Tuesday, December 29, 2009

When the party's over.

I'm trying very hard not to give in to that post-Christmas let-down feeling, because it's no good to head into a New Year feeling blue, but January is so grim after sybaritic December. You have to start watching what you spend and eat again, whip your house into shape, make stalwart resolutions that you know you won't keep...oh, it's grim!

Actually, I have a lot of things I'm looking forward to accomplishing and enjoying in 2010, and I hope it will be a good year...but first I've got to get through the next week or two of putting the Christmas stuff away, getting re-organized, making lists and plans. Boring!

Our holiday company left this morning, too, so that contributes to the anti-climactic feeling. The house feels empty without John and Viv in it.

We had a nice Christmas together. On Christmas Eve morning we went up and strolled around Colonial Williamsburg, taking in the holiday decorations. It was COLD.

The decorations were gorgeous...every shop and house puts up different kinds of wreaths and hangings, and it's fun to see what they come up with.

I thought my cheeks were going to freeze off.

Christmas morning we got up, had breakfast, opened some presents, and then my friend Beverly came up from Virginia Beach to have lunch with us. It was a really relaxing day.

Bev got me a "Slanket," among other things, for Christmas. I had been thinking wistfully about those things earlier in the week, because it's been so cold here, and voila! One for my very own. It's warm, too!

I got Bev a bunch of tropical-themed stuff, among which was "Blue Hawaii" with Elvis, so we watched that after dinner and laughed our heads off. Then after she went home, we played a game and sank into a ham-and-cookie coma.

I hope everybody else had a great Christmas, too.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ho ho ho!

The Christmas busy-ness hit with a vengeance the past several days, but I have a nice chunk of free time this afternoon to upload the past six days of my Christmas journal:

Todd's parents arrived last night for a Christmas visit, and we're so glad to have them here. Todd's dad seems to be glad to be here, too...

Hee hee.

I baked a couple batches of cookies this morning and we're all just hanging out and relaxing this afternoon, listening to Christmas music. It's great. Once Todd gets home from work this evening, Christmas will officially have begun!

Friday, December 18, 2009


I love those little magical Christmas moments that pop up from time to time. It started snowing here tonight around 6:oo and we had to go to Todd's office party at the Newport News golf club. The club is in the Newport News city park...the park does one of those drive-through holiday lights things every year, and to get to the clubhouse, you have to drive through almost the whole light display. Since you're going to a party, they let you drive through for free instead of having to cough up the $10 per car it would normally cost you. So it's a very festive way to go to a party!

The party was nice--great food, good people to talk to, although no one got drunk and made a fool of themselves this year, which I found disappointing. Through the whole party, we could see the snow falling outside the windows.

When we left, we had to walk back along the road to our car. On one stretch, we were walking between these tall thin trees all strung with pink and white lights, and the snow was falling in these huge wet flakes...it was so lovely. Very magical-feeling.

Especially since snow is such a rarity here. This is our seventh winter here, and I can count the snowfalls on one hand. That includes the dustings that melted by the next day. So snow is an event.

Everyone to the north of us is getting buried, but I don't think the snow will stay here long. It's exactly 32 degrees, and the precipitation wavers between very wet snow and very cold rain. Once it warms up tomorrow, the snow will definitely become rain and that will be the end of it. Todd says the freeze line is right between here and Williamsburg, so 15-20 minutes away they are getting piles of snow, and here it's just white and mushy.

Maybe it will stick long enough for me to get some snow pictures tomorrow morning!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Getting ready.

All day today, I kept thinking it was Friday, and then felt a wave of relief every time I realized it was only Thursday. It was like getting an extra day for holiday preparations, all day long.

Mostly what's left for me to do involves cleaning and cooking. Boring! But after shopping for five hours today, I think I may be ready to do something a little more boring. It's starting to get crazy out there. I was in Macy's for over an hour, and I could feel the beginnings of the frenzy! Everybody had a faraway, agitated look in their eyes, counting up what had been bought and what needed to be bought.

I had a bit of a faraway look myself...trying to remember if Todd had anything suitable to wear to the office Christmas party tomorrow night, and trying to find something dressy yet warm for myself to wear, as my wardrobe hasn't yet recovered from my post-surgery purge. I found a nice blouse/sweater thing on the 75% clearance rack and was quite happy. And I got Todd new dress slacks and a festive-looking tie. Now we just have to ascertain that he has dress shoes on a shelf somewhere.

Tonight I wrapped presents and ate a few pieces of holiday chocolate, and found "Christmas in Connecticut" on TCM. Todd is out trying to catch a few more stripers for the freezer. And I still keep thinking it's Friday!

Here are the past two days of my journal. If Todd is reading this, he isn't allowed to look at the journal pages. I mentioned one of your gifts, so don't look, sweetie!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 15. This one was fun to do.

I'm not done with day 14 yet.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Snowmen and other stuff.

Catching up on my journal, here are the December 12 and 13 entries. The 12th is about changes from Christmases past, and the 13th is about music.

I had a couple spare minutes so I took some pictures of my holiday decor. I've set up my journal on the sideboard so I can enjoy it all the time.

Here are the bottlebrush trees behind the journal.

I ended up grouping bottlebrush trees in various places, which I've never done before and I really like the way they look. I have a snowman collection I like to put out, and this year I scattered some vintage Christmas postcards around, too. This is the wall in the foyer:

The great thing about snowmen is that you can leave them out till, say, Valentine's Day, as a generic kind of winter decor. Perfect for lazy folks like yours truly.

Snowmen especially enjoy hanging out on the bookshelves.

It makes them feel smart even though their heads are stuffed with frozen ice crystals.

I bought this big guy at AC Moore a couple months ago. He has the sweetest face! He doesn't mind hanging out with the DVDs, although he does wish there were Christmas DVDs on his shelf.

This guy hangs out under the lamp and guards a big jar candle.

And these guys are keeping some of my ancestors company on the mantle.

This was a serendipitous combination...I found the glass bowl for almost nothing at an antique store in Columbiana, after Thanksgiving, and then when I came home, I had 12 gorgeous vintage ornaments awaiting me from Barbara at Oodles and Oodles, which is just about the cutest blog out there. (If you like vintage holiday decor, you have to go check it out!) Anyway, the bowl and the ornaments came together quite nicely and now I can enjoy them on my table every day.

Thanks, Barbara!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tiny tree.

I took a picture of my little tree today for the Christmas journal.

We usually put up our 6 1/2-foot pre-lit tree, but I needed to rearrange the living room to make room for some of the company we'll be having over the holidays, and there wasn't really enough room left for a big tree. So I dug out my little old 3-footer and put it on a small round table with a vintage Christmas tablecloth pinned around it in lieu of a skirt.

One nice thing about a little tree--they take a LOT less time to get decorated! I'm in awe of people who decorate two, three, four, even more, trees for Christmas. I can barely summon the oomph to get one up and done!


It got so COLD here last night! I can't seem to get warm today, either...I'm about ready to search for my electric throw blanket, which I don't think I've used more than once or twice since we moved to Virginia. My feet are frozen!

The kicker? It's 37 degrees outside. I mean, that's cold, but not really COLD. Unless you're a transplanted Northerner who's become a weather wussy. Like me.

Here are days 8-10 from my Christmas journal.

Monday, December 07, 2009

More Christmas Journal.

Here are pages 6 and 7, and the cover of the book, decorated:

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Holiday prep.

Todd and I had a really fun day together today...first we worked on cleaning up the front of the house, raking leaves, etc., and then we started working on the Christmas lights.

At some point on our holiday travels last week--I think it might have been in Columbus--we saw a house that had a white-lighted star with strings of colored lights radiating down from it, and we both liked the look. So Todd cut lengths of scrap pine and made a star.

We attached it to the front of the house and ran some colored lights down from it. Then it was time to get cleaned up for part two of our day--Hampton University's concert of "The Messiah."

We went last year and enjoyed it so much we decided we should make it a tradition. It was wonderful this year, too, although they unaccountably left out one of my favorite bits, where the baritone soloist sings "And the trumpet shall sound..." Last year the singer gave me goosebumps, he sang it so beautifully.

But the choir was in terrific voice this year, and all the soloists were great, too. As we were walking back to our car afterward, there was a lighted boat parade on the Hampton River, with sailboats and yachts all lit up with Christmas lights. If it had been a little warmer, we might have lingered to watch the whole thing!

Then we had a nice dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, and then drove through a few neighborhoods on the way home to look at Christmas lights, but not many people have them up yet. (Actually, it seems to me that fewer people put up Christmas lights here in southern VA than in other places we've lived...I'm not sure why.)

Then we took the back way around to our house so we could see our handiwork for the first time:

Ooh, aah! We were quite delighted with ourselves.

I think we need some more lights on the porch rail and such, and Todd wants two more strings coming down from the star, but I bet neither of us will find the time/energy to accomplish that. I'm amazed we got done what we did. Outdoor Christmas lights always befuddle me--I admire people who go all out and have gorgeous displays. This is by far the most ambitious we've ever gotten!

Then it was time for some chai tea and now Todd is watching a movie while I catch up on my computering. It was a great Sunday.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Christmas Journal, Dec. 1-5.

This Christmas journal has become a holiday tradition all in itself--via Shimelle Laine's annual Journal Your Christmas class. This is my fourth year of making a daily journal through the month of December...I always look forward to getting started!

I'm not exaggerating when I say that this class has helped save Christmas for me. A combination of factors had really soured me on Christmas over the past ten or twelve years, but just taking a few minutes every day to write a little and think a little about the holidays--it's unbelievable what a difference it has made for me and my attitude.

I got off to a late start with my book this year as we were driving back from Ohio on December 1, and I was wrapped up in laundry and chores the next day or two, but here are the first five days, all caught up. Every day you get a journaling prompt in your e-mail, and where you take it from there is up to you. (The photos should be clickable to enlarge, if my writing is too small to read.)

Day 1 is for writing what you want to accomplish in your journal, your feelings about the holiday, whatever:

Day 2 is about snow...the prompt always suggests including a hand-cut snowflake, which I decided to do this year:

Day 3 is about Christmas cards. I included a card that I picked up at T. J. Maxx a couple months ago:

Day 4 is about your ideal or perfect Christmas. It's suggested that you include a photo of some sort, so I took a picture of the little shelf in my foyer:

Day 5 is about Advent. This year I was at church in Ohio for the first Sunday, and my mother did the reading as my nephew lit the first candle on the church Advent wreath. So I included what she read.

This is the album I'm using this year: a spiral-bound 8x8 book from Go West Studios (are they even in business any more?) The cover is etched acrylic with a red liner behind it to show off the holly. At some point I'll do a box for the cover with the year and some sort of decoration.

The last two years I have done very small books with even smaller journaling blocks, and only had room to write a few words for each day. This year I wanted to concentrate more on writing--although I'm finding I still don't have enough room to say everything I want to say!

Journals for 2006, 2007 and 2008 are in the December archives in the blog sidebar (and sometimes in the January archives, too!) for each year, if anybody has time on their hands and wants to look back at the past. Someday I want to combine them all in a Flicker album, but that won't be any time soon!