Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Birthday Celebrations

Me By The Tree

Amidst the Christmas season rush, Terry and I took the time to celebrate my birthday, which was on December 21st.

The Sunday before, we went to north Michigan Avenue in Chicago for 5:30 tea at the Peninsula Hotel, our favorite posh place to celebrate! It was a very cold day as we walked the 2 miles from the train station to the hotel.

The Peninsula Lion

Tea is held in the Lobby, which was all decked out in its Christmas finery.

Peninsula Lobby at Christmas

The decor is very grand and the atmosphere is formal, but welcoming.

Me on Peninsula Stairway

Chamber musicians played softly in the balcony while we sipped our organic Earl Grey.

Earl Grey

A 3-tiered serving stand held wonderful gourmet sweets and savories. It's always a surprise to see what the chefs will make for us!

Tiers of Treats

The finger sandwiches were the traditional cucumber and cream cheese, a marinated portobello sandwich, and a marbled rye wrapped around tomato and fresh basil.

Finger Sandwiches

Next were ramekins of gourmet pot pies topped with puff pastry.

Puff Pastry Pie

A basket held both berry and maple scones, served with jam, clotted cream and lemon curd. Finally, a plate full of cookies, cakes, sweet breads, brownie-like cups of chocolate and meringues! And a macaroon, fresh from the oven, was an added bonus!

Dessert!

Everything was scrumptious!

Tea!

What an elegant and memorable birthday present from my dear husband, Terry!

Terry

Orchid & Candle

Tea in the Peninsula Lobby

Peninsula Stairway

After tea, we took a brief walk up Michigan Avenue to take in the sights and sounds of the season.

Chicago's Water Tower

I always say hello to the carriage horses!

My Friends, the Carriage Horses

___________________________________________

On Tuesday, my actual birthday, Terry took me out for dinner at my favorite nearby restaurant, Olive Garden!

My Birthday at Olive Garden

My parents joined us there. It was so nice celebrating with everyone.

The Folks at Olive Garden

Thank you, Terry, for always making my birthday very special.
And thank you, Ma & Pa, for giving me a birthday
and helping us celebrate!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day

Christmas Day is here!

Manger

I hope you are all enjoying the holiday. This year, we will spend Christmas at my brother's house, and tomorrow will get together with my husband's family. We are both so lucky to have our families close by.

This morning, Terry and I exchanged gifts.

Giving Gifts

The cards have all been delivered and are displayed on our door.

Christmas Cards on Door

The mistletoe is hung in a most convenient place!

Mistletoe

I bought myself an early Christmas present. I just couldn't resist this beautiful Christmas lamp!

New Christmas Lamp

I love this framed lithograph Terry picked out for me a few years back. The image contains so much of the things I love!

Winter Lithograph

This penguin and polar bear bring a bit of cheer to our chilly winter!

Chilly Friends

I usually put this buggy near the tree. This year, I also decided that the antique doll and settee would also make a nice vignette near the tree.

Christmas Vignette

The buggy contains my 3 teddy bears: Oatmeal, Cream of Wheat and Cocoa Wheats.

Oatmeal, Cocoa Wheat and Cream of Wheat

Penny approves of this year's vignette.

Penny in front of tree

Penny on Settee

And so does Phoebe!

Phoebe on Settee

I used to place a beautiful handmade lace tree skirt under our tree. Then Penny came along. She is very mischievous around the tree. The lace tree skirt had to be replaced with a white sheet. Many of our beautiful ornaments have to stay packed away because Penny thinks the tree is one giant Cat Toy Holder.

Penny misbehaving under tree

Penny under tree

Little angels waiting for Santa.

Two Good Kitties

Two Comfy Christmas Kitties

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Tree Tour 2010

Owl

Where did we leave off?
Ah yes, the Christmas tree!

After the lights were put on the tree, a strand of candle lights
are added for an old-world touch.

Candle lights

Next, strands of wooden cranberries.

Wooden cranberries

The angel comes out of her box to adorn the top of the tree.

Angel topper

Add all the ornaments and...
Voila!

Our Tree 2010


I created a video that shows a lot of our ornaments.
The music is a fantastic Christmas medley played by the
local concert band at a live concert we attended a few years back.
Click the picture below to watch the video on YouTube.

Merry Christmas Video

Here are some of our ornaments shown in the video.
Of course, we have a fair share of cat ornaments!

Cat Ornament Mosaic

And other animals besides cats. We're both big animal lovers!

Animal Mosaic

Of course, the tree would not be complete
without the angels.

Angel Mosaic

Some ornaments are mementoes of special days
in our lives.

Special Events Mosaic

And some are just for fun!

Fun Ornament Mosaic

I hope you enjoyed the tour of our 2010 Christmas Tree.

Here's wishing you all a beautiful Christmas
filled with love and good cheer!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Deck the Malls

What a busy month this has been so far! Winter has definitely arrived in Chicago. Here is a recent view of the garden...

First Snow, December 2010

... and here is the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago, all lit up for Christmas and Hanukkah. Here's a fun fact: the Merchandise Mart is SO big, it has it's own zip code!

Merchandise Mart, Chicago

This Saturday, we went to the stores and malls to do some Christmas shopping.

The Mall 3

I think we're done, and that's a relief! Look, there's Santa!

Santa!

The stores were packed, and the parking lots were full, so going back would be a major headache.

The Mall 2

Sunday was "Put The Christmas Tree Up Day."

Tree- Step 1

I've declared it as such because it literally takes me ALL DAY to just get the tree up and decorated.

Tree- Step 2

I began at noon. I know, I should have started earlier.

Tree- Step 3

Here it is, going up in stages. There are 11 tiers of branches on a 7-1/2 foot tree.

Tree- Step 4

This year, we ran into a few snags. When I finally got the tree put together, I dragged out the box of lights. I started stringing them onto the tree, when I came across 2 major strands that were not working!

Tree- Step 5

It was 4:30 by this time. We hopped in the car and drove to the nearby Ace Hardware and bought 2 new strands. As we were approaching Ace, Terry noticed a car on the other side of the road losing control, spinning out, jumping the curb and hitting some evergreen trees. We stopped to call the police and waited until they arrived, then continued our shopping.

Tree- Step 6

When I got home and opened the first set of lights, it did not light completely! A faulty set! The other set was fine, so I got that one put on the tree.

Tree boxes
The entire tree fits in these two bins

By this time it was too late to go back to Ace, which closes at 5:00. So we drove all over the area looking for more Christmas lights.

Putting on the Lights

Menards, Target, Home Depot all were out of lights! I couldn't believe it! Luckily, I decided to pull into a Walgreens on the way home and they had some left. Whew!

Lights are Done

Once I got all the lights on the tree, it was time to take a break and eat dinner. I made us a yummy asparagus casserole. Mmmm! It warmed our cockles on such a chilly evening!

Asparagus Casserole

OK, so this is no Tablescape Thursday-type photo! Just my everyday dishes which do not match the tablecloth. And my everyday husband Terry. Nothing fancy going on here!

Terry eating dinner

After dinner, I went back to the tree. I got the rest of it all done by 10:45 on Sunday night!

Angel centerpiece 2

I'll leave the rest of the tree photos for the next post. I did manage to pull this angel out of storage for our table centerpiece. The rest of the Christmas decorations will have to wait for another day!

Angel centerpiece

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