Long Awaited Snow & Tree Lights

snow12192012_0072_600It finally snowed this month.  We were supposed to get blizzard-like snow but instead, we got lots of wind and a nice dusting of flaky snow.  It’s pretty and peaceful (as always) but extremely cold.  The temperature outside is 17.8°F.

I am pretty happy this morning.  I’ve got all my work done and I can blog freely with no other stress!  It feels amazing!  Of course, this never lasts so I’m going to make the best of it before I have to get busy again.

The Christmas tree went up a week ago.  I have such a hard time decorating it.  It could be that I just don’t have enough ornaments but it always looks as though there’s something missing.

christmastree20120052_500And, it’s lopsided too.  Not sure how to fix that.  Husband and I tried whatever we could to hold it upright but we’ve agreed that it’s just the tree.  That’s the thing that annoy me with real trees + the spiders and maybe other bugs.  Btw, the red and gold baubles were gifts from my friend, Sunflowerslady.

bauble0044_600Here is a bokeh shot of the image above and a couple of others.

bauble0038_600bokeh0058_600bauble0054_500

25 Days of Christmas & Holiday Cards for Heroes

I’ve been extremely busy lately.  I was supposed to take things slow but there’s so much that has to be done.

Last year, I started a 24 Days of Christmas gift-a-day countdown with my kids.  They really enjoyed getting a gift a day so this year I am doing it again.  But, instead of all gifts I’m also having them do things that don’t cost a thing.  And, it’s going to be 25 days instead of 24.  I’m going to have them take a photo on the 25th day.

25DAYSOFCHRISTMAS_125DAYSOFCHRISTMAS_2The first envelope enclosed a note to draw the Nativity.  I had the family participate.  My oldest threw a big fit initially.  She refused to draw but then eventually gave in and actually enjoyed it.  My youngest threw a fit too.  She was set on drawing 3 angels (besides the drummer boy and the sheep).  She had her colors picked out and everything.  Then, my oldest started to draw an angel and my youngest just screamed and cried.  After the angel was drawn she attempted to erase it and fussed and cried when husband and I didn’t let her.  Then my oldest decided she’d turn her angel into a candle and my youngest was able to get her 3 angels in.  Not the best 1st day of Christmas I  tell ya!

25DAYSOFCHRISTMAS_3I will probably do one long post with pictures about this 25 Days of Christmas after Christmas like I did last year.

Holiday Cards for Heroes

About 6 years ago (wow…that was a long a time ago) when I taught Catechism, I had my students write letters to our military troops.  It was fun and they all enjoyed writing their letters.  This year, via Facebook, someone I follow (sorry, I can’t remember whom!) mentioned something about making cards for our military.  I don’t teach Catechism anymore but my siblings do so I asked if they’d like to have their kids make cards and I’d mail them out for them.  We all had a great time.  Everyone made at least 2 cards and I believe one little girl made 4!

CardsForTroops_0030christmascardsfortroops12_2_2012_600I think I’ll print extras of this collage and give them to the students and their teachers as a thank you for their time.

You Had Me At Holga

I got a Holga from my secret santa (my sister) and was the happiest person on earth.  I’ve been wanting one for a very long time.  It is a very light plastic camera.  I think even lighter than the 110 camera I used to have back in the 80’s.

Holga’s are supposed to produce dreamy distorted photos, or as worded here:

My sister even included a couple of medium format rolls of film.  This one is the black and white one:

I was so excited to use this camera but later learned that it was harder to have the film developed than expected.  I went to Mike’s Camera because it was the closest one to my house but I don’t know if that was the best place to go.  I heard Wolf Camera also develops medium format so I’ll have to give them a try next time.

I first used the black and white film because it was 400 speed and I was taking it indoors (my Holga is flashless).  Out of the 16 exposures, only 7 were developed because the others were probably exposed to light when I loaded and unloaded (I forgot I was supposed to do this in the dark), and out of the 7 photos, there was only one I would call decent.  Two other were not bad.

These are the photos:

The photos were scanned in black and white by my husband.  The actual photos have a tint to them, similar to this:

I added the the yellow/brown in photoshop to make it look as close to the actual picture as possible.  The photo is actually a little more bluish but I had a hard time trying to pull that color out.  Also, the graininess on the photos is from the dust on the flatbed scanner.

For some better Holga photos, visit my “Altered Lens” board at Pinterest.com.  These images were repinned from other pinners who’ve pinned them from bloggers and websites.

And, before I end this post, I wanted to share a song I still love by Bruce Springsteen called, “Secret Garden” from, Jerry Maguire, a movie I also still love.

The Rest…

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  I sure did.  I know I’ve fallen behind with posting my girls’ 24-day-of-Christmas gifts.  Here are the things they received starting from day 4.  To see anything before day 4, just scroll through the blog.

The girls enjoyed the gifts that required putting together like the cards and angels.  They want to do more crafty things.  They also liked their dresses.

Holiday Decorations And Earlier In the Weeks

The house was decorated since the first week of December but I just didn’t have the time to post any photos.  The snow on the Christmas tree was an idea I saw at the mall when husband and I took the girls to see Santa.  We bought our tree (it’s real) from Costco and when we brought it home, out came quite a few spiders!  I’m not scared of spiders if I see them once in while but this was a little different.  These spiders were small and they kind of flew out every which way.  We also found a ladybug in there, in which, Kylie decided to care for by building it a little home out of things we had on our coffee table.  She eventually took it outside giving it one of her teddy bear children’s vitamin to keep it from going hungry.

Here’s what’s been going on since Dec 6 (just within the last two week!):

Kida had her first orchestra concert at her school.  I was almost in tears watching her play her violin to Dreydl, Seminole Chant, Good King Wenceslas, and Jingle Bells.  Here’s a video husband took with his cell phone of Dreydl.  It’s very bad quality but it’s a glimpse at the concert.  I think the kids did great given less than 3 months to learn their instruments and four songs.

 

Kida performed in The Nutcracker, a play through her dance school.  She auditioned in September and landed a role as one of the tiny mice.  She went to rehearsal every weekend up until the show.   She was thrilled to see her 4th grade teacher, her 3rd grade teacher (whom promised over the summer when she missed Kida’s recital that she’d make it to the next show and she did!), and her two aunties at the performance.  The video is a clip of her performance during rehearsal.  She is third on the left to the back.  It was a great show.

 

Kylie performed at her pre-school’s Christmas show.  I thought she was fantastic!  She had been practicing her verse at school and at home too, with me.  I had no idea that she was also learning songs and such.  She never talks about them (when I ask) and the only song she sings at home is “Deck the Halls” (she sings ‘Deck‘ with an i) instead of the ones she learned at school.  Here are a couple of videos of her during the Christmas show.  In the first video, she is near the end (letter, X) in the purple dress.

 

The girls finished ballet/dance classes for the year.  They performed for the parents and also gave out presents to their teachers and treats to their classmates.  Husband and I missed Kida’s dances (because I forgot) but we attended Kylie’s.

 

Kida is done with school until the new year!  How time flies!  I was asked to be the photographer again to take some class pictures.  Kida gets so excited when I’m there.  She just loves showing me everything and wants me to see her goof around with her friends.

Kida performed at the Hmong Catholic Christmas party.  She danced to the choir’s, “Oh Holy Night”.  The dance was choreographed by her and her auntie (my sister).  She didn’t seem to have practiced much but it still turned out great!

(updated 12/19…with my sister’s much better recording of the performance)

We donated a little money at Kylie’s preschool to help the less fortunate during this Holiday season.  Kylie also picked out an angel card off a Christmas tree to give a gift to a less fortunate child.  Originally, I was supposed to take the girls shopping for the gift but husband and I ended up doing the shopping because of the limited time we had to buy and wrap the gift.  Both girls got to drop the gift off with me though.

We celebrated husband’s and my birthday at my parent’s home and then we gave each other cakes and a card at our home.  We also went to dinner without the girls.  We had wanted to go to our favorite sushi place, Makuni, but it was closed.  Out of business.  The Cheese Cake Factory was nearby so we went there instead.

Christmas cards were made, printed, and sent to friends and family.  Btw, I ran out of cards and had to do a quick print at Walgreens!  This means some will receive one a little late (I’m sorry if you are one of them).  This year, I decided to do something new by including a 2011 In Review Newsletter for friends and family who don’t follow me on this blog or Facebook.  The newsletter is basically the same things I blog about but less detailed.

And, finally, I have been keeping up with the 24-days-of-Christmas gift giving to my girls.  I’ve taken photos of every one of their gifts but as you can see, it’s been a busy couple of weeks and I haven’t had time to post (but I will!).   Most of the gifts are fun toys and candy.  The girls really love this idea except they’ve gotten bored of some of the things I’ve given them.  Hopefully next year, I’ll be better prepared with not jut random things but more meaningful things.

Also, if you’ve been following my digital scrapbook blog, you’ll know that I’ve been spotlighted on Inside the Creative Studio on Creations by Tinamarie’s blog.  The spotlight includes a free quick page download I made using the Christmas Morning kit by Creations by Tinamarie (in collaboration with Valorie Wibbens Designs).  I hope you stop by Tina’s blog to read about me and to grab this freebie!