Almost Finished – Christmas Decorating 2010

As I get to the end of this year’s holiday decorating, with the promise to my husband that I will begin to weed through ornaments and decorations we no longer use and get rid of them, I am reminded of why we have so many holiday decorations.  Everything I have means something – whether it was a gift that someone gave to me, or an ornament purchased because it reminded me of one of my children.  I have things that were used in my Grandmother’s house when I was a little girl, and things my mom used in her house when I was young as well.  There are things that were my dad’s before he died, and things my grandmother handmade.

So here is what the house looks like with the bulk of the decorating done:

Each of these stockings, although never used to actually contain gifts, mean something.  The first one at the top of the stairs, my Grandmom Fee made.  The last one was a dollar store purchase when we were making stockings to be sent to the soldiers in Iraq.  It was leftover, but reminds me each year of how lucky we are to be together each Christmas.

The bell my mom used to hang outside of our house in South Philly

Not sure I should hang the girls’ stockings in age order, since their initials might be a turn-off for Santa

Tiny presents – a gift from my brother and sister-in-law one year – they’re so cute!

My Grandmom had a chapel very similar to this one that played Silent Night.  We found this one at Home Depot a few years ago, and it just reminded me so much of Grandmom, that we bought it!

These happy faces used to belong on my Mom’s stereo

The tree is mine – bought one year when we weren’t going to be home for the holidays, but I wanted a Christmas tree up anyway.  I ended up buying two of them – one for each bay window in the front of the house.  The kissing Angels and the angel musicians were Grandmom Fee’s.  I’m not sure where the Nativity came from, but this is a huge promotion for this Nativity – last year, and for the previous 8, they have been on a shelf in the downstairs bathroom.

The “kids” tree – filled with all the ornaments collected over the years for the kids – with their names, the year, and their favorite characters.  There are also baby’s first ornaments on the tree, and ornaments they’ve made in school through the years.

The top of the china cabinet is home to many of the holiday stuffies we’ve collected through the years – we try to add a new one each year.  That means we should only have about 22, but somewhere along the way, we must have added a few spares!

The basket was a wonderful gift my first year on the Moms Panel – the goodies are merely a distant memory, but the gorgeous sleigh will remain part of the holiday memories with which we decorate.

Our first Christmas together, Jim and I wanted to do a more elegant tree than the ones we grew up with, so we settled on one color ornament – gold.  Well, over the years, we came to realize how the trees we grew up with ended up with the mismatched ornaments – we came along!  Our family tree ended up having a bit of everything on it as the girls came along.  A couple of years ago, though, Jim bought the pre-lit tree with colored lights to appease the girls who hated the white lights on my tree.  I promptly moved all the “colorful” ornaments to the colorful tree, and reclaimed the gold one.  I love it all gold because it reminds me every year of my first Christmas with Jim – and the promise of many more to come.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Skamarakas Family Christmas Party – The Prequel

This is the six foot hoagie we had at our Christmas party two years ago.  It didn’t go over as well as I had hoped, but it sure did save me a ton of time and effort.

This year, with little time and a very budget conscious husband, I’m trying to come up with unique ideas to add to my buffet table for our holiday open house on Saturday.

This Saturday.

As in, in four days.

I’m roasting a turkey, baking a ham, and probably putting out kielbasa, meatballs, and sausage.

But what about side dishes?  Snack foods?

I am completely out of ideas, and desperate for help.

This is what I need from you guys.  Ideas.  Loads of them.

The logistics – needs to be able to stay out from 4 o’clock until 9 o’clock, and I don’t want to spend the whole party in the kitchen, rotating appetizers in and out of the oven.

I’m looking for something that’s not the usual cheese platter, chips and dips, vegetables, and fruit salad.

So what have you got?  Send me your best ideas!

Keep in mind that not only am I no Matha Stewart, I’m not even a Rachel Ray.  Or a Semi-Homemade whats her name?  The easier, the better 🙂

Can You Get Voice Lessons to Only Learn One Song?

It’s that time of year, folks.  Arts Alive is on the horizon at my girls’ school.  This is the school-wide talent show, where kids who are legitimately talented can show off their abilities, and kids that are marginally or lacking completely in talent can show off their lip-syncing abilities and their made up hip hop moves.

Then there is my kid.  I think my kid is phenomenally talented in many areas.  She has performed three times in Arts Alive – once as part of a group of six kids doing a sort of version of an Irish jig – and it was cute, because they were little.  Then she performed a magic act, which I hear was wildly popular.  I, unfortunately, missed that performance due to other obligations.  Last year, she made up a dance and danced with a friend to the Numa Numa song that went viral a few years back thanks to You Tube.

Now she wants to sing.

Mind you, the kid does not have the worst voice, but I am not one of those American Idol moms who will stand outside, waiting to see if my kid wins the golden ticket to Hollywood.  I am more likely the mom who will say, “Yo, dawg, lissen up, you were pitchy and it just dinnit work for me, man.”

But she really wants to sing – a really difficult song, and I have to give her credit, because she’s doing a darn good job at it, even though it’s hard.

I’d just like to help her to be better.

But she doesn’t want to be a professional singer.  She just wants to sing one song.

What’s a mom to do?

And where’s Simon when I need him?