Celebrating Santa Lucia

Santa Lucia (pronounced Loo-CEE-uh in Scandinavia…what is it here???) ) is December 13th and to celebrate I teamed up with the magical forces of photograph Ciara Richardson and floral designer Ashley Beyer of Tinge Floral, the ladies with whom I did the Midsummer shoot. These ladies are pure joy to work with and soak in their beautiful aura. 
The holiday celebrates the darkest time of the year with a light festival (December 13th was traditionally thought to be the longest night of the year). In the Scandinavian countries, a procession of girls carry candles and treats wearing white and a red sash. The lead girl wears a crown of candles. We simplified ours with a beautiful bay leaf crown made by me and Ashley (I describe how to make it below).
Read how to make the crown and some behind the scene photos by click below: 

I looked everywhere for a pre-made crown form online and alas, they were all sold out. You can find some pretty over the top forms like this or this but they’re not as available as they are in Scandinavia. SO, I had to create my own. Not so much a problem when you’re a DIY blog. First, I tried a styrofoam wreath form like this one and I just stuck the candles directly in it and it worked like a charm. BUT, it was too clunky for the garland wrapped around so I had to come up with an alternative.
What I ended up with was using an embroidery hoop, wire, and floral tape. With the wire, I created a spiral slightly smaller than the bottom of the candle then I wired it A LOT to the embroidery hoop over and over and over. You don’t want to have flimsy candle holders. If you really want to be safe, add metal cups into the bottom of the spirals. After I placed all four around the hoop, I secured them with white floral tape (again, A LOT) for extra measure. The candles were very secure in the end.
Then Ashley worked her magic and used bay leaves in small clumps wired to the hoop. So pretty huh?! 

Thank you to Jenny Bradley for being such a beautiful model. You are magic. And Jessica Peterson for your gorgeous studio. And Audrey Ellsworth for helping last minute!

And of course, Ashley and Ciara. I don’t know how you do it.

Happy (belated) Santa Lucia! 

24 Days of Scandinavian Christmas finale & giveaway winner announced!

Well, happy Christmas Eve! I hope you are all spending it with loved ones. To end this wonderful series of My Scandinavian Christmas, I thought I’d recap all the wonderful projects that all the guest bloggers contributed. Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who participated. I’m so grateful for your creativity and time! Also, a big thank you to everyone who participated in the Danish Design Giveaways. I wish I could give something to everyone, but for now the (random) winner of the Royal Copenhagen, Ferm Living, Lucky Boy Sunday, and Herb Lester products is………Jenny from Museum Diary. Congrats!
We kicked off the series with Maiju from My Second Life’s Christmas treeDay 2 was given to Mette from Bureau of Betterment and a bird mobile she made based on a childhood toy.
Swede Hilda Grahnat showed us how to make Swedish orange pomanders on day 3 while Pinja from Pinjacolada decorated her Christmas tree with Finnish himmeli for day 4.
Tina Fussell or Traveling Mama, made a traditional edible Christmas tree for day 5 and Annika Backstrom made an ingenious gingerbread playhouse for her nieces and nephews for day 6.
For day 7 Eva Jorgensen of Sycamore Street Press designed an exclusive “god jul” Christmas ornament to download and Mette from Ungt Blod showed us winter in the Danish countryside for day 8.
Photographer Camilla Jørvad gave us a glimpse to her winter in Western Denmark for day 9 while Rilla showed how she displays her Finnish himmeli for day 10.
Julia of Vintage Hausfrau described her experience of picking out a tree and decorating it with vintage ornaments for day 11 and Gina of Willowday made ice lanterns for day 12.
Heidi of Wool Rocks displayed her Norwegian knitted Christmas ornaments for day 13 and Charlotte Schmidt Olsen made a beautiful paper bird for day 14.
I showed how to make oversized holly and ivy out of balloons for day 15 and Sarah Goldschadt (author of Craft-a-day) made an owlies Christmas tree for day 16
The most awesome nativity set from Dos Family for day 17 and Danish nisser from Elise from Eliseenvoyage for day 18
Photographer Tine Hvolby dressed up her daughter as an angel for day 19 and Elaina of Fog and Cedar described a lovely walk to find materials to make an advent candle for day 20.
Jennifer Hagler of A Merry Mishap made the ultra delicious æbleskiver (Danish pancakes) for day 21 and Lina Anoff showed us her friend’s childhood discovering a gingerbread house for day 22.

I finished off the series with my family’s Scandinavian-inspired decorations around our house for day 23.

With that, I’m off! Merry Christmas! I’m taking the next couple of weeks off. Next time you’ll hear from me will be from our new place in Utah!  

My Scandinavian Christmas day 23

If you’re just joining The House That Lars Built, for the 24 days leading up to Christmas I asked my favorite Scandinavian bloggers how they celebrate Christmas in their respective countries. We’ve had such tremendously beautiful responses (see here). Today I’m happy to show off my talented family. 
So, all throughout this “My Scandinavian Christmas” journey, you might have asked…well, how do you, Brittany, bring in the Scandinavian-ness to the holidays? Good question. This year is a bit different because we moved to America last week. Needless to say, packing took priority over decorating (how rude!) so I don’t have much to show. HOWEVER, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Scandinavia had in fact infiltrated a bit into the Watson household when we arrived to my parent’s place in Southern California (notice the Mexican paver tiles). My sister had painted these faux Christmas boxes with some Scandinavian-inspired folk patterns in white and then topped them with candy-cane striped wire ribbon.

Not particularly Scandinavian, but very clever, my mom used painting paper from Lowe’s for all her wrapping paper this year, including the bows. My mom’s a very clever one.

Paul showed me how to make some Danish paper hearts to top off the tree.

One more day left of My Scandinavian Christmas! And don’t forget to enter the last Danish Design giveaway (today is the last day!).

My Scandinavian Christmas day 22

Don’t you love these last few days leading up to Christmas? I hope the stress is low and you’re able to enjoy it all. I’m pleased to announced day 22 of My Scandinavian Christmas, photographer Lina Ahnoff. Lina is one of my favorite people. She was kind enough to let me share part of her studio space  the last 6 months I was in Copenhagen, and I got to know her talent and kindness. Welcome, Lina! 
Every year we celebrate the holidays by making a gingerbread house with the kids. This year my friend, Pia Lindgaard, came over and I photographed her niece exploring her creation. I think she was highly tempted by all the candy!

Thank you so much, Lina! Check out her wonderful photography site and blog. Stay tuned for the last 2 days! 

My Scandinavian Christmas day 21

I’m thrilled to announce Jennifer Hagler from the impeccable A Merry Mishap as day 21 of My Scandinavian Christmas. If you’re just joining us, My Scandinavian Christmas is a series of guest posts from my favorite Scandinavian bloggers sharing how they celebrate the holiday season. A Merry Mishap is Jennifer’s blog and shop where she sells her beautiful, geometric and Scandinavian-inspired jewelry. Welcome, Jennifer!
I wanted to share one of our Christmas traditions, something we look forward to making every Christmas morning. For the last few years I’ve made Aebelskivers for Christmas breakfast after my husband and I decided we needed to start a holiday tradition for our new little family of 3. We are not from Scandinavia but have a fondness for the culture and design so this just seemed like a natural solution.
Of course Aebelskivers are great with fruit preserves and Nutella but you can also stuff them with ham & cheese or even bacon, I love that they are so versatile. I prefer the buttermilk version of this recipe, this one works fine!

They’re easy to make and delicious but more importantly remind us that Christmas is here. I hope you give them a try, and of course you can make them any time of the year, not only in December!

Thank you, Jennifer for participating in My Scandinavian Christmas. Check out her lovely blog and shop. Check out more of My Scandinavian Christmas here.

My Scandinavian Christmas day 20

Day 20 of My Scandinavian Christmas is with the lovely Elaina Keppler of Fint og Deilig. Elaina was my very first blogging friend in Copenhagen. As a Canadian living in Denmark she brings rustic elements from her native homeland to her new home and infuses it into her new Etsy shop, Fog and Cedar that she shares with Nicola Ens.
This time of year means a lot of different things for different people. Though one of the things I think we can all agree is worth celebrating (especially those of us living in the north) is that the days start getting lighter after the 21st. Since I’ve been living here in Copenhagen, I’ve started a tradition of celebrating the winter solstice and appreciating the beauty of these cold, dark, and quiet days by bundling up and taking a long walk in the nature reserve near our apartment. I watch the earliest sunset of the year and then spend the evening in candlelight, enjoying a simple meal and good company.

This year I decided to make some easy decorations by gathering branches and berries on my walk to make a candle centerpiece. To make your own you’ll need some branch and greenery cuttings, candles, a board or plate (I used a plank of cedar), and clay (sold here in grocery stores but hobby or craft stores should have it too). All you need to do is spread the clay on the board to make a base to stick the candles and greenery into. I find it’s easiest to work in layers, arranging them as you’d like and adding cuttings until the clay isn’t visible. Once you are done, you can add an ornament or other decoration to personalize it a bit. Happy solstice everyone! 

Thank you so much Elaina! Check out her blog and Etsy shop!

My Scandinavian Christmas day 19

I’m happy to introduce day 19 of My Scandinavian Christmas, Tine Hvolby. Tine is a wonderful wedding photographer in Western Denmark and part of the new network, We Do Weddings, a network of wedding professionals in Denmark. Welcome! 

This was a welcome request from Brittany because I really got to think about what traditions are and which ones I have created myself in my little family and which ones I want for future Christmases.

Christmas is getting out the boxes of decorations and lights. It is getting a tree at the local market, baking cookies, and hanging up stockings up for the Christmas elf and waiting excitingly for what he will bring. 
It is also making the yearly family pictures of my children.

Two years ago I impulsively purchased a pair of angel wings. It was love at first sight. They were completely fantastic, feminine, large, decorated with feathers and filled with adventure. Heavenly. 
I bought them not knowing how I’d use them.
When the first snow fell that year, I took out these angel wings that had been stored unused in my office and I photographed my daughter in the atrium courtyard outside my office in the finest light, crispy and white. It was my first Christmas picture. 

This year, the snow is disappearing and Christmas is just around the corner, but we couldn’t hope for better snow and frost weather. The Christmas presents need to be done and we are so close to Christmas. The expression is different when the white light is not surrounding my daughter with the angel wings. 
Everything is thawing and raining and my daughter loves to wear the wings because she gets to have glitter in her face and play the part of an angel. It is so hyggeligt to play out pictures. It is a good tradition. As long as she wants to, we will play the game of angel and camera every Christmas.
We don’t like all the mud. So these pictures are our drafts. And we, my daughter and I, agreed that we will retake them when the snow returns right around Christmas Eve. Christmas is playtime.
I love this! “Christmas is playtime”. What a great tradition. Thank you, Tine, for participating in My Scandinavian Christmas. Check out her lovely site here.

My Scandinavian Christmas day 18

Day 18 of My Scandinavian Christmas is with Élise from eliseenvoyage. Élise is French living in Copenhagen and she’s a super talented creative. Welcome!

I come from the south of France. I come from a place where there are days you can sit outside in the sun without jacket in December and not be cold. Maybe this is why I love waiting for Christmas in Denmark so much. Here Christmas lights and decorations make sense; you need something to help you go throught the darkest days. Here you start preparing for Christmas very early. Here people sell Christmas trees every corners and shops are decorated well in advance. Everything is red and white, there are paper hearts and candles, branches and more candles, little cookies and mulled wine, and we even got snow on the 1st of December! Right on time to properly start the Christmas preparations.

This year I decided to add new guests to our home for Christmas. I made these super simple little Nisser. Nisser are small beings that used to live in attics or stables, and protect the farmer’s family. No one can really say how they look like because they are able to make themselves invisible, but at Christmas, the family would give them some rice porridge, to thank them. Would they forget and the nisse would bother the family, by turning the beer into milk for example, or that kind of tragedy. Today nisser are still very present at Christmas time and you can see them about everywhere.
I don’t know why but I like Nisser. It may come from my childhood, when my grandma used to read aloud to us the story of Niels Holgersson, this little boy turned into a nisse, and his trip around Sweden on the back of wild geese. She even had a big map of Scandinavia pinned to her wall so we could follow the trip. Last year she gave me the map and today I have it pinned to my wall. The paper is getting yellow and the edges are worn, but I love it so much.

To make these ones I just painted them red and tied a little bit of wool around their necks so they wouldn’t be too cold, the weather has been pretty bad in Copenhagen recently. Then I just had to find hats for them, and to give them faces. They are very simple, but also exactly what I wanted. They don’t take much space, and they can easily fit almost anywhere at home (as long as the tiny little baby hands cannot grab them). 

Now they are standing there, next to our christmas candles, waiting patiently and observing every moves. And maybe, if they are not too mean to us, they will receive a nice bowl of rice porridge for Christmas. With a bit of butter slowly melting on top.
Thank you so much, Élise! So glad to have you on My Scandinavian Christmas. Check out her wonderful blog here and some more Scandinavian bloggers sharing what Christmas means to them here.

My Scandinavian Christmas day 17

Day 17 of My Scandinavian Christmas is with one of my favorites, Jenny from Dos Family. Jenny’s a photographer in Southern Sweden and she shares her blog with Isabelle McAllister. Their blog is a fantastical little world of creativity. Welcome, Jenny!
Sara and Kristian Ingers are a super creative couple. I have photographed their home for the blog and this christmas I went back to document some of their Christmas deco. Sara and Kristian decided on an alternative nativity this year. They made the design together and then Kristan, who is a wood shop teacher at school, put it together. I love how they painted the sheep golden and added a modern goat herder.
So cool and modern. 

I LOVE this! I love when people put their own spin on an old tradition. Thank you Jenny for participating in My Scandinavian Christmas

My Scandinavian Christmas day 16

Day 16 of My Scandinavian Christmas is from the lovely Sarah Goldschadt. Sarah has appeared on Lars before (the first Craftenhagen! Danish Christmas hearts! Mini knitted houses!) and I’m lucky to have this Danish/American crafter extraordinaire and author of Craft-a-day on the blog once more.

This is the first year I won’t be in Minnesota for Christmas. I’ll miss the real Christmas tree filled with gifted and handmade ornaments over the years, the wooden Santa and his reindeer sleigh my grandfather cut out of wood on display on the mantel, the felt stockings my sister and I decorated with beads and sequins hung by the fireplace, and the trail of paper “nisse” that comes out every year. But I’ll be celebrating with my boyfriend Ben and starting our own traditions. 

First project was decorating the Ikea Christmas tree (who knew the fake ones could look so great!) with tiny owl ornaments from my book, Craft-a-Day. I’ll also see if I can fake a vegetarian friendly frikadeller, but most importantly I’ll be making my favorite Jul dessert: risalamande. It’s tradition to serve it with sliced almonds and hide one whole almond in it. The person who gets the whole almond wins a prize! 
P.S. If you’re looking for some winter crafts, check out the Winter Edition Craft-a-Day iPad app!
Thank you so much Sarah for participating in My Scandinavian Christmas. Be sure to check out her lovely blog.

My Scandinavian Christmas day 15

Day 15 of My Scandinavian Christmas is with….drumroll…me! Check out the other guest contributors to My Scandinavian Christmas here. There are some pretty awesome blogger and projects.
Ok, this holly and ivy balloon garland is not Scandinavian at all, but it’s one that I recently did for Hello Bee and it’s a super easy Christmas decoration to make for a party or for kids. I modeled it after my fruit balloon DIY. It’s pretty much the same concept, but with different shapes.

You will need: balloons, tape, scissors, twine, green paper for leaves, glue gun

Step 1: Blow up some balloons aso they are small enough to group in small clumps as berries.

Step 2: With scotch tape or double-sided stick tape attach a little to the balloon and stick to another. Clump in threes or twos.

Step 3: Cut out holly leaves in proportion to the size of the balloons. Draw or paint yellow veins on the leaves.

Step 4: Tie the groups of berries onto the twine and leave extra twine at the front and back.
Step 5: Glue gun the edges of the leaves to the edge of the balloon and a bit to the twine to secure it in place.
Donzo! That’s it! So simple!

Check out the rest of the amazing Christmas stories and projects for My Scandinavian Christmas here.

My Scandinavian Christmas day 14

 
We’re on American soil and it feels good! Sunshine on my face, In-n-Out in my belly–life is good! Day 14 of My Scandinavian Christmas is with the wonderful photographer, Charlotte Schmidt Olsen. Charlotte and I met a few months ago at Craftenhagen through crafter of Sarah Goldschadt. Charlotte is a crafter/photographer in Denmark who does fancy shoots for magazines like Bolig Liv and Alt for Damerne. I’m so glad to have her here! 
I was so glad when Brittany asked me to join her countdown to Scandinavian Christmas.
It made me think of my Christmases growing up in the seventies. I found a pattern that resembles this time to me. We did not have this bird at my home, but we had a lot that was along the same theme. We always made decorations for the home, a tree, and a lot of biscuits and coloured marzipan figures. I still love to do that. I find doing creative stuff with family and friends wonderful! 
For the bird I wanted to use copper-coloured paper, it is a colour that has recently court my eye. I found some wrapping paper, coloured paper and a page from a magazine. I used two different colours to make it sparkle. I put the birds on a small pine branch but in a window would be just a suited. 
Merry Christmas!

Thank you so much Charlotte for participating in My Scandinavian Christmas. I’m looking forward to your visit (that’s a hint!). Check out her photography site here.