Monday, December 26, 2011

So, this is Christmas. . .

Our Christmas always starts on Christmas Eve at my MIL's house. There are over 30 of us there, so you can imagine the chaos. I am the "official" family photographer and so it is my duty to document everything. This means that in 27 years there are about 3 pictures of me on Christmas Eve since I am always behind the camera. I was late this year so my SIL stepped in and did all of the family portraits. And as everyone started opening gifts I saw my SIL standing close by and I handed her my camera and asked her to shoot a few pictures for me.

 So here I am with my 2 BIG girls
 and here I am with one of my BIG girls and my 2 little girls. I love these pictures!!! Thanks Jeanne!!!

This year we decided to change up all of our traditions for Christmas Day - which typically means opening gifts 1st thing in the morning. No breakfast just trays of Christmas cookies and banana bread, coffee and hot tea, all served on my beautiful china. Then after the gifts we eat an early lunch of ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans and other goodies. Again all served on my china in the formal dining room. After lunch it is 2 hours of dishes and clean up for me while everyone plays and naps.

This year Gary and I both cooked breakfast together - served on chinette paper plates with snowman paper napkins.
 After our BIG breakfast we opened our gifts. Bug was interested in her stocking and that was about it. She wondered about the house as her sister and the rest of opened gifts.
 After gifts we ate a ham I had baked - no fix'ins this year just 4 different kinds of chips and some buns to make sandwiches, all served on chinette paper plates with snowman paper napkins again. Bug took a nap, Gary played with his new "toys", my Mom rested by the tree and the rest of them played Candyland (Monkey won!)
 This is my Son-in-law &I goofing off a bit after Candyland
 B&D took Bug & Monkey home for a bit and then we joined them at there house with Lizzy's boyfriend Richard for some pictionary & charades.
 It was such a nice relaxing Christmas this year. No dishes to do, no trying to make everything come out of the oven on time. Just fun and family. We all decided this was a great new tradition and we will being this again next year.

Now I have to tell you about my MOST FAVORITE present this year. . .
Some of you that really know me, know about my "Doodle sweater". For those of you that don't know, the Doodle sweater is my magical sweater, it holds all of my "super powers". It belonged to my Doodle (dad) and when he died I asked my Mom if I could have it. My Doodle always wore a cardigan sweater and I just loved this particular one. It was a grape colored wool and he had it for about 10 years so it was nice and broken in but not at all "worn". I just kept it in my closet so I could see it but I never wore it. Then one day I was trying to work on a project and I was just stuck. I just couldn't get it going. I had a little chill and went to my closet and all of my regular sweaters were dirty and so I grabbed Doodle's sweater. Moments after putting on that sweater everything just clicked! I finished my project and was thrilled with the finished product. A couple of weeks later the same situation arose and I once again reached for Doodle's sweater. Viola! It was like magic, everytime I wore the sweater it seemed I just got more creative, more focused, more comfortable. So it didn't matter if it was winter or summer, you could find me wearing that grape, wool sweater in my studio. After a few years of wearing it when I was working in my studio, I started wearing it to cook, to clean, to watch tv in. I just loved the feel of it, I just felt comfortable and peaceful when I wore it. But sadly I have been wearing Doodle's sweater for about 15 years now, and he wore it for about 10 years and it is finally worn out. It has been mended several times but now it just has too many holes to mend. It no longer has any shape. It has paint and ink on it and it is just not comfortable anymore. And even though I still put it on, I am frustrated by it. I have been looking for about a year for the perfect replacement for my beloved Doodle sweater, but I have had no luck. Last week as I was Christmas shopping in Macy's I saw it - the perfect replacement in the men's department! It was marked down from $75 to $19! We have a rule in our family that you cannot buy yourself anything the month of December so I took a picture of it with my phone and sent it to my family letting them know that I REALLY wanted this sweater! I was pretty confident that it would be under the tree today. But I was not prepared for my reaction when I actually opened it. I opened the box, pulled back the tissue and there it was! I was happy but then I pulled it out of the box and something was different about it. There was this orange lettering on it and I looked closer and it said "Punky". Punky is what my Doodle always called me and my dear husband had bought the sweater for me and then had it embroidered for me. I don't know what came over me but I started to weep. Not just a tear streaming, but ugly face weeping. I made my way across the wrapping paper and toy cluttered floor to Gary and just melted in his arms. The whole room went quiet and as I laid there in Gary's arms crying and saying thank you he even shed a tear. It was a $20 gift, and it was my MOST FAVORITE gift I received!
 I put it on right away and I am still wearing now at 1am. It feels just like Doodles sweater used to feel like.
I am trying to decide what to do with the Doodle Sweater - I am thinking I might have it framed? Do any of you have any creative ideas of what I can do with it? I would love to hear your ideas. Until I decide, it is hanging safely in my closet, waiting. . .

I hope all of you had a Christmas like mine,
full of
and Wonderful New MEMORIES!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry CHRISTmas!!!

I wish for you all of the fun and excitement that Santa brings at Christmas
and all of the peace and love that Christ brought us that 1st Christmas day and each one since then.
Merry Christmas Friends

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Countdown Begins. . .

That's Right Friends, there are only 6 more days til Christmas!!!
Are you all ready?
I'm not, but I am getting close. . . I think.

 I just wanted to share a few pictures of Christmas at my house this year with you.
 Monkey & Bug got to sit on Santa's lap this weekend - aren't they just adorable!
 After pictures with Santa Bryanna & Monkey went shopping with Grandpa. Darwin stopped by with Bug to show me how cute she was in her elf dress. I LOVE those tights - I wonder if if I could pull off that outfit at my age?
 Last week I saw this cute idea for making Santa heads with your hands.
 So of course I grabbed the paint and started painting up the girls' hands
 Monkey thought it was LOTS of fun but Bug hated it!
 This is our tree this year. I think I will have to retire it after this Christmas. It has served us well for a lot if years. But now it is a little wobbly and not all of the lights work. I also want to do a theme tree again. I always used to do a theme tree and my girls hated it. The past 6 years I have let them be in charge of it  and it has been fun but I miss my theme. So next year I think it will be a very victorian tree with some of the favorite ornaments that they have collected added to it. This should make us all like it!
 For safety reasons I have blocked off my living room - so this is the pretty sight you see when you come in my house. A big shipping box and a big tree blocking little ones from getting to the wobbly tree.
 This is the piano where Mom keeps some of her favorite Christmas treasures. I love the Santa, but we have to tie him to the wall so he doesn't fall over and break.
 The table is all set - not with all the stuff I usually have on there but at least the cloth is on and the sleighs are out.
 I made these sleighs the year we move into this house. They are what I use for place cards. Each one has a gold package with a name tied on to it.
 These are some sled/clipboard/frames I made this weekend. I had a nasty headache that I couldn't shake. And for some reason if I start creating something (for no reason) my headache will usually go away. So these are my "headache relief" sleds. I bought these sleds 2 years ago after christmas for 50 cents each, They had a big UGLY teddybear glued onto them and were painted red & green. As you can see they no longer look like that!
 I made one for Monkey & Bug and made the little clipboards from 7Gypsies clips. I wanted them to be clipboards so I could easily change out the photos each Christmas. It was a fun project and it all came out of my stash! No purchases for this project!
 This is another cute project/gift I made yesterday. I bought this little sign at Ross a week or so ago for $2.99, it said "amazing grace". But I saw "Mickey Mouse" when I looked at it! And since I have a daughter that is in love with ALL things Disney I figured why not!
 Other than the sign it's self, everything here was from my stash as well. Gotta love red glitter paper and a cricut machine!!!!
So that is pretty much what is going on around here,
a little family fun,
a little decorating,
a LOT of wrapping,
Some last minute crafting,
and a whole LOT of gratitude!!!!
Merry Christmas my friends!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Merry Christmas To YOU!!!

Hello to all of my blog friends that have stayed with me during these past few months while I was so sick. I want to say thank you with a small gift. I will be giving the full instructions & page maps for my "12 Days of Christmas" book to anyone that emails me today before midnight - that's 12 hours from now! So send me an email with "12 Days" in the subject line and make sure I have your name and email address to send it to.
You can find my email address on the sidebar at the right at the bottom.

This special gift will end at midnight (Az time) on Dec 16, 2011.
Thank you again

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What is the BEST Christmas Gift???

That was the question of the day yesterday.
Yesterday, Lizzy & I went out to do my Christmas shopping. It was cold and rainy but I am without a car again and she had the day off so off we went. I need to back up a bit and tell you that there was not going to be any Christmas shopping in our house this year. I don't want your sympathy, but since I have been so sick things have been really tight for us. But this week I found out some of my medical bills were going to paid in full so I had some money to buy a few gifts.
Lizzy and I were out for hours to trying to find the perfect gifts that fit my budget. We got hungry and stopped for lunch at Red Robin. We ate bottomless fries and ate our lunch and were so full when we left, painfully full. We headed over to the mall and after a couple of hours there (with no luck) we headed back out in the rain to her car to try another shopping center. As we were getting in the car I looked up at the doors to the mall and saw an older man, with a light weight jacket on looking in the trash can. Lizzy thought he was looking for a bag he mistakenly dropped in the trash. But I saw what he was really doing. He was looking for food. Then it happened he found some left over food in one of the bags and put it in his mouth. My heart sunk as he did this and I told Liz I would be right back, I grabbed some cash from my wallet and headed back up to the mall. Liz realized what was going on and grabbed a few dollars from her wallet and a Cracker Barrel gift card that had just a little bit left on it.
We approached him quietly and I asked if he was hungry, he looked ashamed and put the bag back in the trash can. I took his hand and gave him the cash and the card and told him to go get something to eat and get warm. The Cracker Barrel was just down the road and he could sit in there and get warm and get fed. He looked in my eyes and said thank you. He said it  with both his words and his eyes. I wished him a Merry Christmas and good luck and we left.
As we drove away I thought how blessed I am! And I also thought how petty I am. I have been so bothered by the fact that we have not had extra money to spend on fun stuff and now Christmas presents for a few months. Although we have a beautiful home that is warm and dry and we have food to eat and Gary has a good steady job. This is the first time in I don't know how long that we have had money troubles. This is the first year in our whole married life that we didn't think we would go without buying gifts. We are so blessed! This homeless man, hungry and digging in the trash in the rain reminded me what Christmas is really all about. He reminded me of how lucky and how blessed I really am! I cannot get him out of my mind. I hope and pray that he was not a "real" man but instead an angel that God sent to teach me this lesson. But if he is a "real" man, I hope he found shelter and some warm food last night. I hope he knows that he did more me than I did for him. 
I hope that you will find the blessings that are in your life this season and that you will reach your hand out to help someone that seems to not be as blessed as you are. Trust me, you will not be sorry.

Here are just a couple pictures from our shopping adventure yesterday - this was our last stop at 10pm. . .  

 We were spent!
Merry Christmas my friends!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Occassional Artist and Other News

As many of you know The Creative Quest closed it's doors in November, but Kathie and the gals from The Quest have been busy opening up a new store right next door. This new store will open in early January and will be called The Occassional Artist. Friday I popped in and dropped off a few samples for my new classes at the new store. Everyone was busy with either a paint brush or some other tool when I arrived. The Occassional Artist is going to be so cute and have a whole different feel but with the same friendly atmosphere. I can't wait for it to open and I can't wait to start teaching again!
I took a few pix while I was there visiting to share with you all. . .

 Here's the girls painting the front door a vibrant red - I love a red door!
 Kathie at the new counter - I love all the paned windows and the waynescotting. And I LOVE what she did to the floors - it doesn't show up in the photos but wait til you see it!
 A sneak peek at my class samples. They are carefully stored in a charming old secretary until all of the painting and construction is done.
 The photos above and below are of the new classroom - tons of open front cabinets for all of the fun studio supplies. The new tables will be lovely wooden farm style tables.
 This is one of my first classes - it is a 2012 date book. You will have your choice of which one you want to make in class. There is either a black & pink one with fleur di les and dots or a black & cream one with harringbone and crowns. I will be teaching this class twice. Once on Saturday, Jan 14th and again on Tuesday, Jan 24th. Click on the photo to enlarge it.
 This is my next class, it is a cigar box turned nto a little cabinet with a spiral bound book inside. I adore these Graphic 45 papers! And this is a great place to keep all of those wallet sized photos of your kids. I filled my sample with all of Lizzy's pictures from kindergarten thru her senior year. Click on the photo to enlarge it.
 I hope you will join me for one of my first classes at the new store!

In my last post I shared a few of the photos I took of Lizzy and her boyfriend for their Christmas cards. This is the finished card. Aren't they cute - they are such a silly couple! The two of them are now busy addressing envelopes.
This is the sign Lizzy has been making for Richard's Christmas gift. He has a poker room in his house and they love to have Texas Hold'em parties. I think it turned out great! And this all came out of my stash in my room. That vintage card paper is like 10 years old. It was one of those papers I just could never part with, I always knew it would come in handy sometime.
For Monkey's second Christmas I made her a monkey rocking chair. So of course I needed to get one made for my Bug this year. So this is her ladybug chair. Both girls will be so happy with this. Bug just wont leave Monkey's chair alone, now she will have one of her own!
After I made all of the lap desks this summer, my Mom asked if I could make her one just a little bit smaller for her room to keep all of her mail in. She has all white, shabby chic furniture in her room - This is what I came up with. . .
Again everything here is from my stash. That has been the goal this year for Christmas, handmade gifts from my stash not the store. I have been pretty successful so far. All of the medical bills have really drained the available cash. It has been a challenge, but a fun one. I never realized how much stuff I had. Okay, that's a lie, I knew how MUCH stuff I had!!!
Have a great week friends, do something creative, smile at a stranger, and be good to yourself!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Is There Anybody Out There??????

It has been so long since I have written, I'm not sure if anyone even checks in anymore. But on the off chance that you are still checking in, I am going to give you all a "HAPPY" update. After too many months, and lots of set backs and frustrations, I can finally say with complete honesty that I am feeling better!!!!! I never realized how hard it can be to be chronically ill. I also never realized how amazing it can be to feel better!!!

So, my last post I was feeling pretty defeated emotionally and really bad physically. I was denied my insurance company for the tests so that didn't happen that week. As I sat there at the Dr's office the next week she looked at me and said "I'm so sorry, but there is really nothing else we can do for you." These words were a crushing blow to my spirit. I went home that evening and was just so discouraged and so angry! But I couldn't handle the anger on top of everything else so I sat down at my Zentangles pad and started to draw. A few weeks before this I had started "tangling" for something to do. I added scriptures to my drawings and this seemed to help keep my mind and hands occupied. I know it sounds silly but I didn't have the energy for much else and I know creating always makes me feel good inside. So, every evening Gary & I would sit at the kitchen table and Tangle together.

Okay I got a little off track. . . but that night, after the Dr appt, I opened my bible to find a scripture to add to the drawing I was starting and this is what I found - or should I say what God gave to me. . .

Matthew 9:22:
Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

I really needed those words that night. It was as if this was a personal message just for ME.

This is the drawing I did that night

I have held on to those words so tightly. And on the days that I don't feel as good, I say these words to myself. And you know what - I have had very few "bad" days since that night!

This is another of my MANY tangles I have done

So besides being sick and tangling here is what else I have been up to since I last posted. . .

This was my first big outting since I got so sick. I have to tell ya I was a little nervous about my ability to hang all day. But I did and I did great! This was my first ever football game! My dear friend Judy has season tickets with great seats and she invited Gary and I to join her and Ken at the steelers game. We did the whole thing - tailgating and everything. It was a great day!

I went trick or treating with my family and my neighbors. We all had a blast!
We went to the Harvest Daze event in our community with the whole gang. I can't tell you how happy it makes me that I get to spend so much time with my grown up girls and my baby girls!!!

I had another birthday and again I got to spend the evening with all of my family. Although I still had to cook the dinner! But they did bring dessert.

I celebrated Thanksgiving and was truly thankful this year! I even made homemade rolls for dinner! I never make homemade bread on Thanksgiving.

We had a full table for dinner and even added another table at dinner. Some of my Daughters in-laws were in town and we were delighted to share the day with them.

After dinner it is tradition to decorate the Christmas Tree

We had some little hands helping this year

I did a photo shoot for my daughter with Monkey and Bug. She wanted some pictures for their Christmas Cards

Aren't they sweet!

Then my other daughter and her boyfriend asked it I would do some pictures for their cards too. They have 2 weinner dogs and wanted them in the photos. The caption on their card will be "Walking in a Weinner-Wonderland" isn't that cute?

They also wanted to do some pictures with ugly sweaters. They just had so much fun while we were at the park. Although it was soooo cold!!! I think AZ forgot to pay it's heating bill!

I have also been in my studio working - I know, can you believe it! My Mom bought me a fancy air filter thing and it really helps.

The Dr bills were murder on our pocket books so we are doing a homemade Christmas this year. So I have been a busy little elf trying to get something made for everyone. I don't know how Santa does it!

I did take a little break from the gifts on Saturday and made this for myself.

This was really hard to photograph since it is all black, white and chrome and my walls are also black in my studio. But I hope you can make it all out. I had so much fun making this Christmas scene for the wall in my studio - the only place that doesn't get Christmas decorations.

I am also working on a couple class sample for some classes at the new store. I am so excited to start teaching again!

So that is pretty much what I have been up to. I hope to be back again soon. I have missed all of my Blogger Friends! Thank you for hanging in there with me and for all of the nice e-mails and phone calls making sure I was still alive.

Have a great week friends. . .