28 February 2014

Rudolph Day, February 2014

"Rudolph Day" is a way of keeping the Christmas spirit alive all year long. You can read a Christmas book, work on a Christmas craft project, listen to Christmas music or watch a Christmas movie.

Two different winter storms gave me a good opportunity for finishing up my Christmas magazines, but my reading was touched with sadness since we had to put our little dog Willow to sleep on February 22. She was just not recovering from her illness and eating less and less (and sometimes vomiting that). Occasionally she seemed to rally, but when her bad days began to overwhelm her good days, there was only one decision to help her. Everything is a little lonelier without her.

I was drawn to "Vintage Holiday Christmas" because of its lovely cover of a bowl filled with multicolor Christmas "baubles," as the British call them. I do have vintage ornaments of my Mom's, fifties vintage, in a glass jar with other little memories: some candle bulbs, a plastic stained glass angel ornament, and some glitter, but I love this idea of ornaments in a bowl, which just feeds the multicolor fascination I've had all my life. A super multicolor bauble wreath was also featured, and a series of articles about how to decorate a tree to represent different decades. Pink trees and white rooms, however? Not me. "Style at Home" is a nifty British magazine that gives you inexpensive looks. I do like the British magazines for their (usually) nice wood-trimmed interiors! It had surprisingly cute little projects, like taking an empty picture frame, painting it red, making a star with green ribbon inside, and hanging baubles from the ribbon. What a darling look. Of course some recipes; ho hum.

Then some little upscale reads, like "House Beautiful Christmas Ideas." The "Scandi style" was really big in British magazines this year, all year 'round, not just at Christmas, with its red-and-white patterns. More recipes, and an increasing fascination with creating elaborate wrappings, which has always struck me as silly, since folks are just going to rip it off and toss it out! "Ideal Home's Complete Guide to Christmas" usually covers the whole shebang: gives you a schedule so Christmas prep won't be overwhelming, advises you how to buy a tree and also how to decorate with natural products (it seems common in Britain, at least as portrayed in these issues, that you can just go outside and get all sorts of greens from your "garden"). Setting a good table is also a must! And finally "Victoria Classics Holiday Bliss," with flowers and greens, beautiful crockery and glassware, vintage ornaments and lavish garlands, all enough to decorate Downton Abbey top to toe. Bonus in this one was a pictorial journey through Europe's Christmas markets.

Then on to my favorites, starting with "Bliss Victoria." Like the last magazine, it's a picture of elegance and color. Even the ads are elegant, for gift shops and china. The desserts stand up and pose! You want to walk into the homes shown, sit before the fire and read a book. Perhaps classical music plays in the background. My favorite article was "Christmas at Mount Vernon."

I've been buying "Victorian Homes" since the year they did an article on the Mark Twain house which we had just visited. The historic homes that appear in this magazine are the big draw, and then the Christmas decorations make it a wonderful package. This issue had an article on feather trees (which are made of feathers, but are not those cones you see covered with feathers at craft stores; these feather trees were originally made of green-dyed goose feathers and go back to the early 19th century). A new house had some of the most beautiful Victorian furniture I'd ever seen. Gorgeous Victorians mansions drip with Christmas cheer, stained glass windows, and polished wood. Bliss.

A unique treat this year was a holiday issue of the "Saturday Evening Post." Last year they did an all-Norman Rockwell edition, but this one had other illustrators, and, along for the fun, vintage ads! Starting with Thanksgiving and ending with New Year's, the illustrations range from 1917 to the 1960s, with a chronology of New Year's babies and how they were affected by world events.

And finally, a favorite since last year, a British outdoor magazine called "Landscape." There are actually two similar magazines, "Landscape" and "Landlove," which both publish bimonthly (I favor the former but both are nice), but "Landscape" has a Christmas issue. The magazines cover the countryside of England and the animals which inhabit it, and foodstuff from the land, whether raised or foraged, plus gardens in each season. Sheep and shepherds, skaters, broom and Christmas cake makers, foresting with horses, and white arctic animals and swans were all covered in this issue. Yes, it had a sizeable cookery section, but at least, being an English magazine, these were different dishes from the usual American potatoes and corn. Both "Landscape" and "Landlove" are tranquil magazines. I read them in the fall and in the winter.