Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Day of 2011

Today is the last day of 2011.  Sorry, folks, but I do have to do an end-of-the-year recap.

This will always be the year "We bought a house."   It's been a very exciting time in our lives, and a period in time I will never forget.  I'm proud of the fact that we took an idea, a desire, and made it happen.  There were some naysayers who thought that in this economy we'd never sell our condo.  But we ignored that negativity, and it sold in three weeks.   Who would have thought we could find a house we liked and could afford in the six weeks given us until our condo closed?  But we did.

And we've been so very happy here.  My dreams of a big yard and BBQ's has come true.  As has dreams of having all our children together.   And most of all, I've enjoyed being hostess to family and friends.   It's been a blast.

We also had some very important weddings this year.   My son Nick married his wonderful girlfriend Kelly in a ceremony in September.

Hubby's daughter Wendy married her boyfriend Allen in May:

And my niece Jessica married Kyle on the Fourth of July.  Emily was the flower girl.

We did have some times of sorrow this year, as we all do.   Hubby lost his lovely Mom in April.
And in between all this excitement, we had our usual adventures.

We went to watch our daughter Jamie play football

One of those games was in Montreal, so we made what has become a yearly trek

Our plan had been to go to Niagara Falls for our fifth wedding anniversary.  We decided to buy a house instead.  But we did manage to steal away for a weekend in Booth Bay Harbor, ME.

And interspersed in all of this was the usual joys of life.

Grandchildren's birthday parties

Some trips to the beach

A trip to Boston

Backyard BBQ's

Our own headline show at the Bull Run

A Red Sox Game

The Topsfield Fair

And so many, many more moments that were special in their own ways.   It's been a wonderful year.  I have more blessings than I can count.   It's hard to believe another year is over.

And already, we have something special to anticipate in 2012.  Our second grand-daughter will be born the end of January.  

I wonder what other exciting adventures the New Year will bring?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Long Live the King

It started out innocently enough.   My sister wanted to send out an email to help my father out.  She decided to be cute about it:

As personal secretary to the King of Danville, I am writing to announce that lunch on Christmas will be at 1pm.   King Dad requires B.Y.O.F......bring your own food.  Rumor has it Steve is bringing Nachos! yum!

I, unfortunately, simply replied with "Okey dokey".

My brother John replied with:

Could you please convey my allegiance to the King and convey to him that we will have our royal asses to The land of Danville prior to the 1:00 start of the Royal Christmas luncheon and that we will be bringing a loaf of meat. Your loyal subject, Sir John of Methuen  

My brother Steve chimed in with:

Indeed the earl of Salisbury is bringing southwestern fare to the feast.... The dessert shall remain a surprise until the proscribed time.

Me: I'm kind of embarrassed that my only response was "okey dokey".

Chris:  I wasn't gonna say anything...Steve is the Earl of Salisbury...John is Sir John of Methuen...and I'm the King's friggin' secretary???? What the????

Me:   And somehow I ended out married to the Court Jester!

Daughter-in-Law Kara:  I believe I, Lady of Naylor Manor, may have violated a sacred law as I contacted the King Himself earlier this week. My punishment shall be to act as the King's dessert tester, hereby ensuring no dessert has been poisoned before it graces the King's lips. I am humbly bringing vegetarian fare but promise it will be hearty enough for those looking forward to the loaf of meat.

Daughter Jamie:  And I, the Adorable Troll of Naylor Manor, shall remove any offenders of untasty desserts as well as the unfortunate body of The Lady of Naylor Manor.  Good day!

And then it continued into the next day:

Steve:  I, the earl of Salisbury wish to rain pestilence down upon the fish of Miami..... Any takers for this quest???  (Our New England Patriots were playing Saturday vs. the Miami Dolphins)

John:  I believe The Knight Brady of Gillette had taken care of the lowly Fish of Miami.

Me:  The Duchess of Salem and the Court Jester were in the exalted presence of The Lord and Lady of Methuen as we viewed The Knight of Gillette and his mighty henchmen annihilate the Lowly Fish of Miami. And it was good.

Not one to let a good joke die, my brother John finished it off with a special Christmas Gift for the King of Danville.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas........the way life should be

I've spent some serious time this year mulling over the idea of Christmas.   Working in retail, I've come into closer-than-I-want-to contact with the public.   And this holiday season, I've noticed more than ever how much Christmas stresses everyone out.

I guess I'm not sure why.  I think I've come to the conclusion that most of the time people are as stressed as they want to let themselves be.  They want to go crazy trying to make everyone happy, or they think they have to live up to everyone else's idea of what Christmas should be.

Sure, I understand wanting everyone to be happy.  I'd like all my friends and family to be happy too.  But most of the time, you have no control over whether or not someone else is really happy or not.  Happiness comes from within, and the things that you do might make someone feel a little better, but it won't bring them true happiness.

And why should you have to live up to someone else's idea of what a perfect Christmas should be?  I'm not saying be selfish, but a certain amount of flexibility makes the world go 'round.

Happiness at Christmas for me is being together with family and friends.   I can skip the cards, the gifts, the baking, etc.   But being together with the ones I love is what makes the holidays special for me.

And so, I've done my best to create my perfect Christmas around me.  I've worked it out so I get to see all of my family.   We don't necessarily get together right on Christmas day.   In fact, we've had four Christmas gatherings so far and we haven't even had Christmas Day yet.   Add into that a couple or three gatherings of friends, and my Christmas season is the happiest I've had yet.

This year has been especially blissful for me.  I've always dreamed of having a houseful of family and friends, of hosting my loved ones and seeing them all together in my home.   This year I was able to do that.  And it's been wonderful.

My dearest wish for all my friends and family is to find your true happiness at Christmas.  To focus on the way you wish Christmas to be, and to make your own dreams come true.

Merry Christmas to all my loved ones!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Night of Christmas Carols

For the past several years, Hubby has played Christmas Carols at the Java Room with his friend Betsi.  This year, they added friend Trude on saxaphone.

Hubby really loves playing the piano - and loves playing Christmas carols even more.

Our friend Betsi has a beautiful voice - perfect for singing some of the prettier carols.

Trude did a wonderful job on the saxophone.   I'm pretty sure she hadn't done Christmas carols with the sax before.

The crowd was happy and sang along.

Hubby's biggest fan loves when he plays "Dominic the Donkey" - especially when she gets to help out with the jingle bells.

I wish I'd thought to take a video of Betsi singing......but here's a little of Trude on the sax.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Another new craft

You never know what kind of things you're going to do when you have a new sewing machine.   I figured I'd make some crafts and some clothes and maybe start learning how to quilt.  

But my daughter Jamie asked if I'd be able to monogram something for her.    Her friend is a nurse, and also on her football team.  Jamie wanted something unique to give her for Christmas, and came up with the idea of giving her scrubs monogrammed with the football team name and her friends name and player number.

At first I thought, "This is going to be a fiasco."   I was nervous about trying it, because I didn't want to ruin the scrubs my daughter had paid good money for.

But they didn't come out too badly, did they?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Family Gathering

Yesterday was our second family gathering for Christmas.  Hubby and I are just reveling in our new house and new ability to host family and friends. 

Last Sunday we had Hubby's kids over.   Unfortunately, it we didn't think to break out the camera.  We had daughter Wendy and her husband Allen and our grandson Noah.   Wendy is 7 1/2 months pregnant, so we kind of had our new grand-daughter Elsie there too!  And we also had son Kenny and his partner Matthew.   I made a traditional Christmas dinner of turkey and fixin's.   We had a wonderful time.

Yesterday we had my kids for a Christmas gathering.   We enjoyed my son Doug, his wife Kara and our grand-daughter Emily.  Daughter Jamie and her boyfriend Don.  And son Nick, unfortunately without his new wife Kelly who was feeling under the weather.  This time we all brought something to eat.  And although we only took a couple of pictures, we did manage to get this lovely video.

It amazes me that Emily knows so many songs and remembers all the words.  I think this is one of her favorite Christmas carols.  Hubby was in heaven sitting at the piano with his grand-daughter.  If he has anything to do with it, all his grandchildren will be as musical as he is.  Emily gets her musical skill from her Mom and her Nana.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


It's always such a joy to spend time with our grand-daughter Emily.  She is adorable, smart, funny and full of energy.   This past weekend, we took her to Charmingfare Farm for their Santa Christmas party.

While I wasn't overly impressed in what the farm had to offer for their Christmas party, Emily enjoyed it immensely, which was all that mattered.

The part that was even more fun was driving to the farm and back.   On the way up, she regaled us with a concert of all the Christmas songs she's learned in preschool.  She was pretty impressed that Pepere and I know the words!  

After she'd sung all the songs she knew, she wanted to sing the "song about how many days are left" which I thought must be a song she'd learned in school.  Eventually, we figured out it was "The 12 Days of Christmas."   Pepere and I struggled through it, trying to remember each verse, and Emily kept right along with us, singing out a resounding "FIVE GOLDEN RINGS" each time.

After that, she decided we should make up our own 12 days of Christmas song.   It started out, "on the ONEth day of Christmas" and we chose something for each verse.   Emily put on the voice of the teacher, "Now .....who would like to chose what should be for number 6?   Pepere!  You're turn!!"   When I chose seven silly monkeys hanging from a tree, that was deemed "not pretty enough" so I had to change it to seven pink monkeys.  

I was pretty impressed that she not only remembered what we'd chosen for each verse, when we got to the end of each verse, she knew without fail what the next number should be.

My favorite quote of the day came on the ride home.   It was very cold on Saturday, and we were all pretty cold when we left the farm.   When we drove by a lake, I told Emily that was a lake where Pepere and I had taken our canoe.    "You have a canoe?  Can I go in the canoe with you some time?" she asked.    I said, "Yes, but we have to wait until the summer when it's warm."

She says, "But Memere, it's warm now."   

"Emily, remember how cold we just were? It's cold outside."

 "No, it's warm."

So I sang, "Baby, it's cold outside."

And in perfect pitch, she sang right back, " Sweetheart, it's warm outside!"

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Nothing says Love like putting up a Christmas tree together

I've always loved a real Christmas tree.   Somehow the fake ones don't evoke the sense of tradition and Christmas spirit tht the real ones do.

Luckily for me, Hubby loves a real tree as well.  There was never any fighting or discussion over real vs. fake.  Also, we are both pretty easy-going about lights - there's no controversy over twinkle vs. big bulbs or white vs. colored lights.

When we got married 5 years ago, we were able to meld our ornaments and our personal tastes and always ended out with a tree we loved.

This year, of course, we're putting up a tree in our new house.  We both feel extra-specially excited about it. 

Following tradition, we went to the place around the corner to pick a tree.  We were both pretty shocked over the prices.  Instead of the usual $40-$50 per tree, we were seeing $60-$70.   Way over our price range.   We walked around and eventually did find a tree for $40.    Actually, it was really $35, but we gave them $40 cause the proceeds go to charity.  Also because usually we talk them down and pay less than they're asking, so we thought we could make up for it a little.

Anyway, we brought our tree home, and for the first time, we struggled to get the tree to stay up in the stand.    Neither of us were being very nice about it.  Cranky was a word used more than once.  But eventually we got it up.  

And Hubby surprised me with this:

Isn't he a sweet romantic?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Our Yearly Tradition

Ever since I've lived in Salem, I've gone to the annual Christmas Parade.  It's a tradition I've always enjoyed.   When my kids were young, I'd dress them up in winter coats, hats, mittens, boots and we'd stand and wave at the people on the floats.

As they got older, we joined in the parade as members of boy scouts, girl scouts, PTA, sports teams.  Probably the last time one of my kids participated was when my son, as a high school senior, joined the float celebrating their undefeated, state championship football team.

Even after the kids had left the house and no longer came with me, I always went to watch the parade.  It's such an old-time tradition, and, after being a resident of the town for 25 years, I knew a lot of people in the parade.

Recently, it's been our pleasure to bring my niece Laura and my grand-daughter Emily to the parade.  They both love it, and love being together.

This year was different.  Our new house is right on the parade route.  Emily couldn't make it - the poor thing is sick.  But Laura still wanted to come, and we met up with some friends to watch.

Our "crew" includes my friend's daughter Ashley, her dad Red, my friend Sylvie, my friend Debbie, Sylvie's husband Jim, me and Laura.  Hubby was manning the camera.  We are standing in front of the fire station because Ashley's husband is a firefighter, and is newly arrived back from Iraq.

Lancaster school was the school my children attended.  I think they had the best float in the parade.

Girl Scouts always have a place in my heart.

Ashley's husband is on the float of veterans newly returned from Iraq.

Our Salem High marching band.

And of course, Santa and the Mrs.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My New Craft

My friend Kay, whom I work with, is a "stamper".   She makes all her own cards.  We went over to her place a few weeks ago, and she has a whole room downstairs filled with stamping materials:  paper, stamps, punches, rolling stampers, etc, etc.

I was quite envious.  I love craft paper.  I've been scrapbooking for about 12 years now.   Stamping is one step away from scrapping.  

So she's turned me on to this new craft.  I joined her stamp club.  Every month I HAVE to buy at least $15 worth of stamping materials. 10 or 12 other women do the same.  And every once in a while, I get to be the hostess for the month, and earn free stuff and hostess gifts.

I tried out my new "talent" on two cards for my daughter and my sister.  They're very basic, as I don't really have any materials yet.....but here they are:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Another Home Improvement Project

Our new house has a mudroom off the kitchen.   It was in very sad condition.   The roof leaked, the lights didn't work, the floor was a disaster.   

Hubby took care of the roof.  And he also installed a new ceiling light and fixed the electricity so the ceiling light and the porch light both worked.  

Then it was my turn.

The very sad floor:

The stained ceiling.  This one is only a partially "before" picture because that is the new light fixture.  The old one was falling apart, rusted and had no glass covering.

If these tiles look familiar....well.....they are.   They are the same as the tiles I put into the bathroom.    6 boxes of these tiles were given to me by my brother.   "Free for Me!!"

Now that the ceiling and floor look so nice, I've decided I want to paint the walls.  It's paneling but I'll paint right over it with a nice bright color.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our New Addition

My Hubby is a musician......and a musician without a piano is like a day without sunshine.  
One of the first things he wanted to do when we bought the new house was get a piano.........
and he did!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Watch out Cake Boss!

My baby daughter is turning 30 years old this weekend.   We always celebrate her birthday on Thanksgiving because she was, after all, a Turkey baby.

She plays women's football, so I created this lovely cake just for her.   You can't see it in the picture but there is a replica of her team's logo in the middle of the cake, and all the players and the line markers are "30".

Thursday, November 24, 2011


My Dad did most of the work of cooking for our Thanksgiving feast.  Then my brother John carved the turkey and we all helped serve it up.

Of course, Dad had to do some quality control taste-testing of the turkey.

Nick, Kelly, Courtney, Sammi and Lloyd wait patiently for the food to come out.

Steve passes some food to Doug.

Ruth and Paul are replete after their holiday meal.

Sammi enjoyed her dinner.

Laura played a little Barbie dolls with the little kids.

Kara leads Ciera, Emily and Hailey in a sing-along.

Jamie and I took the kids on the traditional after-dinner walk.  When I was a girl, we took a walk after dinner to avoid doing dishes.

Aren't these little faces sweet?