Category Archives: Holidays

Christmas Stuff

Since I can’t think of a good way to relate the items that I’m going to show you, I’ll just list them:

  • In our Christmas house, we have a running argument about the lights. The boys all love the little Christmas lights and I want the big, old-fashioned kind that I grew up with. You’d think, since I’m the one who has to spend hours putting the lights on the tree, that I’d get to choose. Kitchen TreeBut, I can’t stand all the whining, so I give in. This year, I found an old string of 15 of the big lights, so I decided to put up a little tree in the kitchen just for me. I picked up a few of those Martha Stewart kitchen utensils on sale at K-Mart, some little candy canes, and called it a tree.
  • See those goodies under the tree? I returned home from my trip tonight to find a little surprise package from Sharon! She’s such a sweetie — it was totally unexpected. There’s a tin of tea, a yummy Mary Englebreit soap, a cute Christmas notepad, some Christmas kleenex, and an adorable little wool stocking with a gingerbread man on it (who’s very hard to see with the lighting!) Thank you SO much Sharon — I love it all! And, well, I really hate to tell you this, but Sharon’s having a little HUGE give-away. Run over there and leave a comment. And in your comment, tell her to pick me LOL!
  • Before I went on my trip, I managed to make and give a gift to a co-worker. I made her the Amy Butler lounge pants out of the chocolate fabric that I love and I added a little of the fabric to a ready-made t-shirt. Amy must be tall, because the pants are too long for my average-height friend. They’ll be adjusted after Christmas.
  • Chocolate Pants
  • While in NJ, I dragged a co-worker in to NYC on Wednesday evening for a few hours ’cause after my previous attempt, I still wanted to see the big tree. I also convinced my friend to go with me to check out the Macy’s Santa. My VERY favorite Christmas movie is Miracle on 34th Street, so I HAD to see the Macy’s Santa. I must not be the only person who wants to peek at Santa ’cause they have a separate line and viewing window just for peeking people. Is this not the coolest looking Santa ever? I wanted to climb right up in his lap and tell him my wishes for Christmas! I think my friend thought I was nuts.
  • Macy's Santa
  • Depending on where you are, only 3 days left. Are you ready???


Gingerbread Houses, Part 1

I’m quickly being sucked up by the red and green vortex that is Christmas. Things are spinning faster as the bottom of the drain approaches, and I’m realizing that everything’s not going to get done. I’ve put the good enough stamp on the decorating, the baking will be this weekend and I suspect there will be some late nights wrapping and sewing. I’m in New Jersey tonight for work — until Thursday. Santa gave me an early gift this morning — my flight from O’Hare to Newark was canceled, so I was stuck (oh boohoo!) in O’Hare, with no interruptions, sewing for several hours. I told MeMum yesterday I was hoping for a little delay, and I got my wish! Did you know there are times when you can be happy about airport delays???

Rolling Dough

Anyway, back to the subject. In our family we like to have a little gingerbread house competition at Christmastime. When I was 14, I found a gingerbread recipe and pattern in a Better Homes & Garden magazine and I’ve made gingerbread houses off and on since then. We don’t make them every year, but the kids seem to really enjoy it. Last year was the best yet — everyone took their time and put some thought into their houses.

Cutting Dough

It usually takes me a day to bake the gingerbread. Knowing that I would be out-of-town this week, I baked the houses yesterday so that they’ll be ready for our 2007 competition on friday night. Sweetie Pie was a huge help — we had a little assembly line going and she saved me several hours worth of work. Plus, it’s more fun to work together — we even enlisted the help of TheManoftheHouse to roll the balls of dough around and soften them while he watched tv.

House Pieces

People sometimes ask me why I don’t just buy the gingerbread house kits and save all the work. The cost would probably be about the same when you consider that the kits include the candy for the decorations. I think the size of the house is what keeps me making them from scratch. These houses are a bit bigger than the kits. They’re even bigger than the original pattern — I doubled the size. If you’re interested in trying to make your own, I’ve put the recipe for the gingerbread (along with some crude pictures of my templates so that you can make your own pattern), on a page in my recipe section. This really is a fun activity to do with kids. Heck, even the grown ups like it — I think BigDaddy was one of the biggest kids last year — his house came complete with a fire escape!

Winner 2006

This is a picture of last year’s winning house, made by the champion team of TheManoftheHouse and TheSecondChild. They built a frat house. I’m not quite sure how they won — I personally preferred the house built by my nephew and MyCrazyBIL. I think maybe the anatomically correct frat people who were partying on the balcony may have clinched the deal for the winning team!


Comparison Shopping

Exhibit AMartha Stewart Baker’s Twine from Michael’s.  I can’t remember how much this costs — we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt — $4.99.  So, that’s $4.99 for 72 yards, or roughly 6 cents a yard.


Exhibit B:  Bernat Holidays “Twists” yarn from JoAnn’s.  $7.99 for 603 yards, or a little over a penny a yard.


Here’s the side-by-side comparison — Martha’s twine is much thinner, but the yarn (and it’s a cotton yarn, so it doesn’t really seem like a yarn) is more colorful.


I’m going to have to go with the yarn.  I know it’s not Martha, but I can live with that!  I’m having great fun using it to tie packages.  (The handles on these bags are a thicker cording — the yarn has been used to tie the handles together and attach the little bell to the package.  The bells, btw are from Martha’s Macy’s line — $1.99 each on sale.)


And look Sharon, I made pretzels last night.  That’s some fun stuff!


Finally, I have the day off tomorrow and I’m hoping to get the big tree done.  We’ll see, I might opt for a nap instead, ’cause just thinking about how far behind I am makes me really tired!

Blame It On Rebecca

A few weeks ago, Rebecca posted a pretty picture of the Empire State Building all decked out in red and green for the holidays. I knew then, that if I got a trip to New Jersey, I’d have to try to go into NYC in the evening to see such a beautiful sight. (And btw, long post warning!)
As soon as my meetings were over yesterday, I jumped in the car, drove to the NJ Path Train, and hopped on for a ride into the city. I managed to get to Tinsel Trading just 10 minutes before closing time. I saw those cute little clown snowmen last year on the cover of a Mary Englebreit magazine and knew I’d like to try to visit Tinsel Trading during the holiday season. The other picture below is for Sarah and Pam — bottle brush trees ala Tinsel Trading.

Tinsel Trading Tinsel Trading

In an e-mail, Rebecca mentioned that I should try to visit the shops in Bryant Park. When I read that, I was confused — the last time I was in Bryant Park, there were no shops. Apparently, they put them up just for Christmas shopping. It’s much like a European Christmas market full of lots of artist and handcrafted booths. There’s also an ice skating rink in the middle of the park. Thanks SO much, Rebecca for the outstanding suggestion. Without your help, I would have never known to visit Bryant Park.

Bryant Park Bryant Park

After I walked around the park, I remembered that Rebecca had mentioned that the big Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center was up, so I thought I’d wander up there and see it. Now, as she’s reading this, Rebecca is probably thinking….”No, please tell me you didn’t go up there last night.” Oh. Yes. I. Did. How was I supposed to know that they were officially turning on the lights LAST NIGHT???? (In her defense, Rebecca sent me an e-mail yesterday morning to let me know that little tidbit of information, but I was without access to my e-mail all day.) I was merrily walking north along 6th avenue thinking to myself, “Wow, there sure are a lot of NYPD out tonight.” And a little later, “Boy, there sure are a lot of people out shopping.” Pretty soon, I found myself in the middle of a mob. A very well-controlled mob, I might add, but still. It was incredibly crowded. Here’s the view looking north and south along 6th Avenue.

Tree Lighting Crowd Tree Lighting Crowd

This is still a very long block away from Rockefeller Square. They had jumbo tv screens in the street and the NYPD guys said those TV screens were as close as we would be able to get. I decided I didn’t need to stand out in the cold for two hours, so I bailed out. I retreated across 6th Avenue, and took a picture of some really cool giant ornaments. I love this sort of stuff about big cities.

Tree Lighting Crowd Giant Ornaments

So. No big beautiful tree. Strike One. I headed back south and found myself in front of Macy’s, looking at all the fun window displays. I especially liked the windows depicting the story of The Miracle on 34th Street. I love that movie! Here are just a few of my favorites:

Macy's Windows Macy's Windows
Macy's Windows Macy's Windows

Empire State BuildingI was a little sorry I hadn’t gone into Macy’s to find the real Santa Claus. There must be one in there, right? That’s part of the story — the Macy’s Santas! I also didn’t check for any Martha ornaments — btw, Rebecca, we want to see your ornaments!  Anyway, I wandered down the street for the whole reason I came into the city in the first place: to see the Empire State Building in red and green. And here to the right, she is. Do we see red and green anywhere???? No. We. Do. Not. Strike Two. Apparently they have a lighting schedule and we are not in a red/green/white cycle. In fact, it won’t be back to red/green/white until somewhere around the 21st. Just in case you’re traveling to NYC, it will be white/white/white for roughly another week, then it will be blue/white/white (blue/blue/white? white/blue/white? whatever, it’s not red/green/white!) for Hanukkah for another week or 10 days or so. Then it will go back to white/white/white until the 21st, when it will go to red/green/white until after the New Year. How Rude!  I should have called ahead LOL!

By now, it was getting late and I still had a 1 1/2 hour commute.  On the way back to the Path train, I passed the Border’s at Madison Square Garden and decided I’d attempt Strike 3.  My search for the elusive McCall’s magazine with Holly‘s blogging article in it.  Bingo!  No strike 3 — they had the magazine!  Holly’s contest to be the first to find the magazine is over, so I was spared the indignity of taking a picture of me holding it.  I took a picture of it as it waited next to my Sheraton pillow for me to read it last night.

McCall's Magazine

Thanks Holly for including my blog header with the pictures — there’s lots of fun info there!  Holly also has an adorable quilt in the magazine made from her Lakehouse fabrics — be sure and check it out!
If you’re still here…thanks for sticking it out.  In spite of two strikes, I had a great time.  There’s nothing like the big city during the holidays!  Until next time….

P.S.  Quilty Peeps — I missed you — NYC isn’t the same without you!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today has been a wonderful fall day. Rainy, chilly and perfect for being inside with all the busy-ness of getting ready for Thanksgiving. I’m the designated pie maker in our family and today was pie day. What’s your favorite pie? I like them all, but Pecan is by far my favorite. If you’re outside the US and you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you have something that gives you the opportunity to gorge on pumpkin and pecan pies — I think Thanksgiving is about the only time we take the time to enjoy them!


In the spirit of so many of you who do frequent gratitude posts, here are a few things, both big and little, that I’m thankful for:

  • First and foremost, Family. All the characters over there on the sidebar.
  • A gloomy rainy day that makes me happy for a nice warm home.
  • Thanksgiving Pies!
  • My goofy, kind brother-in-law who makes me laugh and who needs a character name so he can appear in the sidebar too.
  • Fabric. Thread. Patterns.  Sewing Machine.  Iron.  You get the picture.
  • All of you. Your blogs so full of daily inspiration.
  • SweetiePie really is a Sweetie Pie.
  • A week off of work to be able to do a few things that I never have time for.
  • MyDadLovesMeBestSister is hosting Thanksgiving, so I don’t have to work so hard this year.
  • The Quilty Peeps.
  • That I can humor two grown boys who spent time yesterday while I was gone, laughing at their mother’s blog.
  • My job.  I’d much rather be home, but it’s good to have a job.
  • Sump pumps.
  • Time to clean out the linen closet that I wanted to clean early last spring.
  • TheManoftheHouse keeps up with our computers.
  • Time with the family to play Hand and Foot.
  • Rolo candy.
  • This little indulgence.  It made my pie making so fun this year.
  • Thanksgiving is early this year, which makes the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas longer.
  • We have a “chance” of snow accumulation tonight.
  • TheEmptyNestChild hasn’t eaten anything requiring surgery so far this year.
  • Good health for everyone in our family.
  • The best parents a girl could ever wish for and a very happy childhood.

Well, I could go on and on, I’m very, very blessed.  If you’re in the US, I hope you have a very wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by loved ones.