A belated happy holidays to all my wonderful flist! I'm sorry for being so absent. The end of semester and the demands of the season really caught up with me. But I had an excellent holiday (as I hope all of you did as well), and here are some of the reasons why:
*The week before Christmas, Geography Teacher and I went up to spend the day in Frankenmuth, Christmas shopping and enjoying the atmosphere--and picking up the custom wool quilt I'd ordered from the Frankenuth Woolen Mill a few months ago. The service at the Woolen Mill was great ("Oh, it's you! I'll just get it for you right now," the woman at the counter said when we walked in.), and the quilt itself is just exactly what I'd hoped for--so beautiful and colorful! I know I chose all the fabrics and notions myself, but they really brought it together into exactly what I'd envisioned. The top is covered in a painty-looking fabric that appears to be alternating stripes of pencil and watercolors in shades of hot pink, lime green, electric blue, and a vivid purple, against a white background. The reverse is a rich ombre fabric in a million or so shades of purple. And the whole thing is brought together with variegated yarn ties that incorporate just about every color of the rainbow. And it's warm, too! While we were there, I also spotted the perfect Christmas tree ornament to represent the memory of my Aunt Jean (a little woolen Siamese cat), so I picked that up, too.
The rest of the day was equally wonderful, despite yucky rainy weather. I got to flap around Frankenmuth in a cape, we picked up some great Christmas presents, got some fudge to put out for the holidays (candy cane swirl, turtle, butter pecan, and dark caramel sea salt), and enjoyed all the holiday displays. We did have to wait in line for an hour at Zehnder's for dinner, but the experience was totally worth it; everything was beautiful, the people in line were good-humored about the wait, and while we waited, there was a very real sort of Santa Claus (real beard, infinitely patient and gentle and kind) visiting by the fireplace with the little ones. And the dinner itself made up for the wait, especially with the hot mulled wine that accompanied it.
It was the perfect experience to kick off Christmas week, and it filled me with holiday cheer through all the last-minute prep that followed. I think we might make that a tradition!
*After a more or less dry winter last year, and virtually no snow at all this winter? We got a truly white Christmas! It came out of nowhere on Christmas Eve, several inches of snow, and it couldn’t have looked more perfectly CHRISTMAS outside. (Of course, that got followed by a Boxing Day blizzard that brought much more than an atmospheric amount of snow, but that's another story.)
*Everything looked beautiful inside, too. Candles and lights and ribbons and tree and lots and LOTS of glitter! (Pictures coming soon.) There is just something magical about the world when all those things are together and the lights are shining and the fire is waning and the candles are at a low, contented glow. If I could bottle that sight and feeling, I would. Thank you, also, to everybody who sent beautiful Christmas cards, because I put them all up on the wall and made a collage out of them. Every time I look at the cards, I think of the lovely people who sent them and feel thankful to have their friendship.
*Yummy food. Lots and lots and lots of yummy food. I made fresh spinach and cheese stuffed shells with vodka sauce for dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day featured glazed ham with all the trimmings (garlic mashed potatoes, French beans with toasted almonds, sweet potato casserole, fresh bread), and on Christmas Morning, I made these amazing almond-y Stollen muffins for breakfast. (They are not like a traditional Stollen per se, but they are loaded with marzipan and taste absolutely divine. I'm thinking this is a new tradition in the making.) In between all of that, there’s been roughly a billion different types of nibbles and cheeses (olives, dry-cured salami, roasted peppers with garlic, smoked blue cheese) and cookies and candies and goodies and fruit. I tried my hand at candy-making for the first time this year and had toasted coconut truffles and a chocolate-topped almond-pecan toffee to show for my work, along with rum balls, cherry gems, and candy cane chocolate chip cookies. I'm happy to report that they were all a success!
*The Kraken Rum. I had never had the stuff before, but I'd heard good things about it, and the bottle design and art sold me, because sometimes I actually am that shallow. *g* Fortunately for me, it is AMAZING. It is fantastic by itself, with coffee, with eggnog, with warm apple cider… I think it might actually be good with everything on the planet. And it warms you right up, from the inside out, as any good winter spirit should. And did I mention that the bottle looks cool? And every time one of us needed a top-up on our drinks, we just bellowed, “RELEASE THE KRAKEN!” (Who am I kidding? I'd have bought it for that alone.)
*My aunt put scratch-off lotto tickets into everybody’s card for a bit of fun and a laugh, and I WON FIFTY DOLLARS. :D Nobody else got a match, and I got four of them! I also somehow managed to get the only Christmas cracker out of the whole bunch that had a piece of jewelry (a ring) rather than a little animal toy, and a different color of crown--green, as opposed to yellow. My brother joked that it had somehow magically changed to better flatter my coloring. ;)
*Everybody seems to genuinely love all the presents they got, which thrills me. It seems as though we all put a lot of thoughtfulness into these gifts for each other, and the result is that we are not only all very happy with what we've received, but also deeply gratified with the ability to make each other happy. As somebody who loves giving presents, this is perhaps the best gift of all.
*My dad has disliked dancing for forever and feels awkward about everything related to it, but he knows that my mom loves ballroom dancing… so he arranged for them to have ballroom dance lessons together as a couple, and they’re going to go out and buy nice dancing clothes together and make a regular thing of it. They'll have been married for 38 years this year, and I love that they’re still this adorable together. I can only hope for the same level of delight in each other when I reach the same point. (I hope I do.)
*I had a chance to show off gifts from two INCREDIBLY talented and generous friends! I got to wear my gorgeous beaded necklace from ideserveyou, and both Geography Teacher and I got to model our new beautiful (and warm and cozy!) scarves from kristinagrey. (Geography Teacher's is a nice, subdued loden green, in keeping with his usual "forest casual" color scheme, and mine is all variegated purples and blues, in a color palette that's called--appropriately!--"Luxury.") They were universally admired, which also gave me a great excuse to talk up my terrific friends and their skills. Pictures will be forthcoming in the next post, so you can all admire their handiwork and generosity, too!
*I wore a leopard-print santa hat with glitter fur all Christmas day, and also socks with glittery figure-skating santas on.
*I got lots of clothes and scarves. And nearly every item of clothing I got is glittery or studded or sequined in some way.
*I also received a glittery peacock feather top. It is so perfect for me that I can hardly believe it is a real thing that exists.
*Also: the world's most wonderful and ridiculous array of slipper socks and feather socks and fun, warm winter socks. Some of them have pom poms. Some are metallic and glittery. Others have all the colors of the rainbow. They're all comfortable and warm and fun, and they make me smile.
*I also got a poncho. It’s blue and black and white, and I love it kind of a lot.
*Geography Teacher wins the gold star for best presents, which included both a stunning Andy Warhol cat-themed address book (with all the artwork drawn from his 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy book) and a Warhol print to be framed for the master bedroom, but also a replica of the short black faux-fur coat that Noel Fielding has worn numerous times on Never Mind the Buzzcocks! It is honestly gorgeous, and I love it to pieces, and it has already been much admired. The gift also included a super-long, lacy, frilly, utterly soft and wonderfully glittery red boa scarf. The entire effect is ridiculously glam rock, and I love it.
*We watched the Doctor Who Christmas Special together and loved every single second of it. I will not go into great detail here, because I know there are some people who have yet to see it, but it was pretty close to perfect. I loved all the homages and blended influences, the period setting was delightful, the characters and acting were even more delightful, and it gave me massive amounts of FEELS, as the Tumblr set might say. I completely adore Jenna Louise Coleman already; not only is she a firecracker, but she's shrewd and mysterious and immensely clever and charming and whimsical, without ever being gratingly precocious or overbearing. Yes, there is a great brain there, and great determination and tenacity, but there is also immense heart and insatiable curiosity. I like it. She challenges the Doctor in very good ways and defies his expectations, and it was beautiful to watch him becoming enchanted with her, against his determination to remain aloof from the world and thus safe from further pain.
And on another note, I thought it was a very visually beautiful episode, too. I'm more than a bit in love with the image of that spiral stairway to the stars!
So that was a fairly spectacular Christmas in every respect, and I was looking forward to a bit of early shopping and lunch with Bluey Mom on Boxing Day, followed by copious amounts of lazing around. Snow had been forecast, but when nary a flake had shown up by the time Bluey Mom and I had snapped up all our discount wrapping and holiday cards and other deals, I was ready to write the whole thing off as typical weatherman exaggeration.
And then it started to fall. And fall. And really, REALLY fall, like we were trapped in the middle of a snow globe, or some Hollywood set for a Christmas film. We stopped for a yummy early lunch of Chinese (during which I encountered THE COOLEST SODA MACHINE EVER--like being in the future!), and by the time we'd finished, several inches of snow had fallen! We both made it back home, crawling all the way, and hunkered down to ride out the Boxing Day Blizzard, which ended up dumping at least 8 inches of snow on us.
We woke up to a glittering, white, diamond-dusted world this morning, and just finished digging out the important stuff not long ago. ("Sexy Lumberjack" is totally the correct look for show shoveling, right?) But it seems like the perfect excuse to huddle inside with blankets and a fire and holiday leftovers and hot chocolate.
And maybe to sculpt some Booshy snowmen. *g* But that's another project for another day...
P.S. My fortune cookie from yesterday's lunch read, "You are a lover of words. You should write a book someday." Bluey Mom and I both smiled over that one. A lot.
Is it a joke or a concept?
- Merry and Bright