Podcast #66- One Day to Go!

Vatican Nativity

Podcast #66- One Day to Go!

Click here to listen to our latest podcast- Christmas Eve 2014!

We close out our Countdown to Christmas 2014 with our last podcast of the year. Natalie and Jeremy recap the year in review. Listen in for discussion on the Festival of Trees, big life events, special Christmas happenings, and more. We also touch on the message given this year from Cardinal Wuerl of the Washington archdiocese. Merry Christmas to all of you and may the blessings of the season be with you throughout the year!

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! 

Podcast #64- 104 Days to Go!

Beach-Shell-Christmas-TreePodcast #64- 104 Days to Go!
Click here to listen to the newest podcast- Time to Start Again!

Natalie and Jeremy are getting back to work.  After a long nearly 6 month break, it is time to refocus our Christmas spirit. We are excited to get back to sharing all the joys of the season. Today we took to the mobile studio and recorded while on the go (forgive the poor recording quality- a little studio trouble). We discuss our lack of Christmas in recent months and our renewed energy for the Christmas spirit. We talk about elves and trees and make the announcements about our tree themes for the 2014 Kennedy Krieger Festival of Trees. Give it a listen and let us know what you think about our tree ideas. Looking forward to getting back to our 2014 structure of KNOW, PLAN, and DO in the coming week.  Merry Christmas everyone!!

We “scream” for Christmas

The Capitol Christmas tree was lighted this evening.  I wasn’t there, but the video of this evening’s ceremony was posted on Reuters.  Multi-colored lights?  I don’t know how I feel about that.  The tree is beautiful, though.  I hope Roger and I have an opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. this Christmas season.  There are so many tree traditions in our nation’s capital!  New York City, make room.

Scream ornament

On the radio this morning, I heard about a tree that I MUST see this season.  A lesser-known Christmas tree that was lighted today is the Union Station Christmas tree, an annual gift from  the Norwegian Embassy to all Americans.  This tradition, started 16 years ago, usually features a tree decorated with Norwegian ornaments, flags, and other items of national significance.  This year, the tree is decorated with 700 reflective ornaments of Edvard Munch’s famous painting, The Scream.  I’ve included a link here to The Washington Post article.

Multi-colored lights?  Symbols of modern suffering?  What is Christmas coming to?

Podcast #56- 109 Days to Go!

christmas_RETURNSPodcast #56- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- We’re Back (again)!

We’re back was what we said on our last podcast way back in June.  We took a long summer hiatus from our Christmas sharing, but don’t think we haven’t been busy with Christmas planning, thinking, and prepping.  THis week we get back in the swing of things and discuss the “fall” approach to the Christmas holiday. With just over 100 days remaining there is MUCH to share with everyone.  Don’t miss the announcement about our plans for this year’s Festival of Trees!

We share what we think you should KNOW about prepping and planning ahead for all your scheduled holiday events and happenings.  We discuss how best to PLAN for that Christmas budget and ways to continue to get some great finds for the holidays.  We encourage everyone with a plan for what to DO to take advantage of discounted school supplies and materials now to be ready for CHristmas.  Enjoy the discussion and apologies for the sound quality.  Turns out having all the studio windows open didn’t work so well.  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!


My disorganized Christmas observations: the “big day” is less than a week away

tumblr_mdyht3O72N1rzx3umo1_500Tonight, I am going to write about the “other Christmas,” the one that doesn’t go the way we wish. The one where the present isn’t exactly right.  The one where your Christmas tree falls down–not once–but THREE times.

I was returning some Christmas ornaments at Wal-Mart yesterday, and the cashier next to me generated a receipt that literally fell to the floor and curled up in circles.  Seems the customer was purchasing 100 Wal-Mart gift cards.  I’m sorry to report that I did not ask what he was going to do with those gift cards. I am figuring it was a charitable venture.  While his gift cards may be going to a good cause, many of us will receive gift cards that remain unspent.  In fact, Business News Daily reports that $1.7 billion in gift cards will not be redeemed.  The good news is that when we do redeem the gift cards, we spend an average of $25 more to than the face value.  That’s a plus for the businesses.

I buy gift cards all the time, and I especially like the huge variety of cards available, but I admit to having a special gift card pouch where I keep the ones Roger and I have not used, and that’s a lot.

Unrelated to gift cards, here’s another link I stumbled across.  Curious about the British royals and how they will spend Christmas?  So am I!  The official news reports lunches and dinners in a steady stream of celebration, punctuated by observations about Kate’s daily maternal well-being.  The unofficial version is in Alison Jackson’s photo shoot for People Magazine.  Will and Kate look-alikes pose in a number of irreverent photos of the imagined Will and Kate Christmas.  Check it out!

Jeremy has been seriously counting down his top 10 Christmas secrets, and they’re something I look forward to each month. This list is 19 lessons we could learn from our favorite Christmas movies.  Loved Lesson #1:  Think about the size of the Christmas tree you’re going to get because you’re the one who has to bring it home.  The movie clip shows Hagrid dragging the Hogwarts tree in the snow.  The rest are cute and clever. I don’t think Jeremy’s tree woes are due to the size of his tree, though.

Last random thought?  If your Christmas tree does fall down several times, you need a new tree stand.  Roger and I have a Davis tree stand that looks a little like something from a ’60’s sci fi movie, but it is amazingly sturdy.  This link demonstrates how it works.  Despite phone calls all over the Baltimore area, I was unable to find one to gift to Jeremy.  Does anyone know where we can buy this?

Back to my holiday meltdown. . .

Podcast #47- 8 Days to Go!

Christmas Road SignPodcast #47- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- No Time Left!

With only one podcast left in the Yule Log year, it shouldn’t surprise you that we had WAY too much to talk about.  We dish on the happenings of the week.  There’s a fallen Christmas tree, broken tree bucket, Christmas cards, and more.  We talk about the odd feeling we both share as the big day approaches.  We wrap-up with some talk about what’s next.  Where does the Yule Log go from here?  What should next year be all about?  We must have a plan before Christmas Eve!  Any and all suggestions will be accepted and considered.  I wonder if there’s a way we can get paid to do Christmas all year round??

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

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.