December 26th, 2011
Making memories at Christmas
To me, Christmas has always been about making memories that will last a lifetime. I already have a lifetimes’s worth of memories… hearing Santa’s jingle bells right outside my window as a child… and what about the year I heard him filling the stocking hanging over my head (we didn’t have a fireplace)?
Sipping eggnog with my parents while decorating the Christmas tree… my little brother almost deliriously yelling, “A crazy car! A crazy car!” one Christmas morning… the Christmas we had the front door open and short sleeves on.. in Rochester, New York. Another warm holiday in Florida at my retired parents’ house right after my brother’s (grown now) first wedding… with my dad doing Mae West impressions, all of us laughing hysterically while playing games..
Speaking of games, for years my siblings, parents and our families always got together sometime around the holidays, and games were always on the agenda… and we are a competitive group! I have many memories around playing games… my daughter Jenn & I ruled the Pictionary challenges!
The days both when I was a child and then when I had my own children living with me were filled with magical Christmases. Baking cookies, hanging lights, making and wrapping presents, hiding them or disguising them… but when my children grew up and we moved far away from each other, the magic evaporated almost in an instant. My siblings live far away too. None of us had the money to get together every year and each year our past memories seem a bit more distant.
Decorating the tree
My husband just doesn’t have the same feelings about Christmas that I do, and he misses his children and extended family too, as I do. I hoped that we would make our own magical memories, but somehow that never seems to happen. We both long for something we can’t have and that we can’t quite find with each other. So mostly at Christmas I feel a little sad.
This Christmas was the first one totally without my mother, and that makes it even sadder, though honestly she hardly remembered our past memories any more anyway. But still…
But somehow, out of all this sadness, I managed to find that we HAD created some new kinds of Christmas memories this year. They’re not quite as sweet and certainly not magical like the ones you have with young children, but still nice, pleasant warm memories.
Little Button Pouches
Out of my grieving period came an intense focus on creating my own handcrafted gifts for my loved ones, most of whom are far away from me. I worked like a crazy woman for 6 weeks and managed to create gifts I was excited to give away. My cousins and aunt included hubby and me in their annual low-key Christmas get together, which managed to actually be on Christmas this year.
And you know what? It was a wonderful afternoon… surrounded by loving family, plenty of humor and stories. And though their Christmas celebrations and memories are very different from the ones I’ve created over my lifetime, we still managed to enjoy each other’s company, had tons of delicious food and exchanged some very interesting White Elephant gifts. In fact, as you can see below, hubby and I scored the best gifts of the night!
So I guess I can say we created some very pleasant new Christmas memories this year. Would I rather have been with my children and my new grandchild, reliving all of our past joys and laughs? Certainly… but in lieu of that, this was a pretty good start on a new type of memory.
December 24th, 2011
Family Christmas Portrait
For my readers who celebrate it… here’s wishing you a wonderfully merry and joyous Christmas season! Here’s my pic of the day… my three furry children. I have a cat too, but no way would she ever pose with the doggies!
I envisioned this shot and didn’t think I’d ever get it… but here it is.
Although I am missing my loved ones this year… both those who live far away and those who have gone on to better pastures, I am feeling the Christmas spirit and some joy. Zumba and the love of our Z family and friends helped, as did the pure pleasure to dance. But also, I just love Christmas.
So me and my honey will be chilling tonight, maybe watching some White Christmas or Love Actually… chowing down on crockpot chili and looking forward to connecting with loved ones tomorrow.
Hope you do the same. See you after the holiday!
December 23rd, 2011
My loves on the Greenbelt
When I started this blog a few months ago, I was committed to it. But then life intervened. First, I went to visit my new grandson and his parents and aunt in early November. Only there 2 days, and I learned my mom had taken seriously ill and been hospitalized. Stranded in Texas by lack of financial resources and ridiculous penalties for changing airline reservations (plus wanting to milk every second with my Sammy), I spent the next 6 days stressed and distracted and not in the mood to publish here for sure.
When I returned home, my focus was all on my Mom for about a week… until she suddenly passed away. And after that, the grief and recovery.
Then, the holidays… and distracting myself with TONS of Christmas crafting. But I am emerging now from the cloud of stress, grief, and too much to do… and trying hard to recommit to daily attention to this blog, if to post my daily photos at least. And hopefully also to write, as that was my main goal in the first place.
But for now, I’ve caught up all my daily photos (which I was taking, even though I didn’t post them sooner!). You can see the more than 50 new photos on these pages:
December 6th, 2011
Who doesn’t like the prospect of a free gift… especially around the holidays? I know I do. An artist whose work I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE at Etsy is having a giveaway of any item in her shop up to $40. I have bought her soaps, which were wonderful, in the past, but these days she’s making tons of beautiful, inspirational jewelry items. And get this… they use a plain old metal washer from the hardware store as a base!
Believe charm & necklace from the Etsy shop of Anna Pereira
I love most of Anna’s creations, but this one has to be one of my faves. Believing in a better future is something I’m working hard on right now, having come through a few years of challenges. So I would sure love to own this necklace so that I would feel that inspiration to believe on a daily basis!
On a more somber note, I have recently had a life-changing event in my life, which I want to blog about. But I needed some distance first. So look for that post this week, as well as a catchup at last to posting all the daily photos I’ve been snapping.
And I will also be posting about the many craft projects I’ve been working on for the holiday season. My family decided to make it a crafty Christmas this year, which fit right into my plans. I’ve gotten my craft/sewing room back lately and I’m having a lot of fun getting my crafty on again. I’ve missed it!
So, until I can get back to regular blogging, DO check out Anna’s shop… and maybe even enter her giveaway yourself, if you like her stuff as much as I do!
November 13th, 2011
I started my blog a little over a month ago, with high hopes… of creating, gaining insight and exploring new sides of myself. I had every intention of keeping up with it.
But a few things have conspired to prevent me from accomplishing those goals. First off, my online business has begun tanking, with a loss of a third of my monthly income, which has set me scrambling, trying to figure out what to do to remedy the situation. At the same time, it was incredibly depressing and discouraging, which in some ways has almost paralyzed me.
Jenn & Sam Hunt
Secondly, I took a planned trip to Austin to visit my daughters, son-in-law and 3-month old grandson. That proved to be both wonderful and quite distracting and time-consuming… in a good way.
And then, 2 days into my Austin visit, my mom (who has end-stage COPD) took ill and was hospitalized in extremely serious condition. And I couldn’t afford to fly home immediately, nor did I really want to cut my visit short. Quite a dilemma, distraction and guilt-inducing situation.
Needless to say, posting in this blog has really slipped to the bottom of my priority list. But… I have continued to take daily photos for the 365 Day Photo Challenge, and I WILL get them all posted one day soon. Perhaps as soon as tomorrow, when I intend to spend most of the day in vigil at my mom’s hospital bedside, mostly while she is sleeping.
October 27th, 2011
We’ve had a good week… walking every day because hubby has made sure to come home from work before dark! Tonight, I caught these beautiful colors along the path as we walked. Gosh, I LOVE autumn! Hands down, it’s my very favorite season, precisely because of the crisp cool temps and all these gorgeous colors…
Autumn colors galore!
October 26th, 2011
Generally three to five evenings a week, my husband and I try to walk on the Boise River Greenbelt near our home. It’s a 10-minute walk from our house and about a 30-minute stroll from our entrance to the endpoint and back, with doggie sniff and you-know-what breaks… so about a 50-minute walk all told.
During the summer, it’s easy to get these walks in, but as the days get shorter, it gets harder and harder. This week, though, my hubby realized our relationship was a bit out of balance and he’s made a point to be home in time to walk. It’s the best part of the day, to be close to nature and all her beauty, in the company of our cute dogs and just the two of us chatting about our days, work, family, dreams and, well… life.
Here is the view from our favorite stop on this walk, Martini Beach:
Boise River in the evening
October 25th, 2011
As we were walking the Greenbelt, I spied this tableau and just had to capture it on film! I loved the bright red and yellow kayaks positioned against the green grass bank with the red and yellow trees just beyond. A cornucopia of color!
Autumn beauty in Boise
October 24th, 2011
When I lived in southern NJ for 30 years, we took good pizza for granted. It seemed there was a pizza shop in every little strip mall. Of course, some of the best pizza could be found “down the shore”… or for non-Delaware Valley folk… at the seashore coastal town in NJ, on the boardwalk. But since we moved west, it’s been a lot harder to find the kind of good pizza we love.
Thin crust… dripping with sauce (and yes, grease), tons of flavor, lots of cheese… that’s what makes good pizza… oh, and huge slices that are easier eaten when folded in half lengthwise (though that’s a habit I never adopted).
One day after we’d lived in Boise for a couple of years, we tried a little place only a mile or two from our house that claimed to have “NY style pizza”. Our first time it wasn’t too good, but we tried it again a few months later and it was fabulous!
So today’s picture is of Jim, my hubby, sitting outside on their patio, indulging in delicious pizza after a Zumba workout. Yumm!
Jim eating pizza at Guido's
October 23rd, 2011
Bronco Nation passion runs hot and heavy during football season here in Boise, and today we had a BSU Broncos hot air balloon fly right over our house! We’d seen this balloon a few weeks ago at a balloon festival in Ann Morrison Park. So it was cool to see it in the air, flying untethered. Go Broncos!
BSU Broncos hot air balloon
October 23rd, 2011
My daughter Jenn recently blogged about a craft project she participated in that produced a super cute scalloped tote bag. She said it was easy and she did it in a day, so that intrigued me and I decided to participate in the Sew-a-long too! It’s from a blog called See Kate Sew, and the blog is definitely a fun read, plus she has tons of projects with step by step instructions.
I didn’t have time (or the money) to run to the store again for more fabric, since I had just been there to get the stuff for the laptop purse I’m about to make, so I just headed out to a small fabric stash I knew I had in my garage and luckily found a few fabrics I thought would work together for the scallops. But what to use for the main bag and straps? It needed to be a slightly heavier fabric than calico cotton, in order to give the bag some body.
Spying some garbage bags of clothing, waiting for a trip to the local Goodwill drop off, I got inspired. First I pulled out a pair of jeans, which might have worked, but then I found these brown paisley pants (what was I thinking when I bought those?) and thought they’d be perfect. So I ripped out the side seams and had enough fabric to use for the bag and straps. Sweet!
Full-length view of the scalloped tote bag
Sweet scallops tote bag
Close up view of the scallops
A closeup of the paisley pants fabric for the bag/straps
The lining fabric
To be perfectly honest, I’m not really a fan of my finished product. It’s not Kate’s fault… it’s a great project, and if I’d been willing to shop for a better collection of fabrics at Joann’s or at my main fabric stash, which is currently located in a storage unit a mile from my house, it might have turned out prettier. Still, I showed it to my Mom and she loved it! So who knows?
Here’s the link to the SeeKateSew sew-a-long, which by the way is celebrating her blog’s birthday:
P.S. I liked this project so much, I started poking around to see what else she had and found a super cute “Little Button Pouch Tutorial
“. It was so easy and produced this great little pouch, which I’m using to carry tea bags in my purse. Thanks, Kate!
My Little Button Pouch Tea Bag Holder
October 22nd, 2011
Our head Zumba instructor at the YMCA where I work out is a much-loved inspirational trainer. She recently stepped way out of her comfort zone to enter the local Mrs. Idaho United States pageant. She achieved second runner up! While we hoped she would win, we were wowed by her performance. And she was just stunningly beautiful… inside and out. Here is our Crystal…
Mrs. Idaho United States contestant, Crystal Markham Brown
October 21st, 2011
Sunshine, the Miracle Kitty
We adopted a cat going on two years now. Her name is Sunshine and she’s what the vet called a “torty”, short for tortoiseshell coloring, kind of a blend of yellow, brown and other variegated colors. We think she’s a really pretty cat. Don’t you agree?
She is a rescue cat that we got from a couple whose yard she wandered into one day. They never wanted a cat at all, but she refused to leave, so they eventually gave in and started feeding her and letting her sleep indoors during the cold weather. But after a few months, they hadn’t changed their mind about wanting a pet, so they put her on Craigslist.
Having just lost a cat we’d been part-time fostering (his “real” owners moved away), I wanted another kitty, but I didn’t want to pay much & liked the idea of rescuing a kitty. I found Sunshine, we visited and fell in love. Unfortunately, with our 3 dogs and her shy personality, it was not a smooth transition. But after a few weeks, she settled in.
The people who gave her to us had had her examined by a vet, who told them she was probably a couple of years old and healthy. But from the time I first saw her, I noticed she drooled. I’m not very knowledgeable about cats, though, and our dogs often drool, so I didn’t think that much about it.
But after Sunshine had been with us for about 7 months, we took her into our vet for a check up. We were shocked to find out she had an advanced case of oral cancer and needed surgery to at least control the pain and try to treat it. But when they did the surgery, they decided it had spread and would just recur and kill her. When I asked about prognosis, they said, “1 month” at most.
We were shocked and saddened. It had taken us months to build complete trust and to get her to actually love us. We couldn’t believe we were going to lose her. Oh, and they also said she was an old, not young, cat.
Well, we got that prognosis of one month and we decided we would just love her the best we could for whatever time she had left.
That was over a year ago and she seems healthier today than she did the day we adopted her!
It’s really quite unbelievable. Though it does look to me like there could be some decay in her mouth, she eats 3 to 4 times a day (both hard & soft food), runs around and jumps on furniture like a young cat, exhibits no signs of pain, and seldom drools.
And lately, for the first time ever, she has started to play! It’s almost like she is getting younger and becoming a kitten again.
I can attribute it to nothing but love and tender care. She loves us and we love her. And I think, through some miracle, that love has healed her!
October 21st, 2011
Have I mentioned how much I love Syracuse University men’s basketball? Well, I do! My love affair started in college (I went to SU) and has continued for 3 decades. It lagged a bit after my divorce in the early 90s when I had no one to watch the games with, but when my daughters got old enough to understand and like college basketball, I found my enthusiasm once again and it has never lagged since.
In 2003, our team finally won a national championship! First thing I did was buy this ball cap (already had the Final Four sweatshirt!). It’s a little dusty, but it’s hung proudly in my office on the bulletin board. Go Orange!
Go SU Orange!
October 20th, 2011
I recently bought a small laptop for nighttime work in front of the TV and for traveling, as my main PC now is a desktop PC and not portable. But my old laptop was huge and so are all the bags I carried it in. So I need a new laptop case, but didn’t want to pay big bucks to buy one, after buying two new PCs in the last month.
So I brainstormed, searched the Web and came up with a tentative design, which I haven’t made yet. But my plan is to insert a padded laptop sleeve inside this laptop “purse” I plan to make. This photo is the one I made of calico, lined with calico and padded with 2 layers of polyester quilt batting. It’s simple, but functional. Perhaps I’ll post a tutorial later on of how I made it…
DIY Laptop Sleeve