Monday, December 30, 2013

Realistic Resolutions...

It hardly seems possible that 2014 is only 2 days away.  I look at the hat above and it reminds me of the leftover party favors from the parties my grandparents would host at their house on New Year's Eve.  They would often give a few favors to my brother and me and take us to Victory Park in Pasadena to look at the Rose Parade floats.  We did that several times.

The last few years I've either gone to the parade or watched it at home, but not so much now that I'm living in the Pacific Northwest. Although my hubby did get to see the parade in person on 1/1/12.  We even visited the floats on New Year's Eve day.

And how about those resolutions?  Losing 50 lbs? Not eating chocolate?  I don't go for those types of resolutions so much.

What about being a little kinder?  Showing more compassion towards others?  Being more patient?  I know what I need to work on.

As you think about the new year and changes you want to make, I challenge you (and all of us) to make them realistic and stick with them.  Let's all do our part to make the world a little better in 2014.

Happy New Year to all.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry (Belated) Christmas

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. We celebrated with my husband's parents, nephew, niece, and her little one on Christmas Eve.  Here is our table...

We had a nice dinner of ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad and rolls, with Martinelli's to drink and chocolate chip cake and vanilla ice cream for dessert.  My hubby was a great help, and there are leftovers to last us for days.

After dinner we opened presents, which had to go quickly because the 18 month old was getting restless.

On Christmas Day Eric and I had a nice breakfast with sausage, our special breakfast treat, and opened a few more gifts between the two of us.  I ended up with some gift cards, new towels, pajamas, chocolate, 2 sessions of facials and massages, and a safety tool for the car.  Oh yes...and the collector's edition of Duck Dynasty, which I had never watched before in my life!  It's pretty entertaining.  ("Happy, happy, happy!" --Phil)

Later in the day we went to visit Eric's parents at their house for an hour or so and then came home and watched Elf for the first time.  That was fun. 

All in all a fun, happy Christmas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Eve Readiness...or not so ready

The presents are purchased and wrapped, the holiday food is bought, the Christmas linens are out. The names are updated on the place cards, the poppers are bought, the napkins are folded. 

What a busy week!

Today I was in high anxiety mode, where it feels like the universe is against you moving efficiently and you're not sure why. So most of my tasks were done at the end of the day. Leftovers for dinner turned into a burger for Eric and leftover salmon and salad for me.  After dinner I was still in a weird, caffeinated frenzy, even though I wasn't caffeinated.

I knew I had to go back out "there." At this time of year, "there" is anywhere that isn't home, where the crowds are driving to the same places and descending on the same sections of the stores.  I had one more grocery trip to make.

Go after dinner? Or go tomorrow (the Saturday before Christmas...?)

Command decision. Go after dinner. I told myself I didn't want to be gone more than 45 minutes and I made it!

The goal? No more grocery trips until after Christmas. And no more spending!

Can I make it?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Festival of the Nativities

Tonight Eric and I went to the local Festival of the Nativities that our stake is having this weekend.  This is only the second year and it looks amazing. Over 700 nativities were on display, including a live nativity with some very still, very hard-working people.

I tend to gravitate towards the more traditional-looking nativities, especially the simpler ones, the ones that have wonderful faces or sometimes, no faces.  Here are some of my favorites:

Made out of paper...

I love this one and its unique shapes.

One of my favorites. So simple, yet lifelike...

I love the faces in this one.

I have a special affinity for the Lladros.

Another Lladro.

Very unique. Almost like an ice sculpture.

Another favorite--and very large.

Russian nesting dolls.

The live nativity.

Another simple one that conveys so much.

In the lobby, another beautiful one.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Simplifying Christmas

Somewhere between selling the CA house and us buying the Little Chalet RV, I decided to scale down on Christmas a bit this year.  In 2010, we had 3 Christmas trees throughout the house. In 2012 we had 2. Now most of the lights on the 6 year-old pre-lit living room tree have died and the smaller, white, family room tree has been promoted. (A great tree because it is so easy to put together and the lights have all worked consistently for 3 years now.)

Downstairs it was in red and gold. Upstairs it is in red and silver.  And, thanks to Dollar Tree, I was able to find the perfect tree skirt to match the colors for only $1. Nice...

I also scaled down on the big nativity from Mexico, inherited from my grandparents.  After rearranging Christmas items into a different closet a few months ago, the beautiful creche built by my grandpa and painted by my grandma is now wedged between the closet door and a beam (bad planning on my part.) Freeing it involves moving my piano, which I just didn't feel like doing this time.  Obviously I need to move it and store it somewhere else...eventually.

So the Mexican nativity is being displayed "creche-less" this year.  I still think it looks pretty, just a little simpler.  Interestingly, when I was unwrapping each piece from the tissue paper, I noticed that Baby Jesus was bought in Portugal, not Mexico.  (My grandparents did travel to Portugal.) What happened to the original little Mexican Baby Jesus?

As usual, decorating took 2 days. One day for the decorations and one day for the tree. I like to pace myself.  The good thing about finally putting everything into those big Rubbermaid storage containers is that all of the non-Christmas stuff can go in there too.

Here's our simple little fireplace:
Rudolf is one of my many boutique finds, the reindeer family is from my paternal grandma, and the Santa spray was a Secret Santa gift at my last school. And our 2 little stockings, purely for looks!

Ramius likes the way everything turned out:
"Nice decorations.  I can't wait to rip them all apart."

Thankfully, he only batted at a couple of ornaments and ripped off a few pieces of the fake holly on the centerpiece. It is his 5th Christmas, after all--time to mature a little.  (His 4th in Washington!  He's a true Washington kitty.)

Eric is grateful that I suggested no outside lights this year.  As much as I love Christmas lights, I could sense the dread he was having to put them up, so we're taking the year off.  Last year he ran back and forth to Target 2-3 times in one day getting the right amount of the same lights, so he deserves a break.

I also decided on minimal Christmas cards. Last year at this time there was a huge bunch, stamped and mailed, containing a lovely card and a Christmas letter. This year will be e-cards and emailed letters, with the exception of immediate family.

I love Christmas, everything about it--the decorations, the lights, the music, atmosphere (aside from the shopping frenzy, which I try to avoid.) The house is definitely ready for the season, just a little less than usual.  I guess that is my gift to me. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Comparison Game...Just STOP IT

Oh, the Comparison Game. Why oh why do we do this?

I must admit, I'm usually pretty good about not doing it, but when I do I drive myself nuts.

For anyone who has been to my book review blog you've probably seen that I've added a lot of reviews lately in a very short amount of time.  It wasn't planned, it just happened.  I finished a book and reviewed it, I needed to finish another one in a short time because it was due to the library and reviewed it, I fell in love with a new series for young people and read the first 2 books in 2 days and reviewed them. Four reviews in about 5 days.  That's a lot for me.

But not for other people. I checked in on Goodreads and found myself reading a review by a girl in the UK who has her own book review site (there are a lot of them out there.) So I went to check it out.  Holy Moly. This site is high tech.  She's got a fancy blog design, tons of followers and comments, and even gets sent free books from publishers to read and review on her site.

Cue the depressing trumpet sound...wah WAH.

I will admit that I did get some useful ideas for my humble little site, such as organizing the reviews by author and title to make them more accessible for new visitors, but then I had to give myself a little head slap. And a little pep talk.

"Why do I blog?" I asked myself?

And I answered, "To write about things I care about, when I care about them. To share experiences and how I feel about them. To have my own little corner that I can decorate, change, update, make colorful or plain, vent, brag, share, on my own timeline without caring what anyone else thinks."

There's a certain freedom in that. And freedom equals joy.

And what takes away from joy?  Playing the dreaded Comparison Game.

So I looked at Miss UK's site in a new way.  Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful site, and sour grapes is not a productive way to escape the Comparison Game.  But what I did do is look at it through the "Kristie filter."  I looked at aspects of it that are not me, not things I would've chosen to do with it. For one thing, keeping my site simple, as I've done, gives me the freedom to add to it when I want and not feel pressured to read a book a week or be on any kind of schedule.  It's a hobby, not a job, and that is one of the things that makes it fun for me.

The Comparison Game...very dangerous, no matter where you apply it.

In preparing for this post I came upon another blog, again, very impressive, called Chasing Happy.  The girl who owns it has also had her battles with the Comparison Game.  This is what she writes:

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Today, let's decide to stop comparing. I am me, and you are you. No one else can do you better than you. And besides, we don't know the whole story on the women we're comparing ourselves to. What's behind the scenes could make a world of difference. So enjoy who and where you are... and just. be. happy.

I love that...Comparison is the thief of joy.

No more comparing.  I'm opting for joy.