Do you write a family Christmas letter telling people what has been happening in the past year? I confess that I have never done this before. But today, I thought that I would write one for you that talks about our Christmas celebration and what the coming year holds in store.
Christmas was spent with a house filled with my 5 children (including my oldest daughter from Michigan and my second-eldest from California), my son-in-law, 2 grandchildren, my husband, me plus our 4 dogs. So that makes 10 people, not counting the dogs.
While things have been busy and chaotic, juggling bedrooms and bathrooms, keeping the dogs from eating wrapped Christmas gifts, cooking dinners for 10 people, picking up stray toys and finding time to take the grandkids on grandma and grandpa dates- I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The Christmas tree has since come down and most of the holiday decorations are stored away and our house has begun to resemble its former self, which allows time to reflect on the past month and look forward to some exciting things happening soon.
My daughter Ruthie, my twin nephews and my niece, Sofie.
Every year, I host our annual cookie baking day for my nieces, nephews, grandkids as well as my own kids. The kids look forward to it every year and it is fun to see them decide what cookie cutters they will use and how messy they get decorating their cookies.
My granddaughter Lily, nephews and my son Kai (the tallest one).
While their parents sit and visit, I scramble to keep up with the kids helping them find the right color frosting and sprinkles to create their masterpieces.
After they have finished, each one can pick one cookie to eat and the rest we save to eat together when we gather with extended family on Christmas day.
This is the aftermath of a successful cookie baking day. After an hour and a half, I am exhausted. However, each year I am pleasantly surprised that the older kids still look forward to participating and it is so much fun seeing my young grandkids now taking part.
This Christmas was extra special because it was my grandson’s first one. What also made it especially happy was that my daughter was able to spend Christmas with us for the first time since she joined the Navy.
The kids all enjoyed their gifts, including Gracie who especially liked the ‘sugar’ cereal and chocolate bar that her brother gave her – food that her mother doesn’t buy her 😉
The day after Christmas was a big one for me. I turned 50 this year and we celebrated with extended family at my sister’s house.
To be honest, it wasn’t as much of a milestone for me as I thought it would be. The reason is that I have spent the entire year thinking about turning 50, so I might as well as have skipped over being 49 years old.
I do feel great and am embracing my age and being in the position to have lived long enough to have learned quite a few things and young enough to still be able to do just about anything I still want to do.
I look at my mother as she spends time with my grandchildren and am thankful that I will probably be around when these two have children of their own.
This is my newest wallpaper for my phone. My husband and I took this picture when we took Lily and Eric out on a date to McDonalds. One nice thing about little kids is that McDonalds is as fancy as you need to get and they love it.
The coming year is filled with a lot things to look forward to.
I have several test plants growing in my garden, which were given to me by growers who want to see how they will perform in the desert Southwest. Of course, as a horticulturist, I am interested in seeing how they do as I like to be able to recommend a greater variety of plants to both you and my clients. It also doesn’t hurt that they were free 🙂
My former side vegetable garden is planted with wildflower seeds, many of which, I am growing for the first time such as different colors of California poppies.
New roses are also on their way, which will also be added to the side garden amongst the wildflowers. (I still have two other vegetable gardens, which grow plenty of produce for us.)
On the business front, I keep getting busier each year helping others create beautiful, low-maintenance landscapes using plants that thrive in our climate. In 2015, I had over 85 consultations – I so enjoy meeting with people and helping them with their landscape.
Later this week, I will be appearingon a local television program, Arizona Midday, to talk about winter garden tasks. Frost protection, planting roses, bare root fruit trees and other winter chores will be covered.
Travel will be another big part of this year with trips planned to Seattle, California, Georgia, and Michigan already planned. I’ll be sure to take you along with me as I blog from the road.
Speaking engagements are also filling up my calendar with the first one happening the end of January. Later in the year, I will be a landscape instructor for an upcoming Landscape Design School given by the Arizona Federation of Garden Clubs.
Of course, I will continue to write garden articles for Houzz and for other companies as well.
**I wanted to take a moment to thank you for taking time out of your day to read my blog. It means so much to me and I look forward to sharing more with you the coming year!Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, 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."