Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Yulefest: Ballard Hosts the Festivities

I always enjoyed attending the small Swedish Christmas Fair near my home in Southeastern Michigan. It was festive and charming. A few performances, tables of baked goods, a selection of Christmas decorations for sale. The hallways and common rooms of the church were packed with people saying:
I loved it, so I knew I would seek out the same kind of festival when I moved to Seattle. Jackpot! This region has a large Nordic presence and I learned that they are opening a beautiful new Nordic Heritage Museum this Spring (May 5, 2018). 
It was a rainy Seattle Sunday when Dan and I drove to Ballard (an area within Seattle) to check out Yulefest. After 40 years, we arrived in the final hours of the current museum being open. I could hear attendees making sentimental statements about coming to this building as children and wanting to photograph just a few more special places inside. 
The Nordic Heritage Museum was packed. Like turn sideways to cross through the halls packed. It was wonderful to see that so many wanted to take one-last-pass through the halls and honor their heritage. I took this short video (above) to let you hear a traditional folk song and witness the bustling cafe where attendees ate open-faced sandwiches and authentic Christmas cookies.
Vendors were set up in the museum's display rooms and hallways for easy shopping.
In honor of Yulefest, I wore a Dale of Norway sweater, similar to this glorious display (above) and the shop woman smiled at my choice.
I stopped to admire these Norwegian Rosemaling wood carriers. I imagine they are for bringing food to a party, but that might just be me. I love their beauty and craftsmanship. I found a similar piece on Etsy if you are interested.
I felt foolish when I realized that I missed my chance to get in line for a hot ebelskiver. By the time I peeked through this doorway and saw what was going on, the line was even longer. This kind woman showed me how you gently turn these Nordic pancakes with a wooden skewer to keep it from browning too much on one side. Next year, I am getting my hot ebelskiver first!
Whether your ancestors are Nordic or you are just an admirer like me, be sure to attend Yulefest (November 2018) in the brand new Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard, Washington.

God Jul! 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Refresh Your Beeswax With Hot Air

I absolutely love to decorate our house for Christmas, especially the trees. I just unpacked our ornaments (25 years worth!) and I'm surprised at how many beeswax ornaments I own and how lovely they look mixed in with my collection of blown glass ornaments and handmade paper baubles. 

Today I wanted to share a quick tip with you on how to remove the dry white bloom on your beeswax ornaments and candles. All they need is a quick burst of air from a hair dryer! I have 2 identical Santa ornaments to showcase the difference: before (left) and after (right) a bit of hot air. 

Be careful not to melt the beeswax - don't hold the hot air source too close to the ornament or for too long. You may see a greasy sheen appear, but relax, the beeswax will firm up once you stop the hot air and your ornament will look fresh and new. 

It's also worth noting that I gave my beeswax ornaments the hot air treatment last week and they still look smooth and honey colored- no bloom has returned.
There aren't any presents under the tree yet and I still need to make and hang my gingerbread men, but our Christmas tree already looks beautiful. All of our decorations have been in storage for the last 2 years and it was a happy reunion when we unwrapped them and found that none of our fragile ornaments broke on the trip cross-country. Hallelujah! Remember when I decided to pack most of my vintage ornaments in Costco apple containers? I added a layer of bubble wrap and it worked perfectly! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Holly Wreaths: Incredible Old World Christmas Touches

I can't believe I have access to these beautiful handmade, fresh holly wreaths for sale at Squak Mountain Nursery and Greenhouse in Issaquah, Washington. They are a Christmas dream come true. 

I have always loved holly and how a touch of it can suddenly convey Christmas. Holly can transform a tiny Dickensian lamppost in a train set. It can appear in the corner of fine stationary. It just might be a favorite cookie shape with red cinnamon candies conveying a cluster of holly berries.

Holly just might be my favorite Christmas touch. This year I am having fun with our new house and experimenting with how I want to decorate. This week I bought bundles of cut holly from Squak Mt Nursery for just $3 each. That should give me the raw materials I need to enhance a wreath and tuck some Christmas touches here and there.
The time and talent it takes to make a full wreath of holly is incredible. The $50 price tag makes these exquisite holiday touches a bargain. Go to Squak Mountain Nursery right now! 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Hostess Gift: Embroidered Flour Sack Towels

I am lucky for so many reasons. I have a wonderful extended family and great friends in Michigan who support our big move out West. But today I wanted to tell you about the generosity of a new friend, someone I met here in Washington.

I met Judie through my husband. When he was consulting in Seattle, I flew out for the month of April, June and September so that we could be together. I lived in his hotel (Remember when I made dinners in my "Easy Bake oven" and canned pickles?) and explored Seattle during the day.

One evening we met up with his co-worker Judie for dinner and I brought my latest project to the table to show off. I had been frequenting a Maker Space (a space that provides creative inspiration and the tools required for an hourly fee) for sewing to work on a souvenir quilt. I bought many 1/2 yards of companion print fabric when we drove to Portland, OR. The resulting quilt would be a souvenir from our trip.

Anyhoo, I was explaining the maker space (I wanted to sew!) and this quilt project as my big distraction during the day while I was in Seattle. Judie told me all about her 4-H projects as a girl and how she used to teach home economics! We had a lot in common and she seemed to like that I had incorporated sewing into our adventure out West.

The next day when Dan came into work, there was a sewing machine on his desk! "Take this to Anne" was his instruction. Judie thought it was silly for me to hike out to a maker space all the time and wanted to loan me her sewing machine for the duration of our trip (2 1/2 weeks!). What a woman. 

Fast forward 3 years and we have a real house with a real craft room. Judie came for dinner and brought us a set of 3 beautiful machine embroidered towels. She knows me well! I just love them and I'm using them too. As any maker knows, we gift you these things we've made because we want you to enjoy them. Get them out of the drawer and let's go!

Thank you, Judie, for being my first kindred spirit in Seattle! You are the best.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Laser Cut Wood: Holiday Inspiration

I bought this collection of laser cut wood decorations at one of my favorite craft resources, the Ben Franklin in Redmond, WA. This store is a "must stop" when I have crafty friends visit, because of their selection, knowledgeable staff and inspiring displays (with related products for sale nearby)...and their selection.

What I'm finding funny is that I love these thin and crispy wood die-cuts just as they are. I could glue them to place cards. I could string them into a garland. I could glue them to gift tags. So far, though, I just move them around my side board imaging their future. Aren't they cool? What do you think I should do with them?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Seattle: Queen Mary Tea Room Triumph

I found a wonderful place to have lunch with my mom in Seattle. We were out and about last week and found ourselves near the U-district (shopping area near University of Washington) when I remembered that I'd read about a tea room in the area. What if I could find it and we could get in? Fingers crossed...

The Queen Mary Tea Room and Restaurant was all that I could have hoped for. The hostess was able to take our coats and seat us right away. The restaurant was cozy and their incredible inventory of tea and tea-related gifts provided a beautiful backdrop for a ladies lunch.
We both ordered the Chicken Pot Pie that is served with an organic green salad. 

I always wince a little in a tea room, because more often than not, the kitchen relies on tarragon to elevate their chicken dishes. It never works. 

Let me say that Queen Mary's Tea Room serves the best Chicken Pot Pie I have ever had. The sauce was delicious, but not too rich. The seasoning was light and flavorful perfect for the white meat chicken, carrots and peas. The puff pastry was pretty, delicate and felt like a luxurious touch on a rainy afternoon. It was worth every penny and we ate every bite.

I look forward to indulging in their afternoon tea service; I feel certain that I will enjoy a long conversation over some beautiful food.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Target: Magnolia Collection Hearth and Hand

I was there and saw the new Hearth & Hand with Magnolia collection at Target within hours of the store opening. I am thankful for the laid back attitude in Seattle. Back in Michigan, there would have been a line outside the store at 7 am and the items would have flown off the shelves before I could get a decent picture for you. I am a huge fan of Joanna and Chip Gaines and their modern farm house world called Magnolia Market thanks to my cousin, Carol, who pointed me to their HGTV show, Fixer Upper.
The collection is available online too, but I wanted to show you how it is displayed in store. The collection is based on black, white, galvanized tin and shades of green. There are greenhouse-like iron frames in the shape of a house (a design echoed throughout the collection) to call attention to the area and the customers were happily picking up pieces and placing them in their carts. It was very quiet, like we realized how lucky we were that we had the place all to ourselves.
There was a tabletop section of stoneware dishes in white, grey and black. Drinking glasses, silverware and wooden serving pedestals. It all looked true to Joanna's design aesthetic and seeing all of the pieces that work together, I felt happy for her. Like "she did it," she scaled her vision in an accessible and affordable way - no easy feat.

The prices are reasonable, the designs are new and interesting (definitely Modern Farmhouse) and the quality is there. You can be proud to buy and give items from this collection.

There were quite a few holiday items in Hearth and Home. Wreaths, ornaments and a cool tin advent calendar that looks like the one I have in my collection - buy it! It looks beautiful tucked full of holly sprigs and treasures.

I bought a candle in a galvanized tin holder, because I love that Joanna always has a candle burning in the Fixer Upper during the reveals. 

I bought a brass bell ornament engraved with 2017 to commemorate when I moved into my hearth and home.

My cousin and I are trying to visit Waco this spring - a weekend getaway where we can talk and laugh and eat cupcakes, just like when we were 12. I can't wait. Thanks, Chip & Joanna Gaines, for creating a destination and Good Job on your partnership with Target! 

#magnolia #hearthandhand #joannagaines #target #holidayshopping