Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

It's after eleven on Christmas and the coffee still isn't out of my system 
so I thought I'd post a Merry Christmas to anyone still skimming blogs or Flickr.  This is the sight that I enjoy reading and relaxing by every night of the holiday.  
Hope your day was blessed.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Denial

I guess, that sounds really blasphemous, but I don't mean it that way.  No, I'm not denying Christmas, just putting off some of the work of the holiday for a few minutes more.  I've hid in a movie, in Pinterest, in the bathroom, and now within a blog post.  I'll get to roasting those peppers and making that ricotta eventually.  I even look forward to it, but the forever 15 year old in me kind of wants to roll over in bed and face the wall for a little bit more.

So, indulge me as I post on decidedly non Christmas-y things like my bike basket:

It even looks like summer on the yellowed grass.
I've been using a purse with detachable straps wound around the handlebars, but I couldn't carry my camera in it.  With this one, I can fit the whole big case with an extra lens.

It's handmade in Ghana for House of Talents with proceeds going to the artisans and their community.  Click the link and read the story.  When it arrived,  I felt that feeling you get when you find the perfect pair of blue jeans or wake after having just the right amount of sleep.  Silly, I know, but isn't it cool?


Now I just need to make my panniers and that skirt guard and my favorite bike will be so ridiculously dressed up it will look more human than bicycle :)

The Last Wise Man

Speaking of wise men, is this a universal truth, or just a coincidence in my home and the one I was brought up in that every Christmas, the last wise man in the nativity "gets it" from the household pets, eventually biting the dust somewhere near the edge of the tree skirt?  


Growing up it was the only black wise man in my mother's ceramic set that our cat would walk past and swipe at.  This left my brother and I,  growing up in the deep south,  to speculate on our cat's hidden prejudices, though she was black herself.   But, you know, he was trailing behind the rest of the party at the manger scene, just outpaced by the shepherds in worshipping the Christ child on Christmas morn, and so had to be doomed.  (I won't bother with biblical accuracy when it comes to the nativity.)  My mother tried to save him year after year, and with each gluing, he acquired more chipped spots and poorly reattached limbs.   

As an adult, my cats have always enjoyed tormenting our last wise man under the tree too, only I thought I'd prevented Christmas carnage by using a plastic nativity I inherited.  (Really, it's not as tacky as it sounds, it looks kind of like carved wood under the artificial tree.)   Anyway, it has weathered 2 children, 2 dogs, and 2 cats over the years... until this year when the ax fell. 

There he is, below, poor guy.  This time, my little dog was the culprit.  It seems two to three miles is still not enough of a walk for my littlest dog to wear off his crazies.   We were only gone for a second on a last minute Walgreens run.  If you look close, now, you can see the chewed up edges of his frankincense censor... and his hand... and head. 
  
day 357, sadly

 Oh well, it is a Christmas tradition, I guess, and  the important thing is he's still in there, expecting the miracle. 

Wise Men Bring Gifts

This is a lazy Christmas for us-  no outdoor lights, no inflatables (thank goodness), no handmade gifts (except the sweater I made me) and we've been sleeping til ten every morning. 

But, I feel no Martha Stewart- induced guilt about not making everything into a Christmas craft for extra special "memories."  It just didn't feel right.  We were all tired, and that's sad to have a high schooler feel tired from the pace of school.   We are tired of celebrating.  Does that even make sense?   So, instead of trying to make my grandmother's incomparable turkey/dressing spread for dinner, we'll be having a no- brainer lasagna.

I think just knowing I wasn't  going to overdo it this year made me feel "with it" enough to crank out some slice and bake cookies yesterday with my daughter to bring to family friends that are no longer able to leave their homes/ nursing homes.   This is something I have always wanted to do at Christmas but was always too busy with a myriad of mindless activities to actually see it through.  And it's something I do not do enough. 
  

As I walked through the halls of the nursing homes, I saw people, some near my age, who I guessed had no one.  I sat with friends of my parents or grandparents who had done innumerable little things for me since I was a little girl.  One sweet lady had given me a dollar for each year of my age on every birthday when I was a girl.  Then, when my children were born, she'd have little gifts for them on their birthdays waiting for us at my grandmother's house.  She doesn't remember me now, I could tell, but when I mentioned my grandmother's name she smiled and said, "Oh, she's my special friend."  

I saw a friend of my father's who began doing nice little things for us when our family was going through a hard time years ago.  He'd bring over 60's era books the library was phasing out for the kids, just something to let us know we were loved.  Yesterday, he was sick and so changed since I saw him last, that I had a very hard time holding my feelings in.  He coughed and coughed so much that we never did communicate at all, except that I told him I loved him and how much his servant's heart meant to me.  

(Let me say here that I mention none of this to sound like Polly Super - Christian, because I so am not.  This was way below minimal.)

  I know that as the years go by less church friends stop in to see him, the neighbors he brought doughnuts to regularly don't visit much.  And I am one of these: so busy with my "activities" and the mini celebrations I feel obligated to be involved in that I can't take time to do some real good for someone who actually needs it.  And by real good I mean the smallest of gestures- like that "cup of cold water" that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 10:42.  Why must every group my children are a part of have their own Christmas party?  I don't mean to sound like Scrooge, but it just seems like a lot of stuff lavished on kids who are already privileged enough to be part of a group, and, usually, have enough stuff.

Meanwhile, there are people I actually know in my neighborhood who will have very little to give their children tomorrow.  There is a man down the street who has not one living relative to celebrate with.   Had we not stopped by with a few cookies, we'd never have known that.   I fail so much toward the poor and the lonely in my little circle of acquaintances that it is very easy to avoid that uncomfortable knowledge by avoiding them completely.

My kids were a little freaked out by our sick friend and other patrons of the home.  They were quiet the whole way home and unsure of themselves... and basically, feeling the same awkward, inadequate, guilt we all feel.  I told them that our presence would be forgotten, maybe instantly, but the feeling we bring in with us will linger, and that's really all we have to give.   And that's what I have to believe.   I never, ever, want to go back to mindless holiday stress over dippy things like ornament exchanges and carbon copy Christmas cards again.  I want to give real gifts for Christmas to the people I feel led to give to.  That's the kind of gift my God considers given to Him as well.  If nothing more,  I can have a fairly calm and kind presence to give to everyone around me.  Maybe it will be felt even after I'm gone.


 if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward- Matthew 10:42
42For I was hungry, and you gave me no food: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink:
43I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not.
44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you hungry, or thirsty or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto you?
45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Since you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.    Matthew 25:42- 45

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Visual Break

This is a visual break from winter.
That's handy because it's also some photos that I forgot to post in this seemingly never-ending project.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ornamental

The tree is up, school is out, and I have enough time to play with twigs and glue.

 This is one of my favorite kids' Christmas crafts 
(as long as the kids are past the ages of poking their eyeballs with toothpicks.)  


It's easy and makes a very pretty, natural adornment for a Christmas tree or garland.  If I went so far as to have groupings of garland and conifer cones all over my house, these would be inside them.


 All you need is the dregs of a school glue bottle, sweet gum balls (scan the park), toothpicks, newspaper, spray paint, and a sweatshop of eager, little elves.   My elves aren't so little (or eager) these days, so I made them with our first grade Sunday School class.  


 Dab one end of each toothpick in glue, insert in the ball, then let them dry.  I like to leave the stem on the ball to hold it by when glueing/ spraying.

Next up: spray paint, turn, and spray paint the rest.  
See, this is a very uncomplicated, therapeutic craft for the holiday- fried brain.  The fumes might even relax you further.   

(Ttv52- week 50)  

Once dry, they're ready to go.  Next year, I want mostly these on my tree in blues, greens, and silver.

  Best of all, when Christmas is over,  you don't have to box them up in the attic- they biodegrade.  
Plus my boy elf isn't too old to enjoy crushing things... so, there you go. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How You 'Spect to Get Your Day's Work Done



Lazy Bones by Leon Redbone on Grooveshark


 I'm looking forward to a little of this after Christmas.

People, Daily

Here are some people I love...
  
relaxing in the "Dog House":

collapsing after school:

waiting for a job:

practicing:

just waiting:

having tea:

filling space:

I think I'm about caught up and ready to end this little project.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Puttering


That's what I've be doing.  
I've hung a few mirrors in the bathroom, separated a few plants, re-organized my closet, ordered most of my Christmas presents, had a few extra cups of coffee, made a few ornaments, read on a book, etc- nothing at high speed. 

day 304

day 322
(we finally have oranges, day 332)
day 340
day 328

Caramel

Can't stop hearing this song since I started knitting the Caramel Sweater by Isabell Kraemer.  It's basically a striped, boxy, blanket - style cardigan that can be worn open or pinned across the front.

Striped, boxy, blanket- what's not to like?  I'm a lazy dresser.  I tend to stay in my yoga pants and sweatshirt long after the morning run, only to change five minutes before my husband gets home... into fresh yoga pants and a t-shirt.  I'm hoping this will have the feel of a sweatshirt hoodie while looking less frump.  It's not all that boxy (that is my tiny daughter wearing it for the photos.)  It's also a very straight forward pattern.  I do regret not making my stripes 7 rows thick instead of 6 so that my yarn ends would start on alternate sides with each stripe and not be so difficult to weave in all on one.  But that's no big deal.  I'm also a little concerned that the front edges will curl under, even with the banded edge.

Hopefully I'll be able to wear this by Christmas.  Especially if I am lazy about blocking it, which I often am.


Friday, December 9, 2011

DIY Jewelry Ideas

Here are a few photos I took of jewelry related things in the last couple of weeks and all the linkage necessary to inspire you to make your own.  

My daughter made me a couple of bracelets like this over Thanksgiving holiday from this tutorial.  Very sweet.



Then I got completely inspired by these $1 "Junk Rings" I found at the Book Nook in Brenham.  I'm seeing all the crummy odds and ends in my house in a whole new light.   All I'd need is some adjustable ring bases and super glue and I'll be making better white elephant gifts than that Gene Simmons ornament.  Oh, the possibilities...

  day 340
This necklace holder was inspired by Sarah Ortega's  jewelry holder, which I saw on Pinterest.  It now has more than a few DIY necklaces hanging from it.   


The rake came from an antique store near the Book Nook in downtown Brenham.   It adds a bright little spot to a blah wall and since the cat has shown no interest in imitating Tarzan on it,  I like.

And this last is just a daily photo of a necklace I love to wear from Anechka's

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Just another Dragon

My son likes to draw and read, so we have lots of these and these around the house.  But aside from all the renderings and toys, I swear our cat looks and acts just like Toothless.  He and I sat there in the theatre and realized it at the same time.   Jenny is a dragon.  Proof below.

My daughter caught her when she thought we weren't looking and took these middle pics.  


 Ttv52, week 44

Once she saw me trying to get a Ttv out of it and within seconds she flew away.