Dec 282011

Tree2011 183x300 Highlights Christmas 2011

What we like best about this time of year is building happy memories and being with family and friends (like the Christmas Oatmeal Boxes Grandmom used to put together or the Mrs. Weasly Sweater I made for my best friend for Christmas 2007). We were fortunate to have the opportunity to be with our family, share lots of smiles, give out a few surprises and create some wonderful memories.

XmasFavThings2011 Highlights Christmas 2011

Christmas morning the three of us, Teacherman, Angelgirl, and Me, had a lot of smiles and Santa was very good to us.  We take our time and open gifts slowly, sip coffee (Angelgirl sips hot cocoa) and wear a Christmas hat on our heads.

By noontime we headed out to make the rounds and visited my sisters (who live across the street from each other). First on the left side of the street we brought Mom along and gave gifts to my niece and two nephews. Then crossed the street to visit with my other sister,  (my mom lives there too), and my brother (who arrived a bit later about mid-afternoon).  We called my other brother, who is in a nursing home in Arkansas, to wish him a Merry Christmas.  He really enjoyed the Christmas package we sent him (it included a Christmas Oatmeal Box).

Mom was spoiled with a huge stocking and lots of packages to open – from little gifts and treats to big surprises.  I think this was her biggest Christmas ever.  Her big gifts included a cd player and a notebook (computer).

I usually get my nieces and nephews gift cards, but like to present them each year in a unique way but putting together a “themed” gift bag or basket.  This year theme was baking – I got my brother and sisters the Big top Cupcake Highlights Christmas 2011 with a couple of cake mixes, icings, and cake decorating sprinkles, and cookie cutter set.

However for my one niece and nephew instead of gift cards, they had a “Cake Boss” Christmas Extravaganza – they LOVE the Cake Boss.  I got them Buddy’s two cookbooks, Buddy Valastro Talking Bobblehead Highlights Christmas 2011, and Cake Boss mixing bowl set.  But the biggest gift (that earned us the honor of being the world’s best aunt and uncle) are tickets to see the Cake Boss Live Show (March 16th in Trenton, NJ) – they are VIP tickets so there is a meet and greet after the show.

Xmas 2011 Presents Galore Highlights Christmas 2011

I’m so looking forward to seeing the smiles when we get to meet the Cake Boss in March – it is going to be a memory for a lifetime.

Dec 072011

xmascandles 1 The Christmas Oatmeal Box

To visit everyone for the Yuletide Blessings 2011 Blog Party click HERE.

One of the blessings of the holidays is enjoying family traditions. When I was growing up with my two brothers and two sisters our grandmother made us “Christmas Oatmeal Boxes” as an alternative to the usual Christmas stockings and the memories of those silly boxes still makes me smile.  They were filled with little toys and candy (one regular item was the Swiss Colony Xmas mouse with a red hat – we loved it and we used ours to make shaved chocolate on our New Year’s eggnog).  As we all grew up we still enjoyed our Oatmeal Boxes, and as we got married Grandmom even made up one for our spouses.  Sometimes a special friend or two, if they had been around for many years, would be surprised by also receiving one of Grandmom’s Oatmeal Boxes. It was always considered a special honor to be included in the family tradition.   Grandmom spent all year eating oatmeal for every breakfast and decorating the boxes with contact paper and yarn to make the handle for the lid.   She poured over catalogs to find silly things to put in them (like silly shaped pencil sharperners (I still have one shaped like an old fashioned sewing machine), funny toilet paper, and toothbrushes with “boobies” for bristles for the boys).  Some years she would have a “theme.”   I remember one year she gave all the men plastic cave man clubs (fully wrapped and with a  bow – just looking at the packages cracked us up) and in everyone’s oatmeal box we had windup dinosaurs.  We spent hours laughing and giggling on the kitchen floor having races with our dinosaurs.  Even though we were now in our 30s and 40s we were able to enjoy a little Christmas as if we were only five again, thanks to the love that our Grandmom shared with us through her Christmas Oatmeal Boxes.

While clearing out some things from the garage a few months ago I found an old oatmeal box.   It was a bit dusty and beat up – but filled with memories.  I knew just what I wanted to do with it.  My brother, C.S. is in a nursing home in Arkansas (he is blind and lost both his leg from diabetes).  I send him a little care package of sugar free goodies each month.  For xmas I like to send a bigger package with a couple of xmas gifts.  This year my brother will be getting a Christmas Oatmeal box.  It won’t have the same “flair” Grandmom’s used to have, but it will still contain the memories and love.   I packed it with a comb (that was a standard Grandmom addition), fingerless gloves and crocheted cap (he is always getting cold), a few sugar free goodies (life savers and gum), and a tshirt that says “for a good time insert coin here,” (I found the tshirt on sale for $5 a month ago and knew right away it would be a perfect silly gift for the oatmeal box).

Family traditions and the love and memories they carry with them last a lifetime.  I feel truly blessed to have the memory of Grandmom’s Christmas Oatmeal Boxes and so glad I am able to be able to share that memory with my brother this year.

What is your favoriate family tradition?

Bright blessings, Lady Rose

Nov 242011

Thanksgiving2007 1 300x225 A Wonderful Family Thanksgiving

13 photos from my favorite Thanksgiving family get together, November 2007.  We rented a house on the beach with two 3-bedroom apartments, so we had plenty of room to invite the whole family down to spend a couple of nights and two kitchens to cook in.

The turkey, the beach, and the full moon = a perfect vacation! And one of the most awesome Thanksgiving get togethers we have ever had, with lots of wonderful memories for everyone in our family.

The house we rented was right on the ocean, we arrived on Wed. and stayed through to Sunday, it has a big apartment on the second floor (where we stayed with a deck facing the ocean), and a big apartment on the first floor with a big porch facing the ocean (where most of the family stayed). My family joined us for two nights and we enjoyed a wonderful, relaxing, awesome Thanksgiving together. My hubby is a great cook and the turkey came out perfect (and everything else too). We did a lot of prep work at home first, so the morning of Thanksgiving we bascially just had to put a few things together put the turkey in the oven (and a ham in the other oven downstairs) and enjoy our time together with the family and watch the kids playing on the beach. Dinner time we all helped setting the table and setting out the awesome feast, shared our thoughts on what we were thankful for, enjoyed each other’s company and the spectacular ocean view as we leisurely ate dinner. The weather for the whole weekend was awesome; who would have believed that in Nov. we could be running around the beach with just a light jacket on here in New Jersey. At night the full moon was shining over the water and created a magical, relaxing sight. Sunrises were equally beautiful and inspiring.

The kids got to play on the beach, collect shells, do arts and crafts (I had brought some kits for them), make xmas candy (my sister brought an easy kit for them). Friday my sisters and I got to visit a local Christmas shop and oooh and ahhhh over all the awesome decorations. Some of us went for a nice walk through part of the bird sanctuary along the beach that is a short distance down the road from the beach house.

Thanksgiving2007 2 A Wonderful Family Thanksgiving

The weather was so nice that the kids could play on the beach and we sat on the porch watching the waves while the turkey was roasting. The view on the beach was awesome and the full moon at night added just the perfect magical touch.

Thanksgiving2007 3 A Wonderful Family Thanksgiving


I really hope that we can rent the beach house again for a future Thanksgiving.  It was one of the most relaxing, no drama, Thanksgiving holidays we have ever had when the whole family was together.

Thanksgiving2007 4 300x225 A Wonderful Family Thanksgiving

This year it will be just the three of us today for a small Thanksgiving Feast. We will be getting some work done around the house – there is lot to organize and rearrange in the tv room. We got new furniture for that room yesterday so I want to start uncluttering the room and deep cleaning (including six bookshelves in desperate need of sorting and dusting) We will be getting together with the family on Saturday over at my sister’s house to celebrate with the extended family – my mom, my sister and her husband and 2 kids, and my brother (who is sick with the flu but hopefully will be feeling better by Saturday) and his son. My other sister isn’t speaking to her or avoiding every one else in the family (long story and not worth telling). Since she is living right across the street we will pop in for a quick visit to drop off some homemade turkey soup that Teacherman plans on making Friday with our leftovers. My other brother is in a nursing home in Arkansas, he is blind and lost both legs because of diabetes. I will be sending out his monthly care package (sugar-free treats and a cd of music) this weekend.  I’m looking forward to a peaceful four days off work enjoying time with my hubby and daughter, and a nice visit with the extended family.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving memories?  Wishing everyone a joyful, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving, Lady Rose

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pixel A Wonderful Family Thanksgiving