• Daily Life

    Christmas 2018

    Christmas Eve we gathered with extended family, ate appetizers, children opened gifts, ladies drew number for $10 gifts amongst each other, men did the same, and we drew for men’s and lady’s stockings. My brother, sister-in-law, and niece stayed over at our house.

    Christmas morning we had our tradition cinnamon rolls, opened stockings, my parents exchanged gifts, niece received gifts from my parents, and those still at home received gifts from parents. I also accidentally opened my gift from our sibling exchange (oops). We then watched White Christmas.

    We then went to my grandparents, ate more appetizers, gave and received gifts from grandparents, from sibling exchange (we drew names from each via drawnames.com which is awesome, we filled out our gift lists on it, I want to use those for birthdays also), and parents gave gifts to the married siblings. Some people watched Rogue One (very Christmassy), and we played games (including Fishbowl, which we also played on New Year’s Day, and some played on New Year’s Eve, it seems to be trendy).

    From top left clockwise, the $10 ladies gift I gave, most gifts I gave Babysister whose name I drew (the fox print fabric is an infinity scarf) minus a flower in a vial necklace and lotion, the gifts wrapped (I gave my mom a set of state made jams and jellies), and the belatedly-finished-still-not-given shrug for my niece (I still also have a sweater dress to finish for her).

    My sister declared once she got out of school that she was going to start Harry Potter. Um, how about wait 5 days until Christmas?! I hid my copy, and told and texted everyone in the family to refuse to let her borrow their copies. It is HIGHLY out of character for me to misplace books also I’m not a good liar (and I didn’t want to lie, so I cut off from saying I didn’t know to saying it wasn’t on my shelf), but she suspected nothing.

    The Saturday after Thanksgiving we helped my grandparents decorate for Christmas, and these are the areas I helped decorate.

    I smashed a bunch of random Christmas photos into this collage. From top left clockwise, the bell wreath hanging from my doorknob (I’m keeping Christmas up until after the twelfth day of Christmas; its the 4th as I’m writing), the first version of my neat bookshelf (I cleared the floor and draped all the messy corners in white or gray), Sugarplum things she’s a decoration, my gingerbread house, my plate of appetizers from Christmas Eve (I LOVE that as a meal, and my grandmother fixed more and fancier appetizers for Christmas but I didn’t get a photo), the second version of my neat bookshelf (I’d smashed my snow globe decorating and later Mom bought another for me), the gorgeous wood Advent calender my mom bought for my brother and sister-in-law, Musicalmiss’s Dr. Suess “gingerbread” house (most of my sisters and I gathered at my brother and sister-in-laws house for a gingerbread day), and center is my hope chest nativity scene (I had three neat areas to decorate, the other is in the top collage).

    Clockwise from top left. Awesome leftie sewing Gingher scissors with a case from my mom (I bought some sewing scissors but they weren’t nice like my mom’s so I always borrowed/kept hers), my stocking stuffers, more tea from Mom, athletic sweatshirts and cozy socks from Mom, blouse and gloves from Mom, and all the lovely movies Musicalmiss got me (she had my name).

    Clockwise from top left. Some goodies I picked out some bags of goodies from family friends. Necklace and earrings from my grandmother. The $10 ladies gift I received on Christmas Eve (well, I drew for myself and my sick sister, and I picked this one because I knew what is was as another sister gave it, lol), and my gifts from my grandmother. That is an antique knitting basket/bag. That jar is a ton of lotion, I might be getting a slight hint as to the slight problem of the state of my hands, maybe.

     

    Our Christmas decor.

    More of our Christmas decor. I missed getting our main tree with all the gifts downstairs.

  • Reading

    A Literary Christmas Wrap Up

    I’m posting my wrap-up for A Literary Christmas, late of course, but I was only participating loosely since that tends to work best for me. Any reviews will be in November and December books read posts. Now, I need to peruse everyone’s links to find ideas for next Christmas.

    Juvenile Fiction
    The Holly and the Ivy Rumer Godden
    The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story Lemony Snicket
    Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story Cynthia Rylant
    The Christmas Day Kitten James Herriot
    The Lump of Coal Lemony Snicket
    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Barbara Robinson

    The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter. I added this.

    Grown-Up Fiction
    Christmas At Fairacre Miss Read. I guess I’ll try this next year.

    Christmas History
    Christmas In Williamsurg: 300 Years of Family Traditions K. M. Kostyal
    Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas Ace Collins. I loved this at first but had my confidence in his veracity shaken by one of the stories (see my review); however, I think that if the updated version has corrections, I want to buy it and the second one as well as his book of stories (which Sarah of Lilacs and Springtime mentioned, and which I then requested from the library, but it looks like it might have been lost or taken off the shelves since my request), and maybe read a story a day for a Christmas countdown next year.
    Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, And Rituals at The Origins of Yuletide Christian Rätsch. Yeah, um this was disturbing. Also, not quite honest. Seemed to not merely be a factual story but a promotion of ancient paganism and drug use. Also, you can’t separate the pagan aspects out from Christian aspects so easily. Christmas is more like spaghetti historically, and you won’t get an honest picture unless you look at all the parts with some organization, something these authors weren’t doing. I put down.
    Christmas Customs and Traditions, Their History and Significance by Clement A Miles. I added this but only got through a few chapters as it was written in 1912 and is a bit more scholarly than easy. I do want to get it again, but I think I will start over and read more carefully and take notes.

    Christmas Baking
    Scandikitchen Christmas: Recipes and Traditions from Scandinavia Brontë Aurell
    Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen Luisa Weiss
    Festive Baking: Holiday Classics in the Swiss, German, and Austrian Traditions Sarah Kelly Iaia

    I didn’t make anything this year except what Mom had already decided on. Maybe I’ll have more motivation next year. I own the last book already, but I’d like the other German baking book as well if not also the Scandinavian one.

  • Reading

    A Literary Christmas 2018

    I’m linking up here for A Literary Christmas again.

    I actually planned and researched better this time (I have a list for holiday books to choose from now), and below is my Christmas reading list; I’ve  ordered these already (because previous years I didn’t think, that you know, other people might have requested books near Christmas), and I should be able to put off reading them until December (or at least until after Thanksgiving) to read.

    I’ve used up my interlibrary loans for this month, but I think I might try to order some Christmas ones in December, we shall see.

    Most Christmas books I seemed to see are either kids books (I’ve included a few from my childhood), Hallmark style (I’ll stick to the movies), moralizing (no thanks), or Christmas histories. So most of my choices are kids books and histories of Christmas traditions, carols, etc.

    I’ve also included the Christmas baking books from the library I want to peruse along with the one I own for some Christmas goodies.

    Juvenile Fictions
    The Holly and the Ivy Rumer Godden
    The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story Lemony Snicket
    Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story Cynthia Rylant
    The Christmas Day Kitten James Herriot
    The Lump of Coal Lemony Snicket
    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Barbara Robinson

    Grown-Up Fiction
    Christmas At Fairacre Miss Read

    Christmas History
    Christmas In Williamsurg: 300 Years of Family Traditions K. M. Kostyal
    Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas Ace Collins (I didn’t get to finish this previously)
    Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, And Rituals at The Origins of Yuletide Christian Rätsch

    Christmas Baking
    Scandikitchen Christmas: Recipes and Traditions from Scandinavia Brontë Aurell
    Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen Luisa Weiss
    Festive Baking: Holiday Classics in the Swiss, German, and Austrian Traditions Sarah Kelly Iaia

  • Daily Life

    Christmas Celebrations and Gifts

    Christmas Eve’s Eve
    My brother and sister-in-law asked us to let us do Christmas with them early, so they could be with her family on Christmas. We had a huge dinner and exchanged some of our gifts. Mom and Dad and my grandparents gave them their gifts, and we did our sibling gift exchange. My brother drew me (but as is often the case with married couples, lol), his wife picked out the gifts from my list.

     

    Christmas Eve
    We have an extended family gathering and potluck with my mom’s family. We have a family wide gift exchange for which we draw names on Thanksgiving (I got my grandfather and gave him seeds for his garden), a $1 stocking drawing (you contribute a $1 gift for the stocking of your sex and your name is entered in the drawing for the full stocking of goodies), and a $5 gift exchange (you contribute a $5 gift for your sex, the gifts are numbered, and then we draw numbers) plus the adults buy gifts for all the kids (which used to take forever, but thankfully there are not that many kids plus several weren’t there).

    I drew Musicalmiss’s $5 gift; she hand-painted glass Christmas ornaments. Then Travelgirl had drawn me for the main drawing, and she got me two of the Barnes and Noble Leather bound classics from my list (!!!!!!). We had a packed Christmas season plus sick people, so only two of those at home and one married couple made it to this gathering; everyone else either didn’t enter the drawings or received their gifts after we came home. We didn’t have meringue trees, truffles, or peppermint fudge, but I did get some cake pops!

    Christmas Day
    My grandparents didn’t come this year. We had our family stockings and gift exchange and ate our cinnamon rolls (Dad tried Once Upon a Chef’s recipe; I wanted him to only try the dough, but he tried filling and icing as well; I definitely prefer the old Miserly Moms version on those two things).

    All of us girls had Hallmark movies in our stockings. Musicalmiss got The Best Christmas Party Ever, Flowerchild got The Nine Lives of Christmas, and Babysister got The Lost Valentine (I think; it is not Christmas and isn’t one I’ve seen).

     

    We then headed to my grandparents where Travelgirl and her husband joined us for lunch and gift exchanging. My grandmother got me the madeleine pan off my list.

     

  • Culture and Entertainment

    Have a Happy Hallmark Holiday

    Most movie watching we do around the holidays is Hallmark. I’ve been rather burned out plus Hallmark seems to be turning out quite a few busts. I felt a lot of films were blah if not worse this year, many we (even my mom who’s usually willing to finish more) didn’t finish. This year the younger girls didn’t join in as much either. Anyway, I think the ones below are worth watching. I watched the first three more than once. And of course we watched most of our old favorites that we own or had taped (ha, recorded) as well.

    Road to Christmas. Adorable and funny with little drama, my idea of a perfect Hallmark recipe. Also Chad Michael Murray (thinking this out I wanted to say Chad Dylan Cooper, probably NOT a coincidence Disney).

    It’s Christmas, Eve. Sweet and no drama, gorgeous singing. A bit of humor

    A Shoe Addict’s Christmas. Hilarious guardian angel, looking at past choices.

    Christmas Joy. Sweet (and Matt Long is really cute).

    Someone told us almost all Hallmark movies are filmed in Canada. I know all the actors aren’t from Canada, but lately we’ve sort of been playing “spot the Canadian” noticing all the Canadians via the vowels.

    As far as the other movies, we watched The Grinch (original animated) before Christmas, White Christmas on Christmas Day (I was a little distracted what with trying to get ready) and A Charlie Brown Christmas (and another extra Charlie Brown Christmas on the DVD) after Christmas. I don’t love It’s a Wonderful Life or Christmas in Connecticut, but I might try some from this list of old Christmas movies next year.

  • Daily Life

    Beginning Christmas

    Time for Christmas posts.

    A Literary Christmas Wrap Up
    ~Annika’s Secret Wish by Beverly Lewis
    ~Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. Tolkein
    ~A Merry Christmas, and Other Christmas Stories by Louisa May Alcott
    ~Stories Behind the Best-loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins
    ~Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: a Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

    Yeah, I finished all of two books. I switched to my Alcott collection which had far more stories, but I only got through the first few. I only finished one story in the Christmas carols book. I opted not to read the Voskamp book. The books I finished are kids books, but they are darling, and illustrated books are part of Christmas growing up. I should have pulled out some of the ones I grew up on. I wish I had a total list of the ones I grew up with because I am not sure we saved them all.

    A Christmas Bucket List

     

    I didn’t complete these all, and I fudged on a few (this year I was making gifts [I didn’t finish them all; I still have those plus really late birthday gifts to sew] plus we had an extra Christmas celebration because of conflicting in-law events plus we left for vacation the third day after Christmas).

    I completed
    ~Listen to New Christmas Music (my Bing Crosby C.D.; I had meant new to me groups or songs)
    ~Mail a Christmas Card or Two
    ~Create a Christmas notebook (this is still and was meant to be a work in progess; I need to add helps to prepare for next year)
    ~Watch a Christmas Classic (White Christmas; I had meant a new to me movie)
    ~Bake Bread from My German Baking Book (A Christmas Star; my pan wasn’t big enough because I used all the dough, so mine looks like a starfish)
    ~Bake Cookies from My German Baking Book (lebkuchen which is German gingerbread and has honey instead of molasses, white instead of brown sugar, and a tad more spice and more types of spices; see color difference below)
    ~Read a Christmas Poem
    ~A Photoshoot of Luna in a stocking (I tried; I was trying to keep her still, the photo focused, and yeah . . .)
    ~Christmas clean room and pack (well, it is neat, but I didn’t have time to vacuum before we left because I was sewing the morning of for the trip)
    ~Build a Gingerbread House (a graham cracker house at a friends; I made gingerbread dough for a house, and I amended my plans to build it there and then further amended the plan by making the dough into cookies. I had great fun though because I thought my castle was fun and easy and satisfying. The hostess had bowls of thick royal icing to spread on. Works MUCH better than tubes)
    ~Decorate for Christmas (I mainly decorated the neat section of my room; one half bookcase plus I hung a little bell wreath on my door)
    ~Buy or Make a Christmas Outfit (I really meant Christmas Eve; I wore a new gorgeous teal dress I bought from Thred-Up; one day I’ll have that dream dress made)
    ~Make a Christmas Craft (I’m going to count the calligraphy and stamped place names I made for my grandmother’s Christmas party)
    ~Participate in a Christmas blog event (I sort of participated in the Literary Christmas event)

    Touches of Christmas

     

     

     

     

     

    Best of Hallmark

    I’m still of the opinion that lately Hallmark has put more effort into their year round movies, but I did enjoy a few this year. The last two are my favorites; the very last is classic favorite quality, I think.
    Christmas Getaway
    The Christmas Cottage
    A Gift to Remember
    With Love, Christmas
    Christmas Next Door

  • Daily Life

    Christmas and Winter Questionnaire Day Six: Winter

    I borrowed questions and ideas from: herehere, and here.

    ~Winter Dislikes
    When I’m too cold, having to drive in the dark, scary icy roads, ugly “green” Christmas type landscape.

    ~Winter Likes
    The changing seasons, Christmas, Coziness, Fleece onsies, Movie nights, Winter foods.

    ~Do you like playing in the snow or enjoying it from the window?
    Usually, enjoying it from the window, I should try sledding once in awhile.

    ~Any books you prefer to read in Winter?
    I can’t think of any, but I should make some selections.

    ~When do you start getting excited about spring?
    I’m usually ready for it when it is officially spring.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Winter
    ~Winter Dislikes
    ~Winter Likes
    ~Do you like playing in the snow or enjoying it from the window?
    ~Any books you prefer to read in Winter?
    ~When do you start getting excited about spring?
  • Daily Life

    Christmas and Winter Questionnaire Day Five: Celebrations

    I borrowed questions and ideas from: herehere, and here.

    Christmas Eve
    ~Do you have a celebration?
    Yes, we go over to my mom’s extended family for supper and gift exchanges.

    ~Do you open gifts?
    Yes. We draw a name at Thanksgiving. We also have a $1 gift for the stocking of our sex, and a $5 gift for the gift exchange of our sex. The kids get gifts from everyone.

    Christmas Day
    ~Have you ever had a White Christmas?
    Yes, but not recently. We used to get more snow in December, but recently it has snowed a bit before Christmas and then tons in January and February.

    ~Christmas pajamas?
    No, but Mom bought us fluffy onesies one Christmas recently, and we all wore them to Christmas lunch and supper at my grandmother’s.

    ~What are your Christmas morning traditions?
    Dad makes home-made cinnamon rolls, and we dig into our stockings and open our gifts from our parents. For the last few years, we wait for my grandparents to come because my grandmother wanted to watch us open gifts, and she also gives gifts to her “grand-animals.”

    ~Do you travel for Christmas?
    No, our family is local.

    ~Do you stay home or visit on Christmas Day?
    We start at home and then move to my grandparents’ house (which is less than half an hour away) for lunch and supper.

    New Year’s Eve
    ~Celebrations?
    We usually have an open house for my parents’ church. Originally it was on New Year’s Eve until someone encountered a car driving the wrong way on the interstate then we changed it to New Year’s Day. The program involves smoked pork, home-made doughnuts, a ping-pong tournament, board games, too many people, noise, and it is not a good tradition. It needs serious modification. But we are going to be gone this year, so we don’t have to have it.

    ~Resolutions?
    Haha. I like drawing them up anyway, and making grand plans.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    If you want to join in:

    Celebrations
    Christmas Eve
    ~Do you have a celebration?
    ~Do you open gifts?
    Christmas Day
    ~Have a White Christmas?
    ~Christmas pajamas?
    ~Christmas morning
    ~Travel?
    ~Visiting?
    New Year’s Eve
    ~Celebrations?
    ~Resolutions?
  • Daily Life

    Christmas and Winter Questionnaire Day Four: Gifting

    I borrowed questions and ideas from: herehere, and here.

    ~Do you truly prefer giving or receiving?
    I love getting gifts that I like best, yes. I do enjoy giving to people I like to buy for, people that I can give good gifts too. I don’t enjoy it for people who are hard, who buy everything for themselves already, or who I don’t know very well. I don’t like being stressed about it.

    ~When do you buy gifts, early or last minute?
    Unfortunately, I seem to always be late which it makes it less fun. I need to get better, so I can enjoy Christmas better.

    ~Are you a brilliant, adequate, or terrible present wrapper?
    Adequate, I’d love to get to brilliant (creative) at some point.

    ~What is the best gift you have ever received?
    A custom made hope chest a few years back from my mom.

    ~What is your favorite gift you have given?
    One that is upcoming, I think.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    If you would like to join in:
    Gifting
    ~Do you truly prefer giving or receiving
    ~When do you buy gifts, early or last minute?
    ~Are you a brilliant, adequate, or terrible present wrapper
    ~What is the best gift you have ever received?
    ~What is your favorite gift you have given?

  • Daily Life

    Christmas and Winter Questionnaire Day Three: Favorites

    I borrowed questions and ideas from: herehere, and here.

    ~Christmas movie: White Christmas

    ~Christmas story: So many, I need to see all our old Christmas stories. There is an adorable one about a snowman.

    ~Traditions: Our Christmas Eve and Day gatherings, watching as Hallmark as a family, etc.

    ~Christmas carol: I prefer the merrier sounding carols like “Here We Come A Wassailing”

    ~Christmas treats: Truffles, cake pops, meringue Christmas trees, gingerbread men, gingerbread, peppermint fudge, and cinnamon rolls.

    ~Favorite holiday drink: Hot chocolate. I would still like to try eggnog and wassail though.

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    If you would like to join in:
    Favorites

    ~Christmas movie:
    ~Christmas story:
    ~Traditions:
    ~Christmas carol:
    ~Christmas treats:
    ~Favorite holiday drink:
  • Daily Life

    Christmas and Winter Questionnaire Day Two: Decorations

    I borrowed questions and ideas from: herehere, and here.

    ~Real or fake tree
    We have almost always had a fake tree. My dad doesn’t like the bother of a real tree. When I have my own family I want a real tree. Actually, I’d like to have a tiny tree in my room, but that hasn’t ever worked out yet.

    ~When do you decorate?
    Usually shortly after Thanksgiving. This year I think it was a week after.

    ~Who decorates?
    It used to be everyone, but now it is mostly Mom and the little girls. Certain of them have very specific tastes/styles/ideas.

    ~Do you decorate your room?
    My room is usually in a state of disorder as far as design and organization goes, so most Christmas decorations either would not match or would be lost in the busyness, but I do have one neat half bookcase that I’ve decorated this year plus a adorable little bell wreath hanging on the doorknob outside my door.

    ~When do you take the tree down?
    Usually shortly after Christmas.

    ~White or multi-colored lights
    White all the way, definitely more elegant.

    ~Outside lights
    We don’t have any, but I love a some white lights with candles in the windows and wreaths and garlands.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    If you want to participate:
    Decorations
    ~Real or fake tree
    ~When do you decorate?
    ~Who decorates?
    ~Do you decorate your room?
    ~When do you take the tree down?
    ~White or multi-colored lights
    ~Outside lights

  • Daily Life

    Christmas and Winter Questionnaire Day One: Beginning Christmas

    I borrowed questions and ideas from: here, here, and here. I divided my list into 6 days.

    ~Do you send Christmas cards?
    Sometimes, the pretty ones that come in sets, not the ones with family photos. I like getting those from friends who we’ve not seen in awhile, but I like sending the elegant artistic ones.
    ~When does Christmas start?
    Well, my family starts with Hallmark right after Halloween. This year I didn’t start watching until after Thanksgiving. I’d prefer it to start in December and then end on the 12th day of Christmas January 6th. I think we have plenty of autumn holidays and few of winter, so there is no need to rush into and then rush out of Christmas.

    ~Do you have an advent calendar?
    I outgrew our family one. The three youngest still attached the stuffed decorations on the fabric tree. I kind of did a Christmas activity countdown this year, but its a mix of that and a fun list, so I haven’t followed it exactly. I’d like to find or make one I can make into a tradition.
    ~What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year?
    All of them.
    ~What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
    I’m not sure I’d really ever prefer to travel on a holiday, but perhaps after or before when people still have the decorations up. Some traditional village or city with lovely decorations maybe?
    ~What is your most memorable holiday moment?
    Right now, I cannot really think of a moment. We had two memorable Christmases recently, once when my brother got engaged, three years ago, and then when he got married a few days before Christmas two years ago.
    ~What makes the holidays special for you?
    Family, traditions, the sensory experience, Hallmark, gifts, I love the entire experience!!!!!
    ~How did you grow up thinking about Santa?
    My dad is the Grinch, Scrooge, and the Christmas Corrector, and I don’t think Mom loved the Santa myth. We weren’t taught to believe in Santa, we just enjoyed the various Christmas stories. I never cared overmuch for Santa himself, I just loved all the stories about Christmas.
    ~Can you name all his reindeer?
    Nope. Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blizen, Rudolph. Are there 13 with Rudolph or 11? I should look that up.
    ~Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

    There is nothing wrong with “Happy Holidays,” except it is incredibly generic and boring. “Merry Christmas” is fun to say plus far more specific. And “merry” is quite expressive of Christmas specifically.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Questions for day one if you want to participate:
    Beginning Christmas
    ~Do you send Christmas cards?
    ~When does Christmas start?
    ~Do you have an advent calendar?
    ~What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year?
    ~What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
    ~What is your most memorable holiday moment?
    ~What makes the holidays special for you?
    ~How did you grow up thinking about Santa?
    ~Can you name all his reindeer?