Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hodgepodge Questions Volume Brand New Year

Happy New Year Hodgepodgers!  What better way to get back into some sort of routine than by joining the party here on Wednesdays? Answer the questions on your own blog, then hop back here on the first day of 2014 (which just happens to be a Wednesday) and add your link to the party.

Here we go-

1. Times Square is the setting for the infamous ball drop signaling a brand new year....when did you last 'drop the ball' on something?

2. What is one thing you resolved to do in 2013 that you actually did?

3. Jack London is quoted as saying, "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." Agree or disagree? Why? 

4. What was the best thing you ate in 2013?

5.  Share an anti-resolution...that is, something you plan to keep on doing in the new year.

6. The Pantone color of the year for 2014 is radiant orchid.  Like or no like? Would I find this color anywhere in your home or wardrobe? Will you add something in this shade to either?

7. In three words or less sum up your 2013.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Had Ourselves a Merry Little Christmas

I suppose it's time to post a little Christmas recap, but to be honest I'm still enjoying Christmas.  I know some of you rip down the decorations and insist any evidence of the day be removed as of December 26th, but that is not me.

I'm still getting up every morning, pouring my coffee in a Christmas mug, grabbing the super soft blankie I won at our neighborhood Christmas party, and sitting for my quiet time by the tree in our sunroom. Favorite thing people. Savoring it. Basking in it. Not quite ready to tuck it away for another year.

My entire family was here for Christmas, and my girls are still home, although Daughter1 heads back to D.C. tonite. Daughter2's boyfriend flew in yesterday to ring in the new year with us so still lots to look forward to here. I guess technically he's here to ring in the new year with Daughter2, and hubs and I are just a bonus, but still...happy new year!

There were 8 of us here for Christmas Eve, and I roasted turkey breast tenderloins with lots of sides.  I wrapped the turkey in bacon and hubs said it might have been the best meal he's ever had. After dinner we went to the candlelight service at church and snow fell, which made it all perfectly perfect.

The girls opened their traditional Christmas Eve present, except my niece's gift was in my brother's car and he wasn't arriving until Christmas morning so oops. She took it well, and posed for the traditional Christmas morning step photo with a smile.

Hubs spoiled me rotten on Christmas Day, and the girls surprised us with a fabulous present-

A painted canvas of our sweet pup...it is an absolute perfect likeness, and they were so proud of Daughter1 themselves for keeping it a secret.

I had a couple of fun surprises for my little family this year too, one I'll mention in a later post, and then this one-

That's our England house.
That's my family crying happy tears.

We're all sappy when it comes to unexpected mentions of the small island we once called home.  I had these polymer clay ornaments custom made by Dyane at Garden Art and Moore (an Etsy shop) and they turned out exactly as I'd imagined.  Hubs and the girl's reaction was Hallmark worthy.

The rest of my family (one brother, one sister-in-law, one sister, one brother-in law, one nephew, and one carsick puppy) arrived early afternoon. The dog was bathed, more presents were opened, more memories made.  

Oh, and we ate.

In my defense I was feeding 13 people, so there was a whole lotta food. I did my best to go heavy on the vegetable sides, but there was still a lot of sugar and more carbs on the menu than I've had in three months. 'Tis but a season!

The day after Christmas my big sis celebrated a milestone birthday. She collects pig 'stuff' so Daughter2 baked her a pig cake.  

Absolutely positively too cute for words! She made the pigs out of a light pink marshmallow fondant, her first time trying that, and it was so adorable. The cake itself was a deep rich chocolate with more rich chocolate in the form of ganache on top-super delicious!

My family left Friday, but we've carried on in holiday mode around here, and I intend to keep that up for a few more days. Early in the season I declared this year I absolutely would not let anything steal my joy. No worries...

 ...it's still here.

Monday, December 23, 2013

'Twas the Monday before Christmas

About this time every year is when I fall off the blog wagon. There is just too much life happening to spend hours writing about it, but by the time the Christmas dust settles the idea of catching up feels overwhelming.  It's a Christmas conundrum.

So while I'm waiting for daughter2 to rise and shine (no worries, there's plenty of time) I thought I'd share some Friday Fragments. On a Monday I know, but see paragraph above.

Christmas is coming!

Just thought we'd get the big one out of the way right off the bat. And that picture was taken last week when we were blanketed by a most beautiful snow. We've been in the 60's all weekend, but it's supposed to drop about 30 degrees before tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow...I  have my whole family coming and I can't wait. Just have a few
hundredthings to do before the first wave arrives on Christmas Eve, yet somehow I know it will all get done.

The magic of Christmas.

More like a mom armed with lists and fueled by coffee, with a grown up daughter in tow to bake cookies and cheer her on, but that's kind of magical too.

Daughter2 flew in from South Carolina on Friday night. She's a teacher and will be home for a nice long break, which makes her sister only a teensy bit envious. She's also tired, because third graders the month before Christmas...self explanatory, right?

Saturday we stayed in and she baked while I wrapped and hubs dealt with the never ending Christmas light drama. Outdoor lights on Saturday, indoor on Sunday. Our outdoor lights tend to go out when there is a lot of wet weather due to some pesky fuse design, but I think hubs finally got that sorted.  They were working last night so I suggested we all take a picture in our head just in case the fix isn't permanent.

Sometime after dinner on Saturday I noticed the tree lights were out. Well, not all of them, because the very bottom of the tree was lit, but the rest had gone dark. Bother. 

My mantra this Christmas is not to let anything steal my joy, including a partially lit Christmas tree, but that was put to the test when hubs said we'd have to take everything off the tree to find which strand was bad. FYI-undecorating a perfectly decorated tree four days before Christmas was not on my to-do list. Sigh.

Daughter 2 suggested I take pictures so we could get the ornaments back in place pretty quickly, and fortunately we didn't have to un-do everything. We started at the bottom and discovered the first strand was the bad one so whoohoo!  Course that meant hubs had to go to Walmart, which is not his favorite thing to do anytime let alone the week before Christmas, but he dug down deep for his Christmas spirit and got 'er done.

Sunday evening we attended a Christmas cantata, and all was right with the world once more. Absolutely beautiful!  We all loved the music so much, and it just reminded me how important it is to have more 'Christmas'-less Walmart in this very special week and in my life year round.

I leave you with a link to one of the songs we heard last night...it wasn't Kari Jobe singing, but wow! the woman in our church did such an amazing job with this song.

"...and redemption begins with a stable in Bethlehem..." 

Wishing you a happy Christmas from this side of the pond!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

O Christmas Tree

We have college friends living on the other side of the country, who are spending a few days in the Big Apple this week.  He and hubs are fraternity brothers, and last night we trekked in to meet up for dinner.

Traffic! Bah humbug!

Actually, not bah humbug. Even ridunkulous traffic cannot dampen my Christmas spirit when I'm en route to New York City.

Well, maybe a little, but not completely. And you people who commute in and out of here every.single.day, well bless your hearts.

We met at a restaurant near Madison Square Garden called Pennsylvania 6.  It was hopping!  Our friends have a son living in the city so he joined us too, for a fun night of gabbing and celebrating his mom's birthday.

Their 30th wedding anniversary is also this weekend, and I think we can all agree NYC is a grand place for marking and celebrating life's milestones.

After dinner we walked about 20 blocks in the icy cold air, but hey it's New York at Christmastime, and we needed to see the tree.  Plus hubs and I never leave the city without a stop in Times Square, since that's the law.

Our law, but one we never break.

We got down to the tree about 11 PM, and here's a helpful tip for all you tourists...visit the tree at 11 PM in 30 degree temps, and you'll find it's not wall to wall people at that hour or degree.

It's not no-people, but definitely a smaller crowd.
The tree is just beautiful.

Rockefeller Plaza in December is one of my favorite places on earth.
Positively magical.

I can see how people fall in love in New York City at Christmastime.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

On Dasher, On Dancer, On Hodgepodge...

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! Add your link at the end of my post, then go say hi to your neighbors. Remember...no Hodgepodge next week (12/25) but do come back to ring in the new year the week after (1/1/14). 

In the words of Tiny Tim, "God bless us everyone!" 

1. Do you believe in miracles?


2. What's a recent fad you admit to trying?

Kale chips. 
Surely the obsession with all things kale is just a fad. 

I love most veggies, but kale chips? Blech!

3. Peppermint-are you a fan? If so, what's your favorite food or beverage containing peppermint?

It's funny how our tastes change. I never used to be a fan, but all of a sudden I love it. Not so much on its own, but combined with something chocolate it's my new favorite thing.  I make a peppermint chocolate chip cookie that is delish. I also like to stir my cocoa with a candy cane for a great chocolate peppermint combo.  

4. Break the ice, on thin ice, as cold as ice (emotionally, not literally) which phrase have you run into most recently? Explain.

Nothing comes immediately to mind, so I'll say break the ice. I'm on the board of a local women's club, and meet new people all the time.

5. Have you ever broken or spilled something in someone else's home? Still friends?

When my girls were little we went to a friend's house for a morning play date.  The mom and I were enjoying a lovely cup of tea in her cozy kitchen and our daughters were happily playing upstairs. After we'd been there a while Daughter1 and her friend came into the kitchen wearing bright pink lipstick, artfully applied on and around their lips, which sent my heart racing and my feet running to see what Daughter2 was into.  

That would also be lipstick.  

It was all over her AND all over their just cleaned carpet.  Did you know lipstick is oily, especially the cheap kid kind?  Somehow it all came out of the rug, and we're still friends who can laugh about this twenty years later.  In her defense, Daughter2 was only about 2 years old, so her mother should have known better than to take her eyes off her. Also, she's Daughter2 so her mother should have known better than to take her eyes off her.  Hi Daughter2!

6. 'Tis the week before Christmas...are you feeling more like Buddy the Elf or the Grinch before his heart grew?

No Grinch in me, but I haven't reached full on Buddy mode either. 

7. Share a favorite quote relating to Christmas.

These words from the beautiful carol Oh Holy Night,  composed by Adolphe-Charles Adam-

"...Long lay the world, in sin and error pining 
Till he appeared and the soul felt it's worth...."

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

In keeping with my plan to share the happy in my random space this December, I'm linking to an absolutely precious rendition of The Christmas Story. Click here to watch. Seriously one of the most adorable things I've seen, and guaranteed to make you smile!  

Wishing you peace and joy this Christmas season!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 155

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge...answer on your own blog, then skate back here tomorrow (12/18) to link up with the rest of Santa's elves.

I'll be taking a break from the Hodgepodge next week (12/24) because CHRISTMAS!, but will be back to ring in the New Year the week after (12/31).

1. Do you believe in miracles?

2. What's a recent fad you admit to trying?

3. Peppermint-are you a fan? If so, what's your favorite food or beverage containing peppermint?

4. Break the ice, on thin ice, as cold as ice (emotionally, not literally)...which phrase have you run into most recently? Explain.

5. Have you ever broken or spilled something in someone else's home? Still friends?

6.  'Tis the week before Christmas...are you feeling more like Buddy the Elf or the Grinch before his heart grew?

7. Share a favorite quote relating to Christmas.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

'Tis the Season

Nothing forces you to slow down and breathe deep during this hectic season of the year quite like a snow day ten days before Christmas.  Hubs initially resisted, but I just gave in. Sometimes God uses the beauty of ten thousand snowflakes to say hey, remember Me?  I'm what you're celebrating.

And it was beautiful.

We woke up to snow on Saturday, and it came down all the live long day. We'd been warned so I had groceries in the house, ingredients for a couple batches of cookie dough, and everything I needed to finish up a little crafty project I've been working on. Hubs got the garland on the staircase, and I feel like our decorating is just about done. Still a bit of chaos on my kitchen table, but a lot of that will be wrapped and posted today.

We got about 8 or 9 inches, so on Sunday hubs dug out the places our plow peeps don't go. The dog is confused in snow this deep, so he clears the patio and makes a path into the yard which helps. She still insists on hunting for that elusive blade of grass.

We watched a little football, and I have to say there have been some exciting games this season, both at the college level and in the NFL. Cowboys-Green Bay anyone? Actually in our own home town too, as our local high school won the state championship in their division a couple of weeks ago.

This week we hope to wrap up (literally) some of our to-dos that remain undone, plus add in a trip or two to the 'Big Tree'. Rockefeller. It is the big tree. Daughter2 will be home on Friday night and she's excited to do some baking and wait for Santa. She might be 23, but I'm pretty sure she still feels the magic.

So does her momma.

Before I get to gettin' I need to show you this-

Hubs was given these amazing chocolates and oh my word. They are almost too gorgeous to eat.  Almost!  The flavor combinations are unusual and they are divine. They're made by Norman Love Confections out of Naples Florida, and no they're not paying me to rave about their handiwork.  Although if they want to send more chocolates my way, I would not say no.  

Hoping your Monday is merry and bright!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Wednesday Hodgepodge-A Necessary Luxury

'Twas two weeks before Christmas when all through the Internet, people who should be shopping, baking, wrapping, and cleaning were nestled all snug in the Hodgepodge. So glad you're here! Everyone is welcome to play along...answer the questions on your own blog, then add your link at the end of my post.

Here are my answers-

1. Are you doing anything special to mark this season of Advent? If so, please share.

We have an Advent wreath this year, and I'm really enjoying Ann Voskamp's book, The Greatest Gift. It's a day-by-day reading designed for Advent and it's wonderful. She shares a passage of scripture along with a brief message, followed by some thought provoking questions to ask yourself relating to the day's message. She also has a suggestion each day for something practical to do to live out what you've read. It has really helped me pause, reflect, act, and focus in these days leading up to Christmas. 

I bought an advent calendar from Naptime Diaries and that sits on my kitchen desk. It's a series of pretty painted cards, one for each day of the season. I didn't hang the cards, because I didn't have a good spot to do that, but I did buy a little plate stand to display the card of the day. Each one is different, but here's a sample- 

Advent is not just a season, but a state of mind (or heart). I'm trying to enjoy the waiting this year, instead of wishing it away.  

2. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen...and of course you recall, that most famous reindeer of all...so which reindeer name best describes you this week?

Hopefully not Vixen!  I looked up the definition and it said 'an angry unpleasant woman'.  Yikes! I'm avoiding the mad dash thing this year, so no Dasher either.  And I'm healthy so no red nose-ha! 

I'm going with Donner, which in French essentially means 'to give'. I enjoy giving, and that title seems appropriate this time of year. Plus, hello-it's French. I think y'all know how I feel about all things French. Joyeux Noel!  

3. What's worse-too quiet or too loud?  Which have you had more of lately?

What's worse? Too loud. I love people, parties large and small, and socializing in general, but I need my space on a pretty regular basis too.  I think I've had a good balance of both the loud and the quiet so far this month.

4. This question comes to you from Zoanna over at A Penchant for Pens-thanks Zo!

When you are administratively gifted, how often do you find yourself not trusting less gifted people to do what they've committed to do?  If you are not so gifted that way, but are reliable, how do you feel when the stronger person (in that area) goes ahead and covers it before giving you a chance to come through?

If I know the person is reliable then no problem. I definitely appreciate a great team. What's hard for me is that person who will maybe probably get the job done, but not necessarily in anything close to the time frame I would operate under if doing the job myself. I won't steam roll you, but I might have to bug you just a little. 

For the most part, if you've said you'll do something I assume you'll do it. And  if your pace or lack of detail starts to make me sweat, I'll offer to help...in a nice way of course!

5. What is your most dreaded task relating to the holidays? Your most looked forward to holiday task?

Well, if you read my post on Monday, then you know how I'm going to answer this one-setting up my Snow Village. I'd enjoy the job more if I had a better place to display it all.  This is our fifth Christmas here and I think I've done the set up a little differently every year. I'm mostly happy with the end result.  

As far as my most looked forward to task...I know some people will think I'm nuts, but I'm going with Christmas cards. I enjoy the whole process-choosing a photo, selecting a card, addressing cards to friends and family I don't get to see nearly often enough, even buying the Christmas stamps at the post office. I can't wait to check the mailbox every day, and I love looking through the cards we've received all month long.  

6. Facebook has released it's list of the 'most talked about topics' for 2013. Pope Francis took the number one spot. Does that surprise you? He was followed by election, royal baby, typhoon, and Harlem Shake. Your thoughts? What was your most talked about topic in 2013? (Facebook, around the kitchen table, or wherever it is you talk)

I was initially a little surprised, but when I stop and remember that Facebook is a worldwide entity, it's less surprising. And I'm happy the Pope beat out the Harlem Shake and Miley Cyrus (she came in at #7, which is still a little bit distressing)

The most talked about topics in our house in 2013? Not sure I can choose just one, but hot topics around here would include the disturbing state of the union on so many levels, healthcare (hubs works in the field so its always on our radar), retirement planning-the when-where-how of it all, social media in various forms, books, movies, and of course the ever popular-how to get one or all of my family of four from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible. Have family, will travel. That's us.  

7. What's something you view as a necessity that others might view as a luxury?

Hmmm...what is a necessity?  In the grand scheme of things we have so many luxuries (we're all on some sort of electronic device here, right?),  but we've gotten to a place where they feel like necessities.  I have a warm home, clean water anytime I turn on a tap, cars that run, and a frig full of food. Those are luxuries in some parts of the world, so this is a tough one to answer.  

If we're answering this in a more light hearted way (and we are), then I'll say half and half in my coffee. A little luxury I'd rather not do without.  

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I said last week I wanted my random space to make you smile this December....here's a mid-week happy for you...enjoy!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 154

Ho-Ho-Hodgepodge questions are here. Nobody has anything else they should be doing, right? We all need a little breather from the holiday prep, so why not join in this fun meme? Answer the questions on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow (Wednesday, hence the name) to add your link to the party. The more the merrier!

1. Are you doing anything special to mark this season of Advent? If so please share.

2. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen...and of course you recall, the most famous reindeer of all...so, which reindeer name best describes you this week?

3. What's worse-too quiet or too loud? Which have you had more of lately?

4. This question comes to you from Zoanna over at A Penchant for Pens-thanks Zo!

When you are administratively gifted, how often do you find yourself not trusting less gifted people to do what they've committed to do?  If you are not so gifted that way, but are reliable, how do you feel when the stronger person (in that area) goes ahead and covers it before giving you a chance to come through?

5. What is your most dreaded task relating to the holidays? Your most looked forward to holiday task?

6. Facebook has released its list of the 'most talked about' topics of 2013. Pope Francis took the number one spot.  Does that surprise you? He was followed by election, royal baby, typhoon, and Harlem Shake. Your thoughts? What was your most talked about topic in 2013? (Facebook, around the kitchen table, or wherever it is you talk)

7. What's something you consider a necessity that others might view as a luxury?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weekend Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Nobody's mentioned the weather on their blog today, have they?  Ha!  It seems the whole US of A has had some weather this weekend, unless you count Florida, but I won't because who doesn't love a little ice and snow in early December?

We had a full weekend filled with all manner of festivity. Raise your hand if you love this most magical time of the year? I won't tell you how many attempts were made to capture this selfie, but it was so pretty when we came out of the restaurant last night I insisted we try. And try again. And again.

As we walked to our car snowflakes were falling, tinytowns Christmas tree beside the lake was aglow with its mass of colored lights, the trees in the village were all twinkly and fairy-like, and we both agreed that we love it. All of it. Even the craziness that we woke up to this morning, which essentially is a driveway turned skating rink.

I got up to go to bootcamp, because FYI the weekend included more than a little eating out, but alas no boot camp.  No way could I get my car down the driveway. I guess maybe I could have gotten down the drive, but not without taking out some serious rocks and the pillars at the curb. Hubs made a valiant attempt to get to his office at the normal time, but it just wasn't happening. He finally headed for the office a few minutes ago, so I'm hoping the roads are in better shape than our driveway.

Friday evening we stayed home. It was nice. I sometimes think I'd like to have a Christmas tree in my house year round, but I suppose the special-ness of that would wane. Maybe. Arctic air swept in here on Saturday...naturally, because that's the day hubs needed to put up the outside lights. He tries to do that job in November, but his travel schedule this fall didn't cooperate, so he had to settle for the coldest day of the year.

Anyone out there hear a few naughty words when their hubs is dealing with the outside lights? I'm asking for a friend.

The lights are up, and we're still married, so win-win.

Friends who live a few towns over called and said they were headed to the German Christmas Market in our town, and did we want to meet them there?  Hubs was happy to take a break from the lighting debacle so we spent most of the afternoon on the boardwalk browsing the stalls and sipping Gluhwein to stay warm.

Afterwards we headed home where hubs commenced with the lighting shenanigans and I indulged in perhaps the greatest nap ever.  He woke me up asking about dinner at 7:45. Yikes! I think all the 5 AM mornings, combined with all the holiday to-dos finally caught up with me. I am still thinking about that nap. Merry Christmas to me!

We went to a local Italian place for dinner, and had a few clams with our garlic.

Not a vampire in sight!

Sunday afternoon we trekked over to some friends for their annual Christmas party, which is always so much fun. It's a fundraiser for a nearby food pantry, and they really do it up right. There are inflatables for the kids, and live animals, also for the kids, but hey we're all kids at heart, right?

Disney should call his agent.

Along with all the fun and games, there is always lots of wonderful food and conversation, plus jolly old Saint Nick makes an appearance too.


We left the party about 4 PM, right about the time the snow made its way into our area. We didn't get more than a dusting, but we did get inches of ice which is a bit more troublesome.

When I look at my front steps I can't help but think of that scene in Home Alone where McCauley Culkin pours water on the stairs to keep the burglars away.  Effective.

Today was my day to volunteer in a local soup kitchen, but even that has been cancelled. I guess that means I'm out of excuses as to why my Snow Village is still tucked neatly away in the basement as opposed to on display upstairs. I love it once its up, but what a job! All the dusting, and the rearranging of the tabletops, and the stowing of stuff on the tabletops, and the hauling umpteen bins up and down the stairs, and the chords which will not make any sense, and all that styrofoam packing that leaves little beads in its wake. I'm missing my elves today!

Okay, time to get busy.  Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was my Snow Village.
So what's it like where you live?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Technically it's Friday Fragments

On this Friday that unfolds a mere three weeks before Christmas I'm guessing I should be doing approximately a million and one things, which of course explains why I'm blogging. I'm not the only one who, when given a long list of to-dos, walks around in circles not actually doing any of them, am I?  Whatever...I have a few fragments and always enjoy linking up with Mrs. 4444's at the end of a busy week.
Half-Past Kissin' Time
I'm having my carpets cleaned today, along with my 'dog's chair'. Technically it's not her chair, but she doesn't know that so technically it is her chair. Not really ideal weather for wet carpet since we've got drizzly rain today, but I was determined to get the rugs cleaned before people have to sleep on them over Christmas. Technically my girls, my niece, and my nephew will be on air mattresses on the carpet, but still, that's almost the same thing as sleeping on the rug.

How many times can I say technically in a single post?
Technically we're going to find out.

I had signed my pup up for daycare and a spa treatment today so she'd be out of the house while the rugs were being cleaned. Spa treatment is technically just a bath, but spa treatment sounds like more fun. I was forced to embrace plan B since my dog spent half the day yesterday with an upset stomach, and I guess half the night too. Technically that's enough detail, right?

In fact, we had pulled her dog bed into our bathroom overnight just in case, since our bedroom is carpeted and the floor in the bath is tiled.  Easier clean up if you're struggling to follow along here today.

This morning I rousted myself out of bed for boot camp, and tiptoed quietly (semi-quietly...hubs says I'm not that quiet) into the bathroom, in the pitch black, at the delightful hour of 5:20 AM. Oh, and I was barefoot-that's important! I carefully opened the door so as not to disturb my sleeping pup, and promptly planted my foot in dog vomit.

As if getting to boot camp isn't stressful enough.

And of course she's been fit as a fiddle all morning long, so she's at home, underfoot, not getting a bath, and a little anxious about the status of her chair.

Technically that was way more than you wanted to know.

Friday Fragments peeps!

Last night was my neighborhood book club Christmas party. We don't read a book in December, and instead have a nice dinner out along with a fun gift exchange. Technically I'm sure we're all reading books in December, just not as a group.

I'm reading Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline for anyone who's curious.

Back to the party...we do the kind of exchange where you draw numbers, choose a present, and occasionally 'steal' from a friend. Always a great time, and I came home with the softest, snuggliest throw ever made. Originally I thought I'd wrap it up as a Christmas present for one of my daughters, but before I knew what was happening that throw was open and my own self was wrapped up in it. Ooops! Sorry girls!

I guess technically I may have known what was happening.

Okay time to be productive...I've got some secret Christmas stuff that isn't going to Pinterest itself. May your weekend be filled with laughter and joy!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Of Hope and Advent and Tangled Christmas Life

On a cold December day in 1992, my father passed away. 21 years ago today, which sounds like a lifetime, but only sometimes feels like one. Time they say is a healer of sorts, and I suppose that's true. The pain shrinks back into the hidden corners of your heart, and there it sleeps, only now and then lifting its head to look you in the eye.

I see my girls and I remember how very much he loved them. I'm sorry he never knew them as the remarkable women they've become. Sorry especially they missed experiencing so much of life with their Poppie.

When this day rolls around every year I'm often caught by surprise at the peace that floods my soul. The knowledge that my father loved Jesus with his whole heart, and the wonder I feel in knowing this planet earth is only one part of the story being written.

Advent is upon us.
The part of the story that brings us right up to the heart of it all.  

We wait, and we're not so good at the waiting. We're so much better at the doing. In a month without a clean page on the calendar we resist being still, feel guilty even for sitting and taking in the miracle.

This month called December grows louder, more demanding, more commercial with every passing year. A noisy mass of honking horns and crowded lots. Long lists and short fuses. Big spectacles and small breakdowns.

 Life so easily tangling up on itself.

It can be untangled.  

Advent comes in a whisper, arching over and under and through the noise. 
A gift we are given in the middle of a knotty life.  

With Advent comes hope. Hope for this tired troubled earth, and hope in our hearts, all the way to the furthest reaches where grief and disappointment and our deepest longings lay.

On a day marked with memory I celebrate that hope.
I make time to be still...

...I hush the noise and listen for the whisper.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Whistle While You Hodgepodge

I love the Hodgepodge all year round, but especially in December. I enjoy hitting pause on the list making and checking, while I answer random questions and find out what's happening in your little corner of the world. If you're a newbie here today, feel free to join the party.  Here we go-

1.  According to Oxford Dictionaries, the 2013 word of the year is 'selfie'. Your thoughts? When did you last take a selfie? Do you post them online somewhere? Do you prefer to be in front of the camera or behind the lens?

I don't know, something about the words Oxford and selfie in the same sentence doesn't feel right to me, but I guess time marches on. I don't take selfies unless I'm with my girls, partly because I don't particularly want to see my face THIS CLOSE, and partly because I have not mastered the coordination a good selfie requires. We did snap one in the movie theatre last Friday, while waiting for Catching Fire to start. The three of us were in agreement that I would not be the one operating the camera.  

Here ya go-

...posted online, on my very own blog, but only because its the topic at hand.  I probably prefer behind the lens, but as long as delete is an option I'm okay with having my picture taken.  

2.  Will you send out Christmas Cards this year? If so, are they ready to go? If not, are you glad or sad about leaving that tradition behind?

Definitely. I love sending and receiving, and have mine almost ready to go.  I only address a few at a time so my handwriting doesn't turn sloppy. We got two cards in the mail yesterday, and just catching a glimpse of something personal in the mailbox made me happy.  

3.  Do you trust easily?


Should I say more? I don't have anything to add. I'm a trusting person. 

4. Pine-cinnamon-peppermint-vanilla (as in sugar cookie)...of those listed, which one is your favorite December scent?

I love them all, but cinnamon is my favorite.  

5.  Did you do more talking or more listening yesterday?  Was that by choice or by necessity?

Hmmm...Tuesday...I think more listening. It was the last day of my women's Bible study until after Christmas, and we wrapped up the Kelly Minter book on Ruth which was so good. Some weeks I talk more, but yesterday I did more listening.  

I spent the rest of the afternoon home alone, doing secret Christmas-y stuff and attacking the mountain of sheets and towels piled up from the long weekend.

6.  What's the last song that got stuck in your head?  Sorry if it's back there now :  )

Whistle While You Work. Whenever my girls are home they always pop in at least one old video, and this time Daughter1 found one we hadn't seen in eons. Oh be still my heart. She was four years old, singing Whistle While You Work for the camera, in her soft little girl voice.  I've been singing it ever since, which isn't nearly as cute. 

7.  Which world explorer (in the whole history of the world) would you most like to have traveled with, and why?

This is tough because there's that whole days-months-years at sea thing most explorers had to deal with, and I think we all know that is not my thing. Perhaps Marco Polo because he set off from Venice and that much I'm on board with.  He was one of the first Europeans to travel to China and Mongolia, and he wrote about The Silk Road which I find really interesting. I enjoyed my too short trip to China last year...it still feels so foreign to me, and a little bit mysterious.  

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

My goal for this random thought space in December is to post something that will make you smile. My Daughter1 sent me this link yesterday, and the precious factor cannot be overstated. I want to meet her!