Thursday, July 15, 2010
Looking for some ways to beat the heat? I have a few…
Last week my parents came into town for a week-long visit on one of their summer trips. We found lots of ways to beat the heat. One day, we rented a boat for a few hours, and so we sped off on the Intracoastal Waterway in a boat loaded with coolers of sandwiches, fruit and plenty of cold drinks. I think there’s something that mentally happens when you are on a boat. You just feel…cooler. Not just more hip! Really, the air seems cooler, and things just look better from a boat. We saw lots of beautiful birds, fish jumping and plenty of beautiful homes from our scenic view on the water. It rained while we were out, but even that was bearable while on the boat.
Another way we beat the heat was with home-made ice cream. Years ago my husband and I bought an electric ice cream maker. You simply chill the bowl, and then pull it out of the freezer and pop it on the electric base, add your ingredients, and voila! Ice cream in no time at all! Of course, if you are watching your waistline in the middle of swimsuit season, I don’t recommend this gadget. Anyway, we put it to good use, and it was wonderful! The ice cream it makes is that yummy soft-serve consistency which you can eat right away or freeze for later. We scooped out the “soft-serve” ice cream and ate it with sliced strawberries.
Of course, summer wouldn’t be summer without a good old-fashioned slice of watermelon. On the Fourth of July, we grilled burgers and hot dogs and had plenty of watermelon on hand. My husband and father grew up in the South, so they can’t eat watermelon without a salt shaker close at hand. Neither my mother nor I salt, and our 4-year old ate his plain, too. Whether you’re a melon salter or not, you just can’t beat ice cold watermelon on a hot day.
Finally, another way to beat the heat is to enjoy the air conditioning and take a nap or lounge with a good book. We did plenty of that during their visit, too!
However you choose to beat the heat this summer, stay safe and enjoy!
Monday, May 10, 2010
My son made me a picture that included his hand prints. The hand prints were then dusted with glitter, and a poem was included. It was so touching that I just had to share it here:
I miss you when we're not together
I'm growing up so fast
See how big I've gotten
Since you saw me last?
As I grow, I'll change a lot,
The years will fly right by.
You'll wonder how I grew so quick
When and where and why?
So look upon these hand prints
That hang up on your wall.
And memories will come back of me,
When I was very small.
Many of you may be familiar with this poem. You may have a hand print picture of your own very similar to this one I just received. Once upon a time I did not think much of poems like this, but this past weekend it just made my heart melt, especially when my sweet little four-year old looked up at me with his big brown eyes and said, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy!” with such pride in his home-made present.
I like to think of my son making those hand prints. That is truly a precious moment for me and always will be.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Last Saturday evening, I had the thrill of seeing a red-carpet worthy event right on my street in suburbia. Glamorous, sparkling gowns, tuxedos and corsages…that’s right, it was prom night!
My husband and I were out in front of our house watching our 4-year old pedal his new bicycle in the driveway. A white stretch limousine pulled up in front of our neighbor’s home, so we had good seats for the show. Two freshly-pressed boys emerged from the limo in black tuxedos and headed for the door with the plastic containers holding their dates’ corsages. After a few minutes, they came out with their dates. One girl was wearing a lavender gown, and the other girl’s dress was turquoise with sequins. Three sets of parents followed them out, and before our eyes, the limo emptied four more couples. Right away, the line-up began, the teens struck their best poses, and the parental paparazzi took over with flash bulbs flying! We counted 6 couples—12 people—all lined up. It was a great night, too…warm and breezy without any hint of chill in the air.
Do you remember your own prom? Or how about Saturday date night? I love hearing the stories my own mother has told me about sock hops and doing the jitterbug. Back then, she tells me, music was played from the jukebox or from a live band. When I was in high school, we had a DJ, and today, everything is digitized. No records, just downloads.
Although times have changed, the thrill of date night—or in the case of last weekend—prom night, hasn’t changed much. I could see the starry-eyed excitement in that group of 6 couples. The girls looked so lovely in their gowns; the boys looked dapper and handsome. I imagine someday my 4-year old will be part of a scene like this, and I hope I can be one of those anxious parents snapping photos to remember the night forever.
To commemorate that thrill, this week I’ve selected “Rockin’ Through The Years,” one of our brand new figurines! It’s nostalgic and classic, just like Precious Moments.
Monday, April 12, 2010
This past weekend we bought our 4-year old son his first bicycle. What an exciting day! What started as a trip to the mall to replace worn out sneakers turned into an excursion to the sporting good store to look at bicycles. Until last weekend, he was riding a big wheel around in the driveway and on the sidewalks in our neighborhood, but it was just too small for him. So he is now the proud owner of a cool new bike and bike helmet.
He LOVES riding it, and luckily, he even likes wearing the helmet. When I was a kid, we didn’t wear helmets, but today is a different time. The fact that he now owns a bike is actually a very good thing for me. It means that I have to go on bike rides with him. It forces me to exercise, which is nice. Admittedly, pedaling around behind a 4-year old isn’t a workout, but it’s time outdoors in the fresh spring air. Yesterday afternoon I rode behind him around the neighborhood on his bike. He stops a lot, and for no apparent reason. Sometimes he tells me he is stopping for gas, even though I’ve told him a dozen times that bikes just don’t need gas.
Here he is on the new bike with the new bike helmet…with the new sneakers, too. I am looking forward to another ride this afternoon!
This morning another member of our Teardrop Eyes team told me about her weekend, which was equally big. Actually, it was much bigger. Literally! She and her husband did what my husband and I never dared to do.
They bought a swing set for their 2-year old daughter. And they decided to assemble it on their own!
“Swing set” really doesn’t accurately describe what they purchased. I’m not talking about a swing set with the A-frame and a couple of swings. “Play set” is the better term. It holds multiple children and can be crawled on. It has a curvy slide, a window box, a sandbox and a second story landing. Not for faint-of-heart parents, these mammoth creations are often sold with an optional set-up charge because toy stores know most parents aren’t brave enough to take on that kind of do-it-yourself project. They actually bought the set a couple weeks ago. After sealing every piece of wood in the set with weather sealer, they were finally ready to begin construction. They boldly started assembly at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday. Day 1 concluded around 11:00 p.m., and this was after a couple of trips to the hardware store to buy extra bolts that weren’t included in the kit. (Because if you’ve ever tried to put something of this scale together, you know there’s almost always something missing. And it’s usually something important, like bolts.)
She and her husband are still assembling the play set. They have the actual swing set part complete, but everything else is still under construction. Their 2-year old is getting anxious, too! See, she’s a Dora the Explorer fan, and Dora got a swing set, so she wants one, too!
Here she is posing with the play set as it looks now:
One thing is certain—when this play set is complete, she is in for a treat. As I said before, this is one of those toys she’ll remember for the rest of her life.
If you’re curious about what this play set will look like when it’s fully assembled, you can see a photo of it here.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
My child is not yet in school. Luckily, I have a couple more years before I’ll be thinking about homework assignments, packing lunches and parent-teacher conferences. But I am still looking forward to spring break with much anticipation.
Why? For the babysitting, of course! My favorite sitter will be available over her spring break. Hey, at least I am honest.
Actually, many people I know are anxiously looking forward to spring break. My teacher friends are all thrilled to have a much-needed week off. A few people here in the office are planning to take time off for family since the kids will be out of school. Others I know are in graduate school and looking forward to the rest from nightly reading and classes, even if just for a week.
Just for a moment, think back to your own spring break weeks…whether it was grade school, high school, college or beyond. What memories stand out most for you? Did you lounge? Go to the beach? Disney World?
For me, one of my most memorable spring breaks was back in high school. My family traveled to the Outer Banks in North Carolina and rented a house for a week. I was thrilled to be able to walk to the beach…it was a short 100-yard walk in my new red flip flops. My brother and I walked to the beach early each day to hunt for sea shells. The best shells could be found in the morning. The thrill of the hunt was as much fun as finding them. We were also fascinated by the people on the beach who slowly walked with radar detectors, gently waving them back and forth as they meandered down the shore line with their headphones on, listening for a signal that treasure lay beneath the surface.
That week, my brother and I collected over 100 shells, but unfortunately, we left them all in a bucket by the back door of the rented beach house! Hopefully, the finder kept a few of the nicer ones since we worked so hard to collect them.
Today, I no longer collect shells. I do, however, collect Precious Moments figurines. In honor of that memory, I’ve posted one of my favorite Precious Moments figurines above to share with all of you. I hope you enjoy it as you think of your favorite spring break memories. Better yet, come visit our Facebook page and share them with us!
Friday, March 19, 2010
One of the things I really enjoy doing when the days are longer is going for a walk after dinner. Being out in the fresh air and seeing the trees and flowers start to bud always puts me in a good mood. It helps get me motivated to tackle all the “spring cleaning” projects around the house. This year, we are focusing on turning our somewhat bare backyard into an inviting outdoor space that includes a screened in porch, swing set for our daughter and some much needed landscaping – fingers crossed that we can get all done!
One of the other things I’m looking forward to is teaching my daughter how to ride a tricycle. For her 2nd birthday, we took her to the store and she picked out her very own tricycle. It has been sitting in our garage for a couple months now, just waiting for a nice spring day to take it out for a test drive. She has tried riding it a few times, but it’s hard to learn to ride by just circling around the garage. This past weekend, we had our first opportunity to venture out of the garage. Here is a picture of her first real “ride”. She’s still getting the hang of it, but I’m sure she’ll be zooming around the neighborhood in no time!
These are just a few things I’ll be doing now that the days are longer. What do you like to do when we “spring ahead” to longer days? Share your stories and photos with us!
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Everyone loves a holiday, and if you look, you’ll discover that just about every day of the year is some sort of holiday. Well, we discovered that tomorrow is “Plant A Flower Day.” Is that sweet or what? It’s timely, too, since spring seems to finally be tip-toeing in; after all, last week was positively polar.
I remember that my own grandmother maintained a garden for years. She grew her own tomatoes and zucchinis, and she also planted beautiful border beds around her entryway and the trees in her back yard. When I visited her around this time of year, she enlisted my help, and I loved helping plant all the flowers because I got to pick the colors of the flowers when we selected them from her local nursery. To this day, when I look at pansies, I remember her—she was the one who taught me about their “faces.”
Now my little boy is about the same age I was when I first began helping my grandmother in her garden. And my own mother is anxious again to have her grandson visit her again. She has purchased large pots to plant an assortment of spring flowers, and she can’t wait to have his help!
It just so happens that we are premiering a BRAND NEW Precious Moments figurine. Just like we think “Plant a Flower Day” is such a sweet idea, we think this little teardrop-eyed boy makes such a sweet presentation. I can’t wait to place my order so I can send this one to my mother. If you’d like to order one as well, please respond to this posting or let us know on Facebook!
Monday, March 8, 2010
Another March event is the Academy Awards. I usually watch every year, although it’s difficult to stay up until the very end—especially this year. See, I used to watch the Oscars every year with my close friend, who now lives in Texas. We made an event out of the show and rated the red carpet looks, watched who showed up with whom and, of course, we chose the winners and watched to see if our guesses were correct. And for me, they are truly guesses. I have a 4-year old, and while going to the movies isn’t impossible, it’s hard to see all the nominated films by Oscar night. I will get around to seeing the films, of course—eventually.
This year I kept my date with my friend and watched some of the evening’s presentation while talking on the phone with her. Talking with her and sharing the experience made it so much more fun, and it made me realize that events like this are more fun when shared, much like actually going to a movie with a friend.
So who did we like on the red carpet? Well, we definitely liked Sandra Bullock’s dress. She looked Oscar-worthy, especially with that beautiful makeup. And another standout was Vera Farmiga. Today we learned that both are by the same designer, Marchesa.
Here are those dresses. The photos are from the Oscar.com.
Did you watch the Oscars with friends? Did you have a favorite red carpet look? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook.
Friday, February 26, 2010
This week, we are losing one of our long-time office pals. He is moving to our corporate office far away. So on Wednesday, to send him off right, we gave him a good ol’ fashioned breakfast with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, grits (we’re in the South), fruit, orange juice and other goodies. It was a great way for everyone to get together and wish him goodbye.
Now his office is empty. It’s a little sad to walk by the space where we used to see him. Not only was he knowledgeable, helpful and prompt when we needed help with things—he kept all of our computers running so smoothly—but he was a good friend to so many. It just goes to show that the true value of a co-worker is hard to quantify and measure. He was a friend, and that’s a priceless thing.
We’ll miss you, Tom! Keep in touch!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Last week I received a call from a friend from college. The cute puppy she got from the animal shelter while we were in college together was put to sleep two weeks ago, and she was absolutely heartbroken over the loss. And when she said, “He was my favorite Valentine,” it made me realize that she did bring him home on February 14. And then it made me realize all over again how animals are wonderful friends. They truly touch our lives in ways that no human being can.
This week, the world-renowned Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is being televised. I know, the Olympics are on, too, but take a break from ski slopes and ice rinks and check this show out! Snuggle up with your own four-legged friend and enjoy the show. The dogs are beautiful, the mood is exciting, and you really can learn a lot about all different kinds of dogs. I also marvel at the glamour of this event—women wearing full-sequined gowns to watch dogs. I’ve been told this is the Super Bowl of dog events.
My son and I will be watching the dog show. He loves dogs. But no, we don’t have a dog! Why? My husband—my dear Valentine—does not like dogs!
Monday, February 1, 2010
During part of my career here at The Hamilton Collection, I had the opportunity to work with the Product Development team. I spent many weeks, months and years working with a team of talented individuals creating the best Precious Moments collections.
Understanding the intricate details of Sam Butcher’s tear dropped eyed children was not an easy task. Learning design standards such as the measurements of their eye shape, each figurine’s correct proportions and even how their hands were shaped was a challenge I was ready for. What I do not think I was prepared for at the time was the personal impact one Precious Moments figurine would have on my life.
Let me first introduce one of the greatest women to enter my life, my mother-in-law fondly known to all as Granny. She was a beautiful woman so full of life that always sang, laughed and found a silver lining in every cloud. One of her favorite songs was “Singing in the Rain.” She never complained, had a great sense of humor and loved her family. Widowed at a young age, Granny kept her family close and surrounded herself with a simple life building a legacy for her children.
I fell in love with Granny the first time I met her. Her laugh was contagious and I still remember sitting with her that first visit listening to stories about her family. She beamed with love for life and a halo of warmth shined brightly around her. There were many more days like this one that followed, each one creating a new precious moment in my life.
As Mother’s Day 2007 approached, Granny was approaching the celebration of her 84th birthday. She had touched my heart so many times that I wanted to express my love for her in a very special way. I set out on what began as a research project and evolved into a project of love. I wanted to create a scrapbook to preserve Granny’s many memories. I wanted to document the precious moments of Granny’s life.
I still remember her smile the day we gave her the scrapbook along with the Precious Moments “My Granddaughter, My Joy” figurine. Although she was only my mother-in-law, she was a great-grandmother, grandmother, and loving mother to so many. I felt this piece depicted the love we all had for Granny. Plus seeing the grandmother and granddaughter sharing a scrapbook made this truly a precious moment.
This was one of the last moments we had with Granny. In December of that year, she joined her devoted husband for an eternal dance amongst the clouds of heaven. The Precious Moments “My Granddaughter, My Joy” figurine returned to me. It sits atop my shelf in my craft room. When I enter the room and look at this beautiful figurine, I immediately hear Granny’s laugh and “I’m singing in the rain, just singing in the rain”.
If you are looking for a way to express your love for the special people in your life, Precious Moments collectibles have a way of expressing what your heart really feels. I have experienced this first hand, and would love to hear your own stories. What are the Precious Moments of your life?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
For over three decades, Precious Moments figurines have captured the hearts of collectors. Those teardrop eyes are unmistakable and unparalleled, and their titles are a tremendous part of their appeal.
Precious Moments figurine titles often contain a pun that relates to the piece. For example, one of the most well-known Precious Moments figurines, “Love Lifted Me,” shows a little boy and girl on a see-saw.
Here is a more recent figurine titled “Drawing Us Closer Together,” which shows a sweet little boy looking up at his Mother while he draws with Crayola crayons.
Other Precious Moments figurines don’t incorporate titles. Some are more sentimental and focus on relationships. Here is a very popular piece titled, “My Granddaughter, My Joy.” In fact, the title is displayed on Grandmother’s apron, so no need to look on the bottom stamp for the title!
It’s worth noting that Sam Butcher, the creator of Precious Moments, was a chalkboard minister before he began drawing his innocent little teardrop-eyed children. Many of the figurines have an inspirational tone, and so do their corresponding titles. One of the most memorable is “Praise The Lord Anyhow,” portraying a little boy whose ice cream has fallen out of his cone, much to his dog’s delight.
Do you have a favorite Precious Moment figurine? Which one is it, and why is it your favorite? Does the title add to your enjoyment? We invite you to share with us on Facebook!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
We’re not therapists, of course, but we can remind you that you’re human! You’re going to slip up, have setbacks, and get derailed. It’s OK. Really!
It has taken us many years of slip-ups and setbacks—and successes, too—to come to the conclusion that life is never all or nothing. But we all seem to view resolutions that way, right? One mistake, and that’s it. All is lost. We certainly don’t live our lives that way!
So on this 21st day of this New Year in this New Decade, let’s focus on a new saying: Plan your work, and work your plan. Plan your goal and plan for mistakes along the way, too. Because in life, it’s not a race to the finish line. It’s how we get there that matters most!
Monday, January 11, 2010
These simple “stay warm” remedies reminded us of our Grandmothers. My own Grandmother was resourceful, and in order to pinch pennies, she spent many nights crocheting blankets and shawls for her children and grandchildren. She knew nothing of new technical gadgets or the latest fashion fad. Instead, she would crochet a beautiful afghan or sweater in your favorite colors. She claimed it kept her hands busy, but we all knew how much she enjoyed giving away her creations. Her work was beautiful, not a stitch out of place. But what made it most memorable was that, sadly, in her later years, she lost her ability to see colors accurately. Often confusing blue and green and interchanging red and orange made for some interesting color combinations. In fact, for my 10th birthday she made me a patriotic sweater vest. It was a beautiful scalloped-edge, color-block design in “red, white and blue.” It was ivory, orange and purple. I told my mother I would never wear it. I gritted my teeth when Mom took a picture of me in it to send to her. But guess what? I still have that vest. I also have a knitted blanket that is about 4’ wide and 18’ long that she made for me when I graduated from college. It will be perfect for a cold-weather football game when I want to wrap up with 10 of my friends.
Many Precious Moments figurines have focused on sewing and crafting. They are simple pleasures that yield heartfelt gifts. The gifts my Grandmother gave to me can never be duplicated, nor will they ever be outdone. They are perfect because of their imperfections, which is one of the things that is so endearing about Precious Moments. Does anyone remember the patches on the older pieces?
I still have every one of the things my dear Grandmother made for me. I cherish them all, because they were made with love. So while I may not wear these items, they certainly do their job—of keeping me warm in my heart.
Do you have a special story about your own Grandmother? Share it with us here or on Facebook.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Welcome to 2010, and welcome to our blog! We want this to be a place to share ideas, information and stories about Precious Moments…those adorable little figurines with the teardrop eyes. With everything going on in the world—especially in our small corner of it—there’s something wonderfully comforting about our collections of porcelain figurines. They remind us of the simple, positive things that still exist all around us. All we need to do is simply keep our eyes open and look for them. We like to think that’s what Sam Butcher intended when he created them over 30 years ago.
So first, a little bit about us. We work at The Hamilton Collection and are a few of the folks behind those little teardrop-eyed children. Under the inspiration of the legendary Sam Butcher, we bring many of these figurines direct to you. We see so many positive things around us each day, and those simple moments and serene gestures are the inspiration behind Sam Butcher’s creations—we simply bring them to life. We all read blogs and are active on Facebook and other sites, yet we haven’t been able to find a place where we can share our passion for our Precious Moments collections. Now with this spot, we can.
So what’s on our mind the first week of this New Year and decade? The holidays! Yes, we admit we’re still mentally lingering in 2009. Of course we grudgingly took our Christmas decorations down. (Is it us, or does the house seem really empty after they’re all put away?) The stale cookies have been fed to the birds, and now we’re just sorting through all the pictures we took with our new digital cameras! (Miraculously, we figured out how to upload them off our cameras and into our computers!)
Christmas is a big time for Precious Moments, and one of our best selling pieces this year was the “Granddaughter, You Are My Sunshine” figurine. Here’s a photo. Isn’t she adorable? She makes us think of love, sunshine, and the sweetness of granddaughters. We hope she puts a smile on your face, too.