Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Looking Forward

Oooh I felt bad leaving you with that eye-sore so here's something nicer, something else I look forward to in the spring:


Looking Back, Looking Forward...

Today is my wedding anniversary! I have a date later...

One of the things I usually end up doing on my anniversary is taking down the Christmas tree and decorations. Specifically, the tree. (And now, new blog header!) I just like to start the new year with a clean(-ish) house, instead of a project to clean up from last year. This one will be no different, as we awoke to a CRASH! in the living room. Several of our favorite ornaments were broken, including the first one I ever gave BFJ. But that does not define our relationship, so it's time to clean up and move on.

There are many elements of my year (every year) that could keep it from being my personal favorite year, but in my marriage, every year has gotten better. Some years more than others; this year has been a good year. Now, on to the next!

Another thing I am looking forward to is new plantings in the Spring. I mean, how can I help it when I get new seed catalogs every day? BFJ accused me of ordering them, but you know I didn't. All you have to do is purchase one item out of one catalog, and they spread the word that you might spend money. I can imagine where all the flowers are going, I can't imagine where all the vegetables should go. I do have a veggie garden area from last year, but I don't think it had enough sun.
And somehow, I would love to get rid of this view, cover it up with something green and lovely:

Orange plastic wicker just doesn't cut it for me. And don't get me started on the faded yellow birdfeeders! That is a lilac bush on my side of the fence, which my mother-in-law gave me two years ago for this purpose, but there's only so much one bush can do!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Made With Love

I mentioned earlier that I had made a lot of gifts for Christmas; here are some pictures...
crochet hook case for mom:

shadowbox for dad from grandpa's old tackle boxes:
hand-drawn calendars for mom and mother-in-law:
camera case for sister's new digital camera:
scarf-turned-neckwarmer for a sister-in-law:
Besides these things, I also made hats for my boys and nephews, which I previously blogged about, and also made a hat for my brother. I was planning to make a few more hats and another scarf, but the celtic knotwork turned out to take a lot more time than I had bargained for, especially with my little experience! I also received some handmade gifts, which surprised me! One sister-in-law made a sign for my garden, and painted a cute little crate to transport seedlings, and another of my SILs made little cement pieces for the garden that spell out a saying about gardens. I don't know it off the top of my head. I will have to get pictures of those items for you.

And I was very surprised that BFJ made it into the yarn store and a quilt shop. Can you believe it? First thing he did after I opened those gifts was tell me about the wonderful help he'd gotten at both shops. He went to Harriet Hargrave's shop, and actually met her and her daughter. I haven't even met them!

We had a great Christmas with both of our families. On Christmas Eve, we went to see The Tale of Despereaux. It was the first movie we've been to as a whole family, and BFJ's sister and nephew also joined us. I thought it was a cute movie, I don't think BFJ liked it as much.
One of the best things I did over the holidays was stay up til 4:30 a.m. playing Rook with my brother, sister, and my brother's best friend, who we grew up with. I've played Rook before, but not all night. It should be a new tradition!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

View


...from my parents' bedroom window.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snowy Peaks




I got the recipe for meringue from my cookbook but if you go to http://www.foodnetwork.com/, Tyler Florence shows you how to make them. Key instruction: do not underbeat. Batches 1 & 3 look like soft serve ice cream. Batch 2 looks like ... blobs.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Three


Three days left til Christmas. Three little boys can hardly wait. The middle one is about to burst, due to excessive secret-holding. He's made it three weeks with a big one. Don't even tempt him, that's just cruel.

I'm so close to finishing lots of projects, but keep running into one-more-little-things that need to be done. At least everyone is feeling much better. (Thank you for asking after us.) Boy, was it cold today. BFJ said, "It's not hard to believe it's the first day of winter." I never thought of it before, but I guess my birthday is technically in the fall.

Tomorrow is Cookie Day.


Problem: the dog has taken to digging up my tulips suddenly, every chance she gets. (You know, those tulips my sister just gave me in November, they haven't even bloomed yet!) I finally covered them with chicken wire, but they are probably ruined. I'm so glad I put some in a pot. After the dog got in trouble for that the fifth time, I left for a few hours and came home to find she was shredding some of her own stuff. Anyone know what's up with that???

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What I Did Last Weekend

As I said before, the majority of my household was sick last weekend. But here's what I did:

Watched a train go by,


went to a family brunch, with lots of yummy foods, (and I won a prize for "Best Presentation: Hot Dish,")


and there were lots of jolly people there;


watched my sister perform in a Christmas pageant,


and went to a birthday party for myself and my mother-in-law.


This weekend should be a little slower, but you never know this time of year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Strawberries, You've Been Warned

Thank you to all of you who stopped by to wish me a happy birthday!

I intended to post yesterday but ... didn't. The best gift I was given for my birthday? The day off! BFJ took the day off of work so that I could do whatever I wanted and not worry about the kids, the house, etc. Unfortunately, the kids were sick and one of my birthday activities was a family trip to the doctor. And now I have something. But he was kind enough to stay home today, also, so it seems more like a snowday than anything else. It was really nice, though, to have the whole day for my own devices.

It was really cold yesterday. I did try to run a few holiday/fun errands. I bought some yarn for a knitters' exchange tonight, and then I tried to go to Borders for some activity books there. After crawling through traffic (icy roads) for 30-40 minutes, I got to the closest Borders, and they were closed for water damage. Hmph! Well, I thought maybe God was trying to tell me that I shouldn't be out risking my neck for stuff like books, so I headed home and had a nice dinner with the boys.

Since it looks Christmassy, I thought you might like to see a picture of my favorite quilt (that I've finished.) It was an anniversary gift for my in-laws a few years ago. The pieced blocks are "Lucky Clover." This picture is a few years old, I was pregnant!


Oh! I was also tagged for this... photo challenge? That's what I'll call it. "Go to your fourth photo file, post the fourth photo, and explain the photo. Pass it on to four people." I'll pass it on to Audrey, Stephanie, Sara, and AmandaJean hope they want to play along! Here's my fourth photo of the fourth file. It is a picture of a strawberry plant from my yard last summer. I had a lot of plants, not a lot of berries. They have one more year to prove they're worth the space!



I hope you are all having a nice December!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Snow Angel


One more picture from last weekend: the joy of making snow angels.

What We Did Last Weekend

Last week, we drove up to my parents' house in the mountains and stayed a couple of nights. We drove up during/right after our first big storm of the season, and it took us twice as long as it usually does to get there. By the time we got there it was 11:00 p.m., and BFJ and I were exhausted. The boys, however, were refreshed from their car naps, and bounded in to see Nana and Grandpa. Luckily, my parents had gone to bed for a few hours, not knowing when we'd arrive. BFJ and I unloaded the car and went to bed, leaving Nana to take care of the boys. (Thanks, Mom!)

The next day was a loungy day. I spent time on my knitting, and actually ripped out more rows than I knitted. This was when I realized that this scarf was really meant to be a neckwarmer. We also got in some Andy Griffith, my dad's favorite. The boys also spent time in the hot tub. I try not to go out in the snow in a bathing suit, so luckily they were accompanied by grandparents.

BFJ and the boys found some time to sled, as well. Me, I stay inside where it's warm, for the most part. Taylor, our dog, also enjoyed running down the hill behind BFJ.

That evening, my sister, and my brother and his family all joined us. We had a birthday dinner - for me :) A little early. BFJ made me a cake - from scratch! Well, my mom and he followed this recipe but for some reason it did not come out quite as nice. I wonder if it was the altitude, we were at 7,000 feet. I appreciated the effort, though. (Blog titles suggested by my witty brother and company: It Was Downhill From Here OR This Was The High Point!)

The next morning, we went to the National Forest (I don't know which) to cut down a tree. The National Forest Service gives people this chance to cut their own trees, and it helps thin the underbrush and helps prevent forest fires from spreading quickly. $10 a tree! While it was pretty warm at the house, it was actually pretty chilly and windy out in the forest. Luckily, I had gotten some snow pants as a gift the night before! Here are some goof-offers:


BFJ felled ours with an axe. Not such a big tree, but very tall; he cut a lot off later. We don't mind them so thin, it is easier to fit in the house. My parents' tree was about 14' tall but they have a vaulted ceiling. Here's the group trying to get it in the door:


We also saw lots of evidence of wildlife:


The day we got back, we unloaded the car and then I headed out to the ornament exchange previously mentioned. Here are the ornaments I got in return. All are handmade or hand painted (except the gold ball.) I hung one on the door; pardon the chipped paint. It was the cleanest doorknob I could find for a picture!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Buttons and Mittens and NOT Stamps

This month is just zipping by, isn't it? We have so much going on. The stress and joy are compounded by being a crafty person, aren't they? You want to/have to make stuff. Well, the mittens seemed like they went over well. (I didn't even realize when I did it that the mitten I photographed was made of the shirt my grandpa was wearing in the photo I linked, but several of my family members noticed.) I was going to show you what I got in return, but I haven't had a chance to photograph them yet. However, we've gotten our tree up and decorated and I did get a picture of the ornament from my grandpa's shirts next to the ornament I made last year, using my grandma's buttons. If you can't tell, that is a yo-yo-and-button tree. So here they are, hanging out together.

Only, BFJ apparently moved them after I got pictures; they are no longer together. Last year, we did not have cats or dogs, and this year, there has been a bit of tree-tustling. And actually, the boys are involved in that too. Like you're surprised?

Thanks to Stephanie, we can find lots of holiday movies this month. And Audrey has inspired me to read more next year. Although my problem is, it is harder to quilt or knit while reading than watching TV. If only BFJ would read aloud to me every night... He won't; I've asked. I guess he has his own agenda.

Fifteen days til Christmas! I am looking forward to giving this year, and then I can show you all the gifts I've made! I hope I get them all done in time.

OH. I was so looking forward to my own stamps. I commissioned some art from my boys: a Christmas picture. I only had one taker (Zoom). So I finally got to the USPS site to order them and was so disappointed to see that the cost of a $8.40 book of stamps cost $18.99 when you custom order them! I decided to skip that; sad. But I did want to share the art piece:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mittens


On Tuesday, it was 74* out and my kids asked if they could play in the sprinkler. Today, we have snow snow snow. I would show you, but it looks a lot like the pictures I posted last weekend. I don't mind the snow, but my feet are cold. It is a nice day for hot BLTs for lunch.

It is good weather for decorating the house, and making little ornaments. I am going to an ornament exchange this weekend, items are to be handmade. Last year, I made little trees out of yo-yos and buttons from Grandma's stash. This year, I am making little mittens from my Grandpa's old flannel shirts: environmental and sentimental! Maybe next year, I will be skillful enough to knit little mittens like Leslie.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy December!


I finally got a good picture of these birds who visit us often. I would put out a bird feeder for them, but apparently they just stop by for worms. It took me awhile to track down what they were, but it helps that they are woodpeckers. We hear them drumming on metal but as far as I know, they have not made any holes, including in the tree. They are Northern Flickers.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It's less than four weeks til Christmas! I guess that is always the case when we get to December, but with Thanksgiving being so late in the month, it seems like Christmas is almost sooner than usual.

I am still working on several gifts. Well really, I am working on one gift, but I have several other projects to work on before Christmas. This weekend, we are going to celebrate my birthday (which is really more than a week away), go cut down a tree, then I am going to an ornament exchange. And the next week is even busier! But I really enjoy all the holiday events - seeing family, making things, lots of baking... I actually thought of having a cookie exchange in January instead of December, but that seems kind of silly. Who would we share them with? I guess it would be just as fun to take to the office, but my office is here so... I suppose I'll just keep everything in December.

And yes, as if all the holiday events are not enough, I have my birthday and my wedding anniversary this month! Of course, one of those was not under my control, but if I had it to do over again, I would probably get married earlier. Like, right after I realized I was dating the man of my dreams, instead of waiting for the wedding of my dreams. Who has those? But then I was just thinking the other day, both of my grandparents' anniversaries were also in December - the 23rd, and the 24th. I know at least one of them was 1941, right after Pearl Harbor was bombed. The 1940s seems like a neat era to me. I love the hat on the cover of this book,
Boutique Knits. I wonder if my grandkids will think the 1990s and early 2000s seemed neat. What will I tell them? Anyway, December: a good month.

Well, back to the present, here's what I'm working on, the
Irene Scarf. I really like the celtic-looking knotwork in the middle, and it is not too difficult. I guess I am going to have to learn to block my knitting!