Thursday, December 31, 2009

I Don't Wanna



I don't want to take it down. I haven't gotten to sit and read or knit by the lights at night enough. I want another week, especially after all the trouble of getting it set up. I'm okay with not being the house that leaves their icicle lights swinging in the breeze until May, but I want to sit by the tree lights a little more.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Garden Love

Poor little garden that could...

Even after a few freezes, it's still trying.


While cleaning up the dead stuff from my fall garden, I was pleased to see the hardy herbs are good and the rest will reseed. The lettuces and greens are still going strong


and the holly hocks, sweet peas, and grapevine are rooting.


Lavender and rosemary are spreading and calendula are still sprouting up here and there.


After all the bother of "special" seeds, at least something is established!

But, as I pulled up dead woody stalks today, I knew I had to streamline my garden plan. My budgetary allotment for garden experimentation is nil, and since it looks like we won't have a well to water a larger garden, I'm only doing what has already worked:

I'll focus on tomatos, peppers, beans, okra, lettuce, onion, and herbs (the stuff that works here.)

I'll set up homemade rain barrels under my gutters to offset water costs.

No wasting money on iffy heirloom tomato seeds that never made it when I can buy tomato plants from the feed store cheap.

I'm only using a little leftover corn for bean poles and character. I just don't have space for enough corn.

I'll try fun stuff like bee balm and chamomile again because I have the seeds - but no new fancy seeds.

And speaking of bees, they've been a little neglected. I'm not even ready for a real honey flow. We still have to make our extractor. Aaaah!!

It's time for a Scarlett O Hara moment: I'll think about it all tomorrow and just spend the rest of the day knitting.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Non Blood Relatives

Here they are, each in their prime. They've been called "the boss", "thinks he's people," and "the [baby] replacement." But mostly they're our witnesses. They've seen every birth, every blow-up, every good day. There's a worn patch in the finish on our wood floors and a hollow in the couch as evidence of two of them. The empty space in the crook of my arm at night, as I sleep, is testimony of the one who's gone.



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Night

Winter makes sense of our basic needs. There's clarity sitting by a fire, huddling together, lit from the inside out. I could stay up all night.






Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Snapshots

This is what our friends and relatives will see on our Christmas cards. They won't see that my son is cranky, my daughter is just barely tolerating this portrait, and my husband regrets asking for a last minute Christmas photo card at 11pm. They'll never guess that it was taken seconds before I yelled at my family for being so difficult while I try to preserve the love in a photo.


The reject pictures on my computer tell the tale: sullen faces, half-closed sleep walker eyes, "you're digging your elbow into me!", rolled eyes, lots of "eyes," etc.

I had a Malcolm in the Middle moment. Then I went to sleep regretting getting angry with everyone. My mom never yelled and I don't think she had expectations that we spend quality time together. She also didn't seem to take our bad attitudes to heart. I don't want to be a dissappointed mother, not even for a second. But, I just can't seem to reach the kind of patient character I want to possess. Don't get me wrong, I don't walk around shrieking and throwing things. I also don't wear a continuous bitter, injured air. But I'm not unflappable.

Losing her at a young age, I think I place more importance on making the most of each day we have together. It's a natural response to loss. I NEED to have a happy Christmas with my children. I have great memories from my childhood to pass down. But, the reality is, they aren't always so motivated. And that's a natural response to having not lost. So, I yelled. Which is a natural response to rude children, and I'm sure it's all a very natural Christmas bummer.

Is this photo how my family sees me? A slightly warped version of what God made me to be? Bent with sin, selfishness, and hurt?

Is this how God sees us? Not horrible, but also not who we should be?

I don't think so. We've all accepted His gift of His son. And He is still working in us. When he sees us (thank you, Father) it is in view of redemption and potential.

Very clear
very forgiven
very hopeful
and very beautiful.


I do love this family.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What Would MacGyver Do?

I was trapped in a difficult situation: I had to find Christmas presents for several men in the family who need and want nothing, and I was desperate. All I had on hand was a little lye, some oil, a fragrance sample, clay, and pvc pipe. What nifty contraption could I make to get out of this predicament? What would MacGyver do?


Make shaving soap, of course.


At least that is what I've attempted to do here. It's just like regular soap, but with more sudsy oils and bentonite clay. I poured it in the pipe molds and a silicone brownie pan to set, then pushed it out of the pipes with a bottle.

It does smell great- like vanilla and myrrh mixed. And after the cylinders are cut into slices, they'll be the perfect size for a shaving mug. If nothing else, my husband is stocked on shave soap...forever.


Next time I need to prep the pvc with petroleum jelly or something to help the soap pop out. Then there won't be those knife marks where I had to loosen the sides with my knife. And, no, it wasn't a swiss army knife.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Man the Kitchen



My husband did this. Lemon cream. Skillz.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All I Want for Christmas is a Very Brady Vacation



It was lodged in my subconscious, I guess.

Since I was a little girl, I've wanted to see The Grand Canyon. Mine and my brother's fixation with Indian tribes didn't help. Somehow the excitement of elementary school studies of the painted desert and playing Indians wearing "hide" vests made of paper grocery sacks all mixed about in my head with Little House on the Prairie and were distilled in repeats of The Brady's Grand Canyon vacation.

Anyway, I think this is the year to do it. It being in summer, we won't be hiking to the bottom with children and probably couldn't afford the mule ride. But, if I save enough, we can walk the rim and head up to Zion park in Utah to hike into the Narrows and camp, all by way of the Painted Desert.

I know it won't be as cool as riding into the canyon backward on a mule, like Alice, or getting inducted into an Indian tribe that mysteriously lives in the bottom of the canyon, but it's the next best thing.

And if we pull it off, I can scratch it off my list and move on to the next dream vacation.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jiffy Pop and a Movie

I've heard that some people who look for cost effective methods of feeding, sheltering, clothing, educating, and amusing themselves can become almost addicted to doing everything cheap. Well, I'm not there, but, out of necessity, we do whittle down expenses.

We're not eating out often and instead of going to the movies, we're watching free netflix online and popping our own snacks.
(As is evidenced by this picture in which I've completely let myself go.)


Remember Jiffy Pop? That's the way we made popcorn when I was little. I spotted it in the store and realized my children had never seen it. That just seems wrong.
So we gathered, seriously, around the foil pan, (myself, my teenager daughter, and my ten year old son) waiting in suspense for the hissing sound of steam so we could take turns shaking it over the burner.


Slowly as the popping sounds sped up and the foil dome ballooned outward, they got a little antsy. There was a bit of nervous debate about wether we were shaking the pan enough to keep the kernels from burning and who'd not gotten enough of a turn, etc.


The dispute was settled by a burnt smell, so we pulled it off the fire and my son had the honor of tearing the little bubble open to taste test it. It was fine and I think we all ate it more heartily during the movie than normal because, I don't know, it's like 70's nostalgia voodoo. It was entertainment in itself.

I can't imagine the kids liking it more if they were under ten.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Another Handmade Christmas Ornament

This is another favorite craft for kids to do.


My grandmother made this one while volunteering at the mission center in her hometown. This ornament is probably as old as me and gets packed away very carefully each year after Christmas, with the other handmade ornaments we've inherited from her.

It's pretty obvious construction: matchsticks, a Christmas scene cut from an old Christmas card, glue, a hole punch, and an ornament hanger. Just alternate laying the matches from different sides like lincoln logs. Oh, and burn and stub them out first.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

It Works on People, Too

Had test for my 1st Degree, Level 3 belt. While sparring, I tried my new move on a person. This is the frame by frame (I know my nonexistent readers are on the edges of their nonexistent seats for this one):

It starts from the back leg...


...comes up and around like a round kick...


...and when they lower their guard to block it, it crosses quickly in front Michael Jackson style (You know the move.)


Then lands BAM! in a totally unexpected target in the center or opposite side of the body (in this case, the head.)


Aahh, the kick was beautiful... but my guard was yuck here. However, it does look kind of dance-y.
I just make stuff up as I go.
It's a fancy, little point grabber, but I would so be dead if I did this in a life threatening situation.


This is just a gratuitous high side kick shot for my benefit, because it's not bragging if no one reads your blog.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Handmade Ornaments


This is an easy Christmas craft I like to do with the kids or our Sunday School class. I just scour the city park for little fallen burrs off of a sweet gum tree and bring glue, toothpicks and spray paint.



The kids enjoy dipping the toothpicks into glue and sticking them into the burrs. Once painted, they really are pretty just stuck on a tree or clustered about. One Christmas, the kids and I decorated an outside tree with nothing but these stars for my grandparents who were living in a trailer due to a hurricane and had no room for a tree.

The Whitest of Elephants

I love white elephant parties, maybe because I have so much that's white elephant worthy in my home. I have a tendency to keep terrible and/or useless things because they are so terrible and so useless, even finding it hard to give them away as gag gifts.


Last year I parted with part of a 99 cent Goodwill "Dorf" collection (only part because I cleverly wrapped two up as gifts to my husband, who has yet to watch all of it.) Imagine the Christmas joy felt by the elderly couple who left with both Dorf and a whoopee cushion under their arms.

The Kittyhead hat was a last minute knit up that I made for a friend's white elephant party. Never would've thought I'd see a grown up fight it out in yankee swap for this cheap, fuzzy hat. Since then, my friend has seen the kittyhead driving around town, hunched over the steering wheel. The man who won it still wears it, under his hard hat, no less. This is my father-in-law wearing his own gift.



But this year's gift is, by far, my favorite. I didn't know what I'd do with these when I found them in a stack of old records someone gave us, but I knew I couldn't just throw this away. I can't stop staring at this picture. I'm mezmorized by the quality of these photographs...the artwork... the platforms... the jazz hands! Who wouldn't want to wake on Christmas morning and find these under their tree?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I Do Not Like the Coat of Shame.

We went to our town's Christmas parade to see our daughter march and thought I'd try a training technique on Spotticus that the Dog Whisperer sometimes uses.


Yeah, I know, he uses dog packs but they're like $50+ and this Santy outfit was only $2.50. Instant obedience!


The kid with the mohawk's rubbing it in.


Speaking of shame: she might hate me for including this, but I love her and she's part of the fam. Plus, she marches in her sleep!


And now, to put all of our idiosyncrasies and embarrassments into perspective...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Feral Christmas

He was once an emaciated tom with a huge fluffy head (hence the name "Brain.") Though he's not succumbed to my cat whisperings yet, he has started taking his meals a respectful distance from me on the front porch.


Last night was my first night to cover plants this winter. I put out a cardboard box to cover Brain, but it was just sad-looking. So this is my new and improved cat shelter. A cooler with a piece of faux fleece inside. (I know straw is best, but where am I going to get straw this late at night...or ever?)


It's really small, but all our local grocery had. If he will even consider enclosing himself in something, I'll do a big rubbermade house. Then the tackiness of my front porch will be complete.


Though I'm doubtful he will be so domesticated, it made me feel better to know he had a little house with a cheap Christmas tree too.

Christmas at Our House

This is what we're listening to.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Soap


This is my contribution to the Christmas Fund.


The Pumpkin Soap turned out alright and suds up really well. There's also the last of the Calendula, rosemary Gardener's Soap, True Castile, and a few bars of cheap basics.