Saturday, December 31, 2011

Choosing Home

2011 said "good night" in a blaze of fuschia, orange and gold.  And surprisingly all but one of us are home!!  We had a NYE party invitation . . . fun times out in the country, munching on "breakfast for dinner," warming ourselves by a roaring bonfire.

But this year, I wanted none of it.  I wanted the calm four walls of my house, where I could sit and stare at one of those four walls if I so chose.

As it turns out, I am instead choosing to play King's Corner; layer crumbs, pecans, chips, coconut and sweet milk for the ever-popular Magic Bars; and watch the glittery ball drop at midnight.

It's good to be home tonight.

Good night, 2011 . . . good morning 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Things Accomplished, Things Relinquished

At Christmastime, you can't do it all.  You just can't.  Well . . . at least I can't.  I try not to think evil thoughts about those that seem to.

This year, something I really wanted to do was to put a little time into wrapping presents.  Our tree was vintage papers and gold and lime green, and I really wanted a natural look with the lime green touch for the presents too.

Usually, I get around to wrapping all my gifts at about 11:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and am doing well to throw some Target paper around the present and locate the Scotch tape.  That would be a good Christmas Eve.

This year, the presents were wrapped slightly earlier with some stamping, curling of ribbon, stuffing of tissue, punching (of different papers . . . not of family members) and gluing.  And then I arranged the lime and natural brown presents under the lime and natural brown tree and . . . oh, my heart!!  Worth every minute.  ::sigh::  Even worth seeing the presents ripped to shreds by teen-aged males without so much as a cursory glance at the stamping, curling, and artfully arranging.  Still worth it.

On the other hand, I relinquished all Christmas baking.  Yes, all.  I just never got to it.  With 4 now that struggle with wheat, many of the recipes just aren't the same with the GF mix.  And I was just never in the mood.  Not this year.

Well, I take that back.  In a fit of motherly guilt, I did throw together one small recipe of GF sugar cookies on Christmas Eve, let Youngest Daughter press out the bells and trees, and angels and then hurriedly frost.

Hardly to be called Christmas "baking."  More like a quick Christmas craft project.  But it made both of us feel better . . . she more creative, me more of a good Christmas-mom . . . a win/win to be sure.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Before We Leave the Subject of Christmas Decor . . .

Remember the child who was so desperate for Christmas decorations that she taped pieces of green and red thread to her wall?

Yes, this one:

Well, I can't leave the subject of Christmas decor without giving you a little peek in to her room.

Between school crafts and my cast off decorating goodies from year's past, she has managed to "decorate" every square inch of her bedroom . . . bringing herself much Christmas delight and good cheer.

Shiny red Christmas garland, snipped into little bits and taped (and apparently re-taped and re-taped) 
onto pieces of furniture, walls, and windows.

Santa stickers peeled and stuck with abandon onto other un-Christmas-y pieces of decor.

A little Rudolph for the door.

Gold ribbon to accent her wall art . . . 4 glittery ornaments taped on for good measure.

All dresser knobs sporting shiny Christmas balls and someValentine's (!!) ribbon to bring in a little red.

Crowning achievement:  Bookshelf stuffed with Christmas balls, golden crown, Christmas carousel, Rudolph, Christmas stickers, figurines, gingerbread boy, and some out-of-place white poinsettias.

I do fully expect that one day I will drive up to this child's suburban home and find a molded plastic Santa in her front yard, pulled by 6 pink flamingos.  Things just seem to be headed that way in the decor department.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wreath with (more) Vintage Paper

Since I am soundly in love with my vintage paper strips, and since there were plenty,

I decided to use them as a "ribbon" for the front door wreath.  I just turned the strips in to loops (instead of circles this time!) and then used the long strips as long, flat ribbon.

Loving the vintage, woodsy feel, with red berries, pine cones, and a sweet little "bottlebrush" bird.

The best part of my wreath?  At night, with the light of the house shining through the glass door, it fairly glows!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Peppermint Winter

I have a child who moves very slowly.  Life in this child's world is still in the horse and carriage stage . . . and make that a very slow horse, by the way.

Add in to this picture that this child is also very easily distracted.

There are two problems with this scenario.

#1 - My mind never stands still.

#2 - I teach math to this child.

Math sessions usually consist of me giving the child a scenario involving Bill, his desire to purchase lumber, and the necessity of determining how much lumber Bill should purchase.  And ten minutes later finding, not a tidy multiplication problem on the paper, but instead small detailed sketches of a rocket ship, a medieval dagger, and a quadruple dip ice cream cone . . .  chocolate chip on top.

This may sound charming, but if all you want is to get through a math lesson, it can be very trying to have this happen on all 27 problems of the chapter "Multiplication in the Real World."


So sometimes this mother/math teacher becomes impatient, irritable, and sharp-tongued . . . and that's only by  problem #7.

This week, as we inched through problem #23, with admonitions of, "Focus!  No drawing!  Look at your paper!" this child looked at me and said, "Mom, you seem stressed.  Just a minute."

With a click of the mouse, we moved off of "Multiplication in the Real World" to I-Tunes.  And then floating through my speakers came Owl City's "Peppermint Winter."

We completed problem #23 with "Peppermint Winter" soothing my nerves, starting at the base of my neck and unwrinkling each kink to the tips of my fingers and toes.

The beautiful thing is . . . "Peppermint Winter" had me so relaxed and unwound that by the time the song was over, I didn't care about the amount of lumber Bill purchased or even whether Bill purchased lumber . . . or perhaps changed his mind and decided to bake a yule log instead.

So . . . if you are feeling a little Christmas stress, 15 more things on your to do list than can feasibly be accomplished, the knowledge that guaranteed by Christmas shipping ends this week, etc., you must listen to "Peppermint Winter" (link below).

If it can get me through 1 hour and 48 minutes of "Multiplication in the Real World," there's no telling what it could do for you!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Paper Chain a la Vintage Book

Somewhere out in the vast expanse of Blogland, I got a couple of ideas and put them together and came up with a plan that I had to have for our tree this year.

I decided to make a paper chain for our tree out of a vintage book and then glitter one edge of the paper chain.  Yummy.

First stop was Kinko's, where they cut off the binding of a 1940's book and then sliced the pages into thirds, lengthwise.  Alfredo was my Kinko's assistant, and, my, did the two of us have a time oooh-ing and aaah-ing over the warm, old pages, the bending of the strips into circles, the bliss that was to be my gilded vintage paper chain.  He told me about the garland he had made out of the pages of a vintage book . . . the folding, the wrapping, the draping.  The two of us stood there, enraptured, loving the other's idea, hands over our heart to still the wild, creative beating.  (Even better, he decided not to charge me!)

Once home, I turned half of my strips into circles, with glue and clothespins and left the other half as strips.

After filling a bowl with glue and another with chunky gold glitter, I dipped one edge of all the circles into glue and then glitter.

And then one edge of all the strips was dipped into glue and then glitter.

For several days, there was endless assembling, pinning, drying . . . and then finally the chain garland was lowered over the banister and draped around the tree.

I think Alfredo would be proud.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Going Natural (or How a Cat Got Us Off Track and a Dog Corrected the Matter)

Back in the good old days of the "M" family, it was a real Christmas tree all the way!  Every year. 

Love the smell!  Love the feel!!  Even love the ever-dropping, vacuum clogging needles.

And then into our lives came a cat.  A cat with a Christmas problem.  Vienna loved gnawing on real Christmas tree needles . . . juicy, crunchy, pungent with Christmas smell.  Only problem was, her tummy couldn't take it, and she quickly vomited it up.

And so that was her Christmas . . . irresistible urge to partake . . . undeniable urge to vomit.  On living room carpet, corners or couches, and at the puddling bottom of long draperies.

Since this was clearly not going to work, out went the soul-satisfying ideal of the real Christmas tree and in  came a steady procession of artificial Christmas trees . . . complete with whole sections of pre-lit branches that wouldn't light, a steady shedding of PVC needles, and the annual stuffing of the 9.5' tree into a box clearly made for it's 6.5' foot cousin.

Last year, seeing as the cat was no longer with us, the dogs took things into their own strong paws. 

While we were away at a Christmas party one evening, the dogs apparently had had their fill of Christmas.  It appears that one dog may have gotten his leash wrapped around the base of the tree.  And then in a fit of panicked angst fought the Christmas tree for his freedom.

When we came home, the giant tree was languishing on its side, large chunks of its PVC green-ness crushed and bent, and the newly purchased stand with all four of its tough green legs snapped off cleanly.

What had been started by a cat had now been finished by a dog.

So, this year found the "M" family happily purchasing a one-time-use-only, real Christmas tree . . . complete with smell, feel, and dropping needles.


The shop trimmed it, bagged it, and stuck in all the trimmed goodness to tuck into corners,

on top of the refrigerator,

and coming down the bannister.

 Sometimes it just takes a dog to put things to rights.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Decorating Desperation

One must assume, if your Youngest Daughter comes to you and requests spools of red and green thread,

and then proceeds to snip the thread in pieces and tape loopy strands of red and green to her bedroom walls,

that this child must be quietly desperate for some Christmas decor.

It is only fair, then, to provide some Christmas decor for the family quite urgently.  And I intend to comply. 

More to come!

Monday, September 26, 2011

At Summer's End

And so . . . summer comes to an end.  The last time I posted was the week before the official beginning of summer and now I am posting the week after the official ending of summer.

And somewhere in there, we had a summer.  

I think.

Fortunately, there are images captured digitally that assure me that despite feelings to the contrary a summer was experienced and enjoyed.

There was lots of time ker-splashing at the pool; books were read; a pool party was hosted; and we spent days toasting ourselves in the sun and breathing in fresh sea breezes.

There was time to take morning walks all summer and enjoy peaceful nooks; Oldest Daughter got launched on her way to a college degree; we cheered for the liftoff of hot air balloons; kids were dropped off and picked up at camp.

Birthdays were celebrated (this one with a Monkey Bread birthday cake); a bit of knitting was accomplished (love the Ball Band pattern!!); late summer scuppernongs were savored (someone in the family ate a gallon in 36 hours . . . not saying who but I might have felt slightly tipsy for a day or two); mom and daughter pedicures were enjoyed (although I will decline any further photography with Oldest Daughter's long and elegant feet/toes next to my very prosaic and functional feet.  ::sigh::

And now I can feel the cool air of fall around the edges of the day and a gray, drizzly rain slides down the windows.  This is my season.  I embrace it!

But it is nice to know that somewhere in the last 3 months . . . we had a summer.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gardening Creativity

Hydrangeas always catch my attention!!

But on my morning walkabout, there was something a little different that caught my eye . . . a splash of pink right in the middle of the beautiful blues.

What??  Eye-catching!  Sweet!  Unique!  Definitely worth closer inspection.

Closer inspection reveals a clear glass bottle, copper-wired to a branch.

Branch shoved into the ground.

Glass bottle filled with pink alstroemeria.  Lovely against the blue and green background.

Is there no end to my neighbors' gardening creativity?  

Shabby chic . . . flea market style . . . in the garden.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summery Table

Wow!  If you take a look at this blog, you would assume that I graduated my Oldest Daughter and then drowned my sorrows in a large crock of pickles and fell off the end of the earth.

Not completely true.  Actually, my brain and body stopped after all the busy-ness of the year and once stopped, refused to be prodded once again to action. 

I do also confess to some emotional breakdowns and a few pickles.

But all seems to once again be moving and alive and straightening out.

I can tell by the state of my dining room table.

Until this weekend, it was covered with a droopy cloth leftover from company use weeks ago.  There were stacks of "to do," "to mail," and "to put away" piles here and there.  Someone had cut up paper and left shreds scattered across the length.  An odd stapler was lying haphazardly on its side.  Several vases stood empty, having weeks ago been emptied of their faded contents.

But no more.

This weekend the table was stripped of its mess.  Polished.  And set to rights.  And I love how everything in the middle of my summer table reminds me of some of my favorite summer things.

Cool crisp cotton in a buttery yellow.

Punched tin lanterns with light glowing through.

IBC Root Beer bottles.

Filmy, fluttery flowers of the crepe myrtle.

Yep, I'm back.  The table is cleared and organized.  And that table is a pretty clear window into the state of my mind.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


So, company came and company left.  And one thing they left behind was pickles.

Pickles sent along from My Husband's Mom.

They aren't just pickles. 

They are legacy . . . journal . . . memory.

90 year-old mother-in-law is not canning pickles anymore.  She stopped several years ago when she stopped planting her sprawling garden.  And with that stopped the legacy of Mom M's canned pickles.

She grew a certain kind of cucumber in her own garden.  She grew the dill in her own garden.  And she had a magic recipe that included this produce, vinegar, and water.

Oh, the water.

Husband and his siblings have memories of going down the road to pump well water to be brought back for the canning of the pickles.  Well water . . . not flavor-marred piped water.

Over time, when she lost her well-water-fetching work force, she did condescend to using piped-in water.

The source of the water was carefully noted on ripped-off pieces of masking tape, stuck to the jars. 

Which brings me to the "journal" aspect of Mom's canned pickles.  As she canned, she made note of interesting life events, quantities and experiments, and, of course, the water source and its effect on the final quality of the pickles.

These little ripped masking tape "journals" show what was on Mom's mind as she canned:

"Too much salt?"

"1 inch rain - thankful"

"Nieces at 2000 World Fair"

"Pastor thinks too much vinegar"

These old Ball jars with their rubber rings, zinc lids, tightly fitted cucumbers and clusters of dill squished in the bottom are a connection to family history.  A tongue-tingling sour memory of a Mom's gift to her family.

I now have 4 jars of these pickles on the shelf of my pantry. 

I don't want to open them.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

She Graduated!

I've disappeared from Blogland while I've purchased frames, pressed gown, entertained family, planned college schedules, enrolled Oldest Daughter, attended parties, and snapped pictures. 

I've missed the comforting peek into your lives and sharing the daily-ness of mine. 

See you soon!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Why We Blog (and Winner!)

It was so fun to read everyone's responses to what draws you to blogging.

Not surprisingly, lots of us find that friendships, relationships, connections with other bloggers, and conversation are big reasons to read and write in Blogland.

Like Lisa said, "I first started reading blogs because I didn't have anyone IRL that shared my not-so-mainstream interests."
 We also love creating and then sharing our creations:

We enter Blogland for eye candy ::sigh:: :

or Inspiration:

Gerry uses blogging to track progress on her projects and to keep family up to date on what she's up to:

It was so much fun to read your responses.  And find out we're pretty much all the same . . . women reaching out to women across Blogland.

So . . . I popped your names into my beautiful swirly bowl:

And the giveaway winner is:

Congratulations, Tracey!  Send me your address (my e-mail address is in the side bar) and your package is ready to come to you!

Thanks everyone for another wonderful, fun year of blogging!