Tag Archives: Christmas

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

2014 Collage

Happy Holidays Everyone!

May your homes be filled with peace and love. May you be surrounded by all those you call family. May you enjoy quiet moments and uproarious laughter. May you be thankful for all you have, and share with those who have less. May your new year bring only as much struggle as what will help you grow, and two times as many joys. May you be inspired to create and share your talents with the world. And may you get to sleep in at least once this week.

Love to All this Holiday Season,

Jess & Joe

Was Santa Good to You?

Happy Early New Year Everyone!

I’m feeling very blessed these last few days of 2013. Joe and I spent Christmas Eve with my family, made it back to La Crosse safely for Christmas day with his extended family, and spent friday night with his family for a Christmas pajama party sleepover! Over the weekend, one of my best friends, who I’ve known since high school, came with her boyfriend to stay the weekend with us!

And bonus of all bonuses, this was the first Christmas in 6 years I didn’t spend in retail during the ho ho horror of the holidays! Yaaaaaaay!


*Note: Shopping online is AWESOME!
I know for many of my WANA friends, this has been a difficult year. So many of you have suffered losses in the form of both people and things, be it jobs, manuscripts, and health. I’ve reminded myself often that this was a year for growing. Quitting my job was the right thing to do, and it resulted in a fantastic new job and the time necessary to complete the first draft of my book. But several months of unemployment definitely took their toll. I’m still paying off credit cards and loans I needed to use in order to make do. I often felt (and ok, still sometimes do) embarrassed by this fact, but you all have been so supportive and I must say THANK YOU!
Thanks for being a part of my happiness project in 2013! I mean it when I say that your comments are verbal gold! They fuel my spirit, and definitely give me happiness!
But enough of the gushy stuff! I want to know what your favorite Christmas present was!!
Who was the person that gave you the most thoughtful gift? Or the funniest one? What surprised you most? Or even what made you cringe?!
My favorite gift this holiday season came from my soon to be sister-in-law in the form of Clue themed espresso cups and matching dish towel!
photo 1
You all know how much I love Clue right?
It was Mrs. Peacock in the Billiard Room with the Wrench!

It was Mrs. Peacock in the Billiard Room with the Wrench!

So Clue, originally called Cluedo, was created in England in 1949 and is quite possibly my favorite board game. A whodunnit mystery with quirky suspects and unlikely murder weapons! Hidden staircases you say? What’s not to love?!!

photo 2

That was my favorite gift this year! What’s yours?
Happy New Year!!!

The Hooch That Stole Christmas

I came across this article on Jezebel.com and it really struck home with me. As you’re Christmas shopping this year, consider what you’re buying for kids.

It bothers me that so many dolls today look hoochie. Barbie’s face has permanent makeup on it, every car/house/piece of furniture is bubblegum pink and probably smells like estrogen infused cotton candy. And Polly Pocket has had some serious work done.

This is Polly when I played with her, circa 1990.

Polly Pocket – the Original

She’s a cute little plastic doll no bigger than a thimble. SHE ACTUALLY FIT IN YOUR POCKET!

She basically folds in half to sit, or stands in one of three possible pegs in her clamshell case home.

I loved her.

This is the Polly my niece plays with.

Polly Pocket – Disco Hooch Millenial Edition

Do her ginormous eyes freak anyone else out?

The better to SEE you with, my dear!

I just don’t want my 4 year old niece to think that crop tops and booty shorts are the solution to feeling beautiful, or valued, or loved.

I have no beef with grown, adult women who choose to wear those things. It’s their choice. But like the Jezebel article pointed out, why are we selling them to toys marketed for ages 4-7?

Don’t even get me started on the Bratz dolls!

I’m afraid if I stare at them too long, one of them will chant some voodoo hex and I’ll be forced to reapply my lipgloss every 15 minutes.

If you want a real laugh, you should totally check out Celia Rivenbark’s book, Belle Weather: Mostly Sunny With a Chance of Scattered Hissy Fits, in which she has a chapter made up entirely of an imaginary conversation between her daughter’s Bratz dolls and her American Girl Doll.

My favorite part is when the Bratz give Kirsten, the pioneer prairie girl, advice on how to make her bonnet more fashionable.

Literary gold.

Last January I went home for my niece’s birthday and she pulled out all her Barbies for us to play with. I picked one of the dolls up and made some snarky comment when my sister informed me, “Oh yah, and that’s TEACHER Barbie.”

I couldn’t help myself.

Teacher Barbie

The left side is the dress my Teacher Barbie wore, again circa early 90’s, and the right is what she’s wearing now. My Teacher Barbie dress could eat that Teacher Barbie dress like it was a double fudge chocolate cake on the first night of her period. And she’d have seconds, baby!

Why is it sooo…tiny?…short?…suction-cupped to her already ridiculous body type standards?

I’ve heard you should dress to impress. Perhaps that’s what Smokey the Bear is doing.

What do I do when I’m not preventing forest fires? I work out. A lot.

I mean, c’mon! Smokey can’t just be a bear anymore? He’s got to be a bear with biceps and pectorals? I am of the opinion that bears, in general, are considered quite authoritative and strong already. I do not need to see the curvature of a bear’s bicep to know I am in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wilderness.

Furthermore, if I dressed like Polly Pocket, the pure weight of my oversize head would no doubt cause me to lose balance and trip over my disco glitter heels. I am now bicep bear’s lunch.

Where do we draw the line? Because I would like to step back for a minute. Are toy merchants going to start advertising Anorexic Abby into the Bratz collection? Maybe Kirsten, that American Girl doll with the bonnet and shawl, can teach Abby what inner beauty looks like…and for that matter, mayonnaise – it’s great on a turkey sub! Get a footlong! Go wild!

When did the beauty of animals become not enough? When did we decide that animals needed to also look like us? Or at least some absurd social standard of us? What’s next? Maybe the bird on all the Dove brand bars of soap can grow breasts! Oooh, or those California cow commercials can start talking about their period all the time! I would like that!

Happy cows wear Kotex.

What do you think? Has the Hooch stolen Christmas?


On a brighter note, Congratulations to Nina Badzin! She’s the lucky winner of Amber’s book, The Ruth Valley Missing, and a cd playlist to go along!

The Redhots: A Picture Says A Thousand Words

(image from zazzle.com)

Happy Redhots Day!

It’s another month’s edition of The Redhots and Marcia Richards and I are back and bolder than ever!


Ok, you caught us, we’re both crazed madwomen right now!

Let’s face it, the holidays are stressful!  Believe me, I work in retail.  I’ve put in an insane amount of days and hours for the past month – hence the disappearance of me from the blogosphere.  But I’ve missed you all and wrote you a little poem while I was away.  So settle into your pajamas, kiddos, Jess is going to read you a story!


The Sale Before Christmas

It was the sale before Christmas
and all through the mall
the customers were shopping
for gifts big and small!
The registers were ringing,
the managers running.
And somewhere in their temporal lobes –
a constant, steady drumming!
This coupon! That special!
Lines the length of trains! –
Had this particular manager
wracking her redhot brains!
There were gifts to still wrap,
Heck presents to buy!
Not to mention the store potluck,
that dang peppermint pie!
There was severe lack of sleep
and a small bought with the flu.
But Christmas was coming!
What’s a girl to do?
The dishes began to pile at home,
and the laundry was crawling the walls.
Is this what Kris Kringle had in mind
when he said “Deck the Halls?”
At last the day came and went,
though short, it was full of cheer.
With family members, grace and thanks
I can wish you a Happy New Year!


Your turn!  This Redhots edition we want to hear YOUR holiday stories!  Marcia and I are each posting a picture about the holidays and we’d love to hear your reactions, stories, perhaps poems (who doesn’t love a good limerick or haiku?) all about the holidays!  Thanks for sharing and we hope you all had a very happy holiday!

(image from shutterstock.com)

Have You Checked Out Holiday Yum Yet?

art by Ellen M. Gregg

art by Ellen M. Gregg

It’s the Holiday Yum Blog Fest!

Looking for the perfect recipe to share at a family dinner?  A dish to pass at the next work potluck?  Well check this out and stay tuned for much much more!  Many of your favorite bloggers are sharing their best holiday recipes with you in this very tasty blog hop!

So Get Ready to Savor the Flavor!

  • On November 17th, Jenny Hansen kicked off the hop with her Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Meal.  There are lots of great tips for folks who need to eat GF, including some sneaky foods to watch out for!
  • On November 19th, I shared the salty-sweet, super-easy Spiced Pecans appetizer.
  • Ellen M. Gregg has us all drooling with The Chocolatiest Chocolate Cake – Evah on Monday, November 26th.
  • Jenny Hansen introduces us to her luscious Almond Roca, famed of song and story, on Wednesday, November 28th.
  • Estee Lavitt shares her mouth-watering Baked Latkes on December 2nd, just in time for Chanukah!

For the full Holiday Yum schedule check out the tab at the top of the blog!

And from all of us to you and yours, have a very Happy Holiday Season!

The Witkins Von Trapp Family Sings

     Hello Again and Merry Christmas to you all!

We’re back live at Jess Witkins’ Happiness Project to proudly report that Jess did in fact have a holiday!  It was short and sweet, much like her new haircut, but filled with family and fun.

The festivities began at the end of the 10 hour workday of pure, extreme shopping madness.  I ran around the store, wrapped several presents, put some shoe boxes away, worked in fine jewelry for awhile and denied one man a $2000 price adjustment on a 1/2 carat diamond necklace cause he saw a sign for a 1/4 carat one for less.  Yah, I’m just mean like that.

All was improved when the night began as date night!

Joe and I went out for italian at Eduardo’s and got the sausage, prosciutto, and goat cheese pizza.  It was yummy.  We were nice and full as we headed downtown to Riverside Park and walked the Rotary Lights.  The Rotary Lights are a BIG deal in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  Since 1995, the Rotary Club has partnered with roughly 100 some volunteer organizations to decorate Riverside Park with Christmas lights and displays.  Each group hosts a Christmas tree along the park’s sidewalk, plus all the real trees get lights and there’s lots of action-packed and twinkling set ups, including a totally galactic looking light tunnel you can drive through, lights synched up to music, and LIVE reindeer outside Santa’s house.  It’s a beautiful tradition and Joe and I to go each winter.  Admission is just a bag of canned goods and food items for our town’s food pantry!  You can drive or walk through the lights and this was our third time going.

Here are some of the shots I took on our walk.  *Note the first two shots are of the same spot.  It’s where the lights change to music.

Saturday morning was Christmas Eve and we drove to home to my parents to celebrate.  We went to church, then to my brother’s for dinner and present opening.  I got many a book title on my ‘to read’ list which was wonderful!  Now the tough decision is which one to start first?  Anyone else having that problem?

The best part of our Christmas was later in the evening when somehow, with little effort, my honeybee Joe (a musician) picked up a guitar and managed to get my entire family to form a band and choir singing what began as Christmas songs, then Manamana, and then several Beatles songs.  He had the guitar, and we scrounged up some djembes, maracas, claves, and a tambourine (my given instrument!).  If you’re not familiar with Manamana, here’s a fun video to enlighten you:

Now, you should know, my family doesn’t normally sing outside of church.  I don’t remember us gathering together to sing carols on our own, yet everybody joined in!  Not just joined, we rocked out!

Actual Photo Captured of the Witkins Von Trapp Family Singing

So that was my Christmas party.  How was yours?  What have you been up to while I went on my blog hiatus?  Don’t forget to tune in Friday for another Milestone Party/New Year’s Bash with the Life List Club, the HOTTEST resolution club in town.  Bring your glow sticks and wear sequins, baby, it’s gonna be a party!  And we’ve got prizes to giveaway!!!  I know, the presents just won’t stop!

*So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu*

No Blog Post Today

Hey folks!  Just checking in to let you all know I unburied my laptop from beneath the Christmas cards and gift wrap to say Merry Christmas to you all and I miss you!  I’m currently on my 13 day work stretch and I should have been good and blogged ahead so I can carry on merrily with you all, but I didn’t, and rather than post a bunch of youtube videos with various renditions of Feliz Navidad, I am just letting you all know I miss you, I wish you well, Have fun over the holidays, and Sleep in for me, eh!

Be back next week Wednesday!  May your holidays be safe and happy!

A Christmas and Bookywook Blog Mash-up

Ha Ha Holiday Laughs: 

Mark Petruska lends his blog to Lisa Nowak so she can teach us all How to Write a Farcical Holiday Letter.

Jenny Hansen celebrates her 15th Risky Baby Business post with her Holiday Collection of Fun Baby Links.

Wendy Matheson is back and blogging!  She recaps the holidays in Smiles, Soup, Santa and Silliness.  Go and play her Santa photo caption game!

Are you still shopping?  Ellie Ann Soderstrom has you covered in her Holiday Gift Guide.  So go ahead, buy Aunt Marge those spandex shorts!

Books, books, books and Writing:

I love ‘Best of’ blog posts and Sara Grambusch just did hers in My Favorite Books of 2011.

Jillian from A Room of One’s Own blogs Happy Birthday Jane Austen from a Former Naysayer.

Tiffany White interviews new author Stephanie Nelson about her paranormal series Craved and Deceived.

Kristen Lamb serves up awesome in her psychedelic post Aspiring is for Pansies:  Tough Love and Being a Writer.

Jenny Hansen blogged this past weekend for the Life List Club at Sonia Medeiros about the Most Important Writing Lesson I Ever Learned.  This one stuck with me.

Awesomely Paranormal:

Catie Rhodes shared the history of Folk Magic in Appalachia and you can learn by through the research books and stories in her blog comments too!

I’m off to get some wrapping done!  But stick around, chat a little.  I’ll be back with cocoa!

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