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Monday
Dec092013

A Scandinavian Christmas 

Happy Holidays Friends.... I hope you are having a lovely start to the holiday season {whatever holiday it is that you celebrate}.  For me, it's pretty quiet so far - but, one of the things I have been fascinated with is the idea of a 'Scandinavian' style Christmas.  I have always had such a fondness & interest in the countries of Scandinavian countries {Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland}.  The traditions and themes of the Christmas holiday season are so beautiful & creative.  I really love them. 

One of the biggest themes is red & white, nature, simplicity and family.  How perfect. 

Two of my favorite books on the subject are Scandinavian Christmas by Trine Hahnemann and Handmade Scandinavian Christmas: Everything You Need For A Simple Homemade Christmas by Hege Barnholt are filled with amazing ideas & inspiration.  Lovely books, truly.  


Traditions in these countries have individual beliefs and their own unique ways of celebrating the holidays. The celebration of Christmas in Scandinavia incorporates old Christmas traditions with connections that predate Christian influence. As these northern countries become their darkest near the winter solstice, the Christmas holiday also signifies brighter days ahead.

Even in these very modern countries the celebration is rather traditional – the gathering of friends and family for seasonal food and drink, with an assortment of presents for the children.

The holiday season slowly builds itself throughout the entire month of December. As the days grow darker approaching the solstice, Lucia candles appear in the windows of many houses and offices as part of the St. Lucia festival of lights, found primarily in Sweden. Celebrated on December 13, this holiday gathers together children, selecting one girl with a crown of candles as the city or neighborhood Lucia. The children proceed in a Lucia train singing carols and Christmas songs. 

The food available in Scandinavia over Christmas varies by country, but is generally based on various types of seasonally available meat, fish and vegetables. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, there’s plenty of pepparkakor (gingerbread) to be seen at local grocery stores and bakeries. At the julbord on Christmas Day, Finns and Swedes will often serve some type of Christmas ham, along with pickled herring, cod, potato casseroles, and vegetables. In Denmark and Norway it’s not uncommon to see pork and lamb rib along with cod and herring. For dessert, rice pudding is often served with a single almond hidden in a bowl – the receiver of which can make a wish for the following year.

The day before Christmas, Julafton, serves as the primary day when presents are handed out, and a large dinner is served at the Christmas dinner table, the Julbord.

Children will leave out porridge or milk the night before for Tomte (Sweden) or Nisse (Denmark and Norway), small elves who leave presents underneath the Christmas tree. These small elves will typically live in barns or attics, hiding away and taking care of animals and business about the house, while also helping to distribute gifts during the holiday season. A single Jultomten or Julmannen, similarly dressed to Santa Claus in red and white, might also possibly appear to hand out gifts directly to the children. As the night winds down, the group might sing carols and continue to drink many of the traditional seasonal beverages.

With the main festivities over the night before, Christmas Day is used as a time to relax after the night before. 

Personally, my favorite elements are the beautiful - yet, very simple decorations and ornaments.  The use of a simple color palette and natural / earthy materials is such a nice change to the over glittery & shiny Christmas that you find in America.  There is something to be said for bring back some of the simplicity of the holidays.  What do you think?  Could you imagine decorating your holiday house in such a matter?

Happy Holidays!!

{Credits: All imagery sources can be found here

Sunday
Nov242013

Thanksgiving Week: Entertaining & Planning Tips 

Greetings my Friends....  Thanksgiving week is upon us.  {For those in my world - this is also known as Michigan / OSU week.  I prefer to concentrate on the bird!}

I'm sure each & everyone of you have traditions and rituals that are important to you.  I am not here to change your mind about green bean casserole {I'm old school & like it with canned soup and French's Fried Onions}.  But, what I thought I might do is focus on some of the additional areas that are important when hosting a gathering.  

“Whenever you entertain the Bunch, Always plan to have a punch.” - Mary Jane Remole

Perhaps a little decoration?First, maybe you could add a little decoration or something fun to break the ice with your guests?  Maybe there will be people there who don't know each other or maybe family that doesn't exactly get along.  If you present a welcoming environment & maybe a small little tasks (like adding a "What are you thankful for?" post.  Directions on how to make the Thanksgiving Garland can be found here via the blog A Beautiful Mess. 

Getting Your "Ducks" In A Row

One of the most important things to think about during your holiday planning is getting yourself organized and prepare as much as you can ahead of time.  One of the things I like to do is pull out all the serving dishes I want to use and put them on the dining table.  Sometimes I even put a post-it note in each one so I make sure I don't forget anything.  Another idea is to prepare a buffet.  This is also a great way to get yourself organized - and get the plates, flatware, etc out of the kitchen and easy for guests to find.  

Think Outside The Box

Are you lucky enough to live in a warm climate?  If you are - think beyond the four walls of your home.  Utilize the outdoors.  Maybe you put together a snack table or drink station outside?  That allows some room in your home but, also gives your guests somewhere to go.  It gets them moving around - helping themselves.  Always a good plan.

Another fun idea is to add an element of the unexpected to your feasts.  One of the sweetest ideas I have come across is utilizing super cheap plastic toy animals from the local dollar store.  You can go two different ways -- either spraypaint them in a one solid (neutral) color {see the example above and instructions HERE} or you can mode-podge them with sparkle.  

Don't Stress Yourself

A couple quick thoughts about snacks & drinks.  Don't stress yourself out too much.  You are already killing yourself by making the whole meal.  Maybe a just a few easy to assemble snacks out by the drinks cart or for a larger crowd a wine & cheese table.  It totally depends on what kind of event you are throwing.  Just remember - keep it simple & buy what you need.  There are SO many good little treats out there you can put together.  To paraphrase my cooking & entertaining idol, Ina Garten ...

"You're friends aren't going to have any more fun if you spent all day making the Hors d'oeuvre ." Ina

A Little Flair Table settings.  The big display.  Please don't call it a tablescape.  That makes me crazy.  But, anyway --- here are just a few ideas that caught my fancy.  I love the idea of a bountiful table with lots of friends & family.  BUT - I also love the idea of a small & quiet table setting.  One thing is true though -- I love dishes.  China.  Platters.  Serving ware.  I got that trait from my mother.  Don't even ask how many sets of dishes she has -- drives my father nuts.  However, this type of dinner is the perfect opportunity to bring out your prettiest things.  Go crazy -- mix it up.  These are just a few inspirations.  

Finishing Touches And, finally --- the end of the meal.  What to do - what to do?  One of the ideas that I am IN LOVE with is shown above.  Make your guests part of the feast and share all those AMAZING leftovers.  Prepare some take-home boxes (with labels) and this can also help your friends / family with the clean-up.  They are much more likely to pitch in if they know they will get some turkey or stuffing out of the deal.  SO smart & extra special.  

So - that's it my friends.  Just a few inspirations or maybe even something you had never thought of.  I hope you have a lovely holiday (safe & sound - of course). 

GOBBLE GOBBLE! 

{Image Sources: All can be found via my Entertaining Pinterst Board

Sunday
Nov172013

Spotlight: Shinola of Detroit 

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know that I was born & raised in Michigan.  Suburban Detroit actually.  I am a hometown girl - born & bred.   Therefore, the slow & painful collapse of Detroit breaks my heart.  I have watched places of my youth, amazing places of industry and creative forces reduced to crime, rubble & desolation.  It's devastating.  

BUT, there is also a huge amount of hope & ingenuity happening as well.  There are people committed to investing and bring Detroit back.  Maybe not to the industrial powerhouse it used to be - but, something else.  Something different.  One of those companies is Shinola. Shinola was an American brand of wax-based shoe polish that was available from 1907 until 1960. Fast-forward a few decades and you have Shinola/Detroit, whom purchased the Shinola name from the defunct shoe polish company, and is now an American manufacturer of watches, bicycles, leather goods, and journals in Detroit. The Shinola headquarters and manufacturing facility are located in Detroit inside the College for Creative Studies within the historic Argonaut Building, now known as the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education.

 "We know there’s not just history in Detroit, there is a future." - Shinola 

 

The amazing story of Shinola is based on their exceptional partnerships with American made artisans.  That is the whole point of the their business plan.  When you are working with companies like Detroit Denim Co., Hadley-Roma Watches, Horween Leather you find that these exclusive & beautiful products are made with love & dedication.  I'm completely smitten with many of the leather goods. 

So, why open a watch factory in Detroit? Here's the answer. 

So, if you are looking for something extra special this holiday season - I hope that you might check out Shinola.  Or maybe you are lucky enough to check out their flagship stores in NYC & their brand new space in Detroit. I for one am so pleased to see an amazing company invest in the future of my "hometown" and believe in what they are trying to accomplish.  Good luck to them! 

Imagey Source: Shinola

 

Monday
Nov112013

Picture of the Day: Mad for Plaid

I really think I need to start wearing more plaid -- especially with a tulle ball gown skirt.  

via gal meets glam

Wednesday
Nov062013

Holiday Gift Guide: Lips and Eyes and Liners --- OH MY! 

With the holiday season fast approaching, I decided to put together one of my very favorite gift suggestions.  MAKE-UP!  I love this time of year so much because all the best cosmetic lines debut amazing & beautiful collections and palettes.  I have always found that purchasing a palette or kit is a great way to try lots of product and get more bang for your buck.  

First up .... Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.  Without a doubt, this is my favorite brand of all time.  Bobbi makes the most beautiful product and completely worth the extra money that some of the items cost.  I have had some of my items for ages (I have a nice collection of her brushes that I have had for almost 20 years).  This is the GOLD standard. 

Here are a few items that I think really represent Bobbi & the products she offers.  


Bobbi Brown Cosmetics

{1} Bobbi's Smokey Eye Kit  $122 {2} Old Hollywood Palette $75 {3} Everyday Pretty Eye & Lip Palette $30

Up Next -- Tarte & Josie Maran.  These are two relatively new brands for me.  I have used a few Tarte products in the past (this liner is my all time favorite) -- but, Josie Maran is brand new.  I have fallen completely in love with her Argan Oil based collection and think that you will too. I use it on my face & hands --- and even directly on my hair when it's feeling particularly dry.  As an introduction - I have pulled my very favorite items from both.  

Tarte & Josie Maran

{1} Amazonian Clay Waterproof Liner & Brush $30 {2} Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter $35 {3} 100% Pure Argan Oil $48

I have been a Smashbox Cosmetics fan for a number of years.  I was first introduced to them in the 1990's while flipping channels and stumbling upon QVC.  I was intrigued and found myself watching the entire show.  The next time I noticed they were on, I found myself riveted again.  The brand presenter was so lovely & charming I couldn't help myself.  All these years later - I am still a fan and have entirely too much of the product to tell you about.  And, while they are no longer on QVC - I'm thrilled to know I can rush right over to Sephora or Ulta and pick up the latest colors.  

smashbox cosmetics

{1} Photo Op Eye Shadow Palette in Smokebox II $39 {2} All For Eyes: Prime, Line & Define $49

And, finally --- a few additional items that might be the perfect idea for someone you love.  Laura Mercier, Fresh, and last but not least {the heaven of it all} Sephora. These are a few items that are really general and a great place to start for those hard to buy gifts like Secret Santa or a White Elephant gift.  So difficult when you don't really know the person.  Who wouldn't LOVE one of the following 3 great kits? 

Laura Mercier, fresh & Sephora

 {1} Laura's Deluxe Colour Portfolio $78 {2} Sugar Tresures $50 {3} Make Spirit's Bright Brush Set $34 (all available at Sephora