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Christkindlmarket Chicago 2016

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Vendor stalls selling handmade imported items from Germany: Christkindlmarket  Chicago 2016

Each year, people from all over the world visit the Christkindlmarket Chicago. I had the pleasure of visiting this past weekend. The outdoor market is located in the Chicago Loop and offers an authentic German Christkindlmarket experience including: shopping, typical German food and drinks and holiday entertainment. The market is in its 21st year and is celebrating the returned appearance of Christkindl from Nuremberg, Germany. The market runs daily for the advent season, from mid-November until Christmas Eve.

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The main attraction at the market is the Nativity Scene (a crèche or crib).

The History of the Christmas Market

The history of the Christmas Market goes back to the late middle ages in the German-speaking part of Europe. In many towns in Germany and Austria, Advent is usually ushered in with the opening of the Christkindlmarket or Weihnachtsmarkt. In southern Germany and Austria it is sometimes called a Christkindlmarket (In German, literally meaning “Christ child market”). Generally held in the town square and the market sells food, drink, and seasonal items from open-air stalls, accompanied by traditional singing and dancing. On opening night onlookers welcome the Christking (who was originally boy Jesus, but is often depicted as an angel-like girl), acted out by a local child young lady.

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Christking on night of Opening Ceremony 2016   Photo by: Eric James Walsh

Christkindlmarket Food and Drink

There is a wide variety of authentic German food and drink during the market. From giant pretzels and bratwurst to freshly made strudel and ceramic mugs of hot mulled wine, there is plenty to indulge in. The fantastic smells transport you right to Nuremberg!

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Hot chocolate with whipped cream in this years collectible mug.
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My husband and I enjoying a mug full of cider.

Christmas Specialties and Gifts

The variety of gifts and imported speciality items is amazing. Most of the vendors are from Germany and offer handcrafted wares. The items include: glass-blown ornaments, pewter steins, hand wood-carved nativity scenes, wool mittens, wooden clocks and much more!

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Black Forest, Germany handmade cuckoo clocks.
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Beautiful wood snowflake I purchased from the Chicago Christkindlmarket.
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Bavarian pull toys made in Germany.

 

To learn more about the Chicago Christkindlmarket, visit their website: www.christkindlmarket.com

 

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Dual-Purpose Décor: Stemless Wine Glasses

I love decorating. The discovery. The arranging. The organization. It’s like sculpting with objects. To me, one of the most enjoyable things about decorating is thinking outside the box. Taking an item and using it in an unconventional way. It’s exciting to find alternative purposes for things. So, I decided to start an ongoing blog series called “Dual-Purpose Décor” to share ideas on using décor outside the box.

This week’s dual-purpose décor item is a stemless wine glass. I picked up these beautiful ombré copper stemless wine glasses at TJMaxx. Keeping with this Fall’s trend, copper is huge right now! I thought these would be a great warm addition at my holiday table.

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Well, how else can you use a stemless wine glass? I needed some quick and inexpensive table decorations for an anniversary dinner earlier this month. I didn’t want to order floral centerpieces. They were very expensive and for this small dinner, it seemed impractical. So, I decided to use those same stemless wine glasses as candle holders! I dropped some scentless candles contained in their own glass (to protect the wine glasses from the candle wax) and voilá! Instant table decor! They were perfect. Just the right size, inexpensive and looked very sophisticated. The best part, when the party was done, they can go back to being used for wine. Love it. So practical!

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Stay tuned for future posts on more Dual-Purpose Décor ideas. Enjoy!

In the meantime, follow me daily on Instagram. For décor pics, info, products and giveaways. Search for @housefenway.

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Home is Where the Heart Is: Gallery Wall

I’ve always wanted a gallery wall. They’re pretty, they’re popular and they seem like a lot of work! The thought of collecting enough stuff, arranging it just so and hanging every piece with precision would likely send me into a panic attack. It seemed like a really hard project to tackle but I was determined to have one in my new house.

What should I have in my gallery wall? I didn’t want random items with no real meaning. I decided against family pics; they get outdated too fast and I’m horrible at getting picture developed. I wanted something with meaning. Something that would make me smile when I walked past. I did a little soul searching and decided that my “home” makes me happy. I love the city I live in, Milwaukee. It’s full of beautiful architecture, next to a wonderful lake. I was born here, raised here and now raise my own family here. I decided to do a small collection of items in honor of my hometown. It took me awhile to “collect” everything (I can be picky) but I was pleased with the grouping. The group consisted of 2 instagram pics I took of downtown Milwaukee, an illustration of the Milwaukee skyline done by a local artist, a handmade metal cutout of Wisconsin with a Magnetic heart and a wood carved letter “M”.

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Now to layout an arrangement. I decided to put it in my front hallway. It was a good location that I would pass multiple times a day. So I went to work, trying different layouts until I was pleased with the outcome. I placed the items on the floor and moved them around into different arrangements.

Attempt #1:

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Attempt #2:

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I decided on this layout. I thought it was a good balance of color and texture and would fit the wall nicely.

Attempt #3: the final

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Of course, I picked a wall that needed some TLC – patching and painting. (*My favorite*) I picked out a paint color and got to work.

img_0297I chose Granite Boulder by Behr Paint. I love Behr paint. It covers well and cleans well.

After spending a whole Sunday afternoon taping, trimming and rolling, I had a finished product! Here are before and after pictures.

Before:

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The finished gallery wall! I’m so glad I decided to tackle this project. It makes me smile every time I walk past it. 😄

After:

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How to Style a Fireplace Mantel: Halloween Edition

The fireplace mantel – a focal centerpiece, a gathering spot and the heart of a home. If you are lucky enough to have one, they can be such a joy to have. It is one of my favorite spots in our house. It keeps me warm on cold chilly Wisconsin nights, it’s a place to gather with family and it’s extremely fun to decorate (especially for the holidays!). I’ve been slowly accumulating Halloween items in the anticipation of decking out my mantel for the spookiest night of the year and it’s finally ready! I originally wanted to share my frightening finds but thought it would also be nice to also explain some basic design principles to make sure your mantel is done up just right.

The Elements

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1. Repurposed Door

I like to save items I think could “live another life”. I hate clutter and I’m not a packrat but I also hate tossing items that can be repurposed. We moved last year and had to get rid of an old giant entertainment center (it was a beast!) Most of it was junk but I saved the doors. I thought it would be the perfect backdrop for a fireplace mantel. The height of the door was a great center structure to “build” my arrangement off of. I dismantled the door hardware and gave it a couple quick coats of black chalk paint. It was perfect!

Here is is the door before painting:

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2. Handcrafted Pumpkin

As an artist by trade, I have a real respect and love for handcrafted items. I love to support local artists whenever possible. My husband and I found a Wisconsin chainsaw artist that makes incredible wood cravings. We fell in love with a whimsical Jack-o-lantern 🎃 and had to bring him home with us. Aside the door frame, it would add just the right color and height to my grouping.

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3. Candles

Every haunted house needs some eerie candles, right? Candles and Halloween seem to be a natural fit. I found some mercury glass candle sticks on a clearance table at TJ Maxx for $5 a piece. Hope could I pass that up? I love the thrill of a good deal! I picked out 2 different candle stick heights to create visual interest.

The candles I picked up at World Market. I love the spooky skulls. They add a nice vintage feel. Again, I chose two different height candles to keep visual interest.

Note: When picking out items it’s important to think about size, item proportion and color. If everything is the same size, the same height, the same color, the same texture, it will dull your design and make your arrangement visually unappealing.

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4. Holiday Wreath

One word, Target! This jewel of a wreath was a steal for only $20. I really like the metallic balls and thought they would compliment the mercury glass candle sticks. The mixture of Halloween colors tie the whole arrangement together.

5. Mini Pumpkins

Little Jacks are my favorite! They are very versatile in Fall decorating and they last all the way through the Thanksgiving season. I bought a ton of little guys and alternated orange and white pumpkins on both ends of my mantle to create symmetry.

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6. Wooden Sign

A vintage-style October 31st sign made of wood and burlap was another great find. Can you believe it was only $3? Target’s dollar area. ( Yes, I know. I spend too much time at Target. 😆) I thought it was just the right size to layer in front of the door frame. Layering items instead of aligning items adds dimension and depth to a grouping.

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7. Flag Banner

I might sound like a broken record but – Target. This year they had an amazing selection of inexpensive Halloween decorations and I totally took advantage of it. I strung the flags across the mantle to breakup the hard horizontal line on the wood mantel. The shape the banner makes and frames the whole arrangement and helps move your eye from one side to the other. I love using banners. They are so easy to make and add a great look to a fireplace.

The Finished Product

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Here it is! The finished arrangement. I’m so excited my Halloween mantel turned out. It’s just what I pictured! I loved using a mixture of items — repurposed, handcrafted, new items and some fantastic steals. It’s all about make your space yours and ending up with something you love to look at. It’s all about making your space — uniquely yours!

Enjoy.

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