Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Looking wonky around here? I'm changing everything for the New Year. It's a work in progress. . .
Saturday, December 27, 2008
We've had a marvelous, fattening, gifty Christmas, and right now I feel like I could sleep for a week. Santa was very very good to me and the kids got everything their hearts desired.
Friday, December 26, 2008
(To the tune of "The 12 Days of Christmas")
On the Night of Christmas Eve I made for the family I love:
12 Ginger-chocolate chip biscotti
11 Fresh-baked dinner rolls
10 Mounds of garlic mashed potatoes
9 Types of crackers for the cheese ball
8 Black olives for kids' pinkies
7 Cups of cornbread stuffing
6 Big scoops of cranberry-orange relish
5 Splashes of red wine reduction gravy
4 Heaps of green beans
3 Bowls of spinach-feta dip
2 Pounds of chocolate in the fountain
And a roast goose with molasses glaze.
OK, I didn't actually make the crackers or the olives or the chocolate. I did make everything else from scratch though, and I managed to knit a few last-minute scarves, and wrapped a bunch of gifts. I'm counting those as things I finished this week.
Join in and let us know about your holiday accomplishments!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I love amaryllis flowers at Christmas time. This year I tried a new variety "United Nations." I was so excited on October 22 when I received these in the mail:
I soaked the roots for a few hours.
I planted them, watered them, and waited. And waited. On December 20, they started to bloom.
I do love them, and they are by far the tallest variety I've had yet, but I think next year I'll go back to my old standby "Clown" variety. They have a little more red and look a little more like candy canes. But these are gorgeous, aren't they? Worth the wait.
I get the bulbs from the Amaryllis Bulb Company. I've always had great success with them.
Duncan got into the wrapping supplies and decorated his little friends.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
It's time to relate the sad but true tale of a little joke gone awry. It involves a dingbat who does a lot of crafty stuff (me) and her sister with a sense of humor. There is a lesson to be learned here, and I hope you all profit by it.
You see, we don't always get together for Christmas, so gifts are often mailed back and forth. Last year on Christmas morning I unwrapped a box from her to discover she had sent a "Make Your Own Umbrella Kit." The box was covered in pictures of people sporting basic umbrellas, and described the 146 pieces inside. All I needed were some "simple tools" - which would involve a trip to the hardware store.
The box sat for a while on the counter, then it went into the garage. I briefly debated actually making an umbrella, and decided I just didn't have the patience to make something like that. Off it finally went to the thrift store for some other crafty person to tackle.
Months later, during a phone conversation, the umbrella kit came up.
"Did you ever open your Christmas gift?"
"erm, yes, thanks!"
"You didn't open it, did you?"
"What did you do with it?"
"Well, I just didn't see myself making an umbrella, so I donated it."
. . .The sound of laughter from the other end of the phone line. . .
"It was a joke!"
"The box! There was a pink fluffy bathrobe inside. The box was a joke!" More laughter.
So this year, as I pulled gifts from her out of the big UPS box, I noticed mine is soft and squishy. Whatever it is, I'm opening it.
You can see a picture of the box (no longer available) here.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Oh dear, Mr. Scrooge has me working late on Christmas Eve, and it's so cold in here!
Get back to work and quit muttering Cratchitt! Can't you see I'm busy counting my money?
Scrooooooge! I am the ghost of your dead partner Jacob Marley! Repent!
Wow, seriously? For a ghost you look like a mouse with a sheet over your head. Your tail totally shows.
I am the ghost of Christmas present! See how poor your clerk is!
Heigh-ho! Just carrying Tiny Tim around on my shoulder here! Isn't he pathetic?
Never mind that dear! I've got the pudding! I'm so Martha, even though we're so poor.
I've seen the light! I'm dressed in my best and I'm off to order the big goose for Bob Cratchitt and his family.
Link up and show us what you've been up to this week! And have a very Merry Christmas.
Sometimes the best place to hide is right in plain sight.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
It's time to share what may be my favorite vintage item in my household.
I always stop in antique stores and look through the books. Sometimes there are boxes and piles of them, but I know what I like and I know what I'm looking for. I love Christmas novels. Once while shopping I saw an old volume with the title "This Way to Christmas." I pulled it out and opened it at the middle. The story was obviously charming. Then I flipped to the title page to see the date. 1916. But look! There facing the title page was a beautiful frontispiece by Norman Rockwell. This would have been very early in his career.
Then I continued flipping towards the front of the book and my jaw dropped. The previous owner had left his bookplate in the book.
I enlisted a professional to research and appraise it, and this was indeed, a book which belonged to Valentino. The famous heartthrob silent film actor had a very extensive library. How this book got to my small town I'll never know. It is well worn and obviously well read. The story is absolutely charming, and it's even more fun imagining The Sheik himself reading the same book.
You can find more Vintage Things today hosted by Colorado Lady.
He left another gift last night, some jingly bells. The kids wasted no time in making noise with them.
Don't forget! Tomorrow is "Finished for Friday." Come show us finished projects and admire everyone's work!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Saturday was our annual cookie party. The intent was, as always, to decorate beautiful cookies and exchange dozens of the home-baked delicacies. I used to do this with my girlfriends before I had kids, and I have fond memories of those lovely afternoons.
Let me warn you right now, if you want to see beautiful cookies, you better click over to The Glamorous Life Association and read about her cookie party. Or if you want to see children cooperating and building a beautiful gingerbread house, head on over to Who Says 8 is Enough? because you wont find any of that stuff here. We do it big and messy. With extra sprinkles.
Drama Girl with her BFF. The table is loaded with naked gingerbread cookies, dozens of little bowls and teacups of frosting, and sprinkles galore. We had 13 kids all at the table at once. I didn't seem to have a free hand to grab the camera at that point.
Wasabi Girl enjoying one of her coookies by the chocolate fountain. You have to be a real masochist to set up a chocolate fountain and sharp objects when you have a house full of pre-teens on a sugar high.
The finished cookies ran the gamut from cute to sprinkle overload. Funny thing, the kids didn't seem to mind eating them anyway.
Jungle Boy and his friend decorated amputee cookies, complete with "blood" on the stumps. Lovely. I have no idea what shape that red blob was previously. I can vouch that there is a cookie under there though.
I did this one. It's one of my favorite symbols of the season.
The kids didn't find him this morning, but I happen to know he's been sampling the eggnog ice cream.
Monday, December 15, 2008
What has the elf been up to?
He got into the freshly-baked gingerbread cookies (I don't know how he resealed the bag):
He was found playing with the beads and wire on the craft table:
He found the stack of Christmas cards I was addressing and addressed one himself:
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I've had a rough couple of weeks. Dealing with my pain problems, (MRI shows several tears in the lining of my hip joint - hello arthroscopic surgery!), a friend committed suicide, my job as PTA treasurer has taken a nasty turn at the discovery of a secret PTA account being kept by a parent (so that's where those checks went!), I've been running around like crazy trying to complete costume parts for Nutcracker and outfits for school concerts (how is it possible that there are no size 10 black pants within a 20 mile radius?), and hosting a big cookie-decorating party (more on that later).
But through it all, I've really tried to make Christmas happen. I've gone through all the motions of decorating the house, putting on the music, and following through with all of our traditions. But my heart wasn't in it. I had the perfect storm of bursting brain, sad heart, and physical pain.
But then something happened. Friday night while Jungle Boy and Drama Girl were at their Nutcracker rehearsal, Wasabi Girl and I started setting up for the cookie party. I baked gingerbread cookies furiously while she set up craft stations and organized the frosting and sprinkles. When I took the hundredth cookie out of the oven I paused for a minute and sat with her at a little table she'd set up.
"Mom, look at the ornaments we can make with these beads and wire!" I picked up a piece of wire and curled the end. Then I slid some beads on. I made a hook on the other end and held it up to the light. So simple it was beautiful. I started making another.
"Mommy, this is fun."
"Yes sweetheart, this is fun."
"Can we have some eggnog?"
"I think we must. It wouldn't feel like Christmas without it."
And as we sat there, making these beautiful little ornaments in the quiet house, next to the lights of the tree, Christmas happened. And now it's mine. And I love it.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Today's finish is another needlepoint. I finished stitching this a few months ago but I finally pulled out the velvet this week to make it into a pillow. Please oooh and aaaaah at the velvet cording I made all by myself. I am really not an expert at this.
Of course, everything in this house belongs to the cats. Here Andy has joined Ann on the favorite chair of our cat Nina. Hello cat hair.
Add in your link and tell us what you've finished up this week. I promise to ooh and aah for you!
Duncan rode in on his sleigh this morning with a bag full of treats.
Wasabi Girl was excited to see that he brought an elf-ornament full of Hershey kisses for each kid. What a goofy face in this picture!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I can't post today. My to-do list looks like this:
- Sew up some gifts
- bake dozens of cookies for the cookie party I'm hosting
- get shoes and pants for Jungle Boy for his concert coming up
- mail some gifts
- hurt my brain over the problems with the PTA accounts
- buy some toys for charity
- take Jungle Boy for a haircut
- label all the ballet shoes and tights and stuff for the Nutcracker performances starting this weekend
- concoct some great craft project for the cookie party
- baste a quilt
- get Drama girl some new legwarmers
- sign up Wasabi Girl for the Spring softball season
- water the tree
- change the printer cartridge and see if I can get the printer to work again
- schedule the dentist for the kids
- clean out the cat box
- sew a button on Wasabi Girl's pants
- knit a scarf for Drama Girl
- sign Drama Girl up for babysitting classes
Duncan and Meteor were found this morning in Jungle Boy's diorama for school. The diorama is depicting a scene from a book. I guess the book is about tape. And twigs. Whatever.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Like many moms, I keep a family notebook and a Christmas notebook. Last year at Christmas time, I decided to discard the blank wish list pages and instead created a very focused set of questions. The answers I got from each child renewed my faith and outlook on the season.
I've attached the file as a pdf. This is my first attempt at getting all fancy like this so I hope it works.
Personal Christmas Page
I got some interesting responses this year. For the question about favorite charity, the kids listed the local food bank, the World Wildlife fund, and Malaria No More. For favorite song, Drama Girl listed "Last Christmas" - proof that at age 12 she is intent on driving me insane. She was singing it around the house yesterday.
"Best gift they ever received" revealed that the handmade teddy bears and Raggedy Anns I made when the kids were little were worth the effort. Way to melt my heart just before Christmas kids. For "Gifts under $10" everyone wrote gel pens. Who knew gel pens were so great? I think Santa might be able to manage that one.
I'm armed with everything I need to know to not only do my Christmas shopping, but to make the season meet everyone's expectations. When the holiday is over, I'm saving these pages as a snapshot of their tastes at this age. I hope you find it as useful and revealing as I do.
Duncan went to visit Icicle the Polar bear in his snow cave. He seems to have left a trail of crackers. Messy little elf. Jungle Boy made the snow cave when I asked him to pick up all the cotton balls from the "snowball fight" the other day. I think it's pretty cute.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Laura of Catholic Teacher Musings tagged me for this meme months ago. I'm just that tardy in getting around to things. I'm sure on her mental blogger report card I'm receiving a failing grade for not turning in my assignments. I may be out of school, but I still have a healthy fear of teachers and bad marks on my permanent record, so here goes.
- I am free here. Writing is available to me. I am not constrained by format, length, tone, or deadline. I will not receive a red pen mark for putting that comma before the "or" in the previous sentence. As someone who has spent professional years writing correspondence and trip reports, I find this liberation intoxicating. The lesson I have learned from this freedom is that writing can actually be fun.
- My words have value to me. This blog has, from the beginning, been primarily designed as a way for me to record family moments both large and trivial. My photo albums are bursting, but only tell part of the story. These words for my future self are as insignificant as a moment, but add up to tell another part of the story of our days.
- I am not alone. I wont lie - going from a full-time career to being a stay-at-home mom was an enormously difficult transition for me. But by wandering through the blogs of other moms, and reading the comments people leave for me, I have gained self-assurance and a sense of place. I can still find intelligent conversation; it just isn't at the latte machine at work any more (oh do I miss that machine!).
- Days fly by faster than I ever realized. I now notice the cycle of weeks as I prepare a vintage thing for every Thursday and finish something for every Friday. I post on How Do You Do It? every other Monday, and those sometimes feel as if they are only a day or two apart. Blogging gives me a different perspective on my calendar, and makes me appreciate each day.
- You can get something for nothing. This amazes me. I have only entered a few blog giveaways, but I've won an astounding percentage of them. I feel blessed to receive packages full of goodies from total strangers. And this reminds me that I should do my own again soon.
Our tree is up, and the house smells like Christmas now. Duncan the elf seems to have been playing in the box of ornaments.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
|by threeundertwo related [litandlaundry.blogspot.com]|
Apparently he organized a hockey match with a rival team. They must have found one of the corks we left on the floor for the cats to play with.
If you would like an elf for your house, visit Elf Magic.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
This needlepoint piece has been sitting in my sewing room for many months, after spending many months before that stitching it. I get stuck putting things together sometimes. So today I got out the red velvet to back this pillow. Have you ever cut into velvet? It explodes. Little red velvet crumbs all over my sewing room, and all over me. Quite a mess. But I'm glad to get this out of my sewing area and off my to-do list.
Finished any projects this week? Want to link up to a post about your decorating or tree trimming? I'd love to see.
Duncan chose Wasabi Girl's little guitar for a hiding place. Let's see how long it takes for her to find him. She has pretty sharp eyes.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I've just put my not-so-little children to bed with one of our favorite Christmas traditions, The Cinnamon Bear. This serialized radio show from 1937 consists of 26 episodes recounting the story of twins Judy and Jimmy and their quest to retrieve the star for their Christmas tree. As they journey through Maybe-land they meet all kinds of wonderful and wicked creatures portrayed by some of the best voice talents of the time. The story has a wonderful Wizard of Oz type appeal that I never grow tired of.
You can listen free online here, or download free mp3s of the episodes here or buy the CDs from Amazon here.
I listened to this show on the radio every Christmas while growing up in Portland Oregon. A local department store sponsored the show and offered opportunities to meet the Cinnamon Bear and have breakfast with him.
One year, when I was home from college and working as a nursing assistant at a nursing home, I was careful to schedule my breaks to coincide with the time the show aired on the radio. I got teased a lot by my coworkers for my devotion to this show. But I had the last laugh.
Our next-door neighbor ran a preschool, and hired the character to come out one morning to entertain the kids. Her plumbing wasn't working and apparently the poor Cinnamon Bear needed his cup of coffee. Badly. So the neighbor sent him over to my mom. I was sleeping in (typical teenager) when my mom insisted I get dressed and come downstairs immediately.
There he was. Full costume. I nearly died of happiness at the irony of it all. I got my mom to take several pictures which I flaunted to my coworkers on the next evening shift.
"See? He visited me. Because I believe."
And who's to say I'm wrong?
Vintage Thingies Thursday is hosted by Colorado Lady. Lots of great Christmas items this week!
The kids have been talking very seriously to Duncan about the problem with Meteor. He's a Webkinz that they received from Duncan a year ago, and the online account for him will expire in a few days. If they get a new Webkinz, they can extend the account and keep their virtual friend alive online.
Good thing Duncan has delivered. In his big green bag is a new Webkinz stuffed animal - a polar bear. I expect you'll be seeing more from him soon.
If you would like an elf for your house, please visit the wonderful folks at Elf Magic.
Tomorrow I will again be hosting "Finished for Friday." Please join me and share any projects you've wrapped up this week.
Calm down. CALM DOWN! I kept telling myself at the imaging center. I was so nervous I was jumping through my skin. Not enough sleep the night before, and too many horror stories in my mind about experiences during MRI scans.
The irony didn't escape me. Back when I coordinated the University Alzheimer's Research Center, I used to set patients up for brain MRIs all the time. "It will be noisy," I'd say. "You will need to lie still in a big tube, but you'll be just fine." Then invariably the patients or their caregivers would come back and tell me how really noisy it was, and how awful the tube was. What was I thinking reassuring patients about this anyway? I thought about all that bad karma while I sat in the waiting room at 6 o'dark.
The facility was lovely, in that expensive woodsy spa-type decor. A technician greeted me and led me to my dressing room, which had a sliding door with tinted windows that looked like a Shoji screen. There was a large, comfortable recliner in the room and a tasteful wooden locker. It looked like a nice place to get your nails done, or maybe your eyebrows waxed.
I was given a clipboard with a checklist of the thousand types of metal I might have in my body. I was also handed the dreaded hospital gown/pants combo. I changed and lingered a little before I signaled the tech by opening the door again. That room was so nice.
Then into the MRI room. I was given earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones. The technician put a panic button in my hand "in case I needed it" and in I went. I thought it would be a big tube. It's not. Have you ever seen a hamster in a toilet paper roll? It's like that. I couldn't move a muscle. I started to breathe hard. I didn't like looking at the ceiling inches from my eyes. The technician, who is apparently well-trained in mind reading, asked if I wanted a washcloth over my eyes. Oh yes.
Then she started pumping the oxygen. Right up my nose. I searched my mind for calm thoughts. Anything. Bang Bang Bang. It had started
Cool breeze. Lying still. I pictured myself on a beach. Hawaii. Eyes closed. CLICKITY CLICKITY CLICKITY CLICKITY. Is that you Viggo? How nice of you to come by. Lovely day, isn't it? I'm so glad you decided to wear those shorts from GI Jane. Yes, a daiquiri would be lovely.
BANGITY BANGITY BANGITY BANGITY!! Oh Johnny, good to see you. Viggo and I were just enjoying the beach. You're a bit of a beach bum yourself, aren't you? I could just lie here all day with the two of you. Mmmmmmmm
"Ms. Undertwo? Did you fall asleep? It's over. You can get up now."
Not that I'd sign up to do it again or anything, but the company wasn't too bad.
Oh dear, Duncan seems to miss the snowy North. He and Meteor got into a snowball fight with some cotton balls. I like Meteor's fortification technique, while Duncan simply hides behind a chair leg.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I should be sleeping, but I can't. My mind refuses to shut down. Why?
In a few hours I'm scheduled for an MRI, and I'm nervous about it. Nervous that I wont be able to lie still that long. Nervous that the results will or will not show the reason for my chronic pain. I'm counting on this new doctor finding what he thinks he will, and that it can be fixed. Wish me luck.
I'm also awake thinking about the PTA meeting last night. I know, sounds silly. What could be so important? I'm the treasurer, and there is a situation with money that has been discovered. Let your imagination run wild, because it's certainly worse than I could have imagined. I'll leave it at that.
Life is always interesting, isn't it? And that's why I love reading blogs. I read these two posts yesterday, and I really want to share them with you.
If you haven't read Chookyblue, I think you will find her blog and photographs fascinating. Read this post from yesterday. It's a jaw-dropper. Puts one's life in perspective.
And then there's the news from Natalie. I feel privileged to be able to read it.
If I can't sleep, I can only imagine the thoughts running through the heads of these women. Posts like those are what make the world of blogging and bloggers so fascinating. I read and comment, you read and comment. It's 3 am and I have things on my mind. Chookyblue and Natalie have very different things on their minds.
I feel very privileged to have every reader, follower, subscriber that I do. Thank you for being here for me. And now that I've got my thoughts off my chest and I'm getting sleepy, it's time to find out:
Since it is the middle of the night, I'm not going to dig out the camera and make noise, but I will say, that Jungle Boy left his big zippered binder sitting out on the dining table. I believe there is now a stowaway in that binder. Remains to be seen if the stowaway is discovered before the kids go to school.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Love it or hate it, it's that time of year again. Christmas music time. The time when some radio stations play the same 20 Christmas songs endlessly, and nobody stops to wonder about Sammy Davis Jr, Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand singing about the Lord's birth.
You can tune it out, but you can never really escape. It's in stores, on commercials, and popping up on blogs. It takes a fair degree of cynicism for those who celebrate Christmas to say they hate Christmas music, but who can blame them when the most hackneyed, overplayed tunes get the most air time?
There are some offenders that I personally can't stand;
- Anything by the Beach Boys or Elvis.
- "Do They Know It's Christmas Time?"
- "Last Christmas" by Wham
This is just my own opinion, and I was not paid to endorse this product. Accuradio is free.
Sharp eyes spotted a little bit of his green shoe peeking out from a cookie jar.
I get the hint. The jar is empty. I need to get cooking.