The Aftermath

Posted December 27, 2011 by cathyso3
Categories: Life

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Following three days of merry-making, Aftermath, the ghost of Christmas after, arrived. I’m not talking about the presence of bows and wrapping paper scattered around rooms, or the dust bunnies hopping across the floors, or the pile of soiled table linens and towels, waiting to be cleaned. I’m talking about what lurks inside the sleek stainless steel cold box in the kitchen.    

Opening the door of the refrigerator proved to be a turn-your-stomach experience. Leftovers from a Christmas made merry crammed the corners and shelves of the refrigerator. Foil wrapped plates, odd sized containers and jars, covered pots, and plastic storage bags held mystery food inside of them. I discovered…

Twelve crumbling cookies

Eleven stale sausage balls

Ten smokies in hot sauce

Nine almond clusters

Eight baby shrimp

Seven stuffed olives  

Six shriveled potato fries

Five brussel sprouts

Four potato skins

Three green peppers

Two brown bananas

And oyster stew in a soup pot.  

I’m tired of cooking. I’m tired of cleaning. There’s only one solution to this colossal mess. Get ready for Dinner Surprise!

O Christmas Tree

Posted December 23, 2011 by cathyso3
Categories: Avatar Friday

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Merry Christmas!

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”  ~Burton Hillis

The Card that Keeps on Giving

Posted December 20, 2011 by cathyso3
Categories: Life

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Talk about recycled cards. Take a look at this one! When I was a young whippersnapper in college, I sent this card to my dad. Who knew it would have such a long life?

Notice my dad took the advice on the inside of the card and sent it to me the next year. In fact, we managed to send it back and forth over a period of twenty-five years. As we moved to different places, the card moved along with us – Illinois, Alabama, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. It ended up in Florida where I found it in one of my dad’s drawers after he passed away. I guess you might say he sent it to me one last time.

Whenever I read what we wrote to one another, it never fails to put a smile on my face. This card keeps recycling itself through my life, and it keeps on giving and giving.

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.”  ~Bob Hope

Send someone you love a special card today. (This is not a Hallmark commercial!)

Christmas Past with Rye and Bourbon

Posted December 16, 2011 by cathyso3
Categories: Holidays

Tags: , , , , , ,

I’m on a mission. With so few days left before Christmas, I have things to do, places to go, and people to see. I have no time to waste, but when I found a relic from my past tucked away in an old Christmas box, I paused to reminisce.


In my hands, I held an envelope with my name on it. Inside was a 3-D Christmas Book given to me by Santa when I went to visit him eons ago. Imagine that!


The book is filled with a variety of Christmas stories and poems by some well-known authors.


It has carols, craft ideas,


 a pop-up Christmas scene,


 and a pair of 3-D glasses.

 Santa is so clever!

There is also a recipe for eggnog included on the last page of the book. It calls for the “best of Rye or Bourbon!” Who knew we were so liberal back then? Including this recipe in a children’s publication today would probably be considered politically and socially incorrect. Hmmm …  

Reminiscing time is up. I have lots to do, and the first thing on my list is to try out that eggnog recipe. A little pick-me-up might be just the ticket to keep me chugging down the right track. Cheers!

It’s in the Eye of the Wearer

Posted December 13, 2011 by cathyso3
Categories: Life

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Ugly! Who knew the Christmas sweaters I wear to school every year are considered ugly? I found that out when someone said one of my sweaters would be perfect for an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.

Hey, you insensitive people who throw those parties; there are those of us who love our Christmas sweaters! Teachers have a great reputation for wearing jingle-jangled, decorated cover-ups, and I’m part of that teacher crowd. Have some holiday compassion for the likes of us!

I consider myself to have a sophisticated sense of style so I decided to take a look at my sweaters from a different perspective – off my body. I took pictures of them and pretended they were for sale in the Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog for an obscene amount of money. Would I find them so irresistible that I would choose to throw away my hard-earned money on these seasonal tops? Looking at my sweaters from this viewpoint, I had an epiphany. (That’s Christmas talk.)

MY SWEATERS ARE UGLY! There is no way I’d spend money for sweaters that look like this.

Sleigh Ride



What am I thinking when I put them on every year? Christmas insanity is my only defense. So have I changed my mind about wearing my sweaters?

No! Christmas comes but once a year. If I want to wear ugly seasonal tops, so be it. In fact, I think I’ll do the whole darn Christmas package and throw in some ugly accessories, too!





Ring-a-ding-ding those Christmas sweater bells!

An ugly sweater story:  The Truly Terribly Horrible Sweater…That Grandma Knit by Debbie Macomber and Mary Lou Carney (HarperCollins, 2009)


Christmas Treasures

Posted December 9, 2011 by cathyso3
Categories: Holiday Books

Tags: , , , , ,

Behold one of the Christmas treasures I rescued from my parents’ house before it was sold. It’s the 1948 Christmas Annual Edition of the Louis Allis Messenger. I wasn’t around in 1948, but this particular book made an appearance every Christmas for as long as I can remember. I loved the contents of the book with its Christmas carols, poems, customs from other lands, and beautiful art. But it was the cover illustrations and the double page spread in the middle of the book that kept me fascinated for hours. I immersed myself into George Hinke’s illustrations and became part of the enchanting world he created. 

Front Cover

Back Cover

Inside Front Cover


Inside Back Cover

Double-Page Spread

I spent hours examining every tiny detail in the scenes. I named the elves and made myself a secret elf, feeding the cats, joining in the pillow fight, opening letters for Santa, and counting the good girls and boys. This book still has the power to evoke delightful memories and bring back the feeling of magic that was part of my childhood.

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”  ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Everything Christmas

Posted December 6, 2011 by cathyso3
Categories: Holidays

Tags: , ,

I love Christmas. I love everything about it – the smell, the touch, the taste, the sounds, the pageantry. On Thanksgiving evening, the outside Christmas lights at our house are switched on, and the Christmas season begins. Inside, we unpack the artificial tree and begin the process of transforming our house into everything Christmas. Yes, we have an artificial tree. In fact, we have several artificial trees, but we always have a real one, too. It’s the smell. There’s nothing like the smell of a live tree! A real tree is a must have no matter how big or how small.

After dishes were done on Thanksgiving, my daughter snapped into a Christmas decorating taskmaster. All I wanted to do was sit and relax, but she had us on our feet, putting up Christmas.  Before we began to decorate, there were things that had to be removed in order to make room. This little ritual drives my husband crazy. A few years ago when Christmas storage became tight, I promised him I wouldn’t add one more thing to our Christmas boxes. I stayed true to my promise until we sold my parents’ house this year. Some nostalgic Christmas pieces magically appeared in our collection.

It’s always a challenge to remember where to place our Christmas treasures each year. My very creative daughter solved the problem by giving me the best birthday present ever! Last Christmas she took pictures of the entire house – upstairs, downstairs, bedrooms, bathrooms, and even the doll house we decorate! With the help of Kodak Gallery and her pictures, she put together a book called, How the Ho Ho HOgrens Do Christmas. This year when we couldn’t remember where to put something, the answer book was right at hand!

As of last Sunday, the house was fully decorated. Okay, I did move a few things around. It’s my nature. Get that camera out! Now it’s on to shopping, baking, and writing Christmas cards. Thank goodness Christmas comes only once a year!

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” ─ Roy L. Smith


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