Tag Archives: Christmas

Merry Christmas!

24 Dec


And who is this little girl (circa 1979)?


Holiday Nostalgia

3 Dec

I’ll admit it: every year when I open and unpack the boxes of Christmas decorations, I get a little sappy and nostalgic.  I love looking at and setting out my “heirloom” decorations and ornaments and remembering back to my childhood.  Yes, I love my newly-acquired decorations and baubles, but if there was a fire and I could only save a few holidays lovelies, I would opt for these:



My mom gave me this book when I was two, back  in 1979 (!)  It’s a precious pop-up version of “The Night Before Christmas” and I’ve adored it every since I I first held it in my hands.  Some of the pieces are missing, but most are still intact and in good condition.  I love setting this out and creating a “scene” around it that involves vintage santas and gold-glitter reindeer.



The little yellow angel playing the mandolin in the front is a Goebel Hummel bell ornament from my birth year (1977).  My parents lived in Germany for several years in the 1950s and have a small collection of original Hummels.  I don’t know where my mom purchased the above Hummel, but I adore it.  At 76, she’s not able to put up a large tree anymore, and so dispersed the valuable ornaments to her children.  I love this one and set it out every Christmas — I’m afraid to put it on the tree in fear of it falling and breaking.


The red lady playing the guitar behind her pre-dates me and I think it’s precious in its vintage holiday charm.  There is a sticker from the long-closed Hefner’s gift shop in the town where I grew up on the bottom, which makes me love it even more.  It’s a symbol of small-town life long ago when mom and pop shops were the backbone of the community.




This house also pre-dates me and it is one of my favorite holidays decorations, hands down.  There were once little plastic color “lights” that fit into the holes on the Christmas tree, but they have been lost to time (or my parents’ attic).  When this ceramic house wound up in my hands, it was filled with candle wax — it was even coming out of the windows!  My husband was so kind to carefully and painstakingly clean it out of all of the wax and soot and random wicks.  I now put a tealight inside instead of a votive and love to watch it glow.  I wish I had the little plastic “lights” and if anyone knows where I can get some, I’d be very appreciative.



I think this is so cute!  This was actually part of a set that included “peace” and something else.  It’s just a simple plastic decoration, but I always “played” with it when I was a little child.  Before my parents tore the wall down between their formal living room and dining room, they had this little space with rails about a foot or so from the ceiling to the top of the wall that they used to sit these on.  I would stand on the back of the couch in the living room (when no one was looking) to reach them.



Starting when I was about 5, my mom and sisters would take me to the Nutcracker ballet most years.  I loved the Nutcracker!  My mom enrolled me in ballet classes and bought me the Tchaikovsky soundtrack.  My favorite part of the Nutcracker (besides the mice) was the actual Nutcracker itself.  When I was about 10 and had a little allowance money, my sister Lynne took me down to the now-closed Foley’s department store where I purchased a Nutcracker for my mom for Christmas.  For a few years, it became a tradition for me to buy her a Nutcracker.  A few years back when my mom started to consolidate her Christmas decoration collection, she gave me a few of them for my house.  The above Nutcracker is the original one I bought in 1987.  Its hair is a little yellowed and its fur beard is thinning, but it generally works and is good condition for being 24 years old.  This year, I made a Nutcracker “scene” on my mantle with all of the Nutcrackers, our wreath stocking holders, the “Nutcracker” candle from Yankee Candle, and these votive cups from Crate & Barrel.



My husband Jeff and I first met in August 2001 (and married in August 2002).  The above ornament is from our first Christmas together.  I bought it at Hallmark and just love it.  It’s so sweet and makes me smile each year.  The man   is holding mistletoe over the woman and below them dangles a star that reads ‘2001.’



This ceramic Christmas tree is from 1982 when I was 5.  I made it in the kindergarten at Vor-Lin Preschool (which I still think was once of the best preschools around as we learned to read, do basic addition and subtraction, learn colors, the alphabet, etc. all by the time were were 5 or 6.  In fact, a lot of the kids in my class that went to Vor-Lin went on to become honor students, valedictorians or salutatorians, doctors, teachers, activists, and all-around good people).


I begin decorating after Thanksgiving because I love looking at these memories as long as I can.  It’s such a joy to unwrap each one and find the perfect place for it.  Each year, it’s a little moment of love.


19 Nov

October and November have flown by and here we are bumping up against Thanksgiving and December.  As I am teaching five classes and my book just came out, I literally have had zero time to do much except grade, lesson plan, travel, and cook.  Writing?  What’s that?  What I have managed to do:


October 13: Attend the 2011 Gulf Coast Gala at the Finger family home in River Oaks.  The gala benefitted Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature & Fine Arts and was simply wonderful.  The Finger family’s home is gorgeous and they are all so gracious and hospitable.  Nick Flynn gave a reading from his award-winning work, which, of course, was amazing.  My good friend Becca, who is the managing editor at Gulf Coast, helped to organize it all and did a spectacular job!  I wore this dress from eShakti:



October 21-23: I was invited to read at the Improved Lighting Reading Series at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville, AR.  Jeff and I flew up there and stayed with our dear friends Brett and April, who recently purchased the cutest old house not far from the University of Arkansas campus (where Brett is an associate professor and April is finishing up her MFA in Creative Writing).  I had so much fun!  After the reading, we had a wonderful dinner at Wasabi on Dickson St.  followed by drinks at Bordino’s.  A good number of my books sold at the reading, which I was really excited about!  The best surprise?  My long-time childhood friend, Jennifer R.’s parents came to my reading!  They retired to AR and now live about an hour from Fayetteville and were there when I walked in the door!  I was thrilled to see them!  Apparently, she has told them about my reading and they made the drive to come see me.  I hadn’t seen them in (gasp!) 16 years and was so humbled that they came all that way to see me.  I was really moved when they told me how proud of me they were and how much they liked my book.  We, of course, had to Kodak that moment:


With the Roddas @ Nightbird Books


October 27:  I gave another reading as part of Houston’s famed Poison Pen Reading Series at Poison Girl.  That was an amazing reading even if it did begin to rain after recent Whiting Award-winner Shane McCrae (who I read with) finished reading his last poem. When the Reading Series began years ago, I dreamed of reading there and now, voilà!  A girl’s dreams can come true!


November 4-6: My husband Jeff is such a great guy.  About a month ago he suggested that we drive up to Dallas to see the stage version of “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the Wyly Theatre.  It was hands down the best play I’ve ever seen!  I love, love going to plays and I love, love TKAM.  The girl who played Scout was Scout.  The last five minutes of the play were filled with sniffles from the audience (including me).  My God, it was extraordinary.  I’m so glad we had the opportunity to see it!  After, we popped over to H&M (the only H&M in TX) as neither Jeff or I had been to an H&M.  We then had dinner at Bucca di Beppo and coffee at my new favorite coffeehouse, Crooked Tree Coffeehouse.




I wanted to go to this year’s Nutcracker Market (I’ve gone the past two years), but I just didn’t have the time.  I’ve also been buying Christmas presents like a madwoman (I like to get it ALL done by Thanksgiving so I can relax and enjoy my holidays) and really didn’t want to part with additional money (I never leave the Market without spending several hundred dollars).


Speaking of Christmas shopping, I was joking with Jeff the other day about how you know you’re an old married couple when each of you wants an appliance for their big Christmas present.  Jeff wants a Worx Trivac.  Here’s what I want (and actually got early):


KitchenAid "Artisan Design" 5 Quart Tilt Head Stand Mixer, Raspberry


I LOVE this mixer and have been wanting one forever!  Besides the fact that it’s a great mixer and that it’s a gorgeous shade of pink, it also commemorates the 10th anniversary of KitchenAid’s “Cook for the Cure” partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  Get one here.




As the semester rolls to an end, I hope to be able to take a breath finally and have a nice, long, break (until Spring term).  I have such a long list of books I want to read over break and start thinking about future writing projects.  I’ve sent my second manuscript off to a handful of writing contests, lately, and should hear something in mid-Spring.  Fingers crossed.  Until then, you can find me nose-deep in one of those long-neglected books or whipping something up in the kitchen (like this, this, this, this, or this).




The reviews/news for my book are slowly coming in!  Here are a few:

Short-Shot Review @ Mead Magazine

Interview w/ Kim Young @ Chaparral

My book, The Glass Crib, is named a top 5 best-seller in poetry for October 2011 @ Small Press Distribution!