Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ringing In The New Year With Rod

You've probably been asked this a million times in the last few days, but, what are you doing for New Years Eve?  Do you have plans with friends and/or family?  Will you be going out?  Are you hosting a party?  In keeping with a tradition we started a few years ago, we'll be staying home.  I've been looking forward to it for months.

Our festivities begins at 8:00 a.m. when our friend Rod gets here.  You know Rod, don't you?

Okay, Rod Serling doesn't really come over.  That would be impossible, as well as creepy, since he died in 1975, but the SyFy channel runs an annual Twilight Zone marathon beginning at 8:00 a.m. on New Years Eve and ending at 5:00 a.m. on January 2.   We'll be watching quite a bit of it.

It will be a pretty unstructured day/weekend around here.  In addition to watching our favorite Twilight Zone episodes there will be plenty of talking and laughing.  We may play cards or Scrabble.  There will also be plenty to eat.  A variety of finger foods will be available for impromptu snacking, and they will most likely include crackers and cheese (Dubliner Irish cheese is a new fave, Willoughby House Cheese Spread is an older fave), tortilla chips with salsa, pretzels, nuts and a few fresh fruits and vegetables.  There will also be a variety of beverages which will most certainly include wine and San Juan Tea for the adults.  For dinner, the current plan is crab legs and shrimp.

I know you're probably thinking that our plans sound pretty tame, but that's just fine by us.  Before we started our tradition with Rod, we had some pretty bad New Years Eves.  The worst would be 1999, the big Y2K that everyone was so worried about.  Our daughter was just shy of two months old and still in the NICU.  We spent all night at her bedside, terrified that, if the predictions were true, the power and computer systems at the hospital would shut down at midnight.  They didn't, but it still made for a long night.

Another year, we were invited to a get together that included both adults and children.  We were told there would be activities for the kids (there weren't).  We brought a bottle of wine (and then found that none of the other adults at the party drank alcohol).  The hostess became increasingly upset that the guests were still in her home past her children's bedtime (and was vocal about it).  It remains the only New Years Eve party we ever attended where we were home by 9:30.

There were also the miscellaneous New Years Eve parties over the years where guests drank too much and became obnoxious, belligerent or sick (like not making it to the bathroom to throw up kind of sick).  Add to that last year, when I had the swine flu or a few years before that when both of the kids and I had the stomach flu. 

So if you're in the area, stop by.  You're welcome to enjoy a tame New Years Eve with the Willoughbys.  And Rod, of course.

Have you entered my giveaway, yet?  Even if you have, you can enter once per day, so click the link and enter again!  You could win a $50 Novica shopping spree!


Monday, December 27, 2010

My Belated Christmas Gift To You - A Very Special Novica Giveaway

I hope you had a wonderful time enjoying the holidays with family and friends.  All of the festive activity kept me pretty busy and away from my blog, but now I'm back and I have a belated Christmas gift for you.  I'm having a giveaway and I think you're going to be as excited about it as I am.

Recently, Novica gave me the opportunity to choose a product for myself to keep, review and post on my blog, as well as a $50 gift card to award to one of my followers.  If you're not familiar with Novica, they work in association with National Geographic to bring the work of talented artists and artisans around the globe to the rest of the world via the internet.  Shopping their website is a unique experience as you can view information about each artist along with the works they create.  It gives each item a very personal feeling.

Mr. Willoughby and I spent an afternoon pouring over the website before deciding what item to choose.  I wanted to get something that we could enjoy on a regular basis.  As soon as we found a set of Margarita glasses called "Happy Hour", we knew we had to have them.  They are absolutely gorgeous and I couldn't be happier with our choice.  Hand blown in Mexico, each one is unique with tiny air bubbles in the glass (which I love).  Like all items from Novica, they arrived along with an artisan story card.  The artists, Javier and Efrén also tucked a lovely postcard from Mazatlan into the box.

"Happy Hour"
I was so happy with the margarita glasses that Novica so graciously gifted to me that I decided to do a little Christmas shopping.  I ordered a beautiful silver and pearl necklace for my niece called "Moonbeams" and my son ordered a pair of silver and garnet earrings called "My Heart and Yours" for his girlfriend.  Both are handmade in Indonesia by artist Nyoman Rena.  They look lovely in the pictures, but in person they are stunning.  Each arrived in a pretty fabric covered gift box, tied with a raffia ribbon and topped with a  raffia flower bow. 


"My Heart and Yours"
I decided from the beginning that I was going to give a very truthful review of the product and customer service I received from Novica because it wouldn't be fair to do otherwise. If I felt they misrepresented anything, I was going to say so. If there were problems with ordering, shipping or anything else, I wasn't going to keep quiet about it. I'm thrilled to say that Novica far exceeded my expectations.  I'm confident that you will be as pleased with them as I am.

The Giveaway

The wonderful people at Novica have given me a $50 gift card to award to one of my followers.  You can use it toward any item(s) on their website (don't forget to consider shipping cost).  Get something wonderful for yourself or someone special.  Although I've only mentioned glassware and jewelry, there are many other categories on the website, including Corporate Gifts, Gifts for Mom, and Gifts for Him.  If you're interested in jewelry, you can search by type, such as bracelets or earrings.

Entry Rules

1. You must be a follower of This Stop Willoughby, or become one. 
2. You must click on the Novica Corporate Gifts link, browse the items in that category, and then come back and leave a comment on this post telling me about one of your favorites.
3. You may leave an additional comment (one per day) telling me about a favorite item from any category.
4. If you would like to earn a bonus entry, mention my giveaway on your blog along with a link to this post. Please be sure to leave a comment (with link) letting me know that you've done so.
5. This giveaway is not limited to the United States.  If you have followed the above rules, you're eligible as long as Novica can ship to you.

The deadline for entries is Saturday, January 1, 2011 at noon Eastern Time.  The winner will be drawn randomly and announced by 3:00 Eastern Time on 1/1/11.  One entry per day as well as one bonus entry allowed.   Please be sure to include a way for me to contact you should you be the winner of this giveaway.  If your email is not linked to your blog, please include it in the comment you leave here.  If I am unable to contact the winner, a different winner will be drawn at random.

Good Luck!!


Disclosure:  I was given a $50 gift card by Novica to choose an item for myself to review and post on my blog.  I chose a set of margarita glasses called "Happy Hour".  I was also given a $50 gift card to give away.  Both the "Moonbeams" necklace and the "My Heart and Yours" earrings were paid for by me.  The thoughts and opinions I have posted in this review are my own.  My disclosure policy is available for viewing here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

White, White, White

I'm not a huge fan of winter weather, but I have to admit, yesterday started out to be a very pretty day.  At noon, the temperature was 32º with very little wind.  A few inches of snow had fallen overnight and coated everything in fluffy white.

The snow was falling gently in large flakes.  It felt like being in a giant snow globe.  It was the perfect day to make our annual trip to the tree farm to pick out our Christmas tree.

We go to the same farm every year. The people are friendly, the selection is great and the price can't be beat (and it includes shaking and wrapping your tree). After you pick out your saw, they give you a map of the farm with the phone number on top. Once you've picked out your tree, you can call them from the field and they will come with a wagon to pick you and your tree up.

No matter where you looked, the view was like a Christmas card.  The trees were perfectly frosted with snow. 

It didn't take long to find our perfect tree (our son is now the designated tree cutter).  It's a lovely blue spruce that is far too tall for our living room, but, as suggested by the staff at the farm, we'll be cutting away the bottom portion to shorten it up to 7 feet. 

While the tree was being wrapped, we took some time to enjoy the fire.  We weren't cold, but it still felt good.  I took a few family pictures, too.  I'm not much on having my picture taken, but, just for my blog, I posed for this picture.

Yep, those are really my feet with my baggy jeans tucked into the top of my boots.

Once we got the tree tied to the car, the temperature had started to drop and the wind had picked up.  The forecasters had been predicting a winter storm, but I assumed they were wrong (they usually are).

By the time we got home, it was bone chillingly cold.  The wind was blowing so hard that I could barely push the car door open.  The gently falling snow had become a driving blizzard that burned when it hit your face.  The news was reporting hazardous driving conditions and airport delays.

I started checking news websites for school closings.  At 5:00, there were none.  By 8:00, there were about 50.  I made a final check around midnight and the number had jumped to 83, but our local schools were not on the list.

At 4:30 this morning, Mr. Willoughby turned on the news and saw that our schools had decided to stay closed for the day.  I checked online and found this:

Click on picture for a closer look.

Do you see what it says in the circle on the left?  541 schools closed!  Note the temperature at the top of the page, too.  It was 10º with a windchill of negative 11º. 

When the sun came up, it was breathtaking in more ways than one.  The snow, lit by the sun, was breathtakingly beautiful, but the temperature would literally take your breath away.  I couldn't tolerate the cold for more than a few minutes when I stepped out to snap a few pictures.

Looking down the street.

The neighbor's trees.
The weight of the snow bending a 7 foot tall arborvitae down
to the ground.
The wind even blew the door on
the gas grill open.  We probably won't be grilling
or eating outside tonight.

How's the weather where you are?  Is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas, yet?


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

How do I know?  Because the Willoughby house has become the midwest regional outpost of Santa's workshop. 

We've been decorating.

And filling gift basket orders.

We've been stocking our Etsy store,
The Cabbage Rose, with
Body Scrubs

Bubble Bath

Vintage Silver Keychains

Olive Oil Storage Bottles
and a few other goodies.

There are still custom orders to fill, shopping to do,
and baking to start.

So if I haven't stopped by to say hello in a while,
it's because Santa has been keeping me busy!

What have you been up to?