Thursday, December 31, 2009
dear christmas lights,
you know we have a love/hate relationship, right? i love that you add the special glow to the christmas season hanging on my trees and garlands and house. i just don't get why you insist on being so temperamental. i am not the only one who feels this way.
like how two weeks ago, half of my garage lights stopped working, and yet, last night, as i was snow blowing the driveway, i looked up to see that every last light was on! do you just get a kick out of that? hmmm ....
i wanted to say, that i love you enough, to keep on trying though. thanks a lot for all the ones that do stay lit the entire season - and into the next.
dear christmas candy,
wow! i loved you a little too much this year! now i need to work on getting those few extra pounds off that i gained while enjoying you SO much, every day, for the entire month! (a special shout out to you little candy canes ... love you the most!)
dear christmas cards,
you are truly one of my most favorite things about the christmas season! i am so happy for all of the cards that made it to me this year. i love to get you, and i love to give you. keep on coming - all the way into the new year! you know i wouldn't mind.
dear christmas presents,
you know how much i love to wrap you, right? i love to pick out the paper and i love to pick out the bows. you really do add to my decor at christmastime. sorry you didn't get to all be together this year for our "group" picture. i know we usually do that every christmas eve, but this year we had to spread out the festivities since the young ones were leaving on their trip. we'll do it next year though, for sure.
dear christmas carols,
i am just NOT ready to let you go! the radio stations start playing you as early as november 1st, but for some reason stop just a couple of days after christmas - i don't get it.
i couldn't find a single station yesterday or today that was playing your songs, so i popped in my own cd. (david archuleta ... just got it, love it, not ready to put it away.) thank you so much for your variety and for the beautiful message that most of your songs bring ... (i say most because i'm not a huge fan of "santa baby" - although i think madonna sings it really well, or of "i saw mommy kissing santa claus" except by the jackson 5 - especially when michael says, "i did! i really did ... and i'm gonna tell my dad." so cute.)
i will really miss this season - i love it - it's always hard to let it go!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I was completely in love with Nordstrom's Christmas decorations this year! When I got out of my car and approached the University mall for the first time, my mouth fell open ... like a jaw dropping open, and I said, "OH MY GOSH! Look at the windows!"
Then we walked into the store and I said, "OH MY GOSH! Look at the chandeliers! Look at the garlands! I want them! Where is my camera?" (That is when I told myself it is a must to get a pocket sized digital camera. But I forgot to ask Santa and he was the only hope I had of getting one, darn it.)
Well, yesterday, I had taken the day off of work so I could watch my little Libby. I decided that we could head down south and take a road trip (with a baby, errands turn into a road trip with all the preparations necessary to get in the car and go), and get some things done.
Chloe was home too so we made a list of all the things we needed to do in that area so we could "kill" lots of birds (not the cute birds in the Nordstrom Christmas displays) with one stone. She needed new sheets for school and I had seen a kiosk at the Orem mall selling Egyptian cotton sheets valued at $80, for $22 ... so that was first on the list.
1 - Get Chloe sheets for college.
2 - Take pictures at the Sweet Tooth Fairy for blog.
3 - Stop by Jacksons and see their Christmas decorations.
4- Take pictures of the Nordstrom window displays.
5 - Return unused Christmas candle to Deseret Book.
We decided to go to the South Towne mall first because I had a picture idea at that mall too ... but as we headed north, there must have been an accident because we had only gone as far as one exit in 40 minutes. That was WAY too much time to be spent in the car, using up valuable baby sleep time, so we got off, only to see nothing but red brake lights for miles ahead of us.
I said, "Let's forget about South Towne. We should have just gone to Provo first." (Who knew?)
So about 45 minutes after our start time, we turned around to back track and head south on I-15.
We went to the Sweet Tooth Fairy first - they were closed on Mondays.
I couldn't reach the Jacksons on either phone so I called my mom to see if they had gone up to Sundance. They hadn't, but she did tell me they had gone to Ephriam and would not be home all day. Strike two.
When we drove up to the mall, the Nordstrom windows had big red "Men's Half Yearly Sale" signs in them instead of the cute tree trio, covered in snow, with adorable figures of birds and a little fox standing by fleece clad mannequins. (Are you kidding me?)
Sadly, and very disappointed, I walked into the mall and headed toward the kiosk that sold the sheets. On the way, we passed the Information desk so I asked where the Deseret Book store was. The clerk said, "Oh, they are no longer in this mall. They have moved down by the theaters." (Say what?)
The Egyptian cotton sheet stand had a big sign on it too - it read, "Available." Apparently it was there strictly for pre-Christmas buying.
If I was three, that would have been where I started crying and layed down on the mall floor until my mother picked me up and starting consoling me with things like, "It's okay ... Let's go get a donut at Krispy Kreme ... C'mon, let's go get a pretzel dog at Pretzelmaker ... I will make you some hot chocolate and put you in front of a movie when we get home."
As we were walking back through Nordstrom, having (in my opinion) wasted a lot of time and energy for nothing, I said to Chloe, "Let's go put some stuff on Libby and take pictures."
It completely changed the mood. We were busting up. And I have laughed everytime I have looked at the pictures since. I think this is what the expression "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" is all about.
Monday, December 28, 2009
I vividly remember my first "after Christmas sale" experience. It was the early 80s. I was driving down the 210 freeway in California at 4:30 in the morning. I was the only car on the road - for as far as I could see anyway. It was still dark, it was cold, and I thought, "This is insane. I so did not need to get there this early."
My mom's friend Penny, had mentioned that Stats, which was an enormous decorator warehouse store in Pasadena, opened at 5:00 am the day after Christmas and I had better get there right when they opened or I would miss out on all the good stuff.
Penny was (and is) the queen of sales and bargains and I believed her. I wanted to get my pick of ribbon colors and wrapping paper and lights and ornaments. I had only been married a short time and I felt the "need" to stock up.
But as I was traveling the 30 minutes toward Stats, I felt a little foolish for being out at that ridiculously early hour. NO ONE would be there ... there was no sign of human life at all, anywhere around me. The lights were all green heading down the streets. No other car was going the opposite direction to trigger the signals - until I turned the corner of the street that Stats was on.
And then it was as if I was on a movie set. Lights, camera, action!!!
Parking attendants were needed to direct traffic. Inside the store it was wall to wall people. Carts were already full and customers were grabbing. Employees were running to help and check out stands had been moved outside under tents - about 15 cashiers long, and a dozen people deep at each one. It was definitely crazy! (I think the ribbon I bought that day lasted for about 5 years.)
I began my collection of ornaments (I buy one a year for each of my kids), so after Stats I stopped by the mall and every Hallmark store on my way home to see what was left. I collected those Anna Lee dolls, and I tried to get at least one a year at the after Christmas sales. They were a pretty hot item back then so I would have to hit department stores, flower shops, and gift stores to (sometimes) find just one.
That year, a tradition commenced. I have been going out ever since. Strictly for Christmas items.
Now that I live in Utah, with all of my siblings, and parents who are here more than not at Christmastime, we all go together. And we all need one more Christmas decoration like we need a whole in the head - but how can we break tradition, right?
It really has become so much more about spending the day together. We all load up in someone's Suburban, pile all of the packages in the back as we leave the stores (sometimes needing a mid-day drop off). We stop for lunch, shop some more, get some treats for the car, some diet cokes, stop for dinner, and shop some more.
Target has always been the last place we stop since they are open the latest, and one year we even asked if we could have some of the store displays they were taking down. (Just thinking ahead. They made great decorations for the church Christmas party the following year!)
The most fun I think we have had was about 5 years ago. We started at around 8:00 am in Provo and went all day, going as far north as Farmington and then back to Salt Lake. We hit every single little shop we could think of. We stood in more than one line for over an hour. We got back to my house (the central location) shortly before midnight and then we wanted to see what everyone else had bought.
So in came all the bags for show and tell! You know how you get a little punch drunk late at night? Especially siblings - going on very little sleep - having exerted all our energy during the course of the day? Well ... it was a lot of fun.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
When December 1st rolled around, I thought, "I better post about other happy things as well as Christmas posts since everyday would be a happy thing about Christmas."
And then I started to prepare for Christmas and got really busy, and now it is December 22nd (WHAT?) and I don't have very many posts this month ... especially about Christmas.
So, I decided it was time to talk about my favorite things about this time of year and one of them is peppermint bark. Not just any peppermint bark because although there are many imitations - for me, nothing is as good as the "only available at this time of year" peppermint bark from Williams-Sonoma.
One of my daughter's friends brought me some last week. Yum ... so good!
I was shopping at Target and my friend, Vicki, picked up a bag of Dove's peppermint bark. I did not know there was such a thing and was really excited because I do LOVE Dove chocolate.
Truth be told, they were a little disappointing. Not enough of the peppermint.
But, like other Dove chocolate squares, inside the wrapper of each individual piece was a little "something" to read. Inside of these were little tips from Martha Stewart to help you through the holidays.
I ate about 6 or 7 before the tips started to repeat. I left my wrappers on the counter. I guess my kids thought I was saving them, because before too long there were probably 26! That's a lot of tips.
So I tossed the repeats and thought I would share this invaluable advice with you:
Martha: Organize your ingredient list before shopping. (My thought: Seriously? That's your tip for holiday shopping?)
M: String lights on border edges and line your walkway. (Kay, that's a pretty good one. I have thought about doing that. I don't think it would be too terribly hard, except getting the little somethings that hold your lights up.)
M: Use gumdrops to make festive snowman pops. (That's cute. I remember K-mart sold little Martha Stewart gumdrop snow people a couple of years ago. They were pastel. Cute.)
M: For a dark-colored gingerbread, use molasses as the sweetener. (Do people really make their own gingerbread? Wow. Good for them!)
M: Thread jingle bells on a length of cord to tie packages. (Where do I buy jingle bells?)
M: String strands of lights between the trees in your yard. (Does she mean like they do across the ceiling at the school dances?)
M: Crepe-paper bells add a festive touch to the holiday table. (Hmmm. I don't know about that one. I don't really think so. I'd have to see a picture.)
M: Out of wrapping paper? Use an old map or sewing pattern. (Okay. 'Cause I do have lots of old maps and sewing patterns laying around.)
M: Use beautiful cloth napkins to make lavender-filled sachets. (No. Now that just sounds like WAY too much work.)
M: Glittered lemons make a cheerful centerpiece. (I would have to agree with that, they do.)
M: Shred discarded wrapping and use it to box fragile items. (Shoot! The trash man already picked up my discarded wrapping! And I don't know where I put my shredder!)
M: Try printing your own labels to personalize holiday tins. (I don't really do tins anymore. I would always forget to bake and put the stuff in them.)
M: Use place cards to label food on a buffet table. (That's a good one. I could do that. And I will, next time I serve my guests from a buffet table and the food needs identification.)
M: Dress packages in candy stripes for a sweet presentation. (?)
M: Use beads, wire and pliers to fashion your own ornaments. (I know I have pliers somewhere. I used them when my sisters and I did boutiques back in the early 90s. I wonder where they are?)
M: Create a cone out of card stock, secure with tape and add candy. (Now that would be cute. Kind of like the little "May Day" baskets we used to leave at our neighbors doors back in New York when we were little. I like that one!)
M: Parsnips and brussels sprouts are hearty seasonal sides. (No. No, Martha. Excuse me? Don't we want people to enjoy the sides? I think I have read enough of these ... they don't really apply to me.)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I had an idea for my christmas cards this year of taking a group shot in the kitchen, since that is where we like to gather. This isn't it. But this is my test shot.
I wanted to see if the lighting would be good enough, and if you'd be able to see faces good enough ... I think it turned out pretty good, so that's what I decided to do. And then I changed my mind. And now I'm not sure I should have.
Although this picture is a little less than flattering of Haley (sorry about it, Hee) I still LOVE it!
What would make this mama more happy than four of her children hanging out together in the kitchen, enjoying each other's company, with fresh 44 oz. diet cokes? And the cutest little baby chillin' in the sink?
Well ... if you ask me, not much else.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
This is my view as I am coming down the street towards home.
So many times I have said to my children, "Just look at how gorgeous that is."
And not just in the wintertime either. All through the different seasons.
One of those times, I was driving with Elliott and he said, "Mom, why don't you stop and take a picture?"
This morning I did.
The view as I leave my neighborhood, most often times, looks like a painting to me. Sometimes it makes me feel like that's the end of the "set" over there ... like in the movie "The Truman Show," where Jim Carey lives in a staged world and his sky is just painted on an enormous dome.
Can that sky be real? Are those mountains really there?
I love where I live.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Around the first of December each year, there is a local event called "The Festival of Trees." It is a fund raising event for Primary Children's Hospital. The entire event is run by wonderful volunteers.
Besides the hundreds of decorated trees which are donated each year, there is a craft area for children. A boutique area. Two stages with non-stop entertainment. Long lines for scones and cinnamon rolls. A fudge and candy section. Rows and rows of beautiful wreaths on doors. And my personal favorite thing to see ... the gingerbread houses.
They never cease to amaze me - and this year was no exception. I admire the creativity, talent, and patience that goes into creating them. I think I would have a hard time giving mine away.
These are just two of my favorites.
(How cute is this house from UP?)
(I decided to add another one ...)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
We moved into our house on April 1st, 13 years ago. It snowed a few days later. What? Coming from California, I just didn't really expect to see snow fall in April. I now know better. It's Utah. Things happen. They say if you don't like the weather in Utah, wait 5 minutes and it will change.
But no one in this household complained. We loved it. Especially the kids! They made a tiny little snowman out on the back deck. (We're talkin' tiny ... they put a barbie hat on it.)
Over the next few years, we all decided that not nearly enough snow fell in Utah! If it's going to snow - LET IT SNOW!!!!
I didn't even mind shoveling the driveway. In fact, I enjoyed it. It was way too hard to shovel after the car had made tracks in the snow, so I used to get up before anyone else and head out to the driveway before I had to take the kids up to their bus stop.
It was dark, and so still, so quiet, so peaceful. It was always a great sense of accomplishment too. It felt good. (Especially if it was a morning I got to crawl back into bed for a little while.)
I shoveled that driveway for 12 years. And then I got a snow blower.
I wasn't sure I would like it ... in fact, even after I had one, I still shoveled for the next couple of snow falls. It was noisy and I worried that it would bother the neighbors at 6:00 in the morning. I paid attention to how many lights were on in the other houses around me, and how many other people were up shoveling too (who I wouldn't be disturbing), and I did hear a couple of other snow blowers at that wee early hour - so I powered it up.
I love snow blowers.
A few days ago we got our first real, substantial snowfall of the season. It's a good thing too. If the temperature is going to be in the single digits, it should be white outside.
I just remembered that I forgot to turn off the water main to my sprinklers. That is SO not good.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I must have fallen in love with Robert Redford during "The Way We Were." Gosh he was beautiful in that movie. Still is, if you ask me. And he has always been one of those elusive stars which makes him even a little more appealing.
I have had some friends and family members say that they have seen him at different times up at the restaurant in Sundance, but I have never been so lucky. And even though I did see him briefly as I quickly drove by him once (I posted about it here), that isn't really the same thing.
I do have a little bit of a connection though. I was hoping it would someday serve me and eventually segway, somehow, to an eventual meeting - but I think that chance has, sadly, passed me by.
Here is the connection (it's a little bit of a 6 degrees of separation story): Robert Redford married Lola Van Wagenen in 1958. Lola's brother, Richard, moved to the town I lived in when I was a little girl, and my parents became good friends with he and his wife. Once they had asked my mother if I could go with them on their trip to Utah to help tend their children while they were visiting his sister and her family .... I'm not quite sure why that didn't work out back then - darn it.
And now, over 35 years later, as luck would have it, my parents' home in Sundance is right next door to the Van Wagenen's vacation home. And even though Lola and Robert divorced a long time ago, it would still put me up in his vicinity ... and maybe I could somehow run into him ... and I'm divorced now too ... and he's old, so I don't need to be someone famous ... well, you see where my mind sometimes goes. Can I help that I travel to La La Land every once in a while?
I recently read where Robert Redford wed his long time girlfriend, Sibylle Szaggars, a German artist (or something like that), back in July.
But I do like his holiday message: I wish you all love, peace, tolerance, and compassion.
Monday, December 7, 2009
I just LOVE magazines! I always have. I can remember having Seventeen and Glamour magazines on my bedroom shelf as a teenager when my father announced that we were moving to Connecticut. My dad told me that I couldn't take them with us because they would weigh too much.
Oh no. That was going to be hard. So I went through (all of) them and ripped out my favorite pages and put them into files. Then I put the files into a box and labeled it "Model Files." I still have it.
I haven't looked at them for quite some time, but one of my files is for Christy Brinkley. And what I do remember having in her file, is a layout of her and her husband when she was just breaking into modeling. And the interesting thing to me now is that no one ever mentions that husband. Hmmm?
After I got married, my magazine focus switched to home magazines. My favorites are House Beautiful and Traditional Home. I have subscribed to just about all of them at one time or another.
At one point several years ago, I found that I didn't even have enough time to look through them as they arrived so I cancelled all of my subscriptions ... but then I would come across the little pull out cards as they fell out in the check out line and they seemed to speak to me, "Only $12.00 a year - over 80% savings off the newstand price."
And that would get me thinking ... It's only a dollar a month. Even if I just glance through it quickly, it's like entertainment. And I really do enjoy them. I could use that kind of entertainment for a few minutes in a month.
So I would re-subscribe.
Here is what I have learned about magazines though ... they can REALLY pile up. So the next time I decided to rip up my magazines and keep my favorite pages, it was not because of my father's promptings. It was because I had my own home and they seemed to be over taking it!
I took a weekend to really dig into my sorting. I went to the store and bought white notebooks and clear page covers. I sat on the family room floor and had piles all around me.
One pile was for bedrooms. Another for pretty yards. One was for bathrooms, and kitchens, and windows. Another for paint ideas, and craft ideas, and pretty fabrics.
I have one notebook that I call "Whole Houses" ... where you just wish you could move in and stay. Every once in a while, I get that one down off of the shelf and look through it. It's like a big fat favorite magazine that I continue to love over and over and over.
(Side note: I love catalogs too. And I think a big reason for that is because I love photography so much. They can be so creative in catalogs. But do they really need to send you one every other week? Because my catalogs really are over taking my house, room by room.
I had to come to the conclusion - realization, actually - that if I am not going to pick up the phone right that minute and place an order from that catalog, I need to just throw it right in the trash can. I'll miss them.)
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
These two cute girls are Jeni and Sara ... they are sisters. My own sister, Spring and I, had just had baby girls and were shopping at a darling boutique in Salt Lake City, about 14 years ago. Jeni, (the sister with the hat on) had painted a plate with a baby's face on it and birth information: name, height, weight, date - and Spring and I fell in love with it! We wanted one for our babies!
That was when we were introduced to the mega-talented Jeni Gouchner. Just visiting her house, seeing her creativity all around us was a treat.
It has been fun for us to see her "evolve" over all these years and come up with new ways to use her artistry. A few years ago, she started to paint these gourds. For every holiday. She makes bunnies and chicks and lambs for Easter. She paints pumpkins and witches and ghosts for Halloween. Turkeys and pilgrims and indians for Thanksgiving. And SO many cute things for Christmas!
What is so fun about going to Jeni's boutiques each year, is that she usually comes up with something new and it just keeps getting better! I remember the first year she came up with dracula ... and then a mummy! And the first year she started to make gourd nativities and then elfs ... and this year, penguins! Oh my word - the PENGUINS! :)
Some people just OOZE creative talent, and Jeni really does. She has become part of each holiday tradition for my sisters and I. We just love her creations and maybe even more importantly, we just love HER. She is as sweet and pleasant as she is talented ... and so is Sara ... and I don't think moms get much cuter than theirs!
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Later on that day, Sophie, McCall, baby Libby, and I decided we needed another mall outing to get out of the house and go visit Chloe who was working at a little boutique called "Aerie." They are the equivalent of Gap Body to Gap for American Eagle, if that makes any sense. They sell "unmentionables" for girls and Sophie needed some "unmentionables", so there we were.
I noticed a really cute gal in the store who seemed to be watching us and I thought maybe she thought she knew me.
She eventually did come over and approach me and said, "This is going to sound really strange, but I stumbled upon your blog awhile ago ....."
Say WHAT? Someone is recognizing me from my BLOG? Could this be my 15 minutes of fame that I have longed for since I was but a girl who wanted to be an actress and then a talk show host and then a writer?????
Her name is Jenny, a fellow single mom and blogger. She was absolutely darling and totally made my day! Maybe my month ... or maybe even a longer period of time than that.
Wow. Fun. Especially for me.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The Sundance catalog has a big red metal sign that says "gather". I wanted to get it for my parents to hang on the wall up at their house in Sundance, but my sister beat me to it. She had the same idea and probably for the same reason that I did.
My mother often uses the word gather and it conjures up warm and fuzzy feelings of family for me. This Thanksgiving, we all gathered up at Sundance for a day full of food, family, and ... not much else. And that is exactly what I was looking forward to. Lots of yummy food, down time, and chatter with the people I love the most.
There are five of us siblings all living here in Utah. There are 29 first cousins, four new "married in" cousins, and now five little second generation cousins joining our group. We are a lot of people to gather together. And what makes it so nice, is that we all genuinely love being together.
My siblings are (some) of my most favorite people in the world to be with - and I know that that is more of a rarity than the norm, and I consider it a blessing in my life. It was nice to be with a house full of family and to like each and every one of them!