Friday, December 31, 2010

ROOOOOAAAAR into the New Year!!!

Several weeks ago, I promised to give you a glimpse of my son's Advent tree. You might be wondering how on Earth dinosaurs ended up on a Christmas tree.

Before I had a family, I loved toying with the idea of having themed Christmas trees for my future children (I do realize that this was crazy). So, when my first child was born, I was eager to put the concept into motion. As his first Christmas rolled around, he was only 11 months old with no real hobbies, I chose something neutral: seashells and starfish. For the first four years of his life, he loved it!

A nice mix of opaque and shiny 
However, when his sister came along and received wonderful angel ornaments (see blog from December 2010), well, that started him thinking... His tree really didn't reflect any of his interests, seeing as we lived about 400 km from a beach. So, it was a toss up between soccer and dinosaurs. The latter won.

I was totally stumped as to how I should fulfill his wish. Then, it dawned on me that Toys"R"us sold barrels of plastic dinosaurs.  I purchased two: complete with Carnivores, Herbivores, palm trees and rocks. I drilled holes into each object, sprayed them red, green and gold and then glued ribbons into the holes so that they could be used as ornaments.

In Germany it is customary for children to celebrate every day of Advent by opening a door on special calendars.  Hidden behind the doors are either chocolates or pictures.  In order to integrate this tradition into my tree, I embroidered numbers on two different fabrics (even numbers on one and odd on the other) and sewed them into little pouches.

Every year I fill them with chocolates or a small toy: usually something from a Playmobil set. As the month progresses the set becomes more complete - kind of like getting a new piece to a puzzle every day.
He's nearly ten now, and still gets excited about his tree. I hope these feelings don't become „extinct“ any time soon.
Other ways to implement this idea: farm animals, Matchbox cars, planets (thanks, Monica), horses, etc...

Best wishes for a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dinner Club

As I sit here waiting for my guests to arrive, I go through my check list of things to do: 

Candles lit: check!

Background music on: check!

Menus on each setting: check!

Guest bathroom tidied: check!

OK, now I just have to get myself in order (that's usually where the drama starts - what to wear???)

Tonight it's my turn to host Dinner Club. The group consists of nine ladies: 3 Americans, 2 Brits, 1 New Zealander, 1 Australian, 1 Swede and last, but not least a German.

It's actually a really fun concept: each month, one of the ladies puts together a menu that will be served at her house, based on whatever suits her fancy. In the past, we’ve had everything from Vietnamese & Danish to things you can make in 15 minutes. Anyway, after the hostess plans her menu, she sends out one of the recipes to each guest and that guest prepares it and brings it along. Throughout the evening whoever's course is due to be served can be found in the kitchen, along with the hostess and a glass of wine, busily assembling, cooking and / or adding garnish to her creation.

I love meeting up with this group of ladies and trying out new recipes that I would probably never have been bold enough to attempt on my own, i.e. Lavender (real flowers) creme brulle, Persian grape leaf wraps, etc. I usually come home from these evenings with only a smudge of make-up on my face (due to tears of laughter) and always with an extended belly.

Oh, and I solved my wardrobe dilemma by wearing a little black Audrey Hepburn style dress with ¾ length sleeves :)

Here is how to make my menu, that has a flower that doubles as a brooch:
First, select a thick paper that reflects your table decor. You can have fun with this! I chose a paper that sparkled like snow in sunlight. Even though in daylight it was a bit too Liberace, at night, by candlelight, it added just the right amount of shimmer to my table.

Then, decide the look of your menu - should it go with the length or the width of the paper? Print your menu on vellum paper. I usually spread the pages out and let them dry overnight to avoid smudging.
With your glue gun, glue the vellum to the thick paper, where the leaves should go. Next comes the leaves: I picked up some beautiful eucalyptus leaves (that had been sprayed silver) at my florist. Glue them into place.
Take a brooch (if you are interested in these, please contact me) and pin it through the menu.
Now you're done and your guests have a nice little reminder of the evening.

Merry Christmas and happy entertaining!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thank Heaven for Little Girls...

When I was pregnant with my second child, I was convinced that I was going to have a 2nd boy.

It will sound ungrateful, but honestly I was desperate for a girl. My big boy was pure boy and I loved the new subjects he had introduced into my life: dinosaurs, trains, soccer, etc. But I was ready to indulge in pink, sparkly, girly territory. To add to my predicament everywhere I went there were the cutest things for girls.

Wonderful girl stuff!
These butterflies are magnets which 
have satin ribbons glued to them.

It was on one of these shopping excursions that I found the most heavenly angel ornaments in a chic little boutique. I promised myself that if I had a girl, I would decorate a Christmas tree with them in her honor. I already did this for my son in the form of an Advent tree, so I'd make her one too.

On this tree: Lights, butterflies, pink pearls,
  star garland, angel ornaments, 24 advent sacks

Well, I did end up having a girl (Thank you!, Thank you!, Thank you!) and for her first Christmas she received her first set of ornaments. Since then, it has become our tradition that we each get to pick out a new one every year. Before Advent, we unpack her delicate angels and reminisce about when we got them and which ones are our favorites and pick out the perfect spots where the new ones should hang. It's everything that I had imagined it would be like having a girl.  I’m so grateful.

In honor of learning to read: one of
2010's  selections

If you are curious as to how I ended up decorating my son’s tree, I’ll give you a hint: the theme is extinct.  Come back next week to find out!