Dear Holiday Diary, The concept of time escapes me…

Dear Holiday Diary,

I sat down this morning for the first time in weeks. My butt was like, “What are we doing? We’re not sitting in a car driving to town to Christmas shop. FOR GOD’S SAKE. WE DON’T HAVE TIME TO SIT, DO WE?” Switching gears after pushing myself for weeks is harder than you think. My brain still isn’t wrapping itself around the fact that it’s Christmas Eve and I may actually be ready and can enjoy it this year. That would be a first. Although, I’m not there yet. There’s lots of time for human error. I’m more human than most.

One thing I would LOVE for Christmas is the ability to know how long each task will take leading up to Christmas day. Wouldn’t that be a great app? It would calculate the time it takes for transportation, shopping, sending personalized greeting cards, decorating, and preparing meals, to name a few of the tasks on my list. It always takes me twice as long, so I end up stressed and behind schedule. Why is that? I feel like I give myself plenty of time. I must be super slow when I do things. I do get distracted easily by sparkly things. There are lots of sparkly things around these days. Like yesterday, when I walked to a shop on the Pearl Street Mall, I just had to take in the Boulder Court House light display and then window shop down the block a ways until I realized I should drive to my next destination a mile away to save time.

Twice, I spent hours hoofing around in stores to purchase gifts I couldn’t find online only to find them on super sale the next day. GAH! At least returning those items didn’t take very long. I’m not sure an app could predict that.

Being an optimist has its drawbacks and can be very hazardous to time management during the holidays. When illustrating my Christmas cards, I only remembered the times when the ideas and likenesses came easily. I didn’t create popup cards this year. That eliminated days of cutting and pasting. I planned on two hours a drawing. I thought I’d get the cards done in two days. Ha! They took so much longer than expected.

It would have helped if I had an idea in mind. Instead, I used a technique for writers’ block. I started sketching without an idea and hoped for a burst of light in the darkness of my cavelike cranium. After a few drawings, the lightbulb blew up in my head. You know that sound that makes you jump when it pops right above you?

Being a slow learner can be frustrating too. Printing them became a nightmare with my antique printer for a lot of reasons. The drawings were too big and the printer’s plantain was super small. After redrawing them to barely fit, I placed my left hand on top to raise the lid with my right and shut it off, EVERY FREAKIN’ TIME!

Baking and cooking recipes include the amount of time it should take, but for some reason, it always takes me longer. Maybe it’s because I tend to double or triple recipes. I don’t adjust for the time it will take to bake six dozen cookies instead of two. Other times, I don’t wear my reading glasses, add too much of an ingredient, and then have to adjust the entire recipe. Starting over would take less time.

Someone recently asked me if I recreate all of my swags and decorations every year. Nope. When I carefully take them down, I label them so they easily go back up the exact same way. Not this year. I must have been extremely sleep-deprived and angry-faced. Nothing was labeled. It was as if I stuffed them in a box to be donated. I had to redo everything! I would enter my own category to the app. Time for decorating: Four hours to two full weeks.

No concept of time Christmas decorations

I would definitely turn off the app on Christmas day. Being adults, our family rises much later than those who Santa visits. We start with coffee and cinnamon rolls. By the time the last sleepy strangler arrives in the kitchen for their first cup of Joe, it’s after 9:00. For some reason time slows. My quiche always seems to take two hours in the oven. The full court press to get the brunch out stretches through the morning while we work in slow motion. We finally peek in our stockings at noon!

But there’s a time for the frantic frenzy spent racing against time and there’s the time for cocooning. I should have been a set designer. My hope is to create a warm place where everyone relaxes in a twinkling Christmas atmosphere from your wildest dreams. The house is decorated to the nines. (Nine what? Ninth floor? Nine gates of hell? Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall? I never understood that expression.) The shopping will be done and the presents will be wrapped, even if stuffed in a gift bag at the last minute with the wrong name on it. We will go to church on Christmas Eve. Christmas will arrive. We will enjoy every minute of our holiday, no matter what we went through to prepare for it. Okay, so nothing is perfect and we can’t be happy for hours on end, but I will count my blessings and try to live in the moment..

Merry Christmas! May the time with your family and friends be more memorable than the crazy month preparing for it.

Are you planning on enjoying the holidays or are you still in a last-minute frenzy?

Dear Holiday Diary, Mistakes were made.

Dear Holiday Diary,

I cranked out four cakes yesterday. Four! An eggnog, a poppyseed, and two chocolate bundt cakes. I should have quit while I was ahead. I could have spent the time inking my Christmas card. Mistakes were made.

bundt-cakes

The craziest thing happened the day before. I had searched for a ginger snap cookie recipe, but couldn’t find the right one. You know the kind with the sugary topping, right? I remembered a picture of one in a cookbook somewhere. Then the image of the New Boys and Girls Cookbook popped into my head. Do you have that one? It’s hardly new. It’s an antique, I mean a classic. I didn’t even know if I still had it. I searched my shelves filled with tons of cookbooks. There it was, between Betty Crocker and Colorado Cache. It opened up to the page. No lie. There was the picture of that cookie! EUREKA!

betty-crockers-boys-and-girls-cookbook

I glanced at my stack of drawings sketched the day before. If I continued baking, I probably wouldn’t have time to ink them. There are three illustrations in this year’s card!

But I’m cursed. Once I get an idea in my head, I have to do it. I looked at the recipe while the cakes cooled on the counter. Easy peesy. I mean it’s a kids’ cookbook, for gosh sakes.

I studied (squinted at) the ingredients. One cup of molasses seemed like a lot even though I was doubling the recipe, but what did I know. I probably hadn’t made these cookies since the sixth grade back when mini skirts were in style for the first time.

Molasses cookie recipe

After finishing that step, I perused the dry ingredients, then checked the molasses amount again. WHAT? It only called for half that amount of molasses. I had misread 1/4 cup! It looked like 1/2. Stupid tiny typeface. Now what would I do? I had cut back on sugar for high altitude, so that would make up for some of it. I didn’t want to double the recipe again. I’d have batter for sixteen dozen cookies! I didn’t have time to load cookie sheets all afternoon. I adjusted the ingredients and added flour and another egg. The bitter batter tasted better.

Danny stopped home and I asked him if he would taste test my ginger snap cookies. “Hmm..” That didn’t sound like the response of someone who tasted a delicious cookie. “No, they’re good,” he said and backed out the door, “Really!”

I tasted a couple, but they didn’t have that ginger snap flavor. I considered throwing them out. There was something weird about these cookies.

My sister, Patty, dropped by.

“Wanna try a cookie?”

She thought they were great.

Now it was my turn to say, “Hmm…”

When I put the book away I noticed the name of the recipe. “Molasses cookies.”

Duh! They weren’t ginger snaps. No wonder they tasted funny. They’re fantastic molasses cookies. No, I’m not going to make ginger snaps tomorrow.

Note to self: Slow down and make sure you know what you’re doing.

Wait. That won’t ever happen. First of all, I never slow down.

Second of all, I always think I know what I’m doing. That’s my biggest problem. I go balls to the wall with stuff I could double check, but rarely do. If I do double check, I start thinking I’m OCD or am suffering with short term memory loss. Both could be true given the situation.

I could wear the reading glasses hanging around my neck or use a grown-up cookbook next time. Or better yet, quit when I’m ahead. What a concept.

2nd note to self: Ink drawings today.

Do you bake for Christmas? Have you made any mistakes lately?

 

It’s not too late to join The #Blessed Project. Check it out and get linked up on the 19th!

 

Dear Diary, Please make it stop!

Dear Holiday Diary,

After a week of decorating, I still am surrounded by doodads and ditzies just begging to be made into some form of centerpiece, swag or other holiday shimmery thing. It doesn’t help that I keep looking up at my cupboards with the memory of this ceiling I spied while in Denver.

oxford-hotel-christmas-decor

Thanks a lot, Oxford Hotel. I’m still trying to forget the images of Patsy Ramsey’s house. Now I want to buy gold ribbon to swing from above my cupboards to the top of my chandelier. As if I don’t already have enough to do –

  1. Finish sketching the Christmas card.
  2. Note to self: Ask Danny to hide all the scissors in the house. NO POPUPS!
  3. Ink the illustration.
  4. Blog the contest to win a Christmas card.
  5. Put away crafting supplies and duct tape the containers shut. Danny should hide them too.
  6. Start baking.
  7. Get outside! It’s supposed to drop from the 50’s to below zero by Wednesday. Maybe I can add one more string of lights to the outdoor display, I mean, take a hike.

Ideas keep popping into my mind. I need to make them stop. I’ll let you know how I manage.

Have you started your holiday traditions? Are you scrambling like I am?

You Still Have a Chance!

I have spent hours sketching, drawing, crafting, cutting, slicing and pasting my Christmas cards in a sort of elf-like assembly line without the elves. While up to my elbows in paper scraps, I looked forward to that blissful nirvanic state attained after slipping them into envelopes.

A lot of love goes into each card and I would like to share it! Here’s your chance to win one.

Elf materials

Every year, I draw my family engaging in some kind of holiday or winter activity.

Guess what we are doing in this year’s card, leave a comment, and win!

Merry, merry!

 

The Unusually Wild Gift Guide

gift giver 2 1

I’ve been surfing the net for the wildest gifts online and would like to share a few unusual finds with you. Some are wilder than others, but they are all meant for someone who has everything or a sense of humor.

The Power Nap Head Pillow can be found at Hammacher Schlemmer.

the power nap head pillow 1

Because naptime…

ostrich-pillow-portable-power-nap-micro-environment-xl

 The Shower Squid can be found at Uncommon Goods.

shower squids Continue reading

Do You Know What Day This Is?

It was a sunny Wisconsin morning the first time it happened. My mother screamed and ran into our bedroom waking my sister Patty and me from a sound slumber. I thought my small heart would explode. I bolted from our shared bed and followed her to the picture window of our apartment.

“There’s a purple polka-dotted elephant walking down the street!” she shouted.

“What? Where?”

When my little sister joined me in squinting through the glaring window, she said, “April Fools,” and then laughed. I didn’t think it was very funny at the time.

Through the years, I have played tricks on friends and family. My children ran to the window searching for purple giraffes, along with other strange colored creatures. I know. I am so mean. It must be genetic. Every year, I have tried to come up with new ways to trick my husband, such as, “By the way, we’re having company for dinner, so if you could stop and pick up some wine and a few things at the grocery store and then come home early to help me clean, that would be great. (Wait for it…) APRIL FOOLS!” The relief on his face is always worth it!

Yesterday, I checked my phone’s April calendar and noticed little lines under the some of the dates.  I didn’t remember saving any appointments, so I checked them out. April 22nd is Earth Day. The 15th is dreaded Tax Day. And the 1st is… April Fools’ Day!

Wait a minute… It occurred to me that if phones list April Fools’ as a holiday, everyone will know and no one will be fooled. That could begin the extinction of the holiday!

Ugh. That would be terrible. I have always looked forward to a day of pranking.

Aprilsnar_2001

April Fools in Denmark. No. A subway car did not crash through the ground…

How did it begin anyway? There are conflicting reports which is no surprise since this is April Fools we are talking about. The following explanation gets my vote. During the Middle Ages, the first of the year was celebrated at the end of March. Then in the 1500’s, Pope Gregory XIII changed the Gregorian Calendar to start on January 1st.  Bells would toll across the land to “fool” other fools into thinking the 1st of the year still began in April.

I never noticed that the Pope named the calendar after himself! He died on April 10th. Irony or coincidence???

During the 1800’s in France, the first of the year changed to January 1st. People who celebrated on April 1st were ridiculed in that country as well.

“Ha. You peasants are such idiots…”

Today, in Italy, France, and Belgium, pranksters will stick a picture of a fish on their unsuspecting target’s back and then shout, “April Fish!”

April Fish

WHAT? That is so lame! How did that one start? Were they fed up with being called fools and substituted fish? And did they originally use real fish back in the day? Did they use minnows or mackerels? Apparently, that variation has something to do with the astrological sign Pisces.

April Fools’ Day will be celebrated in many countries today. Thanks Wikipedia for that specific information. How will we play any practical jokes if everyone knows and is already suspicious? My advice is to strike early before your friends and family have their first cup of coffee.

“Roxy! Look at that pink coyote trotting down the street!”

Purple spotted Roxy1

Consider this heads up, my gift to you. Now get out there and prank someone!

Do you plan to fool anyone?

Guess What? A Contest

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One of my annual holiday traditions is creating our family Christmas card. In the last couple of days, I have drawn and copied, cut, folded and stacked all of the parts that will be ready to glue and assemble. With around 24 hours into this art project, I would guess that I am just about half way to finishing them. I am hoping to make 90 cards. I know. I am ridiculous.

This year’s card is another pop-up, meaning there will be folded paper inside that will have some dimension after opening.  Last year, I added beads and half of the envelopes were returned before Christmas with postage due. Ugh. This year, I avoided any extra dingle dangles that would mess up the otherwise timely delivery.

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Last year’s card. Those beads cost me!

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Another pop-up from two years before.

I thought it would be fun to  run a contest for those of you interested in receiving one of my homemade cards. No matter what your faith or how you celebrate, this is a card made with lots of love for you! Continue reading