Christmas Countdown

Christmas Memories in My Heart is a place for me to share all things related to Christmas, which is my favorite time of the year. I plan and prepare for the holidays all year, so that I can enjoy that busy time without having to stress about shopping and all the details of the season.

I am actually able to decorate and then enjoy the spirit of the holidays and celebrate Jesus' birth and the reason for the season.

You can find links to my three favorite holiday sites in my sidebar. They are Organized Christmas, Our Home for the Holidays, and Magical Holiday Home. All three of these special places are like my home away from home. I have cyber friends there who I feel a great bond with and we share a common love of Christmas. We understand each other and support each other in our quest to have magical, wonderful holidays.

Please come back to visit often.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Giveaways Should Be Arriving

Life got in the way and I was running so behind getting all these in the mail, but they are all one the way. I have 10 packages from the giveaways between the two blogs and one that I sponsored on Magical Holiday Home forum.

The challenge was finding boxes for some of them! In one case, I opened the container and flattened it out and added the items to a small flat rate box. It was plenty big to hold things, but in the original container of the table items, they were stacked and made for a deeper and smaller shape. I did include the original plastic box container. I hope you don't mind dear friend. I think that this was Country Wings gift.

I also left all the small cards at home when I went to the postal center on Friday with these, so they only have the return address! I did put printersdevil above my name and address for those of you who will remember that instead of my given name-Felecia.

Sorry for the delay. I hope that you each enjoy your items.
My dear sister was with me for almost a week at the end of July-first of August just prior to her move to Nebraska. During this time we also had her precious granddaughters and little grandson for a lot of the time. We had our CIJ family dinner on August 2. I found out that it is way too hot in Texas to cook like this during the heat of the summer! It was great though.

We had around 25 for Sunday dinner and about the same number again on Monday evening for left overs. Dear sis's "man" flew in on Tuesday afternoon so we had the crew again on Tuesday evening. We had planned to all go out to eat that night, but decided that it would be more relaxed to just eat here. We tried to go simple with hamburgers and hot dogs, chip and dip and cookies. However, after a trip to Sam's Club and Walmart, we ended up also picking up potato salads, baked beans and the chips and dips. We also had over 40 ears of Nebraska corn.

Dan called and we asked about the corn in his area and said that we loved corn on the cob. Then he called back that he was bringing corn! It wasn't really food that fit the menu, but it was so fresh! He bought it from a farmer who had picked it that morning!

He brought it in a carry-on collapsible ice chest. He had called to make sure it was okay. However, when he got to the airport it set off the alarms and had to be unloaded piece by piece to be checked. It must have been hilarious. He had one woman who told him that she was going to grab the bag and run! It was the first time for him to meet much of our family and I think he was an instant hit with the corn. Actually he is a keeper and would have been a hit anyway.
But, he sure found his way into this family's heart through the stomach and love of fresh veggies.

Tanya (DSis) and Dan left here on Wednesday almost two weeks ago after we loaded the huge U-Haul to the brim. There wasn't room for much more than a small pillow!! Her SUV was also packed and on a trailer pulled behind as they headed north. My DH and I helped them load everything from her two storage sheds and came home and took a long nap. That afternoon, DD called on her way home to ask me to have the door open since it was storming. I got up and opened the door to find it almost dark and my huge oak trees bending over. DD got home and in about 15 minutes our electricity popped off. Just a few minutes later, my niece called and was hysterical. I thought she was saying that a train was in the middle of her house. We rushed out and headed over there. They do have a train track close by, but it runs the other direction, so I knew that wasn't what was wrong. She was frantic and crying about not finding the babies--her dogs. When we got there, we found a 65 foot tree of about 4 1/2 foot in diameter that had crashed through the side of their house and fell through the roof! My nephew was in the room that it came through and flattened. He had gotten up to go open the blinds when the electricity popped off and saw the tree coming down. He threw one of the little chiauhauas toward the door and tried to get out. He took a lot of impact from limbs and debris, but fortuanately got out enough not to be crushed by the tree. Fast forward a few hours and we had about 15 back here eating left-overs again since we got our power turned on first. They released him from the hospital thankfully with only bruises and sprains.

To say it has been a crazy few weeks is an UNDERSTATEMENT! They spent that night with us as it continued to rain and storm. Their insurance company put them in a hotel the next day but they joined us a couple of times to eat during the week at night and often during the day to get out. We had had their Mini Pin, two birds and fish until tonight. They finally got them into a rental house on Saturday, but they still don't have it furnished completely. I think everything else is to arrive in the morning. At this point, the decision has not been made on whether they are going to pull the house completely down or not. The contractor says that the weight bearing walls are ruined. The tree fell completely through into the laundry room and two huge limbs into the kitchen and living room by morning. It was and is horrendous.

So, needless to say, I haven't felt much like blogging. I also started back to work today. I only work part time and am off in the summer, but during the first few weeks of the school year I am there full time. So, this is my crunch time.

I have been popping in and out doing some reading, but I will be back!!!!! Thanks for the comments that have been left lately. See you soon!


Friday, August 7, 2009

Holiday Lovers Come Join Us

We're having a membership drive at one of my favorite holiday spots on the web---Our Home for the Holidays forum. If you love the holidays come and join the fun. There is something for everyone from shoppers, crafters, bargain hunters, cooks, swappers, and lots of other forums, too.

There is a wonderful group of members who share a love of Christmas and other holidays year round. If you aren't interested in all of this on a year round basis, come and join our seasonal members. Many return to active posting during the Christmas season.

We also have forums devoted to other holidays---Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentines, Easter, St. Patrick's Day. It truly is Our Home for the Holidays.

Please stop by for a visit. If you decide to join (free, of course), introduce yourself in the Welcome thread and mention that I sent you. The Admins are holding a giveaway for membership recruitment. I am a moderator on the board, but am eligible to enter with new members brought in to our board.

I hope to see you there soon.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Final CIJ Giveaway Winner Is...


Send me your address by email to, so I can send you your gift. Since this week was a mystery Christmas gift, I will contact you by email when I hear from you and let you have a choice of items.


Thanks again for all the support this month. Today is the final day of July and although I have had a great time with CIJ, it has been a month of sadness and numerous losses for our family. We had another one this week. I may just skip July next year!

I still have one large CIJ event on Sunday when I host my family for a full Christmas dinner.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

From My Heart to Your Blog

Wow, what a day of parties! I want to thank everyone who stopped by to visit me today and share in this great Christmas in July! Many of you stopped by as existing friends and followers, some came only for a chance to win a Christmas giveaway, others came through links to Maggi's CIJ party at Just Add Glitter and Stir or through a link from my Playing Dishes CIJ Tablescape Party or my Memes for Me blog, or just found this site by chance. No matter how or why you arrived, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Christmas is truly a magical time that I hold dear. However, July is a particularly difficult time in my life due to life's unexpected losses. Each year I struggle with the entire month of July, but this year, I shifted gears and extended my usual CIJ to include the entire month. Each of you has played a part in helping me through this time, even after my family experienced another two losses this month with the death of a wonderful uncle Leon, my husband's only brother, Larry, and our late son's beloved dog Blackjack.

My faith continues to guide me through these times.

I have enjoyed each and every comment you have left and have spent way too many hours reading and laughing at things on your blogs and countless wonderful hours working on my own CIJ parties, posts and giveaways.

Wow, I sound like it is all over---not so! There is still another full week of CIJ and I have a huge family holiday dinner next weekend. Family is so important, so it is really fitting that that will be the final event for this fun filled month.

Tonight, I just want to thank all of you for this wonderful weekend. My birthday was last week and I told my husband that all I wanted was some great holiday cheer and wow, did you all deliver!

I copied and pasted the names of all the participants in Maggi's party into the post below and the links worked! That way I will be able to go back and revisit and savor the wonderful things found there.

I will be visiting you often, please do the same. My Christmas Memories in My Heart blog will only have posts around Rudolph Day on the 25th of each month until the end of November, when I will be posting daily again. So check back around Rudy Day for a visit of holiday fun. Playing Dishes will continue to have posts related to dishes and my obsession with thrifting. My newest blog, Memes for Me will be devoted to the fun things in blog land. I will post things as they hit my fancy.

Until next time, I am roping all of you Christmas lovers into my Christmas Memories in My Heart.

I love things from the Southwest and the little musical cactus at the top is one of my favorite Christmas things. So, it is only fitting that he uses his lasso to pull us all together one last time.

Enjoy the cartoon video with Paul baby singing about a wonderful Christmas.

Merry Christmas in July,

Please excuse me for posting this on both of my CIJ intensive blogs. I am way too tired to write another post to thank you all.

I have an out off town on Sunday for a meeting and will post the giveaway for Playing Dishes on Monday. I want to make sure that everyone has time to visit and I have time to add all the new names!

Participants in CIJ Blog Party at Katamommy's

I am crossing my fingers and hoping that this will work. I just went back to visit the party at Just Add Glitter and Stir and found a note from Katamommy that she would live the list of participants up through Sunday night. I hadn't thought about it going away. I want to savor all the info and be able to revisit each one so that I can add recipes and crafts to my notebook. I spent HOURS visiting today, but only brushed the surface of all the wonderful holiday cheer.

I had so much fun today and am totally exhausted from all the partying. Thanks to Maggi~katamommy for organizing this fantastic Christmas in July party and another thanks to all the participants. I even read all the comments as I was leaving mine and they were great too.

Christmas in July Party List

A Bit O' Shine
Beacoup Joie de Vivre
Beauty Does Matter
Browne Eyed Belle
Chic Scraps
Chocolate and Marmalade Tea
Christmas Memories In My Heart
Christmas Traditions
Christmas Tree Lane
Cpaphil Vintage Postcards
Crafting With Cat Hair
Do More With Less
DustJacket Attic
Finding A Voice
For The Modern Pin-up Girl
Forever Jann
Four Seasons Farm
French Charming
Frugal Fine Living
Gabrielle's Blog
Her Hillbilly Highness
HiHo Heidi's Diary
I'd Rather Be Scrapbooking
Junque Couture
Legally Blonde's Proceedings
Lemondrop Vintage
Let's Embellish
Let Them Eat Cupcakes
My Big Mouth
My Enchanted Home
My Net Finds
Pepperberry and Co
Personalized Sketches and Sentiments
Playing Dishes
Pretty Pretty Piccies
Rainy Day Farm
Roo's Treehouse
Saturday's Child
Scrappy Arts N Thoughts
Scrapz N Stuff
Shabby Chicks
She's a Super Chick
Some Scrap Sugar
Stamping With Mo
Starshine Chic
That's Who I Am
The Glamorous Betty Crocker
The Johnson Diaries: Life on the Edge
The Stamping Banana
The Usual Suspects
The World Through My Eyes
Tinkering L8
Twas The Brillig

So, I am attempting to copy and paste this list into a post with the hopes that the links will work. Cross your fingers and hold your breath while I post then and then we will know...

Friday, July 24, 2009

CIJ Tea Party for One

I love a good party and Christmas parties are the best! In addition to my final CIJ Tablescape Party over on Playing Dishes, Maggi~katamommy over at Just Add Glitter and Stir is having a CIJ party all day Saturday, July 25. So click on the link and go on over and join the fun. She has Christmas music playing, has altered her blog title just for the occasion and has a great group of guests, who all have something special for Christmas on their blogs. So, settle back and enjoy this wonderful weekend of Christmas in July.

Don't forget to set your DVR to record QVC's Christmas in July 24 hour sale. (You can also log on to view at

Now for some fabulous Christmas tablescape fun!

As most of you know I have several blogs and am hosting a CIJ Tablescape Party each Saturday during July. This is the final week for this party. Since I posted about my new tea set on this blog, I decided to do a quick tea party for one to link to my Playing Dishes blog party. Hey, it is blog land, so I can attend my own party as a guest! Click here to visit the CIJ Tablescape Party Week 4. You will be able to see my table for this week and find links to all the other participants. Be sure to leave us comments because we love them.

I love the song, On the First Day of Christmas and when I found this cute little partridge in a pear tree a couple of years ago, I was estactic. I found it at Goodwill, still in the form cut stryofoam container. It has an ornament representing each of the 12 days in the song.

This little tree has been displayed during the holidays since that time. I have had so many people comment on it and ask where to buy one like it. It seems to be rather unusual.

I read on one of my Christmas message boards that HSN was hosting an early Christmas in July on the 15th, so I logged on to see what they had since we don't receive that network on my cable. I found the cutest little teapot for one called The First Day of Christmas and just had to order it.

Isn't it adorable?

Although the first day of Christmas isn't until Dec. 26, I plan to use this little teapot on Black Friday, which to me opens the holiday season. I think I might also use it on each Rudolph Day on the 25th from now until then also. Now that I have my little partridge in the pear tree out of the storage shed, it will also probably be used on each of these special days to help me feel the upcoming holidays.

Doesn't it just make you feel all warm and Christmasy?

If you have time to stay awhile, we can enjoy a cup of tea and I will let you use my new little treasure.

The drawing for the Christmas tablecloth giveaway to mark the end of this blog party will be held on Sunday.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Week 4 Giveaway Winner Is...

First let me apologize for not being around much during the last week. Life has a way of getting in the way of blogging. I have been here reading everyone's comments and checking out all the other blogs on my Christmas blog list. I have picked up some great ideas this week.

I had a birthday yesterday and was busy with family things. I also went into the office a couple of days to get some things done and I don't usually work during the summer. So, please forgive me for neglecting you, my dear friends.

I went back to pull the photo of this week's giveaway and couldn't find it! Then I realized that I had done the post and left it in draft status all week! Someone should have given me a hollar about it.

Anyway, here is this week's giveaway prize. It is a cute snowman tin that is multiple layers. It looks like three levels, but I think it is only two. It would be great to pack with candy or cookies for a gift or just for decor.

The winner of this is Anita at They Call Me Jammi! I just left you a comment on your blog. Congratulations! Send me your address by email. I will be mailing all CIJ giveaways next week. I have so many and they are all packaged ready to go, just waiting until payday!!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

12 Ways to Remember the True Meaning of Christmas

My friend Pixiestick at Magical Holiday Home posted this list that she found on a Christmas international Yahoo site. The poster there did not credit the source, but it seems to be from Reader's Digest due to the many mentions of that magazine. It is a great list and gives us some wonderful ideas for the coming holidays.

I just did a web search and this list did indeed come from Reader's Digest.

I wanted to share with my blogland friends.

12 Ways to Remember the True Meaning of Christmas

Amid the bustle and the buying, the eats and the treats, take time to rekindle the real spirit of the season.

1. Keep a candle burning.
The constantly burning flame, holding back the darkness, is a potent symbol of life in the heart of winter. On the first Sunday of Advent, some Christians carry home a taper, lit from their church's Advent candle, and keep it burning until Christmas day using a series of candles. Keep your Christmas flame on the table during family meals. You might also like to follow the tradition of lighting three more candles -- one for each week of Advent.

2. Support a worthy cause.
Make a donation in someone's name to an organization you know they'd like to support, such as the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation or the Christian Children's Fund. Check out the Internet Nonprofit Center Library at http://www.nonprofits. org for a list of the top charitable organizations in the U.S.

3. Write a letter to your past.
Is there someone you wish you'd thanked for a kindness you've remembered all your life? An old friend with whom you've quarreled and would like to be reconciled? Someone you've never been able to tell "I love you"? Now is the ideal time to grab pen and paper and write a note to tell them so.

4. Give a gift that's really needed.
Often we buy people presents just for the sake of buying them something. But there are many things the people on your list would love that aren't store-bought. That's why Jan Gonder, a Reader's Digest reader from Los Angeles, came up with the idea of giving coupons redeemable for some of her time and talents. Last year, she gave coupons for teaching calligraphy and needlepoint, even tutoring for the SAT exams. The idea is to match the service with the person's need. As Gonder explains, "Children might appreciate coupons relieving them of chores, teens with driver's licenses a chance at
the family car, or new brides a promise to help write thank-you notes."

5. Plant a real Christmas tree.
A lovely way to remember this Christmas, this could also make a great last-minute gift for a nature-loving friend. For just $10 and a phone call (or the click of a mouse), you can help American Forests, the nation's oldest nonprofit citizen conservation organization, plant ten trees in a threatened forest ecosystem. Their Global ReLeaf program plants trees across the United States in areas that have been damaged or destroyed by natural (or human-made) disasters. The
program has planted over 13 million trees since 1990 in 45 states, with a goal of planting 20 million trees by the end of the year 2000. If you plant ten or more trees, American Forests will send a personalized certificate to you or the person of your choice. Call American Forests at 800-873-5323, or visit its Website at http://www.americanforest. org.

6. Create a new family holiday.
If it's tradition to spend Christmas Eve with all your husband's relatives and Christmas Day with yours, you may feel you miss out celebrating the holiday at your house with just your immediate family. Lynne Blalock, from Memphis, reports that she and her children never seemed to have any private time to enjoy Christmas together. So she took matters into her own hands and invented a new family holiday. "We created Christmas Adam on December 23rd -- because Adam came before Eve," says Blalock. That's the day when they open presents and have a special meal just for the immediate family.
And though Blalock says her life is less hectic now, "Christmas Adam is still a tradition."

7. Create a Christmas gift book.
This idea comes from Elizabeth Berg, the author of Family Traditions: Celebrations for Holidays and Everyday (Reader's Digest). Buy a beautiful blank journal to record the gifts you and your family receive as well as those you give. This book will come in handy when it's time to write thank-you notes, and in subsequent years, it will help you avoid giving the same gift to a friend or family member twice. It also serves as a lovely record of the thoughtfulness of others -- and yourself.

8. Trim the tree stress-free.
Another great idea from Berg: Give each family member his own part of the tree to decorate. "Using beautiful red ribbon, divide the tree into sections so that everyone gets his own place to work," she suggests. "This will eliminate the familiar 'Hey! I was going to put something there! That was my spot! I quit!'"

9. Eat by tree light.
After the tree is decorated, have a meal around it. Turn off all the lights except for those on the tree, and admire its beauty. This is an especially good idea after a stressful afternoon spent Christmas shopping at the mall. That's one reason why Carolyn A. Clarke, a Reader's Digest reader and mother from Manassas, Va., has made eating around the tree a family tradition. "Young kids enjoy tree lights," she says, "and they seem to have a calming effect on them."

10. Keep Christmas Eve simple.
Instead of slaving to prepare a fantastic spread on Christmas Eve as well as Christmas Day, suggest a simple meal, such as pizza, or let guests make their own sandwiches from a selection of fillings. That way, you'll have more time to relax and enjoy each other's company -- which is what Christmas is all about.

11. Set an extra place at Christmas dinner.
Each year, there are many people without families who spend the holiday alone. If you know someone like that, ask him to join you at your table. Cooking for an extra person won't take much more effort, but it will make all the difference to him.

12. Go to church.
Whatever your religious practice throughout the year, Christmas is a time to wake up our spiritual selves. Many find that the familiar carols and readings stir an understanding of God that proves elusive at other times of the year. This Christmas, remember the real reason for the festival -- the birth of Jesus Christ.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Christmas Teapots

I logged onto HSN on Wednesday when they were having their Christmas in July sale and bought the cutest little teapot and cup for one. It says On the First Day of Christmas!|best_sellers

I will gladly use this on what I refer to as the first official day of Christmas---Black Friday or the day after Thanksgiving. This will be a new tradition for me. Then I will enjoy my little special pot of tea again on the real First Day of Christmas, which is Dec. 26. It will be even more special to start this tradition on that day of reflection of the holiday season and the countdown of the 12 days to the epiphany.|best_sellers

This adorable teapot was only $8! It should be arriving any day. I wish I would have bought a couple more for gifts.

Tonight, I checked back on HSN to see if they had any left. (they do!!!!!)

I found this other teapot that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.

It is perfect for Rudy Day as it is bright red and features Rudolph!!!!|best_sellers

They also have a matching cake platter, complete tea set for 8 and some dessert plates in the Rudolph pattern. I think they are overpriced, though. I am thinking about treating myself to a teapot though!

It's beginning to look like Christmas...

I can't wait to watch QVC's Christmas in July show this weekend. I usually don't buy anything, but you never know and it is so wonderful to watch all the holiday things on television.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Week 3 Giveaway WInner Is...

Winner of the following advent calendar for the week 3 giveaway is Leann of The Old Parsonage. Congratulations, Leann!!! Below is the calendar that you won.


Email me your address to and I will get this on its way to you.


The Week 4 giveaway will be posted tomorrow. Be sure to check back and comment to get additional entries in the drawings.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'm Dreaming of Paul

Paul McCartney is coming to Dallas in August. I have always been in love with Paul, since the Beatles first arrived in the U.S.

The Dallas stop on his tour is his only Texas stop this time. I have to admit that my heart did a flip flop when I heard the advertisement over the weekend. I have always wanted to see him.

But, faced with the possibility of going to the concert, I surprised myself and decided that I might be disappointed in the concert and would much rather continue living with the fantasy of seeing the great Paul. Sometimes that is better than real life.

I hope you enjoy this utube video of music from the Beatles.

Monday, July 13, 2009

No Santa Claus?

If you read my post yesterday, you know it started with the story of when it was first suggested to me that Santa Claus does not exist.

In the words of Francis Church, author of the famous editorial Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, that was printed for the first time in the New York Sun in 1897:

"No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

Church's wisdom in his response is just as relevant today as it was when written.

Today, I am sharing a link to the Newseum in New York City and that wonderful editorial. As a journalism teacher, I always used this editorial right before Christmas as an activity for my high school students. It often was a part of my student's semester exam. I had them read the article and then write a modern day response. Their responses were always inspiring.

Many years ago, there was a made for television version of a movie surrounding this story. It was a wonderful holiday movie, although it took liberties with the original story. I taped the movie and showed it for several years to my journalism classes. Long gone is that old VHS taped from television movie. I have tried to find a copy of it, to no avail. It is a movie worth a remake.

Here is a link to the Newseum and Church's editorial. Also, if you are not familiar with the Newseum, take some time to explore. It is a fun place to visit.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Christmas memories and reflections

Do you remember when you were told that there wasn't a Santa Claus?

This day is as vivid to me as the day that President Kennedy was assassinated or the day that Elvis died. I can see that day and hear my mother's words clearly in my mind.

Although I don't remember my age, I still remember the numb feeling that I experienced. I was upset and wanting to go somewhere (again the details escape me) with my older sister. I think that I was probably being a little brat about it and throwing a temper tantrum. I just remember, my mother going into my sister's room and opening the closet. I had followed her in there and she reached up on the top shelf and pulled down a box that contained a beautiful doll. She told me that it was supposed to be my Christmas gift from Santa, but that I could play with it that afternoon!

I have no idea what was happening or why my mother gave in to me. It was not like her to do something like this. So, I sort of think that there was something happening that made her respond to me in this way. I really was not accustomed to getting my way after a fit. I just remember standing there holding the doll and thinking, "This can't be right. There is a Santa Claus."

In some strange way, I think that this event helped shape me into the person that I am today. I was greatly disappointed in being told that Santa didn't exist, but I believe that it made me into a much better mom and truly cemented my love in the magic of Christmas and believing in Santa to this day.

We used to always open our Christmas packages on Christmas Eve and have something special on Christmas morning when I was little. I was the youngest child of three and there were 7 1/2 and 10 years difference in my older sister and brother and me. So, I was like another family age wise to my parents. I always wondered if I was an accident. Then, my older brother was killed and his two young children were adopted by my mom and dad. They were 8 and 10 years younger than me! So there was a third age group for them to cope with.

My mother was always fragile in many ways. She was hard to understand and as they years went on, she didn't cope very well with the murder of my older brother. Although they took the two little ones in and they were raised as my brother and sister, I know that it was hard on mom and dad.

I know that I have always had a very different view of life in our home than my younger sister or that of my older sister. It was as if I lived in a different house if you compare our memories. I don't know why. I think that my older sister got more caught up in the shadow of my brother's death and the two little ones were so much a part of him that brought joy and sorrow at the same time.

I have always been a person who tried to make the most out of what I had and usually view the glass as half full instead of half empty. That has not been the case of the rest of my family. I guess I learned to make lemonade at an early age. That, and I learned to enjoy books and learning. I spent hours reading and visiting the library from an early age. It was often a way of escape, but I learned so much about life and the world that we live in from my reading. Again, this all shaped me into the person that I am.

Back to the Santa story.

As I look back over my life, I realize that this one of the pivot points in my life. Of course I didn't realize it at the time.

Mr. Printersdevil and I were married for over seven years before we had children. We were working and I was finishing school, which took a long time going part-time. During those early years we established out holiday traditions. We always shared the magic of the holidays. We never opened packages until early Christmas morning, and were always surprised and delighted by what we received. One year, I woke up to find a set of Saladmaster cookware spread out all around our living room. I had wanted a set for a long time and "Santa" brought me one.

When I found out that I was expecting Mickey, it was just several days before Christmas. We were so excited. I bought a cheap little baby doll and wrapped it in a package and we gave it to our parents on Christmas Eve. The rest of our families still opened presents on Christmas Eve, but we always waited to Christmas morning. He was truly a touch of magic to us and it was so appropriate to announce this arrival at this time of year.

He was born very premature in late July and was born with major health problems. We spent all but about five weeks of his first seven months in the hospital having numerous surgeries. We were able to bring him home for those few weeks when he was about 3 months old and then returned for more surgery. His first Christmas was spent at Children's Medical Center in the ICU. All the first year photos with Santa are of an intern dressed as Santa. Again, this experience made me more committed to having wonderful, magical Christmases.

Jim and I ate our Christmas dinner that year in the hospital cafeteria and spent the day in the ICU. But, the good Lord, pulled our Mickey through and gave him to us for 23, almost 24 years.

You might wonder why this rambling about this in July. Well, you see, we lost our Mickey on July 6, 2003. His birthday was in July on the ninteenth and what would have been his 30th birthday will be this weekend. My birthday is the 22nd and this has become the hardest time of the year for me. We loved going to the beach and traditionally spent several weeks there each year around this time. We had just returned from the beach that summer. Summers were special, just like Christmas was.

So, if you wonder about my Christmas in July frenzy, just know that it is a coping mechanism, and also a way to honor the memory of my son, who loved the holidays as much as I do. It is difficult to cope with this month due to his death and both of our birthdays, but it is also now a time for me to reflect on what we loved and to share the memories.

Our family of four was so close. We enjoyed doing things together. We camped. We vacationed. We went to the golf course together. We vacationed together. We often just watched television together. We also shared the love of the holidays together.

I've talked about Mick in this post, but most of you know that we also have a beautiful daughter, Tracie. She has been a rock of support during these past six years. She is so much more than a daughter to me. She is a best friend.

I truly believe that Tracie will always find a way to be at our home on Christmas mornings. Although she is 27, she still wakes us early on Christmas morning full of glee and promise and runs to the tree for us to share this special morning. We still enjoy the magic of the day and share our love with each other. When the kids were little, it was not unusual for them to wake us around 5 a.m. on Christmas morning.

Tracie and I enjoy baking and making candy and cookies for the holidays together. Although she is not much of cook, she helps cook the large Christmas dinner that we host for our extended family. In recent years, we have each shared an Advent Calendar that includes small holiday stories, jokes, quotes, etc. and a small daily gift during advent. This new tradition was started through an advent swap on the old Organized Christmas site. It has become a wonderful tradition for us as a family. These small items and our Christmas stockings are my favorite part of the holiday season.

This past week, we buried my DH's only living brother. This was during what I call THAT week. So, much sorrow for one week. However, I have comfort in knowing that Mickey has another loving family member with him in heaven. I also rest assured that we will all be together one day again.

In the meantime, I honor Mickey's memory with continuing to do the things that he loved. I also am blessed to have so many fond memories of him and the rest of my family.

I think often of that day when my mother all but announced that there was no Santa. It reminds me of what my daughter will still tell you, Santa is alive and visits as long as you BELIEVE! In our home, we BELIEVE...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

CIJ Tablescape Party Week 2 Today!

Come on over to my blog, Playing Dishes and join the Christmas in July Tablescape Party #2 today. The participants are arriving and we are already having fun. There is such a variety of tables already lined up for us to view. Remember, it is a come and go affair and some participants might not be linked up until later during the weekend, so be sure to check back so that you won't miss anything.

Mr. Linky is up and ready for participants. For guests, just scroll to the bottom of my photos and click on the links one at a time to enjoy the party.

Be sure to leave us a comment so that we will know that you were here. Comments on my post will enter you for a chance to win a holiday tablecloth on July 25.

Don't forget to come back for another CIJ tablescape event next week on Saturday, July 18 and the final one on July 25.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Creating a Christmas Tablescape Video

These videos offer some great hints on creating a fun and beautiful Christmas tablescape without having to spend a fortune. The first one shows how to get started with some basic items.

The second video demonstrates how to add the beauty of lights to this tablescape.

The finishing touches for the table are shown in this third video.

In a final video, learn how to add decorative lighting to a room with a bowl.

Tomorrow is the day for the Christmas in July Tablescape Party--Week 2 on my other blog.

I just wanted to post a reminder here in case you have forgotten. The party is scheduled for Saturday, but I will have Mr. Linky up for you to on Friday afternoon. I've heard from many through comments and emails that they are planning to participate. I hope we have quite a few tables to share. There is still time if you want to participate. (you could even do a post with photos from last year. Many of us are new and would love to share some holiday spirit through tablescapes)

If you need more info, just click on my white button meme for CIJ Tablescape Party in the sidebar.

If you can't participate, be sure to stop back by during the weekend to visit and enjoy the tables.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

CIJ Weekly Giveaway Week 3 for July 15

I'm giving away this cute snowman advent calendar for CIJ Weekly Giveaway 3.

Sign-ups will continue through midnight of Wednesday, July 15. Be sure to click on the logo in my sidebar for complete information.

In order to add your name to my weekly Christmas in July giveaway, leave me a comment on one of my posts. Entries for the weekly drawing cut off at midnight on each Wednesday in July. The winner will be announced on Thursday. Be sure to check back to see who wins each week.

To have two chances to win, also add my Christmas in July meme to your blog. For a third chance in this drawing, give this blog and the weekly giveaways here a shoutout post on your blog. A fourth entry can be added to this drawing by adding your name as a follower of Christmas Memories in My Heart. Refer someone new to my Christmas blog and have them mention your name/blogname for a fifth chance in the drawing.

If you don't have a blog and are entering the drawings for the giveaways, be sure to leave me an email address to contact you. You can just post in the comments that you are sending me the email address.My email is
That way you don't have to post yours on the web.

Week 2 Giveaway Winner is...

Aggy at Love of Christmas
is this week's winner of my Christmas in July Giveaway. She will receive this cute little silver colored metal mesh Santa sleigh. It is includes some body and bath items inside the shrink wrap.

Aggy, please email me your address so that I can get this on its way to you. After I drew your name it took me a minute to find you. (
I thought for a moment we had two Aggys, since when I clicked on your name in the comment, it brought up several blogs that aren't current. However, it was your precious dog's photo that I remembered. I had just been reading some of your posts from a link on my sidebar earlier tonight and the poochy caught my eye and heart. I see you have changed out to a new holiday blog this year. You might want to update your info on the Dashboard in case someone else is trying to locate you.

I feel like Santa or one of the elves! This is so much fun. It is a lot of work keeping track of all the people who comment all week plus the new followers.

I will post the giveaway item for Week 3 later in the morning. I want to make sure that people checking in see this one. I combined both last week and it was confusing to some. I have a great giveaway for some lucky someone next Wednesday.

Congratulations Aggy!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Santa Live Now Weblog

I read the other day that Christmas in July is really big in Australia because this is the coldest time of the year, just like it is amid the hottest time in the north. Today, I was reading some holiday blogs and ran across a link to Santa Live Now weblog that has a great post about this as well as additional info about our Aussie neighbors.

I read the post and then realized that I had stumbled onto something much more than one good post. This weblog is amazing. I have just started to explore the countless videos and stories that are there. Santa himself talks to us from the videos and believe me, I will be back over and over to view all the wonders of this site.

Click on the link above, but be prepared, there is more there than you can handle during Christmas in July. This will be a long term exploration and delight for me.

According to the weblog, there is a 2009 tour across the US with stops planned in major cities and it is linked to raising money for juvenile diabetes. Caution: I have NOT checked this out. Please do not click and send money or sign up for things without investigating this thoroughly. I am going to try to check this out, but in the meantime, the site has a marvelous wealth of Santa and Christmas information.

It shows that the fun starts on July 10 at 10:30 a.m. I will be checking back to see what all this is about.

Memories of Christmas School Programs

These performances were always some of my favorites. When my children were young, we often had numerous school musicals or holiday programs each year. Add to that, there were programs that my neices and nephew were in, too.

The high school that I taught at for 17 years also had a night of Christmas one acts that were done by the theatre arts classes. These were not always very polished performances, but were wonderful to view. The kids that I never thought would appear on a stage were there. Sometimes, these kids didn't even have a speaking part, but they were so thrilled to have a part in a play. This was a chance for everyone to take part. In our small high school, even the homemaking departments got involved. They provided refreshment for the crowd. This gave the kids taking those classes some practical experience. Not only did they make wonderful cookies, scones, dessert bars and punch, they also learned how to dress appropriately for such an event and polished their manners. Kudos to Jan Stewart, theatre teacher; Kay Manning and Jeanne Guilloud, home economics teachers, for providing such a wonderful life lesson. The students and the audience were better off for these yearly experiences.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Decorating Tables for Christmas

Beautiful tables have always held a fascination for me. I oooh and ah over them in all my magazines, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. I have always wanted to have one of those homes that look like a snapshot from a magazine, but I know that in reality that is just not me and doesn't fit my lifestyle. However, I still love them and I have a serious interest in dishes and tables recently.

I am new to tablescapes and for the most part, my tables rely on dishes set in a relatively simple style. I just don't have that flair for incorporating all the wonderful things that I see on Susan at Between Naps on the Porch's weekly Tablescape Thursday. However, every once in awhile, I surprise myself with something that I think is getting there.

In the mean time, I am having fun playing dishes and my family is enjoying a nice table that gets changed frequently. So, it was a natural thing for me to want to host a Christmas in July Tablescape Party this month. It is an ongoing thing on my Playing Dishes blog. Click on the white button in my sidebar to get all the info and come and join the fun and pick up some chances to win the beautiful Christmas tablecloth that I am giving away on the day of the last party, Saturday, July 25. I will have a post up with Mr. Linky ready for you to add your links by on Friday evenings.

I have been doing a lot of blog hopping---on my own, not on one of the organized hops---encouraging other Christmas lovers to join us for the rest of the parties and to visit here, too.

That got me to thinking about doing a post on tables for the holidays. Then, I thought, what do I really know about tables to pass on to others. So, I spent awhile reading and came up with some hints for decorating tables for the holidays. These ideas were compiled from a variety of sites.

• Select a tablecloth color that compliments your dining room, kitchen or combined area.
• Consider using a cream or other neutral colored tablecloth in either linen or lace on the table. Using a cream tablecloth gives the look of elegance, while providing a neutral background for decorations. A deep red tablecloth also works well, but be sure to use more neutral dinnerware and napkins so that the tablescape does not clash.
• Use mirrors or other materials to make a base for your centerpiece.
• Make use of different levels to add variety to the table.
• Experiment with different textures and materials to enhance the table.
• Use miniature Christmas trees, snow globes and other holiday decorations throughout the tablescape scene.
• Do not decorate more than 1/3 of the table, as it will look too cluttered and people will not be able to make use of the table without destroying the beautiful Christmas tablescape
• Set up each place setting with the proper dinnerware. Break out the best dishes and glasses, providing each guest with a dinner plate, bread plate or soup bowl, and glasses for wine or water.
• Fold napkins in a professional manner at each place setting, or put them through elegant napkin rings.
• Use name place cards to add a touch of elegance and cut down on confusion of where to sit for your guests.
• Place tea lights around the table. They provide elegant lighting as well as a beautiful ambiance. Use pillar candles as a centerpiece, selecting scented candles to provide both light and a fragrant aroma. Add festive decor such as mini pine cones or small groups of pine branches with holly berries and pine cones surrounding a large pillar candle. Candy canes work well with any decor; place them in glass vases along with a tea light.
• For variety also decorate a coffee table buffet or entry table for the holidays.
• If candles are used, be sure not to place them near anything flammable or leave them unattended.
• Add a touch of whimsy to your tables.
• Decorate the rest of the room to complement the Christmas tablescape. Add a few Christmas figurine.
• Play background holiday music.. For a dinner party, instrumental Christmas carols or music is best so that it does not drown out the conversations of the guests, but still provides music for enjoyment

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Memories of Christmas Cantatas

Part of the beauty and warmth of Christmas to me is attending the annual cantata at church. I have to admit that I am not a frequent church goer in recent years, but I am a very spiritual person.

Some of my fondest memories are of this event and I attend one every year. Sometimes, I go to one at another church.

In my early years, the programs were all musical, featuring a variety of Christmas carols or hymns about the birth of Christ. These Sunday evening performances and later Sunday afternoons, were so filled with the Christmas spirit. I have always wished that I had a wonderful voice, but I was left out in that department. I still enjoy singing and Christmas songs are among my favorites.

The magic of the program was made complete by hearing the message of the journey to Bethlehem and the miracle of the birth of the Christ child to Mary and Joseph. Something in me always sparked at hearing this wonderful story year after year.

In more recently years the cantata has been expanded to include the acting out of the Christmas story. I love this even more. One year, I attended three different performances of this at area churches. It is a story that is so filled with wonder and promise.

I remember one year when my daughter, Tracie, and I attended the program at another church because one of her friend's husband was in the production and their new born baby was the Christ child. We went to a Sunday afternoon program and happened to have one of my young nieces and nephews at the house that day. We took them along and young Caden was so enthralled with the story that he leaned up on the pew in front of us and rested his chin there throughout the production. The two of them are just several months apart in age and couldn't have been more than four or five. I have never seen them sit still and so quiet for that long. It was a wonderful thing to witness as they experienced this live story for the first time.

Another Christmas must for me is to visit a live nativity each year at one of our local churches. There is just something about this outdoor event that brings chills to me. One year, I was coming home from shopping in Dallas on a Saturday night and pulled off to get gas in a town along the way. There was a sign about a live nativity that night. So, my sisters, DD and I followed the signs and sat in a long line to drive by to witness this event. It was worth the wait and a perfect ending to our long day.

I love the holidays and enjoy the decor and fun of Santa as much as everyone, but the true magic of the season comes from this wonderful story of the birth of our Saviour, Jesus. After all, Jesus, IS the reason for the season.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

My Week 1 CIJ Table

Here is the link to my CIJ Week 1 Tablescape. I posted this on my Playing Dishes blog. Be sure to check out the weekly tables on Saturdays during July. Complete guidelines for participating in the party and entering the giveaway drawing for a tablecloth on July 25 are available by clicking on the meme in the sidebar.

Happy July 4

I hope you have all had a wonderful July 4 and took time to honor our nation and all the brave men and women who are serving in the military in order to maintain our freedom. God bless them all.

DH and I had a quiet stay at home day. We did not even go to the town's firework show this evening. It has been a very hard week starting with the loss of our beloved dog, Blackjack. He was our late son's dog and his death this week was very hard. We lost our son six years ago Monday.

Early Friday morning, DH's only brother lost his six month battle with lung cancer. I used to love celebrating Independence Day, but have had trouble the past few years. Now, we have yet more sadness for this period of time.

A post on Cathy's Pumpkins and Reindeer blog this week made me realize that I want to refocus our holidays, especially Christmas. Although, Christmas, is a very special and magical time of year for me, I hope to make it more special and more family oriented. Our family is always together during the holidays, but even with all my advance preparation and planning and love of hosting the extended family for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am wanting something different this year. I still have not decided on what to change or modify, but I do know that something is lacking.Check Spelling
I am leaning toward a theme like Cathy discussed on her blog. I know that I want to focus on being thankful and appreciative of what we have at the moment. However, I am not sure how to pull this all together. It will be my Christmas in July ongoing project. Thanks Cathy for the inspiration.

Since this is a holiday blog, I want to share a video that I saw on Debbie at Dining with Debbie's blog today. I remember this Red Skeleton video, but had not thought about it in years. It concerns the Pledge of Allegiance and is a timely reminder for us all to not take this sacred pledge for granted. This is a similar theme to my feelings of the week. Thanks Debbie for sharing it so that I could also share it.

God bless America and keep our troops safe.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Week 1 Giveaway Winner Is...

Wow, what a great response to my first weekly giveaway in celebration of Christmas in July. I had to find an appropriate container to hold all of the weekly entries, so I chose this adorable Santa mug. I think it is so cute.

After spending a long time reading and re-reading all the comments and looking at websites for my added meme and shoutouts, I finally had a complete list of all this week's entries. I added each one to a small piece of paper (recycled from old copies of course) for each entry. Gee, this was more involved that I thought.

Here is the little cup just waiting for the drawing. Remember that all names remain for the entire month of giveaways. But, be sure to come back and enter again each week for more chances to win.




Carol you are now the proud owner of this elf car costume.

Send me your address by email and I will get it send out to you. ( Be sure to put 1st CIJ Giveaway in the subject line.

Thanks to everyone for posting comments, adding my meme to your blog, giving me a shout out and the other things that you did to announce this giveaway. Ginger at Magical Holiday Home even added me to the front page of that wonderful site for this first day of Christmas in July. She is featuring a new Christmas blog daily during CIJ. Be sure to check out her site and the others listed in my sidebar for some great Christmas inspiration year round.

I'm sorry that I am so late in posting this winner. I have had a little trouble focusing since I had to put my beloved Blackjack to sleep on Tuesday. Then I had 10 for dinner last night and I had to be sociable. At midnight, it hit me that it was a little more time consuming than I anticipated in compiling all the entries. Then, I crashed and slept way late this morning. I will do better next week.

The giveaway for the 2nd weekly giveaway from Christmas Memories in My Heart will be this cute little silver Santa's sleigh. It includes several body pamper products and is wrapped in plastic with a ribbon and a gift tag. After using the products, the sleigh will make a cute addition to your holiday decor. Sign-ups for the second weekly giveaway end at midnight on Wednesday, July 8. Winner will be announced the next morning.

Don't forget to check back and see what is happening all month. Also, there is a list of other holiday blogs in my sidebar. I am spending way too much time reading! I am even neglecting my Playing Dishes blog! Be sure to also stop by my favorite Christmas webpages also listed there.

Happy Christmas in July!

Free Gift Certificate from Bloggeritaville's Leigh

Leigh at Tales from Bloggeritaville is about to celebrate her 200th post, so she is having a fantastic giveaway. It is true to Leigh's love of thrifty shopping and we know how much she loves thriftiness!!!!

She is giving away a $25 gift certificate to Marshall's!!!!!! How great is that? So jump on over and sign up. The deadline is tomorrow, so hurry over. The button is in the sidebar.

This would be a great gift for someone for Christmas or a nice reward for yourself for Christmas in July.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Weekly Christmas Giveaway Tomorrow

I am going to celebrate Christmas in July all month by giving away a holiday item a week each Wednesday. The first one will be TOMORROW at midnight. This is a short turnaround time, but it is only fitting to kick off the month with something from the elves. They work so hard all year at Santa's workshop and don't seem to get much of the glory of Christmas.

No, it is not a car! This is blogland, not The Price is Right. It is a car costume for the holidays that includes two elf ears and an elf hat. This in new in the package and comes with instructions for mounting on your vehicle.

Since there is only a little more than 24 hours to sign up for this one, your chances are good to win this cute little prize. If you are not adventurous enough to drive around with this on your vehicle, you could dress your car up every Rudy Day so the elves could work away on their preparations for Christmas. (some might even be tempted to do this ONLY in the privacy of their closed garage. Not everyone reading this is daring enough for this item. Thus, the quick sign-up time. I am also posting this one on my holiday boards where all the Christmas nuts like myself hangout 24/365.

In order to add your name to this giveaway, leave me a comment here before midnight on Wednesday, July 1. To have two chances to win, also add my Christmas in July meme to your blog. For a third chance in this drawing, give this blog and the weekly giveaways here a shoutout post on your blog. A fourth entry can be added to this drawing by adding your name as a follower of Christmas Memories in My Heart. Refer someone new to my Christmas blog and have them mention your name/blogname for a fifth chance in the drawing.

If you don't have a blog and are entering the drawings for the giveaways, be sure to leave me an email address to contact you. You can just post in the comments that you are sending me the email address. That way you don't have to post yours on the web.

Remember, I will be posting something every day during CIJ. Be sure to stop by often and leave me comments. After each random drawing for the weekly giveaway, all entries will remain in the pool for the following week.

Three or More Tuesday

I love Christmas in July. It is so great to be able to spend the entire month thinking about Christmas and to have thoughts of cooler weather! It has been in the triple digit here this week and the humidity is horrible. My central air doesn't seem to ever shut off.

But, despite the heat, I spent Saturday morning on my usual rounds of garage and estate sales. Well, to be honest, I didn't go to a lot of them, but I did find some cool Christmas items.

In honor of my CIJ celebration that officially kicks off tomorrow, I am showing you three of my Saturday finds. Tam at Gypsy's Corner hosts this Three or More Tuesday event on her blog. So, this week, I am giving it a Christmas flair. Click on her link to see her weekly items and a list of all the participants.

First is this adorable Christmas throw. I paid $3 for it.


Next is a wooden sleigh. I don't know where I will use it, but it is so pretty. It was also $3.


My third Christmas find for the week was a set of dishes featuring snowmen. They can be used even after Christmas for awhile. I got four each of dinner plates, small bowls, larger bowls, salad plates and a salt and pepper shaker. The entire set was $5.


Thanks for visiting me today. Don't forget to stop by Tam's and the other participants this week.

Be sure to come back during July and read my daily posts devoted to all things Christmas. I will have information up tomorrow about a giveaway and the way to enter to receive some exciting Christmas stuff. My Playing Dishes blog will also feature a holiday event this month.

Christmas Lights Found at Estate Sale

We screened in our back porch recently and I have been looking for colored Christmas lights to string around the ceiling. I have boxes of new clear lights and even donated bunches of the large colored lights to GW recently. However, I wanted the small twinkle type lights and this is a hard time of year to find them.
Several weeks ago while out checking out garage and yard sales, I started seeing lots of Christmas decor. I don't know if they were just cleaning house or if this was in anticipation of Christmas in July. I had renewed hope in finding my small colored lights. Then I found two brand new boxes for $1 a box. Yea! However, I still needed more.

On Saturday I went to an estate sale and they had lots of Christmas items. They had about six trees, boxes and boxes of white strands of lights and a couple of boxes of the small colored ones! So, I set about pulling them out and plugging them in to test the bulbs. I got this bunch of about 8 strands for $1 and they all work!


I am so excited. I will be hanging them this evening when it gets a little cooler. Be sure to check out other listings for this week's 2nd Time Around. Diane, our host of this event has some interesting things this week. Take time to visit all the other participants, too, and leave them a comment.

Come back and visit me here during Christmas in July all month and have a chance to win one of my giveaways. I also have a Christmas in July event planned at my Playing Dishes blog.


What better way to observe Ruby Tuesday than with a photo of a cute little Santa on the day before Christmas in July starts!

A lot of you know me from my Playing Dishes blog or as printersdevil on various Christmas boards, so I decided that I needed to get my holiday blog up and running to share all the wonderful Christmas in July things about to kick off. After July, I will still be posting at least monthly on Rudy Day on the 25th of each month as I work toward a stress free and organized Christmas 2009.

So, I decided to have a blog giveaway to gather some followers. Many of my friends on the Christmas boards will be following, but I'd love to share my love for Christmas with EVERYONE. Check back tomorrow for information on the giveaway and some other things including an invitation to my birthday party event.

To add a little holiday cheer to this week's Ruby Tuesday, I'm showing off one of my wooden Santa's that usually sites on top of my china hutch. He is such a funny little guy and seems to like his perch high above our heads. Don't forget to click on the link to our gracious host for Ruby Tuesday's event to see this week's photos. New to the site this week is a collection of shout out photos from last week. I love this new idea. You will also find links to all this week's participsnts for more wonderful ruby photos.

Christmas in July Weekly Giveaways

In order to add your name to my weekly Christmas in July giveaway, leave me a comment on one of my posts. Entries for the weekly drawing cut off at midnight on each Wednesday in July. The winner will be announced on Thursday. Be sure to check back to see who wins each week.

To have two chances to win, also add my Christmas in July meme to your blog. For a third chance in this drawing, give this blog and the weekly giveaways here a shoutout post on your blog. A fourth entry can be added to this drawing by adding your name as a follower of Christmas Memories in My Heart. Refer someone new to my Christmas blog and have them mention your name/blogname for a fifth chance in the drawing.

If you don't have a blog and are entering the drawings for the giveaways, be sure to leave me an email address to contact you. You can just post in the comments that you are sending me the email address.My email is
That way you don't have to post yours on the web.

Remember, I will be posting something every day during CIJ. Be sure to stop by often and leave me comments. After each random drawing for weekly giveaway, all entries will remain in the pool for the following week. So, keep coming back for more chances to win.

Week 1 Giveaway on July 2: Car elf costume

Congratulations to Carol Kennon @ My World Anything But Ordinary who won the elf car costume.

Week 2 Giveaway on July 8: Silver metal Santa sleigh with bath products.

Remember all entries for Week 2 must be in by midnight central time on Wednesday, July 8. Entries after that time will go in the next giveaway drawing.

Entries remain in each successive week's drawings.

Good luck! Visit often to add entries for the drawings. You can add comments or memes or shout outs each week. I love to hear from you.



I meant to add to this blog every month on Rudy Day, but life got in the way and this is my first post of the year. I haven't totally been a Christmas slacker, since I do have a huge gift closet of items that I picked up on clearance in December and early January.

For those of you not fortunate enough to know about Rudy Day, it is celebrated every month on the 25th in observance of Christmas. It is a great way to plan and get ready for the season without waiting for the big last minute rush. Throughout the year I spend a lot of time visiting with friends at Magical Holiday Home and Our Home for the Holidays and Garden Web Holiday Forum. Each one of these boards is very special to me and I have met many wonderful cyberfriends who also share my love for the holidays. Another great site for Christmas is CEO's Organized Christmas.

I found the OC many years ago when I was searching for ideas for my school holiday parties. I frequented this site around the holidays for a several years before getting really involved in the message boards/forums there. For several years the OC was like a home away from home for me. We shared ideas, bargains, gift ideas, recipes, crafts plans, and generally just became great cyberfriends. Three years ago I started participating in swaps on this board. It may sound crazy, but it was a lot of fun. We had swaps for Christmas in July gifts, secret sister, pampered pet gifts, patio decor, turkey decor, Easter, St. Patty's, Halloween, etc. We signed up and received a partner and swapped items based on the individual swap criteria set by our current swap hostess. We even had several large swaps that involved lots of planning and trust to provide a Christmas stocking filled with little gifts for our partner and Advent Calendar swaps that involved a gift for each day of Advent which is the last Sunday in November right up until Christmas Day.

The first year my two sisters, a niece, my adult daughter and I all participated in the Advent swap. It was so much fun to receive a huge package loaded with individual gifts just for me. Although I love the Advent swap, I think the stocking one is my favorite. I even hosted our first Black Friday Survival Kit Swap. This was a lot of fun. We each had to provide our partner with some kind of container or bag filled with items to help survive shopping on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

My sisters, daughter and nieces all love this day and have been known to leave the house around 4:30 a.m. to get all the early morning bargains and not return home until around midnight. When we do the extreme shopping day we have often wiped out all the local shopping and have gone to the DFW area by around 10 a.m. There have been years that I have gone along for the fun and not even bought anything because I am through shopping by that time. It is a special tradition and time for us.

Here are the photos of the bags that we used for Black Friday Survival Kits that first year. There were six of us in my crew that participated in this first Black Friday Swap. In addition there were about 15 more swappers.

I still have the kit (bag) that I received. I remember that my partner filled a 35mm film cartridge with quarters so I would have them for a soft drink during the day. Those quarters came in handy on the toll road!



DD Tracie with one of the bags. (she looks so different here)


Youngest sis, Tanya, puts the finishing touches on the sixth bag.

When CEO closed all of her forums due to health issues, two new Christmas forums emerged. Many visitors got lost for awhile, but most found their way back to one board or the other and some of us are active on both boards. Although I have never met any of these people IRL, I feel as if some of them are long time friends. We have developed friendships across the miles in cyberspace.

CEO has made some great changes to her Organized Christmas site recently. I think it is very user friendly and is loaded with ideas of crafts, practical inexpensive holiday gifts in a jar, and organizational printouts including her holiday plan to get ready for Christmas which includes a six week countdown and notebook dividers and planning sheets. If you are not familiar with CEO, please click on the link and be prepared to stay awhile and return often.

The other sites are similar in nature, but each has its own unique style and information. Our Home for the Holidays is maintained by a crew of devoted women who celebrate Christmas year round. They are based around the world and their involvement helps us all learn a lot about other countries and their holiday traditions. It is so amazing to me that while we are in a deep freeze around most of the US at Christmas time, many of our board friends are eating their holiday meal by the pool. Again, check out the link and browse through the forums.

The Magical Holiday Home is maintained by Gingerbug. It has many similar boards and is more fast paced with more members frequenting the boards.

Each one of these sites has much more than Christmas activities. Most of us are really more of the holiday nut type instead of just Christmas ones. You will find numerous boards for the major holidays and some like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Easter have big events and on-going yearly posts and activities.

Rudy Day on the 25th is no longer the only monthly observance to us. The Great Pumpkin Day, Turkey Day, Hippity Hoppity Day, Celebrate Me Day are all staples.

For those of you not too sure about celebrating the days above and just interested in some organizational help to get you prepared to enjoy the holidays instead of being frazzled by them, check out these sites. I guarantee there is something there for you. The crafters are amazing. Many of them are crafting and sewing all year for holiday gifts, but this area is great for ideas even for the not so dedicated crafty ones.

I personally love the bargain and gift idea sections. Someone is always letting us know about some amazing bargains or a new twist on basket gifts, family gifts or just some new thing they have read about or made or received.

I think back to the days prior to my finding these wonderful boards and wonder how I survived the holidays.

This past fall I added another holiday board to my close following. This one is the Holiday Forum at Garden Web. This is another great place to share a love of holidays. It is of a different nature, but equally as fun. During the holidays the forum is devoted to Thanksgiving and Christmas decor, especially tables. The rest of the year people discuss any and all holidays and regular posters share photos of tablescapes, new dishes, and thrifting stories and finds, etc. These ladies are superb decorators and I am always amazed at their creations.

I see it is already June 30. That means that Christmas in July is only one day away!!!! I feel much better now that I have started my blog off for the big celebration. My goal is to post something concerning Christmas daily.