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Santa Claus

On Christmas Day I drove to Lanham to see if a certain house was still continuing its overdecorated tradition despite the fact that that the family member who was responsible for the lights had passed away. I found out that not only were the family not carrying on that tradition but the house has been put up for sale.

But there are a few houses who have willingly picked up the mantel of trying to be the most decorated Christmas house. The house in Glen Burnie that I wrote about for TopBuzz.com has pretty much surpassed what the house in Lanham did.

But there’s another house located on Lastner Lane in Greenbelt that has the potential to one day be as decorated as the house in Lanham was (although it still has a ways to go before it could even begin to match that house in Glen Burnie). Each year the owners seem to add more Christmas lights. You can compare the photos I took in 2012, 2014, and 2016 with these recent photos I took in December, 2017.

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Santa Claus

I wasn’t able to get to Behnke’s Nurseries before Christmas so I decided to spend the day after checking out the post-holiday sales. There were still plenty of Christmas and Hanukkah decorations that were available for sale at discounted prices.

I made only one purchase. It was a cute Ginger Cottage that I purchased for 25% off.

Here are a few reasons why I prefer Ginger Cottages over Department 56: 1) They are smaller, which means they take up less space in my modest house. 2) They are more affordable for my budget than Department 56. 3) They are actually made in the USA while Department 56 cottages are made overseas in countries like China.

Santa Claus Baby New Year

I decided to check out the Baltimore chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School at The Wind-Up Space when I decided to go to the Christmas shop at Valley View Farms in Cockeysville as well. When I used to have a pet hedgehog I would sometimes schedule buying more hedgehog food where I would go to the original pet store where I got Spike, buy his food, then drive south along I-83 into Baltimore where I would go to Dr. Sketchy’s. (The pet store in question was located about 3-5 miles away from Valley View Farms. That store has since gone out of business.)

So I had a similar idea regarding Valley View Farms. I left home a few hours early in order to leave myself with plenty of commuting time. I figured that I could leisurely walk through Valley View Farms then head on into Baltimore where I can check out Dr. Sketchy’s. But then I encountered a horrendous accident followed by extremely slow traffic on the Baltimore Beltway. What should have been an hour-long commute turned into a nearly two-hour commute. By the time I arrived at Valley View Farms I only had 45 minutes to browse the store before I had to leave in order to make the start of Dr. Sketchy’s on time. I was kind of peeved that my plans went awry but what else could I do? I decided to make the most of the limited time I had. I also managed to take a few pictures.

The next two pictures show mistletoe, which brings back memories of the years when I used to buy mistletoe for the house when I was married. I haven’t purchased any since my husband left me because it seems useless and silly to buy it since I live alone these days.

I only purchased one thing at Valley View Farms and it was a tub of Fisher’s Popcorn. I used to buy it whenever my then-husband and I went to Ocean City. I haven’t had too many chances to buy it because I haven’t gone anywhere in the Delmarva region since my husband left. I know I can buy it online through their website but I haven’t gotten around to doing it. So I literally leapt at the chance to buy it when I saw that Valley View Farms had it in stock. The popcorn tasted just as good as I remembered it.

I took so many pictures in this post that I’m going to do a separate post about Dr. Sketchy’s. (Link is definitely NSFW.)

Santa Claus

On that day the local weather forecast was not only calling for snow but the temperature had plummeted to below freezing. In the Baltimore-Washington area such forecasts usually result in people cramming into the grocery stores and buying everything in stock because they are so afraid of being somehow snowed in for months. (It turned out that the snowstorm didn’t begin until sometime after midnight on early Saturday morning.)

I needed some tissues but there was no way I was going to get into the crowded mess complete with long lines at the checkout counter just so I can purchase a couple boxes. Instead I went to CVS where I was able to buy those two boxes while waiting no more than five minutes in line. While I was there I saw the Christmas stuff they had on sale, which I took pictures of.

I also noticed a different line of Christmas plush on sale at CVS that I didn’t photograph on that day. However, when I returned to CVS just a couple of days before Christmas I saw that the prices of this plush were marked off 30% and each plush was on sale for just under $5. So I decided to buy it on impulse. Here is my newest Christmas decoration.

It’s the plush version of the famous Internet celebrity Grumpy Cat. I liked the fact that this cat is wearing a black Santa hat with the sarcastic words “HO HO NO.” Here’s a last shot of my new Grumpy Cat plush sitting pretty on my coffee table along with my other Christmas decorations.

Santa Claus

One early Thursday evening I decided to make a stop at Homestead Gardens on the way to attending my weekly support group meeting for people who are separated or divorced. They had their Christmas shop open and they decorated the grounds with all kinds of gorgeous lights. That store sold a variety of Christmas decorations along with plants like poinsettias. Here are the pictures I took.

Once again Homestead Gardens had its giant train layout where one can see toy trains travel past the various Department 56 ceramic buildings.

After I went to Homestead Gardens I went to Wegman’s where I purchased dinner to eat before I headed to my meeting. I also took some photos of interesting Christmas display, which I’ll write about in my next post.

Santa Claus

IKEA is such a great store to walk around in over the winter holidays. In addition to the furniture, cafe, and food marketplace, IKEA sells all kinds of traditional Swedish Christmas decorations and food. I took a photo of this interesting looking plush that looks like a smiling rainbow cloud.

Here are the rest of my photos that have that Swedish Christmas look.

Santa Claus

Today is Christmas Day! Here’s some digital art I did for a Facebook friend of mine who’s really into dinosaurs.

I created this piece using a free online drawing application that Google currently has on its site called Santa’s Canvas. It’s part of a bunch of free apps known as Santa Tracker that Google has been slowly revealing at the rate of one app per day since December 1. (The reveal schedule is similar to the Advent calendar.) Some apps are simply fun Christmas-themed games. Other apps do things like teach people of all ages how to do simple coding or other types of computer work, such as a simple computer drawing in Santa’s Canvas. The final app was revealed online yesterday so you can now check it all out right here.

As for Santa’s Canvas, it lacks the sophisticated finesse of any Adobe Creative Suite program or even the open source alternatives like GIMP or Inkscape but it’s fairly easy to use. Even a young child can learn how to use this app pretty quickly. There are options to draw something from scratch but for non-artists who still want to create something, there are alternatives available where a non-artist can still create a work of beauty using pre-designed backgrounds and stamps of various images ranging from Santa Claus to robots. I did the above graphic using a winter background scene with two stamps resembling a gingerbread man running and a dinosaur dressed in a Santa outfit and I was able to finish it in less than 15 minutes. Once you finish your masterpiece, you have the options of sharing it online with others and downloading it to your own hard drive so you can admire your work for years to come.

I currently have my Christmas decorations up. The vast majority of them, including my small three-foot artificial Christmas tree, are located on a table in the living room of my home. Last year I did a 12-part series titled “A Tabletop Christmas” where I profiled what ornaments and decorations I had on display in my home. I still have the same decorations as last year when I did this series. In case you missed it, here are the links where you can see my pictures and read about the stories behind some of these ornaments and decorations.

A Tabletop Christmas, Part 1
A Tabletop Christmas, Part 2
A Tabletop Christmas, Part 3
A Tabletop Christmas, Part 4
A Tabletop Christmas, Part 5
A Tabletop Christmas, Part 6
A Tabletop Christmas, Part 7
A Tabletop Christmas, Part 8
A Tabletop Christmas, Part 9
A Tabletop Christmas, Part 10
A Tabletop Christmas, Part 11
A Tabletop Christmas, Part 12

Well, in any case, I hope you are all enjoying yourselves this holiday season. I’ll end this post with a link to this animated video featuring the voice of Patrick Stewart called Dear Satan, which explored what happened when a little girl’s letter to Santa Claus gets accidentally sent to Satan instead due to a simple spelling error.

Santa Claus

Since today is Christmas Day, I figured that it would be very appropriate to blog about The Doll and Teddy Bear Show that took place at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg, Maryland earlier this month.

I used to go to that show frequently. While the show, which is held about two or three times a year, has always had a huge emphasis on vintage dolls prior to 1960, I remember that the show had tables that were devoted to more recent dolls from my own childhood (such as Beautiful Crissy, Barbie, and Dawn) as well as newer dolls from recent years. I even remember seeing a table or two selling Asian ball jointed dolls.

I have lots of memories of going to those shows, starting with the couple of times I attended doll meet-ups at the Gaithersburg show that were organized through the Den of Angels forum where we all carried our Asian ball-jointed dolls around the show as we browsed the various vendor tables.

It was at one of these shows in September, 2005 where I found a vintage Velvet doll that was partially clad and had eye mold. I purchased her for only $10 then went to another table that sold vintage doll clothes and purchased Velvet’s original dress with a pair of shoes in her size for another $10. I managed to get rid of the eye mold and restored Velvet to her original glory. I took photos of what I did at the time. I later wrote a post about what I did back in 2010 and that post still remains among my more popular posts of all time.

At another show I found two vintage circa-1940s dolls that were totally disheveled and they were on sale for only $3 each. I purchased both of them and I turned one of them into a Little Red Riding Hood doll that I later sold on Etsy. (I’ve since misplaced the other doll but I’m hoping that she’ll eventually turn up once I get really serious of decluttering my home once and for all.) It was at that same show where I had unfortunate encounters with vendors whose hearts weren’t clearly into their profession of selling dolls.

The last time I went to a show was in 2011, when I purchased a couple of adorable outfits that were perfect for this doll that I had recently purchased. But then my hip problem became so acute that I had to have surgery followed by my husband leaving me abruptly just three months after my surgery. Then I spent the next few years dealing with the fallout from the hip surgery and divorce while adjusting to my new reality. (And that’s not to mention the crappy economy and the crazy politics that have gone on since an African American was elected to the White House for the first time followed by unlikely election of Donald Trump. But that’s a whole different series of blog posts that have nothing to do with the topic of this post.)

So it was 2017 and I found out online that another doll and teddy bear show was being held in Gaithersburg in early December. I hadn’t gone in six years so I was ready to visit again. I remember that the December show was usually the biggest one. The show’s organizers would rent more space than usual and it would be filled with lots of vendors and lots of dolls and teddy bears. I was looking forward to seeing some eye candy. My attitude was that I would purchase a new doll and/or doll clothes only if such items fit in with my tight budget but, otherwise, I was only there for window shopping with no anticipation of buying anything new for myself. I wasn’t disappointed because there were tons of eye candy and I took tons of photographs to prove it.

There were plenty of Christmas-related dolls and teddy bears for sale but I found one vendor table that had a Hanukkah menorah on display.

The most memorable booth was the one that sold Lenci dolls. The most notable thing about these dolls is that Dare Wright used her own Lenci doll in The Lonely Doll book series. I found them to be very lovely to see in person.

I really loved the expressive look on their faces.

Lenci even made a Madonna and Child doll.


Many of the outfits on these dolls are very exquisite.

The only thing about Lenci dolls is that the original company went out of business in 2002. As a result many of these dolls are collector items and they are definitely not cheap. Many of the ones I saw on sale cost thousands of dollars. The cheapest Lenci doll I found was a tiny doll that was less than one inch tall and that was on sale for a whopping $75.

The show had plenty of miniatures on sale that were made for dollhouses.

I even saw hand-painted clothespin dolls at that show.

I saw American Girl dolls on sale that were even cheaper than buying a new doll at the American Girl Place store.

I found two Barbie dolls that were made to resemble Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance from the famous “Job Switching” episode of the TV sitcom I Love Lucy. (That’s the one where Lucy and Ethel get jobs working in a chocolate factory only to have their stint be short-lived.)

One table had a variety of doll parts in a variety of sizes available for sale. It would be great for anyone who was looking for a part for an old doll.

Since the show was known as The Doll and Teddy Bear Show, it was natural that there were plenty of bears there, as well as other types of stuffed animals (such as rabbits, and dogs).

There were plenty of Santa Claus dolls available in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Some vendors had those reborn baby dolls which look very lifelike.

I found some odd things on sale at that show, such as this vintage children’s book called Beloved Belindy. It was written by Johnny Gruelle, who was the original creator of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. With the Aunt Jemima/Mammy-style illustration on the front cover, I can see why Beloved Belindy is more obscure today than Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy.

I saw a couple of Native American kachina dolls on sale at one table.

I vaguely remembered when I was a very young child, there was a TV show called Julia, which starred Diahann Carroll. That show is remembered today as the first TV show to depict an African American woman in a non-stereotypical role. (The main character worked as a nurse.) I remember some kids in my elementary school had Julia lunch boxes but I never realized that a Barbie-sized doll was also released until I went to that show.

I saw a couple of other dolls based on the main characters in the TV shows The Flying Nun and I Dream of Jeannie.

I saw this one vintage Mickey Mouse doll.

There were plenty of vintage Barbie dolls but the ones that still had their original boxes were expensive.

I saw some vintage dolls that were based on Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

I saw a set of vintage Dionne Quintuplets baby dolls. I have to admit that they are adorable to behold as long as you’re willing to overlook the sad real-life story of what happened to those girls behind the dolls.

I found these bottles of dollhouse-sized perfume and cologne to be totally cute.

I found this sign announcing that a family-owned business will close down in a few months after being in business for 72 years.

Most of the dolls and stuffed animals on sale were very expensive. I found one vendor table that sold something called Bling Dolls, which measure around six inches tall.

They cost $6 each but if you bought two or more, they would cost only $5 each. I might have considered buying two if it weren’t for the fact that all of the dolls had the same hairstyle, hair color, eye color, and skin color. That one doll type was cute but I wasn’t into buying the same doll with different outfits.

I basically bought only one Bling Doll. It was an impulse buy but she costs $6 and I found her to be quite cute.

There’s a keychain attached to her head, which means that she can either be attached to a few keys or clipped to a backpack.

Here’s a closeup of her face.

I took those last three pictures while I was eating lunch that I had purchased from the food stand at the show. A woman sat down near me and we started talking. Like me she had also attended previous doll shows and she mentioned that she felt it was smaller than she remembered.

As I was walking around the show I noticed that too. I remember the Christmas doll shows used to fill at least six large rooms. It would literally take me at least two or three hours to visit them all and I would be exhausted from visiting every single vendor table. This time I basically finished the entire show in less than 90 minutes. On top of it, I saw no Asian ball jointed dolls or even recent modern dolls from the 1970’s onwards. The vast majority of dolls on sale were made before 1960. The older dolls looked nice but they were very expensive. (It was common to see such dolls being on sale for over $100.) I still remember the day when I bought a wrecked Velvet doll for under $20 and I rehabilitated her. Or the times when I found some cool fabric that would be perfect for a doll outfit or a really neat doll clothes pattern that I wanted to try or a really interesting doll book that I decided that I wanted to read.

I don’t know for sure why it had changed so much. Maybe it’s the rise of sites like eBay and Etsy where people prefer to sell online than to actually transport their wares to a doll and teddy bear show. Maybe it’s the rotten economy where too many people have finances so tight that purchasing an expensive doll would be considered a frivolous luxury that they literally can’t afford. Whatever the reason, this show didn’t really have the little surprises that used to amaze me so much and were so relatively affordable that I ended up making impulse buys. The only surprise that really came close was that $6 Bling Doll I purchased. She’s a cute find but I still remember the show’s better days in the past.

The only fringe benefit of going to a smaller show is that I still had time in the afternoon to check out a flea market that was also held on the grounds of the Montgomery County Fairgrounds but it was located on the other side from where The Doll and Teddy Bear Show was held. I ended the day by checking out a show that was held closer to my home and it was also where I ran into a lot of my friends. I’ll write about those two events in a separate post.

Like I wrote in my previous post, I decided to go to Baltimore on November 25 because I wanted to check out the Christkindlesmarkt at the Zion Lutheran Church. But I got stuck in horrible northbound traffic then I waited a long time for both the light rail and the Metro subway. By the time I arrived at the church I only had 45 minutes left until the event ended for the day. (They would continue it on the next day but that day was Sunday and I wasn’t able to make it at all due to commitments I had with my own church that took up most of the day.) I eventually made it to the church, where I saw this statue outside of the church that’s dedicated to all of the Baltimore City firefighters both past and future.

Outside of the church were these trees that produced wonderful red colored autumn leaves.

Despite finally making it to the event so late in day before closing, there were still plenty of things to see and do.

There were a lot of stuff I would’ve loved to buy but I couldn’t due to tight finances. I purchased two German-imported Santa Claus chocolates that were more patterned after the original bishop, Saint Nicholas, than after the fat jolly man who hangs around with elves and reindeer. I kept one for myself and I plan on giving the other one to my mother for Christmas.

I also purchased a pack of Haribo gummy candies that were all cherry flavored and they were even shaped like cherries.

I was bummed that I arrived at the Christkindlesmarkt event so late in the day. It was still daylight outside so I decided to just take the Charm City Circulator bus to the Inner Harbor where I checked out the Christmas Village in Baltimore and the Inner Harbor itself.

hanukah

So I spent the day after Thanksgiving engaging in alternatives to the usual Black Friday shopping madness. First I went to Community Forklift, which was having its Green Friday event. Then I went to Riverdale Park and checked out a couple of local stores there. The last thing I did on Black Friday was head on to Hyattsville, where a few of the locally owned businesses were having their own alternatives to Black Friday. All of the businesses were located within walking distance of each other so all I had to do was just park my car then spend the rest of the time walking everywhere.

I initially went to Studio SoHy, which had this really cool table made from a log in the restroom.

Studio SoHy had this skateboarding-themed exhibition featuring photographs of skateboarders and skateboards that were painted with some really cool designs.

Next I went on to the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center. I encountered these items with labels that reminded me of Alice in Wonderland.

They basically offered pecan pie and apple pie.

They had a 10 x 10 show where people can purchase 10 inch x 10 inch prints that were made there.

Then I went on to Tanglewood Works, where I took these pictures.

I ended my Black Friday wanderings by stopping briefly inside the Three Little Birds Sewing Co.

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