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Archive for the ‘holiday’ Category

Are you familiar with the Shining Stars friends from RUSS?

William absolutely loves his Shining Stars Snowy Owl (or as he says, “All-wol”)!

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What’s cool about the Shining Stars friends is that when you buy one you can register and name a star with the International Star Registry.

I know that I named my own star back in the day (I think a boyfriend bought it for me as a birthday gift!), and now William has his own star, too.

I want to get Alex and Benjamin (and Henry, when he arrives!) their own Shining Stars friends, and I just learned that RUSS came out with Shining Stars Easter Friends. So cute. There’s a Lamb, Chick, Dark Brown Bunny, and Light Brown Bunny. Check out the adorable lamb:

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Kids can go to www.shiningstars.com and play games, chat, and donate their ‘glow points’, the official currency of the site, to the Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation to help seriously ill children and their families.

It’s a really great thing!

– Audrey

*By the way, this is not a sponsored post!*

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I’m on vacation this week and I forgot to scan pictures for Throwback Thursday before I left home! But I did have some old pictures that I had used for TT on my other blog (but never before used on this blog!), so rest assured, TT is still on. 😉

This first photo is circa 1983 – Dad, Audrey (in the middle) and me. We were hanging out in either my bedroom or Audrey’s bedroom. Doesn’t Dad look like a ’70s porn star!? (and yes, he was wearing shorts!)

This next one is from December 1997 – it’s (left to right) Dad, Mom, me and Audrey, posing as we were getting our Christmas tree at a tree farm. I was a senior in high school here and Audrey was a sophomore at Brown.

Pinks & Blues Girls Blog is your Throwback Thursday Headquarters!

Join in on the Throwback Thursday fun! Sign Mr. Linky so others know you’ve participated and can check out your Throwback Thursday photos on your site, and don’t forget to leave a comment to let us know you participated!

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I know I’m probably in the minority here, but I absolutely love wrapping Christmas presents. It’s actually one of my favorite parts of the holiday.

I love looking at each present before I wrap it, thinking about what the recipient of the gift means to me, and smiling as I anticipate the look on his or her face upon opening it.

This love of wrapping goes back to my childhood, when I would help my Mom wrap Christmas gifts.

She always, always gift wrapped right on her bed, spreading out the wrapping paper, the scissors, the tape, the ribbons and bows, the gift tags – and, of course, the presents – all across her bedspread.

I would help my Mom as much as I could… handing her the scissors, writing names on gift tags, keeping as many pieces of tape on my little hands as I could until she called for one.

Mom would tell me the stories behind the gifts… how she had remembered my Dad mentioning how much he loved something, and so she couldn’t wait to see his face when he opened the gift and saw she had found it. Or the traditions behind gifts for other relatives, and how those traditions began.

I remember marveling at how meticulously she creased the gift wrap when she folded the ends into a perfect “V”… and trying to memorize exactly how her hands worked their way around the gifts so that the finished product looked so neat , so even and so perfect.

Even now, as an adult, after years and years of trying to get my gift wrapping abilities to match those of my Mom, I am still in awe of just how quickly and perfectly she can wrap any gift.

With each gift purchase during the Christmas season, I think about how I will wrap it. There are some gifts that come in their own boxes, so wrapping is pretty easy to determine.

But then there are the gifts that you can play around with a little… try to keep the recipient guessing with the type of gift packaging you decide to use.

There is one gift that I am absolutely giddy about giving my husband, Steve, this year. In the off chance that he reads this post (admittedly, the odds are comparable to the odds of us winning the Powerball jackpot), I won’t say what the gift is right now, but I just know would never expect it – and he’s going to love it.

I wracked my brain to come up with the best way to wrap it without him having any clue as to what it is. Of course, Mom helped me come up with the perfect idea.

I rolled the gift up and put it in the kind of tube that holds pictures or posters. When Steve saw me put it under the tree (and I told him it absolutely was not a picture or a poster), he was completely confused. Which was precisely the reaction I was going for.

For me, it really is more fun to give than it is to receive.

I couldn’t wait to wrap all my gifts this year, which I do right on my family room floor, with the wrapping paper, the scissors, the tape, the ribbons and bows, the gift tags – and, of course, the presents – all spread out around me.

And now I can’t wait for tomorrow night, Christmas Eve, which is when my entire family gets together at Mom and Dad’s house for a big dinner and gift opening.

That’s when I get to enjoy one of my other favorite parts of the holiday – seeing my family (innocently and unknowingly) show complete disregard for my meticulously-performed gift wrapping effort and tear into their carefully and lovingly chosen gifts.

Cross-posted at New England Mamas

– Jane

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It’s a busy time of year.

OK.

I have lists literally falling from every coat pocket.

OK again.

There are gifts to purchase. Gifts to wrap. Special people to acknowledge, like my wonderful mailman, web designer, hairdresser, bartenders at favorite restaurants. My husband and I always visit Mrs. Couture, our wonderful, dear friend (at 90+ and still pouring brandy into our eggnog!) each Christmas Eve day. I have twenty-two people coming to my home for Christmas Eve dinner. And this doesn’t even count Christmas Day.

OK, if I may repeat myself.

So as my husband and I headed out to do some “things” last evening… the unthinkable happened.

I was looking all right for someone who had worked all day, helped Audrey with her 3 boys for 3 days in a row while her husband was out-of-town, and had not slept in my own bed or used my old familiar sink in all that time. Etc., etc., etc.

But I had the appropriate make-up on. An appropriately warm outfit. My softest pink (of course!) cashmere Burberry scarf around my neck. You know, in case I bumped into anyone I know (thanks, Mom for that lesson!). All for the last-minute mall shopping.

But what I didn’t take not of… God help me… was that I forgot to change into my boots.

As I stepped through the swishing doors of our local mall, I realized that I had on MY SLIPPERS.

Now my slippers aren’t Mickey Mouse or Hello Kitty. They are actually brown suede with a fur lining. But they are slippers just the same.

And when one realizes the faux paux… of course one knows that someone will see you. And, Mom, someone did. Actually, three people did.

There was one of my husband’s employees, who just happened to be out shopping. “My wife will be happy to see you,” he said happily. “She’s right over there.”

“Oh, we’re on such a mission,” I stammered. “Please tell her we said hello!”

And there was a friend of Jane… with her new boyfriend. And my husband’s cousin. Good times.

Now my husband was getting the biggest kick out of all of this. Husbands are funny that way.

But this night taught me one important lesson. You must pay attention to every last detail!

– Sharon

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Christmas Tour of HomesChristmas transforms my home into a journey a cherished memories… the ones in the past and hopefully the ones for the future. Each decoration, no matter how big or small, tattered or new, expensive or not… has its own story. As I unpack each box or bin or tin, people and places come alive for me in a most magical way.

I love Christmas. I love tradition. I love that my family and friends love my home at the holidays!

Let’s start with the stockings… yes, hung by the chimney with care. I have always loved stockings that look like stockings, so when my family took a little trip to North Conway, New Hampshire many, many years ago… actually, Jane was just a baby… I found my perfect Christmas stockings in a little Christmas shop. I had them all monogrammed, and even though all the kids are grown-up with homes and fireplaces of their own, I still smile when I hang the “family” stockings. My grandchildren now get a big kick out of seeing their Mommys’ or Daddys’ names on the stockings, and inevitably ask if Santa still stops at my home. “Of course,” I explain, “because your Mommy and Daddy are still my kids!”

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My little silver reindeer are a more recent gift. Last year, Jane and I were wandering around a discount store in Rhode Island (Job Lot, actually) and I spotted the silver reindeer with six tapered white candles as antlers. Well, I fell in love with them, but we were in such a hurry that the reindeer were left behind. So when I unwrapped an odd shaped gift from Jane a couple of weeks later, I was just so happy! My reindeer! I put them near an icicle tree at Christmas time, but I keep both of them on display all year ’round because I love them that much. Now I know why I love them so much… last week my little 2-year old grandson Alexander happened to get a little discipline from his Daddy and Mommy at my home. He cried with such despair that it broke my heart. I know that he loves my silver reindeer, so I took him into my dining room to help him settle down a bit. Well, he whispered to me as he pointed, “Grandma, that rein-dee-ah is named Ally, like me.” Then he pointed to the other one and whispered, “And that rein-dee-ah is Uncle Dimi.” I was so taken aback. Uncle Dimi is Audrey’s husband’s best friend and our little Alexander Dimitri’s namesake. Alexander never met Uncle Dimi… he died in Iraq in November of 2004. I asked Ally if he talks to Uncle Dimi. He answered so perfectly innocently, “Yes, Grandma.” Heavenly magic.

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My home was built in 1780 by a cousin of the Revolutionary hero Nathanael Greene. We love its beauty. We cherish its history. And we love the crooked walls, uneven floorboards, and even the winter drafts (well, maybe not!). But we absolutely adore our 8 fireplaces. This fireplace is in our master bedroom. Each year I hang two little stockings that my husband and I use for a special little gift to each other. I have already picked out my little gift, but like a good elf, I cannot reveal it yet! Little gold reindeer wander along the mantle along the gold beaded garland.

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Ah, my husband Barry in our kitchen sharpening his knives! Barry is Portuguese… and he LOVES to entertain. His specialties are pancakes grilled in bacon grease (oh, yes…!) for breakfast, fried bologna and tomato sanwiches for lunch, and prime rib with all the trimmings for dinner. Barry is not a chef, but his love for family and friends, and his love for cooking (inherited from his Mom, who is 89 years old and still cookin’) make his feasts incomparable. Barry is my most precious Christmas memory of all!

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This is my dining room fireplace. I display my bell collection of this mantle at Christmastime. I have crystal bells from all over Europe. I have Hallmark bells with the words “Mom & Dad.” I have plastic bells that my kids have given me over the years. But my most prized bell is the one from Jane’s wedding. She and her husband Steve had a December wedding and gave little bells as wedding favors, with a tag that reads, “Thanks for hanging with Jane and Steve… December 4, 2004.”

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Ah, my Santa collection! Each year I unpack and unravel dozens of Santas that I have received as gifts and collected since I was a little girl. I place them all on my family room mantle where I can see them from the kitchen, while entertaining, watching television, reading to my grandkids, or having a cup of tea (or glass of Port… remember, my husband is Portuguese!) My most prized Santa is the one I have had since childhood… this Santa holds a Christmas tree that has lost many of its branches, but is still my favorite Santa and tree of all. Another favorite is one I received from my Nana when I moved into my first apartment. It is a Santa with a little attached sleigh. Each of my Santa’s is priceless to me. Each of my Santa’s has its own beautiful story!

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My front hall is always decorated with simple greens at Christmas. At night, I leave the front door wide open so passers-by can see the tiny white lights that go all the way up the stairs. And the front hall is where I hang my quilted Advent Calendar with the folk-art Santa. You can see it in the reflection of the mirror. This calendar is a precious decoration from a little store in Barrington, Rhode Island. I bought it when Jane was a baby, and I have watched tiny fingers place the little quilted Santa in the little dated pockets each Christmas season… for decades now. To now watch my grandkids place the little quilted Santa in the pockets is just a dream-come-true!

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I spend much of my time in my library, writing and researching. This is one of my favorite rooms in my home because the window looks out to a busy main street in a small New England town. I can just imagine the discussions that have taken place in this room during my home’s 230-year history! I always place another favorite Santa on the mantle in this room… Santa studying the globe. I received this Santa from my brother-in-law several years ago, and I truly love my brother-in-law… and the worldly Santa. Inspiration is the word for this room and for this Santa!

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My living room is reserved for my white, silver (or very shiny!) decorations! On the mantle in this room I put white Santas, balls, Demdaco statues… and this year two beautiful snowmen. These snowmen were gifts from my grandsons William and Alexander last Christmas. They are paper mache boxes with the words “May Your Christmas be full of Faith, Family and Friends.” These words say it all! The sun streams into this room in my home all afternoon, and the shimery mantle makes me feel completely at peace.

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As you leave my home through the front hall, you must pass right by my dining room door. As quests leave, I love to give them a silver bell. One of my greatest joys is hanging my Silver Bells sign and finding bells to hang for all to enjoy!

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Before the grandkids, I loved to put dozens of angels, small trees, ornaments and the like on every surface of my home. Now I put lots of stuffed Santas, reindeer, gingerbread men, snowmen and pillows on every windowsill and chair! The grandkids love to play with them, toss them on the floor, jump of them, throw them into the air, carry them… just plain enjoy them! I love it! My newest pillow is one that reads “Meet Me Under the Mistletoe.”

When I was a newlywed, my mother-in-law gave me a service-for-4 of Christmas dishes. That was one of my favorite gifts of all time! Well, over the years she has added more and more… and others have added more and more… til now. I have a service for 32! My Christmas dishes are not expensive. They are not irreplaceable. They are a combination of many manufacturers. But collectively, these dishes and the meaning behind each and every piece, is beyond priceless. When I put my Christmas dishes on each of my two kitchen hutches each holiday season, that is when the holidays begin. That is the start of the magic.

Thank you for taking the Christmas Tour of my home! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I loved sharing it with you!

You can find Jane’s Christmas Tour here!

– Sharon
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Stay tuned tomorrow, December 4th, for the start of the Pinks & Blues Stocking Stuffer Giveaway Days, right here on the Pinks & Blues Girls Blog!

We will be giving away 12 fun Stocking Stuffers, one each day, from December 4th – December 15th.

This will ensure that all Stocking Stuffers will arrive in time for Christmas Eve!

Each Stocking Stuffer giveaway will last for 12 hours, from 7 AM – 7 PM EST, and the way to win is to guess the holiday song or poem that we are hinting at with each Stocking Stuffer. The item itself will be the major hint, but we’ll help you out with some hints of our own, too! 😉

So, get ready by brushing up on your holiday songs and poems!

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Christmas memories are oftentimes so clear. So powerful. So immense.

These memories quicken our senses.

And if it is true that to be able to enjoy one’s memories is to live twice, then my Christmas Angel has allowed me to live over and over again… and again.

Each Christmas, when I unwrap my Angel, swirls of colors and voices and heavenly vibrations enter my head and my home.

It is quite magical.

This is her story.

My Dad was a guy who loved to fix things. He was good at it. He had lots of tools… not too organized, but he knew where everything was. I especially remember the old, heavy metal cases that he had rescued from work at the Navy base, and sometimes even from the side of the road. These cases became storage for his wealth, his tools.

I did a lot of puttering around with my Dad. Interestingly enough, my two brothers didn’t. They loved my Dad as much as I did, but the rescuing and fixing gene was lost on them. Ah yes, they loved to HAVE things fixed for them… like my Mom (yes Mom, you know it’s true!).

So one Christmas season, a few days before Christmas, my Dad needed something or other from our local Benny’s, the place we went to get all kinds of fixing things back in the late 60’s. You know, before Home Depot and Lowe’s. I guess I should give a little shout out to Benny’s here, because we still have our good old Benny’s stores here in Rhode Island. Ah, Benny’s… the place where my precious Christmas Angel memory was born.

With me tagging along, my Dad found what he was looking for. And then he spotted, on one of those innocuous discount tables, a beautiful little angel. She was dressed in a lovely white tulle skirt that had brilliant gold sequins sewn across the bottom. Her wings were the same white tulle, with two sparkling gold sequins sewn high on each side. Her center was a small golden globe. And her arms were white pipe cleaners with lights on the ends that folded toward heaven. Her neck was wrapped with a golden tinsel-type wrap.

But I think it was her face that captured my Dad’s heart. She was so petite. So innocent. Her beautiful blue eyes were looking to the left. Her cheeks were bowls of cherries. And in her blonde hair was a golden bow.

And even though she was plastic… she was exquisite.

But her lights didn’t work. Neither the light in her center, nor the lights at her hands. Hence, her place at the discount table.

Well, my Dad picked her up and said, “I’m going to take her home and fix her lights.”

I was pretty much like, “OK, Dad.” Never knowing or imagining that the moment at hand would permanently be imprinted on my life. In my heart. In my soul.

Well, we bought her. I think she cost less than a dollar. We brought her home. My Dad rewired her. Fixed her. Lit her up like the angel she was destined to be. Then we placed her on top of our Christmas tree.

And she sat atop our tree for many years. Each year as we unpacked her, I thought about how my Dad fixed things. How careful he was. How caring and wonderful.

And then my Dad passed away suddenly in August of 1975.

That first Christmas brought lots of tears as I unpacked the Christmas Angel. The reminiscence was almost too much to bear. But as my Mom watched, I placed our Christmas Angel ever so carefully atop our tree that year.

By the next Christmas, I was married and living in a home of my own. I must note here that my Dad never met the man who would become my husband. But my dad had heard me talk of this man “Barry” during my visits to see him in the hospital after his major heart attack. In this sense, I know for sure that my Dad had given his seal of approval to this wonderful man in my life.

My Mom had also sold her home. And all I needed and wanted were the Christmas decorations.

And this is how I came to have the Christmas Angel.

And on each of the past 31 Christmases, since my Dad passed away, I have placed the Christmas Angel atop my tree. Each time, I see my Dad’s face… his strong and caring hands… his easy manner and beautiful smile.

And although her lights have not worked for some time now, my Christmas Angel still dazzles the room with the brilliant light that comes from that place where memories are born.

Was the memory born at Benny’s? Perhaps.

But I know that my cherub becomes brighter and brighter each time I tell the story of the Christmas Angel. And how my Dad rescuing her allows her to bring him home to us each and every Christmas.

Yes, it is magic. Heavenly magic.

– Sharon
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