I still like a little sparkle around the house, however. (And on my ears, occasionally, of course.) And, surely, everyone who's 50 has learned that there is no sense in wasting time re-inventing the wheel, or wreath, in this case. The wreaths at the T and C House were looking a little care worn.
It was time for an update, but I wasn't sure what I wanted. For years, I've been a stickler--green wreaths, red bows, white candles. Maybe, just maybe, you could still be a respectable person if you used plaid bows. Gold? Clearly, a person that would decorate outside with gold bows, well, I don't think I have to tell you what's going on inside that house! Why, it's probably just full of things like boxed cake mixes and People magazines and paper napkins! (Clearly, I cannot have coffee after four in the afternoon. None of this will be funny in the morning.) Live greens are great, but in our weather, they tend to look a little worse for wear after a week or two. A wide range of good-looking faux greens are available, but I wasn't sure what I wanted--white pine, mixed evergreens, boxwood? (Well, actually, I wanted boxwood, but the preserved boxwood doesn't last more than one season, and the plastic boxwood doesn't hold up that well either. And I don't have enough real boxwood to make a single fresh wreath, and I need nine!) And then, I happened to click on one of my favorite blogs Abnormally Normal, where the hilarious Mom on the Run had decided to be a little crafty. She took her inspiration from the ubiquitous Pottery Barn, and I took mine from her.
So, after a quick stop at Target, I was in business transforming my scraggly greens into shiny red and silver-enhanced wreaths. They still need to be replaced, but for about $20 spent on shatterproof ornaments and three hours of my time, I was able to keep them looking good for at least one more season.
I'm sure there's a metaphor in there somewhere, but I'm not going to think about that right now.
It's time to apply my wrinkle cream.
I pine for you and balsam, too! Have you seen that corny saying before? I remember when as a child the light bulb came on, and I finally understood the sentiment I had seen stitched on the tiny sachets of fir needles sold in tourist traps from North Carolina to Maine. Although I can’t say I’ve “bawled” about it, I have pined for the scent of fresh-cut greens each Christmas season.Every year, the Mister and I and the children have had at least one Frasier fir in our house for the holidays. The past several years, we’ve made a quick day trip to Cedar Mountain, North Carolina, to cut our tree ourselves. It’s hard to get fresher than that, right? Once home, the Mister always slices an inch or two off the bottom of the trunk before plunging the tree in water. He trims it a bit here and there, and I bring the trimmings inside to put in bowls and various containers throughout the house. Of course, I love how the fresh greens look, but it is that crisp evergreen fragrance that I hope to capture. Never happens. Until now, that is. Yes, this year, our house finally has the clean scent of pine thanks to Thymes Frasier Fir diffuser. Last year, someone gave me a small Frasier Fir candle, and I enjoyed it so much, burning it dangerously low. This year I decided to try the Thymes diffuser, and I could not be more pleased. I’m pretty particular about scents; I really can’t bear anything cloying or harsh. The Thymes products are not inexpensive, but I definitely think they are worth the cost. You can see all the options here.
I chose the pinecone style diffuser pictured above, which is perfectly unobtrusive tucked behind a lamp on a living room side table. I love coming downstairs in the morning or walking into the house after a long day to be greeted by such a fresh, Christmas-y fragrance!
I have received no compensation for this post, just the pleasure of sharing my find.
Be sure to read all about Reggie Darling’s favorite potpourri here. I can’t wait to try it! Do you have a favorite Christmas scent?
And yet, I still have some dreams and goals to accomplish, which means the next 20 or 30 years are chock full of potential. The bad news, of course, is that as we age (oh, yes, it pains me to say it), certain things decline or diminish. Memory, for instance.
In 50 years, I've learned a thing or two. And my intent is to write some of those tidbits down this week. I want to be able to re-read them in case I can't remember them later. If any of them are of help to you, dear readers, then so much the better. For those of you in the "ohmygosh I can't even imagine turning (shudder) 50" camp, let me just say neither could I. For those of you who have blazed the trail already, I offer a million thanks for your generosity in sharing a slice of your journey. And now, a thing or two.
An hour of sleep before midnight is worth two afterward. The corollary of this is that a productive hour before 7 am is worth two later in the day.
Drugstore make-up really is just as good as department store make-up. Almost always.
Expensive hair products, on the other hand, are usually really better.
Don't skimp on towels, sheets, or toilet paper.
Most people, including your spouse most of the time, usually just want to hear the bullet points. Only one or two dear friends want the whole narrative.
Expecting someone, especially a man, to read your mind is an unrealistic expectation. To pout or punish him when he is unable to do the impossible sets up a most unsatisfying cycle of disappointment. Communicating clearly and kindly will enhance your relationship far more.
No one can remember everyone's name. Avoid the awkwardness. Apologize for forgetting a name, and re-introduce yourself right away.
That's all for tonight. More to come.
So, here we are, another December. Hard to believe. My posts here have been far fewer than I would like, but, of course, real life takes precedence.
Part of my motivation for blogging has been to create some sort of journal or diary, really just for my own benefit, so with that in mind, please bear with me in this long, long post as I recount a few highlights of this fall.
Everyone at the T&C house enjoyed another smashing Spirit Week. (You can read our community’s history of this terrific tradition here.) We painted to raise money. Of course, I got to drink wine and talk with other moms while creating this, um, masterpiece, which now proudly hangs in our garage! We met friends and ate barbecue to raise money.One of us even dressed up every day to raise money. (Really, you haven’t lived until you’ve stood in the women’s section of the local Good Will and had to convince your 6’2” son that he couldn’t fit a size 4 skirt, that he was a solid 14. Thankfully the so-called “Gender Bender” day occurs only once a year!)And, when this crazy week was over, and the totals were announced at half-time of the Big Game, our high school students had raised more than $140,000 in a week’s time! That’s a lot of car washes, silent auctions, and class calls, my friends! The money was donated to the local Ronald McDonald House and to St. Anthony’s school for inner city kids.
School spirit continued to soar as we celebrated Clemson’s Homecoming. (Yes, this was back when our season looked so promising. Happily, we did pull out the ACC championship!) I guess you could say we were looking through Tiger-colored glasses!One of Clemson’s homecoming traditions is gigantic displays of school spirit on Bowman Field. Most of the displays are made by the fraternities. One of my favorites this year was this pair of Wayfarer’s, depicting historic Tillman Hall on the inside and the notoriously loud Death Valley on the outside.Big, Middle, and Little enjoyed a little sibling rough-housing outside Big’s apartment building while we readied the food for our tailgate. All the usual Southern tailgate staples were there—deviled eggs, baked beans, slaw, pumpkin cookies, Tiger cupcakes . . . But the piece de resistance was the pulled pork barbecue made by Mr. D. on the smoker he built himself! I probably don’t have to tell you that he’s a Clemson engineer. Plenty of co-eds and former co-eds stopped by to partake! Even a rogue Auburn Tiger was welcomed into the huddle!Good food and cute girls brought the guys around, too, although they seemed to sleep in later than the girls!
Somehow in this hectic fall, the Mister and I slipped away to Asheville to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Seventeen years. We had a delightful long lunch in Biltmore Village and spent the afternoon antiquing and talking without interruption!Not intending to buy a single thing, we ended up finding this black leather chair, which needed a minor repair. Happily, we know the owner of a crackerjack leather shop, so we texted a photo and asked, “Should we?” Get it was the emphatic reply; the price was unbelievably good! Imagine my delight upon returning home to learn that furniture is the traditional gift for the 17th anniversary.
Are you bored, yet? I told you this was a lonnnnng post!
Apple-picking is a fall tradition for us. Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock, North Carolina, used to be our “secret.” Turns out that a little publicity over 16 years can make a place famous, bordering on becoming a victim of its own success. Of course, now they have doughnuts, both apple and pumpkin. “Wait, Mom. Seriously, you thought we’d take some home with us? That’s funny.”The doughnut eaters compare a South Carolina driver’s license to a recently issued permit.The Mister and me and enough for a pie.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with a few shots from the Big Apple and my early birthday celebration. C, E, and B, ready to board.Lilies in the lobby of the Hotel Elysee, which we would all highly recommend as a great choice for a place to stay. The sitting room of our suite on the 8th floor.Our first stop was the MoMA, where E checks out a Georges Braque painting. E and I turned out to be the museum rats this trip.One of my favorite NYC views, looking into the MoMA Sculpture Garden. We were a bit surprised to see so many leaves still on the trees in mid-November. The Elysee offers a delightful wine and cheese hour every weekday afternoon. Birthday girls drink champagne when offered.Our view of 54th Street.One of my great aunts lived in this building from about 1950 until about 1990, when my dad brought her home to Tennessee for her last days. Another great aunt lived for years at East 57th Street, but regrettably I didn’t get a photo of her building.
We had a leeetle shopping success at the Carlisle outlet. One of us, who for her own protection cannot be identified, is now a member of the Executive Club.To restore our strength, we succumbed to a fine pasta lunch at Serafina’s. And, it’s a good thing we did. Shopping the Veteran’s Day shoe sales can be exhausting! Fresh air and sunshine were the order of the next day, so we strolled through Central Park. We were blessed by an unexpected Gospel concert with fabulous acoustics. I showed off my DaniBP-inspired color story. Once at the JKO reservoir, we popped back out to Fifth Avenue and headed for the Guggenheim. Of course, I had to pay homage to Mr. and Mrs. Pimm and Lyle the Crocodile as we passed by East 88th Street.
We spent several hours in the Guggenheim and the Met, and then set off on a leisurely stroll (or death march, depending on your perspective) that evening back toward Midtown and a delicious dinner at Montebello’s. Of course, en route, we had to stop in the Lily store, where frocks were purchased for the Lily-lovin’ daughters left at home. Maybe next time, girls!The next morning found us enjoying breakfast in the library at the Elysee, before heading out to Redeemer Presbyterian’s morning service, where we were delighted by the music, the fellowship, and the message of the inimitable Tim Keller. When the service opened inviting the congregation to meditate on this C. S. Lewis quote, I knew we were meant to be there.
“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s [Tolkien’s] reaction to a specifically Charles joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald…In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each of us has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest.
Cheers to my friends, each of whom makes me richer and more blessed in countless ways!
And, so, (yes, I’m still going), the T&C Household had much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. Now, as I said words and words ago, the above events were the highlights of our fall. Rest assured there were misunderstandings and cross words, a few frozen pizzas, the learning curve (steep) of my new job, leaking garbage bags, papers turned in late, vapid conversations, stopped-up toilets, misplaced jackets, and all the rest of it. That’s just life.
I say learn from the worst, and choose to remember the best. How about you?