Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Gratitude Campaign

Monday, December 24, 2007

Early Christmas

Having Christmas in the middle of the day on Christmas Eve is a bit disorienting. DD came in, about 11am, and I was still battling the crowds at the grocery store, all of us hunting last minute ingredients for the perfect meal. As mentioned before, we do New Mexican, but this year's menu was abbreviated due to my disorganization. We just had Spinach Enchiladas

Steamed tamales

and a very hot Chicken Enchilada Casserole.
I bought some of Breyer's Fried Ice Cream for dessert, (it seemed only fitting), but we were all too full to eat it.

THEN--Did you SEE that moon tonight? WOW!

DD and I went out in the cold to try and snap some photos--DD with her brand new digital camera, and I with our year-old one. But we can't do it justice.
So I took a quick picture of the front yard,

and then we ran inside to lie under afghans and watch Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas, and then A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart. I like Patrick Stewart, but I do believe the version with George C Scott is my favorite. How about you?

Well, it's really, truly Christmas now, and I am really, truly sleepy, so I will leave you with a wish for a blessed day today.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Can you hear the reindeer?

I think I told you once that my parents didn't raise us to believe in Santa Claus. That doesn't mean they didn't enjoy Christmas trees and traditions. I can remember them getting the tree and lights and everything all ready in the morning before waking us up to come see Christmas. Yep, they woke US up. Then one of them would get the camera ready and the other would open the door into the living room and we would have to stand there trying to hold delighted smiles on our faces while Daddy got the camera all focused and everybody just so. That's hard to do when you're a kid.
As we got older, and there were more of us (4 kids total), it was harder to usher us all to bed so the parents could put out Christmas and get to sleep at a decent hour. But still we were not allowed to see the presents until both of them had a chance to get up, get to the bathroom (I can appreciate that all the more these days), and go turn on the tree lights so they could see our faces as we found our gifts.
I remember once, when I was about 15 and my sister was 7, my parents bringing stuff up the steps into the house from who knows where. Apparently other parents were out doing the same thing, because I heard my dad call out "Are those reindeer I see over there?" and my mom shushing him as muffled laughter wafted on the night air.

This little pinecone is from their first Christmas tree, as is the paper angel at the top of my site. Since I was born one year to the day after their marriage, it was the only Christmas tree for years that covered no gifts for sleepy-eyed children .

Now it's December 24th, though we will be celebrating Christmas today. The stockings are all loaded and ready,

including the dog's.

Decorations are out (well, most of them)

and the gifts are under the tree.

Time for parents to slide under warm blankets for a little while....

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Feeling down

Well, the tree is up, the last of the Christmas cards went out yesterday, outside lights are done, 95% of the inside lights are done, and extra gifts are done (for the mailman, co-workers, and unexpected recipients, etc.) I still haven't wrapped any gifts, but that won't take too long. And no baking got done, but that's okay, too.

Now DD might not be able to get home for Christmas. It's a touchy subject around here. I had several suggestions, but she is feeling insecure and views my attempts to help as an indicator of her "child" status. So she might not come home if she can't figure it out all by herself. Which is all well and good, except it affects our Christmas, too and, not being a parent, she cannot understand how this hurts.

How can you separate feelings about Christmas from feelings about your family? As I unwrapped ornaments, so many memories came flooding back, as they do every year.
I made this ornament watching "The Gathering" in 1977, when I was 2 months pregnant with DD:

Here are the first "dressy" shoes she wore as a one-year-old:

Here she is at 3, with my sister's oldest daughter, and my brother's oldest son--who died of cancer several years ago when he was 19.

Before he died, we made a cross-country drive to be with him and our other family members. Even though DD had gotten angry and moved out of the house, she went with us. It was a long trip, and when we got home, we didn't see her for weeks, but we made it back for Brandon. See what I mean about the memories? One leads to another, and some are wonderful, but some hurt.

She made this one for me when she was 6 years old:

Here is one of the pasta ornaments she and I made one year:

And one year, we gave each other identical ornaments--and didn't know it til we unwrapped them!

Even if she makes it home this Christmas, things will be different. I understand that, I accept that, but that doesn't make it hurt less.

Sorry this has become a downer. I promise tomorrow will be brighter. Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Goings-on and Freecycle

I really admire the way so many people can continue blogging during this busy season, putting out recipes and craft instructions and glorious little photos. I appreciate it so much, but I just can't do it. Maybe it's because I'm not as organized as I thought I was. Maybe it's because all the decorating, baking, gift-wrapping and card-writing is up to me. I don't know. All I know is I have had the last 5 nights off, and there are still 8 bins of Christmas items sitting around my living room, dining room, kitchen, guest room and sewing room. Of course, there WERE 15 of them, so it's a bit of an improvement.

I have put up all the outside stuff I plan to (skipped the icicle lights this year), sent out Christmas cards through the H's in my address book, gone to a lunch meeting and surrendered the Area Bee to the next co-leaders, (hurray), rearranged the dining room and kitchen to accomodate the tree, assembled it, put the lights and garlands on and started with the decorations. I did some online shopping, but still have some stocking stuffers and the dog's treats to pick up. (Yes, I bought Tandi a stocking.) This morning I went to breakfast with hubby, who has been treading heavily on my last nerve, but who is really a dear. He just has bad timing--and a somewhat skewed sense of humor. And, as he's disability retired, is ALWAYS around. To get time to myself, I usually am the one to leave the house--when I desperately want to stay home and play with my toys.

But I went to a tree-trimming party at a co-worker's house on Sunday. "Now, why would you do that when your tree was still in the bag?" you might ask. Because she had 2 friends who are massage therapists set up their table and their chair and provide lovely massages! I was first on the table for an hour-long massage, courtesy of the J-Man who gave me money for 3 hours at a day spa last Christmas. (Then he couldn't remember who was running the special, so the money has sat in my nightstand drawer all this time.) Part of that money went to supplement the gift card for my balloon ride in October, and I still have about $20.00 left--the spending of which will be decided later.

It was wonderful, and I was a much calmer, happier person when I came home, much to Hubby's relief. I still need to finish the cards (soon!), do some baking, go to the Christmas potluck for my Quilting Area and award some prizes tomorrow, keep a doctor's appointment tomorrow afternoon, and start wrapping gifts, but I am less stressed about it all.

Today I was able to Pay it Forward a little (hated the movie, love the concept). Do you know about Freecycle? I first read about it on and if you remember, that's how I came by my hammock. Well, since then I've given away an old, heavy microwave table (from the 80's) someone was able to use for an old, heavy TV, and today, I dropped off a microwave that shuts down after 10 minutes on high power, making it unusable for "cooking". I can't do baked potatoes in it, nor casseroles, nor stuffed acorn squash, etc, but it's perfect for reheating lunches or water for hot chocolate, etc. So a lady who runs an agency providing temporary manual labor was able to put it in the group room for her waiting laborers to use for their lunches. We were all happy!

If you haven't checked it out, please do. In our area I have seen requests for Christmas decorations, gently used children's clothing and toys, appliances, etc. As you cull through your Christmas items, maybe you have some that you no longer love, or extra shiny balls you purchased that you can spare. Maybe you have things you don't need, but just haven't gotten around to dropping them off at your local charity. Consider offering them on Freecycle and make someone's Christmas just a little brighter.

P.S. I promise--photos soon!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Amusement Day 2

Am busy trying to get all the Christmas stuff done--no photos yet, so here are more smiles!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Amusement day

Click to enlarge

Friday, December 07, 2007

Christmas sweatshirt

Hurray! (Doing the Happy Dance) The 2007 WNCQG Holiday Luncheon is over! Woohoo!

Our quilt guild is broken down into smaller areas, and JK and I were the co-leaders this past year--a first for each of us. As luck would have it, it was our area's turn to host the Holiday Luncheon. Several meetings have been devoted to deciding the menu, the theme, the favors, and the centerpieces. Have you tried to get 30 women to agree on a name tag? It's surprisingly difficult.

Now, since JK is a chatty, outgoing person, and since I have flashbacks of high school book reports if I have to talk in front of a group (shudder), it was understood she would do any announcements, etc, and I would be the go-fer. That really is a workable situation for us.

This morning she woke up with laryngitis.

I accused her of doing this on purpose.

Our guild leader would be running an abbreviated meeting for December, so why would one of us have to talk, I asked. Well, because we need to welcome the group, explain about the door prizes, fabric swap and raffle tickets, give away the centerpieces, and draw the names, she whispered. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder reared its ugly head. My pulse rate was a good 15 - 20 beats higher, I just know it was, and my palms were damp and I couldn't sit down nor could I stand in one place.

I managed to stumble through the welcome and the announcements about the goodies without making a huge fool of myself, and then the president got up to run the meeting. Now, folks, the business part of our meetings generally lasts about 35 minutes, with 10 minutes or so for show and tell. Today, she was through with the business part in just over 10 minutes--and lunch was due to be served in almost 20 minutes. TWENTY MINUTES. Do you know how long 20 minutes can be when you're hyperventilating?

Time to punt. We told the ladies to check under their saucers and the one at each table with the colored dot on her saucer won the snowperson centerpiece. That took about a minute. Then we awarded the six extra snowpeople we had. Knock off 5 minutes. Door prizes--another 5 minutes. Then we drew the tickets for 580 donated fabric squares (which, BTW, was won by my co-leader). Two more minutes down. About 13 minutes total. The president said grace, and fortunately, the food was ready. Whew!

Last February one of our members brought in a sweatshirt jacket she'd made in a class. It was cute and everyone oooed and aaahed and decided we all had to make these to wear at the luncheon. So in March we ordered the sweatshirts, and in June JS brought in the patterns for us all to trace onto freezer paper. We were to decide what fabrics we wanted to use, and September was the opportunity to bring in our garments for a sit and sew and have her help us. You'd think there was plenty of time to get these done, wouldn't you?

I started mine last weekend. Below are some photos of the ordeal. First came choosing the fabrics and making sure to write them down, since I kept forgetting which green fabric would be the holly and which I would use for the tree.

Then, even after cutting the ribbing off the sleeves, they were too long and too large, so I decided to make it a vest instead.

Never having made a vest before, I knew the armholes were cut in deeper, and knew this would affect the patterns, but I was only guessing how much to cut off. It wasn't enough.

Then to make the appliques--measuring, measuring, measuring to make sure the panels would fit on the front of the vest now that it was altered. I ended up remaking 4 of the panels because I didn't like the way they looked.

The tree was redone because I cut the panel too small for the front, and I opted not to include the trunk of the tree.

The house and snowmen turned out well enough, and I left my house windowless in the interest of time. Also there was supposed to be a yo-yo on the end of the snowman's hat, but I didn't think 11:30 last night was a good time to learn how to make a yoyo. Then I forgot the pom-pom I'd planned to use in its place.

Of the upper panels, I remade the holly and the gift so they'd fit, and I had to remake the stocking because I reversed the pattern. (sigh)

I finished the embellishments (well, at least as much as I figured I could do at the time) by 1:30 this morning. With all the applique, the vest got a little stiff and I looked as if I were wearing wings, but couldn't tell until I put it on. And then I was for DARN sure there would be no more do-overs.

Now, all my non-sewing friends will think this is wonderful, even though I can only see my mistakes when I look at it. But every project teaches me something. And it was really fun to see how differently everyone interpreted the same pattern. Only 2 of us made them into vests, and a couple of people never got theirs done, so I just might wear this out in public, after all.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas sites to visit

I'm still busy working on that sweatshirt vest for Friday, so blogging is still light, and I haven't forgotten about the Chicken enchiladas recipe, but here are some places you might find helpful, or just plain fun.

First, want to find out if your favorite Christmas program will be on this season, and when? Well, you can find a list here.

Love Christmas carols, but can't remember all the words? Or want to learn the words to some new songs? THIS is a very comprehensive list of carols and their lyrics.

Need some gift tags? If you have some printer paper that makes name tags, or just some photo paper with the shiny surface, these will print out beautifully.

These aren't as elegant, but make fun tags for children's gifts. And here is Set 2 of the children's tags.

Funny snowglobe--be sure and turn up the sound!

Okay, this site is addictive! Make virtual snowflakes and see others' too. I've been playing this one for a while, before it reached its 1 millionth flake--and now it's over 5 million!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Prayers for Poppy

I have been following a blog by Angie and Nathan Luce, and their daughter Marianne. Angie is pregnant with a trisomy 18 baby, Poppy Joy, and was due to deliver next Thursday. However, she has been having frequent contractions for a couple of days and the decision was made to do a C-Section today. She has asked for prayers, as it is not even certain Poppy will be born alive, much less last more than a few hours. Trisomy 18 is fatal.

Back in September, another trisomy 18 child was born to Boothe and Conor Farley and their daughter, Sellers. This child, a daughter-Copeland-lived for 9 days. Boothe's account of Copeland's short life, and her own descent into doubts and depression, is a compelling story, causing one to question just how real her faith is.

Anyway, please take a moment today and pray for these parents who must soon surrender their little girl back to the God who sent her.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Light Day

Well, yesterday was another 3-hr dentist appoinment, leaving my mouth a bit sore, and I seem to have acquired an allergy BLAST, so am not feeling up to par today. In addition, next week is our Quilt Guild Luncheon and as my group is hosting and I am a co-leader, I have GOT to get my sweatshirt vest done.

So I am posting the recipe for my Spinach Enchilada Casserole as requested by MightyMom. You can make this dish as pepper hot as you want, or not--depending on your Gringo mouth factor! And for those of you who say you don't like spinach, you might be surprised how good this is. It's a little time-intensive to make, so I usually make a large casserole and then a smaller one to freeze for later. You can freeze before cooking or after.

Spinach Enchilada Casserole

6-8 flour tortillas
1 1/2 C grated Monterey Jack cheese
6 whole green onions, chopped (reserve a tablespoon or two)

8 oz sour cream (I use light)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 clove garlic
1 sm pkg frozen spinach
1 sm can chopped green chiles*

Puree the last 5 ingredients together in a blender. (It may need to be done in batches)
Spread enough of the pureed mixture to cover the bottom of a casserole dish, then layer tortillas, puree, green onions and cheese, repeating until all is used up. It will bubble up, so leave yourself some room at the top.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes** or until the cheese melts. Serve with reserved green onions or chives as garnish.

Goes well with just a fresh salad, or you can serve some kind of black beans, refried beans, etc. too.

*If you have access to fresh or frozen green chiles, hurray!--the flavor will be much better. This is where you can adjust to taste. You can also substitute jalapeno peppers for the green chile. I buy green chiles and have them shipped to me, then roast them in my oven and freeze them in zipper gripper freezer bags. I will pull out several to peel and chop for this dish.

**Most of the time I just microwave the casserole at 10 minutes on med high power because I am an impatient cook. Works just as well.

Tomorrow I will post the recipe for Chicken Enchiladas for those of you who just can't bring yourselves to eat spinach. It's similar, and though we eat them together, either dish can stand alone.


Oh, and check out the giveaway at the top of the page--there are some really beautiful gifts you can win just for decorating your blogs! (As a beginner, and owner of a 7-yr-old computer, I haven't figured out how to do that yet, but I'm going to try).

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas at Rock-Away Rest

'Twas the night before Christmas at Rock-Away Rest,
and all of us seniors were looking our best.
Our glasses, how sparkly, our wrinkles, how merry;
Our punchbowl held prune juice plus three drops of sherry.

A bedsock was taped to each walker, in hope
That Santa would bring us soft candy and soap.
We surely were lucky to be there with friends,
Secure in this residence and in our Depends.

Our grandkids had sent us some Christmasy crafts,
Like angels in snowsuits and penguins on rafts.
The dental assistant had borrowed our teeth,
And from them she'd crafted a holiday wreath.
The bed pans, so shiny, all stood in a row,
Reflecting our candle's magnificent glow.
Our supper so festive -- the joy wouldn't stop --
Was creamy warm oatmeal with sprinkles on top.

Our salad was Jell-O, so jiggly and great,
Then puree of fruitcake was spooned on each plate.
The social director then had us play games,
Like "Where Are You Living?" and "What Are Your Names?"

Old Grandfather Looper was feeling his oats,
Proclaiming that reindeer were nothing but goats.
Our resident wand'rer was tied to her chair,
In hopes that at bedtime she still would be there.

Security lights on the new fallen snow
Made outdoors seem noon to the old folks below.
Then out on the porch there arose quite a clatter
(But we are so deaf that it just didn't matter).

A strange little fellow flew in through the door,
Then tripped on the sill and fell flat on the floor.
'Twas just our director, all togged out in red.
He jiggled and chuckled and patted each head.

We knew from the way that he strutted and jived
Our social- security checks had arrived.
We sang -- how we sang -- in our monotone croak,
Till the clock tinkled out its soft eight-p.m. stroke.

And soon we were snuggling deep in our beds.
While nurses distributed nocturnal meds.
And so ends our Christmas at Rock-Away Rest.
'fore long you'll be with us,
We wish you the best.

[ Author Unknown -- from 'Buffalos Chips' ( ]

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas meme

Hootin' Anni has designed a Christmas meme. Click on over to her place to get your copy, and then fill in the blanks or answer the questions.

1. Christmas is Comforting.

2. In memories, what was the best part of your Christmases past? Always--the being together.

3. Was Santa ever good to you? [describe how and what] We weren't raised to believe in Santa. (See this entry) But my parents, though poor, always managed to provide some sort of gifts. I have another great story about Christmas, but will save this for an entry later.

4. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or both? Both. We each open one gift on Christmas Eve--and they are always new pajamas, so we can sleep and have pics taken in new jammies. Of course, we usually forget to bring out the camera til later. 8^P

5. Is there something you make each and every year? [craft or recipe] We lived for 20 years in New Mexico, so we have a New Mexican menu each year: Chicken Enchiladas, Spinach Enchilada casserole, Green Chili Stew, Spanish Rice, and Tamales.

6. What are your favorite five[5] Christmas songs/hymns? I love Christmas songs, and there are only a couple that I would prefer never to hear again. (like "Last Christmas" from Wham. The only thing Christmassy about that is the title. I hate it.) No. 1 all time favorite is Nat King Cole's "Christmas Song." Behind that, in no particular order are: "Breath of Heaven" sung by Amy Grant; "Sweet Little Jesus Boy", sung by my childhood choir director; "Silent Night", sung by anyone, especially children; and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" sung by Karen Carpenter. Now, it's very important that these be the artists, because some singers just DON'T have "Christmas voices" (ie, James Taylor.) (That sounds kinda snobbish, doesn't it?)

7. Is there a new tradition for Christmas since your childhood days? They are ALL new, as we started our own traditions when we got married. We have a different tree than my parents had, we do stockings, including one for the dog, and usually put out luminarias on Christmas Eve.

Some "traditions" have been tried and discarded, but new ones have taken their places. Our first or second Christmas, J-Man decided we should have 12 days of Christmas, in which we open one gift every night til Christmas. I racked my brains trying to find 12 gifts for him--only to find, when I opened mine, he'd wrapped 12 different ornaments to give me. I thought that was cheating, myself. Not sure why that idea never made it to tradition status.

8. Describe one of your Christmas trips [whether it's across town or across country]. About 10 years ago, we got word that my nephew, who had been diagnosed with bone cancer, was not doing well. At the time, we lived 1400 miles away, and 19-year-old DD had gotten very angry with us and moved out. Somehow, we all drove back to Alabama, surviving the 26-hour trip back without murdering each other, spent some good times with family members before coming back home and resuming the separate living situation. Not one of our best Christmas memories, but a part of our past, after all. (I have to add that we all learned a lot those 9 months she was gone, and our relationships with each other attained a more adult status because of it.)

9. Do you have a special Christmas outfit to wear for the day? You mean, AFTER the pajamas?

10. Have YOU or any of your family members sat on Santa's lap? DD has (again, see above entry.)

11. What is/or will be on your Christmas tree this year? Who knows what will make the cut? We have collected Christmas ornaments from the very beginning of our marriage (see # 7 above) and DD gets one from each of us every year, also. She now has enough for a full tree, but has never put one up, what with being in college, then living in apartments, or with other girls in a rental, but coming back for the holidays, or being in finals. However, she told us she's considering buying one this year! Even with her taking all her ornaments with her, I cannot get all our ornaments on the tree every year, so I am forced to choose. I wish I had room for more than one tree--I think it would be nice to have several themed trees.

But we always have multicolored lights; strings of irridescent beads I acquired several years ago; handmade ornaments from friends and some by me, or DD as a child; ornaments from my parents' first Christmas tree, and tinsel, or "icicles" as we always called them. There are quite a few Santas on the tree, which is a family joke: seems I was always buying Santa ornaments for DD and the J-Man, til we figured out I was the one who loved Santas--particularly the Father Christmas ones. Now buying ornaments for me is a no-brainer.

12. Do you/or have you decorated your yard for Christmas? I have more indoor Christmas decorations than outdoor ones, but am slowly building up a few to balance. Last year we put up a "yard card", that reads Joy to the World, and I put up the white icicle lights for the first time (some were borrowed from a friend, since I didn't have enough for the whole front of the house.) I'm not sure whether I'll put those up again, since my knees make it difficult getting up and down off that ladder. Plus, it's COLD out there now!

Okay, that's it--with some editing by me when I was more awake. Your turn!

If you would like to fill out this meme, go to Hootin' Anni's--she's got it all arranged for you to just copy and paste the questions!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Today, I came home from work and watched a few minutes of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade before going to sleep. Now I will toss a load of clothes in the dryer, move the window A/C unit from the guest room to the garage, boil some eggs, set dishes in the fridge to thaw and chop some veggies to dip.

Tomorrow I will go pick up the turkey, swing by the Fresh Market for oranges and check for fresh brussel sprouts, and rush home to put it all together. Our daughter will drive in from Virginia, and we will try a couple of new recipes, working side by side in the kitchen, while J-Man tries to sneak bites and Tandi does her best to coax us to drop a morsel or two. We will laugh and hug and enjoy each other's company and eat just a bit too much. Then we'll meet another couple and go to a play, where DD will probably be seated safely between her parents, an adult in the eyes of her self and the world, but always our child.

Later we'll go home, maybe have some coffee and another slice of pie, and J-Man, who is a morning person, will stumble off to bed, while DD and I, who are night people will sit up and talk or watch a late movie (Miracle on 34th Street if I get MY way) and drift off to sleep, one of us waking the other to go to bed.

Saturday morning she will leave, and we will start counting the days til we get to see her again. There are always too many, but we are thankful for the days we do get to spend with her.

I hope all of you are having a wonderful, warm, and love-filled holiday today. In fact, I wish it for you every day.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Arts and memories

I've had several nights off in a row, and though I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped (no one has THAT many hours in a day), we did get to a play Friday night. The State Theater of North Carolina is nearby and their season runs from about April or May to December. Two weeks ago I won tickets to "Smokey Joe's Cafe" from our local radio station, and while there, heard about the YouTHeater putting on "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." So Fri. I ran over and bought tickets for that night's performance.

We were not disappointed. The kids did a wonderful job, and the man who wrote the songs and play took a unique approach. He used the children running around and the "townspeople" mingling as an opportunity to change the stage and it was done so smoothly, you didn't realize til later what was going on. He also staged "tableaus" in which the group would freeze in one stance, and though he didn't have a horse, the way in which Ichabod Crane was snatched and disappeared was eerie and very nicely accoplished. I hope they perform this again in a few years--I'll definitely go see it again.

I am so glad our Theater Group runs workshops for children and involves them in the regular plays as well as special productions. With the schools cutting back on arts and music, I believe our public school children are missing out on so much. How can school boards spend so much on sports and neglect this aspect of life? Because creativity is such an important part of my life, I feel it should be offered to these young, imaginative minds before they get to be too "cool" to play-act, or paint, or make things any more. Seeing those children up there, from first-graders to high school seniors, made me smile.

It reminded me so much of when DD was doing theater. She started in church and school plays when she was 8 years old, and at one point, wanted to be an actress. I sweated that one out, and she went into law instead--inspired by a mock trial she and classmates were a part of. Through high school, she took drama, and majored in drama at the University. (There is no pre-law curriculum; all you need is an undergraduate degree.) She and her friends were involved in community theater, and we always made it to the shows--even the one which required she kiss another girl. Gulp.

I was not prepared for that one, and she didn't tell me ahead of time. Several of her friends were peeking out from backstage to see how I would handle it, though she didn't look my way. Okay, I admit it: I am a conservative through and through, and this was hard to swallow. And in one play, one of her friends (whom we'd known since SHE was 8 years old) had to remove her blouse. She was a little bit nervous doing this in front of us, and actually turned her back to our part of the audience.

I remember when DD directed "A Doll's House". The seats were at stage level, and it was so realistic, I had to bite my lip to keep from joining in the onstage arguments! That was a VERY small theater. In fact, they used our Christmas tree as a prop--and we never got it back. Oh, well--our little contribution to live theater.
I have helped DD shop for props, and contributed more than that one item, too, though I got the others back. I kind of miss being that involved in plays, because I am not talented enough to act or direct or be a stage manager, and DD's performances and productions opened my eyes to a whole new world.

So this weekend, when DD comes down for Thanksgiving, we are planning to go see this play at our community theater:

Since DD only has a day to spend with us, and I have to work Mon. Tues. and Wed. nights, I don't intend to live in the kitchen while she's here. Instead, Honeybaked Ham is cooking my turkey, some of the sides, and the desserts, and I'll add a few items to the menu. So, we'll eat early on Friday, and then the three of us will go enjoy a comedy thriller. Maybe we'll come back to hot mulled cider or hot chocolate and discuss the plot and the performances before going to bed. We might reminisce about DD's dramatic past, remembering past good times, and making memories to be thankful for in the future.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Christmas tips and ideas

Okay, I know I just posted a bunch of Autumn photos, and Thanksgiving is still to come, but Christmas is just around the corner, and I can't help thinking about it. Isn't that the way it is with most crafters? We are already thinking about the next event, the next holiday, the next season, so we can be prepared. Or not.
No, I haven't put up a tree yet, though I've seen two in the neighborhood--decorated already! It takes me a couple of weeks to get all the decorations in from the garage, and placed and the tree decorated, and then a month to get it all sorted, organized, repacked and put away again. Currently I have 13 large plastic bins of decorations

But AfricanKelli has a great post with some budget-saving tips for the season, and she has invited you to share your ideas, too. I've noticed some of you visit her blog, too, but maybe others of you don't know her. She's a terrific gal, just turned 28, works in the health care field, only she sets up health care for our poorer neighbors, like Bolivia, etc. She just finished her first triathlon, is very crafty, loves to bake, and writes a fun blog.

I'm going to re-write here the things we have done in the past to save money, to use what we have, just in case you don't get a chance to visit her blog.

Last year, I bought some very pretty large Santa and snowmen mugs at the dollar store and filled them with snack bags of mug mixes. If you google search, you can find lots to choose from. Attach the directions, and the recipe so more batches can be made, and you have a great gift for co-workers. Some only need water, other recipes need more added. My friends kept the simpler ones at work, so they would have them for quick sugar fixes or quick soups. (I think they also wanted to keep the goodies for themselves, too, since I made one-serving batches!) Peach cobbler in a mug was a big hit.

For some elderly neighbors, I put together soup mixes in pint jars (this one is ours) with the spices in a snack bag, and anything else non-perishable that was needed. In the box was also a little plastic Christmas snack plate, also purchased at the dollar store, filled with homemade cookies and covered with plastic wrap. Then I found these later on, and will fill them with cookies this year to give away.

This year, I'm going to make my co-workers some of those coasters like I made earlier in the year, only in Christmas fabrics. They are quick and easy to make up, and I have LOADS of Christmas fabrics that I'm getting tired of looking at. (Pardon the grammar.)

As for wrappings, well, I haven't bought new wrapping paper in several years. For out-of-family gifts, like the mugs, I will use paper, or the colored netting I found a bunch of at a yard sale a couple of years ago. Tied with a pretty ribbon, it's as nice as any paper. I also recycle gift bags, if they are in good condition, because they are so inexpensive anyway and because, well, you can reuse them.

In the immediate family, we wrap our gifts in fabric from my stash, and not necessarily Christmas fabric. Under the tree, it all looks beautiful and festive.

I provide plenty of safety pins, ribbons, lace, rickrack, buttons, etc. for embellishing.

J-Man has only the use of one hand, so wrapping and unwrapping are difficult for him. See the bag with the Christmas tree on the front? I made that as a gift bag for him, first to wrap his gifts in, and then to receive them in. I try to make a couple more each year, and they are always washable. Either the embellishments are washable, too (inside out) or they are made to be detached. Tags are made from recycled Christmas cards, or paper and rubber stamps from my stash.

Another option: take holiday cookie cutters and trace for a pattern. Then cut a pair of them from felt, whipstitch together, stuff with batting and attach a ribbon for hanging. (You can attach the ribbon while whipstitching the front and back together. They can be used as gift tags, ornaments, whatever. Our quilt group, who is hosting this year's holiday luncheon for the guild, is stuffing snowmen a little fatter and using them as pincushion favors. If you really want to go at it, cut the shapes from Christmas plaid, say, atitch all together on your machine, stuff them and attach the ribbon for hanging, if not already secured.

Now it's your turn. How are you going to stay within your budgets this year? Any suggestions for the rest of us? Add your comments here, or click on over to Africankelli's blog and add them there.
I'm eagerly waiting to read your suggestions and -money-saving ideas.

Edited to add: At J. Hittle's, you can order sewing supplies at wholesale, without having to buy in bulk. Every weekend, they email with the new specials of the week. A place where you can get fabric really inexpensively is Thousands of Bolts. Thought some of you may not have heard of these sites.