Maybe it’s the cold weather, or maybe it’s the fact that Christmas decorations are already all over the stores, but I’m already starting to get in the holiday mood. It’s shaping up to be a pretty low-key holiday year around here, which is definitely a good thing. As of right now, we’re not planning any major trips to visit family and we’re not doing our semi-annual Thanksmas feast this year. We are thinking of doing a small dinner with some friends, but that should be the only party we host. So instead of being occupied with menus and decorations, my mind is full of other fun things, like crafty projects and presents. I’m planning on opening up the Shoppe for the holiday season. Last year went pretty well, and I was happy with the results of my efforts. I have some new products in the works, and I’m excited to get them finished so that I can share them with you.

As for the presents, J and I already purchased our big gifts. J’s big project for the winter is to re-do our basement. There are some structural issues that need to be taken care, and since we’ll have to rip out part of the existing floor and ceiling to do so, we decided to just go ahead with the major overhaul we’d been dreaming of. It’s not something that will get finished quickly. We’re basically stripping the basement down to nothing and starting over – new floors, new ceiling, new drywall, new built-ins, everything. It’s exciting, but pretty scary at the same time. Large renovations always make me a little nervous since you never know exactly what you’re going to find under what’s already there.

Anyway…with the basement out of commission for a while we needed to make our long-neglected living room more inviting and comfortable since we’ll be spending most of our time in there. So last week we emptied the room and got to work. The plan is to paint and have the carpet cleaned, then move everything back in along with the big screen TV from the basement. The drapes and rods I bought over a year ago will finally go up, and we may even hang a few things on the walls – crazy, right? So part of our Christmas gift to each other was to get a couple chairs for the room. We looked around for quite a while and kept going back and forth between a few different styles. J insisted on leather and I insisted on something that didn’t look like it belonged in a bachelor’s apartment, so ultimately we chose two of these:

living room chairs

They’re fairly small in size which is perfect for the scale of the room, and they’re comfortable enough the J will willingly sit in one without complaining. I’ll share pics of the room once it’s all put together – right now everything is wrapped in plastic or in boxes.

The rest of our gifts to each other were slightly more frivolous, but the deal was just too good to pass up. We’d been looking at home theater systems for the basement for a while. We love our TV (a 57″ Mitsubishi DLP for anyone who cares about that sort of thing), but the sound from it tends to buzz a little at times. We hooked up three speakers from a 5.1 system that actually belonged to one of our computers to avoid this annoyance, but it was clearly meant to be a short-term fix. After nearly two years of having to get up to adjust the volume (no remote on a computer system) and still not being able to understand some dialogue, we finally decided to get a new system. I thought it would be an easy, fairly straight-forward purchase. Boy was I wrong! The world of audiophiles is strange and confusing, and I sincerely hope never to return. After way too much time talking about watts, inputs and outputs, and obscure functionalities that I can’t imagine anyone having a need for, I was ready to go to Walmart and buy the first home-theater-in-a-box I saw. Ultimately we realized that we have no need for such a high tech system and for about the same price we were going to spend we found a 7.1 system and a plasma TV (both Panasonic, a package deal on a huge sale), which will replace the old, fat TV in the living room after the basement is finished. Like I said, not a necessary purchase by any means, but it really was a good deal, and not an impulse buy as we’d been considering both items for well over a year. So there are our (early) Christmas gifts to each other.

But I can’t stand the idea of not having anything for us to open Christmas morning, so we decided to still buy each other a few small things with a maximum budget of $50 each. I already have three things for J and ideas for a couple more. I’m not sure if J has a clue what to get me. I may have to help him out a little. That may be a future post here (though I’m not sure he actually reads this – guess I’ll have to leave a hint about the hint).