Christmas Catch-up

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Here I am back at the blog to document this past Christmas. It’s such a faux pas to blog something after it has happened but I’ve well established that this website is a glorified (expensive) journal (with photos!) and not a money-making business so who really cares about schedules?!! Not me! I like to keep the bar low.

Speaking of low expectations: We had NO expectations for Christmas festivities this year since Covid has put a damper on everything. That means we had a pretty good old-fashioned family-bonding time.  Pessimists are us? Maybe so but it worked. We invited our pod over (Payam’s mom and brother) for dinner and unwrapping of presents on Christmas Eve. I didn’t grow up with any Christmas traditions so this feels right to me. Christmas day is snoresville to me. What do you do if you don’t have little kids opening presents? Netflix all day? Like any other Tuesday? But Christmas Eve is magical. I love that the lights are low, a fire is crackling.. everyone is chilling with something to eat or drink. It just seems sweet. And the kids are in a great mood because: GIFTS.

Earlier in December, we picked up a tree from “the Lowe’s parking lot experience.” I call it an experience because it felt like those drive-through events you go to nowadays with people in costumes and masks walking around your car in sets that are six feet away. Not unlike sitting in traffic in rush hour.

We picked out our tree from the astroturf-lined wedding tent, popped our heads in the little painted stand with head-cut outs for old time’s sake and then got back in our car to wait in line for our tree. It took about half an hour. In the scheme of things that wasn’t too bad. It’s not like we had anywhere else to go.

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Later in the week Grandma Pedram and Payam’s brother came over to see all the decorating we had been doing. It wasn’t all that much but Payam’s family is the call-everyday type and the only updates we really had to give were us decorating this or that. So when Grandma Pedram came over, I enlisted her and the girls to decorate the tree while I took a work phone call. Next thing I knew every single ornament we have was hanging on the tree. It was a mess but also beautiful. I had visions of only hanging my favorites and leaving the old Disney plastic ornaments in the bottom of storage but there you have it. All the ornaments on the tree! Kinda sweet.

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The girls messed around with the lights, taking photos, and being beautiful.

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I bought us matching pajamas this year. Cute red striped traditional pajamas from Target. They were cheap. I wanted us all to have striped pajamas but they don’t make these red ones for men so I bought Payam the next best thing: Nightmare Before Christmas Skelly fuzzy pants and then well, I had to buy the rest of us some too because who wants to be left out of that fuzzy skelly show?

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The skelly pants were a bigger hit than I expected and the girls took it upon themselves to have a style challenge and wear them as everyday wear. Yes, they wore matching pajama pants and walked down to the local shopping center dressed like this. Classy! I think the looped silver belt makes it.

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But back to decorating: We put lights up this year. I think everyone in our neighborhood did because we all have so much time on our hands! It made me happy. In the past, I had vowed never to put lights up again after we got in trouble with our home-owners association a few years back for leaving them up until February. Those bah-humbugs, they weren’t even turned on! But I guess having Christmas lights up after Christmas (even turned off) is super tacky. I wouldn’t know. I grew up in a neighborhood where it was totally acceptable to have three non-working trucks parked on your lawn AND a toilet growing geraniums. Lights seem like a petty infraction. But whatever. We’ll be sure to take them down early this year.

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You probably already saw my birdhouse milk carton craft and the baked citrus suncatchers. I love them. We’ve already undecorated for Christmas (I love a good purge) but I’ve left the orange suncatchers up because they are so cheery on these cold winter days.

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Did you see how we decorated our cul-de-sac with graffiti!?!!! What law-breakers we are! Except its chalk and washes away so psych! Phew! It was pretty fun to play around with. It felt super naughty and I was expecting my neighbors to call the cops on me at any minute but they didn’t.

I actually bought this spray chalk misunderstanding what it was. I am the WORST when it comes to buying things on Amazon. I always misread everything and skim through important details without picking up on anything. I thought it was matte paint, like what you buy to make blackboards, but in pretty pastel colors. I bought it to paint my milk cartons. I don’t know why I didn’t notice the kids playing with trucks on chalk roads that was clearly printed on the packaging. That’s kind of a big detail! But then I’m also the person who orders containers three times too big AND sets up a subscription for toilet paper five times faster than we can possibly use it. (Handy mistake this last march though.) So anyway it wasn’t a total loss since I like to try out new art supplies anyway. It was pretty awesome but the cans ran out way too fast.

That sums up the December decorating news…I think. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’m brewing some things for the new year but I’ll get to those later.

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In other news, before we found out that California is in the DEEP DREADFUL DARK PURPLE OF COVID CASES and possibly the worst in the nation and therefore WORLD, a friend and I went on a really fun hill hike. We wore our masks the entire time except when we painted (six feet away from each other) AND when we took a selfie. Which was totally stupid and completely blew our germ-free protocol!!! I’ve noticed that I’ve done that several times. I’ll go out on a walk with my dogs early in the morning when no people are out and wear my mask the entire time and then a friend pulls up in their car to chat with me and they can’t hear/understand me so I pull my mask down to talk to them which completely defeats its purpose. I guess it’s all a learning curve and I’m new to pandemics but still, I can’t believe how stupid I am sometimes.  Thankfully we are all still well but it has hit our neighborhood and I do have friends who have caught it so now it’s more urgent than ever to be safe. So no more hill hikes for us. Boo.

It was really fun though. I love Plein air painting. My painting didn’t turn out super special but I’ll cherish it forever anyway because it was such a fun time. I think it’s better when paintings are more about the process than the end result anyway. It captures the emotion of where we were and how beautiful it was even if it technically missed the mark.

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Other than that, all I have to add is that winter is here and I love it! I hated this last summer. I was so sick of being hot and sweaty. I have such a lower tolerance for heat now that I’m older and menopausal. I don’t love the gray days but I do love a chill in the air. I LOVE wearing sleeves and sweaters in the house.

That bright orange caution-cone-colored hat Bug has on is a product from my dad’s business. We really wanted to get them promoted for Christmas but at the last minute he figured out he couldn’t stock enough of them to fill orders in time for Christmas so we’ll save that idea for next year. But I’m planning on making day-glow orange (and yellow) beanies a thing so brace yourself. And if you are smart, go buy one and promote my dad because he is AWESOME and deserves to have a real business to support himself instead of gardening and odd jobs at his age.  He is supposed to be retired but I’m thinking he’s not quite done being an entrepreneur yet.

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Last but not least, shall we talk about winter skies? Why are they so much more awesome than summer skies? Probably because there isn’t a marine layer in the air like there is all summer when things are sticky and hot. I just love a clear sky with scribbles and dribbles of bright orange and purple clouds.

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Whether it’s sunrise or sunset it never disappoints.

Until next time! xoxo

We Had Such Grand Plans

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This post is purely for me because nobody cares what I did for Halloween when we have a massive election going on. But I care and I can’t start my month off properly if I haven’t blogged and created a new banner. So here goes!

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“We Had Such Grand Plans” could be the title of this whole year. We make plans, they backfire. Over and over and over again. But  unlike the rest of 2020, my plans for Halloween this year actually sort of worked out. Well, mostly. The only part of my plans that didn’t work out was that Joon was at her mom’s this year and couldn’t really participate in my grand plan but I forgive her because she sent me a photo of herself wearing the costume I designed and it looked absolutely smashing on her. So there’s that.  I actually think I had a even better Halloween than ever because I got to do all my favorite things.The rest of my family might not agree but I was a happy camper.  And by favorite things I mean: making crazy costumes, carving pumpkins and eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Really, that’s all that matters to me.

First up let’s talk about costumes: The grand plan was I would be the mad hatter, Payam would be Volcano Man from the movie Eurovision: the story of Fire Saga, Bug would be a Plague Doctor and Joon would be a witch. Except when I showed Joon the sketch she promptly decided she wanted to be the Mad Hatter. Fine with me! She makes a better model for my work anyway.

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A week before Halloween we got to work. Bug created her plague doctor mask out of a balloon and paper mâché. I thought we were going to paint it black but once we saw how historical and interesting the newsprint was we decided to keep it unpainted as a political and historical statement. That was all Bug’s decision which I think is brilliant. Instead of throwing this mask away I think it will be an art piece we keep in the family for a long time.

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For the Mad Hatter I whispered up some cardboard similar to my crazy cake lady hat. That was such a fun costume. This hat didn’t turn out quite as well as the cake but it was still over-the-top silly which is really all I cared about. Of course Joon looks amazing in her thrift store suit, her crazy hair and the cane her dad put together for her.

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Payam’s costume is a hodge podge galleria of ramshackle cardboard glue-gunned together to look like armor. His helmet is made from San Pelegrino boxes. It was really fun to make. If only I maid a faux fur cape I think I would have really nailed it. But considering he only wore if for the photo I think I put in more than enough effort.

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Around four o’clock I called the family (Sans Joon) together to take a portrait in front of our garage. I’m thinking this is going to be the background for all family photos this year. No need to hire an expensive photographer for Christmas cards when I can use my handy dandy remote and my camera on a tripod. It’s not as magical but then neither has this whole year been. I think families standing in front of garages will pretty much sum up this year.

As you can see I am still learning out to use my remote. Hopefully I’ll be a little more natural at it for our holiday photos.

I want to say, and then we carved pumpkins but you can tell we actually carved pumpkins first. Whatever, it fits better here in the post.

 

I’m so happy Bug shares my love of carving pumpkins. Yes, it’s messy and slimy and gross but it’s also really fun!

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Bug made a pumpkin eating a baby pumpkin and I made a laughing scary mouth pumpkin. Not super creative but fun nevertheless.

We didn’t want to spend too much time on them because we had a photoshoot to do in the tunnels with Bug’s creepy plague doctor costume! And even though I planned all sorts of time to do it we still managed to run out of time and rush the whole thing. I don’t think I’ve ever done a photoshoot where I don’t feel rushed and don’t make a thousand mistakes. It’s kind of the nature of the biz since your subjects usually get bored way before you ever nail the money shot.

Anyway, I forgot my tripod… it was super dark and green from the weird tunnel lighting. In some ways I think it makes the shots better but I also know I could have done a way better job.

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I think it definitely checks all the creepy boxes.

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Pretty much encapsulates 2020 I think.

 

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And so that’s that! We came home, ordered pizza from California Pizza Kitchen, handed out a few candies with tongs and masks on and called it a night!

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And yes, we already voted. In case you were worried.