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Thanks for all the virtual pats on the back, everyone.  I felt them, I really did.  And patience sometimes does not go unrewarded, for what to my wandering eyes did appear?  An email reading, “You did well to wait, my dear!”


Yes I did.

Happily, Pier 1 is practically adjacent to my JoAnn’s, and I needed spray adhesive for a project and patches for the boys’ jeans.  You see, it was kismet.  I had to go.

So, with my 40% off coupon (expiring today, no less – kismet!) for JoAnn’s in hand, off I toodled to the mall.  Upon seeing my giddy state when I returned home, Jason observed, “This is your Black Friday, isn’t it?”  Oh yeah, he can get up at 3 am the day after a tryptophan coma; I’m waiting ’til 10:30 am on a Saturday in January for my high.

I just wish I had the photographic skills to do this haul justice.  You’ll have to trust that it looks about a thousand times more impressive in person.  (Boring spray adhesive and patches not pictured.)

Everything here was either 75% off or 90% off.  I got the multi-color picks last Sunday on Michaels’ Christmas clearance aisle, and the rest was at Pier 1 and JoAnn’s today.

These trees are my favorite.  $1.75 each for the big ones.  Pitter-pat! To think I almost walked out with only two.  I need a forest of these.  I can’t even show you the very best piece of the loot, because it’s a gift, and these blogs are dangerously public for gift givers.  You’ll just have to wait.  (But I’m going to be pulling it out and ogling it now and then, count on it!)

The best part of this little shopping spree is that I will have forgotten exactly what I bought by the time I open up the storage bins after Thanksgiving this year.  It will be my own early Christmas present…and then I get to use them.

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I LOVE holiday cards.  One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is going to the mailbox every day and seeing how much my friends’ kids have grown, reading the holiday letters from extended family, and seeing how my seventh grade teacher is doing.  (She retired this year and is taking golf lessons in 2010!)

I take great effort to create our own holiday card.  I make it a little different each year, spending hours fiddling in Photoshop Elements, shopping bargains on the photo printing sites, and hand-addressing each card.

However, I have a dirty little secret.

Every January, every card we’ve received goes into the recycling bin.

I tried to save them for a few years.  I really did.  But it got to be a huge space-taker, and one day shortly after realizing we had too much stuff for our space, I threw them all out.  Every January, I feel a twinge, but they still go into the bin, because honestly?  I’m going to get new ones next year (yay!), and we really do have more stuff than space.

This year, however, I’m making a change.  The cards without photos are going here.  For the price of a couple of stamps, I am recycling these gorgeous cards in a very eco-friendly way and at the same time contributing to the care of some very deserving kids.

Will you join me?

At my insistence request, we always begin our holiday season on Thanksgiving evening with a viewing of White Christmas.  It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say I’m dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used to know, mostly because I can’t recall if we ever actually had a White Christmas when I was growing up.  Maybe one or two when we lived in northern Virginia?  (Mom?)  Certainly Texas, Hawaii, Southern California and England were never very accommodating in that regard.

Still, I’m a romantic, especially when it comes to the holidays, so I never stopped wishing for magical snow on Christmas morning.  I doubt we’ll see it this year, either.  (Although I’ve seen rumors on Facebook of snow forecast for the 25th in Atlanta, I daren’t hope too hard!)  So what is one to do when “Let It Snow” isn’t enough oomph to get Mother Nature off her cozy rocker by the fire & give us a little snow?  Why, one makes it snow instead.


Nicolas came home from school with a snowflake yesterday, and I immediately hung it in the front window.  It looked lonely, so we got to work.  Kalen’s not quite strong enough to cut through that many layers of paper, but he wasn’t daunted in the least and quickly gathered up our clippings to make snow collages of his own.  He also folded up a scrap of paper and clipped away, ending up with some sort of robot-paper-doll hybrid.  (Which he later informed me was Darth Somebody-or-Other or General Grievous or someone else appropriately evil in the Star Wars universe.  I should’ve gotten a photo and written down the name.  Sorry about that.)

Am I alone in my fruitless wish for a Wintry White Christmas Morning?  Does anyone else out there in an area not prone to December flurries secretly hope for a dusting or blanketing of new fallen snow when they wake up on the big day?

randomtuesday

  • Aside from a few stocking stuffers (and I know exactly where I’m going to get them tomorrow), I think I’m really, truly done with Christmas shopping.  Wow.
  • And the holiday cards have been sent out, too.
  • I’m really behind on laundry, though.
  • I’m miffed at Amazon.  Or maybe just at Amazon’s suppliers, but, yeah, kinda Amazon.  Kalen picked out the coolest gift for Nicky three weeks ago, and today they told us that it won’t be available, possibly ever, so order cancelled.  Thankfully, Michaels and Rite Aid came through with really great replacements, which he’ll probably like even better than the original gift.  So there, Amazon.
  • I’m pretty thrilled with Michaels and Rite Aid.
  • It’s raining.
  • We haven’t watched A Christmas Story yet this year.  I may have to push for it for tonight.
  • Thanks to the aforementioned trip to Michaels, I get to play with glitter this afternoon.  First time in years!

I’ve been enjoying our decorations so much this year, I had to join in with The Nester’s Christmas Tour of Homes.  I didn’t do much around the house, but what we do have up is fun.  And the best part?  The Nester says we’re not aloud to worry about perfection in our decorations.  Boy, can I do imperfect!!

As you saw in yesterday’s 12 of 12, we have icicle lights up outside, but what you didn’t see are the swags along the driveway bushes.


Imperfectionism abounds!  I swear, we tested those lights before hanging them on the house, but once they came on that first evening, sure enough a strand was out.  (Okay, two are out, but the other one’s on the opposite corner of the house, so not quite as visible.)

Our front door decoration is one I picked up at Costco years ago, and with just a little fluffing each year, it has held up beautifully.  I like it because it’s not a wreath.  I have nothing against wreaths, don’t get me wrong.  But it’s different, and I like that.


Inside, of course, is the tree.  Since I love walking or driving down the street and seeing people’s trees in their front windows, and since we’re lucky enough to have a bay window in our living room, that’s where our tree sits.  As my regular readers know, it’s a pre-lit tree with a mom-made tree skirt.  As much as I would love to have a second “decorator” tree someday, our main tree will always be decorated with our sentimental ornaments (which I’ll go into in another post this week).


While I love white lights, there’s just something about colorful Christmas lights that says “Christmas with kids” to me.  So where better to put the colored strands we have but in the boys bedroom


and playroom?


Yes, those are M&M’s Christmas lights!  The boys were so excited when they got home from school a couple of weeks ago and saw these rooms.  A month’s worth of holiday joy for very little effort.  And it’s far from perfect, but who cares?

My very favorite decoration this year is the mantel swag.  I used tips found on several different blogs and visiting the thrift store, dollar store, and our Christmas bins to create this.  Our formerly very wimpy garland is now twisted with a white poinsettia garland and a strand of white lights, and I’ve added in some picks and all of the brass ornaments from our tree.


On top, I draped a table runner (over some small boxes and even a stack of coasters), and I finished it off with some branches from one of our evergreens in the back yard.  It was pretty cool to watch the pine cones on them open up over the first couple of days they were in the house.


It’s especially pretty at night.

And you want imperfection?  Oh, I’ve got imperfection for you.  That center part of the swag?  It’s a good two-to-three inches too far to the left.  Some of you are rolling your eyes a la my husband right now, aren’t you?  But some of you understand.  Once I realized it, it would have been an incredible hassle to fix, so I decided to breathe deeply and embrace the off-centeredness of it all.  And I’m okay with it, because really, who’s going to notice?  (I mean besides the however-many-of-you just read this paragraph.  And you won’t tell anyone, will you?)

I had grand plans for several more decorating feats around the house this December, but they’ve fizzled.  I’m really okay with that.  After all, we still have quite a few unpacked boxes, so I’m just thrilled to have a couple of rooms in the house filled with Christmas cheer.

If you’d like to see more decorations, click on this button.  Be sure to leave lots of comments for the other bloggers…we really like to hear what you think!

Happy 12th, everyone!  Today was one of my favorite days.  I am loving December this year…


11:50 am – Family errands.  Here, we’re on the hunt for some giftable goodies.  Mmmm, Pfeffernüsse…


12:47 pm – After a highly (ahem) nutritious fast food lunch, we head to our next exciting stop: the grocery store.


1:50 pm – Mission accomplished.


2:28 pm – The best photo I’ve gotten of the tree yet!


3:46 pm – Dinner about to go in for Phase II of the cooking.  I’m not always much of a pork fan, but this was excellent.


4:43 pm – Lights, and their reflections in my car roof.  (Yes, a strand is out.  It might get fixed this year; it might not.)


4:44 pm – Fun with the camera!  (Or, “Lights & Camera Action.”)


4:46 pm – May I introduce Betty, my new toy?  She is a Dell Inspiron Mini 10V.  She is so stinkin’ cute, especially with her new ink.  (She’s young & a tad impetuous, Betty is.)


5:33 pm – It is the Wii-kend after all.  (Just please don’t tell them that the word “week” has the ‘Wii’ sound in it, too.)


7:27 pm – The candles in the menorah kept us company…


7:36 pm – …while we watched Christmas movies.  This was the kids’ first time seeing Miracle.  (They loved it!)


8:37 pm – “Buffalo gals, won’t you come out tonight?”

Thanks, as always, to Chad for envisioning and continuing the monthly 12!

I’ve seen several blog posts this season about tree skirts, most noticeably people writing that they don’t want to purchase tree skirts.  They use sheets, or extra fabric, or whatever.  Hey, whatever works!  Like they said, it’s mostly going to be covered up by presents, right?

I must admit, though, my first thought upon reading one of these posts was, “Buy a tree skirt?”  Now, you have to remember that I was raised by a woman who has a degree in home economics, so of course, our tree skirt was hand-sewn.  Happily, when Jason and I struck out and formed our own household, Mom had a nice stash of quilting fabric, some of which was both Christmasy (yay!) and music-oriented (double yay!).  I’m not sure if there was begging, eyelash batting, or a simple, “Ooh, I LOVE those fabrics, Mom, and we REALLY need a tree skirt!” involved, but by our first Christmas together, we had our skirt.

I wish I had thought to take it outside to get a good photo when we put the tree up, but (again, happily) said skirt is currently fulfilling its potential and playing host to a pile of presents.  I will get a nice, posed picture of it, but in the meantime, here it is in action, eagerly awaiting the weight of the booty:


So, what’s under your Christmas tree?  A store-bought skirt?  An extra shawl?  A red bed sheet?  A bed of dry pine needles?  Do share!

Nope!

You see, despite the wonderful smell of a fresh evergreen in our home…

Despite the joy inherent in picking up pine needles well into every March…

Despite the annual photo ops involving men man with power tools

The Great Trunk Trimming of 2005

Despite all the fun that comes with buying, hauling, trimming, and cleaning up after a live tree every holiday season, a few years ago, we decided to go faux.  You see, each December, as we headed to the lot to pick out our tree, we experienced a bit of sticker shock, and we finally realized that purchasing a fake tree (which have gotten SO much better looking in recent years) at a post-Christmas sale would pay for itself in one or two years.  That realization was the one that pushed us from the “Real Trees Only!” crowd to the “Ehh, let’s save a tree (and our wallets)” crowd.

Plus, artificial trees are pre-lit.

Pre-lit is great.  It’s slightly less great when you realize you have a strand out, because you can’t just sit down by the outlet and find the problem bulb.  You see, they’re attached.  To the tree.  Which makes it a bit more involved.

Then, when you realize that it’s not just one problem bulb…that you had some kind of surge last year, and it’s pretty nearly every bulb on the tree…well.  Let’s just say, we were happy we had purchased our new “little friend.”

This guy was instrumental in helping us determine which bulbs were no longer functioning (most of them), and determining that it was actually a bulb issue, and not a voltage issue.  Unfortunately, we both had pretty sore fingertips by the end of the day.  Much egg nog (sadly, unspiked) was consumed that afternoon and evening.

And who says there are no good photo ops with artificial trees?

The Great Box Opening of 2009

randomtuesday

  • I’ve got lots to blog about (decorating!!), and now that we’re having sunny days, maybe I can get good photos so I can actually get some of those posts up here.
  • Thanksgiving was great.
  • Civilization IV*, a PC game released in 2005, was on sale for $5 at Best Buy on Black Friday.  It does, in fact, run quite well on Vista.  Any guesses as to what my new addiction might be?
  • I am finding such joy in decorating the house for the holidays this year.  (My other addiction at the mo’.)
  • Thrift stores are fabulous resources for Christmas decorations.  Why spend $0.99 for seven replacement lightbulbs, or $1.99 for a brand-new strings of lights, when you can pay $1.99 (and less on sale days) for a used, but working-perfectly string of lights at the thrift store?  Thrifting = recycling.
  • I need to check the calendar and find out when Hanukkah is this year.  We try to light the menorah with the kids but always forget until about halfway through.  Or, we start out fine and forget after the first couple of nights.
  • We’re flying to Atlanta on Solstice, so I don’t think we’ll be doing a Solstice tree this year.  Sniff.
  • I should blog about how our not-so-traditionally-religious family celebrates the holiday season.  (The last couple of bullet points should be a clue.)
  • I should also blog about how no one’s trying to “steal Christmas,” “eliminate Christmas,” or “declare war on Christmas” when they say “Happy Holidays,” but I have a feeling the people who need to hear the message wouldn’t believe me, anyway.  I bet they’d be even more ticked off if I went around wishing them a Blessed Solstice.

*Is it proper to italicize the name of a video game?  Is it like a movie?  Conventions for these new-fangled-type technologies weren’t discussed in my high school English classes.

randomtuesday

  • I didn’t turn my computer on all weekend, which suited me fine at the time, but I still felt compelled to catch up on the tweeting, facebooking, and RSS’ing of it all yesterday and today.
  • I found a couple of new-to-me blogs here and here, and I’m enjoying wasting time being inspired by them.
  • If we had had any doubts about the move across country (which we hadn’t), they would have been washed away over the past few days of parent-teacher conferences.  The boys are excelling, and Nicolas, especially, is making more progress academically than I have ever seen him do.  I am so proud.
  • I found the fabric I wanted for the boys’ room on clearance for $1.99/yd at Ikea and foam core at half price at Michael’s this weekend.  Nifty simple pelmet, here we come!
  • Ironic Thanksgiving story of the year: We are having our first vegetarian Thanksgiving this year, having been graciously invited to a friend of a friend’s house on the big day.  I promised Jason some Turkey on Saturday, so I bought a breast when they were on sale a couple of weeks ago.  Yesterday, a friend who doesn’t cook turkey called to offer us the free one she’d received at the grocery store.  Today, Jason won a free one at work.  We are overrun (in a totally blessed way!) with turkeys.  (Which are being stored at our friends’ house, because they have a stand-alone freezer, and we have the smallest freezer known to humankind.)  They will come in very handy for dinners in the New Year.
  • I’m excited for Friday.  We’re decorating a little earlier this year than we have in the past, because we’ll be out of town for ten days around Christmastime, and we want to enjoy our decorations for as long as possible.  It was Jason’s suggestion, and I love it.  (I think he would’ve decorated a couple of weeks ago for this reason, but he knew better than to suggest to me that we decorate before Thanksgiving.  Smart man.)
  • The latest Muppet video on YouTube has gone insanely viral today (I’ve seen it on three blogs and many more Tweets).  I love it.  It is quintessential, classic Muppet, especially in the very last note of the song and in the little piece directly afterward.

My boys

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