A good old-fashioned Christmas break.

These were the Christmas ornaments I sent out for the 2007 Holiday Ornament Swap. I got some lovely ones in return, so I hope the recipients didn’t find mine too plain – believe it or not, they took ages to paint and glue and varnish!

Holiday swap ornaments.

This will be my last post here for a little while: I’ve decided to take a Christmas break. Today is my last day in the office until January 2, which will be my longest work-free time since I don’t know when. And I’ve decided that it’s going to be blog-free, too. (Sorry, Uncle Ted…no Christmas photos until January.)

The only thing that will keep on movin’ on is my Etsy shop. There won’t be any shipping until January 3, but you can still make a purchase. I’ll be adding a bunch of handprinted cards and starting a special after-Christmas sale on December 26, so stop by then to see if something you want is on sale!

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Do you remember those wonderful days in grade school and college when break came between semesters and you really, honestly had no homework to do? I think that I was woefully unappreciative of the freedom of those times. Not having anything you have to do is a quality that pretty much disappears when you “grow up.” Instead, you have to a) forget, b) ignore, or c) stress about everything that you know you’re not doing. A time of rest becomes something that you have to create, not something that just happens.

I’ve been thinking about this because, as I sit at my desk for the last time until January 2, I can tell that I am not going to have enough time to finish a bunch of projects today and that I’m going to be really amazingly swamped when I get back. And that thought is quite stress-inducing. Potentially so stress-inducing that I won’t really enjoy my break because I’m worrying about what will be waiting for me when I come back.

So I’m going to choose not to think about that. I’m going to walk out the door at 5:15 today, and then I’m going to stop thinking about work. I’m not even going to think about blogs or blog articles.

Instead, I’m going to think about my husband and my family, about Christmas, about giving, about art, about the ocean. About Jesus. About how thankful I am that I have all of these things (I might think about work here for a millisecond so that I can learn to be grateful, but that’s it).

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself.

I have learned the secret of being content
in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

I hope your Christmas is full of rest, and I look forward to sharing with you again in the new year.

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Christmas at the Office.

(Speaking of which, what will The Office do about a Christmas episode this year? I hope they still have one…I’m a sucker for Christmas episodes. Who could ever forget the “year of the iPod”?)

One of the little joys of working in an office is figuring out what to get everybody for Christmas each year. In my situation there are 12 “office staff” (rather loosely defined, since a bunch of them work in a greenhouse), and I’m not very good at guessing what they like. Last year I gave out biscotti – which I love – that met with rather lukewarm praise. This year I decided to make vintage fabric/button pins for all the women after receiving a couple of compliments on the one I was wearing. I made a lot of pins + barettes last Christmas, but they involved hand-sewing and were rather ridiculously time-intensive for something so small and unassuming.

This year I went with the glue gun, baby.

Office gifts.

The new + improved model is made with vintage fabric scraps backed with interfacing, wool felt, and vintage buttons that conveniently had the backs knocked off of them. I don’t think they look all that bad without the hand-stitching, and I’m pretty sure that no one in my office will notice. There’s also a handmade ornament tucked inside each envelope (pics coming tomorrow), so all-in-all it was a very handmade affair.

Oh, and for the guys? A mini bottle of Johnny Walker Red in lieu of a pin.

Come to think of it, maybe I should have done that for everybody.

A Christmas star.

I forgot that I told a couple of people that I’d show them how to make one of these.

A Christmas star.

You can find a nice set of instructions here, which I found through a helpful comment left on this lovely post on design*sponge…next year I’ll have to make some simple modern ornaments as well.

I made 6 of these stars, so I’ll give you a little advice if you’re going to try them yourself: choose the right paper. Medium-size stars (about 8 in. across, like this one) are best made from lightweight scrapbooking or wrapping paper. Big stars need something stronger – like cardstock –  or they collapse. Really small ones are hard to make because you can’t fit your stapler inside them, so I’d start larger unless you want to do a lot of taping.

Another little trick is to find some wrapping paper you like instead of buying a bunch of loose sheets. I love all the Martha Stewart papers at Michael’s, but after doing a little math I found it was more cost-effective to buy a roll of wrapping paper (which is still not particularly cheap) than to get 6 individual sheets. And now I have enough left over to wrap some presents!

A really good present.

You how, every once in a while, someone gets you just the perfect gift? The one you wanted to buy for yourself but didn’t have the money? The one you just forgot about because you knew it wasn’t going to happen?

A couple of months ago, I found a Calder lithograph on Craigslist. I told someone I work for about it, since he’s a big Calder fan, and then I forgot.

But guess what? He bought it for me!

My new Calder print.

Isn’t it fabulous?? It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to want to get rid of your furniture and buy new stuff to match. It needs to be re-framed, but that’ll happen one of these days.

The peaceful living room.

Mm, what a nice, peaceful, faintly mid-century living room. Still waiting for the couch of my dreams, but I’m learning to be content with old greeny for a while longer. (It helps that he’s really comfortable.)

In other important news, husband and I just finished watching season 3 of Lost and I can’t get it out of my head. It seems like a cruel joke to wait a whole year for something and then have it disappear in less than a week. But man, what a great week. I was conveniently sick, so we spent some lovely evenings and afternoons cuddled on the couch screaming “no, no, noooooo!” at Jack. And Locke. And Ben. And Charlie.

I hate to say it, but I found Heroes really underwhelming. We finished season 1 because we had to, but it was a grit-your-teeth-for-another-round-of-Mohinder kind of thing. Battlestar Galactica is way better. And Lost? The best of them all. I didn’t love the last couple of episodes, but the whole of the 3rd season was just so well-done, especially considering how many shows fall apart around season 3 (hello, O.C.).

Season 4 starts on January 31, and we just might have to invest in some cable, people.

Ribbon garlands.

Whoah, what happened to the day? And is it really Friday already? (These are both good thoughts, by the way.) I lost most of my lunch to a loooong meeting, but I’ve got enough time to show you one last little Christmas decorating project, in case you’re feeling crafty this weekend.

This is based on the “everlasting garland” project in the December issue of Martha, and they’ve got nice instructions over there if you want details.

Ribbon Garland.

My twist was to hot glue some wires where the two ribbons meet so I could add ornaments. In addition to general festivity, the ornaments also help pull the ribbon down so it’s not so wavy – if you’re going to try this at home, I suggest using satin ribbon instead of grosgrain (for some reason the grosgrain just wont lie flat, even after ironing).

I put up ribbon + ornament garlands on all of the doorways leading from our living room, and I really love them. Simple, fairly cheap, and definitely handmade: now that’s my kind of decorating.

Have a good weekend, and happy crafting!

Not completely handmade.

I felt a little sheepish buying an Advent calendar instead of making one. Last year, we didn’t have a lot of spare cash and our gifts and decor tended to be 1) made by me  or 2) from the dollar store. And to be honest, it was a little stressful. Handmade gifts sound so pleasant to give and to receive, but at some point you encounter the fact that they take a lot of time and don’t always turn out the way you envisioned. I remember working myself into a tizzy last year when mom’s sewing machine developed problems when I was about to embark on a lot of Christmas sewing. I had presents to sew, no way to sew them, and no back-up plan. This, my friends, is the recipe for a very stupidly unhappy holiday.

Whipup had a good editorial a while back called “Giving of Gifts” in which they discussed the stress caused by trying to make too much stuff. It made me think, and if you’re tempted to try to be Martha-the-Holiday-Goddess every year, you might want to pop on over and read it. Trust me, your husband (or wife, or mother, or sister) will be happier if you decide to make less stuff and have less stress. Right, dear? 

(I have a whole ‘nother tangent about buying handmade, but I’m running out of time. So I’ll save that for later.)

Okay, on to the Advent calendar. 

Advent Calendar 1.

This is more like an “Advent string”, obviously…it’s basically a ribbon strung between two stars with a lot of little bags clipped to it. Yes, it would be very easy to make, but I found this version at La Bella Vita for $8.50 (which is a steal) and decided that supporting a local business is a very worthy cause.

Advent Calendar 2.

You could fill the bags with all sorts of things, and I’ve seen a lot of blog posts about making cards with little activities to do every day (my friend Alisha has really great memories about this sort of calendar). I filled mine with Christmas ornaments as a pleasant way to prolong the trimming of the tree. Many of these were given to husband by his mother, who used to give Josh and Esther a new ornament every year. After we got married, mom gave the box to us and I’ve had a lot of fun looking at twenty-something years of accumulated treasures.

Christmas Tree.

I don’t know that our mini-tree is capable of holding all the ornaments, but we’re certainly going to try!

More Christmas-decorating cheer.

I meant to post yesterday but caught a bug and ended up languishing on the couch instead. I did summon the energy to go out with husband last night and return with a new computer (hoorah!), so I’ll make a proper introduction in a few days when she’s up and running.

So, back to the subject of Christmas decor. In the spirit of “you don’t have to make everything yourself,” I invested in a couple of holiday prints for the top of our cd shelf. The one on the right is from the Black Apple etsy store, and it’s called “A Scarf for Two.” I think of it as the happy emo couple, and I have to confess that I get some warm fuzzies when I look at it.

New Prints.

The one on the left is from Office, which I found via Design*Sponge. I really wanted something letterpress, and it has the most lovely texture. Makes you want to run your fingers over it.

New  Prints (detail).

I got another ah-maaaaazing print the other day as an early Christmas present from someone at work (at least, I think that’s what it was), but it’s not on the wall yet. Will show off after I bump some art around to make room.

I guess this last photo isn’t very Christmassy, except to show that I finally dug my old sheepskin out of mum’s cupboard and put it on the couch. (Yes, I feel a little bad for the sheep every time I lean back against it. But God did give her such lovely soft wool and I think she lived a happy life.)

 Living Room.

Bean approves of the current living-room arrangment and the sunlight that briefly and wonderfully poured through the window. I’m so rarely at home when the sun is shining that I want to soak it in every Saturday and Sunday. And Tuesday, if I happen to be sick.

More decoratin’ tomorrow!

Some Christmas-decorating cheer.

We still don’t have an internet-ready home computer, but I’m going to give blogging a try again anyway (maybe call it Jupiterbuttons Lite?) . I finished some Christmas decor projects over the weekend, so I think I’ll try showing one a day and hope I don’t run out of lunchtime.

I know you’ve seen the felt trees before, but I wanted to thank Molly for linking to my tutorial on the Momformation blog. I really like the other project (a twig star)…must find some twigs and someplace to hang one.

Fun with felt trees.

These trees got booted out of the dining room and into our apartment’s entryway, which I think is a much better place anyhow. Except that husband didn’t notice them at all and finally told me that he never looks at the entryway when he walks in the door. After I painted the walls a lovely yellow and everything? Hmph.

Entryway.

(The birch bark tubes are from Small Stump – I happened across them at just the right time, because they go fast on Etsy. I’m looking forward to trying to grow wheatgrass in them next spring.)

Still to come: new prints, a ribbon garland, and a special kind of advent calendar.

Bee-yoop.

(That’s the sound a dying computer makes.)

I’m afraid it’s going not going to be a great week for blogging, seeing as everything personal + computer-related must now be squeezed into my lunchbreak. The Mac situation isn’t as dire as we’d thought but it’s still not that great, and looking for a new computer is taking precedence over rambling about how my day went.

So I’m going to sign out for a while, with the promise of lots of nice Christmas-decoration photos when I get back.

P.S. Happy birthday to my brother-in-law, if he happens to be reading this. :)

Quick notes on a grey Monday.

— We didn’t get a tree on Saturday because the only ones we could find were too big/fat. Artificial is a last-resort option, but not anybody’s favorite. Any suggestions for where to find a really skinny Christmas tree around here?

— I did manage to put up Christmas decorations: garlands in the doorways, snowflakes on the windows, a star in the entryway, and bows on the chandelier. I heart our apartment.

— We had a little blizzard yesterday afternoon, but it rained all night and now it’s gone. Amazing.

— Jan at Poppytalk is my hero. I sent in a Poppytalk Handmade submission that she never received, but when I emailed her about it today she said she’d let me in late. She is, like, my favorite person at the moment.

— Work is stressful. I have wanted to simultaneously cry and throw up all morning as I stare at my to-do list, and it doesn’t look like it’s gonna get a lot better.

Ah, Monday.

Update: Husband think our home laptop just died (or maybe just the monitor, but that’s still a pretty big/nonfixable problem). Egads, what is with this day? RIP, little Mac, but you could have chosen a better time.