Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I'm on a roll and it's ALL gotta' go!

I've turned into a "scrubby Dutch" woman. I hope that's not offensive---I am half German. Growing up, my grandma Zimmermann was "scrubby Dutch." I think it just meant that she cleaned EVERYTHING! And that's where I'm at right now.

There's nothing like getting new things to help you clean out and make way---and get rid of the old.
I've been a cleaning fool since the Lapps' left on Friday. I've cleaned out the cabinets in the library, the secretary in the living room, the chest of drawers in the family room, the lower kitchen cabinets and drawers and the butler's pantry---you name it, I'm cleaning it. I still have the pantry---I'll do that on New Year's Eve.

Remember I said that "a sink full of hot sudsy water is my best friend!"? Well, nothing escapes my annual baths. My cousin, Chrissy is reading this right now and remembering how I was such a mess as a teenager. She came over most weekends and cleaned my room and closet. I never did understand how it could get like that in such a short period of time. Anyway, thanks, Chrissy. 

Somewhere along the line, I came in to my own. I'm pretty particular and a hard worker. I actually like work. 
 I even swish the fake stuff in the suds---gets rid of all the dust.
I have so many vases---and these are just the little ones. These are going. I always plan to put a bud in them and give them to friends, but never remember to do that. I've kept a few to do that in 2014. If I don't remember to do it, then I'll get rid of them next year.
 More stuff on the way out. I give everything to Margarita. Some of it she sends to her family, the rest she sells for a little extra cash. Win/win for both of us.
 This little case holds my miniature Sworovski crystals. I have not cleaned this out in years. The glass is all dull.
 How to clean miniatures? Put them in a colander and swish them in the sudsy water. Rinse.
I forgot about the tiny crystals that were in one of the little containers. I didn't try to clean these as I knew I would just end up losing them. I brushed them on to a piece of paper and put them back in the little pot.
 I dumped the cleaned pieces on to a dry towel and used the edge to dry each piece so they wouldn't get spotty or have fingerprints.
Then I took the case and completely immersed it.
 Here it is---all shiny and clean.
 I cleaned everything in the butler's pantry. I love the crystal, but after a year, it does get dull.
 Everything looks so sparkly. My champagne flutes are all ready for NewYear's Eve. The two in front match the set that Mindy gave Sandy for Christmas. I saw them after Christmas---the last two. I decided to add them to my collection. Next year, I'll get two others. I love fancy glasses. And I like to mix them up.

Between the decorating for Christmas, twisting wires, bow making, cleaning everything in sight---it has definitely taken a toll on my nails.
My sister, Jeanne recommended this. You can get it at Sam's. I was finally to the point where my nails were being filed down because they were finally healthy and strong. But--not any more. They are a mess. I guess I'm starting all over. I can't say I've noticed a difference in my hair or skin---but then again, I'm the least person in tune with her body.  

Still, worth the sacrifice to the nails to get so many things caught up around here.

On a positive note, all this work is really paying off. I logged 8331 steps and 17 flights of stairs on my FitBit just working around the house---3.5 miles. That's a lot of walking and up and down right in my own house. That's what I like about the FitBit---it tracks your activity. It's really nice knowing how hard you actually work! I haven't started back on the treadmill yet. January 1st. 2014 is going to be my year to get really healthy. 

Do you have any jobs you like to do at this time of year?

Happy New Year!! Here's to the best 2014 ever! I wish you health and happiness!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things

I had a fabulous Christmas. Sandy, Stephanie, Mindy and ALL 5 of the grands know me well! They know just what I like. They all say I'm pretty easy to buy for. That's a good thing! I'm easy to please. I like just about everything.

I must admit, I miss getting books. From the time I was a little girl, books were my most favorite gifts. I was 8 when Aunt Marie gave me Rebecca and Silas Marner.  I was much too young for them, but remember feeling so proud that she thought I could handle adult books.

Anyway, now that I have my Kindle----Which I Totally Love---it just removes the opportunity to get books. I don't even really want them. But, still I miss them.

I'm listening to Barbra Streisand on "Great Performances" while I write this post. I just love her! Plus, what a way to enjoy 3 hours of music (not all at one time) while I multi-task! I'm good at that. Il Volo is performing now---heaven.

I am not going to show everything that I received, just a few things that made me happy. That means not everyone is going to get a shout out. That doesn't mean I didn't like your gift---I don't think I got anything I didn't like this year---I'm just trying to keep it simple.
 Elizabeth picked out this little garden globe for me. She does all of her own shopping. Last year she gave me the light up balls for the pool. They looked so pretty at night. I'm going to keep this little globe in the sunroom rather than take it outside.
 Karolyn gave me this "E" cut from an old Reader's Digest Book. I just love it! Goes back to---I just love books. What a great idea for recycling too!

When I opened this gift, I was disappointed right away. And, I have to admit, I was not very gracious. I have NEVER wanted a big ole toaster oven---they just take up way too much precious counter space. But this year, I did want one---a very specific one. It's called a "Toastation" by Hamilton Beach. I used one at the Potter's beach house in October and really liked it---plus it was small. In fact, I got it for Mindy. Instead of that, Butch got me this one. Later he explained his reasoning---this one was rated better, is smaller than most (almost the same size as the "Toastation"---and he went out of his way to find me a white one!!! He knows me so well. I love white---so clean and crisp. That made all the difference. When I heard that, I fell in love with it. I can't believe I'm so excited now about a kitchen appliance!
 My Fitbit broke last year. I was so happy to get a new one. 2014 is going to be my year of health!! This does work. When you are wearing it, you have a tendency to do more---walk further, park further away, do more stairs---just because you want to get "credit" for it. Sadly, I did NOT get the treadmill desk I asked for. Maybe for my birthday. I would love to see how many miles I'll log if I can be walking while I'm reading and writing on my computer. I'll be able to really keep up with all of the blogs I follow.
These weren't exactly a Christmas present, but I put the bug in Elizabeth's ear that I could use some more potholders. These are my favorite type---just good old-fashioned looped pot holders.
This wasn't my gift, but it was such a good one that I had to share. Stephanie found this for Mindy. From the time Mindy was 9 months old, she loved Dumbo. I put it on for her every day. That gave me an hour and fifteen minutes where she was totally occupied. I guess you could say, I let the vhs tape babysit her! It's still one of her favorite rides at Disneyworld. The guy that makes these, orders the record of your choice---in this case, it is the Dumbo soundtrack---and then laser cuts it. He had everything---Beatles, Rolling Stones---they were incredible. This was big hit with Mindy.

A few other favorites were the Russell Stover chocolates, Yankee candle---Red Velvet Cake, a great assortment of Christmas towels (I put out an "ask" at the last minute about these---not knowing that Sandy had already purchased a beautiful set. She must have read my mind), One Direction "This is Us" dvd, The Great Gatsby and Jango because I love Leonardo. Mitchell gave me Jango, so we watched that together late one night. We've been watching movies together for a few years now. I told him that could be his traditional gift for me---pick the movie and then we'll watch it together. It's not like you take your grandson shopping and "out to lunch." Boys are different. I'm glad to have this with him.

Okay, I'll stop now. What was your favorite gift and why?

It's that time of year. I'm a mean cleaning machine!

The Things We Do!

The kids wanted to learn how to "bridge" cards. Stephanie and Mindy wanted to learn how to make bows. Sooo, we scheduled "card shuffling" and "bow making classes" at the same time. Greg and Nicky decided that they needed the shuffling lessons too. We all gathered around the dining room table at 9:45 a.m. exactly!

 Jordan and Morgan got the hang of it pretty quick.
 Mitchell gets frustrated pretty easily. He has such long fingers, maybe that makes it hard to shuffle.
While the kids were shuffling on one end of the table, we did the bow making on the other. Sandy has been making her own bows for a long time now.
They may not look like much here, but when you put them on a package, they look really nice.

And that's just one of the ways we roll around here!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Me and My Shadow...

When the Lapps family comes to visit, the whole family moves in. It's fun to have everyone in the house---12 of us, but it's pretty crazy and messy. I usually get up around 5 a.m. to have a little quiet time to myself. Usually, by 5:30 (which is really 6:30 their time), Elizabeth finds me. We snuggle on the couch in front of the fire and talk. She tells me all about what's happening in her life. We talk about school, friends, teachers, her sister and brother and whatever has been going on in her life lately. I always talk about books. I ask her what she's reading. She says she does not like the "DEAR" program at her school. It stands for "Drop Everything And Read." That sounds pretty clever to me.

Sandy told me that since she knows I enjoy this quiet time, she tried to get Elizabeth to crawl in to bed with her. She said, "heck no, I'm going down to find grammy." I love that. She's growing up so fast---8 already. It won't be long before she's sleeping "in" like the big kids.

She loves crafts of all kinds. Remember that I taught her to knit at Thanksgiving. By the time she got here for Christmas, she was almost out of yarn and finished with her scarf. But, it was not going to be long enough. It was full of holes and pretty lopsided. I could tell that by about the last 6 inches, she had really gotten the hang of it. I asked her if she wanted to take it apart and I would help her start over. She agreed. We were watching Mary Poppins. I got her started again and did about 6 inches. I asked her if she wanted to knit and she said, "Come on, grammy, you have to do more than that!" I guess she thought I was dumping it back on her after I had undone all her hard work!!

It was a crafty Christmas for Elizabeth.

We had finished opening gifts and it was about 10:10 p.m. when half the family wanted to play poker. Elizabeth asked me if I'd teach her how to needlepoint---her favorite gift because it was "real"---meaning not a kid's plastic canvas type. I did it up really nice for her---floss bags on a project ring, tiny scissors, needle magnet and her canvas mounted on a frame---ready to start. She said, "Grammy, will you teach me to needlepoint now?" Okay, it's after 10 p.m. and I've been up since 5 a.m. I must have had a "look" because she quickly added----"or anybody else that knows how!"

How can I resist that. I said, "Okay, bring it here." I just cannot turn her down! She's really good at picking up things quickly. It's a good thing too as the teens were trying to print a picture for a last minute Christmas gift. All of this at 10:30 at night! I'm a morning person. But for my grandkids, I'll do just about anything. So, I helped get the photo printed and framed. I do have ALL of the proper tools.

Back to Elizabeth. She picked up the continental stitch in about 1 minute---really. She's doing a fine job. She has even mastered threading her needle.
I did suggest that she pull her hair back and move in to the light. But her young eyes served her well.
She worked diligently and did a great job.
 We'll make this in to a pillow for her room when she finishes. It's hard to tell, but she's finished the far right turquoise strip and a little of the light blue.
She has actually done a very nice job. There is a skipped stitch, but we'll pick it up when she finishes. Traditionally, needlepoint is supposed to look as good on the back as it does on the front. That's not a serious consideration these days as most things are made in to a picture or pillow and you never see the back. I don't intend to ever make a rug.
E does not quite have the hang of the "back". It won't show, but she has wasted quite a bit of her fibers.
Speaking of needlepoint, I picked up my finished snow family pillow. It turned out so cute. I was very happy with the fabric and trim I picked.
The woman that does my pillows did a beautiful job. She really understands what I want.
I did the Christmas tree pillow a couple of years ago. I don't usually have these together, but I moved the tree pillow off the couch so it wouldn't get sat upon. I have plenty of other pillows to be used, just not my needlepoint ones---they are to be family heirlooms. 

I had this one finished for Morgan and gave it to her for Christmas.
I forgot to take a picture, so Morgan sent me this. I cropped as much of the pink background as I could, still, it's distracting. The yellow is a sheer nubby fabric that was lined with yellow satin. It's really pretty. This was from a class Karolyn and I took back in October. 

Jordan has requested something. I thought it was because she knew I had done one for Morgan. Turns out, when Steph got out the Christmas pillow I made her, Jordan texted me then with her request. I had just started another Christmas piece. I'll be finishing it this holiday season, so it will definitely be ready for Christmas 2014.

I love to stitch while watching a movie. That reminds me---Downton Abbey starts on January 5th! I can't wait. I've already pre-ordered the season. I still have "Call the Midwife" that I haven't watched yet. I like to wait until I have a chunk of time to have a little marathon. 

More to come about our family antics.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I have just a couple of hours of calm and quiet while everyone is out. We've already had our turkey dinner, the kitchen is cleaned up and the leftovers are put away. I'm sitting in front of the fire listening to  the Celtic Women Christmas special on Great Performances. I've been stitching a little and decided to go ahead and do a brief post while I'm enjoying the music.

I did something very different this year. I'm always trying to come up with fun and exciting things for my family. Mostly for my grandchildren and the memories they will have. This year, since we have so many "snoops" in our family---and the fact that it's a little unfair that the out-of-towners don't get to, I decided to really throw them for a loop. Rather than put names on the gifts, I did this:
I numbered all of the gifts. It was so much fun to listen to all of the comments and conversations about "cracking the code" and all the speculation that went along with it. I told them that I would give them one hint. This one labeled #6 was a set of giant peppermint patties It could really be for anyone, but of course, they started thinking about who in the family likes candy the most. That would be Elizabeth. Still, they were wrong.
They tried to figure out if they went from oldest to youngest or visa versa. I made sure that it was so completely random that they would never figure it out. (Side note: I do not put bows on family gifts.)

On Christmas Eve, I put out #1 through #11 in front of each chair. I told the family that they should each pick a chair. Whatever number they picked would be their number for the night. When it was all over, they could just trade presents. They didn't like that at all! Then I told them I was only kidding.

From there, I made a big deal about switching people all around. Then I had the person sitting in seat #1 open the gift. I asked everyone to guess who they thought that present might be for. After the guessing, I revealed who would be #1 for the night---Mitchell because he's my #1 grandson. We opened the first round of gifts that way---trying to guess who it would be for and why they were that particular number. It was a pretty fun little twist---sort of turned it in to a game.

We're ALL about games in this family. In fact, Sandy and Victoria had prepared a family trivia game that was so much fun and funny---remembering the incidents she came up with. The hardest part was the "celebrity crush." I only got 3 out of 12 and one of those was mine (Colin Farrell).

We open our gifts slowly, one by one with breaks for food and drink. I only had one thing wrong---a gift labeled #16. What??? I have no idea how that happened. I figured it was either for #1 or #6. Turns out it was for #9---all I can say is I do enjoy the occasional glass of wine while I wrap!

I had two other little mistakes---I already gave Morgan a houndstooth scarf last year. We just gave it to Jordan---who is probably the person I bought it for anyway. And I gave Greg a griddle. Turns out, I gave him a griddle a few years ago! Other than that, everyone liked their gifts. And I sure got a lot of nice things too. I have a lot of new dvd's to watch while I stitch. I can't wait!

I've already got a plan in mind for next year. It won't be numbers, but something else, equally as fun!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Movies

Everyone has gone to bed and I'm enjoying a little down time and stitching. I decided to watch a Christmas movie.

I just finished watching one of my favorite movies. It's an old, little known film---at least no one I know has ever heard of it. I haven't seen it in about 30 or 40 years---maybe even 50. I saw it for the first time when I was in grade school. I was probably 10 or 11. It has stuck with me. I just cried all the way through it again.

All Mine to Give is a true story about a husband and wife from Scotland that have immigrated to the U.S. (Wisconsin) in the mid 1800's. They eventually have 6 children---3 girls, 3 boys. That's all I'm going to say. It's quite a tear jerker. I love those kinds of movies that touch me deeply. Turns out they titled it The Day They Gave Babies Away in the U.K.

Of course, I have a few other personal favorites: It's a Wonderful Life
 I tried to watch that this year, but there were commercials and that ruined it for me.

Miracle on 34th Street

 A Muppet Christmas Carol
This is my most favorite version of A Christmas Carol---and it's not just for kids. Michael Caine is an added bonus!

A Christmas Story
I've seen the stage production more times than I've seen the movie.
In fact, I just took the family today. I just love it---it ranks in my top ten favorite plays!
Of course, I had to buy this:

I just realized that's Five things---and it isn't even Thursday.  Just keep your eyes and ears open for All Mine to Give. So, so good.

Here's hoping that you can take a little time and enjoy a Christmas movie.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cookie Making

Posting for this next week is going to be rather sporadic---if at all. In the meantime, here's a couple shots of our cookie baking this year. We did not have our annual "family baking day" as we could not find a date that worked for everybody. Actually, it worked out fine this way. I just did cookies several times rather than trying to do them all in one day.

 Butch is the master cookie decorator. He has so much patience for the detail. Me? Well, judge for yourself.
 This is pretty much what I do. But, as you can see, I have the "swoop" down pat. I'm just not artistic. Sprinkles would have helped, but I didn't have any and was too lazy to run out for some. I had forgotten that we used them all up last year in our "tree making family activity."
 A glass of wine with our cookie decorating makes it a party!
 Butch uses a toothpick for his designs.
 It's easy to tell which are mine and which are his.
One of our friends---Bruce---loves to cook. When he heard about Butch's cookie decorating, he gave him a pasty bag and some tips. Watch out! Next year, these cookies are going to look professional!

Friday, December 20, 2013

What's Happenin'

Outside my window: let's just change this one this week and call it What's under the house: We've been battling the mice. They're getting in under the sink. We've "caught" 6 in a week. I want to call the exterminator and have about 2 dozen traps set under the house. Butch wants to keep battling them on his own. I don't want to deal with this through the holidays. We'll see. Next thing you know, I'll have snakes under there---just like the Lapps family. Oh, and BTW---their exterminator told them the best thing to use on the traps is whiskey. Peanut butter or Velveeta cheese is working well for us.

I am thinking: that I want to get the rest of my major grocery shopping done bright and early this morning---like 6:30 a.m. I should definitely beat the crowds. Luckily, I've already done most of it.

I am thankful for: this joyous holiday season. I always love Christmas, but each year, I'm ever more grateful for the opportunity for all of us to be together. 

From the kitchen: I've definitely been on top of cooking and baking this holiday season. In fact, I have way too much now. I need to remember that other people give us baked goodies too. I think my freezer club will be benefiting from the banana and pumpkin breads I have in the freezer.

I am wearing: a big smile as I start my fun day!

I am hoping: to  finalize the holiday schedule and job list for the week. I post them on the refrigerator so the kids can see what's going on. They like that. Plus, with so many people, the work is easy. They like knowing what their jobs are each day too. I haven't done the job list in a couple of years.

I am reading: The World's Strongest Librarian. It's the true story of a man who has Tourette's Syndrome. I'm half way through and so far am liking it pretty well. I'll definitely finish it by the end of the year. I'm also 3/4's of the way through Amerian Pickers. I should finish that too. When I do, my book count for 2013 will be 38. Really, the only reason I've been able to read that many books this year is because none of these were thousand page books. 

I am busy creating: I've had such a productive week. I was happy to get one more layout completed for one of the grandkids. They will each be getting several pages. A few years ago, Morgan asked if I would make her another scrapbook. My initial reaction was that I would have to make each one another scrapbook---that would be 5---just about a whole year's worth of layouts. Instead, I came up with an idea to make them each a layout for their birthday and one for Christmas---that they would add to their album each year. I missed the birthdays this year, but I'm making up for it at Christmas. They'll each be getting 4 layouts and some will get 5. I just scrapbooked whatever I wanted and it just about came out even. I'm going to miss some of those layouts.

As far as stitching goes, I was thrilled when Jordan recently asked me if I would needlepoint something for her. She really is becoming an adult. All of a sudden, she would like to have a pillow or picture. I've promised her something for next Christmas---which I'm already about half way finished with (the timing was perfect as I was just about to finish the star santa). I'm wondering now if I should just go ahead and show her, or let it be a surprise. I love to have surprises, but I'm always excited too. All of the grandkids are getting the skate ornaments I made this year. 

 I'm bummed: about those dang mice. I can easily start obsessing about them.

I am hearing: the slight roar of the gas fire.

Around the house and garden: this is what I'm doing each morning these days:
I got this new mug from a friend. It's huge and perfect for my wassail. I was thrilled to get these handmade ornaments from friends too:
 Jennifer, made this out of card stock. It is so dainty and cute.
This beaded beauty was made by my friend, Sally. She makes the most exquisite beaded ornaments. I was so happy to be the recipient of one.

In other news:
 I took Jordan clothes shopping for her birthday. Apparently, Steph's not the only one in their house that likes "fun" socks. I spied these under the dressing room door. In case you can't tell, her socks have little owls all over them. Mindy makes fun of Stephanie every year when she puts "fun" socks on her Christmas list.
 I can't believe I'm going to say this, but could Mindy---our family fashion icon---be out of the loop?
These "fun" socks were in Hollister. Even the teens like them. Ahem, Mindy, maybe you better get with it!

One of my favorite things right now: going to the theater during the holiday season. I've already been twice and am taking some of the family on Sunday to A Christmas Story---which has to be my all time favorite holiday play. I've seen it so many times that when I watched the movie on Sunday, I realized that I LOVE the play so much better. If you ever get a chance to see it on stage, take it.

I appreciate: my friends and our annual lunch at The Palm. It's a fancy---read that expensive---restaurant that we go to each year at this time. Today's the day.

I regret: that I really don't have any regrets right now. I got the Christmas closet cleaned out, the oven cleaned (okay, it's self-cleaning, but I still have to remember to run it and wipe it out), the freezer defrosted and the dishwasher cleaned. Considering it's the hustle and bustle of the season, I've gotten quite a lot accomplished. I guess I regret that I'm bragging, but I am. I've always been obnoxious at Christmas. Remember this post?

How the weekend is shaping up: we're kicking it off with happy hour this evening. The sisters---as in nuns---come tomorrow morning for their annual visit. Stephanie and I are going to pick out  invitations for their "after the wedding party". The Lapps arrive around 3, followed by happy hour and the family trivia party at 6. I started that years ago (8 to be exact) as a way for our grown children to see their childhood friends. It's a lot of fun and the grandkids look forward to it each year. If everyone comes---which never happens---the count would be 57. We usually have between 40 and 50. We rotate houses each year and everyone brings food and questions. It's always a lot of fun.

Sunday we're having brunch at the club and going to the theater. And that's just the weekend!

I hope y'all have the best holidays---lots of fun with family and friends, good food, and beautiful gifts. Don't forget to rest---I wouldn't want you going in to 2014 with a cold!!