Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blessings

I love getting packages in the mail. It feels like Christmas morning when I get one. Even when I know what it is, I still smile and feel surprised every time.

I had been doing quite a bit of Christmas shopping on Etsy and I was expecting packages to start arriving. I came home from work one day and found a few packages waiting for me on the kitchen counter. I took my time getting to them, certain they were all gifts for others. But one of the packages had a return address on it that I knew.

It was from dear, sweet Val over at Pretty Little Rough Patches. And it was full of the most delicious fudge we have ever eaten. She had made her grandma's chocolate walnut fudge for Thanksgiving and was so kind and thoughtful to send some to us. Totally unexpected. Totally surprised. And very thankful.

I have the most wonderful people in my life. And when I count my blessings, I count her as one of them. 

Hugs, Val, from a distance.
Oh yes, every day.

~~~~~~~~~~

We had a quiet Thanksgiving with Sissy and her family. They alternate between our family and her in-laws and this was our year. 

{Other Sissy visits her in-laws way, way, far away every year for  Thanksgiving, so we don't get to see them over the holiday. Ever. Pooh.}

Since this was our year with Sissy's family, Sissy and the girls came over the day before to help prepare the side dishes - most importantly, Nan's stuffing. The girls did most of the work this year. Sissy and I had to help stir the stuffing since it gets kind of thick and heavy once all the bread and water is in the bowl. We kept stirring and adding seasoning, then tasting to see what needed adjusting. We do it by taste. The best way to judge.

It was the best stuffing ever. Everyone said so. We have no idea what we did differently. 

This could be problematic for next year but I'll worry about that later. Tra-la-la.

~~~~~~~~~~

We played games, and ate pie, and played more games. Watched some football. Ate some sort of delicious Nutella cake that Sissy made. Ate chocolates. Remembered to save some for the next day when we were getting together to enjoy the leftovers.

Thanksgiving is all about the food. 

~~~~~~~~~~

And being thankful. 

For blessings beyond belief - loving family, good friends, warm homes, jobs, a wonderful church, our health. More blessings than we can count. 

Thank You, Father God, for all of those blessings.
The rest of the photos are from our annual gingerbread decorating night.

Sissy and I made the house parts earlier in the week and we got together Friday night to put them together and decorate.

And eat candy. Sometimes that's all I do. Oh, and take pictures. I do that, too.
The girls are getting very good at using the icing bags and tips. They only squeeze from the middle every now and then.

And they have very different decorating ideas. I love how their personalities show in the way they decorate.
The Man and J kept coming in to the kitchen to sneak pieces of candy.

It's a good thing we buy about eighteen pounds of candy between the two of us. Every year we think we are going to streamline and not buy the same things, but somehow we still end up with duplicates. Not that anybody's complaining. We never throw candy away.
K's house.

I love the swirly candy cane. 

Other Sissy, are you seeing this? The swirly thing reminded me of you.
D's house. 

She loved the swirly candy canes. She put them everywhere. I told her the house looked so fancy. Just like her. She was born fancy.

I just love her house. It makes me think of Dr. Seuss.
Can you see the swirly shadow on the table?

Even D's shadows are fancy.
The decorators and their creations.
The supervisors joined the photo.

~~~~~~~~~~

Love this tradition. Love these memories. I'll have to go digging for some photos from the past when my little ones were decorating.

Blessings. 

Yup, my life is full of them.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

North, part 3

Final trip up north.

M and I had already been up twice and our men were feeling a bit left out. This time we brought them. Have to keep the men happy.
Getting some delicious breads at a local baking company. Housed in an old firehouse, the inside oozes character and charm. I wanted to buy one of everything they had.

But I showed restraint and only bought one loaf. And some granola. Which is gone, gone, gone.

Pooh.
Spent a chunk of time at a local brewery, sampling some beers and taking the tour.

Are you sensing a theme to my get-aways? 

Food and beer. The men were very happy.
Wandered through the woods, searching for a trail. We never did find it at that location. But we found some golden-y, warm sunshine peeping through the trees.
M and the Man were in charge of finding the trail.

They love maps and iPhones.
At the waterfall, the men got very close to the edge. M and I were nervous Nellies, shoo-ing them away. 

They paid no attention to us. They like living on the edge.

This is why women color their hair.

Monday, November 18, 2013

North, part two



Some photos from my second trip north with the Knitwits.

The Queen couldn't figure out how to use something on her phone. See the man on the right? He was walking the trail with a companion. Since they looked a bit younger than all of us, we decided to stop them and ask them for help.

They were good sports and helped us. Er, they helped the Queen. 

Some of us know how to use our phones.
And some of us don't.
Sissy and PKB having some fun.

I think PKB knows how to use the camera but I can't be sure.

Or, as PKB would say, I cahn't be sure. I simply cahn't.
I just love M in this photo. That pretty red sweater against the neutral grays behind her?

Simply perfect.

And she made that sweater. See? We really do knit. Even though our families don't think so.
Admiring PKB's fancy new hat.
She looks like someone famous.

Incognito.
Wandered around a small village on the shore, touches of fall here and there.
Pretty sidewalk views.
I love those star mirrors.

Hmm, I wonder if the Man could make those frames? I think they would look oh so pretty at Christmas, surrounded by greens and red ornaments. 

Don't you?
Eating the most delicious sandwich in the world.

Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, fried onions, cheese, and sriracha mayo. All smushed together and grilled in a wrap.

It was so good, we couldn't even use our words. All we could do was hum.
My favorite photo. 

Because they are some of my favorite people.






Monday, November 4, 2013

North

Snippets from my first trip up north about a month ago.

Hard to believe this is where all that lovely wool yarn comes from.

They were very curious.

Stopped in at one of my favorite bag designers, Rough and Tumble.
Lunch in a converted store front. Aren't those wooden boards gorgeous?
Not a friendly shoreline.

Rough, rugged, ready to rumble.
It must have been a love bug that chewed that leaf.
Stopped in at a local yarn shop to check out the goods.

Beautiful yarns.

Expensive yarns.

Stay in the store, I don't need you yarns.
Momma.

Got to love the person who puts up the "Momma" lock.
Breathtakingly beautiful fall day spent at Sabbathday Lake.

Shakers.
Reflection. 

Literally.
As promised - a photo of the finished bag that stole so much of my time.

And oh so worth it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mary Poppins Bag

This little beauty is where I've been the past few weeks.

I have been frantically working to finish this bag in time to take it with me on a girls weekend away. And, yes, I know I just came back from a girls weekend away but this was with a group of different girls.

I'm in a lot of girl groups. And we like to travel. We're like packs that way.

~~~~~~~~~~

Anyway, this second group of girls is my knitting group. One of my fellow knitters, B, and I started this Mary Poppins carpet bag over two years ago. The bag is made from a bunch of knitted pieces that are embroidered, felted, and then sewn together.

The knitted parts were done very fast. The embroidery? Not so fast.

Actually, two years slow.

Both B and I got stymied by the embroidery that had to be done. The pattern was not helpful in telling us what colors to use for the stems, veins on the leaves, flower outlines, or any other details that had to be put in place before we could felt. So, without any guilt, we put the bag pieces in {plastic} bags and shoved them far back into upstairs closets. At least, I did. I have no idea what B did with her pieces. I know what she didn't do and that was finish the bag.

Until about a month ago.

I was cleaning out that closet and found the pieces. I do not like unfinished projects and this was one. It came out and I decided to hunker down and attack that embroidery. I texted B and let her know what I was doing. She rose to the challenge and picked her bag up again. We embroidered our little fingers off, intent on getting it finished in time for our trip. It took the whole weekend but it got finished. We dropped the pieces off to our knitting teacher since she had agreed to felt them for us.

Ah. What relief.

Until I got a phone call from B the following Sunday while I was in church. I called her as soon as I could and found that we had a knitting emergency. Both of us had made the same mistake. We had only knit one strap/handle and needed two.

Aack!

I dropped my Bible off at home, yelled something to the Man and K and J as I went flying out the door, and took off for the knitting shop. I had to get more yarn and needles and get busy knitting.
Fast forward a couple weeks. All pieces are completed and felted. B and I met the Sunday afternoon before our trip to sew the bags together. 

It was almost anti-climatic. They went together so easily. The hardware went in without any struggle. It took a little time to sew in the handles. I will post a photo of the completed bag, with the bright red handles and shiny silver buckles.

~~~~~~~~~~

B and I made the grand reveal on our weekend away. There were a few gasps, someone thought we bought the bags while we were out that day, and lots of ooh-ing and aah-ing. 

So glad we made these bags. So glad they are finished.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Old Friends, Gold Friends

I hurt.

But just in my cheeks.

Laughter can be dangerous to your cheek health, I think.

~~~~~~~~~~

Time for girls weekend. This batch of girls have been together for a

very. 

long. 

time.

Most of us met when we were in middle school, some as early as sixth grade, but one of us joined the group when she came over the pond from Switzerland for her senior year of high school. M pulled off the greatest surprise of the year when our Swiss Miss, B, showed up this weekend. None of the rest of us knew she was coming. M had been talking to B about our trip a few weeks ago. B thought about it for a little bit, then told M she was thinking about joining us.

Holy surprise attack, Batman!
I saw M pull into the driveway and went off to get my bags. When I opened the door, B was standing there. Right in front me. Having traveled three thousand seven hundred and eighty two miles to see us.

She is the best.

I screamed. I jumped around, and then grabbed her in a big hug. Then screamed some more. M stood in the background, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

What a moment.
So the laughter started from that very first moment and has not stopped.

We laughed our way through a delicious dinner with some very welcoming waitstaff. They gave us free whoopie pies for dessert. And then tried to give us their boss.

We laughed our way through M's Grand Prix driving show, navigating us through the city streets, missing turn after turn. C, our southern gal, kept yelling out "Raaad" (which is southern speak for "red") to give M a head's up on traffic lights.

We were all thankful for that.

We learned fairly quickly to get in the car RIGHT AWAY. Or M will start driving without you. Poor B was barely in her seat when the car started rolling. She scooted in, grasping at the door to shut it, trying not to fall out at the same time.

Sassy M just smiled and floored it.
After a long day, we went back to M's house and nestled in to watch a movie. We poured ourselves glasses of wine, put together a plate of sweet, sugary desserts, and popped in "The Intouchables."

A great movie.

Except it was in french. 

B speaks some french, but was having a hard time keeping up with the dialogue. The rest of us were picking up words here and there but not enough to follow the movie. We started making up our own story. Which led to more giggling. But after a short bit, we really wanted to know what they were saying.

We had to switch on subtitles. 

It was time to get the remote. Except we had three remotes and none of them seemed to work. M kept trying and trying, pushing this or that button and switching out batteries. Nothing. No menu, no subtitle options.

After about fifteen minutes of trying to figure this out, M got a wee bit frustrated and threw the remote. It hit the floor and separated into pieces, each of them skittering across the wood floor. Uh-oh.

We all stopped and just looked at her. Then we looked at the television.

There were subtitles across the bottom of the screen.

She's good.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Twenty Four Years

Twenty four years together. Twenty four years of working out the details.

~~~~~~~~~~

I find bugs, he kills them for me.

He can't find anything, I find it for him.

I love football, he gets me tickets to see my favorite team.

He can't spell to save his life, I'm his spell-check.

I still run outside when he pulls into the driveway. He comes out of the truck with arms open for a crush-me-close, squeeze-me-tight bear hug.

He thinks I'm beautiful. I think he's blind.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Man still calls me his "bride".

Bride? Not anymore. I'm a little wrinkled now. And there's some gray. Well, a lot of gray, really. Gravity has exacted its price. I say, "Huh?" quite often because people mumble more than they used to. My body's temperature rises and falls like the waves in an ocean squall; one minute, I'm freezing and the next, I'm glistening, as my Southern girlfriends say. 

{Glistening = sweating}

Bride? Not hardly. I'm feeling a bit dented, definitely worn, with some scars picked up along the way. The rose colored glasses were tossed away many years ago. 

Amazingly, he still sees me as the bride he remembers. And that's what love is. Finding that someone who will love you through the flaws.

Happy anniversary, Man. Love you to the moon and back.






Sunday, October 6, 2013

Random Fall Moments

There are a lot of spiders around right now.

And they are making lots and lots of webs. Everywhere.

In the basement, the corners of rooms, the garage. On the back porch, the clothesline, and in the shrubbery. The shrubbery looks like it has been webbed by Spiderman.

After a little investigating {call me Nancy Drew}, it looks like autumn is mating season. 

Get a room. But not in my house.
Waiting.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Thing of Beauty, or how to drive yourself crazy

Aaaaargh.

A few months ago I was polishing my nails and had a bottle of nail polish remover on the side table next to my chair. There is not a lot of space on this side table, because it usually has stuff on it. But I had nowhere else to put the bottle. We won't even discuss why I should have never been painting my nails in the living room in the first place. 

Let's just say I am always over confident in my ability to be. careful. with. messy. things.

Can you see where this is going?

I spilled the bottle.

For those of you that know me, this should not come as a great surprise. My middle name should have been Grace because I need all the help I can get. Tide to Go© is my best friend. And I keep a supply of band aids in my wallet because I am always tripping, whacking a body part on something, and/or causing chaos and mayhem just walking through life. 

Where do you suppose that bottle landed?

It landed in a basket that I keep next to my chair naturally. Full of paperwork, notecards, various office supplies, our checking account journal, and my password address book, it landed in the worst. possible. place.

The password address book took the brunt of the spill. I yelped, jumped, ran into the kitchen to grab the paper towels and blotted as much as I could.

It's a beautiful book now. Full of multi-colored pages where all the inks from all the different colored pens I used over the last fifteen years bled together to form some pretty. wild. tie-dyed. pages.

~~~~~~~~~~

So I've been needing to get a new password address book since this fiasco. But of course, I'm a wee bit fussy when it comes to paper goods. 

Some were too big, some were too small. Almost all of them had ugly covers, with bad color combinations and horrid looking patterns. Some had sewn bindings, some had three hole bindings, some had glued bindings. 

I wanted one that had a wire binding, not too big, and was girly-pretty.

After months and months of searching, and buying one that I really didn't like, because I had to have somewhere to re-write all these addresses, I finally found one that was JUST RIGHT.

Call me Goldilocks.

~~~~~~~~~~

That's what I've been doing for the past several nights. 

Re-writing website names, logins, user ids, passwords, security questions and account numbers. Since I lean toward a type A personality, I can not just copy them. I have to check them to make sure they still work.

And that's where the "AAAAAARGGGHHH!!!" part comes in. Hours and hours of finding websites and testing logins.

I am never painting my nails again.



Monday, September 30, 2013

Family Reunion day

Family reunion time.

Aunts, uncles, siblings, grandparents, nieces and nephews, and cousins. Lots and lots and lots of cousins.

We come from three different states once a year to see each other. And laugh. Oh, yes, we laugh together a lot.

The kids enjoy running around and hanging upside down.
This little cutie pop was spending oodles of time inspecting the grass. Her grand-mama came over to see what she was looking at. Soon after, another cousin joined in to see what cutie pop and grand-mama were doing.

Of course, I had to wander over and investigate. We never did figure out what she was looking at.

Her mother heard us speculating, "Maybe she found a bug. Or a treasure."

She looked over and said, "No, she's just looking at her toes."

Huh. Not what we were thinking.
Have to have bubbles when there are little girls around.

They work like magic.
This man is trouble. 

Capital T. Trouble.

I was on the run when I snapped this pic. 

~~~~~~~~~~

I love family reunion day. These are the cousins that we used to love to get together with when we were kids. 

They were two boys. We were three girls.

They had cool boy toys. And loved playing sports. They conned us into playing some game or other every time we saw them. 

Our moms were sissies. Best friend sissies - the very best kind of sissies. 

Auntie P gave me some photos of my mom when mom was a young child. Auntie P is in the photos, as well as another aunt, Auntie G. She told me I could crop the two of them right out of the photos. 

Silly Auntie P. Why would I want to do that? These two women are part of my history, threads in the fabric of my life. They're not going anywhere.