I sent myself an email today from work

I happened to glance out my window late this afternoon, and was struck by how pretty it was out there. New snow. Setting sun.. I wanted to capture what I saw so I could post it here.

Outside my window is our driveway, and beyond that some low pines, with more trees off in the distance. So I could see snow-covered pines, the sun just under the distant tree tops. I could still see the whole thing through those tree tops. The sky was that dusky blue it gets at the end of the day, and there were a few low clouds, reflecting gold. I wished I had my camera. What a beautiful sunset on the last day of the year.

I just opened that email so I could recapture what I saw, and I noticed the time stamp.

3:43 PM.

WHAT THE HECK??? 3:43 is NOT the end of the day. It is the middle of the afternoon.

Hellooo…..JUNE! JUNE? Where are you and when are you coming back??????

Besides Christmas….

Although Christmas prep and activity takes up lots of our December, we have been doing a few other things.

We are on vacation this week, and it is pretty low-key – no real plans. Last Friday evening we had a friend over for a visit and some pizza. It was a great visit, we don’t get together often (although she follows this, so knows what I am up to.) That day was a stormy day, and so around 8:30, the power went out. No big deal as it wasn’t cold out – I know, it’s Maine, it’s December, but really, it was warm and rainy. So we lit some candles and kept on chatting.

What was funny was the reaction of a family member of hers who texted while we were visiting, and when he found out the power was out reacted with “YIKES!” we laughed about it, but then the next day, we heard from someone else who has family away that they had the same reaction, and another friend of mine sent a message saying that she hoped we were OK. I know that the last few big news events about power outages have been huge hideous stories. But this is rural America. We have trees. When it rains, snows and blows, they come down, and it takes a while for the power company to clean it up and get power back. Not a while like weeks, but a while like a day or so. In this case, it was about 16 hours. It is a bit frustrating, and a bit nice, we know it will happen at least once a winter, so we have “systems” in place. A wood stove we can light if it gets cold. Candles, flashlights, batteries, cell phones. We even have an old-fashioned corded, plugged-into-the-wall style phone that works without electricity. I have a battery operated head lamp, so I can read. Can’t watch TV. Can’t run the water. But there is quite a bit of water in the system if the power goes out unexpectedly. If we think it will, we fill some pitchers and call it good. So, everyone – the power was out. It is back on. We were and are fine.

(of course, on that note, we are in the midst of a snow storm right now, and I should probably go fill a few pitchers…)

Saturday we went for our walk, dropped presents off at the neighbor’s and went into town for a Dunkin run (the one thing you can’t do when the power is out is make good, hot coffee). Then we came home and wrapped presents. We had a nice visit from an old friend bearing lots of homemade candies his wife made – just what we needed for the wrapping marathon!

Sunday was slow and easy, a few errands, no pressure. We were amazed that we were so ready for Christmas so far ahead, very unusual for us. No last minutes forays for wrapping paper or bows, presents organized, wrapped, bagged and ready to roll.

Monday we went to Bangor to meet up with A’s niece and her kids, and sister-in-law L. We had a good lunch at Olive Garden (note – try 11:30 Christmas Eve morning for no lines there!) and stopped at a new little market in Holden for the broccoli, which I had forgotten to get for Christmas Day. We were both impressed at how grown up niece E and nephew S are getting – it is possible to have conversations with them! They are lots of fun, enthusiastic about their interests. S is doing a lot of thinking about next year (college) and what he wants to be. We told him the two probably won’t really go together in the long-term, but he should be interested in whatever he studies. Don’t think I know anyone who is really doing what they planned to do at 17. Well, maybe one. Not sure they still like it, though.

Monday evening, we opened our presents to each other and the cats opened their stockings. They got great stuff – cable ties, crinkly balls. Allie wasn’t too interested, but Zumba was in heaven.

Zumba's Christmas

While A knew about the miter saw stand, she was very surprised with the Belgian waffle maker from King Arthur Flour (made in America!!!!) – and I think she likes it. We got waffles today, anyway, and when she next has to make breakfast for the gang at work, she will haul it in for them.

I got TWO cricut cartridges I wanted (ornamental iron 2 and Art Nouveau), plus gift cards to Joann’s and AC Moore – fun fun fun! Also got lots of candy in my stocking and an iTunes gift card, so I can get some new music, which is super as I only had 1 cent left on my account.

I also got some fleece lined jeans from A. They are cozy and warm, and a little snug, so I need to stick to walking and try not to eat all that candy! (pet peeve – why aren’t companies consistent in their sizing???? I have three pair so pants from this company in my closet, and they are all the same size. A ordered a size LARGER by error, and they still barely fit! Mom got me a pair of jeans in the size I said, and they were way too small. I exchanged them for a pair 2 sizes up and they fit just fine. Shouldn’t we be able to expect consistency across a brand???) Anyway, we watched sappy Christmas movies and opened our presents, and had a good Xmas Eve.

Christmas was at Mom’s, and lots of fun, with all siblings there, and all but 2 grandchildren. Bill cooked a giant roast, and we all brought everything else, so Mom had to set the table and make cookies. It sure makes it easier to have everyone bring parts of the meal. Mom spoiled us all as usual – A got a really cool dovetail jig thing for making drawers – I think she will have the world’s fanciest custom-made closet some day. ūüôā I got dishes and a gift card for yarn, and clothes.

We siblings and spouses did a Yankee Swap, our first, and it was fun – people put a lot of thought into the gifts, and there was some good-natured swapping going on. A gallon of maple syrup made the rounds, as did an ice globe lantern kit. A had number 1 (how does she always get that?) and so we brought home the syrup. I swapped for to get ice grippers for our shoes, which I have been wanting, as our ramp and stairs get icy. I hope we do that again next year.

Little E got lots of books and toys – she didn’t really care, just wanted more presents, as one would expect at that age. I think when she ran out, she started looking through to see what she got, and she will be glad to have the books when she learns more reading. She taped all the bows onto her dress and looked quite cute.

Yesterday was a low-key day – we went for our walk in the morning – in daylight! and saw lots of neighbors out doing the same. Pretty amazing to have bare ground on December 26, so we all took advantage. A had a doctor’s appointment in Blue Hill, so I got to check out the Barnacle shop, and use a gift certificate I won last summer. As there was a great sale going on, I was able to stretch it, and got a few granite block magnets, some earrings and a puzzle, all for three dollars! And found a new store which looks like a good source of Maine made gifts, as well as clothing, mens and womens, owned by a local person, not a huge conglomerate. My favorite kind of shopping. After A got done, we went up to Ellsworth where I exchanged the jeans, and we did some grocery shopping and had lunch at Burger King. Biggest loser is SO over with. We had better have a New Year’s resolution or two. ūüôā

We came home and I had every intention of going up to the craft room, but instead, took a long nap on the couch in front of the fire. LOVE winter vacations! I did put a crock pot of ham and pea soup together, so I accomplished SOMETHING.

Today we are having a snow storm. We should be getting somewhere between 7-12 inches. Glad we are home already, and not having to travel to and from work today. It will be a while before A will want to walk outside. Even with ice grips on…

So, now I am going to get a bowl of homemade ham and pea soup for lunch, and then head up to the craft room. Really. No nap yet…

Knitting in progress:
more hats for giving, and a new Estonian lace project, a blue one this time, for a wonderful woman at work. It is out of Swan’s Island fingering weight yarn that Mom gave me from her stash. I have the borders almost done (I knit the top one first not last, in case I run short of yarn. As it gets grafted on at the end anyway, it doesn’t matter what order I do it in. While I don’t like grafting, it does make this part easier.)

Christmas card how-to

This year I made the Christmas card design much more simple than I did last year, and so I got them done in time, and even took photos along the way.

This one shows the raw paper materials. Essentially, I took 8.5 by 11 white card stock from Staples, cut it into thirds (8.5 x 3.5), scored it in half for a 4.25 x 3.5 top folded card.

Then, using a dark green cardstock, I cut rectangles that are .25 inches smaller on each side than the finished card – 4 x 3.25.

Back to white cardstock, I cut rectangles smaller still – 3.75 x 3. If you are running short of cardstock, these could be a bit shorter, as you are going to lop off the bottom anyway.

I wanted to cut a curved bottom, so hunted around the craft room for the right tool. I found it in one of my old coluzzle templates. I used one side of the curved vine. This could be cut free hand, or there is probably a die out there that would do it for you. I used this to cut the bottom of all of the white rectangles (3.75 x 3)

Once I had the papers all ready, I used ColorBox evergreen pigment ink to stamp the tree so that it is sitting on the top of the “hill”. I then used embossing powder to emboss the tree. Stamp is soft pine 294c from Stampscapes inc and the embossing powder is Topiary by Personal Stamp Exchange (it’s old, if you can’t find it, mix a dark green with a little gold for the same effect.)
stamped and embossed tree

I mounted the stamped piece on a green rectangle, lining up the top and two sides to show 1/8th inch green border. This will leave a larger green bottom section.

tree and background

Once the card is assembled, it is time to play with glitter. I drew a bead of glue along the join of the stamped piece and the green piece, and put a bit of highlight on the tree, then covered it all with sparkly (is there any other kind?) white glitter. finished card

All that is left to do is put your hallmark on the reverse side and send it off. I like this card because it fits in a standard invitation sized envelope, no special mailing packaging necessary, no extra postage.back side

One recipient told me it is the best card yet. How will I live up to that?

the aftermath

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while – we have been busy getting ready for the big holiday and spending time with family. Just what the season is about.

So, now I have time to sort out photos and post some of the things I made – but, come to find out, I didn’t take as many as I thought! I knit 4 beaded necklaces from Laura Nelkin’s patterns, and I didn’t take one photo. Hard to believe, I know. So, if you want to see them, check out her website at http://www.nelkindesigns.com I made one ribband as she designed it, and two from beads and yarn I had left over. I also made one rippled necklace, from her kit. I’ll make more eventually, but it is harder to do that with left over beads, so I’ll need to go bead shopping soon. ūüôā The four “big” nieces seemed to like them very much. The one “little” niece didn’t get one, she has about ten years to go before I think she will be ready for “good” knitting. In fact, I didn’t knit anything for her this year – but she did just get that lovely purple and green striped hat for her birthday, so I think she will be OK.

Mom, sister C and sister-in-law D seemed to love their scarves – Mom and C got the two estonian lace ones I knit this summer/fall, and D got a beaded one that I knit out of a lace weight silk mohair blend this summer. It was far easier than the lace, but I think it came out really elegantly, with the random beads through it. Too bad I didn’t take a photo of that. ūüôā But I did take photos ofhte lace ones, and I while I think I have posted them before, here they are again.P1080614

close up of the pattern.  Didn't realize the striped towel would show through!
close up of the pattern. Didn’t realize the striped towel would show through!

I made hats for A’s great niece and nephew – teenagers – scary to try to dress them, but I think they liked the hats. Niece seemed to love her beaded I cord tassel, which is great as I wondered if I was going over the top. I guess I wasn’t. Nephew’s hat was plain basic brown wool, and I think he appreciated no beads. ūüôā

I did a better job on photographing the Christmas cards – enough to give instructions, so I will post that separately.

Dec 14 – OMG what a list!

It is a little scary all that I have to do today! But no “work”. Yippee.

First I wait for the bugman to come do his quarterly inspection and treatment, which we need, as there are spiders in the cellar. I hate spiders…

While I wait for him, a few household chores – laundry, clean the pellet stove, maybe a little vacuuming, but probably not if I can think of ANYTHING else to do. And I do have to finish the scarf I need to mail. And wrap up the presents that need mailing today.
Once he goes, then I get into action.
On my errand list – lots of shopping!

PO to mail the presents
a trip to Ellsworth to Reny’s (my favorite local discount store, so much more fun than Wally world.) to get presents for the three families I signed up for at work yesterday. What was I thinking? Well, I was thinking that I am very fortunate and I should share the goodness, but I was NOT thinking about how much work that would add to my Friday!
While I am in Ellsworth, a stop at Grasshopper Shop for stocking stuffers for A. Still haven’t done that yet!
Then off to John Edwards for a few presents for family.
Also need a Yankee swap gift for tonight – nothing like leaving it to the last minute. :-0
then, off to Bangor, where I have to get a game for one of the kids on the list from work, and continue the stocking stuffer shopping. Also want to get a few cat toys for the kids Christmas stockings.
Over to Staples for a new calendar – 2013 is coming fast, and I am writing January appointments on scraps of paper – not good!
Need to wind up in Bangor by 5-ish for A’s company Christmas Party. I hope I can stay awake to celebrate with them all!

Almost Friday

Here it is Thursday night and I never told you how I made out with my Friday list!

I did pretty well actually – got to Lowe’s and got the miter saw stand – pretty funny story there, actually – A and I were setting our Christmas budget, and I wanted it to be $100 more than she was saying, because when I saw the stand, I was sure the price was $100 more than she was budgeting for. I finally said “look, make it this much more than the price of that darned stand so I can get you some surprises!” and she agreed. So off I went to the store, and lo and behold – they had 2 – one was $100 more than the other. So we were both right. I of course, justified getting her the cheaper one because it is the one she was expecting – but also because it looks more like the size she wants – the expensive one was massive with giant wings, etc. I did order her the waffle iron, and I got her the chair repair kit as well. Now I have a little bit of money left to do her stocking.

I did go to the Toyota dealer,and was pleasantly surprised – nothing unusual wrong, so just got the tires rotated and the oil changed – and had enough Down East Toyota points to get it done for free! Gotta love that!

A came in just as I was getting ready to pay, so we headed across the street to Ruby Tuesday for dinner. I got the salad bar with a steak – which was silly, as I was too full to eat the steak, but it did mean that I had meals for the rest of the weekend. That is the one thing that is so hard to adjust to following the gastric by-pass surgery – and it has been almost 3 years! I try ordering small portions, and not much, but I always wind up carrying home 3/4 of the meal and eating it for days. You should see how long a pint of fried rice will last me. Ridiculous.

Saturday we were home, doing chores and not cleaning – but working on Christmas presents and cards. The glitter is taking forever…. Nothing too exciting. Sunday I went to Bangor to get niece B and take her down to her Dad’s for a visit – Mom and B came over for a few minutes on their way to a concert, so it was a good visit for B. THe first time the rest of the family has seen her all semester, and she is so close now! Hopefully, she will realize it isn’t so awful to see us, and we wont; take over her life, and we will see more of her in coming semesters. She is studying for finals now, and will head home the minute they end next Friday – her mom is meeting her at the dorm when they end. I will meet them both there so I can pass over the presents. Which are not done yet. eek.

I did finish the last scarf (not a lace one) and it is all pinned out, drying upstairs. Well, probably it is dry, so just sitting there waiting for fringe and wrapping. And I finished a necklace, and strung the beads for the last one. SO I feel like I made good progress on the handmade gifts this weekend.

Friday lists are back

After two weeks of family sadness and no lists, I am bringing them back.¬† Today’s is not all fun, though. It has real work on it.

I have to go to Ellsworth to a meeting for a couple of hours, then go to Bangor for another one.¬† Yes, I know it is Friday, but this happens now and then. Following that, I hope I have time to do a little shopping for A.¬† Since she never reads this blog (can you believe it?) I can tell you that I will be going to Lowe’s for the miter saw stand she wants, and I will be looking for a chair repair kit she mentioned.¬† And maybe find a few stocking stuffers while I am there.¬† From there, I head to Down east Toyota for a service appointment, and I hope that while there, I will be able to do a bit of shopping online, I have my eye on a waffle iron for A as well.¬† If I don’t order it soon, it won’t get here on time.¬† Any one have any ideas for things to get her that don’t cost a fortune, but that someone who likes to build things and be active would like?

A has to work today, but she gets out early.  So she will come looking at the Toyota dealer for me, and if I am there, we will head out for an early supper in town before we come home.  She offered to do my Christmas shopping for me, but I said no, I want there to be SOME surprises!

Each evening I work on the Christmas cards, they are coming together fast – I am on the glitter stage, which is a bit slower as I lack cleared surfaces to put them on to dry. So I do about a dozen a day, and should have this stage done this weekend.¬† Then comes writing out the envelopes and mailing them off.¬† Got the stamps already, so I think I am good to go. Can’t wait to share them with you, I hope I get good pictures.

Also working on my Christmas knitting, have a bit to get through in time to mail things off.¬† I did just find out last night that I have until the 21st for the things I will send home with niece B when she goes home for Christmas.¬† It is nice not to have to ship their presents.¬† I think that means I only have two packages to mail this year! I should get some of that done this afternoon as well, as I am almost done with a knit gift that needs mailing.¬† Maybe tomorrow I will actually get those things out.¬† Then I have to do the knitting for the girls in CT for B to transport.¬† THEN I can get back to hats.¬† I found a new challenge on She Makes Hats blog, and it is a good one – check it out at http://www.shemakeshats.com/ I can do this one, even with Christmas knitting to do.¬† Actually, I probably have some that fit the bill in my hat bag.¬†¬† And my sister told me about an organization in her neighborhood in Portland named Root Cellar http://www.therootcellar.org/?page_id=35¬†that can use things for grown ups as well, so I will probably give her some hats for that.¬† And I still want to fill my bag for the Nest http://nestmaine.blogspot.com/¬†.¬† I’ll be busy with needles for a long time to come! I also have another lace scarf in mind – a wonderful woman at work loves them as I work on them, so I think I will surprise her with one some day in late spring.

That’s it for today – I have to go get ready for work – blah.


Well, it is finally getting “more seasonable” around here.¬† The last few mornings, it has been feeling bitter on our morning walks.¬† Which tells me it has been really warm this fall, because if is about 19 degrees, and that should not feel as bitter as it does!¬† This morning there was no wind, unlike yesterday, so we were able to enjoy the walk a bit more.¬† The sky was really lovely, the stars are so bright.¬† The moon was peeking out from a veil of mist, but the rest of the sky was clear.¬† I guess that will be changing, as we can expect our favorite “wintry mix” over the next day or so.¬† It had to happen sometime.

Slow and easy Sunday

After the long few weeks, it feels good today to stay in bed late, cruise the blogs, work on my extensive christmas wish list.  A even worked on one for Mom Рvery hard for her to d, but she did a great job with it.

Yesterday we were exhausted, after the very long day Friday (I’ll work my way back to it) but we got going and went into Bangor to pick up the car, have lunch and do a little shopping with sister-in-law¬†L.¬† We went to Aunt Nellie’s attic, a thrift shop in Holden, which was having 1/2 off sale.¬† got some nice cashmere yarn, and a misc bag of yarn, total price 43!¬† And a lampshade for 2 dollars. If I had measured other lamp shades, I would have gotten more, as we need a few.¬† But even full price, they are deals, there, so I will get more someday.¬† We also went to the¬†Down East Sticks and Stones shop¬†so I could get some beads for Christmas presents.¬† Stayed focused, so did not spend a lot, ut there¬†is¬†a lot there to look at and get inspired by!¬† Lunch was at Green Tea, our favorite asian restaurant.¬† They have chinese, Japanese¬†and¬†Thai food, never had anything bad there.¬† Yesterday was no¬†exception, it was all delicious.¬† Then over to the mall area to Bed Bath and Beyond for some wandering. Very expensive wandering as they have lots of things we like and “need” and we threw¬†lots of them in the cart.¬† I got a closet light, which I have been wanting for a long time.¬† It might not be the final one, but it will serve until I figure out how I want to light that closet.¬† Also got an LED headlamp – I can now read in bed!¬† And use it for walks in the morning, so I can keep my hands in my pockets and warmer!

C can be happy that I rejected MANY noisy/bright/plastic suggestions for E’s Christmas present.¬† Not sure what we will get her, but it won’t be pop-up bunny slippers.¬† ūüôā

It was a good antidote day to help get past the misery of Friday.

Thursday night we left Bangor at 11 and headed for New Lebanon NY.  Traffic was very manageable, so we got there in just under 6 hours.  Much better than my past several experiences with it.  I guess time of year matters.  We stayed in a cute little B and B, the Churchill House, along with brother N and his family (minus college kids) and sister C and her family.  Dad and S and brother C and his A stayed up at the house, which is a short walk from the B and B.  Friday was cold and raw. A and I were awake early, so went for a walk up past the house to the old cemetery in the woods, which looks just like it always did Рtrees growing in it, leaves everywhere, crooked tombstones Рgreat Halloween haunting site.

B and B gave us a great breakfast,¬† and then we all got dressed and headed over to the cemetery.¬† Lots of standing around waiting, as almost everyone traveling up from NYC and CT was late.¬† Service was very nice, minister is the daughter of one of Ma’s oldest friends, so it was very personal. But it was very hard to stand there in the cold raw weather, knowing Ma was going to be there forever now. Had to just keep thinking that where she really is it is summer and warm and there are dogs running free around her.¬† Dad arranged for us all to gather for¬†lunch afterwards, and we huddled around the fire there, but I never got warm again until late that night driving home.¬† It was nice to visit with cousins who were able to stay, and I was sorry that the youngest of us all had to go back to go to work, so we didn’t get to visit with him.¬† Lunch lasted several hours, and then A and I followed Dad back up to the house to see all the¬†work he has done on it – it looks really nice.¬† He added a dormer and really opened up the loft, and redid the kitchen so it is useful now, instead of barely¬†functional.¬† We left there just before 5, and did the long drive home.¬† Hit absolutely NO bad traffic the whole way, were home by 11, absolutely exhausted and drained.¬† Kittens were very glad to see us, but not so glad when we just fell into bed, no playing or anything.

I did learn that even the simplest hat pattern should not be knit in the dark, so did not accomplish much in that regard this weekend.  But I will somehow get all the Christmas knitting done!

Sister C is going to approach the rest of the family to see if they want to do a Yankee Swap instead of presents for everyone. I have suggested it before to no avail, so I told her she should try it, maybe she will get a different response than I did.¬† It would make some shopping a whole lot easier! But I would still give the kids presents, and the things I have already knit, I think I would give to the person I intended to.¬† We’ll see what everyone says.

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