Christmas Traditions, New and Old

I have decided that the only way I am going to finish this Journal Your Christmas album is to do it digitally. I can't seem to find the time to journal, scheme the page design and then actually sit down and do it. Especially since the kids will be home from school after today – once they are home "real" scrapbooking ends for me. Too many little fingers in the stash!

I am working on documenting our Christmas Traditions.  I think I am going to end up with four (!) pages about this because we have a few new ones to capture as well as a few old ones I want to record. This book is going to be HUGE when I finish, but with the digital pages, at least it won't be bulky or heavy.

Here is my Traditions (new) page. I'll add the "old" one later when I get it done. I am waiting to take a photo on Christmas Eve for that page.

Christmas Traditions - new Pages are done with Creative Memories' StoryBook Creator Plus and their Frost kit.

MB has been asking for an Elf on the Shelf this year. I think a lot of the kids in her class must have them and she has been hearing stories about the antics of the elves.

So, one Saturday while I was out with Ang, we got one. MB was so very excited and read the story to Ang right away. Now, our Elf, Jingle, makes a nightly journey to Santa's to report on the girls' behavior. Then he picks a spot to perch for the day and keep an eye on things. You never know where Jingle will turn up. The lights, the wreath,  the bookcase. He is a crafty elf.

Let there be light(s)

Every year, we tweak our outdoor decorations just a little. This year, we did something totally different. Colored lights (for the girls) on the shrubs and SuperMan added lights to the Tulip Tree. I love it. It looks like an outdoor Christmas tree.

We also have little bitty trees on the front porch. I have seen that for years and loved it so I splurged last Christmas and added them to the decor. I think next year I will add some decorations to them (when the puppy isn't such a puppy and hopefully won't eat them all!)

Let There Be Light Pages are done with Creative Memories' StoryBook Creator Plus and their Frost kit.

SuperMan also got all of my garlands and wreath lights working this year so we have a lot of lights in the house, too. It makes things very festive and I am keeping them on pretty much all the time. I like the glow!

The stockings on the mantle are from one of my trips to the UK with work (years ago) and every time I pull them out I remember shopping in Harrod's with Mom and getting them.

I hope your holidays are filled with light, love and good memories, too!

Friday Five

Okay, I am jumping on the blog/net bandwagon and will be offering my Friday Five each week, starting with this week… It may be five favorite products, five favorite websites, whatever strikes my fancy for the week.  The only thing I know for sure is that there will be five of them and it will post every Friday!

This week’s Friday Five are five of my favorite blogs.  I recently finished a Blogging for Scrapbookers class and discovered a ton of new, interesting blogs. I thought I would share some of those with you.

1.  Elinjanne’s blog: I love her writing style and really love her scrapbooking style.  I have been watching her Journal Your Christmas album as she has shared it on her blog. Her photos are spectacular and envious of all the snow that she gets in Norway. (although I am sure this southern gal would die in temps that cold)

2. Dolly’s blog: Dolly also did the Blogging for Scrapbookers class and I was first introduced to her then. I have really enjoyed reading her daily entries and learning more about her life through her scrapbook pages and blog entries.  She has beautiful scrapbook pages and the most adorable kitties.

3. Ann’s blog: Ann is doing the JYC class and has created the most interesting 6×12 vertical album. I was so intrigued by her photos of her pages, I just kept going back to see more. Now, I am so inspired by her pages and really enjoy reading about her adventures. And the fact that she considers herself a “mad scientist” cracks me up. I have often felt that way myself!

The last two are not from a class, but they are two that I check faithfully every day:

4. Cathy’s blog: Cathy Zielske’s blog is awesome in so many ways. I love her dry sense of humor, her photographs are always awesome and her scrapbook page designs are ones I almost ALWAYS scraplift.  If you haven’t checked out her blog, click on over there and enjoy yourself!

5. Ree’s blog: Oh, my.  When I stumbled across this blog, I thought I had found my long lost twin.  Ree is so funny and her entries have me alternately laughing out loud at her life observations and keen wit or sighing at her gorgeous photographs.  Ree is the Pioneer Woman.  She cooks, she bakes, she homeschools, she’s married to the Marlboro Man and lives on a working cattle ranch.  The pictures and stories of her life are one of the highlights of my day.

Well, that is all for now. I hope to get some scrapbooking done this weekend and will share some in my next post (if I can get the sickies in my house well, that is).

Lists here, Lists there, Lists, Lists, everywhere

I am a big list-maker.  I am also a big paper girl. I love the tactile sensation of writing things down… and then the satisfaction I get from crossing things off the list.  Whether it is groceries, gift lists, to-do’s, packing lists, whatever. I have a list for it. (surely I’m not the only one?)

Here are some of my lists:

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The obligatory “HONEY-DO” list, the planned dinner choices for the next week, and the grocery list – notice that someone wrote an address on my list – sacrilege!  πŸ™‚

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My husband laughs at me because I rewrite my grocery list before going to the store.  Call me crazy, but I like a nice, neat, LEGIBLE list when I go shopping. But when I’m adding things to my list as it hangs,vertically, on my refrigerator, legibility is not what I’m going for. I’m just documenting things I need. So,I rewrite the list before I go to the store. Invariably, this reminds me of things that are NOT on the list and should be. It also helps if I decide to pull out the coupons. Then I can mark for which items I have coupons and be sure not to forget to turn them in at the checkout.

Christmas is the king of list-making time for me.

I have the “TO BUY” list. The “TO MAKE” list which goes nicely with the “TO GIVE” list as I usually give homemade goodies to our friends and family. (which reminds me that I haven’t made this list yet (eek!).

Then there are the shopping lists for the kids (which has to be very discreetly tucked away as my 8 year old is now getting very snoopy about things like Christmas gifts) and the list of things to purchase for my husband and the stocking stuffers. 

I am not doing very good with the list writing this season, though. I have gone almost completely digital this year with my calendar and time management (which was a HUGE adjustment for me – I still carry a little bitty calendar as my “binkie” because I’m so tied to writing things down!)  I did a lot of purchasing online this year and used my email confirmations of my purchases (stored in a folder that was mislabeled to discourage snoopiness) as my “PURCHASED” list.  

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But, I’m feeling rather disorganized because I never made the master “TO BUY” list.  So, tonight I sat down and wrote one.  Now, I’m feeling a little pressure because I have so much to do! I will have to schedule a shopping day soon and get it knocked out.  I am pretty good at that, though. IF I have my list.

What about you? Are you a list maker? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants? (I love that phrase!)

Counting down the days…

Anticipation….Anticipaaaation… It’s making me wait… It’s keeping me waiting… 

(remember that song? or am I dating myself?)

“Mommy, how many more days until Christmas?”

“Mommy, is it Christmas Eve yet?”

“Mommy, is Santa coming tonight?”

I must answer these questions (or some variation of them) at least 10 times a day (per kid!)

And, as Christmas draws ever closer, the anticipation mounts.  The girls watch the ornaments go on the tree, the gifts start to appear, magically, under the tree each night, and the annual Advent calendar appears.

Ever since I was a little girl, we have had an Advent calendar.  I think we may have even had more than one growing up.  But the one I remember the most is the one that was filled with chocolatey goodness. 

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 My husband had them, too, growing up.  He is the youngest of six and is always reminding our girls that he had to wait SIX WHOLE DAYS for his turn at the chocolate candy (kinda like walking to school both ways uphill in a snowstorm, I think).

Our girls are really enjoying this tradition.  Although, it seems unbelievably painful that they only get one piece of candy every-other day (not every SIX days, mind you) it helps them to count down the days until Christmas is finally here.

For me, there are other things I use to count the days of Christmas… the countdown until the last day of school before winter break, the number of days before I get my vacation time, the number of days before I have to have all the Christmas presents purchased, wrapped and under the tree…  My countdowns seem to be more milestone-driven, but I enjoy knowing that this time of year is here and our traditions are still strong.

What are some of your holiday traditions?  How do you countdown until Christmas is here?  Share them with me in the comments! I’d love to hear.

Season’s Greetings?

It’s that time of year again, folks… time to get out your mass-assembly-line technology, your address book and a million stamps.  Yes, it’s Christmas card time.

Before kids, I used to have all my cards addressed and ready to go on the Friday after Thanksgiving. (that was before Black Friday was called Black Friday).  They had a cutesy little “newsletter” inside telling about all the things we’d done that year and wishing everyone peace, love and happiness.

Now?

I’m lucky if I get them addressed and mailed before the 20th!

This year, I decided to create a photo card.  I did a nifty 4×6 sized card and ordered prints.  I really like how it turned out.

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Then came the dilemma.  What do I mail them in?

My husband chuckled at me as I anguished for weeks about how I was going to mail them. They were too big for a regular small envelope.  Too tall for a business one. Didn’t really fit in a card-sized envelope.  Sigh. That is what I get for going my own way.

So, yesterday we were in Hobby Lobby (dangerous place to go) and I saw they had all of their Christmas cards on sale for 50% off.  Hello!

I picked out a really adorable card:

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and will just put the pictures inside! Problem solved.

I love how this has the handmade look, but that I didn’t have to hand-make it.  I made Christmas cards one year (maybe two) when Ang was a baby.  That was enough for me.  The whole thing was just not a fun experience for me.  First, I agonized on what to create.  Then, I had to figure out what materials I would need and then how much it would cost.  Those adorably detailed cards can get pretty pricey when you are doing 20-30 of them.  (and most of my recipients are not crafty people and do not appreciate the effort, time and creativity it takes to make them)

So, after trying that out, I gave myself permission to go back to store-bought cards.  Why make life difficult?

Last year, I did a photo card as well, but I used one of those templates online where you get the envelopes with the cards – and didn’t have the dilemma I have had this year.

Now, this year’s set up doesn’t equate to the uber-low-cost plan I originally had, but oh well.  At least I have cards, and a plan.  Heck, most are even addressed at this point!

Now, if I can just talk SuperMan into going to the post office for the stamps…

Oh the weather outside is frightful…

but not snowy, alas. 

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Just rainy, dreary, and cold. (BOO!) And, it doesn't look to improve today at all.

Weather forecast

And, of course, today is the day I have scheduled to run my errands.  Thinking it may be better to postpone until tomorrow.

Although, this time of year is always hit-or-miss. December in Georgia can be warm, sunny and Fall-like, or it can be wet, cold and dreary.  We never have snow this early, but winter is usually beginning to sneak into town by now.  The past five or so years have been very warm and fairly dry – we had a 100-year drought going on.  This year, it seems all that has changed and we are having one of the wettest Falls on record.  We had a 100-year flood (we like to do things big down here in the South) that people are still recovering from, and we are falling into a pattern where at least two days each week is wet, rainy and cold.

I don't mind the rain too much – especially now that I work at home 100% of the time.  I just put my slippers on, turn on some cheery music, and watch the rain fall while I work. 

I remember growing up in Savannah – our Decembers were even more unpredictable than they are here in the North Georgia area.  Some days the temperatures were in the 80's and then they would fall into the (brrr) 50's.  It's never too cold down there.  The coastal weather is usually pretty mild. 

I think that is one of the reasons I like living where we are so much.  We have more "real" seasons than they do down there.  Nothing as extreme as my friends in Minneapolis, but we at least know when it is Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer.

This year, I'm just hoping for a cold, but dry Christmas.  I'm not so sure I'm going to get my wish, though.

Journal Your Christmas… Day 1

I’m taking a new class this year – it’s called Journal Your Christmas and it’s about capturing memories of Christmases past and present and your dreams for future holidays. 

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The thing I like is that it’s focused on words – on writing – as well as photos.  I can’t always remember to take a picture a day (as is evidenced by my sadly unfinished Project 365 album) but I can take a few minutes to write some thoughts down and maybe even find old photos from Christmases past if I don’t have a current one.

To begin with, you are to write your “manifesto” – or what your intentions are for the album.  At this point, I don’t know what my intentions are. I am simply going to take this day-by-day and see where the creative process leads me.  What I do hope to accomplish, though, is a record of why Christmas is special to me – memories of traditions, Christmases from my youth, and thoughts about the Chrismases I’ve spent thus far with my own family.  I am hoping to create something that will record a little snapshot of life today and how we choose to celebrate our holiday.

I’m also hoping this class will help me step out of the commercially-induced frenzy that captures so many of us this time of year – and helps me to refocus on what the season is really all about.