Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Little Christmas Color

I love all things Christmas! And I love to Christmas-ify the house. In recent years I've fallen in love with vintage Shiny Brites, and I can't seem to stop buying them. Here they are on the large antique bottle dryer we have mounted as a kind of light fixture in the dining room. (It's great because you can hang anything from it.)

Beneath it, in a manger built (by Clementine) from bits of several block sets and a pair of candle holders, is the nativity we got at the Union Square Christmas market in New York City last December. It's felt, can't remember where from. Central Asia. I think one of the 'stans. Does anyone know?

I love the way the chandelier looks at night:

Well hello, Witch.

And Hazel. Cat pictures. Weird. What are you doing here?

Little oddities.

The living room.

One of the antler women we brought home from San Miguel de Allende last year.

 Dinosaurs roam freely. We have a dinosaur problem. This reindeer is from Mexico, last week!

So that nativity scene above was our first, but then I couldn't resist this one from India at our favorite store Cargo. It's all tiny and adorable, and lives inside a "clock box," also from India.

This painting! Jim and I painted this together years ago. Mostly Jim though. We've finally put it up. 

There are some vignettes happening in the pharmacy cabinets. 
Ornaments from Mexico make a backdrop to terra-cotta figures from Provence:

A French paper village, with a Mexican nativity retablo purchased in Austin TX while on book tour:

And this tin nativity found at the wonderful Montevilla Antiques Mall for a few bucks. 
(There may be a beaver skull in the corner for no good reason.)

In the background is Clementine arranging a house for her kitten doll Marte inside the other pharmacy cabinet. Luchador, of course, on the sofa. (His name is Sin Cara, or "Without a Face.")

In the kitchen:

The coffee table is a procession of deer (with some help from camels and zebras) 
pulling Santa's sleigh.

Someone on Twitter told me that they call these deer "Glambi's", which is pretty perfect.


The tree! 
With being gone for 2 weeks of December, we decided to go with a fake tree for the first time ever, and I've kind of always wanted a white one, so here it is. I LOVE IT.

My grandmother won this Christmas village in a contest decades ago. She probably never imagined it populated with monkeys, three-headed dragons, and Ultraman. (Clementine was here.)

Stockings made from old sweaters.

This adorable candle holder from Copenhagen,
a present from Alexandra when she went there last Thanksgiving.

Happy holidays!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Guadalajara and Tlaquepaque, Mexico part I

(What's happening here?? Stay tuned...)

We're home from our trip to Mexico! If you haven't followed by reports on Twitter you don't know that it was THE MOST AMAZING TRIP! I've been so excited to meet my Mexican publishers at Alfaguara, and especially the awesome DoSaB readers in Mexico and ... wow did their awesomeness exceed all hopes and expectations! The book events in both Guadalajara and Mexico City have rocketed to the top of my "career highlights" list, and life highlights too. I'm still stunned by the reception they gave me, and by how much love there is for Karou and Akiva--and a LOT for Ziri and Zuzana and Mik, and I even met a Ten-cosplayer! That was a first! 

I have so many photos, and I always think I'm going to post moderately until I begin and find that I can't whittle it down. This is just the first day. You'll see...

My first book event in Mexico! This was at a high school in Guadalajara (as far as I could tell, it was called Preparatoria 6, or something close to that? Amazing kids, amazing teachers! It was a fabulous morning!!! I loved the pink wigs, the amazing music performed by students, the great questions, the huge enthusiasm. You guys are AWESOME!! :-) :-)

That afternoon, the wonderful Cecilia from Alfaguara, who made all the arrangements for my visit and made it so wonderful, took me and Jim and Clementine out to see the town a bit. Since we were staying by the convention center in Gualajara, it felt like it could be any city in the world, you know how convention center areas are, and she knew I was craving a bit of Mexico, so she took us to Tlaquepaque. It's a town that's been kind of engulfed by the sprawl of Guadalajara (huge, Mexico's 2nd city) but still feels like it own distinct town. It was awesome. 

First things first, drinks and music!

Guadalajara is in the state of Jalisco, home to both tequila and mariachi music.
Both of which must be experienced!

In the center of town there's a group of restaurants built around a plaza with a bandstand. Here's a bunch of musicians warming up:

There were also Aztec dancers in gorgeous costumes:

Here he is behind the mariachis:

Clementine fell in LOVE with kids pina coladas (called pinadas):

Cecilia and her husband Roberto. They're the best :-)


Jim and Clementine, strolling:

And then for something completely different.

These guys are called the Voladores de Papantla. (I remember seeing the toys in San Miguel and being intrigued. Well, we were really lucky that Cecilia recognized the purpose of this big pole when we walked past it, an hour and a half before the performance was to begin (I recall that it was an hour and a half because Clementine was SO EXCITED that she asked how much longer it was going to be about every five minutes!) We shopped (yay!), and then it was time.

The pole is 30 meters high.

(Hi up there!)

They get in position and one guy stands up in the middle and dances. Ulp! (No safety tether on him.)

And then they plunge backwards into the air!

And swing around and around...

Until they unwind their ropes and reach the ground.
They made it look easy and fun.
(Wanna try?)

The sun set. 

Tlaquepaque was lovely and full of great shops.

This guy kept trained birds.

They would come out of their cage and choose a fortune for you.

 They would also pick up a tiny sombrero and put it on a doll, and other cute little tricks.

There's a ton of art in town.

And crafts.

Lots of good restaurants. And check out how Roberto's drink was served. I don't remember what's in the little bottles. You mix it yourself.

The most colorful sweets!

And all this colored communion wafers, in crazy shapes. The best is when it has cajeta in the middle! (That's caramelized goat milk, so good!)

These metal Christmas trees! Some day, some year, I will acquire one. 

And Mexico has the best lighting ever. I love love love all the funky metal stars and paper lanterns.

Okay, that's part I. So much more to come!

Hope your Christmas season is going great. Sorry I haven't blogged in so long. I have a feeling I'm going to make up for it the next few weeks :-)


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