Martha Thinks

Thursday, December 31, 2009

and little imaginary village

I have no idea how I found the time or how I got my sons to find the time to help me...but this year I cleaned off my big french country linen bureau (a beauty for $200 at Todd Farm) with the white marble top ($1,000 when husband was traveling..I "needed" it - all before the financial crash let's just say that right up front) and set up my "A Christmas Story" village.

I added bits and pieces this year and even found a Lands' End house at Sears which cracked me up. So I bought that one, too. But most importantly, I found a use for the Thomas trains. I am not a hoarder, often have a little clutter issue, but as I've said before, I will not throw away the Thomas trains. They represent the boys, each one attached to one train or the other. Here Sir Handel follows his friend under the bridge.

But look how cute! See. Arthur giving Duncan a little push.

Over the river and through the woods...Bulgy the Bus and his angry face trying to make it up the steep bridge. I can relate.

Hey, let me in! I want a Red Ryder BB Gun and I've gotta tell Santa! 'K, that's the end of the Christmas cuteness. My Christmas was filled with as much chaos, exhaustion and stress as anyone else's, believe me. I guess I just took pics of the good stuff ; )

Salz Family Cookie Company

For many years, we went crazy with the cookie baking. We'd have "Cookie Day" one Sunday before Christmas and have at it. The kids were smaller then, heck Ronan hadn't even graced us with his presence. Then for a few years we didn't get around to it at all. But this year, we were back! We gave out boxes of them and from what I hear...were enjoyed by all.

Assembly line.
Santa even enjoyed some cappuccino flats and swirled mint cookies.
Apricot Amaretto Chews...with a little drizzle.
This an A+ recipe from an old Boston Globe Magazine. It's called European Apple Cake and I've made it 100 times. It's wonderful. Don't you want a bite? Come on over.
The Lenox plates come out at Christmas. I try to stretch them out to the end of January, as it seems crazy to save such pretty plates for just one month a year.
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The Sights and Sounds

my mother wrapped in her "Slanket"...thought it would be a bit of a joke gift, proving to be worth it's weight in gold on these frostiest of nights.
Ronan's very own Elf, Clarence, paid us visits every couple of days or so and left notes!

Christmas morning, a Wii!! a Wii!! a Wii!
8 a.m. Christmas morning. Bailey's and coffee. It's truly the only present I ever need.
Umm? The boys' gift to their dad. They picked it out. You can be your own judge ; )

ok, not such a great photo, but the reason we caught him smiling is his gift of driver's ed. we also made up a fake license. That'll get any teenage boy to smile.

again, the in the goofy gift category. Yes, my family actually bought me Regis Philbin's latest CD. The who, what, where and why of it is to be determined.
The Union Jack played a big role in Carter's gift's this year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Good Friends Feed The Soul

Time for my annual Girlfriend's Christmas Party and Yankee Swap. Oh my gosh do we laugh. Pointsettia Cocktails and great munchies. Pumpkin cheesecake and all things dipped in chocolate...strawberries, pretzels, potato chips, fabulous! This year the Class of '78 turns 50 and we are going to Las Vegas. You don't know what a brave thing that is for me to do...but it's far too irresistible for me to ever say no.
I offered up a handpainted sign for my swap gift and it was well liked. I heard talk of stealing! and theft! and envy! By the time the night was over I had so many compliments on my signs that I went upstairs to retrieve my inventory and several signs left for Christmas presents. Again, that feeding the soul thing.
My Reading neighbors, Kathy and Cindy. Make new friends but keep the old, new are silver, old are gold.
We met in kindergarten. Now those kids are 17 (dang it all) and we are still helping each other through the crazy roller-coaster ride of raising kids. I've learned a lot from these ladies! Merry Christmas to all my friends. If you are in it, it will be a good year.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Do you love

This necklace can be found at I own one myself!

Being in the Mall, no sorry, LIVING in the Mall these past months has made me yearn for something homemade, dang it. It has made me realize that what I have is a job, but that it pales in comparison to making something with my own hands. I miss it and it is a priority for 2010. In the meantime, I have found many (manymanymany) wonderful things on

If you aren't aware of this fabu place yet, everything is handmade. An artist or craftsperson can make one or one hundred of their things and put it up for sale. It is the most wonderful marketplace I've ever seen. And may I had - completely affordable.

So think of etsy this year for birthdays and holidays. Maybe you'll see me there soon!

How about a beautiful pillow cover that zips off for washing?

Or upscale hairpins to add a little romance to your life.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

All in one Night

This was the night for the Christmas card photo. Ah, it's always a lovely time, it is. Especially when mom makes you put on matching t-shirts and you are a teenaged boy. Oh, so what. The way I see it, I get to "dress" them on Easter, Thanksgiving and for the Christmas card. The rest of the time they are pretty much in control.

Then Ronan and I and as the rest of the gang came in from the dog park and pulled themselves away from the computer, all watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas." The pretty fire was lit and I made some hot chocolate and for one brief half hour there was peace in the land.

Oh the room is WAY too small & all I've done in 5 years is reconfigure furniture. A small upright piano is in the room while our magnificent baby grand that we inherited enjoys a place of honor in my mother's much bigger living room. But we have this fireplace. And on a night like tonight, it's worth all the tea in China.

So what is it about this story that moves those of us who were 8 years old in 1968, or thereabouts? This 20 minutes of magic? From the skaters and the first few notes of "Christmas Time Is Here, Happiness and cheer, Fun for all, That children call, Their favorite time of year." Was it held so precious because it was only to be seen once a year? That it ushered in Christmas?! Is it all of the snow? Boy, I remember snow. Maybe it was the colors. The crazy bright and beautiful colors from this show and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Is it that there were no extras, no trips to the toy store, no IPODs, computers, DVDs? That there were only 3 television stations? (oh, sorry I forgot about Channel 2 and 38) There was boredom, sure, but imagination, too. I remember Christmas was a bright and glorious season of church fairs, school concerts and Camp Fire Girls holding those little grey and white pamphlets singing carols in front of the elderly housing. It was foil wrapped chocolate with pictures of Santa. It was pretty tablecloths and candles. And the suspense. You could have truly bottled it.

It was the Children's Mass on Christmas Eve and then hearing the NORAD (North American Air Defense - report on the television telling the kids where in the world Santa's sleigh was at 7 o'clock our time. Our how could we sleep knowing Santa was in France right now????

It was tired parents who stayed up late putting things together and an open box of chocolates on Christmas morning. For breakfast! It was Bobby Sherman and a banana yellow album player. Oh, I had died and gone to heaven. It was a blue "maxi" coat that came down to my ankles with some kind of furry interior and a big hood and brown suede boots. Sarah Jessica had nothing on me.
It was the pretty lights, surely not as many as we all have now festooning every corner inside and out, but bigger more dreamy lights on the tree with shining tinsel that made everything glitter. And the big plastic waving Santa that my father would always put in the window. It seemed the more worn the red paint got, the warmer Santa seemed. It was the leading-up-to, the shared stories I remember on the schoolyard about exactly how-it-goes-down at "your" house. And the inevitable debate about Santa. How could there be a Santa? How could he be real? ("my sister says"..."my brother says")...and get to everyone's house? Well, there are different time zones. He just starts early, that's all.

It was the Sears Catalog - the GIANT toy section where you would circle the dozens of presents you would want. It was the uncomparable thrill on Christmas morning of the bursting stockings and the piles and piles of wrapped gifts for 5 kids in the living room.

I don't know if the seasons hold the same feeling for my kids. I wonder what they will hold dear in 30 years. They have never gone without. They bemoan not having their own rooms (and often make me feel really guilty about it) but otherwise have everything they could ever want. They have rarely had to wait a couple of months for anything, never mind from Christmas to Christmas. So I offer my traditions to them, I tell them my stories. I hope something sticks.
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Monday, December 7, 2009

Slipcovers, Part 1

Although he looks like Santa, his name is really Stanley. He's super-duper slipcover guy. I've been working with him for a dozen years or so, changing out worn out slipcovers on couches that my boys and dogs have rough-and-tumbled over.

Well this time, I've economized. The pea green crushed velvet ottoman that you can see just a little of is 30 years old from our neighbors growing up. The other furniture is not new, but rather mostly Craigslist purchases. All in wonderful, clean shape, but nothing matched either my taste or my color palette. So off to Zimmans I went in search of more durable fabric in a neutral color that my boys and dog could still lounge all over. I threw in a little leopard for me and a little graphic dog print for Ronan.

All the tools a master needs. He'll re-do my loveseat, 2 wingback chairs, 3 ottomans and recover the pillows on my kitchen couch. I hope they'll be here by Christmas. That would be the best present ever for this girl.

Not a ruler to be found. Just draped and cut. Made some chalk marks. Cut and pinned. Front and back, left and right. I just sat and drank my coffee. Well, and wrote the fat check.
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Festival of Trees

Oh bring on the holiday spirit. I love this event! What a great fundraising idea that has tremendous success over the years. It's called the "Festival of Trees".

Here's how it works. Trees are donated by individuals, schools and companies. They are all set up in the cafeterial of the middle school. The school is open both Saturday and Sunday and raffle tickets are sold and each tree has a bucket underneath and you put in your tickets for your favorite tree.
There were "Lego" trees and "Twilight" trees and "CD" trees and even "Money" trees with dollar bills clipped to it. It's lovely enough to have one tree in your house, but truly uplifting to be surrounded by all of these twinkles.

A little pink and white sparkler.
Our elementary school made ornaments out of lifesavers and the school collected money for gift cards which were also on the tree.
At 5pm, the winners are announced. Boy did we cross our fingers for the Lego tree, but sadly, we won nothing!
But I told Ronan that he does win in another way since all of the money raised goes directly to the Reading Technology Fund which purchased computers and other equipment for all 7 schools in Reading.
And what's Christmas without a little Snoop-dog?

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