Category Archives: Holiday

Season Greatings!

Is that not the most non descript holiday salute ever?


Any really, fill in your own blank. I can’t be bothered to find out what cultural or religious observances you will partake in this winter.


Webster’s defines To Greet as “to meet or react in a specified manner.” So there, without performance I acknowledge this assembly. Please imagine it in whatever custom you find appropriate.

Warms the heart, doesn’t it?

Much like my sons do this time of year. Take yesterday for example. After gift shopping with his father all morning my third son walked into the house with two sacks and plopped them down, right in front of me.

Two translucent plastic department store sacks holding items I had earlier told Mowgli that I’d enjoy receiving on Christmas morning.

“Wait!” I said, looking my son straight in the eye and ergo carefully avoiding any further inspections of the goodie bag before me. “Are you absolutely certain this is where those bags should be put?”

His reply?


(for those who don’t know “oh.” in teen is clear communication that a mistake is recognized and lamented)

I hate to go into the holidays in a cynical mood so I wont. I refuse to.

Even though I am the ONLY person I’m my family who actually WANTS to be surprised so am also the only person that rarely ever is.

Even though later that day the same son told me he had decided the bags should be put in the trash.

Ah holiday teasing. Warms the heart.


To all I wish you Peace, Joy, and a very happy…

(please select the least offensive of the following options:)

Christmas. Kwanza, Hanukkah,  Eid, Deity Free Winter Festival or Monday!


Martini Mondays. Who’s with me?

Holiday week


It is Thanksgiving week in the US. Hooray!

Time to focus on loved ones, reach out to the less fortunate, immerse yourself in a whole lot of cooking and (for this family) disappear on a mini, much anticipated, get away.

(Where I will not be cooking AT ALL. Wish you were here.)

Curiously, leading up to this week I managed to get myself employed.

Just a part time job (PART time. I mean REALLY part time.  So part time it would be more accurate to call it a “sometime” job)…

With responsibilities ranging from “pick up packaging tape” to “organize a fun filled educational event for 15 kids and their parents.”

Anyway, it’s interesting.

And if I wasn’t ready for that mini get away before, I sure am now.


So, adios!

But more importantly, Happy holiday.

Hope where ever you are, celebrating or not, your life is bursting with joy, love, wonder, and all things good.



Do not disturb


On vacation. Be back in…well…um………

It’s Not About the Presents.


Ever wonder who is the worst present giver in the universe?

Well ponder no longer! It is I, Jolie,  the queen of the unoriginal, incomplete, too big, too small, entirely the wrong color and (one time) utterly inappropriate.

My ineptitude for gifting is off the charts and anyone who has ever gotten a present from me should know this but,

Apparently, they don’t…


2013 Rishel Family wish lists:


Son 3: Several toys that are no longer manufactured.

When I suggested these might be impossible for me get he laughed. “Duh Mom, just ask Santa.”


Son 2: Magic.

Not a box of trick cards, genuine magic. He wants to see a toy gecko turn into a toy bird family – the amphibian Phoenix. No small order.

“Relax,” he told me. “Christmas is all about magic.”


Son 1: a shaving razor.

Actually this is more of a need. It’s also a wish I should be able to easily grant except…

He is 12.


Finally, Mowgli.

Here’s what I know: Upon return from his last business trip Mowgli would not let me unpack his bags. For a man who hasn’t done laundry since… ever, there are only two possible explanations for this. 1) He’s having an affair. 2) He got me something.

I haven’t gotten him anything.

Let’s hope it’s another woman.


So on the one hand, thank you family for your unwavering, though ill placed, faith in my ability to make Christmas special.

On the other…what are you thinking?  



What I’m Thankful For


I’ve been doing a lot of lists lately, but hey isn’t that what November is all about? Grocery lists, packing lists, gift lists…

…and the never ending lists of thanks.  Untitled

Since I’m sure the last thing you want to hear this Monday is how thankful I am for indoor plumbing (even though I am), I’ll keep this list short and little off center.


To my butcher for staffing his business with smiling young men whose knowledge of beef is inversely proportionate to their familiarity with political correctness. (Are there really women out there who prefer ‘ma’am’ to ‘beautiful’?) You’ve improved my self esteem as well as my cooking.

To my bank for knowing who I am and having endless patience for those who do not. No matter who the check is made out to (Joli, Julie, Jody, Joley, Jollie, or Joelee) you never fail to cash it.  

To on-line stores that 1. Own a map of the United States and 2. Know how to read it. You make shopping painless and the other guy look really stupid.

To wood, spark and elbow grease for giving me the power to light and heat my home.

To the utility company for giving the same while keeping “laziness” on the table.    

And finally to:

Dung beetles, house plants that thrive on neglect, people who drive faster than I do, and anyone who eats Brazil nuts.

You are weird but I need you. Thanks.


Hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving!








Forget, for a moment, that October isn’t over, Thanksgiving is yet to be thought of, and the holiday tree accessorizing your living room this year is still happily married to the ground.

Now, let’s cut to the chase: What is Santa bringing?

 Yes, I know nothing is more annoying than people who jump the holiday queue but… if you’re like me and plan on at least a partially handmade gifting season you MUST start now. There simply isn’t time otherwise. And, since step one if figuring out what to make, today I’m sharing my top three favorite handmade gift ideas.

1. Sewing projects that do not break the bank. Let’s face it, with the cost of fabric these days, sewing is no longer cheap. Mostly that is. Every once in a while, a good sale comes along and the savvy shopper can get a hefty bolt for a steal. After that, all you need to do is figure out what to make out of 20 yards of outdated, unwanted material.

Relax, I have some ideas. Besides table runners, pillows, and curtains, how about these?

Kid aprons, maybe in a funky print?


Light sabers sold separately.
Jedi Robes from a bathrobe pattern my mother bought in the 70’s! Light sabers sold separately.














2. Felt EVERYTHING. Oh felt, how do I love these? The ways are endless: Finger puppets, masks, costumes, play food, refrigerator magnets, story board, coasters, etc., etc. Felt is inexpensive, forgiving, and durable. You don’t even need to know how to sew. I LOVE felt. If felt would buy me wine, I would let it have its way with me.   

Basic directions: print out a cartoon, trace on felt, cut, glue. Really, it’s that simple.







3. Holiday baking that looks like you spent hours in the kitchen (when you didn’t). Enter no knead bread. You too can turn out a beautiful artisanal loaf with very little effort. The only thing this gift requires is planning. It takes about 20 hours to prepare. (Keep your pants on, more than 16 of those hours pass while your sleeping).

 You can almost smell it.

NY Times No Knead Bread Recipe

Usually we give this with homemade jam, but since we didn’t make any jam this year it’ll be with smoked salmon (Hey neighbors! Surprise!). Oh, and since we smoked the salmon last spring that means, technically, I started thinking about Christmas 8 months early 😉




Checking under the bed


I don’t like Halloween. There, I’ve said it.

I know many will be upset to hear it (KA and your entire family, sorry) but the fact remains:

I DON’T like  Halloween.

What’s to like, I ask you? It’s inconvenient, popping up in the middle of the week some years, demanding you stay up late but neglecting to follow up with a day of paid leave. It’s expensive, forcing people to shell out for treats they don’t get to eat and outfits they’ll only wear once. It’s orange (not one of my favorite colors) and it’s mascot is an inferior tasting vegetable masquerading as pop art.

The only part about Halloween that’s remotely agreeable is the candy and even that is not a given. Unlike every other feast day in the western world, if you want dessert on Halloween you must conceal your identity and threaten your neighbors to get it.

That’s not a holiday, that’s a mugging.

But the main reason I don’t like Halloween is because it’s scary. Really scary. Not just on the day either. Halloween ‘season’ can run as much as a month in advance. That’s 30 days where scheduled programming is preempted for serial killings, sitcoms turn dark and my favorite snack foods morph into tiny chocolate vampires. The entire population is encouraged, coerced, into scaring the crap out of each other. In some places spreading horror is regarded as a competitive sport!

Halloween isn’t fun, it’s sanctioned terror.meltface

I know I’m the minority. Most find Halloween pleasant. Fake blood, haunted houses, appetizers shaped like body parts… they can’t get enough. There are those who will even swear on a stack of Ouija boards that they love having being frightened. That being terrified is enjoyable.

To them I say: Stockholm syndrome. Look it up. Get help.

Halloween is 11 days.

If I close my eyes, lock all the doors and pull the covers up to my ears, I just might make it…



Easter weekend


Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Sorry to post late and short. We’ve been out of the office the last few days.

Friday morning, having had our fill of winter, the boys and I packed it up and set out in search of that elusive season known (to those in the lower 48) as Spring


Found it! Sun and ice free beach. Not that it was warm exactly…


Look Ma, no gloves!

But we didn’t have to break out the thermal underwear and for an Alaskan, that’s practically naked.





Plus we managed an outdoor egg hunt!







                  For the first time.







To top it all off we put on rubber boots…



And found baby critters…







                                     If you know of surer signs that spring is really here, 

                                     You probably live much farther south than we do.

                                    And, if you don’t mind, I’d appreciate not hearing about it.








Thank God for the Chinese. Between Christmas and Western New Year, December passes like a tornado. We’re dropped into January exhausted and blissfully unaware of the damage. A few weeks later, Blue Monday arrives. North America gets slapped in the face with reality. First, they are broke. Holiday spending has driven them to the poor house. Second, they are losers. Despite dreaming large, they’ve already blown every new year’s resolution they dared to make.  

Then, just when all the penniless rabble thought they were doomed to another year of the same old same old, Eastern sensibility saves the day (365 of them). It’s Chinese new year! A New new year! A restart.

Do something new this week (that doesn’t require bank financing). Make a promise to yourself (that you know you will keep). Be with the people you love (and tell them you love them).

It’s probably silly, but I like to think that whatever you do on the start of Chinese New Year is not far from what you’ll be doing the rest of the year. Me, I went to a park with my family then watched the sun set together in a place we’ve never been to before. Maybe it won’t be like that all year, maybe it will. Nothing is better than for a moment to imagine it will be.

Gong Hay Fat Choy everybody!