Thursday, December 30, 2010

Too Beautiful This Year

Usually, every card I make is unique.  It is difficult for me to make the same card twice.  I meander and experiment and think "what if I use this color or tear the paper like this?"   A couple of people saw my 2010 Christmas card and I didn't want to send them something they had already seen.  The tree and verse stamp is by Penny Black.  The quote stamp  (by Serendipity) is so lovely it almost makes me cry.  It reads:  "Lord, I do fear Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year."  Edna St. Vincent Millay
Wayne & Cindy's card
Wouldn't this quote stamp make a lovely card for the New Year?
This one went to North Carolina
I double stamped the compass portion and cut it out and used a large glue dot to make it stand out.  I did some experimenting with my new copic markers.  Of course, all my supplies were bought at Papertrix.  I purposely had steered clear of the copic markers believing I would be totally talent-less.  Cindy made sure that I got into a class and the teacher was excellent and I learned how to shade and blend and...I wasn't too bad at it!  I'm so excited to be done with Christmas cards and now I can start doing some things that I really want to do.  More show and tell to come!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Christmas card

All my life I've been a card freak.  If I couldn't find the right card, I didn't buy a card.  When I started to make my own cards a few years ago, I felt relief.  Finally, an expression from me.  Often times, from me- created for a certain person.
I love Christmas cards and am sad that through the years people have sent fewer and fewer.  In my mind, it is a minor expense, a way to tell someone that you are thinking of them.  I can't imagine not sending Christmas cards.
This year's card was created using three stamps by Memory Box.  I adore the sweet little red bird.  I used a couple of new inks, too.  The birch trees were done in London Fog by Momento.  The background swirls was Versa Magic Oasis Green and the red bird was Versa Magic Red Magic.  With both I used Dew Drops which are a great way to try out a new ink.  The Versa Magic takes a little while to dry so I did all of the cards in stages and had them drying, but for the type of finish it created, it was worth it to me.  I bought all of my supplies at Papertrix.  (The store is closed for January and February, but will reopen in March.)
simple red bird on birch branch

let heaven and nature SING
I love making my own cards.  I sit down to create and any stress that I am feeling flows from me.  And it is just a little extra love from me to those that I send them to.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Move it!"

Chelsea and I heading out for a walk on Christmas day
While this may be a quiet work week for many people, I have been quite busy.  I am training to cover someone while they will be out of the office for two months and assisting someone whose assistant is out this week and dealing with my normal stuff.  When I left this afternoon, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed.  I felt like heading to the Y, but when Doug mentioned a walk with Chelsea, I joined in. 
All I did was change into some flat suede boots.  I had on navy chinos, a thin long sleeve t, and a cotton cable v-neck.  Then I wore the coat I have on in the above pic, gloves and pulled a fleece neck warmer over my head, under the hood of the coat.  It was thirty degrees, and even with gloves, my hands were cold. 
I struck out at a pace that Doug told Chelsea was faster than he could run.  I was ready to move and burn off some tension! For some reason I got a wild hair and decide to jog a bit.  I certainly wasn't dressed for it and didn't have on a sports bra.  The girls bounced along singing "Oh what fun it is to ride..."  well, not quite, but you get the picture.  In no time at all, my hands were warm enough to pull off my gloves.  My hair was wet as was other bodily parts and clothing. 
As I write, I sit, fresh from the shower in pajamas, in front of the fire.  

In all we walked/jogged for an hour.
It felt so good to get out and move.
Chelsea thought so, too.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Tale of Two Cakes

I came home on Wednesday night and started cooking.  I made two and a half pounds of sloppy joes just to have on hand.  I made a cheese ball for Christmas Eve.  (Pictured in previous post.)  Then I made two cakes.  One cake, Chess Cake, I've been making for years.  The second cake, a pound cake, called "Golden Eggnog Loaf," was a brand-new recipe that I found in the newspaper.  My Chess Cake turned out just the way it is supposed to be.
Chess Cake

The second recipe, I followed exactly.  I tested it with a toothpick.  It seemed fine.  Usually, I turn a cake or bread out onto a clean towel.  For some reason, this time (fortunately) I turned this loaf out onto a piece of foil.  As soon as I flipped it, it flopped.  It broke in the center and the still unbaked insides started to pour out.  I yelled for Doug to get my square baking dish and I plopped the whole thing into it and popped it back into the oven. 
 BUT, I was able to salvage it. 
Here is the Golden Eggnog Loaf, after more baking and slicing. 
 The eggnog loaf is very good with cool whip on top. 
"Now we're cooking."

I read and re-read the recipe, trying to figure out what went wrong, but cannot figure it out.  I would like to be able to say it was because I had a Crown and eggnog while I was cooking, but I only had one.  I can't figure out why the recipe went wrong.  And now, I feel like Julia Child and feel as if I should make it again.  I did bake it in my ceramic loaf dish and wondered if I should have baked it in a metal baking pan.
Here is my recipe for Chess Cake (a la Laura P.)
Grease and flour a 9x12 metal cake pan
Mix together:  1 stick butter, 2 eggs and a box of yellow cake mix.  Pat into bottom of pan. (butter hands well.)
Then mix together 1 8 oz pkg of cream cheese, 1 egg, 1 t. vanilla and a box of powdered sugar.  Spread this on top of first layer and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. 

This is very rich and sweet.  Cut in small squares.  Some people call this recipe "Chess Squares."  I used my Black and Decker mixer and about burned it up on the first layer.  I may be about ready for a Kitchen Aid. 
This is my tale of two cakes. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Past

Highlights of Christmas 2010:  On Christmas Eve, Jennifer and I went to breakfast in town.  (See previous post.)  Then Doug and I made dinner for his two sons and one  son's fiance.  We had beautiful soft snow falling all day.  The road conditions were so bad that their cars couldn't make it up the small hill to our house.  I think because it was Christmas Eve (or the snow fell so fast) that the crews were not out cleaning the roads.  At one point there were four cars at the bottom of the hill.  As I kept an eye on what was on the stove and chatted with my parents who are two hours north, I tried to view the car drama down below.
Thus, to Doug's delight, son number two spent the night with us.  Very nice for dad and son.  They flipped channels back and forth (why do men do this?) and we watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Christmas Story at the same time.  My favorite scenes  in Christmas Story were when the Dad swears a blue streak, the mom and the little piggie scene.  It is fun that Christmas Story is set in Indiana so I hear references to places I've been.  In Christmas Vacation I love it when Chevy Chase calls the boss every name in the book. 
On Christmas morning, I made Christmas coffees.  (Bailey's, cinnamon coffee and reddi whip topped with cinnamon.)  Doug made sticky buns - homemade from scratch.  Son number one and fiance returned and the pan of rolls quickly disappeared.
Neither of my children were here this year.  (Which was not a highlight.)   But thanks to the wonders of technology, I was able to skype with my east coast daughters and we opened gifts with them.  My first skype experience and I enjoyed it very much.  Doug and I went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner, but were dismayed to find that due to Christmas day, we couldn't have margaritas.   Then we went to see True Grit.  (More on that in a later post.)  Afterward I visited with my son in North Carolina and his girlfriend over the phone. Here are some scenes from Christmas Past:
my homemade cheese ball.  I despise store-bought cheese ball.

Santa stopped by.  Dig on those "Christmas Pants."

Chelsea & moi.  Christmas Eve.

Christmas coffee and sticky buns.

Special gift from Santa.  (Thanks, Donna!)

Christmas Day walk.

Doesn't it look like she is saying "are YOU lookin' at me?"

Doug and Chelsea and an abandoned car.

headin' for home
Now, I want to hear all about your Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Sluttin' it up for the Christmas customers." *

*With special Holiday Apologies to those who expect my usual "pg" blog. 

My children aren't here this Christmas, so my dear friend Jennifer promised that we would get together either on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.  So this morning we met for brunch. 
I called her and said "I'm ready, are you?"  She answered "I'm just doing my face- don't make fun of me, but I'm sluttin' it up for the Christmas customers."  Jennifer works at a jewelry store in the mall.  Doug has told me before that when he is in a jewelry store looking for something for me and he sees boobs,  he just gets stupid.  Don't all men get stupid when they see boobs?
Jennifer sporting a run in her stockings.  Which, you really can't see.
 She was off to buy more stockings before going to work.

Me, on the street in Bloomington.

my cappuccino and our mimosas
my "Popeye omelet"  (spinach)

Jennifer- not looking slutty at all.

I brought glitter lotion for her to put on.  That will dazzle 'em!

sigh.  Oh youthful beauty.


les deux

We ended up at our third choice for brunch.  It was difficult to find a place that was open on Christmas Eve.

Jennifer is my "sex in the city" friend.  No matter what we get together to do, she always looks fabulous.  Then she inspires me  to try to look fabulous, too. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just being my usual amazing self

I work full time.  Forty hours a week at the university.  I also work part-time at Papertrix.  This is my night that I get to be home alone.  Because he works his one night a week part-time job at the YMCA.  (He works full time, too.)
If I go to workout, then I don't get to have my evening home alone.  I like to be home alone. 
He calls.
Guess what he said?  (In unison, ladies...) "What 'cha doin'?"
 I said (and this is the truth) "I'm doing dishes and ironing, simultaneously.  I iron for a bit and then go do some dishes, then go back to the ironing and then back to the dishes. "
And that is what I was doing. 
 Then I wrapped a present for a friend who is turning fifty.  Her family is having a party on Saturday night and we are going.  I found this adorable angel necklace at Kohl's.
One of my tags that I made.  See the little bird peeking out?
Keep pulling the tag from the envelope. 
Then I worked on my Christmas cards that I'm making.
Then I opened the flu wide-open and  I built a one match fire.  How amazing is that?  All those years in Girl Scouts is paying off!
Then I sat down to write to you!
What amazing tasks did you accomplish this evening?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Two hats

Seems like Thanksgiving rolls right into Christmas.  I put our tree up just before our guests came in on Thanksgiving, but I still had our fall scarecrow at the entrance to the drive along with a pumpkin that Doug had bought for me at Farmer's Market.
Soon after, the snow started to fall.  I noticed that it looks as if the scarecrow has a hat of snow over his hat.
hat on hat

snow covered pumpkin
Tonight we are in line for a band of "wintry-mix" that is coming through.  We are supposed to get 5-8 inches of snow and freezing rain, sleet, ice, whatever.  Doug just got home from a Christmas dinner and said the snow has started.  I drive a Honda Civic and don't get great traction in any kind of snowy conditions. 
Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!  Slip-slidin' away! 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'm jonsin' for some falsies

NOT THAT KIND!  I think I'd like to get some acrylic nails.  I have nails.  I can grow them out.  But there is all of the maintenance and upkeep.  If you polish, you have to take it off and do it again.  When I was younger, even when my two children were babies, I had beautiful fingernails.  I would do my nails in the evening after I had put them to bed.  And in those days, I was a stay-at-home mom and my house was immaculate- so I was doing a lot with my hands, but still managed to have nice nails. 
I've only had acrylics once.  That was four years ago and I had them from February until May.  Then they started driving me crazy.  I let them grow out in the end and bought the harsh remover stuff and took them off myself at home.  It took a year for my nails to recover.  I swore I would never do it again.  But for some reason, I'm jonsin' for them.  My gal-pal Jennifer says no.  She said "if you do it it will destroy your nail bed."  Sigh.  That is probably true.  My mother had fake nails for years and then got a horrible infection.  Apparently, the shop she was going to wasn't certified and she got some kind of a germ.  She is known for being dramatic but she said the infection was so bad that her arms almost fell off. 
What do you think?  Should I?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fresh wreath

You know how you lose things?  Somewhere along the way, I lost my artificial wreath.  I know I had one because I remember it was in a big flat box.  I moved here three years ago.  It may have been lost in the move or it might be lost in the barn.  (If you saw the state of the barn, you would understand losing things out there.)  At any rate, I noticed this year that my wreath was missing.  I had coupons for Hobby Lobby and Michael's and figured I could find something I would like at one of the stores.  When I was out shopping, with the word "wreath" on my list, I called to check in with Doug.  He told me that our friends bought us a fresh cut wreath for Christmas.  I said "you are kidding, I have wreath on my list of things to shop for!"  He said he would wait until I got home to take it out of the box.  It is deliciously fragrant and gorgeous.
 Yes, our front door is bright blue.  We have three diamond-shaped windows that are trimmed in bright red.

I love keys and last Christmas this key with message was on a gift from a friend.  When I received the key and tag I thought I'll hang that on a wreath on the front door next Christmas.  So I held onto it in anticipation.  As much as I love to embellish, I think if I did too much, I might spoil the natural beauty of this wreath.  I took a simple gold ribbon and attached the key & tag to the wreath with a single bow.
If you love this wreath as much as I do, you can get one at this website.  Our friend's brother makes them.  What is on your front door to welcome holiday guests?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Let it snow

Here in the Midwest, (southern Indiana) it has snowed all day today.  We went out for breakfast and then did a little shopping and headed home.  As the day went on, I hear the roads became slick.  I stayed home today, cleaning the house and preparing for Christmas. I love to see the snow through the windows when I'm safe and snug inside the house.  I thought I would walk about the house and take some photos to show you our snowy view.
view from the side window in the living room

view from front window, living room

looking at the woods from the keeping room
 On a day like today, I had to make chili.  As we often do when we travel, or on weekends,  we had a big breakfast and then had an early dinner. 
pot of chili on the stove
 Any recipe I make, I tweak.  I started with a pound of ground beef and a pound of Italian sausage.  I browned the meat on low heat and drained the grease.  I added a large can of tomato juice, a large can of Brook's Chili mix, a small can of hot chili beans, and two cans of spicy diced tomatoes.  Then I added a teaspoon of Paprika, 1 teaspoon of Oregano, 1 teaspoon of Ground Cumin, one half teaspoon of black pepper and a half teaspoon of Chili Powder.  I can't do anything too spicy, and to me, this was spicy.  Doug made corn muffins.  I made pasta and put the chili over it and then topped with sharp cheddar cheese.
 I took the photo, below, earlier in the day.

through the sliding glass window in the dining room
  Later in the day, the lovely blue of a snowy winter's evening.
later in the evening

one of my favorite Christmas towels
How did you stay warm and cozy today?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My new favorite

I bought these pearls for my daughter's wedding.  I've been wearing them like crazy.  With everything including oxford shirts.  I believe in mixing styles.  I believe in wearing whatever I want.  I don't give a hoot what anyone else says is in or hip or stylish.  That is the beauty of being in the second half of my life.  If I want to wear it, I do. 
The reason I would never get a tattoo is that I will have a favorite pair of earrings or a necklace or a bracelet and I will wear it, wear it, wear it.  Then, one day I'll come across whatever and say "I remember when this was my favorite."  My favorite seems to change from time to time. 
For now, it is the strand of big pearls.  Of course, Doug has to call me Barbara Bush when I wear them.  She always wore multiple strands, which I thought was pretty.  I'll have multiple strands when I find the right ones.  That is something I've been on the lookout for- for a long time. 
What is your favorite piece of jewelry? 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Where were you when John Lennon died?

my favorite pic of him

It is one of those things people say "where were you when?" 
I can remember when my daughter asked me where I was when John Lennon died. 
She was in her Beatles stage.  I belive she was around fourteen years old and a certain math teacher at her school probably had something to do with said Beatles stage. 
So she came home from school one day and asked me...
"Mom, where were you when John Lennon died?"
I said "I know exactly where I was.  I was on vacation in Florida with your Dad." 
She continued "What did you do?"
I continued "We were on vacation.  We were sad.  But what could we do?" 
Thirty years ago.  That is unreal to me.  I was twenty-two.  I didn't have any children.  I was working as a secretary in an insurance agency.  We had been married for a couple of years and had bought a house that we were working on.  Each year, the day after Thanksgiving, we left for Florida and went to St. Pete Beach.  We spent each day the same.  Sleeping in, laying on the beach and swimming, having lunch, laying on the beach and swimming.  Taking naps, going to dinner and clubs, drinking in the evenings, walking the beach to the pink building.  Doing the same thing again each day.  And on one of those days, John Lennon was shot.

Here are the words to one of my favorite John Lennon songs...
Happy Christmas (War is over).

So this is Christmas

And what have you done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

Ans so this is Christmas

I hope you have fun

The near and the dear one

The old and the young

A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

Let's hope it's a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Christmas

For weak and for strong

For rich and the poor ones

The world is so wrong

And so happy Christmas

For black and for white

For yellow and red ones

Let's stop all the fight

A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

Let's hope it's a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Christmas

And what have we done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

Ans so this is Christmas

I hope you have fun

The near and the dear one

The old and the young

A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

Let's hope it's a good one

Without any fear

War is over over

If you want it

War is over


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The best way to spread Christmas cheer

I have been wanting to see the 2003 Christmas movie, Elf.  So much so that I was considering going out to buy it.  I try not to buy movies any longer because in my life time I've seen movies go from Beta to VCR to DVD and feel certain there will be another format in the future.  I asked Doug to see what was on t.v. last night.  We rarely watch t.v., but I was in the mood.  When he told me the movie Elf was on, I felt so happy and excited. 
 The movie has a great cast- Will Ferrell as Buddy, James Caan as his estranged dad, Walter Hobbs. Mary Steenburgen is his sweet wife.  Amy Sedaris is Hobb's flaky assistant.  Bob Newhart plays Papa Elf.  Ed Asner is Santa.  Leon Redbone plays Leon the snowman.  And my favorite is Zooey Deschanel as Jovie.  She is adorable. 
When I initially saw this movie, I believe it was the first time I ever heard Deschanel's voice and my thought was "who is that?"  I love her voice.  It is very distinctive.  A couple of my favorite songs in this movie are "Baby it's cold outside" and "Santa baby."  I LOVE the song "Santa baby" and have heard it a lot already this season.
Buddy and Santa

Papa Elf

I made Doug sit down to watch the movie with me.  We had both seen it before.  I thought Doug was going to fall off of the sofa laughing when Buddy is eating breakfast and he has spagetti with syrup on it and adds candy and crumbles a chocolate pop tart on top and is stuffing it into his mouth with both hands.
I love the theory that Santa's sleigh is powered by the Christmas Spirit (belief in Santa).  I love the way Will Ferrell plays Buddy like a kid- all out, yelling when his finger gets stuck, the twelve second burp, calling the store Santa a fake.  Great stuff.
If you haven't seen Elf, see it.  Or, if you are like me, see it again. 
Now, what are some of your favorite Christmas movies?

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