Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Week Fragments

Let's see... it's Friday... so that means I can post a bunch of random disconnected twaddle and call it a blog post, because that's what Friday Fragments is all about, right? So... here we go...
You'll be happy to know that Bernadine and Beauregard Bearsaltandpepper now have company in the Downstairs Northwoods Bathroom. The new inhabitants aren't directly descended from the Bearsaltandpepper family line, but they are distant cousins way back. They brought their own sleeping bags, and they've decided they are quite comfortable and will stay awhile. We haven't yet discovered what their first names are, but the Mrs. does like to read by flashlight while the Mr. cuddles his teddy bear. (This darling figurine was a Christmas gift from my own Mr.!)
Speaking of the Northwoods... and reading... I just finished reading Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss. Great story! I'll be posting my review later, but for now, suffice it to say it's making me want to visit Alaska. But in the summer, please.
This is plenty of winter for me! Our front yard has looked like this off-and-on for a couple of weeks now. I'm willing to give it another week or two, but then I'll be ready for spring. *sigh* You can take the girl out of the South, but you can't take the South out of the girl, I guess. At least it hasn't been all that cold... which is why the snow has been on-again/off-again. It keeps snowing. And melting. And snowing. And melting.
A beautiful Christmas Eve bouquet from my daughters has been a good reminder that winter doesn't last forever. The fragrance of fresh flowers smells like spring every time I walk into my office and notice the arrangement on my desk.

Plus. The days are getting longer now. Have you noticed?

I've been staying busy, though, as always. This week my goal has been to get my lesson plans ready for the upcoming winter trimester at our homeschool co-op. I have 6.5 of 8 done, so I'm making good progress.

I also want to clean out Fibber McGee's closet (aka the catch-all closet in the family) sometime this weekend. Maybe today?
Now that the pre-Christmas rush has dropped off, I've been working up some new colors for spring in my mug cozy line for my Etsy shop... including a series with adorable cupcake buttons! I'll be listing them shortly after New Year's.

If I don't manage another post again before Tuesday, have a Happy New Year celebration!
Mommy's Idea

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas with the Bearsaltandpeppers

Bernadine and Beauregard Bearsaltandpepper here, but you may call us Bernadine and Beauregard Bearsaltandpepper.
You probably haven't met us before, but you may know our more famous cousins, Brunhilda and Borris Bearsaltandpepper. They even have their own blog. While we love reading about their antics, we don't have any such ambitions. However, when Miss Karla asked us to do a guest post showing some of her Christmas decorations, we couldn't say no. After all, it gave us a chance to venture out of the downstairs "north woods" bathroom where we live-- which badly needs to be dusted, by the way-- and see all the pretties in the upstairs living room. And goodness knows, she hasn't been doing a very good job of blogging this month!
 Our first stop was at the Christmas barnyard on top of the "school shelf." The barn and trees are ceramic, but most of the animals are from Becky's Schleich collection. We are kinda out of proportion to the other animals, but that's okay, because they aren't exactly in proportion to each other either. I mean, those chickens are practically as tall as the calves.
 Next, we popped over to visit the Sarah, Plain and Tall village on top of the piano. This special set was a gift from Miss Karla's friend, Kay Conner, who has been in heaven for several years. We are even taller than the buildings there.
Here we are, swapping howdy-dos with the Precious Moments people. Miss Karla has had the shepherd boy with his lambs, and the little Santa pets on the bench for many years. The little girl reading to her dolly and the little boy warming his backside by the wood stove are "new" to her this year. Can you believe she found them at a garage sale this summer for just $1 each? The lady was selling them real cheap because they had broken off their bases. That didn't bother Miss Karla any. She just glued 'em back together. She's frugal like that. Plus she's always loved Precious Moments figurines.
 Our favorite stop was getting to worship Baby Jesus in the stable. This is Becky's toy "Timothy" set. Of course, we know that there weren't any Bearsaltandpeppers in Bethelehem. At least, the Bible doesn't mention it if there were. But since this is the Reason for the Season, we wanted to worship, too.
 Just for fun, we stopped by Santa's workshop, which he set up on the edge of one of the bookshelves. The Victorian hardbacks in the background don't exactly fit in with the North Pole theme going on, but whatever.
 Time for a quick cuddle on the couch with Miss Karla's Christmas throw pillow. Her kids gave it to her for Christmas a few years ago because the cute little pets look an awful lot like Cookie and Tabitha, the real-live animals who live with us.
 Our next visit was with the Freaky Dolls on the mantle. They were given to the girls several years ago by their great-great-aunt (originally belonging to the great-aunt we used to live with-- but that's a story for another time). The girls like the dolls and enjoy putting them on display each Christmas, but they call them the Freaky Dolls because they move. You see, they are mechanical and their arms move in and out... and when visitors first notice them they usually say, "Oh, that's freaky!"
Time for a cuppa Christmas cocoa! Miss Karla got this beautiful Christmas cup-and-saucer from Miss Farrah at the tea-themed gift exchange during the Christmas Baking Day a couple weeks ago.
The Cook family received this pretty basket with a trio of holiday cocoa from some other friends. The basket was so pretty that Miss Karla has made the family wait until Christmas Eve to enjoy the special cocoa. That's today... so it's time!

And speaking of time, now that we've had our adventure, it's time for us to scuttle back down to the bathroom to "settle our brains for a long winter's nap!" Maybe we'll see you again sometime.

"Happy Christmas to all! And to all a good-night!"

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Game Night

Last week we invited several families to join us for a fun evening of games and snacks.  They all have children similar in age to ours, so it was a lot of fun. We had a silly gift exchange and lots of laughter. Then the younger teens/pre-teens went downstairs to play Wii games, while the young-adult age group played Apples to Apples in the kitchen.

Once again, I failed to get pictures, but Farrah didn't let me down! She's actually the only person (besides my girls and my "almost-daughter") who attended both events we hosted. One might think I just invited her because of her photography skills, but that's really not the case. It's just serendipity! Check out the party pictures at Light in the Sphere.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Baking Party

The girls and I hosted a Christmas baking party earlier this month. My friend Farrah was great about taking pictures and she has posted a full report on her blog, Light in the Sphere. (And yes, she took the picture for this post, too. I just "borrowed" it!)

Maybe she'll do a post about our other party, too. You'd think I'd be more diligent about taking pictures, knowing I'll want to blog about it. Too many things to think about, I guess.

Anyway... thanks, Farrah!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Catching Up

Only one post in December so far? Oh, my... that's quite sad, isn't it?

My crochet orders have begun to taper off, and my fingers are happy to be on the keyboard again, rather than wrapped around a crochet hook. Can you believe I have actually developed calluses from crocheting so energetically? When I finally took time to tally up my Etsy orders from the past few weeks, it's really no wonder. I have crocheted (and shipped) approximately 180 mug cozies and 75 washcloths since the first of November. I knew I was staying busy, but I had no idea it was that many! I have been so grateful for the orders and extra income this time of year. It's been fun to fulfill the orders, but definitely a challenge to keep up. It's nice to have a break now... but I already have some fun new colors to add to my spring line-up.

We've also had a little flurry of Christmas-related social activities the past couple of weeks. We've attended a ladies' brunch, hosted a holiday baking day, driven around with friends to look at Christmas lights, hosted a party, and attended a Christmas program. It's all been fun, but I am happy now to turn my attention towards our family celebration and enjoy a week or two of a more relaxing pace.

Maybe I'll be able to blog a little more. Did you miss me?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Happy Hooking

Lately I've had a little flurry of orders with my Etsy shop. That's been keeping me busy, but it's a fun, relaxing kind of busy-ness as it mostly involves sitting around crocheting. It's the slow season for my "real" job with Sonlight, so it's nice to have a little extra income.

One of my friends asked me recently, "What is an Etsy?" For others of you who may not know, Etsy is an online community of "shops" specializing in hand-made or vintage items. It's a wonderful place to find unique gifts... thus the little flurry right now before Christmas.

My shop is primarily stocked with small gift items that I've crocheted. I'm what you might call an obsessive crocheter. I do crochet every day... and yes, I carry it around with me. I enjoy working with a variety of fibers (though cotton is my favorite) and love trying out new patterns.

Here are a few of the items I currently have posted:

Mini stockings...
Regency-style reticules...
Wash-cloths...
Mug cozies...
It seems like quite a few people have decided that these would make great stocking stuffers... so I'm staying busy fulfilling orders.

And that, my friends, is the primary reason I haven't been blogging this week.

Just in case you missed me, and wondered.

I'll be back soon. I promise.

P.S. If you're still shopping, it's not too late to get your order placed in time for Christmas!

Friday, November 30, 2012

November Fragments

And yet another week has gone by without a blog post. (Well, that's not entirely true. I did blog on Tuesday on the Sonlight Blog. That counts!) However, I shall try to atone for my non-blogginess this week by sharing some more fragments today.

Do you know how gray and dark and depressing it's been around here lately?
Not only have we had gray, rainy days... we're a little short on daylight just now. I came out of Costco yesterday to discover it was pitch dark at 4:20 in the afternoon! I mean, pitch dark, not just starting to get dark. Just three more weeks until the daylight hours start getting longer again.

* * *
On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, I had the privilege of going to the junkyard Pull-and-Save again with my favorite gear-head. He was needing some spare parts to fix up Laura's "new" car. It's just like this one, only not, um, smashed. Thank God!
I felt so sorry for whoever wrecked this car. It had apparently been a young lady's car based on the cluttery stuff that was still in it-- hair ties, a stray shoe, etc. I hope she survived. I think it would be a miracle if she did. I pray every day that God keeps our girly safe when she's driving.

* * *
We had no guests and no invitations for Thanksgiving...
...but we had a lovely feast anyway, just the four of us. The table wasn't particularly fancy, but the food and the fellowship was good. We have our family, our health, our home, our jobs... which is more than many people have... so we consider ourselves blessed!

* * *
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving one of us turned 47. You may recall that we celebrated the other one of us turning 48 back in the summer. I'll let you use your detective skills to figure out which is whose birthday, because I'm sure it's important to you!
We celebrated by spending the day just hanging out. We had a lunch date, and then walked around downtown Spokane for awhile. We were home by dark for an at-home pizza and movie night... but then decided on the spur-of-the-moment to take in a late night movie as well. Happy birthday to me!

* * *
Laura and her bestie were invited to a "smug" party... which, from all that I could gather, meant that they were supposed to dress formally and act snobby.
So here they are, preparing to put on airs. Aren't they cute?

* * *
And thus concludes another week's worth of fragments.
Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gratefulness

November is such a gray, dreary month. For example, today we get exactly 8 hours and 2 minutes of daylight. And it will only get shorter for the next month. I think that's what makes November so hard-- even worse than February, my second least-favorite month. At least in February the days are getting longer instead of shorter, and spring is right around the corner. With November you get increasingly shorter days with winter just around the corner.

And it's been raining and raining and raining all week. Not a "Super Storm Sandy" kind of rain, of course. But a typical slow drizzly, chilly, Northwest-in-the-fall kind of rain. Perfect weather for curling up in front of a fire with a cup of coffee and a good book. Not that I have time to do that, you understand, but the weather is perfect for it anyway.

Today I'm grateful that the problems I have, and the worries on my mind, are really pretty trivial in the broad scheme of things. Mostly what you would call First World Problems. I don't have to worry about a roof over my head, or where my next meal is coming from. I have good health and a happy family.

I am blessed.

And I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Goldtown Adventures - review

Fellow homeschool-mom Susan K. Marlow's new book series for kids, Goldtown Adventures, has launched!

Badge of Honor  is an exciting historical novel for kids. It takes place in the waning days of the California gold rush, as seen through the eyes of 12-year-old Jem. There is still gold to be found (small amounts, anyway) if one is willing to work hard at getting to it. Jem and his little sister, Ellie, are willing. Too bad their pa thinks they ought to be in school. What's even worse is that Pa got elected sheriff, so now that means they have to be on their best behavior. And to top things off, "city" relatives arrive from back east to live with them. In spite of all that, Jem and Ellie, and their city-slicker cousin manage to find plenty of adventure... if not plenty of gold.

 Targeted for children ages 10-14, my 17-year-old daughter and I both thoroughly enjoyed the story. My favorite character is Strike-It-Rich Sam and his obstinate burro, Canary. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series which is due out later this winter.

Susan offers free study guides for all of her books. She also offers lap books that coordinate with the novels. These are great for turning a fun story into an educational unit study.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Fragments

Sparse blogging just seems to call for Fragments on Friday, don't you think? I wasn't even sure if I could scrape up any fragments to share... but then I read of Keetha's desperate dash around the house to gather up fragments to share, and if they aren't kicking her out of the Frag party for that, I guess I can do the same thing, right? Besides, several of you assured me that it was okay to blog even if I didn't have to have anything important to blog about, so you can only blame yourselves!

* * *

Yesterday, when I posted about making yogurt a certain commenter asked, "Is there ANY domestic skill in which you are NOT proficient?"

I laughed.

Ha.

If she could only see my house. Those of you who have been here know that my housekeeping can best (and by best, I mean, most kindly) described as "comfortable." In fact, Denise described me that way last week, "You are such a comfortable person and I am proud to call you friend ~ for over 30 years now!" She has never actually been to my house (though she has been to my parents' house long ago before either of us were married), but I guess she knows me well enough to know that "comfortable" is a good word for it. I took it as a compliment.

Anyway, as an example of a domestic skill which I do not possess, here is a picture of some gorgeous... and utterly delicious... pumpkin-cupcakes-with-cream-cheese-frosting-and-dark-chocolate-leaves that my friend Janelle made a couple weeks ago. And yes, she made the leaves!! (If Janelle had a blog, I would link to it.)

* * *
Our first snow of the season was earlier this week. Our neighborhood looked like this for a couple of days.
Actually, we ended up with several inches... okay, maybe two! But the ground wasn't very cold yet so it didn't stick around long. That's fine with me. I would just as soon it not snow until winter officially starts. And that's not for another 5 weeks, thankyouverymuch!
The mums survived the snow, though they are almost through blooming, I think. The marigold (the stalky plant leaning over in front) did not. The white pumpkin did not. He's squishy and ready to be carted off. The orange pumpkin, on the other hand, gave his life for the benefit of culinary delights.
Laura tried her hand at making a pumpkin roll to start with. It also turned out utterly delicious. I've never attempted a pumpkin roll before, so there, you see? Another domestic skill I don't possess!

* * *
In Etsy news, my coffee cozies have been selling... well, not quite like I imagine hot cakes sell... but pretty well, at least for my little shop. I have lots of colors listed, but these are the most popular colors.
The top two sellers, by far, are the natural and sage. Interestingly enough, those are the most popular colors for my washcloths, too. Sadly, I'm almost out of the sage cotton yarn. I haven't been able to find more locally recently. I hope they haven't discontinued that color.

* * *
I went to a NaNoWriMo write-in last week. It was at a local coffee shop that I hadn't been to before. That was fun.
I hadn't been to a NaNo write-in before, either, so I wasn't sure what to expect. What I did not expect was that most of the other "writers" would sit there chit-chatting most of the time. I don't know how they got any writing done. Maybe they're more talented than I am. I can't write and talk (or even listen to other people talking) at the same time. I managed to get around 1,000 words written in the two hours I was there... and the chit-chat finally died down about 30 minutes before I had to leave. I was parked in a two-hour zone, so rather than move my car, I just left. Next time I'll know to take ear buds.

There's no way I'm going to make it to 50,000 words by the end of the month, but that's okay. I am getting some developmental work done as well as writing.

* * *
In the evenings I've been hanging out a certain print shop. I can't say that I add a whole lot to the productivity, though I do try to help out wherever I can.
Mostly, I'm just there because a certain man seems to have taken up residence there, instead of here at home. I'm hopeful that next week, at least, may be a little slower for him, with the holiday. These 70-hour work-weeks are not doing either one of us a whole lot of good. I'm trying to coax him away for a day trip tomorrow, but it will just depend on how much work comes in today. He usually runs out of time during the week and ends up having to work on Saturday, too, to get it all done.

* * *
Thank you for tuning it to this week's episode of Friday Fragments here at Ramblin' Roads! Please come again!
Mommy's Idea