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Thursday, December 31

A New Year, A New Decade...

It's hard to believe it's 2010. A yucky cold kept me from blogging while I was enjoying a nice week and a half away from work, but I'm better now and ready to tackle my current top ten list of to-dos for this year:
Here they are in no particular order...
In 2010, I want to:
1. Eat more home-cooked meals filled with fresh ingredients and experiment with lots of new recipes. I plan to post the good ones here. 2. Visit the local farmer's market on a regular basis (I've only been once - shame on me!). 3. Spend more time exercising my mind, body and spirit by reading, working out and going to church. All very important things! 4. Listen to Italian Podcasts and learn some Italian besides hello and the naughty words... :)
5. Visit the places that are dear to my heart - Italy, England and California.
6. Nurture my rose garden every day.
7. Learn to knit and embroider. I have had some success sewing buttons onto linens, so perhaps I'm ready to knit and purl...we shall see.
8. Blog at least twice a week and work on my photography skills. First I need to figure out how to get the pictures from my camera onto my computer. I still haven't mastered that yet... 9. Buy bicycles so Jonathan and I can ride them around our neighborhood and at Shelby Farms (I want a beach cruiser (!), but you can't get any less practical...maybe they sell mountain bikes in pastel colors with ribbons?).
10. Write, create, dream, do....and celebrate the little things in life every day. Love everyone.

I cannot begin to tell you how excited and inspired I am by the new year. I don't want to bash 2009, but it was such a depressing year for everyone, even those of us who were blessed with good health and jobs. There was just a bad vibe in the air, and it enveloped the world in a funk. Yuck!

Although it's been 2010 for five days, I can already see a little shift in everyone's attitudes. People seem happier and more optimistic, and it's fantastic! I hope to spread that sunshine by only posting positive thoughts on this blog, with the hope that I can help share a little bit of happiness with the people who read Painted Pink Roses.

Photo: Roses from my grandma's garden, summer 2006.

Tuesday, December 22

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

It's not a secret that Christmas is our favorite time of year. Jonathan and I begin our Christmas season long before most sane people, usually around the 15th of November, and we continue our festivities until the first week of January. We just can't get enough of it. I'm a firm believer that one can't be in a bad mood when they have their family around them, Bing Crosby on the record player, cookies in the oven and twinkling lights in every room of the house.
As this is our second Christmas in our home, we were excited about decorating, but with the economic situation, we were also feeling sensible. We put up our wedding tree (one of two trees used for decorations during our wedding ceremony two years ago), complete with loads of ornaments, most of which were gifted to us by my Mom three years ago. I can honestly say there isn't any room on our tree thanks to her. She gave us tons of ornaments. Some were new ones (I'm especially fond of our Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy ornaments), but many of them belonged to my grandmother and great-grandmother. I love them most of all because they're our family treasures. I look forward to passing them down to my children one day.
In addition to all of those ornaments are the first ornaments that Jonathan and I bought in December 2004 for our first little tree in Oxford. Although we were dating in 2003, we'd only been "official" for a month, so our first real Christmas as a couple was 2004. That year we bought some cheap ball ornaments and decorated them with glue and glitter. We have balls with all kinds of designs and words (among them "Ole Miss," "Oliver," "2004" and "Love"). Amazingly enough, they still look just as good as they did five years ago. Boy, did we make a mess making them!
Besides our big tree, we also have two little trees. One used to belong in my office when I worked at Chandler Ehrlich Advertising, and now it looks very cute on the dresser in our guest bedroom. The other tree is a new addition this year. It's a little bigger than my CEC tree, and it's covered in my Shiny Brite ornaments, all of which I purchased at antique malls this fall. In case you don't know about Shiny Brites, let me share -- Shiny Brites are the first American Christmas balls. Apparently all ball ornaments came from Germany prior to World War II, and when the war began, a saavy American businessman decided to make Christmas ornaments in the U.S. The WWII balls didn't include the metal cap because of the metal shortage, but the ornaments that were made following WWII did. That's how you know the age of your Shiny Brites. Sadly, the company closed in the early 1960s when plastic ornaments (shutter) became popular, but they can be found on Ebay and at many antique malls. I was fortunate to find tons of these pretty colored balls in their original boxes. They are so pretty, and their faded colors make my tree look so Charlie Brown-esque. I love it!
In addition to trees, we have a garland and lights at the top of our large built in bookcase in our living room, and a small village in our dining room. The only room (besides the bathroom and kitchen) without decorations is the sun room. I don't think Porter (our crazy Labrador) is quite ready for Christmas decorations. He's too crazy. I hope the description of our decorations is enough for now. I've had a terrible time getting my photos from my new camera onto my computer so for the time being, words and old photos will have to do the trick! :) Top Photo: Our 2008 Christmas tree. It's now located in the hallway, well out of reach of Porter's sunroom.
Bottom Photo: Our wedding kiss on December 15, 2007. Notice our wedding tree in the background.

Tuesday, December 15

Another Year Gone By...

Two years ago today, I married my best friend.
I was not the type of girl who dreamed of my wedding day from the time I was eight. I never imagined my dress, my vows or even my honeymoon. However, as soon as Jonathan and I decided to take the plunge, we became the wedding planning duo of the century. I was fortunate that Jonathan joined me on this journey. That's really what made it fun. We picked the room, the cake, the colors, the music, the flowers - everything you could imagine. The only experience we didn't share was the selection of my wedding dress. It sounds cheesy to say I knew it when I saw it, but that's exactly what happened with the dress and with every aspect of our wedding.
For us, it was a perfect day, one we'll never forget as long as we live. And, at the end of the night, I had my very best friend beside me as we began our new life together. What could have been more perfect than that?
Happy Anniversary, Jonathan. ilu

Thursday, December 10

Beginnings...

Tomorrow morning, my mother and sister are leaving for the U.K. for the first time in eleven years. Eleven years ago, it was only a bittersweet, week-long trip in the middle of June. My last Christmas in England was 1991. Six months later, we packed up our home, and moved to a small town in the Southern United States. It's amazing that my eight-year-old Christmas memories are still so strong, but they are some of my most vivid and beautiful, and for that I am grateful. They are the memories that make Christmas my favorite time of year - I love those old carols, the faded decorations and that child-like feeling that everything is right in the world. Everything is a little more old-fashioned in England, and I miss that, especially at Christmastime. For these reasons, my husband and I chose to get married in December. Next Tuesday we'll celebrate our second anniversary. I'm so glad we chose to ignore the naysayers and have a Christmas wedding. Love at Christmas is perhaps the most lovely thing in the world.
Now back to my family's trip. Tomorrow they'll board a plane to our other homeland and see friends for the first time in almost twenty years. They'll walk the country roads we used to travel, and they'll visit all of our favorite places. I took my husband to these special places this summer, on the sixth anniversary of my grandmother's passing. I miss her daily, and somehow it seemed fitting to visit my childhood home and pay my respects to her at the same time. As if by fate, my husband and I met the new homeowner outside our old white bungalow while she was washing windows, and she invited us into my old house. I will never forget that afternoon as long as I live. It was truly magical. So, my dear family, when those clouds part and you see that beautiful green countryside and those tiny thatched roofs for the first time, remember that you are loved by those on both sides of the Atlantic and by those above you. May you have a wonderful, safe trip. Treasure those old memories, and make lots of new happy ones. Love always. Top photo: Windsor Castle, Summer 2009. When I took the photo, I never saw the bird. It definitely added another magical touch to our trip. Middle photo: My mother's fuchsia plants, nearly 20 years after she and our gardener planted them. They are all that remain of her extensive flower garden, but they were such a joy to see. Bottom photo: Walking the paths of my youth: the River Thames near Boulter's Lock in Maidenhead. I dreamt of this place. It's simply breathtaking.