Tuesday, December 20, 2011

10 on Tuesday... the Final Push

Today's 10 is "10 things to get done by the weekend"--- timely b/c this weekend is solstice, Christmas and Hanukkah.  My list looks fairly tame considering that for the past 2.5 weeks, I've been running to and from a hospital. My mom got very sick, it complicated her COPD and we are in the midst of a very long exacerbation, currently  at rehab, but started December on a ventilator and with prayers. Needless to say, my normal, exuberant Christmas spirit went right out the window. Even now, we have the tree up and decorated, some of the decor done, but honestly? I kind of just want to get through the weekend (and perhaps a 1 day pass for my mom on Christmas Day, so my brother and SIL can bring up the only grandkid for a few hours to see his Nana). PC and I host Christmas dinner, so there is that to attend to, but he's handling 90% of that task.  And, friends? PC has been a godsend through this. As happily unmarried as we are, you know that you have a true partner in life when he's taking care of everything in the house, so when you get home at 10pm from the ICU, you can eat, cry and sleep.

But, for now... I still have a wee list of things to get done:
1. buy asparagus and Brussels sprouts for dinner
2. clean the bathroom and kitchen. Again.
3. finish wrapping... i have one gift left to wrap. Oh, no... three. Whoops
4. pick up a gift for my dad from my mom (and a few card options too)-- yup, she's a sneaky Santa even when sick.
5. make dinner plans with friends for next week (Sylvie, this is you)
6. buy thank you cards 
7. find something for my brother's kind of girlfriend (??)--- i never know what to get her, and she's sorta kinda still with him.... it's all very complicated.  
8. get my second wreath up on the door
9. make fudge. two small batches, unlike the 12 or so I normally do.
10. finish up a thousand and one little things at work. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The hostess with the mostest

I love giving hostess gifts... so easy and so thoughtful. After dining in friends' homes a number of times, I don't usually bother (so many friends stop being "company" after a few years), but it is nice to have as you approach the holiday party season.

My mom taught me that a hostess gift should be "what it is: a gift for the woman who did all the darn work!" So... here are some of my ideas:

  1. Flowers. In a vase, even a cheap one. (Never make a host/hostess hunt for a vase when they are mid-meal prep).
  2. Plant. No vase needed and can perhaps be transplanted to the yard.
  3. Candle--- go with pretty and unscented unless you know them really well. And their allergies. Soy candles are great.
  4. Hand towels or dish towels. A nice dish cloth or hand towel (embroidered, or having a design) is a nice gift and always handy!
  5. box of chocolates. I always add a note "for you to enjoy later," so they don't feel the need to share it with us.
  6. seasonal or themed notepads, sticky notes, etc. 
  7. a favorite coffee or tea--- make sure the coffee is already ground. 
  8. an ornament for their Christmas tree (this is pretty easy this time of year)
  9. a coffee table book or a book for the hostess to read
  10. a centerpiece--- who couldn't use a nice holiday centerpiece
Also, my top few things to avoid bringing the hostess:
  1. A bottle of wine. yes, it's traditional, but if the hostess has already paired the wine with the meal, she may feel pressured to open your bottle, even if it doesn't complement the meal. If you bring wine, insist it's "for you, for later."
  2. cookies/dessert: unless asked to bring something. As the girl hosting a cookie swap on Friday, the last thing I need in my house is more sweets.
  3. salad, side dish, etc... you may think your helping,  but parties & dinners are usually pre-planned when it comes to food, so again, unless you are asked (or it's a potluck)...
As the hostess, let's review a few things about receiving a hostess gift. 
  1. Acknowledge the gift. 
  2. Say thank you!
  3. Set is aside.
  4. open it later. 

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Ten for Tuesday, Holiday edition

Holiday edition and holiday traditions. My family has a bunch of holiday traditions, many that haven't been done since we were kids, but I remember them...
this is the exact nativity and creche that my mom had when we were growing up

1. Dan and I buy our tree from the local Catholic Church, Our Lady's in Newton. I've never bought a tree from an organization that wasn't benefiting from the sale and I probably never will. Even this one, the attached high school, Trinity, rents the space to the tree seller, so they get the rent each year. The tree can be no higher than the top of my hand when i put my arm up. Otherwise, the topper will never get up there.
2. Making fudge. Nana J's secret recipe... and it's delish.
3. Sending cards. My SIL has the right idea- if they send an e-card, they are off the Christmas list.
4. Christmas eve at my parents. Everyone laughing and raising hell, drinking a little too much, eating WAY too much.
5. Meatballs and sauce on Christmas eve at my mom's... everyone's got a piece of bread dunked in there throughout the day... just waiting for it to be 'done'.
6. Opening stockings and presents on Christmas eve... what can I say, we're Norweigan!
7. Finding the LifeSavers storybooks and Tootsie Roll trees in our stockings... like we're still 5. And we hide them immediately to prevent theft.
8. Blue-tin cookies... you are a definite north-shore-er if you know the blue-tin cookies
9. Midnight Mass. It's poetic and mystical and soothing to me. Our church has the holy spirit knock on the door and the congregation invites the spirit into our church and our lives. It moves me.
10. My cookie swap... it's silly, but fun and everyone has a great time.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Advent Calendar for Jackson Robert

A few weeks ago (pre-Thanksgiving), I started discussing Advent calendars with my sister-in-law. Yep, that sister-in-law, the one who loves anything I make for the buggy one and is also very crafty herself (can't wait to smell her new cinnamon wreath--- she says the house smells like Christmas now).  I wanted it to be different, personalized... definitely say "made for Jack by someone who really loves the snot out of him."  But it needed to be quick! Advent was impending! I hadn't a lot of time! 

So, I dropped my knitting needles and grabbed the felt, scissors and embroidery needle and off I went. To my chair, in the living room, drinking hot tea and cutting, assembling, adorning mittens. 
Love these little mittens, #25 is the only white one and the only one with red letters. The rest are gold. 
Each mitten is a pocket for a toy, ornament or candy. I used the dimensions from creating his 2010 mittens (see here) and made his own hands the mittens! I used a quick running stitch in a contrasting color to create a hand-made cozy feeling. And, every few mittens, I'd trim with the pinking shears. Each mitten has a date (1-25), all hand embroidered with embroidery floss.  

At the corner of each mitten, I strung them with embroidery floss and tied in 3-7 small jingle bells, so it makes noise as he runs down the stairs :) 
And, here they are hung over the doors of my china cupboard. 25 little mittens just waiting to delight and surprise one special little boy. 

The verdict? He loves it!