Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year !!!!!!!

A New Year's Eve toast to all of you for a happy, fun, and safe New Year's Eve and a happy, healthy and FUN New Year !! CHEERS !!!

..... and now I must go and dress for New Year's Eve ..... tonight I'll be wearing my pink fuzzy bathrobe, flannel jammies, and fluffy slippers and having a sip or 2 of that sparkling grape juice stuff ......

Toodles ,
Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A little bit of Christms & ALOT of wrestling .........

This week we've managed to squeeze in a little bit of Christmas between a busy work week and a very busy wrestling week (2 all day tournaments ..... one away on Thursday and today the big Christmas tournament at home.)

Anyhow, look what Santa brought ..... matching Christmas tree crowns for Evan and which ever kitty would put up with wearing it !! (this time Shadow happened to be willing , sort of , to wear it.)

OH! and look what my mom gave me. That cross stitched sampler !! That was stitched by her Aunt Carmella in Italy in the late 1800's or early 1900's !!! It's looking pretty good for being at least 100 years old!!! Now I have to figure out what to do with it so it doesn't deteriorate any further --- should I have it framed? I'll have to find somebody who knows how to take care of antique textiles.

....And look at some of my fun Christmas presents!!! That hot pink comfy robe is from Evan; and Matt got me that great collection of bath/spa goodies from Bath and Body in the "Sweet pea" flavor !!! .... and hubby got me the other basket of bath/spa goodies in "Ginger therapy" flavor. If I had the time to actually take a leisurely bath, just think how relaxed I'd be and how delicious I'd smell!!! ..... and wouldn't it be lovely to soak in the tub and read those 3 Fresh Vintage issues, the Quiltmania magazine and browse through that Gooseberry Patch Farmhouse style booklet? (those were some fun little items that yours truly bought for yours truly for Christmas, along with that mug full of fabric complete with a pattern to make a quilt block.)

....And the chocolate and other goodies !!!!! YUM !!! Vanilla "Handcrafted Marshmallows" (I had planned to make these -- saw the recipe on somebody's blog somewhere, but of course I didn't get around to it -- but then I spotted these at Williams Sonoma -- isn't that a cute box?!?!) Hubby got me a big ol' jar of chocolate biscotti ( which I LOVE! ) ..... and a chocolate lobster ..... yes, you read that correctly .... a solid chocolate lobster ..... I'm not sure where he found this or why somebody thought solid chocolate should be in the shape of a lobster ..... but anyhow, there it is (... and it's a good thing that we decided to get a new treadmill as our big family gift this year ..... it better get here sooner rather than later!!!) ..... there's more chocolate (Dove , yum !! chocolate) from my sister, along with those "paper white" bulbs in that neat glass container!!! (I LOVE paper whites -- especially when I'm craving spring flowers in January!)

.....And, wrestling ..... LOTS of wrestling this week. In today's tournament Matt got 4th place in his weight class (there he is on the left standing with his good friends Ed, in the middle holding his 1st place trophy, and Shane on the right holding his 5th place trophy.) .... and today's injury report for Matt: painful left hip, split lip and big scratches under his chin ; add this to Thursday's sprained thumb, black eye and big scratch on his face.......hmmmmm... that's all I'll say about that....... Matt did do well on Thursday, too -- he won 4 out of 5 matches, helping his team get 3rd place out of 16 schools ...... so , according to what I've been told, "it's all worth it" comment......

Well, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go grab that chocolate lobster and my Fresh Vintages, Quitmania, and Gooseberry Patch booklet, and fill up my tub with some of my new luxurious spa stuff and soak , read, and nibble ....... (that is of course until somebody can't find something, needs help with something, wants something to eat , etc, etc, etc...........)

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to all .....

Merry Christmas to all ........................ and to all a good night !

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Charlie Brown trees and a Birthday Bash !!!

Here's an update from the Moonbeams in a Jar Tree Decorating Dept: 3 "Charlie Brown Trees" finally decorated !! The first 2 pictures are of the tree in "the useless room" (as the kids and the big cheese refer to it ). Anyhow, the Tree Decorating Dept shamelessly pilfered the idea of using pink rick rack as garland from the cover of the December issue of Romantic Homes magazine..... and, lookie there! The Golden Fairy Princess that I won from Susan is looking SO pretty sitting under the tree !! (I had to quickly take this picture since that rick rack , those teeny Christmas balls, and definately those white birds will be toast any second now , as soon as Sam, Shadow and Daisy spot them! -- but don't worry, Susan, I'll make sure the Golden Fairy Princess is kept safe!!)

Next on our tour is the foyer. (Wow! this is just like the Christmas White House tour with the Blue Room tree, the Grand Ballroom tree, etc !!) Anyhow, there are 2 "Charlie Brown Trees" in the foyer --- one sitting on the floor next to the steps (which the kitties will take out in one quick slide, and skid as they race through the foyer and around the bend chasing each other).... and the other smaller tree is on top of that table (which also has it's days numbered .... destined to be bowled over with one quick kitty leap onto the table !) (Oops ! I guess those pictures came out kind of dark --- such great photography skill ! Ha! anyhow, if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see the trees better.)

OK -- so much for the trees --- on to the Birthday Bash!!! Yesterday my brother had a surprise ??th (I'll never tell) birthday party for his wife, my sis - in- law, Lori at the Hotel Hershey. What a BEAUTIFUL hotel -- especially all decorated for Christmas !!! ( I had my sister take a picture of me standing in front of the 2 story Christmas tree in the center lobby -- too bad it turned out to be such a crappy picture, Boop -- I was going to try and post the picture and pass it off as my Christmas tree in my living room !!! HA !)

Anyhow, there's our Birthday Girl, Lori posing with her birthday cake (...and was it EVER delish!! white cake with raspberry filling and butter cream icing !!!) ... And there's our Birthday Girl posing with her husband ( brother John ), and their two beautiful daughters, Stephie in the red dress, and Katie in the white top.

..... and, those last 2 pictures (Lori, you just KNOW I had to post those pictures -- and I'm sure you'll get me good next year when it's my ??th birthday!) -- anyhow, those last 2 pictures show our Birthday Girl modeling her gift from me and my sister, Boop --- yes, Lori has earned a flowered bathing cap from "The Sisterhood of the Flowered Bathing Caps" .... a very serious (not) organization started by me a few years ago evolving from my memories of all the moms at the local pool wearing those bathing caps to keep their hair dry while they did the "Mom Breast Stroke" which didn't involve putting their head under water at all -- so I guess those bathing caps were just a fashion statement! Anyhow, while wearing our flowered bathing caps at the local pool, we like to practice and perfect (not ) our synchronized swimming routines -- just like Esther Williams !!! HA ! Anyhow, Lori has definately earned a flowered bathing cap -- since she has put up with my brother all of these years!!!!

So..... Happy Birthday , Lori !! Wear that flowered bathing cap in good health!!

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ahhhh...... a peaceful walk.......

I took a break from all of the craziness and took a walk in the woods right next to where we live. I love walking in the woods in any season, but today when I was walking it was snowing lightly and except for the occasional bird chirping, it was very quiet and peaceful......aaaahhhhhhhhh........ relax ........ I took my clippers with me,too, to cut some greens for decorations ..... then sat for a couple of minutes on my bench at the edge of our yard where it merges into the woods.

OK! break over !!! Back to decorating, (but at a more relaxed pace ... at least for a second or two....) . Every year at Christmas I drag my dad's vintage skiis out of the attic and put them on our side porch with fresh greens and red ribbons. Dad bought these skiis when he was in junior high school back in the early 1940's from Sears, I think. They have the old bear trap bindings, and the poles are pointy metal and look pretty dangerous!

Anyhow, look what else is still on our side porch. Yep, those 3 pumpkins. And it looks like some critter has been munching on them ..... Yep, there's the guilty party (second to last picture) -- that squirrel (and probably his family and friends) sitting on the little shelf under my bench. (if you click on the picture and enlarge it you can see Mr. Squirrel much better.) I was going to toss these pumpkins out in the woods, but instead decided to go with the flow, leave them on the porch, and decorate them for Christmas for the critters to enjoy. (I may still have to move this stuff off of the porch since we go in and out of this door all of the time and I do NOT want a squirrel to get into the house !!! (just like the Griswolds ..... that would just make my day!!!! NOT !!!)

OK -- back to decorating -- maybe.....

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Slapping Xmas together at the last minute, as usual .....

Here at MBIAJ (Moonbeams in a Jar) we are, as usual, slapping Christmas together at the last minute. All Departments are running behind and are at risk for a complete meltdown. The Cookie Baking Dept has, as usual,cheated and resorted to refrigerated cookie dough --- and trying to hide the evidence (note cookie dough wrapper in the garbage can --- for Pete sake, at least do a better job of hiding the wrapper!) .... and the Cookie Baking Dept almost burned those cookies because they were also trying to get that stack of *#@*!# paperwork finished by tomorrow and not paying attention to the timer.

Then there's the Gingerbread House Assembly Dept. (Evan is the head of this dept.) -- we've had a few cave ins , but nothing that can't be fixed by another few blobs of icing. The thing is, this house has been under construction for about 2 weeks now, with countless kids "working" on it -- I think it's probably a hotbed of bacteria by now ...... hmmmmm..... I'm thinking this will just be for show and not for human consumption!!

Next is the report from the Tree Decorating Dept : box of 3 scraggly "Charlie Brown" type trees purchased yesterday at JoAnn's -- felt a tree or 2 was needed in the foyer and a small table top tree was needed in the little dining room (aka known as the "useless room" by husband and kids -- it's supposed to be a dining room, but it's pretty tiny, so I have it set up as a little sitting room). Anyway, progress report on the 3 scraggly trees: trees taken out of box and assembled ..... that's it so far.
Progress report on main tree in the living room: 98% decorated (amen to that!)

Now we'll hear from the "Stockings Hung by the Chimney with Care Dept". Progress report: haven't found the #!&*@# stockings yet .... they must be in one of those boxes still sitting in the living room. Can we PLEASE get those #!%*@ boxes OUT of the living room ?!?!!!!!!

Last, but certainly not least is the report from the "Outside Lights and Other Outside Decorations Dept". Progress report: ummmmmm........ we currently have 3 leftover Halloween pumpkins frozen solid to the floor of the side porch. Plan: chip the frozen pumpkins off of the porch, throw to squirrels and other wild life in the back yard, and string some fake garland up. We are proud to report that the Fall wreaths were actually put away 3 days ago and the Christmas wreaths were put up ......however, the entire "Outdoor Lighting Committee" seems to be missing in action ...... we'll just have to bask in the glow of the lights from the guy across the street and the guy next door......

OK, people, back to work .... but ya know what? ...... just like the Grinch found out from the Who's down in Whoville....whether I'm ready or not, Christmas will come no matter what !, with that thought in mind, I think I'll just go get my jammies on and go to bed !!

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Sugar Plum Fairy Tu Tu Tutorial

OK Sugar Plum Fairies ..... get ready to make your tu tu's. In case you've forgotten what it looks like, there's Evan being a good sport, again, and modeling it for us (after being bribed with very macho dirtbike riding gear to be delivered by S. Claus on Christmas Eve). Anyhow, I pretty much made this tu tu like an apron. It's VERY easy and VERY quick to make (and like all of my projects, it's pretty much an inexact science!)

Here are the "ingredients":(this is for an adult sized Sugar Plum Fairy)

about 5 yds of 34" wide tulle netting (whatever color your Sugar Plum Fairy desires)

2 1/4 " wide satin ribbon to match the tulle (you'll need your waist measurement plus about 2 1/2 yds more.

some sparkly "jewels" (I used "Jewelry & Craft" 6mm faceted acrylic silver stars (originally I was also going to use those multi colored confetti shapes shown in the 2nd picture, but then I decided to go with just the silver stars. I thing I got this stuff at AC Moore or Michael's .)

pearl cotton to match the tulle (I used size 8 just because that's what I had on hand.)

nylon thread (I forgot to put in the picture -- sorry!) or, you could try "Liquid Stitch" by Prym Sewing -- I found that AFTER I already used the nylon thread, so I didn't use it, but it looks like it should work -- I also forgot to put that in the picture -- sorry!)

Fray Check (also forgot to put that in picture #2 ---- sorry! -- I think I need a new assistant here in the "Instruction Writing Up Dept" of Moonbeams in a Jar!)

Folding the tulle: (completely forgot to take pictures of this as I was actually doing it with the tulle, so I had to use a piece of paper to demonstrate -- that would be pictures #3,4, and 5. -- JEEZE -- hope I don't get fired from the "Instruction Writing Dept"!) Anyhow, start with your tulle laid out flat, single thickness. Next fold it in half lengthwise -- picture #4. Then fold it in half widthwise -- picture # 5. You now have 4 layers of tulle with the 2 folds along the bottom and one side, and open on the top and on one side.

Picture # 6: using the pearl cotton , do a running stitch through all 4 layers of tulle along the top of the tu tu.

Picture #7: pull the pearl cotton to gather up the tulle -- adjust to fit your waist. Knot the pearl cotton to secure the gathers.

Picture #8: place the "jewels" inside each "tube" of tulle -- I used the whole package of "jewels" --- Sugar Plum Fairies are pretty big on glitz and bling!

Picture #9: using nylon thread, stitch through all 4 layers of tulle on the open side edges (so the "jewels" don't fall out) -- this is where you could try using the "Liquid Stitch" instead of the nylon thread .)

Picture #10: fold the satin ribbon in half to find the center; fold the tu tu in half to find the center of the waist ; match center of ribbon to center of waist of tu tu. Pin the ribbon in place by folding it over the top edge of the tu tu , encasing the entire top edge.

Picture #11: stitch the ribbon on by stitching along bottom edge of the ribbon, through all 3 layers (i.e. the ribbon on the right side of the tu tu, the tulle, and the folded over ribbon on the wrong side of the tu tu.) (start stitching at the beginning of the tulle, and stop stitching at the end of the tulle -- i.e. do not stitch the entire length of the ribbon -- only the section that's attached to the tulle.)

Picture #12: cut the ends of the ribbon on the diagonal; put a thin line of Fray Check along edges (it dries clear).

....... and .... TA DA !!!! you're finished and ready to try on your tu tu ! So, put it on like an apron -- but don't tie the bow in the back. Instead bring your ribbon tails back to the front and tie your bow in front....... and now plie', leap, plie',piroutte, shuffle, shuffle, .......... BEAUTIFUL !!! You're a natural!!!!

(I think you could easily adapt this tu tu to fit a little kid -- probably just use half the tulle -- you want enough to make it pretty fluffy when you gather it. You might have to also adjust the width of the tulle -- 34" wide might make it too long for a little kid -- maybe just trim a couple of inches off at a time to get the length you want -- but remember it gets folded in half lengthwise - picture #4).

OK fellow Sugar Plum Fairies, the Queen Plum must finish decorating that dang Christmas tree and get the boxes out of the living room so I have room to practice my cartwheels (I always thought cartwheels should have been part of the Sugar Plum Fairy's dance in the Nutcracker Suite, and maybe a forward roll or two......)

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Spectacular Sugar Plum Fairies & the Xmas Extravaganza !

I've always dreamed of being a Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker Suite ....however,sadly for the theater-going crowd, my ballet "career" was short-lived. It began in 1st grade with a recital gone awry -- as I was twirling my peacock blue parasol, it got tangled up in my peacock blue tu tu (kind of like a fork in spaghetti) and when I went to do the grand finale arc-swoop move with that same parasol, it came flying back at me due to the elasticized waist of my tu tu . At that point, I temporarily gave up "the dance" to begin my piano lesson "career" , and to have more time to play G.I. Joe with my brother and his buddies. However, by the time 6th grade rolled around, the theater and dance once again called to me. This time, my pals Suzy and Margo and my sister Boop and I were signed up for what was referred to as "acrobatic lessons". It turns out this was a combination of forward and backward rolls and some jazzy dance steps set to tune of "The Shadow of Your Smile" -- and , yes, there was an embarrassing recital, complete with the tackiest outfits you ever laid eyes on! Seriously, we looked like a bunch of 6th grade hookers rolling around on the stage!! You could have landed a 747 with the glaring tackiness of these outfits -- they could be seen for miles and miles!! -- let me try and describe them : picture something a saloon girl would wear -- with neon green and hot pink stripes on the top half, along with a black sequin strap on one shoulder; the bottom half , divided from the top half with a black ruffly thing, was hot pink with gold metallic polka dots; to add insult to injury, there was a hot pink ruffle across our butts!! ... and to complete that hooker-look, we wore black fishnet stockings !!

OK, so fast forward to my 2nd year of college at Temple University in Phila, Pa. (yes, I once again gave up "the dance" after that 6th grade disaster -- took up cheerleading - all for show, mind you -- I never did and still don't know what the heck a "first down" is -- started the chant "First in 10, do it again" for the wrong team more than once -- I was just in it for the pom pom routines -- which I guess can loosely be put in the category of "dance".) ANYHOW, back to Temple U. -- well, my pal Robin and I had the chance to take an elective..... so, what did we take? Out of everything you could possibly think of, we decided on BALLET !!! Turns out also taking the class (and not by choice) was the Temple University football team!!! Seems the coach required them to take it -- something about improving balance and coordination. Now our ballet instructor was a tiny , VERY serious about ballet, French woman. Rule #1: no laughing during class. Rule #2: everyone MUST wear tights. Now picture BIG (as in 250+ pound) football players saying to teeny, tiny French lady "I ain't wearin no tights!" Now picture those dancing hippos in the Disney movie Fantasia... now picture me and Robin getting dirty looks from teeny, tiny, very serious about ballet, French lady when we could not suppress our snorts, snickers and wetting our pants laughter as we watched those football players try to do pirouettes ! (not that Robin and I were much better at it .... oh, and thankfully there was NOT a recital this time!!!) .

After college, my pal Beth and I and a couple other girlfriends went through what we like to refer to as our "Fame/Flashdance" phase. We took a dance class in Phila -- and I went on to further embarrass myself at another dance class out in Los Angeles when I moved there -- same type of "Fame/Flashdance" type of dance . Oh, we tried to look the part -- you know, leg warmers and jazz shoes and all ... however, that's as far as it got. I have since hung up my ballet and jazz shoes -- gone on to more glamorous stuff laundry and trying to figure out yet another way to give chicken nuggets that gourmet flare..... but "the dance" hasn't completely left me ...I can occasionally be seen doing a plie' while at the sink doing dishes, then I gracefully arabesque' over to the stove and take the beans off the back burner....yes, "the dance" lives on ..... and the yearning for a pink tu tu has never left me (the peacock blue one in 1st grade was pretty, but I ALWAYS wanted a PINK one!) ...... so, yesterday I made one!!!! I finally have my pink tu tu !!! (I wonder if it's flame resistant in case I get too close to the stove while pirouett-ing from the sink to the stove to get the beans off the back burner?).

Anyhow, there's Evan modeling the pink tu tu for us (in front of the half - decorated Xmas tree and all the boxes sitting in the living room.) -- isn't he a good sport?!? I'm thinking, though, now that I have my pink tu tu, I need an upgrade on the tiara !Maybe Santa will bring me one! (after all, no self-respecting Sugar Plum Fairy would wear a tacky tiara!)

OK -- this Sugar Plum Fairy needs to hit the hay -- she's-a- pooped! ... and for all you other Sugar Plum Fairies out there , coming soon to a computer near you .... the Sugar Plum Fairy Tu Tu tutorial !!!( you just never know when you'll need a pink tu tu -- so better to make one now and have it on hand!)

Mary Anne (aka Mare)