Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meet Alyssum

Alyssum (a-lis-sum) is my new Christmas dollie. Why the name Alyssum? Well first, she is tiny and delicate like alyssum flowers. Also, she is pure white with purple eyes, and alyssums occur in nature in white and purple. Seemed like a perfect name.

Alyssum Songbird is five years old and the youngest of the Songbird clan. Her big brother Pine and big sister Juniper keep an eye after her when she is in the woods. Alyssum is not like most little girls of five, because Alyssum is actually a wood fairy. She lives in the woods in Jasper Canada, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. She and her family live in a little den at the base of a big granite rock. Her house might look like yours or mine on the inside, it is quite cozy. But on the outside, it looks like just another rock.

Alyssum has pure white skin (a trend with this type of doll), purple eyes, and doesn't feel the cold or hot like most children. She does shiver a little when it is cold out. Because she lives in the woods, she is comfortable with the temperature of the mountains most of the time.

Wood fairies are very rarely seen by humans. They have an easy time hiding from human adults, because adults forget how to see. Human children, on the other hand, are harder to fool, and sometimes wood fairies are spotted by a child's eyes, but not very often.

Alyssum enjoyed sunny weather near her little home today, and took a walk in the woods to show you around.

"Today was quite sunny, which was very nice for a change. For weeks and weeks it has been snowy. I don't mind the snow much, but I do miss the blue sky."
"As I walk around the woods I look for animal tracks. I love bunnies the most."
"I also look for moss. I love moss because it is very soft. Even my bed is made of it!"
"Now I am home. This might not look like a good home, but past that little crack in the rock is a very wonderful home with big rooms and cozy rugs, and even our pet squirrel Acorn (we call him Corny for short)! Goodbye."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Day - perfect again.

E and I spent a busy Christmas day house hopping. E and I found this very sad the first year after my parents split up, but now it is the norm. At 6:50 am E's alarm went off. I knew it was going to go off soon, because I had been awake for awhile, excited to open presents. E hopped in the shower while I took some photos of our presents and tree. Then it was time to open! On Christmas Eve, right before we left the house, we realized that we had received a huge package! And we didn't know who it was from. The first thing E and I decided to open on Christmas morning was the enormous box, it was a solid cherry patio bar cart! Wow! We looked at each other perplexed, and realized finally (after digging out the shipping tag) that this was from Ben and Jo! And we only got them something small... darn them. They are too nice. E and I were jumping for joy, because we've wanted a bar cart for a long time, and this one is stunning!

Next, I pulled out my presents for E and told him to start to open! He did the same for me. E gave me a beautiful doll I've been wanting for over a year. Her name is Alyssum (a-lis-sum) and she is a ball jointed doll, so she can move like a real child. She is from Korea and is just stunning. Everything about her is customizable from her wig to her eyes to her clothes. I am planning an entire story and world for her, but I do know that she lives in the woods, and in the winter has a full head of white hair! I gave E some special gifts for the house which he loved.

Alyssum is a little woods fairy that lives in the snowy north.

By 7:50 we were packed in the car with the presents we were giving and a huge dish of Christmas hash brown casserole. We drove up to E's family's house and unloaded gift after gift. E’s family was still a little groggy, but were soon ready for gifts. I popped the casserole in the oven and soon we were ripping paper. E’s family went all out this year (they always do) and got us some of the most wonderful items. I got quite a few doll dresses I’d asked for, some clothes, socks, an eBay gift certificate (thanks David!) and a purple iPod Nano! I couldn’t believe that I got the Nano, I totally wasn’t expecting it, and was really surprised to have received it. After most of the present unwrapping was done we descended on the casserole. E’s family had never had my family’s traditional Christmas casserole, but I think they liked it, since the dish was scraped clean and there was nothing left on anyone’s plate.

E got the lens he was hoping for. Yes we had to pay half, but he says it is worth it!
I am always thrilled to get doll items.
Connie was happy about her gifts.
And Chelsea was happy too.
Note: The men of E's family were not easy to photograph. They were there, but not willing to have a good photograph taken.

Soon it was time to pack up and go to the next house in the circuit, my Dad’s. My siblings were already at my dad’s, and when we arrived more present opening began! My dad gave E and I the most thoughtful wonderful gifts. We got a year gift certificate to Red Butte Gardens, one of my favorite places in the entire world! We also got a really nice universal remote and some clothes. I exchanged presents with my siblings, and was happy to see each of my sibs thrilled with what they received.
We left tired and ready for a nap. E and I talked about heading home for a rest, but we had promised E’s family that we would return. So back to E’s house we went. When we arrived everyone was curled up in the living room sleeping. E and I found a little spot too, and took a nice Christmas nap. Once I woke up, we did some doll presents (yes, Connie and Chelsea’s dolls give my dolls presents, and visa versa!), ate a little lunch and relaxed more.

By 4:00 it was time for us to pack up yet again and head to my mom’s house. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I walked into her house. Dozens of presents lined the walls and were stacked everywhere. We organized all the gifts and started opening again. I could tell my “tearing paper hands” were really well seasoned by now. My mom and Chuck got me really nice sewing scissors, clothes, toys, candies, scarves and a cooking class for E and I in January. In return, we gave Chuck and my mom the same cooking class! It is going to be really fun to go together in a month and learn some more Italian cooking tricks. My Grandma was also there, and she gave us a stay on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in July! She really thought about this gift, and knew we would like it because it was one of my Grandpa’s favorite places in the entire world. We are going to stay in a log cabin for two nights in mid July, I can’t wait.

Chandler was quite excited to get his first razor.
Dinner was a blast.
Soon the rest of the party arrived and we exchanged even more gifts! Plus, it was time to eat! My mom had made 60 stuffed shells the day before. We sat down to a huge dining table and enjoyed a fantastic dinner. Afterwards, for dessert we had peppermint ice cream pie. E felt like once slice wasn’t enough, and had two slices plus some leftover tiramisu from the night before.

At some point during dinner Brandon looked outside and realized it was snowing, and heavily! We enjoyed each others company for a bit longer and then all spread out among the cars to help scrape and clear off windshields and side mirrors. After too short of a stay, E and I made our slow and slippery way home. Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve - perfect

Christmas Eve was perfect this year. Christmas Eve has always been my favorite part about Christmas, the excitement of the day to come, being around friends and family, and eating literally the best meal of the year. The last two Christmas Eves have been less than perfect, two years ago my Grandpa was too sick to celebrate (he loved the festivities as much or more than I did), and then last year family was scattered.

This year, however, it was once again like a dream. We arrived at my aunt's and uncle's house at five, with the most delicious appetizers we've made all year. Of course this was to contribute to everyone else's most delicious appetizers. We eat better on this night than every other night combined. E's family arrived a little while later, along with Theo's family (my cousin's boyfriend's family). We ate, smiled and missed my grandpa way way too much. We also drank, also a little too much. As the appetizers dwindled, and everyone wished they saved more room for dinner, the most wonderful smells started coming from the kitchen. Laura had made a ham, a turkey, homemade rolls, three trays of twice baked potatoes, and two extremely huge pots of fantastic Indian food with the help from our family friend Yagnesh. Everyone seemed to find room, because everyone, including me, had two plates of dinner. And then after dinner, when everyone swore there was no more room for anything else my mom brought plates of tiramisu from the kitchen. We all said “just a little” and of course it was the most amazing tiramisu any of us had eaten, and ate every last bit. E, actually, had three helpings after his two helpings of dinner.

Also, we played the most spectacular game. Laura’s gift to the family was this game, where everyone got numbers. E drew #1, and I had #14. Number one picks a gift, and opens it. Then number two can either steal the gift, or open another one. If the gift was stolen, #1 gets to open another. Then number three can do the same, either open or steal. Pretty soon we realized what the gifts were, $20 to the most awesome restaurants in town! No gift was bad, each one seemed better than the last. Nobody was mad when a gift was stolen, because there was something seemingly better to receive. E (because he was first) got his gift stolen more than five times. I stole a gift when it was my turn, and we untimely ended up with two $20 gift certificates, one to Red Rock (best pub in town) and one to PF Chang’s. There were all gift cards to Red Iguana (most amazing Mexican), Squatters (another great pub), Desert Edge, and Sawadee (best Thai in town) and more. We were just a little sad that E’s family didn’t stick around for the game, since it was such fun!

I adore my family and had such a fantastic Christmas Eve.

I love this photo of my Grandma getting the last of the dinner prepped. Of course she was smiling, but she was moving so fast to get everything perfect, she is a blur.
Brandon is looking quite handsome. I guess that is why he gets all the ladies?
E has another drink (only water, this time).
My Mom and Chuck are so in love. This is a cute photo of them.
My sis is so cute.

Next post: Christmas Day!

Monday, December 22, 2008

December weekend 3

In addition to spending way way too much times with my dolls this weekend, E and I were quite busy. On Friday we had dinner plans with some friends, but because of the serious winter storm that hit, we decided to stay home instead.

Saturday was filled mostly with doll photo shots, but in exchange for Joe's awesome help on the Kit mystery shoot, E took some time and helped Joe out. His mom wanted a photo of Joe and Chelsea for Christmas, since the last one she has of him was when he was still in high school. E set up his professional light kit and such, and took some really great photos, edited in Photoshop and even printed the picture out here at home. Joe was thrilled, and it made for a busy day.

Then, as it started to get dark, E and I headed over to my Grandma's house for a tradition we haven't done in two years, The Luminary Walk. Everyone arrived at my Grandma's for cocktails and hot drinks. Hot wassail was simmering on the stove, and a full table of appetizers and tasty snacks waited for us in front of the fireplace.

After about an hour of talking, singing, laughing and eating we piled on all of our winter clothes and headed outside for the 3/4 mile walk. It was cold and dark, but everyone was having a wonderful time. Once we reached the cemetery we were struck again at how beautiful it was. One night a year, this cemetery lights thousands of candles in paper bags. The low hills covered in snow and puddles of light takes your breath away. Once back at the house we warmed up near the fire and served a hot dinner. Chili, more wassail, corn bread and hot coffee warmed us all up as we laughed, debated (the all encompassing cell phone debate!) and enjoyed. We even talked about my grandpa a little, and how much we miss him. It was a fantastic night.

And then Sunday was the first night of Hanukkah. E and I arrived early to my dad's house to help make up a huge huge batch of latkas. Latkas are fantastic, and super easy to make. Blended onion and potato pancakes deep fried are heaven on earth. Really, they are so good. I posted the recipe we use last year, but I'll link to it, in case you missed it. Soon, the rest of my siblings arrived. In addition to celebrating Hanukkah we celebrated my dad's 55th birthday. All in all, it was a very fun night.

E (the only gentile in the group) is a pro latka maker.
Kimmie (my dad's girlfriend), me, Brandon and E finish the latkas in the kitchen.
Happy Hanukkah. You light one candle each night, starting on the left, in addition to the middle candle. Don't ever blow them out, the are meant to burn down.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I am so happy! Kit's Christmas mystery is done

As always, E and I are in the middle of a very busy weekend. In addition to multiple family gatherings, I've been working and working on Kit's mysetry album, Mystery of Christmas Eve.

It is finally done after rearanging my living room twice, coming up from the basement about a hundred times, visiting the tree lot twice, get my "extras" in order, and changing those darn dolls what seems like a million times.

At long last, here it is! Kit and the Mystery of Christmas Eve.

And if you don't have time to look through the album, here are a few of my favorite photos-

My favorite part of this album are the outfits. The dress Kit is wearing (the blond doll) was custom made for me!
Why would the tree lot be closed right before Christmas?
Joe (Chelsea's boyfriend) is so funny. He was so excited to help me with this album. His face totally cracks me up.
And of course E is always wonderful and helped out. He is a recurring character and has appeared in three of the four Kit mystery albums!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The weather outside is frightful

But the fire is so delightful. And since we have no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

It is really really snowing out. Sometimes it is wonderful being jobless (most the time it is not), but today, I'm going to blog, shovel the walks and wrap Christmas presents. Oh man, I need a job!

Happy December!

Monday, December 15, 2008

December weekend 2

As promised, this weekend was just as busy (or more busy) than the first weekend in December.

On Friday night we joined E's family at Zoo Lights, an event put on my Hogle Zoo, where they light up the entire zoo is Christmas lights and let you enjoy the grounds. This is our second year going to Zoo Lights and it is quite fun because in addition to the awesome moving 3D lights all over the entire zoo, lots of the animals that are asleep during the day are awake at night. Plus, there is hot chocolate and deep fried Smores for those who are cold. We walked around the entire zoo and even got quite a show from a few awake animals. After the lights we headed to a favorite resturant, Red Butte, for dinner. Here we ordered soup, hot sandwiches, coffee, and the most amazing dessert.
On Saturday we had a special even planned. E's sister Chelsea celebrated her birthday a few weeks ago, and E and I gave her a "day in Snowbird" for her gift. Chelsea has never joined E and I at the Cliff Spa or the Aerie Lounge. At 2:00 Chelsea and her boyfriend Joe met us and we headed up the canyon. It was a beautiful day for the spa, but really really snowy. We arrived by three, and went right up to the Cliff Spa on the roof. There we relaxed, talked and watched snow falling and the clouds shift around the surrounding mountains. After time in both the hot tub and pool, we hit the solarium, steam room, and sauna. Then, of course, we went back upstairs to the hot tub to watch as the sky turned to dusk. Surrounding the pool and hot tub were big piles of snow, so in addition to throwing snowballs we placed the frigid handfuls on our backs, necks and heads while we sat in the steaming water.

Chelsea and Joe head upstairs to the roof top pool in their provided robes and slippers. Then, we headed downstairs, had a wonderful Mexican dinner and finished up the night at the Aerie Lounge where we all ordered hot drinks. I ordered a 50/50, which is half hot chocolate, half coffee with chocolate and coffee liquor. Yum.

And on Sunday the fun didn't stop. E and I hosted my family's' annual baking day that we have before Christmas. My aunt Laura, cousin Kendra, Mom, Chuck and Grandma all arrived with butter, eggs, flour and a favorite recipe. For two hours the kitchen was a well timed dance with trays going in and out of the oven and sugar and eggs being mixed. Once 5:00 rolled around we stared cocktail hour with appetizers and drinks, and finished off the night with a huge enchilada dinner. It is a wonder I can still walk today. We had a great time. (And of course, I'm munching on a cookie while I type this.)

In spirit, my Grandpa Joe was with us. He always loved baking day, and we used one of his hand written recipes to make the favorite cookie of all - ginger snaps. (The fact that there is a coffee stain on the recipe is so classic Grandpa).
I work on a new sugar cookie recipe.
Rollo and pretzel cookies are easy and very very tasty.
Here is our group with some of the cookies we made (yes, there were more!). Laura, Grandma, Mom, Kendra, me, Ethan, and Chuck.
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