Monday, December 31, 2007

Reducing My Possessions

Just yesterday I stated I would like to reduce my possessions by 50%. So, of course, I went shopping at Target for the 75% reduced Christmas things.

I returned home with two Smith & Hawken urns for summer topiary ($7 each) , two 4.5 foot lighted evergreens in urns for the front porch next Christmas ($18), and eight dozen cheap and cheerful colored ornaments. I want to make one of those shiny ornament wreaths. And at 49 cents a dozen. Well, it was a good price. Now to find styro circles for the base of the wreath. I also purchased two 9 foot lighted garlands for the fireplace @ $2.49 each. I can have fake greens now--no kitty. I had purchased dangly light strands for the kitchen (think Nigella's kitchen) but never got out the ladder and nails for installation. Is it too late?

As to the 50% reduction of belongings. With the weight loss these past 12 months (almost) I have had to go through the closet and remove clothes that were too large and couldn't be tucked or seamed or washed and shrunk. My underwear drawer is but a ghost of it's former self. My shelves of white tees, while still full, are not as full as usual. And if truth be told, I need to buy new shirts that actually fit.

The trimming down of my wardrobe has been painful at times (old favorites) and liberating. Each morning when I open the undies drawer I am so pleased by it's pleasant little folded piles. So neat. And everything is white. I enjoy the top shelf in my closet because the piles are orderly and small. I have few choices. And end up wearing only half of the things stored there. Isn't that the way we are? We wear what we love and leave the rest to pile up.

I think we do this with everything we own. I use the newest, best iron I have purchased and the others sit gathering dust. Nothing wrong with them, they just aren't the best anymore. I have my favorite sewing machine and the others are "in case" something happens to Numero Uno. I have my favorite scissors which are not the newest pair.

Last night, before I fell asleep I realized I could pack everything I now wear, in ONE suitcase or duffle. Everything. That thought made me SO happy. If we have an emergency, I can gather everything up and save all my clothes.

I have strong insecurity issues.

When I helped close up my friend's home after her death, and we sorted through drawers, boxes and shelves; chosing what was to be saved and tossing what was not usuable (so easy for a stranger to toss things), I realized we should all do this every 7 years. Why save what you cannot or have not used? When I saw the 20 or more cartons of just sweaters in the bedroom I was speechless. Who among us, doesn't have the same situation? And why?

And it is all useful. My friend's sweaters went to resale shops. Her fabric and thread (so expensive to purchase) to the local middle school home ec dept for sewing projects. Her art supplies to the art cooperative for handicapped adults. All the storage containers and shelving to the social service agency helping mainstream handicapped adults. Furniture went to the homeless shelter to replace worn items. We were thoughtful in our thinking of where things should go and why. And that was just one room in the house. The quilt room.

So if all of us could select one room or area of our lives and sort and give away (or sell) the things not needed in 2008 we will be doing something good. For ourselves and others. I know the women who are wearing my donated clothing are happy to have nice "new" clothes they couldn't afford to buy.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

End Of The Year

My Christmas Day Super Scrabble Game tiles. This was NOT a once in a game occurance but a trend in my game. At one time, after this photo, I had all the vowels. No wonder I came in third. More family holiday photos on Slambo's blog. Click on the link to the right.

A Goal Without a Deadline is a Wish.

The Deadline for my Healthy Eating Plan is fast approaching. January 8, 2008. The closer I get to January 8 the harder it is to stay on the plan. To counter this trend in "lack of self control" I added three months of pages to my food diary-- till March 30. I know. It's self trickery but we'll see if it works. Of course, it's the holidays. And I did eat Thanksgiving dinner four separate times in November with leftover days. And Christmas. I've had only one Christmas cookie (last night) and several thin slices of full butter chocolate cake. I was absolutely CRAVING chocolate cake. Especially the buttercream frosting. But now it's over.

When the deadline was close, I had such panic about not losing any weight in a week or two. And after 11 months, I should have been aware of the ebb and flow of my weight and comfortable with it. Not so. Now I have an additional three months to lose or maintain with no worries. It was always my intention to continue eating this way for the rest of my natural life--so I was surprised that my mind "turned" on me this way. I thought we were in sync.

Yesterday I bought kale, beets and a big butternut squash. The squash is peeled and cubed and ready for roasting along with the beets. The kale is ready for the saute pan and a balsamic vinegar drizzle. There's a lovely ham in the fridge waiting to be simmered in a liter of classic Coke for a "white trash ham" from my Nigella Lawson Christmas present cookbook. And Jamie Oliver has a new cooking show starting January 12. His food is amazing. Fresh from his garden. All my ducks are in a nice even row for the coming New Year.

The electricity stayed on so I will continue my post.

I am thinking about ways in which I can improve myself in the next 12 months. One thing came to mind as I was making the bed. I want to learn how to make buttonholes. And I want to make pillowcases out of fabric that I can't bear to use in a quilt. Somehow having these fabrics on my bed will make me happier than having them shut away in the closet, unused.

So buttonholes and pillowcases with button closures. I may need a tutor.

Eat more leafy greens. I happen to like leafy greens but my husband does not. So I rarely have them at home but order them in restaurants. So now I will eat them at home. And cater less to what my husband prefers and more to what I prefer. Novel idea.

Actually start my seeds for my garden in March not May as I usually do. Procrastination. And plant things I will eat.

Read. I check books out at the library with every intention of reading them. And they get renewed. And still are returned- unread. There is a reason. I love to read all the way through when I begin a book. Hours and hours of reading. With my life now--puppy-- I have to stop doing whatever I am doing and go for walks, or outside to smell things, or to dig holes, or to visit with other dogs. But I am trying to learn to read a few pages and "put the book down". And the puppy has picked up on my "cues" and when I pick up my book, he goes into his crate and naps. For awhile. Sweet dog.

Find dog friends for this sweet puppy. He needs his own little social atmosphere. And he needs to run and jump and play with dogs.

So. Buttonholes. Leafy Greens. Plant Seeds Early. Read. Dog Friends for Riley.

I will add one HUGE one. Eliminate 50% of everything I own in the next 12 months. In the past 2 minutes I have changed the percent three times. Half seems too much but 30 or 40% seems too difficult to figure out math wise. This way, if I have six of something--I just get rid of 3. There will be some problems with three of anything but there will be problems anyway. I can see Great Angst with my white shirt collection. But I have about 20 or more so I will console myself with my favorite 10 (or so). This is going to change my life!!!! A lot.

I can't imagine how much I will struggle with dividing up my sets of dishes, sheets, white shirts, pens and pencils, fabrics, vases, baskets, sewing machines, irons. Thank goodness I only have one car.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Morning

The sun is shining and there is snow on the ground. All is right with the world in this brief moment in time.

Christmas Eve was quiet. Not the bustle of past years with cooking of a large meal, last minute wrapping of presents bought but not needed, and finally climbing into bed so bone tired that sleep won't come. This year I cooked the Christmas Eve meal of Polish Pierogi on Sunday and served it yesterday. The few gifts that needed a wrap were five in number. Two for the puppy's first Christmas. While cooking the pierogi I was sending text messages to my son in California who was making his first pierogi with his new (from us) Kitchen Aid pasta attachment. He reported a "success" late in the evening on Christmas Eve.

Today we will open the prezzies sent from California and the few I bought and the gifts my daughter can't afford to buy for us and then we will walk the puppy and make Christmas Burritos. I wrote about this Christmas tradition last year but was asked to tell the story again.

I had to think back to just how long it's been that we have been having Christmas Burritos. And I think it's 17 or 18 years now. Where does the time go? That long ago Christmas day, I had completely forgotten to even plan or shop for Christmas Dinner. In my mind the Christmas Eve meal was so work intensive that I didn't even think about the day after. So when 5 or 6 pm came along my two college age children started wondering where their dinner was. I was stunned. Dinner? And Christmas dinner?

So I ran to the freezer and looked inside hoping for a miracle. I found a pound of frozen ground beef and two packages of tortilla wraps. In the fridge I found cheese and lettuce. A tomato was on the kitchen counter and onions in the crisper. I could make burritos if only there was a package of seasoning mix and salsa in the pantry. So a tradition was born.

I served the Christmas Burritos with a Christmas story. Each ingredient had a place in the Christmas Nativity story. The cheese was the Star in the sky. Tortillas wrapped the baby Jesus. The green of the lettuce and red of the tomato were the colors of Christmas and had something to do with the Wise Men. My children (18 and 20) thought I was completely crazy. The Christmas Burritos were spectacularly delicious that night. Better than they had ever been before or after.

I discovered, that long ago Christmas, it's not the big fancy gifts or food that make a memorable Christmas. It's the love and family that share the holiday with you. Tonight I will be sharing those most joyous and delicious burritos with my family. The work of minutes in the kitchen.

I send Christmas Wishes to all of you for a happy holiday, good food, laughter and friendship. Be at peace with yourselves my friends!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Riley & A Weather Rant

Riley is 8 months old now and loves his window and sunbeam. He can check out the squirrel activity in the yard and monitor the crows too. The sun keeps him nice and warm.

He's wondering when we are going out for a walk. Because after the walk we have lunch. And it's all about lunch around here! Until supper time.

The Wednesday snow and the general lack of interest in plowing shown by the Town crews (instead of plowing the whole width of the street they are now "suggesting" the width of the street) ended any chance I had for having a "little party" for Christmas. Everyone cancelled.

The streets are getting more narrow and sloppy with each snow. Pretty soon only one car wide. And the sidewalks aren't cleared. In every place I have ever lived, it was the property owner's responsibility to clear the public sidewalks bordering their property. Especially business owners. Not in Maine. In Maine, no one is responsible for anything. Streets not plowed? Cancel school. Sidewalks not plowed? Stay at home or walk in the street. Just remember to pay your taxes when due. Really!

Bah Humbug!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ready For Christmas

Yesterday I got the vintage plastic tree out of the attic (well, G did) and I decorated it after G had to fabricate a new wooden base. The vintage plastic stand crumbled. And I have a full bowl of plastic evergreens which have fallen off the branches. Puppy likes to eat them. Not good. This is one of a pair (I like symmetry) of snowmen I bought in a December 26th sale. The price tag on the bottom says $81. Everything looks so yummy against the yellow faux painted walls. I painted them in the week before a dinner party for 20. Years ago.

Vintage Christmas balls. I just love the "not too shiny" look of them and the pink, aqua and pinky red of the colors. I sometimes fill a bell jar and then top with a silver tray and turn the whole thing upside down. Very exciting and pretty.

Blurry. A rather exuberant green plant. This is rumored to have flowered at some point in life--before I rescued it from a dry death of neglect. Each spring I think "this will be the year it blooms" but I'm still waiting. It's good and pot bound now so perhaps 2008.

The repaired Advent Calendar. G screwed MDF (thin panels) to the back and it has less "flex" now and I hope it doesn't fold and fall again.

I got my whole house--well, not the kitchen yet-- ready for a small quilt gathering this evening. I was sitting and looking at all I had gotten done when the doorbell rang. One of today's guests had arrived a day early. We had little visit and tested out the puppy's "meet and greet". For an 8 month old puppy, he was amazing. The baby gates are down and Riley has free walking privileges for the house.

It snowed last night. So I have no idea if anyone will venture out this evening. No school today as the crews plow snow and clean the roadways. They cancel school here in Maine for almost any reason. In Chicago, 5 to 10 inches of snow or slush wasn't reason to cancel anything. I have a book to pick up at the library but the new director is closing the library all the time this winter. So it's probably not open today. The previous director closed for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Period.

I had a long, leisurely lunch date with my walking buddy yesterday. We sat in the window bar of the restaurant and got to watch the panorama of daily life swirl up and down Maine Street while we talked and ate delicious food. A shared Harvest Plate of roasted butternut puree, roasted beets, asparagus and sauteed kale with balsamic vinegar. I had the Greek Chicken Gyro and N had the crispy eggplant panini with pesto on homemade foccacia. We both had the crispy House potatoes. I had mulled cider and N had a large pot of French press coffee. Wow. That was some dense thick coffee. Delicious. And then we visited the three gals who own the restaurant -- in the kitchen. (we were the last customers to leave) I am nothing, if not shameless. I wanted to see just how tiny the kitchen space was. What I did see was a HUGE restaurant Garland. HUGE. The chefs said they could serve a full house up front and still have plenty of space on the stove to prep for a catering job to feed 60. And that kitchen was small. Now I want a big, black Garland!

After complimenting everyone on the beautiful service, perfectly cooked food etc we said farewell and returned to the cold snowy street. This is a small lunch only restaurant with table space for 18. And they have cloth napkins, nice plates and good solid Continental sized flatware. Not bendable aluminum forks. I really dislike paying $30 to $50 for a meal and eating with cheap flatware off crappy plates. My mother called me the "Princess" when I was a small child. It wasn't said with affection.

If anyone shows up this evening they will be served champagne in crystal glasses & Kahlua laced brownies with piles of whipped cream on very nice plates with silver forks. They will dab their lips on candy cane printed paper napkins. This "Princess" knows how to party.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ice World

The snow fell for most of Sunday. The ultra dry powder. And I walked the dog even though the wind was blowing a bit and the temperature was 10. Then it rained. Now the world as I know it is all ice. Rutted ice. Ankle breaking ice. Falling down and can't get up ice. Frozen to the mailbox ice so the mailman won't deliver the mail. Or as my neighbor said "any excuse not to deliver the mail". The snow you see in this picture (my back yard) has an inch or two of crusted ice on top of the packed powder. Hard on the puppy's legs.

My advent calendar. "It fell down and went boom" as my kids used to say (often). The puppy was nearby but I can't say he was involved even though he did have an ornament in his mouth at the time. Innocent till proven quilty. And he has perfected the "innocent" look.

My plastic Christmas tree is still up in the attic store room. No Christmas anywhere in this house yet. But I do have Christmas in my heart.

I bought two mangos when I did my grocery shopping and I have been having a few slices each morning before I make my oatmeal. Like eating sunshine. I have a recipe for a Mango Smoothie and have all the ingredients "to hand" so no shopping trip required. One cup mango diced, one cup vanilla or plain yogurt, half a cup of crushed ice and a bit of milk to thin. Blend. This is supposed to serve two. This maybe my "dessert" one evening this week.

The pup is circling his wagon and getting ready for a nap so I think I will take my cup of tea down to the workroom and load the CD player with Christmas tunes and topstitch a few things. I need a little creative time for myself. Later!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Let It Snow!

Wow! Every day, more snow. And Sunday TONS more snow coming up the coast. We are having light fluffy snow which is NOT good for snowmen or snowballs. The snow from last week is crusty from the really warm weather on Wednesday (36 degrees and sunny). I shoveled all the wet, slurpy snow off the driveway in a sweater. No coat. Felt like Florida!!!!! LOL. Lots warmer than the usual 17 degrees.

Riley and I are walking every day and trying not to fall down. I made it all the way on the double loop and fell in the driveway of my own home, right before I got safely into the garage. The pup thought I was getting "down to play" and things went downhill from there. He loved it. Me, not so much. G found the traction thingy in the garden. I lost it while dumping the veggies into the compost.

Today we walked and G did the snowblowing and then we all three drove into Auburn for Mexican food. I had a DRINK! A Margarita. And chicken fajitas without the tortillas. Loved every calorie.

Yesterday I made marinara sauce from scratch and it was fabulous. Used organic plum tomatoes from Bella Terra. Have no idea where I purchased them. Maybe Whole Foods in Portland. Served the sauce with eggplant I breaded and fried (I truly love fried eggplant and could eat it every day). I know I shouldn't do this but I'm weak.

Tomorrow back on the diet wagon.

My walking partner is back from Florida and tomorrow we will walk and catch up on all the news. It will be so lovely to have company--well, Riley is steadfast but his topics of conversation are limited. N and I walk, we talk, and have no idea how many times we have gone around. Until Riley sits down and refuses to go any further. Then we know we're done. Too funny!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Cards 2007

I took several (lots) of torn strips of green fabric and made a sort of woven surface which I then backed with WU and topped with lime green tulle. I ironed the piece to backing fabric and stitched. Then added some yarn. Two threads with little squares of varigated colors suspended. Cut the large piece of "fabric" into shapes. Then tore the watercolor paper into rectangles that would fit in the envelopes I have and added tissue paper and stems cut from the hem of a dress.
They aren't as unique as the ones I made last year. Every one of those was "one of a kind" and these all look like minute variations of the same design. But they are pretty.

I like the slightly wonky ones that don't sit straight. I always have liked that kind of thing. Now I'm wondering if I should write a message on the back?

Here are 8 of the 10 or 12 I made last Christmas from assorted collaged papers. Newspaper, date due slips from library and photocopied fabric printed in black and white. The photocopied fabric was WAY fun to make! and use. So much nicer than stuff from the scrapbook store. And it was black and white. I added handcut pink circles.

I think if you go into archived blog posts for December 21, 2005 you may find the painted trees I made that year. I don't have them in my photo library. I may not have blogged them. (odd) I would go check myself but the puppy and husband want me to go on a car ride with them.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Clementines and Christmas Trees

Is there anything nicer than a pile of clementines? So pretty with a sprig of pine. And the box I bought on Sunday was excellent. Only one weird piece. I have the rest bagged and stored in the fridge as the clementines seem to go off pretty fast. And I like them on the firm side and not all squidgey. The plate is handpainted Italian pottery from TJ Maxx this summer. I love that color green.

I lost one of the rubber traction thingies that go on my boots to keep me from a slip/fall while walking. I tried retracing my steps to find where I lost it. Not. Tomorrow I'll look again.

My husband had a bad day at work and is now feeling very sad. I think he really doesn't like his job. Likes being the "boss" better. Making decisions. Being the "decider" like Bush. But he also wanted no responsibilities. Can't have it both ways. The boss or the bossed. Salary or hourly wage. Either way, he's unhappy. I had a wonderful dinner ready when he walked in from work (one hour late) and chocolate cake from last night's party for dessert. I've done everything I can to change his attitude. It's up to him now.

Riley is chewing on an empty coffee jar. Folger's. He used to work on chewing the plastic jar for a week or more. Been 20 minutes and it's pretty much destroyed. Strong jaws. He's happy.

I finished my annual Christmas cards this afternoon (pictures tomorrow). They are drying (glue stick) under the weight of three books. Want them flat. Looks more professional. Now I have to decide who gets one. One friend-- the one who said "don't you have money for store bought cards?" will be getting a store bought card. Now I have to decide if I want to send an email "picture" of a card to those who send me e-cards. Does this count as "being naughty" with Santa?

I had to find the watercolor paper (Italian) in the attic, find tissue paper that looked good with the fabric I created (yes, I made fabric), cut everything into just the right shapes (winged it), and then used up two whole glue sticks in putting them together. The tree stems were part of the hem of a linen dress. I'm digging the cutting up of big clothes for "ART" purposes. I made Christmas trees again.

I'll show you some of the 2006 paper collage trees tomorrow along with the new 2007 ones. I think I deleted the 2005 tree paintings but I'll check. I know there are no pictures of the 2004 fabric trees--and they were way cute! I wasn't blogging then.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Saturday Suppliment

The days just seem to be flying by! I have been working on this altered book cover for days and doing a little something to it each time I walk past. Gluing things down and then ripping part of that off. Next on the agenda is paint. This is a book cover with the pages removed. You can work on the outside or the inside surface. I chose the paper side (inside) but with an Exacto knife you can carve up the outside surface pretty easily. Next time I'll use the colored outside surface.

I have been making little paper collages with creative direction from the advent calendar my daughter made for me. Each morning I open a little numbered envelope with instructions for the day's activity. Books to get at the library, collages to make, lists to create. I didn't make yesterday's collage-- instead I actually worked with fabric. And it's been SO long since I did that, that I worked directly on the ironing board surface and now am finding that I can't move the flimsy piece without destroying it. Before falling asleep, I realized I could pin it to the cover and then remove the cover from the board and "slide" (????) the piece off onto a piece of release paper. We'll see what happens. The layered strips that make up this piece are the foundation for my limited edition of ten Christmas cards. This will be the third or fourth year I have been making them. And people are asking when they will be mailed. Well, two people.

It snowed again last night. Light powdery snow that looked like glitter in the moonlight. Riley and I walked for 30 minutes at 7 pm. Nice and dark and quiet. Riley got an early Christmas gift from Sam. A battery operated blinking blue light that attaches to his collar. It also lights up the sidewalk for me. And it is a very interesting effect when Riley buries his whole head in the snow. Think blue tunnel. The blinking light can be seen by humans for about 20 feet and should be valuable for owners looking for their dogs at night. I hold on to the leash with a very tight grip. Usually Riley gets himself spooked by something and stays next to me like a burr. But I never become complacent.

I've come to enjoy these late afternoon /early evening walks. It IS cold (17). But the holiday lights are a distraction and I bundle up in plenty of layers.

We finally purchased a dog bed for the living room so we can watch television in there instead of sitting around the dining room table with the dog playing or sleeping on the bed he has in the dining room/great room. Now I can watch Tivo. I was seriously missing my Tivo. Yesterday I caught up with Project Runway (season 4 stinks) and the Holiday Top Chef. Today I will be watching the food channel all day while I do "things". And I have to go to the grocery store. (Ugh)

I purchased new spandex knit Perfect Pants at LL Bean on Thursday. Size Medium. Yes, size medium. I can't even begin to describe the feelings that came over me when I pulled them on and they fit. Nothing tight. No "stuffed sausage" look. And that glorious feeling lasted until 6:30 when I was seated with two friends at a local Indian restaurant telling my story of the pants. One "friend" said "you know they increased all the clothes sizes and the medium isn't a medium anymore, it's probably a large." Really. Do you think they increased the sizes in the last 11 months? I asked. Because the last 11 months is all that concerns me since I couldn't even wear the XL last year at this time. She just couldn't be supportive. Had to knock me down.

I don't care (much) and will take as much pleasure as possible in wearing my size medium pants and pajama pants. And, NO, I have NOT lost TOO MUCH weight. That's the second most popular comment I get. Geez, no wonder people lose weight and regain it so fast. All the "helpful and supportive" comments from the community.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

December 2: Advent Calendar

I used simple #5 shipping tags for the days and pressed on restaurant menu board numerals we have in abundance from our ten years as restaurant owners. I like the clean graphic look of these tags.

Next. I duct taped two insulation boards (15 by 48) together down the long center. The puppy got interested in the project at this point and things got a bit "difficult". I had a long dress made of this beige linen (which now looks quite grey) so I cut the back panel off and layered it with poly batting and stapled it all on, pulling tight so there wouldn't be any bagging or sagging. Then I used yellow head quilting pins (JoAnn's) to attach the tags to the board.

The idea here is to add an ornament each day. One I find in my house that I want to use or a new one that I make (I added glitter snow to a pine cone Riley and I found yesterday on our morning walk). It's possible that I will even buy an ornament for this calendar.

The little bell is an ornament I made 30 plus years ago with a neighbor. I found it in the bottom of the desk drawer last night. I have the extra beads and instructions in a worn brown paper bag that I have carried from house to house all these years. I told my husband that I will probably take it to the nursing home with me. Still pondering on those instructions. Which are not quite all there.

My daily horoscope is again right on the money.

Take another look at the big problems that you think are blocking your path toward progress, and you will see that they are actually just minor setbacks. Rather than keep you from moving forward, they are merely forcing you to devise a new way to navigate around them. They're doing you a favor -- they're reminding you that you need to utilize your creativity a lot more often when you are dealing with problems. There are multiple ways to solve any issue, so why don't you find a unique one?

I felt wonderful making the Pottery Barn calendar. It was good to be doing something. And it changed the emotional texture of the rest of the day. Today my task is a monochromatic collage from the "creative advent calendar" my daughter put together for me. Each little daily envelope has a creative suggestion inside for something to do that day. This is a very good thing. Would be a good product to sell.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

December 1 : Five Happy Christmas Memories

I asked my daughter to add little suggestions to the advent calendar she made for me last Christmas. This suggestion was in envelope number 1.

1. Cleveland, Ohio. Halle's Seventh Floor Winter/Toy wonderland. Mr. Jingaling.

2. Christmas Eve with my Dad. My dad was a city policeman and worked as much overtime as he could during all holidays to save money to buy us a house. On Christmas Eve he would be home in the late afternoon (dark) and my brothers and I would walk through the neighborhood with him looking at the Christmas lights. My mom would join us along the route. When we got home we were encouraged (the first time) to go up on the porch and look in the windows to see if Santa had come. He HAD!

3. Advertising was so closely tied to Christmas when I was little. Santa and Coke. This was the ONLY time of year my parents purchased Coke. A six bottle carton of tiny green glass bottles. One for each of us (3 kids, mom and dad and Santa). We drank our little bottles on Christmas Eve. Ever so slowly. And placed the one for Santa next to the cookies we had made for him.

4. Christmas in Europe. When we lived there for 6 years I loved every Christmas moment. The advent wreaths and candles. The Christmas Markets after dark. The tiny trees with white lights only on roof tops and balconies; marking the way for the three wise men on their journey. Following a church group into the woods across from my German house and standing with them in a clearing in the woods, moon light, singing "Silent Night" in German.

5. The week after Christmas, 1979 or 80, I think. Bolingbrook, IL. Our family room. G was home for the week (he traveled 2 weeks each month to Europe) and he set up a card table in the family room and constructed my large saltbox doll house while the kids played with their Christmas toys and watched Christmas television. We may have gotten our first pet that year. Sam's kitten.