February 14, 2012 § Leave a comment
I don’t own any Christmas albums, not even any cheeky or cheesy holiday classics by Bing Crosby or Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song.” I’m pretty sure he only time I listen to the seasonal tunes is at my parents’ house when my mom insists we have a soundtrack to our festivities. Maybe in the mall as well should I ever be forced to fight the crowds for last-minute shopping. So on Day Two Hundred Eighty-Eight I decided to enhance my Christmas spirit by listening to holiday songs played continuously on a local fm radio station. I also bought a Christmas song on iTunes: “Merry Christmas Everyone” by Shakin Stevens, a real English classic that reminds me of my cousin’s school recital nearly ten years ago.
I realized that my taste in holiday tunes definitely trends towards the classics I listened to as a kid. Wham!’s “Last Christmas” brought a smile to my face as did Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You.” I almost changed the station during the second airing of a Mannheim Steamroller song, but I was glad I didn’t when David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s “Little Drummer Boy” came on.
The music made me cheerful and filled with holiday spirit. I curled up next to my still bare Tree and for the first time in years, it really felt like Christmas time. It probably helped that I was bawling my way through Elf.
February 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
Every holiday season, my mom and her best friend, Cindy, alternate who hosts the pre-Christmas get together. Aunt Cin lives in North Georgia, and my parents in North Carolina, so it’s always a bit of trek for someone, especially since Nicole and Ryan live in Alabama and I live in Atlanta. The ladies also like to theme each gathering with an international flair. Last year was Buon Natale where we drank a lot of Italian Chianti and ate lasagna. The previous holiday was Feliz Navidad where copious amounts of margaritas were consumed along with some enchiladas. This year, we stuck stateside and had a Mardi Gras Christmas, my first, on Day Two Hundred Eighty-Four.
My cousin Claire is quite the ham. One of the most memorable parts of Mardi Gras Christmas was her version of classic Beatles’ songs and a few modern tunes. There was a mirror behind me (and my camera), and like I did in my youth, she sang passionately to her reflection. Here’s some blackmail material for her teenage years.
February 8, 2012 § 3 Comments
I knew I would be making and gifting circle scarves for the ladies in my life, but I didn’t have an idea for a homemade mens present. That is, until I stumbled upon a tutorial on making rice filled heating pads. You know, the ones that you can either pop in the microwave to warm up or lay in the freezer for an ice pack. On Day Two Hundred Eighty-Two I once again pulled out my sewing machine (which has been seeing more use this year than ever) and set to work to make a heating pack.
There are many different tutorials online to sew your own version of the microwavable warmer, and I looked at several different ones before starting off. I ended up simplifying all I had read into an easy, streamlined process.
Most of the tutorials instructed me to create a simple pack of linen or muslin, and then sew a washable cover for the outside. Yeah, that seemed like too much sewing, so instead I just used the fabric. I bought some of the “fat quarters” found in any fabric store and folded the large rectangular material in half, ironing it flat to erase creases. Then I folded it in half again and re-ironed. It was a good size for a neck warmer, and without having to measure or cut anything, I was happy.
Next I sewed the folded over edge of fabric and one end to create a tube once it was all turned inside out. Now I could fill it with rice, scented with a touch of relaxing lavender oil I had leftover from some other random craft project.
Once the rice was added I sewed up the final opening, folding the seams inward and ironing for a flat surface. I added a finishing top seam on the other end for balance, et voila! My own rice heating pad!
I tested it out on Patrick and it seemed to work very well. The double thickness of fabric made it feel sturdy and didn’t allow the initial heat from the freshly microwaved pack to burn the skin. The lavender scent was pretty awesome too, although maybe a touch strong.
And everyone marveled at my craftiness come Christmas. We sat around the house with our heating pads draped around our necks, relaxing under the lavender warmth.
January 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
Every year around Christmas, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens decorates their grounds with almost one million lights in a month long event called, “Garden Lights, Holiday Nights.” On Day Two Hundred Seventy-Four I visited the Botanical Gardens for the first time to see this holiday spectacle.
Despite the freezing air, I really enjoyed myself. We were able to see an orchid in bloom in the greenhouse night. Apparently it only flowers under the canopy of darkness, and even many employees of the Botanical Gardens have never seen it in full flower.
The whole tour took us about an hour or so, and eventually the chilly temperature proved to be too much. The gardens are beautiful, and I would love to see them again in full bloom, during the day. Maybe after I’m thirty.
January 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
I had leftover trimmings from my Christmas Tree adventure. The Lowes employee suggested I take home the evergreen leaves and make a wreath out of them. I took his advice on Day Two Hundred Seventy-Three and channeled my inner Martha Stewart to fashion a holiday decoration.
Speaking of Martha, I found the most basic “how to” on her website. Basically you keep wrapping bundles of leaves or twigs around a wreath base until a circular garden appears. And it was really that easy.
I think my wreath looked a bit wild, with its longer pieces of Christmas Tree jutting out at odd angles. But it also gives the garland character. I added a few stolen spray painted pine cones from the fall decorations at work and some purchased fake holly berries.
The most difficult part of creating my ode to Christmas was affixing the ribbon to the back. I ended up jerry-rigging the red fabric into a knot tied around a wire loop. At first the wreath hung crookedly, leaning forward as though trying to leap off the door, but after a few carefully coordinated maneuvers, I managed to somewhat secure the thing in an acceptable manner. I had Patrick help me fasten the ribbon to the top of the door with a pushpin and voila! My very first door wreath.
January 27, 2012 § 2 Comments
I think I’ve only fought my way through the mad rush of shoppers on Black Friday once or twice, probably with my mom. I don’t particularly like crowds or fighting, so it’s not really my cuppa tea. However, sitting in front of my computer on the Monday after Thanksgiving, perusing the internet in my pajamas with no pushing and shoving? Yes, please. Thus, on Day Two Hundred Sixty-Five, I completed the majority of my shopping on what is deemed Cyber Monday, all from the comfort of my living room.
I found some pretty good deals, including a necklace for my mom, running gear for Patrick, grill tools for my Dad, and plenty of items for myself. That’s the problem with shopping, I always seem to find something I really want as well. I found a lot of deals on Amazon for craft supplies (to fashion those cherised and cheap home-made gifts), and coupled with the free trial membership of Amazon Prime I was a shopping machine.
I may have gone a little overboard.
The other bonus to shopping online is not having to load a bunch of crap into your car and then your house. Especially with the free two day shipping a ton of sites offered on Cyber Monday, I could casually hang out for forty eight hours before having to worry about wrapping anything. Plus it was like Christmas for a week, with the number of boxes I would come home to find on the front porch. Even if they weren’t items specifically for me, it was exciting. I may never step into a store again.