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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

December Ditties - 2018 - My Guest Blog Post - The A to Z of the A to Z -

Shortly (because you know time flies when you're having fun) it will be time again for the A to Z Challenge.  This will be it's 10th year and I have been participating since 2016.

At the end of this year's challenge there was a poll about the different things we liked and perhaps didn't like about the organizational aspects of the challenge and the benefits or drawbacks to participation in the group and there was a contest to win a guest spot on the main A to Z Challenge blog.  I know there are hundreds of participants in the A to Z and I don't know how many entered the contest but I did and I was among the winners!

The A to Z of the A to Z according to me:

I was ABSOLUTELY thrilled when I found out I had won a spot as a guest blogger in the A to Z poll contest.  Then I had a moment of panic.  What would I write about?  I hope that my insights will be BENEFICIAL to those who may not be sure about joining for the 10th year of the A to Z.

There is a feeling of CAMARADERIE among the participants, even though the focus of our blogs can be very DIFFERENT.  We are not all writers or crafters or music lovers and yet we can find some common ground.  The EXPERIENCE of blogging almost every day for a month brings about a feeling of FELLOWSHIP among the participants and I GLADLY open my emails during the month of April to see what new posts there are.

Some people write HISTORICAL blog posts that are very INFORMATIVE and that helps to JUSTIFY the time I spend reading them!  KEEPING up with them all is a LABOR of love.   Some folks write about words and their MEANINGS, some write NOSTALGIC posts about their family history.

I love that the A to Z Challenge is OPEN to anyone who wants to join the PARTY and there are always the helpful co-hosts to answer any QUESTIONS that may come up.

I am excited and READY to start planning for the 2019 version and hope that I can bring a SMILE to your face as you read my posts.  I have my THEME and hope that I can share something UNIQUE to keep you coming back.

Our founding father, Arlee Bird, was truly a VISIONARY ten years ago when he started this WONDERFUL project.

I have only been doing the A to Z for the past three years so I am not sure if there have been any XYLOGRAPHERS who have shared their experiences, but the word itself may have been used by someone looking for that hard to find X-word.

This YEARLY gathering of bloggers is certainly something that I look forward to because there are some ZANY folks out there who put a lot of effort into coming up with new ways to entertain us.

Thanks again for allowing me to participate as a guest writer on the A to Z Blog.  Can't wait to see what Arlee and the gang have in store for the 10th anniversary!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

December Ditties - 2018 Blog(mas) And the Stockings were hung...

but I can't say "by the chimney with care" because we don't have a fireplace anymore.  I wish we did. 

The stocking in the middle here is our oldest daughter, Amanda's.  She got it for her first Christmas from her grandparents in Oregon and has used it ever since, even though the rest of us have stockings with our names on them. 

Last year since my mom was going to be with us for Christmas and we had one of my husband's friends staying here, we added a few stockings to the wall.  

When the kids were little and wanted us to get up at some ungodly hour on Christmas morning we would say..."We'll be up in a little bit, why don't you see what Santa put in your stockings."  That might buy us another half hour or so but the risk was that they would eat the candy that was usually in there and be hyper.  Sometimes I remembered to say "Don't eat the candy!"

Now that they are all older and living on their own "Santa" puts more practical gifts in there like travel size toiletries, lotto tickets, socks that kind of stuff.  Yeah, a couple of pieces of candy too. 

Do you have stockings?  Have a fireplace to hang them by?  What do you use as stocking stuffers? 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

December Ditties - 2018 Blog(mas) - My first Christmas tree

I moved out of my parents home when I was almost 22.  I wanted to do the "adult" thing.  Of course, I made sure I could afford it but I forgot to add things like Christmas decorations into the budget. 

Fortunately for me my oldest sister, JoAnne, was very crafty and resourceful.  She invited me to her house one Saturday and we sat around her table and made some ornaments using pieces of felt, socks, bits of jewelry and even paper clips!. 

See the candle?  This was made from a couple of pieces of felt and stuffed with cotton. 

It has definitely seen better days but here it is on our tree a couple of years ago.  It is well over 40 years old and yet I remember so clearly the fun my sister and I had that day.

This little snowman was made using one of my brother-in-law's old socks turned inside out.  It, too, is still adorning our trees all these years later.

Every year when I put this Rudolph on the tree I think that I need to at least put his eye back on.  How can he see to lead the sleigh with only one eye?  

She had some broken pieces of jewelry that she used to decorate this tree.  

One of the ones that I thought was really clever was making an ice skate using a paper clip for the blades.  JoAnne was a teacher so of course she had plenty of those around.  This one could also use some TLC: 

For a while I was trying to get or make a new ornament for the tree every year but little by little that practice stopped.  I've even stopped decorating as much as I used to, but it wouldn't be Christmas to me without these special ornaments.

My sister, JoAnne, was 12 years older than I so I barely remember her being at home with us when I was young; she got married when I was 8.  As I got older we became really good friends and it is times like this when I miss her the most.  JoAnne passed away at age 59 in 2002.  Way too young.  

Do you make your own ornaments?  Have any special ones from your first Christmas tree?  Love to hear about it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

December Ditties - 2018 - Blog(mas) A gift that keeps on giving

Blog(mas) Day 4

My family has spread out over the years and we really don't see each other as often as we'd like so one year I decided to make a gift that I hoped would help keep us closer.  I knew that everyone decorated their house so I made some little ornaments for each of the big holidays. 

Valentine's Day hanging pocket, Easter banner, 4th of July wreath and door knob hanger and a Christmas goodie bag.

I put one decoration for each holiday in a box and I wrote a little note to go with them:

Well I’ll bet you didn’t know it

but I’m really not a poet

and I never learned to do

that other thing called Haiku

so this year let’s just say

these little guys come your way

with love from us to you!

A ghost ornament, star wind chime, snowman notepad and Christmas banner

Cornucopia for Thanksgiving.  

I explained to the family that each time they changed the decorations in their homes, they would have some small thing to put up that was made by us and that way they would think of us all year long.  

This was a set one year, Valentine heart hanger, 4th of July star, ghost ornament, Thanksgiving magnet and a Santa pail.  

They really liked the idea and I know that I've seen the decorations up when I've gone to visit.  They were not expensive to make but I think it turned out pretty nice.  It was also a fun thing to do with my kids as they helped me make the decorations.   

After a couple of years I decided to try something different so I made up a "Surprise of the Month Club" along the lines of the wine basket club and fruit of the month club.  I sent this letter with the first gift:

This was the first gift, a gingerbread house.  You can see that it cracked a bit in the mail.  

For February I made individual heart brownies and put their initials on them.

March was brownies in the shape of a shamrock.

April was Oreos covered in chocolate and icing.

May was a cupcake flower basket.

I don't remember what I made for the rest of the year (assuming I didn't flake out and stop doing it!) and I don't have any pictures to remind me.  I'm a bit bummed about that.    

We have since stopped exchanging gifts at all, as things tend to go sometimes.  I don't even put up many decorations myself anymore.  It is fun to see the pictures and remember these things though.  

How about you?  Give handmade gifts?  Decorate for the holidays?  Love to hear about it.  

Monday, December 3, 2018

December Ditties - 2018 - Blog(mas) The Holiday Train

Our CalTrain has been participating with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation since 2001 with the Holiday Train.  This train runs from San Francisco to Santa Clara, usually on the first weekend in December, and makes 20 minute stops in several of the cities along the way. 

During the stops Santa and his friends get off the train and mingle with the crowd.  There are usually some other activities going on as well.  

Some stops have face painting or balloon artists and sometimes the neighborhood high school band will play.

They also have bins to collect toys for tots and last year they got over 3000 new toys for deserving children.  Frosty the Snowman is there.  

There is usually someone selling hot chocolate too of course.  Wouldn't be right if Rudolph didn't come.    

Santa makes his way up and down the line handing out candy and shaking hands. 

It is very bright and festive and it puts everyone in a good mood.  Gotta have a Nutcracker! 

One of the cars has carolers and they sing a few songs.

Then the train moves on to its next stop with Santa waving from inside.  

I am sorry I didn't know about this train until 2007.  It is a really fun thing to do with the kids and it is free!  That makes it even better.  

The Holiday train used to stop at our station.  Then they elevated our platform above the roadway and now it doesn't stop there anymore.  We live a block away from the station though so a couple of years ago I had my camera ready and managed to catch it as it went by.  It is really pretty all lit up.  

I was mad that I didn't set an alarm on my phone to remind me to catch it this year.  I was going to walk up to the platform and take another video from there.  Have to wait until next year now.

Side note, in the #DecemberReflections2018, today's prompt is Orange and I think my first picture captures that color pretty well, don't you? 

Have you seen or heard of the Holiday Train?   

Sunday, December 2, 2018

December Ditties - 2018 - December Reflections

Favorite photo of 2018:

There are a lot of photos to choose from as I took over 3,000 photos during the course of the year so far.  These two stand out though, not so much for the quality of the photos but for what they represent.

The first one was taken at our daughter's graduation from Sonoma State College in May of this year.  Coincidentally it was also the date of our 34th anniversary.  The promises we made to each other on our wedding day have held us together and enabled us to raise three wonderful adults.  It is not always smiles and there are definitely days when it is really hard, just like our daughter's educational experience, but it is definitely worth it in the end. 

I took this second picture at the Phil Collins concert my son and I went to in October.  I love the way Phil's son is looking at him and I know that they were both very proud of each other at that moment.  Again, I'm sure it is not always easy for either of them, but the love comes through here I think.  

Here are the prompts again for #decemberreflections2018 in case you want to play along.  

December Ditties - 2018 - Blog(mas) Santa's Sleigh

One of the Christmas decorations I remember from when I was younger is the Santa's sleigh we had that hung above our fireplace.  It was made of styrofoam and I'm not sure how it lasted all the years it did.  This picture is from 1964 and I don't even remember if that was the first year we had it or if it was from before then.  That's my sister, Judy, me in the middle and a friend of mine from school, Joanne.  You can barely see the top of my little sister's head.   

This picture is from about 1980 or 1981.  My parents had sold the house I grew up in and moved to San Jose into a mobile home park.  Really, I don't know how the styrofoam made it.  Guess they made things sturdier in those days - LOL.  My father must have attached some poles to the back.  That sounds like something he would do.  He was pretty crafty in his own mechanical way.     

Do you have any decorations that lasted 16 years or more?  Share!

December Ditties - 2018 - #SLS - Last

Helen's word this week is "Last."  Lots of good songs out there but I'm going to go into the way back time machine for this one.  "Last Kiss" by J. Frank Wilson.  It is a sad song and sometimes makes me cry.

Oh, where oh where can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me
She's gone to heaven, so I got to be good
So I can see my baby when I leave this world.
We were out on a date in my daddy's car
We hadn't driven very far
There in the road, up straight ahead
A car was stalled, the engine was dead
I couldn't stop, so I swerved to the right
I'll never forget the sound that night
The screamin' tires, the bustin' glass
The painful scream that I heard last.
Oh, where oh where can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me
She's gone to heaven, so I got to be good
So I can see my baby when I leave this world.
When I woke up, the rain was pourin' down
There were people standing all around
Something warm runnin' in my eyes
But somehow I found my baby that night
I lifted her head, she looked at me and said
"Hold me darling just a little while."
I held her close, I kissed her our last kiss
I found the love that I knew I would miss
But now she's gone, even though I hold her tight
I lost my love, my life that night.
Oh, where oh where can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me
She's gone to heaven, so I got to be good
So I can see my baby when I leave this world.
Oh, oh
Songwriters: Wayne Cochran
Last Kiss lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Carlin America Inc

Here is the original version:


I was surprised a while ago to hear that Pearl Jam did the song also.  I don't usually listen to them but I did like their version too.

Thanks for another fun Sunday full of song, Helen!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

December Ditties - 2018 #SoCS - Stream of Consciousness Saturday

"Ma"...Ma...Ma...Mama...mama...mommy...mommy...Janet!"  "What???!!!"

It has happened...Occasionally our kids think I am not paying enough attention to them. 

Sorry, that was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw the Stream of Consciousness prompt from Linda today was "Ma."  I know we can use it whatever way we want but for me, that's it. 

MAybe I'm not the only one but when I am in a store and I hear someone calling for "MA" or "Mom" I turn around and look, even when I know my kids are not with me at the time.  Our youngest, who is the one who usually does the "Ma" thing as a joke (or not a joke) took me out to breakfast this morning so it's all good.

December Ditties is the name for my ramblings this month.  There are a couple of challenges I'd like to try participating in but I'm not sure if I'll have the time.  I'm supposed to start a new transcription project that is going to take me out of my house (!!) for 4 to 5 hours a day.  It was supposed to start in October but has been delayed.  The most recent update was that it was to begin on December 3 but we haven't gotten confirMAtion yet.  It is a big project and when/if it starts it is going to take about 3 months to complete.  That's a lot of time out of the house for me!  I'll actually have to get dressed and comb my hair :)   

One of the challenges I have done before, the December Reflection with Susannah Conway.  The object is to take a picture using a prompt.  Here they are if you want to play along:

The first one is Morning Light and I've already done that one a couple of times so I'm going to skip it.

Another fun thing I saw in a post share from Eugenia at Brew and Spew was the Holiday Blog(MAs) party.  I think that sharing holiday memories and traditions is interesting so I'm going to give it a shot.  As I understand it, you are to blog about ChristMAs/the Holidays and what they mean to you.  Thanks to KaylaAnn for organizing.     

ChristMAs is a time of sharing and giving and I'm all about that.  It's a time of love and being with family.  My earliest ChristMAs memories are of the ChristMAs eve parties we had when I was growing up.  All of our extended family came to our house to share a meal, open presents and we would stay up to go to midnight MAss. 

I am the one at the bottom right in this picture.  I was the youngest for a long time until my little sister came along when I was 5. 

That's enough rambling for now.  Hope that you will come along with the December Ditties.  I know it is a busy time for everyone this year.  Ma...Ma...MAMA...MAMA...Mommy...JANET     

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Noted in November - 2018 - #SLS and those wedding photos

It's been a week since I posted and if you remember, that was a quick post as we were on our way to a wedding:

We clean up pretty good don't we?  We are so matching!  My nails match his shirt, his tie matches my dress, you'd think we do that kind of thing all the time, right?  Probably won't wear those clothes again for 5 years - LOL.  It was a very interesting wedding and we had a good time.  It was the FIRST time I've ever had the waiters came around with blankets for the guests since it was so cold in this venue.  I actually wore my coat almost the whole time but I took it off so we could have this picture taken.   

Then came Thanksgiving.  We started it off by playing a game of Monopoly.  FIRST time we've done that as a complete family.

 The family photo.

Followed by a trip to the movies.  We saw Bohemian Rhapsody.  I really liked it.  Even my 95-year-old mom came with us.  I forgot to tell my husband I was taking a picture - :)   

We have gone to the movies on Christmas before but the is the FIRST time we've been on Thanksgiving.  There were only a few other people in the theater, as you can see from the empty seats.  Then again, it was 10:30 PM on Thanksgiving night so maybe people were out shopping those black Friday sales.  Our son came too but he was out getting something and when he came back it was time for the movie to start so I couldn't get his picture.  

Yesterday I participated in a Holiday Boutique, selling my cards and mini-albums and things.  

I was a vendor at this event last year for the FIRST time but it was in a different location.  I was much happier with this spot.  It seemed that we got more shoppers.  I made enough money to cover the cost of renting the spot and a profit on top of that.  FIRST time I have gotten a special order during a sales event too.  I sold a lot of my cards and things but there is plenty left in the Etsy shop if you need some Christmas cards or decorations.  You should check it out!   

I missed the Full Frost Moon on Friday because it was raining and too cloudy.  Fortunately we have a three day window to make our intentions and so I caught it last night.  Still cloudy but you can see her.    

All of which leads to our Song Lyric Sunday prompt, "First."  Thanks, Helen.

I was going to use the song, "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" but someone else has used that.  We are going to see Fleetwood Mac tonight, FIRST time without Lindsey Buckingham, who wrote the words to this song:

Monday Morning
Monday morning you sure look fine
Friday I got travelin' on my mind
First you love me and then you fade away
I can't go on believin' this way
I got nothing but love for you
Tell me what you really want to do
First you love me, then you get on down the line
But I don't mind, I don't mind, yeah
I'll be there if you want me to
No one else that could ever do
Got to get some peace in my mind
Monday morning you sure look fine
Friday I got travelin' on my mind
First you love me and then you say it's wrong
You know I can't go on believing for long
But you know it's true
You only want me when I get over you
First you love me, then you get on down the line
But I don't mind, no, I don't mind, yeah
I'll be there if you want me to
No one else that could ever do
Got to get some peace in my mind
But you know it's true
You know you only want me when I get over you
First you love me, then you get on down the line
But I don't mind, no, I don't mind, yeah
I'll be there if you want me to
No one else that could ever do
Got to get some peace in my mind
Songwriters: Lindsey Buckingham
Monday Morning lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

It is interesting that I checked the setlist for this tour as I always do and they are performing this song.  I guess he can't stop them from performing it without him just like he performed some of "their" songs when he does his solo tour, and Stevie Nicks sings some Fleetwood songs when she does her solo stuff.  Must have been written into their contracts.  Anyway, here is the YouTube version:

Question for you all who participate in this song sharing fest, when you grab a link from YouTube to share, do you take from the artist/official clip or do you take from other people?  I am always afraid that if I don't use the official clip I'm violating someone's rights.  The scrapbook pages I made  from one of the times we saw Fleetwood, this time was without Christine McVie. 

I hope I can get some better pictures this time.  Don't forget to visit some of the other players in the Song Lyric game.  Happy Sunday everyone!