Season’s Greetings

xmas-card-4I was debating with myself whether it would make sense to send Christmas cards out this year so soon after sending Alexander’s birth announcements, but since it is his first Christmas, I didn’t want to miss the chance for marking this tiny milestone. I decided on designing them myself, like the announcements, and again printed them through VistaPrint. His adorable little gnome hat is from Hanna Andersson. And while “Peace on Earth” is a pretty general Christmas card greeting, it’s especially referential to the [ICONIC] Bing Crosby – David Bowie duet “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth”, a favorite of mine since I was a kid.xmas-card-6EH? So good. And, I feel like this is a really strong message right now, in light of recent political events. xmas-card-5The family photo was the tricky part though. We had the tiniest window for everything to go smoothly, as the cat was in her reindeer antlers, which she hates, and Alex had just woken up from a nap and had *not* had a clean diaper put on. Whoops. Plus I was controlling the camera from my phone! It was uber stress. So, I scrapped the original card design I had planned and stuck our photo on the back. xmascard-1xmascard-2

Christmas Wrapping

WRAPPING-2I am the (or a) middle child in my family (of 4 siblings). My older sister, who is in the middle with me, is quite traditional in many ways. But I have made it my life’s mission to stand out as much as possible in my family. Not out of spite, probably, but just like, because I want everyone to think I’m weird.

This is especially true at Christmas. Long ago I stopped buying regular Christmas wrapping paper in favor for making my own (like one year I made a lino cut and stamped kraft paper). Other years I’ve done plain white, or black with white crosses. This year I have ALL these Stendig calendar pages. They’ve been sitting in my closet, some for a whole year, waiting to be used. What better way to leave my mark on this Christmas by crowding the tree with a display of black and white typography? WRAPPING-3I also hate wrapping presents, it should be noted. The least amount of effort I can put in is preferable. Of course a festive red bow would be very complementary but ehhhh, too lazy. WRAPPING-4My office scissors are from IKEA, of all places. WRAPPING-1The problem with these pages is that it’s much thicker than regular wrapping paper, and I don’t like using regular tape; I use washi duct tape. Anyway, the presents don’t like to stay super wrapped.

Alan isn’t anal about how his presents are wrapped, so, bless him, he has to buy his own paper at the store, which I think is really sweet and adorable (since he didn’t really grow up celebrating Christmas. He does this all for me. Awwwww).

BTW, if you’re looking for one of these calendars, they are way sold out. I tried to warn you. Better luck next year.

Holidaze

Hello, how was your holiday weekend? Mine was all over the place. I ran a 5k on Thanksgiving morning! And then Alan and I drank bloody marys and went to my parents’ house for food and family time. A record 40 family members were in attendance; the 60th year of Royce Thanksgiving. And all the tiny ones were out in full force because my siblings and cousins have been procreating like rabbits.TG-WEEKEND-1So many tinies! TG-WEEKEND-2TG-WEEKEND-3TG-WEEKEND-4TG-WEEKEND-5It was a rare gloomy Thanksgiving, and our annual walk wasn’t the usual crowded affair. Just me, Alan and my dad. It was about 4 o clock, and everything was very moody and atmospheric. Really got me in the mood for impending Christmas.

TG-WEEKEND-7I joined my parents and sister on their annual trip to cut down their Christmas tree. This used to be my tradition as well, and I don’t think I’d been along for like 7 years. TG-WEEKEND-9(note – I don’t know these people)TG-WEEKEND-12TG-WEEKEND-13TG-WEEKEND-16

And then of course there was my own Christmas decorating which was in FULL FORCE. I cranked the tunes, got out the pine candles and decked the muthafuckin’ halls.TG-WEEKEND-17TG-WEEKEND-19TG-WEEKEND-20TG-WEEKEND-21TG-WEEKEND-22TG-WEEKEND-24Even hit the ground running by baking a batch of sugar cookies. This time of year always feels so fleeting and in past years I don’t feel like I got into the season as much as I could… So I’m packing it all in. TG-WEEKEND-18This season also turns me temporarily lutheran again and I lit a candle for the first Sunday of Advent. Gosh, Lutheranism has the best and coziest of holiday traditions. Played summa dat Old World Christmas a lot too.

The Frozen Shore

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(Ahem)
When driving back down from Lutsen on Sunday, we stopped off at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. One thing we both agreed on after spending time on the North Coast (as I’m now calling it) that we want to get up there as much as possible in the future. I like the secluded state park in winter. It’s really quiet, except for the sounds of nature.
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Walking through these birches was surreal and weird because it was so quiet and open and bright. Like walking through a nuclear holocaust site.
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We eventually made our way up to the Lighthouse, and by then the sun had disappeared and the quiet structural environment (and *barb-wire fence*) made the whole compound feel like Shutter Island.
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The only photo I got of myself on this trip. Besides this one:
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Well, we tried!
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Standing on the rocky shore sure did remind me a lot of our time in Hawaii, albeit in a totally different climate 6 months later. I like the idea of those sort of being bookends on our marriage so far.  I’ve spent a lot of time with old rocks this year. (Can’t wait to do that round up on the blog. )

Standing on the rocky shore also reminded me of the time Alan and I went to Big Bay State Park on Madeleine Island when we were first dating. We sure have come a long way. Lake Superior has been a kind of totem in our relationship. Let’s not forget that cruise back in September, shall we? We’ve been on this lake in three states. Next up: Canada.

A Winter’s Tale

CRW_7455 CRW_7463About a month ago, we were tossing around ideas of a fun thing we could do while using up the last of our PTO, when Alan suggested we go to Lutsen. I’ve been talking about going to Lutsen for about two years!  I used to go with my church group every March from 2000-2006, and that was the last time I’d skied. Alan hadn’t skied in — to quote him — 25 years (so, almost as long as I’ve been alive). I was unaware that this is apparently not very high season for skiing. We got a great deal on hotel and ski passes, and beautiful weather, and hardly anybody was there the two days we skied. Annual trip? Uh, yes please.
In anticipation of the trip I did some research and bought myself this little backpack.  Friday was beautiful conditions but I didn’t want to deal with the bag so I left it until yesterday. It’s mostly inconvenient to have it, only because I have to stick my poles in the ground at the lift, swing the  bag around, get the poles back on, reverse the procedure on top, and etc… Plus if I *wanted* to take photos on the hills, I would’ve had to stop, stick my poles in the ground, again, get the camera out, blah blah… Suffice to say I did not take many photos on the slopes. I mean, I was there to ski (and I was happy to discover that skiing was a lot like riding a bike in that I picked it right back up after an almost 9 year lull). Luckily Lutsen is huge and while Alan was still a beginner, we still took the gondola over to the other mountain for lunch and views. A nice 10 minute ride in a sky car.
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My last run of the evening, I was riding up Eagle Mountain and the sunset was casting insane dramatic light on the mountain. Uhh, you know the opening scene in The Two Towers? It looked (EXACTLY) like that. If I felt at all confident to get out the camera during that ride up, I’d have some spectacular photographs. The shadows were *blue*. As luck would have it, I discovered a little lookout deck atop the mountain.
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Come on, isn’t that amazing? (Also, how  sketchy are those chairs?)
This was on my last run so I had to make it count, and I broke my rule about stopping to take photos. I was on a steep hill, that shit is scary. Especially when it’s getting dark.
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By the way, if you need an epic soundtrack for your picturesque ski journey in the mountains (well, “mountains”), obviously I recommend this.
I was hoping to have a wider angle lens for this trip (I bought one, but it was the wrong mount). I think I did ok with 28mm but 18mm would’ve been extra sweet.
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Our little hotel was right there on the mountain.  I remember riding the chairlift *over* this resort when I was younger with my dad and we could smell the hot tub wafting and we were sooo jealous. It was a great experience. An annual trip for sure.
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