Amy Artisan

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Category: Celebrations (page 3 of 6)

On Holidays & Home

As 2010 comes to an end, I look back and see that most of the year was spent away from home. My Christmas photo card shows that while I may not have been home that much I enjoyed many “home” moments during the year.

While up north this month, I managed to do a lot of Christmas prep work. Many evenings in the hotel were filled with simple gift knitting for some dear kids in my life. One evening I made the paper chain from holiday papers and “O Holy Night” lyrics to loop on the mantel. On one Friday afternoon trek home, I stopped at exit 107 to once again pick up a beautiful wreath from a Boy Scout stand to provide fresh greens for the house. The UPS Store up there was very handy for getting packages mailed. Holiday décor and Christmas gifts were found at some of the local stores.

For the 2nd year in a row, I didn’t put up a Christmas tree at home because of my WI work assignment. Needless to say, I definitely look forward to having a tree at my home next Christmas! The mantel and fireplace glow with white lights as a back drop for the fresh wreath, the paper chain and nativities. My collection of nativities is on the mantel including the newest addition that I picked up in Door County in August. The top of the entertainment center is a forest of Christmas trees. In the dining room, my Charlie Brown Christmas tree. The Sunday before Christmas I hosted my 5th annual Holiday Tea for several girlfriends – over plates of tea treats & cups of holiday tea we all escaped the hustle and bustle of the holiday prep to celebrate friendship. The Monday before Christmas I finished up my Christmas cards while enjoying the glow of the decorations in my living room  – it has been a couple years since I had the cards done before Christmas. This afternoon I hosted a friend for lunch and knitting in the midst of the holiday light glow. Tomorrow, the decorations will come down as I watch the Rose Parade.

I’m thankful that the flights to and from Georgia were non events – the highlight of the travel was on my flight down to ATL…the frequent flier in seat 1C gave up his seat for an Army Captain in a middle seat in the back of the plane. At home in the ‘Ville, I think we had the most perfect Christmas tree ever – it took us till Christmas Eve morning to finish decorating it; however, even just with the lights on it was gorgeous to gaze at. On Christmas Eve we enjoyed our family tradition of a movie in the afternoon and “It’s a Wonderful Life” in the evening. On Christmas morning, holiday coffee and Mom’s orange rolls provided sustenance for tackling the mound of presents. Rebecca once again hosted the family for a lovely Christmas dinner – at the end of the evening we looked out to see the car covered in snow & big, fluffy snowflakes falling – it was the first White Christmas in Atlanta in more than 130 years. Other decorations of the time at home included catching up with high school friends – including some that I haven’t seen since graduation – it is nice to be better connected with these friends once again.

Looking back on the month that was, once again I’m reminded that holiday and home can be found in the simplest things – traditions and new things equally contribute to the happiness. As I look ahead to the new year, I look forward to more moments of holiday and home – both near and far.

The Reason We Celebrate…

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

La Purisima Nativity

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.


And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”


Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”


So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.


(Luke 2:1-20, NIV)

Merry Christmas to you & your family from Amy & the Artisan family!




It is now the moment when by common consent
we pause to become conscious of our national life and to rejoice in it,
to recall what our country has done for each of us,
and to ask ourselves what we can do for our country in return.

– Memorial Day speech, May 30, 1884  – Oliver Wendell Holmes







An Artisan Family Christmas

The Artisan family has always said that our holidays aren’t about tradition – they are about being together. Over the years, we have developed some traditions; however, we also know that the holiday will “go on” if we don’t do the traditions. Christmas 2008 was a real test of our holiday approach…looking back now, I think we all would agree that we succeeded.

A week before Christmas, Grandma was admitted to the hospital for unknown reasons – it was obvious that she was in general decline. After a couple of days she stabilized and we learned that she would be discharged to nursing home care – once a bed became available. Needless to say, it was tough being up here in Chicago away from everyone as this was all unfolding – I was counting the days until I would be flying home for the holidays. I made a last minute decision to fly out on 12/23 instead of on 12/24 as originally planned. On the 23rd I awoke to a snow storm here in Chicago – before I even left for the airport my flight was already delayed an hour. I didn’t care what the delay was – as long as I was able to get home! One hour turned to 2…3…4…but finally the flight was in the air.

Christmas Eve was filled with last minute shopping (groceries), visiting with Grandma and the final preparations for Christmas. Mid afternoon, while sitting with Mom for a bit at the hospital, I taught her how to knit (more on that in another post!). For dinner, I pulled together “a taste of Ikea” comfort meal – with a packet of the Ikea gravy mix, a bag of frozen meatballs and a pan of roasted potatoes & onions we quickly had a delicious dinner. Our Christmas Eve evening tradition is to watch It’s a Wonderful Life – this year, we were in the mood for Christmas in Connecticut instead.

When we awoke on Christmas morning, Mom made her delicious orange rolls for breakfast & as we enjoyed peppermint coffee we opened about half of our presents in the morning. Mom & Rebecca then went to the hospital to see Grandma. One of Rebecca’s friends brought us a delicious spread for our Christmas dinner in the early afternoon. Afterwards, we finished opening our gifts. After our traditional Christmas afternoon of napping & diving into the new books, Mom & I went up to the hospital for a bit – we took a plate of Christmas dinner for Grandma.

The day after Christmas, we received notice that a bed was available for Grandma at the nursing home – by dinner time she had been transferred. We were all relieved to have Grandma out of the hospital. On Monday afternoon she was transferred to the memory care unit – something that we all agreed was needed. The rest of the holiday time was spent visiting with Grandma, watching movies, reading new books, simple meals and just being together.

Rebecca got a new kitten, Maylene Noel, the weekend before Christmas who was more than happy to provide us with extra love & cuteness whenever we needed it. Because she was recovering from her “fix” surgery, she was just a lap kitty – although she was ready to get on the floor & explore.

Underneath the Christmas tree, there were many handknits. After months of keeping quiet about some of my knitting it was fun to finally share the projects with them!

For Rebecca, a Sunday Market Shawl in Dream in Color Butter Peeps. For Dad, a Hurricane Hat in Creatively Dyed Yarns Woodbrook. For Mom, a Christmas Lace Scarf in Brooks Farm Yarn  Four Play. I actually gave Mom her scarf when she was here in October – it was a cold weekend & it provided her with just the extra warmth she needed.On Christmas morning I placed a Mitered Hanging Towel on the oven door handle for Mom – I was thrilled with the JOY button that I found for it.

One of these days, I will knit socks for everyone in the Artisan Family – this was not the year for it. However, I was still able give everyone hand knit socks. This fall I discovered Fernwood Woolworks – Lynette uses her antique knitting machine to knit socks to your size specifications using the yarn that you send. So, I dove into my stash & found yarns for each of us. These socks are great – they fit us all perfectly!

Not all of the yarn under the Christmas tree had been knit by me. The Peruvian yarn feast continued with 2 more presents from Rebecca. I’m amazed that she was able to bring anything else home in her bag. In my stocking – a small skein of alpaca in 2 natural alpaca colors. Under the tree – a cone of beautiful forest green alpaca. Hmm…maybe a colorwork project?

All too soon, it was time for me to repack my suitcase & fly back to Chicago. While none of us could have predicted that this was how our Christmas would be this year, we all agreed that it still was a memorable one because of the the time we had together just “being a family.”

As this new year starts, so too starts my 4th year of blogging here at Amy Artisan – I’ll save my “year in review/looking ahead musings” for another post.

Celebration Weekend

While Artisan Dad isn’t a July 4th Birthday, his early July birthday means that our July 4th celebrations quickly morph into birthday celebrations. This year was no different – ok, it may have been a bit different because this year Artisan Dad’s birthday was even bigger…but I get ahead of myself.

I flew home to the Ville early on the 4th – the plane was very empty – so having the row to myself meant plenty of sock knitting progress. By about 10:30 AM we were leaving the airport. “On the way” back home we stopped at a ‘new to us’ organic farm in the Ville, Two Doves Farm. (Mom has joked about being jealous of my weekly farmer’s market excursions so I searched out an option for her.) We quickly filled a bag with all sorts of delicious produce that was worked into meals throughout the weekend (Big tomatoes, the cutest cherry tomatoes, beets, garlic, potatoes, blackberries – yum!).

Mom & Dad needed to get a new grill for the deck – so Dad & I picked one up before lunchtime on Friday. I was then in charge of the grill menus throughout the weekend. So to break in the grill for our July 4th dinner, I turned to a favorite CA cut of meat (the tri tip) & grilled veggies.


MondayDad’s Birthday…This year it was a “big” birthday and also marked another event – Dad was retiring after 27 1/2 years with his company (& 13 years in the Air Force). Since Dad was there to take pictures as Rebecca & I left for kindergarten all those years ago, it was only appropriate that I got up to see him off to his last day of work (& snap a picture).

The end of a routine…every morning Mom stands on the garage steps as Dad leaves…
they blow each other a kiss & flash the “I Love You” sign.
I’m glad that I captured this image of his last day!

After a few hours, Dad had turned in all his paperwork, his security badge & parking permit and was back home. Because of the security at the building, he now couldn’t go back to work if he tried. 🙂 The rest of Dad’s birthday was family time – a bit of outlet shopping, another grilled meal. The evening ended with Dad’s favorite chocolate cake.


As is always the case when I’m home in the Ville, it was quickly time to return to Chicago Tuesday afternoon. In addition to celebrating Dad, the weekend was filled with lots of other fun – dinner with a college roommate (I hadn’t seen Kelly since I was finishing up my Chattanooga assignment – umm, Oct. 2006); shopping; lots of knitting (to be shared in future posts) & just hanging out with the family.

What’s next for Dad? In short, anything & everything he wants to do. Dad has always enjoyed gardening – I think he’ll be spending more time with his hands in the dirt. As I’ve mentioned before, he is very artistic – maybe more art projects are on the horizon. He’s always had a way with words – so I’ve set up a blog for him to get writing in a new medium (hint…hint!). He & Mom will hopefully be taking more day trips and road trips.

Initially it may feel more like vacation that Dad isn’t going to work every day. He has definitely earned the right to enjoy this time. Even though I don’t live as close to the folks anymore, my routine has already changed because of his retirement – I will no longer be sending an email to the “Dad – work” email address everyday or dialing “Dad-work” on my cell phone for my early morning commutes.

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C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S   D A D ! ! !
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