I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves tea time, tip-toeing through gardens, mounds of books, swaying to records, watercolors, sunset walks with our three yorkies, and star-gazing with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just us two (five with Rusty, Lucy, & Ethel) - I hope it brings you happiness as you snuggle in with something warm and delicious and begin reading. Enjoy, friends!

the blog!

If I had to choose:

While the Merry Bells Keep Ringing…

May your every wish come true! Happy Holiday!

Hello, sweet friend! Just a mere three days until Christmas — can you believe it? I’ve still got a bit of last-minute grocery shopping to do and then I think I’m all set. How about you? How are you doing with the rush of the season upon us?

My last post was just before Thanksgiving, so today’s will be full of lots of December magic. Do you have yourself a mug of hot cider? Mulled wine perhaps? Tea?

Let’s begin, shall we?

If you remember, there were going to be several stores selling my 2020 calendar. One of those wonderful stores was so taken with my calendar that they invited me to be a vendor at their holiday open house at the beginning of December. Friends, to say I was honored would be an understatement. Just as I couldn’t believe people would want me to photograph their weddings all those years ago, I couldn’t believe people saw me as an actual artist. Because, the best part about asking me to be a vendor was that they wanted me to sign my calendars as people purchased them! When it comes to dreams coming true, I’d say that was pretty much it.

So, on December 5th (Walt Disney’s birthday, of course) at 4:45pm, I arrived at Hummingbird Floral and Gifts in Shoreview, alone and incredibly anxious with my bag full of calendars and no idea what to expect.

Oh my goodness, friends, everyone was so welcoming. They made me feel so special. While I waited for my designated area to be put together, I chatted with customers, workers, and a couple of incredibly friendly reps from other vendors. Everyone seemed so happy about my calendar — I’m telling you, if it were possible to walk on clouds I would have been. It was all like a dream.

While sitting at my little setup, I recognized many faces as family members (including darling nephews), friends, and darling Paul came to visit and support me. I made new kindred spirit friends with random customers eager to hear what my calendar was all about. (One of my nephews asked what I was doing there, I explained, and he replied, “Oh, so you’re making friends!” :)) I listened to the Christmas carols playing over the speakers, tasted fudge samples, shopped a little, tried to take everything in, and eventually left with my bag quite a bit lighter. It was better than I could have imagined. (I left them with extra calendars in case anyone wants to stop there and purchase one.)

And then the following week, an adorable boy and myself got all dressed up and criss-crossed streets downtown to the Guthrie Theater for A Christmas Carol play. Have you seen it, friend? I won’t give details in case you haven’t, but wow. As soon as it started, Paul and I looked at each other and just said, “Wow.” The play itself, no matter where you see it, is always heart-warming. This production took it to another level. I would happily go see it every year and would probably still leave feeling like a kid at Christmas again and again.

As some of you may remember, we moved to the Cities a little over two years ago, after living in what I consider the “country” for over five years. Paul and I were both raised in St. Paul and rarely ventured to Minneapolis. Where we were from, you didn’t cross over to the “other city.” It just wasn’t done a whole lot. Now that we’re within walking distance to the “other city’, we’re trying to remember to take advantage of everything it has to offer. We know we won’t live here forever, we’re country mice at heart, so until we don’t, we’re trying to make the most of it.

In all my years as a Minnesotan, I never visited the annual Holidazzle festival. I heard how great it was, how the display at Macy’s was always a sight to see before or after the Holidazzle parade, and so much more. But, I never went. Neither had Paul. Then yesterday afternoon, when both of us had just drifted off to sleep, a head at each end of the couch, I awoke just in time to get us out the door for the last Saturday of the big event. The weather was 40 degrees, the fireworks hadn’t yet gone off — we needed to finally see what all the hype was about. So, we dressed in layers (which that in itself was fun, like dressing to go sledding as a kid), managed to get our shoes over our multiple socks, and headed out in the chaos of traffic.

Call me incredibly naïve, but when we walked on the path to get into Loring Park, I was just in awe at everything I saw. Bonfires in winter! Kids running around on the icy lake! The smell of cider and mulled wine! A hundred or so people in winter outfits skating under the lights! Twinkle lights hanging in every tree! These were all Christmas scenes we see in the movies and hear about in all the songs, and here they were right in our own backyard. Again, perhaps it’s my naïveté , but I just have never actually seen people, perfect strangers, gathered around a bonfire drinking hot drinks, bundled in their Nordic hats and mittens, all chatting and laughing while Christmas music played. I even saw Santa Claus holding an infant. Does it get much more Christmasy than that? I’m not sure.

I felt as if I was a tourist in my own state, enchanted by all the classic Christmasy winter scenes going on right before my eyes. We walked through the crowds with our mulled wine, watched people try not to fall while ice-skating, listened to Christmas music, ate Dutch pancakes lathered in chocolate sauce, walked hand-in-hand on the frozen lake, and picked out new woolen mittens and a hat for Paul. It was the quintessential Dear-Diary type of evening.

Some of the best holiday events happen right here in the home though, don’t they? We try to host my entire family once a year, typically in the fall, but this time it was during the Christmas season. Our house isn’t the biggest and the layout isn’t always the best for entertaining, but it doesn’t seem to matter when we all see each other. Some squeeze in the kitchen, others around the table, and some relax in the living room. I made meatballs and spiced apple cider while my cousins brought desserts, salads, and chicken. We sipped cider, bourbon, and wine. I had It’s a Wonderful Life playing in the living room and every now and then people would meander in and see what George Bailey was doing. Little ones played Mario or read books with Rusty.

And then it’s just us two around here. (Three with Rusty, of course.) We usually hunker down in the living room with candles lit, him watching football and me reading, painting, or writing. I don’t mind the early nights. Why fight the feeling of hibernation? It’ll go away in a few months so we might as well enjoy it. Bake something that makes the whole house smell cozy and good. Make things for your home. (I’m still meaning to put up a blog post on how to make candles. So simple and so necessary for these winter months.) Take naps. Read a book you’ve been waiting to read – now’s the time! I’ve got my two giant stacks next to the couch right now, just staring at me. And wouldn’t you know I just purchased another used book online? It’s Helen Keller’s biography. Very excited to learn more about her. Must chip away at the large stack soon!

We’re celebrating Christmas Eve with my family and a big batch of pasta this year, and then Christmas Day is just us two. I’m thrilled. We’ll have a slow morning, make a large breakfast with equally large mugs of coffee, cook a Christmas turkey and lots of side dishes together, most likely watch more of George Bailey…who knows, we might not even get out of our PJs! I’m very much looking forward to it. :)

I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season. If it’s not what the movies look like, I hope you can make it however you wish it to be. Just because we’re not kids anymore doesn’t mean we don’t need a kiddish Christmas. :) Sending you all hugs and love from my side of the screen to yours! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year! See you in 2020!!!

PS. No sales pitch or anything, but if you’re wondering where to buy the calendars, you can get them in my shop, or at the following stores:

Hummingbird Floral and Gifts in Shoreview, MN
Main St. Floral in Waconia, MN
Winding Trail Books in St. Paul, MN
Thistle in St. Paul, MN