Archive for December, 2007


Home For Christmas

John and I drove to Arkansas for Christmas with my people.

As my niece and cousins demonstrate, we’re a loungey family when it comes to Christmas.


Most of the time we like to sit around under one of the 20 throws my mom has, read, talk, and eat. We could hike, but doing that in the hills of Arkansas this time of year is likely to get you shot by hunters.About the most active we get is setting off fireworks on Christmas Eve (we had to blow ’em up Christmas night this year and the big ones we bought were less than stellar, but the neighbors still seemed appreciative even though they and their young kids had waited up until 10:30 the night before for them). We also sing Christmas carols, which we did a lot this year both at our house (mom’s tip jar is next to the “juke juice” aka, wine glass, on top of the piano),

Christmas Singin'and at our friends the McClain’s house.More Singin'

We popped in on Christmas eve to drop off a few gifts. Luckily (at least for us) we got there just in time for the saingin’. We don’t look like we’re having fun, but we are. We just had to concentrate really hard because Jennie is so good she can play really challenging arrangements.This was a special Christmas because both my sister’s family and we were able to be there at the same time, which hardly ever happens.

Christmas NightAND my aunt and uncle and cousins came down with my mamaw.Mamaw and the Cousins

This is my mom and Aunt Judy. Aren’t they cute?

Mom and Aunt Judy

I really miss getting to see my cousins. We did some prelim planning for a camping trip on the Buffalo River and I’m hoping we can make that happen.

On Christmas Day we drove back up to Mamaw’s retirement village, which had just gotten a major facelift. She was so proud of it and despite not feeling tip-top she insisted on giving us a guided tour.Check out this ice cream parlor. She said residents can come down for free dessert anytime.

John and Christie

Art and live plants lined the halls. She showed us the plants she donated, waters and takes care of, which I think is great since she would be miserable without plants to care for.She also likes the new sun rooms with views of trees and outdoor walkways (she walks for exercise almost every day).

Family Tour

There was also a cute cafe with a library attached, which is great, but as John walked by one of the shelves he noticed this bizarre title:

Eek!  Retirement village reading?

Then we saw this one,More good reading

Just across the hall from this poster:


Well, at least the mix is interesting.Merry Christmas to all of you who we didn’t get to see this year.  Hope to get to hear about your holidays soon!


George’s Holiday Letter

We love our friend George. He goes to our church and works downtown so I run into him frequently, which makes me happy because he’s really nice, and he’s hilarious in an Alec Baldwin meets Charles Nelson Riley sort of way (I mean that as a compliment). His would-be motto for Indiana is “A person could always do worse,” which is such an endearingly Hoosier way of seeing the world.

I especially look forward to his holiday letters, which are never the usual “Jennifer pledged this fall” kind of stuff. I hope he won’t mind, but I thought I’d post a snippet of this year’s letter because his honest stories about life on DeQuincy Street where he lives, are in part what Good Home is about:

Let me say I do not have any qualms calling 911. I have done it before, and if the pattern holds, you can bet that I will be doing it again before the holidays are over. This is a stressful time of year, you know, and for the past couple of years the neighbors haven’t been handling it too well. After I sent my last letter a couple of years ago, I was going out to my car to go to a party, and a woman started screaming at me from behind a bush:

“Help! Help! Call the police!” she shouts. “My boyfriend’s jumped me, and he won’t let me back in the house!”

So yeah, I take her advice and call the cops – and when I go back out, he’s also outside.

“B—-, you can go back in the house if you want,” he screams at her, “but you better be prepared to f—–‘ die!”

“Um, excuse me?” I yell, plate of brownies in my hand, “We don’t talk like that in our neighborhood!” Pause. “We don’t act like that here!”

Pause, as he takes it in.

“Have I ever caused you problems?” he asks.

“You haven’t in the past,” I say (a lie, because he has indeed caused me problems by not cutting his grass and by generally failing to maintain his property). “But you’re causing me problems now by screaming the F-word up and down the street and threatening to kill people. Now if you’re going to act like that, just take it inside! Just take it inside because we’re not going to put up with it!”

At this point he drives off, I drive off, and according to the neighbors, three police cars show up. I don’t know if he ever got busted for it, but he must be following my advice because we haven’t heard a peep from him since. 

Merry Christmas, George! You’re one of the reasons we here in Indiana could always do worse.


Claire’s Big Day

It was a big day for Claire.

She sat for her Christmas picture.
Cliche Pet with Santa Hat Photo

She went to her friend Barney’s to play.

Ready for Action

And play.

Claire and Barney

And play.

Claire and Barney

She wondered why were weren’t playing.Claire

Then she came home and ate a third of the birthday cake I made to give Karen at work (sorry, Karen). Evidently Claire’s tongue doubles as a surgical knife.

Claire's Leftovers

She had a nice rest in her crate while I yelled at her. She told herself over and over again, “it was worth it, it was worth it, it was worth it” and “man, that was a good day!”

Hiding Out

She’s fine by the way, no “chocolate poisoning” or whatever dogs are supposed to get when they eat chocolate. Though she may be coming down with a case of “owner’s foot up dog’s ass” soon.


IMA Holiday Open Greenhouse

Old Friends

A trip to the Indianapolis Museum of Art Greenhouse as a Christmas tradition? Yep. The Greenhouse is open for business year round whenever the museum is, but two Thursday evenings in December the Greenhouse folks, like my friend Lynne above, roll out a therapeutically warm and life-filled holiday welcome. You can pop into the final Open House of the season next Thursday, December 20 (free, open till 8:00 p.m.). It makes a great date night venue.

Warm Greeting

I love the subtle details. This year simple candles burning in the snow were at the gates. In the past, it was red fabric lanterns with tea lights inside.

If you think an emphasis on nature limits your color palette to sage and brown, the Greenhouse staff is ready to blow your mind. I’m thinking about buying this metal tree and all of its ornaments for our house so I can make it through the February and March blahs.

Aviary Tree


If you look closely you can see the guitar player through the window.

IMA Greenhouse

I’ll always need a plant and a smiling-person-pick-me-up to brighten my spirits when winter is bearing down on me. Sue, Lynne, and the Greenhouse crowd always hook me up with both.


Oldfields, the IMA’s American Country Place era estate of which the Greenhouse is a part, is open for free that Thursday, too. The grounds are lit so that you can enjoy the gardens at night. Cold as it was outside, winding through the endless luminaria trails was a calming way to end a typically wild December day.

Oldfields Formal Garden

On the Grounds

On the Grounds


Booze and Cookies 2007

Linda (John’s mom) said she thought the cookies this year were the best ever, which is high praise. It wasn’t the largest number of cookies we’ve ever made at Booze and Cookies* (I think about 32 dozen came out of the oven), but having fun is probably a better measure of success. As long as we have enough to munch on during the party and a few left over to have with coffee for the next week, I think most people are happy.

It was fun walking around seeing the random acts associated with baking – like Jennie putting the boxes together.

Shellin' Snicker Bars

Lori, a first-timer brought a peanut butter dough to wrap around small pieces of Snicker bars (what Jennifer and Jennie are doing here. Jennie prides herself on making perfect spheres). The final result was a warm, soft, chewy wonder. To prep them, the candy bars had to be unwrapped and cut. We referred to the process as “shelling the Snickers.” It was a porch activity.

Team Kifle was full of brave, new folks this year, but Lora, Scott (can’t see him here), and Katie were naturals. Rob (aka Titanium) added his cool to the dough from a distance.

Team Kiefle 2007

BTW, we tried using a tortilla press to flatten the Kiefle dough, and it worked pretty well until we broke the press and had to go back to smashing by hand (more fun anyway, imo).

The Arkansas and Ohio contingency changed into Griswald-ish Christmas clothes mid-party and ducked outside for a surprise caroling at the door. When someone came to get me for the show I was so overwhelmed by kitsch my knees buckled and I nearly swallowed my tongue. Look at how ‘neck J.’s leather hat is, especially nice with his beard.

Ugly Sweater Carolers

Red Shoes

I have to say Felley’s festive bell choir vest (above) is a close style second though. Even funnier to me is that the vest actually belongs to Jennie. She has to wear it during bell choir performances at her church (You know some sweet woman made a whole set of them.)

Normally the party starts around 12:30 and winds down around 5:00. But this year Tommy snuck back into the kitchen around 5:30 and started Date Cookies and Kolaski, two cookies that haven’t worked out too well for us in the past. Clever Tommy figured out a key ingredient was missing from the recipe (butter), and this time they turned out great!

Beating Kolaski Dough

John and J. pitched in to help Tommy, along with Jennie and David in the kitchen. We ended up with two great bonus batches. In the picture above it looks like Tommy is gold-bricking, but I can testify that the man was baking up a storm, especially once he got his second wind. We may not have made the most cookies this year, but I think we can safely say that we baked as long as we ever have.

My favorite action shot of the day:Happy Baker

*B and C is actually its unofficial name. John’s mom refers to it as “The cookie bake.” It started with John’s mom as she baked cookies for her family. Her three sons were home from college one year. As they helped her in the kitchen, the boys mixed a few cocktails to liven things up a little and, voila! The cookies got even better.


Our Tree

Trying to take part in Melissa’s Holiday Traditions Festival blog. I hope I’m doing it right. I think we’re supposed to share a part of our traditions each week. Melissa, let me know if I’m screwing it up.

Our Tree

This is our Christmas tree. I’m a little self-conscious about how packed it is, but I can’t seem to help it. All of the ornaments on it are important. I do actually have fewer lights on it this year, believe it or not.


Lighted House

John’s mom found these little paper cottages in a box of discarded ornaments at an auction. She bought them when John and I first got together because she knew I liked vintage things. I was touched that she was willing to thumb through dusty junk to get to stuff she thought I’d like. And of course, she nailed it.


The Holiday Pickins at Sullivan Hardware

Wildflower Home
(Dave, doing his best “discrminating shopper.”)

A few years back Sullivan Hardware, an old Indy standard, opened a store at Keystone and 71st. Their new place features Wildflower Home, a stand alone cottage which carries their home dec stuff and product that Dave and Ken really like. I’ve been pretty ambiguous about the place. They have a few nice things, sort of pricey. I would normally put it into the “lots of potential” category, but this time around I liked more of what I saw.

I still think I may have to make this wreath work somewhere in our house. Kitchen maybe?

Wildflower Home Wreath

And for some reason I love this metal deer head. Dave suggested it might look good on our back porch. I think it could look equally great in an all white modern space or a cabin. How about a kid’s treehouse?

Metal Deer Head

There’s typically plenty of real greenery around here, but actual berries can be hard to find. These Winterberry branches were really nice.


And I loved the painted branches, too. Would be worth the five or so bucks not to have to choke on the fumes.

Painted Branches

This train is the kind of thing kids will remember when they are older.Train Station

The only sour note was when it was my turn to check out at the hardware store. A random couple from Brownsburg (for some reason they announced their origins when they waltzed through the door) approached my guy and said they wanted their Christmas tree. And instead of calling someone or smiling and saying, “you’re welcome to get in line” or “I’ll be with you in a moment” he just walked away to help them, leaving me standing there. After watching him futz around with them for a few minutes and waiting longer than I should have, I finally put my stuff down and left. Dave told me I should have said something, but sometimes (admittedly, not often) I just don’t feel up to arguing.So if you aren’t in a hurry and need some greenery (or red-ery), a free bag of popcorn, or a few interesting holiday things, you may want to stop into Sullivan.