Friday, December 16, 2016

Miscellaneous Musings No. 6 - Holiday Edition

Welcome to the holiday edition of Miscellaneous Musings (No. 6) - otherwise known as Rita's Random Ramblings. You can click on my menu tab to see all prior posts of this nature. Today's musings just happen to all be holiday related.
1991 Christmas Eve, recreated by my girls, 23 years later
I started decorating for Christmas the week before Thanksgiving. Getting the 22 flickering window candles and all their batteries - all 44 of the size D - is about an hour-long task. Easy enough. You can even do this while in a turkey coma on Thanksgiving Day. The hardest part is hurrying to turn all the switches at the same time so they'll all come on/go off consecutively each day thereafter (Mr. P. helps me git 'er done).
Luminara Flickering Window Candles
Nice 'n easy.....until the batteries wear out. I bought these candles and batteries in 2013 (before this, we went around the entire house, every day and night, flipping switches for the electric kind). I segregated these batteries and stored them after each holiday, just like decorations. They lasted right around 100 days (30 days for 3 years), at about 5 hours each day. This year, they started going out, one by one, so I replaced them all. Too confusing to keep up with one or two going out each day, and hearing that nerve-grinding, "you have another candle out" coming from Mr. P. If I were considering a revenue-based blog, a sponsor for batteries would be a great starting point.

Now, THIS (below)! This is decorating. I've got one neighbor who does some very creative and unique displays each year with his outdoor decor. Last year, he slingshot strings of lights wrapped around golfballs to get to fall over the branches of his HUGE tree. He then attached the light strings to large, lighted sheres, and dangled them above trees strategically placed on the ground beneath. Cool, huh?
Although he didn't slingshot lights over the tree branches this year (the tree was limbed up quite a bit this fall, so I guess the target distance was much further away), he was, once again, clever.
I didn't catch the decor all lit up at night, but look closely and you can see he took one of his trees and turned it upside down this year. It has red lights this year, and looks very cool, among some other traditionally positioned trees.

Why do things always seem to break when you're about to have a lot of company, why? At the same time all the batteries were failing me (and trust me, those above are just the tip of my battery iceberg), our hot tub was leaking. And the toilet paper holder in the guest bath/laundry/mud room fell off the wall. While Mr. P. was tending to the hot tub repairman, I got out the butt crack and fixed the TP holder. It's a cheap, builder grade thing.
Wonky Toilet Paper Dispenser
You see the one screw (but two screw holes) on the left, correct? Well, the bracket attachment to that little plate kept falling off. The way this thing is positioned (left of toilet), one invariably tugs right to pull the paper, loosening the bracket. And the frickin', teeny, tiny screw that holds the bracket to that little plate got stripped when I had to stand on my head to get it unscrewed from UNDERneath. Nothing in the newer, even cheaper builder grade kit fit the same, but I masterminded taking the 2 screws from the existing right side plate and put them on the new plate on the left side with washers to hold them. All is well on the king and queen's throne again, thanks to butt crack.

After all the maintenance hassles during decorating, the next thing I did was get the tree up from the basement. While on the stepladder, I discovered something I didn't even know I missed - an ironstone tureen! Apparently I had stashed it on top of the bookcase shelf when I was arranging holiday vignettes....LAST YEAR. Heck, maybe even the year before that, I have no idea. It was below the sight line. So, I added a new piece to hide up there this year.
Top of bookcase - hidden storage!
Seriously, it's hard to transition seasons in household decor, don't you agree? Where do you keep all your 'stuff'? I like to think I'm organized but gee whiz. It took me about six hours to UNdecorate fall before I could even start Christmas decor. Textiles were the easy part.
Seasonal textile transition
One thing led to another, and I ended up in the basement, reorganizing all the Panoply inventory I had bought through 2016 - that I said I wasn't going to buy - whew! That's where most of my six hours of UNdecorating was spent - organizing stuff unrelated to Christmas.

Holiday sales - playing the game of discounts & what I didn't need but bought anyway....
Let's make a deal!
Oh my. You see the paper ads, email ads (from signing up just to get the ads and first-time shopper discounts, lol). You resist, then they come at you through your Facebook feeds, the blogs you read, pings on your phone from apps you've downloaded (again, just to get insider coupons, lol)....alright, alright, alright, I'll buy something! It's a game, really. Retailers tempt you, bloggers tempt you (did you notice all the bloggers sending their gift ideas posts with affiliate links in November?).

Just like the stock market, timing is everything. Who's going to make the steepest discounts, when, and can you stack the discounts?? I even play the game with "$4.53 to free shipping" messages they post in your cart. Hmm, let's see....any dish towels on sale? Napkin rings? This year I fell into several traps deals.
Just some of the junk add-ons to get free shipping for various online orders


The most noteworthy deal was on Cyber Monday, for some very overpriced pricey outdoor holiday decor topiaries I've been coveting a few years now. These items have sold out for three years straight. Well, they were marked 20% off list price, then another 30% off on Cyber Monday (making the price now 45% off list) with free shipping. Boom! Purchased. Which led to this quick project.....
"Urning" for my new topiaries
Mr. P. says, "What about the urns? Do you have those?" Yes, I said, especially when I saw their price of $149 each (seriously). I went to the shed, pulled out my old ones from storage and got out my black spray paint. Had to run to Lowe's for more, but got the job done. My latest order status says the new holiday topiaries will ship March 28, 2017. Are you kidding me?! Just when I'll be wholly and totally sick of seeing the last leftover fleck of glitter from Christmas on my kitchen floor??

Speaking of glitter, "that's so Rude-olf"! My sister called me on the 8th and said she just watched a segment titled as such on one of the daytime shows. She was laughing, saying one of things they talked about was sending glitter cards. "That's so Rude-olf"! If you know me, you know I deplore glitter (sorry all you DIYers). When my family gathers on Christmas Eve, they know the drill - contain the glitter when opening presents. When I get Christmas cards with glitter they get quarantined into plastic bags.
Glitter bomb!
So that glitter bomb card (above) came on the 8th from a good frenemy friend. When I started opening the envelope, it felt like sandpaper. I told Mr. P. I couldn't even open the card, there was so. much. glitter. It was as if my 10 yr old niece had taken a 6 x 8 cardstock and spread Elmer's on it, and then sprinkled two whole bottles of glitter on it. I couldn't even quarantine the card, just threw it away. When I do my cards next year, believe, me, I won't forget my good frenemy friend sending that.

I've been using fallen birch trees from my landscape in my decor for several years. Below are some of my Christmas uses for just the Christmas season, all from my original stash (bottom rt frame, below).
There's $$ in them thar sticks!
Kroger's was selling some super-skinny branches this year (as in what was on my tablescape, top R) - 3 to be exact - for $13.95. At that rate, I could stand to make a few bucks selling my stash. Or, maybe even picking up sticks on the riverbank and painting them and selling those. Won't be the first time I substituted something 'er other for decor.

Speaking of something 'er other...see the striped stocking hats on my little statues in the garden? Exactly. Those are stockings. As in slipper socks.
"Why yes, I often wear my socks on my head"
Another task I always do for holiday prep is syncing all my holiday music on my iPod, which I place in my Bose docking station in the sunroom. I still use that method, but I've been listening to Pandora a lot more this year. Last year, my daughter suggested the Indie Holidays station and sent me the link.
Pandora's Indie Holiday Radio
The only thing about Pandora free radio is you have to listen to occasional ads interspersed, and you have to tell it you're still listening after a period (maybe 3 hrs? Idk). Nonetheless, it's really good listening, and I would highly recommend it for my readers too. Email me and let me know if you want the link but can't find the station.

Speaking of my daughter, she is 31, married, and works full-time in the Arts. She has been in Nutcracker performances since she was 6 years old. First, she was in the Mother Ginger scene. In 1996, she joined the ballet as a corp member, and danced in the roles of snowflake and flower (aka Waltz of the Flowers). She graduated to demi-solo roles (Spanish, Flute), then had the solo role of Dewdrop Fairy and, finally, Clara. An old pair of her shoes hang with my Nutcracker vignette.
Nuts about Nutcracker
In 2003, Mr. P. and I had the unique opportunity to dance in the adult party scene as guests, while both my daughters danced other roles. It was memorable. Well, older daughter has come full circle.....this year she plays an adult party guest. May the circle be unbroken.
Nutcracker family tree
Chris Missy sold! Thank heaven for small favors. I did NOT want to haul her a$$ home and store her for another season. It took two holiday booth display years for her to sell, which meant hauling back and forth in storage in my basement. Not one of my favorite things.
But you know what are a few of my favorite [holiday] things? Chick Fil A's Peppermint Shake and McDonald's Peppermint Mocha.


Don't even look at the nutrition content. Just go get one (or two or three) before they're gone. Christmas calories don't count, remember?
Okay, if you do count calories or feel guilty for being naughty, here's another alternative I love this time of year - Donut Shop Peppermint Bark flavored coffee. I may have left a box or two for you at WalMart.
And here is one of Mr. P.'s favorite things....sweets!
I call this stuff (below) Christmas crack. When I was trying to decide from a few different variety mixes offered, I asked Mr. P. for help in choosing. He said, "Get what you want. I'm not going to be eating it". Famous last words. Last time we went to the store, we bought two more.
You know, I sometimes feel guilty about what I do and don't use for Christmas decor. Here's a case of something I use and feel guilty for it.
Let it Snow! Just kidding.
I loved the pillow cover (above) because it was made with buttons. It says, "Let it Snow". I don't really mean it. I really don't like snow. Unless the snow is somewhere I can go and visit, I don't want it at my house.

We just wrapped up watching Season 33 of "Survivor" this past week. Love this show, and Jeff Probst, the host and Executive Producer. This year's results were remarkable (no spoilers here).
I hope you enjoy your holidays, however you celebrate! As always, I appreciate your readership.

Rita C. at Panoply