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Friday, December 31, 2010

Flirt With Your Husband Friday: New Year's Eve

What are you doing New Year's Eve?  I love that old song

Since I firmly believe in flirting with my husband (great New Year's resolution eh??) we're going out dancing tonight.  He'll put on a tux.  I'll put on a slinky evening gown, some fancy jewelry and some drop-dead, stop-you-in-your-tracks perfume.
Our dance group rents out a country club.  We have dinner (most of mine will end up as left-overs for lunches this week -- there's always way too much food).  We'll have a glass of champagne at midnight.  And we'll dance until our feet fall off (or until 12:30 when the country club staff will close us down).
Fun.  Elegant.  Very flirty.  See you next year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Flirt with Your Husband Friday: Christmas Eve

This is my favorite date of the entire year.  (I say that a lot).  Try this --- it is the most fun you will ever have with $10.  This is a lunchtime date --- the mall should close by about 6:00 on Christmas Eve --- plus – we end this one by going to the Christmas Eve Service at our church --- perfect ending.
Take $10 and get it all in $1 bills.  Go to the mall.  Pick the mall that is on the not-so-great side of town. 
Now the mall will be all lit up with Christmas lights, the holiday music will be blaring, and the fake Santa in the main court will be ho-ho-ho-ing away.  And the folks in the mall will be frantic.  These are people who are under stress.  They are either trying desperately to get it all done before the stores close or they are trying to eke out every last penny they can manage before Christmas.  The store staff are not having such a great time either.  They would much rather be making the holiday for their own families rather than dealing with the cranky and crazed last-minute shoppers. 
Watch for all of these folks.  Watch especially for little kindnesses that you can do for about $1.00. 
We’ve bought a cup of coffee for a harried worker, paid the tax for a child shopping for something for mom, and made up the little bit of difference for a desperate mom who was struggling to decide what she would put back on the shelf.  We’ve left an extra tip for a waitress who was fantastic to a pair of wild toddlers and their weary parents.  We’ve even bought a bottle of cold water for a hoarse and exhausted Santa who was still smiling for the camera. 
You’ll be amazed at how much Christmas cheer can be managed for just one dollar.  And I guarantee you’ll be equally amazed at how the spirit of the Season settles in your heart as you slowly spend the whole $10 (its harder than you think --- and it takes longer than you think).  And when you go to church later on and start to sing “Joy to the World, the Lord has come”, don’t say I didn’t warn you if you find tears springing to your eyes and a renewed sense of joy and hope leaping in your heart.  

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas: Staying Sane

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Here: Christmas Week has Come!

Its here, its really here.  (I can’t decide if the intonation on that should be child-like excitement or moaning dread)  Ready or not, Christmas week is here.  The final preparations are ready to be made. 
Here’s what I have left to do:
Write out the menus for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so that everyone knows what’s going on and no one eats something I NEED.
Clean the house --- one final serious cleaning so that everything shines.
Set up the extra table as a server in the dining room.
Bake the pies
Set out the canned goods and dry goods for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner. 
Set the table and label all the serving dishes
Defrost the frozen treats
Actually cook

Friday, December 17, 2010

Flirt With Your Husband Friday: Decorating the Christmas Tree

We flirted around decorating the tree this year.  We have collected ornaments from all of our travels.  Our tree includes, a German cuckoo clock ornament, carved wooden nativity scenes from Spain, a pair of traditional dolls from the Czech Republic, a kilted Scottish Santa, and cloisonné ornaments from Hong Kong.  Of course, there is the ornament from the Peninsula Hotel where we went for afternoon tea and made a donation to charity and received a gold Peninsula Hotel ornament to sign and hang on THEIR tree.  (we carefully wrapped it in a napkin and took it home for OUR tree).  We have the gaudy pink flamingo from our friends Jon and Em’s wedding in Sanibel.  And our latest addition to the collection, the set of bookmarks we bought on the street in Seoul last Christmas when we visited there. 
We made hot chai, pulled out a few cookies, and some crackers and cheese and took a long leisurely stroll down memory lane.  We laughed and talked and remembered all of the very, very good times that these ornaments represent.  We chuckled over the handmade ornaments given to us by beloved young hands.  We compared the photos of our dogs, same breed, such different dogs, that grace two dog ornaments on our tree.  We marveled at the melding of two family traditions, ornaments from each of our families that now live gracefully, side by side on our tree. 
In short, we connected.  And isn’t that what flirting with your husband is all about?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wrapping Party

I told you last week that I host a wrapping party.  This is one of the most fun events of the season for me.  Here’s how it works: 
Invite a couple of girlfriends to join you for this.  Not too many people.  I’ve found that 3-5 is a perfect number.  More than that , and it gets a little crazy. 
Everyone brings:
All of the holiday gifts they need to wrap
Rolls of wrapping paper --- how many is determined by the size of the family they represent --- be fair. 
A couple of rolls of tape (you’d be amazed how fast you go through tape)
Ribbons, bows and other embellishments (make sure at least one friend is someone sort of crafty – they’ll be able to make magic with some ribbon, a doily, and a cheesy dollar store ornament --- believe me, I know)

That’s it ---- then you all spend the evening  helping each other wrap gorgeous presents, chatting and enjoying the company, and oohing and aahing over the gifts you’re giving to your loved ones.  It makes the chore of wrapping all of those gifts into a fun girls-night-out. 

Since each gal is only bringing a few rolls of wrapping paper, you can afford to spring for beautiful, gorgeous, lavish paper.  We usually find that some drop-dead ribbons and embellishments arrive as well.  The craftier among us usually trade embellishing for basic wrapping duties --- in other words --- “I’ll wrap your gifts if you’ll decorate mine”.  Everyone ends up with fantastic looking Christmas gifts (even your husband will believe in elves again) and has fun in the process. 

As the hostess, I provide some basic refreshments --- a tray of cookies from the Cookie Exchange, some cocoa, some wine (every girl’s night out deserves some wine) and a small tray of cheese, crackers and fruit. 

I put on the Christmas music and rock the house.  Three hours later, the house is a disaster of ribbon scraps, sticky paper pieces, and abandoned projects.  But the pile of wrapped gifts is a sight to behold.  We’re all happy, in the holiday spirit, and able to move on and focus on making the rest of the holiday a joy.  What could be better than that???

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas: Wrapping Party

I got a couple of questions about what I do with the mountain of cookies that I take home from the cookie exchange. 
Three things:
  • 1.     I host a wrapping party for a couple of girlfriends.  I’ll give you all of the details on that one next week.  But for now --- the refreshments are taken care of --- we’re having cookies, of course.
  • 2.     I bag up little bags of assorted cookies and tie them off with some ribbon, a jingle bell, an a package of Land O Lakes hot cocoa mix (only because it comes in pretty colored foil packages that look beautiful)  Now I have a little gift to hand to someone who does me a kindness during the holiday season.  The mailman usually ends up with one, the UPS delivery guy, sometimes my neighbor who has rescued my blowing packages and receipts more than once – anyone at all.  They’re right there, beautiful and ready to go. 
  • 3.     We host an Open House after Christmas.  This is an easy gathering to host, and everyone enjoys the relaxed atmosphere after the rush of the holidays is over.  The bulk of the cookies from the cookie exchange go into the freezer for a couple of weeks until we’re ready for the Open House.  Then a platter full of cookies and great steaming mugs of hot cocoa make for a casual, fun and yummy dessert “buffet”.  

Friday, December 10, 2010

Flirt with Your Husband Friday: Build Gingerbread Houses

Build a Gingerbread house together --- yeah, just the two of you --- without the kids.  Or build a whole village out of graham crackers.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Are You Ready??

Are you getting ready??? I mean that both ways --- You can’t appreciate the wonder of Christmas if you don’t get ready in the physical reality.  At this time of the year, I always think about the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible.  Mary sat at Jesus feet and just drank it in.  Martha bustled around the house, preparing the meal, seeing to the needs of the guests, serving --- all the Martha stuff.  Finally, Martha had a meltdown.  She demanded that Jesus tell Mary to get herself in the kitchen and help.  Jesus didn’t.  He told Martha that Mary had made the better choice. 
What did he mean by that??? Did he mean to forget about hospitality and tradition and eating and being together??  I hardly think so.  But most of what was making Martha crazy could have been done ahead of time --- and then Martha could have relaxed and enjoyed Jesus and the rest of the company too.  Mary decided that good-enough was good enough.  She sat down, had a glass of wine with the Master and enjoyed the party.  Martha ran around like a chicken with her head cut off and then got all caught up in resentment. 
I really believe in the gift of Martha --- the talent and skill for hosting and making people feel welcome and wonderful --- without the grudging resentment that messed it all up.  I’m working on cutting back on some of my ideas about perfection and tradition for Christmas, but I’m not there yet.  So I’m working on getting ready.  I’m working on planning ahead and doing things ahead so I can sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the party. 
Here’s what I’m tackling this week to be ready:
Baking and freezing some really yummy treats --- they’ll pull out of the freezer in a flash when I need them. 
Washing all of the Christmas dishes – just a run through the dishwasher when I don’t need them --- it will take the pressure off later. 
Plan the menu --- this is it.  I’m out of time to shop around for bargains for our celebration.  I need to take stock and start a serious plan. 
Make a playlist on the Ipod – I want Christmas music playing for our celebration, but I’m going to scream if Alvin and the Chipmunks starts playing ---- so I’ll make my own playlist and control that right up front. 

Monday, December 06, 2010

Christmas: Cookie Exchange

Yeah, we’re having a cookie swap where I work.  And Yeah, I’m definitely participating (you’re surprised??? Have we met??)  This is a simple cookie swap.  Everyone bakes 6 dozen cookies of their choice.  You sign up and put what kind of cookie you’re making.  If you want to do something “normal” like Toll House or Peanut Butter, you’d better be one of the first souls to sign up. 

On the designated day, everyone comes together with trays and platters of cookies.  A quick walk around the table (it feels a little like musical chairs, except the Christmas music never stops)  and everyone has a new platter with a wonderful assortment of holiday cookies to take home with them. 

My friend Louise is the organizer of this event (God bless Louise) but if you’re thinking about having a cookie swap, you can find some great printable organizers here. 
Don’t forget to grab some of the cookie tray cellophane covers at the Dollar Store – this is the only time of the year that they’re easy to find.  Stock up now – it will make getting that platter of cookies to and from the cookie exchange much easier.  

Friday, December 03, 2010

Flirt With Your Husband Friday: Christmas Lights

You won’t believe what I’m going to suggest now.  This is one of my favorite cheap dates in December.  Pack up a thermos of hot chocolate and some of the leftover holiday cookies and go drive around looking at the wild and crazy displays of holiday decorations that some people display. 
In our area, one of the parks does a huge a drive-through display of lights and scenes.  You pay $5.00 a carload (don’t load the car, just the two of you, please) and drive through the park while the lights blink and flash and cheesy Christmas music plays over tinny loudspeakers. 
But we also like to just take a ride and look at the lights.  We enjoy the simple, tasteful displays as much as the showy, blinky ones.  One house that we adore always does simple candles in the windows, wide red swaths at the door and a plain evergreen wreath on the front door.  It is some simple that it’s breathtaking. 
There are also a couple of houses with blinding displays of moveable figures, flashing colored lights and whtever else they can manage to put on the expanse of lawn.  Sometimes we think we should make a contribution to the electric bill (can you imagine??) 
This year, the internet is making this date a whole lot easier.  Just go to  to find pictures, and a search function.  You can find homes with crazy light displays in your town and make your own tour.  Take the camera and you can upload photos of what you find to the site as well.  Just be aware --- this site has an eyeblinding 10,000 bulb minimum to be included. And if you find your home on the site --- well --- would you like a donation to the electric bill??