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December 2013


As Garden Buddha will tell you . . .


we had a bit of an ice storm here on Saturday night.

I took my camera out and . . . carefully . . . captured my coated surroundings.

First, in my own backyard. . .





And then out . . . in the neighborhood.





By mid-afternoon, the ice was melted.  

Today . . . a little snow.

(It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!)

Can't Drive . . . 55

Today, I bring you a VERY lame music video . . . on this VERY special day.


I remember when Tom got his very first real job . . . once he'd gotten his PhD and finished his post-doctoral research . . . (we looked kind of like this; 1987-ish)


Tom was very young back then.  Eager.  Motivated.  Active.  A real whipper-snapper.  And his co-workers - slightly older, cynical, settled, and certainly more paunchy - felt the need to let Tom know . . . What Was What.  You know . . . now that he was in the "real world" and all.

Wait til you're 30!  It all goes downhill once you're 30!

After you have kids?  Oh, yeah.  It all goes downhill once you have kids!

Just wait til you're 40!  It all goes downhill once you're 40!

Just wait til you're 50!  It all goes downhill once you're 50!

Blah.  Blah.  Blah.

So, today?

Well, today . . . Tom turns 55!


Still eager.

Still motivated.

Still active.

Still a whipper-snapper.

Those old, cynical, settled, paunchy guys?  They got it all wrong!

Tom . . .


just can't drive . . . 55!*

Happy Birthday!


*(And especially not in his new little Turbo Mini.)

Throwback Thursday: From Deep in The Archives, a 2-Fer

To share this story, I had to dig deep into The Archives -- those photos pre-digital and stuck rather hapharzadly into an early scrapbook-style photo album.  With archival glue.  Never to be scanned.

But this story is worth it.  

It was Christmas Eve, 1996.  I was a worn-out, hassled Mom . . . looking for a way to take the edge off a Most Exciting Day for my kids.  (My kids got VERY excited about everything-Christmas, all season long.  But by Christmas Eve, we're talking Fever Pitch.)

I decided we'd bake some extra-special Santa cookies to leave for Santa Claus that night.

I made red and white batches of sugar cookie dough.

We rolled and shaped and decorated.

Little cookie girl

Erin (2nd grade) was VERY into the Santa cookie making.  Brian (preschool) lost interest in the blink of an eye.

In the end, the cookies were magnificent!


I piped on frosting for the beard and Santa-embellishment, and we left the cookies on the counter to "settle" while we went to church.

When we came back, I noticed that Tom (dear man!) had put the cookies away for me -- although one arm had fallen off and was still laying on the counter.

I got my near-frenzied kids into their jammies, ready to hang their stockings (with care!) and set out the cookies for Santa Himself.

Honey, where did you put the Santa cookies?

Blank stare.

Like . . . deer-in-the-headlights stare.

I thought YOU put them away!


Seems NOBODY put the Santa cookies away.

And that's when Jake . . . our dog . . . skulked in.


Seems JAKE . . . put the cookies away.

Leaving one little Santa arm behind.

Erin cried.

And that photo, above, was the closest any of us ever got to one of those magnificent Santa cookies!


While I was digging in The Archives, I also found a couple of photos from one of our very early gingerbread house decorating sessions.


Here's my Mom -- in 1997.  That year, she was teamed up with Brian -- who, in his Kindergarten-level zeal, stuck on the first piece of candy and collapsed her whole masterpiece!  (I decided to leave out the photo of my Mom's clenched-teeth smile as she assured him it was . . . Just fine, Brian.  Really.  Just FINE.)

And here's Erin (3rd grade) - my partner-in-gingerbread that year, putting the finishing touches on our house.


Christmas memories are such fun!

Words on a Tree Skirt

Many, many years ago (in 1983, to be exact), I spent many an evening stitching a tree skirt.


Tom was in graduate school then, working hard in the lab.  All the time.  And though I worked during the day, my evenings were free for things like . . . reading and stitching.

I remember buying the kit for this tree skirt with my mom on one of our shopping trips to Denver (Tom and I lived in Fort Collins, Colorado at the time).  I didn't really like it.  But it was on clearance -- and cheap.


At the time, I figured I'd use the tree skirt for a few years, and then replace it with one I liked better.

Yet.  Here it is.  30 years (and 30 trees) later.


I wouldn't have it any other way!

A Cultural Mish-Mash


The Christmas holiday is full of tradition . . . family traditions, cultural traditions, "new" traditions.  You name it, we got it!

This year, Carole has us thinking about those traditions we observe, whether cultural or otherwise.  In my family, we celebrate a lot of Swedish traditions, and that's probably as "cultural" as we get.  But we also celebrate lots of who-knows-what traditions that we've just . . . made up . . . or adopted over the years.

Really.  It's a mish-mash!

Some of our most celebrated traditions:

1.  Advent Calendars


2.  The Swedish Smörgåsbord on Christmas Eve


3.  Gingerbread Houses


4.  The Nativity Set


5.  Family Stocking Stuffer Exchange


6.  Spode Christmas China


7.  Baking cookies on Christmas Eve


8.  Pepparkakor


9.  Light


10.  Glögg  . . .


or Martinis . . .


there's always . . . holiday spirit . . . in our family!

How about YOU?  What traditions does your family celebrate at the Christmas holidays?


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.



The Payoff

In the fall, most gardeners I know are adamant about cleaning up their gardens and preparing them for the winter.  I do this, too.  But I do it . . . selectively.  

I cut back and prune some of my fall-dying plants.

But not all of them.


Sure.  It means I have more work to do in the spring.

But I don't mind.


Winter is long here in Michigan.

And bleak.


I just like to leave some plants behind -- those that have a certain structure and beauty . . . even when they're dead and dormant -- to capture the snow.

And turn my garden into a winter wonderland!


For me, this is the payoff!

Just Like Me in Five Easy Steps

Last week, I was waiting for my manicure appointment, and my "nail gal" was running late.  The receptionist at the salon brought me a cup of tea . . . and the latest issue of Glamour magazine.


Now, I don't know about you all, but I haven't looked at a Glamour magazine since my early 20s.

Let me assure you:  Nothing has changed!  (I haven't missed a thing.)

There was a time, long, long ago, when I couldn't WAIT for the newsest issue of Glamour magazine to arrive.  Back in high school and college, I would pour over the trends . . . and the fashion dos-and-don'ts . . . and the hair and  beauty tips.

Get Christie Brinkley's sun-kissed cheeks in 3 easy steps!

Get Cheryl Tiegs' bright eyes in 8 easy steps!

Follow Cybil Shepherd's exercise routine for that natural glow - in 5 easy steps!

I always tried it.  Because . . . maybe THAT was the trick to being beautiful and getting a boyfriend!  (Yes.  I totally bought in to that social construct when I was a teen.)  In the end, I was always disappointed.  Because, no matter how faithfully I followed the steps, I still looked Just Like Me.  (Ultimately, I became Just Fine with looking Just Like Me.  And I got a boyfriend, too!)

So.  Anyway.  There I sat last week.  30 years later.  Waiting.  With my tea and a Glamour magazine.  Turning pages.  Snorting to myself about what a worthless magazine it (still) is.  Laughing at myself for even flipping through the pages.

And then I saw it:  Copy Olivia Wilde's Sexy Smoky Eye in 5 easy steps!  

(Seriously.  Click here.)

I couldn't look away!  Out of a deeply-ingrained curiosity about how-the-beautiful-do-it I checked out the sexy, smoky eye.  And then, well ... you know, I had to try it!  

The very next morning, I assembled my "tools". . .


and launched the 5 easy steps to achieve Olivia's eye!


I had a grand time . . . outlining and blending and shadowing and highlighting.

But after Step 5, you know what?



(Just Like Me.)

Despite the detailed instructions and illustrated how-tos, Olivia Wilde's sexy, smoky eye (I guess she only has ONE) are the exclusive property of Olivia Wilde . . . and her genetics . . . and her make-up artist.  The sexy, smoky eye will remain elusive for regular people.

And I'm Just Fine with that!

Happy Friday!