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December 2007

Lori Mitchell & Wendy Addison

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Hi all - I've noticed several of you are coming to our retail site and searching for products by Lori Mitchell and Wendy Addison.  Unfortunately, nothing has come up for you yet.  Rest assured, we do indeed carry products my Lori Mitchell and Wendy Addison!  We are in the midst of transitioning our site out of Christmas, and back into everyday, with Valentine's Day and Spring items soon to follow.  Be sure to check back often!  We add new products every week, often daily!  And as always, feel free to contact us via phone or email, or leave a comment on any blog post.  We love hearing from you!

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Illness

We apologize for the complete lack of posting lately - Chris, Benjamin, Chris' parents, and both sets of grandparents, even some of our employees, have all been down with a really nasty flu.  It figures that the year I get a flu shot, I get the flu.  I hardely ever get sick, so to have a fever, infection, and all the other fun things that have come with this flu, including a sick infant, has had me rather stir crazy.  I'm sorry to say we were sick all through Christmas.  Which means I only got us halfway through our Christmas Advent!  Oh well, that leaves me something more to look forward to next Christmas.  I do have some fun things planned for the blog this year, that I'm excited about.  Not going to spill the beans yet, though - you'll have to wait and see.  In the meantime, we're still on the mend.  We've made plans to have a special Christmastime together when we're feeling better.  We've opened our presents, but we haven't eaten our traditional holiday yummies that we were looking forward to enjoying, nor played any games, made our visitis, or watched our movies.  No flu is going to keep us down...we missed the day on the calendar, but we'll still get the day!


K is for Kris Kringle

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Now of course, what's Christmas without Santa?  Our parents shared the magic of santa with us as children.  I can remember sneaking into the livingroom at night with my sister, where the tree was, so that we could catch santa filling our stocking.  We of course just fell asleep, and never did catch him. 

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I don't recall the transition between believing in santa, and then finding out he wasn't real.  I can't remember believing in him, and then not believing in him.  There was no crushing disappointment.  My parents were obviously masterful in their techniques of sharing Santa with me - I got all the fun, with no negative memories.  I myself am torn about how to enjoy the concept of santa in our household.  I think santa is a beautiful, magical, fun idea, one that was actually based someone in reality, although I am unsure as to which stories are true and which are myth.  All have the same happy message, though, so I don't waste much time worrying about it. 

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Just browsing online, there are lots of different stories - you can read one here, here, and here.  This is an interesting site on Christmas in Germany - many of our stories, decorations, and customs here in America have their origins in Germany, so this site is a fun read.

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I'm not sure how we'll share the fun of Santa Claus / Kris Kringle with our son when the time comes, but whatever we choose, our goal is give him something fun, inspiring, and magical to believe in and anticipate year after year!

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J is for Jesus

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For me and my family, Jesus (to coin a bit of a corny, yet appropriate, phrase) is the reason for the Season - it is when we celebrate and recognize the significance of Christ's birth.  I have thought a lot about this post, knowing it was coming up for my "J" - I felt very overwhelmed with the prospect of writing about something so important to me, and how deep a concept, in a few paragraphs, to an unknown audience in size, background, and belief.    Superior skills at putting my thoughts into words and down on paper (or, a computer screen) are not among my strengths, unfortunately. 

But I have decided to be simple - after all, Jesus' arrival into the world was, in many ways, very simple.  An ordinary couple, leading ordinary lives, giving birth alone in a cave used to house animals, because there was no room for them in the town, packed as it was due to the census.  Jesus is the most important thing in my life - I can't imagine going through my days without him by my side, to support, encourage, lead, and guide me, through good times and bad.  My mom has shared childhood memories with me about her own mother sitting in their livingroom chair, talking to God about her life and her family as if he was right there sitting next to her.  I don't believe God sits in heaven looking down on us - I believe he's sitting right there next to us.  And, through Jesus, he came to live among us for a time.  He knows what it is like to be human.  He can understand first hand what we go through in our lives.

To me, he is such a great gift - the best there ever was, and ever will be.  Unconditional love, for free, no matter what, forever and ever.  And an entire season dedicated to his arrival, one that many around the world share, gives me such great joy.  Picture the best person in your whole life - your wife, son, best friend, mother - then imagine thousands of people all over the world celebrating that person's birthday.  That's what it feels like to me.  What fun!  I look so forward to sharing this with my son.

Now that I am a mother, and have gone through the birthing process myself, I wonder even more of what it was like for Mary to give birth to Jesus that night.  I had doctors, nurses, aides, family, friends, medical supplies and equipment, food, water, a bathroom, and a clean dry bed at my fingertips.  (Not to mention pain killers.)  She had Joseph, a cave, a straw bed, and some animal onlookers.  What was she thinking and feeling at the time?  Was she afraid of something going wrong?  Or was she too overjoyed at the arrival of her son to worry?

A few years ago this song came out, by Amy Grant:

I have traveled many moonless nights,
Cold and weary with a babe inside,
And I wonder what I've done.
Holy father you have come,
And chosen me now to carry your son.

I am waiting in a silent prayer.
I am frightened by the load I bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now.
Be with me now.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place,
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.


I is for Ice & Snow

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Everyone, it seems, dreams of a white Christmas.  I am no exception - I love the snow.  Probably because the Puget Sound area almost never experiences a serious disruption in life due to snow - we tend to get its beauty, but not its dangers.

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Have you ever noticed how quiet the world seems when it is snowing?  It's like the snow absorbs all sound, and reflects every bit of light there is around, so it is still and super bright.

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These photos are of Country Village when we got our snow a week or two ago.  It was so lovely.  It is interesting the effect that snow has upon us. 

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Our customers went from strangers shopping next to each other in the store, to animated onlookers with comments to make and stories to share about the weather.  Although we all found it a pain in the butt, we all became so enthralled with the little white cornflakes falling lazily from the sky so bright white, you don't know where the clouds end and the snow begins.

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Twice now we've had snow in the month of December.  I can't recall this happening all that often - usually I recall snow that actually sticks falling in January or February.  I'm so happy we've had snow to enjoy already!

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H is for Home

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Our store motto is "helping make your house a home."  One of the most important things in our personal lives is our home.  We just bought our first house at the end of October.  We have had the great pleasure of breaking it in by celebrating our Thanksgiving here, and here we will also be spending Ben's first Christmas.  We've hung our photos on the wall, set out precious objects that evoke memories of the places we bought them or the people that gifted them to us.  Chris is in the process of tearing apart our basement in order to transform it into a cozy nook for us to read, work, and play.  Here just under two months and our house is rapidly on its way to becoming a home for us and all those who visit us.

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We want our home to reflect who we are, and what is important to us.  This has been the subject of many conversations over coffee and tea with my dear friend Holly, as one of her great gifts has always been the ability to transform any space she's lived in to a comfy, welcoming, personal place that I've always enjoyed visiting.  This is what we want for our own home.  What better season to start this with than Christmas?

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"Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to." John Ed Pearce

"There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again." Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

"Home is not where you live, but where they understand you."  Christian Morgenstern

"Home is the nicest word there is."  Laura Ingalls Wilder

"A good home must be made, not bought."  Joyce Maynard

"My home is not a place, it is people."  Lois McMaster Bujold,

"The most important work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes."  Harold B. Lee


G is for Gift-Giving

The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry.

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mediancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."

The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of

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lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."

"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."

Down rippled the brown cascade.

"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

"Give it to me quick," said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a

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chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?"

At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."

"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"

Jim looked about the room curiously.

"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"

And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."

The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.


F is for Friends and Family

Christmastime, of course, requires friends and family.  As many as you can get. For eating, drinking, general merry making, and all those other things on the Advent A-Z list!

We like to eat for the holidays...

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We like to eat a lot...

Family

Spanning generations...

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I like to make the table pretty...

Centerpiece

And put my son in silly hats...

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It's my first Christmas tree...

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Christmas kisses!

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Sigh...Tree hunting is hard work!

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P.S.  Sorry I'm a bit late with the Advent posts - busy spending time with said family and friends!


E is for Entertaining

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Christmas tends to be party time, doesn't it?  Christmas and summer, both big on parties.  I suspect that the Christmas party idea extended at least back to pioneer days, when neighbors got together for one last hurrah before the winter weather had them all penned in at home. 

I can't imagine Christmastime without the people I love the most.  I love to entertain, although entertaining need not be fancy.  A mug of hot chocolate and storebought cookies with a friend can be just as wonderful as a full meal with appetizer and dessert with the full extended family.

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I like to try at least one new recipe each year, as something special for my friends and/or family to try.  So far so good!  We haven't had a dud yet.  Last year we made these little savory thumbprint cookies that were almost like little egg and cheese souffles.  They were SO good - I got the recipe out of a Martha Stewart magazine, I sure wish I could remember which one.

My most important "entertaining" of Christmastime is a special dinner just for Chris and I.  It's pretty simple, and usually enjoyed for Christmas eve.  In my house, we called it "bits and pieces."  We go to some fancy grocery store we don't normally shop at, like Central Market, and wander the isles picking out "fancy" finger foods to enjoy.  Usually this consists of a couple cheeses, fresh bread, flavored olive oil, a selection of choices from the olive bar, dried figs and dates, nuts, a pomegranate, salami, turkey breast, and I don't even know what else.  All I can say is yum. 

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Some of our best moments together are spent over food.  Did you ever notice that?  We're intoxicated by the yummy flavors, tantilizing smells, the pretty table set before us, and we're all seated, facing each other, giving our full attention to one another, rather than TV or radio.  We just get along better.  Shortly after I started college, I got really into formal entertaining, specifically tea parties.  Throughout the years I've learned more and more about the balance between making the event extra special for my guests so that they feel pampered, and spending less time in the kitchen and more time at the table.  I enjoy cooking so much, and I also enjoy expressing to my loved ones how important they are to me, but I also want to actually spend the evening with them too.

I'm not sure what we'll do this year, now that we have Ben.  I imagine a lot of entertaining will be involved, whether it be at our home, or at someone else's.  As this is a time of celebration to us, we find it best to spend with others.  We want Ben to be able to spend time with people that love him, and for those people to get to hold him and love on him.

Its been a while since we posted a photo.  Here is one of him last night.  Daddy put a toy on his head. 

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Silly daddy.


D is for Decorations

Christmastime is a feast for the senses.  I love the myriad of colors, lights, shapes, textures, and themes that dazzle and delight everywhere I go.  I'm 29 years old and I have yet to tire of it all.

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Vintage glass glitter goodies from Wendy Addison of Seasons of Cannon Falls.

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Angels watching over us...

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Rudolph, of course.

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Festive entertaining, by Park Designs.

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Ho Ho Ho!

We have so many different styles and themes in the store.  This is my third Christmas as owner of The Weed Patch, and I have to remind myself that there will be many more Christmases to come, and many more fabulous shapes, colors, characters, textures, themes, and styles to come, so I try very hard to limit myself to my favorites.  Sometimes I actually succeed...