Amy Artisan

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Category: Celebrations (page 1 of 6)


Ah, DECEMBER…a month of advent and Christmas celebration…enjoying the glow of the Christmas decorations at home and out and about…in PA, a much warmer month…in GA, a much much soggier month…the end of 2015 (how can the year be over?!?) … in the midst of it all, these are the things that filled my days…

Christmas glow

Christmas glow

Reading…once again, daily Advent passages from Watch for the Light…after the Thanksgiving fiction binge, not too much other reading early in this month…although a few Christmas takes were just right leading up to the 25th…ah, the stack of books from under the tree is being consumed…

The addition of the sheep dog to my nativity scene brings a smile

The addition of the sheep dog to my nativity scene brings a smile

Watching (TV)…the end of this season of Fargo…the return of Luther on BBC America…

Watching (Christmas)…a Charlie Brown Christmas…Love Actually…oh Hallmark Channel, you can easily suck me in with the non-stop Christmas movies (downloading these fun Hallmark Christmas Bingo cards for next Christmas movie season – thanks, Addie!)…assorted family favorites while home (It’s a Wonderful Life, The Christmas Card, Christmas in Connecticut, Mame)…

A festive brew discovery, even better when enjoyed with a friend

A festive brew discovery, even better when enjoyed with a friend

Watching (Sports edition)…while it is a frustrating Packers season, it was great fun to watch the Packers-Lions game and the crazy Hail Mary victory with a good friend who was in town for work…

The perfect wrapping paper for hand knit gifts!

The perfect wrapping paper for hand knit gifts!

Crafting…blocking the gift knits…6 complete gifts…having to re-knit the 7th Christmas gift when something decided to snack on it in the months between it coming off the needles & me blocking everything – this is the first time I’ve ever wrapped a ball of yarn & needles to put under the tree…

"The" Christmas shirt

“The” Christmas shirt

Wearing…my Christmas blouse for the office holiday luncheon…each year it is paired with a different cardigan & always finished off with Grandma’s Christmas tree pin…

The local fire company bringing Santa through the neighborhoods in the township on a Saturday morning

The local fire company bringing Santa through the neighborhoods in the township on a Saturday morning

Listening (Tunes)…all the Christmas tunes, of course…in frequent rotation: The Band of Merrymakers (Welcome to our Christmas Party) and Rend Collective (Campfire Christmas, Vol 1)…the Pink Martini “Joy to the World: A Holiday Spectacular” streaming from NPR…

A tasty smoothie experiment!

A tasty smoothie experiment!

Listening (Podcasts)…the return of Serial looks to be interesting…as this season of Fargo ended, I discovered the “Aw Jeez” podcast on the show from Minnesota Public Radio – I think this might be even better listening to it after the whole season has unfolded and listening to their “blind predictions” about things and knowing what actually happened…

Ran into a reindeer while finishing Christmas shopping on a Saturday

Ran into a reindeer while finishing Christmas shopping on a Saturday

Facetime-ing…opening Christmas gifts with the WI-family – due to schedules, the boys had to endure my box unopened in their house for a week before we connected – who knew an Old Spice gift set could spark so much excitement in a 14 year old?…on Christmas morning, a visit with my Texas girls (all wearing their gift-knit cowls)…

Mushrooms & shallots sauteing for my "famous" mushroom dip

Mushrooms & shallots sauteing for my “famous” mushroom dip

Kitchen-ing…A simple meal of roasted chicken with a rainbow of veggie delivered to a friend recovering from surgery…A big batch of Mushroom Caviar for a holiday gathering with friends (as requested by the host)…Spinach-Artichoke dip for Christmas Eve…a simple smoothie of fresh cranberries + spinach + apple cider was perfect this month…

Christmas coffee in a new mug from our excellent family camp adventure

Christmas coffee in a new mug from our excellent family camp adventure

Sipping…all the peppermint…Candy Cane Coffee to start the days (this is my fave)…decaf Candy Cane Green Tea to end the days…enjoying both options in a mug or over ice…

Traveling…home to the ‘Ville for Christmas – lucky to be home for 12 days with the family…lots of low-key hang out time in the midst of plenty of Christmas fun…

CHRISTMASing…oh so many moments & memories with friends and family in the ‘Ville…

Sharing the Christmas Story in Clarkston

Sharing the Christmas Story in Clarkston

…sharing the Christmas story through carols and treats and a simple Christmas pageant with refugee families in Clarkston with our church…

A fun evening driving around the county looking at Christmas lights...

A fun evening driving around the county looking at Christmas lights…

…the annual drive around the county to look at Christmas lights – a bit of rain didn’t deter us…

Christmas Cookies!

…Christmas cookie baking in waves of our favorites: Swedish jam squares, Casserole Cookies from Grandma H., Thumbprint Cookies with Red Currant Jam from Grandma R., Nut Filled Crescents, Cardamom Cutouts using new cookie cutters I picked up in Switzerland…

Christmas Eve family fun!

Christmas Eve family fun!

…a Christmas Eve that included a beautiful candlelight service a church; favorite appetizers for our family supper; Christmas crackers & paper crowns; the annual watching of It’s a Wonderful Life…

…Dad having to wake me up on Christmas morning for the first time in ages (must’ve been because I was Santa arranging all the gifts under the tree the night before) and a lovely morning around the Christmas tree…

Christmas Day

Christmas Day

…Christmas dinner hosted by friends that are like family…the menu was expansive and we couldn’t even fit all the serving dishes on the dining room table…the 4 cousins were giddy & silly as they attempted to present a Christmas pageant to us…Sheila capturing the annual Christmas Day picture of the Artisan family…

…the 2nd annual gathering of high school friends (& families)…such a fun evening of connecting with them…

Christmas coloring book fun

Christmas coloring book fun

…coloring with Mom & Rebecca…fun Christmas coloring books with so many pictures to choose from…(the entire Artisan family received coloring books under the Christmas tree)

A rousing round of Spite & Malice during Family Game Night!

A rousing round of Spite & Malice during Family Game Night!

…a family game night of Spot-It Holiday Edition and Spite & Malice, our favorite card game…it had been quite a while since we had played Spite & Malice and much laughter ensued…

Looking Ahead… a new year filled with new possibilities…it has been a decade since I started this blog – planning for more activity around here…time to pick a new word for a new year & put it into practice…menu planning for healthier eating…and more

Linking up with Leigh’s monthly “What I’m Into” roundup. What are you into these days?

Ornamental Treasures…Painted Plaster

The Artisan family Christmas tree has always been a scrapbook of memories with the ornaments that adorn the tree. (And truthfully, there isn’t room on the tree for all the ornaments every year…)

Rebecca & I are lucky to have amassed quite the collection of “Artisan Dad” painted ornaments throughout the years. For many years, at the breakfast table on Black Friday we would find our newest ornaments at our placemat.

At home in the ‘Ville, I have a collection of panda pears that Dad painted over a series of years. Here on my tree, I have an eclectic mix of painted plaster from more recent years – filled with sentiment, moments in time, whimsy and most of all…love.

Maggie – A sweet portrait of my sweet kitty, Maggie. This kitty loved the Christmas tree – she loved to sit under the tree & just look up into the lights.

Patriotic Bells – In 2001, a timely choice in the aftermath of 9/11, Dad combined the spirit of Christmas with the patriotic spirit that was so prevalent.

1949 House – In 2002, I moved into my 2nd apartment in Chicago – in a vintage courtyard building that reminded the whole family of scenes in “While You Were Sleeping.” I only stayed in that place for one year but this cute house with that address on it always reminds me of that place.

Ball of Yarn – An appropriate ornament from when I really jumped back into my knitting.

Candy Cane Mouse – A simple and silly mouse that is a reminder to have some whimsy in the celebration.

Vintage Rudolph – While “new,” this cutie looks like it could have been on Dad’s tree when he was a boy. I chuckle when I see it as I recall at least one Christmas where Rudolph left presents under the tree for me & my sister – I remember unwrapping a slip with that gift tag on it.

Christmas Tree – Given our family enjoyment of the Christmas tree, this is a great addition to the collection to celebrate our trees. When we still went with a live tree every year, Dad & I were responsible for loading the tree with lights – our mantra was there was no such thing as too many lights on the tree.

Devers – A cute memorial for Rebecca’s kitty. He was a bit of a rascal & while he never did burrow into a stocking, this is just the sort of thing you could see him doing. He was a kitty that confirmed why the Christmas tree had the length of fishing line looped around the top of the tree & secured to the window frame each year.

Each year, as I look at my Christmas tree I see not just a celebration of the season – I see a celebration of life. Moments…memories…stories from so many chapters of my life. What stories does your tree tell through your ornaments?

After seeing Katie’s annual ornamental treasures writing last year, I decided that this will be a December tradition for me as well.  

Holiday Enjoyment

It’s that most wonderful time of the year…the holiday season that is filled with so much fun, excitement, joy, anticipation…sometimes it seems like busyness and stress can overtake the enjoyments of it all…today’s ten prompt is a good moment to pause: 10 Things I Really Enjoy About the Holidays – so in no particular order…

My favorite nativity

My favorite nativity

The nativity on the mantel – While I have several nativities that I’ve picked up over the years, the white clay scene on my mantel is by far my favorite. I started picking up pieces of it while on assignment in Wisconsin and chuckle that it is from a Georgia artist. Over the course of several years I picked up almost the whole set and last Christmas the WI family had a great “gotcha” of getting me the remaining pieces. As I said to a dear friend just last week, “who knew I’d have to go to Wisconsin to find a bit of Georgia home.”

Christmas lights – On trees (we subscribe to the “you can never have too many” mode)…on houses…simple candlesticks in the windows…big displays…not a huge fan of blinky lights…the glow of the lights in the living room is delightful this month…

Christmas tunes – From fond memories of Bing Crosby and the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas albums playing on my Fisher Price record player when I was laid up in my bedroom during 2nd grade Christmas to the eclectic mix of Christmas tunes in my iTunes these days, now is the time for all the music from kitschy to cherished.

A joyful addition to the tree this year...

A joyful addition to the tree this year…

The season of giving – I think I’m more excited as an adult with the anticipation of dear ones opening gifts than I was a child looking at the presents under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. Throughout the year, I jot notes and pick up things along the way and enjoy capturing personalities in the gifts I give.

Kids for my Kids – Several years ago I began the tradition of donating goats through Samaritan’s Purse in honor of the dear kids in my life. One year, I gave each of my kids a small wooden goat as a reminder for them about being able to help others. Nowadays, #GivingTuesday is when I make sure this order is placed…and I’m lucky that my company matches the gift to make the donations go even further.

Christmas movies –Our family enjoys a wide variety of the classics…Miracle on 34th Street…White Christmas…Christmas in Connecticut…Mame…It’s a Wonderful Life (only on Christmas Eve…and more. Love Actually is one of my favorites. And the Hallmark Channel movies seem to pull me in this time of year.

Simple family traditions – In recent years, some of our family traditions have morphed to match where we are currently. New favorite additions are an appetizer supper on Christmas Eve (complete with Christmas crackers and paper crowns) and Boxing Day becoming a reading day where we all stay in with our stacks of Christmas reads and the leftovers from the appetizer supper.

Christmas morning – We ease into Christmas – Mom is normally the first one up and gets coffee going; Dad & I are next; at some point we “finally” wake up my sister. We open our Christmas stockings and then pause for breakfast – normally scrambled eggs & Mom’s awesome orange rolls. After breakfast, coffee mugs are refilled and the present opening begins in earnest – gifts are handed out one-by-one so it takes us a long time to clear out the tree…even on the years we say we are cutting back…

A spectacular light display in the 'Ville

A spectacular light display in the ‘Ville

Looking at Christmas Lights – It’s not really Christmas until the family has piled in the car to go look at lights. Seating assignments have changed from years and years ago – I’m now the driver as we are in the Edge with coffee for each of us in the cup holders. In the ‘Ville, we have a bit of a meandering loop that takes us by several big displays that are done by neighbors for neighbors.

Peppermint – While I don’t fall down the “pumpkin spice everything” rabbit hole, I do really like peppermint. Candy Cane Coffee and Decaf Candy Cane Green Tea are in heavy rotation.

A Charlie Brown Christmas – In recent years I’ve decided that this is my favorite of the TV Christmas specials. When you get down to it, the reason for all the hustle and bustle and all the enjoyment is that story that Linus so simply tells…

What are the things that you really enjoy about the holidays?


In December…a month wrapped in the holiday glow…early in the month, the hustle & bustle of holiday prep…then finally, the time to just enjoy…and now, it is time to turn the calendar on a month and a year…these are some of the things that filled my December days…
Plenty of books under the Christmas tree!

Plenty of books under the Christmas tree!

  • Reading…new (to me) Advent writings to prepare for Christmas (Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas & Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent) – I think this is the start of a new Advent tradition…a big stack of books was under the Christmas Tree for me – a couple were devoured in quick order & others are currently mid-read & others will fill my 2015 reading…plenty of “fodder” for a mid-January reading recap…
  • Watching (on the big screen)…an Artisan family tradition is a movie at the theater on Christmas Eve – this year, Night at the Museum which was very appropriate this year with the London based storyline…and after Christmas, we thoroughly enjoyed the film adaptation of “Into the Woods”…
  • Watching (on the small screen)…a holiday fave, Love Actually, is more fun this year with my recent London travels…evenings at home in the ‘Ville were filled with Christmas classics: Christmas in Connecticut, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Christmas Card, An American Christmas Carol (from Mom’s 1988 VHS taping of it TV when we lived in KC)…thoroughly enjoyed this year’s Kennedy Center Honors performances…
  • Listening…a bit late to the game, I’ve devoured the “Serial” podcast this month…it’s Christmastime, which means a heavy rotation of my Christmas music collection – which just like my general music collection is rather eclectic
A spectacular light display in the 'Ville

A spectacular light display in the ‘Ville

  • CelebratingChristmas in many different ways! Early in the month, a Sunday morning piano & cello Christmas concert from my girls in TX. Opening Christmas gifts with dear ones via FaceTime! A Sunday evening drive around the county to check out Christmas lights with the family when home in the ‘Ville. A beautiful Candlelight Christmas Eve service to start a lovely evening that also included our family appetizer supper, Christmas crackers and watching “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Christmas dinner hosted by good friends in the ‘Ville. A low key Boxing Day – all of us staying in for the day and reading books from under the Christmas tree – lovely!
A simple progress

A simple scarf…in progress

  • Crafting…finishing up another Simple Things Shawlette, including blocking in just a couple of weeks (a separate post on it in the coming week)…casting on for a Christmas travel project & making great progress during the aforementioned evenings in the ‘Ville…
  • Browsing…some favorite online reads this month: a great compilation of Jane Austen quotes; a great column on never outgrowing the belief in Santa; when Nobel prize winning science & high fashion intersect; the latest installment of “It’s Aaron” focusing on a great charter school in Milwaukee
  • Reconnectinga reunion of sorts with high school friends while home in the ‘Ville for Christmas…thanks to one of the gals posting a band banquet picture for a Throwback Thursday earlier this fall it set in motion a fun evening with friends I hadn’t seen in 20+ years…we all agreed that we need to make this an annual event
  • Cooking…A big batch of Chocolate Chili in the crockpot on a Sunday afternoon…pulled pork in the crockpot on another Sunday afternoon was paired with Sriracha coleslaw for tasty tacos…mushroom caviar to take as an appetizer to 2 holiday parties…my spinach artichoke dip was made for Christmas Eve…trying out a new to me sausage roll recipe to include in our Christmas Eve appetizer supper (it’s a keeper!)…
Warming hot cocoa

Warming hot cocoa

  • Sipping…Candy Cane coffee in the french press…frothing Cinnamon Vanilla milk from Target to enjoy “fancy” coffee at home in the ‘Ville…hot cocoa with frothed coconut milk…
  • Traveling…home to the ‘Ville for a Christmas break! I was home for 11 days (!) – thankful that I could work remotely for a couple of days before Christmas & avoid some of the airport insanity.

Christmas Eve fun

  • Reflecting…on the year that was 2014…so many great adventures…so many learnings…also, I’m pleased to see I was out here on the blog more than I’ve been in recent years – looking to exceed that in the coming year…
  • Looking Ahead….a new year! What will it hold? I look forward to seeing how it unfolds…stay tuned…
Linking up with Leigh Kramer for the monthly “What I’m Into” round-up.
What are you into these days?
What are some of your favorite Christmas experiences?

On Christmas


O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Merry Christmas from the Artisan Family!

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