Arrivederci {Listography 2011}.

                                     
Each Wednesday, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, and myself are working our way through the lists of Listography 2011.
 
 
Well, we're down to our final list.  
...and I can honestly say- list-making (of the 'personal variety') is no longer a stressful process.
 
 
Although some came [way] easier than others, we tackled our fear- and best of all, we did it together.
(yes- I'm talkin' to you Emily & Danielle =))
              
~~~
 
Our final list. 
 "List how you would like to spend time when you’re a senior citizen."
                                        
Actually, it's not too far off from my very first one...

... full circle.
 
Thank you for sharing in the list-making fun this past year.  Your comments, input, and interest have made it that much more fun, and I really appreciate it.

...and with that, I'm off.  Off to the beautiful state of Oregon, for a much needed week of r&r.  See ya in 2012!
   

Up on the rooftop... Click, click click... {Listography 2011}.

   
Each Wednesday, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, and myself are working our way through the lists of Listography 2011.
    
                                                             
"List your wishlist."
  
Shopping is finally done.  Santa has done "his" very best to accommodate without caving in to every request- because some of their wants don't exactly match up with our wants- or at the very least- with the limited amount of available SPACE.  It's a mind-wracking process, this gift-giving.  Not to mention, answering the "what should I get your kids... and/or you?" questions... trying to make sure that the santa list remains separate from our list... from their list...  Whew... I'm beat.  At this point in the game, there is no wishlist.  Well, there's always a wishlist.  But nothing that compares to what I really, truly want- need
 
I simply want to create space to enjoy it all.  ...to dig in to the cookbooks... to play the heck out of the boardgames... to fill the frames... tackle the crafts... to get out of "busy-mode" for days-weeks-months on end, and appreciate what we have, to relish it... before adding more to the plate, or the place I should say.
  
  
{visit Danielle & Emily to see their list, & if you have one of your own, please share the link, or leave a comment :)}
                                        

Suggestion box.


                                
Christmas Eve has always been our 'big family celebration,'  whereas Christmas day, the group breaks up, allowing each family to do their own thing- to celebrate with in-laws, friends, on their own...  The night before Christmas, we all get together at my grandma's house... aunts, uncles, cousins, and some relatives you see only on this very eve.  When my grandpa was with us, we'd exercise the utmost patience- waiting until the day's end (midnight) to open our gifts.  And plenty of gifts there were... no secret-santa-name-drawing program in place... no 'kids-only' gift rule...  As everyone has gotten hastier/lazier older/wiser, the start time has moved up, the midnight tradition has dissolved, & the whole gift-giving affair has become a bit more streamlined & little more methodical... a little.

Quite a few years back, a new tradition was born.  A box is set out for each family.  Everyone brings a little gift to add to the boxes.  However many boxes there are determines how many gifts you bring (14 boxes = 14 candles... ornaments... dishes...).  Gift-opening mayhem still exists.  Presents galore still sit under the tree- mainly for the kids (which for our family- you remain a "kid" until you're living on your own &/or married), but each family unit has a set- or a box- of little gifts to take home & open up on Christmas morning, in the comfort of their own home.

Half of our gift remains the same each year... a 1/2 lb. of Christmas Blend (thanks to my Starbucks hook-up, or husband rather).   In my working days- when handmade/homemade gifts were out of the question- the other half consisted of some type of Starbucks ware- a mug, a cd, an ornament... something coffee related.  Now, we go the homemade route.  A couple of years back, we made jars of vanilla chai tea mix & triple-orange pecan biscotti.  Last year, it was shortbread.  

This year?  Not a clue.  Any suggestions???  What are some of your favorite 'baked good' or other homemade {holiday or everyday} recipes?

Please share.  
               
Pretty please.

...with sugar- & sprinkles- on top.
     

Rolling right along.

              
                               
Yesterday was a little crazy to say the least.  I signed up to make taquitos for Hailey's girl scout party- which was directly before I needed to leave for the book club party- in which I decided to make Italian meatballs.  And of course I had to double the meatball recipe- and quadruple the sauce recipe (because we need food for the weekend, right??).  
           
After rolling, rolling, and ROLLING meatball after meatball, taquito after taquito, you can just imagine what I smelled like my kitchen looked like when Ryan walked in and literally saved the day... seeing as the vodka still needed to be packaged, presents wrapped, book choices for the coming year decided upon- and of course, I still had yet to shower.  
           
But in the end, it all worked out, and we're armored with leftovers- and cranberry orange vodka- while we tackle the wrapping, the card-sending (and picture taking- yes, we're a little behind), & the last minute shopping.  I hope Hailey asked Santa for a hammock {&/or maid} for Christmas, because I could surely use a few [hundred] naps come January.

                          
Hope you sneak a little rest into your weekend =).
xoxo
   

Dog days {Listography 2011}.

  
Each Wednesday, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, and myself are working our way through the lists of Listography 2011.
 
                
{I guess we're sticking with the animal theme this week...}
            
List the pets you've adopted.
              
Literally adopted??  Or figuratively?   
                    
I'm gonna go with the latter, seeing that I've never officially adopted a homeless pet.  I mean, as a kid, we took in strays- and newborns of friends (or just strangers sitting in front of the market)- offering begging us to help 'em out.  We didn't actually fill out any adoption paperwork, but close enough, right?

In that case, let's see how many names I can remember (you'd think I'd be able to remember them all here, but sadly, some were more like "foster-pets")...

  • Kitty.  An orange cat who mauled me when I slept.  Literally- mauled.  (probably a good reason as to why I'm not so fond of cats)  ...got infected with rabies, and sadly (even though she mauled, I still loved her!) had to be put to sleep.
  • Bowser.  Our family pet- lived with us until a very old age.  I don't remember when/how he was adopted into our home, but I do remember him being a happy-go-lucky loveable dog.  Unfortunately, my prevalent memories are not so cute, as he- how do I put this??  He had some health issues as he got older- some not so pretty moments for either of us.
  • Bullet.  A pit bull... Memory is fuzzy here regarding the time-frame, and even the name, but I know for a fact that we had a pit bull, and although he was very sweet, in times where he felt threatened, the aggressive tendencies came out- loud and clear.  In result, we eventually had to put him to sleep.
  • Bandit?  Can't remember... but I know we had another adoooorable little white puppy- that looked just like a baby seal.  After Bowser died, we went for a long stretch with no dog.  My brother begged, and begged, and even plead his case in the form of a letter.  My mom eventually gave in.  But very shortly after, he ran away, never to be found.
  • Mugsy.  In light of our heartbreak- we got our next long-term family pet, a black lab/part golden-retriever.  Playful, energetic, friendly, a little too playful at times... all the qualities you'd expect in a lab :).  Lived a nice long, happy life.
  • Flower.  A cute little black & white dog that we took in at an older age... And she smiled!
  • Sparky.  This was my brother's dog, but he lived with us for quite a while.  The most well behaved dalmatian known to man- or to animal.  And believe me.  I know this firsthand...
  • Marty.  Ryan (before we were married) "adopted" a newborn dalmatian.  Very cute- until it grew older, and became CRAZY.  When we got married, we lived in a little apartment- which was clearly not the right home for our very hyper dog.  I cannot tell you how many times I ran down a busy Pasadena street chasing after him.  ...or how many items were peed on, chewed on...  With a newborn on the way, and no plans for a big yard anytime soon, we made the decision to put him up for adoption (and he was adopted that same day!).
  • Kona.  And last, but not least- our current [one-and-only] pet... a chocolate lab.  A little crazy at times... definitely some rough 'puppy moments', but she's mellowed out a bit (no longer in destroy-our-yard and/or home mode).  She loves people- and hates being alone, has not one aggressive bone in her body, is pretty well trained, but at the same time- is a total puppy trapped in a big ol' dog's body, and she loves us.  And we love her.

Definitely one of those more-for-me-than-for-you lists.  It was sorta fun to think back on though!  Have you adopted many pets?  If you have a post, link up below (my last week with Mr. Linky... before Listography ends, and before he expires!)... or of course you can share with a comment :).
  

Keepin' it fresh.

 
It was a busy weekend, filled with Christmas-y activities & to-do's, a few good meals, a couple of Belgium beers [enjoyed during a much-needed night out with friends], AND a new holiday tradition to add to The list.


                                        
                                           
                                         
... discovered pomanders last year over at Michelle's place, & was sort of mesmerized by the idea of decorating & curing an orange, while at the same time perfuming & freshening the air... what a lovely, simple activity!  And NO stress... NO fighting children... NO digging my way through the craft store to stock up on supplies... Win, win, & WIN.
 
{*next up (also from Michelle's post)... a little less simple, but equally lovely & mesmerizing... window stars}
  
happy monday =).
     

Understated style.

            
In my daily endeavor of getting ready, I don't necessarily aim to look sexy.  If I'm being honest, just aiming to look like I'm not wearing pajamas or stepping out of a gym is a large feat as of late.

Lots of solo time this week, chipping off the ol' to-do list.  In other words, "comfort"  first.  Cute second last.

But really, who says you can't have both?   And along those same lines, who says sexy has to be tight... low-cut... un-comfortable??  Maybe I'm just enabling myself to carry on with the "seasonal lovefest" of baked treats, hearty dishes, and spirited beverages, but there's a definite appeal to a little more subtlety, a little less flaunting... a bit more flowy, a tad less stretchy.  Simple, soft, slouchy, maybe even over-sized.  Yes please.

{images...clockwise 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6}
                           

The final days {Listography 2011}.

                              
Each Wednesday, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, and myself are working our way through the lists of Listography 2011.
                    
Image via
                                                                
Well, we're in the final month of Listography.  
               
A mere 4 lists to go.  
                  
I wouldn't classify this as the most interesting topic, but seeing that I have only about 5 MINUTES to write this... I'm okay with that.  Because- "well, they can't all be winners, can they??
                  
{a few of my "least favorite animals"...}   
              
cats
bats
unsolicited critters...
rats
opossums
skunks
raccoons
not a huge fan of birds, esp...
pigeons
seagulls
          
I'm sure there's more, but I'll leave it to you to take it from here... (share with a comment, or link up @ Emily's) :).
           

A list.

  
Last year [coincidentally, at this very same time… the Monday following the first weekend of December], I wrote a post mentioning how I was trying to stay afloat … FOCUSED {spirited} in spite of the looming cloud of holiday-to-do’s.  Well, it all sorta went downhill from there.  The holiday blur, as I refer to it, hazed right on in- as it does each & every year.  As much as I feel “on top of it” heading into December, it never fails.  A few days in, & the calendar slowly gets swallowed up.  The to-do list mounts at lightning-speed pace.  CHEER is subtly (or blatantly) muted by STRESS.

I’ve been thinking about this… about the holidays... about why this continues to happen and how to End. The. Cycle [before my kids are grown adults for gods sake].  Then Thanksgiving happened.  And it sealed the deal.  “Traditions” need to change.  In spite how it may sound, I really do love this time of year.  There's so much that I cherish… and want to create the space to experience those with my kids… my family… my friends.  But when I reeeeally think about it- in a dead-honest way- for the most part, many of the traditions (must-do activities/events/projects) that are plotted on the calendar fall into the category of obligation… & not necessarily obligation imposed by others, but also by ourselves.  Doing what we do because it’s what we’ve always done.  Doing what is- or what we assume is expected.  Not because it works for us… makes sense… is something that we love.  

Of course, the other “stuff” is sometimes necessary and important.  Obligation is part of life, & is entirely okay!  But I don’t want it to continue taking the place of- or overshadowing what matters to… what works for us.  Because the holidays are then just one big STRESSOR and filled with frustration, exhaustion, and resentment.  And activities that we would otherwise enjoy- look forward to- are instead when-is-this-going-to-be-over-so-I-can-get-back-to-the-LIST.  

Stephanie (who is in the same frame of mind- & who I utterly admire btw :)) had the simple, yet brilliant idea of making a list.  Not a have-to list, but a want-to one.  A 'carefully curated' (as she says) list that includes only [ONLY] those activities/ideas/crafts/foods... that we truly love, that we truly want to be a part of- to create- to experience.  So that when that stress starts to creep its way in... when our auto-pilot say-yes-to-everything-mode turns on... when we begin to feel like we're losing control/focus/spirit... we have something to turn to- to remind us of where we want to be.  To keep {& make time for} what works & simply let go of- or adjust- what does not.  To create space for new.
  
~~~
 
The things I love about the holidays...

  • dim lights... white candles... mellow holiday songs
  • small get-togethers
  • making santa's cookies with the kids
  • disneyland
  • old-fashioned christmas lights
  • packaging treats {red twine... silver bells... metallic sharpies... fancy ribbon}
  • "ugly" christmas pajamas
  • picking out the just-right tree
  • leon
  • chipmunks christmas music & mulled cider while we decorate*
  • ...mulled wine while we decorate
  • eggnog (in all forms inc. but not limited to ice cream, latte, cocktail...)
  • homemade christmas cards with the kids (BUT, only if time/circumstances allows)
  • cozy scarves... tall boots... all kinds a' sweaters
  • family wine country day trip
  • christmas day at my mom's
  • panetone bread pudding
  • grandma's ham
  • christmas movies (from yogi's 1st christmas to Edward Scissorhands to Scrooged)
  • kisses under the mistletoe
  • coffee made by the hands of my children... before they get to open their presents
  • cranberry orange vodka
                           
* Notice I did not actually list "decorate the tree."  After 10+ years of marital/parental/sibling discord over how- & how many- the lights are strung, how ornaments are placed (I'll take the blame for being a freak about the lights, but Jacob has a "thing" with how Hailey does [or does not] place the ornaments), how much breakage occurs, ... Let's just say (and I just finished meeting with a group of gals who strongly concur) that the tree-decorating-process brings out our true personalities... the good, the bad, & the ugly.  Hence the NEED for "happy chipmunks tunes & mulled WINE." 
                                    
Make sure you visit my pal Stephanie, and read her list as I am on my way to do the same.  I'm absolutely sure that my list will grow a little longer after I read hers.  She is responsible for last year's new tradition of "Leon" after all  =).                        

Art & craft sale.

 

{Watercolor painting by Rebecca Janes}

The wind has died down, school back in session (to their dismay after their unexpected free day), & I have a billion + things to do before the big day of tree shopping & holiday decorating bright & early tomorrow morning (which despite how it may have sounded after yesterday's post- is not yet done(!)… Leon & the destroyed poinsettias are as far as we've got).

Before I get started on the LIST, I wanted to take a moment to spread the word about an upcoming art and craft sale that a friend of mine is hosting (along with a few other artists). 

Rebecca creates beautiful watercolor paintings and  cute little handmade/hand-sewn animals.  What I like most about the watercolors is that you have the ability to choose a photograph, provide it to her, and she will then transform it into a beautiful painting.  I am in the process of choosing a picture myself, and I can't wait to let her work her magic.  Not only is this an affordable way of incorporating more art into our home, it allows us to be a part of the creative process... in choosing an image that is personal, meaningful, and  pleasing.

Here are some examples of the "before" photograph, and the "after" watercolor... 

{I love how she leaves some of the details out and highlights (or adds) others in- to capture the true essence of the scene, or moment in time.

   
And here are a just a few examples of the animals!  She has many, many, many more to choose from!
  

The boutique will be held this Sunday (details below), and following the event, items will be available to order online- including watercolor gift certificates... What a great gift!!

Here's the 411.
 
What: Boutique 
When: Sunday Dec. 4th from 2-4pm
Where: 434 Crestview Place Monrovia, CA
  
* All items will be for sale & special orders will be available.
* Following the event, items can be ordered at the website...



{hope you check it out!... & see ya monday!} 
  

The elf clause.


   
               
Leon made it on our cozy little shelf.
        
Safe & sound.
      
                                
{& in other news, advent calendars have been cracked open, poinsettias placed fancifully on the porch (only to have been ripped apart by Miss Santa Ana), & the glendora school district was declared officially closed.  
now that's a first.}
           
Happy December =).
         
       
*p.s. "Leon" is noel spelled backwards.  in case you were wondering.
             
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