It's "Shoeville" once again. Right before Christmas break Miss 16 had a large group study session for an AP History midterm. They all crammed into her bedroom and crammed. Fortunately the kids in an AP History class also are the kids who want to study. I hear the test was very difficult. But I'm sure they all did well. Still, look at all those shoes... and the smell! Ew!
About the first week of December I set up our big table in the basement as a wrap station. That way when I get a chance I can run down and get a few gifts wrapped at a time. I set out all the essentials: wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper, tape, labels, scissors, extra boxes, packing material, etc. It works well for me, but ineveitably it is still set up the day before Christmas because 3 weeks IS NOT enough time for my husband and son to get their gifts wrapped. Yup, Mr 20 is still wrapping today, and he's only doing it now because I said I'm taking the wrap station down this afternoon. Otherwise, since he got home at 2:30 a.m., he'd still be sound asleep in bed. Nothing like a little motivation.
She's grown so. Miss 11, the last one Hubby had to lift up to put the angel on the tree. The past few years, the older two were almost always away from the house when it was Angel time. Miss 11 got to do the honors for many years in a row, the lucky girl. Last year we laughed as Hubby tried hard and begged me to hurry with the camera while he held her up to the tree. This year we all knew there was no way he could hold her up for Angel duty. She's grown several inches and is over a hundred pounds of solid muscle. Putting her in his arms and holding her up and out over the tree was something his back would not appreciate. Goodness but was she proud to step up on a chair and do it herself. Hubby and I hid our tears.
Out my kitchen window I have a couple of bird feeders and a bird bath with a small heater in it. It's so cold here in the winter that typically all I see is snow, and blowing snow, and the smoke from people's chimney's. Also near my kitchen window is my sink, I spend a lot of time doing dishes at the sink. I needed something to look at, thus the bird feeders. The birds give me a piece of life to look at while I let my hands turn into prunes. We've had all kinds of birds at our feeders, spring and fall provide a glimpse of very unsual birds stopping by while they are migrating.
Five years ago one of Hallmark's new ornaments was a bird, and each year a new one has been released. The quality is wonderful on these ornaments. They are a heavy weight and painted really well. I ask for the bird ornament every year for my birthday and since typically the ornaments at Hallmark are out by July, a September birthday works well. Plus, it gives someone a really easy birthday gift idea.
Excuse the bad photo skills in this collage as I needed to take these pictures against the window in the daylight, and the camera really didn't want to behave. I love the uniqueness of these particular ornaments. They hang right over my kitchen sink where I can see them (everyone all together now) as I do the dishes.
This tree sits in my bay window in my bedroom. I love seeing Christmas trees in people's front windows, unfortunately if I put our full sized tree in front of our north facing window, it looks as though we are living in Alaska and not seeing the light of day for months at a time. Instead I have had to settle for putting this one in the bedroom. Last year I had red lights on it, it looked fantastic with red lights. This year we changed our outdoor lighting scheme, so when I put the red lights on, it just didn't work any more. Darn it! But the white lights still lookd good. The frosted twigs around it show nicely through the window as well, it's a very wintery scene. I've got red and silver ornaments on the tree and another strand of lights in the red bowl beside the tree. It's not perfect, but it is romantic.
I don't collect Santa's, although I have ended up with several of them as decorations. Usually they are somehow related to something else I like, and it's not actually the Santa part that lured me in. This decoration is not something I purchased. My MIL gave it to me. I think, now don't hold me to this but I'd say the likelihood is high, that my MIL actually purchased this on clearance, after Christmas, to give to her daughter who does collect paper mache Santa's just like this one. I'd have to say that when she gave it to her daughter, she already had it, so it was re-gifted to me. Naturally it had the price tag still on it because every gift my MIL buys has been on sale or clearance and she always makes sure only the real price tag is left on it. True Story: One year Hubby got a Montana Silver ladies belt buckle on it from his Mom for Christmas? Why? Because it had an N on it, you know, because his middle name starts with N. It might be collectible some day.Yes, the price tag, before the clearance sale, was still on it. End of Story. So this Santa came to live at my house. At first I was tempted to just leave him in the box marked, "Gifts from insert MIL's name here." Yes, we actually have a box like that, typically after any holiday at least 2 o3 of us have something really strange to add to that box. Someday we'll look back through the things in the box and laugh hysterically. Right now we just look at the things we put in the box and say, "what in the world was she thinking?" But I knew that Miss 11 who was quite young at the time would love the kitty part, so I put it at a level where she could see it easily. My brother-in-law was walking by one day with Miss 11 and said, "Oh, look, Santa's fishing for kittens!" and it just cracked me up! Now whenever I see it I think of him, so it goes out every year so I can say the same thing and my girls can roll their eyes at me.
Hubby made this one. A few years back his sister gave it to him as a gift. It's something he had made for her when he was a kid, and she thought he would enjoy having it back. I can't recall what type of nail/thread project this is called, but that is how this was created. Hubby thought it was kind of a corny gift, but I love displaying it, not many people have one of these!
My Grandmother on my Mom's side made stockings for all the kids. This is Mr 20's stocking. It is a little different then the ones that belong to the girls, but the premise is the same. The background colors are all different and the images are all mixed up on each stocking. The kids have their name and year they were born at top of their stockings. They are made out of felt, sequins, thread and love. I'm terrified to actually use them for stockings because I'm afraid the sequins will fall off. Instead we put their stockings on their bedroom doors. (We have other stockings that Santa fills naturally!) The kids are very lucky as in recent years my Grandmother's arthiritis has really limited her ability to do many things of this nature. They are always a conversation starter when people see them because they are very unique.
I love Christmas books. LOVE them. As much as I love Christmas books I love pop-up books with as much detail as Robert Sabuda's. The are stunning. I have three of his Christmas books. Look at the detail in the pop ups. In the picture on the left the lights on the house actually light up. The cave above the fox has icicles hanging from it on the picture on the right. They are all beautiful books. I've given them as gifts to friends and family and I don't know anyone who doesn't love them.
I used to collect teddy bears. Don't ask me why. I was young, and apparently strange. Anway, shortly after Hubby and I got married I found the pattern for this bear in a magazine. I thought he was completely adorable and my Mom helped me to make him. She did some of the sewing on the machine, and taught me a few things so I could do some of it. We picked out the fabric together and stuffed the little pieces together. I sewed the ears on myself, you can see the lovely job I did with the stitching. (Ahem, fortunately I have improved considerably in this talent.) I can't remember the story of how my Papa Joe's (my grandfather) bow tie came to live on my bear, but I'm so glad that it did. Papa Joe Bear sits under out tree until there are too many gifts for him to fit there anymore, then he moves to a chair to watch all the Christmas festivities.
I've got a Christmas village, well, sort of. I am not a big fan of those ceramic all encompassing things that so many people have. My village is of a larger size as far as individual pieces, but I've got only 3 buildings, and some accessories. I'd take more, but it's one of those rare things that no one can seem to find. It's by Kurt S. Adler, and for the past 7 years or so i can't find anything to go with it. The buildings are all capable of having lights, but normally I'm incapable of finding a place to set them where they can all be plugged in. For a few years I had to put it up high enough that Miss 11 couldn't constantly be messing with it. This year it is back out, and the girls were excited. I love it for the little details each piece has, and the quirkyness that isn't typical of Christmas decorations. I enjoy the non-jarring color scheme as well. My girls like moving the pieces around to new places. Hubby won't touch it with a 10 foot pole though, because... OMG it's full of GLITTER!! (Say it like the characters in Roger Rabit say DIP!))
The picture quality here is lacking, and I could take the effort to run down the stairs, take another photo, get it in the computer and edited, and then re-do this post. But, I won't because I am lazy and I have a million things on my plate today. This is technically an ornament, though I have never hung it on the tree. I have about 10 of these, some are shaped like hearts, some like houses, some like stars. Some are with a black background and some are with a white background. They remind me of Scandanavian decorations, and I love the embroidery on them all. This year this ornament is extra special. Last week our cat, Decker, died from liver failure. We knew it was coming and had done all we can to make his last months enjoyable. When he refused to eat cat food anymore we fed him meat or cheese. When he started refusing those things we held each piece to his mouth for him to eat from our hand. When he started refusing them, I shared our steak with him, and cooked bacon for him, and fried eggs for him. The girls took any chance they could to have him on their laps, or snuggle with him in their beds. (He was no longer able to have free reign of the house so had to have a chaperone every where he went.) We watched him start to really slide away beginning on Thanksgiving day. He refused water and food from then on. We warned the kids that he didn't have a lot longer with us and we all gradually said our good byes and did lots of crying. By Monday we all knew it was only hours. I laid on our cold basement floor with him Monday afternoon for a few hours. The girls each sat with him after school. By night time Hubby had his turn in the basement and came to let us know the time was iminent. Naturally there were lots of tears. Decker was a great friend to our children and tolerated more from them than any other cat would have. We often said we thought his father must have been a dog because of the way he would follow us around, scrounge on the floor for scraps, come running if you snapped your fingers and greet us at the door when we arrived home. He is missed very much at our house. It's difficult to even go in our basement right now. What may you ask does this ornament have to do with a cat? For whatever reason last year at Christmas Decker had decided that these ornaments were his. This one in particular was in a spot that was low enough for him to reach and pull down. He didn't chew on it, he didn't scratch at it, instead he would rub his head all over it, then lay on it, then rub some more, and eventually fall asleep with some part of his head, legs or paws on this small heart shaped ornament. If you look closely you can still see his hair all over it. Happy Love Thursday everyone. If you have a pet, give them a hug from all of us.
Since my youngest daughter has been able to walk she has loved playing dress up. It all started with trying on whatever pair of shoes came in our door. It didn't matter who they belonged to, or what they looked like. We have scrapbook pages dedicated to her in cowboy boots, work boots, high heels, flip flops, men's shoes, women's shoes, slippers, and anything else you can imagine. It moved on to dress up clothes as soon as she was able to dress herself. She had a favorite yellow dress that was mine when I was younger, she loved it because when she would spin it flowed around her like a ballerina. Eventually we took to buying Halloween costumes, dance costumes and second hand dresses to keep her in gifts. She still plays with lots of them today. When her friends come over they drag out the giant tubs of dress up clothes and put on skits, model on the catwalk and just play. Miss 11 received this ornament when she was about 4 years old. To us it is her all dressed up in her yellow dress, fairy wings and wand, one of her favorite combinations. Although I never let her wear the fairy wings when we had to run errands, I do admit sometimes it was just easier to let her leave the yellow dress on over her clothes rather than fight with her about taking it off. She got compliments every where we went.
Another gem from my Grandmother. It's actually a tree skirt, I've doubled it over and put it on a chair downstairs where I have many of our hand-made items this year. I've only used it once as a tree skirt. It got water on it and I've been afraid to use it since. Plus at the time the cats really liked laying under the tree and chewing on the little ties between each square. I've used it on a table top, in a basket, over the back of a chair and at the end of a bed. I'm not a big fan of the traditional red and green color combination, but this is one of my favorite things, because it was made for me.
Miss 16 had an incredible opportunity a few years back. She was cast as part of the jungle people in Seussical The Musical. Yes, it was a local production, but we had an intern from a pretty impressive acting school here to take the lead and help with directing. It was an amazing experience for her. She loved all the rehearsals, all the set building and all of the performances. I had high hopes that it was the start of her wanting to be involved in the local theater all the time. Alas, it was also the point in her life where she became more shy and little more afraid to put herself out there, and so the next time auditions came around she wasn't willing to try again. That year she naturally received a Cat In The Hat ornament for the tree. I love seeing it each time we bring it out and remembering how much fun the show was for her, and for me to watch. I hope she always remembers that little creative spark she has in her, even if it means just going to the shows, instead of partcipating in them.
Pine cones, spray painted gold. Actually these pine cones happened to have been collected by my Grandmother. She died several years ago so these are quite special to me. She has given me ornaments over the years, and I still have them on my tree, but for some strange reason they don't mean as much to me as my pine cones. I spray painted them with just a light dusting of gold. I've got plain ones still hidden away in a box that she collected as well. I love putting these out in pottery bowls or woven baskets, they add a natural look to my decorating style. I have visions of Grandma out walking through the "forest" as we called it, and putting these in a big box for me, and remembering how much she loved taking walks with us makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
This is my favorite ornament from when I was younger. I don't think it had any special significance the year I got it. It's a Hallmark ornament. I got one each year while I lived at home, not always a Hallmark, but an ornament of some kind. I can't explain why this one is my favorite of those I received, but it is. Many years SuperSister and I got the same ornament. Sometimes Babybrother got the same one as well. I like knowing that we have a few similar ornaments on our Christmas trees even though we no longer live in the same house.
I have a snowman collection that no one but me loves. There are some snowmen that I have received as gifts and some that I have purchased on my own. Some are expensive and some are quite cheesy. Grouped together they look like a mess, apart they look lost, so I just leave them all together. The two featured snowmen were created by my girls. Miss 11 made the one on the left in Kindergarten, he's since lost an arm and his popsicle stick skis have faded. He has smudgy fingerprints where she glued on his eyes and earmuffs. The one on the right was made by Miss 16 in second grade. He's also adorable with a glove tip hat and sequin buttons. His face is hand painted and his scarf is tied and twisted all around his pipe cleaner arms. By far this is the most tacky of my decorating scheme, but it's also the place I stop daily and remember who gave or made me which one.
I've been debating a plan for the blog this month. I am considering posting pictures, hopefully daily from now on, of random decorating we do around the house each Christmas season. Why? I have no idea other than I think I am boring people with all the talk of the swimming, the whining, and blathering.
We'll start with this one. Several years back I found some gorgeous snowflake ornaments. This is one of them. And then, my Mom found the same ornaments and bought me several for Christmas. This might be one of them, we bought the same ones. I put them in windows all around the house. They are a little sparkle in what ends up being long dreary days here. I love the way they look massed together, and this year I tried a few individually in windows, they look great as well. When the sun shines just right, for about 2 minutes, we have rainbows sparkling all over our kitchen. When Miss 11 was younger she used to chase them around, laughing until she fell down.