International Friendship Day: August 5th, 2018

Contributor post by Mairi from mairidesign

International Friendship Day is on 5th August. What a wonderful way to celebrate the good times you’ve shared with your friends and to show them how much you appreciate them. Spend time with those who make you laugh and support you when you’re feeling low, or maybe it’s a time to re-connect with long lost friends from school. However you celebrate, wouldn’t it be nice to get some special gifts for those you appreciate?

The CIJ team have selected some gifts that they know your friends would love.

Przemila K from CanisArtStudio says

The best friend is someone really important. This person deserves a large and valuable gift. But if you want to make a small surprise, I suggest a small oil painting. Perhaps your best friend is an animal lover or dreams about a pet or maybe not. But always a dog is a perfect symbol of friendship. A miniature oil painting will be perfect for this occasion. If you need another pet portrait, please visit my shop. You can also order a portrait from your own photos.
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Gordon Setter Dog Portait

zizzybob fromzizzybob  says

What better way to say Merry Christmas than a very unique, quilted fabric postcard for your Best Friend Forever.

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BFF Quilted Fabric Postcard

Margie Sarrao fromFunNFiber says

At <$15.00, any BFF can remember that you love her “to the moon and back” every time she dons this sparkling crystal heart necklace! It is adjustable from 17.5″ to 20″ long, making it versatile as well.

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I Love You to the Moon and Back Necklace

Cristal Hughes fromDesignsbyCristal says

Greatest Of All Time – G.O.A.T

The g.o.a.t of all times. Do you have a shero who you’d love to give a lanyard or key chain to? Well, this simple yet meaningful Greatest Of All Time accessory is just waiting to uplift her.

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G.O.A.T – Greatest Of All Time

Judy Merashoff fromJAMsCraftCloset says

This framed positive saying/affirmation wall art is the perfect gift for your BFF. Friends are Flowers in the Garden of Life says it all!

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Upcycled Cottage Chic Picture Frame

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Christmas Memories Last Forever: Cutting Of The Tree – #CIJParty 2018

Guest Contributor post by Rebecca of OrnamentsByRebecca

One of my favorite Christmas memories was going to the Christmas tree farm to cut our tree. It was a Saturday afternoon event. If we were really lucky, there might even be snow falling. After lunch we would bundle up in our warmest clothes and head up the highway to Thompson, Illinois to the “Christmas tree farm”. It couldn’t have been more than 10 or 15 miles but it seemed like a eternity before we arrived.

We paid the $2 per car at the gate. Yup that’s right! $2 got you any tree on the farm! My dad parked the car and I was out before they knew it. I looked out at the acres of uncut trees, holes here and there where someone had already cut down their “perfect” tree. I was in what seemed like Christmas wonderland. Rows and rows of Christmas trees of every size and shape. How could you possible pick just one! Christmas music drifted into the air from speakers mounted on the side of the old barn as we stopped to pick up our ax. And we were off. I ran ahead going from tree to tree trying to spot “it”. Then the bargaining began. Dad saying it was too tall, me saying it was too short, mom saying it wasn’t full enough or had a bare spot. This was serious business getting everyone to agree. Finally, there it was! Our perfect tree! Dad chopped it down and the three of us all pulled together to get it back to the car. A couple of guys were there to help tie it down for the trip home.

Greens for Decorating – Now the next big part of the day came – getting greens for wreaths and decorating. As the farm hands trimmed branches from trees for people, they would toss them onto an old wagon near the barn. You could take as many as you liked, they were included in the $2 price. Dad joined the men near a fire built to take the chill off as mom and I began searching through the wagon full of greens. I still remember you wanted long limber branches for the wreaths and smaller ones for centerpieces. Mom also preferred the long pine needles to the short ones. We carried several arms full back to the car putting them gently in the trunk, and then went to warm up by the fire and have a cup of hot cocoa before we headed home. I can remember the ride home so clearly. Christmas music on the AM car radio, the cold nip on my nose as we waited for the heater to start warming the car. The smell, ahhhh that sweet smell of pine that filled the car as I closed my eyes and tried to picture what the tree would look like once we had finished decorating.

Picking a fresh-cut Christmas tree wasn’t about crossing an item off your holiday to-do list. It was about breathing in the scents, sipping hot cocoa in an old barn, listening to the fire crackle, hearing horses shake sleigh bells as they pulled wagons with big trees towards the buyers car and spending time with family. It is one of those Christmas memories that will last forever.

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Christmas Countdown – #CIJParty 2018

Guest Contributor post by Julie Herbert of Everyone Loves Gifts

My Christmas inspiration this year was organization. We all know Christmas is coming yet it creeps up very quickly and before you know it you are panicking. Every year you run around like a headless chicken and wish you could be more organized. Does this sound like you? It sounds like me as well. It is a good idea to get ready in advance. This way you will feel less stressed about the big day, you will enjoy it more and feel more organized than ever before.

What I suggest are the things that you can prepare before Christmas so you’re ready in time. These can be done anytime in December. So I have come up with a countdown to Christmas so you can feel and be more organized before the big day.

1. Start of the Countdown – First things first, do you have a Christmas chocolate calendar? This needs to be out ready and waiting. Not only do you and your family get a little treat everyday, you can also see the countdown as you eat it.

2. Decorations – We all know how long decorations take to do. You’ve got to get all the decorations down from the loft or garage, sort it all out. Make sure no bulbs have died since last year, nothing else is broke etc. Also doing your decorations ahead of time will not only make you feel more organized, but will also get you in the Christmas mood. Having lights outside? Why not do this now too?

3. Getting in the Christmas Mood – I find the easiest way to get into the Christmas mood is by fragrances, you can find loads of festive fragrances out there for your home around this time. You can use candles, aroma diffuses, incense and more.

Music, Movies or both? Do you prefer Christmas music instead? Everyone likes a sing along to Christmas music and watch all the great Christmas movies.

4. Letter to Santa/Christmas cards – I don’t know about you but Christmas cards are always the last on my list, yet the one that I stress about as I’ve left it too late. Now this year I am going to do my cards ahead of time so it is one little niggle you can forget about.

Do you have children that need to write a letter to Santa? Get this ready now too, also get the little ones to write a separate wish list so again you know ahead of time.

5. Shopping – If you already know what you are buying friends and family, buy them early before the mad rush takes hold. This is also a good time to purchase the decorations or bulbs that may have broken from last year. If you want, this may also be a good idea to purchase small food items that you may need for Christmas dinner.

Going to purchase some gifts online? Do it early so you get it in time. At this time all postal workers are maxed out, so doing your online shopping early means you will get what you want before it is out of stock and you will receive it ahead of time.

PS. Don’t forget those batteries on your shopping list. Everyone needs batteries at Christmas. Get them before everyone else does.

6. Gift wrapping  – Yes, it is a job that is a love and hate type but it needs doing. Wrapping ahead of time will take the stress away instead of doing it Christmas Eve, which is a time you should be relaxing in front of the TV with a nice beverage.

7. Visiting Santa  – Got little ones? Why not book to see Santa now before all the places are full?

8. Having friends and family over to stay? If you’re like me I like to have a clean(er) house if guests are staying over. I start with the guest room. Wash the bedding, hoovering and polishing will make all the difference. After the guests room are complete I then start deep cleaning the rest of the house (you don’t have to do this). This is also a good time to clean away old toys or clothes to give to charity.

9. Setting the Table – I know friends who set their table at the beginning of Christmas and no one is allowed to sit there until Christmas Day. You don’t have to do this, you can set the table Christmas Eve like I do or you can do this before, which ever is your preference.

10. Need any last minute gifts? Off you go.

11. Week beginning 17th of December – This is the perfect week to look at everything and make sure you are truly organized. Do you have everything prepared? Anything else you have missed?

12. Christmas Eve – Now you can start to relax and enjoy Christmas, spend time with friends and family. Bake or cook the items that you can now instead of doing it all on the big day.

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Christmas Eve Luminaria Tour – #CIJParty 2018

Guest Contributor Post By Mike Of BurntEarthHorseHair

New Mexico’s early Spanish colonists made little bonfires of burning pinon to light the way for the Christ child’s visit on Christmas Eve. These small farolitos brightened processional routes to midnight mass in the village/ pueblo church. They were placed along pathways to homes, and a little fire in front of each home was kept burning throughout the night.

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Modern New Mexicans continue this traditional luminaria lure, by using commercial candles, sand, and paper bags. Candles flickering in these ceramic clay horsehair fired luminarias bags made by BURNTEARTH HORSEHAIR FIRED POTTERY continue this festive Christmas customs. I cut into the front of the bag and leave open spaces to show the light of the candles.

Luminarias today are still lit by simple folk whose hearts believe the Christ child wanders softly through the night and blesses all who set a guiding light.

When I escaped from Kansas at a very young age to New Mexico that first year was learning about the customs and traditions of New Mexico. One that we truly fell in love with was setting up luminaria bags on Christmas Eve. It became so popular that 10’s of thousands of people would come to Albuquerque to stay on Christmas Eve and tour the city viewing the lights. It became so commercialized that after I became a traffic cop I spent too many years to remember directing traffic or leading tours of buses full of people enjoying the view. We have done this in my family for years and have pasted it on to the grandchildren. In the 22 years of doing this, it only snowed once on Christmas Eve and that night it was the most beautiful and memorable Christmas Eve I had.

I offer different size bags and prices range from $5-$50. Along with a wide variety of patterns including a Southwestern Adobe Home with drying chiles, a Native American turtle symbol and several NM pueblo churches are drawn on the front along with first American symbols.

Here is a great photo of our luminaria’s in Los Angeles, CA! No snow and they use electric lights!

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Fun Facts About Christmas – #CIJParty 2018

Contributor post by Cindy of Cynhumphrey

Christmas is an ancient celebration celebrated in many different ways. We all love Christmas but do we really know about why Christmas is the way it is? Some of the seasonal favorites of many have surprising origins! Continue reading to see some fun facts and find out how many surprise you!

FUN FACT: Santa wore a variety of different colored suits through the years but legend has it that the popular red coat came from a Coca Cola ad in the 1930s.

FUN FACT: Rudolph was almost named Reginald.

The famous reindeer was a marketing gimmick for Montgomery Ward’s holiday coloring books created by a copywriter named Robert May. Robert May considered naming the misfit Reginald and Rollo. Rudolph originally wasn’t going to have a red nose either because a red nose was associated with a sign of chronic alcoholism and Montgomery Ward didn’t want him to seem like a drunk. Good thing they changed it too! Reginald the blue nose reindeer just doesn’t have the same ring to it at all.

FUN FACT: Jingle Bells was originally a Thanksgiving song.

An organist from Georgia first performed a song he wrote, “The One Horse Open Sleigh” at a Thanksgiving concert at his church in 1850. The song was republished in 1857 and given the title of “Jingle Bells”.

FUN FACT: America’s first batch of eggnog was made in the Jamestown settlement in 1607 but by the time the Puritans settled in Boston, Christmas was illegal.

Its name comes from the word “grog”, meaning any drink made with rum. Nonalcoholic eggnog is popular as well.

From 1659 to 1681, celebrating the once-pagan day could cost you a fine of as much as five shillings. And after the Revolutionary War, the new Congress found the day so unimportant that they held the first session on Christmas Day, 1789. It wasn’t proclaimed a federal holiday for nearly another century.

FUN FACT: “Santa Claus” comes from St. Nicholas, a Christian bishop.

St. Nicholas had inherited a great deal of wealth and was known for giving it away to help the needy. When sainted, he became the protector of children.

FUN FACT: “Silent Night” is the most recorded Christmas song in history, with over 733 different versions copyrighted since 1978.

FUN FACT: The period of time between the 16th and 19th centuries was known as “a little ice age”.

Global temperatures were lower than normal during this time. However, Charles Dickens grew up during this era and experienced snow for his first eight Christmases. This “White Christmas” experience influenced his writing and began a tradition of expectation for the holidays.

FUN FACT: In Poland spiders are considered to be symbols of prosperity and goodness at Christmas.

In fact, spiders and spider webs are often used as Christmas tree decorations. According to legend, a spider wove baby Jesus a blanket to keep him warm.

FUN FACT: Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Germany and was once made of real silver.

FUN FACT: The tradition of hanging stockings comes from a Dutch legend.

A poor man had three daughter.s He couldn’t afford to provide a dowry for these daughters. St. Nicholas dropped a bag of gold down his chimney and gold coins fell out and into the stockings drying by the fireplace. The daughters now had dowries and could be married, avoiding a life on the streets.

FUN FACT: If you gave all the gifts listed in the Twelve Days of Christmas, it would equal 364 gifts.

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Secrets Of An Old Fashion Christmas – #CIJParty 2018

Guest Contributor post by Rebecca of OrnamentsByRebecca

When we see pictures from Christmases gone by, we so often let out a heavy sigh and say “I wish Christmas was like that again”. Let me ask a question… why can’t it be?

Take a step back and say “this year will be different”.  What made those Christmases gone by so special?  Time was spent with family… Watching Snoopy’s Christmas with the family and a big bowl of popcorn. Decorating the tree together. A night out to ride around and look at Christmas lights.

You know what else… Family time did not include cell phones, Facebook, video games, computers and all the other distractions that have taken over our daily lives.  Gifts did not come in the form of plastic cards with dollar amounts on them. Yes, it takes time and conversations and listening. It takes disconnecting and reconnecting with each other. So this year bring back the Christmas of yesterday. Bake cookies together, watch those classic Christmas shows, get a group and go Christmas caroling at a senior home, go shopping with your kids. Start a new tradition. Give up Starbucks for a week and send Christmas cards… in the mail, not a eCard. Invite everyone to your home for a old fashioned Christmas and don’t be afraid to let everyone know what you are doing and how much it means to you.

The secret of a old fashioned Christmas….. you taking the first step to make it happen.

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What Makes Christmas Special: StudioEmmaKaufmann – #EtsyCIJ 2018

Contributor post by Mairi from mairidesign

What makes Christmas special? – Emma Kaufmann from StudioEmmaKaufmann

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1. What makes Christmas special to you?

Decorating the tree with the kids, listening to Christmas music and baking gingerbread cookies.

2. How do you make Christmas as special to others?

I am from England so I often make a Christmas pudding that is like a fruit cake that you steam. It has lashings of alcohol in it so goes down a storm. You can also soak it in booze and set it alight when you serve it!

3. What are three words that best describe Christmas to you?

Carols, mince pies

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4. What are you most looking forward to for Christmas 2018?

Having relatives from Ireland visit will create a perfect Christmas even though they can’t cope with our huge amounts of snow. Then getting together with family and sharing a delicious meal, then falling into a food coma in front of the TV.

5. What are your social media sites?

Instagram: www.instagram.com/studiokaufmann

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/emmakaufmann

Twitter: www.twitter.com/emmakaufmann