Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ring out the old!

Only three hours left in, where did this year go? I was sitting in the living room sipping a cup of tea a little while ago, thinking about the painting and packing we were doing this time last year, and yeah, this New Year's Eve is way better!

We're just spending the weekend being busy little beavers, knocking some stuff off the "to do" list. Kind of fun, actually.

Just for fun, I thought I'd make a little year-in-review list of totally random items:

10 books I read in 2006:

Julie and Julia
Snow Falling on Cedars
Assassination Vacation
A Long Shadow
The Kite Runner
Tender at the Bone
The Reading Group
St. Dale
Locked Rooms
Jane Austen: A Life

8 movies I saw in 2006:
(In a theater, that is--and this is all of 'em, not even ten!)

Casino Royale
Stranger than Fiction
The Holiday
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
X-Men: the Last Stand
Flags of our Fathers
Marie Antoinette

10 Movies I rented in 2006:

Walk the Line
A Prairie Home Companion
The Matador
The Reckoning
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Match Point
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
Wedding Crashers

10 CDs I bought in 2006:

Barenaked Ladies Are Me
We Shall Overcome—the Seeger Sessions
The Very Best of Marvin Gaye
A Mighty Wind soundtrack
Smart Kid (Clumsy Lovers)
Yours, Mine and Ours (Pernice Brothers)
The Little Willies
Ricky Nelson Greatest Hits
Highway Companion (Tom Petty)

And finally...
10 Embarassing Songs I downloaded in 2006:

Play Me (Neil Diamond)
Looks Like We Made It (Barry Manilow)
Sister Golden Hair (America)
Magic (Olivia Newton-John)
I Say a Little Prayer for You (Dionne Warwick)
Baby, I Love Your Way (Peter Frampton)
If I Can't Have You (Yvonne Elliman)
Crazy Love (Poco)
Everything I Own (Bread)
...and the most cringe-inducing...Afternoon Delight (Starland Vocal Band)

All from the Seventies, Decade of Shame. And Decade of my Childhood...this is my musical heritage we're looking at here. Consider this last list an homage to our late President, Mr. Ford, who presided over a slice of my childhood, albeit a smaller slice than either Barry Manilow or Neil Diamond.

Happy 2007, everybody--may you have perfect peace and contentment this coming year! Thanks for reading my mutterings and crazy thoughts in 2006! Love ya, man!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The last of Christmas journaling.

I've got the final four pages of my journal done!

Here's the page for the 15th which I put off because the prompt for the day was not something I could relate to. I swapped in a later prompt for this date:

And here's the page for the 20th, which was about Christmas mail. We got many fewer cards than usual, and nothing particularly unexpected, so I just clipped some stamps and postmarks and stuck them in a pocket:

For the 24th, I wrote about a very vivid childhood memory:

And wrapped it all up neat and tidy for the 25th:

I need to figure out how to decorate the cover...if I come up with anything awesome, I'll share it. Thanks for looking and all the great comments I got...this was a fun project and it really made my holidays more fun!

A more perfect me.

The weeks after Christmas always follow the same script: Janelle tugs worriedly, hand over hand, at the skinny rope attached to the household that is slowly, slowly teetering on the brink of collapse.

At least that's how it feels. In the lead-up to Christmas, I neglect the house even more than I usually do, thinking that when January 1 comes, that will be the perfect time to pull everything back into shape for the New Year. January 1 is like my magic "do over" date.

So after Christmas, there are presents to shoehorn into storage spots, and closets to go through, and always complete rehaulings of at least one room if not more, while trying to pick up the clutter that has gathered in every room, and maybe scrape a layer of dirt off stuff, too. Oh, and all the Christmas decor to put away, which is always horrible...all the magical wonderful holiday stuff that has brightened your month, now just another loathsome chore to be added to the long list.

This is the time of year we often buy furniture or new storage set-ups, which require lots of rearranging. Last year at this time we were dismantling one household while trying to prepare a new household for habitation. I've been thanking God on bended knee every day lately that I don't have to do THAT again this year.

Finances always need attention after Christmas too--enter the receipts, bring the accounts up-to-date, file the last of this year's paperwork and set up folders for next year's paperwork. Shudder at the sums you've spent on Christmas and, worse, on after-Christmas sales, and calculate how many months into 2007 you'll be paying off your spending orgy. (The past couple weeks have been abnormally hard on my credit card.)

Now I'm up very late tonight feeling some major anxiety pangs...not quite sure about what. Just everything, I guess. I have such a long list of chores for the next couple of weeks, and an even longer list of goals for the upcoming year. Spend less, eat less, clean more, walk more, get organized, get life figured out.
It's making me twitchy.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Catching up and throwing up.

This week between Christmas and New Year's always throws me off. Nothing is routine!

Todd had Tuesday off so we planned a movie marathon where we would see four movies, carefully planned according to the theater schedule. But then the first movie (The Holiday) ran far longer than we figured (why does a romantic comedy need to be over two hours long?!), throwing off our second movie (The Good Shepherd). So we killed a little time at TJ Maxx, where I found and bought a very cute brown wool jacket.

Then we skipped our third planned movie (The Nativity Story) and went straight to the fourth movie (Casino Royale). After that we had dinner and debated whether to try to catch a late show of The Good Shepherd, but we were both tired and Todd had to work this morning. So our four-movie marathon turned into a

I woke up at 3:30 this morning throwing up, so I laid low and slept much of the day away today. I was going to clean and tidy and maybe start putting Christmas away, but I was a little too sore and achy for that. I'm feeling steadily better, though.

I've been ripping CDs to my computer today, about the only activity I felt good enough to tackle, and I played a bit of one of my Eva Cassidy albums just now. I don't know if you've ever heard a voice pure enough to make you cry, but she had it for sure. Listen to the first track on Eva By Heart and see if it doesn't get you. I remembered then why I stopped listening to the albums--it's hard to drive with tears in your eyes!

I made an appalling discovery today--the Christmas journal class runs through Epiphany! That's January 6 for any heathens out there. I thought it just went through Christmas.

Well, not only won't my album hold that many more pages, but I am officially OVER Christmas and it will be hard enough making myself catch up with the four pages I need to finish. So I think I'll be hopping off this ride before the end.

I hope to get the final pages done and up by the end of this weekend.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I hope everybody's having a happy day today. Joy to the world!

We had a relaxing day yesterday, with lasagna and Christmas cookies for dinner, and wine in snowman mugs because I didn't have time to run out and find wine glasses. Then we went to a late candlelight service at church that was really beautiful. Great music.

This morning we both woke up way earlier than I had planned, just in time for an early call from Todd's sister Lisa. Opened presents, ate breakfast, and now we're just hanging out. This afternoon we'll go spend some time with my friend Cheryl's family.

Here's my Christmas journal page for December 23. I finished this page last night, so I'm just two behind! I think I'll work on them tonight and see if I can get this project done!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Day 22.

My relatively short to-do list...I thought the snowmen scurrying to and fro on this paper were too cute and appropriate to cover up:

Journal. Almost there!

Here's Day 21 of my Christmas Journal...we were supposed to take a picture of our home "as is" and see how it shows our state of readiness. Or words to that effect, it's all a little fuzzy now.

Day 20's prompt was about unexpected Christmas mail, but as we have yet to get anything really spectacular in the mail yet...I'm postponing that one. There's still a few days left to get something awesome, right?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Oof. I hit a wall sometime yesterday and now I want to sit by a crackling fire with a cup of tea and a British mystery I've never read before with a blizzard whirling outside and Christmas cookies on the table...and not have to do one blessed thing at all.

However. It's still in the 50's here, so no snow and no real need for a fire...I have no British mysteries to read...and I'm too tired to make cookies. Hm.

I guess I'll just have a cup of tea. And fold some laundry. And get dinner started. Sigh. I'm pooped today! Anybody else feeling that pre-holiday energy pinch?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

One more.

Christmas Journal for Day 19:

I think this may be the first letter I ever wrote to Santa...we didn't do Santa when I was a kid! It felt weird, but that was what Shimelle said to do today, so...!

C is for Cookie.

One more post for today--the challenge at Two Peas is to blog about your favorite Christmas cookie.

I love cut-out sugar cookies, but they have to taste GOOD, not cardboard-y.

For years I made my mom's stand-by Betty Crocker cookbook recipe, which is good and tastes like home...but then five or six years ago, a friend shared her tried-and-true recipe with me.

Eva's Sugar Cookies

2 cups butter or margarine, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla and almond extracts until light and fluffy. In another large bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Gradually stir flour mixture into butter and sugar mixture until blended. Chill for one hour, then roll out on a floured board and cut into shapes. Bake at 350 degrees on lightly greased (or parchment-lined) baking sheets for 8-10 minutes, until light golden brown. Makes 12 dozen cookies.

It's the almond extract that makes the difference here--these are some delicious cookies. The last time I made them, they never made it to the frosting stage--Todd and I devoured them all plain! But when I do manage to get them frosted, I usually add a drop of almond extract to the frosting, too. I just use whatever generic white frosting recipe is in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I'm craving some!

Day 18.

Here's my December 18 page. I'm starting to get a complex--every single journaling prompt is about what do you always do for this and how do you always do that, and the fact is that in my life, no one Christmas is like any other one!

So...a typical Christmas dinner--there is no such thing! I'm going to put a couple recipes in the pocket, probably for the braciole and for my mom's rolls that I may try to make this year. I keep thinking of all these things to do and try and the fact of the matter is that time is rapidly running out to do or try anything!

Best thing since sliced bread.

Just a quick note: my friend Cheryl was asking me about the Krylon pens I mentioned yesterday, so I thought I'd mention them again, as they are one of the all-time bestest, most wonderful tools I've ever used. They are called Krylon Leafing Pens and they come in five colors. They don't really show in the pictures of the canvases I posted, since I used them on the edges, but trust me, the effect they give is wonderful.

For a while there it seemed like I was using them on every last thing I made, because they are so easy to use and look so great. I'm trying to find something where maybe they show up a little better so you can see...well, I can't find any saved photos at the moment. But they're perfect for edging things so you get just a little glimmer here and there. Love 'em! That's my commercial for today.

Monday, December 18, 2006

More journal.

I managed to whip out Days 16 and 17 this afternoon. I'm skipping Day 15, because the prompt just doesn't fit me and I can't think of a way around it. I'll come back and fill it in once I've finished the book--I'm sure there will be some thought I'll want to include that won't be covered in the journaling prompts.

Here's the last collage I did--it's a little different from the first three, as I used Basic Grey papers and didn't go quite as vintage-y with it. I am soooo loving the vintage look, though!


I've been determined to hang onto my Christmas cheer, but I must confess, I'm just not feelin' it today. I must have missed the memo that declared today Mental Defective Shoppng Day in the city of Newport News. And they were out in droves! How hard is it to drive like a normal human being and get through a simple shopping transaction? Apparently it's really hard for some people.

And it's like 75 degrees today, which would be wonderful in, say, April, but on December 18, driving around with the AC on makes me extremely grumpy. I was hot all dang summer long--I really was looking forward to being COLD for a few months at least.

And the music, the horrible, horrible Christmas music assaulting me where'er I go!

Came home to a house that looks like a bomb went off in every single room, and my neighbor doing something with a power tool that sounds like an enormous dental drill boring right. Into. My. BRAIN.

Time for a long cleansing sigh.......ahhhhhh.

In the mailbox today was a Christmas card from my sweet grandma, who wrote, "We are sorry you won't be able to be with us at Christmas but are glad for the new job, and thankful Christmas blessings don't depend on where you are."

Christmas blessings don't depend on where you are--I'm thankful for that, too.

In other computer chair broke under me on Thursday, and the weekend was busy, so I'm four days behind on my Christmas journal. Now I have a new stinky chair (what in the world are they putting in/on these things that make them smell like this? It just can't be good for you!) and hoping to get caught up. Over the weekend I worked on these:

Which will all be belated Christmas gifts for my aunts on my mom's side, whom I hope don't read this blog! There's a fourth, but Blogger is being difficult as usual, and won't let me post it.

The squares are pasted on 8x10" canvases and varnished. I covered the raw edges with Krylon gold leafing pen, which is my absolute favorite thing in the world. Then I applied a few 3-D embellishments to the front. I'm pretty happy with them! They're a take-off of Ali E.'s holiday project from her November e-zine.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Little people.

The boxes are mailed, what a relief! Now I just need to finish my cards, come up with a few more things for Todd, and do a couple more odds and ends. But the boxes were the big Christmas hurdle--five of them to various homes in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Here are the little ornaments I stitched for the kids on my side of the family. I got the patterns from Hillary Lang's Wee Wonderfuls site. I mailed them to my mom to stuff and slip stitch them closed, as I was down to the wire with no time to spare. So they're deflated here, but still darling, I think. I can't wait till she comes out with the winter set!

The prompt for today's journal entry has me scratching my head, so it may be a bit before I get to it. I may have to come up with my own idea instead.

Today I'm packing up some project supplies to take to a crop in Virginia Beach tomorrow. Later I'll make some fudge to take, too. Tonight is Todd's office party, so I'll need to doll myself up, as I have to make a good impression on all these people I haven't met before!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fa la la la freaking la.

Heh. The one thing this journal was missing was a good old-fashioned rant. Since today's topic was Christmas music, I got to unleash a few of my feelings about it. Fun!

In the pocket, I'm either going to put a CD with some of the Christmas songs I do like, or else a list of some of my favorite Christmas albums. The latter is more likely than the former--easier, in other words, so more do-able.

The little chorister is cut out from a piece of Daisy D paper, and he just slays soulful and sappy. Like he could be the star of a Christmas special called, "The Gayest Choirboy of All."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Day 13.

This one is a semi-quickie. Topic: the present-giving ritual in your family. I substituted some random memories instead, as there really is no ritual.

I'm going to have to curb my "lumpiness" on the remaining pages, because the binder is getting full and I'm only half done! Oh, me.

Day 12.

I did a two-page spread last night for my December 12 entry in my Christmas Journal, because I found two pictures I wanted to use and needed the room.

The topic was sort of a pondering of Christmases past, present, and future, which made me think about the Spirits in A Christmas Carol. I ended up going in a different direction than I had planned earlier in the day, and although the spread is a bit of a mishmash, I got all the important stuff in. Here's the left page:

And the right page, which is an envelope page:

Journaling is on a card in the envelope page, with two more old photos:

In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is visited by three ghosts: Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come.

I dwell a lot on Christmas Past, which is a happy but dangerous place to visit. I pine for times and places that have come and gone, and the sorrow over what is past dims the joy of my Christmas Present.

Christmas Yet to Come I can hardly imagine. I’m afraid it won’t be as happy as times in the past, and yet, each happy Christmas Present was once a Christmas Yet to Come, as they were in these childhood photos. How could I know as a baby and as a child what joy was in store for me? But it was there waiting.

“Joy to the World” is my favorite Christmas carol…joy is the ultimate Christmas present…joy is what I will look for in this Christmas Present and all the Christmases Yet to Come.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bad housewife.

There's a thread at Two Peas this morning about towels and how frequently you wash them. I'm dumbfounded at how many people wash them after each use, because they don't want to dry their face with the section that dried their butt the day before. Or because skin cells and dust mites give them the heebie-jeebies. Or whatever.

The lone guy on the thread said:


People do that?

I guess I better not reveal here how long my bath towel goes between washes...

I have to go sit next to him...because there's no way I'd reveal how long towels go between washes around here.

I always have to lurk in shame on these kinds of discussion threads...when the wives and moms on the board start chatting about how often the sheets get washed, or the best way to dust blinds, or how to wash baseboards.

People do that? Wash baseboards? Really?

In my defense, I come from a long line of haphazard housewives. I mean, we all do our best, and there's no out-and-out filth in my house, but cleaning is at the very bottom of my daily necessity list. I try to give things a swipe as I go along, or else just ignore them until Todd gets fed up and does something about it--an excellent scheme, particularly with vacuuming, which I hate.

Part of it is that we don't have kids or pets, so things don't get as dirty here as they do when kids are smearing things on the walls and grinding them into the carpet, or when pets are leaving pounds of hair on every flat surface and vomiting nasty things up.

Still, I fear it says bad things about me that I was shocked to hear someone say she has four bathrooms and what a pain it is to clean them every day.

Every day?

People do that?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Day 11.

Monday's entry in my Christmas Journal:

The journaling prompt was to write about your Christmas tree, what kind you have, what sorts of ornaments you put on it--and to include an ornament hook somewhere on the page!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Journal update.

Here are days 8, 9, and 10 of my journal!

For December 8, the topic was changes we see around us as Christmas approaches. I used pictures of my house decorations.

The flap opens to reveal my journaling. I'd like to put a picture of our front door wreath under the line from the song and the holly...but I have to actually make the wreath and hang it before that can happen!

For December 9, the topic was traditions. As I journaled, we've never really had any hard-and-fast traditions, but then I did think of one thing we did when I was a kid that I still enjoy doing today. I'm going to add a card to the pocket with some of the other things we've done off and on over the years.

Today's entry was a simple one...we had to use the wrapping paper we're using this year on the page, add a tag, etc. I wrapped a square of chipboard for my tiny "present."

Me and him.

We went out in the backyard yesterday morning to get a picture of the two of us for my holiday newsletter. Here are a couple of the good ones; here we're sitting on our deck:

Here we're in front of the neighbor's holly bush and our pine tree:

And here we're on the other side of our yard with the other neighbor's fence behind us. This is the picture I used for the newsletter, cropped down a little:

I'm pretty happy with's been ages since we took a nice picture together. Thank goodness Todd was able to find his tripod.

More journal pages coming soon!

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Many bloggers are talking about the Kim family right now, and their ordeal. I was so happy to hear that the Kims' little girls were safe, but it's terribly sad about their father. At first I was shocked that in the twenty-first century, a family could still get stranded and exposed to the elements for a week, and that a dad could die in the cold trying to get help...then I started thinking about the years we lived in Idaho.

Here in the east, being in such an isolated place seems almost unreal, but out there it's all too real. I started remembering the weekend day trips Todd and I would take into the hills, through mud and snow drifts, down dirt roads and up over ridges. If we'd gotten stuck, no one would have known where we were or where to look.

Todd would also head into the mountains to pan for gold, usually alone, and an accident could easily have been fatal since I wouldn't have been able to pinpoint exactly where he was.

And in our trips to and from Salt Lake City in the fall and winter, if we'd had to take back roads for any reason, we would have been just as isolated, and again, no one would know where we were. We used to just take off and never inform anyone where we were going or that we were leaving town.

It makes me shiver a little now, thinking about it. We manage to close Nature out most of the time, but it certainly doesn't take much to remind you how little control any of us have.

Day 7.

Here's my journal page for December 7...the theme is Christmas shopping. This year's shopping list peeks out of the pocket. I feel like I've got a lot of stuff on this page, and none of it goes together, but...oh well!

It was a timely topic because I had to go out and do a little more shopping today before my guitar lesson...I am so close to being done I can taste it. Then comes the packing and mailing--ugh.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Day 6.

I'm home doing boring housewifey stuff today, but here's Day 6 of my Christmas journal. Today's prompt was to write about a good Christmas and a bad Christmas. I'm afraid my memories of both are pretty vague!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

More journal.

Here are my Christmas journal pages for December 3, 4, and 5.

This page features an old Christmas card. You open up the card to read the journaling, like so:

I'll be adding a handmade card to the pocket once I pick one out.

This page for December 4 is a little personal...I don't know if it is readable or not, but the topic was "daydream about the perfect Christmas" and I wrote about part of the reason why the holidays aren't perfect for me.

The topic for December 5 was Advent, which instantly made me think about the Advent wreath at church when I was a kid. I'm going to put a few of my favorite verses from Isaiah into the envelope...if I ever get my Daisy D tags I ordered last week!

Monday, December 04, 2006

More decor.

Here's my tiny kitchen tree that I put up a few days ago.

And I got a nice ornament picture in the late sunshine today.

Can you tell I'm having a totally nonproductive Monday? I have a "to do" list a mile long, and I've been just dithering around all day. I feel very distracted!


Being a semi-rational adult human female, I understand that all worthwhile things take time, that the journey is just as important as the destination, and that practice makes perfect.

Being a supremely impatient perfectionist, I have a hard time believing all that crap.

Today was actually a good day for me and the guitar...I played three chords that actually sounded like chords, and plucked my way through four or five simple tunes, and didn't end up with too much neck or arm pain at the end of 30 or 40 minutes. I have to remember this good practice next time I have a bad practice...which will be soon!

After all these years of looking at notes and wondering what they say, it really is sublime to look at a note, know it's a B or C or G, and be able to play it on an instrument. Sublime, I say! I try to keep focusing on that feeling.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas journal.

So I decided to take a month-long "Journal Your Christmas" class online, through Shimelle Laine's website. I took a mini album class from her in January that was a lot of fun, and this Christmas class gets rave reviews from people who've taken it in the past.

Each day in December, you get a journaling prompt. How you interpret it is up to you, but the idea is to end up with a journal of your thoughts and memories of Christmas.

Here's my December 1 page.

I think I might try to put big numbers somewhere on the pages, for each day's date, but I haven't found the right thing yet. For December 1, we were just supposed to write about why we wanted to make a Christmas journal. I don't know if my journaling is reads:

"I used to love Christmas and everything that went with it. But time, age and general grouchiness have taken away much of the pleasure and joy I used to feel at Christmastime, and turned me into a bit of a Scrooge at times.

"My hope is that creating this journal with my memories and feelings about Christmas will help rekindle some of that holiday pleasure inside me!"

For December 2, the prompt was about Christmas weather, snow in particular. We were supposed to create a snowflake and put it somewhere on the page.

I hand cut a snowflake, and then decided to glitter it up, forgetting my cardinal rule about glitter: don't use it! I adhered it with a glue stick, instead of wet glue, and it just didn't take well at all.

So I layered a transparency over it, thinking I'd contain it a little bit that way...but glitter pours out around the edges every time I touch it.

So I tried taping up the edges of the page...but that glitter is still sneaking out. Glitter sucks!
I'm sure my journaling for this page is illegible, being on the transparency and all. I picked a bad font, I'm afraid. Here it is:

"Living in Virginia, Christmas always catches me off-guard. I’ve never lived in a place where the weather is still warm well into December. Each chilly day makes me hopeful that winter is finally here—and each balmy day makes me impatient for some real winter weather, the kind that makes you ready for Christmas.And as far as snow goes—that is even rarer here than cold snaps. I loved the Ohio Christmases where the snow would come in time for Christmas Eve…so perfectly magical."

You can see some of the other students' interpretations of their Christmas journals at Written Down. Very inspiring!

More pages to come, and I'm still working on the journal cover. I'm using a square Sarabinder with tabbed and pocket and envelope feels good to finally use a long ago purchase instead of hoarding it!

Holiday project.

Here's the holiday project I did with my at-home class on Friday morning.

The idea came from Ali Edwards' blog and the e-zine she puts out periodically. In November, she had a holiday collage project that you can see here, if you scroll down to
Holiday Project #2.

The idea is to construct an 8x10 piece using 20 2x2" squares. Ali did a lot of stamping and used large images in hers...I didn't have quite as many good large images, so I concentrated more on pattern, using some of the new Basic Grey holiday papers as a base.

Placed in an 8x10" mat, some of the edges get cut off, so I'm thinking one might have to have a specially cut mat, or else mount the piece raised on a matboard background. I'm not sure how Ali managed to get hers looking the way it does--maybe spacers?

Anyway, it's a fun and easy way to use up holiday odds and ends, and the possibilities are really endless--you could use bits from old Christmas cards, or old Christmas postage stamps, Jolee's dimensional stickers, etc. I'm thinking about making a few more vintage-y looking pieces for holiday gifts for my aunties.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

More pictures.

This week I pushed through my Christmas malaise and got the tree up. I think it's the prettiest tree I've ever done. We haven't had a full-size tree in years.

I have a collection of vintage ornaments, and there were enough of them to decorate a 4-foot tree, which I did for one or two Christmases. Last year, at a yard sale, Todd came across a whole box full of smaller vintage ornaments for something like a dollar, and picked them up for me. So with that addition, I ended up having enough to cover our new 6 1/2-foot tree.

I don't think I've ever put tinsel on a Christmas tree of my own, but I felt like I needed some this year, so I found this white garland at K-Mart, plus strings of shiny red beads and red bows. I absolutely love how it all looks together.

I've been searching for the perfect tree topper for all the years we've been married...I think I've been trying to find a replica of the star my mom made from cardboard and covered with aluminum foil when I was a kid, which I guess is impossible. So I was at Ten Thousand Villages waiting out time before a dentist appointment last week, and I spotted this angel, made in Nepal. She's so colorful, and she's holding a guitar, which is just perfect!

I'm trying to take a few close-ups of my nicer ornaments, but I think that will require a tripod. I'm going to see if I can get a few good shots before the holidays are over.

More decor: Here's one of my thrift-store bowls with greenery and berries, on top of a pretty quilted runner my mom sewed and sent me this year.

I also have a tiny kitchen tree but Blogger won't let me post that pic. I'll try later, and maybe get the mantel decorated and get a picture of that, too, for later.

So I managed to move past my Christmas dislike for now, and I have to say, I'm enjoying having the house decorated. This weekend, I'd like to have Todd do some outside lights, but he's currently embroiled in fixing a snafu with the Passat that's keeping it from passing state inspection. Fun, fun.


I have a few decent pictures from Thanksgiving...if I ever master the art of taking pictures of kids and adults in ever-moving groups in indoor light, I will be truly happy. As it is, I always end up with either dark, chaotic shots, or flash-blown, whited-out faces. Ugh!

Here's my niece Natalie with the Little People Thanksgiving set I brought for her and Marissa. Next to her, I think my brother is illustrating the concept of "little" for whoever he's talking to.

Natalie and I playing with the set...I confess I bought it so that I would have a chance to play with it as much as for the little girls!

Marissa giving her dad a high-five.

We read a bunch of books together--Marissa loves books and can point to things and name them.

My goal for the day was to get one really excellent picture of Marissa, but that didn't happen. She is too fast for a digital camera, and I was distracted with all the activity. Someday I'll get that great shot!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Holiday movies.

Today's blog challenge at Two Peas:

Blog about your favorite holiday movie.

I have two faves, one classic and one more modern. But they both take place at roughly the same time: the 1940s.

The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant and Loretta Young is not really well-known, but it's a super-Christmassy movie--way more Christmassy than the better-known Christmas in Connecticut, whose story could really have taken place any time of the year.

The Bishop's Wife was remade as The Preacher's Wife with Whitney Houston in the 1990's, but let's try to forget that ever happened, shall we?

The reason to watch The Bishop's Wife is to see Cary Grant play an angel, which in my mind, isn't too much of a stretch. And he's perfect at it, the kind of angel you secretly hope Heaven is full of. He's come down to teach David Niven a lesson about the important things in life, like his wife and daughter whom he's neglecting in favor of earthly glory.

The movie is so full of the kind of Christmas scenes we picture when we think of how Christmas Used to Be: stopping by the greengrocer's to order your Christmas tree, ice-skating at the pond while the band plays, buying a holiday hat in a hat shop, children singing hymns, tinsel and snow and angels. I highly recommend it.

My other favorite Christmas movie is one that was released when I was a kid, but that I didn't discover till college: A Christmas Story. Most people I knew hadn't heard of it when I first started spreading the news about it, but in the past ten years or so, it's become a holiday staple, and yippee for that!

So many of the scenes in this movie are reminiscent for me and for Todd of scenes from our childhood, although we grew up 30 years later than when this story takes place. The big old house looks like the house Todd grew up dad wrestled with the furnace just like Ralphie's dad did...the school looks just like the old elementary and high schools that were recently torn down in our hometown...and who doesn't remember being ensconced in a snowsuit, or catching a snowball full in the face?

I love the humor of this movie, and the holiday big-band music in many of the scenes, playing on the huge radio. Every actor is note-perfect. And it's so quotable! If you haven't seen it, don't wait for the 24-hour marathon on TBS--rent it now!