Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A White Christmas has it's problems too.

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas
Just like the one's I used to know...
The tree tops were glistening, but the roads were bad, so bad that my oldest brother Tony and his family turned around after sitting in traffic for a half hour without going anywhere.  Sadly they spent Christmas Eve at home.
My brother Jeff has strep so he and Emma stayed home too.
They were all really missed.  It was the first time we have ever had snow related absence.
The luminaria were lit and we waited for the rest of our family to arrive.
 All the cookie trays were delivered earlier in the week.
 The tables were set.
 The family room looked especially magical.
 I used wrapping paper on the tables since we were entertaining on Christmas day for brunch and then again for dinner.  I know, crazy, right? 
 Little gifts for the older kids and the ladies who would visit.
 No china here.  We were expecting 31 for Christmas Eve.
 Showing off my tea kettle.  Haven't had one for years, but so handy to fill the carafe of hot water for hot chocolate. 
 A sweet gift from a sweet friend.
Found this at Hob Lob.  It was also on the cover of a flyer from Pottery Barn. ($69.00 at Pottery Barn, $20.00 at Hob Lob on sale 50% off, I got one for Elizabeth too.)  Worked perfectly to corral all the coffee paraphernalia.

 Little touches in the kitchen brightened things up.
 Jelly from the Monks at the Abbey in the UP of Michigan.
 Found this bag at the dollar store.  Might find a frame for it next year.  It's so vintagey.  Here it's hiding my box of Quaker Oats!
 The Dining Room.  Cookies still wrapped from the garage.  In recent years it's been too warm to store the cookies in there.   Not this the wind chill is 20 below!
 The music canvas I did a few years ago.  I found the banner at the dollar spot at Target and the wrapping paper I used on the tables, also music related, was from the Hob Lob.  Not planned, totally serendipity.
 The little tree in the living room.  One of our guests mentioned how sweet it was that it matched the tree in the family room.  Never even realized that.
 All the Churches lit up...
 and my favorite accidental vignette of all Christmas.
 Here's the guy who makes it all possible.  He cannot  resist making a crazy face. This guy, opens our home to the family.  The kindest, most generous and silliest guy. Love of my life. My real Santa.
 We kissed many times during all the celebrating...
 but never here. ;-) You owe me one babe.
I have to mention this shirt.  I found it at the thrift.  It is covered in fishing flies.  I don't think this man has ever fished, but it was  a quality shirt by Ralph Lauren and  my guy loves it.
A visiting baby friend named Henry found the most comfortable spot.  My sweetheart held him for about 2 hours while he slept.(Henry was fighting the sandman, but my honey has the touch.)  I don't know who was happier, Henry or this guy.

We had a great Christmas Eve.  All the cousins from St Louis came, so a certain girl named Penny was so very happy.  All my kids except Amanda were with us, Amanda went home to the UP with a tray of cookies from my kitchen.  Charlotte took home a tray on Christmas day to her family in Indiana.  My cookies get around.  Favorite moment, when my great niece saw me eyeing one of her gifts as we played the stealing round of a game we play..."Auntie Penny, you've known me all of my life! You can't steal from me!"  We all had a good laugh, and no..I did not steal from her.

On Christmas Day we hosted a brunch for Kristen's good friend Lizz and her family.  They have two beautiful boys, one is Penny's good friend Guy and the above mentioned Henry, sweet little baby. Jacob, Lizz's husband,  and his parents from Kentucky joined us and  also his sweet sister.  I had prepared a casserole earlier in the week that I froze and baked in the morning. I made scrambled eggs and bacon, hash browns, fruit salad and bagels and muffins with orange marmalade.  I also put on a pot of chicken soup, since our dinner on Christmas day is casual soup and whatever is left over from Christmas Eve. (We had plenty, a large lasagna and chicken) We had a nice visit, a comfortable afternoon with lovely people cozy under throws and even a nap or two.

Later after our friends went back to the city, Elizabeth and Greg and the boys came for dinner.  Jon and Charlotte were in Indiana, Tracy and Tyler and the girls were on their way home.  Just the closest family together for a quiet evening. 

I can't believe I pulled it off.  I had some (a lot) of anxiety about three separate meals in a short period of time, but it all worked.  Cookies and fruitcake for dessert, a pot of coffee on, and the warmth of family and friends filled the house.

By the next morning, all the dishes were done, platters and bowls put away.  The last of the boxes and wrapping paper in the recycling.  I was still opening gifts, sharing tidbits of conversations with my guy.  Sharing different funny things the kids said, and did. Our girl opening her gifts and letting out a scream when she opened the one she always wanted.  All the hugs and kisses shared with my dear nieces and nephews, grown into beautiful people with interesting happy lives.  My brothers, my SIL's.   especially my kids, God I love them all.  So funny and kind and loving to me and Dad but especially to each other. All my Christmas dreams came true!

On to the new year and I ask, as I do every year past the year 2000...WHERE'S MY FLYING CAR?

Happy Year dear friends.  Enjoy this beautiful day.

Love, Penny

Monday, December 18, 2017

Our Girl Turns 40

 My Decembers have been especially busy these last forty years because of the birth of our firstborn, dearest Kristen.  Years ago she designated this special time of year Kristenmas.  The festivities run parallel to our regular Christmas doings, but are celebrations of a girl born 9 days before Christmas and who changed our  lives forever.
We had Penny so we visited a local park to look at the Christmas lights. 

 Penny loves holiday lights, and has a list of what makes a good display.  Giant snow globes top her list, characters such as snoopy are a plus, and blow up snowmen and Santa's earn points.  No scary Santa faces!  This girl is full of opinions.
 She drives us hard, but her spirit and determination is endless.  We are putty in her hands.
 Who could resist that smile?
 We came home and inventoried the treats and decorations we had for Mom's castle birthday cake.
We had to wait till the day of the party to decorate, sheer torture for our girl.  What a great job she did. If you are interested, it is made with the Nordicware sandcastle Bundt pan. 
 Five and a half year old decorators do not subscribe to the less is more school of cake decorating.  We had so much fun.  Penny loved the cake scraps I had to trim and hated the wafer snowflakes. 
 The table was set for Mom's Birthday.  There is baby wearing the candy striped jammies Kris wore on her first Christmas.  They were made by a friend and will last at least forty more years.  There is Kris' Winnie the Pooh Blanket.  It was Kris' first but all my kids loved that blankey.  We had oatmeal pies and sixlets, favorites of Kris and Penny. 
 Remember when Sears had exclusive rights to Winnie the Pooh?

 Had to add a photo of this little arrangement.  I've looked for years for the birch (that I could afford), found the greens at Trader Joe's, found the crock at a rummage sale years ago.  Makes me happy.
Our beautiful daughter.  A wonderful woman and great Mom.  So glad to have her close so we can celebrate all of life's events together.  Earlier in the week we took both the girls to the doctor instead of going to Grandparents Day at Penny's school.  Penny had an earache and Kris an upper respiratory infection.
 By party time they both were so much better.
 My girl.<3 p="">
 All my girls!  A big surprise was the cousins able to come to the party.
Needless to say, we saw very little of them as they played.
These are the sweetest girls, lots of hugs and laughs.
All the boys and their girls were able to come and our good friend John and Greg and Elizabeth, Tracy and the girls. We had dinner together and enjoyed the cake and ice cream.  

 All of these girls are so strong and run and jump into our laps.  My crazy hubby gets them all wound up. He's hilarious.  Funny faces and tickles and rough and tumble as Grandpa's and wacky Uncles usually are. This time Charlotte F. (not to be confused with Charlotte W. my dear DIL) caught me when I was not prepared. Charlotte ran and jumped on me, literally knocked me off my chair, we fell to the floor.  I could have squished her but was able to support myself until she moved out from under me! Everyone ran over to see if I was alright, old woman that I am, but all I was worried about was Charlotte.  Sweet Charlotte was fine, trying to help me up, and I was laughing.  This morning I am fine, thank goodness and a memory made.  The day Charlotte took down Auntie Penny! How I love those girls, they make me happy.

When it was time to leave, Penny asked how big the container was I was sending home with leftovers for her... LOL  I knew that when things settled down and the girls went home she would be hungry.  I made a small container for her to eat before she left and a big container for today.  Kris had a great celebration, love from her brothers, SIL's (Amanda to be;-) Uncle, Aunt and amazing cousins, great gifts and many happy memories.

Time to make the cookies, do the laundry, clean up from our party.  This week will fly by, but I am determined to stay calm, enjoy the process.  It sometimes feels impossible, with all that has to be done to be ready for Christmas Eve.  Somehow, every year, all things fall into place.  All the "things" that were important, seem to fall away, when all the people I love the most gather.  Those precious times, when we are together are what I love most about Christmas. 

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and a new year filled with love and peace.
Thanks for your friendship and support.
Enjoy this beautiful day. See you in 2018!
Love, Penny 

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Moment to Breathe

 "To wake up each morning with a Christmas feeling,
to anticipate the day ahead with zest and enthusiasm,
to believe without a doubt that what lies ahead holds
all of your heart's desire--this is drinking of life's sweetest nectar." 
-Francis Cooper Thompson

 I woke up panicked today, so much to do, where to even start.  No time to write, my thoughts going in every direction...Then I took a moment to breathe...literally.  I just decided to take stock.
 We have decorated the outside of the house.  Simple and sweet.

 The house if full of special vignettes.  Some accidental, well really most are accidental.
Everything except the cloche was thrifted...lamp and mirror, candles and candlesticks...
 Churches and trees too.
 My favorite grouping, quite accidental but so serene.  Silent Night.
 A small tree in the living room.  Space it at a premium when the family gathers.
 My buffet, so many pretty things. gifts and treasures from the thrift.
 I put some tiny lights in the demijohn, candles in all the empty houses.
 Sparkles and wax pine cones in a heart shaped wire basket,
 A kissing ball in a sweet cage, teacups in a cloche, both gifts from Elizabeth.
 A candle in a birdbath, also from my dear SIL.
 Simple sparkle.
 Snow and pine cones.
 Lights cheer us on the darkest days of the year.
 Maybe this year my amaryllis will bloom.
 A tree in the little conservatory, more lights, more snow.
 Another gift from a friend long ago.  This creche plays Silent Night and is a favorite of Penny.  As I unwrapped it this year, I looked at Baby Jesus to see that he had been decorated...
 with Hello Kitty stickers.  Here they will stay, unless Penny decides to take them off.   I'm sure that Baby Jesus doesn't mind.  I like to think of a playful, joyful Lord.
 This is a very special place, it's Penny's apartment.  It's behind Grandpa's chair.  One day Penny started to take things from around the house, a photo, lantern, (battery powered) a pillow and blanket, and made a private place to read and pretend.  When I was decorating I put a small tinsel tree back there.  I occasionally move Grandpa's chair but when it's in the corner, I really enjoy when she makes herself totally at home back there.

 Some beads and twinkle lights over the sink.

 A cute sign on the curtains.
 Some Christmas linens on my drying rack.
 An ornament filled salt glazed bowl and Andy watches over the cookie cutters in another.
 My enameled pitcher holds a small tree with a sprinkling of stars surrounding it.
 A quiet spot to watch the fire.
 A new nightgown for Penny and one for her doll too.

We had a happy weekend with a party celebrating my niece Amy and her sweetheart Dennis' engagement.  All my kids were able to attend, but we were missing a few cousins and my brother Tony and  sweet wife Mindy.  Hosted at Larry and Lynette's Chicago home, we were minutes from where we grew up and the Church where my parents were married.  Amy was one of the babies I had the privilege to care for, not so long ago.  At least it seems like yesterday. What a beautiful and sweet woman she has become, and her beau Dennis is a perfect match.  Our family will have a wedding this year and next! My brother Greg and dearest Elizabeth rode with us.  Greg telling such great stories, most of which I had never heard.  Greg told me how he got in trouble with a neighbor boy I remembered.  They rode their bikes on what was to be the Kennedy Expressway, still under construction. How Mom and Dad found out, he didn't say.  I cannot imagine what that was like.  We were driving on the Kennedy as he told the story.  I do not remember a time when there wasn't a Kennedy, but just Googled to find it was called the Northwest Expressway until one week after our beloved President Kennedy was killed, that the name was changed.  Surprised that it stuck.  We don't take well to name changes in Chicagoland.  (Like the Sears Tower being renamed the Willis Tower, sorry , most Chicagoan's still call it Sears.)  It was an happy party and always great to see family and friends from long ago. Loved seeing my kids when I was not cooking and running around. I am so proud of them all and love them like crazycakes! (That's a lot!)

Now after a few more deep breathes, it's two weeks till Christmas, much to do, but I can't wait.

Thanks for stopping by and for your friendship.
Enjoy this beautiful day,
Love, Penny