Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Birthday to my brown-eyed girl

Eleven years ago today, a baby girl snuck into the year as it was coming to a close. But more important, she snuck into our hearts. Perhaps it's because she arrived as the world was getting ready to party, but Emily sees something to celebrate in every day and in everything she does. We love you Em Girl!

Daddy's Girl

Little Sister

Animal lover



My Girl

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

Our Christmas Day was wonderful in every way. Time spent with family, lots of neat presents, tons of delicious food. I was delighted to be the first one up in our family -- after threats from the kids that they would have us up at the crack of dawn, I awoke at 7 a.m. to a very quiet house. I slipped downstairs to move the breakfast casserole from the fridge to the oven, and was beyond excited to see the snow falling and the back yard all ready covered in a blanket of snow. A white Christmas!
As wonderful as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day can be, over the years I have come to love the day after. In Australia, the UK, Canada, they call it Boxing Day. There are a variety of stories about how the name came to be, but the one I personally relate to is that it was for the servants of the manor. Because they had to work all Christmas Day, serving the lord and master and keeping the celebration going in the manor, they were given the day after Christmas to spend with their families, along with a box of leftover food. It works for me.
Personally, I think it's a glorious day. I finally get to sit down and go through my stocking and open my new perfume, snack on the feast from the day before that is actually hot because I've warmed my plate in the microwave, and I don't care if the house is a mess because the only ones here are the five of us and maybe a stray neighbor kid or two. Today I'll work at my desk and sneak a piece of pumpkin pie. I'll sort out all the receipts in my purse, write a few thank you notes and this afternoon I'll curl up with the new Jan Karon book, a gift from Joey.
Maybe I'll hit the stores tomorrow and maybe I won't. Dan is off the rest of the week and we have no plans and stockings full of movie passes! Life is good.
Happy Boxing Day to everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Be It Unto Me

By Liz Lemon Swindle (christcenteredart dot com)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Boomama is hosting a tour of homes for the holidays. I think it's a wonderful idea and have enjoyed popping in on a few of the homes on tour. However, at this point, I can't handle even the idea of company, so I will have to pass on having a formal open house of my own. (That's me, sprawled out on my front lawn to the left). But, as long as you've dropped by, I'm glad you're here, so come on in! Today, I managed to get some baking done. I started with the important things -- the fudge for my nephew, R.J., who will be home on leave this week, and the spritz Christmas trees that are a family favorite, especially for my psuedo-brother-in-law, Steve, who is really Kathy's husband, but he feels like a brother-in-law and since I only have one real one, I will claim him. Besides, since he has to put up with me for the rest of mine and Kathy's lives, the least I can do is bake him some of his favorite Christmas cookies each year (hi, Steve.) Here is the picture I promised of our decorated tree. It is the tallest tree we've ever had -- eleven feet! It looks like it's leaning in this photo, but truly it is not. It's straight and true and smells wonderful. If I were hosting an open house, I would probably show you my Nativity set. This one is from my childhood, the one we had growing up. I also have another, fancier one, but this is my favorite. See the little bird's nest in the rafters? My mom always added a touch of whimsy to things.

I would also show you my corner cupboard (that I bought at a garage sale for $25 and have yet to refinish it) with a few special Christmas things. The tea set is from a very dear friend, and the little angle is something my cousin made me years ago. The Christmas card was my uncle's as a baby, so it's probably about 80 years old.

This is my simple-Simon centerpiece which has yet to make it to the center of my dining room table, because it will be my workbench until minutes before Christmas dinner!

And, finally, a shot of one of my favorite ornaments. This was made by Joe when he was in preschool. There's a story behind why it is so special to me, but for now suffice it to say that it is one of those little things that tugs at a mom's heart. And this year, I can hardly look at it without getting teary. My firstborn is now a tall, lanky young man who will be graduating high school at the end of the week and heads off to college one month from today! Tomorrow, it's back to some more baking. I have wrapping to do and a menu to plan for Christmas Day (it's all in my head, but need to get it down on paper). Six more days, so I better get busy. So glad you popped in!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Covered in snow

It snowed all day yesterday and today our town looks like a Christmas card. The sun is shining, it's freezing cold out, and everthing is covered in soft mounds of snow. Little piles on the fence posts, tree branches holding soft little piles of the stuff, all powdery covering the ground and perfect for snow angels.
This morning I'm leaving to go back east for a few days for my uncle's funeral. He passed away very unexpectedly on Monday morning. He and and my aunt are two of the most dear people in the world to me, and I'm grateful that I can be there with her. My brother is going with me.
Forty-six years ago this month, my brother and I were the ring bearer and the flower girl in their wedding. He was five years old and I was three. It struck me as one of those circles in life as I was making plane reservations for the two of us yesterday. I have a fleeting memory of standing at the end of a long aisle in the church, being told to walk in front of my aunt and uncle. I remember the full white skirt of her gown and her smiling down at me. I was so scared, but my mom told me to take Mark's hand. I trusted him implicitly, and once I had his hand, I was fine.
I've traveled a lot on my own and have no qualms about it. But when I called him the other day and asked, will you go with me? and he'd already decided he would, I breathed a sigh of relief. He'll handle the details of getting the car, figuring out where to go. I guess you're never too old in life to depend on your big brother.
Dan will hold down the fort while I'm gone. I'll be back on Saturday and there will be presents to wrap and cookies to bake. But for now, I'm going to savor the moments with my aunt and her family and being with my brother for a few days.
Ya'll hold down the fort here, too.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

On a cold and snowy afternoon

The view in my kitchen window.

A good day to don an apron and bake some cookies.

To share with friends.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Friends who craft together. . .

Today was the day for Kathy and I to make our annual Christmas craft. It's a day when one of us picks the craft -- a very simple craft -- and we meet at her house where the Christmas music is playing and the dining room table is spread out with crafty stuff. We begin with a Starbuck's, craft a little, talk a lot, stop for a nice salad lunch, craft some more and talk some more. This candle with the peppermint sticks wrapped with ribbon is what we made last year.

This year I chose a project that I had a feeling might be a challenge, since I saw the picture in a magazine at least two years ago and would have to go from memory. I gathered up the supplies I had on hand, bought two wreath forms from Hobby Lobby and formulated the steps in my head. It all went south when I got up this morning and couldn't find either one of my glue guns. I called Kathy. "You have a glue gun, don't you?" Her response, "Bwah hahahhahahaha," told me no, she does not. Now you know what I'm up against. Crafting with a person who is so uncrafty she doesn't even own a gluegun.

In the midst of dealing with a teenager who was experiencing great angst this morning, I never could locate the glue guns, so I opted for Plan B, which was to do an entirely different craft. A couple of months ago I bought some of those little felt sequin kits that are so beautiful when finished and that Barb has perfected to an artform. My kits have little stockings that hold the silverware on your holiday table. Doesn't that sound nice? I imagine my table set for our traditional Christmas breakfast of cinnamon roles, fresh grapefruit and scrambled egg casserole. These little silverware holders would make it all so very festive.

Kits in hand, I was late rushing down to Kathy's house, but too early to pick up our salad lunches because McD's doesn't serve salad until 10:30. Did you know that? I rushed through Starbuck's drivethrough for a coffee . . . A coffee. And showed up at Kathy's door to be greeted with the sound of someone tearing out tile in a bathroom upstairs, and another preparing to tile the kitchen. The living room was completely empty of furniture as she was waiting for an entire new set to be delivered.

There was no Christmas music.

I was greeted with, "Where's the lunch you were supposed to pick up, and since you only have one coffee, I assume it's mine."

It all went down hill from there. My un-crafty friend not only doesn't own a glue gun, she also doesn't sew. But that's okay. She envies me because I have a glue gun and I envy her because she has a house that has a fireplace in her bedroom. After 37 years of friendship, we understand one another.

Eventually we set ourselves up at the dining room table, snacking on leftover peppermint sticks that were in her "craft bag" from last year's project. We didn't have to worry about the work people eavesdropping on our conversation because they couldn't hear us over tearing out the tile. And inspite of having to stop when the furniture was delivered, and then spending the next hour re-arranging the room a half dozen times -- which, by the way, involved moving her FULLY DECORATED 8-foot Christmas tree back and forth across the room at least six times -- I managed to get one sequined little sock done. Kathy got one cut out, and has 4 sequins sewn on it. But her living room looks great.

When it was time to go, I packed up both batches of our crafts. I apologized again for not bringing lunch. She said it was okay. I told her maybe we can meet monthly and by next year have all of our little sequined socks finished for Christmas 2008. She thought that was a good idea.

I have an idea for my next craft pick. You take candy canes. And brown pipe cleaners for antlers and little beady eyes. . . and a red pom-pom for the nose. . . and some Elmer's glue . . .

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Bringing home the Christmas tree. . .

Today we took a drive way up into the mountains to find our Christmas tree. It was cold, so we bundled up warm. We met a bear. He was quite friendly. The snow was powdery, but that didn't stop a couple of boys from having a snowball fight.
How 'bout this one?
Chopping down the tree. . .
Cleaning off the boughs and lower branches.
Hauling the tree out of the forest. . .
. . . and loading it in the truck
At home, ready to decorate. (It's a bit hazy, because someone got overzealous in mixing the glaze for his rum cakes.)
Next: Part two - Trimming the tree.