Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thanks to all of you. It has been a wonderful Christmas holiday season as blog friends share recipes, craft ideas, Christmas decorations and stories about family traditions. This is my first Christmas as a blogger and it has been a wonderful discovery. No matter how you celebrate the season I hope that your Christmas is everything you could wish for and more. May your New Year be filled with promise.

We are leaving tomorrow night to go visit my husband's family in Beirut so I won't be blogging until mid-January. Until we come back with new photos I wanted to share some photos from previous trips.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

Well, this isn't like Christmases past and I hope it isn't like Christmases future. My oldest son is serving overseas and now, because of weather, my daughter isn't coming home for Christmas. It was a bit shocking at first and I have to admit that I was on the verge of tears for a portion of the afternoon. Then, as mothers would have it, motherhood kicked in and went to work. You see our Christmas traditions won't take place - no Christmas Eve movie, trip to Waffle House, no one to open gifts from Santa, no pigs-in-a-blanket, no lobster (yes, we eat lobster on Christmas) AND missing children. None of this means there won't be Christmas - it just won't be like any Christmas we have ever celebrated. My middle son will be here trying to lift our spirits, thank goodness! SO, we sent Mimi money for her own feast, movies and a good greasy spoon outing in Portland. She even called my sister to get her traditional Beer Cheese Soup recipe to make it feel like home. My husband and I rounded up her packages and gifts and took everything to the airport Fedex office for priority overnight delivery. My oldest son received his gift package three days ago, and combined with the Atlanta Falcons win, he will make it through the day in Iraq. Meanwhile I will go to Christmas Eve Mass, enjoy the pageant and instead of lobster we will enjoy comfort food - lasagna from our favorite Italian restaurant.

We have decided to have a family gathering in the spring when we can try once again to assemble as a family but in the meantime we are making the most of our lemons and enjoying the blessings of the season. By then we can enjoy some lemonade on the front porch!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside - NOT!

While singing along with the many Christmas songs one hears this time of year I realized today how thankful I am for the warm temperatures. Yesterday I got an email from a hometown friend living in Colorado who said, "Yesterday morning when I went out to feed the horses, it was 19 degrees BELOW zero. The high temp was about zero. Today it was 2 above, and the high was about 20 degrees above. The dry cold isn't that bad out here if the
wind isn't blowing too hard."

Meanwhile my husband received a photo from a friend living in Las Vegas showing the snow covering her front yard. Here in Atlanta temps are in the upper 60's and I have to admit - I am loving it!!!! In the past few weeks temperatures had been hovering in the 30's and I found myself feeling so lethargic. Cocooning is not good during the "most wonderful time of the year with those kids jingle bell-ing" and all that stuff.

In the middle of the Christmas rush, the warm weather inspired me to do some home improvements, so for now when I come home from work the front door is off its hinges as the workmen haul materials in and out of the house. "The weather outside is frightful but the [work inside] is delightful." Meanwhile, "over the [house] lies a mantle of white" as sawdust drifts through the air. When I go to bed at night "I'm dreamin' of some white [bookcases]" My Christmas tree now has an added silvery look because all of the sawdust but thankfully the project should be complete tomorrow and it will be just in time for Wine Club being held at my house this Saturday night. But there is much to be done before guests arrive!!! I will share more about our hectic schedule in the coming days but for now I am happy to be "[livin'] in a [warmer] Wonderland."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Friends, Decorating and Christopher Radko

Yesterday we went to an afternoon open house for cookies and spiked punch at my girlfriend's house. Each year she decorates every inch of her house (I mean that) and it is exquisitely adorned. Every room has its own theme but no matter what room you are in there are holiday "surprises" tucked in every nook and cranny. You will even find Christmas movies playing on flat screens throughout the house. It is such a delightful holiday event to attend and every year I look forward to going to see all the decorations and decorating that has taken place in preparation for Christmas. One of the most spectacular sights is the Christopher Radko tree in the living room. It is completely covered in ornaments though not all of her ornaments could be hung on the tree. I wish I had thought to take more photos to share with you but one photo I did take is the Christopher Radko tree. Click on the photo to enlarge and see some of the beautiful ornaments. Please note the "sweet" candy garland.

A fellow blogger didn't have as much luck at getting her tree up but it made for a very funny post. Stop by and visit Mary at Little Red House to read about her tree adventure.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Littlest Angel

It is Sunday afternoon and I wanted to post before we rush off to three events this evening. It seems many fellow bloggers are busy doing much the same - baking, hosting events, shopping, making gifts and trying to prepare for family events.

Yesterday part of my family came together to spend an afternoon with two children I have been mentoring for the past four years. They are wonderful children who just happened to be born into less than perfect circumstances. This summer their mother, who had struggled with drug and alcohol addition, died at the age of 39 leaving behind two young kids. These kids have a twenty-four year old brother who is now their legal guardian.

When my niece heard about these children and that they had lost their mom, she decided to do something for them. She has been saving money and rounding up gifts of all kinds so that she could give these two orphans some Christmas memories. Yesterday she brought bags of all sorts of cool goodies wrapped and bagged. It was incredible to see these kids opening a makeup bag, pillows, an alarm clock (so they can get to school on time), silly string, Georgia football sweatshirts, sparkly face gels, soaps, tons of toiletries and other goodies. We spent the day playing together with my son, sister, brother-in-law, husband and especially my neice, playing and laughing with Pinkie and Yondon. When we drove them home they wanted to know when we could do it again. Today I want to honor my niece Melanie. During this holiday season so many children are making long lists for Santa but it warmed my heart to see sweet Melanie giving unselfishly from her heart making a very special day for two very needy children. Blessed are the pure in heart. . . .

Friday, December 12, 2008

Proximidade Award

Every day I look forward to setting aside some time to get to visit my blog friends' pages just to see what they're making, thinking or doing each day. Over the past year I have "met" new friends and learned so many things thanks to blogging. In recent months, together we have gone through one historic election, a hurricane, empty nesting, crafting, decorating, citizenship - it is always exciting. It is also nice to know that others read my blog and share their comments. Being a part of this community has meant a lot and today I was honored to have been given this award by Enzie at World Market Portraits.

The Proximidade Award focuses on the development of friendship and camaraderie through the blogging community. "Bloggers who receive this award are exceedingly charming, say its authors. They aren't interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement but to propagate friendships."

The nice thing about this award is that is to be shared with eight of my favorite blog friends with the understanding that they pass it on to eight deserving blog friends. Thank you for being a part of my blogging community.

1. Cindyava
2. Home and Not
3. Little Red House
4. Between Naps on the Porch
5. From the House of Edward
6. Belle Blanc
7. Wonders Never Cease
8. Mille Fiori Favoriti

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Holt Howard

We used to have an incredible antique market that opened once a month. It was my favorite because you could find almost anything there. No matter what you might collect and no matter what your budget might be, you could find it at Lakewood Antique Market. About 12 years ago I was scouring one of the buildings during the holiday season and spotted a pot with holly on it.

Holly Berry Hot Chocolate Set - 1959

When I picked up the pot I noticed my maiden name on the bottom. Once I saw Holt, I was convinced that Holt Howard was the collectible for me. Since that time I have added many pieces and I thought I would share a few with you.

Winkin' Santa Mugs - 1959

I also love some of the fun pieces that remind me of decorations and "what-nots" we had around the house in the 60s, like the angels. (Do people say "what-nots" any more?)

Angel Candleholder - 1958

There are so many pieces to collect and generally they are so affordable. For me it is nice to enjoy some vintage pieces without having to spend a fortune. You'll find plenty of Holt Howard on eBay.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tiny Tree

Both of my sons have always enjoyed Christmas but my younger son has especially enjoyed every detail of the season, particularly the tree and decorating. When he was young I decided to make him a tree out of tiny glass beads. These days thanks to imports, bead work is easy to find and very affordable. When I made this tiny tree I had to mail order the beads and it literally took me three months to string the beads in order to construct the tiny limbs on this 6 inch tree. Each year I pull out the 20 year old box and proudly display my son's tiny tree. One day (maybe?) he will eventually move out but until that day arrives he is always proud for me to showcase his tree. Thought you might enjoy seeing it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Are You Making Cookies?

I used to have dozens of cookie cutters that had been collected through the years but when we moved a few years ago, in my packing frenzy, I must have discarded them. I was a Home Economics major and for several years after graduating during school breaks and even when my children were young, I worked for a shop at the Merchandise Mart doing demonstrations. It was great fun trying out all sorts of cookware, kitchen gadgets, convection ovens, etc., and it was during these years I acquired a ton of cookie cutters. One of the holiday seasons my demo product was a line of cookie cutters and to demo the cutters I made
gingerbread houses and gingerbread men. It might not sound like fun but keep in mind this would have been decades before the Food Network, Martha Stewart or HGTV - doing food demonstrations was a real novelty. Yesterday while visiting Posie Gets Cozy's blogpage I spotted some gorgeous snowflake cookies and I was longing for my cookie cutters. Today during lunch I went to Dillard's to buy a couple of ornaments that were on sale and low and behold - there was the snowflake cookie cutter on sale for $6! Hopefully there will be time this weekend to make a few snowflakes.

Monday, December 1, 2008

So Many Wonderful Memories

It's hard to remember all the wonderful things we did over the past few days because we did so many things. First there was the puppet show and the nice thing about the puppet show at the Center for Puppetry Arts is that after the show you can make your own puppet.

We all got new flannel pajamas and it was so comforting in the evenings to put on our new pink pajamas and snuggle up for a bedtime story.

Nothing feels as cozy and warm as new flannel pajamas, warm socks and a toasty fire in the fireplace. It's the perfect time to sit and enjoy some delicious hot chocolate and cookies so that is exactly what we did!

I must have taken 200 pictures just trying to capture all the of the things we did so that we could send all of the memories

to my son who will be in Iraq during the holidays. Even though he wasn't here, we catalogued everything for him including the girls being so exhausted and sleeping in the car on the way to ice skating and The Varsity.

Before the girls left for home we started decorating the tree. Can't wait to show you how that turned out.