Thursday, December 22, 2016

A CHRISTMAS WRAP... COOKIES, CRAZINESS & CELEBRATIONS IN BLONDIEVILLE



Ho, ho, ho!  Where have you been, Jane?  Well, Christmas prep is rearing its ugly head.  I'm running here and yonder, ordering gifts online, unpacking and wrapping gifts, planning the menu, shopping for our Christmas morning brunch, and...making sweets to bring to family gatherings.  Deep breaths.  

I am now applauding, and I mean out~of~my~seat applauding you savvy ladies who start everything right after Thanksgiving.  The other day I had an incredible light bulb moment.  I thought to myself, "Self, you have 5 more days until Christmas.  You are good.  You are fine.  The decorating is almost done and you are nearing the finish line in wrapping presents.  All is good, Self."  And then I nearly keeled over with the realization that I was actually happy to finish decorating by Christmas day.  What?  This is a real Dickens nightmare come true.  What happened to enjoying your festive home before Christmas?  That day I packed up the remains of my sporadic holiday decorating and brought it all downstairs.  I swept up the glitter and organized all of my present trimmings; the bows and ribbon and excessive rolls of Scotch tape.  Christmas enjoyment has officially begun.  

I want to laugh (in a small way).  All of those tips I wrote about and shared with you a few weeks ago.  I posted them on this blog partly because I was so swamped I could barely write a post!  But things are moving along now.  I've lowered the expectations as many of you recommended.  What a sigh of relief that is.  I sometimes wonder why some of us push and push to make things so perfect to the point of exhausting ourselves.  Well, I have a very wise friend who tells me we sometimes feel that something so good, like a sweet treat or a beautifully decorated room, will be even more spectacular with more, much more.  We never seem to know when to say, "Enough."  Wise words...they didn't fall on deaf ears.   



I apologize for the color quality of these photos.  Night time pictures are always difficult for me to edit with zero natural lighting.  I believe 2017 will be the year to get better acquainted with my faithful old camera.  

After I last wrote I went to my favorite nursery for our tree.  I've written about this place many times over the years.  I go here to get my trees, my spring flowers and fall pumpkins and mums.  And I've been doing it since my kids were babies.  It's a bit different now...I get a little more anxious to get the tree in time to let the branches fall a bit before decorating.  The Husband sometimes doesn't get home from work until 7:00 p.m.  And then he is in charge of hauling that baby in and making room for it in our tiny living room.  This year our tree (seen above) is the smallest I've ever bought.  It actually looks bigger than it is in this picture...maybe it's the glowing lights.  



The Husband has been making fires non stop but then again I suppose you know about our cold Chicago winter thus far.  He likes to go to bed early so I continue to stoke it gently for the heat until my eyes are heavy.  It's also a good excuse to bask in the glow of the tree and reflect, dream and plan. 

I had these stockings custom made a few years ago.  The Husband cut out wood rounds from his enormous pile of firewood at the lake, drilled holes in them to hang, and I stamped the names of our kids on each round.  And no, new dear readers, we do not have 8 children (although I shockingly came from a family of 7!), they are my kid's husbands and wives/partners.  With no additional room I have granddaughters Elsie and Madelyn's stockings hanging off a shelf out of view.  



Emily helps me with the lights.  Her motto is, "No branch should be without lights."  It works for me.  And I love my tree jam packed with a mish mash of ornaments.  I have such an abundance.  My favorite is that replica of a shopping bag from Marshall Field & Co.  If I'm boring longtime blog readers...sorry.  My best memories are the three years I worked in downtown Chicago (about ten years ago) and my desk faced a window on the 8th floor of our building looking out over Washington and State St.  Right smack in front of me was Marshall Field and the iconic clock.  I still remember that incredible sadness when Macy's took it over.  This bag is a little remembrance and yes, I bought it there the last Christmas Fields was Fields.  Sniff, sniff.  



I mentioned in one of my last posts that I like to decorate cheap dollar store bags to fill with gifts.  I've been using this cute little reindeer for a long time.  I buy the white and craft paper bags~~~they are sold in large and small and they are a $1 for two.  Yes!  I have a few fun stamps, and you can go simple like this or all out.  This year I was a little feverish about having enough bags so I think I may need to look for some stamps for other occasions. ;-D



This is actually Layla's chair in the den but every once in a while Milo steals it.  She is clearly not happy about that as evidenced in this photo.  She spends a lot of time under my bed close to the radiators along the wall.  These floors are so cold, I know.  I've taken to wearing woolly socks and I really do not like socks at all.  She has gotten so fat...er, has outgrown her sweater so I picked up another at HomeGoods.  Blasted dog was out of it in about a minute.  

It seems the cold affected the whole country as well as Canada.  We were below zero a few days and nights.  I really treasure a day when I know I have no where to be and no errands to run and that just happened to be this past Monday and as the fates would have it, a -5 degree day.  I stayed in my PJ's and got a lot done including some reading...yay! Yesterday I had a list a mile long and as I ran in and out of every place, I said a few thanks that it was 19 degrees and not -5.  It really makes a difference.  Yeah, yeah, yeah...she's boasting about how the Midwesterners are of such hearty stock.  Well, I'll tell you where I totally cave.  We dress in layers; a long sleeve shirt, a heavy sweater or sweatshirt, warm pants, thick socks and insulted boots (I like Northface) as well as a hat, scarf and mittens.  All bases covered, right?  Well, what usually follows is you are in a store or the post office or wherever, and after you thaw out you sort of start to feel warm and the wool is now scratching your skin.  Soon your layers have turned into a sort of sauna and you are yanking at your scarf and using it to wipe your brow.  If the snow, rain or wind didn't get to your hair, the sweat is now making it hang limp or in my case, frizz up.  Sheet.  That cold air really invigorates you when you finally step outside...19 degrees is heavenly.   

I have a few more gifts to wrap and I'm going to start my baking.  This year I'm making fudge, just the recipe on the back the Tollhouse chocolate chip bag.  It's been years and I just don't want to search THE BEST FUDGE recipe on Google or Pinterest.  I make pretzels dipped in almond bark every year as well as sugar cookies.  This year I have a great recipe from Doreen at Fox Den Road where you spread raspberry jam on the cookie after baking and top it with another cookie in which you have punched holes with a straw.  You can then see the bright red of the jam.  They are so pretty!  And I also have a new bar cookie recipe which involves graham crackers, a 'from scratch toffee', chocolate and chopped pecans...all in layers.  I'm gaining weight just thinking about them.  I'll take pictures and include links to the recipes if, and only IF they turn out!

I know I won't have a minute to post in the next few days...lots of festivities and parties.  I'm so looking forward to Christmas morning when all of our kids are here laughing, opening gifts, finding a few things we knew they needed and many surprises.  Elsie is at the perfect age, 22 months, to really go gaga over the presents and fun.  Having our precious 6 week old Madelyn is the icing on the cake. I have two pregnant daughter in laws and I feel my heart swell when I truly stop to think of it all.  It trumps all of the time we put into making the holidays perfect.  We gather together, smile, hug and laugh.  We eat and drink and get really merry (!!!), and we forget our problems for awhile.

So in ending, I'm wishing all of you a wonderful and blessed Christmas.  Your friendship means so much to me.  Thanks so much for all of your support in my new writing endeavors this year and for continuing to follow when my posts are so erratic.  I promise to get better.

Fa la la la la
...and a partridge in a pear tree! 

Jane xxxx



38 comments:

Val said...

Merry Christmas to busy little YOU, Jane. :) Good luck with your fudge! And yes, take time to enjoy the view you've created. :)

Love,

Val ♥

Kathleen Grace said...

Merry Christmas Jane! I came tot he same realization that you did, I need to start so much earlier next year so I have time to just enjoy the decorations! I know I already know that, but sometimes in November it seems too early. I'm making a note on the new calendar when I get it. Decorate before Thanksgiving!
Your tree and décor is beautiful, I'm glad you are giving yourself some time to enjoy it. I KNOW you'll have fun with those sweet grandbabies and the kids this year. Two more grandbabies on the way? You have so much fun and joy to look forward to!

podso said...

You sound happily busy! I think some of the fun of Christmas is in the traditional preparations we do each year and it sounds like you have many of them. Your tree and mantle are gorgeous and look festive and cozy. Stay warm in your Chicago chill and have a wonderful Christmas together.

It's me said...

Merry x mas Jane....love Ria x ❤️❤️❤️

Vicki @ lifeinmyemptynest said...

Merry Christmas Jane! I was just joking yesterday about how 20 degrees now seems like a heat wave. It has been cold!

Susie said...

Blondie, Your home is looking so beautiful for Christmas. I loved seeing the tree. Clever idea of marking the stockings with the wood rounds. Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas and a healthy New year. I am so thrilled to be part of your blogging family. xoxo, Susie

ann said...

Dear Jane, reading your blog is like sitting down with a friend and good cup of coffee or tea. We had the same cold blast of sub zero weather along with snow roar through here. It warmed up some yesterday. I love your tree. I gave up fresh trees years ago because they dried out fast, making such a mess. I do like your photos of your tree because they have that nice warm glow by the fire. With only hours left, I hope you can enjoy the moments. You have written beautifully about the frenzy that we all feel and some how reading about others frantic moments make us feel better. Merry Christmas.

Decor To Adore said...

You are doing great Jane! In days of old, and still in Europe, many trees are decorated on Christmas Eve to be enjoyed for the 12 days of Christmas. The first of which is Christmas Day and ends on Epiphany ~ January 6th.

Wishing you all the love, joy and peace of season as well as a very Happy New Year!

Simply LKJ said...

Merry Christmas Jane! We've had some crazy weather here...70s then 30s the next...

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

This has been a simple, less is more Christmas season for me and I am loving it. Your tree, fireplace and stockings a wonderful Jane. Wishing you and your husband a very Merry Christmas and wonderful 2017.

Debby said...

I love reading your posts. It's funny how things get busy but as we get older we know how to slow it down a bit.
It's so much fun when those grand babies start coming. We had three in one year . They were all six weeks apart. We are loving our new baby. Both of her parents are challenged which is challenging in itself.
Have a peaceful holiday and stay warm.
Hugs

Linda said...

Your tree looks perfect! I love how you always get a fresh one ! My next door neighbor does too. Nothing beats the fragrance of a REAL tree! Christmas is a happy busy time and now that you have grands with more on the way....it will only get busier and happier!
Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Row homes and Cobblestones said...

Jane I wish you a beautiful joyful Christmas blessed with your amazing family. Your tips were solid but they get thrown out in the panic of the final days before Christmas, baking done? Gifts purchased for everyone? All ingredients purchased and appliances in perfect working condition ... Yes it is what unites us all in our craziness and our heartfelt joy... welcome Christmas 2016.
xoxo,
Vera

Melanie said...

Wishing you and your growing family a very happy and blessed Christmas!
xoxo
Melanie

Kathy Moreland said...

Jane, here's wishing you and your family a Very Merry Christmas! You are so busy. I finished gifts and wrapping a few weeks ago. Crazy me, started making a Christmas quilt for myself. I've had the fabric all year, and started on it yesterday. Now my neck hurts like crazy from sitting at the sewing machine, sewing squares together. I've simplified our Christmas get together with the family. There will only be 5 of us this year, and I've ordered subs, bought pies and drinks. No more baking for me! I just don't enjoy all the hustle and bustle. Give me quiet and serene!! I know you are looking forward to seeing all your family. We will be with my children on Saturday evening, and will go visit my step son in Assisted Living on Sunday, and have a meal with him. Take care, and stop to enjoy your tree! Have a happy holiday and prosperous new year. Thanks for your friendship!!

Rita C. said...

Jane, your home looks beautiful! You did an amazing job, and in such short time - whew! I keep feeling like I'm forgetting something, even though I'm methodically checking off my list each day....I guess that's where the early decorating has come in handy. I've even watched nearly a dozen Hallmark movies since Thanksgiving (but way behind on a stockpile of magazines. I'll be reading about Christmas decorations long after Christmas).
We had a couple days of teens in temps, with wind ~20mph, but no snow yet, and we may have 60° on Sat, near 70° on Monday (good for taking down outside decor!).
Wishing you & your family the merriest of Christmases. Thank YOU for your friendship!
XO,
RIta

Junkchiccottage said...

Jane your home looks so cozy and pretty all dressed for Christmas. Love your pretty fireplace all a glow. That is one thing I miss so much living here in Chicago A FIREPLACE!!! Ohhhh how I would love to have one burning each night. Enjoy that special place during these cold winter days and nights. I have a Marshall Fields Shopping Tote they brought out years ago one Christmas season. It has a scene of shoppers in front of Marshall Fields with the clock. Love that memory of Marshall Fields and shopping on State Street at Christmas time. I miss that so much. Not the same with Macy's. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
xxoo
Kris

Vee said...

Everything looks cozy wonderful at your house. If you are not ready, I can not tell. Have the merriest of Christmases and enjoy your family. As for gaining weight...we have a long, cold winter ahead with nothing better to do. Ha!

Scribbler said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours! I have recipes on my last post, and who knows, I might even make some of them.

I made a crockpot candy today from Kitty, and it was fabulous.

Your house looks festive, and I a sure your family is going to have a wonderful time!

Kathleen George said...

Awww the pups:), my little ones are snug in their beds under their blankets. Mighty cold here for us in Az. I can see though, the need to live here several months out of the year from out of state, sounds way to cold back east for me, brrrrr!
But we do have our horrible summers:(.
Jane your Christmas home is beautiful and you are so blessed with abundance of Grandchildren, very happy for you and your husband:).
Have a very Merry Christmas and the New Year will bring wonderful bundles of joy and lot of celebrations at The Lake House.
Kathleen in Az

Doreen@foxdenrd said...

I think my favorite picture is the one of Layla. Boy, if she could only talk I think we all know what she would say lol. Dogs have the most expressive faces, don't they? I suppose it makes up for their lack of English ;).

Your tree looks to be the perfect size for the space. I know that's not always easy to achieve.

Enjoy your special family Jane. You are so blessed!

xxx

Deb from frugal little bungalow said...

Have a wonderful Christmas ! I know what you mean about the weather...after an extended cold spell 29 or 30 degrees feels 'balmy' ! :)

Theresa said...

Beautiful and welcoming home! I would love to sit in front of that fire, talk about what you are baking and then taste it:) Have a blessed day dear friend, Merry Christmas to you and your family, BIG HUGS!

Primitive Stars said...

Merry Christmas Jane!!!!! Love your cozy home decorated for the holidays, beautiful.!!!! Take time to enjoy this wonderful time of year.Hugs Francine.

Kim said...

Merry Christmas Jane to you and your sweet, sweet family! Enjoy every minute of this weekend in your festive home. Hugs to you my friend!

A Joyful Cottage said...

I'm so glad you shared the story of how your Christmas stockings came to be, for when I saw them my first thought was, "Wow! Love those stockings. . .wonder where she got them?" Love that your husband cut the rounds and you stamped them. Awesome! Your decorations are beautiful, Jane. I'd spend all of my evenings staring at the tree by the warm fire, too. Happy Christmas to you and your lovely family. ~ Nancy

Kit said...

Merry Christmas Jane! Your home looks wonderful. Christmas is any way we can make it. It comes no matter what and it is lovely! Have a great time with all your loved ones. And I know you will! Love, Kit

Mereknits said...

Hi Jane! Merry Christmas. I am with you on getting things done late even though I tried to start early. I am four days behind reading blogs, who has time for that? I finished wrapping today,, swept up outside and got the packages ready to be placed under the tree. Still more to do!

Have a wonderful holiday with your beautiful family,
Meredith

Mitzi said...

I have been looking forward to your post. We are all so busy these last few days. While I love every minute of it-I wish I had one more week to slow down and enjoy everything a little longer. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas with your family, Jane.

Terra Hangen said...

Merry Christmas to you; I enjoy reading about your ideas and plans.

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

Your tree is really so pretty and looks to be just the right size. As the kids got older, I stopped doing so much. This year, I put a few decorations in all the rooms and just a small tree for the dining table. Now that they are both in college and really have everything they need, there's no reason to buy a bunch of extra stuff. We did take them shopping for clothes on Friday ... apparently they both really needed pants. I know they are both very happy to be away from cold and snow. But honestly, it's been overcast ever since they arrived. I'm hoping blue skies will return soon. Hope you had a very merry Christmas. Enjoy this last week of the year. All the best for 2017!

Susan said...

Hello Jane. That was a lovely post. So much of it applies to my own life! My hubs is an early-to-bedder, too. I get to be buy myself in the peace and quiet of the beautifully lit living room....just tree and mantel lights. Ahhhhhh, heavenly. Love your tree and fireplace cover. Both are very lovely. And the stockings with the rounds of wood are dear, too. Blessings to you and all of your family, including the little ones to come! We are truly, truly blessed. Susan

Maria Elena said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas. Hopefully the weather has warmed up for you guys. Happy New Year! Maria

Traci said...

Your tree is beautiful!! We had frigid weather (in the high 20's) for a few days & then the heat was back. Christmas Day was shorts, t-shirts & flip flops. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

Pinky at Designs by Pinky said...

Hi Jane. I hope you had a most Merry Christmas and very Happy New Year!!! It must have been sad to have Macy's take over "your store":) Love the little bag ornament. Here's to a wonderful 2017!!!

Mary@mydogsmygardenandmary said...

Hi Jane, doing catch up on reading my posts. I just don't know where my time goes LOL. It's probably that I'm so darn old it takes forever to get things done.

Loved your post and I so enjoy reading them. It's like a short story - you should write a book, it would be a best seller.

Hugs,
Mary

Poppy said...

Hi Jane,

We are well into March 2017, I know, but I missed this post as I was very busy packing up Liberty' condo for the move back to Crete at the time of publication.

You decked the halls really beautifully for Christmas; I love the winter wonderland look, so dreamy. I'm sure you and yours all had the most amazing gathering, with festive fare and cozy, quality time.

I know exactly what you mean about all that layering - especially at my age, when my own 'temps' are our of whack!

Take care, sweetie!

Poppy xx