Thursday, December 24, 2009

A heartfelt musical greeting

I just realized what I want to give my blog friends for Christmas....

Here is a rendition of O Holy Night performed on the show Studio 60 on Sunset Strip a couple of years ago, featuring dislocated New Orleans musicians. I hope the music moves you as much as it does my husband and me. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas favorites, part 3

Several of our ornaments are really old, including the foursome seen here. The Father Christmas figure was on Peter's great-grandmother's tree back at the turn of the century (1900, not 2000). He found an identical one in an old farmhouse he was cleaning out years ago, so we have two of them. The little house was on his parents' tree, as were the two glass ornaments. My parents had many of the striped orbs, too, so the few we have are meaningful to me as well.

The elaborately antlered reindeer in baseball togs is a new acquisition in honor of Blitzen and of our great passion for minor-league baseball (specifically, the St. Paul Saints). Behind this guy is a satin-trimmed styrofoam ornament I made when I was about 13. My mom got the idea (and the pattern for the six satin segments) from Good Housekeeping, which she and I studied every year for new decorations and recipes. Several of my siblings made ornaments; I have three that I made, and I'm still very fond of them.

The up side of insomnia...

I probably shouldn't have spent all day eating nothing but pecan brittle...but it was so good, and I didn't feel like going out to forage for lunch, and besides I was being polite because it was a homemade gift from my new boss.

And at the end of the day, I shouldn't have gone to bed without finishing my gift-wrapping project, telling myself I'd finish in the morning. Those and whatever unknown factors might be at work have me up in the middle of the night, drinking peppermint tea and finishing the wrapping project. And now I'm showing it to you.

Last year our son-in-law's mom sent them some reusable fabric bags. We loved them, loved the whole idea. I ran out and bought tons of fabric (I'm good at buying tons of fabric) and then forgot about it until Thanksgiving. So I haven't made nearly as many as I wanted to, but some is better than none.

Not only are reusable bags environmentally friendly (assuming they will be used for years) but they can handle really awkward packages. In this case, a bottle of champagne, a large can of Poppycock, and some chocolate. Because of the standing items, I even made these in the shape of a grocery bag, with four sides and a bottom. I gave each bag a built-in tie; I turned the upper edge inside and ran two lines of stitching as a channel for the yarn. The overall effect is a bit lumpy, but I didn't have to (a) wrap each item separately or (b) buy paper gift bags. The rest of the bags I'm making are flat, so they go together much faster than the one you see here.

Now if only I could get a few hours of sleep before I go to work....

Monday, December 21, 2009

The tree is decorated...

...I've taken a few pictures, I finished shopping, and now I just have wrapping... which is more complicated than it sounds, but more about that another day.

Meanwhile, the lovely Monique-aka-Surferwife23 has given me an award. It comes with tasks--tell 10 things that make me happy and then pass it on to 10 others. I'm gonna do the first part today, so here goes:

Ten Things That Make Me Happy (and I'm not going to count the grandkids; that seems too easy):

1. Getting my first blog award--thanks, Surferwife!

2. Strawberry limoncello martinis. Olive Garden makes 'em, and now so does my husband. I'll post his recipe some day soon.

3. All by itself, limoncello Italian liqueur is nice, too. I'm sipping it right now.

4. Joni Mitchell's "I Wish I had a River"--it's so wonderfully melancholy. The first time I heard it, it was being sung by the Robert Downey Jr. character on Ally McBeal (the first hint that he was going to leave her, if I remember right). I actually had a little crush on that character. Sigh.

5. The smell of sugared almonds that fills one of the malls here at Christmas, and the taste of them when we bring home a couple of jumbo bags.

6. The fact that our daughter Abby dropped off a sample of her own home-made sugared almonds this morning, on her way to work.

7. Pioneer Woman. Her approach to cooking is encouraging and fun, her cookbook is a best-seller, her posts from the book tour showed how much she loves people, and her romantic stories about Marlboro Man and their kids are heartwarming. I used to think she was the Martha Stewart of the west, but if she turns out to be the next Oprah, you heard it here first.

8. With our grandkids, riding the carousel that we saved, and which we operate at Como Park in St. Paul. I'll tell that story some day.

9. Knowing that the book we coauthored with longtime baseball man Wayne Terwilliger is a good piece of work, that it's in the Library of Congress, and that it's still available on Amazon. That's another story I haven't told here.

10. Working only half-time and, truth be told, looking forward to retirement. There is so much I want to do outside of work, and I think it's coming within view.

So that's my soon as I post I'll think of 10 more things, I'm sure. I still have to pass along the award, but I'm saving that for another day.


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