Thursday, December 31, 2015

Coming Next: 2015 in Review

Borrowed this from Sandra over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom - not sure if she's doing it again this year but her past years' posts have been fun.

Post the first sentence of your first blog post of each month. You can also add a favorite picture from each month.

Capturing December - Day Thirty-One

Sophia may be 21 but she still enjoys fun with the Elf - he can get a bit cheeky at times!

Capturing December - Day Thirty

This is our second Christmas in Washington - our second Christmas without any noticeable snow so I'll take you back to Rhode Island - December 2009 and the view from our house looking down the street.

Capturing December - Day Twenty-Nine

Taken at 8:00am on a frosty morning - the sky view from the back deck

Monday, December 28, 2015

Life Last Week - 2015-45

We had a lovely Christmas full of all of our favorites - togetherness, lots of books, magazines, DVDs, yummy food and treats...a very special time for what could be our last Christmas together in Washington. Orders are coming and they say Vic is heading back to the East Coast. We'll make a decision about the rest of us in the late summer.

Vic had duty on Christmas Eve so we skipped our usual Christmas Eve celebrations. Sophia did open one gift although this year it was the Christmas Eve box instead of just the usual pajamas. The pajamas were there but they were accompanied by a book, a movie, a new Starbucks cup, and some hot chocolate.

We woke up early on Christmas morning and Christmas began when Vic got home about 8:45am. It was a lovely quiet day at home. We spent Saturday on a family field trip to Seattle - our first for the three of us together - and then Sunday was spent recovering! Back to work today for Vic but only for a few hours as his holiday leave starts today. The honey-do list is ready to go!

Looking forward to a quiet week before we all go our separate ways - Sophia back to school, me back to work, and Vic out on the high seas.

Happy New Year everyone and all the best for 2016!

Christmas Eve Box
So excited to see her new camera set
Big Bang Theory Lego Set was an instant hit
MudLynn loved her new sweater

Capturing December - Day Twenty-Eight

Here's a Wordle I created ages ago - all my favorite things about Christmas in Kettlewell is the theme.

Sorry it's so faint - click on it for a clearer view

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Capturing December - Day Twenty-Seven

Poulsbo Lighted Boat Parade
Had to borrow this one from the local paper's photo gallery - we're pretty rubbish at taking nighttime photos.

Capturing December - Day Twenty-Six

I'm grateful for a day without rain and a lovely outing to the city with my family - a first for the three of us together. Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and Pike Place Market.

The centerpiece of Chihuly Garden and Glass is the Glasshouse. A 40-foot tall, glass and steel structure covering 4,500 square feet of light-filled space, the Glasshouse is the result of Chihuly’s lifelong appreciation for conservatories. The installation in the Glasshouse is an expansive 100-foot long sculpture in a color palette of reds, oranges, yellows and amber. Made of many individual elements, it is one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures. The perception of the artwork varies greatly with natural light and as the day fades into night. Courtesy of

Photos courtesy of Sophia with her new camera

Friday, December 25, 2015

Capturing December - Day Twenty-Five

Christmas morning starts notoriously early in this household. I was always a very early riser as a child - 4:00am was not unusual for me - and it looks like Sophia is following in my footsteps. We were awake this morning at 3:45am. We resisted the urge to get up and eventually went back to sleep. I finally got up at about 6:30am, took care of the dog, took a shower, got dressed, and Sophia followed about an hour later. We had to wait for Vic to get home from work (he had overnight duty) so we popped in a BBC Christmas Comedy DVD and Christmas morning officially started about 8:45am.
Here is the first photo of the day - the stockings and "Santa" (unwrapped) gifts are now under the tree.
Sophia's Peanuts pillow (matching blanket in the large box below), giant box of Cadbury's Fingers, and stocking waiting to be emptied

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Capturing December - Day Twenty-Four


Those moments of quiet reflection by the light of the tree. Remembering family and friends no longer with us, thinking about festive greetings received in the mail from family and friends far away, and treasuring all of our blessings.

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Capturing December - Day Twenty-Three

Mum had a huge collection scarves and they all came to be when she passed away. I love scarves and wear them every chance I get. I'm hoping that this one will make its way into my collection:

Nativity Scene Infinity Scarf

Capturing December - Day Twenty-Two

Opening a gift on Christmas Eve and it's always Christmas pajamas although now that Sophia is older, they come from Victoria's Secret.

Here she is on Christmas morning, wearing her lovely new pajamas

All About Me - Christmas Edition

My friend Liz over at Ramblings of a Sailor's Lady sent me this holiday survey which she found on Skinny Meg. Looks like fun - leave a comment if you want to join us so I can pop over and read all about you!

Have you started your Christmas shopping? Yes, it's all done and wrapped and under the tree.

When do you put up your tree? As soon as the turkey platter hits the dishwasher on Thanksgiving Day! I love to have the tree and decorations up for as long as possible. This year was a bit of a challenge as I am working full-time and Vic will be leaving on deployment soon so we only put up one tree (instead of four) and just a few decorations. I don't want to spend the whole time we have left together putting everything away. It looks very festive, though, because the tree is large and even with about one third of our decorations on it, it's still very bright and colorful.

Are you a Black Friday shopper? Not really. I enjoy going out after all the craziness is over to look at the decorations in the stores and pick up a few Christmas items like chocolate and a DVD, a few bits and pieces that always seem to make their way into my shopping cart. I don't do my main shopping on Black Friday although I will go out if there's a really great bargain in the ads that come out on Thursday. You'll usually find us at Target, Barnes and Noble, and Michael's on Black Friday.

Do you travel at Christmas or stay home? We've traveled a couple of times - our whole family traveled across the Atlantic in 2001 for Christmas in Kettlewell and we traveled from Rhode Island to Oregon for Christmas at my sister's in 2009 but I really prefer to be at home.

What is your funniest Christmas memory? That would have to be 2009's trip to my sister's in Oregon and the adventure into the wilderness to find the perfect tree. We must have passed at least twenty perfectly serviceable trees but no, my brother-in-law was searching for the equivalent of the Griswold Family Christmas Tree and we hiked so far and so high that when we found the blasted thing and started to drag it to the truck, Vic hyperventilated from the altitude and I fell down in the snow and was laughing so hard (at my fall, not at Vic's dilemma) that I couldn't get up. Meanwhile, Dad, who couldn't handle the exertion, sat comfortably in the heated truck cab sipping hot chocolate, no doubt wondering what all the bloody fuss was about!

What is your favorite Christmas movie of all time? White Christmas without a doubt.

Do you do your own Christmas baking, what's your favorite treat? I used to bake at Christmas - cookies, pumpkin bread, date and walnut bread, gingerbread men, spritz, but this year, not a chance...not with Sluy's Bakery so close. My favorite treat is fruitcake, real English fruitcake. I was buying it from one of the online British food stores but my co-worker makes a fruitcake that would rival the best fruitcake I've ever had - must be the weeks of soaking it with brandy.

Fake or Real Tree? Love real trees in the wilderness, hate the mess so fake it is.

What day (as a mom) does the actual panic set in to get it all done? I don't panic - I make lists. It gets done and I've been using the lists year after year.

Are you still wrapping presents on Christmas Eve? No, I like to have them wrapped and piled under the Christmas tree so I'm busy wrapping on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

What is your favorite family fun time at Christmas? I love to go out for a holiday tea - cups of tea and tiered servers piled high with tea sandwiches and little cakes. I'm always on the lookout for a tearoom that has a holiday event.

What Christmas craft do you like the best? Does writing the family newsletter count? Come on, it's a paper craft, surely? I haven't done much crafting in the last few years - I have the greatest intentions but it just never seems to happen.

Christmas music? Yes, love it all from "All I Want for Christmas is You" to cathedral choirs singing carols, bring it on.

Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? I enjoy egg nog but I love hot chocolate with lashings of whipped cream.

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? When Sophia was little, the big things sat under the tree. Have you ever tried to wrap a Little Tikes kitchen?

Colored lights on the tree/house or white? White, colored lights are just too busy and don't get me started on twinklers.

Do you hang mistletoe? No, have never really thought about it.

What is your favorite holiday dish? Stollen.

Favorite holiday memory as a child? My parents used to lock the living room door (could have something to do with the year that the babysitter and I unwrapped all the presents to peek and weren't very successful in rewrapping them!) so every Christmas morning, we'd have this big production of Dad searching for the misplaced key. Turns out it was a stall tactic while Mum rummaged around for the flashbulbs (remember those?) for the camera.
Preplanning 0                    Children Stretched to the Limit of their Patience 1

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We did as children and we do when the whole family was together but if it's just the three of us, only Sophia opens one...and it's always Christmas pajamas although this year, there will be a slight twist (tune in after Christmas for details).

How to you decorate your Christmas tree? Slowly, very slowly. We have over 700 ornaments (now you see why we need four trees!) and each one has some sort of memory attached - a gift from someone, a memory of a special event or location, a memento of our travels, a preschool craft or Baby's First memory, there's something about every one that makes me stop and remember. The best gift anyone can give me is something to hang on my tree and I'll remember you forever.

Snow? Love it? Dread it? Love it, but love it best when it starts falling on Christmas Eve after everyone is off the road. Not such a fan of shoveling it but that's why there are snow blowers.

Can you ice skate? I did once and wasn't really interested.

Do you remember your favorite gift? As a teenager, I received a set of bright red American Tourister luggage - can't remember if I was going on a trip, must have been to get a set of luggage but I just loved it.

What's the most important thing about the holidays to you? Having my family at home. Vic's missed a few Christmases because of deployments but those days are coming to an end. Sophia is growing up but I hope she'll always come home for Christmas.

Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Giving. I love to shop for the perfect gift for a family member or a friend. I'd give gifts to everyone of my friends if I had the means - I love to think about things they like and the look on their faces when they opened the package.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Capturing December - Day Twenty-One


This was one of our Christmas cards - quite a few years ago now - but it symbolizes Peace to me - children from all nations gathered together. It's definitely Western and Christian in its focus but the overall message is Togetherness.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Capturing December - Day Twenty

Our topper is a Capiz Shell Star - a salute to the Philippines where capiz shells abundant. The shells have been used for thousands of years as a glass substitute because of their durability and translucence (thank you, Wikipedia!). Please ignore that lame light bulb in the photo; it's supposed to be woven into the greenery.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Capturing December - Day Nineteen

I have to admit, I'm not a fan. Too sticky, almost always too minty for my tastes. These are about the only candy canes you'll find in our house.

She's Tom's girl through and through - move over, Gisele!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Capturing December - Day Eighteen

I started making a cross stitched stocking for Sophia shortly after I found out I was pregnant. She was born in February and I am thankful that I got it finished in time for her first Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Capturing December - Day Seventeen

Yes, please! LOL, I've already shared a photo of a few of our presents on Day 10 - Wrapping Paper so I'm sharing a really neat idea for presents - the Christmas Countdown: Book Advent. I've borrowed the photo from Chasing Supermom - be sure to read the post here to make your own treasure trove of presents that would delight any child or grandchild.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Capturing December - Day Sixteen

I have to go with Liz here and say no, not until our forever house. We love to drive around and admire neighborhood and other lights - among our favorite holiday outings was a drive through the lights at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.

Christmas 2006 - Taken on the trolley ride after the Polar Express event at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens - the light show was exquisite, photos with my limited skills not so much!

Capturing December - Day Fifteen


Once in Royal David's City, preferably sung by a cathedral choir

Capturing December - Day Fourteen


Only one tree this year instead of the usual four so about half of the ornaments are still in boxes. Full-time work has really cramped my Christmas style. Never mind, my family is all together and that is what is most important.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Capturing December - Day Thirteen


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Capturing December - Day Twelve


How fitting that Day Twelve coincided with the annual Wreaths Across America event. This photo was taken at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday, December 12. Our photos from our local cemetery were less impressive as the weather was wretched - pouring rain through the entire ceremony - and a mishap out of our control resulted in our wreath order being 300 wreaths short. The ceremony went ahead as planned and we laid the wreaths we had, with American flags marking the remaining veterans' gravesites.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Capturing December - Day Eleven

Mum used to say that there was nary a flat surface in my house that wasn't covered with something red or something green. Too true!

One of my favorite greens of the season is this beautiful emerald tablecloth.