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2007 December

The Freak Out Continues

December 23, 2007

So this afternoon I went into hiding and pulled all the presents, both wrapped and unwrapped, out for the children. I placed them into piles segregated by child, stood back to survey the scene and almost dropped dead right there.

I’ll say it right here, little kids are so much easier to shop for. The presents are larger and for the most part less expensive. Older kids want insanely expensive things that come in packages whose sizes are inversely proportional to the amount of money that they cost.

So I began doing the present shuffle. You now moving presents from one kid to a different kid. Something that I end up doing every year when one child somehow ends up with the lion’s share. But I am not so sure that works any longer. Does my 11 yr old really want some wooden play food to play in the 23″ tall kitchen set? And I am fairly certain my 13 yr old doesn’t want a hello kitty purse, though it would be a nice place to store his new video iPod. And it would protect it nicely while he gets beat up for carrying a hello kitty purse.

Tomorrow we are going to see Santa at the mall. I like to call it a Christmas Eve tradition, rather than the product of my procrastination. But as the kids keep thinking up new things they want Santa to bring them, I have had to break the news to them that the sleigh is already packed. Too bad. So sad.

Posted by Chris @ 10:02 pm | 33 Comments  


December 22, 2007

As of tonight I will be serving Christmas dinner in my mudroom and attached half-bath. Both are freshly cleaned and painted.

I don’t think my inlaws will mind the kick-a-path condition of the rest of the house when they are eating their tasty baked fish while standing on the toilet in my 4′ x 6′ bathroom.

Posted by Chris @ 10:39 pm | 13 Comments  

Raising Procrastination to an Art Form

Phone rings.

Her: Cooking or cleaning? Which are you doing now?

Me: Neither. I am painting my mudroom.

Her: Yes, that was next on my list before Christmas… repaint my house.

Me: It’s all the rage. Serving food in your tidy house to your loved ones is so yesterday.

Her: So have you planned your menu?

Me: No.

Her: Finished wrapping?

Me: No.

Her: Cleaned?

Me: No.

Her: Hung up that damn wreath I brought over to you two weeks ago.

Me: That would be, no.

Her: Okay, then.

Me: And I am wearing my high heeled boots and cashmere sweater to paint in. So when they drag me to the asylum at least they can say, “Damn she dressed well.”

Her: And you are wearing nothing else?

Me: Of course I am wearing pants. I am not THAT crazy.

Posted by Chris @ 12:33 am | 33 Comments  

For Your Sweet Tooth

December 20, 2007


Directions for making your own gingerbread men AND gingerbread HOUSE are here.

Posted by Chris @ 1:31 pm | 12 Comments  

Not the Gumdrop Buttons

Posted by Chris @ 9:23 am | 14 Comments  

When Gingerbread Men Go Bad

December 19, 2007


Completely unrelated. I am soliciting advice over here on what I should make for dinner on Christmas. We are definitely having a spiral ham. Other than that I am open for your suggestions and recipes. Bonus points if I can make it in advance and they are easy. Also, is it possible to make mashed potatoes in advance and keep them warm in a crockpot until dinner is served? I have never tried it before, but think that it would work. Maybe.

Posted by Chris @ 9:19 pm | 53 Comments  

Taking Photos in Low Light

The low tech version. Because I am *sure* that there are some real secrets about how to do it the “right” way. But I have no idea.

I know I promised that I was going to write about this. But then the more I thought about it, and thought about what I was going to write, the more I realized that I have no idea what I am talking about.

The extent of my advice is to stand very VERY still. I know. Aren’t you glad you waited for that?

If you have a tripod, which I don’t, use it.

In lieu of that look for places you can set the camera down to stabilize it.

Can’t do that? Tuck your elbows into your sides tight, exhale, and hold still. If the shutter is going very SLOW, like longer than a half a second, you will need to move yourself to a better location or turn on more lights, because it is physically impossible to hold the camera still enough.

I take many, many photos of the same scene. My decorating the Christmas tree photos are probably 100 blurry ones, 20 decent ones, and 4 really good ones. That ratio is not unusual for me.


This one I was very close to the tree and my son. Since there was not a lot of light in the room the shutter was VERY slow. Even using all my standing still and holding my breath techniques, there was not enough light.

But look what happens if you step back a few feet? Much more available light. The shutter speed is fast enough that standing still works. Then afterward you can crop the area that you want.


Not that I want this area of the above photo cropped, but I could:


Then there is the processing after the fact.

I am getting Photoshop for Christmas this year. But shhhh, don’t tell my husband he likes to be surprised at the gift he gives me. I am very excited by this.

But thus far I have used Picassa, which is a free download that allows you to crop, adjust color, highlights, etc.

So the same photo above becomes this:


Can you see the difference? It is subtle but I just sharpened it up a bit.

And this:


Can become this:


Don’t be afraid to focus the camera on your child and then ask them a question like, do you see yourself in that ornament? Stand like a statue and I bet you will see yourself. Then right when they are intently looking snap the photo.

And this:


Can become this:


And now I sort of feel like the wizard who had the curtain pulled back to reveal that it is all just smoke and mirrors and the big “secret” is standing like a statue.

Posted by Chris @ 3:30 pm | 46 Comments  

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

putting the angel on the tree

Putting the angel on the tree.

Posted by Chris @ 1:06 am | 17 Comments  

I have found the perfect Christmas present

December 18, 2007

I want it with all the modifications, please.

Thank you Santa.

See it here.

Honestly, I have not laughed at a blog post this hard in a very, very long time.

Hat tip to Jeanne, my sister in old home renovating, snow hating, tool belt wearing. Note our houses are old. We are not. In spite of what our recent conversations would lead an eavesdropper to believe.

Posted by Chris @ 5:19 pm | 14 Comments  

The freak out begins

Do you realize how many days there are until Christmas? Do you?

Why didn’t you tell me?

Holy crap I have so many things to do from planning our Christmas dinner menu. Buying the food. Renting tables and chairs and chafing dishes. Mailing out the rest of my Christmas cards. Getting my hair done. Going to the dentist. Cleaning my house. Finishing the wrapping. Remembering to water the damn tree. Bake cookies. Have a nervous breakdown.

Over at Ordering Disorder I revisited my crack recipe, now with photos and more witty commentary.
You can make some crack too.

Do you think I could just serve this for Christmas dinner?

Posted by Chris @ 1:30 pm | 24 Comments