Monthly Archives: December 2012

Oh Tannenbaum 4 – Childhood

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When I was little, I wore these knitted red and green bells on my coat every December. They were a gift from my great-grandmother and they were out of rotation for many years. In junior high, it’s not exactly “cool” to wear knitted Christmas pins! Once I moved out on my own, I decided they would make a good ornament for the tree. This year I might borrow them for a day to use them in my childhood Christmas pin rotation.

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The green angel ornament is a gift from my grandmother. The angel is one of those painted wood ornaments that were everywhere in the 80s. I have a box of tiny ones that I pilfered from my mom’s collection. My grandmother and I picked it out together. Her wings are dated 12-21-1982, and though that was long ago, I remember this rare shopping day and how excited I was to have my own ornament to put on the tree.

Today, I am finishing my Christmas cards. Hopefully I can get them all in the mail tomorrow and my international friends get theirs in time (crossing fingers!) I still need to finish some last bits of shopping and all of the wrapping, and I need to poke through the closet to make sure I don’t forget anything I had tucked away during the year…so much to do before Christmas and so much to enjoy before Christmas.

 

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Oh Tannenbaum 3 – work travel

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My first job out of college was working for an education company. In the beginning, I traveled quite a bit, and traveling was an adventure. Somehow, I lucked out and always traveled with entertaining people, we went to interesting places and there was enough free time for shenanigans (not to mention the free-flowing alcohol and generous expense accounts).

Since our headquarters was (is) located in New Jersey, I ended up in New York City quite a few times. My first time in NYC was in the winter of 2001 for a staff training. I stayed the weekend with my colleague friends, Rita and Jeanine. We saw Chicago on Broadway, visited the Today Show (and made it on TV!), walked along Fifth Avenue and checked out Tiffany’s…cliche, yes, but fun nonetheless. On our walk around the city, we saw a group of sailors touring the city in their dress whites. I had just watched the musical On the Town and I when I saw the men in their perfect white hats, I couldn’t help myself and I uttered “Sailors!” Jeanine thought this was hilarious and she poked fun at me about it for the rest of our working days together. I found the teeny sailor up above at the Hallmark store the next Christmas…he reminds me of those first days of work (when things were fun!) and those first work friends.

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I went back to New Jersey that summer. I decided, even though no one else was staying the weekend, that I wanted to head back into NYC. To this day, I have never taken another solo trip like this, but at the time, I felt such a wave of independence wandering through Central Park and the New York Public Library, taking the subway to a Yankees Game, seeing Rent…all on my own.  I bought two library ornaments that summer–one for me and one for my mom (a librarian)–and every time I hang mine on the tree, I remember that trip and that exhilarating feeling of freedom.

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My last trip into New York City happened a few years later. It was Christmastime…Christmas in New York City is magical…someday, I want to go back in December again with Naoto. I ventured into the city with my colleague Maurice (who was Irish and was best Japanese/English interpreter in our company). Maurice and I walked through Central Park and saw all of the people ice skating and we explored Fifth Avenue. We ended up in Macy’s choosing Christmas ornaments–one for Naoto and one for his girlfriend, now wife. I picked out this yellow cab–which ended up being a little ironic because Maurice and I ended up spending a fortune in cab fares just to get back over the bridge into New Jersey…

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For some reason, the only other work-related travel ornament I have is Elvis. I went to Graceland twice with my company (apparently Memphis is an inexpensive place to hold meetings). As a matter of fact, I wasn’t such an Elvis fan until I went to Graceland. My first visit was at Christmastime…Elvis loved Christmas (so I’ve heard Priscilla and LisaMarie say a dozen times). The house was decorated with Elvis’s now-retro decorations and there were plenty of lawn decorations and lights everywhere. Blue Christmas is a holiday standard around our house.

Thanks for a little walk down memory lane with me…a few more days of memories are coming up!

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oh tannenbaum 2 – Avon calling

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When I was five, we moved to town into a home of our own. Soon after moving in, a strange women carrying bags full of make-up, perfume and costume jewelry appeared at our door. It was the Avon lady, Linda Lee Laible. Linda Lee dropped by our house twice a month to show my mom all of the latest jewelry and various shades of blue eyeshadow from the Avon catalog. She always wore at least five Avon rings (on each hand)–she was like a walking display case. Linda Lee had a fancy gold metal box where she kept her money and I can still hear the coins inside rattling around as she made change for my mom’s purchase (in cash, always, because no one paid with a credit card back then).

Christmas time was the best, because that meant new ornaments showed up in the catalogs, and my mom always picked some good ones. Lucky for me, I have a few of them. These are a few of my favorites. The Precious Moments angel (above) is tiny and sweet. Because the angel is so petite, she is always near the top of the tree (next to Charlie).

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This one (above) is pretty enormous for a Christmas ornament. It’s about six inches across and yes, it is a little retro-ugly, but i love that about it. I use it to fill in the “holes” in the lower branches…with an ornament this bold, no one notices a little space between the branches!

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The Christmas gift was one in a set of three, and my mom had two of this one. I love the mirrored red and the fabric ribbon and fake holly…it seems very late-80s Avon to me.

Linda Lee retired quite awhile ago, and now most Avon sales are done online…which probably makes more sense…because really, unless you lived in a small town, would you let just any over-accessorized woman in your door?

Sadly, Linda Lee passed away this year and Avon was listed in this article as a business that won’t survive through the end of 2013. It kind of makes me want to start hoarding their hand lotion…

 

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Oh Tannenbaum 1 – Charlie Brown

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My favorite part of Christmas decorating is rediscovering my ornaments. I love that they make an appearance once a year, and I never have time to get tired of admiring them. Most of my ornaments have sentimental value, so unwrapping each ornament is like untucking a tiny memory. Back when I had my other blog (which is no longer online and was pretty much only read by one person–Hi Mom!) I did a little series about my ornaments. I’m going to revisit (and rewrite!) those old posts and share them with you here…

Charlie Brown is the first ornament on the tree every year. And he’s always front and center. Like most American children, I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV every holiday season. I have a soft spot for Charlie Brown–his awkwardness, his continued faith in a humanity that tests his will, his kind demeanor… And I have a softer spot for this ornament. It was the first ornament I purchased for my first (skinny, fake) tree after graduating from college. I was newly on my own, newly employed and newly dumped by my college boyfriend…but it was a good Christmas, full of family and friends. Charlie Brown is a good reminder of all the bright spots in the holidays that year…and every year.

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new business card stamp!

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I’ve been wanting new business cards since I changed blogs last spring. I didn’t need them…it’s not like I have a business or anything…but I wanted a little something to stick in letters (and Christmas cards) to spread the word about the ol’ blog and my new-ish cell phone number (I’ve hidden the last few digits). I thought a stamp would be fun because I can change up the inks and the paper with my mood (which changes often, though grey always seems to be in season around here).

In my months (I don’t take decisions lightly) of scouring the internet for options, I was happy to find Ampersandity again. I love Cathie Hong’s work and we have an address stamp done in her calligraphy. (I actually won it, and she uses it on her site as an example stamp.) I love the blend of her calligraphy and the sans serif typeface and I love the dots…the dots pretty much sealed the deal for me. I’ve already purchased some peacock, paper bag and gravel business cards to get me started.

Fun times will be happening tonight while I stamp up some business cards and Christmas cards (because that stamp just arrived, too!) Never mind the fact that the house is a mess and the Christmas decorations are still strewn about…paper projects are priorities!

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calm & bright

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I pushed my Edgar Allan Poe candle to the side table to make room for my favorite candle of all time–the Paddywax Woodland candle. Hands down, the best winter-smelling candle of all time (especially if you love real pine-y scents, as opposed to Pine-Sol pine-ish scents). Placed next to my bowl of silver, gold and pearly Christmas balls, it brings a bit of Christmas to the coffee table. And, I am not lying when I tell you that the living room is the only place of calm and bright in this Christmas house…the rest of the place is a complete, dusty disaster thanks to the end of the bathroom project and the temporary relocation of ourselves and an entire closet of stuff.

This weekend we are painting the bathroom, and hopefully we (well, I) will be cleaning and making our home presentable again. I’m looking forward to the normal life the end of construction promises! Normal things like searching for the missing Christmas decorations and not sleeping in the guest room and playing fetch with Presley without feeling like a crazy cat lady in front of the contractors… And, we have a turkey hanging out in the freezer begging to be cooked up for a mini-Friendsgiving/Friendtsmas…or something like that…plenty of time to decorate and enjoy more Christmas cheer, right?

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shiny & bright (& leaning to the right)

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Our tree is up and I’ve stopped moving the ornaments around (for now)! It’s slightly less crooked from this angle (the front angle), but from the side you can tell it is leaning into the room. As long as it leans (and doesn’t topple), I’m good.

This year we chose a White Pine. It has long, soft needles and it doesn’t seem to shed as much as our other favorite choice, the Fraser Fir. Unfortunately, I bought our new lights last year with the skinnier Fraser Fir, and I think I need at least one more strand to brighten this fluffy tree up a bit…maybe next year. For now, it’s providing the required Christmas glow of the season…

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the stockings were hung…

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…on the liquor cabinet with care…

The tree is done, but I’m still fussing with it…I ran out of ornaments, so when I say I’m fussing, I’m pretty much just moving ornaments around on the tree. It’s a total waste of time. I don’t think this tree is bigger than trees we’ve had in the past, but for some reason, I feel like it needs more ornaments…it’s probably just me being all perfectionist with my crooked tree.

In other news, the bathroom is speeding right along! Tomorrow, the sanding of the drywall begins…the messy job. I’ve been holding back on the Christmas decorating because everything will be covered in dust. After tomorrow, I can go to town with my cleaning and decorating (in that order…must. clean. first!) I feel behind…but that’s nothing new around here.

And, Presley could use a new stocking, don’t you think? A little felt one that matches ours better…must think about that…

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Beep, Beep from the Tree-Mobile

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We got our tree Saturday! It was almost sixty degrees outside and we bought it from the Menards (home improvement store) parking lot…it wasn’t exactly a Norman Rockwell painting, but we got the job done.

When I was a kid, we always got a real tree. We bought ours each year at a Christmas tree farm. It was always freezing and the child-me felt like it took forever to find the perfect one. Conditioned to be tree-choosy, I used to make poor Naoto hold up dozens of trees each year for full inspection. I’d be cold, he’d be cranky…it wasn’t fun. So for the past few years, we’ve grabbed one, gave it a once-over, and as long as it was green and had branches, we bought it. And bonus points for the year we decided to stick it in the back seat instead of tying it to the roof of the car. I highly recommend the back seat method…it works for trees up to seven feet (even taller if you’re driving something larger than a Corolla!)

So, each year our tree is less than perfect, but I think that makes it more charming, right? When we put our tree up this time, we noticed that it looks straight from the front of the room, but it’s leaning desperately to the right if you look at it from the side…as long as it doesn’t topple over (crossing fingers) I’m going to be okay with a leaning tree. (If I keep lowering my standards, I’ll be satisfied with using a fallen pine branch for a Christmas tree by 2015!)

I tossed the lights on the tree on Saturday and I’m working on the ornaments today, so hopefully I’ll be back tomorrow with some pictures of the finished tree. It is almost seventy degrees here today, so I’m going to have to really imagine those snowy scenes from the Christmas music!

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