Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Catch-Up

Happy New Year's Eve! I know I've been a little quiet lately, but I've been having a great couple of weeks celebrating the holiday season with family and friends. From Michigan to Kentucky, to Virginia and places in-between, I've celebrated the Christmas season with loved ones and am now getting ready for the season finale (so to speak) of ringing in the new year. I'll be back soon with more stories for you all (I still owe you a Holiday Nights post!), but for now, you can catch up with an Instagram summary. Enjoy!

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Above: A carousel and Christmas tree (along with street vendors and a festive outdoor market) adorn downtown Northville during the holiday season.

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Left: My attempt at ice skating during Holiday Nights at Henry Ford's Greenfield Village
Right: Gingerbread cookies enjoy a hot chocolate jacuzzi

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Left: Santasaurus
Right: Unique finds at a southwest Virginia thrift store during a small-town day trip/gift exchange

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Left: Santa slept in a little late on Christmas morning and got caught leaving stocking stuffers.
Right: Brad playing with Hotwheels cars on Christmas. He'll never be too old.

I'm off now to perfect my wardrobe and some cheese blintzes for a Mad Men-themed party I'm attending this evening (totally up my alley). I hope you all have a fantastic New Year's Eve and a very happy new year. See you in 2013!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Show Me Your Tree

You know a good way to cheer yourself up? Looking at Christmas trees. I've enjoyed seeing everyone's photos online over the past few weeks, and decided to share one of my own today (after Instagram finally decided to stop being a colossal pain).

My little tree. It makes me happy.

The thing about Christmas trees is that it's really hard to make them look bad. Even if the lights and decorations are sloppy, there's something magical about that glow the finished product gives off. And your world suddenly feels as though you're living in a story book.

That's why I've decided to invite you (yes, you) and everyone you know to send me photos of your own lovely trees. Post them to my Facebook wall, tag me on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or Instagram (@jbpics87)--whatever your fancy (but please, no photo links in the blog comment section, as you might be misconstrued as spam).

When you submit a photo, feel free to include your name and wherever you happen to be on this earth, and I'll do my best to share your photos on my Facebook page and (if I end up with enough) right here on this blog during the remainder of the Christmas season.

Sounds fun, right? Yup, I thought so. Now, get to snapping those pictures. I can't wait to see them all!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tears and Trust

Earlier today, I was having trouble deciding on a new post topic. Would it be a silly story about my inept ability to function as an adult? Some Christmas-at-the-capitol pictures from Lansing? Or maybe some ramblings about themed Pinterest boards (that last one can be interesting, I promise).

And then, of course, I found out about the bad news in Connecticut . . . about an Elementary school in Newtown where several lives were taken earlier this afternoon . . . from faculty and small children alike. A sinking feeling came over me.

And I cried.

I prayed as I questioned why these things keep happening. Safe places--universities, movie theaters--and now, elementary schools. Small children who don't understand the world, or at least, not as much as the rest of us claim to. Innocence attacked and families shattered. Heartbreaking beyond belief.

And I realized that all I can do now is dry my face off and continue to pray and trust that everything will be okay for the people involved. And I hope you all will, too.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Greenfield Village


Right around Halloween, Brad and I found ourselves back at the Henry Ford for a first-time excursion around Greenfield Village. The village was in its final weekend before closing up for Christmas renovations, so we took advantage of our time there and saw as much as we could in one afternoon.

For those of you who don't know, Greenfield Village is a beautiful, historic-oriented landscape filled with houses and businesses from various decades in American history. Original buildings, such as H.J. Heinz's (yes, of the famous "57") Pennsylvania home and the Menlo Park Laboratory (home to many of Thomas Edison's personal inventions and innovations) line the horse-and-carriage-traveled streets, while Model T rides are also available between individual sites across the village. I was particularly fascinated by the fact that so many prominent structures were just uprooted from their original locations and shipped to Dearborn, all residing so closely now for tourists to conveniently visit throughout the year. It's a step back in time, and a wonderful way to escape the stresses of present-day life.

Aside from walking, old-fashioned vehicles provide transportation within Greenfield Village.
Beep, beep! We couldn't help but wave at this friendly group as they drove by.
Not the original, but this building is a small-scale replica of one of Ford's original factory buildings.
Antique time pieces inside an old jewelry store.
Me, standing with ol' Tom Ed himself. Henry Ford, a good friend of Edison, actually commissioned this statue while Edison was still alive. It wasn't built, however, until 1949--years after both men had already died.

Greenfield Village is also home to several working trains, which are serviced in the on-site wheelhouse. We chose to walk for the entirety of the afternoon and didn't buy a ride pass, but lemme tell ya--the village was much bigger than I expected. By the end of the day, my feet were begging for a little relief.

Train stop right inside the entrance of Greenfield Village
Inside the wheelhouse--restoration and service city.

In addition to several historic preservations, Greenfield Village hosts a community of artisans who craft daily to demonstrate historical techniques to visitors. Some stand-outs include professional glass blowers and potters, whose handiwork is available in the village gift shop.

Inside the glass shop. The kilns looked like lava and were kind of threatening, but I adored this little horse.

And for a timeless treat, an antique carousel sits prominently in the confines of the village--a beautifully preserved piece of the early 20th century that children and adults continue to enjoy today.

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Left: The antique carousel at Greenfield Village. Herschell-Spillman was the only company that created carousels with giant green frogs and animals clad in human clothing.

Right: I paid a quarter to view a short flip-card movie in this little machine, which I found next to the carousel. 

Of course, no day would be complete if Brad didn't chase down some poor animal that he wanted to be friends with. Victim of the day: this little squirrel. Brad walked behind him for a few minutes, but the squirrel finally wised up and hopped behind a fence. Sometimes, I swear that boy is five years old.

Brad, trying to contract rabies in every way he knows how.

I am incredibly excited to say that we'll be returning to Greenfield Village next weekend for the annual Holiday Nights celebration, an outdoor festival that features old-timey carolers, fireworks, and other Christmas goodness. I'm mentally preparing myself for a cold evening outdoors, but I think hot chocolate and dressing like a character from A Christmas Carol might help sooth my concerns. Plus, it's Christmas. I don't think I can say that enough . . . it just makes everything better.

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend--let me know if you have any Christmas traditions (old or new) coming up that you'd like to share!
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