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Christmas – Cracked Ice and Chrome

Hello, 2013

Despite all the hype that we’ve had to listen to for the past two years (at least), there was no apocalypse; no massive power outages; no need to buy wind-up radios and generators.  Don’t get me wrong — I didn’t do any of those last things.  I tended to believe that if people were able to exist before electricity, then we’d figure it out now too.  I’m also not a “prepper,” as if there were a major catastrophe on earth and life was absolutely miserable, why in the world would I want to stick around?  But hey … we’re all still here and now the History Channel will have to dig up some more experts who will be freely sharing their other theories about how the world will end.  Personally, I think there’s a lot of danger in media hyping end-of-the-world scenarios to a young generation of kids who already don’t really believe that they have a lot to live for.  But that’s just me.

It’s been a great Christmas break and I am trying hard to ignore the fact that school has started back up.  Back to the grind.  Back to the chaos.  Good-bye, leisurely mornings drinking coffee and puttering around.  Goodbye to making lunches for the kids and taking the dog for long walks.  Goodbye, sanity.

Ok, so perhaps I’ll hold onto my sanity for a little bit longer.  Time will tell.

This Christmas was a good one.  Despite being a drought, we received a 6″ snowfall just before break commenced.  I packed up the kids, the dog, and all the presents and headed to South Dakota for a week-long stay.  I was able to spend quality time with my family, along with time with my boyfriend and a great friend from my high school days.  The recent snowstorm made for some pretty walks with the dogs in the morning, and a layer of frost over the landscape on the 29th helped me capture some nice shots.

I did get some great retro treasures for Christmas.  The man in my life found the perfect things for my house; it’s evident how well he knows me.  The evidence:


A star-adorned magazine rack that looks right at home in my 1953 house …..


… a pink and gray Zenith radio that is so many kinds of awesome that I just love to look at it.  Oh, and it works! ….



A Seth Thomas clock!  Oh, how beautiful it is ….

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s.





Christmas cards for the retro soul

Earlier this fall I had gone to Lincoln, Nebraska, with my love.  (Seriously — saying “boyfriend” makes me sound like I’m 12.) We were at his sister’s house and she took us out to the garage where she had boxes and boxes of “stuff” from her dad’s estate.  We opened up the boxes and started sifting through it all, and I was having a great time looking at some of the old cards, pictures, relics, awards, stationery, etc.  Most people digging through the stuff would pull out something and go, “Meh,” and toss it aside, and I’d snatch it up and marvel at it.  Yeah … I’m weird like that.  I kept saying over and over, “We need to scan this stuff in!”  It kills me to throw away pictures, no matter how obscure they are.

I found a stack of pictures stuffed in an old sock box.  There’s something you don’t see anymore — sock boxes from a department store.  Anyway, I started leafing through the pictures and I came across an old photo Christmas card.  The styling of it was so incredibly retro and unique that I made sure it went into the “scan” pile that my love and I were taking back home with us.  I knew just what I would do with it, too.  It was going to be scanned in and edited to become this year’s Christmas card.

So I took it home, scanned it in, cut out the original photo on it, and replaced it with a pic I took of my kids earlier this fall.  I couldn’t find a photo printer who would allow me to just print the photo card without having an additional design on it (OK, I did see that Apple would allow me to do it, but each card would be 99 cents!).  I ended up just printing them as a regular 4×6 picture.  I’ll write on the backs for personalization and will stick them in a regular envelope for sending out.  I think it all turned out pretty neat, and I can be sure that my cards will not look like anyone else’s cards this year.  That’s just the way I like it.

Here’s a copy of the “doctored” photo card — included here for your own use, if you’d like to use it for your own cards.  I’ve uploaded the full size here for download.



All my good intentions …

I was doing such a good job updating my blog … until, like, two months ago.  Then I had two grueling grading periods that left me with little energy for anything else.  It’s going to be a tough year due to two new classes that are being planned week by week.  One has a textbook, the other doesn’t.  That means that I am continually reaching into my bag o’ tricks to write units, worksheets, tests, and whatever else.  It seems like every time I turn around, I have another pile of papers to grade and another week of class to plan.  Insanity.  Truly.

But now it’s the week before Thanksgiving, which gives me permission to start putting up my beloved Christmas decorations.  I live for this season.  Now that I have been collecting some retro decorations, it makes me happy to see them displayed around my house. A couple weeks ago, my boyfriend surprised me with an early Christmas present: a light-up Santa from 1956.  It’s been outfitted with a new cord and is in great condition.  I wasted no time in plugging it in and just enjoying the warmth it added to the room.  As soon as I put up my white Christmas tree (I’m one of those weirdos who puts up more than one tree), I set the retro Santa beside it.  Needless to say, he looks like he’s at home.


The retro tree is now a reality

After my last post, I just could not get the image of my imaginary retro tree out of my mind.  So I started searching the ‘net for either a silver tinsel tree or a white one.  In the end, I abandoned the idea of a silver tinsel tree because I knew I wanted to add shiny ornaments to the tree, and that would all be a bit . . . much.  Even for me.  So I concentrated on white and looked around.

And looked and looked some more.  Sheesh!  I only wanted to spend, like, fifty bucks on this tree, since I had planned it to be a second tree in our house – one on which I could play around with decorations, etc.   Needless to say, nearly everything I encountered was well over a hundred and almost everything is prelit.  I didn’t want a prelit tree because I wanted to be able to change the lights around if I wanted to.  Don’t force me to have white lights, people!

Obviously, this retro tree chase was not going to be easy.

Then last weekend I was visiting my sister in Minnesota, and we decided to take a quick trip to a certain superstore that begins with W.  While we were there, I said I wanted to check out the Christmas trees to see if they had any unadvertised white ones that were within my budget.

And there, stacked alongside the green trees, was a simple little box containing a 6.5-foot white tree.  Unlit.  $40.

I tried not to do a little happy dance as I snatched it up.  Next stop: ornaments.

It was getting harder and harder NOT to do a happy dance as I saw what the ornament aisle held for me: sparkly starburst ornaments . . . for a dollar.  ONE FREAKING DOLLAR!  I found the silver ones and tried not to feel piggish while I snatched up every last one.  They had a whole slew of silver ornaments (and gold, and red, and green) so I grabbed some silver snowflakes as well.  I remembered I had blue, white, and silver ornaments from a couple years ago, so planned to use those to go with the blue and white lights that I purchased too.

Behold: my creation.

The ornament above was one I found last year in a dollar store.  Sadly, they only had three of them.  But hey, they go nicely with the dollar starburst ornaments:

. . . and the snowflake ones:

. . . and the blue, silver, and white ones:

And the white and blue lights look so pretty nestled among the white branches:

The best part, obviously, was the price.  In all, this creation probably ran me about $80 with the ornaments, lights, and tree topper.  And although it’s not quite from my favorite era (too 60’s-ish and not 50’s-ish enough), I am in love with it.  I can pretty much guarantee that my tree is unique.


Thinkin’ about Christmas trees

November has hardly begun, yet I am already feeling the urge to drag out the ol’ Christmas tree.  However, I’m feeling that I need a change this year.  I’m tired of the same old green tree.  I’ll probably put it up, sure, but this year I’m thinking of buying a second tree — a white one — and making it my “retro” tree.

I think I’ve become spoiled by modern technology, because I was oh-so-sure that I somewhere there would be an online tree decorator program where someone could play around with different looks for a Christmas tree.  No dice.  If I were a computer guru, I’d jump on the opportunity to design one, but alas, I was not born with such a gift.

So, since technology cannot help me illustrate my thoughts in this instance, I’ll have to paint a picture with my words.  Here’s what I’m thinking . . .

White tree, something like this:

Some pretty blue lights:

Some shiny retro-looking ornaments:

and a retro tree skirt:

And it will all look random and kind of crazy because that’s the way Christmas trees are supposed to be, in my opinion.  Have you ever noticed that when looking at pictures of Christmases past?  The trees were imperfect (because they were real) and the decorations usually did not mimic something from Martha Stewart’s living room.  Now it seems that most people’s trees are competing for the cover of Better Homes & Gardens.  I myself prefer the family Christmas tree to look as if the family participated in its decoration – which, of course, they do.  We’re not perfect by any means, and neither is our Christmas tree.


Diggin’ out and checkin’ in

Oh, it’s been a busy couple of weeks!  Semester tests occurred the last 3 days before Christmas break started, and then as the break grew closer, we in the Midwest became aware of a humungous snowstorm that was headed our way — the worst one in years, the chatter among the locals said.  Indeed, as December 22 came upon us, it was painfully evident that yes, there was a storm on the way and that traveling might be a wee bit tricky.  Freezing rain occurred on the 22nd, making things interesting right off the bat, but we knew more was coming.  Lots more.
Continue reading “Diggin’ out and checkin’ in”


‘Tis the season — almost

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I put up the tree yesterday after practically sitting on my hands for weeks to fight the urge to do it earlier. I go through this struggle every year. In our small house, putting up the tree means shoving furniture around and having less space than we already do, so it’s not something I can do weeks earlier than I absolutely have to. Yeah, this is still early, but I also know if I don’t put up the tree and decorate the house now, it’ll never happen.
Continue reading “‘Tis the season — almost”


An unhealthy addiction

Going on the title, you might expect me to ‘fess up to something really bad — a nasty meth habit or something along those lines. But no . . . the addiction I’m about to peruse here is only a tad more lethal.

::::: Deep breath :::::

I have an addiction to retro Christmas graphics. I buy thin, worthless wrapping paper at discount stores merely because the design is retro. I will buy a bulk lot of 250 Christmas cards (when I only send out about 25 each year) because the font is totally ’50s. I need help, and I realize that this is the first step.

Of course, the addict will go in seek of the poison, and that’s just what happened when I stumbled into Etsy the other day. (I swear I didn’t type the URL . . . I just ended up there!) I saw this, noted it was the correct size for my table, and I was a goner.


A plastic.’50s. Christmas. Tablecloth.  PLASTIC!  I spent money on a PLASTIC tablecloth (new in the package)!

Then again, I have small children, so I can still use them as an excuse.

But the retro Santa, coupled with the nifty ’50s design, sent me over the edge.  I just couldn’t say no, plastic or not.   What’s more, it’ll look right at home on my chrome table.