Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I hope you had a Merry Christmas....

We had a Fun Family Christmas.
All of our kiddos were home along with the out-laws and the Grandangel herself!
My own three siblings came to celebrate at our parents home so there was lots of coming and going and eating and laughing and celebrating.

Here are a few things I made for gifts this year....

....covered hangers for my daughter and daughter-in-love and some for friends too.
Here is my favorite link for making these which is found in Mary Engelbreit's handmade section. I made my covers 4x9" (one for each side of the hanger) and only had one seam on the bottom. I also bought my hangers pre-wrapped (lingerie hangers from Stuff Mart) and saved a step. These go really fast and I love them for drying wet lingerie, bras, or hand washables. I also like to hang camis on them or other clothing with slippery fabrics that tend to fall off regular hangers.

Here are some Softie beach balls for the babies to play with.
A good pattern comes from The Purl Bee.

I had fun making some appliqued and embroidered dish towels. The Scottie Dog applique came from All Sorts. And I'm sharing my hen pattern from my embroidery collection with you. Click the picture below to get an enlarged pattern. You may embroider it as-is, or trace the different pieces of the hen (tail, wing, body, crown, waddle) and then trace onto sewable Heat and Bond, following the package directions. Iron the pieces onto fabrics that you like, peel, and apply to your tea towel. I used a small blanket stitch around each part of the hen. For the nest, I did straight stitches here and there with two colors of gold to simulate straw.

Embroidery is a fun handicraft to do during long, cold, winter nights. If you need some help with the stitches, check out this Stitch Dictionary or You Tube where you can find the blanket stitch and other embroidery lessons.

Monday, December 22, 2008


I've been stitching hearts. I decided to join Dawn here.
No patterns. Just some felt hearts, theads, and imagination.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas magic...

Just the beginning....
Christmas sugar cookies from the oven, cooling and awaiting their turn for the Christmas Magic.
I like the look of the plain cookies on brown paper.

The magic sprinkles give each cookie it's own personality and charm.
Let's play Eye Spy.
I spy a pink sports car and a green Santa.
Do you?

The end.
(cookies and milk for breakfast!)

P.S. I used to do this with five small children all gathered around this very table. Here are some of the memories I have of those cookie decorating days.

*Not too much, not too much (as the cookie was thoroughly coated in red sugar so thick you could chip it off).
*Don't lick the frosting off the cookie, Honey.
*Don't lick the sprinkle shaker.
*Don't lick the sugar off the table, Honey.
*Don't eat that cookie, eat the broken one.
*Sugar cookies aren't good for dogs.
*I thought I put a full box of these in the freezer!
*Yes, let's take a plate to Grandpa and Grandma.
*Yes, let's take a plate up to the mailbox.
*Yes, give some to the UPS man when he comes to the door.

Here's a sweet reminder of those days....

Friday, December 19, 2008

What Christmas is all about.....

I watch Charlie Brown Christmas every year. My kids gave it to me. When it comes to this part, I cry every time. Thank you Linus.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Goo-Goo Goggles....

Big G, little G, what begins with G?
Goat, girl, goo-goo goggles! G… g… G!

Well now, Grammy's got some goo-goo goggles (type that three times fast!) Fashionable new rims by which to see better with.

I've worn eye glasses since 4th grade and so a new pair of glasses is nothing new to me.....until today. I now own progressive bifocals --dubbed by me, goo-goo goggles -- because they are quite googly on me for the moment--vision wise. I wasn't sure I could walk to the car after my fitting. The earth moved, I'm sure. Thankfully Hubs was with me and drove me the 55 miles home. How would I have ever managed that on my own?

Before we left town we stopped at the DQ for a hamburger and it really hit me then that I can no longer discretely look over to the other booth out of the corner of my eye and evaluate someone's hairstyle, clothes or new purse. No, I must stare directly AT the person or I can't see.

Driving home in the passenger seat was another experience -- tipping my head down a little to see the land clearly and again, pointing my head, not my eyes, in the direction of the things I wanted to see. I felt like I got used to that (a very little bit) and then walked into my house. I had it in my mind that I would start a fire in the woodstove since the east wind was, and still is, blowing ferouciously making our home very chilly. I found that there was no starting wood in the bin so I went out to the garage to do a little chopping. Oh! Dangerous! I admit, I'm not too good at chopping slivers of starting wood from a chunk of firewood, but add in googoo goggles on-the-first-day and you get even more danger! I managed to sliver off enough to start my fire, but someone else will have to cut more starting wood for the bin.

Next I thought I'd tackle putting new glass into two picture frames. Well, well.....see-through materials and goo-goo goggles. Ummmm. Challenging. But I pursued. The glass ended up being a smidge too long. I was sure, very sure, that it was me.... that my eyes were not focusing properly on one corner or another. But no, the glass was not the appropriate size.

Moving on... and now the computer. Not so bad. I stare straight on so that's not so hard. The problem is when I need to look down at a key like: ! or 55 or ( ). I don't do the very top row very well when I can see let alone having to find the right spot on the goo-goo goggles to see clearly.

Tonight I will give the goo-goo goggles yet another challenge -- embroidery, for which I figured they'd be a joy. That close-up stitching has had me very frustrated these past months so I'm hopeful they'll make it easier to thread the needle and such as. Oh, and reading my book before bedtime. That will be another new experience for me. I've really missed seeing the page clearly.

I am determined. DETERMINED that I shall grow accustomed to these new-fangled glasses. I will learn to use them. I must, for they cost us dearly. Dearly, I say! I do know one thing.....when I'm outdoors doing the things I do, the goo-goo goggles can stay safe and warm in their case. I'll pull out the out-of-fashion glasses or the contact lenses and not have to worry about "blurry edges."

They say to give yourself at least 2 weeks to get used to the new lenses. I wonder.... can one totally retrain herself to walk, navigate stairs, cook, and chop wood in 2 full weeks or more? Perhaps the 2 to 3 weeks is training for the body as much as the eyes. Hmmmm....

By the way, ABC by Dr. Seuss is one of my all-time favorite books. I've always loved G for goo-goo goggles, but F too....

Big F, little f, what begins with F? Four fluffy feathers on a Fiffer Feffer Feff.

How good is that? I can't wait to read it aloud again to Miss Hazel.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Evening stitchery...

Just a little tree ornament for Baby Hazel's First Christmas.
I love grand-mothering.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another day in the Deep Freeze...

This morning we woke up to -26 degrees but thankfully with no wind. It was dead calm outside. The tractors were jelled up and wouldn't start. Once they did get started, they wouldn't function outside in the cold even when they were warmed up, so the guys fixed up a cover for the engine that held the heat in and allowed the fuel to stay liquefied which made the tractor operable. Diesel tends to get thick with the cold more so than gasoline.

I put down a thick layer of straw on the floor of the chicken coop yesterday. Today their water bucket had an inch of ice inside but my heat lamp kept it open for them to drink. I always take out a 2 gallon bucket of the hottest water I can get from the tap and replace their icy cold water with it. I like to take them some warm mash too. The kitties got another bowlful of hot milk and dog food to fill their tummies for the night.

This is the north window in our office. That's ice and frost in the corners and up the sides. All the north windows are coated since it's the coldest side of the house. The moisture in the air inside the house condenses on the windows and freezes with these cold temps even though we have double-paned windows.

Indoors I am wearing jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt and my faithful button up sweater over top. You can't go barefoot or stocking-footed in the house this time of year -- I can't anyway. Slippers or shoes make for warm toes, and sitting by the fire is best of all.

Our high for the day was -12 degrees, tomorrow the weather man says we'll be at -6 for a high, but Wednesday the forecast is for 25 degrees ABOVE the ZERO mark! Won't that feel balmy?

Sunday, December 14, 2008


We're experiencing the first day of an Alberta Clipper that has rushed down upon us has frozen the Great Outdoors and any who dare to be out in it. This morning the weather forecasters promise a high of -15* which we have not moved from since early this morning.

The men have been out feeding livestock and de-icing water tanks and re-lighting gas heaters that keep our water tanks from freezing over. On the first day of a Deep Freeze like this, there may not be too many problems, but as there begin to be days upon days, there is greater chance of more problems of things freezing solid and tractors jelling up and livestock feeling the effects.

A negative 15 degrees sounds cold as it is, but see that flag flying straight out? That indicates how windy it is. We estimate 15-20 mph so add that on to the temp and the wind chill temperature (what if feels like) is -40*.

I bundled up in my woolies (wool pants I've had for 25 years) and many layers and then topped it off with my fur-lined bomber hat and went out to check on my chickens. Their water was icing over so I cracked that and added another scoop of wheat to their feeder. Then I decided to feed the cats some hot milk and dog food and went home to shoveled the side walk.

Hubs came and got me to go with him to feed cake to the cows in The Breaks and up at the Big Shed. Here's a view from the pick-up cab as we drove up the road. It's a bit of a ground blizzard with pretty low visibility.

Happy cows all lined up munching their cake and hay. When they're done, they'll likely go down into The Breaks (similar to badlands just over the hill) and find a place out of the wind to spend the day.

And now I'm home baking potatoes and making a good dinner for my men who have been in and out of their pick-ups and tractors all morning. The woodstove has a good, hot fire going and the Christmas music is playing. I'm so grateful for a warm home and my family gathered inside.

Now for a little humor for cold winter living. I'm not a Minnesotan, but living way up North, I can relate to them completely.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Simple Things.... snowflakes and bows

I've been snipping up a few new snowflakes this year and found a really nifty little tutorial for making a snowflake garland over at maya*made. She made her snowflakes from newspaper and I really like them, but I made mine from coffee filters, folded the same way as Maya did in her tutorial. It's a little tricky sewing them together, but slow, steady persistence works. Do read more about her grandfather's tradition of sending snowflakes to her as a child here.

Another friend, Ginger, shared a tutorial for making Christmas gift bows from magazine pages. I know, this sounds insane. Why would anyone make gift bows out of magazine pages? The better question is, "Who thinks this stuff up?" Not me. I just copy good ideas. But hey, it is one of the easiest projects ever, ever! I can visit with my daughter-in-love and Grandpeach and make a gob of these without even thinking. That's my kind of instant gratification. I really like the looks of these -- each an individual. I recycled an entire Fossil Christmas Catalog and made about 15-18 bows. Very thrifty, ay? Here are the instructions.

My tips for easier bows:

After you fold each "petal," put a little bit of scotch tape on the front and back center. When you go to put them together, they are much easier to assemble. The tape does not show at all.

I did not use brads to put my bows together. I stapled each bow in the center. Open the stapler wide -- all the way open, hold onto your bow with one hand and staple with the other. It takes a little bit of talent (not too much).

I used an old rotary cutter from my quilting supplies to cut 1" strips out of the pages. If you had a paper cutter, that would be even better. Scissors and a ruler works fine too.

About Advent.....

We always spend a little time each evening as a family doing a little Advent devotional. In the past we have used Handel's Messiah Family Advent Reader by Donna W. Payne and Fran Lenzo. This reader also includes a CD of selected songs from Messiah. We have done this devotional for several years and really, we never tire of it. It's excellent. But this year I decided it might be fun to go back to the days when our children were Littles and read a few of the old favorite poems, Bible stories, and Christmas legends and tales. So far we have read from the Book of Virtues by William Bennett these selections: St. Nicholas and the Golden Bars, Hannukkah Hymn, and The House by the Side of the Road. And we read a selection from Handel's too.

I had decided to make chocolate letters for St. Nicholas's Day, but the menfolk ate all the chocolate that I had planned to use. (Ahem) So instead, I made fudge letters using chocolate molds. Do not try this if you want nice results! They turned out quite rustic, to say the least, but tasty! (pretty is as pretty tastes) Mrs. St. Nick must remember to hide the chocolate next year.

Happy Second Sunday of Advent!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Simple Joys....

Yes, the pumpkins are still on the mantle.

One of my favorite blogs is Abiding by Leslie, and one of my favorite features at her place is "Simple Joys." Today I'd like to write down a few of my own Simple Joys. Will you join me?

Jody's Simple Joys....

A "Day Out" with hubby, shopping in the City.

Going to Jolly Lane's Greenhouse to see all the gorgeous Christmas trees -- plain and flocked -- and walking down rows upon rows of poinsettias sporting blue, purple, yellow, pink, speckled and sparkly leaves. My favorite is still red, as you can see by my Christmas banner. (Thanks Seth!)

Finding a Rosemary Christmas tree for my table. It smells so strong and spicy. I made rosemary-garlic potatoes with the snippings for supper.

Driving safely home through the ice and drifted snow which glazed the interstate and secondary roads. So many slid into the ditch, but we stayed on the road. I think it may have been the prayers I was whispering along with the steady, wise driving of Hubs.

Sons who are honest and complimentary at the same time: "Mom, that messy bed-head look is really good on you! Really!!"

Freshly washed dogs and their freshly washed rugs.

A new chocolate peppermint cookie recipe that turned out the first time.

The giggle of my grandbaby.

Number Two Son's bedroom cleaned and turned into a sewing/crafting workshop --a work still in progress.

My morning mugs of coffee with a tipple of cream.

My afternoon single cup of coffee with cream and a couple chocolate chip cookies.

A hot bath with tea and a good book balanced on the edge of the tub. Oh, and don't forget a squirt of warm vanilla sugar bath bubbles.

Chickadees at my feeder.

A cozy fire when it's 10 degrees outside.

A long letter from a friend.

Lighting the candles and reading our Advent stories each night before bed (and we're all adults!)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...