Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lull

I'm still here; it's just hard to get computer time when I have to share with hubby and all three cherubs. We're sleeping in and filling our days with movies, quiet time with new toys, and the occasional Wii MarioKart tournament. So far the five-year-old boy is rocking that game. I have yet to play, but mostly that's because I've been knitting some goodies for myself.

The rest of the week will hold more of the same, plus an excess of football. Tomorrow is Rob's bowl game (the Gator Bowl, go Tigers!), so the kids and I will be braving the movie theater in the early afternoon.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy and safe New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Scenes from the holiday

Christmas Eve dinner, or "Why I could never give up beef."
Granddaddy reads the bedtime story.


"Stop! We have to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Baby Jesus!"
Don't stop on the dog, please.

Christmas Morning Casserole

Time for play


And always time for fashion statements.

Time for Blokus


Wii!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ten Things I'm Loving

Yesterday, Amanda had a post about Ten Things she's loving right now. Not only did that post give me a serious case of baby itch, it also inspired me to think about what things I'm loving right now. Here goes!


1. These three boo-boos right here.

2. Holiday Baking. Especially "baking" that only requires you to put the kiss-topped pretzels in the oven for about five minutes before you take them out and top them with M&Ms. It doesn't get any easier!

3. Dreaming of a white Christmas. Now that I live up North, it's not a total pipe dream. I took this picture on Tuesday night. I love how the lights look through the snow.

4. My sewing machine. I have worked that poor thing to its breaking point this year. Today I sewed on the binding for the third and final quilt. Big sigh of relief.

5. The fact that my parents will be on their way up here this Sunday. Of course, I'm worried about the weather forecast (it's not looking good for travel), so it may be Monday before they get here, but they're coming! And I'm so excited!

6. Christmas card season means there's almost always fun mail.

7. Ditto for strange packages showing up at the door!

8. The fact that, right now, at this very moment (and probably not too much longer), the kids' hampers are empty and the clean clothes are folded and put away.

9. Yarn. I can't believe I only started knitting over the summer. It feels like it's something I've always done. I can't get over how magical it is that I can take some sticks and a ball of yarn and make something wearable.

10. Yesterday I wrote out a list of all the handmade gifts I've made for Christmas this year. I was surprised at how long it was! I admit, I went overboard this year, but I just got caught up in my own momentum. And I spent a hell of a lot less time at the mall and Target this year, so that part was awesome!
What are you loving right now?











Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I had pictures

It snowed yesterday, and I took some pictures. However, I hear footsteps upstairs, and this concerns me since it's obscenely early!

I'm feeling the pressure--eight days to go! I've been up since five this morning...actually, from five to six I was in bed trying to prioritize. At six, I went ahead and got up so I could take care of some computer things (trying to email Brownie moms and get our troop signed up for some trips). I'll be hitting the shower soon so I can hit the ground running after I drop the girls at school. I think my big goal for today is to finish the quilting on the last quilt. Anything on top of that is gravy!

I wish you all a productive day. Maybe tonight I'll have a glass of wine and post those snowy pictures at my leisure.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Like Handmade Toys?

I found a link to this today. This doesn't look good for many etsy folks--especially many lovely bloggers I read. Check it out, and take action!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Our Holiday Traditions

On Monday afternoon, I was so frustrated with the kids. How many times does one have to say, "please stop jumping on and off of the couch," and "please stop swinging your sister around before she crashes into the glass paneled doors of the wall unit/the TV/the sharp corners of the furniture"? I was ready for a drink or two, only then I wouldn't be able to drive them to the ER after the inevitable accident we were heading toward... so I was very glad and exhausted when they all fell asleep that evening.



And then I remembered, it's crazy season! Remember last year?



Visions of Santy Claus makes the kiddos nuts! It's funny how it takes me a few days of complete nuttiness before I remember this fact. Now I'm moving into survival mode here, which means these little crazies are gonna be making Christmas crafts and watching Christmas movies until the big man himself has come and gone. I gotta keep them focused on something, otherwise they just go bananas! It's one of our Holiday Traditions!



And in keeping with that theme, I thought I'd share a few more of our traditions.



When the kids were born, I bought an ornament for each of them. My grand idea was that I'd buy each kid an ornament every year, and when they were grown, they could take them. I had to stop this because the tree was going to be overrun with kiddie ornaments! Now I just get one for the tree, usually from our summer vacation. This year, we've added Lucy the elephant. We went to visit Lucy the Elephant in Margate, New Jersey during our week in Cape May. Lucy is breakalie, so she's up high!

2000 was a big year in terms of trying to start traditions, since that's the year Caroline was born. That year, I made this tree skirt out of felt. I then made Caroline's handprint on another scrap of felt (not easy to do with a six-month-old) and sewed it to the skirt. I think we've only missed one year on the tree skirt tradition. After I took this picture, the kids added their handprints for 2008. One of these years Rob and I will add our hands. This was the first year I had the kids do the handprint directly on the skirt. I was nervous, but it went well. It's fun to see how those little hands have grown.


The last tradition I'll share with you today is what we have come to call our Christmas Morning Casserole. I found this recipe in one of those Christmas with Southern Living books, and I have made it for the last five years or so. Rob has strong feelings about this casserole--one year I told him I was going to skip it, and he said, "no, it's a tradition, you have to make it!" So there you have it. I make it ahead on Christmas Eve. The most labor intensive part is shredding the cheese. I suppose you could buy pre-shredded cheese, but we loves us some extra-extra-sharp Cheddar around here, so I shred it myself. Pop it in the oven, open some presents, and then sit down to yummy deliciousness!
I have tried to put in a link to a pdf that I created, but I can't figure out how to make that happen. So I'll just copy the whole thing below:

Christmas Morning Casserole
Originally published in Christmas with Southern Living 1999
2 pounds mild ground pork sausage (or you can use 1 pound mild, 1 pound hot)
4 cups water
1 ¼ cups quick-cooking grits, uncooked
4 cups (1 pound) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Paprika
Garnish: fresh parsley sprigs
Brown sausage in a large skillet, stirring until it crumbles. Drain well, and set aside.
Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan (I use a Dutch oven), and stir in grits. Return to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat; add cheese and next 3 ingredients, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in sausage and eggs.
Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13: x 9: x 2. baking dish; sprinkle with paprika.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 1 hour until golden and heated. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish, if desired.
Yield: 10 servings.
Make-ahead: Prepare grits mixture as directed above, but do not bake. Cover and chill overnight. Remove from refrigerator; let stand, covered, 30 minutes. Uncover and bake as directed.
This recipe can be halved easily. I put it in an 8"square baking dish.




Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Who's Bringing Sexy Back?

These boots are!

Actually, I'm pretty sure Sexy was never here, so rather than bringing Sexy back, we'll say that Sexy has just arrived!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Getting into the spirit

This weekend, we bought and decorated our big-ass tree. That's really the only way to describe it--it's huge! The kids had fun decorating, which means I've finally accumulated enough non-breakable ornaments to keep them busy while Rob and I hang the breakables (or breakalie, as Caroline used to say). Now if we could just stop them from playing with the ornaments as they hang on the tree...I need to go move a couple of breakalies up higher!


And we got that Christmas card picture!
I finally got to put some buttons on Caroline's coat. They had all fallen off, and she'd been wearing this coat to school with no buttons on it! Now she'll be warm.

And I think I got this out of my system. I had wanted to make some fingerless mitts that would go with Erin's Rose Hill hat...I think I'm going to give up. I just love, love, love the bobbles on the bottom band, but it's huge--like the bottom of a sleeve huge. Since there's no ribbing, it doesn't close around the wrist. I could try making it smaller, but I'm ready to move on...maybe I'll come back to it eventually, but I was up early this morning thinking about knitting hats for the girls for Christmas.

Does anyone else do that? Lie awake in bed thinking of new projects? It was six a.m., and rather than sleep for another half-hour, I was thinking up a color scheme and wondering what I could use from my stash...
Now, on this very cold morning, I'm off to work on more projects. I only have two more packages to mail out--the postman and I got well acquainted on Friday afternoon. Then I'll probably be in the yarn store this afternoon instead of at Lowe's exchanging Christmas lights!



Friday, December 5, 2008

Getting there

Quilt top #3? Done! And huge!

Ornament exchange? Done! Just need 5 more envelopes...and about an hour to wait at the post office while they calculate postage to ten different addresses.
Quilting on Quilt #2? About half way done. The beauty of waiting until crunch time is that plans become much simpler out of necessity. Forget free-motion quilting...there's no time for that! Amanda Jean had this great tip about masking tape (she used it to channel quilt and the light bulb just went on for me). I don't want to jinx myself, so...

And what woke me out of my early-morning stupor today? Thinking about designing my own fingerless mitts. I admit, I'm a knitaholic. I'm already lining up post-Christmas projects! What a wonderful illness!


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Time to Git 'er Done!

It's crunch time here in Crafty Christmas Wonderland. That means that all these quilts that I've been lazily working on for the last few months have to get done in the next 22 days!

Oh, crap!

I'll be at work in my workshop/underground lair today. I promise I'll surface with pictures by tomorrow or Friday at the latest.

Hopefully, the pictures will be of some completed works. If not, there may be more Xmas card pictures (something else I haven't done yet).

Wish me luck!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Shopping, my way

I have learned the hard way not to say "I don't really know" when asked what I want for Christmas. That year, I received $100. Cash. In single bills. Taped to the inside of a box. Taped to each other. Tape was everywhere. It was horrible.

Now I make a list.

I include various "price points" on that list. (I hate the phrase "price point." Just say "price." That's what you really mean, isn't it? People just say "price point" so you'll think they have an MBA.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah, this list is offered to my hubs and family as a public service. It's also good for birthday gift ideas (my birthday is in late November--you didn't miss it, I didn't tell you about it!). Some years I aim big--really, if you ask for a new car, an iPod seems reasonable in comparison... (I turned 38 last Tuesday and am still wondering where the last 12 years went.)

This year, I gave my parents and my brother (he turned 36 on Thanksgiving--we're a bunch of turkeys) a list just for them. I usually make one list, but then Rob has to call my parents to make sure there's no overlap (two ipods would be overkill, I admit it).

Which leaves me without a list to give Rob. I did some brainstorming with him last week, and here's how that conversation went:

Him: What do you want for Christmas?
Me: I could use a new iron.
Him: I'm not buying you an iron for Christmas.
Me: But the electrical cord of the iron gets as hot as the face of the iron, and I'm pretty sure that's not a good thing.
Him: {silence, maybe crickets in the background} I'm not getting you an iron for Christmas.

So, this morning, fully armed with the knowledge that this may be my only present this year (and totally okay with that...maybe 80% okay with that--I still want the iron), I ordered myself these.

They're even better than a sparkly pink tiara!