Thursday, December 31, 2009

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Victorian Lady, Poem

Christmas wasn't EXACTLY what I had expected or hoped for.  DD came down with the stomach flu on Christmas Eve.  I got it on Christmas Day (sheer agony!).  DH followed us by getting it the day after Christmas.  Probably the worst Christmas I ever had :(  We had already made arrangements for my mom to spend Christmas at my sister's house because of expected bad weather -we didn't want to take the chance of not being able to get to her place.

But because I was prepared, we had plenty of food and drink in the house.  But it was by sheer luck that we had enough toilet paper & pedialyte on hand.  So for next year, I think I will be sure to have an Emergency Illness Plan as well.  How miserable to be sick on Christmas and have to leave home in search of medicines & soothing goodies!

I am hoping that your Christmas wasn't NEARLY as icky as mine!  We're going to try and make New Year's Eve a little more special than usual to make up for last week.  Mind you, usually we do NOTHING for New Year's Eve so it won't take much.  I purchased flowers for the table yesterday so it looks festive.  We have sparkling drinks (both grown-up & kiddie versions) and once again, plenty of food.

A huge Thank You to my Flying Partners for making this such a relaxing Holiday Season!

A Mothers Ramblings
Typical Ramblings, Atypical Nonsense

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A FlyBaby's Day Before Christmas

Santa Always Welcome

Twas the day before Christmas
And all through the home
All surfaces were gleaming
From hardwood to chrome.
I remember how dreadful it was last year,
Before I learned habits, CHAOS lived here.

The stockings were hung in early December with care
Knowing that FLYLADY presents soon would be there
The children were off all making their beds
While visions of feather dusters danced in their heads.
And me with my tea had just Royal Ragged the last tap
Decided I would be pampered with a well-deserved nap.

When out on the porch there arose such a clatter
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Away to the clean window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutter and threw up the sash.

The sun on the breast of the freshly shoveled snow
Gave a luster of paradise to the objects below.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a miniature cooper decorated with reindeer.
With a little old driver so lively and aware
I knew in a moment it was Great Aunty Adair!

More rapid than timers my children I found
And handed out duties to all around
Now Janey,you swish and Tommy, you swipe,
Petey, you dust then the counters you'll wipe!
Jenny will sweep the stairs and the front hall,
Max will finally put away his football!
You've got your orders no need to stall -
Now Declutter Away, Declutter Away, Declutter Away ALL!

As luck would have it, my weekly home blessing was done
But I wasn't expecting to entertain anyone.
A quick crisis clean was all we could do
But the routines we had made would pull us through.
And then in a instant I heard the front bell
And the familiar voice of my Great Aunty yell.
As I opened the door and turned around,
In come Great Aunty with a leap and a bound.

She was dressed in all purple, with lace-on shoes to boot,
And her clothes were all pressed, a lovely new suit
She seemed quite surprised we let her in the front door
For CHAOS had kept her from visiting before.
Her eyes searched for clutter, but none did she find
She was welcome to look for I did not mind.
A gleam in her eye and a twist of her head,
But my kids had done well, there was nothing to dread.

She spoke not a word but looked high and low,
Nary a speck of dust found on any objects, you know.
Laying a clean finger aside of her nose,
She gave me a nod and produced a red rose.
I sprang to the door, to my kids gave a shout
They all rushed right in for they loved having Aunty about.
And I heard Aunty exclaim with great Holiday cheer
I can see that you all follow the Flylady here!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sparkle Christmas Snow

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nearly Done Now

Deco Merry Christmas with Tree and Presents

Wow -just ONE MORE WEEKEND before Christmas!  I have so many little odds & ends to finish up.  Presents to wrap, one more package to send, supplies for school party, and 1 last major food shop.  But I don't think I'll be up until the wee hours of the morning to get things done at the last minute :-D  Hopefully I'll be able to take most of our gifts & food to my sister's next weekend so that on the day of our family party I can just head to her place (I'll be working the morning of our party).

I would have liked to be further along since I ended up with three bonus days at home this week thanks to the weather.  But I didn't count on how time consuming it would be to keep DD & the dog from hurting each other.  We are babysitting my mom's dog Seamus (maltipoo puppy 9 months old) for the time being.  She has just had a hip replaced & we all figured it would be best if she didn't have a dog constantly under foot during her healing time.  At any rate, it is very stressful to have a puppy & a toddler under the same roof.  I'm really wishing we would have put in a fence this last summer because then at least I could kick him out to play.  But it will be so much easier for Mom to get better if she's not worrying about him or having to take care of him.  Good thing both he & DD are cute!

It is the last full week of school too.  I have plenty of work to keep the kids busy, and LOTS of projects which they love.  The decorating is done, but we had to disable the lights on our wreaths.  DD just couldn't keep her hands off the cords and for safety's sake, they are unlit.  I'm sure we'll plug them in on the big night.

Merry Christmas, Man. Dig Those Crazy Elves

One good piece of news: I thought DD's Santa cookie plate was lost to us forever, but I found it this past week.  I'll just pop it in the shadow box along with the Santa Key (note to self -still need to assemble this) and we'll be ready for Santa! 

I've been much more organized this year than I have before.  But one lesson learned is that I need to seriously declutter.  It is hard to keep various projects going when there is no where to put things out of the way but yet still be accessible.  I'm thinking that Decluttering will be my New Year's resolution.  Have you decided on a resolution yet?

Deer with Ornaments in Antlers, Illustration

I'll need to sign off now, I'm preparing the meat to put in the freezer for the Christmas Eve meal!

Don't forget to check out fellow Flybabies as they reach the Christmas Finish Line:
A Mothers Ramblings
Typical Ramblings, Atypical Nonsense

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Without a Tree

I may have mentioned this before, but my house is very small.  So small that we do not have space for a Christmas tree, at least not this year.  My solution?  Hanging wreaths on the wall.  I wrapped the wreaths in lights, and then simply hung the decorations on the wreaths.  They are up and (nearly) out of Turtle's reach -a few birds have had ruffled feathers, but so far no lasting damage has been done.


Picnik collage


And finally, the decorating project that I didn't want to divulge earlier because I didn't know if I could finish it in time AND I wasn't sure how it would turn out.  Lucky for all of us I did finish the project and it did turn out!  I made holiday curtains out of white flat twin sheets and ribbon.  I was hoping to create a crisp look by combining red & white (my fave holiday colors this year).  The pictures don't do justice to reality! 


I was going to use the giant bells as pull backs, but I got lazy & didn't want to drill hooks into my window frame, so I hung them at the top instead


The peppermint candy ribbon fits perfectly in my Cardinals & Candy Cane theme this season.  DH was wondering why so many bird ornaments were making their way into our home, too  :)

I still need to make the Santa Key, but as I was pulling out the holiday decor I realized that the Santa Cookie plate was missing.  I have a nagging feeling that it was broken last year when we put things away.........

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christmas Picnik

No, I haven't gone crazy and forgotten how to spell picnic.  I used the online photo editing website Picnik to jazz up a photo of DD to use in our holiday cards.  I went a little crazy and upgraded to the premium package just so I could have access to all of the fun stuff.  After editing the photo, I uploaded it to my Shutterfly account so I could have the pictures printed at my local Target store.

After I ordered the photos I realized that they won't fit in the photo card frames I had already purchased :(  So being the clever clogs that I am I went back to Shutterfly and ordered wallet sized photos to use in the frames that I do have (and got for $1 a package at Michael's).  These will be the ones I hand out at work.  When I pick up my photos tomorrow I shall peruse their selection of photo card frames -they had some scrummy ones there last time I looked!  So although I won't be quite as on the ball as Diane, I at least have a plan and most of the materials.  I should have time this week to finish the deal! 

The only thing to throw me off course is an issue regarding stamps.  I purchased holiday stamps last year and still have enough left over to handle this year's mailing.  But the postage rate has gone up since then.  Do I purchase non-holiday stamps to add to last year's for correct postage, or should I get new holiday stamps all together?  Your advice will be appreciated!

Of course this also means I have extra holiday photos coming to me -if any of my Twisters would like to get on my mailing list DM your address to me  :)

For those of you who may have missed my Twitter updates on Friday,  I'M OFF FOR AN ENTIRE WEEK!  Holiday Prep in Full Force.......

Don't forget to check out the Holiday activities at:
A Mothers Ramblings
Typical Ramblings, Atypical Nonsense

Friday, November 20, 2009


Christmas Dreams

Maybe it is the wine.....maybe it is the fact that I have some quiet time to myself at the beginning of a week off from work.....but I've been thinking A LOT about holidays and why this time of year is so special to me.

I remember the artificial tree we had.  All the years I lived at home it was the same one.  Maybe 6 feet tall, before lights were wired into the branches, super short needles at the top of the tree from where there was damage from a fire my first Christmas.  A fire started by the lights on the tree which was in the basement of our house and which wiped out my sister's extensive Barbie Doll collection.  And also scorched the wall by my crib in the room directly above.  Fortunately, my parents had gone out for the evening so my siblings & I were with an aunt at the time of the fire.

I remember the decorations for the tree.  The funky 50's shapes and colors of our glass ornaments.  The beautiful glass balls.  The ornaments we kids had made through the years at school.  Red and green garlands, and tinsel crinkled and shortened from being used year after year.  Whatever happened to tinsel?  I haven't put it on any of my own trees - is it even still available to buy?  There was this candle too. Round bottom, five sides, stained glass panels and silver glitter.  It had this scent.....I don't know what it was called originally, but to me it smelled of Christmas.

My nephews used to fall asleep with the thick Christmas flyer that Toys-R-Us sent out.  For us it was the arrival of the JC Penny catalog.  The number of times we would look through it, circling the items we wanted -I'm surprised we didn't break the spine!

I remember the special food we had.  My dad was in charge of candy making.  He was a typical dad of the time: made great pancakes and was always in charge of the grill.  But at Christmas time, he would take over the kitchen.  He would make carmel corn, chocolate rainsin clusters, chocolate peanut clusters, chocolate covered pretzels.  Come to think of it, if it stood still long enough he covered it in chocolate.  He also made peanut brittle.  I didn't necessarily cared for peanut brittle, but I knew that it was tricky stuff.  You have to get the sugar mixture to just the right temperature.  Dad didn't want me to get hurt (or be under foot when he needed to move quickly) so I would sit and watch from under the table.  When I was older I was able to appreciate the beauty of the sugar as it bubbled up in its carmel-colored glory in the pan after he added baking soda(?) to the mixture.  But while I was younger, I would watch from my safe perch while he moved to and fro, stirring this pan, mixing up the popcorn as it baked in the oven, checked to see if things were solid enough to move from the wax paper lined trays.

I remember the family friend who would dress up as Santa and come visit me at home.  When I was 8 & my younger sister was 4 I discovered he wasn't really Santa.  My sister took one look at him and said "Hi Bob!".  I was crushed.  The tape from the beard stuck to his face when he came back from "checking on his dog" did not support his argument that it wasn't him.

We had a fireplace at the home of my early years.  It felt right and natural, after all Santa needed it to get into my house each year, right?  It was great being able to hang my stocking from the mantle each year.  We moved when I was 11 to a home that did not have a fireplace.  Santa still visited us (for the sake of my younger sister), but it didn't feel right.

Perhaps this memories are so vivid in my head because I am very aware of the fact that Turtle is now at a point where she is going to remember these same holidays.  She already sees pictures of Santas or Christmas trees and says "Oh that's Christmas!"  This will be her 3rd Christmas with us, and I think it will finally be the one where it too will become a special time for her.  So I'm thinking about what traditions I want to start for her.

We don't have a fireplace, so there will be a special key that we hang from the door on Christmas Eve.  Last year she received from Grandma a special plate to put cookies on for Santa's reindeer.  I have purchased a shadow box for these two items so they can be part of our Christmas decorations and easily accessible for the Big Night.  Tonight as we were driving to Grandma's house we passed a park that had some trees lit -she was enchanted!  She also thought the street lights were part of the display as well, but I'll cut her some slack since she is a toddler.  I think the evening drive to look at lights will become part of the ritual.  Stockings will either hand from the entertainment center in the living room or magically appear at the foot of her bed.  This year may be different due to some medical reasons, but Grandma usually comes over on Christmas Eve to spend the night with us.  I make pastitsio for dinner, then we kick back and watch Christmas movies and tv shows while we wait for DH to come home from work (retail).  In the morning we open gifts from DH's family sent to us from Denver and now also, from Santa.  DH makes eggs benedict for breakfast, and a leg of lamb for lunch.  (Johnny Walker Red also comes to visit us on Christmas Eve and usually stays thru lunch/dinner the next day.)   Turtle is too young for an advent calender, but I'd like to sew one this next year for her.  I also like the idea of the special activity every night (Thanks DianeDenmark!) so I'll be trying that next year.  I also like the idea of the elf that comes to stay in the month leading up to Christmas.  He keeps tabs on everyone in the house and makes daily reports to Santa.

I think this may be the longest post ever!  Thanks for joining me down this trip down Memory Lane :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Its Beginning to Look A Lot Like........Chaos?

Let me begin this post by saying if you are related to me, please don't read any further.  If you do then I will take no responsibility for your discovering what your gift is and thus spoiling the fun.  Thank you.  And now, a commercial break to allow those who need to make a discrete exit:

OK, now that they have left the room I can fill you in on all the projects that have been dominating my free time the last week or so!

The biggest gift so far:  my wine cork Christmas Wreath.  It has taken two years (and borrowing from my sister) to get enough corks to make this one.  Yes, I could have purchased wine corks to add to this but that's not the point.  The only thing that was purchased new was the straw form (approx. $2.00).  The ribbon, corks and hot glue I already had on hand.  Needless to say I'm very tempted to keep it for myself.........


Next we have the Get Well Gremlins.  They are made from thrift store sweaters & filled with rice so they can be warmed (or chilled) when someone needs to feel better.  The little pocket on the front is perfect for holding a cotton ball or scrap of fabric with essential oil on it.   The original idea came from 5 Orange Potatoes, and as with most ideas, I've taken what works for me to make it my own.  The free pattern makes a gremlin just right for a little one:


I made a larger pattern to use for a grown-up:


I didn't think to take a photo of these two together so you could see the size difference, so I'll do that later.  I have another one in the making -they are very addictive!

Finally, I made some hand-warmers from scraps of old blue jeans.  They are intended to be for DH, but I may make another pair because these seem to large for his hands!  Thanks to Frugal Family Fun Blog for the idea  :)


Because of all my crafting madness, by basement looks like it has exploded.  Mostly that is due to DD being down here whilst I work (she's got to keep herself busy exploring & pulling things apart, you know).  At least the projects are coming along swimmingly:  I should have them done in plenty of time to be wrapped BEFORE they need to be given.  I have another project or two underway as well, but I'll keep those to myself until they are picture ready :)

Next week I have the entire week off from school -DD starts a new daycare on Monday, so I'll have a day at home by myself -an unheard of treat these days!  Thanksgiving will be at my sisters so no need to prepare my home for it  :D

Check out the Holiday Planning activities at:
A Mothers Ramblings
Typical Ramblings, Atypical Nonsense

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Holiday Traditions

No post last Sunday for the Holidays -sorry about that!  The flu hit my school & I came down with something :(  But with an extra hour of sleep under my belt, I'm ready to tackle more Holiday writing.

My younger sister loves chocolate covered cherries, and it was her tradition to get a box to herself each Christmas (I get Holiday Cap'n Crunch).  One glorious year I realized that I had a recipe for chocolate covered cherries in my trusty Better Homes & Garden red & white book.  My older sister & I adventurously decided to give it a whirl.  We've made them every year since then & they are our most requested item on our Holiday goody trays.  The recipe is simple, but they are a bit fiddly and time consuming to make.  We usually make a triple batch the weekend after Thanksgiving because they need 2 weeks to mature before eating.

Chocolate Covered Cherries

  • 30 oz maraschino cherries with stems
  • 3 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 3 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 lb Ghiradelli Candy Making & Dipping Bar (or regular confectioners coating if you can't find Ghiradelli)
  1. Drain cherries on layers of paper towels for several hours.
  2. Mix together butter & corn syrup.
  3. Stir in powdered sugar, then knead mixture until it is smooth.  (Chill 15 mins in fridge if too soft to handle).
  4. Shape approximately 1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar mixture around each cherry.  
  5. Place coated cherries (stem up) on lined baking sheet.
  6. Chill 1 hour (no longer or they will start to dissolve!)
  7. Melt chocolate coating while cherries are chilling in fridge (we use a mini-crockpot so chocolate stays melted)
  8. Hold cherry by the stem, dip into melted chocolate.  Once powdered sugar mixture is completely covered with chocolate, place on lined cookie sheet.
  9. Chill cherries until firm, then store in fridge in a tightly covered container for 1 to 2 weeks before serving.

Makes approximately 60 cherries.

White and Dark Chocolate Cherries

Monday, October 19, 2009

Christmas Cake

Baking Day




I haven't take a photo of the finished product yet, but it looks FANTASTIC!  The only regret I had was that I forgot to put on my Holiday Apron!

And don't forget, Flylady's  Cruising Through the Holidays begins today :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Holiday Libations

I was finally able to work on some holiday gift projects yesterday!  I spent an hour doing careful, beautiful embroidery work only to discover that my knots weren't good enough -DD destroyed the gift within a minute of having her hands on it.  I guess I would rather find that out now and not later after the gift had been given.  But still.....................sigh.

Today is the day that I am baking @DianeDenmark's Christmas Cake!  I have all the ingredients on hand, just waiting for all the folk to gather so we can Tweet-n-Bake together.  Unfortunately, Twitter seems to be down right now so I'm hoping it'll be up in time for baking!  I guess there is always Facebook Chat  :)

I had dinner with my sister's family yesterday as my nephew was home from college for his fall break.  We taste tested two sparkling wines to see if we had found a new (and less expensive) candidate for the holiday festivities.  But it got me thinking about Holiday Libations - or the Things I Like to Drink during this time of year and some recipes I would like to share.

Happy Hour

Merry Mimosas

This is a drink we like to have on Christmas Morning with our traditional Eggs Benedict breakfast.  It is super easy to make AND to drink.

Orange Juice
Cranberry Juice
Dry sparkling wine

Combine equal proportions of orange and cranberry juice.  Fill glass halfway with juice mixture, top with the sparkling wine.


Rusty Nail

This one I have yet to try, but it sounds intriguing.  I had to look up Drambuie to see what it was exactly as I am using it in the Christmas Cake.  Under the description there were a few cocktails listed.  I chose this because my mother spends Christmas Eve night with us and I always make sure to have Scotch on hand for her for our evening tipple.


Fill glass with ice.  Pour 1 1/2 ounces Scotch into glass, followed by 1 1/2 ounces Drambuie.  (Drambuie is last as it is heavier than Scotch).

Can't wait to report back on this one -maybe I'll try it at Thanksgiving  :)

Mulled Wine with Cinnamon Sticks

Hot Spiced Wine

I always did this back in the day when we had annual Holiday Open Houses.  I had to go in search of a new recipe as I lost mine last year & was pleased to find one that can be done in a crock pot. (Remember, my stove top is cracked & at this point I don't know when that will change).

2 quarts pineapple/orange juice
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
3 bottles red wine
2 lemons
1 orange
3 cinnamon sticks
whole cloves

Combine all the ingredients except the lemons & orange.  Add the juice of one of the lemons.  Slice the remaining lemon and orange and add to liquids.  For a fancy look, stud the cloves into the lemon and orange before slicing.  Simmer 30 minutes before serving.

Rhum St Nicolas

Another recipe I've wanted to try for years because it can be made with or without the rum.

What are your favorite holiday drinks?

Check out the Holiday Planning activities at:
A Mothers Ramblings
Typical Ramblings, Atypical Nonsense

Monday, October 12, 2009

Holiday Grand Plan Week 7

I can't say that I'm happy with the result of one of my handmade gift ideas!  It involves embroidery and according to the directions it should be super simple.  It is simple but the finished result was not spectacular.  I'll try it one more time & if it still looks funny, I shall set the project aside and concentrate on other things.

Like the fact that it is week 7 and I still haven't emptied my freezer of old mysteries so that I have room for new stuff!  I would like to get at least one batch of crescent rolls in the freezer.  I would like to attempt making some pumpkin puree as well.  I don't care so much for pumpkin pie, but there are many other pumpkin recipes out there :)

I thought maybe I would stick to the music theme for this post.  After all, I love Christmas music!  I sang all throughout High School and the carols were my favorite.  I would certainly never be an American Idol Competitor (even if I were young enough) but I can carry a tune.  I also have an almost embarassingly large collection of holiday cd's.  But nothing gets me in the mood for Christmas like music does -hope you find something new to add to your own collection!

Little Altar Boy  by The Carpenters.  I love my Carpenter's Christmas cd -mostly because Karen & I have similar vocal ranges so I can sign along to my heart's content.  I stop every time I hear this haunting tune.

I Saw Three Ships  by Sting.  This is on a Very Special Christmas collection -I think we still have it in cassette form!

*   Blue Christmas - (From the 1968 NBC Television Special) by Elvis.  Can't have a Christmas without the King!

*   Winter Wonderland by Tony Bennet.  This isn't the version I was looking for, but the cool swing brings back childhood memories all the same.

*   Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer  by Chris Isaak.  Probably my favorite Christmas cd so far - and not just because I have such fond memories of Chris!  Its a little Elvis-like, but has Isaak's guitar sound throughout.  I dare you not to bop around to this rendition of Rudolph!

*   Christmas Wrapping (Long version)  by The Waitresses.  No child of the 80's would be without this song on their list!   ......or even a SHE?  LOL

Last Christmas  by Wham.  I just can't stop singing this when I hear it!

There are just so many more songs!  Music like the Nutcracker Suite & The Hallelujah Chorus, Hank Williams Jr, Dan Knight, and the unforgettable South Park Christmas collection......(Note:  I tried to add South Park's Dreidle Song, but it wasn't on file for some reason.  Probably for the best because it would surely offend someone, but I have to listen to it at full blast at least once during the season.  Without DD around of couse!)

So when you start baking your Christmas Cake next weekend, don't forget to let the music play!

Check out the Holiday Planning activities at:
A Mothers Ramblings
Typical Ramblings, Atypical Nonsense

Drop me a line if you would like to be added to the list!

Christmas Decoration Sheet Music