives decorating and gift options for all price ranges. He suggests flea markets and even lists the top US Flea Markets for Christmas items. I love the fact that he encourages purchasing vintage gifts for friends and family. If it is the perfect gift for someone, it doesn’t have to cost a lot or be brand new.

Full disclosure, I am and always have been crazy about everything Christmas. I love the lights, the decorations, the shopping (especially finding someone the perfect gift), the food, the fun and the love. This book fed my addiction with luscious photography and words that took me back to my childhood.

Many of the decorations, wrappings and pictures are of items I have in my basement. The storage tips Richter gave will be used this year when we put everything to bed after the holidays. The nostalgia and vintage feel of A Very Vintage Christmas was like a warm Christmas hug the whole time I read it. While I don’t do posh decorations, I do have one tree with only glass ornaments, many of which are my grandmother’s and mother’s. One of the ideas to showcase the ornaments that don’t fit on the tree was to put a few of them under a glass dome. This would solve my worry over a few of the more fragile ornaments I worry about falling off of the tree onto the hardwood floors.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Christmas. It would make a perfect holiday gift and if your copy is left on a side table during holiday gatherings, I am sure your guests would love the pictures and bits of Christmas trivia and traditions that are waiting to be discovered within the pages.

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WIP Wednesday Christmas 2015 Projects

This was a busy and fun Christmas season. My favorite handmade gift was a joint effort. My husband made this beautiful doll bunk bed for my cousin’s little girl. I might have posted a pic earlier before I completed the bedding in her favorite color (purple) and of course Anna and Elsa comforters and pillows finished the gift.

Ella's doll bed

She really liked it 🙂 I highly recommend going over to Ana White’s website (http://www.ana-white.com/) . That is where I found this pattern and many others I am going to try and talk the hubby into making. 🙂

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I made 5 cabled ear warmers for my best friend to give for Christmas as well as 2 more for one of my work friends. They turned out nicely and I decided to make an additional one for myself. I used this pattern: Braided Cabled Ear Warmer by Jessika Cates, and you can see more pics on my Ravelry site, I’m “writeknit”.

2 earwamers done

This one is mine, made from the alpaca/wool blend that I bought when we visited the local Alpaca Farm last fall.

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As a joke, I made these fun shark slippers from this pattern Crocheted Shark Slipper Socks by Stacie L. Ratcliff. My girlfriend’s daughter jokingly asked for them for Christmas, so the least I could do is crochet them for her! They are fun and from what I heard warm. LOL

Shark slippers

Here is a side view:

Shark detail

 

I made my father-in-law’s annual flannel shirt. It is the 36th Christmas therefore, the 36th shirt. Honestly, it is the only thing he wants, so that is what he gets 🙂 The 2016 shirt will be made on the new sewing machine my hubby got me this year (read this in a VERY excited voice). I use the same pattern since 1980, but this will be the fourth sewing machine in as many years.

damn shirt 2015

My cousin’s scarf has been on my blog before because she isn’t on FB to see it. She really liked it so that made me happy also.

Becky's scarf complete

This year’s NICU hats numbered 31. I also made a Santa hat for the nurse that works in the unit as well as a Santa hat for my son’s godson. Here are all the hats before we delivered them.

NICU hats on tree

Last by not least, I wanted to make little snowflake ornaments for my family. I saw one at work, so I had a general idea as to what I was going to do, but it took a few tries with patterns that didn’t work out for me to finally write a simple pattern myself.

I began with a 2 inch tin with a removable top that that is clear. Next I worked up the pattern with sport wt yarn just a bit smaller so it was snug to pull over the tin. I blocked it dry then sprayed the heck out of it with spray starch, sprinkled with glitter, then let dry over night. Full disclosure, the first one I couldn’t wait for it to dry, so I used my blow dryer, which worked like a charm.

Ornament 2015

The hardest part was finding the perfect picture for each of my aunts and cousins that would fit in the 2 inch “window” nicely. The hubby helped scan them then I got each one cut and inserted into the tin, added the snowflake and a bow on the top. Here is one of the finished ornaments. This was for my Great-Aunt Kathie, the picture is of her mom and dad, my Great-Grandma and Grandpa.

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Here are more of them. By the time I got done making them, I was really loving the pattern. Lucky for me I made notes, because I’ll never remember how I did it next year if I decide to make more. I think I am going to write it up and offer it as a free pattern if anyone is interested.

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I was going to list my works in progress, but honestly, you all have to be tired of reading this by now. So, next Wednesday I’ll share my anticipated project list for 2016. I know for sure it will include at least 2 pr of socks, NICU hats, teaching a Lunch & Learn cowl at work and other adventures with yarn.

What are you hoping to get done this year?

 

 

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WIP Wednesday

After participating in NabloPoMo (a post every day in November) most of you have heard that I am working on NICU hats.

The hospital I give them to usually has around 25 babies in the unit. I want to get them done early so I can get them to the nurses in plenty of time before the holidays.

I decided on snowmen hats. They are working up really fast cute, but I am not happy with the faces. The pattern calls for them to be set at a jaunty angle, but I am just not loving the way they look.

snowmen

I think they look a little deconstructed.

I am going to sew the faces on straight to see if I like them better. Meanwhile, I used the pattern from day #1 of the NICU challenge it is the Waffle Stitch Strip Beanie pattern by Bonnie Potter at Sunset Crochet.

Here is the pic:

NICU hat day 1

These are the hats that I have finished so far this December, a few have the carrot noses sewn on waiting for eyes and mouths to be added.

NICU hats Christmas 2015

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NICU Charity Challenge 2015

An email popped into my mail this morning announcing this year’s Christmas Charity Challenge. This is the sixth year for the challenge, and will be my second year participating.

The challenge is to knit or crochet 12 hats for your local NICU unit in 12 days. The yarn police do not knock on your door if you only finish one or two. I know you are busy. Tomorrow is December 1st and you have at least 3 months of things to do in the next 3 weeks. But think about this. I completed 2 NICU hats today on my break & the last 1/2 of my lunch at work. While watching a bit of TV yesterday, I finished 5 of them. They are tiny and work up quick.

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Last year when I decided to do this challenge, I contacted 3 local hospital in my area, and neither one even answered me. Then I remembered my best friend’s sister is a nurse in a NICU unit! Duh – I attribute my airheadedness to the Christmas season of craziness, but it was probably just an every day airhead moment. She quickly responded that they would LOVE to take them, and I’ve been making  hats for them all year.

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I always use acrylic yarn because it is easily washed and dried. There are no strings or buttons that might fall off or get in the way of treatments or cause a choking hazard. This is a great way to use bits of yarn you have left from other projects.

If you are interested and want to know more, please go to Sunset Family Living’s blog. http://www.sunsetfamilyliving.com/christmas-charity-challenge-2015/ . As an extra bonus, when you sign up for the challenge, you will receive a free pattern for an adorable baby hat in you email each day. If you really want to warm your heart, once you go to the website, you can follow the link to her Facebook page to see all of the hats current and former participants have donated. Nicu hat #11

 

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Oh Christmas Tree

Friday before our youngest son and wife left for home we went to Kuiper’s Farm to get our Christmas tree. Since it had been raining all day. we decided a pre-cut tree was our best bet. That way no one had to get soaking wet laying in the ground cutting our own.

They were not as happy to pose for a picture, but indulged me anyway.

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Due to the rain, it stayed in the back of our truck until today. The good news was it was nice and dry. The bad news was all of the boys were home so the hubby had to haul it to the patio and cut off the end by himself. Lucky for him Mea was there to make sure nothing was hiding inside the branches.

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It is in the house, but decorations won’t be added until this week.

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Illuminations at Morton Aboretum

The night before Thanksgiving we went to Morton’s Arboretum in Lisle, IL for the annual Illuminations display.  Here is the promo info from their website: http://www.mortonarb.org/events/illumination-tree-lights-morton-arboretum
“From November 20, 2015 through January 2, 2016, The Morton Arboretum glows with dazzling LED lights and trees that respond to your touch and voice, as Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum returns for a third  year.

See trees in a different light.

  • Stroll over a mile of innovative lights and projections.
  • Hug or sing to trees, and they respond.
  • Enjoy new music from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
  • More music, motion, and magic fill the winter woods!
  • Create memories your family will cherish for years.
  • Share the perfect holiday date night.” 

It was all this and more. Walking in the crisp night air seeing thousands of lights and interacting with them was a delight for children and adults.

Words cannot describe the beauty, so I’ve added a few pictures. If you are in the Chicago area, I encourage you to see this display during the Holidays.

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Our youngest son and daughter-in-law enjoyed the lights that changed color when you talked or sang to them.

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These color changing orbs created an alien landscape. One of my favorites!

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Trees transformed by light into works of art.

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Christmas Craft is Always a Blast!

I have posted before about our annual Christmas Craft. To catch you up, it is always a surprise until after Thanksgiving dinner. The craft has to be easily completed by the youngest person participating (the youngest this year is 3) and has to have the ability to be personalized so all of the projects turn out differently.

When this tradition started many years ago, we didn’t have the HUGE advantage of Pinterest. This year I found a couple of ideas using wine glasses. One was creating a snow globe effect and the other was painting the outside to use either as an actual glass to drink from or as a candle holder.

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There were lots of different designs. Our youngest artist painted a blue snowman as well as a plastic wine glass instead of the glass one the grown-ups used. We also helped her make a snow globe out of one of the plastic glasses.

The craft didn’t cost much. I purchased the wine glasses at the dollar store for $1 each. The plastic wine glasses were 6/$1. I got paint brushes in a package of 12 for $1, then just threw them out instead of trying to get the paint out of them.

The paint was .79 – $1.50 each, but I only purchases primary colors, black and white with a 30% off coupon at Michael’s. I also got all of the little snowflake, tree and reindeer stickers and figures 50% off with the additional 30% from Michael’s. The glitter, glue and cotton balls I had at home as well as the rubbing alcohol that is needed to clean the glass before painting. For under $20.00 we had an afternoon of fun and everyone has a Christmas decoration or wine glass to take home.

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She was not happy with the camera flash interrupting her painting. 🙂

 

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It is a messy, noisy, fabulous way to spend Thanksgiving!

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Concentration….

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And sometimes you have to take a break to play with a few toys 🙂

This is one of my favorite traditions, what are some of yours?

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