Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Countdown Has Begun--

 In reflection of my gramma's advice, I'm NOT making New Year's Resolutions. I'm making plans complete with measurable goals and outcomes. Action steps will be listed of how to achieve goals. I'm setting budgets to pay off bills. I'm devising my class work so I'm not overloaded to the detriment of my health. I'm getting back to being organized and efficient. I'm organizing my things because clutter serves no purpose other than to drive me completely depressed. I'm getting rid of junk and unused stuff to donate to my favorite charity thrift-store. 

Last night, while at the local grocery store, I began planning a menu for the next week. I ask D if what he thought he would like for dinner for the next three days. This drives him nutzoid because he doesn't think about food that way. *grins at you* Nonetheless, if I want beef broth, I have to make a pot roast first. I then collect the stock left over from the pot roast and use that for dishes that require beef broth. Same with chicken/turkey broth.  It's that food preservative allergy I have that requires this sort of food preparation. So lined up for the rest of the week are our dinners, that include leftovers for simple soups, stews, and stir-fry meals. 

We also picked up a couple of rolling carts for me. There was this sale--buy one get one 50% off. That's a bargain that's very, very hard for me to resist. I could have easily bought several other plastic tubs, drawers, storage totes, and such but I managed to keep it down to a dull roar this time. :D These will help me get my beads and other crafts organized so I can stop using my filing cabinets for junk drawers. That was fine when I didn't have any other place to keep things from the cats--because they love specialties like curling ribbon and stringing materials--but the time for change is upon us. 

So what are your plans for the coming New Year? How will you achieve them? How will you measure success?

From our house to yours--Have a Happy, Prosperous, and Safe New Year! See you on the flip-side!

Lacey to Tilly: You wanna tell Mom about the...
Tilly to Lacey: Shhhhhhh what she doesn't learn now will help all of us...and maybe we can blame it on Ava or Max!  


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Remembering Her...

She was my "living legend" growing up. 

She had crossed the land from Oklahoma to California in a covered wagon when she was a child. She worked to support her mother and her brothers during the Depression, earning 50 cents a week as a domestic. She learned the value of making do, reusing and recycling long before it was trendy to do so. She valued education because she endeavored to complete high school. She never made it college. She told me of the struggles of women, of being a woman, and her small part in those struggles before the bra-burners of the 1970s made the scene. She was a single mother before the term became both pejorative and in vogue. She was a working mother out of necessity and again before it was the popular thing to do and to be. 

She was the embodiment of family.  She did not always understand her children. She never played favorites among her grandchildren. We all knew what was important to her and that was simply she loved us for who we were. She may not approve of our behaviors but she loved us unconditionally. She was there when any of us needed to talk things out. She imparted wisdom she learned through her life and experiences. One of her favorite sayings was "Do your own homework. Don't let anyone tell you what to believe or how to believe. Do your own homework and then make a decision." Along with doing our own homework came "You can't get anywhere without planning for it. So make a plan, revise it when necessary, and do it."

Another one of her sayings was "Pennies add up." One of my most cherished memories was her Brown Betty teapot that sat in her dining room window. She would put her spare pennies in the pot from her purse every week. (She also collected silver change but kept those in her bedroom.) When my family was stateside, we would visit her. It was our job to count the pennies and roll them. She would then take them to the bank and treat us to a day at Elitch Gardens.

I was eight years old when my family moved to Incirlik AFB, Adana, Turkey.  I remember telling my parents before the move that I had to stay behind with my gramma because without us, she would be lonely. I had to stay with her to take care of her. She took me aside and told me that she would miss me too but I had to go take care of my family. She told me that she would be right there waiting for me when I returned and that a couple of years wasn't that long. 

Years later, I wondered what it cost her to tell me that. At that time, she was the strongest woman in my life. She also became my first pen-pal. I missed her so badly that my mother--bless her heart--gave me the tool of a lifetime. She helped me write a letter to Gramma. Two weeks later, I had a letter back from her. It was like magic to an eight year old. And it started a long history of correspondence between us. After her death, my mother gathered up all the letters and cards I had sent her that she and my aunt could find and returned them to me. They are still a special part of my history and very cherished.

From her, I learned that kindness never hurts anyone, especially the giver. She was my biggest cheerleader when I made the decision to return to school and get my education. She died before I reached my goal, but I continued because of her belief in me.  While some of my family members were jawing on about the fact my chosen degree wouldn't bring me much money or that I was wasting my time, she quietly assured me that I had to do what I wanted to do. She also informed me that life has its own designs and that I may have to make decisions later that would be different from my overall plan. She was right. She was very right.

I miss her. It's been ten years since her passing. But every now and then, I can feel her presence, her strength and her love. I feel her lovingly cupping my face with her hands and whispering..."I miss you..."

Happy New Year Gramma Dee. 

Gramma Dee and Matthew
This was the final set of portraits taken of this wonderful woman...
I had the honor of taking them.
In this portrait, she was joking and told me she was tired of taking pictures and if I took one more, she was going to stick out her tongue...
She stuck out her tongue, my son cracked up laughing and I snapped the picture. 
Unfortunately, I didn't get the tongue, but I captured the spunk.:D

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Stick a Fork In It...

Ok...the beading frenzy has finally run through its course...*big breath of relief here* 

I'm in the process of cleaning off my desk, organizing it and getting geared up for working. Yep--it's time for me to start planning next semester's classes. I need to get my syllabi worked out, along with class assignments, due dates, course calendars, and plan for midterms and finals. I've got to get it in gear. 

And that means rearranging my office space so I can work much more effectively and efficiently this semester without killing myself in the process. I love to teach. It's thrilling and very gratifying--which is good because the pay is not the thing you would write home to Mother about...

So here are the last of my beading projects...Enjoy them!
This was made for a special little girl in my life. She talks to me on the phone, dances for me (over the phone) and points out Bobbo the Cat to me (over the phone). She's the granddaughter of my best friend and she deserves her own necklace. Guess who made the beads? 

These earrings came from the bead trade I had with Jo over at Jo's Jewels. I have a third one I'm wanting to make into a pendent but I ran out of antique gold chain.  I just love these stones although I can't tell you what they are. They give off a shine that I can't seem to capture via camera.
TLSClayDesign offered these earrings for sale. I had been lusting after them what seemed like forever. Terri Stone is a very generous woman and sent me some beads that she made that actually matched the earrings. I made this set out of them. 
I wanted this set like I want most things in life: with a passion. When it was finally offered on sale, (being the frugal person I am) I snapped it up quickly before anyone else had a chance.  I've drooled over these beads and played with them, making different combinations with the beads I had. Today, it all came together.  Do you recognize who did the bead work?
 This last set was another of Ivy Koehn's creations. I asked her if she had matching beads for  the pendent and she promptly put up several sets. She also included the diamond-shaped ones as a free gift for earrings.  Gretchen Lima put the deep amethyst seed beads on auction awhile back and I couldn't resist a great bargain. They just seemed to blend so well together!
I'm hoping my baby sister comes back from Florida safely. If I'm lucky, I'll get to go visit with her before she makes the move across country permanent. More about that later.  

Tonight, I'm tired and need to heat up some left-overs for dinner and enjoy the rest of this evening with D. I'll post again soon! :D 


Monday, December 28, 2009

The Day After The Day After...

*sighs* In our family, the holiday tree comes down after New Year's. It's something that was done in both families and a tradition that D and I like to continue in our family. We've done this before without any problem--even with cats in the house. 

This year I may be taking the tree down sooner than that. Because of the cats in the house. Especially because of these cats in our house! 
Notice the tree leans to the right? That's because one or two of the cats (we suspect Merlin AND Harley) played "BONSAI" into the tree last night, breaking one of the stand pieces. Also note the ornaments--or the lack thereof. They are getting fewer and fewer. During the fiasco last night, D managed to catch the tree, but one of the ornaments that have been with me for 30 years got broken. I tried not to cry because after all--it's a thing right? Lives are more important than things certainly. I knew it wasn't the loss of the ornament per se that  upset me--it was the tangible evidence of that particular piece of history that upset me. 

Other than the sad state of our tree, D and I have been taking it easy. I started working on my next semester's classes. I need to revamp, revise, redo many aspects of my teaching so I'm not so swamped with students' work and the students don't get lose the high quality of teaching that's expected and needed. D is thinking about work that needs to be done around here before his final semester picks up and he gets too involved to do much about the work needed here.  

But I've taken advantage of the lull and been happily, voluntarily working my other true obsessive-compulsive disorder. 


I actually made this for my mother-in-law before the holiday. I felt the pale pink rose and the pearls would work well for her since she likes roses.  

 The rose pendent was made by Mary Ellen at BeetreebyME
 She's got some new beads, flowers, angels, fairies, and other pendents in her store. 

The centerpiece finding came from Shannon over at Fab Beads. She has a great selection of various findings!

I made this set for my baby sister who also loves red roses. 
The set below is for my niece who collects crosses. I used dark red coral Swarovski crystals to accent the pieces. In case you're interested. 
These anklets were resized for a friend of mine who has been extremely patient with me in getting these to her. I made these for her a year or so ago, but they were the wrong size. The anklets are headed back to Washington DC today. 

I made earrings. One of these days I'll discuss my obsession with earrings and why I like them! I like all kinds of styles and as you probably have guessed--even similar ones with similar styles. Call me nuts and you'd be half right! :D

   My obsession...

Some more of Terri Stone's artwork done in a cool but funky way.
And these were for me. I made the necklace to go with the bracelet and earrings but forgot to photograph it.  

        The goldstone diamonds came from Gretchen Lima's store. 

The roses were made by Mary Ellen. I loved the drama of purple and red together. Cool, royal, and dignified versus hot, passionate, and intense. Mary Ellen's art is simply beautiful. This picture doesn't do them justice unfortunately.
 I have a surprise gift occasion coming up in a month or two. I decided to make this in advance. While I had some time. While I could bead. The pendent bead is from Ivy Koehn who does beautiful artwork at ikandiclay.

So what are your plans for New Year's? Will you go out and party in the New Year? Or will you stay at home and have a peaceful night? 

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our Christmas With Them!

Since this was the first Christmas for the kittens and for several of the older cats, I took a lot of photographs. It was hard to get them all in the living room together. Ava and the kittens were so excited that they would follow D when he went in the office to bring out Max and Arby--and follow me into the kitchen to check on the foods. We finally gave up trying to get them all out there at once and just let them start opening stockings. D and I laughed and chuckled over their antics yesterday morning.  

  This is the stocking D found at the last moment--we put the ferals' toys and goodies in it. 

 Waiting for Dad to come out so Christmas--whatever that is--can get started! 
 Stockings! Ok--we have them now what do we do with them??? 
 Merlin discovered the joy of stockings!

  So did Harley.
But Lacey and Tilly preferred something else. Something with more rattle and more adventure!

   Chile and her Christmas loot! Is that smug or what?  

 Max is thinking he likes Christmas! 

Arby just enjoys the tree Christmas Morning. 

 Harley shows he can smile like his granddad Merlin!

 A special guest for the holiday dinner--Mrs. C!
 Lacey makes her feel extra special!

I hope your day was extra special and very merry!  What are your plans for today? Are you going to travel to see friends and family? Are you going to plunge into that exercise routine to burn off all those holiday calories? Or are you going to sit back and relax today? Or are you like me--having to think about work already???

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Word About Handy Men...

If you have been following this blog for awhile, you know that my husband is handy with his hands and his tools. Stick with me here--it's going to get interesting.

Yesterday was my birthday. Yes--I had the audacity to be be born on Christmas Eve. To hear my mother tell the story, the nurses tried to get her to hang onto me for a few more hours so I could be born on Christmas Day. oO(Do obstetrics nurses understand the horridness of being born on a holiday?!?!?!)Oo  

Anyway, my husband is a thoughtful man and understands his wife. He understands that she's not into frivolous or fru-fru type of gifts. He understands that she prefers the practical, useful type of gifts. But he also is...well--let's face it. He's a man.  

Guess what this is... 

No--come on and really guess! 

If you guessed a duct-tape bow, you win the prize!  


Yes, there was a Kitchen Aid in the box.  

'Nuff said... 


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tour of Ornaments: Part II

We have a white Christmas Eve! That's what I wished for--that and a White Christmas--for my birthday. Some of you have inquired and yes, today is my birthday. I was born 9:04PM EST in Selfridge AFB, Mt. Clemmons, Michigan 48 years ago. Twenty-two years later I was given the best birthday gift ever--my nephew! It's been great sharing my birthday with a wonderful and beautiful soul.

The Tour of Ornaments begins with the Mommy ornament. This ornament was given to my by my mother to celebrate the birth of my son. His first ornament also gets hung every year. 

 One of our most cherished ornaments is worn and very tired. They are a pair of Christmas Worms--no tree should be without them. I don't know the story of how Christmas Worms came about; only that I helped make hundreds of them when I was with a girls' organization many years ago. We sold them along with Texas Mosquitos, and other holiday ornaments at a local crafts fair to help raise funds. Those were fun times.  

 Then D's sister gave us this ornament last year. It's been waiting for a chance to hang on the tree. It's one of the presidential ornaments. She gave us Benjamin Harrison. It's patriotic with its red, white, and blue. 

Next comes our figurines that we like to put out. Starting this off is the Christmas Pair: Bear and Reindeer. They usually hang from some spot in the house, gracing our holiday season with their presence. We put them up instead of the tree in 2005 because we were going to D's mother's for the holidays. My son, his father, and his aunt were coming our way the day after Christmas and that allowed us to visit with every one. 

  I love Santa. I believe in Santa. To me--Santa embodies the spirit of the holidays: giving and sharing. Therefore, it's natural for me to collect Santa figurines. The first is our Shamrock Santa Cat. My mother was into ceramics for most of my growing up years. One year she gifted us this cat and my son promptly named it the "Shamrock" Santa Cat because it looked a lot like our cat, Shamrock. 

 We also have the Renascence Santa. My mother decided to make different versions of Santa for awhile. I received this one. It's one of my favorites. He recently got broken but we managed to glue him back together.
 D and I collected some different figurines since we've been married. He gave me this Old World Santa back in 1996--long before we ever decided to marry. 
Back when we were close friends and before he moved to Detroit. 
The Tree Santa was his choice our first Christmas together as a married couple. I love it. 

 The Santa Bear joined our family the second year we were married. The White Santa was another one of my mother's gifts to me. 

 These elves have been in the family since the 70s. Back then my mother sold  Home Interiors and she picked these for our house. I always loved them so when she divided her ornaments up between the four of us, I got these!  

 D likes snowmen to Santas. So to balance out our home--which you can tell is loaded with Santas, we decided on the Snow Boys. They are precious and we like them alot.   

 The last Santa she gave me was this one. He's 16 inches tall and detailed like crazy. His coat is suede-like. She put some sort of batting for the fur trim. She did a beautiful job on him.  He holds a special place in our home--some place the cats can't get to easily.

I hope you enjoyed the tour!  

From our home to yours...From our Family to Yours...
We hope that Peace and Joy fills your hearts and your home;
That Love and Hope bless you in the New Year!

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

C and D
Merlin, Ava, Arby, Chile, Topaz, Gabby, Max, Harley, Cuddles, Lacey, and Tilly
And The Ferals 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Tour of Ornaments

It's a beautiful morning today. The tree stayed relatively intact and upright (only 3 ornaments were found on the floor this morning!) and that brings a sense of inner peace. There's a light dusting of snow on the ground. I'd like more but we can't be too greedy now can we?  The coffee is fresh and the kitchen is nearly ready for another round of baking.

Meanwhile, because the tree stayed upright (Thank you Kittens!) here are the family ornaments! The last time we had the tree up was in 2004 when D's mother came for the holiday. She mentioned that we had different tree ornaments, some of which she's never seen before. D piped in immediately and said, "Don't get her started. She (meaning me) will tell you the history of every ornament on that tree--where it came from, how it came to be on the tree..everything!"

So in light of that comment---I give you the "Antique Santa." I don't know if it's antique or not but it was my mother's ornament when she was a child. Since I was her eldest born, it got passed to me. It's plastic and the paint is coming off now but holds an honored place at the top of the tree.  
Then I give you my personal favorites: No-Man and Christmas Mouse.  I made No-Man many years ago and the mouse came to me as a goody-bag special. It's held an honored spot on my trees ever since.  

 These are D's favorites. He likes snowmen. He likes fishing. 'Nuff said. 
This lollipop came from my child. I remember when it first graced the tree while we were stationed in Adana, Turkey back in early 1970. I was not quite nine years old when we first moved there.  

 I can remember these elves on the tree from when I was little-little. Back to the day when my youngest sister was a toddler. They don't make elves like this anymore.

 The apple on this tree came from D's sister J. She gave us a basket of ornaments our first Christmas together. 

This trio of ornaments have come from different places too! The rice-straw reindeer came from the Philippines (1976). It used to have a tassel on the bottom, but Jack The Rabbit took it off. The artist bear came from Albuquerque, New Mexico when my son was young. That's his smiling face at the age of 5 years in the picture (1992). The bell first graced the family tree while my family was stationed at Offutt AFB, Bellevue, Nebraska back in 1973. 
We also hang the hand-blown glass ornaments, the favorite being the angel. My mother collected these from various locations over the years. When she decided to split up her collection among all of us, I was blessed to receive the angel. 

Finally, we come to my gramma's Christmas Mouse and the Crafty Angel. My beloved grandmother gifted a trio of Christmas Mouse ornaments the year my son was born. They are a link to her that I treasure. The Crafty Angel joined our family when my son was 6 years old. We had actually wandered into a local craft show in Albuquerque back in 1993, I believe. He was so entranced with the arts and crafts being displayed, he begged us to buy something. We decided on a tree ornament. This angel was his choice. 

With any kind of luck, I can show you some of our other holiday decorations tomorrow. I hope you enjoyed seeing our tree!