Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year in Review




Frolicking in the fields

Philly Cheesesteaks

Children of the Corn

Crunched Car

Another College Decision

The End of the Georgia Drought



In some ways it has been a hard year, but in the end it's the blessings that stand out.  I don't know what 2010 will bring; I'm scared to think about it.  All I can do is keep praying and hoping and taking one day at a time.  And trust that God will give me the grace to handle what comes---as long as I stay close to Him.

May God bless your families in 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cozy Christmas Days

I'm enjoying these too few days of vacation time of Christmas.  Relaxing, sleeping, knitting without deadlines.  I even got some exercise yesterday----I started my New Year's Resolution early!

I also watched several shows on HGTV yesterday.  I just love watching them add little touches and rearrange things to make them beautiful.  Naturally, it made me just a little disgusted with my cluttered house, so I got up and cleaned my kitchen and removed a bunch of stuff that was making it look cluttered.

And then there was this:

It never goes away.  The counter where the children put their cups during the day so they don't have to get a new one every time they get a drink.

But there are 11 cups on the counter and I only have 6 kids, 2 of whom are usually away at college.  I can still end up with a dozen cups on the counter---even assuming the neighbors come over.  That's still only 8 cups total.  They just can't remember which one they used in the morning, or heaven forbid someone accidentally drank out of it, and they get another one.

I don't get it.  But it drives me crazy.

Since I had to go to pick up Madden at the mall yesterday afternoon, I decided to hunt for some new glasses.  I found a set of 10 for only $7.99 at Marshalls,  but they all matched, so I came up with this:

Now everyone has their own personal huggie, or cozie, or whatever-you-want-to-call-it, to put on their glass for the day.  There are still going to be glasses on the counter, but they all match and look a little neater.  Plus, I'll know which ones were used by the neighbors and can toss those in the dishwasher when they leave!

All I did was crochet them.  I made a chain that fit around the glass with a little stretching, joined it into a circle and just did 3 rows of double crochet.  It was simple and each one took 10 minutes to do.

I think my family room is next on the list to be decluttered....

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Quick Takes

Merry Christmas!

I know Jen's not hosting Quick Takes today, but I thought I'd post a few on this glorious occasion.

We went to midnight Mass last night and it was beautiful.  I love the serenity and beauty of the Midnight Mass.  It feels so much more Christmas-y than going with the huge crowds on Christmas day and fighting for parking spaces and pews.

We opened presents after Mass which is a tradition I got from my father and stepmother.  We got to bed at about 3:15.   Yawn.

I got Little Princess's Christmas dress finished in time.  It's beautiful, I think, but a little itchy evidently---hence the t-shirt underneath.  I wasn't there when she got dressed (because I left earlier for choir), so I missed the t-shirt and the fruitless search for her brand-new black slippers.  

She had to wear white sandals on a cold, wet Christmas.  Ick.

That would not have been good for my Christmas spirit.

More of our Very Thrifty Christmas:  tote bags from a shower curtain.

The thing that has been taking over my life for days on end.  I wish I knew how many hours this little gift cost me!  I spent, literally, All Day Christmas Eve in my room trying to finish.  I think I surfaced around 3 p.m.

The long piece of yarn in the front is attached to the strand that I'll use to sew the sleeves and sides together.  

No, it still isn't finished.  

It was damp from blocking and I didn't wrap it----We did a Betsy-Tacy Christmas thing and  KT wrapped multiple boxes inside boxes with a note that said "Hunt for Me" so he had to go find it hanging in his room.  I guess it's hard to find a gift when you don't know what you're looking for!

When I'm done here, I'm going to sit down and finish that sweater!


Would you believe that with all the knitting effort around here that I LOST dh's socks?  They weren't with the other gifts or under the tree and I had to hunt high and low before I found them.

In the basket full of library books.

I don't know; don't ask.


What's Christmas without your Mom?  Since she can't be with us anymore, God rest her soul, we used her lovely plates for the first time for Christmas Eve dinner.

Have a Blessed Christmas Season!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Weekend Roundup

It seems like I should have a few "Quick Takes" on Mondays to catch everyone up on my weekend.

Because I know you're just dying to know what I did.

Well, for what it is worth, here you go....

~~~Friday morning was the funeral of my beautiful friend.  There were 9 priests concelebrating!   It was one of the saddest funerals I've ever been to.  The church was full.  F.U.L.L.  There must have been 700 people there for this sweet, wonderful woman who had the most beautiful smile for everyone she met.  She made every person she came into contact with feel loved and cherished, even strangers.  People sobbed through this funeral, myself included.    She left her dear husband and 2 lovely teenaged daughters behind, aged 17 & 16.  Marcia's presence will be deeply felt everywhere in the Catholic and homeschooling community.

Marcia was such a fine example of Christian charity that I resolved to try to be more like her, and I mentioned some of those specific resolutions to another friend.  I was thinking only of a couple of changes that I would make, but this friend took my words to heart and immediately went to greet someone she had not wanted to see or speak to.  I take that as a sign that Marcia is already hard at work in heaven!

~~~After that, my weekend was spent mostly cleaning house and knitting.  I have a big project with a Friday deadline.

~~~I have another project with a Thursday deadline---I'm making a Christmas dress for the Little Princess with fabric that I bought at Goodwill.  I spent less than $4 on a big bundle of felt and plaid Christmassy fabric that I was going to make a tree skirt with.  Then I looked more closely at it and discovered that the plaid is simply gorgeous and there were about 3 yards of it!  Wait until you see it.  I hope I finish it!

~~~I got some new apps on my Ipod Touch the other day thanks to Melissa's recommendation.  I also got a Confession app so I could use it to examine my conscience.  So, I spent 30 minutes the other day in the confession line with my ipod in hand.  I'm sure it looked as bad as using it in adoration for the Divine Office.   I love the fact that you can even "tag" sins and when you click on the tagged items, it shows the list of commandments you've broken.  And yes, I even referred to it in the confessional.

Thank goodness there's a screen so Father couldn't see.  Lol.  But I think he would be okay with it.

~~~We finally got our Christmas tree decorated on Sunday.  Everyone was home for about an hour, so we got 'er done.  It's lovely and simple this year with just silver and white and a few touches of red.

I'm so glad Christmas is almost here.  I'm not quite done with family gifts that need to be mailed.  Maybe tomorrow we'll do the final push and get them out.  I got 3 packed up and mailed this morning with the kids helping.  They're so wonderful when they help out!

Friday, December 18, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday


This morning I'm listening to the episodes of The Sing Off that were on all week.  I didn't hear about this a capella singing competition until choir on Wednesday night, but I was too busy last night to watch it.

I love that you can watch old shows on the internet.  The music is really lifting my spirits this morning.


I'm not sure how high my spirits can be lifted this morning since we'll be going to a funeral in a couple of hours.  My friend Marcia succumbed to brain cancer after a 15 month battle.  I went to the visitation yesterday where friends and family got up to speak about her; she was an amazing woman.  She was and is one of the most beautiful souls I have ever met.  She had a kind word and a smile for everyone.  Whenever you were in her presence, you were the most important person in the world.  She has left a huge hole in her family and her church.

Rest in peace, Marcia.


Last night's American Heritage Girls meeting involved going to spread Christmas cheer at a local nursing home.  This was a new experience for me in that it was not as "antiseptic" as the other homes I've been too.  Usually, the places I have been for piano recitals and such have been fancier and the residents have come to the community area for the show.  Here, most of the residents needed active nursing care and we had to go to their rooms.  We did a little show in the community room and then took the Christmas caroling to the hallways.  We took a cart with cookies and juice with us and the girls were taking turns being singers and servers.  Serving the residents at their bedside was the privilege of the day and they all handled it beautifully.  I'm so proud of them.

I had a nice conversation with a lovely lady who was happy to see and hear the children and said it reminded her of this Bible passage:

 6For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
         And the 
government will rest on His shoulders;
         And His name will be called 
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Father, Prince of Peace. 

Isaiah 9:6


Staying up late every night to work on knitting projects is wearing me out.  I haven't done the math to see if its physically possible to finish this one in the next 7 days.

On the other hand, the giftee has a birthday in January, so I might make that deadline.

On the other hand, I'm getting to watch some movies that I'm enjoying.


I keep reading status updates on Facebook about people expecting snow today.  We're only getting more cold rain for our saturated ground.  Yuck.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas.

keyword: dreaming


I'm looking forward to tomorrow.  Friday will be over.  All of my obligations will be finished and I can focus on finishing up Christmas packages and getting them in the mail Monday.  Tomorrow would be nice, but I'm not even going to try to do that; it would stress me out too much.

Our Christmas tree has been up all week and has no ornaments on it---except for the sand dollars I got from Kathleen's craft party.  Maybe we'll get it decorated this weekend now that everyone is home from college and we'll all be together tonight for the first time!  Hmmm, sounds like a tree trimming party tonight!


I'm just done here.  I don't have 7 things in me this morning.
Have a Happy Friday.
Hug your kids and your spouse.
Have a kind word and a smile for everyone you meet today, and tomorrow.


Visit Jen for more 7 Quick Takes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Very Thrifty Christmas

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful skirt hand-woven in Guatemala.  Sadly, Mamacita outgrew it and gave it to Value Village where it lead an unhappy life while busy shoppers shoved it aside, looking for more chic items.

On a crisp, autumn day this small-waisted skirt was rediscovered by Sara and KT who were hunting the unique and the chic.  "Aha!" cried Sara, "I can do something fun with this!"

 Something like this.

And this.  (2 of these, actually!)

And this, for a happy little boy!

And so, the beautiful skirt, woven with love in a faraway country, became part of several new lives.

Afterword:  Let us also remember the would-be crafter who donated all of her bags of poly-fil to Goodwill.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I'm having the hardest time getting things done this year.  This was supposed to be done on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

I don't even remember what we did that day.  I think we made the sugar cookies.

Then, a couple of days later, we made the gingerbread.

Then, everything sat on the kitchen counter with many admonishments to children Not To Touch the stable pieces or They Would Break.

Finally, Sunday, while all the boys were out at Columbian Squires with Dad, LP and I started frosting cookies.  (Nothing like frosting cookies with too many people to ruin the Holiday Mood!  I figured we'd have all the colors together and LP would be finished with her share by the time the boys got home to help.)

They must be getting older, because they hardly fought at all.  And I think they Turned Out Beautifully!

Christmas Tree Skirt

We had a super busy weekend.  Super.  Busy.  My plan was to set up the Christmas tree Saturday and then decorate Sunday.  Didn't happen.  But my sweet Pipster took the initiative on Sunday to drag the huge tree box out of the basement, and he and Little Princess put it together all by themselves!

For the past couple of weeks when I've been in stores, I've been looking Longingly at Christmas tree stands because the one that came with our tree is the pits.  Kicking myself for not buying a great one that I saw at Goodwill during the year---it was supposed to be Super-Easy to set up.

Pipster had no trouble with the tree.  That's because I had actually bought the tree stand, stuck it in the box, and forgotten about it!  It rocks, evidently.

How do you like my tree skirt?

I love it.  And after that busy weekend, I especially Love the fact that I didn't take the time to change it and used it As Is.

Friday, December 11, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday


It got cold here yesterday!  We had rain while everyone else had blizzards the other day and now it's just cold.  So, accordingly, I sent my faithful helpers (who all but refuse to wear long sleeves, jackets, and socks because they're so warm) outside to work on the Christmas lights.  It was too cold for me to be out there!

I had had them string the lights along the driveway on Wednesday when it was a balmy 65 degrees.  But they were all red and we didn't really like the look.  Frankly, it made me think more of the entrance to Hell than of Christmas!  So, despite our meager budget these days, I  bought white lightbulbs to replace half the red ones with, and now, thanks to my wonderful boys who did all the cold work, we have alternating red and white lights lining the drive.  Much better.  I like candy canes better than Hell.  Don't you?


We'll be putting up our Christmas tree on Saturday.  I hope.  We were just talking about all the goings on this weekend!  We probably won't decorate until KT and Hitch come home later in the week, but it will give me time to slowly put the lights on and NOT STRESS about the whole Perfect Tree thing.

Anyway, that gives me just a couple of days to make my new tree skirt.  "Wow, that woman is so crafty!  How does she do it all without stressing?" you are saying to yourself.  Lol.  I stress, but I try really hard not to by cheating.  Yes, you heard me, by cheating.

Let me tell you a story, years ago, I don't even remember how many, I started crocheting doilies.  My MIL has a couple of very nice ones that I made; I was looking at them last time I was there and wondering if they were the ones I had made because they looked so good and antique-y.  Er, vintage.  I loved the lace, so I decided to use a heavier cotton and make a zillion more doilies, hexagonal ones, crochet them together and make a twin-bed coverlet.  I probably don't need to tell you that I never finished.  I think I still have the pattern downstairs, but what's the probability of my finishing this 10 year-old project?

So, since we're doing a White Christmas this year, I need a white tree skirt.  I'm thinking I'll take my coverlet and use it.  I can use it "as is" and just wrap it around under the tree, or I can snip and unravel judiciously and actually turn it into a skirt with a slit for the tree trunk.

What do you think?  Use it AS IS, or turn it into a tree skirt.  Of course, reality and stress may dictate the AS IS route, but we'll see.  Let me know how you vote!


I did a lot of knitting yesterday.

Dh naively said to me after finishing his socks that I wouldn't have anything to knit now......

I started working on this sweater again.  I'm doing the sleeves.  I had one on the needles and I decided it would make sense to knit both at the same time, so I cast on the other one and caught it up with the first. I got quite a bit finished yesterday while watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince which we rented from the $1 box at Publix.  I'm loving the 2 sleeves at once concept (which I got from someone else; I didn't think it up on my own!).  It helps to ensure that they both end up the same size with the same increases, etc.

Stockinette is sooooo much faster than knitting patterns!  And I'll tell you again, that I love this yarn I'm using.


About our White Christmas we're having here...making snowflakes and all that....I went to a craft party at my friend Kathleen's house on Sunday.  She's making snowflakes, too.

The Most Beautiful Snowflakes I Have Ever Seen.

Seriously.  I wish I had pictures.

Kath, I want a tutorial.  Put it on your own blog, or put it on mine as a guest post, but I really want to know how you make your snowflakes. TMBSIHES!*

Please?  Pretty please?  Come over to my house on Sunday afternoon while the Squires are out and I'll photograph the process!  You don't have anything else to do, do you? ;-)


We're still praying that St. Andrew Novena if you want to add our intentions to yours!  We'd really appreciate it!


I know I gave up reading for Advent, so I could concentrate on knitting and other projects, but you know, there are just those little pockets of time where nothing but a book will do.  Like sitting in the car for 5 minutes waiting for someone to get in.  So, now its Anne of Green Gables.  Again.  Charming every time.  Funny.

Who else is a fan?  And if you love the movies, you have to read the books.  They're so much better!


I'm ready for Christmas break to start.


*TMax said no one would understand that this means "The Most Beautiful Snowflakes I Have Ever Seen!"  You did, didn't you?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

St. Ambrose

On Monday, we Enjoyed reading about St. Ambrose and his rising to the post of Bishop of Milan by popular acclamation.  He wasn't even a Christian, let alone a priest!  He was baptized on December 7 and ordained bishop the same day, and he set about to learn all he could about the Christian faith.  He made a great bishop and had an Enormous Influence on St. Augustine, one of the greatest saints ever.

Since Ambrose is the Patron Saint of Candlemakers (because he was attacked by bees as a child?  Anyone know the answer?), we made a new Christ candle to go in the center of our Advent wreath.

We melted down old candles to make it, and added lavendar essential oil to it for a sweet scent.

I was surprised at how beautifully it turned out since---

a.  I had never made a candle before;

b.  I poured wax all over the place; (you didn't know that, did you, honey?)

c.  It took all day to do because it develops a well and you have to poke holes in it every hour and pour more melted wax in.  And you must do so Very Carefully, so as not to overfill the well and make the candle impossible to get out of the mold.

I was frankly Surprised that it came out of the mold without being ruined.  Thank you, St. Ambrose!

It's beautiful, and I can't wait to light it on Christmas day!  But we made a little one with extra wax to enjoy now.

Is that cheating?

Praise the Lord!

Let songs of joy break forth!

Let songs of joy break forth!

Sing Alleluia!  Praise His name!  My socks are done!!!!

Do you see how much yarn is left over?????

Early in the day yesterday I took that picture with the tee-niny little ball of yarn that I had left.  I had no idea how I was going to finish another diamond repeat and the toe of that sock with enough yarn.

I wondered all day who the Patron Saint of Knitters is so I could desperately invoke his or her intercession.

Well, even if we don't know who the appropriate saint is, God does, and He allowed my prayers to be answered.

Merry Christmas, honey!  I hope you love them and wear them a lot because they are the most expensive pair of socks you'll ever have!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Pioneer Woman!

It was a mob scene at Border's last night!  Eren had to drop me off at the door while she looked for a parking space.  That little move probably saved us an hour of waiting time.  It was really hard to get through the crowd to see if PW was really there.

It was supposed to start at 7:30, but they were expecting such a big crowd that Borders cancelled the Discussion w/ Q&A and had her start signing books at 6 p.m.!

We were totally bummed about that, but we found ourselves a cozy spot on the floor and took out our Christmas knitting.  We made a lot of progress on our knitting last night, let me tell you.

Hours of sitting on the floor, or on that bench you see up there, which we moved to when their wristband color and number was called!  An couple of hours later we moved to another spot on the floor so we could be in line to get in line.  Or at  least get a look at P-Dub signing books and visiting with people.

She really is there!

There were lots of cool boots to watch.

PW told this girl in the red boots to show hers to her sister Betsy Wetsy.  I knew they were cool; I already had a picture.  PW and I think just alike!

Look!  We're almost there!  After going serpentine through the bookshelves for an hour.

We're like BFF's now.  We talked about my boots, my Oklahoma roots, my plans to be famous from my blog.

Okay, jk.  We didn't talk about anything but how tired we were and disappointed that she didn't get to speak.  It was a quick 1-minute book signing, but I'll say that she was still smiling and gracious to everyone despite the long hours, cramped hand, and only one bathroom break.  (And you know that was a sacrifice!  Look at all those beverages on the table!)

We got out of there at 11:30---it was another hour before I got home.  Not too bad, but then, I don't have to go to the office today!

Now, I can't wait for Christmas so I can look at my book and make some of her yummy recipes!

I've been remarkably restrained.


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