New Year, New Me?

That's a very good question. Each year I set a variety of goals. Some years I have a huge list, others just a goal or two, but regardless, at least one involves weight loss and/or exercise. You'd think after setting this goal for so many years I'd have it down by now, but I'm kind of a slow learner in this area.

The question right now is, what are my 2011 goals? I've been thinking about it off and on all week and still don't have a definitive list. I have ideas and wishes and wants but no list.

I think part of me is hoping I'm not the only one that sets goals each year only to get to the end of the year and find that several or most were not achieved. The thing is, at work, I'm great at getting things done. I have a list, I work through it, and move on to the next thing. I can even get side tracked and still manage to accomplish what I need to. So why doesn't this translate to my personal life?

Don't get me wrong, it isn't like I don't do things or accomplish things, it just usually isn't what I've "officially" outlined as the plan. So is it better to not have a plan and just let it happen or have a plan and know that it may not all happen? Anyone, anyone?

So my goal is to have a list by end of day tomorrow. Sounds like a worthy goal. That way I can say I accomplished one of my 2011 goals.

Here's to a wonderful year in 2011 full of love, happiness, and time with the ones I love.

Happy New Year!

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Holiday Fun

Christmas is officially over, but not the fun. We spend so much time getting ready for the holiday and then use the week after to recover and enjoy time away from work. Over the past few weeks our counters have acquired a variety of treats and snacks - some delivered by loving friends and neighbors, others made because the holidays wouldn't be complete without them. Regardless, I have eaten more goodies in the past weeks than: a) I should, b) I have in months, and c) that my jeans are oh so tight. But I LOVE them.

Food isn't the only indulgence, it's staying up late and sleeping in, plus more movies than I've watched in six months crammed into a week. There are the new releases like Tangled and True Grit or the movies that are almost out of the theaters like Secretariat. And if that isn't enough, there are DVDs! And of course, there are treats to go with the movies - popcorn, milk duds, Almond Roca, and more.

Life is great!! I know that in a week, I'll be adjusting things drastically in my life, but for now, I'm indulging and enjoying it.

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The Day After

What a wonderful Christmas! We got up at the negotiated hour of 8:00 am (some of us want to sleep in and others wake up early no matter what), checked out our stockings, exchanged gifts, had yummy homemade cinnamon rolls, did a quick cleaning, started prepping for dinner, exchanged a few more gifts while chatting with friends and family, and then enjoyed a marvelous meal. After a bit of relaxing and stretching (to let the food settle) we chatted some more, played a bit on the Wii, and then ate some more. It was a great day.

One thing that we added several years ago to our Christmas experience was having our friends and their children spend the night on Christmas night. Some years we have played Wii for several hours, other times we've watched a movie, but this year, it was spent in a variety of ways, but playing games on the new iPads was definitely popular. When everyone's eyes were starting to droop, since several were up past their normal bed time, we settled in for a long winter's nap.

This morning, everyone slept in and then we enjoyed breakfast, watched The Spoken Word, and then spent the day relaxing in our pj's (or something equally comfy). It is a wonderful way to spend the day after the craziness of getting ready for Christmas. We chatted, ate, printed pictures for a quick Christmas album, ate some more, played games on the iPads, ate a little more, and basically just enjoyed each other's company. Being in pjs definitely makes the day - because who wants to do your hair and makeup when you just want to be lazy??

I'm so glad we added this tradition to our holiday experience. It's the perfect way to start a week away from work.

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Twas the Night Before Christmas

And what a wonderful day. Today is one of those mixed days - cleaning and finishing those last minute things, plus starting foods for tomorrow's dinner. But it is also the start of the celebrating. Dinner at our house with J's family, followed by the children sharing their talents as they act out parts in the Nativity story while the adults narrate and sing a few hymns. And finally, the thing we've planned for all year - the White Elephant gift exchange.

I don't really know how this got started, but it is a riot. There are gifts that keep on giving (like the Simpson boxer's that J's mom brought as her gift to the last Christmas Eve she was alive for - now the recipient takes a picture of themselves wearing the boxers and includes it in the package), presents for the children (or child at heart), and packages with bribery so that someone will want to keep it (usually a gift card of some sort). This year was actually pretty tame as White Elephant gift exchanges go. Not a lot of swapping back and forth until the end and not as many knock your socks off, can't quit laughing because the gift is so hilarious as we've seen in the past, but still a fun time was had by all. At some point I'll take a picture of the fine gift I ended up with. I'm sure it will be used in a future exchange :)

After the festivities wrap up and we put the house back to semi-normal, we each head to bed (after taking our turn as "Santa" and filling each other's socks. At this point, the house is quiet and peaceful and I use this time to turn my thoughts to Christ's birth. Most years I read the account in Luke 2 from the Bible. This year I changed it up a bit and watched several videos I found on the LDS church's Christmas web site (christmas.lds.org). The videos were wonderful reminders of the true reason for the season. Some included music and other's were simply testimonies shared by various people regarding the role Christ plays in their lives. It was a beautiful and touching experience to watch and listen to the words and music in the peaceful comfort of my bedroom.

I am so grateful for Christ's willingness to come to earth and for his later sacrifice of his life. I am especially thankful for the chance we have each year to worship his birth. I am also grateful for the fun times we have celebrating the season with family and friends and am truly blessed. My holiday season is filled with so many traditions, love, and joy.

Merry Christmas!

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The Stockings were Hung

But not just by the chimney, they're on the TV, above the french doors, along the window sills, and at the end of tables. Stockings in our house are more for decoration than function. Although we do have stockings that "Santa" fills on Christmas morning, but those typically are not hung up but are brought out on Christmas Eve. We lay the stockings at our designated lounging places in the family room with a towel next to them so they can be covered after they are filled.

I have two stockings now - my Odie (Garfield's dog friend) sock that says "The More the Merrier" on it and has a stuffed animal version of Odie peeking out the top and then K gave me a cross-stitched sock that she has worked on for the past 10 years (not the whole time, but off and on). J has had a cross-stitched sock that her sister made for her several years ago and so we decided to hang her sock and mine on the fireplace mantel. I LOVE my new sock - it is stunning!

Isn't it beautiful?? The detail is amazing!
I think I'll still use my Odie sock for filling purposes - I'd hate to have something happen to my new one after all the time and love put into making it.

As for what we find in our socks, it is usually practical items - hair dye, shower gel, socks, lotion, lip stuff, etc. Mixed in are some fun things like earrings, a favorite candy, and other non-practical items. J always has an orange in her sock, it was something she grew up with and is still a part of her Christmas tradition.

Christmas morning begins with going through our socks, then breakfast, and exchanging gifts. Its an important part of our holiday traditions, plus, it gives everyone a chance to wake up a little.

Did I mention how much I LOVE my new stocking?? Here's a close up and now I'll be done with how amazing it is :)

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Those Final Details

Two days left and just a few things to do. The best part, I don't have to juggle work and home activities - I'm officially on vacation until the new year! So what is left to do?

  • Wash the dogs (it wouldn't do to have smelly dogs for such an occasion and they want to be beautiful too)
  • Buy the last gift card
  • Put away all the creative stuff I've brought out the past few weeks (which really means, clean my room)
  • Print pictures for K's dog album
  • Clean the house
  • Make salads for Christmas dinner (they have to be made in advance so they can set up)
  • Wrap two three presents
  • Decide on white elephant gifts for Christmas Eve party
  • Make cheese ball for Christmas Eve party
Not too bad a list, at least for me. Some years I've still needed to buy stocking stuffers, wrap several gifts, and do a major cleaning on my bedroom, plus the above items. So I'm feeling pretty good about things. I can get this list done without stressing and enjoy my day at home tomorrow.

The great thing about being at this point is that I can enjoy the season and not feel like I'm running around like mad woman. It's a wonderful feeling - I might have to try this again :)

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Deck the Halls

I admit, the decorations in our house are a little over the top. But it is also one of the parts of Christmas that brings me the greatest joy. I love decorating! Looking for the perfect ornament or decor, finding just the right spot for it, having a vision and seeing it all come together, and then, sitting back and enjoying the sights. Pretty much every inch of the common parts of the house are decorated in some way, including the outside (not every inch, but it is still decorated).

The kitchen table is transformed to a beautiful red, green, and white coordination of plates, place mats, runners, cookie jar centerpiece, and a couple of accent pieces. The counter tops are lined with plates (standing upright, not with food), kitchen Santas, and other festive items. The china hutch is transformed - everything that normally is displayed is carefully packed away and Christmas treasures are carefully placed on each shelf. I could go on and on, but it would take pages. Funny thing, the year we finished the basement we joked that we had to because we had run out of room to decorate upstairs (that's only partially true, but it did provide some additional decorating options).

Of course the trees, village, and nativity display are the focal points for the locations or rooms in which they are housed with many supporting decorations on the walls and other surfaces.

Each year we say we aren't going to get anything new for next year, but then Christmas time approaches and the stores put out their new things and we lose all self-control. I mean, who can resist??

I love our home, but there is something about the Christmas decorations that makes it extra special. So until I'm too old to haul the boxes upstairs, the show must go on! Deck the halls with.... just about anything, as long as it is a Christmas decoration.

Let the Tour Begin
Welcome to the tour. Please, no flash photography and refrain from asking questions during the tour. And no food or drinks.

Santa perched atop the tree

Garland, lights, and bows on the railing
Red & White tree downstairs; decorated table; reindeer rug
Downstairs tree next to nativity display
Nativities on display
Village in the front room with the main tree

The front room tree (before the village is added)
Even the Bloodhound table participates in the festivities
Without any presents, the Christmas tree is the perfect place for a nap

That concludes our tour. I hope you enjoyed it. And, please don't judge, we all have our addictions, some just aren't visible or posted on our blogs :)

Merry Christmas!

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Last Minute Gift Giving

Are you looking for ideas for handmade gifts that you can make and give this week? This morning I was on Good Things Utah and shared some ideas for several quick gifts.

Here's the link: Good Things Utah Message Board and Ornaments

The great thing about these gift ideas are how easy they are to customize for anyone on your list.

I hope you enjoy these and that your Christmas is full of happiness and joy.

Write on/wipe off Message Board

 
Alcohol Inked ornaments
Name blocks

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My Christmas List

Remember being a kid and pouring through the catalog to see what you wanted to put on your list for Santa Claus? I'd fold down the pages for each possibility and then come back and narrow it down to those things I REALLY wanted. I don't really remember writing to Santa, but I do remember going to see him in the little house behind the hardware/lumber store. It was red with a scalloped, white trim. It was just big enough for his grand chair. There usually wasn't a line - it's not like we lived in a big city or something, so we'd park, walk up, sit on his lap and give him the official list. No pictures, but definitely candy canes. Some years it was a full size cane and others it was a miniature one. Once Santa knew, there was no need to worry - he had the list.

The funny thing is, I can't really remember what I put on any of those lists, except the year I asked for a bike. And honestly, I think the only reason I remember that year is because there's a picture of me finding it on Christmas morning.

I'm past the age for sitting on Santa's lap, but there's still a kid in me that loves thinking about my Christmas list. It isn't big, but I definitely have a list. But I also have a big list with everyone that I'm shopping for and the gifts I'm getting them. This list is probably agonized over more than my personal list is. And yes, I still go through catalogs and magazines and ads and turn down pages for possible gifts to get and then go back and narrow it down to what I think will be the perfect gift for that person. It's part of the holiday experience - making the list and checking it twice. Although I rarely find anyone who's been naughty, just those that are nice.

Merry Christmas!

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Food, food, and more food!

What would the holidays be without a few favorite treats? Okay, so maybe it's more than a few, but it is a wonderful time to indulge. There's the fudge (no nuts please), popcorn balls, sugar cookies, corn pop candy, mint M&Ms, homemade caramels, and mincemeat pie. Then there's the meals that must be made. Homemade pizza, chips and dip, cheeseballs and crackers, shrimp, and more for Christmas Eve. Then the feast of all feasts on Christmas day! Prime Rib! Oh how amazing the house smells as it bakes to perfection. Plus there's scallop potatoes, frog eye salad, apple salad, homemade rolls, ham (for those that are not fans of the beast), green bean casserole, brussel sprouts in a decadent sauce (which still doesn't it make it worth it to eat the brussel sprouts), and then dessert.

It's no wonder the number one goal for the new year is to lose weight - I think I'm adding pounds just thinking about this. But, the holidays wouldn't seem quite right if at least a few of these foods weren't part of the plan. Some of these are recipes handed down through the years and others were recent adoptees.

Life is good and having so many delightful things to eat is a great reminder of just how good it is.

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Feeling the Holiday

Christmas brings....

Peace
Comfort
Joy
Excitement
Anticipation
Child-like happiness
Stress (unfortunately, but can be controlled!)
Introspection
Relaxation (after everything is done)
Love

and...
Gratitude for the Savior's birth

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Gifts from the Heart

When I was young (as in a child), most of the gifts I gave were handmade. We had a set of Childcraft books and one was the Make and Do book. I regularly used this volume in my quest for the perfect gifts to make. I don't remember all the gift ideas pulled from this book, but I do remember the pencil holder (made from an orange juice can covered with macaroni and painted gold) and woven place mats (made from weaving strips of paper together). I wish I could remember some of the others. But I very vividly remember making a list of the people I needed gifts for and then going page by page to see what my options were and then narrowing it down to what I was sure would be the best gift ever!

As an adult, I still make a few gifts, but not nearly as many. Each year I have grand visions of things that I can make but they seldom happen as time slips away. But I still feel that same excitement in shopping and finding the perfect gift. Because after all, it's not about what the gift is, but how it is given - with love.

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I'm Singing.....

In the car, while cleaning carpets, quietly at work, at church, and pretty much anywhere else I can sing a Christmas carol. For most people, Halloween means trick-or-treaters and candy, but for me it means it's time to load the Christmas music on my iPod! I confess, I have about 30 songs I keep on my iPod year round - my favorites, but the real playlist comes out on November 1.

Christmas music evokes so many emotions. It makes me happy and gets my toes a tapping especially when I hear Wizards in Winter by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Tears come to my eyes when I sing along with Mary Let Me Hold Her Baby by Michael McLean. When The Secret of Christmas by SHeDaisy plays I stop and think about how I treat others and if I carry the Christmas spirit with me throughout the year or not. I could go on and on.

But by far, my favorite song is O Holy Night especially when sung by Josh Groban, but I also enjoy Lonestar, Thurl Bailey, and Martina McBride's versions as well. I love this song so much that if I should happen to pass away in a season that is appropriate for this request, I have asked that O Holy Night be one of the songs at my service (I actually have it listed as a song, but some felt it might be weird if it wasn't near the holidays and so I compromised :) ). It has gorgeous music with lovely harmonies (I sing Alto so it's all about the harmony) and the text beautifully portrays the purpose of Christ's coming to earth and the night he was born.

Christmas music speaks to my soul and brightens my holidays in ways that words cannot express. Thank you to those that compose and perform these incredible carols that make my holidays complete.

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O Tannenbaum

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches....

You'd think this would be my favorite Christmas carol with my love of Christmas trees, but it isn't. But I do love Christmas trees!! I don't know when exactly I decided that Christmas trees were meant to be color coordinated, but about 20 years ago I bought decorations for a red and white tree. This was also the first year we had our fake tree (we still had a live tree, but it was the hodge podge tree). I made bows from red ribbon, bought red and white matte ornaments and a few little, shiny red ornaments, added some gold bead garland, and voila, my first "prissy" tree (that's what it was dubbed since it was color coordinated). It wasn't the most beautifully decorated tree, but I truly loved it.

Two years later, I decided we needed a new color scheme and so I bought purple and gold ornaments, made gold bows that had gold bells hanging from them, and bought a couple boxes of small, clear ornaments that I filled with shiny, purple shred, purple bead garland, and purple cellophane (each ornament was tied at the top with a purple bow). Now I had really arrived in the Christmas tree world - each year I could CHOOSE which color combination I wanted.

And yet, a few years later the need for another color came knocking and so I added green - I found several ornament sets that include matte and shiny balls in forest green and sage green, plus a few white ornaments with snowy, white trees made from glitter on them to go with the white and gold ornaments I already had. Oh, life was good!

Now keep in mind that through all these years this tree was still referred to as the prissy tree, but I didn't mind, it was MY prissy tree :)

Jump forward a few years (four years ago). K and J were at a local furniture store that during Christmas time has amazing Christmas decorations. I don't know what happened, but they fell in love with a "prissy" tree and decided that we needed to have that look. Then they went to another store and there was the perfect tree with earthy colors such as orange, red, gold, browns, and more. But our trees were already decorated for the year, so instead we threw ourselves into the task of buying decorations for next year's tree. The other difference was that the decorations were not all balls, but were instead a large variety of shapes and sizes, that when combined created a stunning tree. We talked to the decorators at the furniture store and they shared some wonderful tips so that by the following Christmas, we had a new tree, new ornaments, and a plan.

I have to admit I was scared to death. What if I couldn't create the tree that we had in our minds?? But after hours of studying tree decorating and looking at trees in some of our favorite stores, I threw my heart and soul into the project and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I had managed to create the tree that we loved so much in the stores, only it was ours!

Since that Christmas three years ago, we haven't looked back. Trees that in the past were totally acceptable now have higher decorating expectations. But it's so fun! It's fun to decorate, fun to admire, and something I don't think I'll ever tire of doing. Christmas would not be complete without a Christmas tree (or two or three or.....).

Merry Christmas!

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All Wrapped Up

I wish our presents were all wrapped up, but the gift wraps at our house take on a life of their own. If it were up to me, everything would be in a bag with beautiful tissue paper poking it's head out of the top. But K has ideas of her own regarding gift presentation.

First, she believes that children (that means anyone that is not out of high school) prefer to unwrap a gift rather than pull something out of a bag. So unless it is a shape that cannot be easily wrapped, then wrapping paper is the gift wrap of choice.

Second, all gifts not only get a coordinated gift tag (sticker or hanging variety) but a small decor item as well. Most of these are found in craft stores and were designed to go on miniature Christmas trees. Others are a little larger. There are snowmen, santas, snowflakes with and without glitter, acrylic candies, miniature presents, deer, and more. She spends almost as much time picking these items out as she does the gift, but its what she does (kind of like I do Christmas trees).

J and I assist in wrapping presents, but only those that are not leaving the house (so the ones for each other) or that are box shaped or can go in a gift bag. We're reminded to include a decor item on each gift and high praise is given when the wrap, tag, and decor item all coordinate.

The funny thing is, it doesn't matter that the recipient is going to rip open the gift - she's totally fine with that. As long as it looks beautiful when it is handed to them, that's what matters.

So on days when wrapping happens, every flat surface is used but the end result is stunning.

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Traditionally Christmas

What would the holidays be without traditions, the things we do every year? Incomplete, that's for sure! And when asked what we do every year, a list quickly comes to mind:

  • Decorate the house by Thanksgiving (or the weekend after)
  • K's Christmas party at the house
  • Making graham cracker houses or cookies with the Wheatley's
  • The family white elephant gift exchange on Christmas Eve
  • Christmas dinner at our house with family and friends
  • Watching Christmas movies like Elf, The Christmas Story, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and more
That's just the short list. But there's one other tradition that we've had for 20+ years that this year is not happening.

We have some wonderful friends that have been second parents/family for more years than I care to count. One of the things we did each year was go to their house and decorate for Christmas. Some years we'd help bring in the beautifully flocked tree and other years it was already in its place of honor in the front room window. We'd discuss what the color theme was for the year (red or blue/green or gold) and then proceed to bring up boxes of lights, ornaments, and decorations while we enjoyed Christmas music and "Dad" headed for the TV downstairs to enjoy a football game.We each had our assignments - I did the tree, K and J worked on the nativity and then moved on to help D with the other decorations, and "Mom" would hand me ornaments for the tree after carefully applying just the right length hook. It usually took a couple of hours and once the tree skirt was on and the train set up under the tree, we'd get Dad from the basement. And without fail, he'd come up the stairs, round the corner, and say "Oh my, isn't it beautiful" and we knew our job was complete. Then we'd head outside to admire the view through the window and after a round of oohs and ahhs we'd head into the house to wrap up the experience with pizza, root beer, and lots of chatting. It was a wonderful experience.

Well, time has marched on and their health is to the point that they now reside in a care facility - luckily still together. But this year there will be no decorating of the house or Dad exclaiming Oh my! We'll still go and visit and chat and we have plans for a few decorations, but no tree or nativity because their little room can't handle the decor. And so I look back fondly on those years of bonding and decorating with love in my heart and tears in my eyes as I realize that some traditions don't last forever, but luckily the love and memories do.

I am so grateful to this wonderful family for taking us in so many years ago and making us a part of their family. For the chance to serve them in such a small way by decorating for them each Christmas. This year won't be the same and a part of my holiday season will be missing, but I would never trade the past or the memories and love I have in my heart from this small, yet monumental Christmas tradition.

Our picture together last year after decorating (I'm taking the picture)

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Capturing the Beauty

The past few years I've turned into a bit of a photo bug. I carry my camera in my purse so I have it whenever I spot something I want to capture. It's been fun! When it comes to Christmas, I realized I've really gone nuts with the pictures. Three years ago I had a few pictures of our new front room tree, a few decorations, and the opening of presents. Last year, more photos of the front room tree plus the new red and white tree. These photos include closeups of my favorite ornaments from a variety of angles. I also captured several of the snow, the outside lights in the snow, and more snow. Oh, and I took a few of the new mantle decor. And of course, the opening of presents.

That brings us to this year. I took more pictures of our front room tree and the red and white tree, plus the two hodge podge trees, the nativities, the village, and random other decorations. I have captured the main parts of our house in a photo one way or another. There are a few things I haven't photographed, but there's still time so you never know what might be caught by my camera.

The thing I realized is even though we put out the same decorations and trees, we usually add something new. And with the things I'm decorating, I like to do it from scratch. I might look at last year's pictures for a general reminder or inspiration, but how I organize or display things is all new. For me, this is part of the fun of decorating - deciding where to put things and feeling creative in the process. Plus, then it all looks new again to me.

So at night when I sit and look at the lights and decorations, I find that I notice new things and I never tire of enjoying the view. It soothes my soul and brings joy to my heart.

My favorite ornament on the front room tree.

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Enjoy the Christmas Season

I'm not sure why, but this year my stress level feels a lot lower than it typically does during the Christmas season. No, I haven't finished my shopping. My packages are not shipped. I've barely wrapped what presents I have bought. But I have managed to spend about an hour each night sitting in the family room with just the Christmas lights on. Sometimes I've read, other times I've listened to music, and most of the time I'm on the computer. But it is quiet and peaceful and the lights are beautiful.

I don't know that this time to myself each night has made the difference, but for years I have tried to do this and finally I am and it is absolutely wonderful! At some point the panic may kick in, but for now I know the things I need to do and the time frame for when they need to be accomplished and I can live with this knowledge. So I'm going to enjoy this season and bask in the lights and decorations that I love adding to our home.

Let the lists wait while I enjoy the important things - friends, family, and the wonderful feeling of the Christmas season!

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Memories of Christmas' Past

Growing up, our family and my Uncle's family would head to Grandma's house for Christmas Eve. We'd load the car with the gifts we would exchange that evening and make the 30 minute drive. We'd have Hamburger Royales for dinner (a hamburger patty with a slice of cheese covered in chili and a sprinkling of oyster crackers - no hamburger bun, all in a bowl) and then gather around the Christmas tree and exchange gifts. There were four of us cousins most of the time, unless my Aunt was visiting that year with her family, and we were pretty close in age. At Grandma's house, we opened presents from everyone - cousins, parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles. We were pretty much guaranteed that one gift from Grandma would be new pajamas. We always tried them on and then wore them home so we could go straight from the car to bed. Once the gifts were all opened, we'd pile back in the car and head for home. On Christmas morning, the only gifts were those from Santa and whatever was in our stocking.

So imagine my surprise when as an adult I discovered that most people don't open presents on Christmas Eve, but wait until Christmas morning!! Luckily I've been surrounded by people that understood how hard this was to wait and allowed me to open one gift on Christmas Eve, but I am proud to say that I am past that now and have been for several years.

Now our Christmas Eve gift-giving consists of a White Elephant gift exchange. And let me tell you, it is a blast! We spend most of the year scouting the perfect gift. And truth be told, we have a pretty good stash of possible options, but still end up buying one or two as the exchange date approaches. And because it is family, the gifts tend to get a little crazier than those typically seen, but it provides stories to tell for months and years to come.

I wouldn't trade my childhood Christmas activities and I love what we do now. I guess it is good to grow up and try new things, as long as the memories of Christmas' past are around to enjoy.

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Counting the Days

As November approaches I start looking at the calendar to plan the month (yes, you read that correctly, November). I figure out where Thanksgiving is and then count backwards to make sure that the carpets and house are cleaned in time to start decorating and be finished by Thanksgiving. For me, its all about the decorating. Once that is done, then we can sit back and enjoy the season.

I think because I don't have children, I don't do the December countdown to Christmas, but instead the countdown to when I can turn on the Christmas lights. I do remember getting my first chocolate Advent calendar - I was in college and thoroughly loved opening a door each day and eating the chocolate. And I love looking at Advent calendars and have to hold myself back from making some of the really cool paper crafted versions.

But for now, counting down to Christmas is more about the activities we do rather than the number of days left until the 25th. And it works!

Happy counting!

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Striving for Perfection

It's funny how you have a certain picture in your mind of how something will turn out. And how often does that really happen? I'd have to say, not very often. But even so, it is still so worth dreaming and coming up with a plan and putting hope out there.

As the Christmas season approaches, I have grand plans for what I want to do - make several gifts for people, send out handmade cards, packages for family in California sent early, and so on. In reality, the two sewing projects I had planned for this year are not started and I'm pretty sure one will not get made and the other is on the maybe list. No cards are made and well, that's on the maybe list too. And those packages to California....what really constitutes early?? Earlier than last year?? Early in the week?? Laugh if you will, but this is the logic that runs through my head.

But, if I stop and look around, I see our house beautifully decorated with time in the evenings to relax and enjoy the lighted decor. I have time at home right now, instead of traveling for work. I have time planned with friends and loved ones to do the activities that make this season meaningful and memorable.

So while all the things that I had envisioned in my wee brain may not come to life, my life is good and happy and I am content. And that's what this season is all about - doing and being with those you love and making memories and sharing joy.

Perfection will always be there, but time marches on and people and opportunities may not exist next year. And so, I will embrace what is reality and let go of the dream (or at least lessen my grip on it) so that I can enjoy Christmas and the many blessings it offers.

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To write or not to write

Each year in about October I start thinking "I should send Christmas cards this year." This year I actually have a stamp that would be fun for cards. And here it is the first week of December and no cards are made, let alone sent.

Why the card dilemma? Because I feel like I have to make them if I'm going to send them. I mean really, I can't send some store bought card with all those supplies in my craft room waiting to be used! And so, I can't remember the last time I sent Christmas cards.

The thing is, it isn't that I don't want to keep in touch or that I don't want to make cards, it's a time and priority thing. But I'm not one of those that includes a letter in my cards - after all, I don't have a ton of family stories to share from the year. But I know that my family and friends would probably love getting a card from me.

So, no commitments at this time, but honestly, I do still have time. But I wouldn't hold your breath cause you might pass out before you get the card :)

Sending my love and Christmas wishes (just in case :) )

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Winter White Mornings

Winter White - that's the color that greets me most mornings, but today it was closer to Foggy Gray, which had me hoping that it was snowing. But alas, it was not. But the cold and moisture from the snow created a fog-like, cloudiness that wrapped the mountains in a fluffy blanket. Even though it wasn't as cold as usual (19 degrees) the extra moisture in the air produced an icy film over the exterior of my car creating a delicate pattern that reminded me of a lace doily. Beauty found!

As I crested Point of the Mountain on my way home from work, I caught a glimpse of the first haze layer of the season. Not only is it an ugly brownish color, it messes with the air quality causing many to curse the cold, winter weather. But the haze has a bright side to it - colorful sunsets. And so as I drove, I watched the western sky turn a lovely pinkish-orange and then fade to a purplish hue before giving way to darkness. More beauty found!

And so ends another winter day in December, with hope for a Winter White day in the near future, which will produce more beauty.

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Journal Your Christmas

I joined a class called Journal Your Christmas. It's all about capturing your Christmas memories. The gal who runs the class posts a journaling prompt as well as photo ideas each day. Those participating create a journal, whether it is small, big, printed, digital, or a combination of things. And you can do as little or as much as you want (which is perfect for me).

I think I'll use my blog as a means of recording my journaling. That way when I have a little more time, I can make the actual book or not, whatever suits my fancy :)

The first day (today) is about the manifesto - what is the plan. Here is the manifesto provided by the class.

From this manifesto, the things that catch my attention are: give from the heart, rekindle the magic, and find peace, celebrate joy, remember.

My goal for this project is to put into words the experiences and things we do during this wonderful season. I want a visual way to remember things and not just by going through my folders of photos, but in one place with written memories.

I'm excited for this adventure. Here's to making memories!

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About This Blog

My posts are random. They cover a variety of subjects, but are mostly about things I enjoy, am inspired by, or catch my attention at that moment. I don't ever want to offend anyone by anything I write. This blog is a way to express myself and the interests I have. I hope you enjoy what I share.

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