Sunday, December 23, 2007

Away From It All



It is so rare that I do this. It is so rare that I actually "get away from it all." I left work for some vacation time last Wednesday, and it has taken me until today to really decompress. I'm high strung that way; always thinking about what is coming next, what I need to do for tomorrow. But finally, today, it has finally sunk in that I'm on vacation. I've had some wonderful time these past few days; lunching with family, cleaning my house, wrapping presents, shopping midst the holiday rush and enjoying being out during the day (vs. being at a desk). I've met my precious niece Elizabeth for the first time and Matt and I have managed to make ourselves over into giant monkeys just to glean a smile from her. I cant tell you how exciting it is to be an aunt, I relish it.

I hope you all are resting and enjoying yourselves as much as I am. I hope that this Christmas is extra special for you, that you all get to enjoy your beautiful homes and families. I'll be back later, but for right now I'm going to get back to vacationing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pink Flowers, Football, and Merry Christmas


I spent last night cleaning my kitchen and watching football. OK, you caught me in a lie. I never actually watch football. But I don't dislike it, I actually find it interesting. I just have better things to do. Like cleaning, writing, drawing, talking on the phone, reading; basically anything but wasting my life away in front of the 'idiot box'. But as I cleaned my kitchen and gazed over my pink flowers, I realized that it wasn't a bad way to watch football. It was essentially the best of both worlds; frilly meets the world of violent sports. I can live with that happy medium.

Football just reminds me of Christmas anyway. Childhood memories always flood over me; my uncles and dad yelling at a game amidst a living room flooded with torn wrapping paper and bows. My aunt rolling her eyes, blaring her holiday opera music to drown out the game. Good times, good memories.



I've been amazed at how quickly this holiday season has flown by. Each year it gets faster and faster, and it isn't like I wasn't warned. My Meme always tells me, "The older you get, the faster it goes." I'm afraid she is right. But, I have to say, for all of it's speediness, this holiday has been really pleasant. We've spent good time with friends, good time resting in our house and enjoying movies, good time with new friends at church. And, as my completely laid back, eternally cheerful husband would say, "It ain't over yet." The best is yet to come; the family time, the gift giving, the time away from work and obligations.

So, I'm ready. I'm ready for the candy canes and the days spent in pajamas. I'm ready for some good after-holiday sales and endless hours filled with NOT WORKING. I'm ready for antique malls and being home to see the sunlight stream through the windows. I'm just ready.

But, as my vacation is starting today, I'm sorry to say I'll be posting much less frequently. I've decided to throw myself into a few projects, spend time with family and just enjoy being at home for a while. I'll be back a few times to say hello, but my usual every-day-posts will have to cease. They don't call it a vacation for nothing! So, until then, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!


Keeping a Schnauzer Warm and a New Project


It is cold here. After days of 70 degree weather at the beginning of the month, it finally turned cold. And at a certain point, the house just feels chilly. I could set my heat on 70, let it run all the time, but I refuse. So basically, this is what I do. I wrap up in a throw, put my little space heater in front of the couch, and if I'm lucky, Mabel joins me and lays on my feet. I love this kind of weather, until I have to take a shower. COLD. Which is why we faced a dilemma with Mabel.

You see, Mabel hates taking a bath. She becomes very cat-like when we put her in the tub, her little body rigid with animosity and claws scraping at whatever grabs her. But it was time. As she burrowed next to me on the couch this past week, I've found myself sniffing her and saying out loud, "Mabel, why do you smell like popcorn and old shoes?" It was time for a bath.






At bath-time, it's all hands on deck. I apply the soap, Matt holds onto her little squirming body like an orderly at a mental hospital. I wash the soap off of her, and Matt deals with her mouthy complaints. But this time, when it was all over, Mabel was shaking. It was so cold, down in the 20's (not in the house of course) and she was shivering. So what could we do but bundle her up like a certain tiny figure in the nativity scene? And for once in her life, she didn't fight or growl. She just laid there like a pig in a blanket (EXCUSE the terrible use of that simile).






On another note, I've found another curb-side treasure. OK, maybe not a treasure. It's not much now, but hey, it was free. I'm going to hopefully have time to do something to it during my swiftly approaching vacation.

Award...


Sweet Heather at Mrs Jones gave me the Underblogger Award. Now as I understand this, this is a little recognition to those of us who have fun blogs, but not a lot of traffic. Thanks Heather, although truth be told, I cant imagine having a lot more traffic! I really like being able to keep up with everyone that reads this blog, it makes it much more fun to feel like I know the people that leave comments. Anyway, regardless of criteria, I'm just going to pass this on to a few of my favorite blogs (and Linda, you know you would be number 1, but you've already got this one).

So I tag the following:


Chris at Just Beachy. She was one of the first blogs I started reading, and this woman has GREAT taste (plus her girls are just precious). Her house pictures are so inspiring.


Jerusalem at My Little Life. If I ever become rich (ahem, win the lottery), this is the girl I'm hiring to come help me decorate that huge farm house I'll be building! She has such a fun, whimsical house (and her boys are precious too).


Jeanetta at Splendid Things. She is such a creative artist; painting, ornament making, sewing. I'm always impressed with her talent.


Linda at Frenchless in France. This blog is one of my daily reads. Linda is an American, married to a Frenchman, and lives in PARIS. Enough said yes? Her pictures are so lovely, I like to think of her blog as my mini-vacation.


OK, that's as far as I'll go. In reality, all of the blogs I list in my sidebar are my favorite... but listing them all would be a tad redundant. :) Thanks again Heather.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Santa Reads Blogs and Amazon is Screwy


Well, here she is. I call her Jillian. I know I know, she's red. It's a long story, so I'll make is short. Apparently Santa (aka Matt) reads my blog. I don't know what was the bigger present, getting my dream gift (early, we're early givers around here) or the fact that hubs reads my blog from time to time. In all honesty, I wasn't quite sure he had looked at it for more than five minutes in the past ten months.

So Matt in all his sweetness went on the search for an affordable/on-sale mixer. He found a white one on Amazon on sale and clicked purchase. And, in reality, I would have been thrilled with white. Practical, clean, sparkly; I never tire of white. So when the box came in the mail and he excitedly emptied it to show me his gift (he was so sweet and proud), his smile quickly became a frown when he saw the color. 'Amazon screwed up' he railed and I suddenly had doubts about a white mixer. I LOVED this thing, red color and all. Now, here is the color problem: there isn't a lot of red in my kitchen. There are certainly a LOT of other colors; turquoise, pink, coral, green. But no red. So I started thinking, why not add another color? Plus, I like the way Jillian looks next to my cookbook crate. And I have some vintage red rose tablecloths I've been thinking of making into curtains...

Plus, it just seems cruel to return her after I've already named her. It would be like trying an orphan out for a few days and shipping her back to the orphanage. OK, maybe not.




Friday, December 14, 2007

Posing In Our Christmas Finest



Matt and I attended a Christmas sweater party earlier this month, and these were the outfits of choice. Apparently I have a thing for posing this way. Anyway, I thought this was a fun way to part on Friday! Have a great weekend.

Christmas Shopping



I spent an afternoon lunch break shopping in my favorite place, again. In truth, shopping at Jerusalem and Jeanetta's shoppe is a dangerous and slippery slope, b/c I end with one gift for a family member and three things I want for me. Don't worry, I was strong, but I'm not sure how much longer that will last. In other news; my Christmas shopping is done! This has been a really easy year. Both of our families are full of adults (with the exception of my precious niece... who I suspect will be getting lots of presents... as she should), so we've all decided to scale back or draw names. It makes so much more sense to me, and I think we've all agreed that this has been a wonderful, stress-free Christmas season.
Now all I have to do is wait for my marvelous vacation to begin, watch for a LATE ebay package, and make more cookies. Oh yeah, and run around the lake four or five times after eating the cookies. It's a good plan, and I'm confident there will be a 'perfect day' sometime soon.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lost Stepchild



My bedroom tends to be the lost stepchild of my house, and like always, I forgot to show my decorations there. So, here they are. Nothing fancy, but it is so nice at night when I'm watching the news. Wish I could keep them up year round...

A Perfect Day


We all have one. That one day (or if we're lucky, several days) that live in infamy in our own minds. We look back on them and say, "That was a perfect day." Do you ever wonder about that? What makes them so special? What circumstances, mood, people align to create that 'perfect storm' of a day?

I have several, but the one I think of most often was several Christmases ago. I was working at the university I graduated from. It was a little nest of a job... the perfect easy start into the big bad world of working my life away. I had a wonderful, friendly boss and a coworker that was a soul mate from the start. All three of us had an easy camaraderie (anyone affiliated with that school is snickering at my word usage here).

That particular week before Christmas, my husband went skiing with his family in Colorado. I didn't get off work until the week of Christmas, so I stayed behind to finish out my work week. I know it sounds pathetic, my being left behind to work, but it really wasn't so bad. I led a blissful existence there, in a little rented farm house with tall ceilings and creaky wood floors. We lived two blocks from campus, and I got to come home during my lunch breaks to eat lunch in my big white, sunny kitchen with wide wooden windows. I loved living there.

That last Friday before Christmas I fairly skipped to work. OK, I drove, but I was mentally skipping. I bundled up in my favorite grey wool coat and long pink scarf. I drove my two minute commute and my boss declared it an early holiday. We spent most of the morning talking and chatting, drinking coffee. We decided to order pizza for lunch, and the delivery man came within the hour with our two supreme pizzas. Holiday was in the air, everyone was happy and the entire campus was exhaling in anticipation of shutting down for seven days.

We paid the delivery guy, who looked oddly antsy and pale. Before he left, he threw a cautious glance over his shoulder and said, "Y'all might want to think about taking that pizza home early," and disappeared out the door with a ding of the bell. We looked at each other, puzzled, and I leaned out our doorway (our office was windowless) and peered into the lobby.

The lobby windows stretched from floor to ceiling, three stories tall. I squinted, because I couldn't see anything. It seemed a solid stretch of ice was concealing the entire window. I frowned, mentally acknowledging that the sun had been shining when I came to work that morning. My boss looked at us and said, "I think we should shut the office down early."

It became complete panic in the building. There was a mass exodus the likes of which I had never seen before, and have never seen since. Women were running with scarves flying, umbrellas turning inside out and people sprawled on patches of ice. I shoved a few pieces of pizza in a plastic bag and headed to the parking lot. The ground was terribly slick and I slid around, hands waving to keep my balance. The sleet and snow were falling so hard it stung my skin, and I could feel my mascara begin to run down my face. I found my way to the car without breaking any limbs, but immediately began to panic. My entire car was covered with a solid sheet of ice, and my being the southern girl that I am, did not have an ice scraper in my car. In a blind panic, I threw my purse into the car, put the defrost on high and began manically scraping the ice with my fingernails (but not before checking my reflection in the rear view mirror to find that not only had my mascara dripped down my face, I bore an erie resemblance to Alice Cooper).

The parking lot began to empty out and I was alone, scraping with my fingernails. Unless you've ever worked for a university, you cant imagine how empty and deserted a campus can feel at a time like this. Big, dark windowed buildings stood around, hundreds of dorm rooms were empty, and I alone was left in the parking lot, trying to get home. All of a sudden, I could hear a loud alarm sounding inside my car. I leaned down and what did I find flashing? The low coolant light. 'Great,' I said aloud, 'great!" I was yelling this to myself when my coworker walked up behind me said, "Need help?"

I have never been so relieved to see someone, except that when I think back, I had no real reason to panic. In all honestly, I probably could have walked/crawled the two blocks home. Or called one of my two uncles who owned 4wheel drive trucks. But these aren't the sort of things that readily occur to me when I become panicked and irrational.

My beloved co-worker helped me clean off a patch of windshield ice big enough for to see through, we hugged goodbye hurriedly, and I crept home. My tires spun, and I held my breath the whole way. What normally took 2 minutes to drive, stretched into 10 creeping minutes. When I pulled into my driveway, I clicked the garage door opener and pulled safely into the fold. This is the part of the story where you are probably asking, "Why is this one of her favorite days ever? Sounds horrible."

Well, you just cant imagine the relief I felt to get home. I have never felt that before, the ultimate contentment, the knowledge that I had all I needed in life under that roof. The sleet kept falling, hitting hard on the roof. It began changing over to snow, and I decided to make the most of the day. I put on boots, comforted Mabel (who was still a baby who had never experienced winter weather before) and we played in the backyard. She jumped and bit at the snow and sleet, I ran around and threw snow balls at her. Our house had a giant backyard, full of huge oak trees, a storm shelter, a little shop with electricity. It really was a heavenly place to live, and on that day was the picture of Christmas; a sparkling, icy wonderland.

Afterward, Mabel and I both were sopping wet and cold. I left all my wet boots and socks on the slanting back porch next to the washer and dryer (it's a miracle the lines in my washer didn't freeze and break that winter) and put on my pajamas and warmest sweater. Mabel snuggled into some blankets on the couch. I baked chocolate chip cookies, opened up all the curtains to see the snow, and listened to Charles Trenet on my cd player. I ate those cookies and watched cars and people skid around on the street near my house, so content and happy next to my Christmas tree. I had seven days ahead of me, nowhere to go, and lots of snow outside. It is one of the happiest memories I have, and anytime I hear 1930's french music, it sends me right back to that blissful afternoon spent in pj's, watching it snow.

I took this picture that day. Sometimes, when I get stressed out during my workday, I put this picture as my screen saver and listen to Que Reste - T'il de Nos Amor. It's the perfect memory, of a perfect day. Isn't it funny how that happens? I've wondered how I can completely forget hundreds of days in a year. I often stare at Matt, blank faced and say, "I don't remember that." And yet, for some inexplicable reason, I remember that day perfectly. Every detail, every smell, every sight. Don't you often find yourself sitting around, wondering when the next perfect day will happen? Another perfect day, I'm ready.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

London Calling


We have had the most bizarre weather here lately. Every morning, I wake up and wonder if perhaps we've acquired, by some Christmas magic, London weather. Fog everywhere. Or as my Dad calls it, werewolf weather. At first I just attributed this to the lakes in our neighborhood, but on my commutes to work I find that it has enveloped the city. The tops of the buildings downtown have disappeared above the fourth story, as if they never even existed. I feel a little sorry for the people working in them, staring at cloudy nothingness all day, day after day.



I stayed home sick yesterday, and even though I didn't feel well, it was a treat to get to peer at the fog from my nice warm, lamp lit house. Mabel has been edgy with the fog, anything out of the ordinary upsets her. Except snow, snow makes her frolic.







I spent the afternoon in my favorite outfit; a pair of turquoise pajama pants covered in pink dogs and sleds and my pink hooded sweatshirt. I drank hot tea and ate the rest of my Christmas party cookies. I managed to write a few things, a few story ideas that have been floating around in my head over the past few months. It is sad to think that I have to get sick before I alot time to be creative, but that's the way it goes these days. I hope the rest of you are having a better weather situation, especially those of you in Oklahoma.

A Big Big Thank You!



On Monday I received a package in the mail. I was excited (as I always am when I get anything other than a bill), but was extra enthused to see that it was from Canada. It even had stamps in FRENCH, and dorky as it is, I squealed a little.

Linda (Restyled Home) must have ESP, because she sent me two of the most adorable ornaments I've ever seen. And when I say adorable, I mean that if I had seen them on my own in a store, I might have run over people to buy them first (and yes, the first one is a retro PINK FRIDGE... uh oh... I'm squealing again). Thank you, thank you, thank you Linda! This was the highlight of the Christmas season for me!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Party



During the course of our party throwing, I've come to understand a few things about myself. One, I may perhaps be somewhat ADD. The night before, when any sane and rational person would be scrubbing their bathroom floor, I decided to take up a very pressing and important project instead: making paper chains.


A few weeks ago it dawned on me how much I used to adore doing that. Mom used to sit us down in front of the TV and we'd make paper chains for hours. One particular Christmas (when we lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere), my sisters and I made paper chains by firelight during a huge snowstorm. Of course, now I know that this was just Mom's way of keeping us busy, and by default keeping her own sanity during the holiday season. But, I digress.




So, after spending a happy (yet wasteful) Friday night making paper chains and watching The Polar Express, I had to step it up Saturday morning. Thank goodness my level headed husband had already begun the major cleaning process, which left me time to 'fluff.' I set the table to coordinate with my fiesta ware. In all fairness, I realize my Christmas has more 'Easter' colors than normal, but I've stopped fighting it. I like pink and green and turquoise... so I've finally given in.


Matt did the major cooking (I know, what did I do exactly?). He made a big batch of meatballs in a homemade sauce, we eat them over Texas garlic toast and it is delicious! We had the usual sides, appetizers, nothing mind blowing or too fancy.


OK, this is what I did. A lot of organizing, figuring out if we had enough forks (which we didn't, I had to buy cheap silverware which I HATE).







There was not nearly enough room for buffet space, so we had to rig a folding buffet table from the attic. It didn't look as put-together as I wanted, but it worked. I got to use my newest ebay find, a tablecloth that matches one I already had from my great-grandmother. It is pristine condition, no holes or stains, and was only $17.00.









This is where the men ended up, in the man-room. Conincidentally someone turned off my Bing Crosby CD and turned on the Heisman Trophy award show... it was a Christmas miracle apparently since no one in the room did it. I apologize for the dark pictures, but that's what happens when you paint your walls dark grey and have no overhead light! Ahem, he doesn't call it a man-cave for nothing. Actually, I'm just thankful that he let me put a little tree in there. Of course, ornaments were taboo, at least there were some twinkle lights.






But in the end, this was by far the cutest part of the entire party. Isn't Brooklyn precious? She even came dressed for the occasion, complete with pink tights and pompom boots. I heartily approved, and even secretly wished I could find an adult-size version of that outfit. All in all, it was very fun and Matt and I really enjoyed it. We were really happy that all our friends seemed to have good time. And, bonus treat: our house is very very clean.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sprinkles


These are the new curtains in my dining nook. I 'inherited' these from my Meme when she decided they were too much trouble to wash and iron. Heh, wash and iron curtains? OK, that probably will be a problem. But they were so pretty I couldn't turn them down.

At first I was afraid of the 'too froo-froo' feel of them, but now I pretty much don't care. I love the girlyness of my kitchen, and these lace trimmed curtains feel more Scandinavian than froo-froo to me. It's no secret that if I had my way, my entire house would look like a cup full of sprinkles.

Have I mentioned that I'm having a party this weekend? Hopefully things will go well, even though half the guests will be sitting at card tables in the den. Our little ranch casa will be bulging at the seems, but I'm sure things will be fine. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Moving Fast

Every year at Christmas I'm disappointed. Time moves so fast now, with work and bill paying and traveling. When I was little, the Christmas season seemed to last forever. I never could grasp what those stodgy old adults meant when they would say things like, "I'm so tired, I haven't put my tree up" or "I just want to stay at home and watch TV." Adults blew my mind with those scrooge-like statements. Well, sign me up, because I've officially become one myself. Everything moves so fast! I looked at my Christmas tree yesterday and thought to myself, "Ugh, that's going to be a lot to clean up in January." Shame on me!

So, I find myself trying desperately to hang onto the time, enjoy the season. I've made a concerted effort to schedule lots of holiday movie watching (because last year I missed seeing Christmas in Connecticut AND It's A Wonderful Life, two of my favorites). I'm totally stocked up on chocolate chip cookies supplies and am really looking forward to being off work for two weeks. I plan on relishing every moment, or at least that's my plan.




In other news, I moved the curtains into my office for a trail run. After several days of living with them in there, I think they've found their new home. While I would have loved to make them work in the living room, there just wasn't a way. I HAVE to have privacy on the front window and there just wasn't a way. So, this is their home. For now. I've learned to always add the 'for now' part, since everything I decorate seems to be subject to change at a moments notice! But for now, I'm very happy.





Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Santa Baby...


Every time Christmas season rolls around... I start making tons of chocolate chip cookies. Now, they're not the best cookies on the earth, but they ain't bad. A lot better than those dough rolls at the grocery store. Oops, my cookie snobbery is showing. :) And this time every year, I start eyeballing this baby. Isn't she beautiful? I've coveted this little piece of machinery for the past three years, but alas, I still have the good old hand mixer. Why? Um, because I'm cheap. Sure, I'll spring for Martha Stewart ornaments, or plastic mixing bowls. But ask me to cough up over $300.00 big ones, and my throat starts to constrict and I get tunnel vision.

Oh well, there's always next year.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mabel...


Stop squishing my couch!

She obviously listens to me.



Probably because I'm such a strict mom.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Pretty Vs. Privacy


Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your advice and help regarding my dishes conundrum. However, I think I've found the solution. After some head scratching and many trips to the dollar and thrift stores, I realized that perhaps my problem was one of finding the right linens, rather than buying a whole new set of dishes. Hmmm.. that sounds a little coy, but I'll be posting pictures as soon as I get everything figured out. And besides, I SO love my coral dishes, Christmas or no Christmas.




On another note, I'm still rumbling around the house with my three gorgeous curtain panels. It is possible to hang just two on my big front living room window. They obviously aren't full enough to be working curtains, but they look fine. But, then there is the problem of privacy. My front bamboo shade is somewhat sheer, and while it does give us an element of privacy, it isn't complete. And I don't know about all of you, but I don't like thrashing about to Denise Austin's Workout in the Morning with the possibility of a neighbor, early morning runner, or even a neighborhood cat catching a glimpse of me doing that.

So, I'll be trying them out in my office tonight and see how that turns out.