Podcast #65- 90 Days to Go!

Yarn LightsPodcast #65- 90 Days to Go! Click here to listen to the newest podcast- Knitting ornaments and Trivia too!

Listen in to get the latest updates on the Yule Log’s entries for the 2014 Festival of Trees, some quizzes on Christmas Trivia, and an update on the return of our daily posts.  Natalie and Jeremy talk about some Christmas yard sale finds and deliver more details about their tree designs.  You too can be part of the Festival- volunteer to help with the fun! 

Find your Christmas Spirit on Pinterest

If you are feeling the dog days of summer, or you are in the dumps about school starting in just two weeks, now if the time to start following The Yule Log 365 on Pinterest. We’ve been collecting inspiration, and visiting the boards of ideas we’ve saved–Christmas trees, wreaths, gifts, and more–reminds us that Christmas is only months away (4+ if you are counting with us). I got some inspiration from Thrift My House for recycled sweater balls.


I felt I could tackle these babies. No problem. My results are mediocre compared to the original design, but I’m pleased to say that I used what I had on hand.  On Saturday, I made a trip to the thrift store for a white sweater, but Shirley spotted a two-dollar white scarf instead (and paid for it so, in essence, it was free).  Ready to try again!

Sweater Ball 1

Podcast #55- 188 Days to Go!

Reagan:Mr. TPodcast #55- Click here to listen to our latest podcast- Unusual Christmas Finds!

We’re back!  Finally Natalie and I found the time to get back to our podcasts.  We are so sorry we have been neglectful of our Christmas audience!  We are back to it, good thing too since there are just 6 months left until Christmas 2013.  Today we get back in the swing with things by making sure you KNOW about lots of very weird Christmas gifts, practices, and ornaments.  We then talk about getting your PLAN in order for this year.  Be it saving, organizing, creating, building, or searching, time is running out to get that special thing finished in time for the holidays.  We close out with making sure we have something to DO.  Jeremy is on the hunt for odd Christmas treasures and building my own nativity.  Natalie is meeting with her mom to set the craft calendar for the rest of the summer.  Thanks for sticking with us and keep checking for more regular updates.  Merry Christmas!


Winter Solstice = Midwinter Celebration = Christmas!

SolsticeJust before dawn this morning winter officially began!  This happens on the winter solstice, where the sun is at its lowest point on the horizon.  It is also the shortest day in terms of daylight.  Here in Maryland we didn’t need to worry too much today about the daylight.  Winter arrived with gray skies, brisk temperatures, sweeping winds and snow!  Ok, it was just flurries but is was SNOW!!    It traditionally is a day full of festivals and celebrations.  One last hurrah before the long dark winter.  The mid-winter celebrations always included a feast.  In the Northern Hemisphere the midwinter feasts and festivals lined up with the celebration of the birth of Jesus, Christmas.  The Roman Winter Solstice was on December 25th using the new Julian calendar.  Feasts included night-time masses, large meals, public singing, and often lasted 12 days or more!  Sounds like Christmas today, right?  I decided to make today a celebration of my own.

Boehne CookiesNatalie and I have both been feeling a little Christmas funk as of late, and I made the decision that it ended today.  It was the last day of work before the holiday break.  It has been a crazy week, but today I decided to surprise many co-workers with little tins full of home-made candy.  What I love about giving out little surprise gifts today is that people can’t return the favor.  I like giving things without anything in return.  There was music at work today, snow in the wind, and a general glee among almost all who I spoke with today.  After work Natalie had a call from our friend Danielle at the Frederick News Post.  She was looking for some leads on local folks with great family CHristmas traditions.  Natalie immediately thought of our friend Kara and her parents.  Their family annually makes thousands of tiny, miniature Christmas cookies.  Each of these little pieces of artwork is meticulously crafted and decorated.  Everyone who has had the joy of receiving these treats anxiously awaits all year for them to come again.  Needless to say we set Danielle to the Boehne family straight away.  Kara reports that they were on the phone for 30 minutes and that her Dad talked the reporters ear off.  So look to the Frederick News Post soon for some coverage of these special little cookies.

my tree 2That wasn’t the end to my own personal mid-winter celebration.  When I got home today I decided it was time to re-decorate my Christmas tree.  That’s right, RE-decorate.  You see, the tree fell over last Friday night during a holiday gathering.  Not once, but twice it toppled to the ground.  The tree was rest, but gravity won the battle again on Monday night.  (there are many theories as to the reasons for this trees perils- all very clever, including a curse!)  It is securely up-right now and fully decorated.  This increased my Christmas mood about 200%.  Next I checked in on Facebook and was happy to see a post from a favorite former student I keep in touch with from time to time.  His band , Twin Radio, has a new holiday recording and he sent me the link- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.  Give a listen and I think you’ll agree, they’re pretty good! I’m going to wrap-up my midwinter feast with some Christmas cookies, hot cocoa, and A Charlie Brown Christmas before bed.  Happy Winter Solstice to All and to All a Good Night!


Antique Sylvania Christmas Lights

Tonight, we brought all of the boxes from the attic for our annual tree decorating party, which, this year, included Roger, Nicole and two dogs and me.  The dogs were not a lot of help: Peso keeps drinking the tree water–so much so that his nose smells like pine.  It was up to the three of us to get the job done.

We listened to The Messiah and worked quietly, with minimal arguing about what does and does not go on the tree this year.

Tree lights 2What does NOT go on the tree, but remains in the bottom of my boxes, is a string of lights my dad put on our tree every year when we were kids.  When I dug out the box this year (as I do every year just to look at them), I saw that in 2001, I had gone online to find the origin of the string of lights and had printed out my results.

According to www.oldchristmastreelights.com, the string I have inherited is rare–1946.  “Sylvania first introduced their fluorescent Christmas lights. An unattractive milky white in the  box, they glow with wonderful pastel colors when power is applied. The sets were expensive, selling for $6.95 (around $50.00 today), and were not big sellers.”  They did glow pastel green, peach and pink.  We would wind them up the center of the tree  along the main trunk because the bulbs are about as large as tangerines.  They gave the tree a beautiful interior glow.Tree lights 3

I saw that two strings of lights were auctioned on ebay as recently as last month.  I photos I am posting are from the ebay auctions.  They look exactly like mine.  The winning bid was around $50.00, so, according to the estimates, the string of lights has not increased in value at all.  For me, it is priceless anyway.

I stopped using the lights in the early 1980’s because I was afraid of setting the tree on fire (even though there is no exposed wiring) and two of the bulbs had burned out. I didn’t have the internet back them to advise me where to buy replacements.

Although our tree tonight is breathtaking, I miss the special glow from the inside.  If you have old strings of lights, and you are curious, the oldchristmastreelights.com website  is very informative

Podcast #45- 21 Days to Go!

potteryPodcast #45- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- Starry Night!

For this week’s podcast we decided to change things up a little.  After work today we made out way to our local create your own pottery shop- I Made This!  Located in downtown Frederick it gave us a relaxing start to our adventure.  Listen in as we discuss our clay creations before heading in to see our planetarium show, The Mystery of the Christmas Star.  After the show we finish our recording on the way to a holiday concert.  Hear the details of the show and of Natalie’s celestial nap!

This is #45, not #46 as we state when we are recording.  We’re just too excited!

White House Tree(s) 2012

Christmas officially arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue yesterday.  The Obamas kicked-off the holiday season with the grand premiere of the 2012 White House Christmas decorations.  Keeping with tradition, Mrs. Obama selected a theme for all the decorations.  The 2012 theme is “Joy to All”.  This includes the Joy of giving and service to others, the Joy of sharing our blessings, and the Joy of welcoming our friends and family.  We covered much of the history of White House Christmas in previous posts (February 15th blog, search White House).

This year there are 4 tress in the Grand Foyer.  These are all decorated with ornaments representing the last 50 years of First Ladies.  In total there are 54 trees in the White House for 2012.  There are also tributes to our armed forces.  The East Landing has wreaths with red, white, and blue yarn and trees with patriotic ornaments.  The “official” White House tree is located in the Blue Room.  This year it is an 18’6″ Fraser Fir from Jefferson, NC.  The tree is decorated with ornaments decorated by military children living on military bases all over the world.  The tree is beautiful and if you have a chance to visit the White House during the holiday season you will certainly love it.

To find out more check out the White House Holiday webpage.  The page has information on this year’s decorations and the history of decorations.  There is much more too.  There is a nice video of Bo, the dog. You can download an beautiful illustrated tour book.  There are details on the 2012 Christmas book marks.  The White House chefs have this year’s cookie recipe for Ginger Crinkles.  In honor of our troops you can fill out an Honor Card with a pledge to serve your community.  There’s even a guide on how to build your own Christmas snow globe.

Some brief updates on some other DC trees:
The Capitol Tree will be lit in a ceremony on December 4th at 5:00 PM. 
The National Christmas Tree will be lit in a ceremony on December 6th at 4:30 PM.  The nationally televised event features host Neil Patrick Harris and a collection of music acts including James Taylor and Jason Mraz.  


Podcast #43- 34 Days to Go!

Podcast #43- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- Tree Time!!

“A Christmas Greeting”

It’s finally here!  The 2012 Festival of Trees sponsored by the Kennedy Krieger Institute.  We have been talking, planning, and preparing for the festival for months.  Back in the summer when we created our Christmas bucket lists we added sponsoring a tree for the festival.  That dream has now come true. Today’s podcast was recorded yesterday at the Cow Palace on the Maryland State Fairgrounds.  After seven hours of tree decorating we discussed the festival, the trees and people we saw, and the whole experience.  Listen to hear about zombie trees, alcohol trees, Noah’s tree, a strawberry tree, and more.  We’ll be writing all this week about the Festival and our experiences.  Check-out the Yule Log’s facebook page to see lots of pictures from our day of decorating.

“I Spy Christmas”

Be sure to make your weekend plans to include the 2012 Festival of Trees.  Our 4-foot entry is titled “A Christmas Greeting” and is decorated with all hand-made ornaments constructed out of old Christmas cards.  Our 7-foot entry is titled “I Spy Christmas” and is a puzzle tree with hidden ornaments you can find by following the clues.  You can also see hundreds of other decorated trees, wreaths, gingerbread houses, and more decorations.  There are crafts, music, a carousel, pony rides, and trains.  Santa will be there and so should you.  Order you tickets in advance and save- go to festivaloftrees.kennedykrieger.org.

Hallmark Countdown to Christmas and more unusual ornaments

In our urgent efforts to prepare for Hurricane Sandy, Roger and I went to the grocery store to buy flour (for waffles), bacon, and ice cream.  As we were bustling down my the aisle with Thanksgiving and Christmas cards, I spied a Disney Countdown to Christmas ornament.  As Jeremy and I have spent an entire year counting down, this looked like a great stocking stuffer–although it would be more suitable for Thanksgiving party favors.

Another item on the rack above the Christmas cards was a Christmas Merry-Okee.  This is a microphone with six pre-recored holiday songs and a songbook with original and silly lyrics.  Children (and goofy adults) can sing into the microphone, and the sound is transformed to sound like an elf.  I think that my grandson would LOVE this toy–and it seems like it would be an excellent children’s party toy.

A third item, is a Grab-N-Gabs Elf.  In this case, it’s like the old Mad Libs.  The child (or adult) records answers the elf’s questions.  Then the elf tells a story, inserting the funny answers.  I liked Mad Libs as an elementary school student, so I can see this appealing to the elementary set; however, I saw a YouTube video where the young person was playing with the Grab-N-Gabs, but the humor came using inappropriate words. That’s always a side effect Mad Libs.

My least favorite of Hallmark’s offerings is the Jolly in the John Snowman (on the heels of the Jokin’ in the John Ghost).  In this case, when the Snowman senses motion, he speaks one of four phrases.  I feel that there are plenty of items for the bathroom that are seasonally appropriate–star-shaped soap, pine scented candles, snowman and Christmas tree-ceramic soap trays, patterned towels and more.  I might even give in to holiday printed toilet paper.  I don’t need a talking snowman, though, to interrupt my privacy.

Podcast #37- 90 Days to Go!

Podcast #37- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- crazy for tree toppers!

We are really getting close!  90 days to go and only 13 more podcasts?  There is still so much to do and discuss.  This week we get distracted by the bounty of options for tree topping and a little bewildered about or tree designing.  Listen to this week’s recording to hear all our lament about the coming decorating adventure.  Who will we bring and how will we do it?  You can be sure we’ll let you know all about it.  Join us on Election Day for our practice decorating of our trees.