POETRY & WORDS :: The pirates would like to worship Jesus


The kitchen lights are switched on, the dishes are in the sink, the washing machine is whirring, there’s laundry on the floor, and I’m leaning over a to-do list, panicking over the tickle in my throat and how much I have to do this week. Aveline is in the living room in her pajamas, kneeling down on the brown and grey rug in front of the little stable of twigs and moss that’s held together with nails, kneeling there in front of the baby Jesus.

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She’s singing — not reciting, but singing — words as they come to her. The music is so pure and so real and so full of worship. She runs off, and comes back pulling a pirate ship behind her. “The Lalaloopsy would like to worship Jesus!” she shouts. “The pirates would like to worship!”

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Because that’s how it should be, you know — no, no, that’s how it is. He didn’t come just for the shepherds of ancient yore, to be tucked neatly into a storybook and a creche to decorate our mantles and our church foyers. He didn’t come to live forever safely next to the haloed holy family. He didn’t come for the perfect, for the sinless saints, for the angels in the winter sky. No, he came for all of humanity, all of us, every single one in every corner of the world.

He’s here for the blue-haired Lalaloopsy,

for the circus-performer,

for the sword-wielding pirates,

for the stowaways and the untouchables, hidden in the depth of the ship’s steerage,

for me.

And here I am, like Martha, “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” [1], in danger of taking this miracle for granted.

So come. Come, everyone one of us. Just as we are — with our baggage and our stress and our burdens and our imperfections — come. Here’s here.

Oh, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

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LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Our Tiny Tree


Our tree is tiny and simple — sparkling silver and white and blue, with an exquisite little porcelain doll my best friend brought back from Russia. The tree’s not huge, or even made of real tree, but it’s tucked away under the blue-light-wrapped windows, on a white woolen rug that looks like snow, and makes Aveline so happy.

To me, that’s perfect.

(Do you remember this feeling as a child?) Oaxacaborn / Gina Munsey blog

Oaxacaborn / Gina Munsey blog
Oaxacaborn / Gina Munsey blog

“Shaggy branches curve / Down to the heads of children / Beads shine richly / Overflowing with lights…” “Гнутся ветви мохнатые / Вниз, к головкам детей / Блещут бусы богатые / Переливом огней…” -Raisa Adamovna Kudasheva

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: Dalahäst, Dala Horse


Ah, dalahästar (that’s the plural of dalahäst…I think).  I love them. Is it cliche? I don’t even care!  : )

Giant OUtdoor Dala
Dala horses in the snow (perhaps at Skansen Park?) via Hasenohr on Flickr

Cross stitch Dala
Cross Stitch Dala via Kitschn Stitchin

Dala Horse print
Dala Horse Print via Red Stuga on Etsy (based in Minneapolis; where else?!)

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“How Swede It Is” Dala Horse and Kanelbullar Magnets via Red Stuga

paper mache dala horses
Papier Mâché Dala Horses via Posh Chicago

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Henning Trollbäck’s Dala Horse Poster via Fine Little Day

Dala Zoo
Dala Zoo (Giraffe and Moose) via Hildas Hem

Chalk Dala
Chalk Drawing of Dala Horse via Dirtsas Studio on Etsy

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Dalahäst-tillverkning (Dala Horse Manufacturer/Factory) Sign Liz Highleyman on Flickr

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Copper Dala Horse via Fischer Fine Arts on Etsy

via Oaxacaborn on Instagram
A Dala horse vignette in my home.

Want to decorate a Dala horse — or maybe introduce your kids to this creature? Here’s a great FREE printable Dala horse template from Make Learning Fun! You might also be interested in this video of how Dala horses are made, or last year’s Dala horse round-up.

God Jul!

CHRISTMAS :: 18 gifts that matter for #GivingTuesday (and every day)


#GivingTuesday is a terrific opportunity to look up and away from ourselves. Of course, this outlook shouldn’t be confined to just one day a year, but I can’t argue with a movement that encourages us all to reach out. And so, in celebration of Giving Tuesday, here are eighteen different ways to give a gift that gives. A gift that loves. A gift that matters.

For more information about a particular gift, simply click on that photo.

Image Map Provide EDUCATION IN CHINA Provide for FOSTER FAMILIES IN CHINA Provide ORPHAN CARE IN CHINA Provide MEDICAL CARE IN CHINA PROVIDE REFUGEE RELIEF around the world PREVENT human trafficking and exploitation Provide CLEAN WATER around the world FEED A HUNGRY BABY for a week PROTECT vulnerable women Provide WARM COATS AND SHOES CARE FOR Romanian orphans SUPPORT a crisis pregnancy center in Taiwan Sponsor a baby in a TAIWANESE ORPHANAGE Provide SURGERIES for infants and children in China Provide EVERYDAY NECESSITIES for care centers in China Sponsor the EDUCATION of a child in Ethiopia Build a HIGH SCHOOL in Ethiopia Provide a VOCATION for an adult or care for a child

1. Love Without Boundaries | EDUCATION | Provide education and school access to at-risk children in China ($10+)

2.Love Without Boundaries | FOSTER FAMILIES | Provide a family environment through foster care to orphaned and at-risk children in China ($10+)

3.Love Without Boundaries | ORPHAN CARE | Provide access to care, hope and healing to orphaned and impoverished children in China through LWB’s programs ($10+)

4. Love Without Boundaries | MEDICAL CARE | Provide medical care and surgeries to orphans and infants/children whose parents would not otherwise be able to provide care. ($10+)

5. Samaritan’s Purse | REFUGEE RELIEF | Provide tents, heaters, food and more to displaced people ($125+)

6.Samaritan’s Purse | PREVENT HUMAN TRAFFICKING | Provide education in at-risk locations to empower potential victims to recognize and avoid exploitation and trafficking. ($100+)

7. Samaritan’s Purse | CLEAN WATER | Provide a water filtration system to give 3,500 people access to clean water ($20+)

8. Samaritan’s Purse | PROTECT VULNERABLE WOMEN | Provide literacy classes, maternal/child health education, protection and support for victims of gender-based violence, and more. ($30+)

9. Samaritan’s Purse | ONE WEEK OF FOOD | Provide food for a baby or nursing mother for one week. ($9+)

10. Samaritan’s Purse | CLOTHES & SHOES | Provide warm coats, clothing and footwear to displaced people in refugee camps. ($25+)

11. Anchor of Hope Romania | FOSTER CARE | Provide family-like environments and other vital care for orphans, abandoned babies, and at-risk young people in Romania. (Any amount) To give directly to Christian & Marie Burtt, full-time missionaries serving in Romania with Anchor of Hope, click here.

12. Taiwan Xi En | CRISIS PREGNANCY HOME | Provide nurturing care for infants and expectant mothers at the Taiwan Xi En House of Hope. (Any amount)

13. Taiwan Xi En | SPONSOR A BABY | Provide diapers, formula, clothes, shelter and caring nannies for abandoned and at-risk infants 0-2y at the Taiwan Xi En Orphanage. ($50/mo)

14. Show Hope |  SURGERIES | Provide heart, cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries to orphans and infants/children in China. ($65+)

15. Show Hope | EVERYDAY NECESSITIES | Provide diapers, food, and clean drinking water to the special needs orphans living at the Show Hope care centers in China. ($12+)

16. Adami Tulu + Ziway Project | EDUCATION & FOOD | Provide access to education and nutritious meals for a school-age child in Ethiopia. ($19/mo)

17. Adami Tulu + Ziway Project | HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION | Provide the resources necessary to build a high school so the Adami Tulu + Ziway students can continue their education. (Any amount) Or, donate in honor of a loved one, and send a card to a friend! ($20+)

18. Lifesong for Orphans | WHERE MOST NEEDED | Provide life-giving care for children, and sustainable micro-business opportunities for adults, in Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Ethiopia, Liberia, Zambia, Cambodia, India and Ukraine. On #GivingTuesday [2 December 2014] only, your gift to Lifesong for Orphans will be multiplied 4x through a matching grant when you give using this link. (Any amount)


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CHRISTMAS :: “Naptime Diaries” Advent + Print Collection


Are you familiar with Naptime Diaries? They have the neatest art! And this year they have a GORGEOUS Advent collection. I mean, it’s really something — prints, calendar, devotional.

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And here are a few of my favorite prints from the latest collection —

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Do not be afraid / I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.”

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The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?

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Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

So full of hope and GREAT JOY, isn’t it? View more here.

MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches


Every Christmas tree doesn’t have to be a big, Costco-sized production. Here are some lovely ideas to use small, table-top trees — or even the extra branches you might have leftover after trimming to fit into the tree stand!

My Lovely Things on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Tiny tree in the hallway via Anna Truelsen / My Lovely Things

Nora Lill on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Fir branches in jar of water via Nora Lill

Christmas Tree Branches as Chrismtas Trees via A Barefoot Day on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Evergreen branches in mason jars via A Barefoot Day

waltherogco_dk on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Cut tree in glass vase via Walther & Co

Design Chaser - Tabletop Christmas Tree, wooden, and wire geometric on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Table-top Christmas tree with wooden and wire geometric ornaments via The Design Chaser

Princess Pine in Clay Pot Anna Truelsen on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Princess pin in clay pot via Anna Truelsen / My Lovely Things

Noralill Branch in Jar on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Evergreen branch in jar of water on tin tray via Nora Lill

Fika on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Small tree in Swedish enamel bucket on windowsill via B.I.B. And I spy pour-over coffee! The whole photo series is here, and it’s lovely.


Have a photo of Scandi-inspired Christmas loveliness? Send it to me, and I might feature it on the 4th Annual Scandinavian/Nordic Christmas Series! Click here to find out how.

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: Advent Calendar Ideas


Whether you spell it advent calendar or adventskalender — or even  julkalender  — we’re just two weeks away from December 1.  Time to get this Scandinavian Christmas series underway!

The first advent calendar example comes from Elisabeth Heier in Norway. She made this kalender tree from painted white boards — and then attached the paper bags to the tree using nails and wire. It’s really striking — and the black and white design keeps it from looking too cluttered.

Elisabeth Heier Kalender Tree via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Advent Calendar Tree / Kalender tre via Elisabeth Heier

This next advent calendar, from The Merry Thought blog, cleverly strings up an evergreen bough and then decorates with tiny plywood-covered matchboxes. The full tutorial can be found here.

The Merry Thought - Evergreen Bough Hanging Advent Calendar via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Hanging Christmas Tree Branch Advent Calendar via The Merry Thought

Starting with a plain tree, and adding one decoration per day until the tree is filled at Christmas — what a good idea! This filigrantrae is Danish-inspired and comes from Nalle’s House blog. Bonus: her post has a full tutorial if you want to make your own dowel tree, although this ideas would work with any small tree.

Nalle's House DIY Wooden Dowel Tree via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Danish Wooden Dowel Tree via Nalle’s House

Most of the advent candles I’ve seen in my life are a group of four candles, one for each advent Sundag leading up to Christmas. But I love the idea of a single large candle measuring the days, turning the candle into a daily tradition rather than weekly one. In fact, Tina over at Copenhagen’s Traveling Mama, has observed that’s the norm in Denmark!

Traveling Mama Advent Candle Numbered for Days via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Advent Candle Numbered for Days via Traveling Mama

If you have an accessible staircase bannister, you could make that the focal point for your advent gifts, like Swedish blog Fröken Knopp did with newsprint and twine. (P.S. How cute is that painted floor?)

Fröken Knopp Advent Calendar on Staircase via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Staircase, Newsprint and Twine Advent Calendar via Fröken Knopp

I can hardly get over Vibeke Design’s stunning advent calendar shop display. Paper cones, edged in lace, hung from a lichen-covered hardwood branch. Oh, so pretty!

Vibeke Design Christmas Shop Display in Sweden, via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Advent Calendar Display via Vibeke Design Christmas Shop in Sweden

How are you planning to celebrate and decorate for advent this year? I’d love to hear! And if you need more ideas, here are more advent calendar ideas and even more advent calendar ideas!


Want to contribute to the 4th Annual Scandinavian/Nordic Christmas Series? Click here to find out how!

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: Your Chance to be Featured on the Fourth Annual Blog Series!


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It’s that time again. For the fourth year in a row, Oaxacaborn will soon be transformed into a Scandinavian winter wonderland — and I can’t wait!

Here are a just a few highlights from the last few years.

Of course, none of this would be possible without YOU, my incredible world-wide readers. So, what do you have for us all this year? Email me at oaxacaborn@gmail.com!

(Still need ideas? You can read more about what sort of Scandinavian/Nordic Christmas topics to submit, or click here to see the entire Scandinavian Christmas archive.)

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: Copenhagen // Flying House by Traveling Mama


Dear readers, this Christmas season’s final guest post is by none other than the Copenhagen-based Flying House blog. You might know her as Traveling Mama AKA Tina Fussell — you do follow her Instagram account @tinafussell, right? Tina’s graciously agreed to share a little about her experiences in the magical place that is Scandinavia at Christmastime.

Scandinavia has to be one of the most charming places in the world to celebrate Christmas.  For weeks the light of day grows dimmer and dimmer, like a great bear snuggling down for a long winter’s nap.  By three o’clock, darkness descends and candlelight flickers in the window of every home and shop.  It is everything you might imagine an authentic Christmas to be, as if every everyone and everything has been perfectly scripted into a fairy tale story.
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Click for more about Christmas Market shopping and the store windows, from Tina’s blog.

The days are filled with festive foods such as pebernødder cookies and æbleskiver, eaten while creating traditional handmade Christmas decorations, a craft that is passed down from one generation from the next, while the evenings are festive with parties and glogg, a warm mulled wine.  The shops are packed with everyone bustling about while Christmas music hangs in the air.
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Click for more about gløgg and the Christmas market at Tivoli, from Tina’s blog.

The Christmas markets sell a variety of wares, from seasonal teas to wool hats and gloves and the air is filled with the smell of earthy pine and sweet, sugary nuts being roasted and peddled by street vendors.

If you are looking for a quintessential Christmas experience, then Scandinavia is the place for you.

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Click for more about the pebernødder cookie, from Tina’s blog. 

Tina, thank you so much! And readers, for more of what Denmark has to offer, be sure to follow along with Tina over at the beautiful Flying House blog, as she takes you inside some of the best little spots in Copenhagen — and shares peeks of her cozy home! It’s one of my favorite reads, for sure.

Merry Christmas!

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: Sankta Lucia Day


Today, December 13, is St. Lucia Day! And today’s guest blogger, Linnea of Linnea in the Capitol, is here to tell you all about this wonderful Swedish holiday. -Gina

Growing up in a Scandihoovian (American-Scandinavian) household meant that Sankta Lucia day was an incredibly important part of our holiday season. Like my other favorite Swedish holiday, Midsommar, it involves wearing a fantastic crown and lots of singing!

How to Celebrate Santa Lucia Day at Home - Swedish Holidays

The Legend of St. Lucia

The legend – or legends, for I believe there are several versions – of Saint Lucia actually come from Sicily, Italy. A young maiden there, Lucia, chose to give away her dowry to the poor. This made her husband-to-be quite angry, and she was sentenced to be burned to death. The flames could not harm her, however, and eventually she was killed with a sword.

This tale was taken up to Scandinavia, where it melded nicely with local tradition and became a beautiful holiday and celebration. December 13th was the winter solstice according the old Julian calendar, and if you have ever been to Sweden in the winter you know how dark the days can be! Lucia brings light and hope (and often baked goods!) to the people on that dark, dark day.

Traditionally the eldest daughter in the family rises early and dresses in a long white dress with a red sash and with light on her head. She takes a tray of breakfast and goes throughout the home, waking the family with beautiful singing and bringing them breakfast in bed (at least that’s how we did it!)

Lucia programs are also put on in schools and throughout the community. One lucky girl is even chosen to be the National Lucia in Sweden each year. In some circumstances girls submit applications to be Lucia, and may be selected by a voting process. It is a wonderful honor to be selected as Lucia. Other girls make up the tärnor, a train which follows Lucia. The girls in the tärnor also wear long white dresses with sashes, and carry a candle in their hand. Often bringing up the back of the train are the stjärngossar (star boys), boys also wearing long white robes, wearing a tall pointed hat with stars on it and carrying a staff with a star on the end.

It is easy to celebrate Lucia at home! Here are the things you’d need:

Lucia and Light // St. Lucia Crown DIYs

While Lucia is often the eldest daughter, there is no reason that it has to be! In my opinion anyone can be Lucia, regardless of age or gender! (I often heard my brothers lament that they would never get to be Lucia. Being a star boy is fun, but in my opinion boys can be Lucia too!)

While traditionally Lucia wears real candles on her head, many people forgo this today in favor of battery powered candles. There are battery powered Lucia crowns for sale, but there are many other ways to represent Lucia’s crown as well that you can put together at home. One common solution is a wreath of silver tinsel around the head – it catches the light and twinkles in a wonderful way.

I found several great DIY Lucia crowns online, ranging from very easy (construction paper) to a little more involved (sewing.)

Lucia wears a long white dress, generally loose fitting – a nightgown works well, but any white dress will do. Tie a red ribbon around the waist and put some white socks on the feet and the outfit is complete!

Baked Treats and Hot Drinks // Swedish Lussekatter Recipe

Lucia brings a tray of yummy things to eat. You can put whatever you’d like on your tray, but if you’d like to celebrate like a real Swede consider making lussekatter (St Lucia buns) – a saffron yeast bun. Saffron is generally expensive, but gives such a distinct and unique color and flavor. I found my saffron this year at Trader Joe’s.

lussekatter via Vera H
Image Credit :: Vera H

Here is our family recipe, a combination of instructions from Första Kokboken, my great-uncle Stig, and my mother.

100-150 g. (10.6 Tablsp.) margarine or butter
4 dl (1 2/3 cup) milk
½ cup warm water (110⁰ F.)
50 g. yeast (2 Tblsp dry yeast – Kirsti; 3 packages dry yeast – Stig)
½ tsp. salt
1 – 1 ½ dl (1/2 cup) sugar
15 dl (6 cup) flour
1 gram (2 packages) saffron, also raisins
1 beaten egg to “pensla med” (brush onto the rolls before baking)

Melt the margarine in a sauce pan. Pour in the milk and warm until it is “finger warm”. Place yeast in mixing bowl and add ½ cup warm water and let dissolve. Add the warm milk mixture and flour, sugar, and seasonings. Put  the saffron in a small bowl with a sugar cube and crush them together. Then add to the dough mixture. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, use this to mix the ingredients together until the dough holds together and leaves the sides of the bowl. (It will be stickier than regular bread dough.) Place a towel over the bowl (or plastic wrap, easier to clean up) and let rise for 40 minutes or until it is light and porous. (This may take longer depending on your altitude.)

Dust flour onto the counter or a bread board. Punch down the dough, place some flour on your hands and knead with a light touch.

lucia shapes
Image Credit :: Första Kokboken

Pinch off some dough and roll into “ropes”. Then shape into “S” shapes, oxen, and other shapes. Place on greased baking sheet and let rise for 30 minutes. Decorate with raisins and brush on beaten egg (it makes the rolls shiny!). Bake at 425⁰ for 5 – 7 minutes, watch carefully because they burn easily. You may have to adjust for your oven.

Let your newly baked bread cool under a towel. Then it will be nice and soft.

Hot chocolate, tea, and coffee are great drinks to round out your tray.

Music for St. Lucia Day

There are many beautiful Swedish songs celebrating Lucia. Here are five of my favorites that would make a great Lucia playlist (click on the title to be taken to the song on Amazon).

You may also be able to find a Lucia program in your community to attend! If you are in near Washington DC, the American Scandinavian Association has their Lucia program this Saturday. (Find more information here!) I know there are also beautiful programs throughout the country, try googling “Swedish Lucia Festival [your area]” or something similar and see if you can find one near you! (This not-so-great quality photo is actually me as Lucia last night at the Ambassador’s Christmas party at House of Sweden.)

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You are beautiful, Linnea! Thank you for this great post. I can’t wait to have you back in the summer when we’ll talk more about Midsommar. :) Readers, be sure to add Linnea’s blog to your bookmarks!

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: 10 Dala Horses


Dala Horse via Monki Vintage
Vintage Dala horse, previously available via Monki Vintage

Advent Calendar and Dala horse via casa di falcone blog
Christmas Dala horse via Casa di Falcone

Trädgårdsflow Black Dala Horse
Black Dala Horse via Trädgårdsflow

Dala Horse Christmas Card
Dala horse Christmas card, previously available on Tokyo Pear

røde og hvite emmelines
Red and white dala horses via Emmeline’s Blogg

Unusual Dala horse collection via a maison d'anna g
Unusual Dala horse collection via A Maison d’Anna G

Solid red Dala horse via Solid Fog blog
Solid red Dala horse via the Solid Fog blog

Scandi shabby chic dala horses - all white - Princess Greeneye
Shabby chic all-white Dala horses via Princess Greenye Antiker Landchic

God Jul card by JenniferJohansson on Etsy
God Jul Dala card by JenniferJohansson on Etsy

Anna Viktoria modern Dala horse tea towel via Kings of Sweden

Anna Viktoria modern Dala horse tea towel
via Kings of Sweden

MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Christmas Greenery


There’s nothing like the piney, earthy scent of fir boughs inside this time of year, don’t you think?

Deconstructed Christmas tree via Free People
Deconstructed Christmas tree via Free People

Herriot Grace Handmade Wooden Grain Spoon

Handmade wooden spoon via Herriot Grace

The home of designer Maria Cornejo and photographer Mark Borthwick
The home of designer Maria Cornejo and photographer Mark Borthwick via Totokaelo

Martha Stewart's Cedar Wreath Chandelier
Wreath chandelier via Martha Stewart

How do you bring the outdoors inside at Christmas?

For your merry perusal, here are some [Christmas-y] Monday’s Pretty Things from the 2012 archives: