Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Magic

Its almost time for the magic to begin. No matter what you believe, how you celebrate, or what the weather is like, the end of the year is a magical time.

Time to enjoy family and friends, to reflect on what has passed, what you experienced and what your hopes dreams and needs are for the year to come.
We always play out our own traditional customs, spending time with friends and family, eating familiar foods, and feeling the joy and mingled sadness of out with the old and in with the new.
Postmen wearing Santa Claus outfits ride delivery motorcycles ...A diver in Santa Claus costume rides a bicycle inside a shark ...In this Sunday, Nov. 25, 2007 file photo, the original Santa ...More than 100 voluntary workers, dressed in Santa Claus outfits, ...A man dressed as Santa Claus rides his sleigh in northern Finland, ...A man dressed in a Santa Claus outfit poses in the flooded Saint ...High wire motorcycle artist Dean Schmidt is dressed like a Santa ...An Angel is surrounded by runners, dressed as Santa Claus, are ...

A spectator dressed as Santa Claus walks near the ice track ...

Santa, Father Christmas, Papa Noel, Father Frost or Joulupukki, the Finnish Santa Claus or what ever you call the red clad figure plays a prominent roll in our lives, and I love the jolly old soul although I am a trifle disturbed by the totally boring and old Mrs Claus or whoever she is.
She doesnt get much airtime, but the world is obviously as fascinated as I by the old man in red.
A diver dressed in a Santa Claus costume feeds the fish inside ...Didi Senft, a bicycle designer better known as 'El Diablo' ...

Grandma Claus doesn't seem to be or do much but be the easily forgotten token woman in the background. I long to see a more interesting female figure in this theater of year end holly days.... looking through all the Santa shots I am surprised to learn there are runs & swims & other activities all around the world, male, female, young old and some animals too, wearing red velvet, white fur trimmed outfits, some to get into the Guinness book of records; for the biggest crowd of people dressed in Santa suits, a noble cause, for the hearts and minds that delight in the idea of magic and secret gifts.

Talk about a design statement. Red & White is very sophisticated looking and a great holiday look for your home or your clothes.
Joulupukki, the Finnish Santa Claus, gestures to local children ...
here are some of my favorite Santa pics culled from Yahoo photos- enjoy the spectacle and imagine a land littered with Santas ....... perhaps there are no elves only Santas in the making.
Only one gets to be top Santa!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

For the love of potato latkes

Naughty or Nice, whatever your religion or belief, who doesnt love a good pancake party with candles & games ?
That is what Hanukah is all about. The word means dedication. And certainly in the beginning there was need for dedication, sharing & giving.
I am thinking that blue white and silver make a great Party Statement. Pictures courtesy of Martha Stewart website :

Hanukkah: A Holiday That GlittersChanukah Lights DecorationsMenorah of Glasses and Beads
Hanging garlands of words, dreidels or spinning tops, Hanukah gelt (money chocolate coins covered in gold or silver paper )

Personally I am thinking the money coins would be so much fun to use as a decorating theme. A money wreath, strands of coins and even glasses and plates piled up high with towers of coins.... sounds rich to me.

Cool Table salt & Pepper shakers from the Jewish Museum shop can add to the holiday feel.
Olive branches in silver jugs, A silver tablecloth with blue and white napkins, blue or clear glasses and silver coins. Tiny silver frames for place holders.

Dreidel Salt and Pepper Shakers

Hanukah is about food naturally - that's where the Potato Pancakes come in, served with apple sauce, and

Suganiot : which are donut balls filled with jam and served warm

both of these foods symbolize the small amount of oil that burned for eight days and created a miracle, as well as bring sweetness and Light

Which is why we use menorahs - candelabra that echo the eight days
here is some ideas the artful and symbolic:

Heron Menorah

CHAIR Menorah & Modern Glass Menorah from the Jewish Museum Shop

Frozen Movement Menorah by Zelig Segal

Michael Arum Olive branch

A variety of shapes and styles to suit all tastes and budgets. Or create your own out of wood and metal or use glass pieces in glasses with candles, as shown in the Martha Stewart picture.

Below is the post from Mixology Monday in its entirety - what is a holiday without a signature drink?

Hanukkah Gelt Martini

mixology monday - Hanukkah Gelt MartiniThe theme for Mixology Monday is “from scratch”. It is getting so close to the holidays I choose to share this simple but fun cocktail created by my brother, who was searching for a good Hanukkah drink.

Unhappy with what he found, he created this shiny treat instead.

So, Michael says:

“Spin your dreidels, eat some latkes, and have some Hanukkah Gelt, a Hannukkah Gelt Martini that is”.
This DOTW original will keep those candles lit”.


Hanukkah Gelt Martini

2 parts chilled potato vodka
1 part Goldschlager

Combine in a shaker with ice, mix gently and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Serve with Hanukkah Gelt - what else?


Mixology Monday XXXIII
Holiday Cocktails & Punches

The best part of Hanukah is playing the dreidel game. Many choices abound. The cheap plastic or wood ones also great for creating decorations. A dreidel tree would be a fun centerpiece for your table.

Contemporary Dreidel by Tamara Baskin

The Jewish Museum Hagenauer Dreidel:

The graceful design elements in this intricately pierced 14kt vermeil dreidel are based on a Hanukkah Lamp from the Hagenaur Werkstatte, c. 1920, in the museum's permanent collection.

Enjoy the feast, family and fun & gifting this festival of Lights.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


After writing about the Scottish Tea - I decided to re-enact one in my living room.
I was stirred up by the possibili- teas.

Enjoy the pleasurable moments

using only what you have. plus some biscuits or cookies, tea & whisky

My mom's lace tablecloth saved from her trousseau. My tartan scarf bought from tj max a couple years back. A silver icebucket from Goodwill paid $12.00 Crystal glasses from an antique shop on Union in San Francisco about $20 each, my brown earthenware tea pot - a gift from hubby 7 years ago, my english transfer plates another tj max special, candle holders from pier one, delicate bone china tea-cup a discard from a client- free. Hazelnut choclate biscuits from my favorite french pastry shop laurent Duchene (absolutely delish) chocolates from my favorite friends Calibressan, some star ginger biccies from trader joe, my sweet african stars, and some after eights.
The silver teapot jewel was my mothers necklace she converted from a belt buckle more that 50 years ago, that I still wear and love.

An enchanting christmas candle from the Hamburg Christmas market- snowflake gold piece a friend just brought back, my sugar net with shells and crochet trim made in south africa, a mirror -free discard from a client, art deco hot water pot bought at the greek festival 4 pieces for $15, our Carol Boyes man pot, bought on a visit home 10 years ago.

Memories, conversation and discards make tea time, a time to treasure.

Tart up with Tartan

a cool couch for tartan thoughts from Willam Sonoma Home

“Forgive early, kiss slowly, love wholeheartedly, laugh loudly,” said Yael Raz, “Because life may not be the party we all hope for.”

SO, I am thinking the holidays are nigh and what about throwing a Scottish Tea Party? Life may not be the party we hope for, but we can definitely make more parties
& improve our chances.

I have my tartan wrap that I love - it makes me think about celtic jewelery, white blouses edged with crochet & lace, shiny black boots with button hooks, velvet - I am translating this feeling into the perfect tea party.

Domino Magazine December 08 shows a sofa tarted up for the winter, using a couple of plaid throws, and the resident floor zebra with campaign tables.

Doing some research, I discovered that tartans were decorative cloth that were limited by color and design in different areas, using coarse wools. This then led to the creation of clan tartans. Check out this fabulous site all about Tartans.- the Tartans of Scotland. This sounds like the perfect title for one of those science fiction stories.

Did you know there are at least 2800 known Tartans? documented on the site, and all gorgeous.
Here are a couple to wet your appetite- they certainly make me dizzy with delight:

Abercrombie (Wilson's No. 64) Family Tartan WR1043

Scottish Tartans World Register: Galloway
Galloway District Tartan WR1469

Scottish Tartans World Register: Jahore
Jahore District Tartan WR1309

What clan does the tartan you adore belong to ? or head over to a tasty Scottish Food Site to order some figge pudding? Who knew Scot tea is something particular.

For our tea - all you need is a tartan throw or a couple of yards of fabric from your local haberdashery or fabric store thrown over the tea table. I love to serve tea at the sofa, piled high
with pillows :

pillow maker FablesandFoxes

Underneath the tartan have six to eight inches of lace showing. Here you can get inventive.
Old family tablecloths or lace curtains will do the trick. Velvet and or black ribbons. White crocheted blankets ( afghans) Lift up the plaid and attach a brooch in silver - thistles or flowers or animals.
I am thinking that black and white cushions in a bold check or using a cameo inspiration or the silhouette. these ideas can also be used to decorate. A garland of silhouettes with black paper, silver and pearl chains. Black and white botanical prints and drawings.

Check out these fab ornaments and the chance to create your own silhouette pillows, plus buy super prints at Simply Silhouettes or check out the blog perfect to round out your Scott cheer.

A silver tea service or at least a large tray with handles, a big teapot, cream and sugar containers that echo the feel of "olde worlde charme" , bone china cups.
Mix and match -to your style and your budget. Napkins edged in lace, plates or baskets lined with doilies or delicate odd napkins -found at thrift stores, a garage sale or granny's cupboard, piled high with raisin toast and butter, scones & jam and clotted cream, home made shortbread or the ones in the tartan boxes, a pretty vase crammed with purple heather or some wild looking flowers, orchids or african violets. Handkerchiefs dampened with lavender water. Candied violets. Loose leaf tea. Lots of lovely hot water. Sugar cubes and dainty spoons, and a hot water jug with lid.

Martha Stewart Sugar Cookie Stacks

Crystal real (or just the appearance of decanters) with good scotch whisky and some cut glass glasses. or heavy bottomed ones (funny how you only want heavy bottoms on glasses)

You can pile on the rich but ratty look or even the eccentric charm to emphasize the to the manor born feel.

Go wild - indulge the highlander or the lowlander within. Dress the part and take your guests back to a new world.

Keep a big book of poetry on hand to read out loud.(or to look intellectual)


by John Donne

UPON this Primrose hill,
Where, if heaven would distil
A shower of rain, each several drop might go
To his own primrose, and grow manna so ;
And where their form, and their infinity
Make a terrestrial galaxy,
As the small stars do in the sky ;
I walk to find a true love ; and I see
That 'tis not a mere woman, that is she,
But must or more or less than woman be.

happy tea drinking... a wee dram of scotch is supposed to improve the tea...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Paper Sticks and words

This sweet heart above is from words from the heart on

Been thinking about the Power of words and the buzz about how happiness is contagious.
Remember the rhyme - "sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never harm me." ?

Of course that is a total lie - words have power. That's why happiness is contagious, and so is misery. But we dont want misery here - only the absence of.
We want to wash the walls in JOY :

here is my sign, above, from the pavement, created from shaped twigs and some little leaves.

This is the perfect time to remember and renew love and happiness. Words hold power and change minds and direction. They are little shapes that shape lives and meanings. Everyone needs a little Expression in their lives :

Here is an idea worth contemplating
a fabulous cuff that does more than just look pretty from


Sign in a store - from a fun clothing mix store in Toronto Canada - talk about encouraging a naturally good feeling - this one makes me think of my yiddisha grandmother.....

Words grow our minds, our feelings and help us to share the good stuff and spread some cheer and happiness around. I love to see how artists and craftists (new word - cant keep saying crafter - sounds like a guy at a sheep farm in Scotland) and below not only a clever use of beautiful papers, they almost look like delicate painted eggshells, and nestled within a word to inspire: BELIEVE

Check out this wreath with paper and words from haru on Etsy, an array of artwords and forms to bring out the thinker or dreamer in us all.

What about creating your own out of found materials even pipe cleaners?
You can hang on the wall with string and branches or like a garland, or hang in the leaves or a xmas leaf garland. Remember spray paint is your friend. Its transforms junk to treasure with one quick swipe.

or try using those from wall words or one of the Etsy artists.

"Greetings Earthling"

or perhaps

"We come in PIECES"

OR one of my all time favorites

"Whirled Peas"

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Easy steps to fast & fabulous dinning style for the holidays

Expecting company and dont have a clue what to do?

Here are 7 tips that wont break the bank or your stress-o-meter!

1. Plan your meal and your decorating theme.
Match the decor with the food - look at some travel books or magazines at your local bookstore or library to gather a couple BIG ideas....

for example: Moroccan - use a striped fabric with the table cloth. hang above or place some lanterns on the table. Use a big brass platter and fill with candles - place in living room. earthenware plates or simple white ones will work well.

Morrocan tea lights and colored glasses. Big white dishcloths for napkins.
Create a mood in the room with the candles, Moroccan music, small jugs of spearmint leaves, little bowls with water and rose petals or rosewater finger bowls.

2.Look for containers & props your have at home such as lights, candles and little bowls for maximum impact. Flowers or leaves always add a sweet touch. Big colored containers.
Found items can be used to tie napkins, or wine glasses.

3. Keep it simple and budget friendly. Serve the appetizer with the drinks- eg green olive tapenade on small toasts. or breadsticks wrapped with cream cheese and smoked salmon(above).

Create a one dish meal with a vegetable for the main course - Couscous with lamb sausage pine nuts and spinach.

4.A simple fruit salad flavored with herbs or cordial: like peeled orange segments with mint leaves & soaked in orange liquer or flavored with rose water.
Here is a delicious fruit salad served using the fruit shell as containers. An easy artful solution to keep your guests in the mood.

5. Have large jugs of water, and enough glasses for water and wine or whatever beverages you serve. Mix and match from your cupboard or borrow from friends.

6.Coffee or tea in tiny cups with little cookies, piled high or turkish delight.

7. Look around the house for little touches that can echo the look and feel that you are going for.
Dont be a slave to a decorating idea, rather let your imagination soar and find ways to repurpose reuse and reinvent - give your guests a taste of your own style......