Christmas tree decorating habits

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Lot’s of people have there Christmas tree already put up. In Germany maybe not als long as in the US. In my family the tree was brought to the house late on the 23rd or in the morning of Christmas Eve. For us it has always been a real tree. And those need to unfold a bit before being decorated.

When I grew up my mom used to decorate the tree. Usually after she was done with preparations in the kitchen and when my dad took over to prepare his part of the Christmas dinner. (but that is a story for another day.) We children didn’t get to see the tree until Christmas Eve after church. What was usually early evening.

Our tree was rather traditional with some silver balls, wooden toys, straw stars and some chocolate rings with sprinkles (who knows which ones I mean?!). Also there were some more wrapped chocolate figurines. And we had real candles. We had the tradition of undecorating the tree after New Years when we were allowed to pick one of the candies daily from the tree.

I do not know how long this practices lasted. There was a year when I had an idea for a different decorated tree and suggested it to my mom. That was the year when tradition changed and my mom and I started to decorate it together. The “new” tree was decorated mainly by natural things: dried fruits, pinecones, nuts, cinnamon sticks, star anise and such. What we kept was the real candles. Instead of the Christmas balls we used apples. My parents still do that and when I spent Christmas with them, that is the tree I am seeing. And often it is still my “chore” to decorate.

natural christmas treeTo be honest I can hardly remember the first version of the tree and I doubt my little sister knows we once had a different tree.

As you can see the concept of changing up the Christmas decoration yearly as some people do is rather foreign to me – not that I don’t admire that.

So it comes to no surprise that in my own home and with my own tree I also follow the same theme year in and year out. My tree now is always silver and white. Over all it is a rather simple version of a tree. It all starts with white and silver balls. (We received those as a wedding gift by my aunt to be always reminded of snow. I thought that was one great gift.) And then I add my real candles. I have never had a tree with electric lights and wouldn’t even know how to get them on there. In the first years I created one new ornament every year and added them to the tree. I am now at a point were I do have enough and can’t hang all. I do collect some cute little ornaments like my silver bells or my little pottery trees.

white silver christmas treeSince we are usually spending Christmas Eve and Christmas with family I decorated my tree on the 23rd. But I will not light candles before Christmas. It just doesn’t feel right.

I usually take down the tree around January 6th. Often I am a bit lazy though. Because one disadvantage of using real candles is that it will make a huge mess. I have to clean all my glass balls and the candle holders and often the floor. It’s not done in an hour. But it is worth all the trouble to me.

The whole tree decorating business is quite different with everyone. I know a lot of people who do it like I have done all my life and the tree is only being put up Christmas Eve. But I feel like in recent years the trees are being decorated earlier and earlier. Some beginning of Advent some when ever it suits.

I got a real cultural shock when I spent my year in the U.S. and was rather perplex when right after Thanksgiving Dinner a big box was open, a fake Christmas tree unfolded and ornaments put up. It was so weird seeing the tree 5 weeks leading to Christmas. What I really enjoyed though was all the presents being collected underneaths. I liked that tradition a lot and adopted that. What really blew my mind though was when Christmas Day right after everyone open the presents the big box was put out again and the tree put back in the attic. I was really dumbfounded with that. For me Christmas was just beginning and here my host family was done with it. If someone asks me I often say that I didn’t really had a Christmas in 1999.

It is so interesting how everyone is having so different traditions and rituals. So if you have a few minutes to spare please let me know how your tree looks like and when you are putting it up.

Wishing you a wonderful Merry Christmas and the best of times with all your loved ones,

Tobia

Best Traditions I Grew Up With

It is storming outside, the fall leaves are dancing in the wind and my coffee warms my hands while I was reminiscing in childhood memories. I realized I had some fun traditions I grew up with and wanted to share today:

1. Die Fete | The Bash

Every Saturday after my dad’s birthday we celebrate “Die Fete”. BUT it is not just a birthday party it just kinda happens to fall close to my dad’s birthday. It originally started out as his party I am sure but it is much more now. Since my dad’s college days he invites his friends and companions to this bash. Every single year! In 2018 it will be the 30th+ time. And since it is such a fixed date most people have it marked and will show up. Everyone makes time for it. And if something comes up they know next year they have another chance. I think my parents have created a really great way of staying in touch with their friends, introducing new people in the mix as they grow older and even having been matchmakers too. And even though I am over 30 now and don’t live at home there is still one guy bringing candy for the kids.

traditions and memories

2. Der Rundbrief | The (Family) Newsletter

And this brings me right to the next tradition. Every year before Christmas a newsletter was sent out. Again mainly my dad writes about what happened the last year in the family and shares his thoughts with his friends. The very end of the letter always ends with the invitation to above mentioned gathering.
I always loved those letters and since they have been written since I am alive I can basically read my life in them. Since I moved out I receive my very own copy.

But I am even more happy that Mr. ♥ and I started to adapt this tradition the year we got married. Now he sits on December 23rd and writes a wonderful letter of all the things happened to us that year. The things we are grateful for, the things we struggled, the people we miss. It is a wonderful way to connect. Unlike my parents we do sent it out via email though.

3. Adventsstündchen | Advent hour

My love for advent and Christmas was ingrained early on. My mom used to sit us down during advent and craft with. We would light the advent wreath, would have a plate of cookies, sometimes listen to some music or play the piano or flute and make little project. Like straw stars, paper stars or lanterns. We would learn poems, sing songs or think about the Christmas play. Make Christmas presents for friends and family or bake cookies. It was always such a magical time and one of my most treasured childhood memories.

4. Weihnachtsspiel | Christmas Play

For many many years of my life I was performing Christmas plays. And I am not talking about the native plays you do in church though I did those too. No we had pretty specific schedule on Christmas Eve and when who got presents. And while we got ours after church and before dinner my parents got theirs after the Christmas play performed by my sisters and I after dinner. It all started during Adventsstündchen where my mom asked if we didn’t wanna sing a song for dad on Christmas. Once we got older we decided to do those little things on our own. We were putting lots of thought into those plays – even though often we only started the day day before Christmas. I remember one time we were doing the play in English (I started having english class only 6 months earlier!), one was a quizz show with a modern and the old Santa and yet another one where we traveled around the world. One of the funniest one was actually a native play we did where my little sister (only 4/5 years then) played every single role but Maria & Joseph. It was hilarious with all her wardrobe changes. Too bad that I cannot remember them all. And no there are no tapes just memories.

5. Dads Stories

You could put down our intensive vacation travels as a tradition too. Mostly twice a year summer and winter we would go exploring the world. And usually not twice to the same place – only exception would be skiing areas. But as much as we loved the vacation we were always specially excited about the newest story my dad would tell us. It was always a story related to the area we would visit or a topic that was relevant. So there would be a story about marmots when hiking in the Alps and one about mosquitos when we were visiting the Mecklenburg Lake District. There was a story about wolfs and foxes and tunnels when I was hiking in Poland (1988) with my dad and only years later I would discover that he actually told me about the political conflict. I so wished I would have wrote down all the great stories. They were so entertain but always had an educational aspect.

Looking back on those traditions it seems like I had no chance than to fall in love with this time of year. Many of them just revolve around the Season. Or maybe even back then my little self absorbed those the most as it was important to me. Who knows.

But I am curious if you have any traditions that have stuck with you. That always keep coming back to you and that hold warm fuzzy memories. Please share, I’d love to read. And if you decide to write a blogpost too make sure to link it.

Happy strolling down memory lane,

Tobia

Little Beech Nut Bells in Red and White – Tutorial

creative DIY_beech nut bells decoration

Yes, I think the Holiday Season has started for me. Today I want to share another tutorial for this those cute beech nut bells in red and white with you.

I really don’t know how I came up with the idea. I think I was talking one of my walks through the park or my favorite cemetery and just saw those beech nuts lying all around on the ground. Don’t they look like little calyx or bells? And then weeks later I was shopping and came across those festive little red bells.

 

Suddenly a picture popped up in my mind and I just had to do it. But let me tell you. It is not that easy to find beech nuts early in November. They were hiding right under all the wet leaves. Of course I had to go hunting for them when it was drizzling and muddy.

Anyhow I did found some. I put them on the radiator to dry and to open them up a bit more. The rest was pretty simple.

creative DIY_beech nut bells tutorial

  1. I painted the beech nut white. I used regular acrylic paint.
  2. Got my little bell.
  3. I used silver wire and made an eyelet on one end (for the bell) and a knot on the other end.
  4. I painted the wire a hot red with nail polish as I think it looks better.
  5. I assembled the wire and the bell.
  6. I heated up the glue gun and gave a good amount of glue in the beech nut and stuck the wire knot in it. Sometimes I had to adjust the length a bit so it looked good. I just wrapped a bit more wire around the know until I liked it.
  7. I glued some ribbons on as well. If I do it again I might choose white and smaller ones but hey it is very festive and Holiday like.

creative DIY_beech nut bells detail

What do you think? Would you hang them on your tree? I would. Maybe not red and white but white and silver (who would have thought HAHA).

Happy crafting,

Tobia

linked to creadienstag | Dienstagsdinge | Handmade on Tuesday | MMI | Freutag | Weihnachtszauber

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Pine Needle Wreath – Advent Wreath 2017

pine needle advent wreath | adventskrank aus nadeln

Hey there,

Writing my advent wreath posts is the sole reason this blog exists. Yes, pretty sure it is true. This year I want to share a Pine Needle Wreath with you. Not a regular pine wreath but one made of needles.

You may wonder what the difference is? Oh there is one! Mainly time. But lets start from the beginning!

Remember my post about the Pine Needle Star? Ever since than I had the idea in my mind that those needles are meant for more. I knew I wanted to do something with them when they were still green and fresh and looked vibrant. Then I came across this idea on Pinterest. I was thinking about doing that but of course I didn’t get around.

Some things need time. So I thought about it a bit more. And then it hit me – somewhere, sometime. Use the single needles and glue them to a wreath form.

OK, so tutorial this year is pretty simple and all you need is:

♥ wreath form, preferably wrapped green
♥ glue gun
♥ pine needles, I used black pine needles but you could use other that are bit longer
♥ time, lots of time and a bit more time oh and don’t forget patience

1. I started out wrapping my wreath form with a white paper because I lacked fabric.

pine needle wreath | nadel adventskranz

If I could redo it I would use a dark green fabric. As the wreath will be see through at certain places depending on your viewing angle it really doesn’t look too great. I had to glue in more decorations than I originally intended to due to that.

2. Start glueing pine needles in little batches to the form. Layering them so that you cover the entire wreath form.

The smaller your wreath form the shorter your needles should be. Otherwise the wreath looks rather messy.

3. Once you are done you can seal the needles from loosing color with simple hairspray.

simple pine needle wreath | krank aus Tannennadeln

And that is about all you need to do. Unfortunately it does take forever. This advent wreath is by far the most work intense one I have done in the last 15 years. I think I worked a solid 8 hours on it. However I love the look of it and think it was worth all the time. This idea was in my head for so long it just need to be executed.

pine needle advent wreath | krank aus tannen nadeln

Now let me know, would you attempt it or is it just too much effort?

Happy advent prepping,

Tobia

pine needle wreath | nadel advent kranz

linked to MMI | Freutag | Kerstin & ichWeihnachtszauber

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Spicy Chai Cookies – My all Time Favorite

You know how much I love this season by now. And I might have mentioned here and there that I am totally baking crazy.

spicy chai cookies the best

I remember one year where I bought 12 kg of flour and baked it all in one weekend. It was insane. I am not doing that anymore but I am still baking way too much. I mean there are just so many fun recipes out there. But than there are the all time favorites. And the repertoire gets larger with every year…

baking spree
I have this unwritten rule with myself: For every known/proofed/favorite recipe I bake there must be an unknown one. This way it is not getting too boring but at least 50% of the cookies taste good.

One year I made 12 different cookies. So it was a surprise the other day when I realized there is not one Christmas Cookie Recipe on this blog. Time to change that and today I spill my most favorite recipe of recent years.

Spicy Chai Cookies

spicy chai cookies

While I love cookies and sugared goodies this time of year it just sometimes gets too much. And that is when those cookies com in. They change up the cookie jar with it’s spicyness and a bit savory taste.

What you need:
∗ 125 g butter, soft
∗ 75 g sugar – I usually use about 50 g
* 1 pinch of salt
* 1 egg
* 4 bags of Yogi tea / chai tea – I only use the ones based on black tea and found this one to be the best
* 1/2 tsp grounded pepper – sometimes I add more
* 100 g brittle
* 250 g flour
* 1 egg yolk
* 2 tbs milk
* 2 packs of vanilla sugar

Directions:

1. Whisk butter, sugar and salt until smooth. Add the egg.

2. Cut open tea bag and put into a bowl. Add half of the tea, pepper, 50g of brittles and flour to the butter mix. Knead until you have a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and let the dough rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Try not to eat too much dough.

3. Preheat oven to 160-180°C. Roll dough onto floured surface and either cut cookies with knife or use a cookie cutter. Put bookies on baking sheet lined with baking paper.

4. Mix egg yolk and milk and coat cookies. Add remaining brittles and vanilla sugar to the remaining tea and cover cookies. Bake for about 7-10 minutes until golden and crunchy.

spice cookies

This makes for approx. 100 cookies. And they usually don’t last long. Unfortunately! My supply this year is already gone. Maybe I make another batch.

What is your favorite cookie recipe? Please share I always want to try new recipes.

Happy baking

Tobia