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.