30 November 2010

Handmade Holidays

A brown paper package, tied up with string. It really is one of my favorite things. For Nicole, my handmade holiday exchange partner, I fancied the brown paper package up a bit.

I would love to do a handmade holiday gift exchange in my family, but I don't think there would be too many takers. Fortunately, Linda from Craftaholics Anonymous provided me with a way to get my fix by hosting a handmade gift exchange on her blog.

I was filled with ideas for gifts. Felted woolen slippers, paper tree ornaments, miniature wreaths, to name a few. And if I didn't have a family and a full time job, I am sure I would have made all of them. Instead I designed a necklace and earrings for Nicole, and sent her one of my handmade glass ornaments. The package goes in the mail today. I'll show the gifts off tomorrow, during the big reveal on Linda's website.

27 November 2010

Oh Christmas Tree!

In search of the perfect tree
Found it!

High ceilings call for big trees

Taking it home

21 November 2010

Giving Thanks

The saddest Christmas song I know was playing on the radio Friday, when I drove home after taking Lola to daycare. (Yes, I have broken my own rule of no Christmas before Thanksgiving, what of it?) The song is "The Little Boy that Santa Claus forgot", a 1937 classic made famous by Nat King Cole, among others.

"He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot,
And goodness knows, he didn't want a lot.
He sent a note to Santa, for some soldiers and a drum,
It broke his little heart, when he found Santa hadn't come."

Doesn't this bring tears to your eyes? Or is it just me, am I such a sap? Either way, while I was driving home, listening to the soft baritone voice of Mr. Cole, I thought about the child we have been assigned by the Rotary to buy Christmas presents for. A little girl, one year old, who needs warm clothes and loves Minnie Mouse. There are many more children like her out there, the little boys and girls that Santa Claus forgot.

I am so grateful Lola is not one of those children, that we can afford to dress her and buy her gifts. I am so grateful we are in the position to help when and where needed, after coming dangerously close to being on the receiving end. It seems like an eternity but it was just last year our situation was so different from what it is now.

During our trials and tribulations I would, from time to time, voice my frustration and anger at the universe on my blog. And without fail, the universe would answer me somehow. I realized I haven't properly and publicly thanked the universe for our reversal of fortune. I think it's time.

Thank you.

20 November 2010

Hunters & Gatherers

I like my men in orange
Today is Opening Day of deer hunting season up here in the Northwoods. The alarm was set for 4:30 am. While I do not hunt, I did rise to assist my mother-in-law in making a hearty breakfast for the N. boys. They took off an hour later in their coordinating orange outfits. It was 18.5 degrees outside.

On the way to work I encountered dozens of pick-up trucks parked by the side of the road and many more men walking around in blaze orange. It was a colorful ride. I overheard some locals complain about it being very quiet this morning with hardly a shot fired. The bucks take care to stay out of sight.

A large, eight or nine point buck has been spotted several times this week, leisurely strolling down our street. Moving inside city limits is the smart thing to do now, if you're a deer. I wonder if he knows...

15 November 2010

Counting Down

The craft room is being put to good use these days. Instead of allowing my usual holiday ADD to manage my time ("Ooh, I can make that. And that. And that too, it's so simple and charming!" And then nothing gets done of course, because I cannot make up my mind, I don't have enough time, etc.), I took control this year and wrote down what I would really like to do, what it entails, and when it needs to be done. And then I submitted it to a firm reality check.

For instance, I would love to make an advent calender for Lola. One that is not all about candy or presents, but creates the spirit and excitement that go with Christmas. I stumbled on a design by inchmark featured on homemade by jill, a blog I read. I love it just the way it is, but instead of ornaments, I thought it would be nice to fill the little pockets with tiny figurines for a nativity set, another thing I have wanted to have for some time now.

A quick trip to JoAnn's last week turned out unsuccessful. I considered making my own nativity set, but let's be real here, people. There is no way I am going to take my figure saw and cut out twenty four itty bitty pieces for a nativity set, paint them and have them all done by December first. Ornaments it is then, and store bought at that. The calender itself is coming along nicely. It will be done in time for the count down.

Something else I have wanted to do is sign up for a handmade gift exchange with a total stranger on Craftaholics Anonymous, one of the many craft blogs I read. I thought long and hard if I was really able to do it this year before I signed up for one, keeping it simple. That also needs to be finished by the end of this month.

The next thing on my list is sending out Christmas cards. And on time for a change. I am not making any promises, but I did manage to retrieve the address file from my laptop that will only start up in 'safe mode' these days. It just might happen this year.

And then there are the teacher and neighbor gifts. I am hell bent om making them myself. Fortunately I have a wonderful simple idea and all the necessities. Unfortunately it turns out Lola has three teachers. We have four neighbors and I only have supplies for six gifts. The good news is I have five weeks to come up with a solution.

Oh, and I suppose I should shop for my loved ones, too. There's still time.

13 November 2010

First Snow

6:46 a.m.:
I am blissfully asleep, curled up under the blankets in my parents-in-law's guestroom, enjoying the chance to sleep in.

[Whisper] "Mommy. MOMMY! It's snowing outside!"

7:32 a.m.:
I am wide awake, sipping my coffee on the front porch, watching my daughter admire her footprints in the snow.

The first snow is the best snow! I can always sleep in another day.