Well, that didn’t take long…


I have a new blog located at mtnmusings.wordpress.com. The inaugural post appeared yesterday. Not sure what the theme will be. Please join me so we can all be surprised!

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This is my Christmas card to you


Yes, it has been over 4 months since my last post.  And this will probably be one of the last posts for this blog.  In retrospect, my Dad was the impetus for its creation, & so much of the content was about him. Now that he is gone, I can’t find a reason to continue writing it.  Perhaps a new one will replace it…to be decided.

This post is about Christmas, first & foremost. Here are some pics of this year’s decor:

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It is also about tying up loose ends. Since Dad’s passing, we have been under construction, trying to finish the house as we have always envisioned it.  Some of the changes were a necessity. Top of the fix list was the “pier” that led to the front door.  It was rotting out, much to my delight. I mean, why have a pier without a beach?  Tony (our ace construction guru) finished the stairs & the Tennessee fieldstone walkway, but it was too wet and cold to paint the wood to match the existing trim before Christmas.

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The other major project is a complete remodel of the master suite, which Dad occupied.  We decided to move upstairs, because it is so much easier for me to live on the main floor.  But the bathroom is not working for us at all.  The  vanity is so short that at 5’4″, I feel like a giant spitting toothpaste into a thimble!  The shower is very tiny, & the big feature (i.e., space hog) is a spa bathtub that I physically couldn’t get in & out of, and wouldn’t use anyway, if you put a gun to my head! Additionally, the plan contains a separate water closet! 😃

The new space will contain a large doorless shower with a built-in seat. There will also be a small laundry room that will house a combo washer-dryer unit. (This appliance washes & dries clothes, which is great. I can remember to wash a load, but drying the wet stuff is often not on my radar! Greg will be so happy not to have to be the laundry rescuer.)  All of the tile will be replaced (thank goodness), & new lighting will make a huge difference to the room’s ambience.

In the bedroom, there will be cosmetic changes. We will shiplap the wall behind the bed, as well as the opposite wall that contains a bureau, with a tv hanging above it.  The stonework will be removed, and the columns will be boxed in. There will be a wonderful orb chandelier installed in the sitting area. Tony is scheduled to start work on the master suite on a January 2nd.

The other completed project that sent me over then moon was the reconfiguration of the interior stairs.  Let me be honest…I have detested the stairs since I first laid eyes on them.  They were not built to code (i.e., the distance between treads was random, and the stairs had no backing. In other words, you could see underneath the steps.) Our grandsons were afraid of them, not to mention the fact that the rough wood on back of the stair treads attracted “dust stalagtites” that were impossible to reach/remove.

The other unsavory feature of the stairway was the balusters and handrail. The balusters were wood sticks, many of which were warped!  The effect was dizzying and distracting. Additionally, the handrail was not built to code; it was too thick to grab, and therefore useless (as well as ugly!)  I knew I wanted something clean-looking, & a bit industrial.  Originally we thought about using wire cables, strung horizontally, for the balusters. However, my fear was that there would be too much “give” in the cables for the kids to feel safe. Also, cables are high maintenance. They need to be constantly tightened to make sure they are safe.

I happened upon a picture of stairs that utilized steel pipe instead of cables. Ultimately, that was what we went with: 1″ diameter pipe spray painted an aged bronze color. The posts, which now sport traditional finials, and handrails  are now constructed with white pine 4x4s.  I initially considered staining them to match the remaining stair parts, but decided the contrast was lovely. They will receive a couple of coats of poly when I get a “round tuit”.  (If there isn’t one in my Christmas stocking, we may live with raw wood!)

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Tony closed in the open treads, and installed tongue-in-groove boards behind the treads. The piece de resistance is the construction of a bookcase that replaces the bannister above the stairs that lead to the basement. It’s the perfect place to hide the kids’ favorite toys in baskets, as well as showcasing favorite dustables & books. For Christmas, it’s the perfect spot for a candlelit village.

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This morning, I woke up early to decorate reindeer cupcakes for the grandsons, & for a friend’s little boys.  There was a time that I would have taken infinite care in the construction of the critters. However, my hands do not perform very well lately, so the results are quite comical.  The guy pictured on the left, who I christened “Burt the runny-nosed reindeer”, looks like he is suffering from an awful cold. Poor deer!  🤓

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Speaking of kids, here are the annual Christmas pics of Jen’s family.

 

 

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The boys received an early gift of a yellow lab puppy named Shelby. Apparently, she is growing like a weed, right along with the boys! Unfortunately, her favorite snacks consist of Christmas tree skirts & wrapped gifts.  Jennifer is not too fond of her…😩

Tomorrow we will be with Riley & Reese to see them open gifts. Unfortunately, their big gift from us is a Lego table, complete with storage bins. I say unfortunately, because the construction elf (their Pop) is still feverishly working to complete it. Maybe not Pop’s favorite project ever, but I know Riley will be over the moon when he sees it!

WordPress is not cooperating very well today. Too much spiked eggnog? So I will close by saying that it will be another 3 months before I wrap up this blog, at which time we will do a complete before and after tour of the completed house.

As an aside, in 2 weeks I will be leaving for a 3-month stint at a Lyme clinic located in Massachusetts. Fingers crossed that they can help me get up and walking without using a mobility scooter or a wheelchair!  I had this thought today: we have lived in Ellijay for 5-1/2 years.  I wonder if anyone would recognize me without my wheelchair?I asked Santa for a chance to find out!

Truly, I wish you all the merriest of Christmases, & the happiest, healthiest, and most prosperous of New Years.

 

 

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That Deafening Silence…


…Is a result of my Dad’s passing away on July 13th. I just don’t feel like sharing my thoughts & feelings very much right now.  Just trying to get used to the idea, I guess.

It’s not that this blog is defunct (I just renewed my WordPress subscription), it’s just hibernating for a while. However, Greg & I have been doing a lot of work downstairs. The tile arrived for fireplace & kitchen backsplash, and the barn doors have been shipped.  Slowly, but slowly we are getting there. When I do write a new post, there will be a lot to show & tell about.

Take care. Talk to you soon.

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Another peek…


Hi, there! Here is the monthly (or so it seems) edition of my blog.  Think I’m a slug? Well, here is one of two things you should know about me: If I don’t have anything to say, nothing gets pubished.  My feeling is that the blog should be as fun for me to write, as it (hopefully) is enjoyable for you to read.  The thought of being on a publishing schedule gives me the willies.  I refuse to write “filler” posts entitled “how to paint your front door”!  If you can’t figure out how to do that, you just might be a candidate for the “point & pay” method to get ‘er done!  ;>?

I have another corner of the master bedroom to reveal to you. Yes, this project is moving at a snail’s pace, but it is moving forward.  Greg has finished all of the woodwork in the space.  We ordered & received stainless steel barn door hardware.  The next decision is whether to make or buy doors (there will also be a barn door in the hallway for the bathroom.)  If you look for doors  that have the word “barn” in their descriptions, the prices are astronomical.  Conversely, interior slab doors, with similar styling as the “barn” ones, are priced half of astronomical!  X’s on the door are fine in some places, but I want a cleaner, more timeless look. The door will be painted gloss white, to break up all the wood, and to lighten the effect of the dark wall paint. Ideally, this is the look I want:

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Greg can build those doors, but his honey-do list is already a mile long. Time will tell which way we go…

Speaking of his honey-do list, the next thing he will tackle is the construction of a dedicated sewing table for my office. Here is the second thing you should know about me: When I can’t access my sewing machine, my misery level is ginormous!

A little history: I was “taught” to sew in a Home Economics class, at the age of 13, and I hated it! The blue shift dress we were tasked with making was almost my undoing, after I accidentally sewed the front and back layers of the garment together.  Oh, the wailing & tears that ensued! But my Mom, who was a daughter of a seamstress, and a prolific sewer in her own right, sat me down and taught me her techniques & tips. From then on, I was hooked.  Thanks, Mom!

So…the reason that the bedroom isn’t finished yet is blamed on my not having an appropriate place to sew. Hopefully the addition of fabric patterns, and selected artwork, and a big, funky “surprise” will close this case!  (Frankly, I can’t wait to see the big reveal, myself!  ;>}

There are 2 more areas of the room that are finished. The first is the small wall immediately on the right as you enter the bedroom. I started with family photographs, a decorative plate, and 3 chinoiserie wall vases.  This is the result:

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Those spike-y things in the wall vases are actually the dried stems/stamens from my agapanthus plant:

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They looked like this in their natural state, and frankly, they were unimpressive, & downright depressing against the blue walls. A little bit of white spray paint made them “pop”.

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The other area of the room, (my favorite) is the bookcase, located immediately to the right of the dresser that I wrote about in the previous post. The bookcase now houses my blue & white pieces, which have been collected over many years. Each looks fine alone, but grouped in one place, their impact is amazing.  I covered the edges of each shelf with papers; each pattern is different, but they are quite harmonious, to my eye.  A coat of polyurethane will keep the papers good-looking for a long time.

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It’s been a while since you have had a Bear update. Yes, he’s still alive, and that is because, as he approaches his 2nd birthday in a couple of days, his destructive ways have pretty much disappeared.  Truth be told, he is one of the great loves of my life (naughty, or otherwise).  However, now he is being attacked by something (we suspect it is a neighbor’s dog) that punctures & scratches him, which is extremely upsetting. The first incident involved ear & neck bites that caused swelling of the right side of his face; he was on antibiotics for about 12 days.  Just about the time that batch of pills ran out, it happened again.  This time, the attacks were on both of his rear legs. The vet ended up shaving big patches of hair around the wounds, which makes him look “pant-less”.

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This time, it required pain pills, as well as antibiotics. God help the creature that is hurting my puppy.  If I find you…..GRRR!

That is all the news that is fit to print. Until next time, stay well & safe.

Posted in catching up, decorating, design indecision, favorite collectibles, life with a pup, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Back on Track!


Life is returning to something approaching normal, now that my Dad is home, and on the mend. His strength is returning, he spends more time sitting in a chair than lying in bed, and his appetite is good.  In fact, Greg and I are now able to slip away for an occasional happy hour session, and we can now resume our dining-out routine on Friday nights.

Our home improvement projects are even getting back on track. Our bedroom is starting to look like a place you might feel safe spending the night in. Greg just finished installing pine wainscoting to the walls, and finishing trim around the doors & window.  I have added some homemade art,on the walls, and cannot wait to start sewing the widow treatment,  a large settee cushion cover, a chair slipcover, and a bunch of throw pillows.  Here is a “before” picture that you can compare with a teaser shot of a corner of the room that is totally finished:

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On Pinterest, I found a picture of a dresser that was designed by girlinthegarage.net:

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It looked so similar to ours, and I loved the pattern of upholstery tacks the were added to the piece.  So, I copied the look, and really like the way it dresses up a nondescript dresser. (Did I create a pattern to create the look? Well, I tried, but it was not helpful, so as usual, I eye-balled it. Looks like the original used the same technique, too!) I also love the mirror over the original piece.  LeeAnn gave me a mirror frame that looks very similar. In my spare time, I plan on pickling it, and having a beveled mirror installed.

Three of our most favorite pieces of folk art reside on our dresser. They are raku pottery masterpieces, handmade by the late Mary Garber.  The animals are called Pogs, because they look like a cross between pig and dog (with, in my humble opinion, more than a little bit of hippo thrown in).

This little guy with the beach ball was an anniversary gift from daughter Jen:

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Then there is the purple piano player, complete with wine bottles and cigar:

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My favorite piece is the pair of Pogs in a red wagon.

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That piece was purchased in at the Zoo Gallery shop in Key West, and was my 10th anniversary gift to Greg.  I decided it was apropos, since these  Pogs are howling happy, having a great time, and thoroughly “enjoying the ride”.  Pretty much the way I felt about our union, then and now. (As an aside, while on vacation in Florida several years ago, we visited a Zoo Gallery shop in Grayton Beach, and there was an unusually large Pog statue on display. The salesperson said that since Ms. Garber had died, it was one of the last available pieces for sale.  How many times have I kicked myself for not purchasing it?  I have lost count…)

I love the dark blue walls juxtaposed with the white accents. The only  other accent color that will be added to this simple palette is a sunflower yellow-gold.

There is one last major construction project to complete the room. I am really excited to see how the room looks when we replace the traditional entrance door with a barn door.

You will see more of our bedroom’s progress as it evolves. This post is about proffering proof that my blog is back on track. I will revive my mission statement, so please stay tuned!

Posted in catching up, decorating, favorite collectibles, tchotchkes, too much color?, Uncategorized, vacation | Leave a comment

Our Christmas Miracle


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Our Christmas Miracle

It just occurred to me that a blog that started out as a breezy, humorous, decorating missive, has become anything but that. In retrospect, the last 4+ years have been as much about battling health issues as it has been about choosing paint colors and remodeling living spaces.

Most recently, our biggest struggle has been my 88-year old Dad’s illness. From November 25-December 28, he spent a total of 22 days in a major downtown Atlanta hospital, where a team of infectious disease specialists worked to save the life of an elderly man with stage 4 kidney disease (which severely limited treatment options), who was suffering from excruciating pain due to a bacterial infection in his spine, and abscesses in his back.

Atlanta is, under the best of conditions, a 90-minute car ride from Ellijay. Add in unpredictable traffic patterns & adverse weather conditions, and that commute time can double. Somehow, we were there to visit Dad 90% of the days that he was there.  Greg did all of the driving, and tried to manage his workload, in between trips to and fro. He is so exhausted.

The worst part of the ordeal was visiting Dad, seeing him in pain, and being unable to help him. The pain management people were over-medicating him to the point that he was hallucinating, but the pain never abated.  I cried a lot, and begged them to re-think his medication regimen.

The day before Christmas Eve, I sat and held his hand, praying that God would use our hands as a mechanism to allow healing to enter Dad’s body. Earlier that week I had started spraying Colloidal Silver into his mouth (an element that contains anti-bacterial & anti-viral properties); I continued spraying as he slept.  I believe hat God blessed my actions that day.

On Christmas Eve, as I continued to wrap gifts, the phone rang. It was the palliative nurse from the hospital calling. She wanted me to know that it was time to arrange hospice care for Dad.  The opinion of his care team was that Dad was tired…too tired to make a full recovery, and we needed ongoing care now that he was in “that state”.  I asked her what state that was, and when she said, “well…”, it hit me like a brick.  My Dad was going to die very soon!  I completely lost it, and spent the hours before our trip to the hospital sobbing at the thought of him dying, still in pain.

When we arrived at the hospital, Dad was sleeping. The nurse said she couldn’t wake him up. I leaned over and said “hey, Dad”.  He immediately woke up and said, “good, you found me!”  He then proceeded to tell us that his pain was completely gone. He was totally lucid, and we had a great visit!

On Christmas Day, we had similar experience. Dad ate the home-cooked meal we brought him (he noted that his appetite was coming back!), and ate an entire piece of cheesecake for dessert.  Sitting up in bed without any pain, he was even able to open his Christmas gifts.  Jen and family came and visited Dad, before we all left for dinner at Benihana’s.

Yes, our daughter can now cross off a bucket list item, although we did not sing “Deck the Halls” during our meal. Riley, who is learning to sound out words, asked me how to pronounce our Japanese chef’s name, which was embroidered on his shirt.  I looked and started laughing.  My response?  “Juan”!   ;>}

Below is a pic of our hibachi chefs in training:

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So, our Christmas came. It was very different, but we were able to find humor in our new “traditions”, and mostly, we all felt so blessed by Dad’s miraculous recovery.

The man who was pronounced nearly dead, was released from the hospital on Monday, 12/28. He had not been out of bed for over 2 weeks. When we arrived home, Dad was unable to walk.  Greg had him lay on the floor just inside the door to the house. From there, he grabbed him under the armpits and literally dragged him into to his bedroom.  Luckily, the path was all hardwood flooring, and there were no bumps or obstacles in the way.  Yesterday (1/1/16), with the aid of a walker, he was able to walk from his bedroom to the living room, where he sat in a normal chair, and watched the first half of the UT-Northwestern Outback Bowl game.  My Dad is amazing!

 Thank you God!   This was our best Christmas EVER!

amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Christmas blessings, dealing with lllness, miracles are real, power of prayer, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

When Less is (Definitely!) More


I really do try to adhere to the “less is more” school of thought when it comes to decorating.   The most difficult part of getting a project right is knowing when to stop. Overdo, and “great” can turn “garish and gaudy” in the blink of an eye.  So, when an urge to add “one more thing” arises, I ignore it and call the work done.  The exception to that rule has always been when decorating for Christmas, when too much bling was never too much, and the word overdone just did not apply.

This year, however, is markedly different for us from Christmases past.  With Dad’s illness, priorities have changed. Our bathroom mirrors are no longer crowned with swags of greenery, the chandeliers do not have snowflakes and shiny baubles hanging from their arms, and much of my pride and joy snowmen collection (including salt & pepper shakers and cookie jars) is still packed away.

Only one section of the banisters is draped in garland and lighted.  The dining room table, that needs a new fringed burlap runner is, as yet, unadorned.  (In fact, it is piled with Christmas wrap & unwrapped gifts!)  My collection of Christmas throw pillows remains under wraps ( but that is more to protect them from the “wrath of Bear” than from a paring down principle!  ;>}

The most amusing thing about all of this was my determination to get an early start on several special projects, for a change. I started in early October with an old cupboard door, which became the canvas for a portrait of my “Jingle Bear”.  I had seen an item in the Sturbridge Village holiday catalog, of a black laboratory retriever painted on wood planks. Borrowing from that idea, Bear was painted on, surrounded by snowflake buttons, with a bow that was fashioned from a portion of the red leash we used on his adoption day. He was garnished with faux greenery & berries, and the piece is finished off with an elaborately decoupaged “frame”.  A greenery swag over the picture, with a tartan bow (because I am convinced he has some Scottish terrier in his heritage) completes the look.

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But then, you know how all progress ground to a halt with the hip surgery.  When my sister flew down for a visit in early November, she insisted that the Christmas tree be set up, so she could decorate it.  One too many glasses of moscato dampened that desire (I can relate that truism, only because she never reads this blog! :>), so she went home leaving a very bare, sad-looking tree.  Enter my Tree Angels, LeeAnn & Faith, who did a marvelous job of decorating the tree:

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Here is the finished tree (which always sems to be leaning, but is not!  I must be crooked when I snap the pic!):

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For the mantle, we didn’t swag any greenery, for a change.  Greg cut up some leftover ceiling beams and placed them under the television. This allowed me to place garland and light on top of the mantle, without interfering with the tv screen.

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A home-printed print, a woooden lantern, some snowflakes, real preserved pomegranates from the tree in our Atlanta yard, and new pair of faux baby owls from Grandin Road complete the look:

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For the bannister, we combined an old green garland with last year’s ribbon garland, and lots of white lights.  I then added snowflakes, snow angel ornaments, and a sparkly red netting bow:

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The relatively new shelf in the entry area is probably the jolliest spot in the house. Tiny trees, decked with Dollar Tree battery-operated lights, are joined by a handmade Santa (made by me several years ago), Snow Lady, a primitive snowman birdhouse, and a wreath with a little Santa perched inside:

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And, of course, our Christmas decor would not be complete without our “snowman nativity set”:

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The front door wreath is a favorite, especially against the newly painted green door:

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And, last of all, I framed some pics, that I found on the internet, and then ran through Waterlogue. The are hanging on the wall next to the front door. I love that they look so much like real watercolors:

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Surprisingly, I am really enjoying this year’s pared down, streamlined version of Christmas décor. And putting everything away after the holidays won’t be a multi-day affair that would have me swearing that never again will I get carried away with holiday décor!

Dad updates:

12/18/15:  On Tuesday, 12/15, Dad was back in the ER due to excruciating back pain.  Once again, the Jasper hospital, because they do not have an infectious disease specialist on staff, transferred him to their main campus in downtown Atlanta. Greg & I, who normally love to spend time in the city during the holidays, will be spending this weekend in Atlanta, right around the corner from dad.  No window shopping for us this year.  :>[

Dad has discitis, which basically is an infection that forms in the space between the spinal discs.  The pain it causes is excruciating.  Even morphine is not successfully masking it. The worst thing on earth is to watch someone you love suffer, and be powerless to help them. Pain management is the most critical piece of his recovery.  Once that is under control, he will be going to rehab before he can return home (haven’t had the courage to break that to him, yet!).

Christmas will be very different this year.  Jen & family are scheduled to come to Ellijay for Christmas Day. Instead of cooking the traditional meal, she suggested we find a Chinese restaurant (a la a “Christmas Story”).  She thinks it would be fun to sing Farararara with the waiters!  My daughter seems to have a strange bucket list, no? (Greg keeps telling us we have to be flexible this holiday season, but reenacting one of his favorite movies may be a bridge too far!)

So, it is the week before Christmas.  Not one present is wrapped. None of the gifts to friends and family have been mailed. And the shopping has not been completed.  We will make it through, just like the Whos from Whoville did, when Christmas CAME, with or without presents.  The Grinch finally understood, too, when he uttered the famous words:

“Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store…Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!”

Dec. 21:  Dad is still in the hospital. Today is Jen’s day to visit with him. I needed a day at home for physical therapy on my leg, as well as to get some presents wrapped. Jen and I take turns trying to squeeze information out of the doctors, who are not very forthcoming about what’s going on with Dad’s condition. It is beyond frustrating! One thing is becoming clear:  he won’t be home for Christmas. I am beyond sad about that…

Well, dear readers, I hope you enjoyed the Christmas tour of our home. Once again, I entreat you to keep my Dad in your prayers. This is, after all, the Season of Miracles, and your prayers & kind thoughts would be most welcome.

Wishing you all the Merriest of Christmases, & the Happiest of New Years!  God bless us every one.

amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in catching up, Christmas lights, decorating, decorating the tree, life's surprises | 2 Comments