Sunday, December 23, 2012

Warming the Heart - Journal Your Christmas

It is time to take a minute and think about the spirit of this season.  How many times has something happened this season that caused my heart to grow a few sizes?  It would be so easy for my heart to shrink to the size of the Grinch's.  If i focus to long and too hard on my cancer or chemo path it is easy to lose sight of all the other good working in my life.  So this is the post I will devote to looking for the good.  Finding the ways christmas spirit has worked its way into my days.

  • I am having trouble with my back and my breathing so I use a wheelchair to get around on longer outings.  My mom and I were trying to get into Dillards...the store has double doors with no automation for the handicapped.  Each time (on the way in and on the way out) somebody was nice enough to hold the door for us.  
  • Usually the family spend time closed up in our rooms doing whatever we want.  This month we had some time together.  It might have been a simple chinese dinner spent together at the kitchen table...or an episode of something we all like to watch.  Whatever it was we were together enjoying each others company!
  • An afternoon spent with my aunt decorating my house for the season.  She didn't have to help, but she did.  Sometimes I have a hard time motivating myself, and she took time to motivate me into making my house happy.
  • My dad also spent his afternoon decorating.  He put my aluminum tree together and hung all my 12 days of christmas ornaments on it.  He helped wrap my big tree with a strand of colored lights and the garland that I love. I'm not sure what I would have done without my two little elves.  Actually I do know and I makes me a little sad...I would have hung the stockings and maybe decorated the tree.  I don't have to be sad...because my dad knows what this holiday means to me and he would never let it go undecorated!
  • I get to live with my parents...feels weird to type that.   People are usually happy to get away from their parents...that sounds really harsh...I was happy to be independent and create my own home.   Then I got sick...I needed parents moved into my home...they left everything dad added a 2 and a half hour drive to work...when he could get to work in about 15 mom gave up a job she second bitter feelings.  If I do express any guilt about them leaving these things behind...they simply say...we are family...that's what family does.
  • My puppy warms my heart daily...but today she was a little bit underfoot for the decorating process.  The highlight for me was when she found my felted ball garland.  To her it just looked like lots of little balls ripe for the taking...and take she did.  Shortly after the taking came the dropping and then the rasping so that she could get the felt fibers out of her mouth.  She finally settled on a large helping of water to wash them down.  Maybe in a few days she will make a colorful present in the back yard!  
So I have lots of things to keep my heart warm all the way to January!  What has been warming your heart this month?

to the moon and back,

Stockings Are Hung - Journal Your Christmas 2012

For years my stocking was hung on the mantle at my parent's house.  IT was understood that no matter what, our Christmas mornings would be spent with them.  I had apartments along the way, but none of them had a proper mantle for hanging a stocking.  I think I had one Christmas where I confiscated my stocking and had my own Christmas morning.  The Bug was one year old and we had a little house that had a little mantle.  I carefully hung the stocking that had been made for me as a "birth"day present...and created stockings for The Bug and the Bug's daddy.  I covered the mantle with garland and lights...even some ornaments...because we did not have a tree.  I was an odd, but very grown up feeling to wake up in my own home and watch The Bug pull all her little treasures from her stocking, and then put the stocking on her head.  That feeling and family unit only lasted the one Christmas...and then it was back to dear old Mom and Dad's.  

After that is was several years before I had the opportunity to hang my stocking in my own home.  The Bug and I moved out of my parent's house, but it still made sense to have Christmas morning with them.  My house had no brother and his fiance had a place to sleep at the parentals The Bug and I waited patiently for a time when we would have our own place to hang our stockings with care.  During the time we stayed with my parents my mom made a stocking for The Bug.  It was very similar to the style of my Mom and Dad's stockings.  So her original Eeyore stocking made its way to storage.  I missed that stocking the first couple of Christmases it was out of use.  It was one of the Bug's first Christmas presents...I think I even bought it before she was born.  It was time for change and that way my stocking could match my brother's and The Bug could match my Mom and Dad.  

Finally about three years ago we moved to Fort Worth.  We moved into a house complete with fireplace and mantle.  My mom was happy to hand over our stockings and again I took great pride in hanging them over our fireplace.  Our first year in this house I realized without my parents to fill my stocking...and without a husband to do the honors...I would totally have to fill it myself.  My mom offered an idea that Christmas I was on my own..."Sweetie why don't you just tell Robin Santa doesn't fill a grown up's stocking."  To that I replied..."Mom...The Bug has watched you and PawPaw empty your stockings...lovingly filled by Santa.  Now all of a sudden her Mom doesn't deserve the same treatment?"  I left the comfort of my home on Christmas Eve and found little trinkets to fill my stocking.  I must was kind of fun picking out my own stocking gifts.  After that first year I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and my Mom moved into my house.  Yipee someone to fill my stocking...i guess I did miss the surprise of what might be in there.  So no matter what...even if I have to go back to filling my own stocking at some point...stockings are a must in my house on Christmas morning!

To the Moon and Back!

My aunt gives me one of these every christmas!
Each one sits on the fireplace edge.

The mantle above the stockings

MiMi made this one out of felt...
it matches Mimi and PawPaw's stockings.
I love the little reminds me of the Bug

My stocking!  Patchwork goodness with my name lovingly embroidered at the top.
Of course the pup's stocking hangs by mine.
If I am being totally honest...
Rosie's stocking has been empty for a couple of
Christmases...bad puppy mommy!

This is part of the forest below the stockings.
On the yearsBooBoo and his family stay in
Lumberton I put my ceramic trees here.
When the babies come to visit...
the hearth forest is strictly soft trees

No reason to include is across the room from the stockings!
But I mean...who doesn't love Charlie Brown Christmas?

Hippopotamus - Journal Your Christmas 2012

At a time when every store in the retail universe stats in with Silent Night...oh sometime around is easy to get burned out on the typical Christmas songs.  I think that's why my favorite carol is a bit left of center.  

I had never heard this amazing song until my daughters 7th birthday.  This was the second year she invited friends to the house to decorate our tree...and then head out for some christmas light love.  For this birthday I had heard of a house that synced its light show to popular Christmas carols and even took over a radio station so the people could admire the show without catching cold.  We arrived at the house...actually arrived about 2 blocks from the house and somewhat patiently waited our turn.  I mean I did have ten 7 year old girls in the car...they are not usually the picture of patience.  My song came on the radio before we made it to the house.  It sounded like a little girl belting out a song about a Hippo.  Yes that's right a Hippo.  SHe wanted a hippopotamus for Christmas...and went through an entire set of instructions for how Santa could make her dream come true.  It was an adorable...catchy...carol...that I had NEVER heard before.  The girls were also enamored with this ditty.  By the time we made it to the house we had heard the song at least 3 times.  So when the house started to light up along with the tune we were able to sing right along.  

I mean the house danced to Silent Night...Jingle Bell Rock...there was even some little song about not eating yellow snow....but I was in love with a Hippo.  "Mom says a Hippo will eat me up but then, teacher says a Hippo is a vegetarian."  I mean come on...even better after the party The Bg and I spent some time searching the internet for the story behind the carol.   Turns out a little girl wrote the song, because their zoo was without Hippo.  She thought she woudl write this song as a little fundraiser to help purchase a hippo for their zoo.  Awwww...I just looked up what zoo got the hippo...and I am a  little bit sad.  Gayla Peevey recorded the song first and then a promoter heard the song and decided launch a campaign to give the ten year old Peevey a hippo.  She got her hippo and donated it to the Ponca City Zoo...the hippo's name was Matilda.  Nuts...I have spent the last seven years loving the endearing story behind this I find out that the story is bunk.

Oh well I still love the song... a local zoo still got a hippo because of the song.  I think I might try to forget the promoter part, and just believe Gayla wanted a hippo so bad she wrote a song about it. least my favorite carol isn't one that has made it to the popular muzak reel the spins through all store during the holidays.  So there you have favorite Christmas carol is about a hippo and how easy it would be for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning.  If you haven't heard it it is a must listen!

To the moon and back,
Here is Gayla's rendition on 
The Ed Sullivan Show (1953)

here is the song set to lights!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

That One Special Gift - Journal Your Christmas

This year has been a rough one.  My counts have bounced up and down like a yo-yo...taking my emotions with them.  I wanted to make something special for everyone in my family, but as the months slipped by I fell back on purchased gifts. Even those have taken longer than I wanted to purchase.  Last year was a good year.  I made the perfect gift and was there to watch my Bug open it.  I had talked for at least a couple of years about making a T-shirt quilt for the Bug.  We collect T-shirts everywhere we go and because she keeps growing she was sure to grow out of some of them.   I made a trip to the local JoAnn's and picked up some basic quilting supplies.  I think I have said before that I am not worth much behind a sewing machine.  I can sew in a straight line and now I can make a few curves....but that's it.  It was important to me for the Bug to have something to snuggle up under...a tangible memory of our most treasured vacations.  The Bug spent a week with her Dad so that gave me plenty of time to cut each shirt and lay them out so that the colors looked nice together.  I had time to sit in from of the sewing machine and stitch all the squares together into one huge square.  Then in modern day quilting bee style I enlisted the help of my aunt and my mom to stitch the top to the bottom.  We used some of my favorite buttons and stitched the corner of every other square.  It was lovely to sit together...look at all the shirts...tell stories about the trips...laugh at nothing in particular.  It was a good day.  Then the quilt was finished and boxed up in the largest box I could find.  Once I had it wrapped and under the tree I got nervous.  I thought will she care as much about these shirts as I do...will she even want this gift?  I had to wait.  Christmas morning she opened the biggest box first...and she was excited.  Really and truly excited about the gift.  I made it, and she will have it forever.  Right now it sits on the back of a chair in her room...she cover up with it when she doesn't feel like unmaking her bed.  so for now that is the special gift I planned for and gave to a loved one!  What about you guys?

To the moon and back,

here are the shirts that made the cut!

Rosie made it into this one! 
This is the whale I made out of a sweatshirt
from our trip to New York!

Here we go!

I think she might like it!

My silly Bug...ornaments go on the tree!

Deck the Walls - Journal Your Christmas

I am saving the tree for another post.  I mean all the different ornaments...lights...and garlands...can be a blog all on their own.  I want to talk about everything else.  I started collecting Christmas decorations  long before I had a house to decorate. The very first thing I bought came from an estate sale.  It is a small ceramic christmas tree...ya know the ones that have little peg lights and a bulb inside to make them glow.  I might not have given this one another was missing all its lights...and like I said it was was also royal blue.  I have seen my fair share of these trees and I have never seen one in blue...never before and never since.  So this little lone tree started my collection.  That is really all it takes.  One item...and a desire to find more so you can create a family.  Now with the help of another one of my aunts I have about 15 trees...all different sizes...all different colors (O.K. mostly green)...even different shaped lights.  Some have their original base some have a base made loving by my dad.  They take over my hearth every season and in the evening when the timer clicks and the trees light up...there is a place in my heart that lights up too!  I collect other types of trees also.  I have a few stuffed fabric trees...some trees meant to display any special ornaments you might want to show off...I even have a Charlie Brown tree (complete with one ornament).  I also have the trees I made for myself.  I have a set made of pushpins...and then I have the ribbon trees that were the subject of a tutorial last year.  That's all for now...see you tomorrow!

To the moon and back,

Monday, December 17, 2012

Oh, the Places We Go - Journal Your Christmas 2012

Several of these prompts seem to weave together.  I am having to work hard to write about something new everyday.  I have mentioned one of the places we go during the holiday season, but today I will be able to go in much more detail.  Holiday outings are so much more magical than the typical everyday adventure.  Finding a business that completely covers every tree on their property with colored lights.  Reading the back of a bulletin for church and seeing an ad for building gingerbread houses.

The Chesapeake building in close to downtown Fort Worth and they have put on an unbelievably light show for the last two years.  This ear they scaled back a bit, but it was still amazing!  I am very anti covering a tree with lights...unless the person commits 100%.  I mean the trunk and the branches even the little branches all the way up.  Chesapeake gets it so right.  Every branch is dripping in color...all the way down to the trunk...I can't even imagine how many strands are used on each tree.  This year all the ginormous trees got their lights...but they took away my favorite piece of the lighting.  They have a sidewalk that winds down to the larger trees and that walk is bordered on both sides with pine trees.  Red, pink, green, blue, purple, white...maybe even orange.  They were breathtaking.  I look forward to the trip to see these trees...this year...wasn't a let down...but sort of it was.  At least the lights on top of the building are still the same.  The top fades from green to red and back again.  the top is also sort of arrow it is like Chesapeake has a huge lighted sign guiding the way to their trees.  I hope next year we get the sidewalk trees back!
lovely pose...sweet girl!


How else can a person scale a tree all covered in lights?
We found out soon after taking this photo...
You ARE NOT supposed to climb the trees at all!
Another place that gets a yearly visit from my unique little family is our church.  One Saturday in Decamber...they open their doors...provide a preassembled house...and all the necesarry goodies to make the perfect gingerbread house.  When living in Beaumont, we made due, and made the houses ourselves.  We never had the preassembled goodness we found at the church.  We had to cover our hands in sticky, icky, frosting...cross our fingers and hope when we let go the house with remain standing.  If it was a lazy holiday season we might buy a gingerbread Christmas tree.  Incredibley simple...but the completed effect was always beautiful.  No matter what, the church is hands down the perfect place to decorate a house big enough for a tiny fairy.  Without the drain for figuring out how to make the stupid pieces hold together...there is time to create something very fancy.  The Bug, Mimi and I all had our own houses so even within our family we chose very different directions for our decoration.  The room also smelled amazing.  They had cider and cocoa to drink and all the premade houses still made the room smell very gingerbready!

The Bug...with a gingerbread tree and a handmade house
Icing can cover many many mistakes!

Some things never change...silly Buggy

Stage one - show up - sit in front of completed house

Stage 3 - used my imagination
see that twizzler sidewalk?!?

Stage 4 - sit back and bask in the glory of the masterpiece! 
These are two amazing places to go during the holidays.  If you are stuck like me in a slightly non wintery wonderland...wandering among beautifully lit trees...and creating an amazing candy covered confections.  These are tiny places to go...but they are just the pick me up I have needed to keep my spirits bigg                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Past - Journal Your Christmas 2012

I remember the Christmas of my youth fondly, but I cannot put my finger on one year where everything shifted.  I still think our family celebration is fun...some years it is a tad smaller than others, but that is alright.  I guess that big extended family Christmas has changed, but not one big drastic change from one year to the next.  It was tiny, little shifts each year...until one day I turned around and was like "WOW!" that is different.
For most of my youth, I celebrated with my family in Beaumont.  We looked at our Santa gift...if it was small it came with us in the car.  If it was a big a bike...we got to ride it up and down the street a couple of times...then it was time to load up in the station wagon and head to Granny and Paw Paw's house.  We would have just enough time to get cleaned up and family started arriving.  My Granny would have her tree up in the living room...a ham warming in the oven...and a plate of sweet and dill pickles, and olives for snacking.  The first change wasnt' a huge deal.  Well to me it wasn't a huge deal.  Instead of putting up the typical tree...7.5 feet...artificial...branches that needed fluffing...Granny chose to drape a table in a Christmas tablecloth and place her lovely ceramic tree in the center.  We piled our gifts for family around the table and didn't ask any questions.  Looking back...remembering that tiny tree surrounded by an avalanche of did look silly (sorry Granny)...but it did.  I know she was doing the best she could do...and this started when my grandfather began to need extra care.  I'm sure with everything she had going on in her day to day life....getting the tree out of the attic and putting it up for us to enjoy for one day...was just a ridiculous waste of her precious time.

Our tree didn't have the was glazed and had multicolor lights.
Still it is a little small to be the main tree for HUGE family Christmas.

The next change was humongous.  Every year my Aunt Sissy hosts Thanksgiving...and my Granny hosted Christmas and Easter.  I wish I could remember the year...but well over 15 years ago...Christmas moved to my Aunt Maa's house.  Dunh...Dunh...Dunh!!!!  I think the tiny tree facilitated the conversation about changing tradition.  Everything else stayed the same for a few years.  The food was the same.  The people were the same.  We were just in a different house.
As the years drifted by other things started to change.  Both of my grandparents have passed away, so for a while I was just waiting for our big extended family Christmas to disintegrate.  I saw my grandparents as the glue that was holding our family together.  Turns out we hold ourselves together pretty well.  Things did change...we started having tamales AND sometimes we just have tamales.  Nothing says Merry Christmas like a piping hot spicy tamale.  Well I guess I shouldn't be too shocked, she does have a sombrero on top of her tree.  Then as cousins married we started the rotation of Thanksgiving this year, Christmas the next.  No problem as long as I get to see some people at each holiday I am good to go.  I am lucky...never getting married means I get to celebrate both holidays with my family every year.   The majority of my cousins are one one year and my brother and his family are on the other.  So one year is a smallish Christmas...and the next my aunt's house is bursting at the seams.  
The final change happened last year.  My aunt felt bad asking children to leave toys that were barely unwrapped to come to her house for last year she moved our celebration to the day after Christmas.  That way everyone can have their own small immediate family Christmases.  The children can enjoy their gifts...once the parents untwist every twist-tie holding the toy SECURELY in place.  I'm not sure what changes the future will bring, but even though our Christmas may look a little different...all the love is still present and that is all that really matters.

To the Moon and Back,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Merry Mentor - Journal Your Christmas 2012

I did not have to look far to find my mentor.  She is hands down the fullest of Christmas cheer.  She rejoices in decorating each room of her house...starting the day after Thanksgiving.  She lovingly places all 96 nativity sets in their specific place (she probably as more sets now...but that was the last count)...changes out linens...and finally places the tree under the Christmas Sombrero that acts as a place holder for her amazing tree throughout the non holiday days.  
I come from a family that loves Christmas and had the obligatory lights around the roof...tree decorated and in the window.  We had other decorations around the house, but it was still our house dressed up for the holidays.  It was great and considering the fact that my mom had to do it all on her own without much help once my brother and I hit our was perfect.  It just was not the same as Christmas at my aunt's house.  Every room was completely transformed into a winter wonderland.  Beds had new coverings...sometimes new curtains too.  Bathrooms had new towel sets and new pictures decked out in holiday frames.  I mean everywhere I turned the holiday was displayed.  It isn't just her house it is her entire person.  She carries Christmas cheer in her pockets and doles it out whenever needed.  She knows I love the holidays and I love to have my house decked out...I mean I have 4 different Christmas trees.  Since I was diagnosed with cancer and have been having chemo on a very regular basis...I am wiped out most of the time.  Last year she went to storage...dug out some of my Christmas boxes...brought them to my house and decorated my living room for me.  It was a half speed Christmas for me, but I appreciated that she did that for me.  Just seeing my decorations loving placed around the main living area lifted my spirits on the regular.  I need my spirits lifted more often than I would like to admit, and the sight of my "Charlie Brown Village...complete with tree" just does something special for me.
She is also the person I go to if I want permission to spend money on more holiday cheer.  One year I went to the "cattle barns"...a local flea market type place....and I found a 6 foot tinsel tree complete with light.  The man wanted $100, and at the time I just could not see spending that money.  It was an amazing tree...absolutely beautiful.  I went to visit my aunt later that day and we talked about the tree.  In a matter of minutes she had me convinced that the tree had to be mine.  We drove over the next morning...I offered the man $75 and left with the tree.  It was amazing...and every year when I take each branch out of the box and put it in place I am reminded of my Holiday mentor.  To banish bad cheer or the bah-humbug spirit that may take up residence in my cluttered subconscious...I remember my Maa...and I might even sing a verse or two of "Must be Santa."  For now that is all I growing collection of holiday goodness..."Must be Santa"...a house nearby that is dripping with holiday cheer in every nook and cranny...and my Maa.  Thank you Maa for being all I need to make my spirit bright!

to the moon and back,

I dare you to be in a foul holiday mood
while looking at this face!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sensory Overload - Journal You Christmas 2012

This time of year is unlike any other for me.  I mean no matter where you look sights of the season smack you in the carols can be heard in almost any store or elevator...Starbucks starts using their special christmas cups and their beverages have that special holiday can feel the chill in the air, and the wind starts to have a little bite to is even O.K. to indulge every so often in the sweet treats people inevitably bring in to the workplace.  This time of year as each of my senses cry uncle I find myself begging for more.   More sights, smells, sounds, tastes and touches. 

I will take a detour in the twilight hours to see what types of decorations my neighbors have out.  I will tell the Bug to put on her pajamas, grab a cup of cocoa and meet me in the car.  We will drive up and down all the streets in our neighborhood looking for the most festive...the tackiest...the most colorful...the house with the most inflatable decorations (7 is the max so far), and just let the pure delight of each twinkling light wash over us.

Christmas is the time to give all the people you love an extra squeeze.  Go ahead and buy that toy that makes LOTS of noise...and give it to your favorite niece or nephew...when else is it acceptable to drive family member bonkers.  Remember how it feels to get real be completely enveloped in a loved ones arms...those kind of hugs can warm you from the inside out.  When you wrap up in your favorite coat and scarf...but then remember that the wool of the scarf is almost too scratchy to bear...wear it anyway because it reminds you of the christmas you received it as a gift from a treasured friend.  

Make the cookie that take hours to chill.  Roll out the dough...preheat the oven...revel in the fact that for the rest of the day the house will smell like the finest bakery in town.  Mix batch upon batch of colorful icing to decorate each cookie for Santa.  Use some of the icing to build a gingerbread house.  Take the time to hold each piece in place even if it means the house ends up a tad lopsided.  Take a trip to Bath and Body Works and spend the money on the candle that just screams holiday cheer.  Actually burn the candle...instead of saving it for a special occasion.  Make some random regular day a special occasion.  Fill the house with all different kinds of smells.  Cinnamon will always remind me of the holidays, because my mom would buy the cinnamon scented pinecones and put them all over the house.  The Macintosh scented candles are another scent memory I will carry with me forever.  The mixture of sweet apples and the cinnamon of the pinecones would blend together in my mind to create the perfect scent of the season.

Thats all for now friends!
to the moon and back,

Making A List - Journal Your Christmas 2012

I have never really been a list maker.  I try if there are a huge number of things I have to get done, to write them down so I don't forget anything, but I am not one of those people who makes out a list of things to do each day.  Christmas isn't different...I hate to write out the list of what I want!  I thought I might use this post to chronicle how I made it to my perfect gift on Christmas morning and then follow up with how the Bug makes her wants known.
I know that as a small child my parents would ask what I wanted and my list was usually VERY short and VERY simple...a ball...grover...a ball.

As I got older I remember writing a few letters to Santa.  I remember getting a Trunk with my name engraved on a brass plate...filled with amazing dress up clothes.  My brother and I spent many a day digging through that trunk for the perfect outfit.  One of my favorite pictures of my brother has him completely outfitted head to toe in baby blue (tights, leotard, shirt, hat and dyed to match heels).  He is a very handsome man, but as a little boy he made quite a lovely lady.

As time shifted my parents needed ideas of what to get to put under the tree.  I remember for more than a few Christmases we got cash.  Unable to scrounge up ideas for gifts they would give us money.I don't know why it was so hard for me to give them ideas.  I still have trouble asking for specific things around the holidays.  I want people to just know me and know what would make the perfect gift.

When I made the shift from child to adult the list needed was much shorter.  We exchanged gifts at home, but were placed in a drawing for extended family.  A couple of years ago this morphed again into a gift card draw.  Everyone buys a $25 gift card and then we draw numbers to see the order of who picks their card from the tree.  Of course if someone picks a card you really can steal it instead of picking from the tree.  We have very well mannered family, so if they know you really like your card they probably won't take it from you.  This has worked really well for the last couple of Christmases...I know I usually buy a card I want to have and then hope to draw that one off the tree.

Christmas with the Bug was different.  We mostly lived with my parents, and I was in Santa was usually a joint effort.  I would scour the Internet looking for the pink barbie scooter she just had to have and then my parents would help make sure to get it under the tree for her.  This was our Christmas tradition for many years...the trampoline...the tree fort and swing set...the T.V. and DVD player for her new room in our new house.  Once we moved to Fort Worth I took Santa back.  The gifts may be a little less extravagant, but the Bug's needs are smaller now.  One year it was several WebKinZ..another year it was a trunk filled with Harry Potter books...last year it was an XBox 360 Kinect (Mimi and PawPaw helped with that one.) 

No matter who financed the gift the Bug needed to make sure Santa knew what she wanted.  By the time she was old enough to understand the concept of writing a letter...Santa had email.  I love this...she got an immediate response and was so happy to know that Santa could check her off his list...I also could not be caught years later with an old email to Santa in my wallet (she found one of her first letters to Santa in an old purse of mine like 5 years ago....after lots of explaining and the convincing her that all parents get the letters their children write back on Christmas morning to keep...I still have the letter.) Still email was less risky.

So even though the delivery process is the same the way we have made our deepest desires known has changed drastically over the years.  Why not take a minute to remember how many holiday lists you have made?

To the Moon and Back

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Brown Paper Packages...Journal Your Christmas 2011

Yes it says 2011.  I took a look back at the Christmas I did NOT journal last year and stole this topic.  Wrapping paper...I read it and thought...what could I possible have to say about wrapping paper.  Then I thought more about what goes int he paper...where I get the paper...the things I have pinned on Pinterest about making my own paper.  Outside of actual wrapping paper there are all the paper goods that shout "Merry Christmas!"  The cards, the napkins, cups, plates, the garlands I have made, the garlands I have purchased, the cookbooks, the list could go on and on and on!  So for this post I will reminisce about some of my favorite forms of holiday paper...excluding my absolute favorite...paper money...heehee.
Every Christmas growing up I remember my mom pulling out this cookbook that was a compilation of recipes my great grandmother used to whip up in her kitchen.  The one my mom chose to use was Strawberry bread.  It was amazing.  Perfect mixture of the tart berries and a sweet breakfast bread.  She would make one batch and then another.  Checking her list over and over.  Who would be lucky enough to get a large loaf...usually my teacher earned large loaves and my brother's teachers got the mini loaf...just kidding if that was true it would be because I took so much more stress and work than my brother.   After the baking was complete and the loaves had been allowed to cool.  Each loaf got dressed for the holidays.  This usually meant red or green cellophane, and in the early years a piece of that puffy yearn everyone used on packages...then we graduated to curly ribbon...and finally ended up with the wired ribbon used today. No matter what the smell of this bread baking means Christmas to me.  I have even made it a couple of times for the Bug's teachers and my friends.  Mine never looked quite the same as my Mom's...I had big chunks of berries in mine and my bread was brown instead of the lovely shade of pink that my Mom always achieved.  I only found out the reason for my differences a couple of days ago.  My mom ran the same type of kitchen as my grandmother.  Stay out of the kitchen until it is time to set the table.  So I was never present when the mixing of the batter occurred.  Now I know it is a good idea to drain most of the juice from a package of frozen berries and then puree them...also before completing the mixing process add a few drops of red food color. huge berry chunks and a pleasant pink hue.  My mother is not magic...I am not a complete goon in the kitchen I just did not have all the pertinent information.  Oh well this is about the wrapping.  The crinkly of cellophane the joy in making the perfect bow...these things I can do..and I can do them well.

Abrupt change of topic

I also love shopping for wrapping paper.  I wait patiently for the day after Christmas and then I pick all my papers for the following year.  I go through each roll thinking about what person would love the paper dotted with simple ornaments...who would love the paper with the whimsical little penguins?  By the time I leave the store I have a roll chosen for every family member.  That way I will have a great variety of papers under my tree.  An explosion of color and holiday joy that is fit to be under a tree covered in handmade ornaments and the hodge podge of ornaments the Bug and I have been given every year since we were born.  I may not get the gifts wrapped and under the tree until Christmas Eve, but Christmas morning that tree is a sight to see.  Man...I want to write about my tree now.  That was the prompt for today and I did not think I had anything to say about a Christmas tree.  I was wrong.  So tomorrow...tune in...I will let you all in on the way tree decorating went as I grew up and how it goes now.

To the moon and back my lovelies!

Can you jut smell it...I can and t is AMAZING!

This is the idea, but I think my tag might look a little different!
This girl is creepy looking...but I bet I kind of looked like that while
waiting for the first piece of strawberry bread! are some of the papers I have in my closet...lovely coordinated...
but different enough that everyone can stilll ahve their own unique paper!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Time to Get Cozy - Journal Your Christmas 2012

I'm not sure how I feel about this title.  I mean I live in Texas...we don't usually get cozy until around February.  We are currently having temps in the mid 70s.  That type of weather doesn't really inspire me to hunker down with my favorite cocoa...or make me want to heat up the oven so we can make our traditional sugar cookies.  It also makes me think about getting "cozy" with that special someone.  I know gross...whatever....that's just what I thought.  After reading the prompt I remembered the perfect way I get cozy in a sub tropical climate...the holiday movie.
Thee Bug and I have several films that scream Christmas.  For a long time we would watch Annabelle with my aunt.  It is a movie about a calf and the special relationship she has with a boy who refuses to speak.  I don't want to give anything away but for an animated film it is a tearjerker.  As the Bug got older her taste in holiday films changed.  Now we have a couple of go to pictures.  We usually choose at least one movie to see over Thanksgiving break.  I remember heading out to Sundance theater after our huge Thanksgiving meal.  The whole family would go...I think we saw "The Santa Clause"...maybe "Liar Liar"..."Elf" there are so many.  Now I continue that tradition with my girl.  We went to see "Tangled" a couple of years ago and this year we took in "Rise of the Gaurdians."  I thought the sandman was adorable.   
Now we also curl up and watch movies at home over the holidays.  The Bug is out of school we have at least a couple of days that we get cool weather and we can stay in our pajamas cuddle up on the couch and watch something great.  "Elf" makes the home cut every year.  We can both quote most of it from memory.  Liar Liar is another favorite.  I have talked about watching the specials the show up every year on television.  Rudolph, Frosty, Charlie Brown....I may be more into these now that the Bug...but I know she will come back around to these...I did.  
So this is how we manage to get cozy in 70  degree weather.  We crank up the AC put on our flannel PJs and watch something great on DVD!  What do you do to get cozy for the Holidays?  Do you have a go to holiday movie? tradition?
To the moon and back,

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Plan for Happiness - Journal Your Christmas 2012

Almost 4 years ago my aunt, my daughter and I started what has become one of my favorite family traditions.  We have always loved driving around looking for christmas lights.  The Bug was born in December so for a couple of years her birthday party was to invite friends over decorate our tree and then head out with a thermos of hot chocolate and some christmas cookies to look for the biggest and best light displays.  It makes me a little sad that we did not yet know of "The Christmas Potato."  We would ooooh and ahhhh over each house...laugh a little if some poor sap happened to live next door to an amazing display and thought their festive red porch light would suffice.  One christmas we even tossed around the idea of "Humbugging" houses.  We would buy lights on sale after the holidays and then the next year if every ouse on a block was decorated...leaving one lone house with not a single light...we would "Humbug" the house.  We would take a few moments of our time...and a few strands of lights and decorate for them.  We decided this probably wasn't a very good idea...the family might be seventh day the decorations would be seen as a slap in the face of their religion...and that is SOOOO not the point of Christmas.
Back to the point of this blog...I have been fighting cancer for the last 2.5 planning any huge party...heck even attending any huge event can be draining for me.  Don't get me wrong...I love christmas and I would love to plan some enormous party....have everyone over...cook an amazing over mulled cider...but that just isn't in the cards...when I get tired taking a shower.  Enter "The Christmas Potato!"  This is a way for me to get some of my nearest and dearest together...pour a travel mug of cocoa...pile into my mother's van...and head out looking for very special lights...even better we get to do all this in our pajamas!  There is very little prep work needed for this get together.  Simply a bag of potatoes...some rubber bands...and a print out of the potato history.

The Story of the Christmas Potato 

No one is quite sure how the tradition of the Christmas potato began. Many believe it began in the later half of the 20th century when a young man tossed seasonal greetings wrapped around uncooked potatoes into the yards of houses decorated with Christmas lights. It was his way of saying, "Thank you 
and Merry Christmas." 

Before the advent of the Christmas Potato there was no way to easily thank those who brighten our holiday season with their unselfish efforts. Now each year children and adults alike look forward to the annual pitching of the holiday spud. 
But why a potato? The young man grew up in a town called Topeka, which for many years was commonly believed to mean "A good place to dig potatoes."

Like I said we have done this for three Christmases.  It started with The Bug and me.  We had 2 potatoes each and the night we went out there was even some snow on the ground.  I remember the first potato tossed was the Bug's and her first throw hit the window...rolling the windows down is important.  The second throw ended up on the she just got out of the car and placed it under a tree.  I guess we had dawdled in front of the house too long, because the owners came outside to see what we were doing.  Thankfully the Bug was back in the car so we simply shouted "Merry Christmas...Read the Potato"...and drove off.  The second year it grew to include my parents, and last year my brother, sister in law, their son, and 10 pounds of potatoes got in on the action!  Like I said this is the easiest way for me to plan some holiday happiness.  I hope someone reading this will take to the streets potatoes in hand and lest someone know how much you appreciate the effort they put into their holiday decor.  Be careful though...if you pitch the potato too hard you might break a 
window and that is not cheery at ALL!!! 
To the Moon and Back,


Here are some of the potato worthy houses from last year!
I think these look like cotton candy!!!!

"A" for awesome!

The Bug potatoed this house for her science teacher
a HUGE UT fan!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Greatest Gift - Journal Your Christmas 2012

I received so many well thought out gifts over the years, but the ones that mean the most to me are the ones thought up by my precious Bug.  Last year was easily my favorite.  I have an obsession with "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," more specifically the Bumble.  I love him...I love that he is the villain of an amazing holiday tale...I love that a crazy peppermint miner discovers the issue with the monster...I love that the elf who really wants to be a dentist heals him...I love that by the end of the story the Bumble is a meek...lovable giant.
Any time I see a Bumble I giggle like a child.  It transports me to a time when my life was much more simple.  A time when I could simply watch a program and get lost in the spirit of the season.  Last year I was renting a video at Blockbuster and I saw a display of Bobble-heads.  To my delight they were Rudolph themed Bobbles.  They had Rudolph, Hermey, Yukon Cornelius...and the Bumble.  I was positively giddy.  The bug was with me and watched my very childish display.  I had every plan of returning to buy that bobbley head for myself, but at the time I was having chemo every week and spent more time than not feeling very crummy.  I never made it back to that store and it put a small damper on my holiday spirit.  
We have a tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve.  This Christmas Eve the Bug chose my gift for me.  I usually let her choose.  It was a small box, but she always gets it right so i was very excited.  I had only torn a corner of the paper and I knew she had nailed my gift yet again.  I started ripping the paper, and revealed my very own Bumble Bobble.  I mean just try saying that without smiling.  The Christmas season came to a close, but I could not bear to put my Bumble away.  I didn't put him in a box with all our other decorations.  I chose to place him on a special shelf in my kitchen.  I know he is a  "holiday" decoration, but having him out where I can see him all the time makes me happy.  I do not look at him every day...I may go weeks and not notice his bobbley head looking down at me...but when I do see him...I am reminded of the child who loves me so unconditionally.  The child who watched her mother geek out over a bobble head and went back with her own money to make a Christmas dream come true.  
Rudolph is on tonight...I will watch with the Bug...maybe take down my Bumble...I will enjoy one of my holiday traditions with my precious child!!!!

To the Moon and Back,

Monday, December 3, 2012

Countdown to Christmas - Journal Your Christmas 2012

I remember waiting not so patiently for our Christmas decorations to be brought out of the attic.  The big black metal trunk and various other cardboard boxes.  The unearthing of our decorations usually lined up with the unveiling of Christmas decor around town...that meant the day after Thanksgiving.  We lived in a relatively small town and only really had a mall, a Target and a Wal-Mart  for our shopping needs.  So once Black Friday passed we could count on the foil trees hanging on street lights...Santa arriving in the Mall and Christmas themed decorations on display for purchase.  
My favorite way to countdown my time until Christmas meant I had to wait until December actually started.  We had an Advent Calendar we used every year and I remember it with great detail and fondness.  It was simple...made of felt...and it looked like a calendar.  The top half was a Christmas Tree and the bottom half was a calendar numbered 1-25.  The pieces we used to mark off the days were made of plastic and in various holiday shapes (toy soldier, holly leaves, ornaments, etc).  As each day passed my brother and I would take turns moving an "ornament" off the tree and onto the calendar.  Each cheerful piece of plastic got us one day closer to the big day.  I would be lying if I said we didn't have our favorites.  The candy cane and toy soldier would go first...the sleigh and ornament shapes would be some of the final pieces to make it down to the calendar.  The same pieces were always the final three.  Rudolph, Mrs. Claus and the big man...waited for their days much more patiently than we did.  On Christmas Eve we would move the "red nosed reindeer" and then head off to bed.  We would strain to hear the hooves on the roof...look out our windows to see the glow of the reindeer's nose...listen for the tell tale laugh of the jolly old man.  The time leading up to Christmas was so magical.  It was a time to believe in miracles and granting of wishes.  As our readiness to believe started to fade, our advent calendar started to show its age.  The velcro on the back of the ornaments might not stick quite as well as it had in our youth, but we still loved moving the ornaments from tree to calendar well into our teens.  I don't know what happened to that calendar...but I hope it is still in my parents' attic.  It is a treasured memory...and my favorite way to countdown our days before the big day!

to the moon and back my lovelies!
This is NOT our calendar but it is close.
You know of the close but not cigar variety!

My Manifesto - Journal Your Christmas 2012

Heres to the holidays
Everything about it...the sights, the smells, the decorations...absolutely EVERY little thing.  
The cursing from my parents about the lights that need to go on the tree.  The lights that worked last year and inexplicably DO NOT work this year.  
The happiness created while decorating the tree...hanging stockings...placing the advent calendar in its place every season...then velcroing all the pieces for the calendar to the felt tree at the top. 
Heres to watching Rudolph every year and passing that tradition down to the next generation...everyone needs to know about bullying based on appearance..RIGHT?!?
Heres to writing a letter the the Jolly man up North.  Hoping for the entire month that he delivers your one true wish...disappointment when you do not in fact receive a pony...unimaginable joy when you do receive Barbie's Palamino horse with a barbie to boot!
Heres to family with all its little quirks and complications.  Who will spend which days with which side of the family...excitement or sadness over which one of these groups include you.  
Heres to coming up with a new tradition for THIS season.  A decision to document my favorite month and preserve it on the internet for all that care to read it.  
Heres to Christmas and all the Joy it provides!

To the moon and back my lovelies!
everyone needs a BUMBLE in their life!

Christmas decor is the BEST!