Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Realistic Resolutions We Might Actually Be Able to Keep

Once again we find ourselves on the cusp of a new year, making the annual list of resolutions that are designed to improve our lives in the coming year. You and I both know how tough this can be, so I've compiled a list to help you out. This list is based on actual scientific internet research of the top resolutions made by people just like you and me. You heard me right: Scientific Internet Research. It doesn't get more real (or important) than that! Listed below, in bold lettering, are some popular resolutions - each followed by a more realistic version. If you want to make your own list just remember to think outside the box. Behold, my

List of Realistic Resolutions We Might Actually Be Able to Keep.

Enjoy Life More: you can start by not making lists of resolutions. If you feel you must, then just make one.

Find My Soul Mate: okay, well, first I have to find my was around here somewhere...Ok, so realistically - start a blog! I'll let you know how that one works out...

Lose Weight: this can be achieved in numerous ways. Like buying lighter shoes or removing some of the contents of your wallet, pocket or purse. If it makes it easier for you just send all of your change to me....

Get In Shape: hey, who says you have to specify a shape? Any shape will do.

Stop Swearing: just swear more creatively! Think Yosemite Sam (sassafrassa, ricka-racka....)Holy Moley, you didn't expect me to just quit straight up, did you?

Take a Trip: work is a fascinating destination, in fact, you can practice your creative swearing there!

Get Organized: even something simple like making your bed more often. Not saying how often, just more often! Or buy a filing cabinet - as long as no one opens it, they'll think you're organized!

Do Something I've Never Done Before: like keep a resolution? Nah...too hard.

Drink Less Alcohol: is this one of those quality versus quantity issues? I think I could give up the cheap stuff for something better. That's do-able.

Attend a Live Sporting Event: yes, traffic counts.

Stick to a Budget: write it out and then use velcro or super-glue. Where you stick it is your business.

Help Others: I think this list counts - I am helping you, right? Again, think outside the box - sometimes leaving people alone is helping...

Stop smoking: just go ahead and spontaneously combust! Let me know how that works for you.

P.S. Have a Happy New Year and a safe and fun celebration!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Post Christmas Wrap-Up

Proof that Santa exists:

1. Only crumbs remain on the plate that held cookies.

2. Milk - GONE!!!

Need I say more? I think not!

Alright then, time to get started on those New Year's Resolutions. If I think of any I'll let you know....

They're Just So Darned Adorable!

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Seriously, can you imagine the havoc?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Yonder Breaks a New and Glorious Morn

There are so many Christmas songs, both religious and secular, and for the past few weeks I've heard nearly all of them. I'm not complaining - I love almost all of them. However, if I had to choose a favorite Christmas song this one would win hands down. I've heard many people sing this but not many can really pull it off. I loved Michael Crawford in Phantom of the Opera (I cried) and when I heard his version of "Oh Holy Night" I wanted to include it here for you tonight. Maybe you can make it through without a tear...I can't! Merry Christmas to all.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


I told you recently about tumbleweed Christmas trees. Another tradition in the Southwest is luminaria. The idea behind luminaria is that the lights will guide the spirit of the Christ child to your home. Luminaria are made from paper bags with sand in the bottom to hold them down. They are lit from within by a candle held in place by the sand. On Christmas Eve the luminaria are arranged in rows, lining the driveway and walkways around your home. Over the years they have become more elaborate, with cut out designs, and you can even buy electric ones.

In the picture above the homeowners lined the walkway, the front wall and the flat roof-line of the home. (In the Southwest it's not uncommon to see the roof-line lit up on adobe buildings). Weather permitting, you can create this type of display anywhere in the country, though I wouldn't recommend most roof tops. Of course you need to place the candles carefully in the center of the bag of sand and keep an eye on them so they don't cause a fire. Inexpensive glass votive holders are a good way to reduce the risk of fire. Note that the top of the bag is rolled down a time or two to create a sturdy opening.

Should you find yourself in Phoenix, Albuquerque, San Antonio or another Southwest location on Christmas eve, be sure to include an evening tour of their local gardens, parks and historic areas to take in this beautiful tradition.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Caroling, Caroling Through the Town. . .

Caroling, caroling, now we go Christmas bells are ringing
Caroling, caroling through the snow
Christmas bells are ringing

Joyous voices, sweet and clear
Sing the sad of heart to cheer
Ding dong, ding dong
Christmas bells are ringing

It just wouldn't be Christmas without music would it? I bought a set of these carolers several years ago as a gift but I had such a hard time parting with them that I went back and got a set for myself. The caroling dog really makes the set, don't you agree?

I think it would be great fun to dress in period costumes and go caroling. The cold weather makes it even better because you're encouraged to sing loud to stay warm! That and the after party... There was a group of friends that I went caroling with at Christmas before moving to Florida. We went around to the nursing homes and shut-ins and sang. Then we all descended on the home of another friend for food, drink and a great party.

One of the nice things about caroling is that everyone can join in and have fun. You don't have to be an awesome singer to get together and sing Christmas songs - in fact, nobody expects perfection, just loud,joyful fun.

Listening to Christmas music makes me want to join a choir. When I was in school I sang in a couple of different choirs. I really enjoyed practicing together with the other members to produce each concert. It's been quite a few years since then and I'm sure I'm rather rusty, although I suppose with practice I could do it again. When my girls are grown and I have fewer demands on my time I think I'll give it another go!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

One Horse Slopin' Sleigh

Back in the day, when my 16 year old was quite young, she learned the song "Jingle Bells". She sang it with such gusto! However, she didn't quite get the words right and what came out was:

"...oh what farmer is to ride in a one horse slopin' sleigh!"

I don't know about you, but the suspense is killing me! Who will it be?! Which farmer will get to ride in the one horse slopin' sleigh? And why is it slopin', for crying out loud??!

Forever I will hear those words in my head when I hear the song "Jingle Bells".

Not Your Usual Christmas Tree

First of all, this is not my Christmas tree. This particular tree belonged to erissiva at flickr. I wanted to share this with you because Christmas comes in a lot of varieties and this one is particular to the southwest.

A little background first. I grew up out west, and in the early 70's my family moved to Arizona. Up until that time our Christmas tree was always an evergreen variety. It didn't take long, however, before the desert lifestyle became a part of our Christmas tradition. One year my parents gathered some tumbleweeds, arranged and trimmed them into a tree shape, and created a tree like the one you see here. The tumbleweeds started out brown but with some flocking they took on a snowy white color. Some years the tumbleweed tree was backlit with a colored light and other times it was strung with tree lights.

If you want to create one of your own there is a website where you can order (I kid you not) tumbleweeds for decorating! If you don't like flocking you can leave them brown or spray them any color you like. Some glittery spray might be nice, or silver, or iridescent. My parents created a stand that was basically a platform with a post (dowel or broomstick) in the middle. Stack your tumbleweeds over the center post. You may need to wire them together here and there. Bread bag twisties will work well for this. You will want to keep your decorations on the light side as tumbleweeds don't hold heavy items well. Another cute variation on this theme is to create a snowman. Wouldn't it be cute to have several snowmen singing carols?

Take a chance, make a change, and shake things up a bit! Do Christmas different for a change. If that's a bit too much for you, have your traditional tree in one room and have a taste of the southwest in another.

Friday, December 12, 2008

You Know Who's Coming to Town...

That's right! Better watch out! No crying! And don't pout! I hope you're on your best behavior, one and all. Really. I want you all on the nice list so Santa will be good to you.

This Santa has been hanging around our home for several years now, reminding us that he's watching. A right jolly old elf, isn't he? Tonight he's reminding me that I sure have a lot to do between now and the 25th of December. The time just seems to be flying by and there's still so much to do! Yes, that sled he's carrying has the name Rosebud on it!

Remember, he sees you when you're sleeping so.......hmmmm, that's a little creepy, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

Last night my eldest and I went to watch my youngest perform at the annual school Christmas program. She attends a Catholic school and they create a living Nativity each year. The oldest students play the parts of Mary, Joseph etc while the younger children are angels, animals and shepherds. There are more kids than parts so some of the kids perform as the choir and others play instruments such as guitar and handbells. My daughter's class played "Oh Little Town of Bethelehem" using handbells. They did a terrific job! Later they sang along with the rest of the school. My eldest reunited with some old classmates and recognized many of their younger siblings there as well. She thought the little ones were so cute. She almost wished she had more younger siblings. Almost.

We sat with friends and at one point my best friend and I both realized that we were having a hard time keeping our composure. Our daughters are in middle school but their performance was not what had us blinking back tears. It was the younger ones, singing, that had us teary-eyed. Later she confided in me that she's having a hard time with the fact that her 8th grader will be graduating in the spring. That was me a few years ago. It took me all of the 8th grade year (and quite a few tears!) to accept that my 'little girl' was growing up and moving from the security of middle school to the unknown of high school. Just yesterday she was the little one singing the songs. Next year she'll be a senior in high school. Wow! I'll really miss the closeness of our Catholic school 'family' when my youngest graduates in a couple of years.

The Nativity you see is just like the sort we used to get when I was a child. Seems like every year we came home with one from school. Years later I found this one in it's original box at an antique shop. Couldn't pass it up! They were so common back then but hard to come by now. This one gets a special spot on the mantle every year. Just like the memories of my children singing in the Christmas program will always have a special place in my heart.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Deck the Halls...and Trees...

Time to pull out the boxes of decorations and deck the halls, walls and pretty much everything! I like to have a little Christmas in every room, be it a tree, a wall hanging, a decorative pillow or some bauble. The majority winds up in the living room and dining room of course. Every year I face the dilemma of color. Colored lights on the tree or white? If I go for color should I choose one color? Or should I choose multicolor? I like both. Twinkle lights or steady lights? Should I have a color theme for the tree or some of everything? Then there is the age old debate about tinsel. Some people can't have a tree without and some can't bear the thought of tinsel. Again, it's a toss up for me. Then there is the nutcracker collection - do I arrange them together on the mantle or spread them around? Ditto for the snowmen.

Next weekend my daughters and I will go out and get our tree. For the past few years we have driven to a tree farm and cut our own. This usually entails us wandering up and down the rows of trees until we agree on the 'perfect' tree. Then they laugh at me while I cut the tree. Especially the first time...I wasn't too handy at it and I'm glad there weren't many witnesses! But I've gotten better each year at cutting. Then last year my oldest daughter invited a boy along. A boy who had apparently never cut down a tree. He politely stepped forward and offered to do the cutting and then loaded it into the back of the car. Later he told his parents with pride that he had cut a tree himself! It was so cute. I was a little reluctant, actually, to have him cut it because it had become a tradition with the girls and I. But then I realized that as my girls get older and have boyfriends it will be quite handy. And it's a measure of a boy's character ( I think) if they are willing to step up and help out. Really, if somebody wants to date my girls I guess they'd better be helpful and polite!

So this week, each night, I will pull a box out of the closet and start the decorating, a little each day until we get our tree up. Then....mmmmmm...time to start baking cookies....

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jack Frost

We couldn't very well celebrate the season without mention of Jack Frost! I remember as a child waking up to frost on the windows. It was like someone created amazing, magical crystal lace overnight and I felt like I could just stare at the intricacy of it forever. I still feel like I could, in fact. Now when I see frost I also think of fractals and how amazing it would be to have colored frost! Of course scraping car windows pretty much lessens my appreciation of frost but that's not something I have to do often where I live now.

For those of you in warmer climes who are feeling so inclined, you can make your own window frost with epsom salts and beer. I haven't tried this yet but I'm going to. If I get good results I'll post a picture for you.

1)Dissolve 4 heaping tablespoons of Epsom salts in 1 cup of beer in a mixing bowl. The mixture will foam up, so make sure that the bowl is deep.

2)Allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

3)Use a wash cloth to apply the mixture to your window, using a sweeping motion across the window as if you were washing it. While the window is still wet, go back and dab at it with the damp rag. This will make the frost crystals look more realistic when they dry.

4)Let dry overnight. The 'frost' can be washed away with water when you've had enough of it!

Happy Jack-Frosting!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sleigh Bells Ring...

Are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening. This is what I wish I were doing this time of year. I've never ridden in a horse drawn sleigh but I sure would like to! For several years I lived in Flagstaff, Arizona. For those who may not know it, Arizona isn't all desert - there are mountains and snow there as well. I loved having four seasons and in the winter I loved to ice-skate and cross country ski. My favorite cross country memory occurred at night. Some friends and I got together under the light of a full moon and followed a forest service road into the woods. The full moon shone brightly and, along with the snow, really lit up the night. We packed along plenty of hot cocoa and had a wonderful evening under the stars.

Some day I would love to spend Christmas in the mountains, taking sleigh rides, ice-skating, snuggling up to a fire with some hot cocoa, and otherwise enjoying a wintry wonderland. What about you? Do you have a dream Christmas destination?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ready or Not . . . . .

Hang on to your hats folks! Christmas is just around the corner. I came across this hat in the hall closet when I was pulling out the tablecloth for Thanksgiving. It's been patiently waiting for me to get through the Holiday weekend and bring it out for Christmas. I hate to jump right into Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, although I've been known to do it, so I waited until Sunday night to pull the hat out.

One year, a long time ago, I actually managed to purchase and wrap all my gifts by Thanksgiving. Oh, and I had my Christmas cards done that weekend as well. Once. In my life. It could happen again. But not likely any time soon. Yes, it was well before I had children.

I do try to start in October - sometimes I'll see something that I know one of the kids will want. Sometimes I see an adorable ornament or some decorative item. Anyway, I'm not feeling especially ready this year so I thought this hat might give me the kick-start I need! My bff (best frog friend) offered to pose so that I wouldn't have to do a self portrait. Downright nice of him, don't you think?