NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Hey Santa Shop Smart!

We don't take a lot of family photos together at the holidays anymore.  Maybe we should.  It's hard to get photos that don't look staged or don't irritate adult family members though - things were simpler when little children kept it all fun and light.

Cory, Katrina, me and Wayne at the tree farm in 1999

We had our family Christmas last weekend because Katrina and Charlie are going to the U.P. to spend the holiday with his family.  When my guests arrived Katrina had to help me wash my hair for the first time in four days thanks to my carpal tunnel surgery and Charlie managed to toss a few extra ornaments on the tree without the cats tearing them all off.

Katrina always organizes the gifts

The Human Rights Campaign puts out a shopping guide for those who want to show they care about workplace equality with their dollars.  Also available is a website that lists businesses that are fair trade or sweatshop-free.  Ben & Jerry's is on everybody's thumbs-up list.  Other companies that get the big thumbs-up is Amazon (what a relief!), Apple, Starbucks, Home Depot, Best Buy, JCPenney, Macy's (surprised there) and Target.

Paper from Target - grab it before it's all gone!

Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby have been in the news for their bad policies for women's rights and other discrimination issues for awhile, not to mention Walmart's bad grade on how it treats its workers, but I was surprised to find Trader Joe's on the anti-LBGT list.  Trader Joe's??  They scored poorly for LGBT rights this year but are at the top of the list overall for how they pay and treat their workers. In 2014 they were on the list as LGBT friendly, so I'll keep an eye out there but won't cross them off my list hoping that the current discrimination issue is an isolated one.

Cory's haul at our family gathering

Other issues matter to you such as cruelty-free? (Look for the bunny like I do!)  Google your issue and most likely you will find a guide to help you not shop at companies whose ethics don't conflict with your own.

I like gifts that are thoughtful but inexpensive, and I got some nice ones this year including a Joby stand from Wayne to use with my iPhone which will be helpful on my upcoming trip since my DSLR will probably be too heavy while I continue healing.  The David's tea mug from Katrina with a snowflake infuser works and looks great and Cory got me a fun moose decoration for the holidays.  My co-worker got me a tea infuser as well, and while the kitten hanging in the cup is adorable the tea doesn't steep correctly (blocked holes) and I had to transfer to a different one.  I had the same problem with that adorable sheep infuser I got at Harry and David so my advice is stay away from those cute but not functional silicone infusers.  The camper cookie jar I bought for myself from World Market but it's not available online so you'll have to go to a store to find one before they are all gone.

While I didn't get any group photos, I did have Katrina snap a shot of Charlie and I working on the big New York Times crossword puzzle at their new apartment last night.  I forgot how fun those were and put a copy of The New York Times Light & Sweet Crosswords in my Amazon cart to keep me occupied this winter.  Luckily he is taking it with them so I wouldn't be tempted to finish it when I go over to tend to their cats!

Katrina and Cory just as I remember them!

Whether you do the shopping or leave it to Santa, I hope everyone is making some memories this holiday season.

Me and my cousins with Santa in 1979

Having trouble with those old photos in not so great condition?  I used Picasa's editing program to change this yellowed photo from the 70's.  I applied the pencil sketch feature and then increased the saturation reduced the amount of "pencil" to make this oldie a goodie again.  Whatever you celebrate this week enjoy your loved ones and travel safely!


  1. Out Christmas has started off with us all getting colds starting with me, took a week almost to get shot of, hopefully I will be off with my two sons for our Christmas Eve breakfast tomorrow which has become a tradition since they were young. Boy do you all look young in the fist photo. The gives look neat especally that caravan cookie Jar something I have not come across here yet. I hope you get over that operation quickly and not like one of the guys I work with who was off with it nigh on ten weeks though I wonder how much he was milking it. I wish you have a Merry Christmas and look forward to your blogs next year.

    1. Thanks, Bill, you too! Healing great so far, typing with both hands at normal speed!! Stiff and sore at end of day, can't lift or squeeze yet with that right hand but it's only been a week.

  2. Word up... do your physical therapy exercises!!!

  3. Here's looking for toward a wonderful 2017!