Monday, December 6, 2010

Making A List, Checking it Twice

I don't know about the rest of you, but this shorter span of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas somehow took me by surprise this year.  Many years I have most of my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving so generally I spend the first week after Thanksgiving decorating and planning out our holiday season strategy.

Things just didn't work out like that this year and slowly but surely, I've felt like I'm falling behind.  So much to do, never enough hours in the day to do it, especially since I'm trying to maintain some modicum of normalcy in dealing with mundane things like meal prep and exercise.

I did manage to get inside and outside decorations out over the Thanksgiving weekend but that still left the tree and shopping and baking and so much to do.  I knew this weekend was going to be NUTS.

If I've learned anything at all, I've learned I've got to get my exercise on first thing, otherwise it gets put off and off and off until I don't do it.  So I hit the sack early Friday night because Mr. Helen said he wanted to be out of the house early to go get our tree.  That was fine with me because I had a to do list a mile long.

Speaking of which, I have decided I definitely need a wife:

Mr. Helen's "To Do List"
Find Christmas Tree
Cut Christmas Tree Down
Put Lights on Christmas Tree
Got to work on Sunday

My "To Do List"
Get in a run
Meal Plan for Week
Grocery Shopping
Clean House
Cook Dinner Saturday
Decorate Tree
Get as much Christmas gift shopping as possible done for Mr. Helen and Little Helen
Wrap Mr. Helen's gifts on Sunday when he was at work
Do some food prep for the week
Cook Dinner on Sunday


So I get up Saturday morning and it was a whole 33 degrees with breezes of 10-20 mph which made the wind chill 26, thank you very much.   The thing is, if you have just the right gear and you keep moving, cold weather running can actually be OK.  It was the perfect excuse to pull out my new running glove/mittens.  Take a look:

First they're a mitten, with wicking properties to keep your hands from getting too sweaty

Then, they can be a fingerless glove by pulling back the finger area.  These are great if your hands do get hot or if you need to adjust something on your iPod!

So all bundled up, off I went and got in a 5.5 mile run at the fastest pace I've run in a good long while.  Like I said, it helps to keep moving when the wind chill is like that.

Got home, got cleaned up and ate some yummy pumpkin pancakes:

Then we took off to find our perfect tree.  We always go to a tree farm and get a fresh tree.  Really, I think we're at the point of changing to aritifical but Little Helen keeps threatening that if we do that, she'll buy a fresh one when she arrives home and put her own up.  Since she doesn't set up a tree at home, we indulge her.

We decided instead of going to our normal tree farm we'd try another that was ony about 10 minutes from the house.  I was a little taken aback at first because it didn't have the same atmosphere as our usual place, but to save the drive and fuel we took a look around.  It turned out the cut your own section was so picked over we couldn't find anything.  We looked at their pre-cut trees but Mr. Helen could tell I was going to whine if we bought one so we got back in the truck and took off for our usual place which is another 25 minutes away.  When we got there, I was so happy!  Santa!

We grabbed a saw and took off for the Firs, which is my favorite sort of tree:

While we were walking we kept running into people who had their dogs dress up in fancy attire.  I thought these guys were cute!

Finally, after looking at "hundreds" (according to Mr. Smart Aleck Helen, I found the perfect tree.  He went to cut it down... and my camera died.  Boo!  Cut the tree, loaded onto the little trucks that drive around and pick them up then we walked back down to pick it up.  Thankfully I had my phone stashed in the truck, so I grabbed it and was able to take a few more shots.

Here comes the tree!

Shaken, wrapped & ready to load

Mr. Helen so excited about having a truck to load the tree in!
First time in 20 Christmases we haven't had the tree sticking between us and out the back of our car.

Then we were off for home where Mr. Helen would get the lights on the tree and I'd start on the rest of my to do list.  Suffice it to say, that I made us lunch, went grocery shopping, did some cleaning and started dinner before the lights were on.  Bless his heart though, he does a great job.

That meant another early rise for me to get the tree decorated so I could get out and work on the rest of my list.  I enjoy decorating my tree as I always watch/listen to the movie Elf while doing it.  By the time I'm done, I feel happy all over!

I got myself ready and hit the streets to try to get some shopping done.  I went out dressed for comfort in my Reebok fleece jogging suit with touches of Christmas spriit.  Look how cute!

The front of my shirt - Little Helen bought it for me 'cause she knows I love this stuff!

Closeup of my Christmas Tree earrings - I've had these for years, love 'em!

Ready to rock & roll!

I hit the road running and was thrilled that I got done about an hour and a half before I thought I would, which gave me time to finish up with online shopping at home.

By the time Mr. Helen got home from work, this is what he saw:

My new centerpiece for the coffee table

Shot of the decorated tree using a flash so you can see the ornaments
There are also some of the gifts I wrapped under there

Shot of the tree using night mode so you can see the pretty lights Mr. Helen strung on

Showing the tree & the centerpiece

View of the outside of the house... see the tree in the window?

Plus I finished almost everything on my list over the course of the weekend.  The two things I didn't get done?  Writing this blog and mopping my kitchen floor.  Do you know there was a time I would have considered myself a failure for not completing those items.  But now?  Now I'm 50 and I'm learning to let go of silly notions like that and appreciate all the hard work I did get done!

If you can't tell yet, I love Christmas.  It really is the most wonderful time of the year for me, my favorite holiday. Stay tuned, as I'll be sharing more of my household's Christmas spirit over the next couple of weeks.


  1. OH!! I love your tree!! And those mittens.

    Guess what I did yesterday? For the first time in forever?? I ran. Because it was too cold to walk. HA!!

  2. I had to laugh because my weekend was a lot like yours! Tony was under the weather so I:

    got up early Saturday to snow plow the drive before Hannah got to work
    brought in the hose from outside so it wouldn't freeze on the spigot
    brought in our summer chairs and put them in the basement
    did the meal plan
    made pizza dough and lunch
    grocery shopped
    went to an ugly sweater party by myself
    yesterday I made a big pot of chili for the week
    made almond brittle
    did all the laundry
    changed the sheets on our bed to put snowman flannel sheets on them (yeah!)
    passed out around 10:00!

    Here's to having a relaxing week! :D

  3. The tree is absolutely beautiful.

    Glad you were able to get in a run in that cold weather. You are a true warrior. :)

  4. The tree is beautiful. I'm still leery of trying to enjoy Christmas, so I do the bare necessities and leave it at that. Reading about everyone's Christmas spirit might rub off on me eventually!

  5. Productive and happy weekend! Your place looks great.

  6. What a wonderful holiday post, Helen. I have not been much of a holiday person in my past, but somehow, a bit of that pessimism is melting away and I'm actually looking forward. Will wonders ever cease?

    Beautiful tree in a loving, lovely home.

  7. Everything looks beautiful Helen! My list is long like yours and hubbies - not so long!

  8. You sure have been busy this weekend, I love all your decorations.

    And ... I love your nails too!

    I need to get my workouts done first thing too on my days off otherwise I just know I will find an excuse not to do it.

    I love it when I finish my to do list of the day but like you when now that I'm older it's okay if I don't finish everything on the list.

  9. Very festive tree!

    I am so behind in my shopping. I haven't been this behind in years. Need to do some serious list making.

  10. When I first read your to do list and that you needed a wife I was going to comment that is why I love not doing all that stuff. But as I read the whole blog I realized that it isn't a chore for you, you love it. I am so happy about that. To me the whole thing is daunting, but duh, it's because I've never done it.
    I love the pics, really beautiful.

  11. I love Christmas too though I'm testing a quasi-hypothesis this year. I'm not decorating - I have a small bouquet of tulips that a friend brought over. I don't have a tree even though there's a tree farm on my road and the trees are only twenty bucks. I don't have any family around (except my son who lives about 25 miles away). I have the dog and she will eat the tree most likely. But I was thinking that just like home being where the heart is, that Christmas is really inside of me and I'm playing it close this year to see how that feels. I'm seeing if I can survive without decorating. Last year I felt so traumatized and rushed around to decorate and it was only me. Then I was annoyed that I had to undecorate. So Jesus and me are going to see if we can do without all the decorations. I love me some holiday music and play a lot of that.

    I loved your post because I got to live vicariously through your tree stuff and decorating but not the wicking gloves.

  12. Helen and Santa
    Sitting in a tree

    (Sorry, I couldn't resist - cute picture!)

    Your earrings remind me of Christmas cookies. And I'm in awe of how much you got done over the weekend!

    Love those gloves! I have some cheapie Target gloves (I'm talking 2 pairs for $1.50) and you are right about needing your fingers free to work the iTouch/Phone.

  13. Ive been a long time fan of the fingerless gloves.
    and Ive always been MOCKED---until now :)
    now I am finally and briefly hip/

    **cue confetti**

  14. Tree, tree, tree, tree! So pretty, thank you for sharing it with us!