Oldies but Goodies "Fireworks" - The thirty-first door

Welcome to the last day of the old year 2014, to the last day of this year's advent calendar, and to the last Jewelry Artisans Community's Oldies but Goodies Challenge of this year!

What would have been a better theme than fireworks?
To be honest I like fireworks in jewelry - as in many colors -  a lot better than the real ones. Yup, I have to out myself as some kind of fireworks Grinch. I do like color, but I don't like the smoke that comes with it, and I don't like the noise.
The last few years fireworks in my neighborhood have lasted for what felt like hours. Even my cats who didn't use to mind them, sometimes even watched them from the window sill, are getting nervous now. It makes me feel bad to see them hide under the bed, something which is usually reserved for emergencies like vet visits or pills.

These fireworks of color are lovely and don't make any noise at all.

1 Violetmoon's Corner
2 MC Stoneworks
3 Cat's Wire
4 Galadryl Design
5 The Crafty Chimp

Now I want to wish you a Happy New Year. See you over there in 2015, and fingers crossed it'll be a great year for all of us!


Year end reflections - The thirtieth door

Another year has gone by. People start making resolutions for the new year and reflect about this one.
What experiences did I make? Was it a happy year? Am I glad to see it go? Do I have high hopes for the new one? Out you go, 2014, I hope you are going to do a better job, 2015?

Actually I'm not one of them. I gave up on making resolutions which only frustrate me if they don't work out. I remember being in school and making the resolution that my exercise books would look impeccable from the next year on. I started that year with a big blob of ink and a mistake on the first page. That was when I decided resolutions were just not doing it for me.
I'm an overthinker all year through and tend to be too nostalgic for my own good, so I'm not into reflections on just one day of the year, either. I don't want to see "my year" on Facebook (it would probably be cat and beady pictures) and I don't really want to think about everything that happened because there are some unhappy memories.

So why, you may ask, am I going on about this? It's time for the Jewelry Artisans Community blog carnival, that's why, and now I find I don't really have to say something.

Let me share Picmonkey's resolutions from their blog instead.
My favorite is definitely #1 ;-)

1. Lose Wait
Enough is enough. We’re getting rid of the whole concept of queues, delays, checkpoints, intermissions, pauses, hiatuses, suspensions, and stops.

Let's check out what other JAC members have to say!

Bead Sophisticate
Jewelry Art by Dawn


Zibbet finds of the week "Ice" - The twenty-ninth door

Do you know how to ice skate? I can and I can't. I learned it when I was a child. We had a playground right at the corner which had swings and stuff like that and a court where you could play tennis or roller skate if you didn't mind it being very bumpy. If it was cold enough in winter, they would just get the hose out and spray the court with water to make it into an ice rink.
That's where I learned ice skating. I can't say I was very good at it, I just went round and round, that was pretty much it. Every year I had to re-learn it.
Now let me tell you about the time I was in Garmisch-Partenkirchen with a friend and her family when I was about 10 or 11. We went to the Olympic ice rink there. I had to borrow skates. They were blue plastic and they hurt my ankles like %$§//%. The rink had a cord running through the middle. On the other side tiny girls were practising their pirouettes and tiny jumps while I was struggling to stand on my feet. That ice wasn't bumpy, but it seems I needed my bumps. To cut the story short, in the end I hung on to that cord for dear life and wondered if I would have to stay here forever.
When the groundkeeper/janitor/whatever started yelling at me, I yelled back that I didn't hold on to that cord for fun and that I wanted nothing more than to get out of here. After I finally managed it, I remember pulling those torture skates off my feet and throwing them to the ground.
I can only remember being ice skating twice again after that, once with school when I had no chance to get out of it and once with ... well, that's another embarrassing story, maybe next year.

Now it's time for some ice related items from Zibbet!

Ice/Snow Queen costume by Frock Tarts

Crystal tree pendant by LOC Design Studio
Vintage inspired figure skate tags with holly by Indelible Impressions
Ice blue quartz earrings by Bella & Otis


Quote of the week - The twenty-eighth door

We all know the Ghosts of Christmas from the Charles Dickens story, but Mulder and Scully are visiting different ghosts on Christmas Eve. Mulder heard about a haunted, cursed house in which a young couple had lived many decades ago and made a pact to die together on that day to make sure they would never have to spend a Christmas without each other.
Scully is sceptical as always, but when they meet the couple who tries hard to convince them to make their own pact, she isn't so sure anymore.
In the end things really get tough when Mulder shoots her and she him, but he makes her get out of the house and everything is fine as if nothing happened? Quite a different Christmas!

Scully (coming to Mulder's place): I, uh, I couldn't sleep. I was, um ... *sighs* Can I come in?
Mulder: Yeah. Aren't you supposed to be opening Christmas gifts with your family?
Scully: Mulder ... none of that really happened out there tonight. That was all in our heads, right?
Mulder (unsure): It must have been.
Scully: Not that my only joy in life is proving you wrong.
Mulder: When have you proven me wrong?
Scully: Well, why else would you want me out there with you?
Mulder: You didn't wanna be there? Oh, that's, um ... self-righteous and narcissistic of me to say, isn't it?
Scully: No, I mean ... maybe I did wanna be out there with you.
Mulder: Ah, you know ... I know we said we weren't going to exchange gifts, but, uh ... I got you a little something.
Scully: Mulder ...
Mulder: Merry Christmas.
Scully: I got you a little something, too.
Mulder (chuckling): Oh ...

They sit down to open their gifts and it begins to snow while you hear Bing Crosby sing "And have yourself a merry little Christmas now".

The X-Files, USA/Canada, 1993 - 2002


Stars - The twenty-seventh door

Stars are all around in the Christmas season, even more than usual over the year.
When I think of stars and Christmas, I imagine them in or on top of a tree or outside in a cold winter night.

Wire knit and crochet star with bicone crystals by Cat's Wire

The star I want to talk about today, however, is the cymbal star in the church I went to as a child. Back then I didn't know or even think about what cymbals were. All we saw was the little star way up there on the organ with the little bells, not what was behind it. When we sang "O du fröhliche", a German Christmas carol, the star would begin to rotate, the cymbals would start to play, and the special sound that was so exclusive to Christmas made us feel all warm and mushy inside.
Although I haven't heard it in person for many years, the feeling is still there ...

Prototype star pendant by Jewelry Art by Dawn


Happy holidays - The twenty-sixth door

I already wished you Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah in this advent calendar of mine, but where are the other holidays that are celebrated at this time of the year some of you might ask?
I won't claim to be better than I am, so I'll just admit that I don't know much about them and probably I haven't even ever heard about some of them (not even all of the Christian ones if they are Catholic).
I grew up with Christmas, with the decorations and the carols and the story, and it's what I know best. The tradition of the advent calendar has to do with it and that's why this advent calendar is mostly about Christmas, too.

Today, however, I want to wish Happy Holidays, to all of you.
I'm hesitating to start listing holidays because I don't want to forget anyone. I'm sure there are lists out there which do that much better.
I wish you happy celebrations, wonderful family gatherings, peace, harmony, and I don't care how cheesy it may sound to some. We all need those moments, and I hope you can enjoy them to the fullest. Not all of us on this planet can.


Merry Christmas - The twenty-fifth door

Let's have a little time out today. No traditions and I won't make you learn anything, promise.

I just want to wish everyone who celebrates it a very Messy Kweznuz!! Oh wait, my brain is still in the Blackadder Christmas special ;-)

Merry Christmas and I hope you have a lovely day!


Christmas Eve - The twenty-fourth door

As you might know, in Germany presents are exchanged on Christmas Eve.
When I was a child, we spent most of the day at my Grandma's house waiting for the call telling us to come home. My Grandma would watch TV with us, we would play board games and get more nervous and excited from second to second. Actually the afternoon was filled with a TV program called "Waiting for the Christ Child", it showed Christmas movies and shows for children. I'm not sure it really helped and I still feel sorry for my Grandma who had to put up with us.

Now I'm all grown up of course, well, or maybe grown sideways - I'm sure the Christmas feast won't help with that - and much cooler about that.
My tradition now is to watch two funny Christmas specials about how Christmas Eve is in two families. They are on my German blog if you want to have a look.

What country do you come from and do you have your own Christmas Eve traditions? Why not tell us about it?


Oldies but Goodies "Candy Canes" - The twenty-third door

This week the Oldies but Goodies Challenge at JAC is a day early. I'm sure you won't mind.
The challenge had the topic candy canes. Thinking about that I found that I knew nothing about candy canes. Imagine my surprise when I started looking around and found a story about a German (again!?) choirmaster in the 17th century who asked a candy maker to make some sweet sticks for the children to make them keep silence in church during the service on Christmas Eve.
I also found stories about the symbolism behind the colors - white for Jesus' purity, red for his blood - and the shape - J stands for Jesus or the cane is supposed to remind of a shepherd's cane (which was translated to the cane of a Shepherd dog in one story, much to my childish joy) - and even why peppermint is a common flavor for candy canes.
This time, however, I'll send you to Snopes for more information where we are told that none of these stories are actually proven.

As you can see here at the Jewelry Artisans Community for more pictures, red and white don't seem to be a common color combination, so with some items you only get red or white which does not make them any less pretty!

1 RioRita
2 Cat's Wire
3 Jewelry Art by Dawn
4 The Crafty Chimp
5 Violetmoon's Corner
6 MC Stoneworks
7 Galadryl Design


Zibbet finds of the week "Christmas ornaments" - The twenty-second door

How do you decorate your tree? Do you like natural ornaments, maybe from straw or paper, that you made yourself, popcorn garlands or apples, sweets and nuts like they were found on the earliest Christmas trees?
Do you change the color scheme for your tree every year or do you love to use the old ornaments that you maybe even inherited from your parents or grandparents? Does a broken bauble almost break your heart? Do you like icicles from glass or little glass birds? How about wooden ornaments from the Ore Mountains - little angels, snowflakes, rocking horses or snowmen?
Questions, so many questions!

My own little tree has wire knit "stars" and some of the first wire crochet baubles that I have made. There's not enough space for anything more, maybe I'll be brave and get a bigger tree next year if the cats behave and bead some ornaments. The old baubles broke over the years, so we had to start new traditions in my family. It makes me a little sad because I tend to be very nostalgic about things like that.

I know I had one or the other ornament in another post with a different topic before, but I don't need an excuse to look for even more, so I went to Zibbet to have a look. And I found ornaments that are a little different ...

Glass icicles, set of 5, by Untamed Rose
Christmas tree ornaments in green felt by Fishes Make Wishes
Moose ornament by Bella Luna Crafters Cafe

Needle felted pet ornament by Fibre Heart Wool Studio

Gold and cream beaded ornament by Crafty Girl Jewelry

Now tell me ... what WILL your tree look like this year?


Quote of the week - The twenty-first door

In my family it used to be tradition that the tree was put up on Christmas Eve. I remember there was always some struggling to saw off what was needed to make the tree stand straight, then we would get out the old ornaments.
I know that not everyone has a Christmas tree, though ...

Penny: Hey Sheldon, are you and Leonard putting up a Christmas tree?
Sheldon: No, because we don't celebrate the ancient Pagan festival of Saturnalia.
Penny (confused): Saturnalia?
Howard: Gather round, kids! It's time for Sheldon's beloved Christmas special.
Sheldon: In the pre-Christian era, as the winter solstice approached and the plants died, pagans brought evergreen boughs into their homes as an act of sympathetic magic intended to guard the life essences of the plants until spring. This custom was later appropriated by Northern Europeans and, eventually, it becomes the so-called Christmas tree.
Howard: And that, Charlie Brown, is what boredom is all about.

The Big Bang Theory, USA, 2007 -


The Schwibbogen - The twentieth door

Schwibbogen or Lichterbogen is the German word for candle arches.
The first candle arch was made in the 18th century - I found different years and can't say which is the right one - by a blacksmith named Johann Teller. Teller worked in the Ore Mountains making equipment and hardware for the mines. 
The candle arch was inspired by the pit hole entry and made for the "Mettenschicht" which is an old miners' tradition, the last shift before Christmas which ended early with a meal and a celebration.

Early candle arches were made from wrought iron, but wood became more and more popular from the beginning of the 20th century.
Over the years designs changed as well. One of the most famous designs was created by Paula Jordan in 1937, it showed the main sources of income for the people living in the Ore Mountains and traditional symbols.
Nowadays you'll find anything from the traditional design to cities or forest scenes and you'll find all sizes, too!
You can also find patterns to make your own candle arches.

A friend of mine was so nice to allow me to post a few pictures of candle arches that her husband and his father made.

This is my favorite made by my friend's husband. Isn't it beautiful?

Made by my friend's father-in-law after the Paula Jordan design. As you can see, there are miners, a bobbin lace maker, and a wood carver.

A 3D candle arch with indirect lighting between the two layers of wood, made by my friend's husband.


Christmas stockings - The nineteenth door

The Christmas stocking ... to be honest I never wondered before where, when or why this tradition had started. Only when I prepared the post for Saint Nicholas Day and thought of the shoes the children put in front of the door for Saint Nick to fill them, I suddenly saw the possible connection and set out to find out more.
Indeed the legend that Saint Nicholas who had just inherited something secretly dropped three lumps of gold in a poor man's house seems to be the source for both traditions.
The legend's details change a little depending on where you find it. St. Nick threw the gold through the window, he gave gold coins, he went through the chimney himself to drop the gold into the stockings or threw the gold through the chimney and it landed in the stockings hung up there for drying. The result was always the same, the man's three daughters had enough gold to get married.

Stockings have been a part of Christmas for centuries although there was a time they had to fight for its place with the Christmas tree.
Nowadays there is no fight between the stocking and the tree, they both have their place in the Christmas traditions in some countries.
Stockings come in all sizes, patterns and colors. For some historical pictures have a look at this article in the Smithsonian Mag.

Do you have your own Christmas stocking tradition? Maybe you still remember your first stocking? Tell us about it!


O Christmas tree - The eighteenth door

Last year I was brave and spontaneously bought myself a little artificial Christmas tree. Although my furry brats are no youngsters anymore, they still know how to take down one or the other thing, especially Ponder in one of his lonely races when he has his five crazy minutes.
It actually went fine. The tree didn't fall and only two ornaments mysteriously left their spots for a short while. The nice thing about my wire knit stars, however, is that you can bend them back. It's a little sad for me that I can't use tinsel, but I guess I can't have everything.

While we are singing "O Christmas tree" ... where does the Christmas tree come from?
Now that is actually a tradition that I knew to be originally German. It was not unusual in different cultures to bring evergreen into the houses, but the first written record of a Christmas tree that still exists is from 1527 although it's possible that there was an earlier one which can't be proven anymore, though.
Since the 1750s the Christmas tree was mentioned more and more often. In the 19th century the custom had spread to Austria, then New England, England, France, Italy, The Netherlands, and Russia.
At first trees were decorated with sweets, apples and nuts some of which were painted in silver and gold. The legend goes that a glassmaker in Lauscha, a town which is still known for its glass art and Christmas ornaments, couldn't afford apples and nuts for his tree and made them from glass instead. True or not, the first written record of glass ornaments is in an order book from 1848.

Nowadays many of us can't imagine Christmas without a tree, may it be big or small, real or artificial. After all Linus van Pelt taught us that even the saddest little tree just needs a bit of love ... ;-)
"I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It's not bad at all, really."


Oldies but goodies "Jewelry and ornaments" - The seventeenth door

This week's JAC Oldies but Goodies Challenge was about ornaments. Yes, we still are a jewelry forum, but have you ever noticed how pretty some jewelry would look in a tree?
So the challenge was to find something that looks good worn and in a tree. You can find the whole thread here, maybe it will surprise you how different the choices are.

As always here's a little sneak peek.

1 Violetmoon's Corner
2 MC Stoneworks
3 Jewelry Art by Dawn
4 The Crafty Chimp
5 Cat's Wire


Happy Hanukkah - The sixteenth door

Today we are going to take a day off from Christmas. Instead I want to wish my Jewish friends a Happy Hanukkah.

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, starts on the Hebrew calendar date of 25 Kislev and lasts for eight days. This year that is the sunset 16th of December until nightfall 24 of December.
It commemorates the rebellion of the Maccabees against the empire of Antiochus IV. When the Maccabees reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from their oppressors, a miracle occurred. Although the fighters found only enough oil to light the lantern in the temple for one day, the oil lasted for eight days.

There are five traditions on Hanukkah.
There is the lighting of the menorah, a candelabra with nine candles. On the first day one candle is lit, two on the second day and so on. One of the nine candles, the shamash, is set higher or lower than the others and is used to light the other candles.
Hanukkah has its own special songs to be sung with the family.
Traditional food during the festival is oily honoring the miracle in the temple, like latkes (potato pancakes) and  sufganyot (round jelly doughnuts).
It is customary to play with dreidels or spinning tops. Each side of the dreidel is imprinted with a Hebrew letter.
There is also the custom of giving Hanukkah gelt which is either real or chocolate coins.

I don't want you to get this wrong, I don't know much about Hanukkah and had to do some research, then again I didn't know much about other topics in this advent calendar, either. If I wrote something incorrect, please forgive me and let me know. I am also aware that this post just scratches the surface.


Zibbet finds of the week "Snow" - The fifteenth door

Even for me who likes to claim she's got a severe snow trauma from childhood it has something calming to look at snow ... if I can sit inside with a cat on my lap and a mug of something hot in my hand.
For me snow is usually only acceptable for Christmas.

So instead of heading out to make a snowman I went to Zibbet to get my snow fix there with these beautiful items.

Fine art giclee print "Snow Girl" by Moxy Fox Designs

Little Snow Queen print by Beneath Northern Skies

Christmas ornament snowman by We Have Wreaths

Holiday Snowman Decoration by Primgals Primitive Palette

Sparkle Victorian quilled snowflake ornament by Joan's Crafts


Quote of the week - The fourteenth door

Do you remember being a kid and wanting something for Christmas really, really badly. You imagined what it would be like to hold it in your hand, to play with it or to read it or watch it or do whatever you could do with it. You were practically almost there. You had uttered your wish and to doubt that it would be fulfilled would have been jinxing it.

Ralphie, our hero, does want something. He has daydreams about it and he even works out a clever plan how to draw attention to his wish to make sure his dreams come true.

Ralphie as Adult (narrator): Meanwhile I struggled for exactly the right BB gun hint. It had to be firm, but subtle.
Ralphie: Flick says he saw some grizzly bears near Pulaski's candy store.
Everyone is staring at him.
Ralphie as Adult: They looked at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears. I could tell I was in imminent danger of overplaying my hand. Casually I switched tactics.

Will it work? Will Ralphie hold a BB gun in his hands on Christmas Day? Find out for yourself.

A Christmas Story, USA/Canada, 1983


Santa Baby - The thirteenth door

I have always been a fan of Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby" although I can't quite agree with everything on her list ....

.... but I never knew that she recorded a followup the next year in which she sings about the stuff she got the year before! Did you? Have fun!


Twelve days of Christmas - The eleventh door

The Twelve Days of Christmas is the festive Christian season, beginning on Christmas Day (25 December) that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, as the Son of God. This period is also known as Christmastide.
The traditions of the Twelve Days of Christmas have been largely forgotten in the United States.
That's what Wikipedia tells me. Here's a link with more information.

When I hear "Twelve Days of Christmas", I am thinking of the popular song, and when I am thinking of the popular song, I am thinking of one of my favorite Disney Christmas stories ever.
I have always been a big fan of the old Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck Christmas stories. One year - in 1988 to be precise - my little brother had a special gift for me. He cut out Christmas stories from my Mickey Mouse magazines and put them in a folder. While part of me is still cringing thinking of it, the other part is happy each year to pull that folder out for Christmas. It's one of my very personal traditions. The story I referred to above, however, is not in that folder.
That means you'll have to excuse me for a few hours while I'll be going through my (not so small) collection of Donald Duck comics.

Here's something for you to watch until I'm back.

I'm back!
Okay, so here's how the story goes.
After a refreshing bath in his money to prepare him for the horrors of buying Christmas gifts Scrooge McDuck makes his list ... a golf ball for Donald, one marble each for Huey, Dewey, and Louie, a bobby pin for Daisy and a snap button for his sister.
Being aware of Scrooge's stinginess Donald has a plan. He gets a hypnotizer and puts in a picture of himself. Unfortunately the nephews accidentally exchange that picture for the picture of the dog that bit Donald at the dog show and that happens to be the dog of Scrooge's neighbor. So when Donald hypnotizes Scrooge, he convinces him to give generously not to himself, but the dog.
Scrooge decides that such a noble creature deserves a special gift, and when he happens to come across the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" on a Christmas card, he is determined.
Donald watches Scrooge's preparations and is shocked thinking that he will be gifted 12 drummers drumming, 11 pipers piping, 10 lords-a-leaping, 9 ladies dancing, 8 maids-a-milking, 7 swans-a-swimming, 6 geese-a-laying, 5 gold rings, 4 calling birds, 3 French hens, 2 turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree. Lots of mouths to feed, that!
To minimize the list of hungry mouths he makes his nephews dress up as the 3 French hens while he takes over the role of the partridge. When he tries to sabotage the parade, he gets tied up to his tree.

Imagine his shock when the whole parade doesn't go his house, but that of Scrooge's neighbor who is so happy about the joy her dog is having that she signs over ten oil wells to Scrooge!

Donald himself hardly escapes the pan while Scrooge comes back to his senses and tries to figure out what happened. When he can't work it out, he goes back to his list ... one golf ball for Donald, one marble each for Huey, Dewey, and Louie ......


Oldies but Goodies "Christmas green" - The tenth door

Today I want to talk about Christmas colors. If I asked you to list typical Christmas colors, you would probably say red, green, white, silver, and gold.
Each year there are new trends. For 2014 I found everything from "exciting and bold" in purple, pink, turquoise, red, and emerald green to "tranquil" like in a white tree decorated with pastel colors.
It's funny. My tree used to be silver and blue for a long time, just because I liked the color combination, had someone asked me for Christmas colors, though, I would have said red and green, no doubt.
It seems trends can't really take that out of our heads, but why?

Evergreen has always been important for people in winter. They used it to decorate their houses to brighten them up and to remind them there would be new green in spring. That's why we connect a dark green with Christmas instead of an apple green, for example.

Red stands for Jesus' blood in first place. In medieval times there were plays on Christmas telling the story of Adam and Eve. Pine trees were put up and decorated with red apples. Holly berries are bright red. Bishops wore red.

White is often associated with innocence, peace, and purity, but also with winter and snow.

Gold was one of the gifts the Three Wise Men brought to Jesus when he was born, and a golden star guided them there.

Silver seems even brighter than gold, but doesn't feel that warm as a color. I would guess the reason for it to be a Christmas color is that it is often used with or instead of gold.

Today however is about the darker Christmas green as that was the topic for our JAC Oldies but Goodies Challenge that you can find here. The items didn't necessarily have to be "christmassy"  in their design and of course there are different kinds of green, too.

 1 MC Stoneworks
2 Violetmoon's Corner
3 RioRita
4 Cat's Wire
5 Jewelry Art by Dawn
6 The Crafty Chimp