November 29, 2011

This and That, Plus Something Free!

It’s been a busy week so far and we’re only at the halfway mark. I had a great meeting on Tuesday, and you’ll soon be hearing what my new adventure is going to entail!

As part of my commitment to make this a green holiday season, I thought I’d try sending cards with Paperless Post. My friend, Alice, doyenne of Summer is a Verb was the one who introduced me to this concept and I’ve been wanting to try it ever since. paperless postSo when I recently received an announcement from Paperless Post’s PR person telling me that the have a free line of informal holiday cards and invitations, I had to check them out. I had an occasion to send a little invitation, so I did it via Paperless Post and it worked like a charm. I could upload my own picture (below!),Hampden Xmas Paradeand then customize what I wanted to say in the invitation including colours and fonts. Then I uploaded addresses from my e-mail address book, and off they went! I can check to see who has opened the invitation, who’s coming and who has sent their regrets on the tracking page.  The one thing that’s a little different between the free service and the paid service is that the free card is embedded in the e-mail and doesn’t have a paperless envelope to open. paperless post2There are more than 100 cards to pick from for the holidays, including greeting cards and invitations. To choose and send cards from Paperless Post’s selection of free cards, click here. It’s a great way to be green for the holidays! In fact, in December alone, Paperless Post users will save roughly the number of trees in Central Park.

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With the holidays fast upon us, I had to decide whether I wanted a Christmas tree or not, and eventually decided against it, mainly because I don’t have any ornaments, as I got rid of them when I moved to the UK… and also because I am worried that someone, Hal Con 29might think that there’s now indoor plumbing for them!

But I love the smell of Christmas trees, especially Frasier Firs, so I went to the The House Downtown to buy a Christmas-scented candle. Frasier-Fir-Candle2I’ve been buying the Thymes Frasier Fir candles for a few years, and they are my absolute favourites for the holidays. They make the house smell so fresh and wintery. You get the great Christmas Tree scent without the pine needles throwing themselves onto your carpets and floors within five minutes of setting up the tree.

My friends at The House Downtown were kind enough to present me with one of these fabulous Thymes Frasier Fir candles, and they were even more generous in giving me another candle to give to one of you! Frasier-Fir-CandleHere’s what you need to do to win one of the 186g candles: Leave a comment with your favourite holiday memory and I will pick the one that I like the most. Deadline is Friday, December 2 at 6:00 EST, and don’t forget to leave an identifying name or blog name.  I will post the candle to you on Saturday, so you’ll have it in your home for the holidays. And to match The House Downtown’s generosity, I will add something special to the package.

I can’t wait to read about your favourite holiday memory!


  1. My favorite holiday memory is driving to my grandparent's house on Christmas Day. We had to drive through the Smokey Mountains and there was almost no one on the road. It started snowing and we pulled over and just played around in the snow somewhere in Tennessee.

  2. My best holiday memory was this Thanksgiving! This is first year all the kids have moved out and had other arrangements, we'd been working non stop and were exhausted so Thanksgiving day I never got out of my P.J.'s! I just relaxed, napped, and had dinner with my husband. Divine!

    Oh, and the P.J.' husband brought them home as a gift two days before from Target, Red flannel pajama pants with black labs! Heaven!

  3. I remember our family driving from our home in Hampton, Va., to Richmond in the mid 60's to see the holiday lights display over the downtown streets. Then we would go to one of the big department stores to see Santa. One year -- I was maybe 5 or 6 --the store set up a special section to allow children to shop without parents. I was given probably about $5 and was in there a long time, taking all my selections very seriously.

    I think this sort of experience was mostly lost in the 70's with recession, energy conservation, and suburban shopping malls.

    By the way, Whole Foods had adorable potted table top Xmas trees the last two years. I bought them because we were in small or just-moved-into houses and also we have a "someone" who likes to eat the cookies off the tree.

  4. My favorite holiday memory is from when I was still dating my husband (back in high school). It was my first Christmas Eve (I am Jewish) and my in-laws host an large, festive Feast of the Seven Fish. The food was fantastic, the people were interesting and the mood was very festive. My favorite part though was when my parents let me spend the night so I could wake up there on Christmas morning. My husband and I slept on the living room couches in front of the tree. I fell asleep to the scent of pine needles and the twinkle of the lights. It was magical even as a teenager and I have tried to create that same feeling for my children.

  5. I am not sure this is a favorite memory but here goes:
    When I was single I decided that I would get a large Frasier and put it up in the bay window of my living room. We had done this for years. I bought the tree and got it down from the roof rack of my SUV ,no problem. I sawed the end and dragged the 9 footer into the house. After getting it into the stand, I watched it sway to and fro near some antique porcelain! This happened several times. Each time I caught it and being drenched with sweat and alone, I stripped to my undies. It took another 20 minutes to get the tree secured and straight. I was covered with scratches. My friends teased me calling me Frasier, Santa's naked elf.

  6. It was Christmas Eve, I was about seven years old. The family was getting ready to go to Christmas Eve supper with friends. I heard a sound very much like sleigh bells. It must be Santa but I was puzzled why he would arrive so early with everyone awake. Mystery solved. The "bells" were the sound of my father's heavy metal razor clinking against the bathroom sink. Oh well, there was that wonderful, brief moment of stark belief.


  7. How is that paperless invite any different than just a regular email you embed an email in? I assume it's different than evite because it doesn't involve clicking around? Just not clear on why to use the service or justify the cost.

    Agreed -these candles are amazing! My family only had a real LIVE tree once and my best memory of it was our dog (yorkshire terrier) literally jumping up into it and having it fall over -broken ornaments FLYING all over on christmas day! We were back to the artificial tree the following year ;-)

  8. Hi Meg, I can't live without some sort of real tree. And yes, when I had Luxie (my son's little Bijon) he did think it was the perfect place to pee. I also get a Rosemary tree or two and that works for me and smells great, too. The boys look so comfortable on the sofa--lucky guys. Mary

  9. AD... I think that the main thing is for the free cards, they do all of the design and formatting for you and then they track everything. I have had some issues embedding something in e-mails, and it gets caught in some people's spam filters. I really liked this way of doing it.

    For the paid cards, there's a great envelope that opens, and then the invitation and a response card that you can just click to return. No hunting for stamps or even hunting for a mail box!

  10. Christmas memories...Mama baking up a storm...fruitcakes cooked in the one-pound coffee tins,5 Minute Fudge,Snowball cookies, Cherry Party cookies, Date bars, Lemon bars. Lord have mercy - that woman was in the kitchen for days! How she had that much stamina I'll never know, but those women who were raised on the farm were strong. I can't do everything she did but there will be fruitcakes and Cherry Party cookies!

  11. My favorite Christmas memory happened when I was very little. My mom and dad and sisters and I were snowed in, in a little cabin. We were trying to console the youngest ones, who were crying because they thought that Santa would never be able to make it through the snowstorm for Christmas. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, and when we opened it, there stood a huge man with a white beard and a huge sack of presents! For a second we all thought it was Santa, but it turned out to be our good friend Mr. Edwards, all covered with snow. After thawing out by the fire, he gave out presents, and Christmas was the best ever that year.

    Laura Ingalls

  12. By far my most vivid, warm and fragrant memory of Christmas is baking with my mother in the months and weeks leading up to Christmas Eve. The fruitcake was made in Oct and carefully wrapped in bourbon soaked cheesecloth and hidden away in the linen closet to age. We made beautifully decorated sugar cookies, and my favorite were the dozens of Swedish tea rings filled with mixed fruits and nuts. We'd glaze them and decorate the tops with cherries and nuts. These were all given as gifts to the egg customers who came to the house, and also to family friends and neighbors. I also love the memory of my Dad bringing the tree in on Christmas Eve afternoon and placing it in a bucket of coal. All the decoration was done after we went to bed and the beautiful surprise awaited us in the morning! There was an openhouse Christmas Eve and my godmother would come and lay her mink coat on the floor for the cats and the children to enjoy. We were so blessed.
    Thank you!

  13. Now that my boys are grown, I think that my favorite memory has to be those 2 sleepy eyed, excited little guys climbing into bed on Christmas morning to show us 'what Santa had left in their stocking'. Pure joy ! Thanks for helping me remember !

  14. Fraser Firs have always been my favorite trees. Though we, too, are having a wee problem (yeesh -- no pun was intended) with a certain kitty cat and certain indoor plumbing problems. So we might not get a tree at all this year. Which I would hate, because I love love love decorating.

  15. One holiday memory is of the travelling Christmas card saleslady. My mother was single then and offered my sister's bed to Mrs._ when she was in town. She was a sweet, elderly woman who cried during thunderstorms. She drove a Lincoln with a humongous trunk. But, oh, those beautiful Christmas cards. I'll never forget a matte turquoise one with a tiny angel cut-out that was mine one year.

  16. I wouldn’t say this is my favorite holiday but it is definitely my most important holiday memory. My family would buy our Christmas tree from a local florist in the 1970s; we would pick out our tree in the middle of December and then pick it up just before Christmas. The year that I was 12, we went to pick up the pre-selected tree and there was just one tree left at the florist – a tiny Charlie Brown type tree. OUR tree had gone home to someone else’s house. My mother showed the clerk her paid receipt but there was nothing he could do – so we took the tiny tree home. I was just distraught – to me Christmas was about big, beautiful trees and a Charlie Brown tree was as good as no tree at all to me. My father called many places to see what kinds of trees remained – it was the day before Christmas Eve so I am sure you can imagine the answers.

    So we decorated our tiny tree – my mother used this is an opportunity to talk about our ornaments – how they were acquired and when, and made my father and me pick our very favorites since we just couldn’t glop every single ornament on the tree. Our tiny tree was prettier than any other tree in my lifetime.

    In the end, I realized that Christmas wasn’t about the material things like big trees and decorations but about intangibles such as memories and celebrations and one’s family.

  17. The year before my daughter (and only child) was married she was flying from Colorado to New Jersey to meet and spend the holidays with her in-laws-to- be, she was a bit nervous, we had discussed various hostess gifts, etc. etc. in the days leading up to her trip.
    On Christmas Eve here in Michigan, my daughter called to say she had landed safely.....we talked about the flight and she asked what time dinner would be at our house. When over my shoulder - in my kitchen her voice said, "Great I'm early.. I'm in time to help out." She and her husband to be had decided that for the rest of their lives they would be sharing families for Christmas and they should spend one last time one on one with their families.
    Last year we were in Colorado with her...& "her
    3 guys". This year it's his family's turn. I wouldn't give up those guys of her's for the world.
    But thinking about "That Christmas" will always make me tear up.
    It was hard to choose from all the memories over 60+ years but, that is my favorite memory...(so far)...but there is always time and room for more.

  18. My favorite Christmas memory is of the very the last Christmas before my parents died. It was in Australia and about 100 degrees in the shade but we had our fake fir tree and fake snow and boiled Christmas pudding with coins hidden inside. I will cherish that memory always. I'm so thankful that we were able to spend one last Christmas together.

  19. Without a doubt it was getting dressed up in my little coat with matching fur-trimmed hat and muff and going to Philadelphia to see hear the organ, watch the light show, and to go through the North Pole village of mechanical elves to see Santa on his bid red and gold chair. Kathy.

  20. Meg, when you asked for a favorite Christmas memory, I thought first of Truman Capote's short story, "A Christmas Memory" and the first time I heard the story. A friend who grew up near New Orleans was staying with me over Christmas in Charlottesville, and he read it to those gathered at my place for the holiday. If you haven't read it, it's about little Truman (Buddy) who lived at the time with distant elderly cousins, and about the tender, simple relationship he had with Sook (an elderly female "cousin"). They had an annual tradition of saving up their pennies all year in order to buy the ingredients necessary to make fruitcakes which they then delivered or sent to all those whom they considered special. I found the story quite moving. What it says to me is that love, not money or things that make the holiday.

    Thanks for blogging!


  21. My husband was in his last year of college in Boston when my brother called to tell me that the rowhome next door to him, here in Baltimore, was for sale. We scraped together a pitiful down payment, figuring we would have no problem renting it to JHU students for one year. Not quite. Anyway, we arrived home on Christmas Eve, totally broke from paying our Boston rent, Baltimore mortgage and college tuition. After midnight Mass, my mother-in-law suggested we stroll over to take a look at our house. It turned out, my in-laws had decorated the outside with Christmas lights and had made up a mattress on the floor of the master bedroom, with a lamp and a radio playing Christmas music. The kitchen was equipped with a frying pan and stocked with a loaf of bread, a pound of bacon, orange juice, a dozen eggs and two dishes for dining at our card table on Christmas morning. We will celebrate our 21st Christmas in this home in a few weeks.

  22. I have many favorite memories of Christmas' past, but I realized that there are memories that include all those tangible experiences and then there are those emotional feelings to be treasured...a Christmas Spirit.

    From childhood on, the beautiful ornaments and decorations mesmerized me. I suppose my Mom initiated this because , she also, loved these. I remember that every year immediately after Christmas, we would hit the post Holiday half price sales, and oh how exciting it was to return home and unwrap, admire, and then rewrap for next year's tree. I still have many of those, and to this day I find myself remembering as our tree is trimmed where they came from, or the person that gifted them,and what year did my girls make them, and events and places where brought them home as souvenirs . Of course, this always brings me back to my Mom's effort to make the Holidays special!

    So a fitting conclusion. My married daughter and her husband were home for Thanksgiving and announced that their first child will be here in May. Later, as I watched Erin choosing some of our ornaments (including some from her Grandmother) I chuckled as I listened to her telling hubby some of her own memories. I can only wish that her child will experience this kind of joy!

  23. 1967 - I am 15 years old. That summer my grandmother (Nana) told my Mom about a jewelry box at the local “drugstore”. She said it was a replica of her bedroom dresser complete with the mirror.
    Remember, back in 1967 – no computers, etc.
    I don’t know how she did it – we lived a good distance away. I’m sure it was hard for Mom to come up with the money. But she managed to get it. Mom would get updates like “it is still there, it is so beautiful”. Then the somber, almost wistful “oh well, someone bought the jewelry box”. Mom was bursting with excitement. I could hardly wait for that Christmas morning. Instead of wondering what presents I’ll get” - it was about one very special gift for someone I loved dearly. I bounced up the stairs to their upper flat. I can see her so clearly, her pretty red dress, her hands unwrapping and then the look on her face. As you can guess, my Nana, my Mom and I dissolve into tears. She meant the world to me. Sadly, Nana suffered a heart attack 6 weeks later.
    I am grateful for the priceless memory of that last Christmas with her. The jewelry box sits on my dresser 44 years later and still plays music. It is not fancy or valuable in a monetary sense, but this is a joyful memory that will always be with me.

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  25. Hi Meg,

    This is Ellie from Paperless Post, thanks so much for highlighting our free cards in this post! I just wanted to clarify that you can send a free card in an envelope by clicking the Add button on the Design page and then choosing an envelope. You can choose one of our two free envelope options to send your card for free with an envelope.




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