2017

Oh, Christmas Tree

“What are you doing the rest of the afternoon?” asked the sweet guy working the counter at D.S.W.

“We’re going Urban Christmas Tree Hunting ” I replied.

“You mean like in a field?” he asked.

“No. Like at Home Depot.”

We exchanged a laugh and my mom and I walked out of the store setting out to meet Dylan. We had to go pick out her Christmas tree for the season. Urban tree hunt we did. It took about twenty minutes for the whole excursion. Traveled to the store, tree selected, he put that sucker on the roof and drove it back to her house.

Dylan and I took a different approach as two of our friends asked if we wanted to cut down a tree. Like in a forest. It’s Colorado ya’ll. We haven’t gone the fresh, outdoor route since before we got married.

As our friend drove us up the canyon, memories flooded back. Growing up I had years and years of hunting for the perfect tree in the woods with my cousins and particular mother. It was tradition. Four kids and two adults – sometimes more – would pack into the trusty Subaru the day after Thanksgiving. Shooting for a ten am departure time usually turned into leaving at one or two pm. Us kids would fight for the spots in the back of the car where we didn’t have to wear a seat belt. Our caravan bounced along dirt roads. Wearing our matching sweaters, we’d yell cheers and balance on top of each other as the driver rounded the canyon corners to avoid the axes and saws at our feet.

Safe. Yes, safe.

dad

Some years the sun would be setting by the time we got the darn tree to the ground. Other years we’d trek back to the car and retrace our steps because keys were lost. Cold and whining because we couldn’t find the damn car. On the dark drive home sometimes the tree would sway in the wind and scratch glass as it slowly slid down over the front windshield.

“Pull over Dad” my brother and I would yell, “the tree is sliding again!”

And then some years, when we’d get home, the tree would rest on the ground in the doorway, boughs shaking as Dad frantically sawed off the extra six inches…. or extra feet… off the bottom grumbling as he went. Mom often underestimated the pine’s height out there under the big blue sky.

Wonderful memories. Floods of nostalgia and love with the realization that my memories of Dad are turning the corner from anguish and stomach aches to tickles inside my heart.

He did that with us. I remember.

We drove two hours to the National Forest land where we spent $10 for a tree permit and a refreshing hike in the snow.

Let me clarify – the barely two inches of snow and sixty degree weather made the experience pretty enjoyable. Much better than my snow suit days. We spent thirty minutes searching and sawing and threw our selection into the bed of a pick-up truck.

We brought our tree home, and only cut a few inches off the end of our little tannenbaum. Dylan strung the lights and I selected my favorite mis-matching ornaments and we decorated the house. It was cozy. And it was good.

And then, on Monday, we went to work.

And Olive went to work.

IMG_5796While we were away, she chewed a few ornaments and destroyed three strings of lights. We came home to the tree skirt fluff creating snow in our living room, and the water in the tree stand gone. Luckily, our Charlie Brown decoration was still standing.

So our idyllic tree hunting experience has become beautifully imperfect. A memory in the making as I built a child-like fort barricade to keep her from our lightless tree.

It’s pretty charming to have a tree in your living room without decorations. Well, we’ve got ornaments on the top half of the tree, and a new shining star gleams proudly in front of the coffee table that blocks the access from our ambitious puppy.

Maybe I’ll look back in a few years and say, “Remember when Olive destroyed the decorations on the tree?”

A ha ha – we will laugh – as she will have certainly outgrown her puppy phase by then.

Tonight, we are going to try again and string some more lights on the tree.

I’ll be sure to hide the plug and tighten up my makeshift fort. I sprayed the tree skirt with puppy safe citrus deterrent and put her water bowl back on the floor. I breath deeply at work remembering I’m thirty minutes away from our house and can’t do a single thing once I’ve left.

I’ll let you know how long Lights-Phase Two lasts. Say a silent prayer for our hopeful decoration.

No matter how you select your Christmas tree this year, may the memories you make be beautiful.

 

P.S. – The Give Light Giveaway is open. I’m accepting submissions from now until December 31st. Be sure to send me your light! Details on how to enter here.

 

Beam of Light – Katie M.

My sweet, sweet friend submitted this year’s first entry to the Give Light Giveaway.  Boom.

Katie M. 

kmyers2.jpg

Hi again friends! If you don’t know me, I’m Katie. I’m a late twenty-something trying to take daily steps towards something beautiful, both in myself and in life. I’ll never say no to sushi, chocolate, hugs, or a trip to a coffee shop. Make me laugh or laugh at my jokes, and we’ll be fast friends.

I am very excited to participate again in this life-giving idea of giving light. I decided to take a different approach from my last submission and draw out a few of the things that have given me light recently. You may need to zoom in 🙂

kmyers1

You can follow Katie on her blog Live Step By Step. She’s also previously contributed to 52 Beautiful Things here  & here.

 

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more about how you can enter the Give Light Giveaway. I’m accepting submissions until December 31st. 

December Favorite Things

I’m releasing a BIG exhale as we enter into December this year. We reached month twelve! We started the year with many unknowns and have had so many prayers answered. I’m sure I’ll reflect on year end as we keep moving through the month.

For now, though, I turn my attention to things that bring me comfort and JOY. 

I’m excited to decorate the tree, wrap packages, sip eggnog and feel festive. I didn’t last year – not really.

Here are my favorite things for this month!

  1. Calligraphy by Emily Howell

IMG_5707.JPG

This talented calligraphy artist created a beautiful banner for me with my new tagline. She also makes custom designs and would be happy to bring your favorite phrase to life. Beautiful artwork with vision and purpose. Emily also blessed my family with a beautiful book honoring my dad after he passed. She captures family treasures and transcribes celebrations. I could continue gushing her praises – check out her work for yourself.

2. Eggnog Lattes

No – you can’t buy them on Amazon. But you can buy eggnog on Amazon and make them yourself. Who knew! I’m obsessed with the creamy version – non-alcoholic please. You can read my poem about it here.

3. Star Garlands

I found this idea on Pinterest for gift wrap and I think it’s gonna look great. These little stars making all gifts feel festive. If you don’t feel like going home-made, just click the link.

4. Love Actually

My favorite Christmas movie. Because Love is all around. And I mean Bill Nighy…. his character is too funny. If you really love Christmas – the extra syllable. Gah! Get’s me every time.

5. Christmas Nativity Set

My mom has this beautiful nativity scene. When I was growing up, my brother and I would pick out one character each year to add to her collection. One year a wiseman, another year an angel. We may have even replaced the baby Jesus once. I didn’t understand the beauty of the set until I was older. Last year, I got the base set as a gift, and I’m touched to carry on the tradition of setting out the set among my Christmas decorations each year. Maybe my kids will play with the figurines and act out the Christmas story with each other – just like I did with Sam.

Cookies – did you say? I almost forgot.

I look forward to making gingerbread snowflakes using this Snowflake Cookie Cutter with my momma. I’ll probably stick a package of Walkers Shortbread and a bottle of scotch on the mantle in honor of Dad. He sees you when your sleeping you know.

How are you making your home sparkly, festive, and fun?

Happy December!

It’s Back! – 2017 Give Light Giveaway

Time for 52 Beautiful Thing’s 2nd Annual Give Light Giveaway! As we get ready for the holiday season and prepare for a new year, I invite you to share your light.

announcement-1Here is how you can play.

Compile one of the following and email me at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com between now and December 31st.

  1. Email me a creative expression of things you find to be beautiful in your world right now.  Write a list or maybe a haiku. Share a picture. A love note. A scribble or drawing. A written narrative of no more than 500 words. Any format can do.**
  2. Include a small bio about yourself and a fun photo of you. Optional –  include links for how you can be contacted – ie. email, Instagram, or Twitter feed.
  3. Your entry will then be shared in a post on my blog between now and the end of the year.  If I receive an overwhelming amount of responses, I will continue to share the content I collect past the deadline of December 31st.
  4. Be willing to share the post I create with your content with your network – share on your Facebook, send an email blast, work with others to promote sharing positivity for the rest of the year.

By submitting your materials you will be entered into a drawing to win a prize pack of a few of my Favorite Things from 2017.

On December 31st, I will put all the names in a hat, and draw one winner who will later be contacted. You need not live in Colorado to win.

So there it is! Will you join me in creating beautiful content that can generate and spark a wave of beauty as we close out 2017?

Email me with questions. I can’t wait to Give Light!

“Give Light and People Will Find the Way” – Ella Baker 

 

**Please keep content appropriate – I reserve the right to refuse to post if I feel content is offensive or could cause harm to others.

52 Thankfuls – 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 7.34.00 PM.png

52 Things to be thankful for this year. In a sorta particular order….

  1. The Significant Other

2. The Mother

3. My brother

4. My in-laws

5. Mentors

6. Prosciutto

7. Living by the mountains

8. Family Meals

9. I was taught how to cook

10. Creative people

11. Craft Beer

12. Craft Coffee

13. Crafts

14. The Ocean

15. This Is Us

16. My House

17. Warm Bed

18. Promise of Health Insurance

19. Jobs – Connection – Purpose

20. Writers

21. Books

22. Trader Joes

23. American Family Insurance

24. Memories & Photographs

25. Collecting Dad’s things – clothes, mugs, toys

26. My good friends

27. Blog readers

adam-jang-260876

28. Instagram

29. Washing Machines – new and busted ones

30. Leadville, CO

31. People who believe they can

32. Mill City Church

33. The Silver Grill  – my seat at the counter

34. Road trips

35. The ability to opt out

36. Tattoo artists

37. Tater Tots

38. Anniversaries

39. Finally Home 

40. The Power of Moments by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

41. My French Press

42. My dog Olive

43. Homemade Pasta

44. Yoga teachers

45. Library Cards

46. Family Photos & Jamie Fischer Photography

47. The big deck at Grand Lake Lodge

48. Democrats

49. Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show

50. Birthdays

51. Fresh flowers in the house

52. Fine Point Pens

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours. What are you thankful for this year?

 

 

Ode to the Eggnog Latte

It’s pretty simple this week. I choose to share a poem.

Because I’ve never met an eggnog latte I didn’t like.

justin-leibow-62

Enter a caption

You come a teasin’ every November first

in pretty red cups, taste buds ready to burst

But you know my rule, hard deadlines a must

no holiday drinks til turkey bones turn dust.

With each pass by coffee shops, a favorite of places,

your scent escapes wafting right in our faces.

The vanilla beans mixing with nutmeg and spice

taunting, ‘You know just one sip might be nice’.

You beckon me bashfully right in the door

breaking rules, pushing boundaries just a little bit more.

“One eggnog latte” this woman requests

ignoring her scruples and feeling distressed.

The coffee comes quickly, in that beautiful cup.

One sip. Sigh. Two. Now drink it all up.

You may be bad for me, BUT you fill me with cheer.

How many magic concoctions will be consumed this year?

What’s with the Glitter?

 

My co-worker asked me today, “Katie, what’s with the glitter on your face?”

Glitter?

Ha – I guess my eyeshadow smudged. I often forget when I’m wearing eye makeup and it smears all over my face as I vigorously rub my eyes.

“Mondays call for a little magic,” I said. Co-worker laughed.

All days call for a little magic. The magic found in tasty, hot apple crisp coming out of the oven and sharing Sunday dinner with family. Magic in the comfort a puppy gives as she rests her paw on your arm as she sleeps. Magic in the ability to drive home safely, pick out and pay for fresh food, drink fresh water that comes out of my own sink.

Magic in the glinting ache of waking up on Saturday and wishing so badly I could eat breakfast with my dad. I entertained the idea of going by myself, to that diner, and sitting at the food counter. Magic in watching the grumpy men turn bread to toast on a conveyor belt.

I couldn’t do it.

Not strong enough – too afraid I’d dissolve into tears spinning on that swiveling stool. I can’t go have breakfast with dad – without dad.

You know what I mean?

I’ve got this vision that someday, when I’m a famous writer, I’ll sit on a swivel stool, sipping coffee in diners across the country and write to him, recording our stories or capturing new versions of me in ink. The crabby waitress will ask if I’m expecting someone because you know, the stool next to me is empty – with perhaps a jean jacket saving his spot – and I’ll have two mugs of coffee. One for me, one for him.

jason-briscoe-152943.jpg

‘Nope’, I’ll say, ‘I’m just having breakfast with my dad.’

The waitress won’t get it.

Unless she’s lost someone too. Then maybe, just maybe, she’ll fill up the cup and smile. Glitter mixing in with her bright blue eye shadow, like I used to wear in junior high.

Someday.

I couldn’t do it. So I invited my mom to breakfast, and we went to the diner – stalking other eaters like vultures so they would give up their spots at the counters. We sat on wooden stools, sipped coffee in those heavy, ceramic diner mugs, and swallowed down the  glinting aches of memory and longing with an orange juice chaser.

As I drove home, missing him, Here Comes the Sun came on the radio. Our song. Hi Daddy – I say, whenever I hear that song on the radio.

Sunlight dancing on my windshield. Glitter.

The beautiful thing about art – sometimes others speak exactly what you are thinking in their own medium. This song below captures all my questions I have about grief  – talking to those gone – where do we put our love?

 

Feeling connected through another artists’ thoughts, songs, aches.

Magic.