Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Bug On the Wall

Our West Highland Terrier, Kady (a/k/a Bug) loves exploring the great outdoors. Of our three canine children, Kady is the youngest and most adventurous. Doughboy was standing on the back deck when he called me outside to enjoy the last light of day. In his deadpan humor, he nodded his head toward the pool and said, "Wouldn't you love to be a bug on the wall?" Hardy har har.

On my top 10 list of favorite things is to snuggle outdoors by the fireplace. There's nothing like the smell and crackle of a wood fire. It's even better when snuggled together under a warm blanket watching the stars brighten above.

Doughboy and I work well as a team; he starts the fire (thank you, Jeff for talking us into a gas fire starter!) while I go to the pool house to grab the blanket and drinks. I love the coziness of the pool house, whether it be winter or summer. For now, the Margaritaville blender is silent until the warmer months of spring and summer.'s really chilly. Hmmm...should we forget the fire and stay indoors instead?

While struggling with my inner conscience, Doughboy calls from outside, "The fire is ready". {sigh} I guess I must leave the warmth of the pool house and brave the chilly night.

It isn't long before I realize that snuggling with Doughboy under the blanket is more than a fair trade.

Where ever you live, I hope your New Year's Eve is warm. If not, grab someone you love and cuddle under a blanket together.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I've Got A Secret

Do you remember the first photo in this post? Looking at this photo, I was a little embarrassed about the empty bookcase. After all, we've lived in our new home well over a year. Decorating the bookcase hasn't been a priority of ours...until now. Doughboy and I made it our mission to find the perfect items. Who knew we would find them in our attic?

Finding these antique literary works of art is like winning the lottery. Imagine our surprise to find them right under our nose...or, in our case, right over our heads?

There are a total of 48 priceless novels. But who left them in our attic? More importantly, why?

Among the books were other antique this cast iron mermaid.

And this old trunk that someone had cleverly turned into a clock.

Finders keepers, losers weepers. No matter who left them behind, they're ours now.

Wouldn't you agree our bookcase is much improved by these fabulous finds?

The room has been transformed into a cozy retreat. Perfect for curling up in a soft chair next to a fire and reading late into the night. Appearing behind one of the comfy chairs is our memory wall. It contains a partial collection of maps from the many places we visited over the past 20 years.

Depicting our love of sailing and travel is a hand-painted compass on the ceiling.

After a fun day unpacking our precious finds from the attic, it's time to sit down with one of the books for a quiet evening. Hmmmm...this one looks interesting.

But wait! What's this? It's not a book at all. It's a clever ruse...a hollow box made to look like a book.

To be completely honest, we moved into our house a year ago and it was brand new. The attic is empty (so far) and these are not priceless antiques. Nope, we have Garden Ridge to thank for these fabulous literary finds. I apologize for misleading you, but a little intrigue felt appropriate at the moment.

What do you think? Thumbs up...thumbs down...or, I don't care? If you don't like it, I have to tell you it was all Doughboy's idea. Of course if you like it, I'm taking all the credit!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Compilation of Memories

My favorite time of the weekend is early morning when Doughboy is still snuggled fast asleep in bed and the house is quiet. The pups have been fed and they are slumbering nearby. It is the time to catch up on blogging and reading my favorite blogs. I enjoy the eclectic mix of posts and, if so inspired, will write a comment to let the blogger know I am here and listening. I regularly visit every blog listed on my blogroll - it's like chatting with a cherished friend over a cup of coffee (even though I don't drink coffee). I gravitate toward bloggers who share similar interests and/or write from their heart. I look at blogging as a means to catch up with personal friends and family; however, I also enjoy blogs that inspire my passion for photography such as Country Girl Kate, and those rich in history such as Weaver's blog. Yes, I really enjoy the blogging community whom I visit regularly.

I was quite inspired this morning by Deb's description of setting the perfect table for her family and Weaver's commentary/poem on aging. Both of these posts struck a chord in my heart because I have been giving the holidays, particularly Christmas, much thought. I have many wonderful memories of the holidays when I was a young girl growing up in Wisconsin. It was the one time each year when our entire family - my maternal grandmother and all her children and grandchildren - gathered together. That same grandmother, beloved by all, passed away on Christmas Eve at 3 months shy of her 102nd birthday.

It is because of my wonderful memories that makes me want to create similar happy moments for my child and her children to remember. Familial traditions are important to me. As much as Deb works hard to set a lovely table, a metaphor for creating warm memories for her family, so do we work hard to set the stage at Christmas and other holidays throughout the year. It's all in the details - a carefully laid table, lovingly prepared food, warm fireplaces, brightly colored packages stacked beneath a decorated tree, scented candles in every room, and holiday music playing softly in the background. Our grandchildren are too young to notice the details, but they will some day.

They'll remember the needlepoint stockings embroidered with each of their names, the scented candles...

The table set in festive tradition with Santa Claus napkin rings...

Brightly colored ornaments on the tree...

And, Bumpa in his traditional holiday attire...

GAK! My eyes! My eyes!

Put some clothes on man, don't you know there are children around????

Friday, December 26, 2008

Surviving Christmas

Was Santa good to you? He was very, very good to me! I'll have to tell you all about it. But first, here are a few shots of Christmas Eve at our house and Christmas Day at my daughter and SIL's house. can see we're still not finished decorating, even after living in our new home a year. Oh, well...we'll see what the new year brings.

After buying boy toys for 4 years, it's so much fun having a little girl this year. I couldn't resist buying Ava's first doll.

Here's little Ava...our very own living doll!

The boys had a mock battle with swords and light sabres... Ayden was Aniken Skywalker and Jameson was a Ninja Turtle.

I already mentioned that Santa (a/k/a Doughboy) was very generous this year. I have long been intrigued with history, particularly Egyptology. Tomorrow, Doughboy is taking me to the Tutankhamun exhibit at Atlanta's Civic Center followed by the a visit to the High Museum to see First Emperor: China's Terre Cotta Army. Sadly cameras are not allowed due to the delicate nature of the ancient artifacts. But I'll enjoy it nonetheless. I'll let you know how we like it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Give-Away on Drivin' 55

With the spirit of giving all around us, my friend Deb over at Drivin' 55 is giving away a gorgeous gift. All you have to do is click here to be linked to her blog and follow the instructions. It couldn't be easier.

I'm taking a brief break from blogging to enjoy our family during the holidays. I wish the best to you and yours...and may the spirit of the holidays be with you all year round.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Back To Normal

Jamie delivered her dad and step-mother to Atlanta's airport yesterday for their flight back to Wisconsin. Their departure means a return to normalcy for me. I might add that I don't feel the same way about Jason's parents (they are also from Wisconsin). Debbie - Jason's mom - is a hoot! Have you heard the expression "Laugh and the whole world laughs with you"? That pretty much describes Debbie - she has an infectious sense of humor and I genuinely enjoy being around her. Fortunately, she doesn't mind my being around either. When she comes to visit, I regularly invite myself to my daughter and SIL's home so I may also spend time with Debbie.

With the parentals on their way back to Wisconsin, I left work at noon and won't return again until next Monday. I will work another half day to process payroll, then I am off again until the New Year. Yippee! I was able to participate in Ayden's holiday party yesterday afternoon. Actually, I was the paparazzi while my daughter helped her 4-year-old son decorate a gingerbread house. This was a great idea that I plan to use in the years to come. Our local grocery store sells undecorated gingerbread house kits. The house comes preassembled in a cute protective box. The school provided a long work table at the perfect height for little tots. Placed on the table were plastic cups filled with yummy goodies perfect for decorating - gummy bears, red and green M&M's, brightly colored Sprees, miniature Oreo cookies, sugared gum drops were just a few of the treats. Each child was given a cup of white frosting as the backdrop for the decorations. They had tons of fun!

The kids put on an adorable program for the parents and grandparents. They sang traditional Christmas songs, such as Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer, and made use of bells as musical props. It was all just too cute!

Monday, December 22, 2008

What A Difference A Day Makes

Saturday's weather was unseasonably warm with temps reaching into the 70's. It was almost a record setting day for December. Being the first day of winter, Sunday heralded a change in temperature as the thermometer plunged more than twenty degrees. Whereas Saturday's overnight low was 64 degrees, this morning it is 20. On top of the dropping temps, the blustery wind makes it feel even colder. Brrrr...

Doughboy and I finished some last minute shopping, then worked on our holiday cards. Yes, I know they're quite late. But last year I procrastinated and missed Christmas entirely. Our holiday cards and corresponding envelopes are always handmade. I started several months ago by machine stitching strips of cardstock on the background. Layered on top are dimensional Christmas trees in shades of pink and aqua with sequins for adornment. I am very pleased with how they turned out. The first 10 visitors who send me their address will receive one of my handemade cards in the mail. Please respond via e-mail to keep your personal information confidential.

After putting the finishing touches on our cards, Doughboy and I braved the blustery winds for the security of the pool house. We toasted the holidays and each other by sipping a martini - or two - with our favorite tunes playing in the background. I love the coziness of the pool house. Even in winter it is warm and inviting. Next to the pool house are several bushes that are vibrant with pink blossoms in summer. I was surprised to find the bushes covered with lovely blossoms yesterday, it being the first day of winter. Sadly the fragile blossoms won't last long but they'll return again in spring. I may have been born and raised in Wisconsin, but I am a southern girl at heart. I love living here!

Wherever you live, I hope your holidays are cheerful and bright!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Going Through Withdrawal

I don't always share well. This is a fault I try to control, but it isn't always easy. As you can tell from the number of posts and photos, our grandchildren are very important to me - to US. My daughter's father and step-mother are visiting from Wisconsin and I am keeping a respectiful distance. Rarely do I go longer than a couple days without seeing the kids, but 8 days is torture!

Doughboy and I have been keeping busy with last minute shopping and making preparations for Christmas. With the unseasonal warm temps in the 70's, we frequently commented about how much the boys would enjoy driving their Razr along the cart path. I had to swat that green monster from my shoulder several times over the past days. Hey - I'm only being honest here.

Amid all the hustle and bustle (and swatting the green monster), I forgot about our cruise coming up in a couple weeks. I started paying for our trip in September 2007. It seems like a million years ago instead of one. All of a sudden, it's here! That would explain why I failed at my goal of losing 50 pounds before we set sail. Anyway, here is our itinerary...

And here is the ship we will call home for a week...

Doughboy and I are accustomed to sailing, but not on a cruise ship. His opinion of cruise vacations is they are for the newly wed or nearly dead. I went on my first cruise two years ago when I treated Jamie to a week in Hawaii for her 30th birthday with friends Deb and Chere along for the fun (it's worth adding that I invited Doughboy but he declined the offer). So, when I told him that Chere and I wanted to cruise again, he didn't hesitate to accept my offer to join us. If all else fails, Doughboy and Chere's husband will find plenty of fun in the ship's casino. You can expect many photos and stories to come from our adventure on the high seas.