Friday, December 25, 2009

Joyful Christmas









(Image credit: Royce Bair at The Stock Solution.)


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmastime in Florida

Children who have lived their lives in the era of widespread digital cameras have a hard time grasping a time when we bought film and then paid to develop it.  When I was growing up, it was expensive to practice picture-taking. It was not easy to learn from your mistakes, because often weeks or even months went by before you could see your developed pictures.  I love that now we can take dozens of pictures, scroll through them deleting at will, and only develop or leave on computer the pictures that turn out well. And editting!  I edit pretty much every picture - red eye?  Click. - off center? Click. -washed out? Click. 

Earthgirl loves taking pictures.  She grabs the digital camera, takes dozens of pictures of the cats, dolls, stuffed animals, clouds, and I just smile benevolently, knowing we will delete most of them.  Lately, she has taken to photographing blossoms.





Gerbera diasy






Even way up north here in Central Florida, we have plenty of blooming flowers at Christmastime. Since we have usually had a cold snap followed by a warm spell, the azaleas decide spring was here last week and burst into full bloom.Freezing temperatures this week have nipped these buds, but they are now preserved digitally, along with Earthgirl's budding photography skills.










 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Working the Week of Christmas

I sit here enjoying Pluto Boy's coffee, which he fixed up in a travel mug, all doctored up with cream and saccarine, and then obligingly left on the kitchen counter while he took off empty handed at 6:15, in the freezing cold (well, pretty close to freezing). 



It's a work day for me; in fact, it's a 3-day workweek.  Earthgirl and I will babysit a precious little 1-year-old sugar plum at her home.  So I'm gathering up our stuff - lunch, crocheting, books, etc., so we can make the most of her naptime.  And I am tossing in my spiral notebook, because I'll need to make notes to keep up with what needs to happen for various shopping, travelling, catsitter-arranging, cooking, and general running of my household while I am at someone else's household. 

This is the easy stuff, though, compared to some week-of-Christmas working years I've experienced.  When we lived in Atlanta, I worked for a consulting firm.  It was not unusual for clients to call with projects and money to spend before the end of the year.  (Sometimes their budgets had a use-it-or-lose-it-from-next-year's-budget clause that made it inadvisable to economize).  We would be in a flurry of activity, trying to schedule meetings and get approvals for programs and deliverables from various client employees who were taking off for vacation, too.  One Christmas week I spent in upstate New York, all day in various meetings, then evenings at their mall getting Christmas gifts that would fit into my hanging bag, so I could run through the airport in high heels 2 days before Christmas hoping to catch the 5:00 flight so I did not have to wait for the 8:10 flight...whew!!!! Can you feel the stress????

I remember whining to my husband that we did not even have a tree up. (This may have been a year when I came home 3 days before Christmas.  The 1980s are a blur.)  He picked me up at the airport, drove me home, and there in the bay window was - a lighted, decorated Christmas tree!  He had spent the time and energy after his workday to go buy a tree, put it up, and decorate it so it would greet me when I came home. It is one of my sweetest Christmas memories.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Answered Prayer

Did you ever pray asking God for something, think He answered, "No," but realized later the answer was, "Yes," but in a different way than you imagined?


As I sit here tonight, I realize that today God answered me, but in a way I did not expect.  Today. This very day that I prayed.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
       neither are your ways my ways,"
       declares the LORD.
  "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
       so are my ways higher than your ways
       and my thoughts than your thoughts. 

                                    Isaiah 55:8-9

Earlier today I was a part of a great big community Christian outreach/help event where those in need received food, clothes, lunch, haircuts, popcorn, the gospel, family Christmas photos -- there was a lot going on, and I was one of the little cogs in the wheel. I had prayed before and during that I'd be able to minister HELP that someone needed, and that I'd be able to COMFORT someone who needed it.  As my pastor would say, "just love on them."  Now, I did get to speak to a few dozen folks, and had a good experience, but I did not really think I had seen my prayer answered - not really.  Now, plenty of folks received help and comfort, but I just did not feel I had really gotten that definite ANSWER.

And then tonight....

We live 2 streets away from a Christmas cul-de-sac.  You know, the kind they list in the paper as a local Christmas decoration destination. All the families on the short street decorate, and even string lights across the empty lots.  There are blow-up figures, Santa who sing and dance, wooden reindeer, lighted reindeer, Santa in a race car, Grinch, a cross, North Pole signs, everything and more.




Tonight, just after dark, our family took a stroll to see the lights.  As we strolled up our street, a young teen on a bicycle called out to us - he was lost!  Only 3 days in our neighborhood after moving from another state, he could not find his new home, even after looking for a half hour. (Anyone local can back me up - the street names are terribly repetitve here - think Oak Street, Oak Lane, Oak Run, Oak Circle, Oak Run Circle, Oak Run Drive, Oak Pass - I am not exaggerating).  We took him back to our house, got on Google maps, while he got on my cell phone with Mom and Dad, got him on the right path, invited them to church tomorrow and Christmas Eve.

When we arrived on the Christmas street, a lady who lives there was outside. I spoke with her to ask about her Dad, who had passed away some months ago, and to offer our sympathies. We stayed much longer than we planned, as we reminisced about her father, a retired carpenter, how he loved to decorate, how he made all those wooden reaindeer, how he just met us on the street the first year we lived here, how he had invited us inside to see all his Christmas decorations, how he gave our daughter an ornament, what a special person he was.  We had never met her, but knew her father.  We probably talked together for 20 minutes.
 


 On the way home, I hit redial on my phone to call and check to make sure the young man on the bicycle made it home.  His parents both got on the phone to thank us for taking care of him.

Some hours later it struck me - my prayer for the morning had been answered in the evening!  I prayed to be able to minister HELP and COMFORT, and God gave me opportunity to do both these things right in my own neighborhood. Tonight I am thanking God for answering in His own way.



Here is the ornament our kind neighbor gave Earthgirl.  We remember him fondly. He loved to decorate for Christmas. Like Jesus, he was a carpenter.  Like Jesus, he let the little children come to him.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Skirting the Issue




I have not sent out a single card.  I hope to get at least a few out, but a few minutes ago I decided that it would be a good idea to drop by Tuesday Morning, Dollar Tree, or somewhere and purchase cards.  I am reining myself in before I start trying to make Christmas cards.  I am shutting that idea down right now.

When Pluto Boy and I were engaged, 25 years ago, I was deciding about a wedding dress right at Christmastime, so I ran my plans past Mama over the Christmas break.   We tried her dress, a white satin-and-lace that  had warmed to a champagne color over the 26 years since their wedding.  She had made it herself, ballet length, with a satin underdress and a full lace overdress, and a fairly simple style.  It went right to the floor on me, and the style suited, too.  Unfortunately, the lace dress did not do so well in cleaning.  So my next idea was a romantic notion of making my own dress, just like she did.

Mama spoke to me, and told me that she understood that I wanted to make my own dress; that it would be a nice idea, but (and here she spoke more emphatically), she said, "Don't make your own dress!"  She encouraged me to not take on that burden, while working fulltime, while living in a different state from the wedding.   It was good advice!  I think she foresaw me arriving 6 days before the wedding with a half-made dress (that is EXACTLY what would have happened!).  I took her advice, went to a couple of shops, landing at Laura Ashley to buy the perfect dress for me - the kind I would have made - all cotton, no lace, three-quarter-length sleeves.

All that is introduction, so you know the type of seamstress I am - and am not. This is actually a Christmastime post, after all.

(A quick note on the type of blogger I am and am not.  This post would be much more fun if I were to grab out wedding pictures and scan in Mama's dress and my dress, but it's just not happening tonight. But here is a picture from an earlier post.)

Years and years ago, I made a reversible tree skirt.




It took yards and yards of fabric.  I sewed and sewed.




And then, I ironed on little pieces of fabric to make poinsettias.



I ironed and ironed.  I ironed on 18 little pieces per gore.  10 gores.  (Actually there are 12, but only 10 have poinsettias.  I rebelled against ironing on the last 36 pieces. That's the kind of crafter I am, and am not.)



 I learned (in case I had any doubts) that I am just not into doing much attaching of little pieces of fabric over the top of other little pieces of fabric.  I like to sew, but my patience for applique or applique-type things is limited.  So now when I see something I like, like this argyle ornament, I really think about whether I want to do it.  (The answer is no - I'm going to just enjoy seeing it on my screen.)   It occurred to me at the time that this skirt would look beautiful if I sewed down the pieces I had painstakingly ironed on, but I have never looked back.  I'm glad I did it, but IF I were to ever make another treeskirt, I would simply pick 2 VERY BIG pieces of beautiful Christmas cloth and not add any embellishment, like this one.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

On Task

Last night I started crochetting a scarf to match Earthgirl's new winter jacket.  We picked out the yarn together - a pink and brown variegated.
When I first piped up to say, "I should crochet a pink and brown scarf for your new jacket," I regretted it - if I kept quiet, it could have been a Christmas gift.  But I would have made it pink, brown, and white striped.  When we looked at yarn yesterday, she very much preferred the variegated. I'm glad she is getting something she wants.  I'll probably try to do a hat, too, though the jacket came with a hood and a pink fleece earwarmer-type headband.


 

I worked on it last night, sitting up in bed with my crochet hook. (Side note - does anyone remember the movie "Sweet Liberty"? It wasn't great.  But I remember one of the female leads (not Michelle Phifer, but the other one) sat up in bed quilting.   There were problems with pins and needles.)


I really like the way this yarn works up.  It feels good going through my fingers, and the stitches look neat.   

By about 7, I was up, crochetting with my coffee. Now it is finished, except for blocking. But it's noon - and I am still in my pajamas.  Nope, no picture of that.

I just want to add that we are REJOICING with Crispy and the Peters over God's provision of funds for their next (expensive) step toward bringing home their 2 sons from Ethiopia much sooner than they thought.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Go See What's Cookin'

Check out what's cookin' over at Sm'Arties!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Our Christmas Bells




These crocheted bells have graced our tree 24 Christmases.  They are our wedding bells, crochetted for me by the lovely lady who made our cake as a gift for us.  They not only remind me of our wedding - such a happy day-  they remind me of Miss Lucille, a sweet, talented lady, a special dear friend of my Mama.

As we approach our quarter century anniversary, we find many friends and family members who celebrated with us back then are no longer with us.  Miss Lucille, already elderly at our wedding, is one of them.  All our grandparents, my Father-in-law, several aunts and uncles, friends. When we look our wedding pictures, we point them out - look! there's Nanny, there's Dad, there's Uncle Willis.   I'm reminded to appreciate dear loved ones while we have them.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fa La La La La

I love Christmas music.   I love all kinds of Christmas music. Earthgirl played "What Child is This" and O Holy Night" in her recent piano recital.  I am so pleased that she has an ear to appreciate beautiful music, and that she wants to tackle the challenge of a song she loves that stretches to the limits of her ability.


We have found that some of our favorite Christmas albums have been the least expensive ones - the ones we picked up at Dollar Tree or grabbed from the $2 bin somewhere.  One accidental favorite is Home for the Holidays, Country Style, a 2-album set I picked up for about $2 at Dollar General two years ago.  The song I thought was on it was not, but what a fun bunch of songs we discovered - Vince Gill, Ray Stevens, Amy Grant, Toby Keith Randy Travis and another dozen or more artists are featured in this collection.


 I've just been previewing Sting's new album, If On a Winter's Night.  Not strictly Christmas, it has, as one reviewer notes, "rustic vibrancy enveloped in a haunting winter fog, vividly suggesting the British Isles or Scandinavian mountains in midwinter." I think it could really grow on me. But I'm not buying right now...I have about zero budget for Christmas music. We have lots already, and there are free sources all around - just turn on the radio!

Pandora.com has been playing music on my computer for years now.  We've set up stations with names like "Energy Instrumental," "Instrumental Quiet," "Bluegrass," "Gaelic Storm," "Peaceful Holidays, "Jazz Holidays,"  "Hillsong," and "Bonerama." (I'd link you to Pandora, but I am permanently logged in, and am not sure how that link would work. I dare not log out - who knows what password I used 6 or 7 years ago?)

Amazon is offering 25 Days of Free Christmas Music downloads.  They reveal a new song each day.  I've downloaded 2 offerings so far.  And that is not their only free Christmas music - check it out!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

While I am editting...

I read a post recently that said, triumphantly, that the blogger had "wrestled" a Christmas template onto her blog.  This morning I am wrestling.  I don't change blog backgrounds often, but when I do, I usually go through several before I settle.  I like an easy-to-read-through text area, so no swirlies or dark colors behind my text; I like straight lines on the sides (is there a girl engineer in the house?), and I like free.  So I am looking through Cutest Blogs on the Block, Hot Bliggity Blog, and Aqua Poppy Designs, and maybe some others I haven't found yet. 


I tried putting up this cute banner (love the carolers):




--but found it put "Merry Christmas" right over my header.  I want to not mess with my header, so away goes the cute header.  Right this minute I still have up its matching background, which I love, but it is copying my friend over at Hearth and Home.  Copycatting is the sincerest form of flattery, B.  So I am not totally settled on the vintage wrapping paper background.

I wonder, though, if I should somehow temporarily disable viewing?  I've changed blog backgrounds about 6 times, and messed with the banner, too.  And, presumably, each time I have checked it out, anyone who happened to be viewing would be seeing the backgrounds that did not work for me.  For example, that cute red/black/green striped one, that on my screen, runs out of width before it arrives at the first red stripe, so all black and green - not workin' for me, not my style.  Or the "messy snowflakes" one, with BIG brown snowflakes first, so on a less wide screen, one sees mostly brown snowflakes.  I prefer cleaner snowflakes.

So whatever you see right now may change momentarily. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

There's a Periodic Table of Elements Here, Too!

My good friend the Science Geek has posted a link to a really nice visual Periodic Table of Elements. 

Here's another fun (for the geeky) version - a musical Periodic Table of Elements.  Back ca. 1985, we had a friend who could play and sing this song.  The first time I heard it, I could hardly believe it.  I'm still pretty amazed at simply how much singing ability one must have to conquer these tongue twisters, much less to write the song in the first place.
Science Geek in her element.



Monday, November 16, 2009

Fun Craft Blog

I just loved the post name, "A Dollar Barn Christmas." Her whole blog is full of fun inexpensive craft inspiration. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

The 17th Project

No pictures! 

Peg and I  joked a few weeks back about the fact that I start 14 projects and have them all going on at the same time.  She on the other hand, starts one or maybe 2 projects, completes them, puts away her project materials, and turns back to greet you from the door of her clean and beautiful home.  Sigh. 

Just an aside - I don't usually use friends' and families' names on my blogs, but since her name already appeared on Science Geek's blog, and she keeps a pretty low profile on the internet, I take the liberty.

I just picked the number 14 out of the air, but then I started counting up, and sure enough, there were 14 projects in some stage of workin' on it.

Don't believe me?  Projects 1-3 involve closets; Projects 4-6 involve fabric and quilt batting;  Projects 7-9 involve more fabric and new patterns; Project 10 involves making a beautiful $3 skirt fit my skinny little daughter, Projects 11-12 involve American Girl dolls and fabric;  Projects 13-14 involve Modge Podge and beautiful paper.

Since then, each time we mention something, we pipe up - "Project 15!"  "Project 16!"  (Both those involve yarn)

Well, Monday during Mini-co-op Science she showed me - Project 17.  Nope, can't tell you what they are; can't show you what they are. No pictures, because she is giving some to friends at Christmastime.  Now I am, too - Project 17 was just too cute, simple, and fun - I had to make a few!  I left Peg saying, "I shouldn't have told you."  (I'm sure she is just teasing.)  So I'll be making some for family and friends, but NONE for mutual friends : )


No pictures! 


OK, maybe just one picture:




Monday, November 9, 2009

A Good Weekend

A good weekend for a Georgia Bulldog ends with a whole load of just red and black clothes.



Homecoming was great!  The weather was wonderful, time spent with friends and family was precious,the picnic was yummy, the Redcoats played with spirit, the Bulldogs won -and I really like my new plaid visor - and my favorite Bulldog fan.


Friday, November 6, 2009

New resident on the farm


Someone new has taken up residence on my parents' farm in Georgia.  He just showed up one day, and has been content to stay.  They have searched for his people, but so far no one has come forward.




He feels right at home with the cows.




 


If you are gentle and move slowly, you may be able to scratch him on the noggin.

 
 Mama gives him an apple a day.

 
 I think he knows a good thing when he sees it.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Last U.S. game for these jerseys...

...they'll be finding new children in Haiti!

Starting the game with prayer

 
Action!


 
Let's go Sonics!
 "Good game!"  "Good game!"

 
 Getting ready to pass these jerseys on. (Someone has a few loads of laundry to do -  8 soccer teams :)

 
One of our Upwards Sports coaches is going to Haiti in December with Harvest International to help with sports ministry for children there.  He asked that we bring in any sports jerseys that want to go to  yougsters in Haiti.  Our children responded!  Many children brought jerseys from several sports.  We are excited to pass on the blessings!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Rejoice!

Earthgirl is learning to study her Bible herself using "How to Study Your Bible for Kids".  We love it! (Thanks for the recommendation, Crispy)

Part of the assignment, based on Luke 15: 7, 10,  is to draw a picture of what happens in the presence of angels when a sinner is saved.  Here is Earthgirl's interpretation:


I just love the cartwheeling angel.  Singing and gymnastics - sounds about like Earhgirl's daily life!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Maybe, maybe not


Tuesday I announced to Earthgirl that I had finished everything on my To Do list.  She looked at the list, and said, "But Mama, this list says 'Thursday,'"  I know, I know, but I finished Thursday's list.

I saw a reference to a new type of To Do list - a  Might Do list, complete with an asterisk - "But only if I'm, feelin' it - no pressure."  That's my kinda list!





Sunday, October 25, 2009

Secure

Here is some good news I want to commit to memory:


My sheep hear My voice,
and I know them,
and they follow Me;
and I give eternal life to them,
and they shall never perish;
and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.
John 10:27-29

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress,
or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Just as it is written,
'For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long;
We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.'


But in all these things
we overwhelmingly conquer
through Him Who loved us.



For I am convinced that
neither death nor life,
nor angels nor principalities,
nor things present nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other created thing,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-39


For I am confident of this very thing,
that He who began a good work in you
will perfect it
until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

Hence, also,
He is able to save forever
those who draw near to God through Him,
Since He always lives
to make intercession above the heavens.
Hebrews 7:25


Friday, October 16, 2009

Curious Learner

In a previous post, I referred to myself as a curious learner, and spoke of the abundance of information available on the internet.  It's really more than one person can absorb.  Just think - there are books and videobooks free for the listening and reading - not that I don't have a stack of books already checked out from that other free cornucopia of information and entertainment, our local library.  

I could spend (waste?) days on end at sites like Good Book Bytes and Librivox.  Days.  While dishes and dirty clothes and unpaid bills pile up around me. Just looking up a quick scripture reference at Bible Gateway can  toss my schedule for a loop (though maybe getting lost in Bible passages is not such a bad thing...)  Looking up a book review at Amazon (do I really need to put a link for that?) leads to more reviews and there goes the morning. 

And then there are the sewing and craft sites and blogs - sites like Creative Chicks and Maya Made.  And if I check out one pretty thing at One Pretty Thing, I'll be lost for the day.

In spite of all the above, I wonder what websites pull you in?  Where do you lose track of time?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Embellished


I continue to be amazed at the free goodies that are out there in www-land. I am all about "free."  The monthly price of my DSL is well worth it to me as a homeschooling mama, a crafter, a curious learner, a communicator. (That said, I am going to check out less expensive high speed internet options - recently my cell phone provider, which also is my home phone and DSL provider, ceased cell service, so the package is not as attractive.  Everything is up for grabs - any good ideas?)

Scrapbook Presentations  has free Fall/Autumn scrapbook downloads, and a lot of other cool downloads, too. These embellishments can be used in Powerpoint presentations, digital scrapbooks, and on...blog entries!  I learned about these from Molly at Econobusters,  in her weekly email newsletter. She always has great resources.  

These may be old hat to some of you.  You may be thinking, "Yawn, she's going into the embellishments mode.  Tune in in about a month after she cools down."  You are probably right.  I may be embellishing all over the next few entries. Whee!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Yummy Beginnings, and a sad ending

Though it still feels like summer outside (inside, too, if the AC wasn't running for all it's worth,) but it can smell like fall!  Saturday I made Crock Pot Apple Butter using this recipe from Southern Plate.  It is easy, spicy, yummy, and smells heavenly.  I made a half-recipe, which yielded 3 pints (well, maybe 3 1/2 before taste testing.)




--and now for the sad ending--
After I looked at this picture on screen, I decided to take another shot at a better angle.  When I picked up the jar and my camera, I dropped the jar and broke it, spilling out all that spicy yumminess onto the hard floor, the carpet, and up against the refrigerator.  Ah, well, that leaves me one partial jar (my third jar went to friends).  I guess I'll need to fire up that crock pot again soon! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lemons and Lemonade

Lemons:

The predicted high for today here, and every day this week, is above 90 degrees F.  The predicted lows all week are in the 70s.  The LOWS.  70s.  On Sunday, blessed Sunday, we expect the highs to plummet to 88 degrees, with lows a frigid 69 degrees. 


Lemonade:

Out comes my solar clothes dryer to make up for some of the energy we are wasting on AC in October.



It's too hot to play basketball anyway.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Something New for Me

Come visit me over at Sm'Arties and see what we are creating!


I can hardly believe I am featuring a boy wearing a UF shirt.



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One ringy-dingy...

My previous cell phone company, as of October 1, no longer provides cell phone service.  So now I have a new service provider, and a new phone. Can you hear me now?

It's smarter than I am, and it's not even a smart phone.

This would be a good place to put a cute little picture, but I don't have one, so here is a cute little clip instead.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Peanuts

It's peanut harvesting time in South Georgia.  That means it's time for boiled peanuts. Now, sometimes we Southerners have been known to tease those from elsewhere, telling them peanuts grow on trees.  Actually, you can see the peanuts grow on vines, and the nuts develop below ground.  The whole harvesting practice is mechanized for the main harvest, but for boiled peanuts, after the peanuts have been dug (really, the vines are just scooped up and flipped over), we grab a few vines, toss them on back of the truck, and come home to pull them off the vine.  Boil them in water with a lot of salt until they are soft.  I'm a purist - not interested in hot spiced boiled peanuts, or any other addition. 


The Georgia Peanut Commission (children's section) provides  information about peanuts. Here's another good write-up.  I wouldn't expect anyone to just take my word for it.



This is one of my brother's fields.  You can see he has dug a few rows, and further back the peanuts are not yet dug. You can see how two rows are dug and tossed together into one windrow. We are at one corner of a large field. 


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