Here we are, now two full days into the new year of 2009 and I'm reluctant to let our beautiful tree go just yet, though it's inevitable some time soon.... So here are a couple more shots of some favorites that hadn't made it up here yet this season. I call this one the "Double Dog and Dragon Dare," for rather obvious reasons, lol. The Jack Russell Terrier is of course one of my favorites (another find from the infamous Denver airport delay), as is the (now) antique flocked plastic dog (bearing a faded tree) at the upper right ... this one is especially nostalgic for me, as I used to love seeing it on my sister's tree back in the early 1970s when it was actually in fashion! Back in my single days, when all I had for a tree was a small artificial table top 2 ft tree, my sister went through a bunch of her old ornaments and gave this one to me ... much to my delight! He's been on every tree I've had since about 1992 and as long as he holds out (he has faded quite a bit over the years) he'll always have a place of honor on our trees. The dragon is of much more recent vintage, having come to our house for the first time in December of 2007, when I found it at World Market and just had to get it for Fernymoss, who of course was delighted to now have a dragon gracing the tree!
Here's another favorite making a tardive appearance this year, the seahorse I found a few years ago (along with the pink flamingo) and just couldn't pass up ... I think it's easy to see why, because he brings such a lovely sparkle of blue and gold to the tree, and when seen in just the right light, he really seems to glow! And if you look closely in this shot, you can see a bit of yet another dog ornament hiding in the branches ... a little plush black and white pup wearing a Santa hat, yet another World Market find from last year I couldn't resist tucking into the tree this year (Fernymoss had forgotten or neglected him, but not I).
Speaking of World Market, we both had the 31st off from work and since we needed to run an errand in that neighborhood, we decided to swing by and check out their "huge 75% off after holiday sale." Usually we avoid these kinds of sales, because at least for me, they're rather depressing as one peruses all the unsold items picked through and rejected for whatever reason, but then again, sometimes one finds unusual and delightful bargains. The store looked rather bleak (like many just after the holiday blitz) but they had an incredible selection of ornaments still left, all 75% off, so of course we couldn't resist at least looking! We ended up being pretty judicious and only purchased 3 items for the tree (one of which is a gift for my sister): A lovely red and gold pagoda with tons of sparkle magic, a Big Ben ornament (roughly the scale of my Eiffel Tower) and a small (really small!) cluster of sparkly mushrooms I picked up for Fernymoss. All in all, I thought we demonstrated incredible restraint, despite the major discounts. There were still some good holiday food items still left, so I got a couple of boxes of European style cookies and grabbed a couple of marzipan pigs for Fernymoss (he loves the stuff, I hate it) ... but the best discovery was a magnum of Cristalino Nature Brut Spanish champagne that was on sale for $15.99 ... based on the posted reviews I decided to give it a try and we were quite delighted with it as we sipped our way through it while watching Moulin Rouge! on New Year's Eve. In fact, we liked it so much I'd like to go back and buy a few more bottles while they have it in stock, just to keep around for special occasions or gifts.
Ok, with Moulin Rouge, I suppose Absinthe might have been more appropriate given the historical context, but we were really more into the bubbly mood than Absinthian contemplation, since it was New Year's Eve and all! If you're a fan of vin mousseux (bubbly wine, not technically champagne), the Cristalino Nature Brut is a good choice, especiallly for entertaining, because it won't break your budget! As much as I love the fine French champagnes (I usually spring for a Perrier Jouët or Veuve Cliquot, but not this year), I've become more and more of a fan of the more moderately priced Spanish alternatives (such as Segura Viudas) over the past several years. There are some really good ones out there, you just have to give them a try and see if they fit your own palate....