Thursday, December 30, 2010


Although I know it's no longer fashionable to covet gorgeous packaging, I admit I've yet to adopt that mentality. As you know, Bruce and I picked out the Tiffany items together, but what I didn't know is how it would be packaged. Oh my was I delighted to untie the white satin ribbons and find these adorable little jewelry pouches inside the familiar blue box:
They are made from a material I'm unfamiliar with, possibly something that will keep the sterling from tarnishing, but trust me, whatever it is, it's awesome. In order to maintain neatness in our home, I usually find it easy to throw things away, however, I think these little boxes might just find their way into my nightstand so that I may gaze at them now and again.

Another very sweet gift was from Lisa and Danny, or I should say Danny, as I discovered Lisa had no clue he'd sent this adorable arrangement called, "Roses in the Snow".
Deep crimson tea roses with precious little white flowers below. This, no doubt, will be a gift that keeps on giving. Speaking of plants, those who live in Florida don't need me to tell them that once again, the temperature has plunged. Having Bruce, Matt, and Tom cover all those plants was such a blessing. 

Nancy arrived the other evening bearing gifts from Pat and Ruth. Seems as if they picked lots of citrus from their trees and wanted to share the bounty. I don't need to remind you how I love me some citrus! 

Pink grapefruit above, and lemons galore below. Juicing commenced, with the lemon juice ending up in an ice cube tray to freeze for use when needed. Excellent gift!

Every Christmas of late, Jonathan gives me a photography book, not the glossy picture type, but instructional ones. This year he gave me, Guide to Digital Photography , which, at the moment, has gone largely unread due to excessive business. However, in the forward I read this, "You can have the most modern camera equipment in the world, and still not see picture possibilities." Good, right?
Thus, the photographs of the citrus. Actually I took those prior to reading the quote, but it sure describes what I'm always trying to do--see the picture possibilities everywhere.

Speaking of Jonathan, he hopes he's stone free! He's passed two stones in the last few days, the size of which will give anyone the shivers just hearing about them. According to him, it's no wonder he was on his death bed Thanksgiving eve. Fortunately, the pain while passing the stones was mild compared to what he'd already gone through. 

I began this post two mornings ago, but obviously didn't complete my writing at the time. I've so much more to share, but by now you may be weary of reading so let's meet again tomorrow, shall we? Matt and Tom departed with Bruce for the airport a bit ago. Although they were here for ten days, it wasn't long enough according to Bruce. I agree.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 26

'Tis the day after Christmas and all through the house, there is barely a sound, quite the contrast from yesterday. The counters are back to normal, there are leftovers enough for a few days, and the floors are swept. The washing machine is in full swing, and the dishwasher has done it's job for another Christmas. And what a Christmas it was! Merriment in full swing was the order of the day. But, I'm getting ahead of myself......

Leading up to the magical day the house was anything but quiet. Nancy helped me immeasurably, beginning with the wrapping:
Here she is forcing me to get the menu written down! After returning from a visit with Liza, Matt and Tom rolled out my vegan gingerbread, taking the decorating very seriously:
At first glance you don't notice Tom reflected in the mirror carefully putting eyes on the angel cookies. Vegan baking was stymieing me until Tom suggested I use some tapioca starch as an egg replacement. Because the cookies use shortening that was the only change we made. Brilliant once again!

After talking with Angela about the madhouse at Publix Thursday afternoon, I decided instead to head over there at 7 Friday morning. Brilliant as Tom would say with only a handful of cars in the parking lot when I arrived.

After Dave left  with Ginger on Christmas Eve, here's how Bruce and Baxter finished the evening:
Waking to perfect weather on Christmas was the beginning of a perfect day. Once Tom and Matt woke and showered, we opened gifts from each other and Jonathan. The meager stockings came first, with Tom receiving his very first Pez dispenser. Matt is instructing Tom on the intricacies of Pez dispenser management.
Jonathan always comes through with some of Bruce's favorites--romantic comedy dvds and new music:
Baxter had to be a part of everything! New music for Mom as well!

Sometime in November I began making a quilt for Matthew to have as a small throw on his bed in his VERY green bedroom. I couldn't wait for him to open it:
Nor could I wait for Tom to open his gift:
I've no clue how I discovered this cookbook, but I'm glad I did. I'm pretty certain he was pleased.

As was Bruce, with his new warm hat, purchased by Matt in Iceland for the bitter winter he'll be facing.
After all the excitement here's how I felt:

The truth is, although I get a lot of the credit for Christmas, realistically it is Bruce who deserves the most credit. Without his dedication at work, none of it would happen.

And happen it did! We all began our assigned tasks in earnest after the gift exchange, and by the time the family arrived, everything was perfect! Angela provided some British Christmas crackers, and although we didn't have quite enough to go around, we made do. It was SO fun. Here's part of our crowd in preparation to pull:
She insisted that the crowns should be worn for the full evening:
I believe Matt and Tom won the prize for longevity! However, I wore my for several hours, even forgetting about it until I saw myself in the computer when we did a video chat with Jonathan and Alissa. How amazing is having the ability to see each other?
There's our Jon boy on my computer with a big smile on his face. No clue what Bill is doing, but it looks like they were all enjoying it! As, I hope everyone else was.

This is our first Christmas in the renovated space, and it worked just as well as I'd hoped. After the initial question of where to place the tree, everything else fell into place. Honestly, aside from Jonathan and Alissa's absence, it has to rate as one of my very favorite Christmases. When Lisa and Amanda left, she expressed her joy at not having to put it on. You are most welcome Lisa--the pleasure was ours.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Basking in the Light

There is one British gentleman who is simply amazed at the light in Florida, comparing it to Provence which is indeed a nice compliment. As such, he was content just to sit in the sun before we went food shopping.
As Tom is fond of cooking, we went to both Whole Foods on Sand Lake Road, and Costco. He proclaimed that the size of Costco was roughly the size of his hometown in the Midlands. I kept reminding him to get whatever he wanted, however, I think he was content just to take in all wonders. We like him already, for a number of reasons, one of which is that he's already at home with Baxter. Dare I say he's smitten?

Stopping at Ross first for a pair of sunglasses and a short sleeved shirt for Tom, we made our rounds, arriving home in time for me to make a nice vegan dinner with Nancy joining us. Although she looked at the meal with a bit of skepticism, she actually liked it just fine. Tom, Nancy and I made ours vegetarian by adding a sprinkling of feta cheese to our spicy pasta dish. Cookies for dessert. 

Speaking of the light, on Monday afternoon I did some reading about how to photograph the total lunar eclipse. I vacillated about getting up to see it, especially after staying up to nearly midnight! Matt and Tom were oh so lucky to get out of Chicago during a big snowstorm, with all flights after theirs being canceled. Poor Mr. Bruce had to get up early to fly to Bethesda! Nevertheless, deciding it was not something that happens every day, I had Matt set my phone alarm for 3:30, a time I thought would be good. And it was. 

Walking outside in to the cold night air, not to mention on the very, very cold travertine deck, the sight of an orange moon was breathtaking really. Earlier in the night, we showed Matt and Tom the pool and the moon was so bright you could see the entire back yard.  With the earth between the sun and the moon, the camera struggled to focus in the dark, with me trying multiple shots at different settings. Although I used my tripod and self-timer, I am just not technically savvy enough to get a money shot. Here's what I got when I first went out:

The moon is blurry, but you definitely get the idea. After a bit, the earth began to move and here's what that looked like:
Deciding that my feet were just too cold, not to mention that I had to get up in another two hours to take Bruce to the airport that's all I saw, but am I ever glad I did. Our world is full of amazing sights, don't you agree?

Today we are off to both Gatorland and this play, Chaps! A Jingle Jangle Christmas. No doubt, you'll hear about both excursions soon.

Actually, don't be surprised if my blogging is sporadic in the next week or so. Soon, very soon, I'll have to get serious about figuring out how to feed twenty people on Christmas day.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Final Week

Can I say that I'm very proud of myself? I think I will do just that because for the first time in many years I'm pretty much on track with my Christmas preparations. It feels good. Don't get me wrong, I've still got plenty to do, but any Christmas that I manage to bake is going to be an excellent one.

The day dawned dreary Saturday morning with rain and chilliness. Every day Bruce has a work schedule and Saturday's are no exception. Thus, he cleaned up the yard and washed both cars regardless of the downpour! I, on the other hand, was lazy, staying in my pj's until lunchtime. After we had our lunch, I got down to business, baking for the next six or so hours. I convinced Bruce to take my picture in action:
Baxter is being Mommy's helper standing at the ready to clean the floor as needed. That is definitely one advantage to having a dog!

Although Nancy sent me a sugar cookie recipe, it called for a few ingredients not in my fridge, thus the internet came to my rescue. Nancy and I discussed using parchment paper on the cookie sheets with me telling her that I have had great success with some awesome cookie sheets Ruth and Pat gave me for Christmas some years ago. I did a little experiment making one sheet with, and one without. The cookies come off beautifully with the paper, however without is nearly as good.

Sugar cookies were first, then on to what my mother always called Russian Tea Cakes. This year I rolled them once warm, and again when they had cooled. I just love the crumbly texture and buttery taste.
Following that I made a recipe that I found in my mom's recipe box because I had the ingredients. Although I thought they were macaroons, they are more like little coconut-filled meringues:
If you've a sweet tooth and like coconut these are your cookies!

While I was working on those sweet little bites, the gingerbread dough was chilling in the fridge awaiting the roll out. Can I just tell you how great having granite counter tops is? Sprinkle a bit of flour on the counter and off you go. I could only find a few cutters so I made all little trees for my first batch. By now Bruce is suggesting I get off my feet, which I did soon thereafter. I told him I was warming up for the big Christmas day get together!

So, although the day outside was grim, I barely noticed amidst the flour, sugar, butter and warm spicy smells in our kitchen.

Sunday, on the other hand, was a different story. Answering truthfully when customers arrived, I said I was miserable. And I was. The weather forecast called for gloom turning to mixed gloom, not all day gloom. Plus the temperature was supposed to get into the middle sixties. Neither of those predictions proved to be accurate. Damp, cold, and gloomy all eight hours. Much to my good fortune, my market neighbor Donna loaned me a giant sweat shirt to wear over my shirt and overshirt. When leaving the house I considered bringing another pair of shoes to replace the Uggs when the day warmed up. Didn't happen. Here's Lake Eola as the day began:
Some would remind me that elsewhere it is like this all the time and freezing cold to boot. So what? I live in Florida for a reason! Surprisingly the few people that braved the weather were there for a reason--to buy. I sold more than I've sold in recent weeks that's for sure. Dana wanted to close the market next Sunday which met with some resistance from some of the vendors, however, I believe good sense prevailed and we will have the day off. 

In just a few short hours Matt and Tom are arriving, or let's hope they do. Chicago's weather is what they termed on as uncomfortable. 28 degrees and snowing sounds more than uncomfortable to me! Plane delays would not be welcome. Matt was thrilled that they left London before the major snow storm of this past weekend which left thousands and thousands of people stranded at both Heathrow and Gatwick airports. As they say, timing is everything.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Yesterday morning after folding all 24 of these:

I cleaned the pool. What a mess it was from Monday and Tuesday's strong winds. Beautiful now, I must say. With the exception of the top of my Jatropha tree, the plants survived the below freezing temperatures just fine. Ironically, while our neighbors yards have turned brown from the freezes, ours is still green. Yesterday warmed up nicely, with today's forecast even warmer. Let's hope we have some nice weather for Matt and Tom's arrival on Monday. At the very least, I know we'll have sunshine, which as you know, is in very short supply this time of year in London.

Last week I got my first orange juice of the season from Red Hill Groves, and let me just tell you, it was delicious! I have to admit I'm not a big fruit person, primarily because most of the time although it looks delicious, the taste is just not there. With that in mind, I purchased only three tangelos while there. That was a mistake this time because those tangelos were perfect in every way. Easy to peel, nearly seedless, juicy, and sweet/tangy. So...I headed the Element that way after the pool cleaning session. At this price it would have been silly not to bring home a bag full!
Before going to RHG, I loaded up seven pairs of Bruce's jeans to give away. Near our home there is a Community Center, which I thought was run by a mega church. Furthermore, I thought I'd seen a sign asking for jeans donations. Pulling up, I saw the sign for a thrift store, but, silly me, I didn't really think it was stuff for sale. Opening the door, I discovered a large, dark warehouse space with a few folks and that thrift store smell. You've smelled it haven't you? Here is what happened:
  • Worker: "Do you have a donation?"
  • Me: " I do, but I thought this was a place where they gave things away, not sold them."
  • Worker: "We do work with the homeless."
  • Nearby Customer: As the worker was taking my things, she said, "They charge way too much here for everything." 
  • Me: "Really."
  • Customer: "Yes they do. It's better to just take them to the shelter."
  • Me: "Good idea. Sir, I'd like those jeans back please."
  • Worker: "I'm not sure I can do that."
  • Manager: " You can't have them back."
  • Me: Incredulous. "Well, I thought you gave things away here and that's what I was trying to do."
  • Manager: "We do help the homeless. I'm not making a killing here. You probably make more than I do."
  • Me: More incredulous! "Well, that may be, but I'd like my jeans back."
  • Manager: "You mean to say you donated them, and now want them back?"
  • Me: "Indeed."
  • Worker: With attitude--"Here you are."
  • Nearby Customer smiles.
So, that's what I did. Drove the few miles to where the homeless shelters are. At one point I thought about leaving them on the street corner, but in the end I took them to the Orlando Union Rescue Mission where a very nice man took them from me, saying every night he has men coming in looking for a change of pants. Mission accomplished.

Nancy called last evening and we got to talking about baking. The conversation turned to cookies which I said I'd be baking today. She reminded me that her former mother-in-law was a wonderful cook, to which I replied that I still had one of Mimi Batchelor's recipes for a Graham Nut Cake that I recalled being delicious although I'd not made it in eons. Well, while searching for my drop sugar cookie recipe, which I'm sick to relate, I couldn't find, I came across the cake recipe. While we were talking I decided to make it then and there. Using the loaf pan my friend Mary gave me, I finished it off with a glaze, adding some of that wonderful orange juice and zest from my tangelos.
Tasting it this morning, I discovered it was just as delicious as I'd remembered. Funny how I could find the cake recipe, one I've already said I hadn't made in 30 years or so, and I can't find my sugar cookie recipe. I've been making that most Christmases since I cut it out of the Orange County Register 33 years ago while living in California. I must find it!!!

Bruce arrived home last night around 11:00, instead of the planned 5:30, because he missed his flight. In over 18 years of traveling, he's rarely missed a flight, however, between a white-out in the DC area, AND his GPS sending him the wrong way, he was too late to catch his scheduled flight. Seriously, because he could barely see, even though traffic on I-95 was only moving at 6 miles an hour, he followed the talking head and went way, way in the wrong direction. All's well that ends well, but it was scary going there for a while.

Because this blog is based loosely on my photography, here's a couple of things that caught my fancy this week:

Red shoes are so glamorous aren't they? That Stuart Weitzman pair on top are to die for! And then there's this adorable little girl who came with her Mommy to the Polasek on Tuesday. Rarely do children come, so this was a great treat.
That's her proud momma smiling in the background at her darling little girl. If you're wondering, she gave me permission.

Today's title refers to my post number. I don't know about you, but I come across blogs where people haven't posted anything in months, or even years which always surprises me.  If I didn't know better, you would think I was a writer with that longevity!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Past

I may have this all wrong, but I don't think so. Those of you who really know me, and you know who you are, have an inkling that growing up in the Price household was far from rosy. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the statute of limitations on my parent's crimes has run out--I can't begin to understand their relationship, so I no longer try. That's not to say that some scars do not remain from my childhood, I just prefer not to dwell on them.

Props again to the weather forecasters. They got it right, or at least I think they did. Check this out:
 The above picture shows the front porch thermometer Tuesday morning at sunrise
This is the back one taken moments earlier. I've tried to make it as big as I can to show the 27 degree reading, which, by the way, remained stuck there until around 9. Hopefully it was somewhere between the two readings because, try as I might, this did not stay like this overnight:
Sadly, a few hours later, I discovered that the pink and blue quilt managed to come undone, leaving half the stag horn uncovered. Wrapping this baby took not only myself, perched precariously on the top of the ladder, but Angela to steady me, and in a God send,  Dodie arrived unexpectedly to help by standing on the bench holding the quilts up as I pinned them together on my high perch. After all our efforts it came apart after dark! The good news is that the side nearest the rising sun is the one uncovered, so hopefully, the warming effects will save our 36 year old treasure.

Between writing Christmas cards, and covering plants, I managed to start a fire all by myself with REAL wood.
The wind was blowing so furiously some of the smoke blew back down the flue, but not enough to impair my enjoyment of the blazing fire, or at least my version of a blazing fire!
Cozy, cozy, cozy!

Completing the winter trifecta, I made some vegetable beef soup, a really big pot that will keep me going through these cold days without Bruce. With the fire dying down and dinner eaten, I thought to myself, what I really need is a good book to read in bed. Because I've not been to the library I have nothing new. Don't ask me how this happened, but as I was leaving the kitchen, the little foyer bookcase called out to me. Well, it didn't really call out, but you know what I mean. My hand went to a small red hardback with an etching of a wolf on the cover. That's it, I'll reread this one.

As I remember that Christmas Eve from long ago, the Price children were sent to bed, Pat in his bedroom, Maureen and I in ours, and Carol, Nancy, and Lisa in theirs. The house would be considered small these days, maybe 1,500 square feet for eight people, so even behind closed doors we could hear our parents shouting at one another in the living room. What they were yelling about, I've no idea, however, it was nothing new; we'd heard it all before. What we weren't prepared for was waking up on Christmas morning to no gifts under the tree. None. Once again, these are childhood memories from an memory-impaired 56 year old, so don't quote me on this, but I think my father scooped up all the presents taking them somewhere. 3216 Montclair Road was a pretty grim place that morning. I've no recollection how we spent that morning, but later on in the day, we did receive our gifts, one of which I've kept all these years, a book I loved very much, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

Opening that book for the first time in years and years, I discovered that I'd written in cursive,
Gail Price
from Mother
I don't know why I wrote that except to imagine that my mother, still in a rage about whatever happened between them, insisted my father had nothing to do with giving me that book. That's where my memory stops, nothing more to tell you except that a 10 year old girl treasured that book, keeping it all these years. What's more the book was passed on to my first born, also 10 at the time,  who loved to read. One thing I'm VERY sure of is that he didn't copy what I wrote because of parental discord!
To be fair, all of my childhood Christmases were not so tragic. In fact, I wouldn't have Fred Waring without my parent's influence, as well as a host of other good things. It's so easy to judge, not so easy to forgive and forget, however, isn't that what Christmas is all about?

One last thing--that book was just as compelling as I remembered it!

Monday, December 13, 2010


By now I'm sure you're a wee bit weary of my raving about Fred Waring. It's that time of the year my friends where I just can't help myself.  Here's what I found out about Mr. Waring and his wonderful Pennsylvanians: What I love so much about  Christmas Magic is hard to put into words, however, you suspected I'd try, didn't you? The music is pure and innocent, with clear voices telling the beloved Christmas story with what seems to be genuine love for the subject. Fans of harmonies need look no further. And to think it was all done with real instruments! Genius is what I have to say! I checked it out on Amazon, and I was delighted to read a comment from someone saying they gave it as a gift and the woman screamed with delight. Furthermore, it went on to say that you'd have thought the gift was a million dollars the recipient was so thrilled. Admit it, you thought I was the only one, didn't you?

I've been working on a sitting project forcing me to watch a little tv. One evening last week I had on a college basketball game when Bruce called. Arriving in his hotel room, he turned on the television first thing, telling me that Glee was on. I've been curious about that show, so turning to my handy channel guide, I found the station. I liked it. During a commercial break they showed a clip from the show that follows Glee,  Raising Hope, which looked pretty stupid to me. However, and that's a big however, it turned out to be hilarious! Loved it. I hope I remember what night it was on to watch it again. After seeing the show, I called Jonathan, my television guru, asking him what he knew about it. He raved.

Speaking of Jonathan, they are delighted with Austin to date, never more so than when seeing the Chicago weather! Brutal this weekend. Apparently, several days after our departure, the winter weather set in with a vengeance; we were lucky to get out of there when we did! With the end of the regular college football season I've nothing to watch on Saturday. Still working on the project, I perused our meager DVD collection, discovering Simon & Garfunkel, Live at Central Park, a gift from Jonathan which I'd never watched. Oh my, was it wonderful. Wonderful. Spare and lush at the same time. The pure, clear voice of Art Garfunkel gave me the shivers it's so beautiful. Paul Simon's lyrics and musicianship are brilliant. Here I go all gushing about harmonies again, however, I can't help myself, I love genuine talent.

I'm admitting that the weather forecasters were correct yesterday. Soon after finishing my blog post, the clouds and wind rolled in before you could say boo! Not much rain which we needed but gloom prevailed for the remainder of the day. Bruce worked non stop catching up with 300+ emails while I continued my project. Bruce put in the film, Love Actually, which never fails to get him in the Christmas spirit. Myself, I can never stop the tears from flowing watching that film, particularly the ending. Good stuff.

Michelle called asking if we'd like to go see "Trans-Siberian Orchestra" at the new Amway Arena with them later on. Bruce declined due to working on the blasted email, however, I thought, "why not?" Increasingly with age, I remind myself to have new experiences. Because she purchased two tickets I needed a date. Lisa--busy. Maureen--didn't answer the phone. Angela--having a party. It was then that I thought of Trish, Mr. Roger's wife. If anyone loves an adventure it is Trish. She's pictured in our fancy seats, calling Roger to tell him about the waiter mishap moments earlier. Apparently the server must have tripped on the steps because one moment we were good, the next, beer was flying everywhere including all over Trish! As a recovering alcoholic she wanted to assure Roger she'd not gone off the wagon!

If you've ever wondered what a TSO concert is like, check out the slideshow, because words escape me to describe the excess. Talk about sensory overload! Lights, movement, fire, music, you name it, they provide it. You want to see musicians on cat walks over the audience? You've come to the right place.  Seriously, I know my rock concert experience is limited so maybe it happens all the time but I couldn't get over the hair swinging. For those of you who remember seeing Bill perform during his Eternal Flames days, ( with long, flowing blonde hair, you can picture it immediately. Not to belabor the point, but they even swung their hair in time, say like the Supremes used to sway, or the Four Tops used to have dance moves-- they have hair moves. Seriously, I told Trish they run the risk of whip lash! All in all, I'm glad to have gone, but as David said on our way out, he's happy to have seen it once, but he's not turning into a groupie.              

Time to go cover the plants once again as a deep freeze is forecast for tonight, like 27 degrees. Where, I ask is global warming when we need it?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Playing Hooky

We didn't plan it this way. Seriously, it has nothing to do with having fun at a 50th birthday dinner party for Michael last night!
The birthday boy and his wonderful wife Jane are to Bruce's right. Everything about it was perfect with spirited conversation and laughter filling the air throughout the evening. While there I realized I'd spent my 50th birthday at a New Year's Eve party at their home. Seems like forever ago....

As we were driving down Delaney I noticed my friend Kristen's driveway lined with lighted candy canes. It was then that I realized I'd forgotten to go to her party earlier in the day! Duh! Yesterday morning I had a nagging feeling I was supposed to go somewhere know my memory!

When it rains it pours as they say. Wouldn't you just know it, we had invitations to two other parties last night which we declined in favor of the birthday party. And speaking of rain, that's why we're home on a Sunday morning. As last as yesterday afternoon the weather forecast was for a 70% chance of rain, however as is more often the case than not, they were wrong, or, at least for now. Outside my office window the sky is so blue it almost hurts your eyes with nary a cloud to be seen. I'm probably missing my best chance for Christmas sales today, but I'm okay with that because this gives Mr. Bruce an opportunity to have the day off before he leaves again for the bitter cold in the morning.

Weather predictions for here are nothing like what he will encounter in Massachusetts, however unseasonably cold air seems to be coming our way. Remember I told you I'd covered all of the plants last week, using everything I could find? Well, while removing them, I counted the myriad of blankets, sheets, beach towels, and old curtains with the count rising to 23! It seems as if I'll be doing that again this week, however, if today's weather is any indication of forecasting, I won't have to bother. Time will tell.

On Friday Mr. Baxter got his holiday haircut, not to mention a little scarf printed with Joy, Joy, Joy. Which, as you well know, fits him perfectly as he brings so much joy to this little household. Anyway, when Allisa (the groomer, not to be confused with Alissa the girlfriend) brings him back into the house he goes crazy rubbing himself on any fabric he can find. Here he is after a heavy dose of rubbing on the couch:
He's panting from the effort! Don't you just love those big brown eyes?

Christmas decorations are irresistible to a photographer, or at least to this blogger/photographer. Here's a few of my favorite ornaments and the tree again in yesterday's afternoon light.
 The above little felt bird is one I couldn't resist from Crate & Barrel.
Pictured below is one of my favorite ornaments; maybe it's the simplicity I like, can't tell you. Nor can I tell you where I got it, but I do know it's handmade, which is always a good thing in my book!
Serious Christmas shopping has been lacking so far, however, on Friday night Bruce and I went to the mall to spend some gift cards at Tiffany. You'd think that would be fairly easy, having gift cards courtesy of Delta and the frequent flier program, but it wasn't because I'm not one for fancy jewelry.
We did have a lovely woman helping us look around in the back where they keep the less pricey goods; after much trying on, Bruce picked out some things for yours truly. We didn't realize the store closed early, and as such, they had a guard at the door to escort us. Let's just say it was like getting out of Fort Knox! Or something like that. Thus, I persuaded my honey to pose in front of the closed doors!

While we're on the subject of Christmas gifts, in September I asked Bruce if he'd like me to make the desk calendars he gives to his contractors and co-workers. He agreed it would be a great idea before the rush of the season. As well, he asked if I'd make one which started in October because he'd given his away and would like a replacement. Sure thing honey. The box of twenty arrived within weeks and has been quietly awaiting the season. Well.......on Friday morning Bruce opened the box, discovering that instead of twenty of the annual calendar there were evenly divided between calendars beginning in October 2010 and January 2011. Yikes! Fortunately the operator at Vista Prints was ever so helpful,  correcting the order, with promises of a timely arrival. So much for being prepared! Actually, I did check one out when they arrived, unfortunately it was from the "good" stack.

Don't you just love coming across interesting blogs? I don't know how I found this one, but apparently my prediction that doilies might make a comeback isn't too far off. They've given them a modern twist, not to mention a new spelling:

Lastly, I told you I liked snow globes:

 Happy Sunday my dear ones.

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

My version anyway.

My friend Pam invited me to join her last evening at a WWW party in Southern Oaks. For those of you unfamiliar with Southern Oaks, it's the beautiful subdivision, if I may call it that, across from ours. Here's more information on the neighborhood than anyone could want: I was hoping to find something to back up something I'd always thought, which is that it was the first walled subdivision in Orlando. Got to keep the riff raff out right? Although there is every other kind of statistic, there is no history.

In any case, when people ask me where we live, here's how the conversation goes:

  • "Do you know where Southern Oaks is?"
  • "Of course."
  • "Well, we don't live there, we're across the street."
It's that well known. So, you ask, what is a WWW party? Stands for Women Who Wine, which as we all know, is a perfect fit for yours truly. The home was just beautiful, not to mention huge! As in thousands and thousands of square feet. Decorations--check. And check again. Everywhere you looked the hostess managed to slip some Christmas into the decor. Which is something I just don't get, however, I do like to look at others efforts. This little gathering was slated for 5-6:30 which seems like a lot of work for such a short time. Then again, maybe not so much work because everyone was asked to bring either a bottle of wine or an appetizer. Which brings me to a bit of a rant. I don't like this idea one bit, for several reasons, which, because you are reading this blog, you'll have to bear with me . First and foremost, I don't think guests should have to pitch in at all. Period. According to the dictionary, a guest is defined as, "one who is a recipient of hospitality at the home or table of another." Secondly, what if everyone brings white wine? What if everyone brings artichoke dip? What if there is no vegan friendly food? Need I say more?

Nonetheless, like a good little modern guest I brought these:
It's been a very long time since we hosted a large party at our home, but I do recall these being a bit hit at one of our parties. Cuttle little buggers huh?

After a brief visit at Pam's house following the party, which is very lovely as well, I came home to my darling Bruce watching "Road House." I asked him what he thought about this:
To which he replied--"too modern?' I used the question mark on purpose because he wasn't sure. After leaving Crate & Barrel yesterday I decided to stop by West Elm before leaving the mall. What a snow globe fest in there! In case you don't know this about me, I'm a sucker for snow globes. Picking up one I thought, hmm...should I, or shouldn't I? Should I won the battle. Here's a closer look at the one I chose:
This is no ordinary snow globe my friends. No sir, it's an awesome one with so much "snow" that when you shake it, the owl disappears only to re-emerge with little flakes on the head. Darling.

Last week I mentioned that I'd purchased a new lens and would discuss it a future date. That future date has arrived. It's made by Panasonic and it's a 20mm, F1.7; what they call a "pancake lens." It's terrific. In the days when not everyone was a photographer, including myself, a lens of this type was included with the 35mm single lens reflex camera kit. Not so anymore because variable lenses are cheaper to produce. The beauty of this lens is how fast it is under poor lighting conditions. Every few months new cameras come out, however, lost in all the hoopla is that the most important piece of equipment a photographer owns, aside from their own eyes, is the lens. The Panasonic and Olympus lens are interchangeable on the micro four thirds system and everyone knows I'm partial to Panasonic. Here are a few examples I wanted to share, with a little explanation on how I took them. This one is taken using the preset on the camera body for night scenery:
The camera does all the deciding for the shooter, in this case, me. Below, I chose the white balance and film speed:
You would think it was taken in the daytime, as bright as it is. Somewhere in the middle would be ideal, which I'm hoping to achieve with lots of practice. The top ones looks mighty cozy doesn't it?

So it's looking like Christmas around here, and it's most definitely sounding like it, with Fred Waring blaring out every chance I get, and now it's time to tackle some shopping, card writing and hopefully this year, some baking. After all, if I don't bake Pinwheels this year for Bruce it would be the first Christmas he's ever gone without. For me, the music of Christmas is probably what I love the most, for Bruce, his Mom's pinwheel cookies! We'll be missing her this Christmas for more than her cookies.

You Just Never Know