Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Santa Chronicles

This is me with what use to pass for a Santa back before Santa school, real beards, and Kris Kringles who could make a tidy year's salary between Thanksgiving and Christmas at the mall.  You've got to love the Buddy Holly glasses on him and the red cowgirl boots on me.

Okay, and that Santa is in a trailer with bad wood paneling in the parking lot of a K-Mart.

I think it helps to focus on the boots...

Is it just me or does time fly faster than Santa's reindeer?

1985 The Pretty Princess was 2 weeks old.
It became an annual tradition and I was nearly obsessive about it. I was determined for my kids to have their pictures made with Santa EVERY year until they were 18 or so. It sounded so easy in the beginning. You take the baby, and eventually babies, stand in line, plop them on Santa's lap while some teenage girl in an elf costume tries to get them to smile, snap! Pay here.

Here's your photo...

She really wasn't sure about this at all but by the following year she had made up her mind.

She was terrified of Santa.

Well, the costume is a really bad one, I'll admit. I finally had to tell the photo elf to just take the picture screams and all.

A year later she had discovered HE BRINGS PRESENTS! Well NOW we are talking.

I'm thinking this was a My Pretty Pony, Cherry Merry Muffin, Care Bear discussion...

Around this time she realized the whole Santa visit was also a photo op.

Now she's just working us...and Santa.

She is still VERY good at this. 


Sharing the spotlight.


Well he can't ask for much, right? 

This was the year we discovered a nearly authentic version of Santa. He even had me fooled.

This is my all time favorite.

So precious.


I miss that.

The haughty Mr. Snarky made his first holiday appearance in '93.

His expression sums up his whole attitude.

You gotta problem with that?
 While waiting in a long line for our chance to visit with Mr. Claus Mr. Snarky disappeared. Two parents and two grandparents were looking frantically for him when we heard a man yell "HEY! That's not my kid!" My husband and I exchanged glances that said "No. He would be ours." There he was, sitting on SC's lap with another boy. When we asked him why he cut in line he just said "He's right there, why are we standing around?"


A couple of years came off without a hitch and the kids looked forward to it.
This was the year the malls discovered if they took real photos instead of Polaroids they could charge fifteen dollars instead of two.

The princess is in the braces years, Mr. Snarky is in the full throes of Legomania (symptoms include a crazed facial expression whenever the toy is discussed).

Time just kept marching on...

and on...

The kids got older, the lists got longer, the Santas got better and the photos got more expensive. 
We had just returned from London, where I had wanted to have the Santa photo made but was informed that the kids would have to STAND next to Father Christmas as sitting on his lap was considered...sort of suggestive.

Oh heaven help me, are they kidding?

We all especially love this one of Mr. Snarky...

He recovered nicely the next year from whatever was wrong with him, part of which was probably my decision to let him wear whatever he wanted. Clearly, in this picture his sister and I had laid down the fashion law.

The photo above was the last year I insisted they get the photo made.

The next two years they missed doing it so much that the following year they went and secretly had it made, framed it and gave it to me for Christmas. There was almost a tear.


In 2011 my daughter's darling husband joined our family. Her brother is glad to be off the hook as her holiday photo companion. 
My daughter's new Christmas photo companion: her darling husband.

2012    Who needs Santa?


Thursday, December 20, 2012

The End Is Near

I'll admit this year I was kind of hoping those Mayans were correct and not just that they got bored working on their calendar decided it would be more fun to play a joke on us. A joke with a punch line that comes centuries later. Sure, Mayans, laugh it up.

Of course I'm not really counting on the whole thing falling apart tomorrow, or I wouldn't have rushed around yesterday finishing my Christmas shopping. Dang, it's just Y2K all over again. These end of the world prophets just keep disappointing me. I actually am going to have to clean out those closets and find storage for all this Christmas crap one more year, I just know it.

 I'm going to have to see more commercials for Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (clearly civilization has already ended and none of us are very bright). I'm going to have to worry that we're going over the fiscal cliff. I'm going to have to get new tires. I'm going to have to call my mother.

Way to go Mayans. Way to go.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

No Idea What to Wear? A Little Black Dress of Course.

Silliness was in the air last week while 2 friends and I spent a week on the Georgia Coast together, laughing hysterically and wreaking havoc wherever we went. One of the highlights of the week was attending the Little Black Dress Show at the SCAD Museum of Art. If you can't make it there before it ends in January here are some pics: 

One wicked queen gown for wearing to run the world. Yes, please.
The only way I'd get married again. In black Oscar DeLaRenta.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Soul Mate Reunion 2012: Settling In

The cure for whatever ails you is probably large doses of time with people who love and care about you. Your tribe of friends is actually much better for helping you find your way than even the best compass. I'm in Savannah Georgia at the home of my friend, The Food Maven for a week of relaxing, reconnecting, re-energizing. This year we are joined by our other dear friend. Our hostess has deemed this week, Soul Mate Reunion 2012.

I bought my travel companion and I matching compasses to wear around our necks as pendants. On the flight from ATL to JAX I decided to photograph mine against a backdrop of clouds out the window.

Can we all just take a moment out of life to breathe deep and orient ourselves?

 There's nothing like arriving at your temporary home to find that your hostess has left a collection of little welcome gifts by your bedside. how well does she know me? Chocolate and hand sanitizer? Burt's Bees and Starbucks?

Soul Mate.

Here are a few other pics from the first 3 days:

 A couple of months ago when we were in Estonia we bought these slippers. Felted wool, hand made, they were just about the cutest things I'd ever seen. I'm wearing mine on the right, one of her daughter's is on the left.

Everyone thinks they look like the evil Nutcracker mice.

The breakfast of champions.

Off to the church to cook dinner for a hundred people or so.

How I'm getting my beagle fix this week.
View from the back porch in coastal Georgia.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Shoe String Chic: Thrifting and the Frugal Girl

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that just as the name implies, I don't think that vast sums of cash are needed to live a good life. Many things offer us priceless intrinsic value and fill life with its true richness and meaning. If there is a less expensive way for me to get what I want then that is what I'll do. You can live your best life possible even with limited resources. That thinking applies to my wardrobe. Clothing along with furniture is one of the places where an "investment" depreciates almost completely and immediately. It is my favorite place to be clever with money. The trick is to do it so well, that no one can believe your wardrobe is a second hand one.

I've been shopping at thrift stores since the mid 80s when it was just me and a bunch of homeless people. In those days you could still find treasures of the 50s and 60s, authentic Hawaiian shirts, vintage classics, and hippie garb that faintly smelled like pot. Today the scene is a bit different. Thrifting has become socially acceptable. And thrift stores have become big business.

Here are my rules for wardrobe slumming in high style:

All thrift stores are not alike. Digging through piles of dirty clothing is unappealing to me, even if the clothing is free. Generally, the Goodwill and Salvation Army stores have things sorted and organized neatly. It isn't all that unusual to find things with the store tags still attached, like this silk dress I scored last week. I was much happier to pay $4.99 than the original price.

Love this exotic silk tunic!
Dry cleaning is a myth for most things. I suspect a lot of quality items end up being donated due to the expense and extra time of cleaning. Most things will come out nicely with a hand wash in the sink or by using that setting on your washing machine. Even if you ruin a piece of clothing (which has never happened to me btw) you are only out your $3 or $4 dollar investment. The person who originally paid seventy to eighty dollars for the garment was less likely to take a chance with it.

Try everything on. Taking home a dozen "bargains" only to find out that ten of them don't fit, is disappointing.  Go prepared to use the dressing rooms.

Shop for fabrics that might be cost prohibitive if purchased new. All of the silk and cashmere in my wardrobe comes from thrift stores or antique shops. I'm defenseless against vintage silk scarves and cashmere sweaters or gloves.

Look for one-of-a-kind items. I like to look for the funky and unusual. Vintage handbags, souvenir scarves, or things that have delicate workmanship. You can buy a polyester top any day. Step up your game for thrifting.

Check things carefully. I am distressed by the amount of things discarded because their owners didn't know how to care for them. You won't be able to save a wool sweater with moth holes, but I've come across many garments that were worth replacing a button or stitching up a ripped seam. 

 A full 80 -90%  of my wardrobe is from thrifting and swapping. Clothing is one of those areas where you can spend next to nothing without sacrificing quality if you do it right.

       Being well dressed is a beautiful form of politeness.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Eastern Wisdom Meets Western Science

Turmeric, ginger, peppercorns
I'm feeling under the weather this weekend so my foggy brain is digging around in the archives. I've been drinking my favorite cold remedy and thought I'd share the recipe with you. You aren't guaranteed not to get sick no matter how healthy you are, but you can take steps to shorten the length of your suffering.

Western medicine sends us off to the cold/flu aisle at the drugstore for something full of ingredients we can't pronounce when we don't feel well. Eastern tradition tells us we might be better off in the spice aisle at the grocery. 

 Right before my daughter's wedding she came down with a dreadful cold. My friend, and fellow blogger The Food Maven sent me a recipe for a cure. It seems her mother was traveling in Ireland and was in a pub with a cold (her, not the pub). The owner, a man from India, suggested a spoonful of turmeric and honey. Mommy Maven followed the advice and was all better the next day! My daughter got better so I never did make it. Earlier this week I was feeling a bit under the weather myself and decided to try it out, but you know I had to do some research first.

I came across many variations on several websites, they all seem to differ slightly. I liked one posted by blogger Arun Shanbhag, who remembers his grandmother making this for him.

I prefer to cook it on the stove
Here is the link to his blog post: Turmeric Milk: Soothing Elixir, in which he explains the history and science behind this potion. I changed a couple of things. I'm a firm believer in the power of green tea (Read about the health benefits here) so I made power packed infusion (1 family size tea bag to 1/4 C. water) to mix the turmeric in instead of water. I didn't have fresh ginger on hand but I did have some of the dried/candied sort, and I used coconut milk because dairy products are known to increase mucus production, something we are trying to lessen, and have other negative side effects for many. In an update on his site Arun added this comment: "Scientists have demonstrated that when curcumin is ingested along with a peppercorn extract, the ability of our body to absorb and utilize curcumin increases dramatically, up to 2000%. "

I made a cup complete with peppercorns and took it at bedtime. I woke up feeling much better, and yes--energized! So I'm a convert. The dried ingredients premixed would make a great gift for a friend who's suffering from a cold. The fact that it's home made and wasn't concocted by a pharmaceutical company is comforting in its own way. Here's my version but the internet is full of ways to tweak it; find one that you like.

The Housewife's Recipe:

1/4 C of very strong green tea
1/2 ts turmeric
Power it up with peppercorns! Delicious!

1 ts candied ginger
1 ts honey
a few peppercorns, whole
a mug of coconut milk

Dissolve turmeric in hot green tea, add to milk with ginger, honey, and peppercorns and stir over medium heat until hot. Let sit for 5 minutes before drinking.

Cheers to your health!

*Of course if you have a fever or cough that doesn't go away you should see a doctor.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Bee's Knees: Local Backyard Honey

 If you've been paying attention then you will know that over the course of the spring and summer, and into the fall a little miracle has taken place.

Miracles take place all the time of course, but in our busy lives we often forget how miraculous the world is.

Wondrous and sometimes magical even. That was the main lesson I learned from the hive this year. 

I was hoping for a little honey. I hoped it would taste okay. I hoped I didn't ruin it somehow....

Such a lot of worry for something designed to make life sweeter.
In the end the bees and I kept our agreement. I tended them and they tended the honey. I was surprised to get 2 1/2 gallons which (aside from what I ate right off the frame) came to 24 half pint jars, 2 quart jars, and an extra pint for us to eat right away. I'd say for my first beekeeping season, my girls and I did alright. Looking forward to another hive and more honey next year...SWEET.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day: A Mother/Daughter Tradition

Mothers and daughters share all kinds of special things. If we're all being honest lots of the special moments involve shopping and eating. But sometimes an unexpected bonding event works its way into a family. For us, one of those moments is election day. One of the things I hoped to instill in my kids when they were young was a love of country and a sense of the importance of good citizenship. I actually expected that once she was married and voting in her third presidential election she'd just go and do it on her own. But I got a call this morning asking when we were going. I'd actually already gone, but made plans to go with her anyway.

Gotta have that photo ID in Tennessee!
If only everyone was so excited about their right to vote. The poll workers were sure she was a first time voter. I am amused by the "Please turn cell phones off" sign. The Millennials are so not going to do that. And by the way only 18% of them (21-29) are going to bother to vote.