Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve

My short trip to Chicago was so much fun.   We did a whole lot of nothing and froze our butts off, but it was fun.  We ate at some great little restaurants, laughed a lot, enjoyed the city lights, drank hot cocoa and wine, and saw the amazing Terracotta Warrior exhibit at the Field Museum.    I hadn't realized that, in addition to thousands of amazing Warriors, each one a unique individual, the excavation in China is revealing a complete terracotta kingdom, including an entire government, and landscaped underground rivers with wildlife.  Truly amazing!
Despite the (bitter) cold,, we walked a lot, and I was grateful for my warm and waterproof Vasque boots -- the ones I got when my bloggy friend Kim reviewed them on her blog!
I didn't take many photos because they fogged up and froze my fingers when I tried, so you'll just have to imagine the good times we had.  It was so nice to get away from the normal routine and just enjoy 'us' time.  We came home fat and sassy and then bam, my honey came down with the dreaded Traveler's Yuck, so our Holiday plans are on hold until we see how quickly he bounces back (and whether or not I follow him down the Path of Sickness.  My plan is to stay healthy, though, because I come from hardy folk!)  

So I spent Christmas Eve Eve alone, with my presents wrapped and under the tree and my menu planned but unprepared, and it is quite possible that I will spend Christmas Eve the same way.   Oh well, we are flexible to a fault here and accustomed to going with the flow, so will have a celebration whenever it happens.  Meanwhile, I am counting my blessings.   And looking forward to the mornign when the Grands will arrive for brunch and presents!  Today, left to my own devices, I am  making lists of projects for when I unpack the sewing machine again on Monday.   Meanwhile, I will spend the morning baking un-needed coffee cakes and preparing for tomorrow's beignets.   This extra, unplanned time alone might even inspire me to start cleaning up that landfill I call a craft room -- that would be a Christmas Miracle indeed!

However your own plans turn out, I wish you all a happy and loving Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Countdown to Christmas

We've got snow, plenty of it!   The sun is shining and the morning is beautiful, with bright red spots of cardinals digging in my yard for the bird seed that they mostly ignored before the storm hit.   And it has been bitterly cold -- minus 3 degrees right now -- so I will put out extra rations again today.  I can see that the bunnies and squirrels have been visiting, too,  as there probably won't be much wild food available for the next day or so.   If the very, very fat and very, very furry squirrel is any indication, the critters have been preparing for this time.

My primary goal this weekend was to finish my sewing projects so that I could put away the sewing machine and get the house clean for Christmas!    I have taken to sewing on my dining table because the room is brighter and the view is less restricted than it is in the corner of my 'craft' room, but that means that my sewing takes over my house unless I am careful to restrain it.   And with family planning to come over for Christmas brunch, restraint was the order of the day.     It was no hardship since I was pretty much snowed in yesterday by our last winter storm, so there were fewer distractions than usual.  My last sewing tasks included holiday napkins, several men's scarves, and a couple more pillow cases.  

All simple projects, so the sewing and finishing was easy, and the housework was no big deal  -- the HARD part was not starting the many new projects that are on my mind!

But I had an incentive not to immerse myself in something new, since my fella and I are planning to go to Chicago for a quick 2-day trip.    It's just an impulsive couple-of-days away, with no visits to the people we usually want to see, just some relaxation and maybe a little shopping.   I'm thinking of it as my reward for a clean house and completed projects, and I'm looking forward to it, although it looks like we DID pick the coldest couple days of the year!   But we are hardy folk, and it will be fun to ride the train, fun to have a little space to pay attention to each other, and fun to enjoy the city lights.    Whatever you are doing this last week of advent, I hope you are also having fun and spending time with people you love!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Snow and More Snow

Christmas plans are moving right along.  Where possible, I am wrapping my gifts in pillow cases that I've made for the recipient, with a French theme, or a Math theme, or a Chemistry theme, depending on who they are for.   This  has been fun, and I'm sorry that I already gave the Grands their pillow cases instead of saving them for Christmas!

We had a winter storm this weekend, it seems like my house got maybe 10 inches or so.   I shoveled twice and, although I do not mind shoveling (much), I somehow wrenched my left arm on the second go-round.  As a result Shovel #3 did not go as smoothly and Shovel #4 was out of the question.  I've decided to let the last couple of inches lie, at least for the moment.  Meanwhile, I am plying myself with ibuprophen and heat.   Not much to be done for it since the warranty on that arm is long expired. 
I used yesterday, home alone, for laundry and wrapping and baking.  It was a good enough day but I am so spoiled, not used to being alone all day, and can't pretend for a minute that I want to make a habit of it.   Still, I kept busy.   I made my first "Spritz" cookies, using a cookie press.   They were fun to make although they are not all that tasty, at least to my taste. I also made a batch of cheese straws, which were a major pain to make but kind of interesting.   Sometimes I wonder if that's the formula: the more aggravation a thing requires, the better it tastes.  No wonder I'm not that great a cook any more.   I take a lot of shortcuts these days.

I also got another table runner top done, but now I need to find fabric -- hopefully in my stash -- for the backing.  
I'm glad I got a lot done yesterday since today my bum arm is slowing me down.    Since I am spending a lot of time with tea and a heating pad, this might be a good day to turn off the news (depressing!) and turn on the Christmas music instead as I send out hopeful wishes for a peaceful Advent and a Holiday that truly represents good will to all.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Counting Down

Not much is new even though the days are so full that they seem to be flying by.  This is such a busy time of year and it doesn't help that it is colder than heck.   When the air is frigid, it's hard to force myself out of the house especially since retirement (oh how I love thee!) gives me the option of Putting Things Off.   Besides, isn't making a list almost the same as actually doing the thing?    I seem to be living my life on that principle!   Even so, little by little, things are getting done, gifts are being wrapped, cookies are being baked . . . it's all good.

I am still sewing although I am losing track of who I am sewing for.   I've been using my stash of 5" squares to make table runners -- I have several "charm packs" in my cupboard that I haven't gotten around to using, and I am trying to work my way through those neglected fabrics.  I have potential runners laid out on the floors of my house and when I have a spare hour I stitch them together and add them to the pile.   I figure if I am invited to any more holiday dinners, I can take one along as a hostess gift since I am accumulating quite a supply of them!
I am also still making cute little purses for no one in particular.   I love these little 30-minute projects!   I participated in a cute "Santa Swap" with  The Peach Patch, and received a lovely group of fat quarters that I immediately turned into another purse.   It was so much fun -- I received fabric that I don't think I ever would have chosen, and I absolutely loved the result.   If I ever get to the point where I can justify buying fabric again, I will make some different choices!   (Okay, we know that part about not buying more fabric was a lie, since my internet shopping carts are always full and JoAnn thinks I am part of her immediate family since I am there so often!)
My guy wants me to take the little bags to local shops to see whether there is a market for them since I am making more than I need, and,  although I think it's a worthwhile idea, I haven't done it yet.   He sees more value in my work than I do, and is sweetly supportive.  We have toyed with the idea of renting a booth at a craft fair next summer, mostly just for fun and, in a perfect world, to help support my 'habit'!  But those ideas can be shoved aside until the holidays are over.    I still have a couple of pillow cases and a scarf to finish and wrap in the next week or two, and then maybe I can start to think about the next plan.

As I've mentioned before, I am an amateur radio operator and this year, when I renewed my tabs, I finally indulged myself by applying for a license plate with my call sign on it -- finally, I have a license plate that I can memorize!  
This is also the season of Christmas concerts and kids' school activities and I do love to see the  Grands all dressed up and performing.   They had their strings concert last week and the oldest will have a band concert this coming week,  and in both cases my job is to proudly listen (and usually cry).    The Littles are growing up way too fast.   This is the last year before the oldest enters his teens.    I have so many things to be thankful for.     Now if I could stop being such a slacker . . .   I had hoped to have my house listed for sale by now but I still haven't gotten the basement cleaned out and now other houses on the block have been listed.   Sigh.     Maybe the new year will bring me a whole new energy, or maybe I will relax even more into inertia.   Either way, life is good.