Friday, December 28, 2012

Somehow it all came together

Every year I have a moment of utter, sheer panic as the 25th of December approaches and I think of all the things that I have to do and the short period of time I have to get it all done and then I do the math and circuits start firing in my brain.  And then, somehow, everything comes together.
This year, LAM decided to help decorate the tree, which was a first.  Among his contributions was a pair of angry looking chipmunks that he hung to look like they were plotting the quick exit of all this junk hanging in their home.  They weren't successful.
Stockings were hung, the fireplace blazed, we were surrounded by family and a good time was had by all.  My uber-picky nephew even asked for a third helping of beef tenderloin with gorgonola sauce, so I'm guessing the meal was a hit.

Santa was very clever this year and I found this little guy in my stocking.  This will be one that I don't think I can bear to pack away, so I just might have to find him a permanent home where I can enjoy him all year.
In keeping with the fox hunting theme, Santa is also working on a new piece similar to the one pictured above.  I can't wait to see it.
Based on a conversation with LAM about wonderful things coming in orange boxes, it seems that Santa also had some equestrian help this year as depicted by this charming Alice Charbin drawing for Hermes.
And of course, one can never, ever go wrong with an orange box.

In my stocking was another lovely little item in a blue box, that sadly did not fit...

So now I have to find a replacement, which really is not a tragedy at all...

Perhaps the Kelly bracelet?

Or the Cartouche bracelet?

Or perhaps the T Anthony Dressage tote, which could be a perfect work bag? 

Decisions, decisions...

Hope everyone had a sparkly, warm holiday!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ready or Not...

I recently found an unintended use for the plastic bag holders in my etsy shop (I apologize that there aren't many in there right now, but stay tuned...).  I was on my way to a holiday party and was planning on bringing a bottle of wine as a hostess gift.  Not sure what to wrap it in (a gift bag just seemed too boring), I looked to Pinterest for ideas and saw that some very clever people had found unique dish towels and wrapped their bottles in those.  Cute idea, and I was all set to do that when I saw this bag holder that I had just finished and it occurred to me that the bungee open end might fit around the top of a wine bottle, so I played with it and wrapped it up and voilĂ --instant cute, unique gift.

Whenever inspiration strikes me in this way, it normally becomes the catalyst for me to start believing that I can really pull the holiday off one way or another.  This one broke the seal, so it's full steam ahead.  This morning I read Pigtown Design's Christmas Quiz, and loved reading the answers so much that I decided to share mine with all of you.  When I read blogs, I really enjoy seeing photos of the author's home, family and reading about things they like, etc.  Voyeristic, maybe, but it gives me an insight into what makes that person tick--and usually makes me like them even more!  At any rate, here are my responses.  I would love to read yours!

1.  Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot Chocolate definately, but I really prefer wine.  Champagne if it's really good.
2.  Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?  Always wrap!  I actually spend an insane amount of time wrapping gifts and always look for special paper and trimmings and then my family feels guilty ripping it all off.  I think I've permanently scarred one of my step-sons for life since he practically cries opening his gifts.
3.  Colored Lights on tree/house or white? Alway white and non-twinkle, moving or LED--just bright, shiny and happy.
4.  Do you hang Mistletoe? No, it's poison and I don't want to kill my dogs.
5.  When do you put your decorations up?  I start December 1 and the tree usually goes up about two weeks before Christmas.
6.  What is your favorite holiday dish? Carrot Souffle.  It's my specialty.
7.  Favorite holiday memory as a child? Fetching my Grandmother at the bus station.  It was always the start of everything awesome.
8.  When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Sadly, I'm not sure I believed in Santa for very long.  I remember always being extremely skeptical.
9.  Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No
10.  How do you decorate your Christmas tree? I have a vast collection of unusual ornaments.  Most are handmade--the more detail they have, the more I like them.  White lights, wooden cranberry beads and velvet ribbons.
11.  Snow: Love it or hate? Love it.  Period.
12.  Can you ice skate? Yes, I taught myself to figure skate when I was 37 and never looked back.  One of my very favorite activities.
13.  Do you remember your favorite gift? It was unintentional.  We took our Border Collie Nick in as a foster on December 15, 2007 and he never left.
14.  What is the most important thing about the holidays for you? Bringing warmth, light and love into my home in a time when all three are scarce.
15.  What is your favorite holiday dessert? I don't really have one, but I love chocolate chip cookies all the time!
16.  What is your favorite holiday tradition? Stockings.  I try hard to find the most wonderful things for stuffing and I love it when we finish opening our gifts and then remember that we still have the stockings!
17.  What tops your tree? We have the coolest tree topper ever.  It's an old LL Bean decoration that we call "The Happy Woodsman".  He's a lumberjack and wears a plaid shirt and boots.  He has bushy white hair and a beard, so everyone just thinks he's Santa, but he's not.  I keep threatening to outfit him with a little ax.
18.  What do you prefer--gifting or receiving? Gifting, definately!  I can't sleep on Christmas Eve because I'm so excited about the gifts I will be giving.
19.  What is your favorite Christmas song? The entire Nutcracker Suite
20.  Candy Canes? Do NOT like them.
21.  Favorite Christmas movie?  Love Actually.  It's not a contest.  I love the scenes with Jamie and Aurelia the best.
22What do you leave out for Santa? Nothing.  The dogs would eat it.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A look to the positive side

"Whenever I get gloomy about the state of the world, I think of the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport". ~Love Actually

Best first line of a movie ever, particularly in light of the previous week's events.  It's a reminder that love is all around us, all we have to do is look for it.  If there is any shred of anything good that can possibly come out of a tragedy (any kind of tragedy), it is that the rest of us are reminded just how very lucky we are.  This quote is also somewhat fitting for me in that in an effort to remain positive, I am looking to good things planned for the future, such as a  trip to the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport, as fate would have it.

It is no secret that I love to fly.  In fact, the best part of any trip for me is actually the anticipation.  The packing.  The careful choosing of just the best of the best version of yourself that you will present to a new destination or one that you haven't seen for some time.  Then, you wake yourself at (usually) some absurd hour of the morning, but you are glad to do it, because you're getting on a plane!  Simply being in the airport has its people watching, duty free shopping, unusual magazine perusing benefits.  There is always something new to see and experience.

In my effervescing anticipation, I decided that one of LAM's Christmas presents this year would be a proper carry-on.  He has one, and it is nice, but it is actually a rollaboard garment bag and not really properly sized.  Invariably, it ends up gate-checked and it is awkward to pack and handle.  I hadn't given much thought to what I might replace it with and then I read Maxminimus' famous Tumi rant and ran away screaming from that idea--not that I really needed his help.  I have been on company "trips" with the Presidents Club douche rockets who carry the Tumi and bellow into their cell phones upwards of 90 decibals.  For us, quality and style are paramount.  Generally, we'll pay more for something if we know it will be around forever, or at least a very, very long time and so, the first choice that popped into my gray matter was the Rimowa Topas:
It says many things to the world, not the least of which is that you aren't the sort of person with whom to mess around.  You could be anyone--CEO of a major corporation, celebrity, or simply someone who understands and enjoys German engineering in all of it's aluminum glory.  But then, there is one flaw--the price tag.  If either of us traveled for a living, it would be a no-brainer, but we don't and I'm not entirely certain that this is really LAM's style.  A somewhat lower cost option would be the Rimowa Salsa:

Essentially the same bag, but made of a ballistic polycarbonate.  It actually weighs less than its aluminum big brother and looks almost as cool, but as with hard sided cases, it has no external pockets, which can only mean one thing: I will get the pleasure of carrying all of LAM's items that need accessability (wallet, glasses, magazines, etc.) in my tote bag, which will already be too heavy carrying all of my stuff.

In the end, I actually ended up going with the Bric Pronto spinner model.  Somehow, it seemed more his style, nice and light and the ballistic hunter green was unusual.  During my searching, the following models must be given an honorable mention.  First another Bric product, the Pininfarina made my toes curl:
I mean, come on, carrying something with the words "Pininfarina" on it cannot hope to be anything but cool.  I suspect that if LAM does not like the bag he is getting, this might be an option for an exchange.  I passed it up, because again, it had no external pockets.
Another viable option was this Victorinox model, which happens to be my carry-on.  It is beautifully constructed and I love it, but it weighs a lot more than it should.
Another hardsided option was the Zero Halliburton.  These babies ruled the skies in the 80's and 90's and while it is cool, it's priced equally with Rimowa and as I could not find one to touch and feel in person, it ended up off of the list.  We'll see what LAM thinks about his present and which one ends up joining us on that big 'ol jet plane.

Stay positive everyone.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Plans

This may be putting the cart before the horse, but I have made my New Year's plans.  Last year was such an unqualified disaster that I decided I had to do some research for this year.  Every New Year's Eve, LAM and I have a nice dinner and see a movie.  Our favorite movie spot is our local gem the Anthony Wayne.
Originally opened in 1928, and then extensively renovated in 1997 and then again in 2007 for stadium seating and other modern amenities, it is the perfect blend of nostalgic movie-going with modern technology.  It is truly extraordinary and often shows independent films as well as main stream releases.

Last year, we had an exchange student from Japan living with us and I decided that a movie in this theater would be the perfect American holiday experience for her.  Unfortunately, I chose a movie based solely upon its reviews without actually reading them.  I chose, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", without having read the book or having any idea what it was about.  Needless to say, about 20 minutes into the movie, I grabbed my 17 year old host daughter and we flew out of that theater as fast as our feet would carry us hoping that her little mind would not be warped forever.  It was an epic failure.  We came home and watched "Midnight in Paris" on demand in our family room.  The movie was delightful, but the theater experience was not quite the same.  I am determined not to repeat the experience, so I chose early.  This year's selection will be "Hyde Park on Hudson".
It is described as "The story of the love affair between FDR and his distant cousin Margaret Suckley centered around the weekend in 1939 when the King and Queen of the United Kingdom visited upstate New York.
So far the reviews have been mixed, but I think it will be a fun ride never the less.  It will be interesting to see a glimpse of the world that many have wondered about, but little is known.  I'm excited to see it.  It's being released (fittingly) on December 7.