Friday, December 23, 2011

If I believed in luck...

...I would consider myself the luckiest gal in Blog Land right about now.

I don't believe in luck, though. In my view of things, there are  no coincidences. Every good and perfect gift is from above. I believe in something better than luck. I believe in blessings.  

I've been blessed repeatedly this year with more than my share of blog gifts and giveaways. So blessed, in fact, that the family has begun to tease me that I should start playing the lottery.  (By the way, did you hear about the mega million winner from Georgia who hasn't come forward yet? Yeah, well... it isn't this Georgia peach.)

It all started just about this time last year with a Christmas giveaway from Sue @ Ordinary Miracles. Since then, I've been blessed with gifts and giveaways from Tanya @ FrouFrou Britches,  and Lynn @Blue Skies, and Marcia @ One Heart at Home, and Kathy @ The Writer's Reverie, and Sandie, the Chatty Crone herself. I even won some fabulous glasses from Susan's bloggaversary auction party @ My Place to Yours.

Just last week, I won this wonderful tote and monogrammed tag
 from Grace and Favor, a Life Worth Living.

Isn't that lovely?

Yep, I'm one lucky blessed blogger.

Funny thing about winning these giveaways, though... You have to cough up a little private information about yourself for the treasure to get here.  You have to trust the invisible people who live inside your computer not to do anything mischievous with your schtuff  once they have it in their possession.

And that's what leads me to this
 very unexpected post this morning.   

Last night, I came home to discover a mystery package on my back stoop from one such mischievous blogger, Susan from My Place to Yours.

I opened it, and this is what I read.

And inside were birthday cards from some of the most wonderful little sneaks in Blog Land. 

You're probably not surprised to hear that I cried.
It's kinda been a tough year....

You might be surprised to hear what happened next, though. I called the Farm Sister to yak all about my unexpected treasure, but when she answered the phone, I couldn't get the words to come out of my mouth.  Seriously.  She dubbed it the Christmas Miracle of 2011.

Debbie was rendered speechless. 

You know, folks... I get teased a lot because of the invisible people who live in my computer.  Maybe you do too.  It's difficult for those outside of the social cyber world to understand how someone whom you will likely never meet can become as familiar as the face down the block.

You've been called, Mom's Imaginary Friends and  Those Invisible People... The husband once dubbed you Harveys, after the six foot rabbit in a Jimmy Stewart flick. Such a smarty pants I married.  

But after he saw the box, even Mr. Smarty Pants has had to change his tune.

"Deborah," he said, "I think maybe your invisible friends are about as real as they come."

'Nuff said.

So though I'm going to thank you all individually, I'll thank you here collectively for giving this soon-to-be-vintage blogger a wonderful birthday surprise. Truly, it was a big thing to me.

And to all of the Harveys who hop about inside my computer, 
I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas.   

Comments are off...
'Cause every once in a while,
 I like to have the last word... 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Seven Random Christmas Things

You can thank   blame Joan at Reflections of His Grace  for this post.  Not long ago, she gave me the Tell Me About Yourself award and another opportunity to share 7 random things about Debbie. Thanks, Joan!  In the spirit of the season, I decided to do mine with a Christmas theme. 

So here ya go, seven completely random
  Christmas facts on Wheels.

1. I was a Christmas baby. Well, technically, I was a Christmas Eve baby. I was born on a cold and snowy Christmas Eve in 1961. That would be 50 years ago this year in case you missed the other 400 times I've mentioned it. 

Yes, I said snowy. I wasn't born in Georgia, you see. The Legend of Debbie begins in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. And yes, it's a legend. Some babies are born; others are born with a yakabout.    
As the story goes, the Duchess woke that morning to tell-tale twinges which shouldn't have surprised her since I was already nine days overdue. Apparently, she felt that since I had waited that long, I could jolly well wait until the Christmas rush was over. She didn't tell a soul that she was in labor for hours hoping it was another false alarm.   

Which tells you two things:

The Duchess has been trying to control me my entire life, 
and my entire life,
 I have been utterly uncontrollable. 

They say that the doctor and nurses stood at the window and watched as Dad tried to defy gravity up the slippery slope called Hospital Hill. According to the Legend of Debbie, the good doctor had satchel in hand and was prepared for a case of  vehicular delivery when Dad gave it one final burst and delivered us to the top in the nick of time.  

Go Dad.  

2. I always wanted to have a Christmas name like Holly or Noel, but every other name in our family, including those of my parents, starts with the letter D. Try as they might, all they could think of was Dasher, Dancer, Donner, or Ding-a-ling.

And so, I'm Debbie.

3. At nearly 50, I still love those Rankin-Bass Christmas claymations.  My favorite one is  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. My favorite character is  Hermey, the elf with mall bangs who wanted to be a dentist.

My favorite line? 
        Yukon Cornelius: We'll have to outwit the fiend with our superior intelligence
        Rudolph: How?
        Yukon: Douse your nose and run like crazy!   

4. My favorite Christmas gift of all time was a tambourine. I wanted one so that I could do the tambourine hip bounce like Betty on the Archie Show. I can still do it and will show anyone who asks. 
No one ever asks.

5. I believe that The 12 Days of Christmas is an action song and should be performed as such. If you’ve never acted it out, I highly recommend it. There is no better way to work off the Christmas fudge than shaking your groove thing to six geese a-laying. 

6. I make the most delicious sugar free Christmas cocoa on the planet, and I’m very humble about it too.

7.  I'm obsessed with the Elf Yourself videos from Office Max and make random videos to email to the husband on the road. Just in case I haven't embarrassed my girls enough in their lives, I've elfed the three of us to finish my random list. In case you can't tell, I'm the blond with the slightly detached bobblehead.  

So that's it, folks, 7 random Christmas things about me.
What's the most random Christmas thing about you? 

 I'm hoping to post one more time before the week is out, 
but just in case I don't...
Merry Christmas. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Extreme Love Shack Mantel Makeover

Just in time for Christmas too! 

I'm a busy elf these days, but after a visit with the newlywed niece, I wanted to stop and share her mantel makeover all decorated for the Christmas season.

These are the best before pictures that I have, but I think you get the drift.  Here's the gaping hole called their fireplace near the beginning of their restoration. The fireplace at the Love Shack is so old that it had a dirt floor and was unusable.

They decided to cover it up 
as they worked on the rest of the Love Shack restoration.

All was going well until the Man of the Place was deployed.  Because of his absence, they decided that this would be the one project for which they would hire some help.

The back was left with its original stoney bricks, but they laid a tile floor and hearth.  

They originally planned to construct a mantel, but in a happy little twist of Providence, a wonderful antique mantel fell into their laps.  It fit the gaping hole so perfectly it seemed almost custom made for it. Thanks, God.

She painted it white and picked a small tile for the surround.

And then decorated it for the season.

Ta Da!

Isn't that pretty? 
I think she inherited the Christmas gene from her grandmother. 

The Man of the Place thought it was pretty too.  He saw it via SKYPE as she carried her laptop all over the house to show him the hearth and home waiting for his return...

...which, no matter what date is on the calendar, will feel just like Christmas.

Sharing with Inspiration Friday
At the Picket Fence
because I think they're both pretty inspiring.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Santa Express

I visited the Duchess yesterday 
and took pictures of this year's outdoor decorations.

(That's my mother for those who have asked. 
What? You didn't know I was royalty?)

As I've said, 
her themes are always whimsical
 and designed for children.

This year's theme is 
Santa's Express

The focal point of her decorating is always on her front porch.
 That's were most of the action is.

With a little schedule to make sure 
Santa stops for the family members across the globe.

The porch is the focal point, 
but if you pay close attention, 
the elves on the shelves 
will tell a little story, too.

Apparently, something has happened up above...

Can you tell what it is? 

psst... look at the paint can

And then the hapless elf on the left

More elves on the shelves

The side entrance to the kitchen is the door to Santa's workshop 
where an elf keeps tabs on her grandchildren.

Looks like they've all been pretty good so far.

At night, she adds just enough light.

And yes, I did deliberately capture the blue hour.
 You might recall that I have a blue hour obsession.

So there you have it.  

Merry Whimsical Christmas
from the Duchess

Monday, December 12, 2011

Red Marble Frisbee Cakes and a Little Red Sleigh

Man plans; God laughs.

I had all intentions of time in Blog Land this weekend. I was going to give the great Christmas tree tour.

Then, I got stuck in the kitchen. I spent all day Friday in my own kitchen making red velvet cakes. All told, I have made four of those little demon cakes with three layers apiece. If you do the math, that's twelve layers of red velvet.   I only needed two cakes, but it was my first time making them from scratch you see, and I'm apparently a remedial red velvet cake scratcher.  I named the first one trial and the second one error. 

The recipe was from The Joy of Baking to which I say Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire. 
I found an easier one.

I finally had six good layers to show for it and a red polka dotted apron to match my kitchen.   

Saturday was our family's day to work the local soup kitchen. We spent it preparing and helping to deliver 291 meals-on-wheels. 

I'm pretty much kitchened out right about now.

I did have time to do a little Christmas decorating and an 80's Santa sleigh makeover though.

I've had this little oak and brass sleigh for about twenty- five years now.

I bought it at a Home Interiors party back in the '80s. Does anyone else remember Home Interiors? Are they still around?

I thought it could use an update.

I was inspired by
 Babs at Upstairs Downstairs
to paint it cardinal red with some Old English dark stain.

I put it on top of the oak china cabinet
that I recently moved out of the dining room into the living room.

(Some of these pictures were taken before I realized that I had the runners on backwards. That's why it looks like a baby carriage. Good grief...) 

This year, I'm using the cabinet to display the girls' Santa collection.

My dad started it for them,
and my mother continues to give them one every year. 

Anyway, that's what we've been up to around here
and why you haven't seen my flower cart out visiting.

Tonight, I plan to settle down with a cup of my world famous
 Christmas cocoa and check in on you.

Until then...

Ho Ho Ho

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Nutcrackers, Snowmen, and Sugar Plums

I'll let the pictures be worth my usual 1000 words for this post. 

I just wanted to share some sights from the kitchens in my corner of the world. 
Pretty much, we all keep the same themes in our kitchens every year.

 If you like it, why change it?

The Farm Sister has nutcrackers

This shelf could actually have been part of the copy cat challenge as well. She saw something like it a few years ago in Southern Living and decided to make herself one just like it.

I have snowmen in mine

OK, there's one Santa on there, too.
I use that cookie jar to keep track of all Christmas receipts. 
I keep my cookies in tins. 

I pretty much showed my snowman table last year in THIS post. No need to show it again.

The only thing I changed was the centerpiece.

This year, I'm using this Frosty hat. 
and a simple poinsettia in a green tin bucket. 

I keep it set for the month of December.

I have no idea what fell on that plate...

And yes, we eat there.  

We actually use white cotton napkins instead of these snowflake ones, though.
 To be honest, I don't want them to fade from over use.  

More snowmen for the walls 

For the Duchess,
 it's all about the edibles.

Wreaths for the pantry doors

I showed her sugar plum tree last year, 
but I didn't show the topper. 

A slow scan down the tree.... 

Some were purchased, but most of it was just made over the years. 
 I'm pretty sure those gum drops are  petrified by now. 

Her centerpiece  is made with red hots and apples. 

Yes, I copied my candy cane candlesticks
from her. 

And that's it for tonight. 

Do you have a theme for your kitchen?

and At The Picket Fence for the Kitchen party
because those two sisters are always partying.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Opening the Christmas Doors

Outdoor decorations were easy this year because I'm keeping things simpler.  We used to put garland around the door and a wreath on every window, both upstairs and down. Of course, by we, I actually mean he. I have a fear of falling so the husband did all of the climbing.

He's been working really hard this year, and I thought maybe he didn't want to spend his rare time off playing elf...

So simple it is.

I did change out the pillow covers for the porch. The old ones had a snowman theme and were well faded. I found this new fabric with poinsettias and cardinals and went with that instead.

Then, I mooched this ribbon from the Duchess's abundance and did a wreath to match it.

Yeah, I know... I'm heading back out to dink with it more now that I see the picture...

Of course, I didn't realize until I was visiting the farm yesterday that the Sister also has a cardinal theme on her front door.Her ribbon is identical.  Well, oops.

 Maybe by the time I turn 50, I'll stop being baby sister copycat.

Of course, there's always the slight possibility
 that she mooched her ribbon from the Duchess too...  

The Duchess changes her outdoor decorations every year. Hers are never traditional and always bright,  whimsical, and designed for children to enjoy. She cuts her scenes out of plywood and paints them herself. For 70 plus years, she's still pretty amazing with the power tools.

She loves abundance on her wreaths and garlands, too. 

Here's her front door this year.

Her greenery this year is decorated with little foil wrapped packages, a foil chain, and bright ornaments. She's been saving  boxes and crafting for a few months now.

We started to put out the rest of her outdoor display yesterday, but we ended up with a rain delay. When it's all out, I'll be back with the whole big picture.

For now, here's a peek at what it is.

So what about you?

Are your outdoor decorations simple or festive?
 Traditional or whimsical?

I'll be sharing this At The Picket Fence
 for their doors and porches party.


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