Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Mother of Innvention

They say that the mother of invention is need, but I think it is frustration. I have been asking my husband to put up the bar in my son’s closet for more than two months (his room did not have a closet and we had to swap them around in order to qualify his room as a bedroom ). I’ve waited and waited and I finally said yesterday, “Forget it!” I grabbed the hammer, found the pieces we took out of the old closet, and here it is:

Of course as with any project, things don’t always go my way. DH actually calls me the 5 minute woman: I think everything is going to take 5 minutes. And so it was – I couldn’t find the right shelf and had to cut a new one. Mind you, I’m not real comfortable with power tools without DH giving me suggestions / guidance. But a hand saw caught my eye and voila, a shelf.

My other frustration invention this year is the stone base for our wood stove. Since the day we moved in 12 years ago, the slate bottom has been chipping off and breaking. Certainly I could not show it like that. The outside lip had nothing on it and showed just a brick. It was not attractive. I asked and asked for help but getting none, I decided I was going to take a stab at it. After a trip to Home Depot, I found a premixed grout and cement, I began to fix it. I thought the slate that I saved was going to recover the base and that I was only going to put the squares over the brick edges, but again not only do I have 5 minute issues, I tend to miss the trees in the forest, and thus it was with this project too. I really did not have all the slate. Some of the pieces had broken too small to use and so I improvised. Now some might see this as a deficit, others might see that they have a one of a kind, handmade, personally designed stove base.

Lesson to begin 2009:

Don't get Frustrated, Get Innovative!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Making a New Year's Resolution

I did not wait to make another New Year's resolution that gets forgotten in weeks, days, hours. I started today. Dear daughter and I got down to it and started exercising again. For Christmas, both she and I received:

Today, we got them out and did one rep of each of the exercises. I know this doesn't sound like much, but I have learned that starting too exuberant can end the exercise program very quickly. So we are going to start slow and hopefully keep it up.

Note: I found this product when doing my Christmas shopping using my credit card points. You may want to check your point plans too. This could be a no cost exercise plan.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Reading Challenge 2009

On Christmas, my uncle brought up the question, “Do you read for enjoyment?” To me, this is like asking, “Do you eat?” The thought of not reading would be equivalent to forgetting breathe. My cousin lamented that she loves to read but hasn’t done so since her sons were born. Here is where the reading challenge was born. I revealed that I too had gone through a reading dry spell. I love to read. I love to take long periods of time to read. Certainly, anyone who has children knows that personal time and young children do not go together. So for years, all I would read was periodicals and non-fiction books. When personal time started to creep in my life, I grabbed for a life preserver or in this case a reading preserver. I needed an excuse to read. I needed a reason to make the time. I joined a book club, but I will admit that sometimes it is hard to be sure that on X date at X time that I can be anywhere. So, I think this reading challenge may help us all get through 2009 and get back in the habit of reading.

Let’s set a goal of reading 12 books in 12 months. We will try to revive our love for reading.
Each book must come fulfill one of the following categories:

1. Book written by a long lost lover i.e. an author you enjoyed pre-kids.

2. A book that allows you to travel to a place of your dreams.

3. A book that brings you back to a place you’ve been before by location, character, job, or some other way.

4. A book recommended by your librarian (If you haven’t met him or her yet, it is time to get reacquainted).

5. A book that is or was on the NY Times Best Seller list.

6. A biography of a person that interests you.

7. A book that is found in the Children’s or Young Adult section.

8. A book on which a movie is based. Then plan an evening to watch the movie too.

9. A book of historical fiction.

10. A book recommended on any blog.

11. A book that claims it will make your life better because you read it.

12. A book that is recommended by someone else in the comments of this blog (hopefully the list will be longer toward the end of the year).

When you are done, come back to this entry and let us know what you read and if it is worth us and our very short time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Husband has Admitted It

Today, I am making up some more cookies. Chocolate Chip for my Dad and, thanks to my friend, Shirley, Spritz for my husband (I still cannot find my press in the packed boxes). My husband made some fresh comment as he headed out the door about my cooking to which my daughter thinking that she was helping sunk the entire female gender with this comment, "You don't need to tell Mom how to cook. She's been cooking her whole life and SHE'S A WOMAN. She knows how to cook." (Hmmm! I better get out some femanist books for that girl to read).

Of course, my husband laughed because he knows the truth. He knows that cooking was not my forte. He remembers the pancakes my dog wouldn't eat. So he made the ultimate admission, "You mother's entire weight battle is because of me. Trust me she couldn't cook before me. I am responsible for a few of those pounds."

See the truth is out! It is really not just that he taught me to cook, but he encourages me to eat things I shouldn't. If it was just me, meals would be much lighter, but instead I get, "Chicken, Chicken, I hate chicken." "We can't just have a salad for a meal" I won't even count the numerous tastey treats that he has brought home when clearly I don't need it. So not that this admission helps in the battle of the buldge at least a bit of the truth is out. The scary part is that he truly loves every inch of me. If only I could . . .I rather love many fewer inches of me . . . maybe that Yoga set for Christmas will help. I can't wait to open it tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tie a string around your finger - Remember your Blessings

A reminder to count your blessings during this holiday season. For many people this season is leaner than many Christmases before. It is easy to have a little Scrooge enter your heart given the economic times. But tonight, I dropped a meal off to a local family who is sitting at their son's hospital bedside. A woman at church has been thoughtfully scheduling meals to be dropped off. Unfortunately, due to their son's injuries the schedule has no end. In fact, his injuries are such that if the schedule ends that may be bad news and not good.

So if you are feeling a little Scroogy this holiday, STOP - be grateful - Thank God for all the goodness and grace in your life and if you can, please pray for a Christmas miracle for Andrew.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Planning Christmas Brunch

Oh, we are just days away from the day itself. We are down to the wire. It is time to check that list again and make sure that everyone is checked off. It is time to shop for the food. In my case we are planning a brunch for family and dinner for just us. It will actually be a fairly quite holiday for us as usually we host Christmas Brunch and Dinner. A couple hints that we have learned over years as you plan:

1. Do not use too many new recipes. . . . Include some old standbys and include one or two new items. New recipes can go very well or very, very badly.

2. Don’t get too exotic in your recipe choice especially if you are trying to please a large crowd. You can always have one or two complex items, but the majority should be acceptable to a broad base of pallets.

3. Plan ahead. . .look for recipes that allow you as little work in the kitchen as possible when your guests are there.

4. Don’t ignore the drinks . . .sometimes we get so caught up in the food, we forget the drinks, but plan out some flavored coffees, herbal teas, and fresh juice.

5. Relax, you don’t want to finish the morning stressed and realize that you have missed Christmas yourself.

6. Enlist the family for help!

Well, I better stop typing and start planning.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Greetings

JibJab, often known for its satirical political comics, is hosting elf Yourself, a funny way to send a holiday greeting. You can find one of my family that my daughter did when I fell asleep overseeing her on the computer today at our Cup of Tea With Mom and Me site OR you can enjoy this montague of my father and other members of my extended family.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Now it is time for you to crop a few photos and make your own "Elf Yourself" for others to enjoy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Picnik your photos

You have got to love teenagers. Today, DD showed me a whole new website on which to manipulate photos. Mind you, her creativity is far better than mine but here is an example of what you can do:

Original Photo

Remastered Photo

Certainly, my changes are not that extreme but you can add mustaches, Santa hats; change photos into drawings or paintings. There are tons of interesting things you can do. Check it out.

I will say that you can perhaps use this if you haven't managed to get your Christmas Cards out and you can even use the excuse that you are trying to go green.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas wrapping templetes

If you like me are busily trying to finish up Christmas projects and gifts, you may find this website helpful. As I mentioned to you a few weeks ago, I did a lot of shopping this year with credit card points and received many gift cards. Unfortunately, none of them came with envelopes, thus I needed to buy some or make them. When I was at Staples, printing off our newsletter to include in our Christmas cards, I checked out the price of tiny gift card boxes. . .Goodness Gracious . . .I could almost buy another gift card for what I would spend on them. So I came home and looked for templetes to create an envelope myself. I'm hoping with the addition of some ribbon, they will take on a very festive look.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Deck the Halls

Yesterday, we set up the majority of our Christmas stuff: all except the tree itself. We did try finding a tree on Sunday but to no avail. Christmas tree hunting is truly a hunt. My dear husband has a touch of Monk in him and we can never just find "a" tree: We have to find "the" tree. somewhere out there is a tree that we need to find - no matter how long it takes.

I must admit my first "hunting" trip with my husband was like a Christmas fantasy, I had never cut a real Christmas tree. The farthest I had ever gone for a tree was my attic. I actually laugh when I think back to our first Christmas tree because not only was it perfectly shaped, but it looked like Martha Steward herself had been over to decorate. Neither DH nor I had ornaments of our own so we had to buy everything new. Everything on our Christmas tree coordinated. frankly, there is something sad about that. I love our miss-mosh trees today. There are stories on every branch: our first home, being pregnant, DD's 1st and 2nd grade teacher, running for office, places we have traveled. It is an eclectic gathering of our lives.

The other big change when I met my DH was the application of tinsel. When I grew up tinsel application was a very serious job: three strands per branch and at the end of the season, each strand was carefully removed and stored for the following year, after year, after year . . . I must tell you that when I bough those first ornaments for that very first Christmas tree and found out that a box of tinsel cost less than a dollar I was shocked. I was in awe as DH sprinkled it on liberally and then I learned that we could throw it out.

Hopefully, this weekend we can can get this year's Christmas tree up and have the full Christmas atmosphere.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm so darn angry at my husband: The Secret to a long marriage

Actually, today’s entry originally may have contained a long rant about my darn husband and then as I got in my car (we were switch cars on my way to work because he left his work late), I saw a diet coke, a 3 Musketeers bar, and a tiny note of apology. So instead this is an entry about 17 years of marriage and the secret to a long marriage – forgiveness and the willingness to forgiveness.

Many of my blog friends have been writing about the days they met their partners and how they got engaged. After being married for 17 years and together for over 20, I have come to realize that while our courtship was exciting and that it makes a good story, it is such a small part of the magic of our relationship. The magic comes in forgiveness, commitment, supportiveness, and working toward common goals.

Love is such a difficult word to define. Many of us want to be in love and be loved, but what does that mean to you . . . specifically. Many love affairs begin in the physical passion, but passion can only feed a relationship to such a point. There are times of anger, hurt, frustration, and strain. What then? Be committed enough to want to work on it, be supportive of the other person so that they feel comfortable to express their feelings, be willing to apologize if you’ve hurt the other person, be willing to accept an apology. If you want a long marriage, be ready to have good days and bad, to go through hard times and prosperous, to endure hardships and to flourish. Although no one enjoys the hard times this may be the time of the greatest growth in your relationship. That is why a marriage is a partnership. It is fun to sun bathe and swim with a lover, but there is truly nothing more reassuring than knowing that your partner has your back when you are under pressure.

So to my husband, if he ever finds this blog, I love you and thank you for thinking of my feelings.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Carolers - A Christmas Tradition

My mother absolutely loved her Carolers. Carolers are a series of dolls made by Byer's Choice. Each Christmas (and now Easter and Halloween) doll looks as if it is singing our i.e. its name the Caroler. My mother collected them through out her life and created elaborate scenes. I think it kind of became an adult Barbie doll obsession. She would spend most of the year getting ready to pose her collection (She was only surpassed by her brother, Bob, who elaborately creates a Christmas village). When she passed, I thought that it would be a good idea to give each of her loved ones 3 or 4 of the dolls, but my father adamantly did not want to break up the set. For several years, the set remained in boxes until my daughter told Poppie (her name for grandpa) to that she would help him set them up. The entire collection did not go up that year, but a large segment of it did. It was heartwarming to see her beloved Carolers singing again.

The Elf on the Shelf

I remember this guy hanging on my grandmother's tree back on Vance St. in New Britian. After my grandparents passed away, the elf moved to my mother's house. For whatever reason, I was always entranced. I'm not sure if it is the way his knees buckled under his arms or his elfish smile, but the arrival of this little imp truly meant that Christmas was on its way.

What Christmas ornaments mean the coming of Christmas in your home?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wicked - A Book to Read, A Musical to Watch

Books, books, books, I have started another book. I think a library may be as close to heaven as we have on earth. I love books. I have always loved books. Although I joke with my girl friend, Meg, about being her bag handler as she travels the world, I know that the one way I can truly travel the world and beyond is in books.

I have actually just picked up Wicked: The Life & Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

The homeschoool group that we are a part of began an adult book club which I have unable to attend until now. My regular book club doesn’t meet again until the middle of January, I no longer have meeting on the 2nd Monday , and this book sounded interesting. I have only just started it, but clearly this will not be one I will passing on to my teenage daughter. Although the title gives it a fairy tale quality, I can already confirm that it has some R rated scenes. Of course, I am routing for this to be a good read so that I can go on and see the theater production of it.

I will let you know how the book and the book club go.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Advent Conspiracy

I found this on Owlhaven's page and think that it is worth to pass along.

Some of my favorite places to give are:

Heifer International
Samaritians Purse

Monday, December 1, 2008

Count Down to Christmas - 25 activities that will help you enjoy the season

One of the great way to enjoy the holiday season is to make it a season and not a day or two. By this I mean, plan your 25 days until Christmas. Each day do some small action to celebrate or get ready for the holiday. Here are twenty-five ideas to get you going:
1. Put out a Nativity. Read the traditional Christmas Story from the book of Luke.
2. Pick a gift request off your town tree of a needs tree at a local store . . .buy and deliver.
3. Decorate the outside of your house
4. Decorate the inside the house
5. Address and send Christmas Cards
6. Hunt for Christmas Tree – (In our house, it truly is a “hunt”. It can take hours. One of our closest friends’ daughter refuses to ever go again with us.)
7. Decorate your tree
8. Review your Christmas shopping list – plan last minute trips. Don’t forget to get wrapping paper, tags, & tape.
9. Decorate Gingerbread men
10. Watch your favorite Christmas movie: I love the Muppets Christmas Carol
11. Make Christmas Cookies
12. Invite friends over for a cookie swap
13. Decorate a Gingerbread house
14. Find and attend a local Christmas concert of show
15. Find and make a Christmas Craft with the family
16. Relax and enjoy the holiday. Enjoy an evening of hot cocoa & carols.
17. Drive around to see Christmas lights
18. Plan a wrapping fest!
19. Go Christmas caroling
20. Attend or host a Christmas Party
21. Participate or attend your church’s Christmas pageant
22. Read a traditional Christmas story or poem
23. Bake Christmas Pies
24. Attend midnight services at your church (conveniently held at 10pm at our church)
25. Enjoy the day with your family – We traditionally hold a brunch & a dinner to accommodate both sides of the family. What we will do with the move, I don’t know.

As I said, I truly hope that you enjoy this season and focus on the blessings.