A Scary, Merry, Keep Hope Alive Christmas

Albuquerque’s art scene is truly one of the best! Factor in the recent Black Lives Matter protests, never ending COVID and arrival of Christmas, the nation’s current state of hope, anger and pain couldn’t be clearer.

Last night while cruising down Central, we ventured through picturesque, family-friendly Christmas decor in Nob Hill…to trendy, pop culture art in the University Area…on down to Downtown’s grungy back alleys. There ain’t no place like Route 66 baby! Where Pennywise dons a scull Santa hat and bomb ass murals pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman and Malcom X. A few aliens escaped Roswell to let there be Peace in Burque. Or maybe they were a creating a distraction from the T-Rex surrounded by little shop of horrors.

Check out a few photos and see for yourself…

Christmas Magic or Just A Bunch of Smoke?

Let’s talk about the magic of Christmas. You know, Santa and his crew sliding down chimneys leaving presents for good little boys and girls and lumps of coal for those who have been naughty. Is it all a bunch of smoke? Is it fair to believe in Santa when so many families are struggling financially especially during COVID? I saw this post online and wanted to share my thoughts.

I am part of the guilty parents committee that still leaves presents from Santa for my kid. Last year, Santa delivered a hoverboard, an action camera, and a VR headset. Even though he’s 12 now, he chooses to still believe. Trust me, I have tried to convince him to let Santa come for the little ones but he looked me dead in the eyes and declared that Santa must come this year. Looks like Santa will be creeping through our sliding door again this year (our alternative entrance since we don’t have a chimney!). While writing this post, I asked my son what does Santa represent for him. He responded it’s the excitement of opening different gifts on Christmas morning. Gifts from Mom, aunties, uncles, grandparents…and Santa. It doesn’t matter if it’s one gift per person it’s the idea that he received love from so many people on this day and for an only child that’s major.

So let’s tackle the first sentence in ALL CAPS, might I add, from the post-Stop telling kids expensive gifts are from Santa. I understand that other kids aren’t as fortunate. Hell, I was that “other kid”. Growing up we knew Christmas as Jesus’ Birthday and that’s all. Gifts under the tree weren’t ever from Santa, but like many kids, we watched the Christmas Story and all the other sappy, make believe movies about Christmas magic. I remember one year getting jeans (ugh, getting clothes for Christmas as a kid is the absolute worst) and a used (it wasn’t even in a box) Easy Bake Oven when my sister and I already had one. It didn’t get any better when we later visited our cousins’ house and saw all the cool stuff they got for Christmas that we didn’t. Based on my memory, that was the worst Christmas ever. But we never blamed Santa, we blamed our circumstances. Our mom was raising four kids on her own and money was always tight. Truth is, when you’re poor the fantasy is that Santa always has more money than your parents! A gift from Santa is exactly what we needed as kids.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I go into debt on Christmas just to impress my kid. It does mean that I use all the resources I can to make this day as magical as possible, even when the gifts are donated, discounted, refurbished, or used. When I was making minimum wage, I received Toys for Tots donations to place under the tree from Santa. When I couldn’t afford a huge tree, I decorated a small tabletop tree from the thrift store. Even with the advancement of my career, I still buy refurbished electronics and shop for the best deals. The hoverboard last year was from his Granddad that agreed to say the gift was from Santa. More importantly, I remind my son of the true meaning of Christmas, as we watch Christmas movies together, bake cookies, drive around to see Christmas lights, and bond. I even leave a bit of “Santa dust”, where I sprinkle a trail of flour and glitter on the floor to show Santa was here. In my opinion, it’s the magic of Christmas that makes kids feel good enough. A $10 toy from Santa can feel like a million bucks in a warm and loving home. It doesn’t take a lot of expensive toys or a huge budget to create Christmas magic and it doesn’t hurt to say a really good gift that you worked hard for is from Santa.

Join the discussion below. Do you think it’s not fair if Santa leaves some kids socks and others a hoverboard? Does it make a difference if the hoverboard was from a parent and the socks were from Santa?

Elf’n Around

Look who made Santa’s Helper list! Smokey is ready to help build toys and help feed the reindeers!

It’s the little elf hat for me! I love a good find and a cute pet costume…put them both together and DOUBLE SCORE! Doesn’t he look dashing in his Dollar Tree Elf costume? Yup, Dollar Tree! He’s a skinny thing under all that hair/fur so a size Large was a great fit! Stay tuned for his Santa outfit!

Holiday Fuss

2020 has been a year of _________ (fill in the blank).

Creativity. Through adversity we’ve launched a new business venture, Art Effect Kid, LLC and Kid Coffee, as well as revamped our website. It’s also been a year of fun house projects. My first and biggest decorating project for the Thanksgiving holiday was setting my dining table, Pinterest-style.

The center of my theme was a black and white damask table cover from Dollar Tree. I was quite surprised at how well it fit. Although it didn’t hang as long as I preferred, once the chairs were in place the cover’s shortness of length was less noticeable.

Figuring out exactly how to set the table was a bit of trial and error. Every fancy table setting has candles so I figured that would be a good place to start. I grabbed my fav vintage brass candle holders and “good dishes”, the only full set I have without any dings. Even after covering the gray dining chairs with a mustard yellow cover (courtesy of Wish.com), I was underwhelmed with the overall look. The table was drab. What am I missing?

When I wasn’t sure what direction to go in, I kept going back to these saved pins from Pinterest. The gold spray painted pumpkin was a bit over the top for me, but I loved the pop of color and it also reminded me that I had real pumpkins that I could use. The table garland also gave me the idea to create my own using craft supplies around the house!

The transformation was fun and exciting! I created the table centerpiece by wrapping an artificial Hanging Eucalyptus Bush (used in my DIY: Globe Hanging Planter) around my brass candle holders and a glass hurricane. For florals, I used Dollar Tree peonies and red roses. I love how the colors created a romantic, moody vibe. For a touch of fall décor, I added a small orange and white pumpkin. The napkins and cutlery were also Dollar Tree! No need to fuss with fancy napkin folding with these “ready sets”. The black champagne flutes were an estate sale find, however there’s a similar set available on Amazon (Artland Flute Glasses/$64.00). To tie it all together and add a bit of fancy, I included personalized table number frames from, yup Dollar Tree!

Since I was on a roll, why not create my own menus!

I’ve always prepared a menu to keep track of groceries to buy and meal prep. Since fancy on a budget was the motive, I decided to print a black and white menu showcasing the appetizers, main course, side dishes and dessert. The rosemary branch was from my backyard-a convenient and personal touch!

Love the idea of having a Thanksgiving or Holiday menu? Download my menu template and create your own.


Here’s a final look at my Thanksgiving table setting! I purchased a second table cover to create an outdoors table setting as well. Don’t’ forget to include you balcony, patio or backyard as an option to enjoy appetizers or dessert.

Always Giving Thanks

This year has been full of lessons for us all. My prayer is that we will become stronger because of it. I know that I have. I’ve learned to slow down, be in the moment and never, ever take loved ones for granted. The pandemic painted a perfect picture of what can wait and what can‘t. Spending time with family is something I am no longer willing to push to the side. With that, my grateful list on today is short and sweet. I am grateful to be alive, healthy and loved.

It was important for me to show my gratitude this year in an extravagant way. It may seem silly to go about a lot of fuss for a party of three (myself, son and brother), but life is too short. I’m no longer waiting for that special moment to bring out the “good dishes” or wear that “special outfit”. Everyday should be a fancy occasion.
I may have gone a bit overboard with decorating the backyard patio!

A Letter To Society

Comparison is the thief of joy. This also goes for when others compare you to the norm. For so long, I questioned why I wasn’t more a certain way. The answer is simple: life isn’t meant to be lived in a box.

Dear Society,

You can keep your box.

For so long I questioned why I didn’t enjoy the monotone, barely there, beige is the new black-modern, minimalist decor aka be like the Kim Kardashian’s of the world. Fact is, I’m more of a Drew Barrymore. A wild flower that doesn’t want to be picked. The things I love most have a story to tell. That rug. Found buried under boxes at a garage sale. That lamp. Found at a thrift shop-surprised it actually works. That couch. Found sitting in a driveway and when it was too big to fit in my car, the owners loaded it in their vehicle and delivered it for free!

If everything is too new, too perfect, too perfectly placed, the space itself loses its soul. Treasured finds are constantly in rotation, drifting from room to room in search of the perfect home. And when I no longer feel a connection, I store them for a later inspiration or release them back into the universe. From thrift it came, to thrift it return.

This also reflects my philosophy on life. My closest friends are those who were drawn to me, where the bond was instant. When I feel a shift in energy, I pause to give it a chance to autocorrect and, if not, I give myself permission to walk away. I am incapable of making decisions too far in advance. I leave things up to chance and honor how I feel at the moment. I embrace small doses of chaos and the unknown, if everything is too perfectly still and predictable the normalcy drives my crazy.

I’ve learned to accept my oddities. Move that rug for the hundredth time unapologetically. Avoid accidents as I swerve across multiple lanes to follow an estate sale sign. I’ve learned to be more of ME and love every indecisive, need to get a grip, so what if this doesn’t match I’m wearing it, unrelenting, wild child minute. And although I may look back from time to time and wish I was more like the rest, I know no matter how hard I try, the box will never fit.

Cabin Life the Ancient Way


All I need is a café and a cabin (preferably dubbed the Horse)….in the middle of a small town, population 300.

Featuring :Ancient Way Café, El Morro RV Park & Cabins in Ramah,NM.

 

Backhanded Compliment

It’s the attempted delivery of a compliment but once received we don’t quite know where to put the Thank You! You know, the ones that start with “I love your shirt!” 🙂 but ends with “But I would NEVER wear that color!” 😦 

Yeah…that moment

Sometimes a back handed compliment is simply when a person opens their mouth and inserts foot- on accident. Most times its on purpose. Be mindful of a bitter person trying to steal your joy. Never be afraid to live bold, take a chance and take the unbeaten path. 

So the next time someone backhand slaps you with a few uncouth words…Protect Your Joy. Live in Your Truth, Mistakes and Discoveries. Smile. Show The World That Happiness Looks Good On You!