Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A walk in the park

These ornaments might not look like they belong together, but have something in common. They represent what can happen to you when you go on an innocent Christmas shopping trip to Bryant Park in New York City a couple of blocks from where I work. Every year the park is converted for the season into an ice skating rink surrounded by scores of gift booths. It’s great for those last-minute and hard-to-find gifts on your list. It’s also a great place to find penguin ornaments. You’ve already seen a couple of other penguins I found in the park in previous years.  You can see them by clicking on the Bryant Park label below. All of today’s penguins came in one fateful trip to the park a couple of years ago. I didn’t go there looking for penguins, but found plenty.

All acquired December 17, 2008, Bryant Park, New York

Two hugging porcelain penguins in colorful scarves and hats
Number: 0579
Size: 3.25 inches tall
Price: $12.99

Flattish ceramic penguins balancing on big round mints
Number: 0580 0581
Size: 4 inches tall
Price: $10.99 each

Big silver jingle bell with plastic head, springy wings and dangling “butterfly” feet
Number: 0582
Size: 3 inches tall
Price: $13

Pear-shaped glass penguin with tall, glittery top hat, red sequined bow tie and long dangly legs
Number: 0583
Size: 6.5 inches tall
Price: not recorded

Three large glass penguins on blue ice blocks holding ornament, gift and tree
Number: 0584 0585 0586
Size: 6 to 6.25 inches tall
Price: $14 each

Three flattish glass bulbs, painted and filled with snow, green hat with candy cane, blue hat with gift,  and red hat with tree
Number: 0587 0588 0589
Size: 4.5 inches tall
Price: $14 each

Monday, November 29, 2010

The penguins go to work

I finished putting penguins on my entry in the Festival of Trees at the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton. Setup is this week and next with judging on Dec. 9. Trees will be on display from Dec. 10 through Dec. 31. I’m hoping to take the tree to the museum in two pieces with the penguins attached. Then I can add the finishing touches after I get there.

I think the tree looks good with just the penguin ornaments, but I also have snowflakes that I can add.

I also have silver beads.

And here are some closeup shots with just penguins, with snowflakes and with snowflakes and beads.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy birthday

This penguin was a decorative tag on a Christmas present from my sister Gale, a set of handmade penguin placemats and table runner. Well, today is her birthday, so this post is for her. Happy Birthday, Gale! Love you.

Felt gift decoration
Acquired: December 15, 2010
Number: 0578
Size: 4.25 inches tall

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Times two

There are four ornaments in this set of identically spruced up penguins. I decided a picture of two of them would be enough to give you the idea and also allow me to show a larger image. If you want to see the whole set, just open this picture in two windows.

Set of four frosted penguins with red bow ties and green buttons
Acquired: December 20, 2008, Target, Stroudsburg, Pa.
Number: 0592 0593 0594 0595
Size: 3.25 inches tall
Price: $6.99 set of four

Friday, November 26, 2010

Computer whiz

I’m not going to pretend to know what I’m missing out on, but this penguin apparently came with a pass code that would have let me into the online world of Webkinz, presumably to find a virtual version of this ornament and a bunch of his animated friends. I’m just in this for the ornament and to have a souvenir of my trip to Florida a couple of Thanksgivings ago. I was in New York this Thanksgiving with a small gathering of the northern division of my family. I didn’t post a penguin ornament yesterday, but I did see a couple of them in a store window that I might go back for after Christmas, if I can hold out that long. It’s not that I forgot to post on the blog yesterday. It’s just that I was having fun with my relatives, I was far away from my ornament notes and I fell asleep early after two rounds of turkey.

Webkinz Ring in the Season penguin with gold bell
Acquired: Nov. 30, 2010,, Cracker Barrel, Altamonte Springs, Fla.
Number: 0574
Size: 2.5 inches tall
Price: $5.99

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Over the mountain

Here are a couple of other ornaments from my neighborhood drug store in Tannersville. I have to drive almost 6 miles on a winding mountain road to get there, but it’s the closest sign of civilization to my house. If I want anything — food, gas, penguin ornaments — I have to go over the mountain to get it.

Clay dough with wreath
Acquired: November 22, 2008, CVS Pharmacy, Tannersville, Pa.
Number: 0571
Size: 4.25 inches tall
Price: $1.99

Clay dough with candy cane
Acquired: November 22, 2008, CVS Pharmacy, Tannersville, Pa.
Number: 0572
Size: 4 inches tall
Price: $1.99

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's very clear

This penguin is like an ornament stuck inside another ornament, which is a nice effect except that it’s really hard to shoot a photograph of it without getting a lot of reflection on the glass globe. I’ll have to put this one on my reshoot list and try again. I just noticed, I should have put this ornament up yesterday, its two-year “birthday.”

Merry Brite glass penguin inside a clear globe
Acquired: November 22, 2008, CVS Pharmacy, Tannersville, Pa.
Number: 0570
Size: 4.25 inches tall, 3 inches diamete
Price: $3.99

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kind of the same

Both of these penguins were for sale at Macy’s when I stopped in a few days ago, but I didn’t buy them because I felt like I already had them. It turns out I did have the top one holding an envelope, but not the one with the small tree, so I was half right. Actually I was sort of right about the one with the tree, because I do have a half-size version which I posted in August. Now I wonder if there’s a small version of the one with the envelope.

Glass ornament holding envelope
Acquired: November 16, 2008, Fountains of Wayne, New Jersey
Number: 0568
Size: 4 inches tall
Price: $7.99 (15 percent off)

Medium glass ornament with little tree
Acquired: November 20, 2010, Macy’s Herald Square, New York
Number: 0864
Size: 4.5 inches tall
Price: : $7.56 (originally $14)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Penguin with a twist

I don’t know if the asymmetrical shape of this penguin was intentional or the result of a horrible shipping accident, but either way, the lopsided pose gives the ornament an extra bit of character. My notes say it was handcrafted in Poland, so maybe each ornament has its own personality. I bought this ornament on a visit to Fountains of Wayne, a patio furnishings store that turned into a winter wonderland once a year for Christmas. Upstairs you could walk through a free gallery of 3D holiday scenes. I used to ride by Fountains of Wayne on my bus ride to and from work every day, and finally was able to stop in when I was in the neighborhood one day. They didn’t have a lot of penguin ornaments, but there were plenty of other penguin objects and just about any other kind of Christmas decorations that you might want. Sadly, the store is gone now, but at least I was able to get this and a few other penguin ornaments before it closed.

Varsovia fine molded glass ornament
Acquired: November 16, 2008, Fountains of Wayne, New Jersey
Number: 0567
Size: 3.75 inches tall
Price: $14.99 (15 percent discount)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A tale of two sixes

It was the best of . . . no, I’d better not go there. For one thing it’s late as I’m writing this and even in the best of times, I would have a Dickens of a time trying to pull off a literary challenge of this magnitude. The literary reference isn’t completely unwarranted here, because I found these penguins at Borders books. At first glance you might think the tiny set of six are identical, as I did when I picked them up at the store. But if you click for a closer look you can see that each penguin has its own pose. The larger penguins are identical to one another, but that doesn’t make me love them any less.

Paper chase mini penguin ornaments
Acquired: November 5, 2008, Borders, Stroudsburg, Pa.
Number: 0549 0550 0551 0552 0553 0554
Size: 1.25 inches tall
Price: $7.99 set of six

Paper chase flocked penguin ornaments
Acquired: November 5, 2008, Borders, Stroudsburg, Pa.
Number: 0555 0556 0557 0558 0559 0560
Size: 2 inches tall
Price: $7.99 set of six

Friday, November 19, 2010


For more than 75 years Annalee felt dolls from Meridith, N.H., have been brightening people’s lives and holidays with their distinctive silkscreened smiling faces. An internal wire frame developed by Chip Thorndike, Annalee’s husband, gives the dolls a lively playfulness. Annalee also makes Christmas tree ornaments, including a number of penguin designs. This is my only Annalee ornament, but I wouldn’t mind having some of their penguins from other years.

Annalee penguin with candy cane North Pole sign
Acquired: November 2, 2008, American Candle Factory, Bartonsville, Pa.
Number: 0548
Size: 4.75 inches tall
Price: $16

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The gang’s all here

Here it is, the largest single set of penguin ornaments in my collection. I call them the sports group because most of them seem to be togged out for various recreational activities, but not all of them. Actually they’re not all here. Each one has a serial number, from 5415 to 5438, and I’m missing at least two numbers: 5432 and 5435. Most of them came from the American Candle Factory in Bartonsville, Pa., but I had already bought the scuba diver and the one with the inner tube earlier months before at A Christmas Place in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where they very kindly let me exchange the inner tube penguin a day later after I discovered that one of its feet was broken off. I have a descriptive name for each one of these ornaments, but when I try to figure out which one is which I end up with names and penguins that don’t match. I don’t remember if I made up the names or if they came with the ornaments. If I figure it out, I’ll post an update.

Chillinz scuba diver and inner tube penguins
Acquired: April 2, 2008, A Christmas Place, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Number: 0454 0455
Size: 2 to 2.25 inches tall
Price: $4 and $3 (no explanation for the price difference)

Chillinz gang penguins
Acquired: November 2, 2008, American Candle Factory, Bartonsville, Pa.
Number: 0528 through 0547
Size: 2 to 2.5 inches tall
Price: $3.99 each

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Christmas creep

Here are some early birds that I found a couple of months before Christmas. It wasn’t even Halloween yet and the stores already had Christmas decorations for sale. I was thinking that Christmas items began to show up early this year, but it looks like the same thing was happening a couple of years ago. I think the painted sled is one of my favorites.

Christmas Morning/Dennis East skating penguins painted on a sled
Acquired: October 12, 2008, Corningware factory store, The Crossings, Tannersville, Pa.
Number: 0524
Size: 5.5 inches tall
Price: $2.99

Christmas Morning/Dennis East trio with glittery scarves and hats, and gold feet and beaks
Acquired: October 12, 2008, Corningware factory store, The Crossings, Tannersville, Pa.
Number: 0525 0526 0527
Size: 3.75 inches tall
Price: $2.99 each

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gifted trio

Not only can these penguins sled and skate, they can do it while loaded down with presents and a Christmas tree. You can’t tell from this photo, but the Christmas tree top is broken off. I knew it when I bought the ornaments, but this was the only one of its kind left, even with months to go before Christmas.

Holiday Living penguins on toboggan, with candy cane skates, and wearing a long Santa hat
Acquired: October 11, 2008, Lowe’s Home Center, Bartonsville, Pa.
Number: 0521 0522 0523
Size: 3.5 to 4.5 inches tall
Price: $2.97 each

Monday, November 15, 2010


I felt like this pair of penguins looked familiar, but I wasn’t certain enough to leave A Christmas Past without buying them. It turned out that I already had the guy, a gift from my niece Becky, who found it in Chincoteague, Va., where she was working that summer. Just as well, because now I had an extra. Last year I hung one from the rearview mirror in my car. My Penguin Tree to go!

These penguins look a lot like another penguin couple for which I also happen to have two of the male. I bought Thaddeus and Millicent at Disneyland on my way home from Australia. A few weeks later, my friend and colleague Wallace Schroeder, gave me a couple of ornaments, including another Thaddeus.

Second police officer not shown)
Also at A Christmas Past, I bought a penguin firefighter and penguin police officer that wound up being duplicates. A year later, I bought an identical set, thinking that they would go with a mail carrier ornament. Oh, well, I was wrong. However, all of these are extremely nice ornaments, and I don’t mind at all having repeats.

TJ’s Christmas penguin couple decked out in red
Acquired: September 28, 2008, A Christmas Past, New Hope, Pa.
Number: 0517 0518
Size: 4 inches tall

Male penguin in red vest and hat
Acquired: August 15, 2008, gift from my niece Becky on her birthday
Number: 490
Size: 4 inches tall

Department 56 Christmas Krinkles Thaddeus and Millicent Penguin
Acquired: December 2, 2004, World of Disney Store, Downtown Disney, Anaheim, Calif.
Number: 0256 0257
Size: 4.25 to 4.75 inches tall

Acquired: December 18, 2004, gift from Wallace Schroeder
Number: 0263
Size: 4.75 inches tall

Kurt S. Adler firefighter and police officer 1
Acquired: September 28, 2008, A Christmas Past, New Hope, Pa.
Number: 0519 0520
Size: 4 inches tall
Price:$7.95 each

Kurt S. Adler firefighter and police officer 2
Acquired: September 13, 2009, A Christmas to Remember, Lake George, N.Y.
Number: 0718 0719
Size: 4 inches tall
Price: $9.99 each
(Note that in just short of a year I acquired 200 penguin ornaments.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Christmas Rocks epilogue

The journey’s not over until it’s over. I flew to Texas from Philadelphia, which means I would have to go by New Hope on the drive home. Well, I don’t have to go through New Hope, but I’ll use any excuse to visit a Christmas shop, and New Hope is the home of A Christmas Past, one of my favorites. I never know if I’ll come away with a couple of shopping bags full of penguins or just a handful. I’ve even struck out a couple of times, mostly because I’ve already got whichever penguins they have available from a previous trip. I visit A Christmas Past two or three times a year. Even if I leave empty handed, it’s always fun to stop in and it’s a nice way to take a break during a long drive home.  On this particular visit, I found quite a few penguins, including a couple of the duplicates in my collection. More about those repeats tomorrow.

Kurt S. Adler plastic skaters
Acquired: September 28, 2008, A Christmas Past, New Hope, Pa.
Number: 0511 0512 0513
Size: 5 inches tall
Price: $9.95 each

TJ’s Christmas penguins with red knit hats and scarves holding gifts, tree and skis
Acquired: September 28, 2008, A Christmas Past, New Hope, Pa.
Number: 0514 9515 0516
Size: 3.5 inches tall
Price: unknown

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Christmas Rocks, part 4: Rock on

Most of the Christmas stores I find are in touristy locations amidst the usual mix of pottery, knitting and fudge shops that make up places like that. That’s not the case with Christmas Rocks in Houston. You really have to know where you’re going to find it on a side street in a residential part of town where some of the houses have been turned into professional offices. After years in practice, two lawyers opened Christmas Rocks as a way to make good use of some extra office space. The law offices moved upstairs and Christmas Rocks moved in downstairs. The inventory is large and varied and it’s fun to browse from one room to the next. I found penguins all over the place and came away with a big haul. I worried a little about how I was going to get the ornaments home safely on my flight back. But as one owner tallied up the ornaments, the other carefully wrapped and boxed each one and fit them snugly in a cardboard box that turned out to be just the right size for the overhead compartment on the plane. I was able to carry the ornaments on board in a shopping bag and all of them made it to the end of the journey intact.

Frosted trio with big orange beaks and feet, and colorful hats and scarves
Acquired: September 27, 2008, Christmas Rocks, Houston
Number: 0502 0503 0504
Size: 4.25 inches tall
Price: $17.50 each

Friday, November 12, 2010

Christmas Rocks, part 3: Play ball

The conference ended in Fort Worth and I still wasn’t sure if I would be allowed back into Houston, but by the time I got there, things were returning to normal. The night curfew was lifted the day I arrived. Some cleanup was still going on downtown. A few sidewalks were taped off where some of the skyscrapers’ windows were broken. I was having some coffee in an atrium of a building near my hotel and looked up to see a worker walking around on the cracked glass ceiling a couple of floors above where I was sitting. I moved. And the Astros’ game with the Atlanta Braves was on for that night. I was finally able to say that I had seen baseball games in all the major league parks. My trip was a success and there was an extra bonus when I discovered a little store called Christmas Rocks.

Clear penguins with red hats, scarves, and bow tie
Acquired: September 27, 2008
Number: 0499 0500 0501
Size: 3.75 to 4 inches tall
Price: $5.95 each

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Christmas Rocks, part 2: Warnings

I had booked a flight to and from Houston so I could see a game at Minute Maid Park — my final major league baseball stadium — and I rented a car to drive to and from Fort Worth. A week before my trip, Hurricane Ike hit Texas, and the day before I was supposed to leave trip, I received a message that my hotel reservation had been cancelled. I scrambled to find a new place to stay, not realizing the full consequences of the hurricane’s impact. Houston was without power and a curfew had been imposed. Driving out of the airport in Houston was a little scary. The streets were virtually deserted, with trees down and signs knocked over, one of them punching through the roof of an apartment building. I made it to Fort Worth, but then I began to  see flashing highway signs that warned: Do Not Travel to Houston or Beaumont. I was worried that I might not be able to get back.

Penguin juggling peppermints on a wire
Acquired: September 27, 2010, Christmas Rocks, Houston
Number: 0510
Size: 6.25 inches tall
Price: $5

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Christmas Rocks, part 1: Heading out

I went to a conference in Fort Worth, Texas, one year and I decided to combine the trip with a visit to Houston to complete my tour of all the major league baseball stadiums. It also turned out to be one of my biggest Christmas ornament shopping sprees when I found a very cool store called Christmas Rocks in an out-of-the-way neighborhood in Houston. It’s a trip that almost never happened. More tomorrow.

Seasons of Cannon Falls snowball penguin head with red felt hat and collar
Acquired: September 27, 2008, Christmas Rocks, Houston
Number: 0498
Size: 4 inches tall, 2.75 inches diameter
Price: $6.95

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bells and buttons

These three stuffed, felt penguins win the prize for most creative use of jingle bells on a Christmas tree ornament. They’re all bundled up in their plaid scarves and each has three jingle bell buttons on an imaginary vest. I was with my friend and colleague Matt Tanzer in Texas when I found these penguins. I was short on cash, so he generously bought them for me. The photo makes them look like they are different sizes, but they are all the same.

Three felt penguins with plaid scarves and jingle bell buttons
Acquired: September 24, 2008, Christmas Garage, Arlington, Texas
Number: 0494 0495 0496
Size: 5 inches tall
Price: $2.99 each

Monday, November 8, 2010

Another ballpark, another zoo, another penguin

The National Zoo doesn’t even have a penguin exhibit but one of the gift shops had this ornament. My niece and I were visiting our friends SallyAnn and Steve Rogers, mainly to see the Florida Marlins play at the Nationals new stadium, but we also went to the zoo one day. I dropped this ornament taking a picture of SallyAnn and Becky, but bought it anyway and glued it back together when I got home. You might be able to see a chip out of the tip of its beak if you look closely enough.

Kurt Adler realistic emperor with rope hanging string
Acquired: August 31, 2008, Panda Gift Shop, National Zoo, Washington, D.C.
Number: 0493
Size: 3.625 inches
Price: $6

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Getting ready for Christmas

The penguins have taken over another igloo and are decorating it for Christmas. You can see the other igloo ornaments I’ve posted so far by clicking on the label below. Meanwhile two of their friends are busy building a snowman on a toboggan. You can also search for more snowman ornaments below. I think all the igloos are online now, but I’ve got more snowmen to come.

It's all penguins, mostly Christmas tree ornaments
It’s beginning to look a lot like penguins at my house. Today my friends Charlie, Marge and Jenny Babaz came over to help me sort through my ornaments and separate the ones we’ll use on our Festival of Trees entry. This meant getting a dozen or so tubs out of storage and then unwrapping hundreds of ornaments, one by one. The Babazes were a huge help, though there’s still quite a way to go, and they even brought spaghetti for dinner.

My dining room table before (above) and after (below)

Meanwhile, I’ve caught up on cataloging the new ornaments I’ve acquired since summer. We’re up to 843 now. That’s 74 new penguins this year . . . and counting.

Three penguins decorating a sparkly igloo
Acquired: August 21, 2008, Christmas Cottage, New York City
Number: 0491
Size: 3.25 inches tall
Price: $9.95

Two penguins building snowman on a toboggan
Acquired: August 21, 2008, Christmas Cottage, New York City
Number: 0492
Size: 3.5 inches tall
Price: $9.95