Tuesday, November 20, 2012

AM~Erica Thinks You Should Just Say NO

So anyway...

It's that time of year again.

That's right! We are gearing up for day that appears to be losing its meaning in the midst of the craziness of society. You know what I'm talking about, right? That's right! I'm talking about Black Friday.

WAIT, Wait, wait! Say What???

Folks...I'm not kidding. I just read an interesting article this morning lamenting the fact that Black Friday is losing it's meaning. Seriously.

*face palm*

I've already talked about how NOVEMBER TENDS TO BE OVERLOOKED. Halloween ends & then December begins. Doesn't it? There has already been true lamenting as to whatever happened to Thanksgiving...but we still give into the society timing pressures.

That poor turkey. Forced into Witness Protection for the sake of society & commercialism.

I actually put initial blame on KMart. Since their business has not exactly done so well the last several years, their ploy was to open on Thanksgiving. It apparently drew enough crowds that the competition grew. So others began their "Black Friday" stuff earlier & earlier.

What used to be about toy shopping for the kids at Toys-R-Us at the "crazy shopping hour" of 6:00 AM, has now become a greedy, angry mess of "electronics just for me at any cost" type day.

My hubby & his mom started doing the Black Friday thing years ago. It was probably the 2nd year. And it was at Toys-R-Us. He & MIL made a tradition of shopping for the kids, grabbing breakfast, and then showing up at home to brag on their purchases. Then the competition started...
All of a sudden, Best Buy, Walmart & many other retailers jumped on the bandwagon and started offering the electronics. My hubby will attest that things went into an ugly, downward spiral at that point.

What used to be about getting some shopping done for family became something very greedy. And, to make matters worse, stores will advertise big deals on major electronics...and then have 10 sent to the store. So comes the trampling, fist fights, shootings, bruises, injuries & pure insanity just to get a camera, a TV, a computer, the latest Elmo toy, etc.

Last year is when it was really awful. Retailers picked up on KMart's ploy. It took several years, but the stores were weaning themselves & employees that direction. People missing time with family just to make sure to have that iPad is really sad.

People camp out at Best Buy a week before now...hoping family will bring them food so they can get hold of the TV. That's not right.

I know everyone wants good deals. I'm a sucker for a killer bargain! And I love shopping...but not under conditions like that. And I can't imagine not recognizing that THANKSGIVING IS A HOLIDAY!!! And I would never get up THAT early just to have to fight my way thru crowds just to HOPE they have I was wanting to get. Hubby asked me for years to join them...and I always turned them down...who's the smart one, now?

The article points out the Black Friday phenomenon being a diluted "holiday"...what about the disappearing of Thanksgiving? Just a time to enjoy our bountiful blessing with family.

I do not begrudge the Target & Walmart employees striking the working on Thanksgiving issue. They want time with their families.

Last year, it was finally at such a horrible breaking point, my hubby walked into the doors of Walmart...looked around at the insane, and increasingly growing angry crowd...and gave up. He didn't participate for the first time in over a decade. He is not planning on doing it this year either...I don't think...

What it has become is sad. If Thanksgiving wasn't being shoved off enough...the "diluted holiday" of Black Friday has already been overtaking this time.

All in the name of the all mighty dollar.

I pray that everyone within reading distance of this post has a beautiful & peaceful Thanksgiving. May you truly celebrate the blessings you have. SIT DOWN and enjoy the dysfunction of your family, the food you're blessed with, the roof over your head, the relationships, the transportation, your talents, your health, you know...anything & everything you have. The things you have NOW! Not what you are willing to give up family time for to beat up a stranger to get hold of something you may not even get.

You want to do something out & about with your time on Thursday? How about helping those less fortunate & seeing what your blessings are truly about. You want to pick something up on Thanksgiving? How about perspective.

*deep breath in - deep breath out*

May you have a truly blessed Thanksgiving with your family & friends. Enjoy every moment of that time with them.

Can I get an Amen?


Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Sunday, November 18, 2012

AM~Erica Delivers a Near Parenting Win

So anyway...

As a parent, you have to figure out a different way to get a point thru to your kids...I have done several in the past, but I wanted to share my newest one that I was prepared to use. I didn't get to use it, but a particular child of mine now knows what I can be capable of.

Teen Girl (I bet you knew I'd be talking about this kiddo) had a part in her high school play this weekend. Somehow, at some point along the way before Teen Girl ever got to this school, there has been an interesting tradition of a cast party following every show. I mean, seriously? They pick a different restaurant after every show. I don't know why...but it's what happens.

The show that was picked this time was "The King and I." If you are familiar with this story and show, you know it's a 3 hour event. If the evening shows don't begin until 7:00 or after, that puts the show being over around 10:00 or after. Then, costumes must come off & getting ready to go. So the kids don't even really head away from the school until 10:30 (since they greet the masses afterward). Many places close around 11:00 around here. So, they were having difficulty finding suitable places. (should've been a hint to cut off the "tradition", but whatever)

Well, I ended up being one of the drivers for Teen Girl & a friend...so imagine my shock when yet another hopped in, too. Not a bad thing, just didn't expect it. But off we went. And, come to find out, Teen Girl needed me to pick her back up by midnight. UGH!!!

So, I came home, did a couple of chores & then had a brilliant parenting idea...

I'd already texted her that I planned to get HER & that I wasn't going to be driving around all over the place after midnight. We had church in the morning, too...so the quicker to bed, the better! Since I didn't hear anything back, I wasn't sure what she might pull. So, I pulled out the big guns...

I put on my pajamas, slippers & a bright red robe to go get her. This served several purposes:

1. I was already for bed, so all I had to do was come home & make sure all was closed up so I could get some shut eye.

B. It would be delightfully embarrassing for her if she promised a friend or 2 a ride home & mom is doing it in her PJ's. Oh yes indeed.

III. If she was not out there by midnight and she wouldn't answer her phone or text from me...I would epically embarrass her by strolling into the restaurant dressed for bed. Oh yes. Oh yes.

Quatro. I'd be comfy.

Well, when I pulled up, she was standing outside waiting for me...with a friend. Then only she got into the car. Only a slight let down. I mean, she did what she was supposed to, but I didn't get to use my awesome parenting superpower of embarrassment. *sigh*

She got it & looked at me. Then she said, "Well, you look cute." I don't think she realized what was up my sleeve. Then I turned all super villain & told her my plan (much like Heinz Doofenshmirtz would to Perry the Platypus [aka - Agent P] describing the Emarrassment-o-nator).

Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz describing to trapped Agent P about his grand plan to take over the
Tri-State Area with some invention.

She looked at me with a delightfully horrified look...and said, "No! Just no. You look 'stay-in-the-car' cute." *snort*

However, I did let her know that I am not afraid to pull that card again. I just told her I was prepared with warfare. She might think the next time she pulls a surprise of extra people or not being ready when I need to get her. She might not know what to expect...
Dr. Evil & Mr. Bigglesworth
~awesome super villain~


Feel free to tap into your super-villain parenting super powers. It's kind of fun. The look you'll get...is...PRICELESS...

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Saturday, November 17, 2012

AM~Erica is Preparing for That Time of Year

So anyway...

It's time to refocus on much more positive subject than my previous SCATHING POST. Instead we will focus on that time of year. Yes...THAT time of year!

Even though stores & advertisements have already jumped on the winter holiday bandwagon, we hitch our ride on the weekend before Thanksgiving. Since some family comes over for brunch on that day, we like to show off our decorations. And we have made it a tradition, but decided to do some different things this year. Because I've talked about CHANGING TRADITIONS before, too. We decided to approach this family holiday tradition differently this year.

For one, I've already DECORATED A TREE, but it wasn't for us, if you remember. But it's now time to handle our own house...

Usually, we think the kids feel forced & at least one of them gets super grumpy & it makes the day very stressful. So we changed & decided that it wouldn't bother us if the kids didn't want to do anything. If they do, fantastic! Teen Girl jumped on the task of cookie baking...

Teen Girl took the pic of her 10 dozen cookies. She added the milk. She rocked!

While that was going on, hubby put together our brand new, 9 ft, prelit tree. Hubby has been wanting a hugenormous tree for years. He finally got it.

Hubby introducing the baby to a Christmas tree
And it's huge. However...I am the designated tree fluffer. So...a brand new tree, way taller than I am, and trying to figure out which way it's gonna go. Yeah...it took me around 4-ish hours to fluff. That's crazy stuff, folks! But the boys were all putting lights on the house & bringing up the rest of the decoration boxes.

FINALLY, it came time to decorate the tree. Here's how it came out:

That Santa tree topper is our original tree topper...first time in years he's been  on the tree top

Our tree has white lights & mulitcolor twinkly lights. For the last several years, we decided a star would be more appropriate for our 6 ft & 7.5 ft trees we've had. That pretty star looked dwarfed on this largenormous tree. So...we got to bring Santa back! Santa was the very first tree topper for hubby & I, back in 1995. Even when we switched him out, he was still part of the Christmas surroundings. Awww...it's nice to have Ol' St. Nick back on top!

That was a tradition throwback. But we changed something. This is a huge thing for my hubby, too...we didn't put garland on the tree! *GASP* Instead...we just draped ribbon. You have no idea what change up this is!! But we love it.

But the decor doesn't just stop there...
We also did the mantle:

We are very happy with it...however, for most people...do you notice anything missing? That's right! There are NO stockings hung by the chimney with care. Not at all! There are just too many people who celebrate together in this house...so, instead...

We had to hang them by the tree, instead. We couldn't fit ALL of these on our poor mantle. I'm big on having the stockings by the fireplace...but you know what? I love them here! So adorable!

Then...I put up our fairly new-to-us Nativity. We had been using the one my mom & dad had since they were married. That Nativity scene is 44-years-old. We really needed a new one, as the antique was starting to show age (we were hoping to just keep the poor camel's let on). Last year, after my grandmother had to move out of her home into an assisted living facility, we ended up with her all white collectable Nativity fom Avon:

Yes...it is set up under our TV so it's always there to look at as our reminder...not in a corner somewhere.
That's what we got done today. We aren't done, as I put up more trees & decor. But the main part is pretty much done. It may get a tweak or 2...but that's our day's work.

And...all of this while listening to Christmas music. Of course.

It's not time for the outside lights for us yet. We will wait until Thanksgiving night to switch those on. You know, like the Plaza lights! LOL!

Let's get this Christmas party started!!

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

AM~Erica Needs to See Some Respect - Show It

So anyway...

As you all know probably know by now, I'm not the most political person...but I've had to get on my soapbox in the last several months because of the immaturity of both sides of the aisle. Ugly & bratty was & still is hard to deal with. Especially when it's supposedly a bunch of "adults".

Those of you acting like you would be a martyr for your own party? Oh, puh-leez!

So that's why I have tried to start a movement of PURPLE POLITICS...the voice of compromise in our government. The urge of the lefty-democrat-blue drinkers & the righty-republican-red drinkers to come to the middle & pour your glasses of bitterness into the middle to create a sweet flavor of purple.

So I have been on a mission to find my perfect political shirt: a purple Koolaid Man tshirt! Oh Yeah!

There are others who have hopped onto the purple bandwagon. A place needed to be created where the moderates could actually feel like they/we could speak up. One of my bandwagon riders was on my mission to get me a koolaid shirt. She won & found it first...that's a whole other story that I may blog about soon...cuz it's entertaining. But here is my shirt, y'all:

Can you read my note? It says "Enjoy!"

See? I look like my pic above...OK, it's blurry, but I have on no makeup. No one needs to see that.

I do wish I could've had it before election day, but not this time. However, I will still wear it loud & proud. When you all see it, you will know what it stands for! Because it was not loud enough to get thru the campaign season...

That was quite the round of campaigning & elections, don't you think? It was a dizzying & gut-wrenching journey that I couldn't NOT wait see come to an end. There is a large number of people who did not like destination chosen by majority.

So now, I gotta pull out my soapbox again. I haven't gotten on it in quite some time. And apparently the time has come for me to jump on. So brace yourselves...here we go:

I have gotten on my SOAPBOX before about the level of nasty, one-sided politics. And I have seen the liars come out in full force. I'm not even talking about candidates, either. I'm talking about all the ridiculous supporters who keep on their blinders about what the post & what they say. You can't say you want peaceful posts & "discussion", put out your "prayer requests", and pretend you are looking for a better solution when you also put hateful, vile, and personal attacks on top of fake & mistruth information that is such a twisted truth. And you actually believe you are saying the right things?

I'm going to tell both sides something right now. If you haven't picked it up from my other posts about this, then pay attention now:

When you put that stuff out there, you look like the biggest jerk & no one with actual common sense is going to listen to it. If you want things to be better, then quit it with the smut & mud slinging from your own walls. Seriously.

There was a time (before social media) when there was this thing called "RESPECT" for our leaders. But now we can just say as hateful & childish things as ever. Even though that's part of our 1st amendment right, the vile levels from BOTH sides really should be come down upon. Personal attacks & trying to undercut in bratty ways should be a felony. Yep, I said it. (Thank you, 1st Amendment!) You think that thought is not OK? I've got more.

We just finished recognizing our veterans for their service & sacrifices to make sure our entire country was free. The United States of America...and the word "united" is in there. This part is VERY important. We are coming back to this...

As the election results have come out, and the voting wasn't quite as close as it was predicted to be, "sides" are now trying to hurl their koolaid at each other & anyone else. Remember that whole "ugly" thing? You're being a jerk thing? We aren't listening to you since you sound like your having a whiney brat tantrum thing? Yeah...

The dirt level of posts has risen instead of faded.

Seriously! Stop.

Even worse about the election results? There is going to be a primal civil war that may break out due to the lack of tolerance & respect. The majority spoke & now you are trying to blame & point fingers & discount whoever the majority clearly chose because you are clearly less than tolerant & are bad sports.

This civil war I speak of has to do with the states who want to not be part of the UNITED States any longer. I'm embarrassed to say I'm in one of those states. Talk about near-treasonous levels of thinking! (told you it would get worse) There are even veterans who are touting the fleeing. All they have fought for & they are setting such bad examples coming back.

Do you remember when George W. Bush was running for office & there were several celebrities who threw big hissy fits stating they would move out of the country if he won? So many of you offered up your support in helping them pack. You are the ones who gave them an openly hard time about leaving the greatest country & blah-blah-blah. So...you don't like the outcome now? So you've upped the ante? Shameful.

Those of you who stated you would move to Canada if the election didn't turn out like you'd hoped, they are successfully running programs & have a tolerance level in place...the ones you were hoping to run from. Think about that for a moment.

Oh...and not everyone in each state thinks exactly the same. You can't just up & take your state to go home cuz things didn't go as you thought. An entire state is not like a baseball, folks. Oh...and then what? Government would look very differently. You would have no representation. You just sit in your corners & pout. By the way...what if we now had to have border patrol between states because you now don't belong to The States? That would make you an immigrant. Congratulations! Oh, and please give up any Social Security your getting paid, any other aid, and any military &/or government benefits. Thank you.

Now...that doesn't take into account all the crazy thinking of the far left, either. If you voted just so you could secure handouts...then that's not right. A lot of people do need handouts once in a while. But...those that take advantage of the system need to be reeled in!! I do think there should be drug tests for welfare. I'm just gonna say it! And, if you are on welfare/food stamps, you don't have the money for alcohol, cigarettes, tattoos, drugs...I mean, c'mon! Oh...and if I need to show my ID to pay with my card at JC Penney or Goodwill, or many  other places, it won't kill you to have some sort of ID when you are asked. If you have something to hide...it will come out. And breaking the system to keep having kids so YOU can get free healthcare is not right either. Where's the money to feed you 7 kids when you can hardly keep a roof over your head & tummies filled, then shut down the baby factory & try to do something to get back on your feet. Plus...there are so many out there who want a family & have trouble having the kids. Why are you hoarding the population for yourself? Greed? You call that "trying to get by"? There's couples out there who cannot or have issues conceiving that have so much love to give. They need the children you can't take care of. After a certain period of time, the hand-out-only takers need to be cut off & actually contribute to society.

I would also like to point out that some of these couples who cannot conceive just cannot physically do it together. But they are loving people who are much more willing to take care of a child than most parents out there now. Why would we want to stop that? I would also like to bring up that there is no sanctity in marriage, overall, right now based on the current divorce rate. So why are we concerned about who gets married when you may be on your 3rd marriage right now? Something to think on.

We need to find some common sense, folks. Be UNITED! Stop worrying about these trivial things & work on what is good for the people. Guess what? That might mean it's not JUST in line with your personal thinking. Isn't that great about this country of the UNITED States? And if you claim "These Colors Don't Run, " then don't support running away from this great country. We can come together, people. It's possible. Open your hearts & minds about it.

Oh...and if you want to tout praying for the country, then do it. And if you prayed that God would direct our country & elections in the direction it needs to go, then complain we full of idiots, you might want to think about how you pray.

And if "the other side" is saying things that are disrespectful...it's just as immature to keep posting & saying things that are supposed to cut them back down, too.


I will put my soapbox up for now. The ugly needs to stop. We need to support our country in the here-and-now. Respect, people. Show it. For all leaders. The ones that were voted in by majority from the citizens of this great & united country.

The power of purple, baby! It's OK to compromise for the greater good! OH YEAH!!

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

AM~Erica Makes Haricot Vert

So anyway...

After yesterday's post about feeling more & more like a 50's JUNE CLEAVER TYP HOUSEWIFE, I really have been pulling things lately that I shock & surprise myself. I have ventured (kind of) into modifying & writing some recipes. I can hear my family laughing...

A couple of years ago, Rachael Ray did an easy & elegant substitute to a green bean casserole. Whether you like her or you don't, it is a much easier & lighter version. It was green beans & sauteed onions. Then, I saw that Green Giant has a frozen vegetable side that is green beans & slivered almonds. Yummmm...almonds are my favorite edible nut. So...I figured I could combine the two ideas...

Then I got thinking: if it's a switch up to green bean casserole, then where are the mushrooms? Not everyone is a mushroom fan, I know. But that cream of mushroom soup is HEAVY, and so are the deep fried onions. So, I figured I could try to sautee some sliced mushrooms, too.

After I'd already planned on trying this, I saw where someone did a dish that was green beans & sliced mushrooms. And, for the first time ever, I heard the term "Hericot Vert" (pronounced 'harry-co vay'). Woo Hoo! Fancy-schmancy!

So, I decided I love that term with this beautiful dish...so...I present to you:

Hericot Vert Toss

12 oz green beans, blanched or steamed
1/2 - 1 C sweet onion, largely diced
1/2 - 1 C mushroom, sliced
1/4 C sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 C celery stalk, diced (optional)
vegetable cooking spray

* toast the almonds, you can do this in your skillet or in the oven; if in skillet, remove from skillet & set aside

* spray your skillet with the vegetable cooking spray, add in sliced mushrooms, diced onion & optional celery to sautee until tender

* while mushrooms, onion & celery cook, either blanch or steam your green beans

* when all is cooked thru, toss green beans, mushrooms, onions, celery & almonds all together

* Serve & enjoy!

Notice I didn't use any additional seasonings (i.e. salt, pepper, etc.). You know why? Between the toasted almonds, onion, celery (if you use it) & the fabulous green beans...why mess with it? Seriously! Oh...and...Vegans Rejoice! It's filling, too...if you eat it all at once by yourself. Not that I might know that...or...anything...

Oh, I used steamed green beans this time around.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm...oh, and gorgeous

Impressed? If you try it, let me know what you think!

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Monday, November 12, 2012

Back to the 50's With You, AM~Erica

So anyway...

If you are not aware, things changed in our household recently. There is a whole bunch of us here! I mean, we already had a lot of kiddos (or so it seems with 3 at home), but we have gained some additional bodies temporarily.

This post has absolutely nothing to do with the recent elections & how people feel/felt about a particular candidate...but instead it's about the reality in our house right now. And. Just. Wow. Because I'm modern gal who is all about moving things forward & girl power stuffs & equality stuffs...just...sometimes...

OK...I have never been a June Cleaver type chic, and have totally prided myself in that. But in the last very few years, I've been scaring myself. And? It has family almost laughing AT me in bewilderment. OK...they really are laughing. I've been baking, cooking (see the whole "finding new menu dishes" thing in LAST NIGHT'S POST), and asking for kitchen appliances as gift ideas. What is wrong with me??? And I do stay home right now. So that probably doesn't help matters at all with this particular situation reputation. But it is good with the overall running of the house...for us.

However, I do have very modern conveniences I can use to help out, but still. It's weird.

Now, I'm not full-out, hardcore 50's housewife. I can fake my way thru a lot of it. And I have found Pinterest & Cozi on the interwebs to help me out, too. Oh...and a microwave. *snort*

I already felt like I was running around like crazy & dodging peeps within the walls of my household. Then...they moved in with us due to life circumstances: stepdaughter, her man & their itty-bitty.

I am not kidding when I say there's a lot of people to dodge around here. Twice yesterday, the subject came up as several of us couldn't get around each other in the same room. Don't get me wrong, we have a roomy house! We are very blessed & thankful to be in it...it's just interesting when a couple more adults are added to 2 adults (relative term), 2 teens & a kid already here. Add a baby to the mix & there is chaos!

Back to my point...
With the chaos happening, everything builds up & gets behind quickly. All of a sudden, dishes need to be done twice a day, the cooking & meal set up takes much longer, the laundry schedule is crazy, people want more baking done...WHEW!!

This is how it's starting to feel 

OK...I do NOT iron, but this is how I end up feeling by day's end

I can get a sense for how it was for the housewives of the 50's. I have a crazy appreciation for what you all did. I'm still not sure exactly how you did AND looked fabulous. For me, this is what it is:

Well, I am happy we are in a place that we can help out family. But I guess I should go get one of my aprons & spend some time in the kitchen...
Wat'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis? I am NOT like June Cleaver!

*face palm*

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Sunday, November 11, 2012

AM~Erica Should be a Bear

So anyway...

I need to be a bear. Trust me & let me explain...

I'm not sure if you know...but we are quickly approaching the middle of November.

Where has this year gone?? And, with it being November, it's bringing on some very different & transitional things...

I've talked about it PREVIOUSLY IN A POST about decorating a Christmas tree right after Halloween. We jump right from October straight to December. However, we get some serious transition during this month.

Besides just the stores & commercials showing winter holiday stuff, the coats, scarves, gloves, hats, boots, sweaters, etc. are out in the fullest of forces. I love it! Except I'm not fond of "too cold." I love, Love, LOVE weather with lows in the 40's, highs in the 50's & 60's. Anything lower than that? BURRRRRRRRRRR!!! Too. Cold. For. Me.

Yesterday, here in KC, the highs were in the 70's, people...like, almost 80 degrees. That's so not right! But...only in the midwest...can the temp change so fast, it can make your head spin & throw your body into shock! There's a saying around here: "If you don't like the weather, hang on for 5 minutes..."
Because it's true.
And, with that said...today started out in the 60's early this morning. It rained & rained (that's good...we needed it because of the drought & Sandy wasn't in the mood to help out ISAAC around here), and the temps dropped so fast! By the time it was around 10 AM, it was in the 30's. Seriously. When we left church just after noon, there was sleet & ice on the windows. Seriously.

With temps that can be that low, it also calls for some different foods coming our way, too. And it's bracing for holiday foods coming our way, too.

Lately, we have been eating some new & different comfort foods. It's nice to change up menu stuff...but I'm already starting to feel it.

I'm putting on my layers: sweaters, scarves, jeans, tights, sweatshirts...fat layers...*face palm*

Maybe I should be like a bear. OK...sometimes my hubby (and other family members) might already agree with that...all year round...but if I'm putting on my fat layers, my fur substitute, shaving less, this should mean I can hibernate more now, right? RIGHT??

There is something that's been floating around on the interwebs for years about how I wish I was a bear:

If you're a bear, you get to hibernate.
You do nothing but sleep for six months.
I could deal with that.
Before you hibernate, you're supposed to eat yourself into a stupor.
I could deal with that, too.
If you're a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business.
You swat anyone who bothers your cubs.
If your cubs get out of line, you swat them, too. 
Your husband expects you to growl when you wake up. 
He expects you to have hairy legs and excess body fat. 
I wish I was a bear.

With all of the stuff we've been doing, eating & experiencing lately...I'm on the right track!

* Eating yourself into a stupor? CHECK!

* Swatting others who mess with my kiddos? I wish, but I've come close...year round...

* Swatting my kiddos when they are out of line? If I gotta...CHECK!

* Growling when I wake up? CHECK! Hubby expects it? Probably...but not a good thing...

* Hairy legs? OK...sometimes CHECK! But hubby isn't impressed with my "stabbin' stubblies"...

* Excess body fat? I'm apparently working on it. I'm eating a lot of substancy food stuffs. Hubby impressed? With the food, not the fat. D'oh!

* Hibernation? I so wish... With the changing of seasons, the more the kiddos are involved with & I gotta be the mommy taxi. So...this one shall remain a wish.

So I will give you my warning: every time something I wear or consume becomes thicker...I am that much closer to becoming a bear!

You've been warned. I guess I need a really, Really, REALLY long nap! Happy Holidays... (a girl can dream, right?)

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Friday, November 9, 2012

AM~Erica is Part of the Enchanted Forest

So anyway...

Do you know what is going on RIGHT NOW? If you said "Insane Holiday Shopping," you would be correct, but not the answer I'm looking for. If you said "Marillac's Enchanted Forest," then you would be exactly right! *DING, DING* You win a Whizzo Button! (old school reference, people)

Now the question becomes whether or not you've been able to visit. Well, those in the Kansas City area, anyway. So...have you? If you read my PREVIOUS POST, then all of the information is there.

Last night was the reception for the decorators. Even though our cute little tree didn't win anything...there was something exciting that happened while we were there...


That moment was better than getting a ribbon put on a tree. Plus, I got to kind of dress up, spend time doing what my mom & I have done for years, and have the productive outcome of 3 generations working together.

Three generations worked together to make this Holiday Spectacle...tree...*ahem*

For the 1st time in 20 years (18 of them plotting a tree of some sort), OUR names appeared on a tree in a display that we have visited for so long. Plus, Teen Girl didn't know I had her name added to the sign. So I surprised her with it.

Let me show you some close ups of the tree on display. It still looks better in person, though...

 Our cute little tree...WITH OUR NAMES ON IT!!

 Close up of eyeglasses neck holder garland, sunglasses, and clear ornaments

 Giant eyeglass tree topper

 Clear ornaments containing eyeglass cleaning cloths & a bit of the amazing tree skirt

 See? "Eye"sicles. *snort* Get it? See what we did there?

 "Flowers" & clear ornaments: made or containing cleaning cloths

 Just me with the tree

Mom & Teen Girl with the tree

It was a lot of fun to hang out with the Marillac staff and other decorators. Plus...I got to enjoy some free mosacto spirits while getting into the Christmas spirit. Yeah...it was working pretty well.

I am stoked to do at least one more tree next year. We got to talk to the new Chick-in-Charge (that one's for you, Cassandra) about the set up, the organization & what may be in store next year. I really like this lady's vision. She was fantastic to talk to! And, for the first time, we really got to UNDERSTAND the fundraiser.

What a fabulous girls'-night-out with Teen Girl & Mom last night. And, there are probably about 50 trees & about the same number of wreaths. The display is spectacular. I am, also, loving the evolving tradition.

I highly recommend you see it in person. Really.

Click the banner, above, for more information on the Marillac Enchanted Forest

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Monday, November 5, 2012

AM~Erica Made a Holiday Spectacle for a Good Cause

So anyway...

Halloween & like-holidays are over. And we should be focussing on a turkey-adorned table & enjoying the rest of fall. Right? But that is not, Not, NOT how it tends to work!

As soon as the calendar turned to November, Christmas carols are being piped thru store & mall speakers, trees are up in force & Santa is already greeting the kiddos. Store displays have shoved the fall stuff (including any Thanksgiving-based merchandise) to a corner to make way for the abundance of winter-holiday merchandise to entice consumers to, well, consume. Layaway is back in full swing with the weathered economy, and crowds came out in force on November 1.

But that tends to lend to tradition for the last several years. And we all have our own traditions around this time of year. And sometimes we find that those traditions may have to change or look differently due to circumstances. I'd like to share one of them with you:

When I was 18, my mom's Beta Sigma Phi sorority chapter decided to do a "cultural program" of meeting for breakfast & then going to this new holiday event, the Festival of Trees, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It was an event of several decorated Christmas trees & wreaths by many decorators & sponsors put on by Marillac at Longview Farm. My mom called me & made me get out of bed to meet these women  for breakfast & then join them for this "thing". See, I was still a teenaged Gen-X'er. I was NOT happy. I didn't even get to shower before hand. So that didn't help with feeling...well...bleh. But I joined them, reluctantly. However, it led to years of enjoying a lot of trees!!

Since that year, my mom & I (sometimes joined by others) would have lunch & walking around, enjoying &/or criticizing trees: the decor, the theme, the title, etc. Then we heard (about the 9th year) that it might be the last year at Longview. So sad since the ambiance was always so fabulous for this kind of event. But we figured it was done. A new-found holiday tradition for many would be thrown to the wayside before its decade anniversary. And then, what would have been the 10th year, we found the news was true. No more Festival of Trees. So we did not get to enjoy trees that year...

However, finding out too late, we discovered the newfound Enchanted Forest at Union Station was the Marillac event of trees! Going for 3 weeks & we MISSED it! Why? The advertising of it was not done very well. At. All. So we missed the 10th year anniversary. But we started going on the 11th year. Still doing it on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We even worked going when I lived in St. Louis...but we had to go on Black Friday due to travel scheduling. No matter...we still worked it in!!!

In all of those years, I had been thinking. Scary, I know. I wanted to do at least one tree. I had (and still have) many tree theme ideas. But we just couldn't get it done.

For the 19th year of the Enchanted Forest...it moved...again. This time it moved to the other side of the state line. This time it would be in Overland Park, KS at the convention center. AND? It would be a "lead in" to the Holiday Boutique. AND? It would only be held for ONE weekend close to the beginning of November! Another tradition shake up.

Now, in it's 20th year...and back at it's early time in OPKS, my mom & I bit the bullet & DID A TREE!!!

I've talked about it for probably 18 years. Seriously. And I wanted something different. So, I went to an idea that my friend, Brad, gave me. He actually thought he was going to throw me off. We had a discussion several years ago about these trees; so he wanted to "test" me (as usual) by coming up with an idea so "out there" that there was no way I could think of a title. He came up with a tree with eye glasses all over it. I took NO time in spitting out, "Holiday Spectacle." And...it stuck.

So...this past weekend, my mom, Teen Girl & I went to OPKS to decorate our "Holiday Spectacle".

Here it is:

*4-ft, prelit tree
*neck-holder chains as garland
*white-framed reading glasses as "eye-sicles"
*sunglasses as ornaments
*clear ornaments containing cleaning cloths
*"flowers" made from cleaning cloths
*giant novelty glasses as the topper
*plain green felt tree skirt with free-form, hand-painted eye glasses 
(done mostly by Teen Girl...she did an AMAZING job) 
with neck chain holder border 

All eye wear, neck chains & cleaning cloths from the dollar store. Seriously.

This pic of the finished tree does NOT do the tree justice. It turned out so adorable!! You should go see it in person!! And maybe bid on it, as all the trees & wreaths are up for silent auction - proceeds going to support MARILLAC.

Our Holiday Spectacle will be only one of many, MANY trees & wreaths on display from Thursday, November 8th thru Sunday, November 11th. 
The Enchanted Forest is FREE! 
You do need to buy tickets for the Holiday Boutique, only if you choose to attend that portion of the event. Plus, you can go to do what we have done for so many years: walk around, enjoy, critique, and get inspired for the holidays. Maybe even bid on any of the fantastic creations! Plus you can see if you agree with judging...because there are awards given to trees & wreaths in different categories. 

I'm not looking for any prize this time...I'm just excited to be an actual part of the Enchanted Forest! It only took 20 years.

And...maybe a new tradition has begun...

Stay tuned...
(hoping for more after the reception later this week)

God Bless, AM~Erica