I've heard and seen strange and wonderful things this week. Matter of fact, I've smelled strange and wonderful things this week. When your apartment occupies part of the second and third floor of an old historic building and you live above shops, restaurants, and -- much to my horror because I have no willpower -- a bakery, exciting things are happening all around you, especially at Christmastime. The week started off with a Christmas parade and continues with the vibes of small-town celebration. As the sun dropped lower in the sky yesterday evening, I also lowered the blinds a bit, as I always do about that time every day. I use this time to click on my two small Christmas trees, which are equipped with battery power and one of which can been seen from the street below. I hope passersby have enjoyed it if they happened to glance up and see the tiny two-foot wonder standing tall and strong on the window sill. I took my seat on the sofa to relax a bit while waiting on hubby to arrive, my pot of homemade veggie soup simmering on the stove. Out of nowhere, I heard Josh Groban belting out Christmas carols like nobody's business. I thought surely my next door neighbor was given to a sudden surge of Christmas spirit and I didn't really mind the intrusion so much...hey, I like Josh Groban. As the hubster was coming through the door, he reminded me that the live nativity had begun in the court square and the music I was hearing was coming from there. Another holiday event in my town, but one which I might not get to see since I'm usually in my p.j.s by nightfall, but I couldn't help wondering...could they possibly, just maybe, have a live camel? Now, that would be worth getting out of my pajamas for. A little while ago, a strange new sound wafted up from the street. Now, if I didn't know better, I'd swear it was Santa and his reindeer because I distinctly recognized the sound of hoofs against pavement, but it was a horse-drawn carriage clomping down Broad Street, fully loaded with passengers all bundled up for the chilly night. Whuuut? Carriage rides in town? Who knew. I guess they were hitching a ride to the live nativity and the music that was traveling at least a block down the road to my apartment window. This is truly a magical time of year.
And then there are the smells. If the baker downstairs and the girl in Apt. 4 are not baking and I don't have soup on the stove, I create my own Christmas smells. The women in my family are candle-lovers in a league all our own. We like floral and grassy and organic earthy scents in the spring and summer, pumpkin and cinnamon and hickory in the fall, pine and fireside and vanilla and cookie dough in the winter. I don't know if I could do winter without a candle burning most days. That single flame spilling out wonderful scent can literally take me through an entire winter of being shut in a lot. It can even step in as a mini fireplace if you don't have one -- yes, it can! Me and my girls probably have spent an unbelievable amount on scented candles over our lifetimes. If I could get my act together and bake cookies or a cake -- or bread even, that's a smell that is irresistible (no candles needed). But I am a much better cookie and cake and bread "eater" than I am a "baker" of such delicacies. The smells, the sounds, the experiences -- the "feels" of Christmas...I love them all.
Then there's the shopping. You're either a hater or a lover, but I can't deny that I enjoy picking out that special gift for everyone on my list. One thing that I've ventured out to explore this week is some of the new shops that have recently opened in town. This past weekend, I took my little P to the new children's bookstore and, let me tell you, that place is a magical wonderland. I knew the minute we walked in it was not gonna be an easy feat to remove her from that place. I had visions of me dragging her out by the britches as everyone looked on. As I perused the great selection of children's books, she entertained herself with all the story-telling imagination this wonderful place has to offer. I mean, who can resist a hobbit hole? How would I ever convince her to leave without a full-blown hissy-fit? But the shopkeeper, astute as she was, had me covered. She offered the tots complementary book worms (gummies!) from a large apothecary jar at the register. I informed P that she could not eat it in the store, but MUST go outside. And, voila, out the door we went! There is nothing quite like a candy bribe, if you know what I mean. However, there is absolutely no question about it. I will return to this magical land one day.
Another day took me to a "shop around the corner" where everything is handmade by mostly locals. I walked in and immediately my stress level shot down a couple of notches. It was so peaceful and quiet and Christmas music (not Josh Groban, however) gently filled the air. As I strolled around this irresistibly-decorated establishment (I'm talking wooden rafters, brick walls, shots of turquoise and burlap and greenery), I realized something: I love to shop local! This shopkeeper has a unique selection of jewelry, gifts, crafting supplies, and home decor items. Why should the big box stores get all our business when we have such wonderful wares available that are made by the hands of local craftspeople? Plus, we all get a little crazy when we get in those crowds and can't find a parking place -- you KNOW you do. I can't think of a good reason not to shop local. There are other shops in town that I hope to patronize before the final countdown has -- well, counted down. And if you, like me, sometimes find yourself needing a last-minute gift before the big day, please consider visiting one of your local vendors. I guarantee you it will zap your stress faster than one of those mosquito lights on a hot summer night. Hubby and I are entrepreneurs so I know...these shops need and depend on our support. And they are the lifeline to a growing, local community.
I hear the clomping of horses' hooves outside on the street again and now the laughter of people passing by. And is that Josh Groban on the square? I could swear that's his face peeking out from a Santa hat. I smell the Emerald Balsam candle lit on the table. I'm looking at the Pepperidge Farm Peppermint cookies that I'm sure will make their way to my mouth later in the evening. And at this moment in time, all is totally and completely well.
Ten days till Christmas, y'all...Enjoy!
"Plus...I don't have a fireplace in my tiny loft apartment! I have been so grateful for the days of rain we've had in Georgia, and I know our neighbors in the northern part of the state and Tennessee are thankful too. Thankful that the drought has ended! I'm not sure that the official water level is where it needs to be, but we'll take anything we can get. And because of the dry conditions, my prediction came true...we were still seeing vibrant color all the days up till Thanksgiving -- a long, long autumn that still seems to keep giving us color right into December, but I'm not complaining. Rainy days are the best for staying in and hunkering down, but sometimes it's just not possible. These days are getting busier by the moment, and it's not gonna get any better before we finally wind down to December 24th!! But I do like to practice what I preach (most of the time), so I've been taking time to do things other than rushing around like that proverbial chicken with its head cut off. Sunday evening was quality time with Hollie and her little brood...it was soup and cornbread night and, yes, they had a roaring fire. Today it's lunch with my bestie. Every night it's Hallmark Christmas movies with my man (don't tell him I told you!). And some quiet "me" moments in between to renew the soul. Good times.
The project slowly and steadily moves forward and a lot is happening on the jobsite this week. The finishing up of wood trim, some last-minute drywall replacement, final paint touch-up, and -- yay! -- ceramic tile going down on the bathroom floors! Also, I have finally begun working on the piece that will ultimately become the island that separates the kitchen from the dining room. I am taking an old piece from the original "1970's kitchen" and morphing it into an up-to-date island that will hopefully be a showstopper. With a piece that old, it's a tedious process of cleaning the years of dust and grime off, priming and preparing the surface and finally giving it its new coat of steely gray paint before it is topped with a beautiful piece (still to be determined) for years of dough-rolling and veggie-chopping. We have the upper cabinets installed and the house is beginning to look like an amazing family home, in contrast to its condition back in September...a run-down, tired, lonely, destitute place. So fulfilling to bring this diamond-in-the-rough back around.
Here's the week in pictures...
Now, off to plan dinner and have the little one over for the town Christmas parade and a sleepover! Finding time to be with family and make those memories that will last a lifetime is always worth it. Tonight is all about the little one, as is Christmas in general. Piggies in a blanket for dinner? "Grinch" fruit towers? Finger foods it is! At the end of the day, I like to ask myself this: Have I worked hard and enriched the lives of those around me? If the answer is yes, I can tell Mr. Sun nighty-night and lay my head down in peace...
Posted by CC
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