Saturday, December 16, 2017


For the next few posts, I will be featuring ornaments from my Christmas tree.  This is one way I can savor these decorations that only come out once a year. Each post will feature a group of ornaments related by a common theme. 

Parade of Ornaments--Where in the World?

Today features ornaments that have a geographic place associated with them. 

This Inuk/Eskimo (chose whatever word you feel more comfortable with) child was given to us by neighbors after they moved to Alaska. We think of them when we hang the ornament every year and we also think of them whenever we use the broom they left with us when they moved. Twenty-five years later, the broom still serves us well in our garage.

This colorful lady was given to us as a souvenir from a friend's trip to Mexico.

This is a state coin ornament from Virginia. We got it after we realized there was nothing on the tree representing Virginia where Ward was born and grew up. We may have to get another one of these from Louisiana because I realize that we don't have anything for the state Wally was born in.

Ward has cousins who live in South Africa. One of them brought this Zulu doll to us one year during a visit.

This was sent to us the first year we had moved from Texas by friends. It is also the state that Theo was born in. We have another one, but I couldn't seem to find it on the tree when I was taking pictures.

This star was painted by a local artist and has the name of the town we just moved from here in Maryland. We actually have other ornaments she painted. She and I were on the same craft show circuit for a couple of years. I was selling jewelry and felted purses and she was selling painted things.

This ornament was made from olive wood from Bethlehem. I was given a set of them as a thank you gift for volunteer work at my church.

This West Virginia ornament was given to me by my parents during my second Christmas away from home.

This one was given to me by my sister last year. Notice the blue and gold which are WV state colors.

And this is a fair trade ornament showing people from all around the world. This was also a volunteer gift.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Ornament Time --1

For the next few posts, I will be featuring ornaments from my Christmas tree.  This is one way I can savor these decorations that only come out once a year. Each post will feature a group of ornaments related by a common theme. 

The Parade of Ornaments--The White House Series

The White House Historical Association, which was was founded by Jackie Kennedy in 1961 with a mission of protecting, preserving, and providing public access to history of the White House, puts out an ornament every year honoring a certain President. We have five of these that were gifts from a coworker and friend of Ward's.

Each one comes with literature discussing the symbolism of the ornament, a bio of the president it is commemorating, and what life was like with his family in the White House. Very interesting reading and who doesn't want a history lesson while they're decorating the tree? :)


James A. Garfield

Ornament 2005 honors President James A. Garfield. He was our 20th president and was elected in 1891. He served less than a year before he was shot and later died.  The color scheme and wreath design on the ornament are from art objects including china, needlework and historic frames from the family home in Ohio. The pattern on the box is based on wallpaper from this house, also.The JAG monogram is from decorations at his inaugural ball and the ceramic stone in the middle was inspired by a period engraving of the South Front of the White House.


Chester A. Arthur

Ornament 2006 honors Chester A. Arthur, our 21st president. Arthur became President in 1881 after the untimely death of James Garfield. The country was recovering economically during that time and Arthur's White House was a luxurious one. The ornament design is inspired by several motifs in the White House during Arthur's residence, many of which were designed by Louis Tiffany.


Grover Cleveland


Ornament 2009 remembers Grover Cleveland, who was our 22nd and 24th president. He was elected elected in both 1885 and 1893 and was the only U.S. president elected two non-consecutive terms. Cleveland was also the only President married in the White House. The front of this ornament is a reproduction of an engraving of that event. The back is his bride, Frances Folsom's, monogram. 


Benjamin Harrison

 Ornament 2008 honors Benjamin Harrison. Harrison was our 23rd president, elected in 1889. The ornament is based on the family's Christmas tree which was the first recorded decorated tree in the White House. The toys beneath the tree are presents Harrison's grandchildren received for Christmas.


Grover Cleveland

2009--BackThis ornament honors Grover Cleveland's second term as President starting in 1893.  It features the south facade of the White House where you can see a lit Christmas tree through the windows of the Oval Room. This was the first time electric lights were used on a White House tree. The back creates a scene from a tree trimming party that the Clevelands held annually for their children and those of the Cabinet members.

So there you have it. The leaders of the Ornament parade. This was harder than I thought it would be.  It took me a while to locate all five ornaments on the tree for pictures, and I hadn't realized that the back of some of the ornaments had significance, also. I guess you might say that I was taking a Second Look at them. I wonder what else I will discover.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

It's Beginning to Look a Little Like Christmas

I wouldn't say that it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here, but it is beginning to look a little like it. We have a few presents stashed away, all of cards in the mail, and a couple of strands of lights on the outside of our house. Every day, we do something else. Yesterday we cleared a spot for the tree and today we took some pictures for a gift.  So far, the goal for a calm holiday season is working. I hope that continues and it is not because it's just too early to panic. I guess we'll figure that out in a week or two. But until then, we're going with slow and steady wins the race.

Here's a few of our Christmas preparations so far.

Lights in front of the house. We've also added lights to our deck in the back.
Those are the lights we enjoy while we're in our family room.

The wreath on the outside of the front door is one of those ones with battery powered lights. While it is very pretty, I may see if I can put more lights on it, so it can be seen better at night. And if I don't get to it, as I said, it is very pretty as is.

This is the wreath on the inside of the front door. This was a door prize I won several years ago at a bow tying workshop at the library.  

Preview of one of the new ornaments for our tree. My aunt made this and gave it out at my family reunion. It's a little mail box complete with flag and two letters and a package that go inside. How cute is that?

Until next time when it will be looking a little more like Christmas...

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Second Look--December 3, 2017

We have been easing into winter with freezing nights and warmer days. I took advantage of one of those warmer days today, with temperatures in the 40's, to work in the yard. There have been a couple of hard freezes that have killed most things in the flower beds and my goal was to clean the beds of the dead plants. During my work, I found little bits of color that surprised me among all of the dried leaves, brown dirt, and gray branches. It's always fun to see what hidden treasures nature has for me when I take the time to do a Second Look.

Here are a few of those surprises I found today.

A native ladybug. These are harder to find these days since the invasion of the Asian ladybugs. Our native ladybugs are red while the Asian ones are orange.

A wild snapdragon has managed to survive and bloom. 

Part of a butterfly wing was hiding under some mums.


This forsythia bloom thinks it is spring.

And now that the leaves have fallen from the forsythia bushes, I found this bird's nest.

I think you can find dandelions anytime of the year.

Bright red nandina berries just in time for Christmas.

This ornamental kale survived the freezes.

As did this pansy. If the winter is not too harsh, this pansy should grow again next spring.

The sun is setting earlier and earlier these days. However in just a couple of weeks, the days will be getting longer again.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

What was she thinking?

I can easily see the other side of an issue and can freely give something the benefit of the doubt while I try to understand it--at times annoyingly so. Just ask my family and friends. But recently, I was unable to be my measured self when I saw a new board book, Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz. I had an immediate reaction to this book. No middle ground here. Let me see if I can explain why.

(But first if you want, you can go read the book for yourself and see what you think before I talk about it. I copied the it at the end for your convenience. 

What I think bothered me the most about Feminist Baby was the fact that this was a board book (geared and marketed for babies) that was talking about feminism. Not because feminism is a bad topic, but because it's not developmentally appropriate. A point I think Theo made well when he said that babies don't yet have a sense of self or a sense of gender, so targeting a book to them about feminism was misplaced.

But there are other reasons, too. The actual text has Feminist Baby doing things that all babies do--throwing things, throwing up, refusing to wear pants, etc. but in a I-don't-care-what-you-think-way. Some of my friends described feminist baby as a brat. Others said that book seemed to condone behaviors that most parents are trying to train their kids not to do. And yet others (females) thought it was putting males in a bad light. They thought Feminist Baby's bad behavior was supposed to be imitating what males do to show that she could do what ever she wanted.

Trying to get a different perspective on things, I asked my sons, Wally and Theo, what they thought about the book. To be fair, I had only discussed it with other middle aged women so far making my own echo chamber. Therefore, I was curious what my Millennial sons, who are out in the real working world, would think. They both thought it was crazy to have a book for babies about a feminist baby. They understood that the author was trying to put feminism in a good light, but didn't think it was well done in either text or pictures. Wally thought the book would have been more effective if it had read Baby does... instead of Feminist Baby does... because feminism to him means equal opportunities for all. Theo said that it might have made a better point if Feminist Baby had done things in a positive way and not in a rebellious way.

However, not everyone disliked the book. When I read reviews on Amazon and Good Reads, overall, the reviews were positive. Many found the book fun and thought that it was a good way to introduce the topic.  Once again, I still thought, "But not to babies."

I also wondered what was the rest of the story. What was the author thinking when she wrote this book? I found an interview with her that shed some light on those questions. Brantz's intent was to establish the word feminism in a positive light from a very young age. And she wanted the book to be a jumping off point to discuss feminism with young girls. Her explanations didn't make me feel any different. While well intended, I still felt Brantz was clueless about childhood development and the inappropriateness of this topic for babies and young children.

Loryn Brantz, the author, has subsequently developed a Feminist Baby comic targeted for adults. These cartoons deal with feminism and other current issues. I have no problem with them. I may agree or disagree with some of her points, but that's okay. I am the appropriate audience for them.

So what do you think?

Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz, Disney-Hyperion, 2017