Friday, December 31, 2010

CHOC and Disney Celebrate It’s a Small World

Okay it's almost the New Year, so I guess I had better hurry up and get a few more Christmas-y things up here before they are considered "old". There is just so much great stuff to share this time of year!

Among the things that touched my heart the most this holiday season, are some of the wonderful ways CHOC Hospital (and many wonderful people and business who help them) brought cheer to so many people!

As many of you know, my son has been a patient at CHOC for the last year and a half, but thankfully the treatments he receives are through out-patient services. We are so blessed by such a wonderful team of doctors and therapists and many staff members. I am so impressed by the care and treatment both the patients and their families are given.
We are there at the hospital at least once a week, and often get to see bits and pieces of some of the wonderful reasons why CHOC is so special.
Above is the tree in the front lobby.

And check these out! All of these Disney gingerbread houses were made by patients! All made out of real gingerbread and other edible ingredients. I couldn't stay looking too long, as the smell was just too good, lol!

We had a hard time deciding which house was our favorite!

I love all the Mickey shaped cookies with the kids' names on them, and the beautiful cards they made (yes, of course I really loved the cards!!!) :-)

Isn't the chimney and Goofy's hat on this one adorable? All of the houses were just awesome!

I am a huge CHOC fan, not only for the amazing care and treatment given at this wonderful hospital, but for all the fabulous ways they help children and their families, and all the joy they bring to the lives of sick and hurting kids. The extent to which they- along with so many generous sponsors- go to bring smiles on kids' faces continually amazes me!

I hope you'll take a few minutes to watch this video of the "Small World" Christmas celebration at Disneyland. I am sure you will agree with me, it's wonderful!

CHOC and Disney Celebrate It’s a Small World

How great was that?!

Oh, and I don't want to forget to tell you about another very special treat: the Orange County Fire Department sent Santa up in a hook and ladder truck to visit the kids through the windows of the hospital!
He also went inside to visit many children, as well. But can you imagine the joy that these visits brought to those kids? Seriously, being sick and in the hospital is never fun. But when it's during the holidays it's even harder. How great that these visits are made possible.

Thanks for stopping by today. However you celebrate tonight, I hope you have a safe, happy start to the new year!
Let's make 2011 a great year! :-)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Southern California Snow

Since moving to California, I am often asked "Don't you miss the snow?"

Having been born and raised in New England, people out here are sometimes surprised by my quick answer of "No way!" or "Are you kidding me?!" or when I just laugh.

You see, I never liked the snow. As a matter of fact, I hated it!
I recall when I was a child, Mom would dress us up in our snow suits, put on our hats, earmuffs, scarves, mittens and boots and send us out to "have fun". Fun? Was she serious? Nothing could be less fun to me than having to go out in that! OMG how I hated it!
I would obey her and reluctantly head out the door, following my brother and sister. They would play, and I would "try". Maybe I'd make a snow angel or two, but that's as far as I could go. I usually just stood where the wind would be least likely to blow on me, and wish I were somewhere else. Somewhere warm and dry. As soon as I thought I had been out long enough for her to allow me back inside , I'd beg my Mom (often while crying) to enter the house again, where I would be safe from the cold, wet, miserable conditions outside.

As I grew older, it only got worse for me. It became practically unbearable. Uuggh... driving in that stuff! Oh, I remember the days of having to clear the cars off, prying the car doors open- even having keys break off in the locks. And shivering like crazy as the car warmed up (if it would even start!).

I haven't even mentioned about clothing... how you have to bundle up, and how you need extra socks and ultra warm weather resistant boots all the time and how often you could slip and fall. Because, it's not just snow.... sometimes it's ice. Or maybe slush. Yep, fun times.

I swear, if I didn't have children who either had to be taken to school or doctor's appointments or to other necessary places, I think I'd have just stayed inside practically every day from about November through April. I hate cold weather, and despise the snow!

So, living here has been a wonderful change for me and one I am even more grateful for as I watch t.v. and see "reality" across much of the Country, particularly back East. But that's not to say I don't see snow where I live now. I do. Yes, Southern California gets snow! And I love it. I can see it as I drive my kids to school, or go shopping, or anywhere else I don't hesitate to venture out to in the Winter anymore. Right up on the mountains :-)

I will say, this has been an unusually "cold" and rainy Winter for us so far. But typically I can see the snow as I am wearing capris, a t-shirt and sandals. This Winter, however, I have been wearing blue jeans, sweaters and boots more often than usual. But I see many here who are not quite "acclimated" yet, wearing shorts and tank tops while I am in the "winter clothing" I just mentioned.

The picture above was taken from the car, after my son and I went up to Children's Hospital for one of his appointments earlier this week. When I saw this view, I handed him my camera and asked if he could try to get some shots from out the window.

It was a little challenging for him, since we were traveling so fast, but he did get a few good pics from the freeway.

I love seeing the snow, and the palm trees and all the "green" around.

Here there's not much green, but that's because this is by an area of lots and lots of crops. It won't be long before they start picking strawberries!

Here you can see snow, some crops and some green. I feel like it's the best of both worlds!

For those of you who love the snow, I wish you much of it. I know many people who like to skate, ski and do other recreational things in it. I was never one of them. But who knows? Maybe some day I will want to go up to a cabin in the snow and take a trip down a Wintery Memory Lane. Or maybe even take my kids to go sledding or snowboarding. And if I decide to, I need only drive for about an hour or two. Then, if I change my mind once I get there, in one hour I could be back at the ocean where it will be warm enough to go surfboarding!

So, wherever you are this Winter, I hope you enjoy it. But after this post, maybe some of my friends here will understand that I really do mean it- No! I do NOT miss the snow. We have enough of it right here :-)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Eve

Yes, today is the day after Christmas. But how can I not share with you the beautiful Christmas Eve experience I had at our church two nights ago?
I am sorry that amidst all the hustle and bustle of the season, that I did not have a chance to post these photographs the other night, but here they are now.
I wish all of you could have been with me attending such an incredible service. The church looked so lovely, all decorated for Christmas.

This is a shot looking at The Crystal Cathedral, with the fabulous spire in front, and the "Tower Of Hope" building with the big cross on it behind.

A closer view of the spire.

This was taken right from my seat inside the cathedral. The poinsettia tree next to the beautiful big cross and all the other poinsettia plants were absolutely gorgeous!

When our friends joined us, I moved down a bit. We were in the 3rd row pretty much right in front of the pulpit.

And here you can see the fabulous organ. Oh, how I wish you could have heard the music that night!

This is a picture of one of the side balconies. Don't you love how they hang the wreaths?

The choir. They are wonderful!

And the orchestra. Fabulous!

The children's choir did a marvelous job (as always!).

Here is our founding pastor's daughter, Sheila. She did a great job reading the story of the birth of Jesus.

Dr. Robert H. Schuller

His message was fantastic! Both my husband and I felt as if Dr. Schuller's message of a new beginning was meant just for us, and it was exactly what we needed to hear that night. We were very moved by it, and have been reflecting on it ever since. Such a blessing.

Daniel Rodriguez (a.k.a. "The Singing Cop"). Have you ever heard him perform live? He comes to our church often, and every time blows everyone away! He is absolutely amazing! He sang Oh Holy Night. Incredible!

This is a shot taken after the service as we headed down to the Memorial Gardens cemetery to visit my brother.

I thought it was going to be harder to go down there, exactly one year to the day he passed. But the overwhelming feeling I had was that he was at peace. Along with the fact that I know without a doubt that we did the absolute right thing having him laid to rest at such a beautiful spot. It's perfect, and he would have been blown away. He loved Southern California and he loved the ocean, which not only isn't far from here, but he is actually facing it. He also loved palm trees, and there are many here.

Another shot from the Memorial Gardens. How beautiful is this? It is not dark, dreary or cold, as most other cemeteries I have been to can feel. You can hear the church bells and carillon from here. And the birds singing. It is peaceful, yet "alive" and filled with hope, as you look at the fabulous cathedral, the cross on the tower, feel the breeze lightly blowing and look at the beautiful blue sky.

What a fabulous place. And a beautiful Christmas Eve. We are so very blessed.

Thank you Lord, for loving us enough to send us Your Son. For giving us hope, and life everlasting!


Happy day after Christmas!
I hope everyone had a truly blessed Christmas, filled with love, laughter and building wonderful memories with loved ones.

As promised, I am here with the winners of my two prizes. I used "Random Thing Picker" and these are the two winners that were picked:

For the craft items, the winner is Bonnie! She has a great blog called Stamping In The Light

For the vintage items, the winner is Rebecca! She also has a wonderful blog, Bella Carta

Congratulations to both of you ladies! I'll get your packages out to you this coming week. I hope you enjoy all your goodies as much as I enjoyed gathering them for you!

And thank you all so much for all your comments and to my new followers for joining in. I only wish I had enough prize packages for all of you! But please keep coming back. I do plan on having another giveaway before long :-)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

More Christmas Decorations


As promised, I am back with some more photos of my Christmas decorations.
By mistake, I left out one of my glass bowls of antique ornaments in my last post. Since they are my very favorites (and oldest), I wanted to be sure to include them.

I remember all of these so well from my childhood. Some had been my grandmother's, and some my great-grandmother's. The blue bowl that sits on a carved wooden stand was my Mom's.
Here they are spread out on a table so you can get a better look at them. Old, fragile, worn and with obvious signs of having been set out for many Christmases, I just adore them.

This little tree is decorated with many handmade ornaments, most of which were lovingly crafted by my husband's mother. And the wooden Santa was made by her brother, who was not only my husband's uncle, but his Godfather as well. He died a few years ago and his wife died earlier this year. Their son very recently sent this to us along with several other wooden figures that his father made. One is a chef that I put in the kitchen, and some of the others I will put out in the garden. It was so generous and such a nice gesture; one that meant a lot to my husband.

The birdhouse was made by a local crafter. I got it at the boutique at the Victorian house that I shared with you a couple of months ago.

Here is another view of my mother's creche. Both the table and the mirror had belonged to my grandparents. After my grandmother died, my Mom had them in her front hallway. Each year she would put the creche on this table. The drum is an actual Civil war drum that my husband has had for many years.

I took this photo in the evening. The tree and the room look so pretty at night.

This shot was taken while standing about half way up the stairs. I took it before I was through decorating, but I like the way the lighting came out.

Here is a view of the staircase. I can't believe my husband bought that little tree without measuring and it just fit! The quilt hanging on the wall was made by the wife of one of my ancestors who was in the Civil War. It was given to me by my very dear and generous cousin (her Mom was my mother's sister and had owned it previously). What an awesome gift; I absolutely cherish it!

Here is another shot of the tree, but this one was taken during the day. My youngest daughter decorated it completely by herself. I think she did a wonderful job! :-)

This was taken in the dining room. My living room and dining room are actually combined. It's nice having the open feeling with the high ceilings. But it's not a very large space; it has a nice cozy feel to it.
The dining room table, chairs and the crystal chandelier belonged to my grandmother. So did the cabinet. The little chest between the tree and the cabinet was my Mom's.

Another picture taken from the dining room, this time looking towards the living room area. It may be hard to tell, but that is my old player piano piled high with gifts. My mom always put gifts on her piano, too.

Those are pretty much all the pics I took of my decorated-for-Christmas home.

And now we come to the close of Christmas day. The gifts have all been opened, we have had a wonderful day of celebrating and enjoying time with one another, and eaten a lot of delicious food. Some of my exhausted family has already gone to bed.

But let's not forget that there are twelve days of Christmas! Good thing, because I am far from ready to put all of these decorations away. I want to enjoy them for a bit longer ;-)

Thanks again for visiting. I hope you liked my little house tour. Or shall I say, corner of my house tour ;-)

I hope you'll stop by tomorrow. I will be having the drawing for my blog candy prizes!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Decking The Halls

Merry Christmas Eve!
As promised, I am going to share with you many of my Christmas decorations: some old, some new, but all with special meaning. I took lots of pics around my living room, dining room, hallway and staircase- where most of my Christmas decorations have been placed.
Here are close pics- and a little history of some of them. Soon I will be back to show you overall shots.

I'll start with the Santa mug. My husband and I went to the Bahamas on our honeymoon. While shopping there, he decided to look at the Royal Doulton mugs... he loves the presidential ones. As he was looking around he spotted this mug: the 1983 Santa. We both were drawn to it, and he made a comment about how great it would be to have that for our kids to grow up seeing. I remember well the impact that had on me as we were newly married and starting out our lives as husband and wife: envisioning little children- our little children, forming wonderful Christmas memories and traditions! We decided to get it, and had it very carefully packed for the trip home days later. It wasn't long after, that I found out I was pregnant. And our baby was born in December and came home to our tiny little apartment with a tiny little "Charlie Brown" tree. And, this Santa mug.

My husband and I have a tradition: we add at least one decoration- weather it be a large one or just an ornament or two- to our Christmas collection each year. Two years ago he brought this beautiful angel home. Isn't it great? (I actually leave it up all year on my piano.)

Here are a couple of my favorite music boxes. My mom had a collection of them and it got to be so large that she started giving us one each year. These are two of them.

Our Lenox Nativity. Mike and I saw this about 5 years ago on one of our little antiquing excursions. I don't know how old it is (don't think it really is, despite the fact that we found it in an "antique" store), but we both loved it. We hemmed and hawed over it for a long time, as it was a pretty big splurge for us at the time. But we have never regretted it. It's so pretty!

And here are a few framed stamped Christmas collage things (what do you call these?!) that I made. They were such fun. I did a stamp camp where we made them one year.

And while I am showing you things I made, here are some of my cross stitched Christmas pillows. My dear friend Maryann taught me how to do cross stitch, but I never could figure out how to sew, lol! So she actually did all the pillow assembling for me- and backed them with beautiful fabrics. I love all these pillows. I made most of them during my pregnancies when I had to be on bed rest. And the fact that my wonderful friend (more like a sister to me) played such a roll in the making of them makes them mean even more. (Note: the santa in the chair with two other pillows in the 3rd pic is the only pillow I did not make.)
Gee, it's been many years since I have done any cross stitching; kind of makes me want to get back to it again ;-)

And here is another one of our "antique finds":
My Mom used to have a beautiful Steuben glass bowl that she'd put beautiful old ornaments in at Christmas time. It was her dining room table centerpiece, and it was beautiful!
I have several of ornaments that were my Mom's, Grandmother's and even some of my Great- Grandmothers. They are super fragile and many that I just would not dare to hang. Mom's bowl idea was perfect. So, for years I searched for a nice bowl just for this reason. One day we spotted one that seemed like a good shape and size, but it wasn't clear. It was a very faint lavender glass. Very pretty. Yet I wasn't sure it would work for the ornaments. But Mike decided to go back and buy it for me as a gift, and as it turns out, it works wonderfully. Don't you think?

I love this little angel. I remember when I was a very little girl, I asked my mother if I could put some decorations in my bedroom for Christmas. She only gave me a couple that year; this being one of them. This angel, and a little plastic nativity ornament (I actually still have that, too).
But I not only remember being so happy to receive it, I also remember being heart broken when I dropped it and a wing broke off. I was devastated! But, my big brother Rich, as always, came to my rescue! He assured me he could fix it. He was probably all of about 8 or 9 at the time, but he had this "expertise" about things like that, and went right to work repairing my little angel.
The glue he used has since yellowed a bit (it shows a little in the back) and yet that actually adds to it's appeal to me, as it brings back the memories of my dear brother lovingly fixing my special little angel.

This was one of my mom's two nativity scenes. She referred to it as the "creche". I believe she had it since at least 1950, maybe earlier. And every year she put it on her front hall table under a big wooden eagle topped mirror. The very table that it sits on in my house, under that same eagle topped mirror. A few of the pieces of the nativity set are chipped, even broken. But I still love it. Not only does it hold many memories or me, but for all of my kids who remember it at their Nanna's house.

Books. I love old books. Especially children's books. So, what could be better than old children's Christmas books?! This is part of my little collection, most of them being the very books my Mom read to me as a child. Included are some of my childhood classics: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas; Tall Book of Christmas (Granny Glittens and her Amazing Mittens was my favorite story!); Christmas Is A Time For Giving; and my most favorite A Christmas Story by Mary Chalmers. Not sure that was actually a "classic", but it was surely my favorite. A tiny little book; I've never seen one since. If you ever do, be sure to pick it up and look through it. It's darling! (I opened it to show you how adorable the illustrations are.)

I have a huge record collection. Yep, I still have- and play- record albums. As a matter of fact, I first laid eyes on my husband in a record store. That's where we met ;-) Anyway, we had so many records. So when we married we decided to sell our duplicates. Over 600 of them! And we still have probably 2,000 LPs. Many, naturally, are Christmas albums. And my favorites are the ones from the 50's and 60's. Not only do I love the music, but so many of the jackets (record covers for those not old enough to know, lol) have such awesome vintage artwork and pictures.

Probably not surprising, is the fact that I also love vintage sheet music. And Christmas music is no exception ;-) Some of mine was my Mom's or Grandmother's. Some I have bought at antique stores. But it's all great, don't you think? I love putting it on my piano and on my antique brass music stand. It looks wonderful!

So there you have a look at many of the things I bring out each year to "deck my halls"! I will show you full pictures of the rooms in my next post.
I hope you have enjoyed looking at and reading about my Christmas treasures. As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by! I'd love to read your comments!