Sunday, December 31, 2023

December Re-Cap

Before I get started, I have to say, the stars are out tonight!!! There are probably a dozen honky Tonks downtown owned by stars. They are all here performing in their own places. They have a thing called a "fast pass" that you can buy and go to them all. Seriously, I can't imagine that that would be fun. It's so darn crowded that I think you would be fighting to get in anywhere. I have to say, I do love watching Nashville's NYE bash. It's so exciting with so many stars. Leonard Skynnard closed it out tonight for the last 45 minutes. So good. I always liked watching the ball drop in NYC, but I hardly knew any of the performers there. After all, I am another year older!

Okay, let's get on with it.

I read nine books this month. One of those was Lennie Kravitz that I listened to because it was read by him. I didn't really know anything about him. His mother was the neighbor on The Jeffersons married to a white guy--exactly her real life too. I really enjoyed the book, but I only gave it 4 stars. Good, but I wouldn't say you need to rush out and get it unless you are a Lennie Kravitz fan. I didn't really know anything about his music. He was married to Lisa Bonnet from The Cosby Show.

Five-Star Books:
The Paris Apartment

This was a book club book and so good! It's about a young adult in the 1960's who inherits an apartment in Paris from her aunt. The story goes back and forth in time---I love books like this. It went back to WWII and the resistance. A surprise ending that I wouldn't have imagined! Excellent.

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
When I was looking up the author of the book above, this one popped up. Since I love Lucy Foley for her intricate plots and twists and turns, I added it to my list. It did not disappoint! This book is about...well, I can't think of anything to say that wouldn't give something away. Okay, it's about a girl who goes to Paris to stay with her brother in his apartment. When she gets there, he isn't. That's all I'm gonna say. Lucy does not disappoint. This is the first time in my history of reading where I've read a book with the same title one after the other. Now that I say it, I think it might be the only time I've read a book with the same title. 

The Lions of Fifth Avenue
This was another really good book. It, too goes bakc and forth in time. It's about a woman who works in the library that her grandparents lived in decades earlier. It's a great story of rare books and a theft. As it turns out, I already read it in March of 2017. That's one of the things I like about reading on a Kindle---Amazon keeps tracks of your books. I didn't remember enough of it, so I read it again. Very good.

The Secret Life of Violet Grant
Now this one---I'm a little confused because I think this is another book club book. But, we only read two books as we meet every other month. So I'm not so sure. Connie and I have discussed it, so maybe we both just read it. Anyway, it's another back and forth. This one I am confusing with The Paris Apartment as the stories are set in the same time period---WWII. In this book the protagonist is a code-breaker who is adept with languages. She is recruited for a more important role. This one also has an ending I didn't see coming.

So that's it---out of 9, only 4 were 5 star books this month.

So, I read 93 books total for the year with 50 of them being 5-stars. Not bad. I'd probably like higher than 50%, But I'll take it!!

Now on to movies. I saw four: Napoleon, Aquaman, Wonka, and The Color Purple. These were good, but only The Color Purple ranks 5 stars in my. book.
First of all, I didn't know it was a musical. It was fabulous! I immediately called the girls and told they that they needed to see it while at Sandy's this past weekend. Then, I told them I wanted to see it on stage in New York when we go in March. Turns out, it's not on Broadway anymore. That's too bad. Of course, I read the book years ago and saw the movie with Oprah. But this--omgosh--it was so good. I cried, I laughed and clapped out loud (I know, you really can't clap any other way)!! I saw a lot of great movies this year and this one ranks up in the top 5 for sure!

In total, I saw 46 movies this year! I only need to see 12 to break even on my Regal Unlimited subscription! 

One last thing for December. I watched 16 Christmas movies this year. I was determined to watch more since last year, I didn't watch a single one! The best were: The Man Who Invented Christmas (which prompted my Dickens party), A Muppet Christmas Carol (probably my all time favorite) and Spirited (another version/musical of The Christmas Carol with Ryan Reynolds--what's not to love). I guess it's no surprise, given my love of all things British that A Christmas Carol would be my all time favorite---all the way back to the very first one I saw with Mr. MaGoo! We watched that every year from the time it came out in 1962.

Okay, I guess that's a wrap for 2023!!

Hello 2024! I'm ready for you! 

Friday, December 29, 2023

Our Christmas

Well, Christmas is over--New Year's yet to come. In the meantime, it's back to real life which means cleaning up and cleaning out! I'll be bragging/reporting all about that in the new year. But let me say, I'm already ahead of the game!

This post is about how our holiday unfolded. It all started on Saturday. Stephanie, Nicky, Jordan and Robbie were the first to arrive. Mindy and Justin arrived soon after with Morgan and Olly getting here around 4-ish. 

For dinner, I made St. Louis pizza, St. Louis toasted ravioli, and St. Louis Italian salad (Nashville doesn't know how to make Italian salads). I had the provel cheese to make that happen!

Little did I know that amidst the mess and chaos which is Christmas, Jordan would decide to add to it. She wanted to pull all of the American Girl stuff out of the attic. 
Little did I know that I would be doing 4 loads of doll clothes!! Jordan was a little unsure whether the clothes and accessories could hold up to it. It gave me a chance to preach again how I never baby anything! I wash everything--including leather shoes (and suitcase wheels). I figure that you have nothing to lose. If said item is filthy or stained, then just wash it. If for some reason it falls apart, you needed to let it go anyway. 99% of the time, whatever you wash will come out much better than when you put it in.

Even this cute little jumper came out perfect. I washed a little wool coat (seen here with the black  velvet collar---perfect! 
When it was all said and done, a little pompom came off which could be glued back. There was a little buckle from a pair of white overalls that fell off. I still have it if Jordan ever wants to try to put it back on. She left all of this behind. The little sock from the Minnie Mouse outfit turned up while I was doing my regular laundry this week. I don't expect that these little items will be retrieved any time soon as they've packed it all back up and stowed it in a closet rather than back in the attic. I'm okay with that. Things in attics, basements or garages just deteriorate.

Here they are all dressed up and looking all cute again! Yes, we are also storing all of the trunks, beds, strollers, bikes, cradles and various other pieces of furniture and bric a brac. Actually it's makes me happy to see that they got so much joy out of "playing" with their dolls. They can't kid me--they were playing!

At our traditional---big breakfast on Christmas Eve (bacon, little smokies, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, biscuits and gravy and a fruit salad), we opened our "Secret Santa" gifts. This year the theme was "date night." It was a hit--as always.

Next up, we presented Olly with his tiles for the family Scrabble wall. 

When we added Justin to the wall, we were very clear with the girls of the names that would fit--so they should carefully choose their husbands! Well, right off the bat, Morgan comes up with Olly!! Since we could not fit his name anywhere with the 5 inch tiles, we had to go with regular size ones---about one inch. 

Little did I know that Olly wouldn't know how to place them! Everyone knows that they need to butt up to each other! That's okay, we'll take him anyway he comes!!! He's planning to make some larger ones for his spot, If they turn out well, he'll be in charge of keeping up with any other family additions. Maybe those regular sized tiles could be reserved for the babies to come! I think that would be cute. 

In case you don't remember, we did this wall in 2011 as an homage to my mom. She and dad started me on Scrabble with my 2 and 3 letter words at age 4 or 5. We played from then on. I didn't beat her for the first time until I was about 22! After that, we were pretty evenly matched. 
Okay, back to Christmas.

In the afternoon, everyone does their job. Jordan got the pickle-roll-ups this year, Everyone hates that job, and peeling shrimp (although it was a cinch for Butch this year since I got the peeled ones). Nicky got peeling potatoes. I swear, I think it's the first time he's ever done it. I found out later that it took him over 30 minutes to do 7 medium potatoes! After jobs, we girls painted Christmas ornaments and watched the movie Spirited while Morgan, Jordan and Mindy made beaded Christmas bracelets. Morgan and Jordan each made me one.

This one is worth repeating. I just love it! My favorite photo of Christmas.
We've all done the pajama thing---but usually within each family. We've never done the whole family matching--love it. Still, it's a once and done. We don't need 500 pairs of pajamas. Plus who wants to wear Christmas outside of the holiday?

I love this picture. Jordan has been the gift sorter and hander-outer since she could read the tags--maybe 5 or so. Robbie has joined her this year. 
We move all the furniture out of the way so there is plenty of room and everyone can see what each other gets. 

Plus, we need the room for our annual dance party!! 

Then it's on to family games. Our current favorite is Codenames.
It's one of the quieter games in our repertoire. Usually we always play the boys against the girls. Stephanie wanted to switch it up this year. I told her that nobody would remember whose team they were on. Right off the bat no one knew who was on their team. Still we managed. Really fun. 

There's a lot to cram in to one day! But we want to do it all. Now with people living away, we have to cram it all in. I'm excited for next year when the girls do all the planning and just tell me what they want me to do. 

On Christmas morning everyone has to get the room put back together while I'm cooking and Nicky is making Bloody Mary's. 
Jenni, Nicky's mom comes over and we watch the Disney celebration together.

There are only 7 of us for Christmas dinner. That's an easy number to cook for. I did an 8 lb. turkey this year and sent everyone home with bento boxes. In case you don't know what they are, I bought these:

A 20 pack for $15.00. I put all of the casseroles and turkey on the counter and had everyone take a box and file through and make their own meal for later. It was so much easier than trying to come up with enough containers for everybody. Plus, by the time I made Butch and mine, all the food was gone. No waste at all! These containers are ready to pop in the microwave. The only thing I had leftover was the cranberries. And that's more about the fact that I think only 3 of us eat them. I might have to re-think that next year. You can't exactly make a half package of cranberries. Actually I can if I make some cranberry muffins. Yeah, that's what I'll do!

Well, I think that's a "wrap" for Christmas 2023. Time to start thinking 2024.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

What I Buy Wednesday

It was these pajamas---way back in October. Sandy helped my figure out all of the sizes. 
We gave Sandy and family theirs when we were in Atlanta the week before Christmas. I wanted her to send me a picture of her family once Mitchell and Emily got there. She has forgotten---either to take the picture or to send it.

I think this was either Olly's or Morgan's idea for this set-up. Love it. They have a good eye for photography. Also, Olly was the one who set his phone on the ledge of the moulding with a timer. He only had to do it twice. This was the perfect second shot. 

Well, it's all over now. It's back to work for all the Nashville people and the rest have left. As for Butch and I---I've finished getting the Christmas stuff put away--or at least I'll be finishing it when you read this. I don't have much left--maybe a half hour.

We've just about finished off the leftovers. I did the smartest thing this year. I bought a set of those "bento boxes" that are compartmentalized. After Christmas dinner, I lined up the casseroles on the kitchen counter and had everyone file through to make themselves a meal to take home. You can microwave or freeze the boxes. For once, there were no leftovers I had to throw away. Okay, maybe a little cranberry sauce. I think only 3 of us ate it. Maybe I'll leave it off the list next year. 

We had a great couple of days--crazy, hectic and went by way too fast. When some of the family are out-of-towners now, it really changes everything as they have to zip around to see everybody on both sides of their families. Oh well, that's how it goes. Luckily for me, Stephanie, Jordan and Morgan had a few extra hours to spend with me yesterday. That was an unexpected surprise!

Today, we are meeting Jack and Connie to see The Boys in the Boat. We're looking forward to it and a Mexican lunch before. The calm after the storm!

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Merry Christmas!!

This will probably be my last post for this year as I take a little time off to be with family and friends. We'll see. I always have a lot to say!!

Thursday night, we had our annual Mother/Daughter ornament exchange. I started it--probably 30 years ago. I think I did it about 10 years, then Connie did it for another 10. The last 10 or so, we've moved it around. Now we have 3 generations and the 2nd generation has taken over--or I should say that Steph has stepped up to be the organizer. 

It works like this: someone hosts, sends the invitations (we've gone with the times---e-vites), provides beverages (adult and kids), sets a beautiful table, gets the numbers for drawing and has fun party favors when we leave. The rest of us bring our wrapped ornaments and an appetizer or dessert--pick-up foods. We eat, we be merry and we get down and dirty with the exchange! We're ruthless--unless someone is new and a bit timid--they don't. But even the kids are merciless---as evident by my ornament this year. I was happy to take home the one I wanted, but it was stolen from me no less than 10 times!!

Amanda's front door as we arrived:
Her entrance couldn't be more inviting.

Her table was so pretty---all of these Christmas trees. 
The lighted ones look like they had liquid swirling inside.

The cousins:
Grace, Merrit and Analise.

The hostess with her helper:
Amanda and Analise.

The gang:
From left: Parker, Maddie, Lauren, Connie, Grace, Malinda, Analise, Katie, Nancy.
Christy, me, Stephanie.
Hailey, Maddie, Lauren, baby doll, Connie and Grace.
Paige who came in from NYC, Ryan, Anna, Hailey, and Maddie.
LaRue, Leigh, Amanda, Paige, Ryan, Anna, Hailey, Parker, Maddie.
Around the food table.
Karolyn, Nancy, Jordan--who came in from LA, LaRue and Leigh.

Malinda, Analise, Katie, Nancy, Pam
The whole gang: Amanda, Katie, Lauren, Pam, Parker, Maddie, Anna, Lauren, Hailey, Analise, Nancy, Christy, me, LaRue, Jordan, Stephanie, Connie, Nancy, Karolyn, Grace, Malinda, Ryan, Leigh, Paige.

And finally...
...the ornament that I was after: a gingerbread hot air balloon with little gingerbread people! Malinda brought this one! I was thrilled to take it home. It show's up perfectly on my flocked tree!

We all had the best time. We're already looking forward to next year. Don't know yet who will be having it. But, it'll be great!

I wish you all a very merry Christmas!! And, of course, a Happy New Year!! See you in 2024!

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Five Things Thursday

Some good ideas:

1. I think this is a really good idea. Children clean out their rooms and bag up toys and clothing for Santa to take when he leaves new toys and clothes.

2. Do you have an old playhouse around? Turn it into a darling gingerbread house.

3. This is clever. Use ping ping balls over your tree lights for a fun effect.

4. How smart is this? Use and old dresser as a wrap center.

5. I'm not sure this is totally accurate, but at least you have a listing of most of the Christmas movies so you can keep track of the ones you've seen.

Actually, Sandy gave me this cool book for Christmas. 
My plan is to go through the book and mark the ones I've seen. My goal is to watch all 35 classics. I can't wait to figure out how many I've already watched!!

What have you been watching this holiday season?

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Charles Dickens

So, I had my party yesterday to celebrate the 180th anniversary of Charles Dickens book. There were 7 of us. What better way to celebrate than with my book club?. I served Ho Ho punch (with a little vodka) or Ho Hum punch (without). A few people felt like it tasted like fruit tea. I'll be adding simple syrup the next time. I thought it was a little tart.

We had a few pick-up foods: mushroom crustades, cream cheese and pepper jelly and spinach dip. For sweets, I had chocolates, peanut butter oatmeal cookies (my grandmother's recipe) and an almond Kringle from Trader Joe's. That was delicious---Sandy told me about it. They were out of the cute and tasty gingerbread cookies.

I had everyone pay attention to my tablescape:
I pulled together whatever I thought worked. I had 3 books by Charles Dickens, but only the Muppet one is specifically "A Christmas Carol." The green book is a collection of stories which includes "A Christmas Carol." The leather bound one in the back is "A Tale of Two Cities"--the only Dickens book I've actually read.

The picture and mug are souvenirs I bought at the CD museum in London. 

We had a fun time just chatting and catching up. We toasted Charles and our book club. And, to good health in 2024! That's all everyone could wish for!

Today, I'll be meeting my grandson, Mitchell for tea (coffee for him). Then later, I'll be meeting a friend for lunch. It's a busy time of year, yet so much fun! But not exactly good for my health routine! Come Tuesday a week from now, it's going to be all over and I'll be back on track with my exercise and eating habits! 

Everyone starts the New Year with all of those resolutions. I'm planning to get a head start. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Tuesday Thoughts About...

...old people! 

Now don’t get me wrong—I actually love old people. Heck I am one (well, just about). Here's the story:

Last Tuesday, I was picking up my 96 yr. old friend, Louise to take her to lunch. I asked Butch the day before if I could borrow his car as I knew that Louise would not be able to get in my Jeep. He reminded me that we were taking his car in for service. OMGosh! What are the odds that he’d make an appointment on the one day of the year I needed his car—but that’s a different frustration. Back to old people. Taking old people out is quite an ordeal. Everything takes long. Really long. 

Getting her in to the car: pull up to curb; get out and go inside to walk her out; help her in the car; stow her cane; juggle her purse; help with the seatbelt;  hand her her purse (let me stop here and say, to her it's a "pocketbook"--I'll keep calling it a purse); close the door. Whew, we're off!

As we’re driving out of the parking lot she says, “This is my treat!” I say, “No, it’s my treat!” She says, “Well okay honey, if you’re sure.” End of that argument. 

We arrive at J. Alexander's: get her out; hand her the cane; walk her to the bench; hand her her purse; park car; juggle her purse along with my own; walk her inside; take her coat; get her settled at the table; stow the cane and hand her her purse. I hand her the menu and ask her what she wants for lunch. She asks me what I’m getting. I tell her that I’m getting a salad. She says she doesn’t want a salad. I say, “Do you want soup and a sandwich or a bigger meal so you can take home leftovers?” She’s thinking. She’s looking at each item. Even when she knows right off the bat that she doesn’t want the trout, or the steak, or the Nashville “hot” chicken, she has to read the complete description of each thing--out loud. Then she says she thinks she’ll get the salmon. Then before she can take a breath, she immediately says, “No, I’m not going to do that to you! It’s $31.00!” I tell her to get it. We argue back and forth about it. Then I say, “Actually, it’s only $15.00 because you are going to get a second meal out of it.” She fell for that. I wanted her to get what she really wanted. Now she has to decide the sides. We go round and round, “Well, do you like broccoli? Would you prefer Cole slaw or orzo pasta salad?’ “Honey, what’s that?” Now I defy you to try to explain what orzo is. I try, “it’s pasta that looks like…” here I stop myself. I was about to describe the shape of the pasta like a lightening bug. I stumble around and finally say, “well it must be good because it’s on the “specialty” list.” She gets it, it wasn’t good!

After lunch: she asks, “Honey do I need lipstick?” I say, “Not really, we’re just going home.” As if I didn’t say a word, she roots around in her purse and finds her lipstick and compact. Once her lips are ready to go, so do we. I get her out of the booth; put on her coat; hand her the cane; juggle her purse along with my own; walk outside; park her on the bench; retrieve the car; get her in the car; stow cane; help with seatbelt; hand her her purse. Whew again!

Okay, now I only have to get her out of the car back at “the home.” That’s when she says, “Honey, would you mind stopping at the post office so I can get some Christmas stamps?” I’m thinking, “Okay, well, it’s a little out of the way but no big deal.” 

We arrive at the post office and park. That’s when she says she wants to go in so she can pick out the stamps she wants. I thought I would just run in. No such luck. So, I consider backing the car out to pull her up to the curb. I’m already parked directly across from the door, so decide we’ll just walk. I get her out of the car; juggle purse, same routine, yada yada. 

When we get inside, the line is almost to the door! OMGosh this is going to take forever because, of course, this is the post office. Despite having 5 windows, they only have one person working. There are 14 people ahead of us in line. Most juggling a stack of packages since the next day is the last day to guarantee Christmas delivery. Soooo, we get in line. After only about 2 minutes, Louise says she needs to sit down. I get it. But it’s not like the post office offers chairs. They don’t want you there to begin with, they are definitely not going to offer comfortable seating! I find a place to let her sit which is actually the front part of the sales shelf. I tell her to be careful not to slide off as there isn’t much room and the front is rounded. 

Then I proceed to stand and wait. And wait, and wait…

Finally, another woman comes out and starts working. I’m happy that maybe things are going to start moving. No such luck. I’m aggravated at how many people are not ready when they approach the counter. They are asking for things to mark their packages—including tape, marker, “fragile” stamp, etc. It’s not long before the first clerk LEAVES! What? You’ve got to be kidding me! There is no better place to witness workers who could care less about their customers that the post office! 

Someone in line says, “looks like we came at lunchtime!” Uh, no—it’s 1:30—way past lunchtime! I think it’s nap time! At least it’s MY nap time! So now it’s back to waiting some more. As the line draws closer, I turn around and realize that Louise has come back to the line with me. After another minute, she needs to sit down again. I’m planning to walk her back to the “shelf/seating area” when she says, “No, I don’t want you to lose your place in line. I’ll go by myself.” I’m not about to risk a fall. The lady behind me says she’ll hold my place. Gee, thanks. 

Finally, it’s our turn. We approach the counter. Louise says she wants to buy Christmas stamps. The clerk pulls out three styles. Louise says, “Honey is this all you have?” Yep, that’s it. Louise asks, “Do you have any with little dogs on them?” The clerk says, “Nope, this is all we have.” Louise says, “What about little cats? Do you have any with little cats?” 

I will say that the clerk was very patient although bored and couldn't care less is probably the more accurate . “No, this is all we have. We do have some with cats and dogs, but they are not Christmas stamps.” Louise says, “Oh yes, let me see those.” Clerk gets out those. I have to admit, they are very cute. Louise: “Oh honey, that’s exactly what I want!” The clerk has to go to the back to get another sheet. When she returns, Louise says, “Do you have any religious Christmas stamps?” This time, the clerk doesn’t say anything. She just points to one of the 3 sheets that she first got out. Louise says, “Oh honey, that’s it! I’ll take on of those too!” 

I pull her wallet out of her purse. She opens it and gets out her Kroger card. I say, “Louise, that’s your Kroger card.” She has a couple of cards. I try to help. She says, “Oh no not that one!” And points to her Discover card. I pull it out. We complete the transaction. She hands me the stamps, I put them in her purse. We turn to walk away. I give everyone in line an “I’msosorrythistooksolonglook!” About that time, the next man walking up says, “Excuse me, you dropped this.” OMGosh! One of the sheets of stamps had fallen to the floor without me realizing it. Sheesh! 

Then it was back to the car—you know the routine by now. When we pulled up in front of “the home” I got her out and inside. I went to hug her and she started to cry. It broke my heart! She told me she loved me, blah, blah, blah. To myself, I vow to get her out more often. Now, she has a daughter who lives a few blocks away and is very good to her mother. So, I don’t feel bad like she has no one and is stuck at her place all the time. I just feel bad that she seems to be sad. I’m not quite sure what the tears mean. Maybe they were tears of happiness. Yeah, that’s it. I make her happy. Heck, I try to make everybody happy! I have to learn to let these little frustrations go! After all, it’s Christmas! And I get to do this all over again in two weeks when I take her out for her birthday!

Honestly though, it's a very small price to pay for the happiness I know it brings. I do love old people! Always have. Now I just need me some young friends!!

Here's a picture of Louise and me from last year:

She said that sunglasses make her look more glamorous. I said I wanted to look more glamorous too! I think she is right about that. 

PS Did you know that December 19th is the anniversary of the publish date of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol in 1843? So, in honor of the 180th anniversary, I'm having a Charles Dickens party with my book club! I thought my book club was the perfect group to toast CD! Really, any reason to have a par-tay!

Let me know what parties you are having this holiday season!

Monday, December 18, 2023

Me on Monday

I thought I would share the end of the "ugly flower saga." Just to re-cap:

This is what I ordered:
This is what was sent:
When I complained, they ended up giving me half of my money back and re-delivering this:
Better, but still not as pretty as what I ordered. I still maintain that someone was just too lazy to run to the grocery store and pick up some candy canes. Picture this arrangement with candy canes. That would have made all the difference. Oh well, that's what I get for not going to the florist and picking something out in person. Of course, if I'm sending something to another state, I really don't have that option. 

We spent the weekend at Sandy's celebrating Christmas with them. I had an appointment with Elizabeth to have my makeup done. 
The first thing she had to do was find some clips for my hair. Now, in all fairness, this was her first "make-up" appointment. So, she doesn't have her routine quite down yet. I told Sandy to take a note that we needed to buy her some hair clips. 
She laid out all of the makeup choices. She started mixing. Then, I noticed that she was using the handle part of her tweezers to mix it. Finally, I said, "Are you using your tweezers to mix?" She laughed and said that she lost her "spatula". I told Sandy to make a note to buy her some "spatulas." Next, she needed some Kleenex. She came back with paper towels. I told Sandy that had I realized, I would have wrapped up a roll and given it to her for Christmas! 
She did a beautiful job with the blending. 
When she started on my lips, I said, "Elizabeth, it feels like you are putting that lipstick nearly on my chin!" I could tell she was outside of the lip zone!! I think she was surprised that I picked red. Well, it is the Christmas season. Plus, it's Taylor Swift's favorite. Did you know that the sale of red lipstick has gone up because of her? Another little fun fact: Michael's bracelet kit sales has increased by 40%! 

I actually like red lipstick, but really haven't worn it in a long time. I'm going to wear it more often now.
When it was all finished, she had done a nice job. She said that it took an hour and fifteen minutes. She said that she would get faster. I said, "Maybe it takes that no different from when I used to get facials and have my make-up done. It goes with the territory! 

It was a lot of fun and tons of laughs. Some of Elizabeth's friends and instructors stopped by to check in. I'm really happy that I was her first. That seems pretty special to me!

It was a crazy busy weekend, but so much fun! Sandy's house is beautiful--especially during the holidays. 
These gifts include all of the ones that we brought along with the ones for their own family. But don't they look so pretty? Sandy does a homemade bow on every gift. I don't do that many. But, it sure does look fabulous. 

Her table is always so festive:

And, of course, there must be table favors. Those tiny Starbucks cups have hot chocolate in them--so cute! I love that she uses her grandmother's sterling silver. I know my mom would love that too!

We got a bit of a late start with all of the festivities because Elizabeth doesn't get home from school until 6:45. Before dinner, we donned matching pajamas! 
Butch had brought the shirt I bought him the year of Covid. The hat was from the week before when we crashed Stephanie and Nicky's Christmas Vacation party. Butch showed up at Cousin Eddy!
Sandy and Greg are fabulous hosts and excellent cooks. We started happy hour with delicious winter white cosmos. They served us their traditional crab leg dinner which included twice baked potatoes, cheesy squash casserole, Cracker Barrel's lima beans (they were sooo good--I got the recipe) and rolls. It was just perfect. She had also made monster cookies which we enjoyed the whole weekend. 

After dinner we cleaned up and started opening gifts. There were so many fun and thoughtful presents. We had sugar cookie ice cream after gift opening. We all enjoy being together and sharing this special time. The whole weekend was over too fast!! Whenever we're at Sandy's, we feel like we're on vacation. I tell her that every time. She is well-organized and needs little--really, no help from us. We just relax! We've come to look forward to this fun party each year. It's sort of like the calm before the storm for us!