Ornamental Treasures

Last week once I had finished decorating my Christmas tree, I read this sort of post over at Cakes, Teas, and Dreams and immediately thought I should do something similar. (After wishing I had been doing this all these years.) I originally thought I might not put the Christmas tree up this year because of some anticipated work travel – but that project got pushed to the new year – so, the tree is providing a lovely glow in the living room.

In addition to the glow that the tree lights provide, I think there is also a glow provided by the memories associated with the ornaments that fill the tree. A common thread to the ornaments highlighted here…work adventures….throughout the years, I have often picked up a Christmas ornament to capture a work memory…

1995 - Houston

1995 – Houston

My first business trip – the summer of 1995, I was in Houston for an internship with a consulting company. It was an all around good experience – even though there were some bumps in the midst of it. I learned a lot through the job (& ultimately was in consulting for 15 years because of this opportunity)…I participated in a great weekly Bible study, Caedmon’s Call was the house band…co-workers became friends…a new friend at church there let me stay in her spare room when my summer housing option disintegrated. This ornament from a shop in the Houston Galleria reminds me of the summer of being out there on my own and handling everything that came my way.

1997 - St. Croix, USVI

1997 – St. Croix, USVI

In 1997, I had a couple of business trips to St. Croix USVI to conduct training for a client. The island is dotted with “windmill remnants” from Dutch colonial days. Truly, most of my time there was spent working (& trying to stay on the correct side of the road while driving) – although in the evenings we enjoyed some great meals in town. My last trip there, I finally had a chance to stay through a weekend and do a bit of exploring.

1998 - Appleton, WI

1998 – Appleton, WI

In November 1998, I first traveled to Northeast WI for a project. I wintered in Appleton. One evening while shopping in the local mall, I saw a cart in the middle of the mall selling these ornaments that were cut from timber that had been recovered from “long ago sunken timber ships” in the Great Lakes. Little did I know then how much a part of my life NE WI would become in recent years.

2003 - Kansas City

2003 – Kansas City

Eleven years ago, I had a business trip back to Kansas City during December. I traveled with a client team and we had long days of work. In the evenings, I was tour director and shared my love of Kansas City Christmas with them – we would pile into our rental minivan & I would direct us to some favorites from when I lived in the KC area. One night, we were at Crowne Center with the ice skating rink and great Christmas decorations. The next evening we enjoyed dinner and shopping at the spectacularly lit Plaza. In one of the stores, there were ornaments made from the colored bulbs that lit the plaza the previous year. Several of these bulbs came home with me to share. As we left KC, several of my clients said this was the best business trip they had ever been on because I shared the KC Christmas magic with them.

2011 - Marinette

2011 – Marinette

In August 2011, I stopped at a favorite Christmas shoppe in Door County as I drove back to Chicago from a week in Marinette that sparked my transition from consultant to employee. This Packers fan seemed perfect to add to the tree to remember the 2010 Super Bowl win & the season when I became a Packers fan. It might be a bit more special this year after cheering on a game at Lambeau last month.

2012 - Marinette

2012 – Marinette

A day trip to Door County in June as we were in the final crunch time on the project in Marinette had me once again at my favorite Christmas shoppe. This time, a lighthouse ornament came home with me as a reminder of my calming walks to/from the local lighthouse that were part of my Marinette routine.

2014 - London

2014 – London

A definite highlight of this year has been the 3 trips to the UK in support of a project. Each trip offered an opportunity for some sight seeing. This year, I add Westminster Abbey to my tree to remind me of my first afternoon of my first trip when I enjoyed a proper afternoon tea tucked away on the grounds of the abbey.

 

As I look at my Christmas tree, I see not just a celebration of the season – I see moments & memories & stories from so many chapters of my life. There are numerous chapter to share – vacation souvenirs…painted plaster ornaments from Artisan Dad…sweet ornaments from sweet friends…and more. What stories does your tree tell through your ornaments?

Holiday Shuffle

I had another Christmas themed post ready to share – but when I saw this prompt, I decided to join in. (Bonus – I now have a post ready for later this week…)

O Christmas Tree

For Ten on Tuesday this week, the prompt was the 1st 10 songs that come up in your iPod shuffle. While this would be an eclectic list given the wide range of tunes I have, I decided to give it a holiday twist & shuffle on the “holiday” genre. So, here are 10 holiday tunes that shuffled through for me:

  • O Holy Night – Joshua Bell (feat. Kristin Chenoweth) – Musical Gifts
  • The Chipmunk Song – Joey McIntyre – Come Home for Christmas
  • A Holly Jolly Christmas – Lady Antebellum – On This Winter’s Night
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – John Tesh – Big Band Christmas
  • Mary, Did You Know? – Pentatonix – That’s Christmas to Me
  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Kevin Max – Holy Night
  • Christmas Is Coming – John Denver & The Muppets – A Christmas Together
  • Mele Kalikimaka – The Puppini Sisters – Christmas With the Puppini Sisters
  • We Three Kings – Pink Martini – Joy to the World

As an aside, I actually have a playlist titled “O Holy Night” & it turns out that over the years I have collected 17 versions of this beautiful Christmas song.

‘Tis the Season…what tunes would shuffle through if you narrowed your music to holiday?

Currently…November…

Ah, November…always a favorite…with my birthday early in the month and Thanksgiving late in the month…in the midst of celebrating and giving thanks, these are some of the things that filled my November days…
A gorgeous Sunday evening sunset in the 'Ville after a very rainy day...

A gorgeous Sunday evening sunset in the ‘Ville after a very rainy day…

Reading…nothing earth shattering…some freebie fiction for flights & travel…(the majority of my Christmas wish list is books!)

Watching…enjoyed The Giver on DVD with the family while home in the ‘Ville…

Office birthday decor...

Office birthday decor…

Celebrating…a “decade turning” birthday in so many different ways: it started with dinner at a new restaurant while down in TX for some fall fun with my girlies – on my birthday, friends at work decorated my cube & treated me to lunch at a local fave – it continued with a Packers game & more with the WI family – and “finally” a bit of celebrating with the family when I was home for Thanksgiving…

Crafting…lots of progress on a “Simple Shawlette” during Thanksgiving week…

Browsing…a nice tale of a Make-a-Wish kid who was at the Packers-Bears game…Hank the Ballpark Pup has contributed more than $146,000 to the local humane society…a “throwback” article on how spreadsheets came to be…a bookmark worthy list of grammar rules

App-ing…family Christmas cards designed & ordered through Shutterfly…

Cheering…heartily at the Packers game & taking most of the month to recover my voice…

One of many mugs of "voice recovery" tea this month...

One of many mugs of “voice recovery” tea this month…

Sipping & Squawking…A lot of hot tea with honey & lemon to soothe my throat and return my voice after the game…workdays filled with conference calls were lots of “fun” as my voice took it’s time returning…

Cooking…my holiday “traditional” shredded Brussels sprouts dish for our Thanksgiving table…

Leftover cranberry pie for breakfast!

Leftover cranberry pie for breakfast!

Baking…A double batch of my Nantucket Cranberry Pie to share with the church Thanksgiving dinner at home in the ‘Ville…we brought home leftovers and shamelessly enjoyed pie for breakfast!

Mom's Lemon Meringue Pie - a new Thanksgiving dessert tradition?

Mom’s Lemon Meringue Pie – a new Thanksgiving dessert tradition?

Noshing…a simple & tasty Thanksgiving meal with the family: turkey with Grandpa’s dressing & gravy; my shredded Brussels sprouts; Rebecca’s green bean casserole; roasted cranberries & butternut squash; a family favorite cranberry jello; and for dessert…we went non-traditional with Mom’s fabulous lemon meringue pie & Rebecca is requesting it becomes a Thanksgiving tradition now…

Flying…Flights early in the month pushed me into gold frequent flier status…it has been several years since I’ve had “status” – thank you trips to the UK for making that happen…

Sunset out the window as I fly north from Thanksgiving in the 'Ville...

Sunset out the window as I fly north from Thanksgiving in the ‘Ville…

Traveling…I was only home 1 weekend this month…otherwise my weekends were filled with travels & adventures with all my favorite people in TX, WI & GA…

Looking Ahead….ah, the anticipation & fun of Christmastime!

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for the monthly “What I’m Into” round-up. What are you into these days?

Give Thanks…

Today’s 10 on Tuesday is a given during this week of Thanksgiving…10 things I’m thankful for…this list could go in so many different directions and could stretch for many multiples of 10. But for today, a simple list…in no particular order…

Give Thanks

  • My family! We are a family that enjoys being together. I’m thankful that we’re together this week for Thanksgiving. As we shared ’round the Thanksgiving table at church on Sunday, our Thanksgiving tradition is being together…some years our meals have been non-traditional (Planet Hollywood, Benihana’s)…this year we are on for a more traditional meal (& a non-traditional dessert!)
  • The gift of knitting, learned from my Grandma 17+ years ago. Both the activity of working calming stitches & the resulting gifts that are knit for dear ones bring me joy.
  • Dear friends. Silliness…seriousness…honest conversations…fun adventures…just being together…staying connected through the distance…
  • The warmth of hand knits as colder days descend…
  • “My kids” in Wisconsin & Texas. It is such a treat to be “Miss Amy” to these 6 amazing and unique kids. They fill me with joy and we have lots of fun, too!
  • Fun pottery mugs filled with steaming coffee or tea…
  • The technologies that allow me to stay so connected to my dear ones when the miles between us are many. From “text me when you arrive safely” to “gamecasting sporting events” to plenty of silliness in texts to FaceTime when you just need to see each other.
  • Good books and curiosity to keep learning…
  • Monday evenings at the local food pantry…it’s great to spend a couple of hours helping local families shop…some evenings it’s tough to see the scarcity on the shelves with the overwhelming needs…it’s always a great “perspective straightener” to remind me that whatever I’m going through truly isn’t bad.
  • A good job that I enjoy. Sure there are some challenging days but there are also great opportunities.

While it’s great to come up with a list as we approach Thanksgiving I believe it is just as important to be thankful throughout the year.

What are the things that you are most thankful for now…at this moment?

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Bucket List Birthday

Ten years ago, I celebrated a decade turning birthday in Chicago in lots of different ways – culminating with drinks and dinner at the top of the Hancock Building with dear girlfriends. Looking back on the last 10 years, I know that as we enjoyed the city and lake views with our celebration I didn’t have a glimpse into how the next 10 years would progress and indeed how I would celebrate the next decade turning birthday. While I don’t have a formal bucket list, per se, as I look at the last 10 years there have been some pretty incredible experiences that have filled my bucket. So, it seemed appropriate to celebrate this decade turning birthday in Wisconsin with a bucket list experience – it was finally to see a Packers game at Lambeau. And not just any game – the latest installment of the Packers vs. Bears rivalry in prime time. This time last weekend, I was in the midst of enjoying a fantastic birthday celebration weekend with dear ones back in Wisconsin.

As the sun was setting on Sunday afternoon, we loaded into the van to head towards the game. All week we had been watching the weather forecast and so we made sure that we had plenty of layer options to wear & carry in so that we wouldn’t be frozen fans – in the end, we didn’t even deploy all the layers we brought with us. In no time, we were parking about 5 blocks from the stadium and adding layers to our ensembles before walking to the stadium. Along the way, we passed a lot of tailgating and cheering fans in the neighborhood that surrounds the stadium. As we reached the stadium we were swept up into the throngs of fans as we worked our way around to the front entrances and the new Lambeau Leap statue. (Trivia: C & V were at the game where the 1st Lambeau Leap was experienced) After capturing the appropriate leap pictures, it was time to enter the stadium and find our seats.

We pushed through the crowds and climbed the steps to our seats. Before long we were settling into our seats in the end zone, near the Packers tunnel. The pre-game festivities were stirring – it seemed appropriate that we were there for a great show of military service appreciation. We all dutifully held up our blue cards for the Card Stunts. And then, it was time for the game to start. Before long, the Packers were in the end zone and we were jumping up and down screaming & high-fiving with those in the seats around us. Early in the game, it was evident that it was not going to be a good night to be a Bears fan – the 20-something Bears fans in the seats in front of us quickly realized they needed to just embrace the Lambeau experience. As the Packers continued to score, we joked that it would be great for them to at least score as many points as there were candles on my cake this year. Little did we know they would surpass that by halftime.

As the game continued into the second half, it was obvious that we were lucky enough to be witnessing an incredible game in this longstanding rivalry. Even as seats around us started to empty, we stayed to the very end. There were still plenty of opportunities to scream and holler and cheer as great play continued. I had started losing my voice on Saturday but that didn’t stop me from cheering with the best of them during the game. As we headed back to the van after the game we all were floating just a bit from the excitement of a great game and a great evening.

While the game on Sunday night was definitely the highlight of the weekend, it was an all around great time with dear ones. My flight path to WI included connecting through Atlanta so I “picked up” Rebecca to join the celebration. The WI family picked us up in Milwaukee and we had our “normal” road trip fun including lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings and Kwik Trip stops. Saturday evening, the grown-ups enjoyed a very grown-up dinner of Concrete Mixers from Culvers. On Sunday morning we headed up to the land in the UP in the midst of a few snowflakes. Sunday supper happened at lunchtime & included cold weather grilling and a tasty birthday cake. On Monday, a pretty snowfall came down outside the living room picture window as we enjoyed hanging out before it was time for Rebecca to head back to GA. Monday lunch was at my favorite Blue Bike Burrito – it had been a while since I’d been there but it is always so fun to walk in & be greeted by name. On Tuesday, I was back in the office there as the snow started to stick more before it was time to fly back to PA.

And now, the decade has turned. Who knows what these next 10 years will hold. But based on the adventures the previous decades have held, I look forward to seeing what unfolds.