A sparkle solution for my cloudy rings

In the winter time, it’s all about constantly washing my hands so I can avoid getting sick and putting on lotion so I can avoid dry skin. This cycle leaves my beautiful engagement ring and wedding band worse for wear sometimes.

I admit I don’t clean my rings as often as I should, and even then, I can never get them to sparkle the way they do after a visit to the jeweler.

Because my engagement ring has an aquamarine stone, certain cleaning methods aren’t recommended, such as boiling and ultrasonic cleaning machines. I’ve done a lot of looking around online to find an easy and quick way to get my rings looking their best, and I found a solution that does the trick.

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Hooked on John Davidson: A conversation with the captain of ‘Finding Neverland’

We’re all familiar with the character of Peter Pan, but what about the story of how he came to be? Broadway musical “Finding Neverland” tells the story of playwright J.M. Barrie’s struggle to find inspiration, and the family who sparks his imagination to create one of the most beloved characters in the world.

“Finding Neverland” will soar into the Wharton Center next week, with shows December 12-17. Click here for show times and to purchase tickets.

John Davidson, a seasoned performer in film, television, and stage, stars in “Finding Neverland” in a dual role of real-life American theatrical producer Charles Frohman and the dastardly Captain Hook.

I spoke with John prior to his visit to mid-Michigan about his acting experiences, his incarnation of Captain Hook, and what he hopes audiences will take away from “Finding Neverland.”

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Themed Christmas trees for our daughters (and doggy)

In the past week, our family has decorated four Christmas trees: a larger tree filled with family ornaments; a mini tree with star ornaments; a mini tree with pearl ornaments; and a mini tree with fox ornaments.

The mini trees represent the little girls and pup in our family.

All of this started in 2009, the year Zack and I got married and shortly thereafter, adopted our goofy dog Zuzu. We went to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth and looked for an ornament to commemorate Zuzu’s first Christmas with us. They have a million ornaments, and plenty dedicated to specific dog breeds, but none of them looked like our goofy dog. Finally, we spotted a fox ornament that looked a lot like her.

We’ve been collecting fox ornaments ever since. Amazingly, there are a lot of them to be found out there. After a couple years, we had enough of them to place them on two small trees that flanked our fireplace. And after eight years, ┬áthe collection has grown to nearly 50 foxes.

Now, Zuzu has her own mini tree:

When we were expecting Stella in March 2013, my family threw us a baby shower that January. I had an idea that if the guests wanted, they could bring a star ornament in honor of her name to be used on her own Christmas tree.

We ended up with several beautiful star ornaments of all different types. And for the last several Christmases, we’ve decorated Stella’s star tree:

And finally, with our Margot due in late December of last year, we continued the tradition and asked for pearl ornaments in honor of her name to go on her very own Christmas tree. Pearl-themed ornaments proved to be a bit of a challenge compared to stars, but our family found a beautiful array of ornaments featuring pearls.

Even though Margot missed her own first Christmas by arriving on New Year’s Day, I still decorated the tree for her last year. We also had her stocking ready and a Baby’s First Christmas ornament in place, but instead of a baby photo inside, there’s a sonogram picture.

Now, Margot’s pearl tree is a part of our tradition:

Themed trees are so much fun, with their endless options and opportunities for creativity. I’d love to have a Michigan State-themed tree one day, but I think Zack might think five trees is a little nuts.

It brings me so much joy to decorate our Christmas trees each year. There’s often an ornament or two that I’ve forgotten about, and one glance brings a flood of memories about where and who they came from.

I’m looking forward to the girls being able to understand how special their trees and ornaments are, that they were loved by so many even before they were born.

Family, friends, and traditions. That’s what Christmas means to me my love.