Oh, I just love Christmas time.  Ask my friends or family and they will tell you that I live for this time of year.  I start on putting up our beautiful (okay, artificial) tree as soon as the Thanksgiving dishes are washed and put away.  I love real Christmas trees and their incredible fragrance, but I don’t like how fast they dry out, so an artificial tree works out well for me.  

I have re-programmed my radio station buttons in my car so that I can listen to those radio stations that are playing Christmas music non-stop.  I am almost done shopping and wrapping gifts.  I have some knitting projects left to finish (I took a few knitting classes back in August and I totally hooked….I love knitting!).  I can’t mention what I made because some of the recipients read my blog 😉

 Christmas 2008

Soon, I will start baking.  I love to bake and made a braided loaf of bread last week.  I wanted to practice making one first before I brought one to Christmas dinner at my mom’s house.  The kids love to help me bake and each has their own apron to wear. 
I have all the ingredients ready to make pumpkin bread.  The recipe is an old one and is honestly, hands down, the best pumpkin bread I have ever had.  It is very popular with my friends and family and very easy to make – I don’t make anything that is difficult….I’m prefer things that are simple, but look like you spent a lot of time baking them.  I will post the recipe and a photo of the results once I finish baking loaves as gifts for teachers and friends.
There is one Christmas item on my to-do list that my husband is always in charge of – putting up the Christmas lights around the house.  Now if it were up to me, our house would look like this one….
This house is just down the street from Double S Farms and I look forward to their light display each year.  But since my husband does not share my extreme zeal for holiday festivities and decorations, we typically make do with your basic string of lights around the front of our house.
However, this year he has been busy working full-time AND going to school, so he has not had much time.  And so since I did not want to wait until Dec 20th to have our lights put up, I volunteered to do it for him.  Since it was only a string of lights, it was fairly easy and I was so proud of the fact that I did not fall off of the ladder…..I am a bit clumsy.
After I put up the lights, I noticed that there were some strands of mini-white lights in the box.  Well, since I was the one putting up the lights, I decided that I would go the extra mile and decorate our cactus.  Now, I don’t have much cactus in my garden at all, but I do have a Mexican Fence Post cactus that I started from a cutting 5 years ago.  It has grown beautifully and it was just perfect for wrapping some lights around.
So, I put some gloves on and got started.  It took a bit longer than I thought it would, but I soon had it entirely wrapped up.  Our neighbor came by and asked me if I had checked to make sure that the lights worked before I had put them on the cactus.  
Oops….there is reason that I do not have a photo of my cactus all lit up.
And so I learned my lesson….always check your lights before you put them up.
 I hope all of your holiday preparations are going well and that your lights are working!
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

14 replies
  1. Gail
    Gail says:

    Noelle, My spirits have been lagging, but a visit here has pepped them up! Your mom's neighbor's light display is wonderful! Really! Driving around to look at the lights was always a treat as a kid~BTW, I love the cactus! gail

  2. Lucy
    Lucy says:

    We are at opposite extremes. I don't celebrate Christmas until . . . er Christmas (though I feel my resolve lessening) and I don't like the kinds of display in your photo.

    On the other hand . . . real Christmas trees don't really belong in the desert and I was excitedly looking forward to your Christmas cactus. I do hope you get it sorted and that we may see it in its festive glory before long.

    Lucy

  3. Hocking Hills Gardener
    Hocking Hills Gardener says:

    Hi Noelle. I love pumpkin bread so I am waiting for that recipe. LOL! I always have to replace so many mini light strands when I start decorating. I bet your cactus looks pretty all lite up. I do not decorate too much either outdoors. My neighbor has enough lights across the road to light up my whole front yard.LOL! But I love looking at everyone's decorations this time of the year.

  4. Kyna
    Kyna says:

    My husband isn't as big into Christmas as I am, so I always volunteer to do all the decorating. I've gotten the knack to putting up all the outside lights, and I don't mind getting up on the ladder. The only thing I miss is having someone to put up the tree with. My mum and I used to do it together every year.

  5. Carol
    Carol says:

    Noelle, I would not want to get so close to your Cactus! I could on the other hand happily give a hug to each of your precious children. What a wonderful photograph them. I can imagine your house smells delicious. Happy Holiday preparations to you!

  6. Curbstone Valley Farm
    Curbstone Valley Farm says:

    Excellent holiday advice Noelle! I've forgotten to check the light strands before, although I've never strung them on cactus! Your kitchen elves look adorable in their aprons. I bet the cookie decorating goes much faster at your house than ours!

  7. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Hi Noelle, Christmas is a time when our people are making lots of preparations for, in malls, in streets, in parks, in houses, etc. Even the poor have some little lights on their doors sometimes. But there are really big houses which have been traditionally putting lots of bulbs on their facade and these really become tourist spots not only for neighbors but real tourists. There is even a mall which starts preparation in January for their big display in Dec. It really becomes a tourist attraction also, and has become a tradition which people already watch for.

    But your experience is really amusing, i can very well relate to that. hahaha! Imaging the size of that cactus, only to find out…

  8. Balisha
    Balisha says:

    Hi Noelle…Joe and I got a chuckle out of the picture of the kids in their aprons..all ready to help. So cute!
    I'm sitting here, below 0 deg, wondering what I am going to come up with for Bouquet of the Month 🙁
    It will be creative…Balisha

  9. Rose
    Rose says:

    Ha, ha, I've made that mistake before, too, Noelle:) I just bought a gadget at the big box store that will test your lights and supposedly fix any short circuits in them even while they're on the tree. I'll let you know how it works.

    I remember the year I visited Arizona in December and saw all the cacti lit up–such beautiful displays! Baking with the kids is so much fun–my grandkids are coming over next week to help me make cookies. It's a big mess, but I enjoy every minute of it. Have a wonderful holiday season!

Comments are closed.