Friday, January 29, 2010

Foto Friday; Winter

After the frenzied Holiday Season, Winter stretches out before us. Day after day of waking up and as soon as it is light enough to see, looking out the window.  Yup! Still white out there.

This is the time of year when people have a tendency to hibernate. I'll bet you thought that I was one of them. I haven't posted in quite a while. But no, I'm busy sorting, rearranging and moving storage boxes, furniture and other household things in early preparation for the work that needs to be done before my Mom is able to move in here with us.  It isn't fun work either. There isn't a muscle in my body that isn't screaming!  Oh. .wait, that is me! :-)

In my sorting, I found a large binder full of old negatives. .back from before I ever switched over and started using and processing my own slide film.

So, thinking that I had a well earned break coming, I got out my handy-dandy negative to digital converter, and mixed some of the old images in with some newer ones to show you all what I see every day. Those old photos convert to a higher resolution than blogger likes to accept, so I've had to dumb them down quite a bit. I apologize for the quality.

When it gets a little lighter, I look to see how much it snowed during the night, and make a decision as to whether to get out the snow shovel, or snow blower.

After it has snowed heavily for several days and nights, we start hearing this big boy early in the morning. The plows can no longer push the snow back enough, and they have to start using front end loaders to pick up the snow and either dump it further back, or fill up dump trucks and dump it into the ravines.

Sometimes, just to liven things up a bit, we have an ice storm. 

Our local town has an annual ice sculpture contest and festival, but Mother Nature likes to host her own, and no one can beat her creations!

This looks like something out of a horror film crept up and swallowed this poor unsuspecting branch.

Once in a great, great while, we see this strange bright light rising out of the East in the morning. It blinds us so much we can't study it long enough to figure out what it is.

Or we see it dipping into the lake in the evening. But it never thaws the ice pack.

And never, ever on the same day.  Sightings are brief before the clouds once again elbow their way back into our ceiling.

Most of the time, day after day, we simply have gray skies, and snow.

I love Winter, I truly do. I love the flakes, the drifts, the sparkles, and the dark skies, the striking beauty.  I'm used to hearing people grumble, some even beginning back in November, about the impending Winter season.

But by the end of March, when the prettiness has turned to dark, dirty mushy slush, I too am looking forward to this.

Wishing everyone a beautiful weekend! Stay warm, and stay safe!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Scrapbooking Question

I don't do any scrapbooking. I've gotten materials to make a book of the progress on our house, but that is the only one that I'm interested in doing right now. My creative ideas are taking me elsewhere!

However, my grown daughter has a birthday coming up, and she is not only interested in scrapbooking, but is overflowing with ideas for numerous ones. She has purchased some papers that interest her, and loves browsing the scrapbooking shops, but I think that she gets a little overwhelmed with all of the choices. I can understand why!

I've Santa's gotten her some basic/specialty tools, like scissors, adhesives, etc. and I was planning on getting her some more for her birthday.

She is more comfortable with visual inspiration, plus actual instructions on how to do things. .some of them basic, some more advanced, so I was thinking of getting her a subscription to a scrapbooking magazine.

Now I'm overwhelmed with all of the choices!  So my plea for help. .if any of you scrapbook, or know of someone that does, and what magazine do you recommend?

Thanks so much for any input!

Have a great evening!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Croutons 101

We are lucky to have a European style bakery a few miles from our home, and they make the most wonderful artisan breads.  I bought a loaf to have with our soup the other day, but our plans changed, and I had to put off making the soup.

The next day, I discovered that the extreme low humidity in our house had sucked most of the moisture out of the bread, enough that it would have been to unpleasureable to eat.

So around here, that means it is time to make the croutons!  If you have never done it, it is incredibly easy, and once you've had homemade ones, those store bought just won't measure up.

This is a good project to do when you are doing other things in the kitchen, because the prep is quick and easy, but you have to stir them every 5- 10 minutes depending upon the bread that you use.

This was a loaf of Italian, but I also use loaves of French, or Bagettes, Pumpernickel (really good ones!), and sourdough is another favorite.  You can use any of your favorite breads, but the chewier, more rough textured breads make the best croutons. 

I never slice bread at the bakerys or grocery store, and if you are intentionally using a loaf for croutons, I find it easier to not have it presliced. But that is just my own personal preference.

First I slice the bread into chunks (see all of the crumbs from it being so dry?  I could go ahead and make some of my own bread crumbs by using a food processor or blender, but I've got plenty right now),

Then I cube it.  We like our croutons a little on the large size because we use them more in clear broth soups than on salads. .you can't imagine how good chicken or beef broth is soaked into a herbed crouton, and have it melt on your tongue! Just set the spoon aside to eat the noodles after you soak up the broth! Oh! And can you see me in this photo?  I'm there!! At least a little of me is!  ;-)

Next melt a stick of butter or if you prefer, margarine.  I use unsalted butter, but again, that is personal preference.

Add your favorite herbal combinations, taking care not to overpower the croutons. Remember that you want a subtle flavor that won't conflict with the flavors of your soup or salad ingredients. 

I used some of my own poultry seasoning blend, with some plants from my garden, some freshly ground black/white & Red pepper combo, plus some dried parsley from my garden.  Other yummy combos are garlic powder, garlic powder with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, oregano & thyme, or Italian seasonings with garlic, or your favorite warm, earthy, savory herbs. Don't be afraid to experiment!

Using a whisk, blend the melted butter and herbs together, to keep it from separating, and while continuing to whisk, slowly drizzle the melted butter over the bread cubes, a little at a time.  Stop to stir and distribute the herbal butter through the cubes. (Do you know how hard it was to hold the heavy saucepan and drizzle butter with on hand, while taking the picture with a large camera, with the other?)

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.  Spread the croutons in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet or jelly roll pan that has low sides.

Bake for 45 - 60 minutes, depending upon the bread used, stopping to stir it, every 5 - 10 minutes, to brown evenly.  Watch carefully, because you don't want them to become hard. You want them crunchy, that will melt in your mouth.

These will be going into a container to be put in the freezer because I'm going to be making a soup that won't need croutons.  You can also store them in air tight jars, or ziplock storage bags if you are going to be using them within a short time.

I hope that you enjoy your croutons! If you have any problems, or questions, I'd be more than happy to help you if I can. If I don't know the answer, I'll help you find it


The holidays must have gotten to me.  I took photos of my treasured chess set that my younger daughter got for me several years ago, and forgot to share them here.

This morning, Jaz, over at Octoberfarm, showed us her gorgeous set! I do love creative pieces as long as I can easily figure out which ones they are, when playing!  And hers is extra special. If you haven't already seen it, please go take a peek!

My son has several sets, one being a crystal and onyx abstract, that the same daughter got for him last year. (she seems to have a theme going for her gift purchasing!)  It is beautiful, but you spend a lot of time reminding yourself which form goes in what direction, and having to refigure your strategy.

No problem with this set! All festive, through and through. 

You have your Red players.

And your Green Team.

I love the board.

And a place to store the pieces.

My dislikes?  The Knights have a tendency to tip over, and at times, can knock nearby pieces into new squares. That can work for you, or against you!

Quirky thing that bothers me?  We all have had a laugh over how much larger in proportion, this designer made the Queen over any other character!  She reminds me of Fiona in Shrek!  :-)

But I love it, and moreover, what it represents.  Memories of late afternoon games between my son and daughter on Christmas, and especially the rare evening ones, when everyone has gone, and my daughter has stayed here longer, for whatever reason. We pour ourselves some wine, or a Kahlua & Cream to savor, and settle in for a relaxing holiday match.  Neither one of us gets to play a whole lot anymore, so it is pretty even, and lots of fun.

Do any of you have a special chess set too? I'd love to hear about it!

Wishing everyone a warm, cozy evening!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Gourdqueen 100th Post Give Away!

The Gourdqueen is having a give away of that cute snowman with an attitude, that you see on my sidebar.  Either click on the link here, or on the photo to go to her blog to join in the drawing!

I'll generously wish you luck, although you know that I'd really like to win it myself! lol

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Christmas Tag! Now???

Yes, Christmas Tag. 

Back on December 10th, sweet Liz, tagged me on her blog, Lizzie's Logic, to answer some questions regarding my holiday preparations.

Unfortunately, I was too busy actually doing the prep work, running way behind on some things, as a matter of fact, to devote the time and thought deserved.

I truly appreciate that Lizzie thought of me, and so with your indulgence, I will now truthfully answer the questions now, as if I were answering them almost a month ago! ;-)

1. Have You Started Your Christmas Shopping?   I like to shop year around, preferring things from antique markets, craft shows, art shows, or boutiques that carry hand crafted things.  So yes, I did have my own shopping done. HOWEVER, for the past couple of years, I've been doing my Mom's holiday shopping too, and while she favors more practical gifts found in mainstream stores, I can usually get hers done pretty early in the season too.  But this year, she was rather forgetful, and called me in a panic a couple of times, because she had realized that she had forgotten this person, or that one, so would I mind, when I was out. . .and she decided at the last minute, just a few days before Christmas, to adopt a family for the holiday, so I was out buying gifts and food for them to pick up for their own celebration.  I hadn't been out actually having to buy gifts that late in the season in a long time. It was stressful finding a parking space, and I don't like crowds very well, but the actual finding and purchasing went rather smoothly, especially when I was thinking about some little kids who were going to have a very nice visit from Santa, after all.

2. Tell Me One Of Your Traditions.  Hmmmm,  Because the dynamics of our family has changed over the years, we seem to be inventing new traditions as the years pass, with none of them becoming concrete lately.  Besides the usual decorating, the baking almost remains the same, so I'll tell you about a tradition when my kids were little, that they loved.  I'd bake the usual rolled and cut sugar cookies, making several dozen early in the season, then stick them in the freezer.  On Christmas Eve day, I'd get them out to thaw.  We'd have an early dinner, and while they were eating, I'd start making icing in umpteen different colors, not just the primary ones.  And we had embellishments galore!  I'd clear our long pine table, spread it with butcher paper, set out the bowls of frosting, the sprinkles, etc. little spreaders, decorating bags and tips, the cookies, of course, and let them go to it!  I would frost a few myself, and oversee the production, oohing and aahing each delightful creation, and somehow during that time, one of Santa's elves would sneak into their bedrooms upstairs, and put new sheets on their beds, and new pj's folded at the foot.

After the cookies were all done, and most of the evening spent in laughter instead of hyper-stress, a quick bath to wash off multi-colored fingers (and faces), the ritual setting out of freshly decorated cookies and milk for Santa, pinning Dad's socks on the foot of their bed, and it was off to dreamland.  Until 5 a.m. lol

3. Are You A Black Friday Shopper?  Absolutely not! Please refer to above comments about holiday shopping! :-)

4. When Do You Put Up Your Tree?  Usually right after Thanksgiving.  If we are going to be home before Thanksgiving, but not having dinner here, then I will start doing some decorating before, simply because I do so much, and it seems to be taking me longer each year to do it! lol  This year didn't work out that way, but it was all done in time to enjoy it!

5. Do You Travel For Christmas, Or Stay Home?  Usually we stay home, and everyone gathers here. Two years ago, we had to be gone, returning the day before Christmas, so my older daughter had dinner at her home, which was very nice of her!

6. What Is Your Funniest Christmas Memory?   The year my younger daughter surprised us all, walking in dressed as Santa Claus.  She was in her 20's then, and my Granddaughter, who was about 2 at the time, really thought that it WAS Santa! She was so confused because we were laughing so hard, and we had to quickly reassure her, when Amy took her costume off, that Auntie was only pretending to be Santa.  And what is funny today, is when you look at the photos. The ones of her in her costume are funny enough, but she forgot to take off her white eyebrows, and in the other photos, in her sweater and jeans, she looks like she doesn't have eyebrows at all!

7. What Is Your Favorite Christmas Show?  This is a toughie, because I like so many of them, for different reasons.  I love the animated Grinch. I love the original one with the Snow Miser and Heat Miser.  I love British comedies, and we get out the Mr. Bean holiday shows, along with Are You Being Served?, and Keeping Up Appearances. My favorite old holiday movies are White Christmas, of course, A Christmas Story, the original Christmas in Connecticut, the original The Bishop's Wife.  But there are even more that we watch each year.

8. Do You Do Your Own Baking?  Yes. Lots of it!

9.  Artificial or Real Tree?  Artificial.  I loved the scent of a real tree, and would love to buy the potted ones to plant afterward, but we don't have room here for a forest.  I can't see cutting down a valuable asset to the environment, for my own pleasure for a few short days. I know the rationale behind tree farms, but not only don't the trees understand, but the birds, and small animals that use those trees for shelter and nesting don't understand either.. but this is just my own personal viewpoint, not shared by many, and that is ok. .I just do what is right for me.

10.  What day (as a Mom), does the panic set in?  Truthfully? Never, because I plan out each day, and enjoy the journey, not the destination.  I discovered a long time ago, that if you rush through all of the prep, in anticipation that one day be absolutely perfect, then not only are you missing out on all of the actual enjoyment in each step, but you set yourself up for a bigger post holiday let down.  And maybe it is because I do shop all year around. .even decorations, stopping at all year holiday shops. (I do the same for Halloween, too!). And when I realized that I enjoyed the baking, the decorating, sending out cards, the wrapping, etc. it extends the festive feeling, so no panic!

This year, because of time restrictions, and back pain, I felt a little more pressure, but I resigned myself to cutting back on some things that only mattered to me.  I got the most important things done, and that was fine.

Ok! There you have it!  It is too late for me to reasonably "tag" anyone, but if anyone wants to share their answers, just leave a comment that you are doing so, so we can all come check out your inner most holiday secrets! lol

Stay warm, stay safe, and have a great day!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The 5 Cent Happy Holiday Home Tour!

My photos of decorations never seem to turn out showing the magical beauty that you see when you are sitting here, soaking up the atmosphere.  Maybe it is the over all atmosphere, accented with seasonal fragrances and sounds.

But I'm taking the leap anyway, and showing you some of the main decorations.  Ok. .to be honest, I'm not showing more because the walls and trim look pretty awful in photos.  I'm going to start stripping the many layers on paint on the window trim this year, and that is going to take a lot of time. And I myself can't do anything about fixing the broken plaster, and I can't remove any more of the icky paneling than I have because it is holding the crumbling plaster, underneath!  Living in an old house is SO much fun! lol

So here are some highlights of how I decorate for the Yuletide Season.

The front room tree has always been decorated for my Hubs.  He didn't have much of a holiday celebration when he was growing up, and always loved the primary colored lights, and traditional ornaments.  This year, we replaced the lights with halogen ones, with colored caps, and was disappointed to find that while they are intense in color, they don't put out much light!  We tried bubble lights one year, but the cats were a little too interested in them, so it wound up being stressful for all of us. 

The ornaments are all glass figural pieces, in bright primary colors.  And the little metal icicles are a compromise. I'd love to put the old fashioned silver tinsel on it, but again, cats love it, and it can be very dangerous for their digestive tract.  So, we do the metal icicles.  I have red jingle bells hanging on various branches on the bottom of the tree, as an alert system for when one of our feline friends is nearby. We have a couple who love to chew on the branches, and I don't want them to bite into a wire. 

I have a little table top tree sitting underneath the staircase.  I'm slowly collecting Victorian Scrap ornaments for it.  I've got a couple of oldies, and I've been given some reproductions, and some that are reconstructed of usable parts from old ornaments.  This is an evolving tree, until I get enough of the original scrap, and glass birds, to cover it.

This is the spandrel between the front room and the dining room.  I found the actual fretwork on eBay, and it is the perfect size, and just what I was picturing!  The original span had pocket doors. You can still see the marks in the floor of the walls, but after searching around this area, doors were either too large, too expensive, or in such a sad condition, they couldn't be saved. So we went an alternative route with the decorative spandrel.  Eventually, a large rod is going right beneath it, with heavy drapes hung, with tiebacks .  In the winter, drapes were often used in Victorian homes to contain the heat from fireplaces and stoves.

When Victorian homes were built, they not only lacked indoor plumbing and electricity, but they also didn't include storage space like closets or cupboards. This was all provided by free standing units.  When we first moved in, we had boxes stacked on top of boxes, and no place to put them.  This area is also not overflowing with antique options either, although there are a couple of huge antique markets each month in the Summer.  That didn't help us in October, when we moved in!  So we went to an Amish furniture maker, and bought some pieces for the dining room.  We did find a large antique round oak dining table with a lion claw base, and I've been picking up chairs that catch my eye at antique shops and markets.  Some day I'd like to replace the newer pieces with antiques, but it isn't high up on my priority list right now.  And the furniture is very well made.

In the china cabinet, I've got a few of my teapots and other dishes with Holly Leaves on them.  I have always loved Holly, and again find pieces when I'm antique browsing.

I had to keep the decorations back, and sparse on both the buffet, and the Hoosier cabinet, because plates of cookies, treats, and munchies were out for people to nibble on.

The tree in the dining room has some antique ormanents on it, plus ones that are decorated with beads, sequins, fringe, etc. Many of them are fabric, while others are glass, or vintage plastic.

I've had this Rudolph Reindeer since I was 2 years old. Some friends of my parents gave him to me, and amazingly, he isn't an ornament! There isn't a loop on him, to hang him on the tree!  I've always put him over a branch, and he has graced every tree of the house that I was living in, ever since. 

This silver plastic reindeer was on a package from one of my Great Aunts. Given to me when I was 6 years old.  I treasure both of these ornaments.

I bought the beaded garland from a woman who crochets, and then ordered more from her, so that I would have enough for a tall tree!  I found many appropriate "old looking" ornaments in the drapery department of some department stores. .tie backs make wonderful old world looking ornies!  So do old pieces of vintage jewelry, that have broken backs so they can't be worn on clothing any longer.

I bought my own first nutcracker back in 1966. It was damaged, and I got it dirt cheap after the holidays, when it was greatly reduced.  I brought it home, and fixed it, and to this day, you can't tell that it was ever broken.  It did the same thing the next year, and the year after that.  Then, many manufacturers started making nutcrackers in all shapes and forms, and relatives thought that they would be an ideal gift for me.  My collection quickly grew!  I don't have enough surfaces to display them all, so I try and rotate them each year.  Others, that are definitely celebrating another season, I keep aside to use during that month.

Hmmm, I just realized that I didn't take any photos of my Jim Shore Santas, and now I've put them all away!  Well, I guess that will be a new photo next year then! :-)

Besides the village pieces out on the porch, I put up a short display of just three houses that are part of Dept 56's Christmas Lane series. They are all so heavily decorated, with flashing and blinking lights, it was impossible to get them all lighting at the same time for a photo. .my daughter dubbed this "Griswold Lane"!

Being a typical middle class Victorian home, the kitchen is at the back of the house, and in spending so much time there, I sometimes feel cut off from everything else, so I decided to take down my vintage spice containers, and put a bit of holiday color in their places. .here are my Yuletide cookie stamps, and vintage metal Christmas Card List boxes.

I also drape greenery garland over the tops of each window, along with bead garland, and multi glass bead garland. I then embellish each with sequined poinettia flowers, and small ornaments.

And I realized that I didn't get any photos of our outdoor lights either.  I use white lights over a lot of bushes and trees, and wrap holly garland around carriage lamps on the house and garage, festooned with deep red bows. There are also lighted wreaths on the gates. But on New Year's Eve day, when I heard the impending weather coming upon us, I dashed out and took everything down. And I'm so very glad that I did! We have over 30 inches of snow, and now there is a fine freezing mist in the air today. Flurries tonight and tomorrow, and then on Thursday, another storm is moving in. lol

So there you have it!  A brief peek into our home at holiday time! I hope that you enjoyed your quick tour!  Help yourself to fresh cookies and some hot apple cider!

Everyone stay safe, and keep warm!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sarah Sullivan's Blogiversary Give Away!

Sarah Sullivan has been writing in her fabulous blog for a year now, and is generously offering one of her exquisite illustrations, with delicate faeries, and those bumbly bees, and a gorgeous, luscious scarf that would be just perfect to put around my neck about now.

You can click on her name or the word "blog" above, or her link on my sidebar to take you to her blog, where you'll learn how to sign up!

What a fun drawing, Sarah!  Thanks SO much for offering these treats!!

One Little Word 2010

Anastasia, has asked on her blog, Deep Inside My Broom Closet, for us to choose one word that has the power to impact our life in 2010.

For once, this type of question is easy for me to answer. Perhaps because it has been weighing heavily on my mind for days now, more than ever.

And I haven't shared any of this part of my life on my blog, because my blogs are my escape. My fun time away from some dark realities that are going to get even darker, and I don't know for how long. And the strange part of it is, I hope that this darkness goes on for years.  But, maybe putting this all down, and sending it out into the Cosmos will help draw in the necessary energy to help me.

I don't mean to be so cryptic, so let me explain.  My word that has become my mantra, is "Patience".

It has never been a virtue of mine, so this challenge is going to be even harder for me, but the well being of some people I love, depends on it.

My hubby, my soul mate has been battling advanced prostate cancer for over 10 years now.  He will never be cancer free, but the excellent doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, are keeping it maintained. Every time it decides to get more active and start spreading, they have always had a new treatment to curtail it's activity, and he remains on continual medications, in-between our 3 month visits for testing.

But, as weird as that sounds, suddenly, the cancer was the least of my worries.

Last late Summer, early Autumn, to humor me, he had some memory testing done, and we got the sad news that he has early stage Lewy Body Disease.  I had never heard of it before, but did some quick research. My hubs for some Blessed reason, didn't comprehend what the doctors were saying, and is SO relieved that he doesn't have Alzheimer's. 

It is better this way. He couldn't handle the news.  He knows that he is suffering from short term memory loss, and that is it. That alone is frustrating for him.  And he is getting upset with himself for being so clumsy sometimes. 

I'm learning that I have to be his memory too, and am making the necessary adjustments in my life, as well as his, to make sure that things I used to depend upon him to do, are getting done, etc.  And even little things, like how to phrase my sentences. I can't say "Please don't, or we shouldn't", because he won't hear those words, only the rest of the sentence, so he thinks that is what I would like for him to do.  I get more impatient with myself than I do with him, but it still comes through sometimes, and is easily misread, even though I keep telling him that I'm frustrated with me!

At Mayo's they immediately put him into a study too, so every year, he not only will have the same testing done, for comparison, but with any changes, they will have immediate suggestions and treatments, so who knows. .like with his cancer, they may be able to stop the progression. .I am clinging to that hope.

As if that weren't enough, a few days ago, we had to approach my Mom about her moving in with us.  She is weighing the pros and cons, but she is starting to sort things out in her home, so I have a feeling that she has made up her mind, even if she won't admit it. 

She will be 86 yrs. old later this month, and is starting to have memory problems of her own. This has been coming on for some time, but recently has gotten a lot worse.  She also is having physical problems too, and she finally admitted that there is little that she can do for herself anymore.  She also has a lot of emotional problems too that make her frustrating to be around sometimes.  But she thinks that we have the ideal Mother/Daughter relationship. I've never told her otherwise, because I do love her. .she can't help the way that she is.

After my Step-Dad died, he arranged her finances so that she would be set up for a long life. Despite her proclamations of being so good with money, she chose some really poor directions with her life savings, and can't afford to move into any assisted living, for any length of time, especially if she couldn't sell her house.  And as an only child, I'm her only option.  Hopefully, if she gets to the point where I can't care for her any longer, her house will have sold, and then she'll have some money for professional care.

My own health issues are minor in comparison, but are in areas that affect how I can care for my family. .I have arthritis, and it is also in my spine, which affects how much I can lift, move, etc. and am in constant pain, which REALLY short circuits my patience button, and has absolutely nothing to do with anything else.

So yes. .my word of 2010, is Patience.  I'm being brave, exposing my vulnerability, and sending this out into the cosmic realm.

And now that I've emptied my angst for all of you to see, what is YOUR word for 2010?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Surprise From SpookyTime Jingles!

Can you all tell that I'm snowed in, and don't really want to be taking down my holiday decorations? :-)  I'm uploading photos and slowly catching up on my blog postings in between things that need doing away from my computer.

On the 13th of each month the art group, SpookyTime Jingles has a number of drawings, and lucky me had my name drawn on the 13th of December! I was SO excited!!  Especially when I saw that I had won a delicate, folkartsy necklace hand made by Suzanne Davis! Her blog, Surprise, Delight, Joy! displays her talents with delightful papers. They all make you feel good, just to look at them!

She said that she would rush it to me, in hopes of me getting it time for Christmas.  Yes, it came in plenty of time, and there was no mistaking the box when it arrived. 

I have to say, I have received some nice packages throughout the years, like vintage linens wrapped in tissue and tied with ribbons and a sachet, but Suzanne goes the extra mile!  I don't think that I've ever received a mailing box that was SO festive and personal, and the extra touches didn't end there.

Inside this delicately secured holiday paper, I found a bouncy, colorful, holiday riot! Not only my prize necklace, but a bright red jingle bell, a darling little note, and the cutest magnet that is now gracing the side of my refrigerator!

I proudly wore my necklace on Christmas, and it was striking against my black turtleneck sweater.  I received compliments from everyone, and I proudly told them how I got it!

Again, many thanks, Suzanne!!  You added a lot of smiles to my holiday, and whenever I wear it, I'll always think of this very fond memory!!