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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Lone Cow

"I," said the cow, all white and red.
"I gave him my manger for his bed.
I gave him my hay for to pillow his head."
"I," said the cow, all white and red.
--lyrics from "The Friendly Beasts"

It all began so simply, just as Jana's did . . . .with a lone cow.
Hers was found in a toy box at her grandmother's house years ago that grew with each birthday or Christmas.

As I began to decorate for Christmas this year, it dawned on me that I no longer had a Nativity scene to display since Jana had moved Fontanini set to her new home. I had a couple of manger ornaments, but no complete scene.
So, when I spied the lone cow at a Hallmark store closing sale just before Christmas, I decided to begin a collection of my own.

Saturday, while shopping a couple of sales in Alexandria, I found the Holy Family.
And while there were no shepherds or wise men on that table, there was a drummer boy. So my collection has begun! At least the main characters will be on display next year! (with a couple of stable spectators)


Late yesterday afternoon, I rode over to Longview, TX with Callie and Jordan. We met his parents for dinner at Johnny Cace's (YUM!) then went to the hear both of them play with the Longview Symphony. What a great concert they put on, filled with music of movie themes through the years. As they played, I reminisced about the many concerts that I've been to over the last six years.
It's hard to believe that Callie has played with them for that long---starting when she was just 15 years old! I remember how nervous she was for those first few rehearsals and concerts, worried about playing beside professional musicians. I drove her over for each rehearsal and either shopped or read while she rehearsed for several nights before each concert. Those were long nights--usually filled with studying or completing homework during her brief break and on the hour-long rides back and forth, often using a book light in the dark. Other times, the two of us sang at the top of our lungs to music on the radio, each trying to outdo the other in being off-key---then we would dissolve into laughter.

Prior to the actual concert, Callie was usually pretty intense--preparing herself mentally for the music and job, I suppose. While we almost always went to eat before the concert, she rarely ate much since butterflies filled her stomach instead. But, after the concert, she was often giddy with excitement and we sometimes stopped for a milkshake before the ride home.

Playing with the Longview Symphony proved to be an important step in Callie's life. Not only did it provide an outlet for her musical ability and a chance to be challenged by the orchestra, but it allowed her to meet the conductor, and become interested in the college where he works. Six years ago, when she was 15, who would have guessed that she would later attend and graduate from UNC? During the years she was in college, she could only play at this holiday concert and this year, she was joined by her husband.

I do not believe that it was mere coincidence that she was asked to join them six years ago. She was the only high school student to play with them, but it was the right time and the right place for the series of events that were to come next in her life. God does indeed have a plan and uses people and situations for the good of his people.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Extreme Home Makeover (part 3)

This past weekend I purchased new fabric for my bedroom windows. I was lucky enough to run across a sale at Hancock's and found this fabric in the sale section and it was marked down an additional percentage for that day only! The print is a bit more subdued than I'd first imagined, but the colors were perfect and I love a bargain!

I used an old pattern I have, to make these valances for my bedroom. After the birthday painting that took place during the Thanksgiving break, everything looks so much fresher and clean. I still need to touch up the paint on the windowsills and around the baseboards/doors(tomorrow, I hope). I found the brown bolster at Ross yesterday for $5 but I still want to make some throw pillows for the bed and cover the wooden chair.
And yes, I know I need to put up the light cover on the ceiling fan (or take down the ceiling fan) and paint the chair. That "to do" list goes on and on, but the kids certainly helped me make a good dent in it!!
Sunday, December 28, 2008

Round Robin--Favorite Toy

I recently joined the Round Robin Photo Challenge and today I am posting the results of my first challenge. The challenge was for a "favorite toy", with instructions for it to be about a real toy originally meant for children. I decided to show you a few that are stationed in my living room throughout the year.
The first is one of my very favorites-my grandmother's baby doll, who was passed down to me a number of years ago.As a child, I remember loving to hold her because she was about the size of a real baby. My grandmother told me (and included a handwritten note when she gave her to me) that "this doll was brought over on the last boat from Germany before World War I". She is a beautiful doll dressed in a vintage dress, and I later learned she is considered fairly valuable to doll collectors. She has such a pretty face; with painted on eyelashes. While her eyes open and shut, the most unique thing about her is her tongue--it actually wiggles. To this day, when I pick her up, I find myself holding her to my shoulder just like a real baby!The other two toys shown are from my dad's childhood. He is now 81 years old, but he remembers these as being his very favorite toys as a little boy. The duck is musical; if you press his tummy he plays music. Only recently, my daughter realized that the song that plays is a Bach Minuet that she learned in violin lessons. It is barely recognizable because only a portion of it plays each time you squeeze, but once she mentioned it, it became noticeable to me, too.
Saturday, December 27, 2008

Crafty Christmas

Now that all the gifts have been sent and opened, I can show you some of the crafty things from this holiday. Each year I try to make at least one handmade gift for Jana and Callie---something that is just from me, not Santa or anyone else. For Callie, I made this purse set. That's the Martha Stewart reversible purse and the zippered purse is made following SplitYarn's directions. I added the little key ring just for fun.

For Jana, I made another Martha Stewart reversible purse in gray and this lap quilt using a couple of Amy Butler charm sets. Jana gave me the greatest calendar! She doesn't really consider herself a seamstress at all, but I think she's wrong---this is great! The numbers are covered buttons that have Velcro underneath so I can change them according to the month and she did the printing from her computer (I've got to see exactly how she did it because it turned out so well).
Friday, December 26, 2008

I Did It!

I did it! I bought a Cricut Expression. I've wanted a Cricut since they came out, but just couldn't bring myself to fork over the money for one not knowing if I would use it enough to get my money's worth. But in recent months, it seems that I keep thinking, "If I had a Cricut I could cut that." so often that it finally seemed worth it. My dad gave me some money for Christmas, so I found one on Ebay for a pretty good price and ordered it.

It arrived on the afternoon of Dec 23. But, since I still had a very lengthy "to do" list at that point, I could not allow myself to even open the box. I quickly moved it into the laundry room where I wouldn't see it and tried to focus on finishing the necessary tasks for Christmas!

Now that the festivities are over, I brought out the box and began unpacking. At this point, what I want to do most is cut some vinyl lettering for my hallway---to position over the wall of photos I'm planning. But, I decided that I should probably experiment a bit first to get the hang of things. Now, to find the perfect quote. . . .

Christmas Past

Yesterday was a really nice day, although much quieter than previous years. Jordan and Callie helped me fix brunch for my Dad, step mom and brother. We opened stockings, opened gifts, visited, ate and just enjoyed each other's company.By noon, everyone was gone and it was just Emmi and I. After a short nap, I did a little bit of knitting and Emmi found her favorite new spot to nap---on this heart shaped micro bead pillow. Never mind that she has a handmade, full-size bed!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Found Treasure

This morning, as I tackled my "to do" list, I began working on transferring family photos from old wooden frames to new black gallery frames. I've gathered quite an assortment of photos from my family and my ancestors. Of course, every picture of the girls is sentimental to me and like a true mother, each one is beautiful. So, the task of deciding which one gets framed and which one will go in an album is hard for me.

As I began gathering the photos in one place I rediscovered silhouettes of the girls that were made about 15 years ago and even found one of myself done when I was 11 years old. After placing theirs in frames, I began removing mine from the broken black frame. Imagine my surprise when I lifted it from the "mat" and found this underneath!My mother embroidered this and it is a great likeness of my childhood home on Lincoln Drive. She even included the red barn and garden plot that were in the back yard. I guess this was done while I was quite young because at about age 7 or 8, my parents added another driveway to the left of our house to accommodate our travel trailer. While not officially an antique yet, it is quite a treasure to me!

Toys For All Ages

Yesterday morning, I bundled up with long undies, jeans and polar fleece and headed to our church parking lot to hand out gifts for Toys for Tots. It was well below freezing, but the line of people began to form even before the designated time.We'd been afraid that there weren't enough toys for the crowd coming, but just like the "fishes and loaves" story, there was plenty. People arrived continually and yet the gifts held out.

This morning, I signed up for the Round Robin Photo Challenge. Knowing my love for birds is enough to make me want this cute little guy on my sidebar, but more than that, I'm hoping to spark some stories to tell and another chance to improve my photography skills. My first challenge will be to photograph and tell the story of a favorite toy.

On today's "To Do" list is wrapping gifts. While no actual toys for kids this year, (those have already been mailed to the appropriate homes), I'll be wrapping things for us grown-ups and grown-up kids to play with.
Sunday, December 21, 2008


I needed to be at church early this morning for a last-minute hand bell rehearsal/warm-up. Unfortunately, when I went out to my car, it wouldn't start. The bells dinged and lights on the dashboard flashed, but the car didn't start. A bit panicked, I quickly called my friend, Carol, who was also going to be playing and caught her before she left her house and she came and picked me up. When I got back home, I tried again, hoping it would miraculously start after time to rest or something, but still nothing! BOO!

I have free Roadside Assistance, but does that mean it has to be out on the road?? Will they come if it's parked under my carport??

P. S. Yes, they will come to your house and even to your carport. Also, after you wait on hold on the phone for an extended period of time and then have a service person come out, they will ask what problem the car is having. As you get in to demonstrate the noise, the car will then start--just to make you look like you are a complete idiot!
Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday Chores (cont.)

Last weekend I talked Ron into taking me to Lowe's to pick up new doors for the bedrooms and bathroom, but instead he was recruited to help his daughter install a new hot water heater.

So, this morning I picked out four new doors,
hinges and new doorknobs, too.

Amazing that the handles cost as much (and could have cost more than) as the doors themselves.

So while Ron was outside doing this . . . I was inside doing this (I actually installed it all by myself)! It took the entire day to install all 4 doors--the doorway to my bedroom was far from square--but I so appreciate having such a great neighbor. AND a great friend who shares her husband with me for handyman projects!! After the doors are painted, I can finish installing the door handles, but the project is almost finished!

I treated them and their daughter to pizza after we got the last door hung. But, I'm afraid that Ron will be having ibuprofen for dessert!

Saturday Chores

Monday: Wash Day
Tuesday: Ironing Day
Wednesday: Sewing Day
Thursday: Market Day
Friday: Cleaning Day
Saturday: Baking Day
Sunday: Day of Rest

Hooray for the weekend! I have an endless list of things to get done in the next few days.
And if I'd been following the above schedule, I should obviously be baking today. But instead, today began with a smattering of small chores: hanging up clothes, putting photos in new frames, taking out the recycling, trimming the lantana bush, etc., etc.

But, this little chore was by far the most satisfying today.
On my breakfast table, I keep a small bank to put loose change in.
Every few months, I roll the coins and take them to the bank. It's been quite a while since I rolled them, so today I decided to gather up the change and see how much I had.
Wow! $58.00! That almost takes care of a couple of the doorknobs I just bought!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More Christmas Elves

Well, apparently Emmi is not the only Christmas elf in the area this week. At lunch today, Pam told me about her adventure yesterday. Her mother's little Maltese, Candy, has been visiting her 2 dogs while some household repairs are being made. Pam took the day off from work yesterday to get Christmas shopping done and had carefully scheduled her day to make the most efficient use of her time off. Mid-morning, she stopped by her house to let the dogs out and drop off some packages of "stocking stuffers" she'd purchased. She then left to visit one last store. Upon returning home an hour or so later, she found a trail of plastic bags, foil wrappers and chocolate crumbs all over the dining room, living room and kitchen! And not a single piece of candy was left. They'd eaten it all!!! Of course, dogs aren't even supposed to have chocolate, but all 3 seemed happy and healthy,with the exception of some noisy tummies.

Then, my dad just called a few minutes ago to tell me that after placing his new packages from my brother under the Christmas tree last night (yes, this is the same brother whose gift Emmi chose to tear to shreds). He woke up this morning to find a trail of candy wrappers and wrapping paper all over the living room. Bonnie, their Cairn Terrier had been busy all night. Apparently, one of the packages contained candy corn for my brother, Dan---Bonnie ate some of that, but left a lot. However, the package that apparently contained some sort of chocolate brownies or cake was completely destroyed----every bite having been consumed.

Bonnie has a stomach condition---colitis or something like that--and is supposed to be on a carefully monitored diet, so they had to rush her to the vet. After lab work, it was determined that she needed a shot and medications. So $150 later, all is well---until the next package, I guess!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Santa's Elf?

I already have a nice pile of presents under my tree--between gifts from Jana and Rob and those sent by my brothers and their families. So far, Emmi has left them alone. However, when I got home from work a few minutes ago, this is what I found.How is it that with all those gifts, the only one she bothered----and managed to tear open---was the one with a little Maltese dog??!?!?
I'll bet that pretty little frou-frou dog Don & Sally sent me wouldn't have made such a mess in HER house!

Snow Day diverted

Winter Weather Advisory

That's what you see when you look up my zip code on right now. Down in Louisiana, we don't see that very often, so you can imagine that when we heard the possibility of freezing rain and sleet, teachers (and probably kids) all over our school district were crossing their fingers and wishing for a snow day.
Last week, Valine and her friends down south had an unexpected day off when they awoke to this in Prairieville, so it could happen here!

But, alas . . . looks like we'll be in school after all. While areas north of us are experiencing some winter precipitation, we're just watching for it.
Saturday, December 13, 2008

Season's Greetings

Over the years, I've always loved receiving Christmas cards. Of course, everyone likes to get mail, but Christmas cards are special---whether filled with just a simple signature or a letter describing events of the past year, they are a connection with people I don't hear from that often.

A while back, I switched from purchasing cards at the store to handcrafting cards for my family. I remember one that I made with a die-cut tree wrapped in wires and beads. And in recent years, they have always included a photo of the girls and I.


Last year, I was all prepared with card kits I'd purchased at an after-Christmas sale the year before. While not completely original, they would at least be handcrafted. But, the season was so busy last year---Jana had just gotten married and Callie engaged---that those cards never got sent.

As I began thinking about my cards for this year, I was not sure what to do. I had the card kits from Hobby Lobby, but my family had totally changed since I bought them. Both of the girls were now married and have moved away and I live here alone. Somehow our typical photo just didn't seem right. I finally decided to include one last photo on my holiday cards---one that includes my new son-in-laws. So the cards are now completed and after sealing the envelopes they will be ready to mail. Since I'm quite sure that no one wants a picture of just me to put on their refrigerators (ha!), I need to keep my eyes open for a new handcrafted card idea for next year!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008

One For Me and One For You!

Well, the ornament swap is officially underway. I've received two ornaments so far that are great and I have finally finished mine (sorry for the delay). But, after reinforcing their handmade packages,
they are now packed and ready to be mailed tomorrow. Hopefully you'll get them this weekend and then I can post pictures of the finished product.

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