Christmas Ornaments Around the World – 2013 Edition

When you travel, is there something in particular that you always pick up for a souvenir?  We have had a few things throughout the years.  For the past few years, we have been picking up a small piece of street art.  I have been slowly framing them all and when we move into a more permanent home, I plan to hang all of the pieces in a prominent spot in the house.  For awhile, we collected magnets.  On one trip, we bought shirts everywhere we went and my daughter loves to collect stuffed animals from our trip.  One thing that we have constantly collected through the years is Christmas ornaments.

In fact, we have so many Christmas ornaments from our travels that I have decided that next year we will have one tree just for travel.  My family loves to decorate the tree with ornaments from our travels.  It probably takes us four times as long to decorate because we have to stop with each ornament and talk about that one time or that funny thing that happened on the trip in which we got the ornament.

A few years ago, I asked some family travel bloggers to share a picture of one of their favorite travel ornaments and where it came from.  I decided that it would be fun to bring it back and make it something that I do each year.

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Elaine from Carpe Travel shares this Father Frost.  They picked up Father Frost during the holidays on a trip to Moscow, Russia.

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Farrah, from The Three Under, shares this ornament from Dusseldorf but it holds a special meaning for her and the town she left to move overseas for a bit.

“I have many ornaments that are my ‘favorites’, but this year is our first year being able to add European Christmas market ornaments to our collection. I picked this one up most recently at the Christmas market in Dusseldorf, Germany. I’ve always loved poinsettias- and feel like this ornament has a connection to our ‘home’ in South Carolina since we are expats in the Netherlands.  The poinsettia plant was named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, an American physician and diplomat in South Carolina who introduced the plant into the United States in 1825. Where we’re from in SC there are hotels, streets and shops all which bear his name. It is nice to have that reminder of home overseas.”

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Liz, from Travelogged, has a great ornament collection from travels as well.  She says that “I think that these days my favorite ornament souvenir is this dragon from Wales. He’s not even technically an ornament, but he hangs on the tree quite nicely! He’s very cheerful and my toddler loves him. The dragon reminds me of a fantastic trip to Wales, which itself is a very magical place.

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Colleen, from Travel Mamas, has a hard time choosing her favorite ornament.  I understand.  I have so many favorite travel ornaments!

“I don’t know if this is my favorite Christmas ornament from our travels…how to choose?! But it is one of our most recent ornament acquisitions. I love this ornament from my 12th wedding anniversary trip with my my husband this past summer because it reminds me of the love and romance we experienced in this sweet Coastal California town. The cottage-shaped ornament embodies the quaint, friendly village of Carmel-by-the-Sea.”

 

Monday Dreaming: Postcards

This week, I made it my mission to clean out the hall closets.  They were a disaster and it took awhile to wade through all the junk.  While I was gutting the closets, I came across this box.  It isn’t a big box…just a little shoebox sized Rubbermaid bin but it is full of over 15 years of memories. 

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Since I was allowed to pick out souvenirs, I have always picked up a postcard everywhere we went.  I have postcards from big cities, small towns, attractions like the La Brea Tar Pits and the California Missions, amusement parks and hotels.  

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I even have post cards from cities and states that we just drove though.  I made sure that when we stopped to buy gas, I would run into the convenience store and grab a postcard. 

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Since I got married almost eleven years ago, I really haven’t purchased postcards on our travels unless I was sending one.  After digging around in this box and dreaming about places I visited years ago (some I have revisited since), I think I might have to start with this tradition again! 

What are your travel traditions? 

Thank you to Mara for hosting Monday Dreaming at Mother of All Trips.  See her latest Photo Friday where she shared her son’s souvenir cup!

Christmas Ornaments Around the World

A few weeks ago, I posted about Christmas ornaments that we have collected and I loved all the comments and tweets I got about it.  I asked some of my travel blogger buddies if they would share their favorite ornaments with us! 

LoveBaby LoveTravel Tree DecorationThis decoration was bought in Bellagio, Lake Como. Since getting married my husband and I have bought a new decoration each time we go on holiday.  This one is particularly special to me because it was the first holiday abroad my husband and I took with our son Euan. He was five months old and we were on a driving holiday of Europe.  The trip was really special and it was actually while travelling that I decided to start my blog. I’m looking forward to hanging this decoration for the first time this year. It’s Euan’s first Christmas and I can’t wait!
Mother of all trips Christmas ornamentsI had a hard time choosing which ornament was my favorite! Ultimately I picked the newest two from our trip to Bath this past summer. We bought them at the gift shop at the Roman Baths Museum. I love them because they remind me of all the realities of traveling with kids. Our day in Bath was a little bit trying because Tommy was overtired and spazzy and we’d been no the road for over a week and were all just a smidge sick of each other. But the museum was such a gorgeous and interesting place (and had such a great audioguide for kids) that we all enjoyed ourselves anyway. It’s the only place on our two week trip where we bought any souvenirs and I think that’s because we wanted to remember how cool it was to stand among the remains of an ancient civilization. I also love what the ornaments say about the boys and their personalities. Teddy loved the bling of the crown jewels when we were at the Tower of London and knew that he had to have the crown. But Tommy, being eight, couldn’t choose anything “pretty” and had to pick the Roman centurion (although I know he really enjoyed the crown jewels too).
-Mara, Mother of All Trips

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While it’s not the most festive ornament on our tree, I love this little canoe ornament that my husband and I purchased in Manchester, Vermont two years ago. We had just finished a 9-mile canoe ride down the Battenkill River. It’s the exact same canoe trip I went on countless times as a child. We were even camping at the very same camping site I spent a week at every summer growing up. And to make things full circle, just a few days earlier I learned I was pregnant with our son. So this meant it was our first trip as family with our own child. 
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I own at least 200 unique Christmas ornaments — that’s a moderate guess. Some of them are favorites from childhood my mom has given me. And our family collection grows every time we travel. I *love* buying inexpensive Christmas ornaments as souvenirs from our travels. Every time we open the Christmas ornament box in December, we’re reminded of great family vacations. This tradition actually started when I was a kid! In this photo is a star with “1979” embroidered on it — that was the ornament my mom bought in New York City during a trip to the Big Apple when I was just 10; brings back GREAT memories of seeing Manhattan for the first time. The toucan is from Costa Rica, a trip my husband and I went on before we were married. The tropical fish with the nativity scene is from 1999’s honeymoon in Puerto Rico. The bear has a lei and hula skirt on — from our family’s most recent trip to Hawaii. All good stuff!

I’ve always enjoyed visiting the northern Michigan studio and store of the late Gwen Frostic. I’ve purchased greeting cards, wrapping paper, tote bags, and signed prints featuring Gwen’s beautiful nature images, and this little chickadee ornament features one of my favorite images from Gwen. Word filtered out early this year that the owners who acquired Gwen’s studio and wood-block images after her death lost the business to foreclosure, and many of Gwen’s fans feared the studio/store and her iconic images were lost forever. The story has a happy ending, though. New owners purchased the rights to Gwen’s artwork, bought the business, and reopened one of my favorite “Up North” destinations at the beginning of this past summer. So hanging my ornament again this year brought happy memories and anticipation of yet another visit to Gwen’s!

-Dominique, Midwest Guest

 
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And my favorite ornaments?  This year I have two favorite ones.  This Mardi Gras crawfish  is the very first ornament my husband and I picked out together.  We got this little guy on our honeymoon to New Orleans in 2000.  Ever year since, this ornament has a place of honor on our tree.  It is the last ornament that we hang up and it is the last ornament that we take down!

 
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We got this ornament at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum last year or the year before.  It is one of my favorite ornaments this year because everytime the kids walk by it they ask about it.  They want to know where we got it and why outer space is on it.  Everytime I tell them the story, they quickly remember that this was a trip they took with their cousins and they loved seeing the gigantic space shuttles!

Thanks so much to all of my awesome blogging buddies for sharing their special ornaments!

Stop by Delicious Baby to see Photo Friday posts!

Asheville, NC – Not all souvenirs sit on a shelf!

At the end of this week, I will be loading my daughter into my car and making the trek from Pensacola to Asheville, North Carolina for the Type A Mom Conference.  A few months ago, I dreamed about heading to Asheville for the Type A Mom Conference.  I am excited to meet some of my imaginary friends (as my husband puts it!), get the answers to some of the questions that I have about blogging, but most importantly today I am dreaming of visiting a town that is almost as important to me as my family.

About eight years ago, my husband and I decided that we were ready to start a family.  We had a few years of marriage, lots of travels and two great jobs under our belt.  One year later, we found ourselves stressed out, making doctor’s appointments, and just generally unhappy. 

Friends of ours were heading up to Asheville to relax in a cabin and invited us along.  We didn’t hesitate for a second imagining that this would be the perfect medicine to our sadness and stress.  We spent four marvelous days hiking to waterfalls, wine tasting at the Biltmore, reading books and just reconnecting. 

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Every place we have been is a colored-in state or country on our map and holds amazing memories of delicious food, gorgeous sites, and family bonding.  Asheville is not just one of the many destinations we have colored in on a map.  Six weeks later, our infertility appointment turned into a pregnancy confirmation.   

To me, Asheville is a symbol of hope, love, and family. 

A little under seven years later, I am excited to return to Asheville with my youngest child but sad that my husband and son won’t be making this trip with me.  I am excited to return to that same winery at the Biltmore to stock up on our favorite Pinot Grigio and let my daughter run around the grounds.  I am looking forward to exploring downtown Asheville.  I want to walk hand in hand with my daughter, celebrate the love our family has for each other, and make new memories in Asheville.

If you are going to the Type A Mom conference, drop me a note so I can be on the lookout for you!