sprucing up

Abigailtoday_2 Miss Abigail Bo Peep.  And it’s not even Halloween yet.  I bought this outfit forever ago, and rummaged through the closet today, attempting to weed out the outgrown–so I may begin to make a quilt for each of them, assembled from their most treasured outfits–and bring in the new.  Which made me realize we’re fast approaching The Triple Jump.  There of course is Halloween, and the costumes I’ll need to create for the tots, but that’s not what I mean.  The stores are already fit with Christmas ornaments, table settings, and decorations.  Not just for Thanksgiving, or even Halloween.  Already they’re reminding you that life is warmer and more worth living if you have a wreath.   

I am not really sure how to get this particular obsession of mine down.  I just about live for holiday music; I listen to it yearlong.  I do a bit of chair dancing when I realize that certain radio stations forgo their usual DJs, and amp things up with 24 hr/day holiday music.  It means harmonizing and the hippopotamus song.  Cookies, oh the cookies.  And sweet little outfits for the honey belles.  I am in love with classics.  Stewart Plaid.  Peter Pan Collar.  Really want to get me going?  Spanish shorts (with the H strap).  I can’t help it!  I know it’s something they might spend the rest of their lives trying to overcome, but man, I have to do it.  I live for those H strap shorts.  Or shortalls (instead of overalls).  I know they make True Religion jeans and Calypso dresses for tots.  I’m just not into designer baby, grunge baby, or even tie-dye baby (though I will say, I haven’t seen anything as cute as this non-prep "rocker" outfit in the milkshop look book. And I love the prepster pink and green ‘cruisewear’).  I’m into old-school preppy classic baby.  All American baby.  Timeless baby.  Pinafore dresses, anything nautical, argyle and then we’re back to Stewart plaid.  There’s nothing better looking to me than a pansy boy.  So cute.  This week, I’m taking the opportunity to buy all the holiday decorations now.  This house needs some serious sprucing up.

1918b_3 Spanishshorts_3 Redplaid_2 Therocker I spent all day today cleaning the house.  I hadn’t set out to do this, so midway through, I realized I was vacuuming the whole house with a Dustbuster hand held instead of pulling out the real vacuum.  It’s just the hand held doesn’t seem like a commitment.  It’s just a quick thing I’ll do.  Just this area here.  But before I knew it, I Swiffer-Wet-Jetted through the house, then vacuumed and sprayed.  Oh, the glory was washing all my bras using the "hand wash" function on my front-loading washing machine.  The taters loved to watch the laundry. 

Now that the house and laundry are dust free, I need to add a few warming touches.  Namely, we really need to buy a mantel for our fireplace.  One that isn’t just decorative, that is, one that won’t melt or burn when we build a fire.  We already have our monogrammed stockings and tree ornaments (as soon as Dad sends those).  I want a cranberry wreath for the door, the smell of pine and apple cider.  Oh how I just love a tree.  Phil already wonders how we’ll get it to the house.  "We tie it to the roof of our car.  So what’s the problem?"
"Then what?"
"Then you take it down, get sap all over yourself, needles here and there, get it to stand tall and proud without tipping–of course in one of those feeder things, so it doesn’t dry out.  Then we have a tree-trimming ‘party,’ where it will most likely not be a party but a small gathering perhaps, so quit rolling your eyes.  Yeah, it will end up costing us money we should be saving for a pool, or the Bob Revolution Duo jogging stroller.  And then, when everyone is gone afterwards, there will be food coma and too much mess.  And dishes.  And pots.  And too many glasses.  But I’ll get to load up the playlist and our guests."  Yum.  Christmas hooch.  I should dress as Santa for Halloween, and dress the babies as my elves. 



  1. Are those H-strap shorts called Spanish shorts? We've always called them Tiroler shorts, after Tirol in Austria. You know, with lederhosen and everything…

  2. Speaking of cookies…I am about to organize a cookie swap at my house. Can you email me some recipes that you like? Last year I did a very boring thumb print peanut butter and jelly recipe which ended up being a hit. Would love some suggestions.

  3. Enjoy dressing them while you can – I am uber-girly and love bows and frills for my daughter. But at two years old, she has relegated them to her "ouchies" list – so much for taffeta.

  4. Oh Stephanie! I am so glad you appreciate the classics. My mother started shopping for Easter dresses at Christmas and Christmas dresses at Easter. It was an obsession to make sure we were the cutest kids.
    Also…I share your excitement with the 24/7 Christmas tunes. Everyone hates to ride in the car with me between November and Christmas. That's all I listen to! ha!

  5. It's funny to see your post on the holidays here because this weekend, I got the bug too! I lit my pine scented candle and watched the movie The Family Stone, wishing I too had my Christmas tree up with lights blinking and the smell of cookies baking!!!!!!! Now I'd like Santa to put a special hot man under (Ok, next to is fine) the tree for me this year!

  6. Although I prefer to delay thinking about Christmas trees until Thanksgiving is over, here's a tip for getting the Christmas tree into the house. After you get that sucker home, lay out a big sheet or tarp and roll up the tree in it. If you do it right, the sheet can also act as a handle for helping to carry/lift it. The same trick is even better for moving the tree out when the needles are really shedding. Be sure to water daily. Have fun!

  7. haha! This is going to sound so bitchy but I have never understood moms dressing up babies at Halloween, unless it was a party. This will be the first year my kid goes trick or treating. He was probably old enough last year but not old enough to understand me taking away all the candy before he got sick on it, so we didnt go. Im pretty excited this year about it though and might even dress up with him.

    I hate it when they put out Christmas decorations before Halloween, HATE IT. I find it depressing. I love Christmas and i go overboard but I dont want to feel this rush to get started either.

    Anyway, it sounds like you're in a good place right now and happy. Make Phil get the tree Nov. 1

  8. I agree about baby fashion. There's nothing sweeter to me than a little boy dressed in pretty clothes he'll be embarrassed about later. So sweet. Nothing beats the classics. I just bought my niece a knockoff of that dress you've posted. One of the best parts of having an infant niece, for me, is shopping for the Christmas dress. Each dress is cuter than the next.

    Can't wait to see Lucas and Abigail in their little Halloween costumes.

  9. I broke out the Christmas Candles yesterday. (Christmas scented candles rather.) The mulling spices. And have already began to stock up for the holiday parties. Everyone thinks I'm insane. And I don't care. Not one bit.

  10. Tiroler shorts. The only place that calls them Spanish shorts is the retailer where you got that image.

    And we don't call those short-alls here. Short-alls are casual things that look exactly like old-fashioned Osh Kosh B'Gosh's but short-legged. We call the ones like you have in that picture Jon-Jons.

    I swoon over them all, plus Bishop Dresses for girls.

    Have fun with their clothes while you can. They are only completely amenable for a short while. Then they start issuing caveats and vetoes and such. Boo.

  11. Glad to see there is someone as freaky about Christmas as me. I love all that is Christmas.

  12. Oh, you make me want to decorate for Christmas already! I love the holidays, snow and long sweater coats. Spiced cinnamon filling the whole house… Yum!

  13. Amy Li, I know you were talking to Stephanie, but I'm gonna share a cookie recipe with you anyway. I made them for the first time this weekend and they are simply out of this world.

    Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

    2 cups packed brown sugar
    1 cup vegetable oil
    1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
    2 eggs
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
    1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
    1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
    1 large tub Cool Whip
    1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
    2/3 cup sugar
    2 tsp. vanilla

    Beat all the wet ingredients together. Combine the dry ingredients and add them to the wet ingredients until blended. Drop by tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet (it helps to measure the cookies so they sandwich well). Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets and allow to cool completely.

    Prepare filling and spoon it into a large ziploc bag. Cut off a small corner and pipe filling onto half the cookies. Sandwich the remaining cookies. Try not to eat six of them in one setting like I did.

    Yeah, they're unhealthy. So don't eat them every day and you'll be fine (for the inevitable detractors). :)

  14. I'm smiling to myself and nodding because I do the same thing that you do with your hand held vac with my carpet shampooer. I bring out a small Bissel and say I'll do just one little area and before I know it I've done the whole room with it.

    I'm also a huge fan of Christmas music. I start listening to it in July or August. I like the "Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer" soundtrack. No. I LOVE IT. And of course any Christmas song by Elvis. I actually just said to my husband the other day that I was starting to feel the need to watch "A Christmas Story." He said it's too soon.

    I love the wrapping paper that looks antique. The kind with 'old-time santa' faces against a vintage red – sort of like Normal Rockwell paintings.

    It's been close to ninety degrees lately which isn't a typical Wisconsin fall. Believe it or not, I'm looking forward to snow and the nostalgic smell of the furnace kicking on.

    Cute, cute, cute pictures! Having your own kids makes Christmas-time even more wonderful. It's like getting to be a kid all over again!

  15. No, I'm originally from upstate NY but have lived in Tennessee for ten years. Interestingly, I never heard of whoopie pies until I came to TN and I assumed they were a southern thing until fairly recently. :) Whoopie pies are the freaking best.. if made once a year and quickly distributed to friends, lest I devour every last one.

  16. Will you be celebrating both Jewish and non-Jewish holidays with the kids? (I am not asking in a judge-y way, I'm honestly just curious).

  17. What I like best about Christmas is that I don't have to do a single thing. I'm a non-Christmas observing Jew. It's a day of enforced relaxing at home because everything's closed. I usually plan a long project of some kind and my husband usually cooks something involved and ingredient-heavy. The only Xmas music I like is choral stuff like "Hark the Herald" and "Hallelujah Chorus" (is that Xmas music or just church music?)and the obscure ones like "Good King Wenceslaus." I like the Rudolph soundtrack only while watching the movie. Yes, your children are adorable. Love dresses with smocked bodices.

  18. Any chance you will disclose where you got the outfit that Abigail is wearing? It's gorgeous.

  19. Love the smocking on the dress but as for Lucas, it is definitely called a "jon-jon" and not a spanish short. I think jon-jon is named after the outfit that JFK Jr wore to his father's funeral. Anyway, no matter, dress the children the way you want to dress them — in my experience, my daughter "out-grew" or out-desired dresses and princess at approx age 6 and I would have never, ever dreamed of dressing my son in the darling jon-jons after approx age 2. Trust me, an active two-year old boy does not look cute in "pansy" — so do it now and enjoy!! Looking forward to tons of t-giving and xmas recipes.

  20. this brings up an interesting question.

    are the beans going to be brought up celebrating more than one religious tradition during the holidays, like what do they call it… Chrisma-*kwan*-hannukah*? or is it Chrisma-han-kwan-ramadan? :)
    sorry for what i am sure is mis-spelling…

  21. I just wonder why your babies always look so sad… It seems they're about to cry. Poor things.

  22. Can't STAND it when they shove Christmas down our throats in the stores two months in advance. And as for freaking Christmas Carols in the stores in October, please no.
    Also please don't dress your kids in those clothes – pretentious and embarassing, and cringeworthy when they're older. Please no bonnets and tartan and those ledenhosen shorts for poor Lucas, as if he hasn't got enough problems!
    Could we also have some photos of the precious beans smiling and happy? They really look mournful.
    Thats enough for today.
    With love

  23. Try the Wooden Soldier for really classic smocked silk dresses, little red-riding hood coats and the preppiest, cutest short pant suits. They used to be catalog only, but just started web sales.

  24. "Please no bonnets and tartan and those ledenhosen shorts for poor Lucas, as if he hasn't got enough problems!"

    Wow. Carol, you've got to be a troll. No rational adult would be so judgemental and critical of something as innocuous as how a mother dresses her babies.

    Stephanie, how dare you not beat your babies with a happy stick to make them grin for the camera. For shame.

  25. Carol,
    Please, stay on your planet…. you drive me and others crazy with your strange comments. Oh, wait, you are entertaining in a sick kind of way… so, rock on, girlfriend.

  26. First of all, your kids are too adorable! I'm a photographer and love photos of babies when they aren't smiling in all of them. They look so thoughtful, makes you wonder what's going on inside the baby brain. :-)
    Also, I love Christmas music year round, too, so its nice to hear I'm not the only one out there. Good luck with all your planning and decorating! Keep the photos coming, I love them!

  27. I think Carol is probably one of those sad people who thrives on being acknowledged but can't seem to get people interested in her unless she makes her ritual mean, rude, insensitive, strange comments to incite the shit flinging. She lives for this attention, so why indulge her?

  28. Not that I am agreeing with crazy carol, but about the clothes lol, cmon, shouldn't we dress our kids like people and not dolls? Those clothes are so cute you don't want them all dirty with milk, peas, and ambiguous strange stains that seem to land themselves onto children. Not that they are walking everywhere in jon jons but..bonnets are not a girl's best friend.

  29. I know you are not Jewish but your husband is — what are your plans for Hannukah, if any? Id love some creative ideas.

  30. I just wanted to say I love the word lederhosen (sp?). Stephanie, thanks for the sense of "normalcy" I get when reading your blog as part of my everyday routine. Bring on Christmas! Yes, it's way too early, but it's my favorite time of year. I'd love to do a Christmas Karaoke for all the other junkies who can't sing either. Hmmm, any takers? I live in Pflugerville..Just a thought..

  31. babysk: Will you be celebrating both Jewish and non-Jewish holidays with the kids? (I am not asking in a judge-y way, I'm honestly just curious).

    We have four kids and celebrate both Jewish and non-Jewish holidays. The kids attend Hebrew School, but their Mama (who converted when number four was in utero) just can't give up Christmas and egg hunts! Turns out their Daddy loves them just as much.

  32. Whoopie pies are HUGE in Lancaster County, PA. There is a whoopie pie festival every year.

    Damn those are some adorable babies! I don't think they look sad…actually they look like they are doing doing some very serious vogue poses [sooo cute!].

  33. Stephanie's not Jewish? Because I thought she's told us she is several times over the years/entries.

  34. A few comments – first, I grew up in New England and saw whoopie pies in many a bakery… I made them from scratch here in MN 'cause I couldn't find any professionally-made ones. They are pretty easy – and I used a mix including marshmallow fluff for the filling – YUM>.

    Second, I LOVE the outfits and have had my share of fun dressing up little ones. Only my baby girl tolerates it anymore. Her big bros run the other way when I make wardrobe suggestions, which, I think is developmentally appropriate for them as they are school age.

    Third, that Carol does sound very troll-like. I don't have any idea what her deal is. But, to her & others who say "they look so sad"… I ask, how many babies do you have/have you raised? I've never met a real-live baby (especially one under the age of two) who smiles for the camera unless enticed by a toy, a tickle or highjinks from the photog. Come on, people! These children are beautiful and thoughtful and look loved and cherished. Chill out!!

  35. Stephanie,

    How are you going to make the quilts for your beans? I think that is a great idea and would like to do it myself. I have so many cute outfits my little one has outgrown but I can't get rid of them.

  36. I believe that Stephanie was raised in the Jewish religion (I think her father insisted?)but also participated in Greek Orthodox holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.)

    Not sure. Stephanie, care to clarify for us? :)

    FROM STEPHANIE: I go through this every year, and I don't blame people for not remembering… yes, I was raised Jewish, am Jewish, had a bat mitzvah, can read Hebrew (though I don't know what I'm reading). Married a Jewish man, and our children, too, will be sent to Hebrew school, as we were. That said, yes, I always grew up with a tree in my house. Holidays are all about traditions. I grew up celebrating a lot of traditions, both Jewish (making Latkes from scratch, yum. Lighting the menorah, saying the prayers over the candles, etc.) and with Greek Orthodox traditions… the midnight mass (with candles all around the block), decorating the tree, making Spinakopita with Mom, putting a coin into a pie, etc. A lot of our traditions are celebrated in food. What I love about holidays is the nostalgia, recapturing our youth, sharing our traditions, that were special to us growing up, with others. Mom always baked a ton of pies and cookies, had us help. She played really crappy Christmas music, too. But I love these memories. The food memories, the music, the company and dress coats and shoes. The giving. So really, I don't so much care about the religious aspects to the holidays as much as I love loving everyone around me.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.