Do you really want a hippopotamus for Christmas?

You know that song, “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas. Only a hippopotamus will do!”? I love that song! I don’t know why, but I do. My college roommate even got me a plastic hippopotamus Christmas ornament one year that still goes up annually.

However, when it comes to actually getting a hippopotamus for Christmas, the sensible thing is to pass. I don’t have the time, energy, money, space or experience to care for a hippopotamus, no matter how much I might want one. Yes, baby hippos are adorable (it’s the wrinkles). But you know what? Baby hippos turn into big hippos, and then even bigger hippos. And I don’t have any idea how to look at a baby hippo and tell how big it’s going to be; therefore there’s no way to properly prepare for the amount of space it will need. (Will it fit in the backyard swimming pool or not? How can I tell?)

The same applies to puppies. Puppies (and kittens and whatever other living things) for Christmas.

We’ve all seen the videos of the squealing children as the puppy tumbles out of a barely-wrapped box, red ribbon around its neck, and smothers its new people in slobbery puppy kisses. It’s adorable.

But it’s death till you part, my friends. Or it should be.

Any living thing – whether we’re talking puppies for Christmas or ducklings for Easter – is a commitment for the life of that animal. It’s not a “let’s play with it until the kids get tired and send it back” sort of thing. It’s not a “if it gets too big we’ll just get rid of it” or “if it’s too expensive we’ll just let it go” situation. It’s a “I have brought you into my life and I promise to care for you, whatever you may need, until you are no longer with us” scenario.

You wouldn’t adopt a child and give them the sense that they belong to your family and will be safe and cared for, and then send them back to the adoption agency when they don’t sleep through the night. What sort of news scandals would that cause?! I know not every one considers their pets to be their “babies,” like I do, and that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean you can just get rid of them whenever they may become an inconvenience.

Not all pets are truly members of the family, like mine are, but there is a difference between somebody’s pet and just another animal.

I have nothing against outside pets. I wish my dogs were outside pets, and as soon as we get a fence put up they will make the transition full-time. However, if you don’t want to touch the dog except with the barest minimum head-pat; if you don’t want the dog to touch you in any way; if you don’t want there to be any sign in your home, in your car or on your clothes that you own a dog at all; if you don’t have time or knowledge to properly train the dog; if you don’t ever want to hear the dog; if you don’t see a need to socialize the dog with other animals or people — in short, if you just want the dog to sit quietly in the yard and look pretty so you can tell people you own a dog, then you don’t want a dog, you want a lawn ornament.

Buy a lawn ornament. Spare the dog the loneliness of a life with you. (And that applies all year long, not just for Christmas.)

Also, don’t get puppies as presents unless your children are old enough to care for the dog or you are prepared (inevitably) to care for the dog yourself. And you are prepared to love that dog (or kitten or hippopotamus) and provide it with proper food, shelter, medical care and, yes, companionship. Because sticking the dog in the yard and having no interaction except to put down a bowl of food once a day while the dog sits where it can’t touch you is not companionship.

If someone put their child in their room and had no interaction with him except to put some food under the door a few times a day, we’d call that neglect. Don’t put your pets through that.

Buy stuffed animals for Christmas. Buy real animals for life.

Happy Friday,

The Missus


The Penguins have Landed!

PENGUINS are now available under The Chesnut Tree! They are made to order and come in the colors pictured.

penguin group

Each penguin is approximately 6″ high, made with screw-in child safety eyes, and comes with a removable scarf in a contrasting color of your choice. They are $14.99 each plus shipping ($7.65 for one penguin, $1 each additional), and you can choose to have your order gift wrapped for an additional $5. I will include a brief note inside the box as well (if you choose to leave one in the notes section of your order page.)

Get yours today! Order before December 10 to receive your items by Christmas.

penguins hanging around

P.S. – Be advised, however, that penguins are mischievous creatures and might be found exploring your house with their friends while you aren’t looking.

Under The Chesnut Tree

So about a month ago I finally got my online store started, and I am proud to say that I have TWO items available for general sale!

(Only two? Yes, two. I know. But I’m also trying to finish special island orders and make Christmas presents for my own family and find a job with a regular paycheck, so just bear with me for a little while longer.)

For those of you who may not know already, I crochet blankets and stuffed toys of all kinds. Most of my items are made with children in mind, but would be wonderful gifts for anyone.

Currently looking for homes are Felix the Frog and a snuggly elephant lovey blanket (a blanket with the head and arms of an animal attached).

stuffed frog toy

Felix is 18″ tall when standing and 11″ tall sitting down. Felix is floppy, so he does not sit or stand on his own, but he does make a wonderful toy to be dragged around the house by a small child. He is made with acrylic yarn and high-quality cotton fiber stuffing, and has no buttons or choking hazards. He would be a wonderful, huggable playmate for any frog lover. His pattern is provided courtesy of designer Mari-Liis Lille (lilleliis).

Felix is available under The Chesnut Tree for $40.00 plus shipping and can be mailed within three days of a finalized order.

The elephant lovey blanket was actually an accident. Sort-of. I wanted to make an elephant blanket and I chose colors that complimented the animal… and then realized later I had essentially made an Alabama Crimson Tide blanket. Shame on me. (The colors in my family are more orange and white, if you know what I mean.)

Photo Oct 16, 8 46 26 PM elephant blanket

The blanket itself is gray, maroon and white and is 21″ square with a slight scallop ruffle around the edges. The elephant portion is 6″ high and is made with locking child-safety eyes for a realistic look without the choking hazard. This brave little elephant is afraid of nothing and will keep your little one safe in all conditions. Completely handmade, he is a wonderful keepsake and friend for the growing Alabama fan in your house.

This blanket is available under The Chesnut Tree for $60.00 plus shipping and can be mailed within three days of a finalized order.

I have a few other items listed but they are designated for special order pickup and are identified by the buyer’s name in the title. Those are custom orders from the island, so please admire them but allow their owners to order them first.

My shop also has a large blue “request custom order” button on the left side, so feel free to use that option to ask about special types of orders. I love creating new things and I will try to honor special requests as often as I can.

I try to keep costs realistic, however I know many will see the prices on the above items and think “Sixty bucks for a baby blanket? No way!”. But you do have to consider the time and effort put into making a unique handmade item. I do not add high profit markups to my items; I only charge for the materials used and the time put into creating the piece. Some items take longer to make than others, even though the finished product might turn out to be roughly the same size as another listing. It all depends on the techniques and materials used in its creation.

So please, before you shut down the idea of handmade gifts – either bought online or at a craft fair table – take a moment to think about the love and dedication that went into creating a one-of-a-kind piece that you or your child can treasure forever.

Thanks for reading, and please follow the bolded links to see what else is available under The Chesnut Tree. You can also follow my original crochet Facebook page at Chesnut Crochet Creations for updates.

Where in the world is…. anything?

Ok. So I have realized something very important since we’ve been home. I don’t know where any of our stuff is!!

When we moved out of our apartment in Martin, we brought an entire U-Haul truck back to Spring Hill and unloaded it into my in-laws’ utility room and outdoor shed. I know those things, logically, are all still there, yet I look at the piles and somehow I don’t see a whole U-Haul’s worth of stuff. (Although I’m sure my in-laws would disagree with that statement, haha.)

For example, the Mister and I have a small amount of winter clothing stored in easily-accessible places because we knew we would be coming back for Christmas breaks and would need warm clothes. However, I know there are things that I own – fuzzy pajama pants, warm tights, a large collection of sweaters – that are nowhere to be found. I remember packing them into a box, but that box seems to have vanished completely. Well, that or it’s buried behind the mountain of other boxes currently living on top of our dining room table in their utility room…. which means I’m in for a major excavation expedition before winter officially arrives.

I also know there are boxes out in the shed full of our things, but I can only think of two boxes that we actually put out there. The others are complete mysteries to me. I know we didn’t put clothing or books or other perishable things out in the shed, but I can’t think of what else we would have owned at the time that could have been moved out there. Moving into our own place will be like Easter and Christmas and a hundred birthdays all at once.

Which brings me to something else I’ve learned in the past week: things disappear when you unpack them. The Mister and I struggled and screamed and cried to fit our lives into five checked bags and four carry-ons to limp back home to the States, but then once I started unpacking and fitting things into drawers and closets….. it’s all gone. Somehow. Somewhere. You would have thought this house was filled to capacity with everything my in-laws’ own as well as most of what we own already in it, but somehow we managed to squirrel away another house’s worth of belongings. It’s like Hermione’s magic bag in Harry Potter 7, and if we squeezed this house like a lemon it would probably squish stuff out of every vent and window for weeks. When the Mister and I finally move all our stuff into our own place and have everything we own all in one house again, this property will probably weigh half of what it does now. I’m just hoping the house doesn’t start sinking into the earth under all this extra weight.

We are incredibly grateful for a place to stay and store our things and a yard for Meera to run in. I don’t have the faintest idea what we would have done without such accommodating family. I just have to figure out where everything is before we freeze to death. Haha! Island tank tops and shorts are definitely not cohesive to the dropping October temperatures (or to my mother-in-law’s house, which is always cold).

In other news, I’m told there are only 11 weeks until Christmas, which means holiday music (not played on steel drums) will arrive soon and I’ve definitely got to get a jump on Christmas presents or I’m never going to make it!

Happy Monday to all.

/the missus

Deck the halls with food and pastries, fa la la la la la la la la

Oh my goodness. I’ve eaten more food in the last week then I think I’ve had in a month on the island. That was the ultimate goal after all, so I am definitely far from complaining, but man! I’d forgotten there were so many choices in the world!

Red meat, flaky pastries, soft potatoes, fragrant sauces, dips and creams; meals served with complimentary rolls and cinnamon butter; steamed vegetables that don’t include pumpkin squash… It’s been incredible. I actually got to a point this weekend where I would have done almost anything just to sit on the couch and have a simple bowl of Captain Crunch cereal. We are so blessed to have friends and family fighting for the time to take us out to eat. My father-in-law has actually been keeping a list over the past months of places and foods that I’ve mentioned craving (which reminds me, never mention something unless you are one thousand percent sure you have to have it).

We are so incredibly blessed and happy to be home. Our first Christmas evening is tonight, with the rest of the Mister’s family exchanging gifts tomorrow and then meeting up with my side of the family starting Christmas day around dinnertime. It’s been a fantastic break so far and we still have almost two weeks until we return to what the Mister has been calling “the island of misfit toys.”

Meera, for those who’ve been wondering, is doing fine. She’s got a big yard and a half-dozen new friends to cause havoc with, so I’m more concerned about the girls watching her than I am about her. (And about the state of our old house, which has two dogs sleeping unattended in it until we return.)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

There’s no place like home…

Being home at long last has been nothing short of fantastic. Everything from the crowd of family waiting for us at the airport to the naked trees to the easy turn of the wheel in my Honda to the quick and courteous service at various restaurants and shopping centers across middle Tennessee. I had finally adjusted to island life before we left, and now that I’m here I can’t believe what we have grown accustomed to.

I mean, when I walked into Firehouse Subs today in the ‘Boro a half-dozen people shouted, “Welcome to Firehouse!” I almost fell over in fright. If somebody yelled at me when I walked into Rituals Coffee on the island I would automatically start looking for whatever I had just done horribly wrong.

We’ve been to Cracker Barrel and Olive Garden and I’ve been eating myself almost sick since we got off the plane. The mother-in-law and I went grocery shopping today and the tremendous amount of fresh foods everywhere, in their fabulous array of bright, not-rotting colors, made me want to buy and cook everything in the store just because I could. And the cashier had a CONVERSATION with us! It’s unheard of; doesn’t she know you’re not supposed to acknowledge the existence of the person in front of you until it’s time to demand their payment?? The nerve of her.

Anyway, we have lunches and dinners booked with various family members throughout this week, and I’m sure the same will happen once we get to the ‘Boro starting Christmas day. It’s just such a good feeling to be home and sleep beneath heavy piled blankets and wake up to hot chocolate and the fluffy little dogs barking at the birds in the feeders.

Oh – and something else I’ve learned since we got home – it’s apparently much easier to ski on Wii sports if you do it with your butt in the air and don’t look at the screen. The Mister now holds the family high-score, but we’ll never let him forget how he got there…

I’ll be home for Christmas. You can count on me.

So it’s Monday again. Those things seem to come around every week, don’t they? But this Monday is special. This Monday is the last Monday we will spend on this island for almost a month! Hooray!!!

However, it’s also the Monday of finals week, which sort of puts a damper on the whole thing.

But, so far the Mister has been studying hard and seems to be feeling good about most things, so we’ll just have to wait and see how it all goes. Results should come out this weekend and we’ll be able to say whether or not we’re moving on to third semester by the time our plan lands in Nashville on Saturday night.

Nashville. Country music. Winter weather. Hot chocolate. Driving on the proper side of the road. Southern hospitality. Olive Garden bread sticks…. I’m just so excited I can hardly contain myself. (Southern Florida television has been showing an awful lot of Olive Garden commercials this week, thus my craving.)

It’s so close I can almost taste it.

The Mister has three more exams to finish between now and then, though, and Friday will be a day of relaxing for him and packing for me before we head to the airport early Saturday afternoon to fight two hundred other Rossies for the seats I paid for back in April. Yes, I paid for them. Yes, I have tickets. No, we are not 100% guaranteed to get on the plane. Welcome to St. Kitts and the wonderful efficiency with which everything works here. BUT, I promise you all now, I will be on that flight. I might be in an overhead bin; I might be zipped into a suitcase in cargo, but I will. be. on. that. flight. Or there will be blood in the streets.

It’ll be 1 a.m. Basseterre time when we land on good ole Tennessee soil, and we’ll be exhausted, stiff and sore, but dog gonnit, we’ll be home.

Merry Christmas everybody.

It’s just shrubbery…

I’m going to commit one of the cardinal sins — I’m going to poke fun at my mother in law. 
(Don’t worry. She knows and she’s ok with it.) 

The mister and I have been hearing for at least a week about how excited the mother in law is to decorate her house for our Christmas arrival and prepare her Christmas brunch list. So when we get to her house Sunday afternoon, she wants us to come see her tree in the living room. We’re expecting an exceptional display, and the tree is beautiful! All lit up and covered in red ball ornaments, surrounded by glittering presents and gift bags bursting with colorful paper. It truly is impressive. 

Partly because it’s only two and a half feet tall. On a step-stool. 

Instead of reacting to our surprised stares, however, she rushed to show us the other piece of holiday joy in her house — a snowman on the computer room desk. Very festive. She just laughed at our expressions. 

Her response to our teasing went something like this: “He’s (meaning the mister) out of the house! I don’t care anymore. When it’s time to take the tree down, I’ll put it in a trash bag and stuff it in the attic and be done! Voila!!” She was so excited, and it’s hard to keep teasing a woman who’s so joyful about a tree in a bag.

This is actually not an unusual exchange at my in-law’s house. It’s perfectly normal for us to sit in the computer room and debate the merits of the Elvis Presley ‘Blue Christmas’ version versus that of Porky Pig. (Which is what we’re doing at this very moment, as I’m writing this.) But you can’t help but love them. They even provide entertainment when they’re not around, as the mister and I had fun allowing people to believe Richard Geer was at our wedding (the father in law looks just like him. And I’m not exaggerating.)

So, I suppose the long story short is that I have been blessed with a wonderful in-law family. My biological family is wonderful too, don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t trade them for anything, but I think there is something to be said for having chosen a good in-law family. It just shows, more than anything else I can think of, that I truly do have good taste. 🙂