a Dorchester tradition

Every year that we've lived in Dorchester (it's hard to believe, but we're already working on our fourth winter here), I've wanted to blog about the Christmas lights and decorations displayed by a house a few blocks away. But the end of the semester was always followed by a frantic week or two of catching up before we headed west each year not to return until after the New Year. This year, however, we stayed put and, maintaining a childhood tradition, drove around on Christmas eve to check out the neighborhood displays. But before we get to the house in question, here are some other highlights.

Check out these old-school chunky lights:

The snow on the streets was already, for the most part, looking like shaved ice with a little mud on top, but things did look picturesque in the twinkle of the Christmas lights:

And the grand finale:

I don't think these images do justice to the insane display these folks put on each year. The front of the house, all the way across the lawn to the fence near the sidewalk, is completely covered in lights and other holiday paraphernalia. It's nuts.

I'm not sure I'd ever go all out like this, but you have to give them an A+ for effort. Honestly, some people are so lazy with their decorations, you have to wonder why they bother. We passed one house with a string of lights haphazardly wrapped around a flower box. That was it. If we were grading on a curve, they definitely would have failed miserably.


bah humbug...I mean, happy holidays

After almost four days of barely leaving the apartment, thanks to two days of snow followed by a bit of rain and temperatures that resulted in a "flash freeze", I decided to venture out today to do a bit of last-minute Christmas shopping. "Big mistake. Big. Huge!" I went to one store in one strip mall in the delightful town of Braintree, just south of Boston, and spent almost an hour creeping out of the parking lot. That's what I get for trying to cure my stir-craziness.

The good news is I'm completely done with my holiday shopping. The bad news is I'm still waiting for a couple of items from Etsy so none of my packages to family and friends on the west coast will make it out before Christmas day, let alone in time for the holiday. Even my cards will be late, if they make it out at all. I ordered custom note cards from Snapfish, scheduled to arrive by today, and neither Snapfish nor FedEx can tell me where my package is.

Bah humbug, indeed.

At least the tree has been topped. Here are some lovely pics, most of which were taken by Neal a few nights ago, to cheer us all up.

That's better. I guess the silver lining of giving in to being late with gifts and cards this year is that I can relax tomorrow and hopefully the lines at the post office will be shorter on Friday.

In the meantime, have a super holiday!


snowed in

Keeping with the traditions of this blog (blogging about birthdays and first snows, for example), I thought I'd post a few pics from the weekend of pretty much non-stop snow we've been enjoying here in Boston. Like last year, this isn't actually the first snow of the season but it is the first significant snow event. Here's an image from the first dusting we received a couple of weeks ago:

All of this snow melted by the end of the day. The snow from this weekend, on the other hand, is likely to stick around for awhile. Here are a couple of images taken from our bedroom window yesterday evening:

And today? It just kept on snowing, adding to the 9 or 10 inches we got yesterday.

Look at that tree! Doesn't it look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book? Anyway, the snow today seemed wetter and by the end of the day had turned to rain. The temperature is well below freezing at the moment, meaning we'll have a pleasant sheet of ice to contend with tomorrow morning.

So what does one do while all that snow is falling? Make ice cream, of course! Actually, Neal makes the ice cream; I eat it. And blog about it. Neal had the brilliant idea to make ice cream inspired by peppermint bark.

Initially I think he was going to make peppermint ice cream with white and dark chocolate pieces but then changed his mind and decided to make the ice cream white chocolate flavored, using this recipe (minus the ginger), and added in candy cane pieces along with the chocolate bits. More like peppermint bark this way. And indeed, it really does taste like the ice cream version of the tasty, seasonal treat. Yum.


faux fir

This being our first Christmas in Boston (every year since we've been here we've returned to California for the holidays) we decided to get a tree. Growing up, from second grade on - I'm assuming because finances were a little tight that year and because we moved around a lot - we invested in a fake tree that we'd assemble every year. After high school, I continued the tradition with a small tabletop tree that my Dad gave me for my first Christmas on my own. Neal and I continued to decorate that little tree each year until we made the cross country move; then the tree was left behind in the garage sized pile of things we sold on Craigslist or donated to Goodwill. This is our first tree as a family, our first tree in Boston, and my first real, live tree in about 24 or 25 years!

So where do you go to get such a tree? My hair stylist recommended we go to Lambert's, a produce market just down the hill from us that makes tasty sandwiches year-round and sells Christmas trees during the holidays. So we bundled up and made our way to the parking lot full of color-coded trees that ranged in price from $30 to $70. The experience was a little anti-climactic, I have to admit. I'm not sure what I was expecting; it's not like we were trekking into the woods to chop down a tree ourselves. I guess I thought we'd walk around, hot cocoa in hand, until we found the perfect tree, just knowing it was our tree the moment we saw it. They'd sold out of smaller trees the day before and since it was a smaller tree we wanted, we were advised to choose a less expensive tree and have them chop off the bottom foot or so. The cheaper, pink-tagged trees weren't even on full display but stacked against a fence at the back of the lot. It was all kind of boring, actually, and I spent the several minutes it took the guy to trim, package, and strap the tree to our car checking out their other holiday offerings.

Now that the tree is trimmed, however, I find myself enjoying it more than I thought I would. As for decorations, if it were up to me, I would have gone with clear lights and very minimal decorations. But Neal prefers colored lights and if you're going to decorate for Christmas, you might as well go all out. So colored lights - in the shape of pinecones no less - and a set of red and green, some with glitter, balls it is. We have a shoebox full of ornaments that we've collected over the decade plus we've been together and a vintage tree topper on its way, from this Etsy shop. I'll post a pic when the tree is officially finished, which will likely be right before Christmas day.

On a sidenote, when I was searching for Lambert's website, I came across this restaurant of the same name in Missouri, known for its "throwed rolls." Here's a video that shows a guy throwing rolls at the restaurant's diners.

Weird, huh? Apparently, they throw rolls at you in the Midwest.


cha ching

The economy may be in bad shape but I made three whole bucks today! Actually, I've yet to receive payment, but one of my chick flick note cards was purchased, reminding me not only that I have my own Etsy shop but also that Etsy is a great place to go for handmade and vintage Christmas gifts. Within about an hour of browsing I went from having only half of my list figured out to a collection of "favorites" that could easily take care of all holidays and birthdays through 2009.

If it's note cards, crocheted coasters, or latch hook pillows you seek, you know where to go.