Are We Walking to Alaska

Are We Walking to Alaska
Are We Walking to Alaska - A True Story

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Eve

Well, I'm just a week behind.  This has been such a gloriously happy, busy season that I've not kept up with my blogging - but that's ok - I've had fun and enjoyed the season - that is the main thing.  I admire those that can blog right along with the season - I've enjoyed your photos and tables and fun so much.

The table is set - the guests are about to arrive - let's have some Christmas Eve fun!

12 Days of Christmas glasses - we've had these since our kids were little - some have gotten broken over the years, and we've found replacements at the thrift stores.  I love anything to do with 12 Days of Christmas

Penguin napkin rings - I made these from plastic canvas especially for this season

Red handled flatware - in green tumblers - with just a little snow from picmonkey - thank you monkey

The plates and serving dishes are green holly dishes - collected over the years.  I crocheted the little christmas tree when we lived in the desert in S. California

Cranberry/orange bread and Lemon Poppy Seed bread in a bell and a tree holly dish

Dips and cheese spreads

A table full of goodness.

Don does the Christmas Eve - food prep, table setting, etc. I contribute the sweets

And I made this special christmas tree - on a tree plate

There are lots of fun Christmas Critters in our house - most of them sing or dance or do something silly.  These are on their new sled, under the Christmas tree.

And more in a huge basket

Desserts are served on the buffet, next to the dining room table.  I painted the three carolers one year after our kids dressed up and went caroling around the outside of our house, then came indoors for cocoa and cookies - the carolers are dressed as our three kids were.

Frosted cut-out sugar cookies and miniature chocolate cupcakes

Three pies - one apple, two mince meat

Cranberry/pecan shortbread, Russian Teacakes, Gingerbread pigs with pink frosting on their backs and Thumbprint cookies with homemade peach/raspberry jam.  Please help yourself.

Mint cookies, chocolate covered dried cherries, Almond sandwich cookies and chocolate BonBons - all were gifts  -  and all were delicious.

Our tree was lit and cheery

It was a wonderful Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Downsizing and De-cluttering - 2014

I have decided that this is the year - declutter - downsize - that's all the D words I can think of right now - but I'm going to do it.  Not my dishes, mind you - though I won't be buying any for quite some time - at least until June - that is my plan.  No thrift stores or yard sales!!

While de-cluttering I'll show you some pretties in our house that I don't plan to get rid of - the ones I'm showing today are the new ornaments I received this year as gifts. 

A tiny white duck with holly and ribbon - from Ben's family
I will get rid of four things every day - and counting the last 3 days of this year - that makes 1484 items to de-clutter from our house.  Now some are easy - yesterday a broken carpet shampooer went to a place that fixes such things - and the co-owned power washer went back to it's home in our daughter and SIL's garage - that's two for yesterday already - great start (pat on the back).

Snowman ornament - made by Lori - from an old christmas card - love those googley eyes!
Today we are packing away the christmas decorations - nothing much there to declutter - we did that a few years ago with things that were worn beyond use - or gave things to our children.  More to come in the coming years, I'm sure - but not much this year. 

Santa and his reindeer - putting out the fire they caused coming down the chimney - a gift from Don
I might not do 4 things every single day - might do a whole bunch at a time - but I will keep track - and feel free to remind me to de-clutter if I get lazy about it.  My studio needs tidied - there will be some things in there to deal with too, I'm sure.  Paper and crafts can clutter up so fast.

A reindeer made from a clothes pin - by Lori - at our family ornament making day this year
Onward and upward - or downward as I downsize - goal - 1484 - total so far 2 - great start (another pat on the back).

Made from a vintage spool of thread - from my SIL, Jason

Later in the evening
I'm back - we got the tree down - the decorations packed away - the outdoor decorations in the shed and tubs of decorations to our daughter's garage - and some tubs to our shed - things that won't be hurt by being in an unheated shed.  It looks really nice in here now - Don has vacuumed and put the furniture back - ahhhh it looks normal again.  I will do a little winter decorating over the next few days - I'll share that later.

A metal painted Santa - he was new last year - but I knew you wanted to see him
So - decluttering - here's my list so far
1. Carpet shampooer to a  place that repairs things like that (it was given to us and we can't fix it)
2. Power Washer to its other home
3-6 - worn out or broken ornaments to the trash
7-10 - Christmas tins to one of our daughters
11-12 - got rid of two cardboard storage boxes - replaced them with christmas tins I already had
13-14 - Mr and Mrs Santa - worn out from years of use - little embroidered pictures
15-19 - Shabby bows on the outdoor wreaths - 6 years is a good long life for that
20 - Wobbly and broken teddy bear - it is sad when they are no longer just shabby and cute - but really shabby
21-24 - Four snowflake ornaments with broken arms
25-28 - Four bags of candy to Don's  work - bought too much
29 - Don's old robe to Goodwill (yes I had permission to give it away - he wanted a cotton one and got it for christmas - the old one is still good - just not what he prefers)

The Washington State Ferry - all decked out - with  Santa riding on top - from Ben's family

There you go - I'm 7 days ahead - and lots more to go.  Things will be nice and orderly by the time I'm done - perhaps tomorrow I will attack my closet. Or maybe I'll crochet and have a day off, what do you think?

And our coffee table - with all the seaside items decked out with shiny red balls - I love how they glitter in the lights from the tree.
 Are you de-cluttering? Letting go of things?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Wonderful Christmas Gift

This year we decided on hand  made gifts for the adults - with either hand made or purchased for the grandsons - that gives Grammy and Grampy a lot of choices.  

One of our favorite gifts was from our  nine year old grandson, Ben

He took photos of his cat Zoe - and made calenders for each family.  Photos and captions - it is a fabulous calendar - we will treasure it forever.











(Lady of Spain is a game they  play while folding laundry - Zoe will hide under a lightweight piece of clothes and her ears make the fabric stick up like a Mantilla)


You miss the narration of the captions by Ben, in different accents - it is a hoot.

Ben is quite good with a camera - but then he's been using my camera since he was 3.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Reason - - -

This is a wonderful time of year, and in some ways it makes me sad to see some harshness in a few people - claiming that they have the exclusive rights to the winter holiday celebrations. There are many, many Reasons for this Season - all around the world.

This is my all time favorite bumper sticker - it says so much - in just one word.

There are so many festivals at this time of the year - and so many good things to celebrate. These are in no particular order - just Reasons why we celebrate our love for each other. It is often said that if we didn't have a winter celebration we would make one up - to bring cheer to this time of the year.


December 8 - Day of Enlightenment, celebrating the day that the historical Buddha (Siddhartha Guatama) experienced enlightenment. It was originally celebrated in Japan, China, Korea and Vietnam and now around the world, and is a day of meditation.

The Solstice is celebrated around the world, with tributes to nature and giving of gifts to friends and loved ones. The main celebration centers around nature and this poem is a great tribute to the Winter Solstice.

The Shortest Day

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.

- Susan Cooper
Author of The Dark is Rising novels


December 6 - though originating in Greece - this holiday is celebrated around the world now. It is celebrated in many ways—the bishop may lead a town parade, hold a Saints' Day Worship service, visit schools, hospitals and homes during parties or St. Nicholas might come at night and leave sweet treats and small gifts for children.

St. Nicholas is the Patron Saint of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, students and children. St. Nicholas is the model for our modern Santa Claus and however he comes, Saint Nicholas reminds us that giving is more important than receiving, and doing for others is the faithful way to live.


Christmas festivities in Mexico begin with Las Posadas, nine consecutive days of candleight processions and lively parties starting December 16.

Children gather each afternoon to reenact the holy family's quest for lodging in Bethlehem. The procession is headed by a small Virgin Mary often perched on a live burro, led by a little Joseph. There are other children - dressed in colorful costumes and carrying decorated walking sticks and paper lanterns. The children stop at a designated house and ask for lodging for the Holy Family - and are turned away, because there is no room at the inn (Posada), this is repeated at a second and then third home - the third home says there is room in the manger and then the children are invited in for fun and games, and the chance to take a whack at the pinata and a mad scramble for the fruits, sugar cane, peanuts and candies in the pinata.


Russian Christmas is celebrated on Jan 6. After the 1917 Revolution, Christmas was banned throughout Russia, along with other religious celebrations. It wasn't until 75 years later, in 1992, that the holiday was openly observed once again. Fasting is observed during the day and after the first star appears dinner is served - meatless but festive. The most important ingredient is a special porridge called kutya. It is made of wheatberries or other grains which symbolize hope and immortality, and honey and poppy seeds which ensure happiness, success, and untroubled rest. A ceremony involving the blessing of the home is frequently observed. The kutya is eaten from a common dish to symbolize unity.

Growing up in Alaska we often would go to the Russian Christmas Mass at this wonderful Russian Orthodox Church.


The christian holiday most widely celebrated - on Dec. 25, the day that the Solstice was originally held, according the the ancient Julian calendar. It is a time of feasting, families gathering and gift giving - in the tradition of the Wise Men bringing gifts to the Christ Child. Gift giving is also a time when we can give to the less fortunate in our communities and around the world.

An Iranian mid winter festival, celebrated Dec 11 or Jan 22 - depending on the region of the celebration, it was celebrated with grandeur and magnificence in ancient Iran. Today it is a festivity to honor fire and to defeat the forces of darkness, frost, and cold. The chief preparation is the gathering of wood, and everyone in the community is expected to contribute. When the fire was lit there was a blessing given for the whole community.


An eight day festival beginning usually in mid to  late December, commemorating the miracle of the oil after the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and his defeat in 165 BCE. The Menorah is one of the most widely recognized symbol of Chanukah. There is gift giving and feasting during this holiday - though not as lavish as Christmas, the focus is more on the spiritual events.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.


Begun as a Germanic and Egyptian Pagan festival of the rebirth of the Sun. It is now celebrated around the world, by Christians, non-Christians and even by the non-religious. Yule traditions include decorating a fir or spruce tree, burning a Yule log, hanging mistletoe and holly branches, giving gifts, and general celebration and merriment.


Celebrated in Balkan Slavic countries on the evening of Dec. 24, the meaning has shifted from Christmas itself to denoting the tradition of strolling, singing, and having fun on that special night. It specifically applies to children and teens who walk house to house greeting people, singing and sifting grain that denotes the best wishes and receiving candy and small money in return.


This is a Humanist holiday celebrated on December 23. Humanist philosophy is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, it affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity. It is a celebration of "a Humanist's vision of a good future." They celebrate a positive approach to the coming new year. Celebrating on Dec. 23 then allows the members to also join in other celebrations of the season.

Their philosophy is summed up in the words of a song that is often sung at Christmas - "Be Good for Goodness' Sake".


A week long celebration honoring universal African American heritage and culture, observed from December 26 to January 1 each year. It features activities such as lighting candles in a candle holder with seven candles and culminates in a feast and giving of gifts. It was first celebrated in 1966–1967.

There are many, many more celebrations of winter holidays - each with special meaning to those that celebrate their special days. Many Reasons to remember we are all connected and these are special times that we can remember those who are close to us, those who are far away and those who don't have the same good fortune that we have. We can celebrate any holiday by giving to the poor, helping at a soup kitchen, taking coffee to those standing in the cold while waiting at the food bank, bringing blankets and gloves to homeless and being tolerant of the beliefs of others.

Each person carries the ability in their heart to be open and accepting and my wish for this season is that we all share our commonality and not dredge up our differences. Try to get to know someone who is different than you - get to really know them personally and you will find they have the same desires, hopes, dreams and plans that you do. They cry in anguish, smile and laugh in joy and love their families the same way we love our families. We are one!

“Remember the five simple rules to be happy: Free your heart from hatred.
Free your mind from worries. Live simply. Give more. Expect less.”

And I can truly say - Happy Holidays to one and all!!!